Do you watch Bojack Horseman? It's my favorite show on Netflix right now, and yes, that means I'm very late to the party, seeing as it's already done 3 seasons. But, rumor has it season 4 will be coming out in August 2017, so if you're not up to speed on this show, you have plenty of time to get caught up (and catch up you should.)
I get why it's a hard sell. It's a cartoon. It's about a rude, drug-fueled out-of work actor who just happens to be a horse named Bojack Horseman. When the show first came out a few years ago, I read the early reviews and heard that description, and while I was mildly interested (mostly because I'm a cartoon fan), I wasn't interested enough to watch. Sounded like just another show about an entitled male character. But since deciding to get divorced a few months ago, I finally had the time and inclination to see it (nothing like heartbreak to get you in the mood for Netflix).
What first drew me in was the surprising depth to the Bojack Horseman character. The show's fundamental question through each season is whether someone who is truly broken (by their parents, by their success, by their failures, by their losses) can ever be redeemed. Is Bojack beyond fixing? By outward appearances, his out-of-control drinking, drug-taking, spending, womanizing, anger, and cynicism would suggest so, but there's clearly something deeper and wholly sincere to him that makes Bojack if not likeable, at least someone you can feel compassion for.
And this depth of character isn't just limited to him; just about everyone on the show gets a similar treatment. Even the most apparently superficial character, Mr. Peanutbutter (a professional rival of Bojack's). is more complex than he seems. At first you think he's just there for a laugh, but then his story takes an interesting spin about marriage. I mean, how many TV shows feature a marriage on the rocks that slowly recovers? None, right? So you wouldn't expect a cartoon to be the one that does it. Yet it does and it works.
The second thing that drew me into the show was its bizarre universe. Animals and people live and work together, and it's not remotely commented on. For example, Bojack is a horse, his agent is a cat, his roommate is a twenty-something-year-old man, his rival is a Labrador Retriever, and his ghostwriter is a Vietnamese American woman. The show feels no need to explain this, which is great (no fucking origin stories here). All of the animal characters make for some fun visual puns and jokes, which probably only works because the character design is so top-notch (actually, it was an interview with the artist, Lisa Hanawalt, on the Imaginary Worlds podcast that got me interested in giving Bojack Horseman a shot).
And then like The Simpsons before it, part of the appeal of Bojack Horseman is that this universe is totally self-contained and self-consistent. There must be a cast of a hundred recognizable characters. Small details that happen in one episode will reappear again in later seasons For example, after Bojack steals the letter "D" from the Hollywood sign in L.A., the characters simply start referring to the area as "Hollywoo," and they unironically do this for the rest of the series. Another example is how "sexy" characters are almost always marine mammals, like orcas and dolphins. What the hell is that all about? I don't know, but the consistency of the absurdity makes it funny.
Maybe it's just me, but I love details like that. It's one of those shows I won't listen to while I'm doing something else. You need to really watch it to catch all the jokes since so much of it is visual-based, making a cartoon the perfect medium for it, since anything can be drawn into the story.
All in all, I think Bojack Horseman is an unusually good TV show. There are a few slow episodes here and there, but the overall arc of each full season is excellent. My personal favorite episode was the one that takes place underwater and is completely silent - a great nod to the old cartoons that didn't have a lick of dialogue. This seems to drive some people crazy (see all the people who didn't like Wall-E), but I love it. Let the pictures tell the story, that's the strength of cartoons.
Guess I've banged on about Bojack for long enough. I'm curious though, are you a fan? Seems like it has a cult following, but I don't know anyone in real life who watches it.
p.s. Alison Brie, who does the voice of Diane the ghostwriter in Bojack Horseman (and was Trudy in Mad Men), has another new show on Netflix, called Glow, which is about a real-life female wrestling league in the 80's. I just started it last night and I was pretty entertained. We'll see where it goes, but if you're on the fence, I think it's worth watching.
It's been almost exactly three months since we separated, and the days of debilitating heart ache may be somewhat behind me. Except for that little blip I experienced immediately after I moved out my things, I've been feeling much better, more hopeful. Occasionally, I'll get a lonely pang, but it passes, and before I know it, I'm thinking about something else besides him. I guess it's true, time heals all wounds. Not that I would declare myself "healed" exactly, just that some of the worst of it may be finally over. (Although I feel like I keep saying that...)
So besides time, what else has helped me get to this point? Honestly? Staying busy.
My editing work has picked up again. I have no idea why it trailed off like it did in April and May, but things seem to be back on track. Maybe it was a seasonal fluctuation? Or maybe it was the universe deciding I needed to take some time off? Who knows. Thankfully I have a part-time appointment working for a professor, so my work and funds didn't totally dry up during that period. And now my base-line salary has actually grown as I've increased my hours with that professor. My freelance workload has also returned to normal (if not a bit on the heavy side). I can't complain. Making more money is certainly better than making less.
I've also realized that I'm ready to start rebuilding my social network. I've licked my wounds, and now it's time to get back out there. Moving away and losing my friends has been one of the harder parts of this divorce. It took me years to find those people in Chapel Hill, and I'm really going to miss them. Now I'm starting over again, but at least it's in a place where I still have a few friends and family. And D.C. is certainly not lacking for thirty-somethings. I just have to find them.
To do that, I've joined (and attended) several Meetups. I've been going to a couple drawing related ones. I also joined two different book clubs, figuring I would try both and see which was the best fit (two men enter, one shall leave....). I also signed up for a studio art class at the Smithsonian, which I am super excited for. It starts in a few weeks. The Smithsonian was one of the biggest things I missed when I moved away from D.C. So now that I'm back, I figured I should take advantage of it again. Their classes are very reasonably priced when you consider all the studio time you get. I'm also now a proud member of the Smithsonian, so I get discounts on different events and lectures they're always running. Maybe I'm a nerd, but museum events and lectures are my idea of heaven. Hopefully I'll meet some like-minded people there, and if not, hey at least I got to do some cool stuff.
And then there's travel. This weekend I'm visiting my best friend in Dallas. We have big plans of drinking in the back yard, going out for brunch, and taking her dogs to the Arboretum. It's exactly the kind of relaxation that I need right now. I'm also going to pick her brain a bit about online dating. I really don't feel up to it at the moment, but I also don't want to close myself off entirely. Maybe she'll have some insights about it.
Then in a few weeks, I'll take the bus up to New York and visit my brother and cousins. I just want to hang out and maybe go to the Met or MoMa. And who knows, maybe I'll be a little crazy and get one of those disgusting looking milkshakes that have a cupcake wedged in them (seriously, so gross...yet so mesmerizing - must try).
Creatively, I've been writing a little bit, and I'm calling that a major win after going through a drought for several months. I just couldn't do it before. And like I said, I've been doing a bit of drawing, which is something I LOVED in high school. I've even taken the piano back up. I'm out of practice, but I'm also having a good time learning some of these Studio Ghibli pieces by Joe Hisaishi.
Finally, pouring my heart out to a counselor every two weeks has been incredibly helpful and cathartic. She's tough on me when I get hard on myself, and that's made a world of difference - just pointing out how negative I can be about myself. Now that I see the pattern, I'm finding it easier to shut down before it spirals out of control.
Other than that I'd say making time for exercise and yoga has made a big difference in how I feel physically. I'm eating mostly healthy foods and taking long walks with the dog. On the advice of my counselor, I've also taken up meditation again (despite my mixed feelings about it). I will say that at this moment, when I feel so emotionally out of whack, it has made a difference.
So yeah, staying busy, making art, and talking to a professional has helped me out a lot. Having the support of my family is another huge difference maker. I know I'm really lucky to have all of these things, so I'm going to make the best of it.
How about you? Any tips for rebuilding post-divorce or breakup? I'd love to hear your comments.
Yay book review! First in a while for me. Guess I must be feeling a little better :)
Too bad though that I didn't much care for The Sirens of Titan. I like Vonnegut a lot. I'd even put Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle in my top 10 favorite novels. But unfortunately Sirens of Titan wouldn't even crack my top 100. It's an early novel for Vonnegut and it really shows.
There's a maddening amount of descriptive detail about trivial objects and people who have little or nothing to do with the story and don't add much to the atmosphere either. The characters aren't particularly compelling to begin with and even less so after they have their memories erased and for all intents and purposes become new characters mid-way through the novel (who does that?). The prose isn't terrible, but it's not great either, and while the ending is somewhat clever, it's not clever enough to be such a great punchline to save the story. And frankly, it's an emotionally frigid book, and it's this kind of writing that gives science fiction a bad name.
So it goes.
But that's ok. In fact, it's kind of interesting to read an author's catalog and see how their work changes over time. From that perspective, The Sirens of Titan was a fantastic read because you can see how clearly it functions as a prototype for Slaughterhouse-Five. Both novels feature characters who live in multiple times and places at once. The prismatic Tralfamadorians that appear in Slaughterhouse also show up in a slightly more pathetic form in Sirens. Even some of Vonnegut's interest in how religions are formed and why, which is so central to the plot of Cat's Cradle, appears in Sirens as well, if much more clumsily so.
But as a young novelist, Vonnegut clearly didn't yet have the technical or artistic experience to do these ideas justice - but he didn't dump them either. Basically, Sirens is a practice novel that clearly evolved into Slaughterhouse, which is easily one of the greatest American novels ever written (yes, even if it's science fiction).
And it isn't that a comforting thought? That just because you didn't manage to get your ideas quite right in your first novel, it doesn't mean you can't give them another go in your second?
It sure takes the pressure off anyway.
Sirens of Titan, did you read it? Did you like it? Or did you get the sense of an amateur on his way to greatness?
My ex and I were together for almost 13 years, and during all that time, I almost never dreamed about him. Maybe it was the familiarity of seeing someone almost every single day that caused it. But now that we've split up, and I haven't seen him or even heard his voice in several months (our relationship reduced to a series of logistics-based text messages), I find myself dreaming about him several nights a week.
I suppose it's my unconscious still trying to process what happened, or rather, why it happened. Why are we getting divorced? I'm still struggling with how a loving relationship and friendship soured the way it did. Something changed, and I can't really understand why. I mean, logically I know that we got together when we were very young and that we grew up into people who weren't necessarily the most compatible. But it's like my brain keeps trying to pinpoint the moment or the tipping point when we became too different to really get along or love each other as well as we once did.
So that's where I'm at. I thought I had gotten past a lot of those questions, which were my obsession in the first few weeks of the split, but then I finally moved out all my stuff last weekend, and revisiting the house that had once been our home seems to have reopened a lot of wounds I thought were on their way to healing.
I'm feeling better though, day by day, especially now that I have all my things back and that we've hammered out a lot of the necessary fiscal agreements. Thank god we didn't have much in the way of assets or kids to fight over. It wasn't a totally seamless transition, there were some hard feelings here and there, but I think overall we did really well in being respectful and fair. There are things I wish he had done differently, and I'm sure vice versa, but it's the kind of stuff that won't matter in a year.
That's my new mantra: "Will this matter in a year?"
It's hard to remember to ask myself this when a point of contention comes up (not just with my ex, but with everything), but when I do, the answer is almost always no, and that's helped me avoid getting wound up about stupid stuff. And right now, all I want is to feel calm.
But it's funny, that same mantra applies to the reasons why I'm getting divorced. Would those issues have mattered in a year if we had gone the more comfortable route and stayed together? Yes, absolutely, neither one of us denies it. So unfortunately, that means these issues are worth the pain and hardship of a breakup to resolve, and I can't avoid those feelings no matter how I much I'd like to.
When you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, did you dream about them a lot?
Writing, editing, and doing science when I feel like it. Just a book without a genre.