the patience of netflix
ever since i could read i wanted to write. my report cards continuously stated my need to speak up, as well as my ability to put down my thoughts onto paper. i guess i just wanted to be understood. even tho the amount i speak out of turn, too loudly, or to the point of my embarrassment is still equivalent to my need to write, i’m beginning to understand how important it is to sit with and reflect on what i want to say before consciously letting it out.
impatience has also always been a quality of mine. even writing this essay now is making me anxious, because the words aren’t coming out as easily as i want. i inhale reminders that sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and the former situation is as necessary in my writing practice. i inhale reminders that there’s no point to writing if it makes me feel down about myself. this form of expression has always helped me out of depression or confusion. still no matter what i try, i can’t write myself out of my impatience.
this essay is a practice. every time i write, it’s a practice. i’ve never been athletic, so routines of repetition have only ever exposed themselves in my poems. i haven’t been programmed to embrace the long stretches of working hard before the reward. and so i send out poems and manuscripts, withdraw poems and manuscripts, feel anxiety about the responses to my poems and manuscripts, instead of taking the time to make sure each dish is well designed and delicious. excuse the cliché, but it’s leading to my point.
sometimes practicing patience includes not-writing. like an aged whisky, words soaked with wisdom sit better on the tongue. and sometimes i feel better sitting on the couch, without the light of the laptop looming, calling me toward it to fill blank pages with something more meaningful, more worthwhile, than the current episode of kitchen nightmares i’m watching. but i refuse to be bullied by my manuscripts. i close the laptop and turn up the volume on the tv.
we’ve all experienced weekends when we could hardly get out of bed, cancelled plans to watch the new season of our favorite show on netflix. or maybe just ended a day of writing early because that new season of our favorite show on netflix was all anyone could talk about that day. i don’t know if i’ve ever been obsessed with a show to the point that’s all i could discuss but i will admit to incessantly suggesting series with strong narratives that i’ve previously set aside tasks to watch.
when i marathon a tv show, i’m practicing patience. dialogue, garnished with a side of closed captions, is my main course because writing is what fills me up. the setting, including time elapsed over episodes and seasons, expands my idea of where a story could go, or where it should stop.
even when gordon ramsay asks restaurant owners how long they've been in business, i’m reminded of patience. each time gordon ramsay refers to a restaurant owner in an aggressive manner, i’m reminded of patience. even when the end of show recap shares that this or this restaurant failed despite ramsay’s help, i’m not reminded of rejection, i’m reminded of patience. or maybe in those cases, the lack there-of.
another theme i’ve noticed while watching restaurant owners and chefs try to turn their work into success, is the amount of passion it takes to do so. there is a bit of paradox to my marathoning in this regard. in fact, the word marathon implies that i’m pushing myself to reach my end goal. maybe the hard work in marathoning tv shows is convincing myself that i'm spending my time wisely, that not picking up my manuscript and editing just a few more pages is sometimes the right decision.
maybe it isn’t. maybe i’m wasting my time. but at least i’m not wasting my energy, when my mind and body are telling me to relax. see, a side-effect of impatience is running yourself into the ground. or as i like to think of it, running thru my poem, as if i’m a team of footballers tearing the school banner at the homecoming game. an honest representation destroyed by my need to win.
i never went to football games in high school, i spent most of my time at home, drinking coffee and typing stories on my typewriter to feel like i was a real writer. this was around the same time i had boycotted tv after realizing the way a narrative could affect my relationship to myself and the people around me. the shows i watched up to this point affected me in a way i wasn’t comfortable.
image. body image. fashion. hair. makeup. all those things i knew nothing about, and didn’t want to think about. when i really started writing and reading stories, the characters always looked like me, even if decorated as something far more extravagant. the blank space on the pages provided room to imagine i was no different.
now that i’m older and i’ve begun to overcome my relentless need to compare myself, i’ve dived back into those shows i refused to indulge in, with a new understanding and a new enjoyment.
for example, the idea of keeping up with the kardashians used to infuriate me. until i could empathize with their humanity. until i realized their strengths: the desperate need for makeup in the morning and their constant need to make up with each other. i could finally relate to these signs i previously saw as weaknesses. i see them now as steps, toward empathy, towards acceptance, not only being taken by the kardashians - who have an ability to point out their flaws for everyone, to admit when they’re feeling outcasted, impatient, or lazy - but by myself.
when i was younger, a little girl in school unable to raise her hand before opening her mouth, i only needed to think of my own opinion. now i write, not only for my own sanity, but to inspire others with lessons i’ve learned. so i'm learning to think of other’s opinions as well. every story can be traced back to a singular source, but tv shows effortlessly represent that source as something we all share.
i’ve learned so much about myself thru my writing. but i have probably learned more about humanity thru watching tv. there has to be that balance. those moments between my influences and my influence. so i’m not just sharing this essay to give my loud mouth a platform, but to practice patience.
the story i really want to tell is still waiting for me to pause gilmore girls, pick up the pen and keeping writing.
but maybe, just maybe, watching gilmore girls teaches me the importance of drinking coffee, or some other quality, that's not only necessary to help my writing, but to help me take the time to say what i need to say without pushing myself too far or too hard. sip. sip.
at the very least, gilmore girls reminds me that every show is scripted, and that the script took time to write.
* before posting this essay, i watched 5 episodes of gilmore girls, indulged in 3 cups of coffee and edited 24 sentences.