I was a big fan of Seventh Heaven in my twenties. I liked its earnestness in a time in Portland, Oregon when irony was king. I feel the same way about Nashville, but without the cheesy doses of watered down religion.
Nashville’s characters are some of the more “real” characters on TV. They are cast in all manner of human. The love triangle with Rayna is so well done I can’t help, but identify with her struggle. At first glance one roots for the passion she and Deacon have, but then as I get to know her marriage with Teddy better I find that I am also rooting for their marriage. To me that is when things get interesting in the human dynamic. They are not black and white. What does it mean to love one man and another family? There is no clear choice. It is a subtlety most shows don’t have the time for, but this show painstakingly creates characters with depth, reason, and an ability to hold with complexity.
The other characters are equally complex. Scarlett seems like she would be cast as the good girl who follows all the rules, and no doubt she is, but she is also in a moment of her own humanity and gives into her desire for Avery sleeping with him again after they break up. Although she is upset with him at the end of the scene the writers don’t apologize for her behavior, they explain it in no nonsense terms, hot sex was never the couple’s problem. It allows the good sex to co-exist with bad relationship and gives her space to respect that chemistry and still choose to end the relationship. She doesn’t have to make him all bad in order for her to leave.
I also appreciate the consistency of the characters, the characters are not changed from who they fundamentally are to fit the story line. The story line molds around them to let the characters grow. When Teddy lashes out at Lamar for threatening to out his daughter to her real father you get the sense that yes, although Teddy is a bit of a push over, this strength he has for defending his family doesn’t feel forced because he cares about his girls with a passion he clearly does not have for his career. It is logical that he would find the strength to stand up to Lamar to defend him.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Carson?
I know I should like the park, and I might like it a bit more if it served glasses of rosé in the summer and whisky in the winter, but even in hip San Francisco I have yet to see moms dads or nannies imbibing on the playground.
Of course I like moments at the park. Seeing my daughter’s face light up like a Christmas tree from a block away is delightful. Hearing her gleeful laughs as she tugs at the swing is an exercise in making me love her more. Watching her struggle up the stairs only to be pleased as punch with herself when she gains them swells my heart with pride. These are unmatched moments of joy for me, moments I have no doubt I will be missing soon enough and only wishing I had had more of them, but in the meantime I wonder how I am going to make it through the next 6-8 years of tedium. Are 10 year-olds allowed to go the park by themselves?
Every time I resent full-time employment and the time I miss with my daughter I remind myself that if I weren’t gainfully employed I would have to take her to the park everyday. Her nanny takes her twice a day. Incomprehensible. That thought motivates me on even my darkest mornings as I am running out the door, forgetting my keys, 10 minutes late, my daughter crying at the door for me not to leave. When the tears gather in my eyes and I start to feel sorry for myself if the thought “At least I don’t have to take her to the park today” pops into my mind it can turn my whole morning around.
It is not that I am opposed to the park on principle. On principle it is a very good idea. Children should have places to run around and explore. It is imperative. I fully support the idea of parks, it is the execution that gets me. Partly it is that my daughter needs constant supervision. She is a 16 month old with a plan. Her plan is to climb anything and walk anywhere, the more there are older kids around the better. She wants to be where they are. There is no taking a hands off approach to my daughter at the park, not unless I am willing to end the visit with a trip to the emergency room. I am on her leash. Where she goes I am sure to follow. I concentrate on her for minutes on end with no room for thoughts of my own other my anxiety rising each time she gets near a four foot drop off a play structure.
If only my boredom were the worst of it. It isn’t. The park Is often rift with complex social interactions for which I have no finesse. I dread the small talk with strangers. Awkwardly pushing our respective children on the swings trying to suss out if this person wants to talk in the first place. Sometimes the child helps with this by flashing a crazy smile, to which you can respond, “Are you saying “hi”? or “Is the swing fun?” Then if it feels right the adult questions start: “How old is your child? What is his/her name? Do you live in the neighborhood? Even worse if it is a guy. If I am talking to a father the neurotic thought process is something closer to: “I look like crap.” “Does he have a ring?” “Does he see that I do?? And all of this often before noon and sober. In theory I should be thrilled to “connect” with other moms and dads and nannies. We don’t have a lot of friends with kids in our immediate neighborhood and as daughter gets older it would be great for her to have children near-by who she can play with, but I have never been good at making friends simply because I have something in common with someone (like we both have a child/children), so my efforts feel contrived.
So in a few years (when my daughter can be trusted not to walk off a 5 foot platform into the air) if you see a graying brunette sitting on a bench sipping what looks like a tumbler of whisky come on over and I’ll be happy to pour you a glass and I promise not to ask what school your son/daughter attends.
What do you want in 2013? That is the question I want to ask all of my friends margies group and beyond. 40 is getting closer and what do you want? More romantic dates? End suffering? The baby to sleep through the night? Engage in the political process? Go to the gym? Draw more? Cook more? Start a family? Add to your family? Write more? What do you want and how are you going to get there? It goes without saying I want most of the above, but really what I want in 2013 is to accept my cynicism about the “joys” and trappings of parenting. I want to accept that my cynicism can co-exist as a voice right along next to my love and adoration of my daughter. My cynical voice is a good one. It is often funny, witty and on point. It focuses on the absurd with a lucidity I can’t find elsewhere and as long as I don’t let it rule the roost I need to accept it and let it speak up.
A good friend of mine recently sent me the book Drunk, Naked and Writing, by Adair Lara. She quotes J.P. Donleavy about writing, “Writing is turning your worst moments into money.” So for me 2013 is going to be about embracing the cynical voice rather than trying to smother it out of fear that I will be judged as a bad mom. In that light my first post of 2013 is going be about how the park bores me to distraction.