Resenting Rachel Greene

Yes, we’re talking about ER again. No, I have no regrets. 

Rachel Greene, daughter of Mark Greene and his first wife, Jen, is a brat. That’s all I have to say. I know she’s a fictional character but she’s a brat. But watching Rachel grow up, at times, with me during my own childhood and seeing how she reacted to stressful situations as both a child and an adult with my own heavy emotional burden and doing my best to work through my trauma: mostly thanks to the assistance of medication and therapy. But looking at Rachel’s character made me feel something I haven’t felt for a fictional character in a while: resentment. 

Rachel Greene is first seen in ER as a child in the middle of a less than kind divorce between her parents. Jen is tired of Mark working too hard being a literal damn doctor and Jen wants to be a lawyer for some reason. Of course their daughter is caught in the middle of the messy divorce as Jen moves to Milwaukee and uproots her daughter’s whole life so she can go be independent, I guess.  Rachel doesn’t take the divorce well, no kid can, really. She misses her dad, her school and her life in Chicago. 


Mark isn’t guiltless; he’s forgetful, scattered and constantly overworked being a literal damn doctor. He forgets her engagements, doesn’t know her new friends and is fairly out of touch in her life due to the divorce and trying to move on with his life. Rachel feigns illness once saying that her dad’s patients were the only ones that got his full attention. It’s a biting line but also, very true: Mark’s attention never fully belongs to anyone but his patients; it makes him a fantastic doctor but a less than great lover and parent. 

By the time we see Rachel again, she’s a teenager and she is horrible. I guess because my teen years were relatively quiet and I never went through a seriously outward rebellious stage thanks to being clever enough to hide my indiscretions on internet forums and LiveJournal posts. She was hanging out with the wrong kind of boys, doing drugs, listening to obnoxious music (okay, same but not the point) and was back in Chicago with her dad, his new wife: Elizabeth (played by the badass Alex Kingston) and their new daughter, Ella. Mark finally found love and is dealing with the last parts of having brain cancer and has most of his family together. Nope, Rachel ruins a lot of that by just being an impudent teen. Her rebellion ends up with her baby half-sister nearly dying when the toddler finds Rachel’s drugs and is poisoned. 

She gets what is effectively a slap on the wrist for nearly killing a baby and almost ruining her father’s second marriage because…you know…baby almost died. She continues to be a brat and gets her normal life as much as possible while everyone else has to deal with the fallout of her actions. 

Fast forward and Mark’s cancer is back and he has precious little time. Rachel deals with it the way I’m assuming most normal teenagers would and she continues to be selfish until she is spirited away to Hawaii, where her father is from, to spend his final days together learning about their family history and legacy. And how does Rachel respond to this? By ignoring her father, stealing his medication that may I remind you he needs for his brain cancer, drinking, listening to more obnoxious emo music and sulking. The episode is called On the Beach and it’s a masterclass in making you hate a character. Towards the end, Elizabeth, who by this point in the series has no reason to even acknowledge that Rachel exists after almost killing her child, finally sits down with her and says she has to grow up and that it’s unfair her father is dying but to take the time she has. 

That’s where the resentment came into play. You see, I didn’t get the chance to watch my father go quietly into that good sweet night. My father died alone, unceremoniously in the middle of the night patiently waiting for an ambulance outside of our apartment door as to not wake his family when he started feeling funny. I was woken up by my aunts who already knew the news but didn’t want to shatter my 12 year old world just yet. I was allowed to do something fun, to play the game like this was just a slightly less than normal day and then later I would be filled in properly on the events. I was told by my grieving mother that my father died and that my life was never going to be the same. I didn’t get the luxury of watching my father fade away on his own terms with dignity like Rachel did. And if I had the chance, I’d do anything to get the time she did with her father, knowing that he was dying, to tell stories, make memories and spend more time together than they ever would be able to if both were to go about their normal lives. 

Watching that episode, watching Rachel waste time left me seething with hatred: if only I had that chance, if only I could, what I’d give and before I knew it I was angry at a fictional character. When at the end of the day, there’s no promise of what I’d do if I did have that time with my father. I can’t promise that at 12 I’d have the maturity to spend the time I so wish I had now at 30. I don’t know if I’d be better than Rachel; my resentment comes with the luxury of  having decades of hindsight. 

We see Rachel again a few times in the series before the end, she’s older and heading towards college. She’s still alternative in some ways, making all the choices a young adult with a less than stellar childhood does but she’s mellowed out and matured. 

I’ve made my mistakes during my teen years, my young adults years and even now; I’m still learning and growing. My resentment and anger at Rachel is really resentment at myself and others. There’s a joke in my friend group that if trauma and having a less than great childhood is an excuse for bad behavior that we all deserve a Purge-style hunt once a year. I’ve been very strict in my approach to separate my bad behavior from my trauma. If I am excessively flirtatious or bad with men, I don’t blame my father’s death: that’s on me. If I am sullen and weepy: I don’t blame that on the insecure attachment of a child that had to parent their parents; I blame the current flavor of depression that day. And the way Rachel Greene is written, constantly using her less than great circumstances as an excuse for poor behavior; I just can’t stand it. Maybe it’s the white privilege that allows her to openly rebel and feel so outwardly when I was never given that chance; maybe it’s just jealousy, maybe it’s just grief but I learned so much about myself and how much I still have grow when I began to examine my feelings about the very fictional Rachel Greene.

I’ll end this post with Dr. Greene’s final coherent words to his daughter, words I hold in my heart since I couldn’t get meaningful last words from my father: be generous; be generous with your time and your love and your life. Just be generous. 

Lost Potential

I’ve had a lot of time to sit down and listen to music recently. Music keeps my work days flowing and with a pace that makes it easy to write to. My taste in music hasn’t changed much over the years, I still listen to a lot of EDM and techno. But with my recent transition away from Google Play Music to Youtube Music, a botched transition to say the least, has given me access to a pretty intuitive endless radio stream based on my tastes and artists I already like and have listened to. 

And while that means exposing me to plenty of new music like that of Porter Robinson and more Zedd than I like admitting it’s also given me access to a discography of an artist that I thought I knew but apparently I had much more to learn. 

I still remember the day I found out Avicii died. I was driving with some coworkers to a work function in another city none of us wanted to go to. We blasted Wake Me Up while driving too fast down the highway and lamented the loss of a human being while badly dancing in a car too small for all of us to fit in on a journey none of us asked to be part of. It didn’t matter to us why Avicii died; just that he was gone. And while many spent a lot of time discussing his mental health and the factors that led up to such a bright and young shining star dying; I mostly just processed the loss as I would have the death of any celebrity: sad for the loss of human life but that this was clearly more complicated beyond my comprehension with factors that would perpetually remain to be seen and with demons that were not privy to anyone; yet alone a nameless mass of fans. That’s the nature of DJs, really. Many obscure their faces, few use their real names. There is the DJ and the man. Madeon may be Hugo but they are not the same person. There’s a perpetual wall built between DJs and their fans built physically by their equipment and metaphorically by their oftentimes larger than life personas that make them almost more like characters in a pantheon rather than men and women like the rest of us. 

His death wasn’t as personal to me as Anthony Bourdain, who I looked up to and admired in a way that felt so intimate so his death resulted in friends checking in on me in the same they had after my mother died. I felt like I knew Tony, I felt like I lost a friend with Tony. That’s just who Anthony Bourdain was. He wasn’t an edifice or a persona, he was authentic; painfully so. He was always him and we were able to, as fans, believe that he was right there with us; sharing a meal, telling an off-color joke, being vulnerable to discuss his mental health or addictions and of course, making us smile and more importantly, think. 

Avicii wasn’t a close friend or mentor; he was a DJ. A DJ I liked, sure. A DJ I wouldn’t pass over if I got one of his songs on an endless shuffle mix. Hell, I may even pay to see him in concert if given the opportunity.  And one I didn’t think I’d miss so much. 

The endless mix of songs that’s given rhythm and life to my blended together days has given me a lot of Avicii; a DJ I mentioned to Youtube’s algorithm that I liked because of a few songs I had saved on my old Google Play Music Player and in a stroke of genius and the algorithm for once getting something right, almost every song I’ve gotten from the DJ has been a new and unexpected hit that I had never heard before. I thought that I was a fan by knowing literally 3 or 4 songs but there are so many tracks I just hadn’t heard before and each one just showed more and more skill and diversity that I just didn’t expect from the young DJ. I didn’t think Trouble would hit so hard or that Dear Boy would nearly bring me to tears. I didn’t think that Broken Arrows or Heaven would be so easy to dance to. I thought I knew Avicii but I was so so wrong. I’m glad now, for once, to have been corrected. 

But a theme emerged as I continued to listen deeper into his discography, a feeling of emptiness and loss. I suddenly found myself mourning all over again: not just for the young life snuffed out too soon but also for the loss of talent that he took with him to his eternal rest. 

It’s a complicated relationship that fans have with creators that have passed on. Many of us lament the time taken from us as fans as if we are owed creation. Many of us wish for just one more book, just one more song, just one more when really; that’s usually far from what we want. We selfishly wish for more time that death has so cruelly taken from us as avid fans and dedicated listeners while willfully shunning the fact that more time does not always lead to genius. We had many years with Harper Lee, only to be bitterly disappointed by the treasure that time can bring. But with Avicii as I continue to listen to each song he crafted, I can’t help but feel that familiar pang in my chest of “what if”.

What if he was given more time? What if he had one more set? One more studio album. One more single. What would he be making now? What would his style be? Would he dabble in tropical house again? Would he partner with DJs that I also admire? Whose vocals would he use next? What would his sound be like as he gained skill and matured? What songs that are out now or ones out before would he sample or experiment with? 

What would Avicii be doing now?

 I lament the loss of potential now, with Avicii’s death. And while of course, I mourn Tim as a person, I just wonder what we could have now if he was still with us. 

Losing Jim Henson (Again)


Jim Henson passed away when I was a child. And by child I mean I was actually not even born yet, though he did pass away in the same year I was born. Needless to say, I didn’t have a cultural memory of Jim Henson as a person. I had/have memories of his work (of course I do) but I have no memory of Henson the man. Some of my friends that are older than me seemed all to think that his death was sudden and tragic and I did my best to empathize with that feeling. At the time, I had not really lost a cultural icon that felt similar. Most of the celebrities that passed away while I was in high school or college were sudden, sure, but not shocking or surprising. Hell, some of them were memetic like Billy Mays’ sudden passing. It wasn’t until adulthood that I started to lose figures that truly meant something to me culturally, while Monkey Punch’s death comes to mind, really the big one is probably Stan Lee. 

But Stan Lee was old. Every time I saw his name in the headlines that weren’t attached to a Marvel movie cameo, I assumed it was Uncle Stan’s time to go. It didn’t hit me until I saw Into the Spiderverse and his cameo featured him selling the costume of his favorite character to young Miles Morales saying that the costume always fits, eventually; dear reader, I cried then. Stan Lee helped give form to some of my favorite characters, concepts and ideas. Stan Lee was my childhood and his death, though somewhat expected, was trying. I couldn’t imagine losing him at the height of his power and suddenly. Which brings us back to Henson. 

It was actually an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History that pitted the two (Stan Lee and Jim Henson) together that made me really think about his passing. A lot of Lee’s verses to Henson are about his sudden death and the impact it left on young minds everywhere (at the time of the episode’s release, Stan Lee was still alive) and while I could continue to accept that logic for the sake of the rap battle, I still didn’t give much thought to the death of Jim Henson. 

I mostly knew of Henson’s work from The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and of course Sesame Street and the Muppets but my relationship with those works mostly fled me as I entered my teen years. Shockingly, the show I most recall of his from my childhood was Fraggle Rock, a show I was convinced I made up in a 90s based fever dream only to be reminded that many children watched that show during its television reign. I remembered the show for its heart, desire to teach children to not be little trash goblins and its fun view of the world which by the 1990s felt already nearly too absurdist to be real. But I rarely thought of the man behind the puppets. I did for some of Henson’s contemporaries like Frank Oz and his work in bringing Yoda to life but I had no memory or attachment to Henson. He was just the guy whose name appeared in the credits of some of the shows I watched as a kid. He was a man, he was an important man but during my childhood, he was mostly a name or a vague myth. 

But one day, while scrolling through my Youtube feed, I came across a mini-series done by a channel I already have an immense amount of respect: DefunctLand. DefunctLand mostly covered the history of theme parks, amusement parks and more but also covers the shows we (mostly millennials) loved as children and didn’t realize ended terribly or due to awful reasons. The very popular Youtube channel decided to do an entire mini-series on Jim Henson’s life, work and impact which would, inevitably, end with his death. The series was well-researched and well-thought and I found myself loving Henson’s work in a way I didn’t know was possible. Seeing how much time he spent caring for the puppets and those he chose to work with and their immense talent, I was able to gain a whole new respect for this man not just as a myth but as a genius. I got to re-learn my love of his puppetry and his insistence that this was not just for children, and even more so, learn about some of his failures. Getting to hear about his successes, his influences, his family and history; I’m not giving the mini-series justice so literally just watch it. But there was a looming sort of dread as the series progressed: the series would end and that would mean Henson would die. I found myself on sort of pins and needles as episodes ticked down. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t emotionally ready. I spent weeks learning about this cultural monolith and I would have to bury him as so many did already decades ago.  

The last episode of the mini-series was Henson’s funeral and his death. The editing of the episode was heartfelt and the video snippets from the funeral which was a televised event made me feel like I was there. The fact that so many of the puppets he made and pioneered were there and their actors were present doing their best to be there despite their grief was moving. Big Bird was there and the actor inside this almost impossible looking suit was clearly straining to sing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” through sadness and tears just broke me because I had never given thought to Big Bird crying, yet alone, the actor inside that costume crying. The service was moving and having it intercut with some of the final moments of Henson’s private and public life made for an experience that left me crying on my sofa. 

I felt those feelings of those who were kids and watched their hero die. I felt those emotions, the sadness, the loss of potential, all of it. I lamented what work we could have seen from him. I missed him. I felt for him as a person for the first time. I felt for his family on a personal level since I also lost my father young. I wondered about how he would feel about a whole generation of people loving his work the way we do. I wondered about all of those things. How he changed our media landscape, taught children to empathize, encouraged us all to be kind and did so with such humor. 

I knew of Jim Henson as a ghost, a legend, I never had to grieve him as a man. 

The mini-series DefunctLand did was marvelous, heartfelt and spectacular. I learned a lot, cried a lot and appreciated felt puppets more than I thought was possible. I never thought I would have to mourn the loss of someone I knew really knew or never met, but it is possible.

Thoughts and Meditations on the 15th Anniversary of My Father’s Passing

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This handsome man is my dad, Troy.

My father died when I was 12 years old. I was a little girl and I spent most of my young life dealing with the emotions that come along with  the loss of my father.

That was 15 years ago today.

I like to think I’ve grown up a bit from the apathetic pre-teen who had to put on a brave face at a funeral; so here are some of the thoughts I have on the meditations of grief and what it means to hold the specter of Death at arm’s length for most of your life.

  • There’s no solid way to mention that you lack parents. Especially when it was just my father who had passed, I struggled with being able to articulate that I didn’t exactly do Father’s Day anymore or anything. I’ve gotten better about just being honest and even talk about it here.
  • I do find that especially with my dad, the days do get easier. Time does heal some wounds. It was a long time ago, there have been many more memories made in the time between me having my father and not.
  • But I do still hear a lot that I have several of my father’s mannerisms and traits. We apparently share the same wit, humor and sarcastic attitude. We both have larger than life personalities. We both can apparently light up a room. I think those parts of my father’s legacy I am most proud of. When I can effortlessly feel more connected to him because we aren’t so different.
  • I feel a fair amount of guilt over the fact that my mom and dad are buried in different cemeteries on different sides of town. Mom is buried with her parents and her brother. Dad is buried in another city with his parents and his cousin. I regret they aren’t together and the fact that dad is so far away means I don’t get to visit him as often. That wears on me more than I like to admit sometimes.
  • I’m always surprised by my friends and how supportive they can be. I can tell them anything. I can openly say I’m having a rough day today and without question, they’re willing to do whatever they can to help ease some of my angst. I’m so lucky to have that kind of support in my life.
  • My family is very supportive as well but being my father’s daughter means a great deal of weight on me. They look to me as the effigy. As the legacy and sometimes, I just want to get off the altar and grieve, too.
  • I am entirely enamored by pictures of my father. My aunts have found old photo albums recently and seeing my dad even before I was born warms my heart. On lucid days, I can still remember his voice and I’m always happy to see his face in a photo.
  • I’m very aware of how much I look like my dad and the older I get I look like my mom. That’s a heavy burden in itself. When I was little I was always compared to my father’s mom (my grandma: Annette) who I never got to meet. So we’d visit my dad’s family out in country and all I heard as a little girl was how much I looked like Annette. That’s a heavy burden for a child and even now as a young woman, I still don’t know how to feel about bearing apparently such a strong resemblance to these people who are now practically deified due to death.
  • I’m surprised that I still have so many of my dad’s old CDs and movies. That’s not really good or bad, but interesting.
  • I’m very fascinated by the fact that as I get older I use “father” more than “dad” now. I guess I’m just dramatic or a bad Damien Wayne cosplayer-in-training.
  • I’m also curious as someone who does social media professionally what rights the dead have to those who own their images. I wonder if my dad would be okay with me sharing his pictures. I wonder if my mom would be okay with it. They can’t tell me they don’t consent to having their images online but it vastly helps me and my family cope sometimes sharing images of them online.
  • I’m always troubled when people use “death of the father” as an excuse to rationalize poor behavior in men but especially in women. I watch a lot of crime dramas and a number one “cause” of bad murdering women is apparently having no father. I dislike that argument because: well, what the hell does that mean for me? I’m not a terrible person (well, depends on who you ask). I work hard. I do my best and I happened to lose my father when I was young. So what does that mean for me and the other people I know who grew up without parents? Not to say that losing a parent does not PROFOUNDLY affect how a child grows up and learns how to love, trust and feel secure BUT I certainly hope my destiny isn’t headed towards of a path of a future Law and Order: SVU episode. I was raised admirably by my aunts and they did their best. I certainly hope I am destined for more.
  • There’s a certain sardonic nature my friends and I have about me and my parents. When we go over character quizzes and such no one is ever surprised that I often get sorted as the angsty playboy with no parents. There’s a reason the last two posts like this one were labeled with names like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark: two characters that I empathize and relate to quite a bit.
  • As I get older and in theory start thinking about grandchildren, children and marriage: I’m worried about what narrative of my parents (especially my father) that I’ll tell. My dad died when I was a kid. He was one of the most important parts of my life BUT he was a human man who was in many ways very flawed. So which legacy do I capture? The flawed but compassionate family man who would do anything for his wife and daughter? Or this Christ-like redemptive father who peacefully faded from this Earth after deciding that disease was not the most dignified way to live on this imperfect world?  I hope that I’ll tell the right story. It’s important to those around me and most important to me.

This one isn’t going to be very long and I may work on another one for my mom who faces another anniversary later on this year.

I love you, Dad. I love you now more that you’re not here and that I don’t have the luxury of calling you every day. I miss the person you were. The man you did your best to be and the person you wanted ME to be. I hope I’m doing okay in your eyes.

Rest well, Father.

 

As The World Mourns

Insignificant things make the news all the time. Bigfoot Marries Local Woman. Bird Pecks Elderly Man in Park. Snow: It’s Cold. 

Really insignificant. Especially in the long run. But this isn’t meant to be a critique on the news media of the day. (That’s coming later, rest assured.) this is about mourning. 

Not too long ago, I was met with some very sad news. Colonel Meow passed away. Now, a great bit of referencing is required. So here it is, and don’t expect it again. Everyone lucked out this time. Colonel Meow is a cat. Not my cat. But an Internet Cat. Made famous by memes, blog posts, Twitter Pictures and Youtube Videos. He was striking. He was intense. He was fearsome. And a Guinness World Record Holder. He was fabulous. He was terrifying, but he like all of us, was mortal. He met his fate not long ago. 

Now, I’m not here to bash this event or trivialize it, an owner lost a beloved pet and the world did lose something that connected countless individuals over one single cause. I was genuinely saddened by this myself. As one of his dedicated ‘minions’ a title I only share with that of Mr. Spike Spencer, I did too feel a certain loss when Colonel Meow passed away. It was like I lost someone, too. It was like I as well lost a beloved pet. And I’ve felt that pain before, it’s all too real. 

What struck me though, was that I was not alone in this grief process. The Colonel had millions of other minions. And we all lost our valiant leader one that day. I was amazed by some of the comments people left. And as much as I wanted to be a cynical judgmental person, I couldn’t be. I mean, this was the death of a cat that made it to most of the major news outlets. CNN reported on this, CNN! No matter how badly I wanted to judge. To snark. To tease. I couldn’t.  I was in the exact same boat. I was upset, too, over the exact same cat. 

Loss is loss, we learn that early on. Everyone experiences it, we all deal with it differently. It is written into the collective unconscious of the world to know that loss affects us greatly. We attach to things for different reasons, each of which is our own to have. And it shouldn’t be judged. When a life ends, everyone loses something. The Six Degrees of Separation that connect us by a gossamer thread of chance, luck and happenstance only shrink as we further connect ourselves to others in this Wide World. 

The passing of Colonel Meow reminded me loss doesn’t alienate us. It reminds us who we are still connected to. I was one of many grieving minions who through support was able to continue to move on through my day. The Colonel would prefer things that way. He wouldn’t want us to mourn. He’d demand scotch. 

Rest in Peace, Colonel Meow. You have plenty of loyal minions here to keep the mission alive.