Author: Jen Marchese

Beat JENeration #013: My Imaginary Inner Oprah Doesn’t Want Me To Hate November

Beat JENeration #013: My Imaginary Inner Oprah Doesn’t Want Me To Hate November

As a month, November gets a raw deal, especially during the first week where we are all coming down from a collective Halloween high into the guilt of having eaten that whole big-ass bowl of mini Peanut Butter Cups. Or maybe that’s just me. But, c’mon, no one enjoys the laborious removal of the festive goth spookiness from your house, putting it in storage containers, and then trying to figure out where to fit it in the garage so it won’t block the Christmas decorations that will need to be retrieved in a couple weeks. November is perfumed with the scent of future anxiety. Sometimes it’s a faint wafting of the holiday bullshit to come, and other times it’s more a fear-based stench that comes from the assholes voting for people and policies that will doom us all. But, regardless, it stinks.

Especially this week. A smaller Blue Wave than I had anticipated, another mass murder at the hands of a white male terrorist, another tantrum from the Toddler in Chief, the Notorious RBG sidelined with broken ribs, California burning down, Pacific Standard Time…ugh! But I have found that when I can’t control the chaos around me, it’s best to focus on what I can control — me.

But upon focusing on myself, I realize I could do better. Ideally, I’d like to be the kind of me who is responsible for the energy I create, who faces fear, who never gives up hope, who practices gratitude, and does my best, always. As a secular white suburban woman in my 40’s, this, of course, is all Oprah wisdom. 

These are lofty, but achievable goals all day, until I’m in the car, driving home from work, in the pitch black, at only 6pm, being bummed out by NPR.  It was enough to start rationalize delaying my Better Me campaign until after November. Because November is a buzz kill. December would be more hopeful and it’s much easier to be responsibly create positive energy when there are sparkly lights in every tree.

 And then — poooooof- an imaginary Oprah appeared inside my mind, shaking her head, repeating “mmmmnnnnnt” with a half frown. She asked me, “Who do you want to BE in the world?”

“Well, Imaginary Oprah,” I said, “I want to be a person who can function in ALL months, even the crappy ones.”

I believe we all have some kind of of Imaginary Inner Oprah™. You know, a divining force to kick our asses. Though that doesn’t mean I hold the actual Oprah Winfrey up as a god. Honestly, the real Oprah is way out of my spiritual pay grade, so I opt for a heavy on the desserts cafeteria-plan in the same way I did with my Catholicism before chucking religion entirely.

My Imaginary Inner Oprah™ looks and sounds like the actual Oprah, but she doesn’t seem like she’d judge me for never getting around to reading Eckhard Tolle or most of  her book club choices or her magazine or her website. She doesn’t mind that I haven’t seen any of her movies, except for The Color Purple, because I’ve seen that 50 times. She knows I’m not crafty, so she thinks my mental vision boards are just as effective as real ones. And most importantly, this version of her still values the sensationalistic topics of her first few National seasons.

There is, of course, an Inner Imaginary Gayle to sit at the right hand of My Inner Imaginary Oprah™ and they both guide me on the road trip of life together. Supportive, wise, sassy, and fierce, they want me to be surrounded by favorite things and commit acts of random kindness like surprising people at their front doors and hiding swag under their seats. But they also understand that sometimes living my best life involves binge-eating potato chips in a pair of sweatpants.

Chakka Kahn, Gladys Knight, Maya Angelou…they are saints. Googling “Best Oprah Advice” is, I guess, kind of the closest thing to a Bible. Okay, yeah, I’m just spitballing out the dogma right now on the spot, but honestly, choose any other myth/religion and tell me that this is any more preposterous.

My Imaginary Inner Oprah™ has urged me to embrace what I love about November. Like how, it is what true Fall is about in Southern California. October brings dry hot Santa Ana winds and sinus problems , but November takes us down to the chilly low-70 degree days when I can wear tights and boots.

I’m also grateful for Outlander Season 4 airing on Sunday nights this month. And I’m thankful that I’m not ashamed to admit my excitement for A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding to start streaming at the end of the month. November is an excellent TV watching month. It’s possibly even the best month in which to eat pie while you watch TV. Also, hot cider! And so many album releases.

But my daughter, Maddy, gets credit for pointing out November’s biggest asset. It’s the only month where both Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Peppermint Mochas are on the Starbucks menu. Normally, choices are hard, but I just can’t get that one wrong!  And when you look at it like that, November is the bridge between the best of two seasons. And that there is an Imaginary Inner Oprah™ miracle because I’m even starting to believe my PR spin.

 

Beat JENeration #012: Damn Glam (Bag Plus)

Beat JENeration #012: Damn Glam (Bag Plus)

I love a subscription box. I do.

No, really, there isn’t a “but” coming this time, kids. I honestly love the concept with every fiber of my being. No matter the product, services like this work for me because while I don’t usually like surprises, I very much do enjoy opening a mystery package.

Even when the curation leaves a little be desired, I was raised to always be grateful. And I am truly grateful—because getting mail that’s not a bill or a catalog is freaking awesome.

I realize that eagerness in checking the mail every day says a lot about my age. But, you have to understand, I was the kind of girl who had a lot of pen pals (many of them from Star Hits, let that take you back — and can we talk about the OG FB — friendship books!). The mailbox was my gateway to the world and an escape from my boring suburban existence (though to be fair, most of my pen pals were from places just as suburban and boring, but with crappy weather). And then years and years went by and as an adult suddenly the post was far less exciting (and often actually terrifying.) Until… Birchbox.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #012: Damn Glam (Bag Plus)”

Beat JENeration #011: How Deleting My Facebook App Saved My Sanity and Proved I’m Self-Centered

Beat JENeration #011: How Deleting My Facebook App Saved My Sanity and Proved I’m Self-Centered

Just about five months ago, while scrolling through Facebook on my phone, I deleted the app in anger. And then, not only did the world not end, it felt like it improved.

The actual world, well, that has been getting progressively worse since June. I mean, of course, I still follow the news and cringe through each new embarrassment my national government heaps upon itself, but I cringe through it on my own terms. This came in really handy during the Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Shit Show. As a member of Gen X, I don’t readily believe in trigger warnings, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get triggered. The fight or flight (or in my case really it’s more a freeze) response came on strong, so having some control of where I would encounter the newest travesty and my rage response was really important.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #011: How Deleting My Facebook App Saved My Sanity and Proved I’m Self-Centered”

Beat JENeration #010: Liz Phair

Beat JENeration #010: Liz Phair

I love Liz Phair. That has always been true, but last Monday, I was reminded, again, how much.

Currently, Liz Phair’s in the middle of her Amps on the Lawn tour and let me tell you, she looks great. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performer look so happy on stage ever. She sounded better than I remember too. Earlier shows — I’m thinking primarily her Whitechocolatespaceegg tour stop at SDSU’s Montezuma Hall (the internet tells me it was 1998) — was a little uncomfortable. Well, she seemed uncomfortable and I remember feeling bad about it.

But I still loved her. 

My favorite time seeing her was in 1994 or 95 in Chicago at Bub City (the old location on Weed St) while she was eating BBQ with her parents. Two tables over, I was too dumbfounded by breathing her same air to speak. I would later see her at Lounge Ax and Delilah’s just being a civilian and I never once even attempted to make eye contact. Aside from being raised near enough to LA to never bother celebrities, I’m also a firm believer that we mere mortals should never speak to deities. She’s a goddess.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #010: Liz Phair”

Beat JENeration #009: Ain’t Too Proud To Beg…you to not be rude.

Beat JENeration #009: Ain’t Too Proud To Beg…you to not be rude.

Last weekend I attended Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations at the Ahmanson Theatre. It was everything theatre is supposed to be — energetic, emotional, entertaining, and engaging.

I have some complicated feelings about jukebox musicals. In theory, I don’t like them, but then again, you’d be hard pressed to get me say a bad word to say about Xanadu, Beautiful, Rock of Ages, or Jagged Little Pill. I was pretty sure I’d be safe with The Temptations though. You can’t screw up the songs and the dance moves would have to be sweet. What I was pleasantly surprised by, however, was the book, Drugs, crazy egos, multiple band member change-outs, and broken hearts bring the DRAMA. And the acting was flawless: Ephraim Sykes, Derrick Baskin, Jawan M. Jackson, Nasia Thomas, Jeremy Pope, James Harkness — wowza.

Ain’t Too Proud will be playing in Los Angeles through the end of September, but then it’s off to Broadway where I’m sure it will serve director Des McAnuff in much the same way as Jersey Boys did.  But this is all I have to say about this musical.

Instead I’m putting on my best pissed-off mom voice and giving a lecture.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #009: Ain’t Too Proud To Beg…you to not be rude.”

Beat JENeration #008:  Five Tennistastic Movies

Beat JENeration #008: Five Tennistastic Movies

Since everyone still seems to be talking about the U.S. Open, I’m wondering if I can get away with writing about tennis this week. Whaddya think?

Though just between us, after Roger Federer and Marin Cilic fell off the bracket, I was already over the U.S. Open and thinking about the Davis Cup Semis.

And by the way, if you think you care about tennis at all, shut up and watch the Davis Cup this weekend. 

FRANCE v SPAIN  on indoor hard-court. (I think Spain might win, but I really want to see France take this one because…)

CROATIA v USA on outdoor clay. (…Croatia is going to maintain its unbeaten Davis Cup win record against the US and once they get to the Finals I know they will do what the Croatian team couldn’t in the World Cup…)

Sorry. I am sure not a single one of you wanted to read that, but at least I’m not waxing on about Serena’s meltdown, nor Fed’s new ugly Uniqlo court wear. Though I cannot stop myself from saying that Bethanie Mattek-Sands isn’t getting the attention she deserves for her mixed doubles victory…

Again, sorry. It’s very hard to stop myself, even though I realize you probably want to read about tennis as much as I want to read about football. Except if it’s Friday Night Lights. I figure if I can embrace a show about the sport I hate most in this world, then there must be a way I can rally my readership into fictional scripted tennis entertainment.

Five best Tennistainment movies…..go!  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #008: Five Tennistastic Movies”

Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd

Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd

Last night I ventured out to Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa. This is where all the Broadway tours stop in Orange County. I recently saw Liza Minelli here. Eddie Izzard. Misty Copeland dances on this stage for American Ballet Theatre often. Plush red velvety seats for almost 3000 asses, it’s civilized for sure — not that it stops men from attending in shorts and flip flops most nights. But last night was, um, special, different, odd. Last night perplexed me, quite frankly, and I think I need you all to help me figure it out.

There’s this thing called Australian Pink FloydI love pretty much all things Australian. I’ve been there and the place holds up to its hype. Not only do they have koalas, kangaroos, Olivia Newton-John, Hugh Jackman, and Paul Kelly (essentially their Bob Dylan, but he can actually sing well), but they are home to the best dessert ever, the Lambington,  So, I’m always cool with Aussies as a general rule. 

Pink Floyd, on the other hand, hmmm… I went to a typical American high school and then matriculated to a party university. The Wall was rented many a night from Tower’s cult movies section (a young Bob Geldof, eye brows or no, was intriguing) and I owned Dark Side of the Moon to cue up with Wizard of Oz. But, as I wasn’t a stoner myself, I think I missed a lot of the finer points of Pink Floyd aside from the entry level hits – “Comfortably Numb,” “Wish You Were Here,” and…well, actually, if I’m being totally honest I just know The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, “Wish You Were Here,” and I thought I knew “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” but only the radio cut, which I’ll get to later. Fake fan…I’ll accept that, though I would never use the word fan. I did, however, see Pink Floyd live once at Jack Murphy Stadium. This guy, Craig, who I knew from the BBS Board, Anarchy X gave me a ticket — probably because he felt bad for telling mutual friends he slept with me, when he most certainly did not — and well, he thought I was a fan, but he, as I already established, had a problem with the truth. Point? Pink Floyd’s okay by me.   Continue reading “Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd”

Beat JENeration #006: Neil Simon

Beat JENeration #006: Neil Simon

Being raised in Southern California by New Yorkers used to make me feel like a bit of an immigrant at times. While both my parents had been third-generation Americans themselves, there was still a lingering feeling of Old World from their Italian & Croatian roots for sure, but what seemed to make our family feel like “the other” had more to do with their East Coastness. The accents, the food, the urban neurosis, the constant bi-polar alternating of hyperbolic praise and grumbling pessimism, and the way they were just loud — OMG, at a time in life where you just want to blend in and disappear it was embarrassing. I cringe to admit it now, but I was jealous of all the vanilla families that looked like the ones on TV.   Continue reading “Beat JENeration #006: Neil Simon”

Beat JENeration #005: John Corbett is the Ultimate Hot Dad

Beat JENeration #005: John Corbett is the Ultimate Hot Dad

With a horrifically long queue already in place, I hate when Netflix tries to shove their shows at me. I’m also a little embarrassed by the suggestions. It’s one thing to watch the crap I watch, but it’s another thing to have the algorithm so ruthlessly regurgitate my viewing patterns back at me. But this week, they nailed it with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Based on the 2014 YA novel by Janny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is your basic PG-rated High School rom com, or essentially a non-Disney Disney Channel Original Movie. And that is fine because, I love a good DCOM off-brand or not.  We can blame this on my exceptional parenting skills, but really it was more of a perk than a burden for me to watch these gems over and over with my kids.  They are the modern ABC Afterschool Specials without too heavy-handed a message. They are like Hallmark movies with younger, better looking actors. Don’t judge me!  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #005: John Corbett is the Ultimate Hot Dad”

Beat JENeration #004: Fangirls of a Certain Age

Beat JENeration #004: Fangirls of a Certain Age

I recently started reading and watching Outlander. Hold on to that thought.

If having children has taught me anything, it’s that personalities are pretty much cemented at age 10. Yes, we all grow and change with each new experience or trauma, but the core essence of who we are stays the same. This, is my non-scientific proof that no one should expect me or any of my sisters-in-arms to outgrow our penchant for being super enthusiastic about fictional characters and the actors who play them.

Fanboys need no one’s permission to go forth and geek out about whatever kicks their Serotonin and Dopamine into action be it sports or Star Wars. Whereas women are often met with hostility on the matter — and the stigma runs deep, even amongst our own.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #004: Fangirls of a Certain Age”