Posted in Meredith Investigates

Meredith Investigates: 23 Lessons, 23 Years

Don’t you just love how I’ve turned the term “investigates” into “self-centered blog post?”

What can I say, I’m a millennial.

Now that I’m officially a year older, I, in my infinite wisdom, have decided to impart my vast knowledge to you, highly significant reader.

Or. You know. I ran out of ideas for blogs or whatever.

That works, too.

Before we begin, I just wanted to tell you that 23 is my favorite number. The reason behind it is pretty stupid – one year I won a wall calendar after guessing a number between 1 and 50. I guessed 23.

The number was 2.

But I won anyway(and it was a dog calendar, so trust me, I won BIG). And from then on, it’s been stuck inside my head even since. It’s not in the Fibonacci sequence, but it’s a prime number, and it’s one of the number on Lost, so there’s that.

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It was my jersey number when I played volleyball in high school(take that, Michael Jordan). I look for it on the string of lucky numbers on the back of fortunes from pseudo-Asian restaurants. If I try, I can see it everywhere.

And here I am – I’ve finally reached my favorite number. But what does that mean to me?

Here are 23 lessons I’ve learned in 23 years(though, let’s be honest, most of them I’ve only learned in the past few months).

  1. When in doubt, drink more water.

This is admittedly a weird one to start with, but it’s my only practical piece of advice. Literally half of my stress and anxiety problems are immediately solved after a good 8 ounces. Bottoms up.

2. Anxiety = failsafe, but failure doesn’t keep you safe.

I have a very healthy sense of fear(probably the healthiest thing about me). Anxiety, at its core, is a good thing-the body’s natural response in self-preservation. But it can also sabotage you, and it’s no guarantee of safety. The key is in learning what kind of fear helps you, and what hurts you. Which one to trust is a whole other battle.

3. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish.

As an introvert, I can’t be around people all the time, even the ones I love. Believe me, if I’m spending time by myself, it’s not because I’m angry, or sad, or trying to cut you off. It’s actually more for you than it is for me; you don’t want to see me when I’m drained, and I definitely won’t want to see you. Give me two hours, and I’ll be right as rain.

4. Pick your battles wisely.

Earlier this week I reminded someone at work that “it takes two to tango.” There is a way to be both kind and strong, pleasant but resolved. It takes a balance of both to earn the respect of others.

5. Kindness is a choice.

I am not a naturally kind person. That’s why I make it a priority in my life – even going through the motions. I want to remain soft to this world, like when I was young.

6. Your company dictates your actions.

I’ve had a lot of different kinds of friendships, but what they’ve taught you on VeggieTales and Adventures in Odyssey was no joke: choose your friends carefully. Even if they don’t change your character, they will change your behavior. I’ve literally cut off friends because of this: if I want to be kind and strong, then I need to surround myself with those kinds of people, too.

7. Nothing excuses unacceptable behavior.

I’ve sometimes made excuses for people in my life for the ways they’ve mistreated me. A bit of empathy goes in long way in these kinds of situations. But  just because there’s something “wrong” or “bad” in someone else’s life does not mean they get to treat you badly. If anything, it should show them how to treat you better.

8. Cut toxic people out of your life.

There’s a point at which, though redemption is possible, it seems unlikely. Newsflash: it’s not your job to save people. If you’re close to someone destructive, let them know they need help, and get the heck outta there. Their actions are their responsibilities, not yours.

9. Friendship is a two-way street.

This friend thing should go both ways. If you feel like you’re doing all of the favors or all of the work, it’s time to re-examine the relationship. Your time is too precious to waste on people who do not care about you as much as you care about them.

10. Relationships are more important than being right.

Moral disagreements are one thing; petty disputes are another. Too often pride can keep us apart from people we need and who need us. Don’t burn bridges when all you need is a little spit and elbow grease. Put in the work first.

11. Romance isn’t everything.

After 23 years of spinsterhood(save for a brief fling in preschool), I feel like I know just a little about being single. And honestly? It’s freaking great. I can watch whatever I want on Netflix. I can make plans whenever I want. I don’t have to figure anyone else’s wants or needs in my life, which is good, because I need all the clarity I can get.

12. Beauty does not equal love.

Like my mom always says, “a lot of funny looking people get married.”

13. Success does not equal happiness.

Duh. But this lie is more prevalent than you’d think. It’s found in families, churches, jobs, relationships, etc. Don’t be fooled – you can have all these things and still be miserable underneath it all.

14. Emotions are temporary.

As in, most emotions only last for a certain amount of time. One bad day does not a bad existence make. On the other hand, if you are consistently miserable, then obviously something needs to change. Maybe it’s your attitude; maybe it’s your life.

15. Change is necessary, but not always.

It’s good to get out and experience new things, but it’s not for everyone all the time. I moved across the state to go to college only to get a job in my hometown after graduation. And it’s everything I wanted.

16. Travel broadens the mind.

Maybe it doesn’t do much for your wallet. But I want to travel when I’m young(remember that responsibility thing? Yikes!) Relatively speaking, I’m pretty poor when it comes to leisure travel, but there are still ways to make it work.

17. Work for what you want.

This one is twofold: if you want something, you’ve gotta work for it to understand the value of it later. And if you’re not working for it, is it something you really want in the first place?

18. Responsibility is a habit, not a skill.

No one is born with the natural tendency to turn a light off when they leave the room. But there’s also no excuse for forgetting, either, once you reach a certain age. That’s what it means to be a grown-up: no excuses.

19. 85% of adulthood is doing something you don’t really want to do.

See your dentist. Make that phone call. Pay your car insurance. It’s like anybody else is gonna do it.

20. Youth is a mindset.

Take it from the girl who still played Pixie Hollow in high school. There’s more immaturity found in how you act than in what you like.

21. Expression comes in many forms; choose one and make it your own.

It doesn’t matter if it’s blogging or singing or dancing or acting or folding tiny swans out of gum wrappers. You are only here for a limited amount of time; use it to affect others for good using your unique talents and experiences. Tell your story in the best way you can.

22. Let yourself grow.

Circumstances aren’t the only things that change. You will, too. And that’s okay. You’re supposed to become a better person as you grow older, one that has learned from your mistakes. As long as you’re making progress, there’s room for the new you.

23. Stay humble.

You don’t know everything. You’re not good at everything. You’re special, but so is everyone else. You’ve been given your own individual gifts and opportunities; don’t waste them by focusing solely on yourself. Reach out. Tell your story in the best way you can.

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Posted in Pop Culture

When Someone Loves Their Curvy Wife

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I’m not comparing Jabba the Hutt to somebody’s wife. Just so we’re clear.

What I am doing is responding to a harmless Instagram post from a few weeks ago, courtesy of this guy.

I’m sure most of us can agree that this man means well. Look at the post he wrote! He loves his wife! He wants everyone to know it! Even you, random citizen!

But here’s the thing that gets me: most people love their wives.

I mean, they do? That’s why they married them; that’s kind of how marriage is supposed to work.

And the truth is, most women are bigger than you(or the media) would expect. Remember: the average American woman is a size 16. Take that, America’s Next Top Model(just kidding, I love you please never leave me again).

As our man calls it, that’s “curvy.”

So, if you do the math, that means that in all probability, the average husband loves the average wife.

Grass is green.

The sky is blue.

Thanks for the update; can’t wait to learn more obvious facts tomorrow.

Again, I’m actually pretty happy for the guy. He seems to be genuine in the emotion behind his statements – but again, he misses the point completely, and in doing so, creates more harm than good.

Because the way he talks about it here, it sounds, like, he kind of is comparing his wife to Jabba the Hutt, or something thought equally grotesque(though, as I’m sure Diego Luna could tell you, there is a place for that).

Understand: he never calls her gross. Or undesirable. Or anything remotely mean. He calls her beautiful. But as he does so, he reminds you that some people don’t share his opinion.

Pointing this out not only justifies him, it makes him seem extra special.

What? A conventionally attractive white male? Defying society? Loving whom he will?

It’s like a mediocre romance novel.

And it’s also a great example of the classic backhanded compliment, a way to remind certain women that if they find someone who’s genuinely attracted to them, they’re still the exception, not the rule.

Those things don’t “happen.” Not outside of Hollywood movies.

And it seems like he supports this hypothesis. You can see that it’s less about what he says and more about the way he says it.

I hear things like this all the time.

“The way that dress is cut looks great on your figure.”

“All the right curves in all the right places.”

“-womanly hips-”

Most people still mean well, but you can hear all the things they’re trying not to say.

“Most things don’t look that good on you.”

“Some women look more like men.”

“Others are just plain fat.”

But the way they say it, I can tell that I’m not included in these statements. Not me. No, I’m valued. I’m treasured.

But I’m also extremely lucky.

And it’s true. I’m healthy. I’m active. I don’t have to buy my clothes online, or in a special section of the store. People never stare at me on the beach.

I’m the exception, not the rule.

But like I said earlier: the average American woman is a size 16. And a lot of them are married. And loved. And living lives that are completely fulfilling regardless of what people think is naturally attractive.

Frankly, the idea that someone even needs to use social media to spread some sort of message of beauty is pretty ridiculous(pun intended). Even if beauty was the number one desire of every person on earth(and believe me, it’s isn’t; survival probably ranks highest on that list), Instagram is not the place to find it.

Plus, think about that average woman again. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding(ah, pudding).

Here’s the crux of what I’m trying to say: curvy, big-boned, plain old fat women don’t need social media to them they’re desirable. Or people for that matter, no matter what the intent.

They can see it with their own two eyes.

No one should be an exception. Each person is a portrait of an incredibly living and loving God, who is bigger than the entire universe, and no amount of sexual or romantic attraction can add or take away the value of that, no matter what society tells us.

So yeah. This man loves his curvy wife.

I love myself.

This changes nothing.

Though we did get some great memes.

Posted in Literature

An Anne-otation of Interpretations

Where have I even been lately?

That’s always the question after a brief hiatus(if you’re someone who even cares, I mean). Let me see: I started a new job, surprised my friends across the state, and, in general, sorted my life out.

I know. I’m genuinely surprised, as well.

But enough of that. Let’s move on to the matter at hand.

Do you ever forget things about yourself? Things you’ve liked, or done, or experienced?

Because I do. All the time.

For example: I’ve had to shoot a bow and arrow onstage live. I’ve met the governor of Michigan. I was, am, and always will be obsessed with Anne of Green Gables.

Sometimes, my condition goes dormant. After all, the last book was written almost 100 years ago. You’d think there wouldn’t be a lot of material for me to binge myself upon.

And you’d be wrong.

Take, for example, the recent addition of Anne with an E, otherwise known as Anne: The Series, to Netflix. One episode in, and my obsession was reawakened.

This is just the newest in a long string of adaptations, of varying degrees of tradition and contemporary issues. And, no lie: I’ve watched pretty much all of them. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my list of top Anne of Green Gables/Prince Edward Island film and video adaptations.

  1. Anne of Green Gables/Anne of Avonlea, starring Megan Follows

The classic; the OG adaptation. What’s not to love about this mini-series from the 1980s (apart from the hairstyles, that is?) Megan Follows plays our intrepid heroine, Anne Shirley, from adolescence to adulthood, opposite the heartthrob of a generation, Jonathan Crombie.

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Don’t talk to me about the other movie set during WWI. We’re not going there.

This is the quintessential Anne, as people often remember her. The acting is superb, the writing is solid, and I honestly don’t mind pretending Megan and Jonathan are teenagers for a couple of hours.

2. Road to Avonlea/Emily of New Moon

This one might be cheating(just a little).

There’s no actual Anne in these series, but they belong to the same world, and were produced by the same company that made the Megan Follows’s adaptation.

And I’ve watched every episode, so I feel like I should get some props for that.

In any case, I like to think of Road to Avonlea as a mix between Anne of Green Gables and Full House.

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Emily of New Moon takes this same magic formula, and adds in a bit of Degrassi drama.

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I mean, it’s still Canadian.

So, if you love dear Anne, but are looking for some new stories in the same setting, you’d might like to give these a try.

3. Anne with an E/Anne: The Series

Now THIS is a controversial opinion!

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A lot of people don’t like this adaptation. Many more are just ambivalent. But I’ll give you three reasons why I, an Anne-obsessed fan, am willing to love it.

First of all, just LOOK AT THIS TITLE SEQUENCE.

Gorgeous. Don’t even get me started.

Secondly, the character work, in my opinion, is phenomenal. Anne finally gets to deal with her abandonment issues. Gilbert is a complete DREAMBOAT. And the drunk scene between Anne and Diana where they start giggling about “bosoms?” Classic.

And finally, even though the plotline of the first season differs quite a few time from the books(housefires, robbers, etc), there’s a lot of details that I’m glad we’re added. Principally, the episode that delves into menstrual cycles is just about the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. And it’s necessary, too: I know that I always wonder how women dealt with those issues no matter what kind of TV show I’m watching(The women on the show The 100, for example, supposedly have a contraceptive implant that obstructs their cycles).

Anyway.

4. Green Gables Fables

Anybody who knows any of my stranger internet habits knows that I absolutely love web series, especially literary ones. This is one of my all-time favorites, complete with an excellent cast, interesting transmedia storyline, and enough modern-day updates to keep this story fresh.

One of the things that sets this series apart, at least in my mind, is how much I really buy in to Anne’s romantic persona. That’s usually the most difficult point of an Anne-adaptation: how to portray a character who is dreamy and daring, naive and knowledgeable. In my opinion, this is the show that takes the cake.

And the banter is tops. Just saying.

5. Project Green Gables

Now, if you’re anything like me, then I know what you’re thinking.

Meredith, this is fine, but it’s all… kinda…white…

I hear you, and I’ve got something else to say.

Enter Project Green Gables, a Finnish web series which recasts the scarlet-haired heroine with a young black girl.

And before you say anything else, let me elaborate on the consequences of such a decision. Yes, Anne Shirley is a character who is deeply entrenched in personal appearance. She’s iconic. To deviate from that mythology is certainly a risky move.

But to their credit, this web series does this well. The cultural implications of being black more than trumps the social anxiety of being a redhead. When Gilbert Blythe tugs at Anne’s braids, his underlying emotion is clearer. When Anne tries to dye/change her hair, it speaks to a culture that glorifies smooth, silky hair over everything else.

Also, this series isn’t finished yet. Season 3 is set to premiere later this month, so if you’re interested, there’s still time to catch up!

Overall, I think this posts demonstrates one of my favorite characteristics of a good story: there’s room for change. Things become remade, over and over, without becoming stale or old. It’s the ultimate form of flattery, and I can’t stop myself from wanting more.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Meredith Investigates: Letter to Self #6, 2012

It’s the final countdown.

Yes, my friends, we have finally reached the last of my letters to self. Years ago, as part of a school assignment, I wrote myself a series of letters, one per year, throughout middle and high school. Then, after graduating from college, I decided it was time to share them with all of you. And this is what we’ve got.

What a wild ride we’ve had.

So let’s get down to business. 2012 Meredith is going through an interesting time, to put it lightly. On the one hand, she’d spent most of her high school career planning to go to architecture school, only to realize that maybe wasn’t what she wanted after all. Her best friend also recently moved away, so she’s feeling a little lonely, a little lost, a little at a loss as to what to do next.

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Please enjoy this picture of me and some beautiful gals before homecoming(and yes, that is a Mockingjay pin on the strap of my dress; fight me).

She had a lot of decisions to make, and not a lot of time to make them.

But she’s still that same old Meredith. Right now, she’s on a quest to watch every episode of Smallville and Degrassi: The Next Generation; it’ll take her another two years to succeed. She’s on a dystopian reading rut, tacking 1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, Anthem, and We the Living in the span of six months. She also managed to persuade her choir teacher to skip a final exam and take the class to Les Mis in theaters instead.

And in terms of handwriting, we’ve reached our pinnacle. My handwriting in this letter is the same now; why try to change perfection? I’m talking full on cursive, folks, like they don’t make anymore. I might be the last of my kind.

For the last time: let’s dive into it.

Dear Meredith,

Already getting those Evan Hansen feels, am I right?

This is the last of the letters to self. You should read this one after all of the rest because its the final chapter. It’s so surreal to think about, and yet it’s undeniably true.

Good to see that denial is already setting in.

Over the years, my writing style and my actual handwriting have both evolved.

Wait a minute – that’d make a semi-good blog series!

Presumably, my maturity level as also progressed, but that might just as well not be.

Yeah, I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.

I swear, sometimes I still feel twelve years old at heart.

And that won’t change; it’s a good thing.

All that can be said has probably already been written. The only truth that remains is this: live your life as God wants, not as you please. Remember this.

Somebody’s growing up and realizing things, almost like a real live person!

Serious introspection above all else is needed right now, but this doesn’t have to be self-centered. Forget what your parents want and ignore what your teachers say. What does God want you to do?

It’s a pretty short letter, but it’s full of good advice and logical thinking. This is my probably my favorite letter, even though it’s the closest to me in terms of age. It shows 2012 Meredith in a light that’s hard to picture from the mere memories of a teenage girl.

Which brings me full circle back to the reason why I wanted to do this series in the first place.

One of the last classes I took before college graduation taught us that we have always been the people we are now. As in, from childhood to adolescence to full-blown adulthood, we don’t really change. Our character, our morals, our interests, and our talents are all present from a young age.

Not to say that we’re incapable of change. Obviously, we mature. We learn from mistakes. I don’t say the same things I would say or do the same things I would do when I was thirteen.

But I have the same motives. My heart is the same.

I recently did a little exercise in my morning journal based off a prompt. What activities were highlights from each lifestage when you felt pleasure in what you were doing?

Here were my answers:

0-6: playing make believe

7-12: reading

13-18: theatre

19-22(the scale went to 24 but I haven’t gotten there yet so): writing

As you can probably tell, there’s a very clear line of action in what I like to do: stories and storytelling. And it goes full circle: I made my own stories, then read other stories, then performed those stories, and then made my own stories again.

And we’re all making our stories. The things you do today form who you will become tomorrow. Those letters that I wrote to myself, starting almost ten years ago, share smaller, neater versions of the person I was. Stack them on top of each other, and you get a picture of bigger, messier me.

Which is the whole point, I guess. Looking back at who I was to remind me of who I am now, not just to laugh or cringe or whatever, but to really value what I’ve gone through and where I’ve come from.

Thanks for tagging along with me, losers. Next week we’ll dive right back into the multi-layered world of pop culture.

Never thought you’d miss me writing about memes, now did you?