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“Rebecca’s Reprise” from the Season 2 Finale of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

[You Stupid Bitch tune] Well, Rebecca,
You’ve done it now;
You’ve gotten everything you said you wanted.
[updated version/different key; whimsical] So, take a moment and take a breath; After today, you’ll start fresh;

And finally I’ll be [pause; I’m The Villain In My Own Story tune in a    major key] the hero of my own story.

The princess in the tale.
[updated version/different key] In an unexpected twist,
It turns out magic exists;
I’ll feel it in my dress and in my veil

[I Love My Daughter (But Not In A Creepy Way) tune] Daddy’s little girl,
Princess of his world
That was never something I knew before;
But now that I’m a bride,
He’ll look at me with pride;
[Poignantly different rhythm; also, more legato]‘Cause my daddy will love me,
And then, in a wonderful way,
Everything in the past will just fall away.
[new tune; more earnest/pleading] My daddy will love me,
And my mommy will love me,
And Josh will love me and then…

[We’ll Never Have Problems Again tune; song’s resolution] I’ll never have problems [pause] again.

– Rebecca’s Reprise from Crazy Ex Girlfriend 

^Yea, I’m not doing this for every song or anything.

Full disclosure, I copy & pasted the lyrics from here, but ended up revising the punctuation based on my own interpretation/Rachel Bloom’s performance. The bold brackets [] describe what is going on in the subsequent lyrics, according to me. Please let me know if I missed anything/got anything wrong!

Basically, I love breaking down discourse in order to explain it to others and/or add my own interpretation; whether it’s poetry (holla my “Picasso, Nietzsche and T.S. Eliot” Freshman Writing Seminar at the University of Michigan and my 11th grade poetry project on Theodore Roethke for AP English Lit), novels, dramatic writing or interview data from a semi-structured protocol.  The process provides a structure through which, I can be creative and express my ideas.

 “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” as a Whole 

I’ve written about Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom’ show previously (specifically, the Season 2 Finale), because the show means a lot to me and I can really relate to Rebecca (side note: I’m apparently very into semicolons, today).

Specifically, I grew up with songs in my head (Since I was 5,  I’ve been in 4 musicals or plays a year, on average, until 6 years ago) and learned very early on that singing and acting could help me deal with emotional distress and psychological turmoil. While I still love to sing, dance and perform (and have managed to continue doing these things alongside a lot of academic training), creative, memoiristic, annotational and academic writing have recently joined the therapeutic-activities club! This is probably because I consider writing to be a kin to quietly talking to myself (and my audience), which helps me figure out my own thoughts and feelings on a subject (rather than just adopting those of loud, sometimes coercive, people). Acting, singing and performing play a very similar role in my life.

I’m not sure if what I’m about to write can be generalized to other people’s experiences, because I’m just me, but I find that creative, productive activities also help me heal from trauma in very specific ways. For example, all of the activities I mentioned require me to be emotionally buoyant and resilient. Thus, in addition to practicing adopting this healthy emotional framework, I also have the opportunity to work through, sometimes intense, feelings of frustration, jealousy, anger, love, joy, excitement etc.

In terms of how my ramblings relate back to CEG, the catharsis, emotional/cognitive empathy and giggles I experience from merely watching others (i.e., the CEG cast) sing on screen, is similarly very therapeutic for me.

The example of Rebecca’s Reprise

Rebecca’s Reprise is an excellent microcosm of the the entire series. For one thing, it includes excerpts from songs from the first two seasons sung by different characters. In addition, it illustrates key themes in the show:

Key theme 1: In the real world, Rebecca has yet to find her own, grounded voice (possibly because of low self-esteem). Instead, she latches onto “signs” the universe is “providing” her (my quotations indicate I think this is a bullshit notion; although, I must admit that when I haven’t been doing well, I’ve done the same), cultural standards (although her rational-self has admitted its not healthy to depend on relationships/others for your happiness) and the opinions of other important people in her life.

Key theme 1: Seeing the world in black and white, rather than shades of grey, is very easy to do. When Rebecca co-ops songs from earlier in the show’s lifetime, she either intensifies their message (e.g.,”Cause my daddy will love me […] Everything in the past will just fall away;” ending the reprise with a musically resolute, “I’ll never have problems again”) or uses them to express an opposite message (“You’ve gotten everything you said you wanted”). There’s no middle ground. The thing is, most people I know can’t identify the middle ground from one time or another.

For me, the weirdest thing about this song is that it reminds me of a very specific event from my childhood. I was around 7-years-old and recently admitted into my elementary school’s Gifted & Talented program. Awesomely, my peers and I were assigned to write an original play based on a fairytale. We chose Snow White, but decided there would be 7 Snow Whites and one dwarf. I was obviously the witch (I knew from a young age that the best part wasn’t always the ingenue). When I was finally defeated (I think I was pretending to be one of the Snow Whites?) and hurtling towards my demise, I rapidly went from one snow white personality to the next. It was a pretty epic emotional journey for a seven-year-old to convey, but whatevs…pretty sure I naaaaailed 😉

Anyway, I’ve read many a blog post about CEG proposing complex diagnoses for Rebecca Bunch. Whilst using the terms “depressed” and “anxious” doesn’t bother me so much, although us arm-chair clinicians cannot diagnose it…saying she’s bipolar or has a personality disorder is not helpful. Not because there is anything shameful or wrong about being diagnosed but that…it’s no-one’s right, except your psychiatrist’s or GP’s (but…the latter is a bit of a stretch), to do so. Also, as I’ve said before, from my experience, many people experience mental health issues that don’t amount to a formal diagnosis and don’t need to. Meds or no meds. Therapy or no therapy.

Ok! That’s it :0) Also…I’m a Doctor now! YAY! – Dr. Molly :0)

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Being empathetic

Hello world!

I’m still planning to write/post a Molly & Musicals post this week, but today, I wanted to write my  response to the current political/social climate…in the form of a lesson on empathy. Luckily, it’s my blog..so, I make the rules! Yay!

Quick life update: I’m defending my thesis next week so hopefully…very soon, I’ll be Dr. Molly, ftw!

Alrighty, Being Empathetic

I’ve been fortunate enough to be paid to study psychology at the doctoral level for the last 3.5 years. One of my favorite topics to read about and conduct research on is empathy.

Empathy is an interesting term, because, at least in my opinion, it’s super easy to misunderstand (I know I still get confused!). Also, like many psychological concepts, its definition is highly debatable…so, basically, academia can be a pain in the ass (no offense, Mr. Academia!).

OK, so…what is empathy? First, I’d like to start with what empathy is not:

  1. Empathy is not (necessarily) having an emotional reaction to someone’s plight in life, e.g., feeling sad when you see a rough sleeper on the street.
  2. Empathy is not imagining what YOU would do in someone else’s shoes, e.g., “If I were in your situation, I would NOT have done THAT.”
  3. Empathy is not thinking you know what’s best for another group of people because of your own life experience/identity, e.g., because I’m in a position of power, it’s my right to decide women don’t deserve free contraception (PS Fuck you, Trump).

Alright, Molly…then what’s empathy?

Well, the exact definition is still debated among researchers. Specifically, the difference between sympathy and empathy, but here is my understanding of what empathy is:

Empathy is the ability to understand the perspective of another person and includes at least two components: cognitive and emotional empathy.

Being cognitively empathetic is the ability to understand the thought processes of another person, their emotional state and possibly (this might be incorrect), how they came to have that thought process (based on their life experience/what’s going on in their life at the moment/profession/personal trauma/temperament).

Being emotionally empathetic is the ability to feel what another person is feeling. This is different than sympathy, the ability to feel compassion towards another person’s plight in life.

Basically, in my opinion (and also in the opinion of the amazing Empathy Lab), developing, most importantly, cognitive empathy (emotional empathy is still beneficial and will help you to better understand another person’s plight through embodiment, BUT cognitive empathy can be taught and allows you to better intellectually understand another person or people’s existence) at an early early age or at least eventually has the potential to significantly affect contemporary culture.

For example, if the majority of politicians  genuinely cognitively empathized with disenfranchised members of society, I’d predict they’d be more likely to propose policies that have the potential to actually benefit those groups rather than…themselves or…lobbyists and donors etc.

That’s all for now :0)

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Being honest with/about your mental health issues will help you heal

As people who know me are already aware, I try to be honest about my mental health issues:

  1. I have generalized anxiety
  2. I had depression (but still have shortish episodes occasionally)
  3. I used to self-harm (use sharp objects to scratch my forearm) but have stopped now. Instead, I have mild anger issues that I’m working on.
  4. I’m on meds (you can ask if you wanna know which ones)
  5. I see a certified therapist, privately, on a weekly/sometimes bi-weekly basis.
  6. I occasionally see a private psychiatrist (like I’M “crazy” enough to get on the NHS waiting list! looool (behind the laughter, I’m crying)!)
  7. I avoid difficult topics by making jokes
  8. I yoga and sing to feel better (that’s probably all “socially acceptable,” but since we’re sharing…)

Thusly, I’m fine admitting that I’m not perfect. No one I know is perfect. A few people I know THINK they are perfect (or at least act that way towards me).

If you or someone you know is dealing with tenuous mental health (we probably all are/will at some point in our life). Know:

  1. You’ll be fiiiiine :0) as long as you don’t avoid what’s happening. Think “I’m Not Afraid of Anything“…yea, she’s afraid of fucking EVERYTHING!
  2.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid to find YOUR OWN rhythm
  3. Cut people out who don’t genuinely care about you
  4. Maybe…take a break from social media? If you think you may be addicted. Also, try taking a break from anything else you’re addicted to.
  5. Try to really think, deep down about what may be negatively impacting your life. This can be…your job, your routine, your close relationships, your addictions, politics, capitalism, more generally.
  6. Get. a. CERTIFIED. therapist. Do NOT just rely on family. or. friends. or. alcohol. That’s fucking bullshit if you’re really struggling. You do not need to feel fucking ashamed for seeing a therapist. Start with the NHS if you’re in the UK. Maybe pay £15-40/hr if you have the money (if you can go to the pub every week, you have the fucking money).
  7. Go back to what you love.

Feel free to share you own struggles in the comments section if you think it will help :0) 

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5 writing tips from a boot camp I attended in Jan

Yo dudes. Apparently people read this blog (that’s what my wordpress stats tell me!) so I thought I’d share this blog post I wrote for University of Sussex’s Psychology blog (that’s where I’m getting the ol’ D.Phil from, hopefully).
I’m also sharing it because I’m a bit stressed about my own writing at the mo and it’s making me feel better to read this :0)

Five tips from Thesis Boot Camp, Dec 2016
Right before the holiday season, I decided to attend the doctoral school’s Thesis Boot Camp and was pleasantly surprised by how much I accomplished and learned. One limitation was that the writing workshops mostly catered to the humanities so, in addition to sharing top tips, I’ll also be translating the strategies (on the fly) for us psych folk. I’ll also note how the strategies differ from (incorrect) implicit assumptions I’ve held:
  1. Develop a routine that works for you, specifically: I’ve held onto the implicit assumption that there is a “right” way to do a PhD despite my supervisors and classmates telling me no. Despite this, I know there are others like me comparing themselves to other doctoral students and subsequently, feeling inferior. At thesis boot camp, we were encouraged to figure out what works for us
  2. Try and remove any psychological barriers between you and your writing: …No one at boot camp actually said that, but I think it summarizes what Liz was trying to get across. Specifically: writing is a form of thinking. It’s difficult to form an argument until you start writing so “shut up and write!” That being said, the reason we were told previous attendees wrote as many as 20,000 words in one weekend was because it was “first draft material” or what I refer to as my “messy outline.” As we all know,  psychology articles tend to be pretty information-dense; thus, I knew that if I was going to get anything out of this intensive writing weekend, I needed to bring along some version of my messy outline and then write from that. I also spent half a day editing what I’d already written. Thus, I “only” managed to write 6,000ish words, but I still felt pretty proud of myself (for the most part).
  3. On the subject of editing, dont edit while you write: Something I found REALLY helpful was the notion that multi-taking while writing is not time- or cognitively-efficient. This idea might seem like common sense, but if you’re anything like me, you rarely listen to logic when it comes to writing well, because writing a thesis is stress-inducing. Well, because the boot camp was only two days, I thought I might as well give this logical notion a whirl and by George, it worked! When I was writing content, I only let myself make tiny edits on the sentence I’d just written (because that’s how I write), and I’d try not to let myself go back and read what I just wrote (my worst, self-induced time-suck). After that, I’d only let myself do organization, content-based edits (we were encouraged to break down the process of editing into distinguishable tasks), etc and then, when I was happy with what I was trying to say, I’d copyedit.
  4. Collect evidence based on facts, not emotions: we were encouraged to try out the pomodoro technique (25 mins on, 5 mins break x 3, 25 mins on, long break – REPEAT) for the morning of the first break. Liz encouraged us to base our daily/weekly goals on how much work you achieve on average during one pomodoro in addition to how many pomodoros you can realistically do in a day. I know that at least for me, if I’m feeling particularly motivated, I’ll set myself a word-count goal that is way to high. The only issue with this is that I end up disappointing myself rather feeling accomplished by the end of the day.
  5. If your time management/organization method stresses you out, find/make a new one: If you’re anything like me, getting through your doctorate is a mind-warp (in lieu of a different phrase). Not only is the work challenging, but, because we’re often not credited for how difficult it is to go from dependent undergrad (or whatever) to independent, kickass researcher, we end up feeling inferior to our classmates. I think this is a mind-game that more PhD students would benefit from tackling. There is no right way to do a PhD and thus, there is no right way to organize your time! 
I have more notes from what I learned at Thesis Boot Camp but not enough time to write all of them up. That being said, if you’re keen to hear more of my ramblings, I’d love to go for a coffee. If you know me, you know I’m pretty chatty. My email is m.berenhaus@gmail.com.
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Maybe real thinking is quite rare…

I’m in the process of writing up my doctoral thesis, which means I spend a lot of time drinking coffee and water, staring out the window, and most importantly, thinking.

Back when I was on campus loads, people would say I talked too fast, sent too many emails, talked too loud, or was too fierce & angry.

Well, maybe my problem was that I didn’t stop (pause) and think enough.

I think that’s a lot people’s problem actually.

I’m currently exploring/researching/whatever the relationship between perspective-taking and comprehension. Thus, I think a lot about what perspective a narrative is being told from.

….”Narratives” include the stories being spun by news outlets, family members, friends, songs, movies, books, fiction or nonfiction (and this blog post).

In my opinion, western society’s narrative is currently being told by angry, rich, white people. Mostly male, angry, rich white people.

Thus, unless you actively search for a different narrative, that’s the one you’re being exposed to! Especially if you live in the USA (my home-country).

Be aware. Be wary.

 

 

 

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If someone wants you to fail? fuck ’em (please, not literally)

Dudes,

I’ve been binging on Judd Apatow’s “Love” and towards the end of an episode entitled “Liberty Down,” I started tearing up and needing to immediately jump in the shower, because, yep, that’s my relationship and whilst it’s scary, I love every minute of it.

Being completely honest with someone is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, because to be honest, I don’t trust the majority of people I meet. I was technically born in Manhattan, so, I  guess its not THAT surprising, but…I regularly think about WHY I do the random shit I do:

Well, I think freakishly recent history shows us that…most people don’t give a fuck if we live happily or die miserably, especially, if we have nothing to offer them. And by “nothing” I mean “no money.”

Despite growing up in an upper middle-class town, for a variety of reasons, my family didn’t seem to have much of it. I didn’t really know any differently so I didn’t mind. ESPECIALLY, because I had musical theatre in my life, which, in my eyes, is priceless :0) (thanks, Sondheim). I know that tickets are expensive, but I’ve experienced most of the shows I know via their Original Cast Recording and well, those are basically free at this point.

Ok, back to money:

One of my favorite podcasts, Around the Table, has at least two amazing episodes about money (one is their most recent episode and the other is an amazing conversation between Jaycee and her husband, which I love oh so much). Basically, money is the fucking worst. I wish everyday was the Sabbath so I don’t have to deal with it ever.

That being said, this isn’t La La Land. A girls gotsta eat them chocolate chip cookies, yo (man, I wish there were Girl Scout Cookies in the UK).

But, like, it’s boring as fuck.

Luckily, there are awesome budgeting apps out there and, if you’re super duper nerdy like me, you may even get a kick out of a beautifully organised excel spreadsheet with you and your partner’s shared spending.

Ok! Back to writing my thesis :0) Byeeeeeee

 

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Be PROUD of surviving abuse – A note for “A Day ‘Without’ Women”

Yo,

Being victimized is hard and very fucked up. Think about the people that died or survived the holocaust.

Imagine surviving the holocaust and then needing to get on with your life like nothing happened, because no one gives you a handout (ESPECIALLY in the USA and other developing countries) unless you’re from privilege . Privilege is a very complicated turn-of-phrase, because it’s not only related to upbringing. It’s probably more dependent on birth.

Were you born male? Female? Or somewhere in between?

Were you born light-skinned? Dark-skinned? Or somewhere in between?

Were your parents rich? Poor? Or somewhere in between.

Were you born straight? gay? Or somewhere in between.

The weirdest thing about all of this is that even if you’re male, light-skinned, rich and straight, you could STILL be a victim of abuse.

By that logic, it’s possible that anyone could be victimized. So if YOU’VE been victimized, why be ashamed?

Why not be PROUD?

I’d rather be proud of who I am than scared.