Friday, January 14, 2011

Nobody Is Prefect

So, in a fit of New Year/New habit insanity, I bought a papaya...on January, 31 2010. No Frills was a wasteland (seriously, in the event of some hideous plague or zombie invasion, I suggest doing your looting somewhere other than the Dufferin Mall. That place will be picked over by midnight, day of), and so in lieu of red pepper or cremini mushrooms or, like, apples, all of which were long gone, I bought a pineapple and a papaya and a mango. These aren't fruits I usually engage with, but I was like, "Hey, it's a new year! New calendar! New fruits!"

It all seemed so simple. But yesterday, I threw that papaya away. It had turned white and furry and if a plague were to infect the inner 416, that papaya would have been a liability, not an asset. In all likelihood, it probably would have been the cause. But I felt a sadness at my little lost papaya, because, instead of being a fruit (one that is, by most accounts, pretty awful-tasting), it was a sort of symbol. Potential had been wasted, on my watch.

I'm a perfectionist, which is awesome to brag about in job interviews, but then you actually have to deal with it. Perfectionism takes many forms, but I'm one of those people who hates doing things unless it's totally perfect. I don't mean that I would throw temper tantrums if my Thanksgiving arts and crafts hand-turkey was deformed; I would refuse the project altogether, transforming it in my head to something beneath me and therefore not worth doing. Instead of running the risk of doing it wrong - and therefore looking foolish - I would sit on the sidelines, refusing the participate. This might have been cute in second grade soccer practice, where my nonparticipation took the form of dreamy cloud-gazing and massive stomachaches, but it's less adorable when it makes me want to quit jobs for not being "the perfect fit" or when I feel like my (vast!) talent is being squandered on mundane things like "learning how to do the job."

So much wasted potential. I mean, it's not all bad - I've avoided dating some schmucks because I tend to hold out for awesome boyfriends instead of folks that, like, don't make me laugh or have ridiculous tattoos, and it means I don't really buy clothes because I have a hard time with things that are new (which explains my fondness for American Apparel, because everything matches and everything's plain), but it also means I eat the same damn thing at the same damn restaurants, that I go to the same bars, that I eat the same sandwiches, that I have the same haircut, and that I re-read the same books. I'm not adventurous, because I'm freaked out by newness.

It's one of those traits that drives me crazy about myself, though; I've walked away from jobs that were perfectly me because I didn't get along with my boss, and it's bitten me in the ass (job-hunting blows!). It also makes me look wistfully at other people's lives - people like my friend Mark, who can pick up and move across the country at the drop of a hat, with zero fear and a bring-it-on attitude that, frankly speaking, would make me poop my pants in terror. Or the hipster mommyblog I've been reading, the author of which got married when she was nineteen. Bold moves, yo.

I wish I was that fearless, but I get stuck in ruts. Habits, little anxieties, protective voodoo spells designed to ward off uncomfortable feelings - trying new things sometimes ends up with moldering papayas on my kitchen table, and my perfectionist craziness just hates that.

But then again: perfection is boring. Trying new things is good for you. Shake up my soul! Papayas will be bought again, along with maybe a dragonfruit or a tomatillo. New jobs will be procured and eventually left, new dishes will be eaten and new living arrangements will be attempted. I need to try, and remember that the opposite of "perfect" isn't "failure:" there are so many things to learn from the world, if I can only climb out of my little ruts.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

FRANCO: The Artist Who Somethings, Whatever, I Forget

When I was in middle school, I caught the celebrity crush-bug, hard. Like so many of my little-girl peers, who were boy-crazy in a way that meant talking to actual boys was terrifying, I instead opted to become mildly obsessed with some of the more telegenic young studs of my generation, including Jonathan "JTT" Taylor Thomas. He played one of the sons on Home Improvement! He was the voice of Young Simba in The Lion King! He did a rain dance with Chevy Chase in Man of the House, a movie so bad I'm surprised the universe hasn't collapsed in around my parents' basement, where it's currently being archived on VHS for future generations to ruin themselves with. In high school, I fell in with the skinny weirdo Eric Foreman, as played by skinny weirdo Topher Grace (I actually have no idea if he's weird or not, but mofo is undeniably lean): he was awkwardly in love with his hot Amazonian neighbour, was hilarious without being stupid, and wore desert boots, which hold an inexplicable power over me. While everyone else swooned over Danny "Hyde" Masterson, I was all about the Foreman.

Anyway, I wasn't much for most celebrities: my high-school self papered my room with oversaturated ad campaigns and panels from Ghost World. I'm more fascinated by female celebrities, in a way: dudes tend to be either Messy (Bret Michaels) or Dressy (Joshua Jackson), and everybody basically looks the same in a suit. Oh, sure, there are attractive dudes out there in Hollywoodland - I have a soft spot for Community's Donald Glover, who also raps and is h-o-t, along with Say Anything-era Jon Cusack, who is approachably hot without blowing the roof off it, unlike, say, Angelina Jolie, whose hotness makes me resent her a little. But aside from making sure to watch That '70s Show every time it was on, I was like, "Meh, dude celebs."

It's hard for me to find celebrities I relate to. I sort of love the Olsen Twins, even though they're insane and prone to tottering around in skyscraper heels and looking simultaneously twelve and 160 years old. They seem like most parts of their day are giant art experiments, but I'll admit to being shallow and less interested since Mary-Kate quit being anorexic and they both quit acting in contractually obligated DVD travelogue messes and took up smoking and caftans. Siiigghhh. And it's like, sure, everyone would make out with Bill Murray, or Jim from The Office, or Harvey Birdman. But those are obvious choices.

But I think I've found a new man, a new leading dude, a fascination. He's been on the radar for a while, but this is really James Franco's season, and I, for one, am embracing it.

All right, I'll admit to being disgusted by James Franco when he first sort of got big a few years ago, but it's not totally my fault. Back then, he was presented to the public as some sort of heir to the James Dean crown - mostly because he had played Dean in a biopic, but also because he was serious and pillow-lipped and good-looking and talented, and was packaged with nary a sense of humour. It was like, "SEE! The troubled young man! HEAR! The revving of his career's engines! SNEER! POUT! Yes, you're an animal!" et cetera, and he was ALWAYS photographed in black and white, wearing a leather jacket. It was like, Dude, we GET IT.

But then he started taking on more interesting roles, roles that weren't clearly designed to make him into a heartthrob or Dean 2.0. One of his first roles was as Daniel Desario on Freaks and Geeks, a show that launched a generation of actors (Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Busy Phillips) and written with both snap and pathos - i.e. the perfect blend of high school existence. Daniel was a moody sumbitch, dating the harridan Kim Kelly, encased in a creaky leather jacket, alternately too cool for school and desperately lonely in his tough-guy posturing. And he brought it while he was nineteen years old.

And then he was in Spiderman, which seems to be his one gargantuan Hollywood blockbuster - Franco's quietly kept the door open to less bombastic projects, including Milk (gay Sean Penn), Pineapple Express (stoner movie, with explosions), 127 Hours, (arm!) and, my personal favourite, General Hospital, in which he played a character named Franco and got his real-life mother cast as his on-screen mother, and generally just meta'ed the place up so badly I don't even know if it was an elaborate, hilarious-for-Franco joke or what.

Plus he's all productive: currently attending, like, six different PhD programs for writing, painting, and Pinky-and-the-Brain-ing, he just published a book of short stories, has the best sad face on the West Coast, posed in drag, has taken on multiple gay roles and then talks about it like it ain't no thang, and rides the divide between Messy and Dressy so well it makes my vagina sad. He's a busy man, but he seems like he'd be fun. Finally - this Franco has left the humourless Dean-robot in the last century and actually seems like a total hoot.

So enjoy it, Franco! You can act, that's for damned sure, and if being attractive and back-to-backing stoner movies with Oscar bait ever gets boring, I'm fairly sure you're the type of soul who could waltz into a Waffle House and find something fun about hanging out behind the deep-fryer. My only request is that continue to be a nut-job, a man with brains and balls and the ability to turn a venerable soap opera into Franco's Hour Of Whatever The Hell Is Going On, and that you write a dishy biography sometime soon (or not - make us wait!) that talks about your on-set prank wars and that includes a recipe for sour cherry bars, because I will buy that monster and frame select passages. In other words: stay weird, Franco. I like you best that way.