Israel and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Have you seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime?  If not, that’s a shame because it’s awesome.  It was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who did Gilmore Girls, which I watched in high school with my mom.  In my opinion, Amy was ahead of her time.  Gilmore Girls was fast-paced, clever, emotional, and chock full of cultural references.  It had its issues with characters and story development especially at the end, but it was one of the best shows on TV at the time.

And now we’re in the Golden Age of television and enter Amy’s newest creation, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  It’s like Gilmore Girls on steroids and I love it.  It’s so fast, you blink, and you’ll miss a joke.  But why would you want to blink?  I could go on and on about what I love about this show but there’s one aspect I’d like to focus on.

Midge is a typical 1950’s housewife.  She loves cooking brisket, shopping for fancy clothes, and living on the Upper West Side with her successful husband and two kids.  Then her husband leaves her, and she embarks on, of all things, a career as a stand-up comedienne.  And then the show becomes about how Midge was a repressed woman and a comment about how women were treated in the 50’s and Midge changes her entire personality because she’s a new woman!  A liberated woman!  A career woman!  Right?  Wrong.  Midge is the same person she’s always been.  She still loves her clothes and going to the expensive all summer resort in the Catskills and living the posh upper-class Jewish life she has always enjoyed.  She’s just added a career.  A career she’s perpetually late for and travels with a ridiculous amount of luggage for.

And this I believe is revolutionary in TV.  Here we have a heroine who is comfortable in her own skin, despite living in the 50’s and being a housewife.  Her circumstances changed.  She didn’t.  And that brings me to my recent trip to Israel.

I won’t bore you with a run-down of all the things we saw.  But I will say this.  Everyone expects you to come back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land changed.  And how did this experience change you, they want to know.   I think we should look at it another way.  Midge added stand-up to her life, and she was able to become more of who already she is.  Not a different person.  I think going to Israel has opened up some things for me.  I feel like I’m becoming more of the person I already am.  I’m not changing but becoming.  And that is very exciting.

God made each of us the way we are.  Maybe we should be less concerned about changing and more concerned about how to become more.

Back on the Road Again

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to go on a Maymester to Scotland.  That was in 2008.  It didn’t travel internationally again until 2018 when I went to Taiwan.  I prayed that it wouldn’t be another ten years before I travelled again.  And that prayer was answered.  In January I’m headed on a pilgrimage to Israel with the church.

When I was preparing to go to Taiwan last year, I felt led to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  It’s not the typical book you’d pick up before a mission trip.  It’s not even approaching “churchy,” but it was just what I needed.

Because at its core, the book is about mental toughness.  Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail by herself with little knowledge of hiking and camping.  She endangered herself and got a lot of things wrong.  She could have turned back countless times (a few times she probably should have) but she didn’t.  She simply refused to give up.  She had reached a point in her life, mentally and emotionally, where she didn’t have any other option.  It was hike or die.

I really needed that message.  Not so much for the time I was actually in Taiwan but for what has come after.  On my job, as a writer, in my personal life.  I get tired and discouraged.  And angry.  So angry because I’m doing what’s asked of me and yet it’s just so damn hard.  But I’m not giving up.  It’s not an option.  It’s not in the vocabulary.  This is a no-fail mission.

I have no idea what will come out of the trip to Israel but I’m going.  Because, really, there just isn’t any other option.