Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Real Housewives of Disneyland

Walt Disney has been responsible for mentally screwing my generation since we were children. First of all, the whole giant-curvy-G-that’s-actually-a-D thing. I mean, who wasn’t unbelievably confused when they were trying to integrate print letters and cursive letters into one understandable alphabet as an elementary school student when BOOM, Walt Gisney comes along and starts signing his name with giant curvy G’s that are SUPPOSED to be D’s. Thanks, Walt. You’re keeping me hooked-on-phonics for that much longer. But, I digress.

I think the most amazing thing about Walt Disney’s legacy (apart from two giant theme parks that bring in a bazillion dollars a year) is the cornerstone his cartoons have become for future relationships. I don’t really know how it was for guys growing up, but I know that for me and my sister, we were put in front of the VCR to watch the classics: Beauty and the Beast, Mulan (my personal favorite), Hercules (second personal favorite), Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, and several others. These were the stories that would later mold my perceptions of adult romances: guy and girl meet for one day. Weird and evil thing separates them. Man rescues woman (generally with a kiss). Boom. Love. That’s how it happens, right?

It doesn't take a long time to realize it: all of the Disney stories are increibly dysfunctional. I have decided to write an (unoriginal) expose on some of the relationships of Disney Avenue. It seems like these princes and princesses were meant for each other if they were willing to settle for these crazy shenanigans that sent them riding off into the sunset together.

The girl grows up alternating between singing to wildlife and cleaning up her stepmother’s and stepsisters’ filth. (Or was it cinders? Yes. She was cleaning their cinders. How do people accumulate those, anyway? Do I have cinders? Must check this). On the one night she’s able to sneak away, girl goes and loses a shoe that some crazy old flying lady gave her. The man of her dreams, Prince Charming of royal pedigree who falls in love with her at first sight, only seems to be able to remember her after putting a shoe on every wedding-crazy girl in the land. Oh yes, that seems like true love to me. I wonder how the rest of that marriage plays out. Is it 50 First Dates style? Does he need to wake up every morning and tenderly place her Ugg slipper on her foot, just to realize he’s not sleeping next to some one-night stand? I’d say good old Elly deserves better, but anyone who chooses to settle with the first male contact they ever have might not be ready for more.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves:
This is a combination of everything our parents have ever warned us about: Stranger Danger, roofies, and the danger of living with more than one man. Snow White goes to live with 7 men (ummmm, how was that even a good idea? What is that bathroom situation even like? WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU VOLUNTARILY PUT YOURSELF THROUGH THAT) after being cast out of her home by her wench-like stepmother (who also tried to have her killed). (Hey Walt Gisney, by the way: thanks for making sure that any future woman who marries a man with kids is doomed from the start). Snow White goes about her daily routine: singing at wildlife and delighting in cleaning up after about half a Baker's dozen of men. Snow White then eats an apple that some decrepit traveling old lady gives her (Take note, little girls, you should always take candy from strangers). She falls, almost predictably, into a coma. The prince, who previously fell in love with Snow White post-seeing her sing by a Wishing Well (OBVIOUSLY), revives her with true love's kiss (DOUBLE DUH). That must have been some kiss. I imagine the man must have marinated his tongue in Listerine Mouthwash for about 3 days prior to such a kiss. This movie would eventually lead all girls born after 1940 to believe that THE KISS would be SUCH a meeting of lips that wildlife would rejoice, people would be awoken from comas, and a wedding veil would immediately sprout out of one's head. (P.S. Snow White and Prince Charming were then married based on a strong foundation of one day together in the woods and one soul-shaking kiss. Seems legit).

Sleeping Beauty:
This one had a slightly different formula than the stepmother-casts-her-out-to-fend-for-herself-and-play-with-squirrels plan. Aurora (talk about a one knows this girl's actual name, they just refer to her as a tramp who can't wake up) is born to late-in-life parents who, upon the blessed day of her birth, immediately promise her to a prince in another kingdom. (Nothing says 'we've been waiting for you, oh precious daughter' more than immediately figuring out who to marry her off to). Fairies come to bless the baby, and after giving her the gifts of beauty and song, Ms. Bitter Fairy Maleficient casts a spell that will cause Aurora to die after pricking her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday. (Common problems for parents of 16 year old girls: texting, drunk driving, premarital relations, pregnancy, and spinning wheels). The good fairies steal Aurora away into the woods to be kept safe and spinning-wheel-free until her 16th birthday. Of course, Aurora is singing to wildlife (I know what I'll be doing this weekend to snare a man), and falls instantly in love with a prince who is also just hanging out in the woods (are the woods the new version of a singles bar? Of Time passes, curiosity kills the cat, and Aurora pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls into, you guessed it, a coma that only true love can reverse. Prince searches high and low for Aurora, finds her, and kisses her awake. (How do all of these girls get so many men just by laying around in comas all day? If I sleep for 20+ hours, all I wake up to is horrific breath and pillowcase creases that turn my face into that of a fetus.) A wedding veil then sprouts out of her head, and they are also married in a grand ceremony (likely performed in song, like every other previous part of their relationship). 

At this point, the Gisney crew seems to have woken up a little bit and has at least moved on from the normal girl/guy/true love's kiss formula to something a bit different. In this movie, Stranger Danger is yet again thrown to the wind, and this time we're riding magic carpets (I'm assuming this is some sort of metaphor for 'getting high') and playing with tigers. Jasmine, the Kim Kardashian-look alike cartoon, has thwarted her father's wishes and disappeared outside the palace walls to show her dad just what she thinks of his plan for her arranged marriage. While living big and hanging out in the market place (all girls just wanna have fun...and hang out in open-air markets), she encounters a thief. Not just any thief, but a good-looking one. (Girls, this makes it okay to hang out with a guy who lies/cheats/steals). Jasmine is dazzled, and Aladdin eventually realizes that he has to lie to keep Jasmine's attention. (Men, take note: if you've already attracted a girl with your actual attributes, really seal the deal with elaborate lies regarding your background and financial income). In the end, after battling evil members of the royal staff and singing some dazzling musical numbers with a hilarious blue genie in harem pants, Jasmine and Aladdin are wed. Apart from the lies and the strong use of magic to court the girl, I can stand behind this relationship, because at least they knew each other for more than 10 minutes. Also, as my friend Erica pointed out, the most unbelievable part of the story was really that a girl and a tiger lived in such close quarters so comfortably. Hasn't the girl ever heard of Siegfried and Roy?

In the end, the lesson we learn from Disney is that when you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you (likely in the woods, after you've been magically tranced into a coma that requires true love's first kiss to awaken you). With these expectations, best of luck in the dating world, friends.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

But seriously, who left me in charge?

Leaving college, in my mind, is somewhat similar to being pushed out of a lovely, fully padded, alcohol-filled plane full of your friends and naps. On this plane, you are safe. You are 'figuring out what you want to do'. You are 'experimenting'. And by experimenting, I mean rationalizing not going to class because you have the world's worst hangover and nothing has ever felt as right as these sweatpants and you already knew the lesson anyway and the TA isn't very nice and you can suck up to that guy who has those notes and okay, bed it is. You are going out on weekends to hideous frat houses, you are taking courses like 'Yiddish Love stories' to fill ridiculous prerequisite requirements, and most of all, you are in a bubble where it's okay to be unsure of what you're doing. 

Then you leave college. Maybe you move back in with your parents. Maybe you have a weird job that you will definitely only be doing for 6 more months to pay the bills. Maybe you follow your love interest or your hobby or a band out to some random state and make a new life there. Maybe you're a big shot with a shiny fresh college degree that you display next to your shiny new suits and your shiny new microwave. Either way, the game changes. People expect things of you. You are responsible for things. You are IN CHARGE. Tasks, ranging from the most menial to the most complex, are now your problem. Yes, people might be double-checking your actions, but overall, oh hey, this is your thing now. We trust you to get it done, and get it done right. And while that's awesome, it's also horrifically terrifying.

When I got into nursing school, I was ecstatic. Shocked. Overjoyed. Nauseous. And in a fit of joy later that day, I ended up using hair conditioner on my face in an accidental misguided attempt to use it as a facial scrub. And while my eyelashes were super soft, it made me beg the question: How do I stop my face from radiating expensive foreign oil smells? And also, WHO left me in charge? I mean, I more often than not eat the sticker on the apple. I am constantly knocking over glasses of water, I can't remember why I go into a room half the time, and when I get nervous and I am pressured for an answer I usually just spit out the first thing that comes to mind---"FORK" (uhhhh no, the answer we were looking for was 'seven.'") All in all, none of these things inspire the confidence of "Yes, I should be legally allowed to inject people with things. Kindly hand me that needle so we can get started".

Within the past 2 weeks, I have packed up 8 boxes and 4 suitcases full of clothes and kitchen appliances and twenty silver mercury glass accent pieces (my policy on decorating is if it all looks the same, it must match) and planed, trained, and automobiled my way to a new city. I have crammed everything into a matchbox apartment teetering at the top of a number of stairs that Rapunzel would be jealous of. Everyday I catch a shuttle to an amazing school parked outside of a beautiful ship and sit through lectures about vital signs and care plans. And I love every second of it. But coupled with that love is an honest gut-wrenching fear to start *doing* things*. Excitement as well, of course, but with a thin veil of terror that makes me stress eat just a *tiny* bit more (which puts me up to eating a total of 1.5 lbs of pasta per sitting). What if I'm horrible at nursing? What if I mess up and hurt/maim/kill someone? I've had some very sweet friends and colleagues tell me not to worry, but they're not the ones tripping on their own feet and nearly burning down the house via flaming potato (true story). I mean, for God's sake, I once vacuumed the cord back into the vacuum and blew out the fuse box for half of my house. But by all means, place the care of your frail mother into my clumsy accident-prone hands.

I think the best way to describe the fear is having the knowledge that you’re at that moment where you become the person behind the curtain. All of our lives, we’ve grown up and worked towards goals. We've been told to take certain paths and do certain things to achieve a future. We went to classes and did extracurricular activities and hired tutors and filled out mind numbing essays and sat through review sessions so that one day, we could fill out our resumes and get into that job, that school, or that internship that would make us what we wanted to be. But how about the moment when you’re actually handed the scalpel, the wheel, the needle, the pen, the machine? What about the moment when you become what you’ve been working for? What if you’re not right for it? What if you fail?

I know that the only way to answer those questions is just to do, to try, to be. Everyone was new at some point, and one day I will look back and laugh at that time where I didn't blink for 7 hours straight because I was too nervous about missing something. As people get older, they have no choice but to grow, in some capacity, because time changes and they see or think new things. But to me, there is not greater rate of growth than when you're thrown into something in the baptism by fire scenario. You're thrown headfirst into the deep end, and whatever you scramble to do or say first shows how you'll handle yourself and the situation. In the end, you walk out stronger, more experienced, and shaking like a leaf on heroin. And as I age (weird), I realize that it's better to have done something and screwed up, instead of wondering years later what would have happened if I'd just bitten the bullet and jumped, or spoken up, or joined that club, or taken the stage.

So, I guess, here it goes. :)