We Will Defile Doctor Who with Our Womanly Hands

Earlier today, the BBC announced that for the first time ever, a woman would be cast in the role of The Doctor on the 54-year-old series, Doctor Who. My initial reaction was one of being pleased (ah yes, I’ve heard she is a good actress), and then later I actually teared up (watching the reveal for the 4th time) when I realized how much it meant to me to have my favorite TV character portrayed by a woman.

I, of course, blasted out the reveal video to my Facebook community and Twitter followers. I wanted to share my excitement with all of my friends.

Are we surprised that the backlash was fast and furious? Of course we’re not. The only backlash that I feel compares in fervor was when JK Rowling agreed that yeah, Hermione could be black. (Sure, yes, people are not happy about the A Wrinkle in Time adaptation in which the main characters are mixed race, but no one cares about A Wrinkle in Time – admittedly my favorite book – like they do about Harry Potter or Doctor Who).

Why are there so many sexist people in the nerd-world?

Yes folks, if you are upset that the new Doctor is woman that means you are… dun dun duuuuuuun: SEXIST. Hate to break it to you. “No Emily”, you say, “it’s just that it doesn’t feel organic” (a legit thing said to me). First off, let’s address this statement, before I dive into anything else: TV show and movie casting has nothing to do with anything organic.

“It felt forced…. The show runners and producers wanted it to happen.” Uh, yes, because that’s how TV shows are made.

“They have an agenda.” Yes, it’s called entertainment and appealing to the masses. Oh, you don’t think people want to see a woman Doctor? Let’s ask 49.6% of the world’s population – who all happen to be women. (Yes, I am aware that the entire world does not watch Doctor Who, just go with it.)

Why are men (and some women, let’s play fair) upset about a woman playing the Doctor? Honestly, I can’t tell you. I had a friend email me after he saw my post, to tell me that he was not happy about the casting. I was hoping he would give me a really good reason, but he couldn’t. He says he loves strong female leads, especially in sci-fi shows and movies, but that the casting of Jodie Whittaker just didn’t feel true to the character. I pointed out multiple times that the character of the Doctor is fluid, that each of the previous 13 Doctors (don’t forget the War Doctor!) have been incredibly different from the one before. But no, he still just said, “It wasn’t right.” Sure, dude.

At one point he tried to make this comparison: what if Ripley in Alien had been recast as a man in Aliens? While this was an interesting attempt at trying to make me understand what he was feeling, it didn’t work. First of all, that’s a hypothetical that would never happen. Second, the default for action star is male; Ripley was so badass because she was a woman doing what a man would do (and because Sigourney Weaver was so freaking good). He seemed to be ignoring the fact that the Doctor has been recast over and over – so recasting the Doctor as a woman would have literally no effect except to add another actor to the roster.

But Emily, you ask, did you mention to him that (SPOILERS!) The Master regenerated into a woman and became Missy? Why yes, I did. And he admitted that he didn’t much care for Missy. (It was here I became incredulous because Missy is one of the best characters on the show, in my opinion.)

This friend and I fought for a bit – I called him sexist many times and he got more and more angry, but continued to try to make his defense. At one point he said something along the lines of how he felt that they were pushing for “sexy romantic everything” and ignoring the fact that the Doctor “was 2,000 years old.” (This was around the time that he tried to backtrack and say he was upset that she was young, not that she was a woman). It was here that I started seeing red. Is this what men believe? That by casting a woman we’d suddenly have a romantic comedy on our hands?

Ugh. Needless to say, I’m exhausted.

Look, my friend is not a sexist. He said a sexist thing and thought a sexist thing, but I know he’s a good guy. I’m sure that it’s not even 100% that she’s a woman, but just that they’re changing the actor – look back to every recast of the recent series and you’ll see a lot of people mad about the choice. Peter Capaldi was too old! Matt Smith too young! (Everyone was happy with David Tennant, let’s be honest here.) But that’s the problem: while you may not be a sexist, being upset that a network shook up 54 years of tradition by casting a woman and making, you know, progress, that sort of makes you sexist.

The casting of Whittaker has nothing to do with being PC (is that even a thing anymore?). It has everything to do with wanting to be progressive, with wanting to get with the times. With wanting to give a woman a chance to play an internationally beloved character (fun fact: David Tennant supposedly mentioned The Doctor in every one of his school papers all the way through university. Maybe Whittaker has always dreamed of being The Doctor, too).

I’m sure we’ll see some more rampant sexism to come. I mean, are they going to cast a woman companion or buck tradition and cast a man? Can viewers handle TWO women at once? If they do cast a man will we have to worry about the sexual tension between the two of them? Wait. If they cast a woman will there be lesbian sexual tension? OH THE HORMONES HOW WILL WE HANDLE IT?

Oh. Right, like we have the other ten seasons. The Doctor, if she has feelings towards the companion, will pretend she doesn’t because it’ll ruin everything. (Rose + The Doctor 4EVA.)

Oh my… how will people handle the Doctor’s marriage with River Song? Will there be a boycott? We shall have to wait and see, I guess.

Oh, my favorite tweet about this whole thing:

Be scared, sexist people. We’re here to stay.

Oh, and before I go, let me point out one very important piece of canon that a lot of these jerks are forgetting (hat tip to my husband Jason for reminding me of this): in episode 901, Missy says to Clara that she has known the Doctor since he was a little girl. See haters? The Doctor has already been there, done that.

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Why I Marched

Yesterday hundreds of thousands – no wait, millions – of people came together to march for women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, affordable healthcare, immigrant rights… basically recognition as a human being by the new President, Donald Trump and his cabinet of billionaires. At this time, reports are showing that there were 673 sister marches in cities across the world in addition to the march on Washington, D.C., and that over a million of those participants were in D.C. I myself marched in Boston, with an estimated 175,000 of my closest friends.

I decided to march last-minute. I’m a little disappointed in myself for not deciding to march when they were first announced – I am guilty of not quite understanding the “why” of the protest. Let’s be honest here, I didn’t even seriously consider marching until my husband, a person I credit for getting me to read and think and have an opinion about politics, turned to me 36 hours before the march and said “we should do this.” So we did.

We marched with some of my closest girlfriends. Apparently we all lost our skills for planning and sort of fell into each other. My friend Marissa had already asked us if we were interested in marching with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, where she volunteers, at our monthly book club meeting the week earlier, and only one of us seemed to be paying attention. When I learned that Becki was marching, through her blog,  I told her we wanted to join her – lucky for us that meant joining up with Marissa too. I casually mentioned to Kelley and Michelle that Jason and I were going, and they in turn decided the morning of to join us. Sarah had planned to go by herself, a decision I thought was brave and beautiful, and at the last-minute changed her mind and joined up with us, partly for safety, partly because if you’re going to change history why not do it with your friends? (apologies to Monica and Allie and Jacy and anyone else in the BBC – we didn’t mean to leave you out. Love ya girls.)

We didn’t have signs. Jason wore a No Mas sweatshirt. Marissa wore a bandana from the BARCC made for the occasion (due to scheduling we ended up not marching with them, but check them out online). Michelle wore her Hillary Pantsuit t-shirt and Michelle Obama leggings. I wore a pussy hat – given to me by someone I knew that bumped into Jason and me on the train to the march. Some of us were hung over, some sore, some just cold and hungry  – Michelle had to come late and still managed to find us in the crowd because she is a magician – but we were there and present and proud.

We couldn’t get close to the front. Actually, we were probably pretty close – we could still hear the speakers but only just. But who cared? We were surrounded by thousands of women, men, and children holding signs, chanting “justice” and “march” and cheering on Elizabeth Warren and Marty Walsh as they asked us to stand up for our rights. Every once in a while we’d hear a shout from the distance, “Fuck yeah!”, followed by an apology to all the children for the curse words. We took pictures of our favorite signs and applauded a group of ten people that snaked through the crowds with huge signs that spelled out “F-u-c-k-T-r-u-m-p-!” on one side and “P-u-s-s-y-P-o-w-e-r” on the other.

When the march finally started moving, we made it over a small rise and looked down into a sea of protestors. The sun was peaking through the clouds, the city was a hazy background, and it was stunning. Thousands of people were jammed together, all jovial, all supportive, all ready to stand up for what they believed in. As we inched towards the exit to the streets, we pointed out our favorite signs to one another.

Ultimately, our group realized that we weren’t going to be able to actually march. Boston is a small city and no one had expected a crowd this size, as peaceful as it was. We were all exhausted and aching (standing without moving for three hours is HARD) and hungry. So, with a little disappointment, we all made our way back through the crowd to the train station.

Still, WE WERE THERE. We rallied for our rights. We were high on life, let me tell you.

I titled this blog post “Why I Marched” and I haven’t even talked about why I marched. I would hope that why I marched, me being a woman, would be obvious, but I know there are a lot of people out there that won’t allow themselves to understand why millions of people felt the need to hold a peaceful protest that day.

I marched because I believe that as a woman, I deserve the same rights as a man. I deserve affordable health care. I deserve to earn a dollar for every dollar my husband makes. I marched because I am an ally for people of color, for people who identify as LGBTQIA, for people who immigrated to this country, for people with disabilities, for people who can’t afford private education, for people who are persecuted because they don’t fit some kind of standard. I marched because I want President Trump to know that he has a big job ahead of him, and we’re going to keep him on his toes. I want President Trump to understand that we will not go quietly. I marched because I want President Trump to know we believe in a better world than he’s suggesting, and that if he listened, we could work together to actually make America great.

But wait – this isn’t about me. This is about all women, all people of color, all immigrants – all of us. I marched because this is bigger than me. This is about the 150 million women in the US whose rights are being violated, whether they recognize it or not.

I marched because I am an American and a woman, and adding my voice to the 175,000 other voices on the Boston Common just made us louder.

Love Letters

When I was in college, my mother came across a box of her old love letters. Some were from my dad, some were from others. She showed them to me and I read through a few; they were quite colorful in parts, but also full of such love and affection. I barely remember what they said, but I do remember how much I enjoyed exploring that aspect of her life and coming to understand who she was as a woman, versus who she was as a mother.

My mother was, obviously, a sexual creature, but she was also someone that men adored, loved, and cherished. She was funny and witty, and beautiful. While some people might not want to think about whom their parents loved before they met, I (save the super steamy stuff) did. I wanted to know my mother as a person. (Let me note that both my parents have always been open about their past; especially my father – who has definitely gone beyond my comfort zone. Love ya, Daddy.)

This one moment has always stayed with me, so I was excited when I stumbled across my box of love letters (and other mementos) while cleaning today. When Jason and I moved in together, some of my friends (I won’t name names) encouraged me to throw away the box and its contents. Why keep old letters when you’ve got a man? they asked. What happens if he finds them, won’t he be upset? When I told my mother that I was being encouraged to throw it away, she told me not to, just to tuck it away. She assured me that their existence wouldn’t make him upset (and really, it’s not like I am asking him to read them). That moment of reading her letters resurfaced in my mind. So I didn’t throw it away, just cleared out some of the items (which, I now realize was the wrong thing to do; I fear I may have lost some wonderful mementos from a particularly serious relationship). When Jason and I move into our apartment, I tucked the box away and pushed it out of my mind.

I knew that it came with us when we moved into the house, but I never looked through it. I shoved it into the back of the closet in my office/guest room and promptly forgot about it. Then today, while cleaning, I found it and opened it, not remembering what it was.

Boy, was I glad that I kept that box. When I found it, I hungrily read the letters I forgot were there. I knew, in the back of my head, that they existed, but I forgot about the passion that filled the pages of these letters and cards. I forgot about the four page letter filled with poetry that one boy wrote me, and the dozen cards filled with words of love from another. I forgot that at one point in my life I was reckless and in love with abandon, not knowing what my future brought. (Which was, in case you’re curious, a wonderful husband who loves me very much, even if he doesn’t write me love letters.) It felt nice to remember what it was like to be that young, reckless, open-hearted girl again.

I hope that I one day have a child who wants to know who I was before I met Jason. I hope that they want to read through these cards and letters and look through the box, to get a glimpse of my young self. I hope that they ask me why I was called Tiger, or laugh after they cringe when they hear about the time I danced naked in the rain, or cry when I tell them about some of the heartbreak I endured. I want to share that part of me with them, as much as I wanted to share that part of my mother with her.

Allons-y, 2016!

Bonne année mon amis, et bonne santé!

I should probably write the typical resolution filled blog post, along with apologies for never writing and promises (resolutions, if you must) to write more regularly. But I am not someone who embraces the resolution as a yearly thing, and mostly just take advantage of having to learn to write a different year to also learn to do things better.

Fine, fine. I make “resolutions.”

This past year was quite good to me; I am lucky. I bought a house, and even though the process of renovating the house was filled with drama and stress: I am living in a house that I bought with my husband. That is a blessing. I got a new job; one that will challenge me and make me work harder, but one that will allow me to have more time, ultimately, with my friends and family. For the first time ever I bought a car! I’ve had cars before, but this was the first time that I picked one out and paid for it. I discovered Doctor Who! And yes that sounds silly on this list, but oh, how this show has affected me deeply. (It’s almost embarrassing.)

This past year has been good to me through my friends as well: my best friend got engaged (to one of my favorite people ever, let me add); several others announced pregnancies or had beautiful, wonderful babies; friends got new jobs, new homes, got engaged to or married the love of their life. My mother-in-law adopted two perfect cats, and my other best friend took in a wonderful dog.

And yes, this past year has been rough. I’ve had several friends dealing with some pretty heavy stuff (two words: fuck cancer). My grandma was admitted into the hospital on Christmas Eve, and while she’s out of the woods right now, it was pretty touch and go for the last week, and they’re still not sure how long she has left. Not to mention our house drama (which it nothing, when you think about it) and the fact that I have gained nearly 40 lbs in a year, and don’t feel like myself.

So 2016 has so much potential to be the best year ever, you guys. This is the year that I am going to read 100 books, learn to crochet AND knit, write stories, drink lots of gin, learn to love running, cook more, lose that weight, watch my best friend marry her soulmate (kidding, I’m her soulmate), welcome new babies into my life, start writing letters to friends, hike some crazy high mountain that I never thought possible, kayak in the ocean (why not?), kick ass in my new job, and just be awesome. (And I promise to complete my 32 things by the time I am 32.)

I want to be more in the moment.

So, in the words of my favorite Doctor (the 10th, played by David Tennant):

ALLONS-Y!

Whoops.

Every year around my birthday I promise myself that I am going to do and try lots of new things before my next birthday (and last year, promised to write about it here).

Every year about a month before my birthday I realize that I didn’t do a thing.

That’s not totally true; I have done a lot this year. I just didn’t write about it.

Since I turned 30 I have: mastered the art of the martini, learned some DIY skills, bought a house, read a lot of books, wrote a short story, shaved (most of) my head, learned to live without an oven for 2 months, and so much more. But I didn’t do as much as I wanted, so this time I am going to stick by my goals.

Before I turn 32 (in 2016) I want to: learn to play guitar, run a 10K, cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner, and write something of significance. That’s not too hard to do, right?

With a month left before my 31st birthday, I feel like I should set myself a few goals. I thought about doing 29 things in 29 days, but is that a lot to ask? What if, instead, I think of a few things to accomplish but then give myself the task of 32 things to do before I turn 32. I can do that, right?

Have any suggestions, leave ’em here and I’ll see if I can work them into my plan.

As for the next 29 days, I guess my goals are simple: eat well, drink less, workout, read and get myself prepared for 12 months of meeting my goals.

Nostalgia is sometimes disappointing.

I woke up this morning with the intention of finally getting our second bedroom into shape. Right now it’s just full of boxes; some of the boxes are recent: full of wedding leftovers, random things we didn’t know where to put, and so many Cooking Light magazines that if the room caught fire it would go up in a second; but piled precariously on top of the newer boxes are old, falling apart boxes full of items from my child- and teenage-hood.

These boxes contain pictures, newspaper clippings, school papers, framed photos, and of course many handwritten journals. I was immediately distracted by the journals: how could I not sit here and read them all?

I read through one starting during the summer before freshman year of high school that continued through the summer after my sophomore year. Oh, the memories! Of course, I don’t remember being so precious. I was though, falling for a new boy every month, taking the risks of asking him out, and of course the inevitable fights between friends when you both liked the same boy. That happened less than I expected, or at least I didn’t write about it; I tended to mask my emotions, surprisingly. I also, much like now, forgot to write when I was happy, because I was too busy being happy.

A lot of my entries are things like “Omg I like him so much!” and “I just wanted to grab him and kiss him!” (I was quite forward), but there are sprinklings of troubles with friends (“Perry is such a bitch!” I said a lot – I now realize that she was probably mad at me because I kept trying to date her friends and boys she had crushes on. Sorry, Perry.) and trouble with my extended family (I really didn’t like my cousin Heather.) I rarely talked about anything of substance (sadly) and only touched upon my experiences in music and theater. Reading over this journal was like reading about the life of a stranger. Where were the entries about my struggle with learning my lines and memorizing the German aria my voice teacher had assigned? Where were the entries about my desire to be a Broadway star or a writer? Why did I seem so… lame?

Not everything was superficial though. I had quite a few entires about what love is and how I had not been in love. I never lamented over not finding love – I was 14 after all – but I was adamant about not being in love with any of the boys I “dated” in those two years. I teased myself with the idea that this boy, Jordan, I had crushed on for several years (and “dated” in 6th grade), was someone I loved, but at the end of the entry I dismissed that thought. In one entry, my 9th grade boyfriend Mike had apparently told me he loved me, but I wrote “I did not say it back, because I do not love him.” I was frank and honest, and I liked that about me.

I have memories, however, of my 10th grade boyfriend, Travis, and I exchanging “I love yous”, and yet my journal mentions nothing about the encounter. To be fair, I may be remembering wrong, but I do remember that he had plans to purchase me a ring that had “I Love You”, but in Latin, engraved in the inside. That never happened, of course, as Travis and I had a “mutual” break up (I am pretty sure Teenage Emily lied about that – the entries leading up to the break up are things like, “Why didn’t Travis call me back??” A few years later, in college Travis came out, which explains why he probably never bought me that ring. We’re still friendly.)

The thing that got me the most, however, was starting on my next journal, the one I kept during the year I finally started dating Jesse, the person I consider to be my first love. I skipped the several months before we got together and found the entry about our first kiss. I am pleased to say I was ecstatic, and I actually proclaimed “I’m in love!”, which sounds like an exaggeration for a 16 year old (us not even being a couple yet), but Jesse was slightly older (thereby justifying real feelings) and if my memory serves me correctly, we had already expressed that we loved one another months before. (Jesse lived far away so our relationship began through letters, emails, and IMs all which made us more open and honest.)

I was sad to see that I was either so busy being in love or so afraid of writing down feelings, that I wrote very little about our relationship. I have such vivid memories of every moment we spent together. These entries speak only of things like, “I brought him to prom and every one liked him. Jen and Kristen said he was HOT!” or “I visited Jesse in New Jersey for the first time. He lives on the beach!” Not every entry was superficial; I touched upon some of the deeper moments of our relationship (in one entry I mentioned that we had discussed having sex – it would have been my first time) but I never dived into the emotions I was feeling.

God, I remember being so incredibly in love and enamored. I remember staying up until the sun rose, talking to him on the phone or online, because we missed each other so much. I still have the gifts he gave me for our “month-a-versaries” packed away, and today found a framed collage of us he put together – and yet I mention little of these things. I remember, fondly, us deciding to go on a real date: we made reservations at a real restaurant up north, but that morning he slipped while shaving and sliced open his lip. He was embarrassed to see me, but I didn’t care. We went on the date anyway, then parked his car on the beach and talked (and made out, certainly) for hours, as the sun set. I remember eating Milano cookies with him all the time (it was our cookie, for some reason) and all the inside jokes. And yet… I wrote so little about this time.

I did write about him going away for a month in the middle of us dating. He went on a whirlwind trip around Europe that July. I wrote little about my feelings towards him being gone; the most in-depth I got was “I heard from Jesse today, I miss him so much. He sent me a post card and some journal pages.” Later this morning, after I put away the diaries, I dug up those postcards and journal entires – they were about his time in London and Paris (I’m not sure if he ever sent more) and the difference in quality of his writing versus mine (at least in those diaries) was substantial. He wrote beautifully (and apparently called me his Sweet Emily, which was a pleasant reminder) and filled his entries with thoughts and desires and so much more than I feel young Emily was capable of.

I flipped through the diary, trying to find the entry that I wanted to read most. I wanted to know what this superficial version of Emily wrote about losing her virginity. I remember that time like it was yesterday: the first time it got brought up, the reasons why not, the decision to do it, the planning, and the actual event. But yet, young Emily wrote nothing about it. I am so disappointed to learn that I didn’t allow myself to explore my feelings in writing. But let’s be honest, for a girl who was so frank in her writing I wasn’t really that frank. I skirted major issues, avoided diving into my hormone driven emotions, and I skipped over major life events.

I wish I knew why I wrote like that. And I wish I could go back to young Emily and tell her, “Please don’t not write! Please don’t hide your feelings in these pages: these are the pages where you’re supposed to express your deepest, darkest, secrets. These are the pages where you can write about anything. Don’t hold back.”

I am glad that I have such vivid memories. I’m glad that I can still remember so many little details about those years. But will I always have these memories? I sure hope so.

After I lamented over the lack of information in these diaries, I flipped one more: it was my sophomore year of college and I had been dating Oliver, the person I consider my second love, for a few months. There I didn’t hold back any emotions, although I read over the words now and wonder why I never could write that way about Jesse. Was I too young? Was it because I wasn’t encouraged to write? Or was I just stupid?

All of this reading is making me want to start keeping a diary again. I kept one through my first year or two out of college. Maybe if I do it now, I can write about things more intelligently, more deeply, more openly. Maybe now I won’t mask my emotions, so when older Emily picks one up in 15 years, she’s not as disappointed as I am right now. But I guess, isn’t that sort of the point of this blog?

Emily: On Writing

Yesterday at lunch, my friend Allie challenged me to write her a character description and send it to her by next week. I am longing to get myself really back into writing, but I find that instead of sitting down and focusing, I allow myself to binge watch Netflix and Hulu. Not the healthiest habit.

I have been struggling with finding a direction for several years: I don’t know if I want to focus on fiction or try my hand at non-fiction/personal essays. I read my friend Jenna’s blog and long for her frankness and raw talent, and I talk to Allie about her novel and find that I am jealous of her ability to write more than a few paragraphs. I honestly wonder if I am really a writer, or just someone who used to be a writer and now have lofty, whispers of a dream left. Then I think about phrase like “whispers of a dream” and think, hey that’s not half bad, maybe I am a writer.

Sometimes I want to write about my past, about my high school and college boyfriends (I wanted to use the word lover here, but it felt insincere – it’s not a word I normally use to describe any aspect of my life) and about how I was feeling and what inappropriate or ridiculous things I was doing at the time. But I also want my husband to read and want to read my writing, and I don’t think he would be comfortable with these essays.

Hm, this seems like the perfect opportunity to write about myself and my past life in fictional form… Maybe I am on to something.

But I am impatient. I want to be at the middle of the story before I even begin; I want my characters to be perfectly developed without me having to try. That’s not how it works and I know that. Another reason I fear I may not really be a writer. And maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m just a really good reader.

I am going to take Allie’s challenge, and if I like what I write, I will post it here as well. Maybe. Maybe I will keep my character to me and Allie only, until it’s ready to go out on its own into the world. I don’t really know, but I hope this challenge brings me back into something that I was once incredibly passionate about, back to something that many people expected to me pursue as a career. Back to what used to be part of who I was.