Monday, December 26, 2011

If Romantic Comedies are Unrealistic, Can You Be a Romantic Comedian?

This Christmas, Kyla and I have been watching many movies. It started off by me saying that at some point she should watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She had the idea that she would if I would agree to watch six movies of her choosing because the Lord of the Rings movies are the same length of two normal movies. I was initially all right with this arrangement until I remembered the Lord of the Rings are the same length of two normal movies. They are great movies, but they are one of those experiences that you only need to have once every twenty years because it is a trial of sorts to watch.

I then decided to change my side to six other movies of my own choosing. So throughout this three week visit together, we’ve been watching movies (along with smatterings of Community episodes when we don’t want to watch a two hour movie). My selections include: Mission:Impossible 3, Shawshank Redemption, Vantage Point, Away We Go and of course, my traditional Christmas movies, Die Hard 1 and 2.

Kyla, went the exact opposite of me and included: Letters from Juliet, Sydney White, The Last Song, Music and Lyrics, Mulan and Wedding Singer.

The only reason I included the actual titles because if it were me reading this post, I’d want to know, but it really has nothing to do with what I want to talk about. They don’t call me Rabbit Trail Jones for nothing. Or ever.

Watching her movies was exactly what I expected out of them, however I was struck as I watched Letters from Juliet. The movie itself was nothing special or unusual. It was the typical romantic comedy where the guy and girl don’t like each other at the start, but in the end (spoiler alert if you’ve never seen a romantic comedy before) she breaks up with her fiance and winds up with the guy she used to hate.

What struck me was the fiance who was the usual trope of a guy who is so into what he does that he completely neglects the girl and eventually it is what leads her to leave him. It is blindingly obvious to you as the audience to see how the guy is forgetting about the girl and it is easy to blur his actions as being a selfish jerk. Then when the girl goes to break up with him, he is flabbergasted to have this news come out of nowhere and you in the audience are incredulous with his stupidity and are so happy that she is leaving the jackass.

Except for me. I saw the thing I fear I may become and to me it’s not as black and white as it seems like these movies paint the situation.

The fiance was wrapped up in starting his new restaurant and was obsessed with finding the perfect ingredients and elements for his project he dearly loves. At the same time he has affection for the girl. You see it when he realizes her implication that she’s leaving him. He tells his kitchen full of people to stop what they’re doing and to clear out and then he tries to negotiate for the girl. However, it was too little, too late. He had neglected her.

In his podcast called “You Made It Weird”, Pete Holmes, one of my favourite comedians, recounted how his marriage of six years fell apart when he was twenty-eight. She left him not because he had cheated on her or treated her badly, but she described it as not being his first love. It wasn’t that he was always away. It was the other way around. He spent much time with her throughout the day, but the hard part was his mind was elsewhere. He was driven or as he says, he felt called. He was always thinking about comedy and his bits and his conversation was slanted by the perspective of a comedian.

I know for myself that I tend to get the same way with my projects. I tend to leave the world behind, including my own needs, let alone another person’s. I get wrapped up and want to delve right into making my projects as great as I can. It’s the thing that simultaneously created some great presentations on the Summer Ministry Team and caused me to sometimes alienate myself from the rest of the team and become reluctant to share the work.

A common conversation on the podcast is what kind of person is a suitable partner for a comedian. Do you want someone who is a fan? Someone who is indifferent or may not even like your stuff but supportive? Should they be witty themselves or should they not be? The conversation often leaves at an impasse.

Watching that movie with Kyla curled up next to me left me thinking about what Pete went through and I know myself to be the same. It seems like you have to choose one or the other or do both halfhearted and be good at neither. I’m not saying it’s impossible to walk the line of forming a strong relationship and being called, but it requires much wisdom, awareness and grace from both.

Unfortunately, it seems like culture, both inside and outside the church makes it seem like you’re the ridiculous one to pursue your calling because that’s not as important as your relationship. Instead, it seems like that if you just invest fully into your relationship then you don’t have to worry about your career or calling, it takes care of itself. People are magically supposed to be just awesome at what they do.

I just went through that flip-side with Kyla here. I knew that this was one of the few times that I would have with Kyla here and I spent much of the time with her while I had a show coming up and often I would spread myself out and decided to sacrifice sleep so that I could have my cake and eat it too. The show turned out fine, but it concerns me of future endeavors. Can I really keep up that pace?

Of course, I know no one (or people based in reality) really thinks that you can do anything automatically great and that it requires time, but I do think we have expectations that can be hard and perhaps impossible to live up to.

My thoughts bring me to how can I balance both? What does it look like? Like the fiance in the movie, I adore this girl in my life but will my all-consuming obsession with my projects lead me to neglect her, just like the fiance? Or will my relationship lead me to let myself neglect the refinement of my abilities and thus make anything I create a pointless venture?

Perhaps by me writing this, it’s a sign that I am aware of the challenge ahead and I will be better prepared to handle it. The other great thing is that Kyla has shown that she wants me to strive for my dreams and has shown her support for me. I hope that I can find my solution for Pete Holmes’ quandary, because I don’t want to become another example of the clueless, jackass boyfriend trope in some romantic comedy because I’ve come to discover that romantic comedy are a bit too predictable for my taste.

"Cause everywhere I seem to be
I am only passing through
I dream these days about the sea
Always wake up feeling blue
Wishing I could dream of you
So if I stumble
And if I fall
And if I slip now
And lose it all
And if I can't be all that I could be
Will you, will you wait for me?"
- "Wait" from Alexi Murdoch's album "Time Without Consequence"

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Three Monthiversary Gift

Kyla is going to be in Nelson in less than thirty two hours and I thought it is time for me to write in here again. Especially since I have not written many reflections on my relationship with her. This blog is supposed to be me reflecting on my life and a major part of the last few months has been concerned with her. I suppose I don't want to write too much about our relationship because I suppose that people would not like that. That's it's too easy or basic or maybe private for the sphere of a semi-public blog. However, this blog has a part intention to give people insight into my life so that maybe they will learn about me or perhaps even reflect on their own life. The reality is, if I'm going to be honest about my life, this has to come up.

I also want to be sensitive to her as well, because the subject of the post is literally her. I have never really written about a person or a relationship and I am reluctant to write because I don't want to come off as a silly teenager. Nonetheless, I hope that it is a good experience for everyone.

Last month, we had our three monthiversary which I understand is not a major thing to bulk of humanity. I realize that some people get somewhat over giddy about such landmarks and it makes me roll my eyes as well. Probably because three monthiversaries have occurred a billion times over the course of history, but it's apart of the territory.

In fact, this brings me to another of my renowned Arbitrary Rules of Thumb, which is in regards to the celebration of dating relationship landmarks:
1 month - You casually mention it in the conversation with your partner. No gift!
3 month - You go on a creative date but nothing super fancy and/or a small token of remembrance.
6 month - You go to a nicer dinner, consider having flowers or a poem or a song you've written or a piece of macaroni art. If you have not done so, you should reveal your nerdiest obsession you have. Don't hide that any longer.
1 year - You go on a special dinner, perhaps add dancing or stop an armed robbery, definitely have flowers, wear a tie (even if you're a girl) and throw in a surprise (like magic).
Then you celebrate every year after that until finally one of you breaks down and asks the other one to marry. I don't know why I made myself come up with all the things you need to do. All I had was timing. What I know for sure is that people who celebrate a ten monthiversary bother me because it's too arbitrary. It does not break down into the clean fractions of fourths and halves of years.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to note the three months with a small token and so I decided that I would handwrite a letter and send a couple of trinkets. I was down at the wedding in Mexico and figured that would be a good place to pick up something. I have never bought anybody anything on a vacation before, so I thought that'd be special in and of itself.

Now, Kyla likes to collect keychains, so that was an easy buy. However, that alone seemed lame. I may be a cheap jerk, but I'm a little better than that. It was while I was down in Mexico that I was reflecting on who Kyla was to me and I tried to find something that expressed something deeper.

While I was down at the wedding, each member of the wedding party was given the same outfit, but with varying colours. The guys each wore the same white pants, white shirt, vest and fedora and then the tie and a bracelet of a certain colour that would match the bridesmaids' dresses. The colour assigned to me happened to be green. I don't care particularly for green, but I knew that it was Kyla's favourite.

As a part of an ongoing game at the wedding, we were to wear our bracelet the entire week for fear of losing points that I am not entirely sure at this point meant. But I wore it all week and never took it off.

Whenever I had a shower or go to bed and would have normally removed something like a bracelet, I just kept it on. Wearing jewellery is a foreign concept for me and I was noticing the bracelet all the time. Of course, after I'd notice it, I was also reminded how green is Kyla's colour. Then I would be thinking of her.

The week progressed and I found that I was enjoying myself and I was relieved. I thought that it was going to be a bad experience and that I would regret going. But I didn't. I had a good time and am thankful that I went. I was thinking about it as I played with the bracelet on my wrist and thought back to the summer when Kyla and I were spending time together. I remember being reluctant to go into a relationship, because I was thinking it was going to be terrible to deal with the distance and other concerns I had and I thought it would be a trial that was not worth it because I would screw it up or I would invest and be heartbroken. And here I find myself three months later, thinking about her when I was down in Mexico, taking time out to still Skype her, even if it meant doing it awkwardly in the middle of the courtyard of the inn. 

Then the wedding came around and I stood within feet of my friend, Erik exchange vows with Jen. As the rings came forward I was reminded of the jewellery on my own wrist and the green that took me back to thoughts of Kyla. I then knew what the other part of my gift would be.

It was fitting that Erik and Jen symbolized their devotion to their marriage with metal rings, something that doesn't just break easily. It's always said how the ring serves as a reminder of that unending bond. I thought it was fitting to send my bracelet made of green string and shells. I may not be ready to promise her marriage yet, at the same time I want to remind her that I am devoted to her until I am ready to give her something more permanent.

I continued to wear the bracelet after I got back to Nelson and only took it off to put it in the envelope with the keychain and a letter.

I don't know why I am telling random readers about something like this. I don't know what's to gain. Maybe there's nothing and I'm creating as a reminder to my future self. I suppose for me, I believe in the power of symbol and the importance of creating things that help you to remember. Maybe this post can be an encouragement to you to find those things that remind you of the ones in your life because it can be too easy to forget.

The sad tragedy of those who can afford the fanciest rings and flashiest weddings is that the glitz sometimes blinds you of what these things are supposed to do. They are not about making the couple feel like royalty for a day, it's about community and the ongoing model of declared devoted love. The ring is to remind you of the vows to unending love.

I don't know if this relationship will come to marriage. We're still young. We're still learning about each other. I am looking for wisdom and discernment but I know I will remember to not take something beautiful for granted.

Ky, I love you.

"But the strangest today
So far away and yet you feel so close
And I'm not gonna question any other way
There must be an open door
For you... to come back
And the days they linger on
And every night when I'm waiting for
The real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
Sometimes you're there and you're talking back to me
Come the morning I can swear that you're next to me
And it's okay."
- "Come Back" from Pearl Jam's self-titled album