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 OK, I've decided - Northern Exposure is my favourite show ever. There's an episode about literature professors bickering about deconstruction. There's an episode where they go fishing and get a rabbi. There's an episode about sad, rogue ex KGB agents. 

Why, yes, my seminar paper is due in like two weeks, why do you ask? 
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I've been watching Gilmore Girls and have some very mixed opinions...does anyone know of anywhere to find some interesting writing about the show?


Aug. 12th, 2014 08:52 pm
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I just found out i've been accepted for a ten-month community development fellowship in southern Burundi, starting in three weeks. I have no idea what to do. If this had come through a few months ago, I would have been all over it, angry, lonely and dying to get out of here. Now though...

I've started (literally yesterday) at two new jobs, both of which have some bearing on my supposed field of study. I feel very deeply like that's the kind of thing I don't have the privilege of tossing by the wayside. On the other hand, that feeling may well be irrational - one is only for a few months and the other has only a very tangential bearing. That is, if I'm proactive about it, I might be able to get myself in on some GIS futzing around there and some day stick that on my resume. The actual job however is basically manning a customer service hotline (albeit a reasonably interesting one - dealing with situations and emergencies that happen on hiking trips.) Both are very much low-wage, tempy student jobs.

I guess it's not so much that the work is particularly thrilling, as that it felt comfortable. Next year was shaping up into something I could imagine myself enjoying. Working in a place with a good atmosphere, starting my Master's, etc. I just generally feel like i've been on this weirdly positive kick lately (that has actually involved, well, being online considerably less) and some part of me keeps waiting for the bubble to burst. I've gotten back to regular exercise and to actually enjoying it, lost weight I had basically accepted was there for life, etc. (Don't worry, i'm still well into obese according to the BMI, but I don't feel unhealthy anymore, which I am enjoying the hell out of.) School has been pretty good - my grades have picked up, I've really enjoyed the classes I had this last semester, I feel like I'm fairly confidently on top of finishing everything I need to close my Bachelor's (AT FUCKING LAST) etc.

Then, i'm not good at social stuff. It's work for me, to maintain relationships. I spent five hours in a car with my boss at New Job today, and I felt exhausted by the end of it, all the making of small talk and sitting through silences. Ok, that may be most people, I recognize that, but that kind of thing I do know how to get through. It's the day to day of having friends that i'm just really bad at. It's taken me these four-five years of being back in the city, at the university, the sphere of activists, to get to a point where I feel like there's someone there I can go hang out with if I want to. I suspect that it's not that people have previously all hated me or anything, but that this good phase thing involves me being able to reach out and communicate and all that. (Lets not talk about men. Or possibly women. The statistics are lacking and I'm not into speculating. An increasingly uncomfortable void in my life, anyway...not that theres anything on the horizon there, but maybe a vauge feeling like at some point there could be? Dunno.)

And here? This city is on fire. Kids screaming racist slurs have taken over the streets at night. Work with the bus drivers union has gotten more serious lately, there's a ton of stuff to get done, and I feel like, maybe, I got this. Like i've got my bearings there and I know how to start building up to one hell of a strike and action, fuck yeah.

That's all the reasons not to leave here. Then there's all the reasons not to go there:

Are we really going to do any damn good? What the hell am I doing taking off on some fuzzy hippy fantasy of exotic adventure while I have real work, real local activism, as a local, to do here. We don't know the language (ok, there's supposed to be an intensive course,) we don't know the country, we don't know the work. There's reams written about the privileged idiocy of well-meaningly self involved (see above) white people stumbling about, much more interested in developing themselves than anything else. If i'm just looking for a bit of immersive travel, I can go Helpx for a month or two.

More selfishly, I'm just terrified i'll be bored out of my mind. There's no electricity, no internet, no running water for long stretches. (less worried about that, frankly.) It's back to a socially intense, communal living situation. Don't know if i'm up for that. I'm still getting my breath back from the last one, five years gone now. What will I read? How will I write?

It also means giving up on some school stuff, rushing other stuff, possibly not managing to finish the degree and certainly letting a few grades slide that I could improve if I was here in September.

(And my parents are freaking out. They were fine at first, and then they googled Burundi. They can't make me not go, but they can be so worried and scared that I...what do you do then? My dad wants to talk with someone at the program, like i'm a kid going to camp. What am I supposed to do, not let him? I, uh, also haven't told them that this is the first year the organization is actually sending volunteers to Burundi specifically.) 

Against all that...I really want to go. Or maybe I just really want to want to go. Or something. I know that I don't want to knuckle under a litany of part time jobs and making awkward small talk with my boss for another year. I know that if there's any way to do things right there, I can be good at it. I know I can learn a hell of a lot. I think this could be helpful in terms of figuring out life and career and stuff down the road. I know i've always wanted to live in more places, to get out of Jerusalem for a bit, any number of things. Suddenly it's just really scary. It feels like there's stuff worth staying for here, and i'm not used to that feeling.Maybe they'll go away by the time I come back. I would have been disappointed if they turned me down, I think, but I also had, have stuff I was getting on with. Why can't things change at a calm, measured pace I feel in control of? Why can't I see through processes i'm hopeful about at intervals convenient to me?

I suppose I could turn them down and re-apply next year. But I still feel like i'm not a person who just...gets into things she wants. (I bet no one does though.) An opportunity has come up - I can't just turn it down just like that. Besides, what, there won't be stuff i'll be in the middle of next year? Surely after undergrad is better than in the middle of a master's, right? And I don't want to turn them down, I want to do this, maybe for selfish reasons, but I want to.

Then again, I'm calming myself down with the knowledge that I can quit.

Anyway, dunno. These have been thoughts. All advice, assuming anyone got through that, is more than welcome.

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Whee. Characterization and science fiction and good plot and pacing. Conciousness is underpinned by empathy? Root embraces cyborgization? Does  the Machine has a plan, or does it have internal contradictions?
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Community - I gotta say, Abed's last  scene squicked me out pretty hard. I was just soooo embarassed for him there, and not in the good, think-about-these-things way. Just cringing.

Big Bang Theory - that was...dry. Sheldon's plot was ambitious, though Howard is the one that made it work. The other one was just kind of terrible. Never do earnestness, TBBT, it doesn't suit you and you don't need it.
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Ideal weekend: rain, books, tea, and geek comedy ftw. Tons of schoolwork, maybe less ideal, but some of it is actually really interesting.

(I went on a bureacuratic treasure hunt through the university and managed to sign up for an "introduction to lit theory" class, ("But why?" Lit department. "It sounds really interesting," I say. "You understand it's theory, yes? Just...theory.") and it's honest to god making me giddy. I'm sitting there in class while the prof explains the breaking of genre in Thelma and Louise and literally bouncing up and down a little. Structuralism! OMG, structuralism. Where has this been all my life?)

Anyway, ahem,

Community was pretty good, though on-the-nose social satire might not be their strongest suit. Read more... )

Interestingly meta episode from TBBT, which usually isn't meta in the slightest. Not as bleak as last week, but it had it's moments.

I got into an interesting argument elsewhere about which show is more politically progressive, and I really do have to go with TBBT, even though that maybe makes me insane. Community simply embraces a kind of post-modern fantasy of progressivism, you know? Both shows think the world is fucked and are critical of it, but Community creates an escape, while TBBT admits its power.

Characters on Community do escape, but into this fantasy world. (Community is at it's most interesting, I think, when it suddenly looks in the mirror and admits that Greendale isn't real life. But then it shies away from that again.) One that is properly racially diverse and celebrates education, growth and the ability of good friends and can-do spirit to get you through anything. TBBT has a bunch of people trying to do that, and failing. Dismally, pathetically and gracelessly, to an intrusive laughtrack and embarrassing jokes. (I find that hearbreaking and clear- eyed, but I see why it's not everyone's idea of a good time.)

It's just my usual argument about finding any kind of story that merely gets representation right more than a little politically tepid. Just because your show/book/whatever is wonderfully sensitive and inclusive of race/gender/orientation/etc, doesn't make it actively progressive, merely tolerable. (For example, Meljean Brooks books or even Brooklyn 99, at it's worst.) It can even obscure, rather than expose, the underlying structures of oppression.

I get that "exposing structures of oppression" might not be everyone's idea of a useful thing for a sitcom or a romance novel to do, but we're actually quite happy being super-critical of representation in precisely the most popular, omni-present sort of media. I really don't know which is more politically effective - the cynical exposure of misery or the presentation of a hopeful alternative.

It's very possible that the work the latter does, with the normalization of gay characters or women in the workplace or whatever else these things have contributed to has been more socially worthwhile. But as art, I prefer something like Scandal or The Big Bang Theory, or even Remington Steele, that subvert the post-modern progressive ideal by having it crash up against good old human folly and weakness. Showing the characters trapped in their socially curated needs to fit in, to be loved, to feel cool, strikes me as more interesting and more powerful than showing the people who've magically escaped.

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Seemed to solve it with shipping stuff here from the UK, which has better prices, more variety of sizes and oh, online shopping, which hasn't really caught on in Israel. Managed to sync up with a friend to buy enough stuff to qualify for free international shipping, were terribly pleased with ourselves...only to find New Look do not ship to Israel. Come on, you ship to Bahrain! There are like four people in Bahrain! Grrr, headdesk. I hate shopping. And I hate shopping that involves going into shops even more. Why, why must you make me go to the mall, global economy?
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God help me, I watch a lot of tv.

ok, I may ship Duncan/Britta a little. IDEK. Community )

There's my bleak, undignified, human-condition examining show again! Who's a good weird little sitcom? The Big Bang Theory )

I seem to be in a minority that saw the Boyle/Diaz stuff here as being shippy again?
Brooklyn 99 )

I haven't liked this season much, but Abbie is bringing out the worst in Jess and the worst in Schmidt and i'm kind of into that. New Girl )

Not a lot to say, except how much do I love that Sally really is this raging zealot and a cynical ambitious politician all at the same time? So much. Scandal )
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Can I get away with referencing Neal Stephenson in an academic essay, on urbanism in Doha, Qatar? 

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I see - and sympathize - with all complaining that no one is writing fic for your favourite rare pairing or obscure old fandom, but I will raise you all the sublime frustration that no one is writing serious meta for your critically unregarded comedy loves.

WHY can I not find a good analysis of the political subtext of Brooklyn Nine Nine? WHERE is the critical deconstruction of the narrative tools in How I Met Your Mother? HOW is no one jumping around on a barricade about class issues in Community? Why dost thou betray me and leave out to dry and with no one to talk to, oh fandom?

I'm going to sit here and stare at the wall, y'all.

Well, at the books, because I'm in a library.

Ooh, that one looks interesting.

Apropos, do you know how incredibly boring, obvious and unimaginative most serious books about tv are? All that "Philosophy of Mad Men" (we have no less than 3 books about Mad Men, and the series isn't even done!) or Women on TV: from Lucy to Friends type stuff. I sort through them a lot because that section tends to be a perennial mess, and SO OBVIOUS.


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