About Mari Andrew

Mari Andrew dreams of someday owning a dishwasher. She accidentally moved to DC a year ago, and has been pleased with the results. She blogs about her feelings at ytupaltatambien.blogspot.com.

In Which I Justify My Netflix Recommendations

Netflix seems to have a lot of opinions about my life, but I appreciate that they are posited without judgment. “Mari, you’ve been watching a lot of Feel-Good Teenage Dance Romances recently. Try these!” the homepage greets me. Unless I get a really flattering recommendation–“Cerebral French Documentaries About Arcane Historical Subjects,” for instance–I feel the need to explain myself. Here are my explanations:

Dysfunctional Family Dramas

My anecdotal research suggests that there are two types of people when it comes to art appreciation: those who see art as an escape, and those who see art as a mirror. I’m on Team Mirror. I know a lot of people who only really enjoy action, sci-fi, thriller, and fantasy movies–the ones that don’t look anything like normal coffee-drinking jeans-wearing public-transportation-taking life.

I recognize that many of those movies have powerful universal themes, but I’m not as interested in powerful universal themes as I am watching characters who look and act like people I know and give subtle insight on the complexities of relationships and decision-making through quiet dinner conversation in the foreground of a melancholy soundtrack. I get that Lord of the Rings, for example, has a lot to say about death and community and courage and teamwork, and I appreciate that. But Mrs. Doubtfire has insight on some more immediately pressing matters in my life–changing my hairstyle, for instance.

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The Jobs I Don’t Put On My Resume

Tap Dance Teacher
 
It was May in Chicago. I was about to start the 4-5-year-olds tap dance class. In the lobby, a woman was reading I Know a Rhino to a little girl named Ruby, whose mom usually brought her to class. I noted that in her bag were the most tender, sweet little flowers. They looked like bitty bells attached to a thin wispy stem. “What are those beautiful things?” I asked. The stranger Ruby-related woman was enthusiastic to answer as I was enthusiastic to wonder: “Lily of the Valley!” she replied.
She explained that Lily of the Valley, which I always expected to be some grandiose, melodramatic sort of flora, is actually the small bit of beauty that grows alongside peoples’ lawns. She told me that if you cut just a couple stems and put them in a bud vase, they will smell your entire apartment up with fresh ambrosial abundance.
“This is your reward for hellish winters,” said the woman. “I’m Ruby’s aunt, from California–we don’t get these. They only grow in extreme temperatures, after a harsh winter.”
Business English Teacher

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The Miracle of Baking Bread

I have one of those Creuset pots (in green, I’m sure you’re wondering), which is the only nice piece of kitchenware I have. Everything else is a hand-me-down stained with burns and age. I got it for the sole purpose of baking bread–I actually don’t know what else to use it for. It sits there on my shelf looking so heavy and rustic, like a prop in a Bruegel painting that can only make rich food for working peasants–rabbit stew or Cornish pasty filling or something.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the wonders of baking bread. You are fully aware. But here’s one more: baking bread is a really nice thing to do when you feel powerless. It’s an especially nice thing to do when you feel powerless and you’re broke. You can make bread out of dust and a few pennies, and it feels like you’ve really accomplished something. You made something beautiful, you’re nourishing yourself, you can even give it as a gift. It tastes much more luxurious than it really is. It’s sustenance.

It fulfills a human and personal need of mine: to produce results. There are so many ways this impulse manifests itself in my life–shopping, for example. “Look what I found,” is a great and unfortunate satisfaction. Social media certainly taps into this need–“look where I was,” “look what I have,” “look what I saw,” “look whom I’m with.” Here are the results of my experiences, right here before your eyes. See? You can look at it, you can touch it.

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Literary Crushes

The fact that a person doesn’t actually exist has never stopped me from falling in love with them. The earliest example was my crush on Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, then the sexy cynical Sean from Boy Meets World, who competed for my heart with the well-mannered Sam from Clarissa Explains It All. As a world class geek, fictional characters from books also wooed me long before any living breathing man did. Here were my imaginary boyfriends from literature: Continue reading

The Mount Pleasant Show: Recurring Cast

One of my favorite things about cities is that they are really just a bunch of small towns lumped together, connected by trains that run underground.

At least, that’s how it feels to me. I’ve never lived in a small town, but I have seen every episode of Gilmore Girls, so I get the idea. It’s quaint, right? And there are quirky townsfolk whom everyone seems to know? And it has an official troubadour? Yep, see, I got this.

Mount Pleasant is a particularly small-towny neighborhood in northwest Washington DC. Not only does it have a cute small-towny name, but it has a small-towny square with a gazebo, small-towny tree-lined streets of bungalows, and small-towny characters who would make for a charming opening credit montage in the Sunday night family drama centered around a bunch of flawed but lovable dreamers just trying to make it in the city, one latte at a time. Here are my favorite peripheral cast members in the network original series that I fancy my life to be: Continue reading