books and reading · chronic pain/fibromyalgia · Los Angeles · movies · television · women/feminism · writing

The Short History of a Fan Girl

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Confession: I am a total fan girl.

I love books. I love movies. I love TV. I love myself some stories. And I really love the good ones. As a kid in an abusive home, I also really needed the escape that came from being able to visit a world outside my own. It helped me survive. It helped me stay sane. It also gave me an impossible hope: that someday I would actually PHYSICALLY escape.

In my family turning 5 was exciting because you could sign up for your own library card.

I remember my aunt walking me into the Fort Washington Library branch of the New York Public Library and watching me sign my name on my first personal library card. And later, I remember my mom telling me that she had made it so that I could take books out of ANY part of the library, unlike my friends who could only take children’s books out.

This meant that by late elementary school and junior high school, I was reading authors H.G. Wells, Alice Walker, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Anne Rice on my own. I read so much I even won an award at school: two book covers from RIF: Reading is Fundamental that I treasured because my friends always had the cool ones while we could only afford to wrap my school books in brown paper bags.

In junior high school, I kept a thick 3″ binder “magazine” where I kept copious notes on all the upcoming TV shows and films writing my own blurbs for each one. My friends would pass around the binder giggling over photos of then teen heartthrobs Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood or nearly swooning while reading details about the upcoming Batman film.

I also kept a Mead composition notebook where I wrote soap opera style short stories my friends likened to mini-TV shows mixing ideas I got from Beverly Hills 90210 and the telenovelas I watched with my mother. I also wrote plays that my two sisters and I would put on for each other and friends who lived on the same floor. I kept notebooks filled with firs, very bad poetry and then very coded truthful ones about the violence at home.

My dream as a kid from the time I read my very first issue at age 10 was to work for Entertainment Weekly. The yearly subscriptions were so expensive at the time for us, especially what with being on welfare, but somehow my mom would make it work. I turned down an internship at the magazine’s website the same year I graduated from Fordham University because at $8 an hour, it wasn’t enough to take care of myself and the sisters I had recently kidnapped. I took a job at AOL that slowly crippled me because of my undiagnosed Ehlers Danlos Syndrome while reviewing films and DVDs on the side for Tail Slate: The Last Word in Movies.

Many Orthodox Jews do not watch TV or go to movies. Some don’t even have TV at home (and yes, this even includes many Modern Orthodox Jews). Some will watch on their computers but others don’t even have those at home and if they do have computers, still don’t. I couldn’t imagine living like that but my husband grew up with no  TV or limited TV. And his mother restricted what he could watch, read, etc.

On our early dates, I would introduce my future husband to all my favorite films and TV shows. We would binge-watch selections from my extensive collection. But when we moved to Los Angeles, we sold my TV to my rabbi and his family. I was so bereft, my father-in-law bought me one on sale at Cosco. And while I was pregnant with our son, my husband and his friend, a sound engineer for films, mounted a new flatscreen TV in our living room with a sound bar knowing that it would come to good use during late nights with what would be a very colicky, equally sleep deprived baby.

As an Orthodox Jew, I felt out of place with my love for fictional stories in every form. I was SUPER excited when a friend recently invited me to the Orthodox Ladies United in Fandom (OLUF). It is full of other Orthodox Jewish female geeks just like me from all over the world. And it is awesome.

This was all inspired by the second trailer for the Logan film with Hugh Jackman again starring as beloved X-men character Wolverine for the ninth and final time. I love superheroes, even anti-heroes, but that’s a story for another time.

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