The year a Gilmore Girl inspired my Lenten fast

It started with an armchair. A gorgeous armchair that I had spotted a year ago, but didn’t buy immediately – which was lucky, as it went on special offer during February. As of a couple of weeks ago, I now have an awesome reading corner in my lounge:

Ikea’s Strandmon armchair & footstool. (As the chair was on offer, obviously it made sense to buy the footstool too…)

The first book I read in my new, fabulously comfortable, reading nook was no weighty theology tome. Nor was it a classic novel, worthy of awards. Nope. It was a celebrity autobiography – star of Gilmore Girls, Lauren Graham’ Talking As Fast As I Can, to be specific. It’s not at all trashy (and includes a diary of the Gilmore revival, a must for all GG fans), but nonetheless I was surprised when something Lauren mentioned provided a seed of an idea that has blossomed into my Lenten challenge for 2017…

One chapter of the book chronicles Lauren’s efforts to write and her determination to get some discipline into her routine. A friend suggested to her the ‘kitchen timer technique’ – otherwise known as Pomodoro. It’s pretty simple (although the explanation goes on for several pages): turn everything distracting off; set a timer; write or journal until it goes off; and repeat. In fact, this wasn’t my first encounter with Pomodoro – regular alarms and noises go off in the Matryoshka Haus office, indicating the passing of time for our resident graphic designer.

It’s a useful tactic to have in one’s arsenal. I’ve been trying to get more disciplined in my writing this year, so it was something to file away. Then I thought about my reading corner, and the pile of worthy books I currently have sitting in my office at church, desperately needing to be read. And I put a few things together. What better way to mark Lent than by ploughing through my To Be Read theology pile?

So, here’s the plan: I pledge to spend half an hour a day in my armchair, reading theology. There’ll be a notebook, a pencil and a timer and an ambition for quality rather than quantity. Read, ponder, wonder – any of those are fine. The important thing is making the time. (Ideally this will happen after my morning prayer on the balcony slot, but that might be too ambitious for mornings when I also need to be at morning prayer at 9am.)

Grateful to my favourite inhabitant of St Denis des Murs for the London Tube themed notebook!

My first book is Rowan Williams’ Being Disciples, which everyone says is simply marvellous. Plus, I’ve committed to read it with one of my oldest friends, so I need to get a wriggle on. Next? Who knows – I need to have a search through my shelves and see what takes my fancy. I’ve recently acquired a stash of feminist theology and missiology thanks to my Mum having a clear out, so some of that needs to be included too. [The ABC’s Dethroning Mammon will be read in regular work time – we’re using it for our Lent series, so it’s an essential – before anyone suggests it.]

Hopefully, my Lenten pledge will turn into a regular habit. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading theology regularly since I left college. (In part, thanks to my tutor actually telling me that I should take a break for a while because I’d been working so hard.) I’ve read it for research work (when I get paid to read), but the books that come out that everyone says I should read? Not so much.

Here’s to Ash Wednesday, and all that Lent will bring!

Unrealistic Expectations?

Wedding season is upon us; there’s a sex & relationships themed Girlzone this weekend; a relationship course starting next month and therefore talk about relationships/men/idiot boys is more prevalent than ever amongst the girls in the pub after church.

One topic that me and a particularly lovely friend (B) keep returning to is the pressing issue of which Gilmore Girls man we would go for (and you thought this might be heading somewhere serious!)…

This year I’ve spend an inordinate amount of time/money on buying Gilmore Girls season by season. This evening I’ve just finished season 4, with season 5 already in the mail – to ensure no withdrawal symptoms. In this season finale, the leading lady (Lorelai) and leading man (Luke) finally get together. It had me clutching a cushion, clapping, and nearly reaching for the kleenex.

There are many key men in this show, but ultimately, it comes down to three:
There’s Max, the well-educated, Italian heritage, gorgeous, English teacher.
Christopher, the first love, bad-boy, successful businessman and vulnerable single parent.
And Luke, the nice guy who runs the local diner. Quiet, sensitive, reliable and handy with both a frying pan and screwdriver.

B always goes for Max and despairs that I go for Luke – every single time. (I’m not sure why she thinks I’ll change my mind.) She says it says much for my taste in men – that I go for the one who takes four seasons of a show to make his move, not to mention the fact that I always say that I’d like to take care of him because he seems to need looking after.

Maybe all this relationship-centred info I’m going to be getting over the next few weeks will reveal to me that I have deeply flawed taste in men (this is more than likely). Possibly, I’ll also realise that I may have to have more realistic goals than those based upon a feel-good, chick-flick show.

But I can dream can’t I?

Box set fever [Updated]

I need help.

I’ve been spending far too long in the town of Stars Hollow (aka location of feel-good show Gilmore Girls). It’s not an obsession, just a very happy place to spend a couple of hours of an evening or a weekend morning.

Here’s the thing: back in January I bought the first three seasons rather cheaply and ever since it’s been the perfect escapism, however, I’m one episode away from finishing Season 3 and none of the others have been released in the UK. (Fools…)

Luckily, I’ve found an affordable multi-region Season 4 and Season 5 may become affordable soon. Seasons 6 & 7 might appear at some point. My need to complete may go unfulfilled.

The reason I need help (in this instance) is that I feel I may need to branch out a bit in my DVD TV watching, so I’d like suggestions. The joy of the DVD boxset is that it’s pure escapism, which unlike a show on TV, you can watch continuously for as long as you can bear to.

I’m open to new things, and have eclectic taste, so ideas would be very, very welcome!

[Alternatively, if you have suggestions as to how I might get more of a life, they’d be appreciated too!]

Update: The glorious Abidemi made a comment to the original post, suggesting surfthechannel.com, where you can find almost anything online. This has resulted in my rediscovery of Felicity (which is good, 90s, chick-flick drama); but I’d like more suggestions of stuff that might be a bit of a departure from that kind of thing!

Appreciating a local reference

One of my favourite lazy Saturday past-times is watching the Gilmore Girls omnibus on E4. I love it, in all its cheesy, chick-flick glory.

Today I was happy ensconsed in pjs and hoodie, painting my nails and eating breakfast (always the multi-tasker), when my ears pricked up at a reference to Gloucestershire (my favourite kind of shire).

Rory’s boyfriend Logan was just back from a summer tour of Europe and had broken his finger whilst participating in the ‘Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival’.

Of course, Gloucestershire was pronounced “Gla-owcestershire” and the cheese-rolling actually takes place in May, not August…but still, not often the shire gets referenced in popular culture.

Gone, but not forgotten

Having just taken a Sex and the City quiz (scoring a respectable 8/10) I’ve been reflecting on the dark month that was May 2004, when not only did SATC finish, but so did Friends. Around about the same time Dawson’s Creek bit the dust. (Oh how I cried during that episode! Has got to be one of the most depressing pieces of TV ever!)

No sooner had I finished mentioning this dark month to my colleague (who scoffed & didn’t seem to understand the trauma), than I found an article from the Guardian on the results of a recent poll to find the 10 most-missed shows.

It’s a bit of a dull list really, containing quite a few shows I’ve never bothered with – The Office, West Wing, Sopranos & Only Fools and Horses (my sister claims I’m a snob & don’t like ‘working class’ comedy, that’s a lie!!).

My own top 10 would look something like this:

1. Friends (Thankfully there’s 2 episodes on a day, but I miss new ones!)
2. SATC
3. Dawson’s Creek (though I do own all 6 series…did I just type that?? Oops.)
5. ER (It’s not officially over, but next season is it’s last. Besides, for me it pretty much finished when Dr Green left for the big ER in the sky.)
6. The Biz (little known CBBC drama about kids at stage school)
7. This Life (I especially liked watching it illicitly, aged 14/15 on the spare TV upstairs without my parents finding out!)
9. Gilmore Girls (Was hardly ever shown on UK TV so I’ve only really seen 2 of the 7 seasons, still, it looked good!)
10. Jewel in the Crown (As it was based on a set of books it couldn’t have gone on longer, but was amazing.)
11. Press Gang (I know, it’s a top 10 but I just remembered & it is great. Watching them again on dvd has been an enlightening experience, plus a teenage Dexter Fletcher….)

Incidentally, still on the theme of classic TV, apparantly the same survey also reveals that around 30% of people have “romantically fallen in love” with a TV character. Interesting turn of phrase!

Has to be said, only person I can think of that falls into that category is Clark Kent/Superman from the New Adventures of Superman – Dean Cain. Incredibly pathetic in reflection, but I was only 12. Although, now I’m re-watching ER from the start I may possibly be falling in love with a young(er) George Clooney!

Also, well done to all those Wikipedia TV dorks who spend their spare time writing episode guides & plot summaries to even the most obscure of shows! Ever need to kill a few minutes? Just look up your favourite show & read away.