Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Go on

Today, I ended up watching the first four episodes of the new comedy Go On, which is about a sports radio personality who has to learn to make a transition into a new phase of life with his support group after his wife passes away. The show is entertaining enough to keep my attention for now (then again, I can think of few comedy pilots that have hooked me immediately, other than Arrested Development, My Name Is Earl, and 30 Rock), as its mix of oddball characters seems like enough to become something worthwhile (especially with Community on its way out). One of the central themes in the show is how the protagonist, Ryan King, is making his way through this central transition in life, and how he needs to let others in (yes, it's eerily reminiscent of Jeff Winger). It's all about the messiness of transition - as most sitcoms lately seem to have been - so, of course, it got me thinking about my own current transition.
I'm back in this life space which is marked by transition. Of course, it could easily be argued that I've barely left this mode in twelve years, save for a short period in 2009 in which I had no transition other than taking a position on my church's leadership team (though it still included the last half of my first year of marriage, living in a new province, my first year at a new school, and a month in Taiwan - certainly a lot to process). If I were to take any six-month period outside of that calendar year since I moved out to go to university in August 2000, I have had some form of transition: programs of study, relationship status, job, city, house. If we stay living in this house until March (and there's no reason to think that we won't), it will be an all-time record for me for living in one house; my previous record was four-and-a-half years, while I was in high school. So what I'm saying is that transition is normal for me. So what's the problem?
No transition is ever the same. Most of my transitions have been concrete, direct, and firm; this one is one that I have to find my way into - to ease into it. This is the first time that I have been unemployed while my wife works. I'm a month into the experience, and I still don't feel like I have a good handle on my rhythm in the midst of it. I am finding it difficult to balance the tasks that need to be done with the overly open schedule I have, unless they are the kind of immediately pressing tasks that require immediate intervention (and even then, I've had some difficulties). I'm trying to find that sweet spot in which I take time for myself to do the kind of activities I want (or need) to do, along with the tasks that need to be done presently for my career and around the house. Over the past month, I have had some good days and some not-so-good days, but the clear common denominator for having positive days is routine and clear expectations. When I can wake up knowing what I hope to accomplish that day and knowing the time limits in which I need to achieve it, things go better; when the day is a giant morass of unstructured time and tasks with no real pressing deadlines, I'm more of a mess (like the last few days). Of course, identifying this issue is only part of the solution; the other parts are actually creating the kind of routines I need in order to succeed. I suspect that things may change as I get more on-call work, but I know that I still need to be okay in this phase, as long as it may last. That will mean setting realistic goals, making sure I'm in contact with people daily, and not being consumed with tasks that "have to be done". It will mean being mindful of days that are not as great, and not allowing those days to bog me down. It will mean being more deliberate about exercises like blogging that actually help me sort out my thoughts and help others know how to help me. And it means being okay that not everything is sorted out, and that it's kind of messy right now. It's a transition, it's supposed to be messy, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 Fall Media Update: Television

With the Emmy Awards now in the past, this is the big week for premieres on television. It seems like this year has more promise than last year, when only two new shows cracked my viewing rotation (Homeland and New Girl). There are at least five or six shows which have a premise that intrigues me enough to at least watch the pilot, which is more than can be said for last year. Strangely enough, there's nothing new on the cable networks. Perhaps it's because there are a number of shows that are continuing successful runs on cable, or because they space out their shows during the whole year, or even because of the development time that is required for those shows. Over the past year, I have added a number of new shows to my rotation (Breaking Bad, Louie, Modern Family), but there are not many others that I even really want to watch right now. I have eight shows I'll be tracking with this fall, with another four coming back in the spring or summer of 2013, so my schedule is already pretty full. Here's my countdown of new and returning shows I'm looking forward to this fall.

Five returning comedies I'm looking forward to this fall:
Parks and Recreation - It seems like it will be the series' last year, and it's as rich as it has ever been.
Modern Family - It slipped a little last season, but it's still funnier than most of the "comedy" out there.
New Girl - The first season showed a lot of promise for the characters, and I think it could be primed for a great sophomore year.
30 Rock - My wife and I have been re-watching the entire series, so I'm really looking forward to the final thirteen episodes of one of the best comedies around.
Community - After all of the drama surrounding Dan Harmon's exit at the end of last season, the new season could be absolutely terrible, or it could surprise us with some brilliance. Either way, I'm hooked in to watch in on October 19.

Four new dramas I'm interested in (from most to least):
Revolution - The concept - a post-apocalyptic world without technology - is interesting, but will it be enough to carry through past a few episodes?
Last Resort - Another high concept show, this one's about a renegade American submarine crew from the creator of The Shield. Again, we'll see if the premise holds up.
Vegas - Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis face off in 1960s Las Vegas in a period gangster-western piece.
Elementary - I don't think that this adaptation will compare to the BBC's masterful Sherlock, but I'm still intrigued to see just how bad this one is.

Three new comedies I'm planning to check out (and, no, I don't think it's coincidental that there are no multi-cam sitcoms on this list):
Ben and Kate - The main attraction here is seeing Nat Faxon (co-writer of The Descendants and writing partner of Jim Rash - AKA the Dean on Community). It might be a conventional premise, but there's always promise for single-camera shows - right?
The Mindy Project - Can Mindy Kaling's voice come out more clearly in this poorly-marketed show with yet another tired premise?
Go On - It seems that Matthew Perry's new venture as a sports personality dealing with the death of his wife may give Community and P&R competition in the "wacky supporting cast" category. I'm interested, at least.

Two returning dramas I'll be watching:
Dexter - Although Season 6 had a lackluster conclusion, I'm going to stick with it for the end. Plus, Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah from Chuck) has a character arc this season, so I'm interested see how she does.
Homeland - The first season was one of the best debut seasons I've ever seen, and I'm really interested to see where the show goes from here. Lewis, Danes, and Patinkin were brilliant in Season 1, so I have high hopes.

And the one reality show I'm still watching:
Survivor: Philippines - It's the show's 25th season, and it's still going strong. I'm really interested to see what happens with returning players Jonathan, Michael, and Russell (Swan), who had all left due to injuries.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to my Roots

I totally get how musicians give each tour its own identity, whether they have released a new album or not; I get the same kind of need to figure out a theme or unifying idea whenever I come back to Saskatchewan. There is something different with each escapade, and I have found that I usually get an idea of the theme shortly before the tour commences; in this case, it came directly out of what someone prayed for me at church on the Sunday before I left. This is the "Back to my Roots" Tour of September 2012, and it is my fourth tour since moving to the Island (following the "Spring into Action" Tour of March 2010, the Christmas 2010 Tour, and the Celebration Tour in July 2011, when several family events were happening), and it has been largely about reconnecting with my community in the prairies. It has been my quickest tour, but it is different because I'm solo this time (the music tour analogy may be extended here). After the year I had, I have felt the strong need to reclaim relationships that have gotten lost in the shuffle, but I was also surprised about some of the names that came to mind this time around - people who have mentored me in the past, like my youth pastor and IVCF staff worker - with whom I have not connected in anywhere from five to ten years. It has been refreshing and worthwhile to re-establish those connections, even as a reminder of who I have been in the past. I think my favourite moment was when my youth pastor - who I have known since I was in Grade 7 - commented that he was glad to see that I had strong social connections, since that's something he had prayed about for me when I was in junior high (and trust me, I needed the prayer). I thought it was an interesting observation to make, but I understand why he made it; after all, when he met me in the fall of 1994, I was 11 years old, and I routinely brought books with me because I was at best disengaged from connecting with others (at worst, I was socially inept and kind of an ass). His impressions of me were shaped by the me I was thirteen years ago, but it was still me; he vividly remembered that I ordered an ice cream cone at McDonald's with "Make it Bacon", and I was all too eager to tell him about the maple-bacon ice-cream cake my wife makes. It was great for me to connect, through him and others, to the me I have been in the past through shared memories. I have also connected with family (more on that later) and felt much more connected to my roots that way, perhaps as much (or more) than I have in years (at least since moving to BC). My roots here still go very deep, and I am glad to be reconnecting with that well-established root system while I'm here, though it remains to be seen how I can continue maintaining this reconnection once I return.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Life of Turner (Meta-edition)

Leave it to me to create an audacious goal for the month, and then not post for a month. I still want to go through that process, but I'm open to seeing when and how that happens over the next month. So here I am, sitting on a layover in the Edmonton airport, with the first time in a long time feeling like I have the space to think through what I'm writing. And I am realizing that I feel like I need to learn how to blog again. When I started eight years ago, I did not compose posts so much as I rambled my way through what was happening in my day-to-day life. Now I mostly use Twitter for the stream of consciousness kind of thinking - its immediacy lends itself well to that kind of micro-blogging. But I've still found that there are some things that end up in the in-between - not quite major enough to tweet, but not quite enough to develop posts on their own. For example, I bought an item on eBay for the first time in a decade. Of course, I did use the "Buy it now" function, so I didn't have to go through the auction part of things, but it seems like it should be an experience that should be memorable. I'm sure I could work it into a larger post on thrifting and whatnot, but I just haven't been able to do it. I think that writing may be somewhat important to me succeeding in this season of life, both in this forum and in other areas. I'm not taking it for granted that I can just pick it up again without any practice, so this could be an interesting time for me as I rediscover my voice.


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