EXPeriencing ‘Power Rangers’

Cover image via.

I was born in 1989, which means I grew up watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and was a die hard fan. I don’t know anyone I grew up with who wasn’t a Power Rangers fan, because all kids are Power Rangers fans. Not all kids may be Might Morphin’ fans, but since some iteration of Power Rangers has been on air for 24 seasons, if you’ve watched TV as a child at some point starting in 1993, you are a Power Rangers fan.

So of course when the 2017 live action Power Rangers came out, I was going to go see it with my husband, who also grew up a Mighty Morphin’ fan (although we do differ in our opinion of best/favorite Ranger. I’m for Pink/Kimberly, obviously, and he’s a Green/Tommy fan.). We didn’t have high expectations. I mean, have you actually watched a Power Rangers show as an adult? It’s terrible. Which is why kids love it.

But let me tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. A better word would actually be thrilled. Or delighted.

Because Power Rangers was fucking awesome.

I said this on Facebook, but it bears repeating: You know when movie reviewers say “It’s the most fun you’ll have at the movies all [season]”? Yeah, that’s Power Rangers. If you were born between 1985 and 1993 and watched Power Rangers on TV, this is one of the most fun movies you will ever see.

One of the things that surprised me the most was that the story line is well done. (I know, I set the bar pretty low.) The plot made sense, and the characters’ small town teenage problems were both believable and current. They’re dealing with stuff teenagers nowadays deal with, particularly as it applies to the internet and social media.

The characters were also believable, and thankfully diverse. When Alpha 5 (the Rangers’ robot trainer buddy) first meets the Rangers when they’ve gotten their power coins, he says, “Different colors, different kids, different colored kids!” he’s not kidding. They could have taken it a little farther by not making Jason, the Red Ranger, white and blond, but you know. Hollywood.

The best part about Power Rangers is the very deliberate but judicious camp. As I said, the original Might Morphin’ Power Rangers series is terrible. It’s so campy it’s hard to watch if you’re older than 8. But the camp is what makes it undeniably Power Rangers, and the 2017 movie pays respectful tribute to that without hurting the overall quality of the movie. It ramps up the nostalgia factor, and there’s one part in particular that had the entire back row of the theater I was in—all couples in our mid-to-late 20s—laughing so hard in delight we were almost cheering.

This iteration of Power Rangers was made for two audiences: kids who are currently fans of Power Rangers, and millennials who are paying big for nostalgia and reliving our childhood. Power Rangers delivered some serious nostalgia, and it was a fun and well-made action movie. If you’re looking to relive your childhood, I highly recommend going to see Power Rangers.

power-rangers-2017

I like their new suits. Don’t @ me. (Image via.)

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Ringing in the New Year

Why yes, I did ring in the new year with tabletop RPG-ing. And yes, I know the photo is blurry.

2016 was a dumpster fire for most of the world. Mass shootings, Brexit, President Elect Trump, the loss of so many icons… For me personally, 2016 was a pretty good year despite these outside stressors. I read a lot of good books, played a lot of good games, helped raise a lot of money at work, and spent time with family and friends.

I didn’t read quite as many books as I challenged myself to (came in four short of my 24-book goal—much better than 2015!), and I almost completely stopped running. For 2017, I’ve made another Reading Challenge goal of 24 books, and I signed up for the Carmel Half Marathon on April 22.

The weight of creating resolutions has almost always ensured I will fail them. I can resolve to “read more” and “start running again,” but those resolutions are intangible. Making goals with deadlines that require consistent steps, however, is another story. I have deadlines: two books a month for 12 months, and training every week with at least three runs per week to prepare for a race in 111 days. If I don’t do those things, I don’t reach my goals. Simple. Actionable. Perfect. (Gotta love those SMART goals.)

Less measurable are the things I’m not doing for myself, but because of who I am. I will continue to support organizations that fight for women’s health and equality for all Americans. I will support the Democratic Party of Indiana to ensure the 2018 and 2020 elections aren’t a slap in the face like 2016 was. I will continue to speak (or write) openly about my opinions on politics, mental health issues, and other topics that I feel strongly about.

I won’t do everything right, and I’ll probably fail at something at least once this year. But it’s a new year, and with the ashes of 2016 behind us and the days inching closer to spring, we can say that today is a little brighter than yesterday, and tomorrow will be a little brighter still.

Happy New Year.

EXPeriencing Trump’s America

Note: This overall blog is not intended to be political, but while I have a venue to share my personal thoughts, I’m going to take advantage of it with this post. I welcome civil and respectful discourse below, but trolls will not be tolerated.

On Sunday I drove to Elwood, Indiana, a small town about 40 minutes north of Indianapolis. The downtown is crumbling—empty shells of once-thriving mom-and-pop shops were covered in unlit Christmas lights that will give the town a semblance of life during the upcoming holidays. More houses than not had chipping facades. The busiest places at 2:30 p.m. on a Sunday were the Dairy Queen and Richard’s Restaurant on the east side of town as you drive away at increasingly higher speeds. On my way there and back again, I saw three Trump signs. I saw more churches than I can count. I drove through corn and soybean fields lying fallow for the winter.

This is Trump’s America.

I suppose I was naïve, in my white privileged liberalism, to think that Hilary Clinton could win both the popular vote and the electoral college vote to become the first woman president of the United States. To uphold Barack Obama’s legacy. To beat a misogynistic, racist demagogue with the fire of rural white America behind him.

If you haven’t watched the Dave Chappelle/Chris Rock SNL skit yet, you should. I was one of those white women on election night, clinging to hope, looking for patterns, praying and denying and hiding from the fact that Trump could actually win the presidency.

I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8 hoping I’d wake up in the morning to a bright new day with a woman president and knowing that love trumped hate.

How wrong I was.

I woke up at 1:30 a.m. as more and more states bled red. I watched Twitter and CNN alerts as the AP declared Trump the winner. At 3:30 a.m., I began to sob in bed. My sister told me she called the national suicide prevention hotline because she was afraid for herself and her friends and their rights. I cried for her. I cried for myself. I cried for half the country. For every woman, every LGBTQ+ individual, every African American, every Muslim, every immigrant who has been victim—directly or indirectly—to the hateful rhetoric spewed by Donald Trump, his surrogates, and his supporters.

I am so privileged. I am white. I am married to an individual of the same race and opposite sex. I am middle class. I have a college degree. I can go to the movies and expect to see people with my same skin color. I can drive, go to the store, and travel without judgment. I’ve never felt less lucky to be so lucky that I was born the way I am.

But I’m also descendant from Jewish immigrants. I lived without health insurance for much of my childhood. I’ve been directly exposed to others’ substance abuse. I am a woman in Trump’s America.

And I’m afraid.

The number of hate crimes that have arisen in the US since the election are worse than those after 9/11. Muslims are no longer the sole target. It’s anyone who is not a cis white male. And President-Elect Trump has made sure that is true by attacking everyone who is not a cis white male at some point in his campaign. Five days post-election, and he has not denounced a single hate crime. He has denounced protests against him, but not a planned KKK rally in honor of him. He has criticized the NY Times’ reporting, but appointed Breitbart’s executive chairman to be his chief White House strategist (a man who is responsible for a “news” outlet with headlines such as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy”).

Donald Trump called for unity in his acceptance speech. But his actions before November 8 and every day since have shown nothing but division. Hillary Clinton’s message was “Stronger Together.” As much as Trump wants that from all of America, there will be no way that happens until and unless he is actually a president for all the people of the United States. I have precious little hope that will happen.

If you voted for Trump, I don’t hate you. As someone I respect very much said to me the day after the election, “I remain hopeful by reminding myself no group is one-dimensional, nor are the issues that they prioritize when going to the polls. We shouldn’t make assumptions about their motives. I still believe Americans are largely kind and compassionate.” I want to believe this is true so badly.

But then I read what Kumail Nanjiani wrote on Twitter: “Many ppl are like ‘just cuz I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I’m racist/sexist.’ Ok, but at best, you ignored it, you overlooked it.” I don’t believe most people who voted for Trump voted for him because they hate black people or women or Muslims. I want to believe they care about those individuals as much as anyone who voted for Clinton. But… they ignored “grab ‘em by the pussy.” They ignored the violence against minorities at Trump rallies. They ignored him making fun of disabled individuals.

At worst? They condoned those remarks. They agreed with them. And that scares me more than anything, that there are thousands of people in our country who are racist, sexist, homophobic, and are bolstered by their new president.

I am lucky to be white in Trump’s America. I am not lucky to be a woman. I am lucky to be married to a white man in Trump’s America. I am not lucky to be of Jewish descent. I have so much privilege. So many others do not.

That’s why I am going to try to use my privilege for good in Trump’s America.

I’m wearing a safety pin on my jacket whenever I leave the house. It may seem like a shallow, self-aggrandizing gesture to some. Honestly, I hope the only thing that comes out of me wearing it is that people think I’m some liberal elitist. Because if it’s more than a symbol, it means someone may need my help. Regardless of others’ opinions, the safety pin is my pledge to not be a bystander. It’s to try to be better.

This month, I’m going to make my first monthly recurring donation to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky—aptly, my regional Planned Parenthood belongs to the two states that reported their electoral college votes for Donald Trump first. I visited Planned Parenthood as a teenager when I didn’t have health insurance and needed birth control. I will never forget their discretion, their lack of judgment, and their help. I am privileged enough to have employer-provided health insurance that not only covers my annual feminine exams, but pays for my birth control, too. So many women aren’t that privileged. More importantly? Planned Parenthood provides so much more than birth control—such as STD testing. Scott County, Indiana is still recovering from an HIV outbreak. Its cause was intravenous drug use and needle sharing. VP-Elect Mike Pence’s budget cuts forced five rural clinics to close. One of those clinics was Planned Parenthood. That Planned Parenthood provided STD testing and could have caught some of those HIV cases. This situation could have been mitigated or avoided altogether. I hope to help ensure it never happens in my state again.

I may be middle class with disposable income, but I’m not that established in my career. I am a Millennial, after all. So while I cannot make monthly substantial donations to all the causes that are important to me, I can give freely of my time. This month, I am going to look for organizations that need volunteers. Ideally LGBTQ+ or ACLU-affiliated organizations. I’ll file paperwork, I’ll tweet, I’ll sweep the floors. I’ll even make phone calls, my least favorite activity in the world, if it means I can help someone live better in Trump’s America.

I’m still afraid of what’s to come in the next four years. There’s too much unknown to be too confident. But I have friends who stand with me. I personally see more love than hate. I know that love is the correct direction of the country. Inclusivity and diversity are the future. Trump’s America may not like it, but that’s the truth. And I will spend every day of the next four years, of the rest of my life, proving that’s true.

Black lives matter. Immigrants get the job done. Who run the world? Girls. We are stronger together.


Additional thoughts, videos, and reading:

There are multiple opinion articles and Twitter threads that talk about how Trump could and did win over half of America to win this race. They do it far more eloquently and/or succinctly with far more truth than I could put into a similar piece. I’ll let you read those opinions for yourself, just know that I agree with them.

Dave Chappelle’s opening SNL monologue was also brilliant and poignant. Worth the 11-minute watch.

I also took great comfort in Seth Godin’s blog post from today, “Empathy Is a Bridge.”

The last Last Week Tonight of the year is definitely worth a watch, particularly when John Oliver shared organizations to donate to. And then giving a giant F U to 2016.

EXPeriencing ‘Life of Pi’

I’m not one to belabor seasons. As much as I love the warmth and long days of summer, I look forward to crisp leaves and the nip in the air that comes with fall. But as much as I’ve been looking forward to fall this year, it’s felt like a long time coming. September was more like August Part Two, and just this week it was still in the 80’s. But today, finally, it was cold and raining, and leaves were hitting the ground almost as frequently as the raindrops.

Which made me think back to the books I read during summer’s end, and I realized that I haven’t talked about them at all. They’ve been hanging out in my head for more than a month at this point, and if I don’t write about them, I might go crazy. Or maybe I’m just itching to write and this is my excuse.

Either way, I need to write about LIfe of Pi, which I read at the end of August. What an unexpected story. I recognize I’m over a decade late to this book, and at this point most people have probably seen the movie, too, but wow. This story surprised me from page one, and the ending has kept me living with this story for months.

If you haven’t read this book yet, you may be like me and think it’s about a boy on a lifeboat with a tiger. But there is so much more to it than that.

The book doesn’t start on the lifeboat with a boy and a tiger. (Actually, once we get to the lifeboat it doesn’t even start with a boy and a tiger, but a boy, a tiger, a hyena, an orangutan, and a zebra.) Well before we ever reach the Pacific Ocean, the book details Pi’s backstory–which makes sense why the book is called Life of Pi and not Pi Trapped on a Lifeboat with a Tiger.

Pi’s story in itself is fascinating, but what I enjoyed most at the beginning (surprising even myself) were the long, nuanced religious musings about Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Pi considers himself Christian, Muslim, and Hindu, and it was interesting to read about how Pi came to participate and appreciate all three of those religions.

While the beginning of the book isn’t about Pi drifting lost on the ocean, a majority of the book is just that. It, too, was fascinating. It actually surprised me how much of a page-turner this was. I often set the book down at night wondering what was going to happen next. Towards the end of Pi and the tiger’s journey, things got a bit magical realism for my taste. The story eases into it, but I still raised my eyebrows a few times. I’m not big on magical realism, but it didn’t deter my enjoyment.

Which is a good thing because omg the ending. The ending of this book is… it left me speechless. I don’t know how to write about it because I can’t give it away but I want to gush about it so badly. You have to experience the whole journey to appreciate the ending. The payoff is just perfect.

If you haven’t checked out Life of Pi yet, definitely go pick it up from the library and give it a read. It’s well worth it.