Sunday, December 28, 2014

My 2014 Wrap-Up

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!
This year has been one wild ride. If someone had asked me a year ago where I saw myself today, I guarantee I never would've imagined this.

It has not been an easy year. To be honest, it has probably been one of the most difficult years of my life thus far. I feel like I've been tested time and time again and some days it's been really hard to see whether I'm passing or failing. But if there's one thing I've learned throughout the year, it's that it doesn't matter. What matters is that you try. You give it all you've got. So many people let fear run their lives and it keeps them from experiencing everything this world has to offer. In the end, not trying is the biggest failure of all.

Last year, my grandfather passed away. While I've had other people I've known pass away, this was the first time it affected me as greatly as it did. When he and my mother-in-law both passed, a huge part of me shut down. Suddenly I realized how short life really was and I couldn't help but think about all of the people in my life right now who one day, won't be here. This feeling was so strong and caused me to push away from those I love dearly and dreams that I once had. After all, in my mind, why does it all matter if you can't trust that it will always be here?

In the past few weeks, I'm not sure how this realization finally came to me but it did. I realized how much it does matter. Doing things you dream to do and being with the people you love matters. It's the reason why just weeks before my grandpa died, he looked at an album of his life and said, "I really did have a wonderful life." I realize now that when he passed away, there was no fear. There was no regret. He passed away with a smile on his face knowing that in the almost 89 years he was given, he succeeded. He had a million stories, a family he loved with all of his heart, and a lifetime of memories. The good, the bad. It doesn't matter. In the end, it's all just one long story. So where does it lead? What is it all for? I guess those are just two of life's many unsolved mysteries. We don't know and we probably never will. But if everything in life leads somewhere, than maybe death isn't an end. Maybe it's a new beginning that we just can't see.

This year, I've gone through so much change. I feel like I've been spending months battling where I am in life. Am I enough of an adult or am I too adult? I'm 23 years old and I feel like I've been having a far too soon mid-life crisis. The truth is, there is no timetable on who you are or where you are. You just are. Some days, I want to feel like a kid. I want to talk for my stuffed animals, watch "The Little Mermaid", and daydream about my future. Other days, I want to feel like a teenager again. I want to walk around in my shorts and crop top, film a wacky video, and play The Sims. And then other days, I want to feel like my "grown up" self. I want to dress in my fancy clothes, manage my business, organize the house, and run errands with my husband. I don't know if this is what being 23 is all about for everyone. But for me, this is where I am in life. I'm a little bit of everything and maybe that's okay, because maybe, I'm supposed to be. In the end, this is me.

The conclusion I've come to as this year wraps up, is that it's time to stop running. I'm an adult, I'm a kid, it doesn't matter. I am who I am and I'll continue to grow and change. At the end of the day, I think adulthood is just about accepting responsibility and allowing yourself to grow. We spend all of our childhood and teen years fighting adults because we think they're holding us back from growing up. And yet, when it's time to truly become an adult, the only person holding us back is ourselves. It's a scary world. No one's ever going to argue with that. But at some point, we just each have to take that leap and allow ourselves to experience whatever the future may hold. Because in the end, not experiencing it is far more terrifying than anything else.

Every year since 2005 on December 31st, I've filled out a recap of the year. My recaps include everything from fun facts like my favorite TV show and how we spent the holidays to heartbreaking moments and greatest memories. My favorite part, is that every year I fill out a prediction titled "Next year will be the year of...". I never look at my recaps or predictions again until the year comes to a close the following December.

Here's what I wrote on December 31st 2013:
"Next year will be the year of...accepting adulthood, moving forward, and becoming a stronger woman."
It took me almost exactly a year to get there, but somehow, through all the struggles, the tears, and the doubt, without even realizing it, I did.

If I had looked at that prediction three weeks ago, I would've looked down, closed my eyes, and wished that it were true, but I would've known that it wasn't. It's weird how the heart and mind heals when you least expect it to. I don't know how or even when it happened. But just like everything else in life, it just did.

In almost every way, this year was full of the unexpected. Yet somehow, in almost exactly a year, I got to exactly where I wanted to be.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Where Did "White Collar" Land on My TV Show Finale Scale?

On Thursday night, as I prepared to watch the White Collar finale, I was a bundle of nerves and excitement. I was hoping for the perfect ending and praying that it would not be another "Dexter" fiasco, or "How I Met Your Mother" for that matter.

I've studied TV shows for a long time. I've studied them for their patterns, their stories, and I truly believe that if a viewer loves a show so much, they should, without a doubt, know how it will end. The truth is, the point of the entire show should come full circle. You should know these characters so well that you can look at the finale and go, "That made perfect sense."

And "White Collar" was exactly that. The perfect finale. Did I see the ending coming? Yes. In fact, an hour before I watched, my mom asked me on the phone what I thought would happen. I told her, "I think Neal and Mozzie may steal the money. I'm not sure if Neal will take it in the end though. But I think he's going to fake his own death and then the show will flash forward a year later, show Peter and Liz with their baby, and then show that Neal is alive and well."

Do I mind that I predicted this finale? Not at all. I gave a lot of thought to the different endings, and truthfully, nothing else made sense. The writers were never into the heavy, heart wrenching drama, so they weren't going to kill Neal or Peter. I didn't see the writers ending it with Neal off his anklet working for the FBI...that seemed too "Beverly Hills, 90210", everything ends with a neat little bow. The ending "White Collar" gave was perfectly bittersweet.

Now, my main point of this blog post is not to just talk about my love for the finale. The point is, before I watched, I texted my parents (who were watching it before me!) and asked them, "Please tell me if this finale is a Dexter, a Chuck, or a Buffy."

Yes. I have a TV show finale scale...and this is it.

A Perfect Ten

Tears were shed. Lives were lost. Favorite characters died. But the battle was epic, the writing was top notch, and the characters ended exactly where they were heading. The tone of the show always set the stakes high (no pun intended!) and it was no shock that they would kill off some favorite, main characters. It wouldn't have made sense to kill Buffy because Buffy already died twice and came back. We all know she'd risk her life for the greater good. Buffy, since season one, had always wanted to be a normal girl. She never wanted to be the only chosen one with the weight of the world on her shoulders. And thanks to Willow's spell, she never had to be again.

The Full Circle You Didn't See

It took me a while to accept the ending of Chuck. However, once I accepted it, I realized how perfect it truly was. The show was never going to end with Chuck and Sarah running into the sunset together, quitting the spy life. That's not what the show was about. In "Chuck vs. the Honeymooners", the writers made it clear that Chuck and Sarah were spies at heart. But for five seasons, the other thing the writers made incredibly clear was that they were always there for each other. No matter what, they'd always come back to each other. Since the very first episode, Sarah sat down with Chuck on that beach and asked him to trust her. From that moment on, he trusted her with his life and she helped him become the confident spy and man he was meant to be. Flash forward five years later to Sarah having lost her memories. They're now on that same beach and Sarah is feeling as lost as Chuck was five years earlier. Now, Chuck is asking the same from her. He's asking her to trust him. Now, it's his turn to help her become the amazing woman she's meant to be.

This Is a Joke, Right?

Oh Dexter. As far as TV dramas go, this was the most devastating finale, EVER. For eight seasons, the show was about Dexter trying to rid himself of his dark passenger. It was about him realizing, or trying to convince himself, that he was more than a serial killer. Maybe he could be human after all. The show should've ended with the camera zooming out from his eye and revealing him on the electric chair. He had been caught, or he turned himself in. The viewer has to go with what they believe. But either way, he had spent this time on Death Row, reflecting on his past. Reflecting on what led him to this moment. Then, the moment he dies, he is finally, once and for all, at peace and rid of his Dark Passenger. That would've been perfect. But, oh no. They had to make him a lumberjack. And that was not, and will never be okay.

Those three shows are my basic scale. Of course, going more in depth, I have other shows I like to include too:

Everything is Too Perfect

For a show full of crazy drama, they sure had the least dramatic finale! Donna and David get married, Valerie is no longer evil and all smiles with Kelly, Felice throws her daughter a bachelorette party, Kelly and Dylan are meant to be after all, and the show ends with them all hugging on the dance floor with the theme song playing in the background. This is the perfect example of what happens when you get the "happy ending" finale. It's just not right. Of course, I'd love to analyze how the show could've come full circle but for that, Brandon and Brenda would've still had to have been there. Since the show changed over and over again, I honestly don't have a clear vision on how this one should've ended. Maybe the writers didn't either!

This Breaks My Heart but OMG YAY!

It was crushing that Jen died. It was not something you saw coming. However, in the end, it led to Joey finally choosing Pacey...and seriously, what was more perfect that Joey choosing Pacey? The show from day one wasn't about Joey and Dawson falling in love. It was about can their friendship survive their hormones and the ups and downs of adulthood? It was also about Dawson's obsession with Spielberg. It was only fitting in the end that Dawson got the meet Spielberg and also could finally be happy for his best friend. Truthfully though, the show changed direction in Season 3 and became about Joey and Pacey. Dawson became the side character... Look, I'm going to come up with any reasoning I want for this ending because seriously, Joey and Pacey got back together and that is, and always will be, the only thing that matters.

This Can't Be a Series Finale

The writers of Veronica Mars knew the show was most likely not being renewed, which is why this finale was so upsetting. The writers knew but they still wrote this episode as a season finale. It didn't wrap things up and everyone was left in a state of despair. Veronica thought she ruined her dad's career and Logan and Veronica were kaput. This ending made me hate the CW for the longest time and fear watching shows that didn't get proper wrap ups. Luckily, the movie wrapped the show up and I can now watch the series finale as the season finale it was written to be.

This Is the Main Purpose

I know a lot of people weren't satisfied with the Angel finale. But in my head, there were only two ways it could've gone. The way it did or with Angel shanshuing (becoming human). However, from the first episode, Angel's point was that he wanted to help people and he would always fight for the greater good, no matter what. In the end, it didn't matter if he lost or won the final battle. If he lost, that was it. The show was over. If he won, maybe he'd shanshu, or maybe he'd just fight the next battle that came his way. Either way, the final words, "Let's get to work", made perfect sense. There is nothing else he would've done.

Now...where did "White Collar" fall on this scale?

For me, when my parents told me the finale for "White Collar" was bittersweet, I'm not sure why, but I immediately expected a Chuck. Maybe it was because I was praying it wouldn't be a Dexter but at the same time, I didn't want to be devastated if it wasn't a Buffy.

I am pleased to say that the White Collar finale was most definitely a Buffy. Neal wanted his freedom from day one but he's also always cared about protecting the people he loves. Of course, the ironic part of this finale is that I don't agree with the creator's view on what happened. The creator believes that Neal went off to Paris to rob the Louvre because he couldn't change in the end. The creator also believes that Peter smiled because he's excited about the chase beginning again. Luckily, the show ended in a way where I can believe that Neal is helping the Louvre improve their security measures because he truly has changed. I can also believe that Peter smiled because his best friend isn't dead. That to me is how the show ended. And to me, that was perfect.