It Gets Better?

One afternoon a couple of weeks ago I was accompanying my two-year-old son on a trip to our neighborhood playground. We pass a set of tennis courts on our way, and a mother was watching her tween daughter take a lesson as we walked by. A few minutes later, we passed her chair while headed in the opposite direction. Seconds after that, we passed her again. This went on about a half-dozen times because, as mentioned, my child is two and his favorite activity these days is Repetition. I glanced sheepishly up at the mom at one point and she smiled back.

“How old is he?” she asked.

“Two,” I answered.

“Don’t worry,” she replied. “It gets better.”

A day later, I was checking out at Trader Joe’s when the cashier, eyeing my toddler in the grocery cart, encouraged me to enjoy these days because they pass in the blink of an eye.

“This really is the best time,” he said. “You’ll look back one day and miss it.”

WHICH IS IT?! I wanted to scream at both of them. MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!

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Waiting for the Big One, Part Three

It’s February 1996. 14 year old Alison and her friends have been trapped by an earthquake in a remote Chinese gorge for three days. For the full story, check out Part One and Part Two.

The morning arrived slowly, cold and dim after an even colder night. Temperatures had dipped into the 20s, and Anna and I had spent the night huddled in thick cotton comforters by the fire. The guesthouse staff bustled around, bringing out more plates of fried rice for breakfast. I still couldn’t eat, sick with fear of the hike ahead and worry about my family. In the three days since the earthquake, we had no word on where they were and if they were still alive.

There were more than 20 soldiers to assist the twenty foreigners who’d been trapped in Tiger Leaping Gorge by the landslides covering the path out. Who knows what they had been told about our status; “teenagers in green pajamas” was what my dad always called the young People’s Liberation Army soldiers we’d see around the city. I had to brush away thoughts of my dad – if the ancient wooden town of Lijiang where my family was had been hit by an earthquake, who’s to say whether any building or anyone inside would survive? Continue reading

The Time of Don Draper

We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good. You gotta keep moving so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.–The Eleventh Doctor

This Palm Sunday heralded another, albeit secular, triumphal entry and beginning of an end: the first half of the final season of Mad Men. Last season, fans of the show watched powerless at main character Don Draper’s self-betrayal in front of his colleagues and the good people of Hershey’s and have spent the past year wondering what the ultimate salesman and self-regenerator will do now that he’s on indefinite leave.

(Courtesy of David Cole and Previously TV)

This fan has a confession to make: in the intervening months between seasons, bereft of that televisual obsession, I became hooked on Doctor Who. The BBC classic (and the new series) features another dynamic self-regenerator with an assumed name. Following a viewing of the 50th anniversary show, I became intrigued by how the Doctor in one of his incarnations made a decision that makes him, eventually, both a man who regrets and a man who forgets.

It reminded me of Don Draper. Don is a man who men want to be and women want to possess (or just sleep with). He’s a man with a stolen vehicle, the identity of the late Don Draper, who’s used it to run away and attempt a different life. The Doctor is another man with a stolen vehicle, who runs from his original identity. He is also beloved by men and women and described as “fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and can see the turn of the universe…and… he’s wonderful.” But one man keeps regenerating and the other degenerating. What will come of the time of Don Draper? Continue reading