The Other F Word: A Show For Those of Us Who “Filled Out All the Forms”

I am famous among my friends for not having binge-watched anything. When we finally got a Netflix-enabled tv in our bedroom, I started Orange is the New Black (and made it through two episodes).

The Other F Word is the exception, though! I watched all of Season 1 (read my blog here) and — today– fit all of Season 2 into one afternoon! Woo hoo!

Before my observations, here’s the trailer so you get a sense of who we are talking about:

What Is The Other F Word?

This is a series that extends beyond young people and caricatures to represent life for people whose age corresponds to “the other ‘F’ word” – forties, fifties, etc.

It’s a little hard to talk in detail about the six episodes without inadvertently giving away spoilers, so I decided to share ten aspects of the series that stood out to me. I hope they encourage you to watch too!

The Music

I loved the music! I especially was besotted quickly by “It’s Just Me” by James Madx. (Listen here.) Here are the lyrics that especially spoke to me:

“Open your heart  …. and let me start to be a part of your story.”

So many of us in mid-life are seeing our stories re-written, either by fate or by choice. This song spoke to that, in my perception.

Being the Mom Who Filled Out All the Forms

It’s not a spoiler to say that one character, Amy, finds herself at a loss after both children have moved out (oh, and her husband chose to manifest his mid-life crisis by spontaneously deciding to quit his job and go to humanitarian work overseas for a year.)

“I filled out so many forms,” she says.

Me too, sister, me too.What to do now that there are less forms to complete and there’s still more life to live?

Dealing With Elderly Parents

One character (Orly) is having to cope with her parent’s obvious decline (long distance). Yep, been there done that (the decline part, not so much the long distance part).

Big big big props to The Other F Word for including the dilemmas we face when our parents age.

*** AND (oh my gosh) …. Holly Cate, who plays Orly, was Janice on As the World Turns, which my mom (and then I) watched for decades. Thanks for mentioning that, IMDb! ***

Dealing with Kids’ Crises

College-age daughter with a crisis? Check! College-age daughter who is over said crisis by the next conversation (after hours of mom futilely texting to see if she’s okay)? Check. Check. Check.

Most parents who have ever raised a college-aged child can relate to the realistic scenarios depicted in this show.

Passion Parties

I have never been to a “Passion Party” but this one looked fun!

The Gynecologist

This is such a micro thing but my goodness, Orly’s gynecologist has amazing delts!

(She also assumes Orly needs a perimenopause box …. you really need to watch all the episodes to see what the doctor can give her that will better suit her situation.)

BC/AD

These are character David’s way to characterize life milestones: “Before Children” and “After Divorce.”

Sounds typical for midlife.

About our intimacy choices:

You know, my life experience is pretty vanilla in some ways about the choices I have made. Still, I loved this line and understood (intellectually at least, LOL), the conundrum:

Since sex got easier, love got harder to find.

You know a show is a little edgy if you have to look at least one thing up in the Urban Dictionary!

Again, maybe this hearkens back to my vanilla life (but remember I had some pretty racy conversations as a counselor on the Florida AIDS Hotline back in the day).

There was one term in the six episodes I had to look up in the Urban Dictionary.

(Find out what term it was by clicking here. Did you already know what this meant? Be honest!).

When is it the wrong time to reinvent yourself?

One of the parents (at least) is a *bit* overbearing (think Tiger Mom). When her daughter starts to waver regarding her desire to keep doing crew (the activity that is ostensibly going to fund her college education), mom nearly goes off the deep end. What does she say?

“It’s way too late to reinvent yourself.”

The hilarity of saying this to a teenager is not lost on me. BUT, I spent my share of time being an overbearing gym mom with visions of college scholarships dancing in my head. I can see saying something so outlandish (or I could see pre-perspective crazed gym mom Paula saying it).

Those of us in our forties and fifties though? I vote for as much reinvention as we see fit!

Is there an “F” word for reinvention?

How about FUNDAMENTAL? Fundamental to this time in our lives, fundamental to our souls, and, occasionally, downright FUN!

Want to find out for yourself?

Click here to watch!!

Midlife Reinvention

 

Seven “Humbugs” and a “Ho Ho HOLD” on the Snark

I really enjoyed preparing the four posts I submitted to 12Most, such as this one about twelve great vine videos. There was one draft that never came to fruition, though, because every time I started writing it, I began feeling like its negativity would outweigh its informational value and that I may hurt the feelings of people I care about.

Writing about the topic I addressed in that draft on my personal blog seems a little less offensive, though, since I can just say my opinion and not be representing an entire cadre of writers. I am just going to get it out of my system once and move on (with, of course, a segue to a somewhat more positive ending).

The Humbug Part

I believe we have made some life events that are simply that, life events, hyperpublic and over produced. In doing, there is a danger that the personal, unique, cherished nature of these events may be diluted in favor of the public, commonplace, “how-could-I-top-that” qualities. These events include:

Promposals

A promposal is an invitation to the prom that is elaborate enough to be classified as a proposal. There are some examples here. The high school student seen here had her intended date pulled over, had the cop fake an arrest, and waited in the back of the car with a sign that said “prom.”

My humbug about promposals: First of all, what if the intended date says no? Secondly, as much as I love a theme and a fun creative project, I am still just as charmed by a young man who approaches a young woman in person and simply says, “Will you come to prom with me?”

Prom Photo Sessions 

Prom photos have become more and more sophisticated (so click here to see what I mean).

My humbug about elaborate high school dance photo sessions:  If the girl felt beautiful, the guy felt handsome, and the family could afford the dollars, what does it matter? These sessions have an “engagement photo-like” feel that seems out of place for couples who may not be embarking on a long-term romance.

Marriage Proposals 

Maybe it is the ubiquitous nature of YouTube and our ability to create and share video documentation of our lives. Something is happening that has resulted in a proliferation of marriage proposals that goes far beyond one individual getting down on bended knee and asking the other individual to spend a life together.

For example, a sand art proposal whose story can be found here.

marrymekelly

For more “beyond bended knee” proposals, click here.

My humbug: My humbug about this one is a little challenging to define. So many of the ones I have seen are full of love and beautifully done. These people are old enough to be somewhat confident the relationship will “stick,” which differentiates them from the high school students referred to earlier. I think I would distill my opinion down to: make sure you spend as much time clarifying that you feel the same way about money, kids, and sex as you do editing your proposal video.

Pregnancy Announcements 

When I got pregnant in 1995 and 1998, the  news traveled the “old fashioned” way–by word of mouth, phone call, email, and snail mail. This is no longer the case. Pregnancy announcements now fly over cyberspace as quickly as you can press “like” on a Facebook status or retweet someone on Twitter. The graphics behind these shares are pretty darned creative (like these).

My humbug: This is another one where I am blown away by the creativity but simultaneously a little taken aback. Maybe it’s the fact that such rapid shares separate the prospective parent from the recipient of the news. Half the fun of announcing your pregnancy is seeing the expression on the other individual’s face. I’m not sure 50 “likes” can do exactly the same thing.

Gender Reveals 

Putting aside those disciplined people who wait  until their baby is born to find out its gender (I was not one of them), the “gender reveal” process has gotten complicated! Here are three themes on one Pinterest Gender Reveal Board:

Ties or Tutus

Cupcake or Stud Muffin

Boots or Bows

For more including a gender “lottery,” click here.

My humbug: I am pretty sure the first gender reveal party I saw was on television. I can’t remember which celebrity it was, but the event was elaborate. There was a Hollywood party planner, caterer, favors, tents, the entire festivity checklist. Now I see them routinely on social media. Again, nothing is really damaged but having a gender reveal party but it seems easy to lose the exceptionally personal nature of the moment.

Maternity Photo Sessions 

I have seen some gorgeous maternity photos (such as these). What a beautiful way to commemorate that moment in a family’s life.

My humbug: My humbug is with the unduly revealing ones such as these. I am not a prude about the female body, especially the beauty of the pregnant female body but there is something about these photos that makes me feel like an invader (and I know, I can just “not look”).

Using A Baby’s Name Before They’re Born

Perhaps it is because we can now personalize pretty much anything that a baby is often given items with his or her name on them while they are in utero.

My humbug: I don’t know if this is a southern superstition or what, but I have always been leery of applying a child’s name to a product until they have been born. I am sure my feelings are influenced by having lost two pregnancies and by my mom’s having lost a baby, but loss happens. I just feel like it’s tempting fate.

In many of these cases, maybe my issue is green (and not the fun green of Christmas), but the green of envy. Since I couldn’t afford to throw a gender reveal party, for example, does that feed my humbugosity? If so, I own that but don’t think that’s the root of my opinion.

Switching Gears to the Positive

Since it’s Christmas, let’s address the most ubiquitous over-the-top phenomenon this time of the year, the Elf on the Shelf, who is hovering around many homes this season:

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Over the past few years, I have found myself increasingly thankful that the EotS wasn’t a “thing” when my teenagers were little. If it had worked to modify my kids’ behavior, though, maybe I would have bit.

My world, in-person and on social media, is filled with über creative types. These adults have possibly missed their calling in production design for major motion picture houses. For example, toilet fishing:

tumblr_lw1fazz8h51r755nso1_500

Source: www.diycandy.com

Toilet fishing is almost rudimentary compared to the attention to detail of my friend Diary of a Mom (I mean would you look at those little tiny oxygen tubes coming out of “Hazel’s” nasal passages?).

THEN there are the “alternate” EotS folks, who do tableaus like this (this was one of the tamer ones! Visit the Good Time Elf Facebook Page to see the others.):

for-a-good-time-elf

The voices of the Elf on the Shelf detractors are louder than ever this year (at least it seems that way to me). This article, for example, outlines one parent’s view.

I have had the elf skeptic conversation with friends on Facebook about EotS. We all gleefully pile on (yes, me included), smirking our disdain for the effort, the misguidedness, the adult energy, time and effort required for a “children’s” phenomenon.

Here’s my Ho Ho HOLD the snark point: I am through snarking about EotS.  He isn’t for me, but if he had been a “thing” when my kids were little, I may very well have given in and loved every minute of it.

I have had teachers say EotS is a “friend” in the classroom, someone the kids love and enjoy. I see families I care about and respect enjoying the heck out of creating their EotS scenarios. I see kids who *may* be doubting Santa’s existence still looking forward to their elf’s whereabouts in the morning.

It’s not for me, but there’s enough snark this holiday season (and, let us admit, all year long). If EotS is your thing, enjoy! I’ll even send you a Big Green Pen for your elf’s use if you’re running out of ideas!

snark santa