Progress Comes Slowly

It’s been 7 days since I went on my Twitter hiatus, hoping to jumpstart the book-ish research process. How are things going? They’ve been…going.

My Twitter hiatus has combined with newsletter deadlines and with two trips. So while I hoped that shutting down Twitter would mean the floodgates would open for my writing and thinking, it hasn’t been so.

But I’ve noticed that I have a lot of stray thoughts that otherwise would have ended up on Twitter and died there. I write down more than 140 characters worth of an idea. I’ll write a little more, let it sit there for a bit, and maybe turn it into something. I do feel like I get to think about my writing more (even if the deadlines have kept me from actually doing some of the work).

Yes, yes, I know, I should manage my time better so that I have time to work on the book. A little every day makes a difference. I know; that’s how I managed to finish my dissertation. But right now I’m just anxious to get some work done before I leave for NYC next week, and so I’m prioritizing.

My brain feels uncomfortable prioritizing the work I’m paid to do over the creative work that I’ve been trying to focus on (and that’s how I end up procrastinating on my work with a blog post), but I pay my bills that way. Bills have to come before the creativity at the moment. So I have to find little tasks that I can do when things like this happen. I had planned this week on reading a book and discussing it here in terms of my project, but that hasn’t happened. With the amount of writing and editing I’ve had to do this week, I don’t have the energy to jump into a book and read it and analyze it. I’m trying to recognize that and move on. Sometimes it works.

Anyway, since I’m supposed to share book research progress, I’ll write about something I considered last week. I’ve been thinking about why postcards are so much popular than letter writing, both as analog media that are sent through the mail. I considered the briefness of postcards, the price point, the visual aspect…and it made me think about how postcards are kind of like status updates (or tweets, because I’ve gone on a Twitter hiatus, right?). That led me to think about postcards as analog social media. One of my writing buddies, Liz Covart, pointed me to this book, Writing on The Wall: Social Media- The First 2000 Years. I’m hoping it gets me thinking more about postcards as a way of communicating, as (analog) social media. Where am I going with that? I don’t know. But perhaps it’s time to stray away from big research plans (very academic-minded) and follow along with ideas that seem interesting at the moment.

The other big thing I’ve done for the postcard project is that I am going to use Scrivener for it. I have finally taken the plunge! (I’m also using it for blogging, as you can see in the screenshot). I usually start brainstorming in Evernote, but I’m taking Scrivener for a test drive. Just inserting the folders for future book chapters made me feel like I’d been productive. Maybe playing with Scrivener is what I’ll do when feel like I haven’t done anything book-related.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.38.39 AMUntil my next book/life update:

Well, *that* was awkward.

After last night’s wonky rose ceremony and painful After The Final Rose show (and after some time at the beach because, come on now, I’m hanging out in Florida and I have priorities), I checked to see what the Internet had going regarding The Bachelor finale.

In a nutshell: Juan Pablo Galavís showed his true colors, broke Clare’s heart, and had the most awkward declaration of like in the history of the show. Not declaration of love, although Clare and Nikki’s declaration of love was pretty awkward too. Declaration of like because when Juan Pablo told Nikki she was The Chosen One, he did not propose but instead told her he wanted to keep going on with her because “he really REALLY likes [her].”

Here’s the thing: The Bachelor/Bachelorette series has gotten a lot of flack about how the show isn’t real. Meanwhile, this season is arguably the realest season ever. Yes, Juan Pablo is almost certainly the most despised male contestant in the history of the show. However, I think some of the interactions on the show seemed very much like real life. Girls declaring, yeah, that guy isn’t for me so I’m gonna leave, or “I can’t believe how shallow he is” or “He just wants to have sex with me” or “I’d never want to have kids with you.” These things happen in real life. That doesn’t mean they’re okay—no one wants anything to do with a person who’s an asshole—but this reality show finally seemed to focus on the reality.

However, the show is not supposed to be real. It’s supposed to be a fairy tale. This tension is what causes me to continue watching the show. In fact, I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks (although I still have to flesh this out some more) that the reason the show continues to be popular is because it reflects the cultural values of mainstream America when it comes to relationships. In a time where we see more and more diverse representations of what it means to love someone and be in a relationship with someone, this series’ golden token is that it reifies that idea of what it means to fall in love and get married.

That brings me back to last night’s finale. Nikki reiterated during After the Final Rose that she loved Juan Pablo, albeit without the same excitement and enthusiasm that she did during the finale. When host Chris Harrison asked Juan Pablo if he loved Nikki, he insisted that he did not have to say anything to anyone (followed by the audience’s boos—nice touch, Live Audience!) In short, Juan Pablo never said he loved Nikki on the show, even though Nikki felt comfortable reiterating her feelings for him.

I had half a mind last night to talk about how forced the whole interaction seemed between them, but then I read Reality Steve’s entry about the Finale: “he was not invested into this process at all, is glad it’s over, and will probably never have anything to do with this franchise ever again.” Reading about how much Juan Pablo had manipulated the show to his benefit left me feeling a little empty inside. it also explains how tense and staged everything felt between him and Nikki.

Some light reading about last night’s episode:

‘The Bachelor’ implodes in real time during most awkward finale ever, thanks to Juan Pablo

In Defense Of THE BACHELOR’s Juan Pablo

Juan Pablo Galavis is the ‘worst Bachelor ever’: Show insiders say producers are ‘over him’

“The Bachelorette”: Putting Reality into Reality TV (Or Why I Am Still Watching)

"My biggest fear was that these men would reject me. "--Ashley Hebert, ABC's The Bachelorette

One of the shows I’m hooked on is The Bachelor/Bachelorette series on ABC. The Bachelor has been going on strong for fifteen seasons, and its spinoff The Bachelorette is currently airing Season Seven. Although the show prides itself on helping people meet their future mates, only two couples are currently married (one is engaged). Insanity, right?

If you have not seen the show, it is pretty predictable. The contestants are, for the most part, white. According to the creator of the show, Shawn Ryan, people of color have no interest in being part of the show. (But we did participate in Flavor of Love and Rock of Love, right? Huh.) Another predictable part of the show is that the bachelor/bachelorette, although striking and successful, always talks about having everything except love and that they are finally ready to meet that special someone. Also, the show starts out with 25 contestants, and every week the bachelor/bachelorette has to choose who gets to go home. Sometimes the contestant does something stupid and is sent home (like camp), or they fail at one of the outlandish group dates that are more about skills than getting to know someone, or the bachelor/bachelorette just has to choose someone to go home at the end of the night and that someone just might be you. Adiós, y deja la puerta abierta, as La Sonora Ponceña would say in “Nosotros.

Yes, the show is predictable. Yes, the show gives me no hope for these couples. Yes, the clichéd-riddled dialogue leaves me unimpressed. But that is why I LOVE this show: I find their misguided search for love entertaining. But more than the dialogue and the predictability (and the hilarity, because I could certainly make a living with my color commentary running on the bottom of the screen) the reason I keep on coming back is that, to me, the show is not real. Despite the rhetoric of true love and authenticity (there’s always the one character who has his or her intentions called into question), the show does not even pretend to actually reflect what real life dating is like. First off, we don’t go dating 25 people at once. Not anyone I know. Second, who goes on date after outlandish date after lavish date? Not me and Radioguy, that’s for sure. Considering that the show is an alternate reality, I’m not surprised that so few couples make it. Do you think after you’ve wined and dined in Hong Kong, you think you want to hang out with someone at HOME? And eat POPCORN? C’mon now. That’s setting the bar pretty high early on.

See what I mean?

Although the show is not in any way, shape, or form true to reality, last Monday the lines were blurred a little bit. Ish got real. And this troubled me.

Season Seven’s bachelorette is Ashley Hebert, a contestant from the last season of The Bachelor who made it to the final three. All throughout the season her brain kept on telling her that there was something not right with Brad. (There was: he loved SOMEONE ELSE. Ahem.) Ashley carries all season long this insecurity that the men might not want to be with her, or that they are disappointed that this season’s bachelorette ended up being her instead of, say, Emily. Although it was getting a little old, last Monday things got a little too real for me.

Firstly, Ashley’s insecurities could be the same as any other woman’s insecurities. I don’t trust that the contestants I see on the show are actually like that in real life–I’m just here for the drama–but watching Ashley fret the last few weeks over the one male contestant who didn’t care about her has been agonizing and revealing. I remember talking to one of my tweeps on Twitter about how we’ve all had a friend like that, the girl who fell a little too hard for someone who just doesn’t give a crap about her. And it’s sad. And it hurts to see her cry. And you just want to tell her stop. But instead you listen (or tune in). And wait.

Last Monday Ashley finally had closure by meeting the man she’d been thinking about for the past few weeks and confronting him about whether they could have a future or not. Viewers onTwitter groaned audbily because, frankly, we’d all had enough of the “Bentleybentleybentley” talk. The man went on national tv and talked about how he really wasn’t into Ashley (but wouldn’t mind her for a one-night stand). Viewers knew he was mean and dishonest, but we were caught behind the fourth wall, months into the future; we couldn’t alert Ashley that this man she was pining after was a waste of time. Later on in the episode, in the spirit of being totally honest, she confessed the encounter to the male contestants:

She went ahead and told them, basically, that for a while they were second best to Bentley and that she had spoken to him to get closure because she still had feelings for him. Watching her go on and on about how good she felt about letting Bentley go was like watching a train wreck. The men crumbled one by one as they heard her tell her story and hear how this other man had such a hold on her. It was painful to watch because what we saw on their faces was real emotion. Was Ashley expecting the men to just be like, “ok, I feel ya”? Nope. No one wants to be second fiddle.

On the other hand, Ashley honestly didn’t think things through. She didn’t. That, to me, rung true. Honestly, haven’t we all been there? I didn’t buy the act that the guys put on after she cried and walked away. But I do buy that she truly believed she did the right thing in telling them. It wasn’t right. But we don’t do the right thing, at all times. We all screw up sometimes. And Ashley screwing up is what saved what was looking like a mediocre season of The Bachelorette for me. I will continue to watch. I also hope there’s more cursing from Ashley.