No. 31: Josh Lyman

Forgive the series of what has been many a West Wing post. I’ve been watching it a lot, and there’s honestly a lot that I am so grateful to this show for.

One of the aspects of this show that I am most grateful for is the cast of characters that encompass the west wing of the White House. They are all rockstars. I love Jed’s devotion to his Catholic religion and his desire to serve the American people, Leo’s ability to lead a capable and talented staff, C.J.’s ability to speak with ease at the press podium, Sam’s writing, Toby’s genius, Donna’s rise from assistant to what she becomes at the end of the series, and everyone else. It could go on and on.

But my favorite character on The West Wing is Josh Lyman. Now to be frank, Josh is absolutely terrible; he makes idiotic statements, can be demeaning to lower level staff, is prone to bouts of selfishness and conceitedness, and is just plain old obnoxious for the majority of the show.

But he’s also amazing. What makes him amazing is his drive. He ran a surprisingly successful presidential campaign based on his gut feeling on who the right candidate for the Democratic nomination was, and he works endlessly episode by episode to push the values he fully believes in. He doesn’t waver for a second when he knows he is right (I’m looking at you, Matt Santos).

I think why I love Josh so much is because of that dichotomy. He’s a complex and dynamic character who has a great moral compass, but who is also deeply flawed and imperfect. I love the humanity Josh exhibits, but most of all, I love his passion. His passion for his job, I believe, is higher than anyone else’s, and it’s at a level which I aspire to get to myself one day. Thank you, Josh. Even though you’re a fictional character, thank you for being just real enough to inspire me with your commitment, focus, and drive.

No. 30: 2020

I’m going to attribute this to my watching so much of The West Wing as of recent (as well as to my strong disdain for our current president and my disdain for many Republicans right now), but I am in full 2020 mode. I am ready to learn more about each of the candidates, to pick someone who I think will realistically be able to work with both sides, get the job done, and who holds my values and morals. And my pick for 2020 as of now?

Honestly, anyone. (Okay, we can eliminate Trump. And, if I’m being honest with myself, we can eliminate 99% of all Republicans. But still, a pretty big pool of people is left.). I’ll pretty much be happy with whoever runs against Trump. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, etc. And if Bernie winds up being the Democratic nominee, I’ll proudly vote for him, too. As much as I respect all of those people (and I genuinely do), I’m just grateful that in less than two years, we can elect out someone who I deeply consider to be an embarrassment and who does not reflect the majority of the American people (and that’s a fact).

I love political campaigns, especially when they start. I love watching CNN every night, I love watching The West Wing as a way to get myself revved up and ready to go. And my fingers are very much crossed and I am knocking away at some wood right now, but I cannot wait for November of 2020.

No. 29: Two Cathedrals

I’m a big West Wing fan. And if you’ve never seen the T.V. show before or heard of the show, go do your research/required viewings before reading this post, because there will in fact be spoilers that I myself would have hated to read before I first watched one of the best episodes of television ever: “Two Cathedrals”.

Now, for those of you who have watched The West Wing, you might also know of the podcast hosted by Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway, The West Wing Weekly. I’ve been listening to it nonstop on my way into work and home, hoping I’ll catch up in real time by the time they start their season 7 recaps. Today, I listened to Parts 1 and 2 of their recap of this favorite episode of mine, the season 2 finale, and was reminded of how awesome this episode is.

And because I can’t help myself, I re-watched this episode last week, long before I listened to the podcast episode. I watched Martin Sheen in the National Cathedral yelling at God in Latin and subsequently smoke a cigarette in that same cathedral. I watched him get soaked in the storm as he contemplated running for a second term. I listened to what has now become one of my favorite songs, Dire Straits’ “Brother’s in Arms”, set to one of the most dramatic moments in television.

“Two Cathedrals” is acting and writing at its absolute finest. It is Shakespearean in its genius and I am so grateful to be alive at a time when such art is created. I am grateful for this amazing show, for this stellar episode, and for Aaron Sorkin’s talent and ability to put it all together. We truly are lucky to be alive right now, so go watch the show on Netflix immediately!

No. 28: Rent

Last night, the world had the opportunity to watch one of the best musicals out there : Rent. The controversy of the live taping aside, the production gave everyone across the country the chance to experience live theatre, something many can’t afford to do or something people just plain old don’t do.

If you know me, you know how much I love musical theatre. Musical theatre is me. It’s my go to for whenever I’m having a bad day and struggling with something, and it never fails to make me see a different perspective. What I love about Rent in particular is that it is a show that does just that; it makes us confront the very real struggles of a community dealing with a disease I can’t even begin to fathom myself having to deal with. But most of all, I love Rent because it is a show about community and about love. It’s a show that teaches us the importance of friendship and that doesn’t hide away from the real, complex struggles associated with it.

I’m grateful that so many people, myself included, got to share in something I love and hold dearly to my heart. I’m grateful I got to converse with people about something I love and that I got to introduce it to people who would not have otherwise been exposed to this piece of art. And I’m grateful for Jonathan Larson, who persevered long enough to give the world something truly special. Thank you.

No. 27: Chinese Food

I had Chinese food last night from one of our regular Chinese food places in Woodbury. Let me tell you, Chinese is one of my all time favorites. Last night’s order consisted of an egg roll, steamed dumplings, chicken lo mein, and, of course, the quintessential fortune cookie. The combination of soy sauce, peanut oil, veggies, and other tastes never fails to make me feel content.

I’m grateful for the deliciousness of Chinese food and for it’s ability to transport me to a different country as I eat that delicious food with chopsticks. Thank you to that culture for creating one of the best take-out options available to us all in the states. I might order the same thing all the time, but trust me: you rock.

No. 26: Ice Skating

I’m typing this as I watch the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships on NBC. Ice skating is something my mom and I watch every year, and it’s one of our favorites during the Winter Olympics.

To those with the talent to do triple lutzs and with the ability to trust someone as they lift you high up into the air, bravo. I could never imagine being able to do that, a true testament to the time, energy, and perseverance that goes into the sport of ice skating. And I’m really, really grateful for a sport that includes music, an element that is so critical in figure skating.

I’m grateful I get to watch ice skaters do all of these amazing tricks and moves, and for a sport that inspires us as we watch to dream big.

No. 25: Oreos and Peanut Butter

Let me get this out of the way first- The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version of course) is one of my absolute favorite movies. I have it ready to go on my DVR, on VHS, and on my laptop. I never, ever fail to watch it whenever it is on regular television. And if you’ve been lucky enough to know me for any amount of time, there’s an infamous story involving a certain someone shaving her bangs after trying to imitate the scene where Hallie cuts Annie’s hair (not saying any names……).

And so of course, I love the scene where Hallie and Annie begin to bond in the isolation cabin over a few photographs and the snack that is quintessential to the movie: Oreos and Peanut Butter.

I had this snack last night. In fact, whenever there are Oreos around I immediately look for the peanut butter to accompany it. The taste is amazing (at least to me), but I think it’s more about reliving one of my favorite movies and feeling, just for a moment, that I’m part of that great movie.

I’m grateful to you, Oreos and Peanut Butter, for letting me relive my childhood and one of my favorite movies. And also for being the perfect dessert on a stormy day.

(Okay, yes, that name is Natalie).

No. 24: Rain

I love rain.

This shouldn’t be a surprise if you know how much I love water- and I mean it, I LOVE water. If you’ve ever heard me obsess over it’s texture, taste, and/or color, then I’m sorry. Really.

But with that, I love when it rains. I love how cozy and sleepy it makes me feel, how it makes me want to do the stereotypical order a coffee and read a book, and how it makes me feel serene regardless of what is going on in my life.

I also love thunderstorms. One of my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother is when they are stuck in Barney’s apartment because of Hurricane Sandy. While I don’t love hurricanes and all the turmoil they bring, I honestly love looking outside and seeing the beginnings of a storm.

I don’t love when it’s blustery enough for your umbrella to almost snap in half (true story), but I’m grateful for rain and all the vibes it gives. Thank you for all you do.

No. 23: Fundraisers

For those of you who don’t know, I currently work at an all-women’s college in their development office. Let’s just say, today really opened my eyes to how much work goes into fundraising.

It’s not a fundraiser’s sole job to raise money. While money is the ultimate goal, what I love about it is the relationships: being able to connect with someone over a shared passion for an institution. In my case, I personally love the idea of geek-ing out with someone over our love for the arts and feeling a sense of fulfillment when that person can make an impact on something I personally love.

While I’m unsure about whether I will pursue this as a career in the long run, I can definitely say with no hesitation that nonprofit fundraisers are some of the most hardworking people. It is an art form in and of itself, and I’m so grateful to be learning from such an amazing team in my current position.

No. 22: My Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday (don’t worry, I won’t tell you how old she is- in fact, she forgot how old she was turning just a few weeks ago).

My mom can be tough. You don’t even want to be around me and my mom when we are discussing something political. Trust me on that. And don’t get me started on her lecture on being in school- she’s steadfast about it, even if the thoughts are unsolicited.

But with that, she’s a true giver. When I was in high school, she always volunteered to make food for all of my marching band/musical activities, and she was always a homeroom mom throughout the entirety of my elementary school days. She has driven countless miles for me and my friends to take us wherever we wanted, and even made sure I was on schedule to get from my SAT exam in West Deptford to Clearview that afternoon for a marching band competition.

I’ve had a lot of friends, especially in high school, tell me “I wish my mom was like your mom”. When I heard that back then, I was a typical teenager who was very much perplexed and who desired a little bit more freedom from her as a parent. But now, I realize I wasn’t as grateful as I should have been to have her be such an active part of my life. She has sacrificed so much to make sure I was safe and happy, something a lot of other parents fall short at, and I am really, really grateful I have her as my mother.

Thank you, Mom, for all that you’ve done over for me and my brother over the past 23+ years. Happy birthday!