Beat JENeration #022: Tidying up was never so goddamn cute

Beat JENeration #022: Tidying up was never so goddamn cute

I am not a joiner and as such generally am too detached (lazy) to suffer FOMO. This is why you will not find me participating in the latest shit collectively stirred up on the internet. Birdbox…yeah, even as a devoted Sandra Bullock fan, I’m sitting this one out. Gillette Toxic Masculinity ad…haven’t seen it.

I am also not what you’d call a tidy person. I don’t love my clutter, but I learned to live within it. Though, occasionally, I have been known to make a half-hearted stab at improving my surroundings. There were a couple years were I went full-on Fly Lady for up to at least a month at a time. But generally, as long as I move house every decade and quarterly need to ransack my desk or nightstand for an important document, gift card, passport, or some other misplaced suddenly important item, I will keep myself out of contention for hoarders.

You know where I’m going with this, right? Tidying up with Marie Kondo Continue reading “Beat JENeration #022: Tidying up was never so goddamn cute”

Beat JENeration #021: 9021, Oh why would you even bother?

Beat JENeration #021: 9021, Oh why would you even bother?

In late December, when a picture surfaced of Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling, Ian Ziering, Brian Austin Green, and Jason Priestly, together in public I was intrigued. And as the rumors started circulating about CBS shopping a Beverly Hills 90210 revival/reboot, I have to admit I was very excited.

Of course with Luke Perry and Shannen Dougherty not signed on, I was less excited.

Though now that the truth has surfaced that it’s not a revival at all, I’m actually kind of pissed that I was put in a nostalgia TV tizzy for nothing. This project is (deep breath) an hour-long mockumentary-esque dramedy with the former teen stars playing themselves (or a version of such) chronicling their efforts to get an actual 90210 revival going.

I mean honestly, would I even add such a thing to my endless queue, let alone watch it?  Well, certainly not without Luke Perry or Shannen Doherty.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #021: 9021, Oh why would you even bother?”

Beat JENeration #020: If you really must make a New Year’s Resolution

Beat JENeration #020: If you really must make a New Year’s Resolution

Resolutions are bullshit.

Over half of them don’t see February, and honestly everyone sounds like a douche when talking earnestly about theirs. Just like veganism, carb negativity, crossfit/rock-climbing/SoulCycle/hot yoga, sugar shunning, sobriety, and juice cleansing normal people don’t want to hear about it. Intended or not, talking about all the good you do for yourself always comes off as passive aggressive.

Self betterment is best when you keep it to yourself, but I can’t deny that it has its place. Until the world decides to be Mark Darcy to our Bridget Jones and like us very much, just as we are, many of us will feel the pressure of peer perfection. And as such, one shouldn’t be shamed for making New Year’s Resolution.

Maybe we can make your resolution a little less bullshit together.

There’s no crime in editing your resolution in the first week to something that is as doable as it is meaningful. Though for god’s sake, if you declared to make a life change because of some  soulful post on a celebrity style guru’s IG or a whimsical Ways To Improve Yourself Lifehack I cannot help you refine. Just start over and concentrate on the three keys to living one’s best life.

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Embrace being basic. Don’t play into what society wants, man.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #020: If you really must make a New Year’s Resolution”

Beat JENeration #019: Five Predictions for Twenty Nineteen

Beat JENeration #019: Five Predictions for Twenty Nineteen

2018, not a fan. So I prefer to look forward.

While I do not possess powers or abilities to actually see the future, I have paid attention to the past and so I know these five things to be true.


1. Those people will still be assholes

More arrests and a final  and ugly fall from grace will unfold through the year prompting thousands of people to reconnect with their red MAGA-hatted friends and family. Mostly to gloat. But they will soon realize that the estrangement was no loss.

2. Low-Rise rises again

Fashion is cyclical. And yet no one in that industry seems to learn from their mistakes.

Young ladies of 2019, back in the day of OG Mom Jeans, we, too, had the same arguments. We pleaded that at least a mid-rise jean was needed to tuck all our stomach issues in, but low-rise was actually a good thing (to an extent — as we know it went way too far and way too many ass cracks had their day in the sun). Just remember that you need to add another $20 to the price of those new low-rise jeans in order to have a tailor custom fit the waistband and hem them. Yeah — we’re going to be seeing less of those cropped skinny pants too.

And you shouldn’t be surprised if vintage Juicy tracksuits start showing up on the truly fashion forward. Also, for some reason I strongly feel that Paris Hilton will become an ironic folk hero to the Gen Z set with stacks of graphic tees in her honor at Forever 21 by year’s end.

The future isn’t always pretty — especially when it’s an echo of our past.

3. Women will turn 40 and while many will stop noticing them, they will indeed continue to exist.

These women will complain to their friends over Rosé (which will not go away quietly) about hard black or clear chin hairs that suddenly spring up an inch long overnight and genuinely not understand why no one in the beauty industry warned them. 

4. Emo Kid Come Back

This will partly be due to Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s comic The Umbrella Academy bringing its blend of weird family drama, super powers, black comedy into homes via the new Netflix series. But there will also be a 4th Wave shoegaze-y musical component coming forth from the garages and indie clubs to the mainstream. We all wanted some angry punk rock made by the kids in the age of Trump. But what we’re going to get is emo (though they’ll probably sulk and snarl at being called emo).

5. They’ll figure out a way to ruin doughnuts

As the fly-over states really dig into the artisanal doughnut trend that killed the cupcake shop on the west coast over the last five years, we’ll have to suffer through the foodie’s trying to step up their game and thus screwing up a good thing with savory fillings and experimental fusion cross-overs. But there will be safety in going to the dive-bars of donut shops and hopefully, they will move onto pancakes by the end of 2019.

Beat JENeration 018: A Holiday Holla’ to All My Ambiverts!

Beat JENeration 018: A Holiday Holla’ to All My Ambiverts!

Christmas clearly came early for all of us when Michelle Obama walked on stage in those thigh-high gold Baleciaga boots, but the sad truth is even the fiercest FLOTUS ever cannot save us from the horror show that is the holiday season.

The “us” I speak of, is specific. Christmastime is hard on extroverted introverts. And/or the introverted extroverts. I can never figure out if they are are actually the same thing or which one I am. But, whatever label you slap on my personality type, I know I’m not alone because Buzzfeed did a listicle. So, this being the season of sharing, I will speak for all of us.

Also, I am fueled by a couple glasses of really good Claret from my third Christmas party in two days (of a total of 6 in 5 days) and it feels right to speak in the first person plural.

Though let me go back to first person, for a sec… 

I love Christmas!  Continue reading “Beat JENeration 018: A Holiday Holla’ to All My Ambiverts!”

Beat JENeration #017: Does Paradise Hotel work for me in 2018?

Beat JENeration #017: Does Paradise Hotel work for me in 2018?

Upon hearing of the return of Temptation Island this January to the USA network, I was immediately excited. It is among the top five reality series ever and the preview trailer looks like fun. Will I actually watch it? Debatable, at least in real time. I don’t know that reality series work for me anymore. I’m even bad about keeping up with Drag Race.

But it did bring up a good question: Would I make an effort to watch Paradise Hotel if it came back? The answer is a resounding “Oh hell yeah” for the best reality series EVER.  And taking that a step further, I was compelled to look Paradise Hotel up on YouTube and start rewatching it right away.

Aside from watching it religiously in its original June – October 2003 run and at least once completely through on the Fox Reality Channel during its heyday (roughly 2007-ish), I don’t think I have watched it since — though it has often been a topic of conversation in my circles through the last 15 years. So, I was very surprised to have learned that there was a Paradise Hotel 2 in 2008. It aired on the Fox Reality Channel, which maybe my cable provider had already dropped by then, but still I feel like I should have known. Someone should have told me!

But my two tickets to Paradise Hotel 2 would have to wait. The first season was calling. And when one is called to rewatch a reality show, one must drop everything else. But being so close to Christmas, one must also look to combine efforts. So, ta-freaking-da, it’s this week’s column.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #017: Does Paradise Hotel work for me in 2018?”

Beat JENeration #016: An Honest Christmas Letter

Beat JENeration #016: An Honest Christmas Letter

Dear People,

As you know, Facebook has made the traditional Christmas letter a relic. What I craft on there is really the best version of me I could come up with —- sans totally lying. Also, really, if we aren’t connected on social media in one way or another we’ve lost touch years ago anyway. So, I’m going a different way with this. Straight up truth.

This year, I left (not of my choice) corporate America (by which I mean working for a European-based company from the comfort of my own home — mostly on my laptop in my bed, in my PJs) and returned to my roots in the arts (where I have to dress cute in a full face of makeup every day and work in an shared windowless office with two Millennials who misinterpret my age all the time by assuming I like Norah Jones and don’t really know what a meme is). While this was a brave and impressive move for my soul, it did not bode well for my finances. Hence there are no exciting vacations or purchases to brag about. We’re not starving (yet), but we’ve had to cut ties with STARZ and Hulu.

Thus I’ve been spending a good deal of time this year with Martin Sheen in both a rewatching of The West Wing and in discovering Grace & Frankie. If I watch both at night, I sometimes dream that President Bartlett is married to Jack McCoy from Law & Order. As you know Lily Tomlin is in both shows as well, which probably gives me even greater joy. She is freaking gorgeous not for 79 years old but for any years old. Move over Ruby Rose, she’s this year’s girl crush.

The other main person in my life this year seems to be Dichen Lachman as Supergirl, Being Human, Agents of Shield, and Shameless are also currently living together in my Netflix Continue Watching queue. This was not planned, but I am happy that she is getting regular work. Her best work, however, might be Aquamarine, which as a mother of girls, I have watched over 20 times (not always with them though). Every time I see someone wearing starfish earrings, I know they are magical talking ones.

Speaking of magic, this year I learned that I can literally keep watching Thor: Ragnarok daily (in 10 minutes at a time chunks) over and over again and not get sick of it. The news of a Tom Hiddleston-led Loki series on the new Disney streaming channel (take my money now, mouse bitches) was perhaps the highlight of my year. That is not exaggeration. Thanks to MoviePass (wasn’t that a fun time while it lasted?), I saw Infinity War five times in the theatre and cried every time Loki died in that bullshit way. In spite of daily articles being sent to me (yeah, like you don’t have a THiddy Google Alert too) with theories as to how Loki faked his death at the hands of (worst, cartoonish, not even vaguely scary villain ever) Thanos, I am not delusional to jump on that bandwagon. I’ve made my peace with it.

I also saw Ant Man 2, Black Panther, Ocean’s 8, and Crazy Rich Asians multiple times this year. Awkwafina is my favorite superhero.

The Christmas Prince: Royal Wedding was a ginormous let down. I don’t know what bothered me more, recasting Amber’s dad or that King Richard (not a Prince — a King, loud sigh, Netflix) doesn’t know what a limerick is. But this hasn’t left me jaded. I intend to spend the remaining weeks of 2018 watching whatever holiday crap video streaming throws at me. Life Size 2 is high on my list.

Speaking of high, my fellow Californians have been easier to deal with this year. Aside from the fires and mudslides, I feel a little safer here from the rest of the country’s bullshit. And if you insist, I will happily take partial credit for the Blue Wave that washed all up on Orange County’s shores last month. I moved back home behind the Orange Curtain and pushed the liberal agenda over the edge. I also produced two members of Gen Z who rightfully are kicking all of our asses into gear. They personally spurred me on to two different marches this year where we had signs and everything. A lot of other stuff happened, but I can’t remember what exactly, but I feel like there’s hope back in the game.

And that is the most upbeat you’ll find me this holiday season, so I’m signing off now before I fall into an ugly cry hate spiral over all the reasons I’ve had to watch so much TV every night so that I can sleep.

Joy to the world, motherfuckers!

Beat JENeration #015: The Jen 500

Beat JENeration #015: The Jen 500

I don’t know what you did during Thanksgiving break, but I wasted most of mine trying to order an impossible list. 

I also ate pie. (Though not nearly as much as I wanted).

Ok, first things first, I went into Thanksgiving vacation with plans to do jack shit. There would be intentionally bad Netflix choices and lots of sitting around in my PJs, of course, but not much else.  After the a few traumatic years— three with a cancer-stricken mom worrying/enjoying through what would potentially be the “last one” and then last year trying to rally through the traditions as an orphan who never even liked “The Holidays” in the first place —this was year are togetherness with my emotionally exhausted nuclear family with as little effort as possible.

The thing about having no schedule and no place to report to is that it frees up a lot of time and headspace. And I’m sure if you’ve been reading my column, I’ve told you already that being alone with thoughts is not my favorite.

So there had to be some kind of task to occupy my mind while remaining as physically idle as possible.

Somehow I decided refining one of my playlists in iTunes would be an amusing time suck. Jen’s Top 500 seemed the obvious choice.

I know, just the title sounds daunting, but honestly when I threw 500 songs into a playlist over the summer I didn’t think much about it. I captioned it, “The playlist to be played at my funeral or really any event where you are celebrating me.”  But it wasn’t really in any order.

Because who would be daft enough to rank 500 of their favorite songs?

Well, me, last weekend. And when I say last weekend, it took all four days and then I spent a more than a couple hours messing with it this week too.

The list is public on Apple Music and you are free to giggle and gawk at it. I’m not claiming its the 500 best songs, but they are my ordered favorites. Though crafting this list gave me very little pleasure.  It was hella stressful. (And I remind you that pot is legal in California).  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #015: The Jen 500”

Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined

Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined

The world would be a better place if we would all move our lives’ plot points along by spontaneously breaking out into song and dance. And I think the swelling popularity of musicals in the last five or so years is pushing us in the right direction.

While one must give credit to Hamilton for the recent cross-over popularity in musical theatre, it’s hard for me to gauge actually how much musicals have really has penetrated the general population. You see, in my world, musical theatre has always been a constant. My day job is in the performing arts, I have two high school triple-threats living in my home, and I was raised by two Broadway-loving New Yorkers. Though that really means nothing because in the grand scheme of things the Annie Original Broadway Cast album came out when I was at a very impressionable elementary school age and THAT alone sealed my fate.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined”

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.