Unrealistic Friendspecations

Unrealistic Expectations from Friends TV show blog nerd

As a single, 30-something who was living in New York until a short time ago, I relate to the beloved TV show, Friends, on so many levels. Too many to count. There is no show that means so much to me and has influenced my life the way Friends has (with Seinfeld coming in at a close second.)

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I didn’t watch Friends when it first aired in 1994. I was only 12 and my parents did not find it appropriate viewing material for a 12 year old girl. They were right, of course. But that didn’t keep me from wanting to watch it and it certainly didn’t keep me from tuning in the minute I was old enough and watching it till it ended in 2004, when I was a junior in college.

Looking back, I now know that it played a huge part in my eventual move to the big city. The entire first year I lived in New York felt like a dream, like I was in an episode of Friends. I’d see a street sign or a coffee shop and dream of Central Perk and the 6 most quotable characters in the history of TV. Tell me you don’t say this in Chandler’s voice when you read it “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?” Well, Joey doing Chandler’s voice, but I’ll bet you knew that too.

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As much as Friends will always have that place in my heart and that finale will continue to make me cry even after I’ve seen it dozens of times, I do think that Monica, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe and Rachel created some unprecedented expectations of what friendship could look like, but usually doesn’t. Where most shows up to that point (again, besides Seinfeld) were about family units or couples getting together, Friends was something altogether different. A set of 6 inseparable Friends who created a family away from family. They did everything together and remained connected for 10+ years (we know they are still together in TV land somewhere.)

Think of all the Christmases and Thanksgivings they spent, not with their nuclear families, but with each other. Think of their trips to Vegas, Barbados and London. The jobs that were forgotten the minute something came up. The family that was forgotten in lieu of the family unit that was created in New York City. Shared life stage and values bonded them in a way that has just never been seen since Friends left the small screen. How I Met Your Mother touches on those element and at times feels similar, but it doesn’t manage to touch the level of nostalgia and love that people (and I) have for Friends.

At the same time, what was created between the 6 of them is as unattainable in real life as a Ross and Rachel friendlationship is. People don’t drop everything to go to Barbados with you, much less for a work conference they have no interest in. You’d be lucky to have one or two good friends show up at your destination wedding, much less the whole pack (minus a pregnant Phoebe.)

I can’t even get some of my friends on Skype most days, much less entice them away from their families, their jobs and their lives to come play with me at Disney. It’s less a complaint and more a realization that real life is just that much harder sometimes, than an episode of Friends (realization may be a little strong.)

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I miss what I found in New York and the brief moment that I grasped onto what it was like to have capital F, Friends. A group of people who were pursuing things the way I was. People who were bonded together in the face of a strange, transient city like New York.

Sure, we didn’t drop everything for each other, every single day. And because New York is so expensive, we all really did have to work most of the time, making it very difficult impossible to sit around in a coffee shop all day, talking about relationships and about our feelings. It just didn’t happen. That’s a beautiful dream that only can live in TV land.

But I think that’s what made Friends so popular and such a strong show with staying power. That kind of Friendship is what we all hope to find. The kind that can last 10+ years and weather being on a break and children and marriages and stuff. When you find that kind of capital F, Friend…hold onto them and never let them go!!

And now…my favorite Friend, Chandler:

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Quality over Quantity

Pick your friend's nose E Cards friendship blog post

Think back to when you were in the 2nd grade. How many friends did you have? If you’re a social butterfly like me, then you had lots of friends. I knew practically everyone in the 2nd grade at my little, country elementary school and they all knew me. I was the one who was always on the play ground holding court and making sure everyone had room on the jungle gym. If you can’t get along on the jungle gym then there’s no hope for you in the halls of a school. I tried very hard to make people feel welcome and accepted, which lead to my bevy of friends.

Jungle Gym Unsplash photos by Daniel Ruyter blog post friendship
Photo: Unsplash.com by Daniel Ruyter

Flash forward to high school and gym time was an entirely different story. Not only do jungle gyms disappear in 6th grade (sadly) but so did my popularity. In 6th grade I began to show signs of becoming awkwardly tall and awkward in personality. The quirks that set you apart and make you cool when you’re little, immediately are seen as weird when you hit middle school. It’s all about homogeny and I wasn’t good at that game. So, I had a couple friends that were my besties, but that was really it. All the awkwardness of middle school was only exacerbated by age and my entrance into high school. And to some degree it continued into college.

The older I got the smaller my pool of friends became. In my head, I still had this picture of me on the jungle gym surrounded by all kinds of people, all kinds of friends. The friends that will get your back in a fight. The friends that will tell you it’s stupid to fight. The friends that started the fight. The friends who are fighting you. The friends on the sidelines cheering you on. I’m the kind of girl that cherishes all the friends. The more the merry.

So, to have a handful still throws me sometimes. I feel like I’m doing something wrong if I invite my friends to my party and 4 people show up. It doesn’t diminish the importance of those 4 friends, it’s just that sometimes my head doesn’t reconcile itself to my present reality. It may sound juvenile or silly, but what it really is, is completely honest. I have a hard time with reality. Especially when I paint really gorgeous thoughts and ideas in my head. Why wouldn’t I want to spend more time up there?

Friendship blog post Unsplash photos by Brooke Cagle
Photo: Unsplash.com by Brooke Cagle

See, in my head, it’s easy to be friends with people, but in reality it is difficult to be a friend and have friends sometimes. Especially when most of my besties are far, far away. There are times when I think that I’d make a better cave person than a friend. I want so desperately to do life with people that I care about, that I forget that there are people who don’t want to do life with me back. It’s still a new concept for me, hopeless optimist that I am. But it has become part of my present reality. A decidedly painful reality.

I get it. We all have one life to live and we have to make choices about who gets our time. Time is very important to me, so I understand spending it well. I guess the thought that I would be someone undeserving of a person’s time and energy is just so baffling, because I find myself occasionally delightful at best and moderately tolerable at worst. I hope that doesn’t sound narcissistic. It’s just that I spent all those awkward teen and college years trying to be anyone else. And I’ve finally accepted that I’m a pretty neat person. So I don’t apologize for liking myself after all this time. Liking yourself is a gift!

With that in mind, I want to give the time that is allotted to me to those individuals who enhance my life’s journey. And what I’ve learned is that quantity does not matter. Who cares how many friends you have? What matters is who will show up when you need them the most. The quality of friendship far outweighs the latter.

I am blessed to count on my hands a number of people who would drop everything to take my call. And who I would do the same for. I hate to make it sound harsh and I truly hate adulting. While cutting out the chaff may be difficult, it is a vitally important step in the process of growing up.

That’s not to say that I don’t still sometimes wish I was back on the jungle gym where things were easy and you became friends with someone simply because you were both wearing the same color…it’s just not physically true anymore. And I don’t have time for the fair-weather friends of the world. What happens when the storm comes? Who’s holding the umbrella with you? That’s the friend I want in my corner. It’s the kind of friend I hope that I am to my quality handful.

Friendship blog post  Unsplash photos by Pavel Badrtdinov
Photo: Unsplash.com by Pavel Badrtdinov

You’d think that social media would help immensely with this friendship problem, but it only muddies the waters. It only creates a false sense  of closeness with people who let go of you a long time ago and you just forgot to delete from your contact list. So, gentle reader, choose quality over quantity. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose…unless they’re a quality friend, then they’ll probably pick your nose right back!

Pick your friend's nose E Cards friendship blog post
Photo: SomeEcards.com

#NerdsLove

February is the month of love. Which often illicits a “Yuck” and an eye roll from me. Instead of my usual “down with love” attitude, I decided instead to share the things I love with my instapeeps. And the best part is that a bunch of you joined my challenge and shared the things you loved with me! Check out the hashtag #NerdsLove for more from everyone and each individual hashtag below for more specific expressions of love.

Me? I love it all! @NerdintheSand
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#NerdsLoveStarWars
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#NerdsLoveLaughing
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#NerdsloveGaming
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#NerdsloveAnimals
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#NerdsLoveZombies
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#NerdsloveJaneAusten
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#NerdsloveSports
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#NerdsloveStarTrek
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#NerdsLovePizza
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#NerdsLoveFashion
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#NerdsloveBuffy
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#NerdsloveDeadpool
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#NerdsloveMarvel
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#NerdsloveLOVE
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#NerdslovePresidents
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#NerdsloveFitness
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#NerdsloveConventions
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#NerdsloveDancing
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#NerdsloveTravel
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#NerdsloveSand
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#NerdsloveFamily
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#NerdsloveMondays
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#NerdsloveSocial
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#NerdsloveKiddos
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#NerdsloveFriends
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#NerdsloveHarryPotter
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#NerdsloveDisney
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#NerdsloveMusic
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#NerdsloveSpring
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It’s never too late to share what you love. The hashtag #Nerdslove is not going anywhere! Do you love something? Share it!
We’re all nerdy for something.

Platonic Friendlationships

Downton Abbey Season 6 Spoilers Ahead…

 

 

 

I confess. As I’ve watched Downton Abbey the last 2 seasons, I’ve come to wish that Branson and Mary would try and make a go of it. After all, they get along famously and make each other genuinely better people (especially in Mary’s case.) Plus little Sybbie and Master George are growing up together anyways. Why not just go ahead already?

Tom Branson and Mary Crawley Downton Abbey platonic friendlationship blog post
Photo from dailymail.co.uk

But, after Sunday’s episode, I have finally accepted that it isn’t meant to be. Mainly because Mary married another dude. So all my dreams of the perfect ship have drowned.

In the aftermath of disappointment, a new feeling and deeper understanding of Mary and Branson has taken shape. Theirs is the perfect example of a platonic friendlationship done splendidly right. Possibly the only one on TV that I have ever witnessed. (Arguments could be made for Jerry and Elaine from Seinfeld or Phoebe and Joey from Friends.) See, what happens most of the time (and especially on soap operas) is that man meets woman, man loves woman, man loses woman, man finds new woman, man loves new woman. And the same is true on the women’s side as well. Anyone with television watching history knows that the best couples start out either on opposite ends of the spectrum (hating each other) or as the very best of friends (and not realizing they love each other.) Enter Mary Crawley and Tom Branson. Not only did they start out at opposite ends of the spectrum (he a chauffeur, she a rich aristocrat and them hating each other) but after the deaths of not one, but both of their spouses, they became the most unlikely pair of best friends. Hence the thought that they might end up together.

Instead, they remain dear and devoted friends. (In fact, Tom was the best man at both of Mary’s weddings. Chew on that one!) They are friends who love one another deeply, but who didn’t so much as look sideways at one another in a romantical way (despite my fervent prayers for it to happen.) Perhaps it was because he was married to her sister. It could be that the class lines just couldn’t be crossed. But I think it’s because sometimes, every once in a while, men and women can truly just be friends and nothing more.

I have to say, this has not been my experience. If I haven’t had feelings (unwanted or otherwise) for a guy, a guy has had feelings (unwanted or otherwise) for me. In fact, the best friend I have, who is of the male species, is my brother.

Platonic Friendlationships are very hard to come by. And harder to keep. Which is why Mary and Branson not getting together (and fulfilling my hopes and dreams) is a really, really good thing. I often desperately need to be reminded that men and women can be friends without the mushy stuff getting in the way. That it isn’t all about roses and rainbows and kisses in the rain. Sometimes it’s about honesty and kindness and a person you can rely on to always be there, even when it’s hard.

TOm Branson and Mary Crawley platonic friendlationship PBS blog post
Photo from gpb.org

(Deep breath and shoulder shrug) I wish it was as easy as having a team of writers craft the perfect scenario and just being directed to follow a script. If that were the case, then maybe I could have written it so that the men who’ve come into my life could have just been my friends. There would be no suspicion of ulterior motives. There would be no longing for something more. Just friendship at it’s finest. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would look like. Girl friends, I get. But boys? I’m 33 and I still can’t figure them out!

I will take a lesson from Tom Branson and Mary Crawley (I suppose I need to get used to calling her Mary Talbot now?) I will keep hope alive that men aren’t always trying to get into my pants. That maybe there’s a Branson out there who just wants to be in my life and see me happy, even if it isn’t with him. Perhaps especially if it isn’t with him. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Window Washing

Needless to say, I don’t like crying. I never have. The feeling of utter vulnerability is completely unappealing to me. And yet when a powerful moment comes along that brings me to tears, sometimes I hit repeat and hold onto it. Perhaps I hold on sometimes because these moments are few and far between for me.

The truth is that I’m much better at NOT crying. I’ve learned to cry when I’m alone. I’ve learned how to keep my emotions in check and only show the stiff upper lip. There is no instance I can point to that caused this to be the way I handle emotion. There is no tragic instance that dried up all future tears or told me that crying is weakness. It’s just how I feel.

So then, why is The Giving Tree my favorite children’s book? Why do I watch episodes of The Office (Niagra: Part 2, Goodbye Michael and Garage Sale) that I know will make me cry? Why did I create an entire playlist on Spotify called “Sometimes I Cry?” Why on Earth did I listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” from Hamilton the Musical on repeat at least 12 times in a row, bringing on hard core, inevitable tears while writing this very blog post?  (Fair warning, if you choose to go listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” do so at your own tearful risk. It is hauntingly beautiful!!) I listened to that track more than any other track on the album and yet it was the only one that made me cry. Crying…the thing I hate doing. Why would these things that bring tears become my favorites? It doesn’t make any sense at all.

My friend, Chelsea, always used to tell me, “Crying is not a weakness, Lizzie. Crying washes the windows of our souls. And sometimes we just need those windows washed.”

Window Washing quote from friend Chelsea blog post

Perhaps that’s why these things that make me cry become my favorites. Perhaps the powerful act of allowing my proverbial “windows” to be washed is far more meaningful and memorable than so many other moments that fly by without being marked. Because I can tell you the times I’ve cried. I can tell you about the times I’ve fallen apart. I can tell you about the time at church when I ran for a place away from everyone to cry and found a friend who sat by me and didn’t say a word. Or the time in my basement apartment in New York, when I felt so alone and let myself cry and was reminded that God was there with me, even when no one else physically was.

Chelsea always encouraged me to wash my windows, but I would always respond, “No Chelsea, crying is so stupid. I’ll cry when I’m home…alone. Where no one can see. It’s better that way.”

Plus, I hate washing my soul windows because when I cry I tend look more like James Van Der Beek crying…

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When I wish I could look more like Johnny Depp and his gentle, tear-streaked cry face…

Johnny Depp crying face gif blog post

Or maybe Jensen Ackles’ beautiful, beautiful cry face…

Jensen Ackles Supernatural cry face gif blog post

But at the end of the day, I want to write things that evoke powerful emotion. (Ugly cry face or not!) I want to connect with you, reader! I want you to be able to look through my windows, not wonder what’s inside this darkened building. I can’t help but feel that until I allow those windows to get cleaned more often, then whatever emotional blog posts I can give will tinged with an air of falsehood. And that is NOT what I want. So I listen again to “It’s Quiet Uptown” and I wash those windows clean. Cleaner than they’ve ever been, maybe. Cleaner than they’ll ever be again…I hope not. I’ve never been good at deep cleaning! But I am a fast learner!

Nerd in the City Book Club is on Goodreads

Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in theaters, I attempted to make my way through the old canon of Expanded Universe materials. But since I only started in January of last year, I didn’t get very far. There is just so much to get through and I am a slow reader. I like to take my time with books and really live in them for a little while.

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So…my mission failed.

But I will not be discouraged by my lack of accomplishment. Instead I will embark on a new endeavor and I want you to come along for the ride. Over on Goodreads, I’ve started a Nerd in the City book club. 1 book a month…totally doable. And we are starting with The Phantom Menace novelization, which is the first canon book according to the Disney Reading Group.

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I know…it’s not original canon. And I know that some of you are still stinging from the pain of the disbanding of it. My very own cousin, Wesley, refuses to read any of the new stuff in solidarity with George Lucas’ vision for the Star Wars Universe.

But, reader…the past is the past. It’s time to move forward. The old canon isn’t going anywhere and if you happen to have about 15 years on your hands in the future, then you should definitely dive right in. I intend to finish that mission one day, when I’m old and gray and have nothing but time.

As for right now, I want to prepare myself for Star Wars: Episode VIII which will be released in December of 2017. If my calculations are correct and barring any unforeseen book releases, if we start reading The Phantom Menace in February, we should be reading The Force Awakens novelization by November 2017 which is complete perfection. What a great way to immerse in the SWU while we suffer the pain of waiting for the next movie. (Pain may be a bit strong.)

Anyways…the invitation is open. The virtual cookies have been baked and my virtual living room is very comfortable. So I hope you bring a friend!

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Welcome to #TheSweatPack

I love fitness! I really do. I love the feel of straining dormant muscles (most especially dormant after the holidays.) I love taking classes at Soul Cycle and Title Boxing Club (where I am a member.) I love running by the lake in my neighborhood and lifting weights and jumping rope. I love to feel like I’ve pushed myself, truly pushed myself outside of my box and past my limits. The limits I set in my head. The ones that tell me that I can’t go any further or that I’m never gonna be good enough. Some days those limits win out…but most days I kick those limits in the ass!

#TheSweatPack running

My last blog post was about the tone of my New Year. I’m going to be living this year with a freedom that can only come when those limits are abandoned completely. Is there something that’s holding you back from working out or asking for a promotion or jumping out of a plane? Live Free!! What’s the alternative?

Maybe this doesn’t sound particularly nerdy to you. And if The Big Bang Theory is to be believed, then nerds don’t really choose to sweat much (unless they’re running away from bullies.)

But guess what…I’m a nerd! A BIG ONE (this much you already know.) I love fashion and Firefly. I love music and Marvel. I love sports and Star Wars. I don’t fit into the “normal” nerdy categories and stereotypes that are out there. Never have. That includes the stereotype that nerds aren’t sporty. I just have to beg to differ. Or beg for that stereotype to be buried once and for all. Because I believe that when it comes to nerdom…there is no “normal.”

#TheSweatPack

So, I’m partnering with the lovely Grace Kelle of Lean Girl’s Club and we are kicking the New Year off with some serious sweat!

Frankie had Deano…Emilio Estevez had Judd Nelson…and me? I have Gracie. No, we don’t live in the same city anymore. She’s still living that big city life up in the Apple and I’m beachin’ it up down in the F-L. But when it comes to #TheSweatPack, distance is only a number!

Liz Tailor and Grace Kelle are #TheSweatLPack

You’re wondering where you come in? Well, the beauty of #TheSweatPack is that it’s open to all. Come join Gracie: @leangirlsclub and me: @nerdinthesand over on Instagram and jump into our weekly challenges. It could be 1 picture a week, it could be 7 or 17 (if you’re the overachieving kind!) Wherever you are in your Sweat Pack journey, we want to meet you there!

Listen, if I can do it so can you! And probably way better than me anyways. So show us your sweat. Let it shine! Get up, get moving and get out of that little box!

This week #TheSweatPack is… taking The Stairs!!!

#TheSweatPack taking the stairs Instagram challenge

5 Fandom Friday

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Favorite Halloween Episodes of TV Shows

#1: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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A strong argument could be made for any of the 3 Buffy Halloween episodes. All are wonderful in their own right. But me…I prefer Fear, Itself from season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You cannot deny the brilliance of Anya dressing as the scariest thing she can imagine…
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#2: FRIENDS
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Chandler and Monica throw an episode Halloween party. Phoebe finds out her sister Ursula is getting married and Ross dresses as “spud-nik.” Accordingly… hijinks ensue!!

#3: The Office
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Michael Scott may very well be one of my favorite characters on television. Possibly the favorite. So The Office deserves it’s place on the list!

#4: Modern Family
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The Dunphy’s love Halloween so their Halloween eps are always EPic…see what I did there. 😉

#5: Parks and Recreation
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And bringing up the end of the list is Parks and Recreation. Ben and Leslie (one of my favorite TV couples) dresses as Wesley and Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride and it is just glorious. If you’ve never seen it…you should.

What episodes are your favorite to watch on Halloween??

Baby Steps to Greatness

This is dedicated to my beautiful, talented friend, Renita Cotton.

She just recorded and released her first EP of original music.
I want to share her with you. First, because she has been taking her #babystepstogreatness and is finally achieving some of her dreams!
And second, I realized that inspiration can come from wonderful places. We tend to look towards actors, actresses, athletes, musicians…and sometimes we need to look in our own back yard to find inspiration. (I’m looking at you, Renita!)

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I’m so proud of her! So go on iTunes and buy her EP, follow her on Instagram and on Spotify and show your support for this talented artist!

Keep chasing those dreams, Renita!