Archive | January, 2015

Was It All Just A Dream?

24 Jan

This post is coming to you at 9:45am on a Saturday. The reason it is being written this early on a day that I can FINALLY sleep in is because it’s inspiration is still so fresh & vivid in my mind. I just woke up, about 10 minutes ago from one of the most awful nightmares I have had in recent memory. Literally my silk Eiffel Tower printed pjs are still slicked to my body with sweat & I can feel my heart still racing.

It was one of those powerfully gripping dreams. Where you actually somehow think it’s happening in real life, so when you do finally open your eyes you spend a few seconds groggily confused at the sight of your bedroom. Yup, those dreams are rough. And you just want to tell someone. You want to run downstairs & tell your mom, like you’re a scared little 5-year-old, so she can hug you & tell you that it was just a dream. But my roommate, Jen, is currently on vacation & I’m all alone here in the apartment.

So why not tell it to all of you?

First off, I am someone who truly believes in the importance of dream analysis. I think it is very important to explain & understand why we imagine up these sort of pictures after we close are sleeping eyes. Do I believe that crows in dreams mean you’re going to die? No. But I do believe that your dreams, especially nightmares, is your sub-conscious trying to tell you something. 

All my childhood, I was haunted by this re-occurring dream, & it’s crazy that even now I can picture it all so clearly: I am trapped in what appears to be a large boiler room in the basement of a building. It’s dark & musty & I can hear the hum of machinery all around me. I am standing on a sort of door mat, & there’s a locked door behind me. There is a sort of path in front of me, leading around the machinery. However, I am paralyzed by fear. I can’t move forward. I feel so sick to my stomach & begin crying & panicking so much that I wake up & cry to my mom about the dream.

I haven’t had this dream in over a decade now, but as a child my strange sleep habits didn’t stop there. No, all throughout my adolescence I was an avid sleep-walker (something hereditary that my dad used to do). My dad’s worst episode was him opening the window in his attic bedroom & trying to walk on the roof. My worst episode was me somehow managing to walk down all 13 stairs & sit on the foot of the couch before I began screaming at the top of my lungs.

What a pleasant family tree!

Another amusing/terrifying thing I’ve done all my life (still do to this very day) is sleep-talk. My roommate in college, Lila, would actually write down all the crazy things I’d say & we’d laugh about them later. However, this is a very far cry from my childhood, where my mom said she would often go into my room late at night to drop off my laundry & I would sit straight up in bed, look her in the eyes & ramble off in a made-up language. But she said it was a coherent language, not just mumbled words or sounds. Yes, I was the poster-child for a creepy kid in a horror movie, essentially. 

Pair this long history of sleep maladies with my extremely creative mind & you get one HECK of a dream. I usually dream every single night & typically always remember them. Most make no sense & are with people I haven’t thought about in a while. I notice when I eat different food or drink a lot my dreams are crazier, but that’s just science.

(Kids, this is your brain on DREAMS!)

However, I notice that whenever I do have a nightmare it’s about something quite rational. It’s about that little problem or flaw I have been sweeping under the rug of denial for far too long. Then there I am, sitting up in bed trying to catch my breath, facing the problem head on. 

Last night my dream would not have been considered a nightmare by many people but to me it definitely was. Myself & about 10 other people (random classmates, random co-workers, random old friends & people I have never seen before) were all staying in this big house. However, as each day went by, I began to notice something shift.

All day people were slightly rude to me. They changed topics whenever I walked by, they avoided me & later on in the dream, were directly just plain mean to me. I soon realized to my horror that everyone of these people flat out hated me. And as the dream progressed they became meaner & meaner about it. The eventually all ganged up on me & insulted me to my face saying they didn’t want me there & I should leave. I, at first, tried to ask why they all felt this way about me, but I soon turned on this idea & then took on a lone wolf persona. These events finally exploaded with me calling them each out on being a coward for following the crowd when I did nothing to them. Then they physically pushed me out of the house all while laughing & insulting me.

I woke up angry (at these people in real life! Laughable), upset & paranoid (OMG do they actually feel this way about me?!).

You really can’t help asking that question for a moment after a dream like this because it’s so vivid. So instead of holding a grudge against this random assortment of people in my dream, I decided to analyze why I had a dream like this & why it was so upsetting for me.

Already the metaphors & parallels are overwhelming, because the fear of not being liked is quite a rational one for me. It stems from the fear of rejection, something I have always had as long as I can remember. It’s strange though because the people in the dream who said they did not like me are people whose opinions I could not care less about. It wasn’t like it was my mom or bff Courtney telling me I was a terrible person, it was random people. So here is my dream interpretation of that:

People From The Past: Fear of Past Self. It’s funny how life & circumstances drive people away. One minute you have all these great friends & acquaintances, next you just have all these people who you don’t talk to anymore but still get random updates on their life via Facebook. These people in my dream were exes of my friends, so people who I met & hung out with solely based on their direct connection of another person. It’s always awkward when that break-up happens because you want to be loyal to your friend firstly, but if it was a mutual break-up you really have no reason to hate their ex. But at the same time hanging out with them/talking to them would look bad on your part. It’s awkward. 

Why Was This Person In The Dream?: Because I realize I have changed so much over the years. And am worried people are only going to remember me forever based on past actions. Unfortunately this is the case, but usually if you re-connect with someone from high school or whatever in present day, chances are they’re pretty cool now & different. That’s life.

People From The Present: Fear of Present Self. This is a biggie & definitely my main concern. For some reason, as outgoing & friendly as I try to be, I am always worried in the back of my mind that people don’t like me. Not going to lie–I’m a quirky individual & have always found that people either see “the real me” or they don’t. This being said, it’s always overwhelming making new friends. I felt this when I started college, I felt this when I moved to Prague & I am definitely feeling it now with my new job. It’s hard for me to “pitch myself” to others. It’s difficult to be kind without your kindness being misunderstood as fake, or to be funny without your humor being judged. Basically I feel like I am entering this new office where all 100 of my colleagues are already close, having inside jokes & past experiences & I am the odd girl out. I feel anti-social eating lunch alone, but at the same time, I am not the type of person who wants to invite myself along to things & be a third (fifth/seventh/ninth) wheel. Help!

Why Was This Person In The Dream?: I feel like since I have only been in this position for 2 months, a handful of people have come close to even beginning to know ‘The Real Jessi’. I feel like I have a ton of acquaintances, people who you say “Hi” to in the hallways, yup got those for days. But man, screw acquaintances, I really want some friends. People who invite me to things outside of work, who talk to me more than just telling me there’s someone on Line 88 for me. I think this is just something that will come with time, but it’s still a very difficult transition for me. 

Random People Who I Don’t Know: Metaphors for My Ego & Superego. Throughout the dream while I was hurt by the awful things the people from my past & present were saying about me, I was especially baffled by the things the people who I didn’t know were saying! I can remember screaming, “I don’t even KNOW you!”. But these people seemed to know all about me. While you want to be a good friend to those who matter in your life, it also doesn’t hurt to have a favorable reputation those who don’t know you. Therefore I believe that this part of the dream was the Freudian concept of my “ego” or ways of being socially acceptable & “superego” or how the outside world views my way of life. 

Why Was This Person In The Dream?: Because I am always concerned about my reputation. Once you enter into a new network or friends circle, you usually begin with a clean slate. However, word spreads fast when you do something either wrong or right. I think this goes back to a very primitive tribe/pack instinct. We all just want to be accepted into the pack!

So now it has been over an hour since my nightmare ended & you know what, dear readers? I’m feeling a lot better. It’s funny how when we’re kids we have nightmares about monsters, something we know logically do not exist. However, nightmares become trickier as you get older. They become things that are very possible, but at the same time–when you really think about them–really are far-fetched. And no matter how fast your heart is racing when you wake up, you can always take a deep breath & repeat that comforting mantra your mom told you when you were 5-years-old: It was just a dream.

JG 🙂

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My Problem With Freakshow

21 Jan

So if you have been reading this blog for a while now you will realize that it has been utilized for many different mediums of writing. Yes, it has been everything from a diary to a political debate platform, serving as a collection of any thought that comes to my mind whether they directly (yet always indirectly) relate to my old life in Prague. Well now the Czech It Out Blog is about to temporarily transform again–this time into a television review piece.

WARNING: SPOILER’S AHEAD

I rarely follow a television series. Usually I unexpectedly watch an episode here & there or more likely, don’t feel like sifting through that must-watch when it’s already 3 seasons deep. Most shows (& movies) nowadays feel very overrated, citing books & ‘true events’ as their inspiration. It makes me wonder: does ANYONE have an original thought anymore?! 

Then a few years ago I started watching a show that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was eerie, interesting & visually compelling. This show was American Horror Story.

ahs

Set in various time periods throughout the country, AHS aims to run a fictional commentary on the real-life ‘horror stories’ that happened in the United States. The opening credits alone, (different for each of the 4 seasons) are enough to chill you to the bone.

I began watching season 1, sub-titled “Murder House” & was instantly drawn in. The show started seemingly normal, a family, Ben Harmon, Vivian Harmon & Violent Harmon, move from Boston to Los Angeles to live in a massively ornate house that is believed to be haunted.

If you know me, I am sucker for humanization. I enjoy characters that are well-developed & consist of strengths yet also flaws (ya know, like actual people), & the Harmons were just that. It is revealed that their move is actually to start a “brand new life” since Vivian had previously suffered birthing a still born baby….then later walks in on her psychiatrist/teacher husband having sex with one of his students in their bed.

Whoa. 

Then don’t forget their only daughter, Violet, who wears 90s-esque thrift store gold, listens to great music…but oh yeah, cuts herself & is enticed with ‘the darkness’.

harmons

While the Harmons certainly have their issues, it is revealed that their new house certainly does as well. Every episode features revelations of the past tragedies & deaths that have happened on the property. Outside characters, Constance Langdon (a marvelous Jessica Lange as a Southern-bred nosy neighbor who has some of the best quotations throughout the entire season) & pesky Larry (an eerie man with half his body burned off who keeps harassing Ben to pay him $1,000) provide clues to the mysteries of the past.

constance

larry(Larry, a character who suffers 3rd degree burns all over his body, was the first representations of this show’s undeniable strong suit–costume & make up)

However, there was always just that mystery. Though soon it is revealed to the viewer (not necessarily the Harmons) the true curse of Murder House: once you are killed on the property you can never leave. Soon the show becomes a guessing-game of who’s dead & who’s alive. And more important how did they die. 

This idea is both terrifying & intriguing. Death is the ultimate human fear, & ghosts are a heavily debated topic. AHS humanized their ghosts. The show made them appear regretful, sad & anguished by the realization that they will be trapped here for all eternity. Well, most ghosts.

Some were just pure evil.

Evil came in the most adorable form in Tate Langdon (a highly skilled Evan Peters), a patient who begins having psychiatric sessions with Ben in the house due to the fact that he has disturbing visions of killing his classmates. Tate is the Kurt to Violet’s Courtney & the two teenagers soon begin a angsty love affair. This connection is important because it makes viewers connect with Tate…before the truth about him is revealed.

tate

Throughout the season Tate’s character shows humility & love for Violet, even rescuing her & her mother from a home invasion. However, by the end of the season 1 it is revealed to all that Tate Langdon is not only a ghost, but the spawn of Satan. During his life (in the 1990s) he lived in the Murder House with his family (Constance is his mother), began having violent visions (something that happens to the men/father figures who live in the house) & did go to his high school & kill several students in a bloody massacre (which is a direct inspiration from the infamous Columbine killings, a real-life ‘American horror story’) before the police killed him within the house.

In his time as a ghost living in Murder House, Tate continued to commit acts of pure evil. He killed the homosexual couple that lived in the house before the Harmons (featuring a fabulously sassy Zachary Quinto), he suffocates a random exterminator man under the house & oh yeah…he rapes & impregnates Vivian (his girlfriend’s mom) while donning a creepy leather fetish suit. It is also revealed that Larry’s 3rd degree burns are not a result of ‘saving school children from a burning bus’ or ‘saving his family after he tried to burn Murder House down’…but are actually the result of Tate lighting him on fire before leaving to massacre his classmates.

Yes, Tate Langdon is pure evil.

However, he is also the most sympathized character in Murder House. He can’t help being evil. & He desperately wants to change because of his love for Violet, but he just can’t. Tate is the anti-hero, much like Walter White from Breaking Bad. Both characters, at one point, lived normal respectable lives, however, circumstances caused them to viciously morph into truly terrible people who do awful things but we still root for them to win. It is a very complex character type that rarely exists in today’s television shows.

This character type alone that makes Season 1 of American Horror Story so well-developed. However, creator Ryan Murphy (who also created Nip/Tuck & Glee) soon bit off way more than he could chew. He said each season of the show would keep most of the same actors/actresses…but would be set in different time periods.

This was a confusing concept. While I love Jessica Lange, Evan Peters & Sara Paulson…it is hard imagining them as brand new characters every single time. Especially when Murphy really had no new ground-breaking ideas.

Season 2 brought us Asylum, a promising concept (actually based on the Bridgewater, Mass., mental hospital…Google that for a real horror story), but way too many plot derivatives. Sure, go with the whole Cuckoo’s Nest idea of ‘these people are more than what society says!’ but when you throw in Nazis & aliens (still so upset over that, Ryan, you know better) you lose an audience reallllllllll fast. Although I know a lot of people who think this was the best season, & maybe I never really gave it a fair chance…Asylum just cannot live up to Season 1 for me.

Season 3 Coven brought us down to New Orleans for a little witch craft & voodoo. Introducing the marvelous Kathy Bates as an undead racist socialite & the so-annoying-yet-so-good-at-being-bitchy Emma Roberts, this season pretty much lost the idea of a good old fashioned scare. Coven relied more on humor than previous seasons, & the ‘horror’ of the show came from disturbing sick imagery including decapitation, & how could we forget Precious, herself, Gabourey Sidib being raped by a Minotaur. Most of all Coven tried to cover too many ideas at once, & audiences were left with not really knowing any character too deeply, therefore it wasn’t sad when they died…which wasn’t even permanent…since it seemed everyone could easily come back from the dead with Lily Rabe’s swamp witch magic. Yawn.

Season 4 Freakshow, I wanted to believe in again. I wanted to sit down & really give each episode a chance & really try to get to know the characters. Set in one of the last remaining ‘freak shows’ in the US, the cast includes several actors & actresses will real-life maladies. I love this. Even though they were technically being hired to play stereotypes, I hoped that season 4 would humanize these people & show audiences a different side.

I was met with mixed results.

Tonight is the finale episode & I am very lukewarm on American Horror Story: Freakshow. It is by far Jessica Lange’s weakest role, reciting played out lines in a German accent…lines so similar to her previous roles. Even Peters is reduced to lobster boy, Jimmy, a man who is trying to be ‘the hero’ whatever that means. Sarah Paulson is Emmy-worthy as Bette & Dot, conjoined twins (bravo again, make-up & costume team!) with two very different personalities. And most of the other characters only have a few shining lines before they fall back in place.

The writers gave up.

The only real hope so far for me has been Twisty, a killer clown who is terrifying, Dandy, a spoiled rich brat with a murderous God-complex, & Chester, a psychotic magician who is obsessed with a puppet played by a wonderful Neil Patrick Harris. These three characters have made Freakshow anything of true value.

And what did the writers do to them? They killed my beloved Twisty off, they don’t give Dandy enough screen time, and they waited until the very last second to introduce Chester.And there is nothing else supporting this show.

Watching each episode is like a chore. Characters feel foreign & do uncharacteristic things, the plot has been thrown out the window & people die left & right for no real reason other then Ma Petite must have some other prior commitments she needs to get to.

Tonight I will of course watch the Freakshow finale, however, it seems like the real ‘horror story’ is the painful death of my favorite show.

JG 😦

2014, From Backwards to Forwards

3 Jan

Today is the 3rd day of 2015.

Does anyone else think that’s weird? I felt so odd writing the date the other day because just wow…you’re old, planet Earth! Speaking of old, my birthday was last Saturday (Dec 27th) & I have always felt like the New Year was a lot like a birthday.

On your birthday after you go through all the cake-eating & gift opening, someone always has to ask you that strange question: Do you FEEL any older?! To which everyone (unless they’re sitting over a bowl of cereal surrounded by only cats) replies, “Nope”.

But like it or not, you are older & now the new year is here. And while everyone else is running to the gym & making a long list of their resolutions…I would like to make a different list, a list to commemorate you, 2014!

While I’m sure everyone who is excited about 2015 feels this way because their 2014 was so awful, I must ask you, can an entire 365 days be terrible? You didn’t laugh once? Not one adventure? And you didn’t grow at all?! Psh, then you’re not doing this whole thing called ‘existence’ right!

Because for me, I had some of my highest highs & lowest lows in 2014 & I will never forget them! Here’s a little recap:

January 2014

prague_sightseeing

I’m finally legal to reside/work in Prague! I don’t hate my job as much as I would in the future & life is one big party for me. I’m pretty acculturated by now. I can speak basic Czech, I know my way around the city & I’m very close with my roommates & Gillian. Life was going pretty well but I’m a little lonely little did I know that…

filip

February 2014

In February I would fall in love! By some extreme stroke of chance I randomly met the love of my life, Filip, at a smokey bar when neither one of us were all too coherent. February was full of fun new couple stuff like Valentine’s Day, venturing down to Cesky Krumlov for a romantic weekend & just realizing I was no longer on my own. Which was great because soon I would be hosting two…

March 2014

…of my greatest friends from Roger Williams University came to visit me in Prague! We somehow all managed to spend a week crammed onto my lumpy uncomfortable bed & fit in as many adventures as possible! No one ever picks Prague as their first European getaway choice, but I’m so glad Alex & Jen did! My post TEFL life abroad even inspired Alex so much that she would go on to receive her own TEFL & is now residing in Barcelona! Funny how things work out especially…

DSC00401

April 2014

…when you’re spending huge things like holidays away from home. Instead of a giant feast with family for Easter, it was just our little party of two & I COOKED the meal! And it was still fun! If you ever find yourself in another country missing a huge traditional event…make your own traditions otherwise you’ll be miserable…

euro46

May 2014

…speaking of miserable, that it what my job teaching English at a preschool had now become, all thanks to my dangerously unstable boss. So in an act of pure valor that was terrifyingly liberating, one day I just left the keys on her desk & walked out. Honestly I could not take it anymore, my mind was soon preoccupied because Zach came to visit Prague. We then traveled to Rome, Florence, Pisa & of course, one more stop over in my favorite city in the world–Paris. I was teary-eyed to say good-bye to my favorite city, but it was only the beginning of the tears because…

June 2014

…in June I moved home from Prague. It was the most mixed emotions I have ever experienced. This was now like my home, & I was proud of myself for all the progress I had made in adjusting to it. Most of all I felt so sad to leave behind my wonderful roomates, & my mentors who helped me maintain my sanity: Gillian & Brandi…but the most tears were shed at the airport when I had to say good-bye to Filip. This was not a fun month for me but…

July 2014

…the next was! I immediately got a job upon returning home working as a program assistant for MEPI (U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative) & got to move back to RWU! Such a wonderful experience. I spent the next few weeks getting to know so many wonderful individuals from the Middle East & North Africa who will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life but the inspiration wasn’t finished because…

August 2014

…I was about to meet 7 awesome adorable Japanese girls who I would be working with throughout August with CILP (Japanese Cultural Immersion Language Program) also held at RWU! I suddenly gained 7 sisters in these girls, hanging out with them every day, watching them interact with the coolest group of Brazilian students also studying at RWU & being so impressed with all the language improvements they made along the way! I was like a mama bear & was so happy, which was ironic because…

Military Working Dogs

September 2014

…I had no idea what the next month had in store for me. I was attacked by a dog & spent all of September in hospitals & on couches, in so much physical & mental pain. I had gone from country-hopping to barely being able to walk, & the emotions I had been running from all caught up with me. September was the lowest month of 2014 for me, even though I had great things to look forward to…

October 2014

…like Filip finally coming to visit me in October! By this time I could walk normally again & we had the best 3 weeks. You know it’s real when you haven’t seen your boyfriend for 4 months & then when he gets off the plane it’s as if nothing had changed. We adventured all over New England & NYC & for the first time in a month I could smile again…

November 2014

…& the reasons to smile just kept coming. Right after Filip left I was offered my ultimate dream job, to work at EF, an international travel company, a company I had been trying to get into for the past 2 months. Suddenly it was off the couch & out of unemployment & I moved to Boston to begin work. It was such a drastic shift from the past few months that it was hard to digest at first but now…

December 2014

…it all makes sense. Everything does, & that’s why I have to look back on this amazing year. If I had been offered my first attempt at the dream job, I would have not been able to work right away because of the dog bite & Filip & I would not have gotten to hang out that much. If I had not moved to Prague I would not have been offered to meet these countless new friends with MEPI & CILP. & If I had went to a different bar that night I would have most definitely never met Filip.

You see, dear readers, December, as much as it is a time to look ahead at all the exciting promises the New Year will bring, it is also a moment to reflect on everything the past year put you through. Puzzle pieces of timing & circumstance begin to add up & you realize that most definitely everything happens for a reason. They say that hindsight is 20:20 & it’s so so true.

Every January while I look back on the past year, I also do look forward. But not with resolutions to join gyms & stop eating sweets, I ask myself ‘what do I want this year to bring me?’ So far this motto has worked, 2013 I wanted adventure–So I moved to Prague. 2014 I wanted to find love—I found not only Filip, but everyone who was there for me during my dog bite.

So, 2015, just so you know I want to find success. However, success can be a very broad term & I trust that maybe life can choose to bring this to me in the form of money, in the form of inspiration or perhaps something completely different.

But I am ready.

And when we fast forward to December I want to look back at all that has happened & say to myself, it all worked out.

Cheers, dear readers! I wish you happiness, joy & love in your new year! Thank you for being a part of mine! 🙂

JG