If you like me here…

You’ll LOVE me on Medium.

I admit, I am a Medium neophyte, even though good writer friends of mine have been using it for years. In fact, I once signed up for a Medium account years ago…and never touched it.

So, why jump into the fray now? Well, for starters, there are some publications on Medium that I hope to contribute to, and in order to do that, I need to actually establish myself as a writer over there.

Second, my blogs here tend to be rambling personal anecdotes, and while I am sure my Medium site will include some articles of that variety, I also hope to share a bit more insight and expertise that other folks will find useful.

Third, it’s another way for me to build/share my own writing portfolio.

And, fourth, this site is a great personal portfolio and I will continue to use it as such, but I also like having a more active/up-to-date writing stream.

So, if you’ve been following me here and enjoy reading what I have to say, please hop on over and follow me on Medium as well.

Oh, and here’s my first article/story I shared over there.

Words & Resolutions

One of the benefits that (hopefully) comes with age is less rigidity in your perspectives of the world. I know I have often been (obnoxiously) stubborn when it came to my own dogmatic decrees in the past. Now, whether it’s age, therapy, or surviving a global pandemic — or a combination of all three — there are many I’ve started to loosen the reins on or just let go of entirely. For example, in the past, I have (adamantly and inflexibly) argued the following:

  • Christmas decorations CANNOT be up until the day AFTER Thanksgiving
  • Christmas decorations MUST be down by New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Resolutions are AMAZING
  • New Year’s Resolutions are DUMB
  • New Year’s Resolutions are TOO LIMITING and should be replaced with a New Year WORD instead
  • New Year’s Words don’t DO ANYTHING and you should set resolutions instead.
  • New Year’s Eve is the OFFICIAL fresh start, so set your words/resolutions THEN
  • Why wait until New Year’s Eve? Set resolutions/words ALL YEAR LONG!

And so on, and so on, and so on. So, yes, you can see my own contradictions and hypocrisy, and why I am letting go of such fanatical rules around holidays and traditions (or at least valiantly trying to).

Here’s where I’m at now: We took down our Halloween decorations and put up our Christmas decorations during the first week of November. Today, I’m planning on taking Christmas decorations – at least those inside – down and getting them packed away again. I picked a word of the year and I set some “resolutions” too. That’s what is working for me this year. I don’t expect anyone else to do it. I’m not sharing to evangelize my way of doing things; I’m sharing just to share. Before I get to that, though, a little backstory…

For as long as I can remember, New Year’s Eve has been (and continues to be) my favorite holiday. There could be any number of reasons why I suppose. Perhaps because it feels like one of the few truly secular holidays that transcends nation and religion? I’d like to believe there’s a deep meaning that seeded it in me somewhere, but honestly, I just like it. I like new beginnings. I like (the concept more than the reality of) glitter. I like sparkling apple cider and I like champagne. I like fresh starts. I like the multitude of ways I’ve celebrated it over the years, whether with family or friends or a bunch of strangers at an “all-ages party” in a mall somewhere nearish to Midtown Manhattan (ah, to be 15 in 1998 again…).

And, yes, it is entirely possible for you to pick any day to be your own personal “fresh start” day. I get that (now). But it’s also okay if you pick January 1 as that fresh start day. Especially here in the US, companies sure like to help make that easy, what with all the sales on all sorts of resolution-y products that abound. And yes, you can still have a “Fresh Start” with a tree in the corner and lights on the trim of your house. I don’t want those things up for my fresh start, but it’s cool if you do. (Again, this might seem obvious to some people, but believe me — it’s growth for me to be able to say that. I spent many years getting SO frustrated when it felt like the whole neighborhood still had Santa inflatables in their yards on January 10thbut I’m getting over that.)

So, like I said, today the Christmas decor comes down. In fact, my laundry just buzzed letting me know all the Christmas blankets are dry and it’s time to swap the towels & tablecloth over. One moment please. (Yes, I am writing this in real-time, and yes, I am stepping away from the keyboard right now.) Okay, I’m back. My dining room table is currently piled high with decor from other rooms. I’m trying to get all the “big stuff” down first, and then the ornaments/tree will be last.

I’ve also already picked my WORD for 2022. This is something I started doing in lieu of resolutions in 2015. My past words have been:

  • 2015: Core
  • 2016: Focus
  • 2017: Shine
  • 2018: Open
  • 2019: Embrace
  • 2020: Align
  • 2021: Compose

While I’m not always successful at it, I do like picking a word that is both a verb and a noun. It doesn’t always work out that way, but for 2022, it did. My Word of the Year for 2022 is PLAY.

I picked PLAY because I knew I wanted a word that felt happy and energetic. I wanted a word that felt freeing. I wanted a word that felt active. I also wanted a word that would somehow connect to my personal journey as a writer and a performer. PLAY encompasses all of those things and more for me.

Now, this year, I’ve gone back to…well, I won’t even say they’re really “resolutions” in the way that New Year’s Resolutions are often advertised. I’m not doing Dry January or trying to lose a certain number of pounds or save a certain number of dollars. I’m not “New Year/New Me”-ing myself. If those are the types of resolutions you want to set and they’re the types that work for you, go forth and [insert deity/concept of your choosing] bless.

What does work for me is finding tools/habits/systems that can support me in my overarching goals for myself. That’s part of why I’m cleaning up Christmas decor today and embarking on some big organizing projects over the next week — so things are set up and ready to go before we get to New Year’s. I’ve also been using the app/site Habitica to track habits I want to develop or continue, as well as habits I want to cut back on. So, this week, I’m sitting down and inputting the new habits/systems I want to use more in 2022.

Here’s an example: I’m part of a meal prep/plan service that I would like to use more in 2022. So, in Habitica, I’ve added things like “Search/Save New Recipes” as a monthly task, and “Inventory Pantry/Fridge” as a bi-weekly task, and “Cook New Recipe” as a weekly task.

I think the biggest shift around my resolutions mindset is that I view them as a “let’s see if and how this works” thing. There is no “failing” or “breaking” them, then, if it doesn’t work out. It’s more a “will this help me live with more contentment and less anxiety” trial-and-error process. I can always update/change/remove things from the list. Some things that I think might be daily or weekly tasks might be better suited as a “To-Do List” project instead.

So that’s where I’m at as we wrap up 2021 and head into 2022. I’m curious — where do you fall on this? Do you have hard & fast rules that you adhere to? Do you want everyone else to adhere to them too? Do you set resolutions or pick a word of the year, and if so, what are yours? Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet ’em to me at @ThatColette.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Very Cranberry Television List

They’ve ruined cranberry day!– Chandler Bing, Season 10, “The One With the Late Thanksgiving”

Back in 2015, I wrote my “A Very Merry Television List” featuring ten of my favorite Christmas-themed TV episodes. Then, in 2019, I wrote my “A Very (Not So) Scary Television List” featuring ten of my favorite Halloween-themed TV episodes. While both of those lists are due for some updating (maybe in 2022), I decided it is finally time to write my “A Very Cranberry Television List,” so titled because, well, Merry and (Not So) Scary both rhyme with Very, and Cranberry is the only Thanksgiving-y word that I can think of that also rhymes. Plus, I get to use the Chandler line (even though that episode isn’t making my top ten…)

Now put on your Thanksgiving pants and get ready for a feast of Ten Very (Cranberry) Thanksgiving-Themed TV Episodes:

Friends, Season 6: The One Where Ross Got High

Photo from IMDB

As I mentioned in my previous blogs, no one does Thanksgiving episodes like Friends. This list could just be all ten Thanksgiving episodes and I’d be done (which would be a lot easier than having to narrow down some of these choices, but here we are…). And yet, despite having a stellar Thanksgiving-themed episode to choose from every season, for me, none are better than The One Where Ross Got High. Rachel’s trifle, Phoebe’s dream, Monica and Ross’s fight — it’s all SO good. Plus, I love Jack & Judy Gellar, so that’s the whipped cream on this already pretty perfect dessert (made with beef, not eggplant). This episode would make the list solely for Christina Pickles’ delivery of the line, “That’s a lot of information to get in thirty seconds.”

Gilmore Girls, Season 3: A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving

Photo from IMDB

I will be audacious enough to say that this is not only the best Gilmore Thanksgiving episode, and not only the best Gilmore holiday episode, but easily in the top ten of best Gilmore episodes of all time. And that’s because it has everything! It’s got the Gilmores in Hartford with a classic daughter/parent battle, it’s got a Kim family gathering with Lane trying to pull a fast one, it’s got antics at Luke’s including Kurt with a cat, and it has some of the best Sookie lines ever (“Am I crying or laughing?” “Laughing.” “Good!”). And, it’s the early stages of Jess and Rory, and if you’ve been here a while, you know I am and will forever be Team Jess. Actually, I’m Team Jess Deserves Better Than Rory, But If She Is Who He Wants To Be With, Then I’m Okay With That, but you know…that’s sort of a mouthful, and at Thanksgiving, you should just have mouthfuls of food. And don’t skip the rolls!

The West Wing, Season 2: Shibboleth

Photo from IMDB

HE GAVE HIM THE KNIFE. (insert sobs here). Okay, if you’ve never seen the episode, that won’t make much sense to you, but trust me, it’s one of the main reasons why this episode earns a spot on this list without question. The other reason is this episode is all the things I love about The West Wing when TWW is at its best: it’s a balance of humor and drama, it shows the deep connections between the ensembles, and it’s got some badass Sorkin monologues. It also taught me that a president can’t actually pardon a turkey, which is a myth I fully accepted for most of my life.

How I Met Your Mother, Season 1: Belly Full of Turkey

Photo from IMDB

This one was a near-tie, but as I’ve done in previous years, I’m only allowing one per series to appear in my list. It was either this or Blitzgiving (Season 6), but I had to give it to the original. First, having family from Minnesota, I appreciate a lot about the Marshall/Lily storyline (and the “salad” she’s forced to make). Second, I quote moments from the Robin/Ted/Barney storyline a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Third, we get a HUGE bit of information that isn’t actually revealed until Season 9, and honestly, I’m here for that payoff. Those factors are what caused this one to take the Thankstini (which I still refuse to attempt to make/drink).

Will & Grace, Season 4: Moveable Feast, Part 1 + 2

Photo from NBC.com

The thing I love about this Will & Grace episode is how it strikes the chord of what many people struggle with at Thanksgiving — family drama — but in a humorous and loving way. There are fights, and there’s forgiveness. There’s sarcasm, and there’s sentimentality. Plus, there’s Debbie Reynolds and Nick Offerman and Blythe Danner and Beau Bridges. And, at the core, there are the original four, who shine in their individual storylines and in their support of one another. This is another show, though, where nearly any and all of its Thanksgiving episodes could earn a spot on this list (and I rewatch them all every year).

Scrubs, Season 1: My Day Off

Photo from IMDB

I have a special affinity for this episode where JD has an emergency appendectomy on Thanksgiving Day, because I myself had an emergency appendectomy on Christmas Eve (and watched this episode while laying in my hospital bed…). I also like this episode because it shows two things I think many people can relate to: first, the strange transition that happens when your college buddies become full-fledged adults and you have to rationalize when/how you all actually grew up, and second, that if/when you’re very lucky, your co-workers do have the potential to become like a second family to you.

Community, Season 4: Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations

Photo from Vulture

Yes, even in its “gas leak year,” Community still has some of the best sitcom episodes around, and this episode hits many of the highlights that made the show great. Abed is being meta and referential, Pierce is being…Pierce, Jeff is learning an important lesson, the Dean wears a silly costume, there are jokes that make you gasp a little as you laugh at them — again, truly, all the things that make Community, Community. And, like many of the other Thanksgiving episodes on this list, it brought in the high profile guest stars to round out the family, particularly James Brolin and Adam DeVine.

Brooklyn-99, Season 5: Two Turkeys

Photo from Fandom

Admittedly, Lockdown might be a better all-around episode, but, c’mon. Bradley Whitford and Jimmy Smits?! How am I not going to pick the episode that features two amazing guest stars (and, technically, a “The West Wing” reunion!)? Plus, I love Marc Evan Jackson, and he is brilliant as Kevin in this episode. Kevin & Holt’s relationship is one of my favorite storylines throughout all eight seasons of Brooklyn-99, so it makes sense that I would pick a holiday episode that features it prominently.

Dawson’s Creek, Season 3: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Photo from Fandom

Ah, if it isn’t my favorite dysfunctional families! Everyone is estranged and navigating new relationships at this point in the series, and yet they (well, the kids) all end up together crowded around a bonfire. Jen’s mother shows up from New York and reveals a big secret, Dawson learns about changes to his parents’ relationship, and Pacey is the best one as always.

Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, Season 2: It’s a Miracle

Photo from PopSugar

Since I just mentioned Dawson’s Creek, I’ve got to give spot #10 to one of the cringiest episodes of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, but hear me out! Yes, this is cringe. This is Scott’s Tots level cringe, for those of you who get that reference (also worth noting here that I’m not including WUPHF.com because I don’t think it really counts as a Thanksgiving episode). But I adore fake James Van der Beek as his self-centered celebrity alter ego. The Chloe/Joan storyline is way rough in this one, but James saves it (as usual).

Okay, your turn! What television series episodes do you like to dish up an extra serving of to get you in the holiday spirit? Share in the comments or tweet me.

No, I’m not NaNo-ing.

If you’ve been here a while, you know I have a complicated relationship with “NaNoWriMo,” the shorthand for National Novel Writing Month. The premise of this event/challenge is simple enough: write 50K words in the month of November.

When I “lost” in 2015, I actually did learn quite a bit about myself and my writing process, which I blogged about here. Then, in 2018, I excitedly announced the kickoff of NaNo here…and then wrote about how I lost again here, again with many more lessons and insight into myself and my writing process. In 2019, I thought I’d found a way around it and decided to “rebel” — which is when you participate but sort of throw out the rule book a bit. I kicked that off with this post. Last year, I wrote about how I believed that it might finally be time for me to “break up” with NaNo, which I blogged about here.

One of the most important things I wrote in that blog last year was this:

” I think we need some time apart so I can really learn/grow/figure out who I am as a writer.”

And I am absolutely still figuring that out.

This year, for example, I’ve spent most of my writing time focusing on plays (stage and screen) and flash fiction, and it has felt amazing… most of the time. The issue I continue to bump into is the part of my brain that feels like “people” (that nebulous outside force in the world) expect that if you call yourself a writer, you write “books,” and it seems to me that, to most people, “writing a book = a novel.”

Is a playwright not a writer? Is a screenwriter not a writer? Is a poet not a writer? Is a short fiction writer not a writer? I believe they’re all writers, and yet, when I write those things, I think that my own writing “doesn’t count.” Again, because I feel like that nebulous outside force of “people” expect me to write a novel…and nothing else.

Now, I do still want to write a novel (or two or three) someday, and I have ideas that I think would work brilliantly in that format. But I also want to write plays and poems and short films and micro/flash fiction and essays. In fact, I am happiest when I am writing in those forms. And shouldn’t I be happy?

As is probably clear from this quite short blog post, I have a lot I’m still figuring out about myself as a writer (and as a person). But I do know that for the first time in over 15 years (my first NaNoWriMo attempt was before I met my husband, and we’ll have been together 16 years next month), I feel really good about not putting that arbitrary pressure on myself. I feel really good about stepping back and saying, I’m still a writer if I don’t do NaNoWriMo. I’m still a writer if I don’t write a novel (this year or ever).”

So, no. I’m not NaNo-ing this year, and I don’t know if I’ll NaNo ever again. Of course, if you are embarking on the journey, I’d love to hear your story and am cheering you on from the sidelines.

As always, I wish you happy writing.

Flash Fiction: Tempest Tossed

Hello readers! I submitted this piece to a flash fiction competition, and while the judges gave me excellent feedback, alas this story was not a winning entry. Still, I love sharing my work with you all, so I hope you enjoy reading it here.

For this contest, the publishing/review group gave each author two prompts. My prompts were Director and Lightning. The story needed to be 1,000 words (or less) for the competition.

Here is my response to the prompt:

Tempest Tossed
By Colette Marie Murphy


The curse didn’t count if someone wasn’t there to witness it.

Abigail was sure she’d heard that somewhere once. Perhaps the witches had decided to cut her a break, though this would be the first and only time they’d been so generous. No. It must be because she’d said it when she was alone. She didn’t even bother turning around three times, cursing, and spitting after. Besides, since she was alone, if she’d knocked three times on the theater door, no one would’ve been there to let her back in. Such is the director’s burden: you’re first to arrive and last to leave.

This was Abigail’s first time directing The Tempest. She’s played Miranda once, when she could still count on regularly receiving roles for waifs and ingénues. But that was many, many, many years ago, and like any actress, she found herself at a crossroads: start playing the mother, or start directing. Abigail’s experiences with her own alcoholic-then-absent mother hadn’t bestowed much maternal instinct upon her, and though she was a decent performer, she couldn’t find it in herself to add “nurturing” or “loving” to her emotional repertoire. So, if she didn’t want to quit her life in the theatre – and really, what else was she going to do with herself? – she decided it was time to direct.

Still, this fork in the road wasn’t an easy one to take. She’d moved to a small town that was a respectable artists’ community, but the local retirees didn’t favor much more than the old American standards, and one can only put up so many versions of Our Town or Death of Salesman before turning into Ophelia. It was Abigail’s initial flirtations with madness that inspired her to bring the standard of all standards to her sleepy little hollow: a summer Shakespeare in the Park series.

The nearby park became her personal Globe Theatre, with the sloping hills serving as picnic-style mezzanine, galleries, and upper balconies, and the permanent tables bolted into the cement near the platform stage were her orchestra. Around the stage she assembled a fleet of Tuff Sheds to serve as dressing rooms, prop storage, and a tech booth. It took a few seasons to warm the local patrons to the idea, but by now, each summer night was filled with the sounds of sandwiches being unwrapped and wine-in-a-cans being popped open before the lights went up and the prose and verse were projected as well as three standing mics on a portable speaker would allow.

Building a foundational audience was important to Abigail, so she’d loaded the first few seasons with the greatest hits: Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, and even Hamlet boosted ticket sales enough that she was able to venture into bringing some of the Bard’s lesser-known works to life. Though Cymbeline was a bit of a failure, the audience took quite well to Antony and Cleopatra. Still, Abigail had always loved The Tempest ever since her turn as the subdued yet headstrong Miranda, and so she decided – when paired with the palatably well-known The Merchant of Venice – it was time to direct the show herself.

They were a week to opening, in the throes of tech week (also known as “hell week”), when Abigail inadvertently invoked the curse. The actor playing Ferdinand had complained about his costume not fitting right, and Abigail had gone into the Men’s Dressing Tuff Shed to fetch it after she’d dismissed the cast and crew for the night. She had been checking her weather app on her phone – the thunder that had cut their rehearsal short was deafening – but there was no sign of actual rain in the forecast. Perhaps the valley they were in protected them; the sound of storms sometimes ricocheted in from the mountains.
A clap of thunder startled Abigail and she dropped her phone and Ferdinand’s costume. As she took in a breath to calm her pounding heart, inspiration struck. “Macbeth!” she exclaimed, then flung her hand to cover her mouth.

It had been an idea. Just an idea. If she had been talking to a group, she would have said, “So, next season, I’m thinking maybe it’s time we do The Scottish Play.” And that’s how she would have said it in a group, because if she were in a group, she would have been in a theater, and everyone knows that you use another word for Macbeth when you’re in a theater.

But she wasn’t in a group. And she wasn’t – she tried to rationalize with her annoyingly superstitious side that was screaming in horror – technically in a theater. Yes, it may be acting as part of a theater, but it was a Tuff Shed. Most of them stored fertilizer and lawnmowers and extra trash bags. And yes, the Tuff Shed may have been part of a theatrical production, but it wasn’t even outside a theater. It was just outside!

The thunder clapped once more. Louder. Closer. Abigail wondered if they were going to have to cancel, but she checked her phone again, and again it promised her no rain. “See, if we were cursed, there’d be rain,” she told herself as she made her way across the stage, up the sloped hill that served as the house, and towards the parking lot. She threw Ferdinand’s costume in her trunk, slamming it shut as, once again, the thunder boomed across the sky.

“At least it’ll be nice mood effects for the storm in Act I,” she thought as she moved towards her car door. She didn’t think about all of the things she knew she should do to ward off the three witches after what she’d said. She thought only of the mood effects for the storm in Act I. It was the last thought she had as the bright bolt of electricity thrust down from the clouds and through her heart. She didn’t think about the curse.

The curse didn’t count if someone wasn’t there to witness it.

The Dawson Leery Movie List: Season 2

Honestly, I can’t believe it took me over three months to finish Season 2. If you’ve been here for a while, you know when I binge I show, I tend to do so quickly. But y’all, as much as my love for the Capeside Crew is an enduring love that has weathered greater storms than Hurricane Chris (that’s a Season One reference, btw), Season 2 is just roooouuuugggghhhh. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing highlights in this season, but…it’s not great overall.

Now, if you missed my Season 1 list, you can find that here. When I wrote that list, I mentioned I was only going to write down each movie once…per season. Until I compile the giant alphabetical “Here’s the list of every movie you need to watch” list, if something is mentioned multiple times across seasons, I’m letting it slide. But, like, this season, they talk about/reference Titanic a lot. I’m sticking to the first mention.

Without further ado, here’s the Season 2 Dawson Leery Movie List:

Episode 1: “The Kiss”
The Last Picture Show

Episode 2: “Crossroads”
The Breakfast Club
Pretty in Pink
Sixteen Candles

Episode 3: “Alternative Lifestyles”
Amistad

Episode 4: “Tamara’s Return”
Dumbo
Ghost
The Way We Were

Episode 5: “Full Moon Rising”
A collection of porn titles, though I don’t know how many are real…
Godzilla (Matthew Broderick Version)
Wolfman

Episode 6: “The Dance”
Footloose
Needful Things

As much as I don’t like most of Season 2, “The All Nighter” is one of my favorite episodes of any season, not just this one.

Episode 7: “The All Nighter”
Antony & Cleopatra
Field of Dreams
Romeo & Juliet
Terms of Endearment

Episode 8: “The Reluctant Hero”
General mention of John Wayne Westerns
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Star Wars (original trilogy)

Episode 9: “The Election”
No mentions/references that I caught.

Episode 10: “High Risk Behavior”
Dawson’s Movie
Titanic

Episode 11: “Sex, She Wrote”
Murder, She Said (1968)

Episode 12: “Uncharted Waters”
Good Will Hunting (porn parody)
The Great Santini

Episode 13: “His Leading Lady”
ET
Jaws

Episodes 14 & 15: “To Be Or Not To Be…That Is The Question”
Jerry Maguire

Episode 16: “Be Careful What You Wish For”
Animal House
In and Out

Episode 17: “Psychic Friends”
Meet John Doe
Saving Private Ryan

Episode 18: “A Perfect Wedding”
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Hook
The Lost World
Pollyanna
Stand By Me

Episode 19: “Abby Morgan, Rest in Peace”
(Side note: wow, way to put the spoiler right in the episode title…)
Dawson’s Movie

Episode 20: “Reunited”
The Parent Trap
St. Elmo’s Fire

Episode 21: “Ch… Ch… Ch… Changes”
Casablanca

Episode 22: “Parental Discretion Advised”
The Age of Innocence

39 movies (and a few porn references, which again, I don’t know if they’re real or not…) mentioned or referenced in Season 2. Again, I’ll be adding these to a giant compilation list – again, to rival all those Rory Gilmore Reading challenges, but for now, season by season we go. Now that I’ve made it through Season 2, I’m hoping 3-6 I can get through more quickly. Except Season 3 does start with the Eve episodes and those are pretty ugh too.


In Process

I’m often hesitant to blog about things before I’ve finished them. I’m notorious for setting up and starting challenges for myself (hello, Pandemic Disney Movie Marathon) and then getting tired/disinterested and walking away. I still haven’t watched or moved past The Jungle Book. I think I read one…maybe two?…books on the Rory Gilmore Reading List. Haven’t bothered to pick up any of those since.

But will I read more Rory Gilmore books? Might I finish the Disney Animated Classics challenge? Perhaps. Someday.

In terms of finishing, I feel that’s important before writing any sort of review/thought posts. For television, I’m considering that at the end of season (if it’s the type of show that has seasons) or the end of a run (if it’s a limited series). That’s why I didn’t mind sharing my Dawson Movie List after only being done with one season (I am working on two, I swear…).

But, as this new year begins, I do have a lot in process, and I figured that was worth quickly making a blog list about. So, here’s what I’m currently in the middle of:

WATCHING:

  • The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)
  • History of Swearing (Netflix)
  • Cobra Kai: Season 2 (Netflix)
  • The Masked Dancer (Hulu – Replay)
  • Mr. Mayor (Hulu – Replay)
  • Call Me Kat (Hulu – Replay)
  • Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (Hulu – Replay)
  • Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (Hulu – Replay)

Less consistently, but sometimes, I do watch other game show replays on Hulu, including Supermarket Sweep, Card Sharks, and The Weakest Link. I did watch – and finish – Bridgerton (Netflix) in two days. I might blog about it, but I think I might want to read The Duke and I by Julia Quinn and then rewatch it first.

READING:

  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach, Ph.D.
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  • Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
  • Dolly Parton: Songteller – My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton (audiobook)
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare (live reading)

Technically I haven’t started the Dolly Parton book yet, but I have downloaded it. It’s our book club selection this month in Celebri-Reads, and since the audiobook is less than six hours, I try to save it for the week of our meeting so that it’s fresh in mind when we meet to discuss it. The Temepst is also a bit of a unique situation. I belong to a group of actors who read Shakespeare plays together once a month. We’re all randomly assigned parts and we get together – via Zoom – to read through the script. It usually takes 1-2 days to get through, depending on which day/time we meet and the length of the play. So I will start and finish reading The Tempest on Sunday.

I don’t have any specific viewing goals for myself for 2021 aside from “keep a record of every movie and season/series I watch because Netflix & Hulu don’t give me a year-end wrap-up like Spotify does…” but I did set my reading goal at 52 books for the year again. Now, if I were to finish everything I’m in process with during the month of January, I’d be right on par (maybe even one book ahead), but I’m not sure how likely that is… We’ll see!

What’s your take on this? Would you rather finish something entirely before telling the world about it, or do you like to share what you’re watching/reading/doing while it’s still “in process”? Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet at @ThatColette.

My 2021 Word, and Some New Years Thoughts

Since 2015, in lieu of the standard “goals and resolutions,” I have picked a word for my year. It serves as a touchpoint or a north star — a simple, comprehensive reminder of where I’m trying to go and what I’m trying to do in that year (and ideally beyond).

My past Words of the Year have been: Core, Focus, Shine, Open, Embrace, and Align.

My personal rules for my words are simple (and, I should note, just my personal guidelines — if you’re thinking you want a “word of the year,” don’t feel like you need to follow these!): it needs to be a single word (not a phrase) and it needs to be a verb.

I usually start thinking about my word of the year on or around the solstice, and I like having it solidified before the current year ends so that I go into the new year with that word on my mind and in my heart. This year, though, I was really struggling. I talked to friends about it. I polled Instagram about it. I scoured “Word of the Year” lists on Pinterest. Nothing was feeling right; nothing was sticking.

Now, this could easily be attributed to *gestures wildly at the state of the world in 2020*, and I think that would be a fair assumption to make. But I think it was also coming from the fact that, in this year in particular, I’ve been doing a lot of work – in therapy and on my own – about goals, expectations, priorities, interests, passions… And, in trying to think of a good word for this year, I found myself in conflict with a lot of old beliefs and behaviors I’d held and have been working to shed.

I’m going to take a bit of a pop culture-y detour here for a second, but I promise you, it all applies. Stick with me.

In Season 5, Episode 2 of Sex & the City (“Unoriginal Sin”), Charlotte finds herself single again. She picks up a self-help book that encourages her to say and post daily affirmations all around her house. Charlotte, being the committed believer that she is, follows this advice to the letter. She reads it, she believes it, she puts it into action. But it’s not working out for her, at least not as quickly or in the way she imagined or intended. The author of this book is giving a talk and she gets tickets and Carrie goes with her.

Now, look, I could do a whole series of essays about why Carrie is THE WORST, but the Internet is full of them and you can Google. But know that I tend to agree — Carrie is the worst.

S5.E2: Unoriginal Sin

Except at one moment in this episode. Here, while she definitely has some “Ugh, really Carrie?!” moments, she also does something that is so redeeming in such a small way that it almost, almost erases some of her other ugh-ness.

The woman who wrote the book is onstage giving every self-help platitude you expect a motivational speaker to give. Look, I’ve been in multiple MLM businesses and I’ve been to dozens of conventions/summits/etc., so I get it — the masses respond to sound bites. It’s not a judgement. I’ve witnessed and experienced it with my own full person.

But then there’s Charlotte. Charlotte who has taken in the sound bites, read the platitudes, tried to apply every single tip and trick provided. And it’s not working. So she stands up when it’s time for questions from the audience, and she tells the woman. She talks about how she’s been doing her affirmations and trying to put herself out there, but it’s just not happening for her. The self-help woman says some things about fear and doubt and how she just needs to keep doing her affirmations and “really put yourself out there.” When Charlotte assures her that she is, the woman tells her she’s not.

Charlotte, a bit bewildered, mumbles a little “oh, okay.” But Carrie is pissed. Who is this woman, and how dare she tell her best friend what she is/isn’t doing right? Carrie grabs the mic and says “She is out there.” The self help woman goes to her soundbite: “I mean emotionally as well as physically out there.” Carrie refuses to let go of the mic, and with clear and deliberate articulation says: “Believe me. She’s out there.”

The self help woman shrugs it off and moves on to another one of her “success stories” from her book, but the real success story is in that moment — it was Carrie showing up for her friend. Carrie saying five words that really meant, “Hey, look, Charlotte. I might not believe in this or understand this, but I believe in you and I understand you. Who cares what this lady has to say about it? You’re going to be fine.

This episode comes to mind because I’ve been seeing a lot of “New Year, New Me” posts already. Posts about affirmations, yes, but also ads for goal setting workshops and side hustle seminars and discounts on every possible product diet culture can morph into a “healthy lifestyle change.” And it got me thinking about “tips and tricks,” like the ones Charlotte follows in the episode, that I had been told – and believed and followed – myself for years. Things like “You have the time. Just fill in the cracks.” This was and is a very popular MLM strategy for convincing people to sign up. “It doesn’t take any time at all! Answer messages on your coffee break or sitting at a stoplight or when you’re in the bathroom — I mean, everyone takes their phone with them into the bathroom, right?!”

I’m going to be honest: I feel for this hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t use my bathroom time for that, but I definitely held onto the weird belief that bathroom time could be PRODUCTIVE and PROFITABLE. Like… just, oof. I should talk to my therapist about that in our next session. Making a note.

On that everything needing to be productive and profitable note, I started thinking about the first (and to this date, only) time I used my new Cricut machine. I cut a sample design out of a piece of paper, and of course, I shared it on social media. Instantly, I had comments and messages along the lines of “So when are you going to open an ETSY store???” I see this happen and I feel this pressure, whether it’s intentional or not, a lot too. It seems that, particularly in industrialized Western nations, we as society can’t just have things we like. We can’t have things that are fun, that bring us joy, that help us relax without turning them into a business. We have to do something with everything. Hell, I am even justifying my umpteenth Dawson’s Creek rewatch by creating a blog series here! So, I am absolutely guilty of this myself.

QUICK BREAK FOR AN IMPORTANT NOTE HERE: I am writing this blog from a place of exceptional privilege. I am a married white woman with no children in the United States who has steady shelter, access to food, a significant amount of luxuries (a car, home Internet, etc.), and few current concerns about if/how bills will be paid in the coming months. I am not blind to these facts, and I am sensitive to the fact that, for others, the need for the way time is spent to constantly be productive and profitable is a very different need and experience than what I am describing here. I am not, in any way, attempting to diminish or discredit that reality.

Now, of course, unless you’re basically Jeff Bezos, we do have to work and pay bills and be productive/profitable *in some way.* And some of that work, if you have goals for yourself that are professionally aligned, may be your full-time job/career or they may fall into a “side hustle” category, or an extra project, and those side hustles and projects – or job/careers – may actually reflect things we like and are fun (to us) and bring us joy.

Of course, the other component of this is that, if it is a goal that is not your current/immediate livelihood, without some sort of structure – goal, deadline, metric – a lot of things can just sort of slip by. Year by year the project (whatever it is for you) sits, waiting for attention, waiting for effort, waiting for movement. So, there has to be some sort of accord struck between having and enjoying things just to have and enjoy them, and also putting work/effort/time/dedication into things that are important to you and have the potential to grow into something significant – whatever that means to you (profitable, perhaps, or even just “done.”).

Sorry, Charlotte — you can’t just say your affirmations. You have to put yourself out there. (see, it’s all coming together…)

S5, E2: Unoriginal Sin

In trying to pick my word for 2021, I realized I was in the “all profit, all productivity” mindset. Everything was GOAL GOAL GOAL and…I didn’t want that. I don’t want that for myself. I have goals, yes. I have areas of my life where I want to be productive and, hopefully, profitable. I will/do have to work, and sometimes that work will be via things I enjoy and am passionate about, and sometimes that work will just be work. But I also know I need rest. I know I need things that are just for me and not for the likes on the ‘gram. I know I need to watch, read, bake, create without worrying about if there’s a Venmo payment attached to it. I wanted a word that, somehow, would encompass all of that.

And today I found it.

Today I found a verb that means:

  • Be part of construction
  • Create writing, artwork, or music
  • (and) Calm, bring under control

Today I found a verb whose synonyms include: Build, Belong, Design, Make, Pen, Produce, Collect, Contain, Arrange, Becalm, and Appease

My 2021 Word of the Year is: Compose.

Happy Early New Year, Friends & Readers. Be safe, be healthy, be well.

Do you set a resolution or pick a word of the year? I’d love to hear about your choices! Leave me a comment or tweet me at @ThatColette.

The Dawson Leery Movie List: Season 1

If you’ve known me for more than ten seconds, you know I love popular culture. I’m a trivia buff, I’m a TV/movie fanatic, and I also hold on very dearly to things that had an impact on me when I was young. Which means if you’ve known me for more than thirty seconds, you probably know my lifelong (well, since 1998) commitment to Dawson’s Creek.

Dawson’s Creek is finally streaming on both Hulu and Netflix, so my hope is that everyone who loved it as much as I did is enjoying a rewatch or two, and that everyone who missed it the first time around for whatever reason can finally join the rest of us in Capeside. I’m rewatching it for the (no, I’m not actually going to count, but I promise the number is high)-nth time and I’m surprised by the ways it still holds up 20+ years later. I’m not surprised by the ways it doesn’t hold up, but that’s a story for a different blog series…

What this blog series is going to kick off is The Dawson Leery Movie List. Now, fans of another WB/CW show know that the Rory Gilmore Reading List (a list of all books mentioned on the show Gilmore Girls) has been documented countless times. There are even BuzzFeed challenges about it! But as much as Rory loved books, Dawson loved movies. And – at least from my Google attempts to find it – it doesn’t seem like anyone bothered to make a list of those. So, I’m gonna do it. I feel like I owe it to Dawson. Plus it makes me feel better about rewatching the show for the (seriously, it’s definitely higher than 20)th time.

Here’s how I’m doing it: I’m going through season by season, episode by episode marking down any movies that are mentioned. Mentions include: saying the name of the title, making a reference/quoting the movie, and/or having the poster hanging visibly in a shot.

I’m going to attempt to mention/include each movie only once. Like, they talk about E.T. in basically every episode, and Kevin Williamson hung a Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer poster in an unreasonable amount of shots; they each only get one mention. If I mess up, I mess up, but I’m trying.

Now, in Season One, Dawson and Pacey both worked at the video store and there are LOT of boxes on the shelves on screen. I didn’t freeze frame to write down all of those titles. Posters, yes; boxes, no.

I’m also doing this on my own, which means there is a chance I might miss something, especially if it’s a quote or reference from a movie I’m not familiar with. I’m generally pretty good, but I’m no Dawson (or, you know, the Creek’s full writing staff). If as I post these blogs you notice something I’ve missed, please comment with which episode it’s found in and I’ll be sure to add it!

This is an ongoing project. I’ll post an update every time I finish a rewatch of a season and have a new list to share.

So, without further ado, here’s The Dawson Leery Movie List: Season 1!

Episode 1: “Pilot”
1941
Always
The Color Purple
Donnie Brasco
E.T.
Fargo
Forrest Gump
Gandhi
The Graduate
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Jaws
Jurassic Park
Psycho
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Schindler’s List
Summer of ’42
Waiting for Guffman

Episode 2: “Dance”
Grease
Ordinary People
Saturday Night Fever
Stayin’ Alive
Scream

Episode 3: “Kiss”
From Here to Eternity
The Karate Kid
Rocky
The Way We Were

Episode 4: “Discovery”
None – only Dawson’s movie he’s filming with his friends is mentioned.

Episode 5: “Hurricane”
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Hook
It’s a Wonderful Life
The Lost World
Misery
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Pocket Full of Miracles
The Poseidon Adventure
The Towering Inferno
Twister
West Side Story

Episode 6: “Baby”
There’s a black and white movie playing on Dawson’s TV at the start of the episode. It’s literally just the “The End” slate. I couldn’t identify it. If anyone can, please comment or tweet me!
No other movie mentions or new posters

Episode 7: “Detention”
SIDE NOTE – this episode remains one of my all-time favorites. It’s like those duck movies; it’s classic. So funny.
American Graffiti
The Breakfast Club
D2
D3
The Mighty Ducks
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Episode 8: “Boyfriend”
The English Patient
Meet John Doe (1941)

Episode 9: “Road Trip”
Deliverance
Rain Man
Sid and Nancy

Episode 10: “Double Date”
No new mentions that I caught. Did I miss one? Put it in the comments!

Episode 11: “The Scare”
Friday the 13th
Halloween
Jerry Maguire
The Ten Commandments

Episode 12: “Beauty Contest”
Braveheart
Cinderella

Episode 13: “Decisions”
No new mentions, but lots of “Spielberg” talk.

Once I get through all six seasons, I’ll compile one big long alphabetical list in case, like me, you want to try and watch them all at some point.

Write Vintage: A Picture is Worth…

Stock image of two adults holding bowls with various breakfast items on the surrounding counterspace. The frame around the edges says “A Picture is Worth…” “Write a Caption” “Write a Story” “Write a Poem”

We’ve made some adjustments to our prompts over at The Write Vintage, which is a Facebook community I manage. We went from “A Thousand Word Thursday” to “30 Word Thursday” to “A Picture is Worth…” Thursday. This leaves the photo at the center of our inspiration, but takes away any word count or genre restrictions and limitations.

Here is my poem for this image, which was our December 3, 2020 entry:

On New Year’s Day:
When the leftover champagne
Has gone flat in the flutes
And the glittering decorations
Have wilted to the ground
I’ll be happy to have you,
And our simple place,
And freshly sliced grapefruit.