About a Boy, San Francisco, and Filming On Location

Since I’ve clearly documented my love of all things Olympics (here), it will come as no surprise that I spent my evenings in Florida glued to NBC’s coverage. I even watched the entirety of the documentary about the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harrding story, which I am just a bit too young to remember. And since I didn’t have anything else to do, I figured I might as well stick around for the pilots of About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher.

Both were interesting in the how-are-they-going-to-make-a-series-out-of-this sort of way, but I was most interested in About a Boy. I’m not usually a sitcom gal, but it was the setting of this show that piqued my interest the most. San Francisco. Anything filmed on location in San Francisco (and yes, it was definitely filmed on location) makes me ask a million questions.

With any TV show or movie set in any major city there are bound to be geographical and logistic questions. For one, where do they actually live? Of course Will would be able to afford to live anywhere with money to spare from a hit song, but with Fiona unemployed, it doesn’t seem like they would fit in the same neighborhood. Where does Markus go to school? The flier said Oakland, but why would they live in the city and then commute to Oakland? Unemployment rules out private school and the lottery system isn’t THAT crazy.

Beyond that there are the unrealistic convenience factors. We already know that characters don’t look for parking spaces. But even so it’s border-line impossible that Dakota was able to find a parking space right in front of Will’s house, never mind on the same block.

These idiosyncrasies are what makes watching TV shows and movies filmed in familiar cities exciting. I hope that About a Boy will be able to keep filming on location, and I am always excited to see San Francisco or Chicago on my TV. When TV show film on location, the local becomes a part of the show’s character and only adds to the magic.

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Sherlock Season 3 and A Question of Ethics

I’m not the first person to question Steven Moffet’s female characters, and I’m sure I won’t be the last, but the opening scene of the Sherlock season 3 finale (pictured above) struck me as particularly revolting. I’ll admit to being a bit behind on the times, but I’ve had this on my mind this week and need to get it out.

Sherlock SPOILERS ahead

Of course they wanted to make their newest villain terrible, and the message came across loud and clear, but another message was sent out as well. Of course, as always, it’s nearly impossible to know another person’s opinions on something from subtext in something they create, I’ve noticed the message of women as secondary – and subsidiary – characters come across in much of Moffet’s writing (Sherlock, Doctor Who, and to a different tune, Coupling)

Reading into the subtext, women – even women in power – are always going to end up submitting to whatever men want. This message comes across clearly to me, but it subtle enough that it isn’t the first thing commented on. Instead, the idea simmers on the minds of viewers without them even realizing it. And because it more or less matches what the rest of society is telling us about a woman’s role, it’s easily falls into subconsciousness.

Even past the opening scene, we see a Mary Watson in a new light. Mary is a powerful woman filled with mysteries that we will probably never really know. She was able to fool Sherlock, which (him being the all-powerful, male protagonist) is no easy feet.

When we are first introduced to this new version of Mary, I was excited. Finally. A female character who is pure strength. Who doesn’t used her sexuality as her defining tool. Finally, some progress has been made and we get to see a new type of lady from Moffet’s pen.

My dream is dashed when John confronts Mary. Instead of seeing a couple who deals with the emotions of a relationship partially built on a lie, John (literally) throws the information into the fire. He claims that he doesn’t care what her past is. What I hear instead is that he couldn’t deal with the idea of what she might be. Mary is an assassin. She is likely a foreign intelligence agent gone rouge. She is a great match for Sherlock and would make a great addition to their team.

And who knows, maybe she still will be a part of the thrilling team that John and Sherlock have become. But the question of Mary’s past and the story of what forced her into hiding, it’s probably never going to be told. And that’s so frustrating to me because I want to know!

The question becomes – since there are many fantastic elements to Sherlock and his adventures – should we submit ourselves to these subliminal messages to be entertained for a few hours with a fantastic mystery? Once these messages are seen, how can watching and supporting the show be justified if the goal of equality is ever going to be reached?

I don’t know the answer, but I ask questions like these constantly. In fact, Sherlock is only the most recent television show to bring the question up. Similar questions can be asked about the majority of written, produced, and distributed content. A combination of ‘how can they make that?’ and ‘how can I support it by consuming it?’

Honesty, Honesty, Honesty

Lately I’ve been trying to be really, truly honest with myself. With where I’m at right now and what I really want to be doing with my time since I have so much of it. I get frustrated when I spend days on end procrastinating moving forward in my career. I justify it by saying that I don’t have a job. I don’t have a schedule. I’ve only just graduated.

While all these things are true, making excuses won’t magically get me what I want. I need to be accountable. I need to lean in to this community I’ve been a part of and trust in their support. And I’m trying. I’m hoping and praying that my time isn’t wasted.

Don’t get me wrong, I know all the reassuring phrases. Yes, it’s only for a little while. I know, something will come. I know that I need to “Not be so hard on myself” (I don’t think I’m actually being hard on myself). Don’t get discouraged, keep my chin up. All those things.

But to be honest – and as I believe we’ve established, that is the goal – these platitudes only serve to make me more frustrated. While I’m more or less happy with where I’m at, these cliches make me think I shouldn’t be allowed that calm. Instead of saying “You’ll be okay,” they seem to ask me instead, “Why aren’t you freaking out more?”

In an effort to be more honest, I’m going to stop people from saying these things. “How’s it going?” It’s going fine, I’m vaguely looking for work and spending time on other life skills in the mean time. Like investing in myself and figuring out how I work best. “How was my week?” It was slow. Gloriously, relaxingly slow. And I am completely okay with that.

One Little Word: Planning FREEdom

This year I am taking my one word theme for the year “Free” and crafting it into four different focuses throughout the year. I find that a month is never enough to go into as much depth as I wanted to; with this system I can spend a more extended period of time on a few things over a season.

For the first quarter my focus is “Planning Freedom”, so for the first three months of this year I am working on setting myself up for 2014 and beyond. As it’s currently halfway through the first quarter of the year, this is the midpoint for the three main goals I made in conjunction with Planning Freedom.

Find a Job

The first and biggest goal is to find a job. While I have been working on this, I don’t feel that I have any solid leads yet. Every time I get one, it goes cold as soon as I follow up. On the bright side, I a friend of mine told me this month that the average amount of time someone looks for a job is 3-6 months, in which case I am still on track. And goodness, I hope I am not still looking for a job in six months!

Blog Redesign

The next big goal is to work on revamping the blog, which I’m excited about. I met with a friend of mine who is a graphic designer last week, and she will be helping me with branding. I am so glad to get started on this since I’ve spent so long hoping that it would just happen by magic. I know that’s not how life works, but I kept hoping.

Create Good Habits

The third and last goal is to cultivate good habits, which sounds vauge and strange, but mostly means that I want to create a really solid routine that I can fall back on when I don’t have a specific plan. This is probably the one that I have made the most progress on, though I would hardly say I’m done. Routines are things that are set and then tweaked and changed to be what is needed. While I have a general schedule for my day, I am changing it every week.

Unfortunately this task will probably never be “done”, but the goal is the get to a point where I am a fully functioning human as opposed to a Netflix watching machine and that is most certainly within reach.

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Overall I think that I’m pretty much on track with where I want to be to achive all these before the end of March (the end of the first quarter), which is fantastic. I am already thinking about and planning for my goals April to July, which is a great feeling. Actively looking ahead is always better than reacting to whatever comes next.

What are you working on through this season?

#Sochi2014

Oh Sochi! I feel that with all the political and social and economic parts that are moving in sync – and out of sync – with these games, anything I say for or against them is going to be considered a statement of some sort. Can we agree that the only statement I want to make is on the comradery and the together-ness that the Olympics can bring? Okay? Okay.

I’m not really one for sports, so for the most part when people talk about football or even baseball my eyes glaze over a bit and I tune out. The Olympics on the other hand are a completely different experience. I love nearly everything about the games from the opening ceremony (I cried) to the stories they weave in about the athletes (more tears) to the events themselves.

Part of me being so excited about this year’s games might be because I was hardly able to watch any coverage of the 2012 games in London. I spent the two weeks of those games in final preparations for What Moves You? and then traveling from there. While I appreciate the Olympic experience while traveling, this time is different.

Watching an Opening Ceremony with hundreds of people in the heart of Berlin is fantastic, but I couldn’t help but be frustrated when the overlaying commentary was in German and it drowned out what I could understand in English. I only caught snippets of events from hotel lounges and bars as Allason and I travelled. When the games ended we watched the Closing Ceremony in our hotel room in Rome.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that I was traveling and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for all the Olympics coverage in the world, but watching these winter games has made me realize what I missed. So I cleared out my DVR to make room for as much Olympic action as possible.

I am continually moved by the power and grace that these athletes display. I can’t even imagine doing some of the things they are routinely practicing and performing in, but am simply in awe of their talents.

Different Now

I find myself constantly frustrated with my inability to blog. I was going for a solid year with four posts a week and I was really happy with that. It was challenging, but also rewarding to be so consistent, and it’s aggravating that I can’t seem to get back into any sort of system.

When I started concentrating on blogging was when I was in Berlin. That was the most exhausting four weeks of my life, and yet I made the time to blog. How is it that now – with days I don’t even leave my apartment – I find myself unable to create content? While I was trying to fall asleep the answer came to me.

It’s simple really. I’m a different person now. And I process things differently now. For whatever reason, I didn’t even have a journal that summer, whereas now I’m filling reams of pages with thoughts, feelings, ideas, and priorities.

That summer I needed the space my blog provided to sort thought my emotions. I was surrounded by people constantly, and desperately needed the space of writing regardless of weather anyone was listening. When I returned home I continued blogging because I had found a stress release.

Last fall things changed. I was once again surrounded by people and this time I was constantly working off a to do list that stretched from Labor Day to Christmas, but blogging didn’t feel safe anymore. I was afraid of someone I worked with finding my blog and taking offense to something I revealed without realizing my mistake.

This isn’t an announcement that I am going to stop blogging or even that I want to. I just need to spend some time looking at what blogging is going to look like now. I’m in a different place now than I was when I started this blog. So subsequently, my blog content is going to be different too.

And that’s okay.

Instagram Friday

I am loving Instagram! I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have been, and it’s great to follow friends, companies, and celebrities. As a way to bring out more of my favorite new social medium, I’m going to post one Instagram picture every Friday, my favorite from the week.

Follow me @rachapierce!

Lacrosse with Maggie. #latergram

A post shared by Rachel Pierce (@thejuniebird) on

Don’t Break the Chain

Every time I have been without a hard and fast schedule I have had the worst time waking up at a reasonable hour. I like mornings, but when I don’t have a reason to get up I’ll sleep til noon if I’m not careful.

I hate doing that though. I feel like the day is wasted and I spend the rest of my time playing catch up. I wind up staying up late to try and get things done, but it only serves to continue the cycle.

I’ve tried willing myself up and setting my alarm across the room. No matter what trick I tried, I never had success until recently.

Don’t break the chain is essentially a game of chicken I’m playing with myself. It’s a challenge to do the same thing every day without skipping – breaking the chain – with no reward other than a huge sense of accomplishment. This could easily work with anything you want to get into the habit of doing every day. For me, it’s getting up early.

My goal is to go 21 days straight waking up before 9am. I’ll admit that this game isn’t the only thing that helps. I also have friends checking up on me though the week and I’m using sleepyti.me, a web-based sleep calculator to help me wake up and go to sleep within a reasonable rhythm, but so far this is the best motivation yet.

I’m loving this so far. It’s been a week and even within that I’ve broken it, but somehow this method makes it easy to bounce back. I look forward to using this method to create new habits and create a ritual out of routine.

How do you motivate yourself?

This Will Be: February 2014

In a lot of ways February is going to be filled with much of the same stuff that January was filled with. Sending my resume out, watching lot’s of Netflix, blogging, spending time with friends. I’m excited to see what this month has in store for me.

A few little goals for the month:

Re-arrange my kitchen – I’ve been meaning to do this since I moved in and this strech of unemployment is the perfect time.

Clean apartment windows from the outside – I’m on the ground floor, so this shouldn’t be too hard, but we’ll see how it goes.

Get a 2014 calendar! – I can’t believe I still don’t have one!

Use my zipcar credit – I wound up with ~$35 worth of zipcredit on my account when there the car wasn’t there last week. I think I’ll use it to go out for a day, but I’m not sure what to do/where to go.

One Little Word check in – Just a halfway checkpoint to make sure I’m on track.

Start off Instagram right – I got an Instagram account a few days ago and am loving it so far, but trying to pace myself. I don’t want to post a lot and then suddenly stop, so I’m trying to stick to ~1 photo a day.

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Do you have any little goals for the month of February?

Follow me on Instagram! I’ll probably follow you back.