A few weeks ago, I decided to check out a local yoga studio for the first time. I got into yoga when I was sent home from college during the pandemic and felt stuck. What started with a YouTube recommendation for a Yoga with Adrienne video and a bit of curiosity turned into a regular practice and skill that I wanted to continue.
In a world where life feels like it is constantly moving, yoga offered a time where I never felt like I had to rush.
I’ve never been super flexible, and it was definitely challenging at first. The virtual instructors early on said that yoga is great for everyone because you can practice at your own pace. My positions were not supposed to be exact replicas of what I saw on the screen, especially as a beginner. I went through each to the best of my ability and moved gently from pose to pose. I loved how yoga focused on the breath combined with motion and mindfulness. Mindfulness is awareness of what you are sensing and feeling at the moment. It’s so easy for me to get so caught up in all the tasks I have to do that I forget to take a breath and appreciate where I am right now.
Once I watched my first yoga video, I quickly found out that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out anytime soon. YouTube offers a yoga video for from five minutes to over an hour, any mood you’re in, and all skill levels. Yoga isn’t the best to do on the carpet, so I bought a mat pretty early.
One year later, yoga is still a good go-to whenever I want to relieve stress, get some exercise in, take a break from schoolwork, or just relax. In college, when it feels my work is never done, it is nice to start a yoga or exercise practice. I can let go of my thoughts and worries about the day and focus on my breath and the movements of each pose. Sometimes, I would take a 5-10 minute yoga break during the day and my mind feels more clear and I feel so much less tense.
Once I got back to my college dorm, it was a little more difficult to let go of thoughts of school, but even if I’m stressed starting out, I always feel better having completed practice and I get a boost of motivation to return to my assignments for the day. Yoga also helps me wind down at night or wake up in the morning.
I thought of trying out a studio at college for a while and heard they would be open in the Fall, but I kept putting it off. I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure what it would be like in person. One weeknight, I decided to check out a Vinyasa class at 5 pm. I walked into town and checked out the local studio, Broad Street Yoga. I saw warm candlelight fill the square studio windows as I walked up to the studio from the darkening street. A woman with flowing brown curls and bubbles around her was painted on the window.
I went to check-in and then walked into the back room. The floors were long dark hardwood and candles and a small speaker rested at the ends of the room. The room was a little warm, but not hot. About halfway through the lesson, it got hotter and our instructor asked if we’d like to turn the fans on. Our yoga instructor began with stretches and we went through each phase with our breath, counting down from five each time. I had worried a little before that with other people in the room, I would feel self-conscious or it would be harder to lose track of my thoughts and focus on the movements. But with the candles, wide-open space, and the gentle voice of our instructor, I felt more mindful of my movement through each pose than I had in my (sometimes messy) college dorm and my living room at home.
Yoga also feels so nice. The stretch felt great after a long day of classes, and I was a little sore afterward, but not too sore. The class was an hour, which was longer than I usually did for online classes, and it felt like a perfect time slot. By the end of the session, I had gotten lost in the movement and gentle music playing in the back right corner. College worries were out of my mind for an hour. I walked back to my dorm feeling less stressed, peaceful, and happy. The people that were there with me were kind and understanding. We talked a little before and after the session and it was nice to have company going through a class with me.
Some of the stretches required a lot of flexibility and balance, and I did drop my foot a couple of times only to stand back up again. My instructor told me that “if you’re doing your best, you’re doing it right.” It helped me feel better. Every time I tried a pose and wished that I could balance longer or in a harder pose, I knew there was an opportunity to improve through further practice. After a few months, these poses would be more familiar and I’d be able to hold them longer and with more ease, but they’d still be challenging. There are a few modified poses too that require a little less balance if you’re not comfortable with the more difficult ones. I still do modified poses when the first pose seems less doable. That’s a nice thing with yoga, all levels are welcome, and even experts can get a good workout after a long session.
I also learned that there are many different types of yoga. I took a Vinyasa class, which I had been more familiar with when I watched online videos, which focuses on breath-work and motion. Vinyasa yoga classes typically switch up the poses throughout the sequence in a continuous flow. The Vinyasa keeps life moving and I love how no sequence is exactly the same.
I think I’ll be back at the yoga studio on Broad Street and I’ll keep looking at online videos. Broad Street Yoga also records lessons to be put on Zoom if you’re unable to visit in person. Either way, yoga has been rewarding and I’d say if you get the chance, check out a local yoga studio, a yoga video on YouTube, or just look up some poses online. If you’re interested in Broad Street Yoga, check out the schedule on their website: https://www.broadstreetyoga.com/schedule
Have you ever visited Broad Street Yoga or tried yoga before? How did you like it? Do you have a favorite way to chill either on a busy day or just whenever? Let me know in the comments!
Why I Can’t Get Over “I Am Not Okay With This” Ending
As Stranger Things Season 4 rolls around, I find myself missing a good superpower-themed show. I heard about I am Not Okay with This on Netflix a while ago. I didn’t get around to watching it until this November. After watching the first season, I am not okay with this show ending. The show begins with Sydney Novak, Sophia Nills, an unpopular 17-year-old who discovers that she has telekinesis a year after her father’s death. She recently started high school in a Pennsylvania town.
Fun Fact: the show was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the bowling alley, Baden Bowl, is near the town I grew up in. Surprisingly, there are quite a few shows that take place in Pennsylvania, but I haven’t seen many filmed near me.
Sydney recently moved to live a pretty normal life. She skips football games and hangs out with her best friend and fellow new kid Dina. Syd’s pretty chill with that, she loves spending time with Dina, and the popular kids are huge jerks. She watches her little brother after school. She is also grieving her father’s death and has a difficult relationship with her mother. Her world starts to erupt when her best friend tells her that she is dating the popular football player Brad Lewis. Sydney then starts hanging out with her neighbor Stanley “Stan” Barber.
Sydney’s story is compelling from the start. The show starts with her walking through the streets in a fancy dress covered in blood.
The show is not subtle being a teenager and having a superpower is hard.
I Am Not Okay With This deals with themes like depression and suicide. Also, there is blood. If you put on the first episode, you will see the protagonist covered in blood–that is a warning.
The story stars Sydney Novak, played by Sophia Lillis. Sydney starts the story off pretty snarkily.
Dear diary, go f*** yourself.
Just kidding, I don’t know what to write in this stupid thing.”
This sums up her character pretty well. She is sarcastic and sometimes cynical on the outside. On the inside, she feels alone and has no idea what she is doing–she is not sure how to tell people either. She puts up a bit of a front and, she’s not a jerk. Syd is a grieving teen who is figuring it out just like everyone else.
She looked familiar, and I found out that she played Beverly Marsh in IT and was not surprised. I, unfortunately, have not seen IT yet, but from what I can tell…she fits the horror/supernatural genre well. Her character experiences a wide range of emotions, and her acting was terrific.
The supporting actors were wonderful as well. I loved Stan–the man has a killer fashion sense and is hilarious. The first awkward interaction between Stan and Sydney cracked me up. They begin as neighbors who make small talk occasionally but never hang out. He awkwardly asks if she wants to hang out and get high and, Syd watches this odd guy with shock, confusion. What is this guy? Because Dina suggested that she also find a date for the homecoming dance, she agrees.
Spoilers Ahead- Warning!
If you dislike seeing (some) spoilers before watching as much as I dislike Brad, I’d suggest reading this post after you watch.
I was into the show from the first scene; it looks awesome. The vibes are immaculate. The whole time, I kept wondering about the origin of Sydney’s powers. After all, she seems to be the only character in this story with them. Her abilities kind of come out of nowhere, and it is great. Her powers come out when she feels overwhelming emotions. Where do they come from? What will happen next? We do not get all the answers, but I felt pretty shocked by what I found out. The ending was pretty satisfying in an incomplete sort of way.
I liked how Syd’s powers were a sort of metaphor for her dealing with depression, anxiety, grief, and figuring out her sexuality. Sydney feels alone, and she’s grieving without many people to support her.
Being a teenager is rough. The show shows us all the worst parts of high school, the ones we’d rather forget, the ones that make us want to curl into a ball and cry. There are bullies, boring classes, and detentions, but friends make it a little easier. It was also nice to see actual teenagers playing high schoolers. The show feels realistic that way.
It is like Stranger Things, but a little more mature and dark. Sydney starts as a loner whose crush and only friend ditches her to hang out with her boyfriend, but by the end of the story–she has a trio and a potential girlfriend on the horizon. It was great to see Syd, Dina, and Stan hanging out. Knowing she has friends to support her as she moves forward with what she knows about herself and her family was great to see.
I loved Stan and his dynamic with Syd. There are not many shows where a guy and girl are just friends, and I liked how things were pretty chill for them. The homecoming scene reminded me of Pretty and Pink a little bit, the lights and the dance, and Molly Ringwald has a similar haircut. Stan reminded me of Ducky a little bit. He is funny, sweet, and an outcast, a perfect friend to mock football games with Syd.
The 1990s and 1980s aesthetics interweave throughout the story–like Stranger Things. Both have a similar premise, but I Am Not Okay with This is darker and more realistic. Stranger Things plays to the nostalgia and the family dynamics go smooth enough. I Am Not Okay With This also jumps straight into the drama and hard feelings about high school. I also liked how the show focuses on a small cast of characters. If the show continued, they could have developed the characters further, and it could have been something special.
I did like the modern update too. Stan is such a good friend to Sydney. He genuinely cares about her and thinks it is freaking awesome that she has superpowers. Although she is unsure what to make of him, Sydney grows to like Stan as a person and friend. Stan is strange, but he is also unapologetically himself and pretty content with life. Sydney can learn from him in that way. I loved how their friendship continues and goes back to normal even after Sydney says she likes Dina.
Sydney and Dina
Speaking of romance, her relationship with Dina is so wholesome. Both characters seem like they have their person. A significant other is does not complete you or make your problems go away, but they are loving and supportive and the best person for you.
Dina helps Syd out of her shell and makes her so happy. Sydney is so closed off, sarcastic, and quiet. Energetic, sweet, and fun-loving Dina seems like a perfect match for Sydney. I like how their relationship builds slowly, but I could have seen less of Brad–the moments where the two of them are together are small but beautiful.
She keeps me laughing, even when I want to melt to the floor.”
I wish the show continued, so we could see them more as a couple and get to know Dina better. On the bright side, Brad pretty much sucked– and I am glad he is gone. He was the worst kind of jock guy on TV and treated women like tissues. He keeps using them and then picks up another one. He has plenty of lovely lines like–when he talks to Syd for the first time,
Jesus, do you ever smile?”
The ending was satisfying but also gross and disturbing as it should be.
I read that the writers did not want romance to be the end-all-be-all for the characters. The family relationships are well-developed and dynamic.
Her mother, Maggie, for instance, has been through hell. She lost her husband and now works a full-time job as a waitress to support her family. Working long hours in customer service is rough, especially if you have coworkers who always call off and make you cover their shifts. It is still disappointing watching her ignore her children’s grief and Sydney’s anger towards her. Her children lost their father too, and they are all struggling. I understand that she is grieving and frustrated. I do. But one line she says made it hard for me to sympathize with her, at least at first. It is the one scene where the two sit on the couch and talk, the one time her mother isn’t running around or off to work. Syd tells her mother: “Sometimes, I feel like the people I love don’t love me back.”
Syd says this to her mom after a fight with Dina, but it applies to everyone in her life. Sydney is thinking of Dina a little, but she mostly thinks of her mother in this scene. The mother always seems judgemental and seldom seems loving. Her mother criticizes her while constantly needing her support. She never gets anything in return and the fact that Maggie can’t see that hurts. She is a kid seeking reassurance from a parent, desperate to hear that people (she) love her, that she is important. Her mother hits her back with “Well, maybe you’re aiming too high, hon.”
Sometimes, I feel like the people I love don’t love me back.
Well, maybe you’re aiming too high, hon”
Maggie’s words feel like a raw knife in the back. Man, it is brutal out there.
Syd’s mom sucks here, but I don’t think she said this to spite her daughter. She and Syd end up bonding later before the dance. She helps Syd get ready and, she talks about dancing with Syd’s father at a high school dance and feeling like she knew he was the one. Her actual marriage didn’t live up to the fantasy. She mentions how Syd’s Dad wasn’t present even when he was home–he hid in the basement and kept things from his wife. After we hear about her father’s situation at the end, I can’t even imagine what must have been like for both of them. Syd maintained a loving image of her father, which was for the best. Maggie seems like she was going through this all alone and didn’t have anyone to confide in. So they all grieved his death alone.
She feels like the hope in love she felt in high school was aiming too high. Her marriage never measured up to the early parts of her relationship. There were times where she did not feel loved by her husband; I understand her cynicism. She is not completely closed off though. In that last scene with her daughter, Maggie tells Syd about when she went to a dance with Sydney’s father and felt like she just knew that he was the one. She seems hopeful that Sydney will experience a love like that too. Maggie never apologizes for her words earlier, but she is trying to be better, more present. Maggie starts to see that there is hope for her daughter, and her as well, after all.
Sydney’s younger brother was also a great addition to the cast. He and Sydney have a pretty good relationship. They annoy each other, and he makes weird mac and cheese, but they have each other’s backs. When she hears Richard making fun of her brother, she goes off:
“Well, let me tell you something. One day, it’s all gonna go downhill, buddy. Your life will be so pathetic, you’ll attend high school reunions because you know what? Nothing else is ever gonna happen for you in your entire life. Yeah, you won’t even have a dog!”
If that isn’t a great roast, I don’t know what is.
The aesthetic is also pretty cool. The show references to its predecessors and includes references and fashion, and I am here for it.
I really liked the last episode, the show builds one conflict the entire series, and the payoff is so satisfying. Will Syd follow the same patterns her father did? Will she break the cycle and use her powers for good? The hooded figure shocked me to the core. I expected Syd to end up alone. He seems pretty helpful, but he could be a secret villain. Both of those sound fantastic. He probably knew her father and holds similar powers and realizes that she needs someone to help her learn to control them. Sydney needs a guide to help with her powers, beyond Stan’s comic books, which are appreciated but not necessarily helpful when you just blew a guy’s head off at homecoming. At least she doesn’t have to process this alone.
Most of the show is Syd slowly realizing her powers. This is a huge event to grapple with clearly, and the stakes jump when someone shows up to help. The balance is pretty good at the beginning too. She gets angry and intense, and then we have teen drama or iconic moments.
The Show’s Portrayal of Theaphy
I have a kind of criticism. The story begins with Syd’s therapist telling her to keep a journal, and her narration is in a journal format. I was kind of surprised that therapy was not very present in Sydney’s story since it began with a therapist. Sydney sees a therapist at her school as she processes her father’s death. But she does not talk to her therapist much except to get the journal. Syd has to deal with her emotions alone so, she lashes out and boom powers. She would have to keep her powers a secret to a therapist unless she chose to tell them. A few recent shows portray characters going to a therapist and benefiting from talking to someone, and this show felt kind of regressive on the topic.
In This is Us and Never Have I Ever the therapists are characters of their own. Both Devi and Randall talk to someone to help process loss and trauma. Sydney’s therapist was pretty bad, but there are bad therapists out there. I guess it feels stereotypical. Syd has a bad therapy experience that says write your feelings down and, it will all be okay. I am going on a side rant, but it is a valid criticism of the show. Plot-wise, I get that she needed to be alone to go full telekinesis mode. Perhaps, they could have developed this more next season. Sydney could have used therapy to help process her father’s death and her emerging powers, even if she did keep them a secret.
Dina and Sydney a Complaint/Critique
I loved this story. The amount of character development and plot was paced well in such a short season. I also loved Stan, he was hilarious. I enjoyed all his scenes. I was disappointed that Sydney and Dina didn’t have more scenes together. We get to know Stanley Barber more than the girl Sydney is in love with, and I wish it could have been different. I guess I just wanted to see more of them. The scenes we saw were great, so showing her more would have made it better.
I wish Stan would have not had a crush on Sydney either. I loved his character and I wish he could have happiness at the end, whether he meets a new love interest or is happy another way– I wanted more. The cliche where the guy likes his best friend and she doesn’t like him back feels a little cliche. Haven’t we seen enough Ducky and Andies and Steve and Robins to last a lifetime? I didn’t mind this too much, and it made sense to the plot so this is a relatively minor complaint. It can be realistic, for sure. But just generally, close male and female friendships without romantic feelings would be great to see.
I Am Not Okay With This has a promising first season to what could have been a fantastic supernatural show. The ending has so many unanswered questions; there are so many ways this story could go next. How many other people have powers? Who was the hooded figure on the roof? Why do Sydney’s powers only come from anger and anxiety? Is getting revenge on people who do wrong ex: Brad, using her powers morally okay? There are so many ways this story could go.
I wanted to hear more about Sydney’s father and his life and how he discovered his powers. I wanted a happy ending for Sydney, Dina, and Stan, and it was, but there were so many unanswered questions. Diana and Sydney just started talking about their relationship. They had such potential to grow as a couple and Dina was hilarious. Where did her positive attitude come from, when did Sydney and her meet for the first time? Did Sydney like her right away? They could have been so good together.
I wanted to hear more Stanley Barber lines too, and maybe for him to find happiness–whether that be in a romantic relationship or whatever. So many of Sydney’s problems are left in the open. Like, how does she even process what happens next? The end was okay, I guess. I am not okay with how it just left me on a cliffhanger. I’m not okay that these characters’ lives are on a permanent hiatus and I will never know what happens to them. We’ll never know if that stranger was there to help and where Sydney goes moving forward. The portrayal of her mental health struggles was well done, and her performance felt real in a way I haven’t seen in too many shows like this. Another season where Sydney is processing through these events with the support of others could help many teens feel seen. Seeing her get out of a place of isolation and anger could have been an uplifting story.
I am disappointed yet again that Netflix canceled a great show. Although it was short, I enjoyed the first season and watched it all in one day. I recommend I Am Not Okay With This to anyone who loves the 80s and 90s aesthetic, dark comedy, family drama, and superhero stories. It’s a good show to watch on a break or in a day because it is so short. It flies by, but you will not regret watching. I am Not Okay with This takes place in the same universe as End of the F***** world, which could also be cool to check out if you are left wanting more. I’m watching it right now, and the humor is similar and dark. The review for season one might come out at some point.
A spoiler-free review of Tuca and Bertie Season One
If I were to describe the last 2 years, or maybe even the last 5 years in one word, I might go with surreal. Often life just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know why things happen the way they do. A worldwide pandemic is an event that only a movie like Contagion or the Simpsons could predict, and we’re still grappling with all this uncertainty.
Life can just be weird and events sometimes don’t make sense; I often wonder where I fit into it all, but nevertheless, here I am, embracing the absurd parts. Of course, other times, I get so wrapped up in habit and routine that life feels boring and predictable. I want silliness, oddness, and just to laugh again.
From snake busses, purple jaguars, careless plant teenagers, to bouncing boobs on buildings, Tuca and Bertie is a goofy show. If you’ve ever felt a craving for some more oddity, with some adult content, or if you’re just looking for a well-written animated sitcom, Netflix and Adult Swim have something for you.
Tuca and Bertie takes place in a world way more surreal than ours, it’s with a catchy theme song that juxtaposes their names. Tuca and Bertie are zany and bold as they wave their arms wildly to a catchy bop. Their theme song slaps, there, I said it. They’re both dancing around and doing their thing as they navigate the fun, stressful, and just plain absurd parts of life together.
The theme song is really fun, but to tell you the truth, the show gets dark. It’s not too sad, and it’s so good, I promise.
I discovered Tuca and Bertie partially by surprise. I had just completed the last episode of Bojack Horseman and felt completely wrecked. I’ll have more thoughts on this in other reviews, but basically, I simultaneously felt like I both never wanted to see anything that could make me feel things again and to dive into a new show to help me get over Bojack Horseman. I kind of wanted more Bojack too. Netflix kindly displayed a new program that seemed perfect. Tuca and Bertie were written and produced by Lisa Hanawalt, the animator of Bojack Horseman.
I found Tuca and Bertie more fun than Bojack, it deals with difficult topics at times, but Hanawalt’s show is nowhere near as bleak. Their world is bright and colorful and though Tuca and Bertie are so zany, their lives feel grounded and accessible. For me, it’s partially because the show is written from a female perspective. In adult cartoons and television generally, there aren’t a lot of narratives like Tuca and Bertie.
Creator Lisa Hanawalt said in an interview:
“I wasn’t consciously thinking, “How do I make this more relatable to women?” I was just writing stories from my own life, stories from my friends’ lives and things that I specifically haven’t seen in adult animation before. Like, that feeling when a plumber is in your apartment and you don’t know if he’s going to attack you or not. That’s really common for women.”
Tuca and Bertie isn’t a tale of the lives of Hollywood celebrities, they’re real people, well, birds, learning about themselves and their place in the world. In comparison with characters from a lot of adult animation shows, the characters in Tuca and Bertie seem pretty put together on the surface.
Typical of TV best friends, Tuca and Bertie are classic polar opposites. Tuca, played by Tiffany Haddish is fun, free-spirited, resourceful. She’s “friend, hero, connoisseur of snacks, confident but relatable, wearer of short shorts.” She sounds like the cool girl that I’d want to be friends with but would be a bit intimidated to approach her. But once that first conversation started, by her making a snarky comment and me bursting out into uncontrollable laughter, we would know this friendship was going to be one for the long haul.
Once a Tuca is in your life, she and all her belongings become utterly intertwined with your apartment and your heart. Tuca is confident and kind, and as you get to know her, you see she’s got insecurities as well. Tuca begins the show as a recovering alcoholic and fears being alone. She’s given a lot of depth and even if you’ve never been the life of the party, you’ll feel for her as the show goes on.
Bertie, voiced by Ali Wong, is the total opposite, she’s a total introvert who admires Tuca’s ease with talking to people. She’s equally awesome. She’s introduced as a “professional amateur chef, people pleaser, fuss bucket”, which sounds like she could be a little stuffy, but early on, we learn that Bertie’s behaviors stem from her anxiety. Bertie’s kind of living the dream that many of us crave in our twenties, she’s got a nice apartment with a supportive partner, an awesome best friend, and a job as a senior operations analyst for a magazine.
That being said, Bertie’s anxiety often dominates her life. Television is just beginning to show characters with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and Bertie is one of the few characters that portray anxiety well. She is hardworking and passionate, but her thoughts can spiral, and she makes mistakes and feels isolated and alone at times. She’s also super kind, a total introvert, and a lover of romantic period dramas– I can totally relate to that last part, I could rewatch BBC’s Prude and Prejudice all day, and some of her experiences with anxiety as well.
I’ll say it now, Hanawalt is fantastic at writing self-aware humor. Hanawalt makes jokes in scenes portraying Bertie’s anxiety without mocking or discrediting the character’s or anyone else’s experiences. Bertie is totally hilarious, and the show mocks anxiety itself, because it makes no sense at times. Anxiety isn’t an overreaction or done for attention, in fact, these feelings are often the last way an anxious person wants to feel, but here they are right in the middle of the work, a date, or the grocery store. Luckily, she has friends to be there during the worst moments.
Tuca, Bertie, and Bertie’s lovable boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yuen), have a fun and complex dynamic together. Friendship is weird sometimes, especially as we grow up, relationships shift in some ways and stay the same in others. We put value into our relationships with others while juggling life, work, and for some, romantic relationships that also require our energy and time. Friendship isn’t always dancing and rainbows and the show digs into the complexities of our relationships with one another, the role of a friend, and all the uncertainty and stress we experience as we figure out what we mean to each other.
The background is totally wack, the jokes are unapologetically bawdy at times, but it never felt gross or offensive. The style is fun and Hanawalt uses the drawing style to show some side commentary on the characters and effects.
Needless to say, Tuca and Bertie is a great show that explores complex and dark themes with care and humor. It made me laugh and grow to care for these two silly birds. On days when things felt totally surreal, I’d watch this show and feel a little less alone.
I’d recommend Tuca and Bertie to anyone who doesn’t mind adult humor. The show also references to anxiety, sexual assault, and harassment.
If you’re curious about learning more about the show’s creator Lisa Hanawalt and her perspective writing the show, I found an interview of hers on the first season
The Perusing Muse is a site where I look to culture as a means of understanding life and analyze what it says about living a meaningful one. In less overly philosophical mission terms, I analyze shows, books, movies, and comics that I like and talk about why I love them so much.