Monday, January 19, 2009

Doctor Who?

I passed my winter break watching “Chuck” and “Doctor Who”. I have continued my “Doctor Who” education at school; when I find a spare forty minutes I indulge in an episode. People wonder what I do during my quick study breaks and when I reply “I have been watching ‘Doctor Who’” everyone nods their heads to acknowledge the statement, but the eyes do not register. They do not know The Doctor! It’s unfortunate that once I begin to love the show I move to a place that everyone is ignorant of the Time Lord.
Now I am sure I’ve confused everyone, so let me enlighten you…“Doctor Who” is a British TV show started in the sixties and continued on until the early eighties. After about twenty years without the Doctor, BBC revived the Time Lord and he has won his way back into British pop culture. The show revolves around an alien who travels through space and time in a spaceship that looks like a telephone booth. It sounds nerdy and it is. The show’s notoriously low budget makes the sci-fi subject matter ridiculous, but you cannot help but love the show.
This unhealthy obsession began during my stay in London. I wished to see Hamlet with David Tennant because he did a fantastic job in Love’s Labour’s Lost. The whole population of Britain wanted to see Hamlet because he is the current Doctor. These crazed fans intrigued me and I gave the Doctor a go. The first few episodes I remained skeptical at the ridiculous alien jargon and cheap filming. After awhile you become accustomed to the unusual flow of the show; then you’re hooked. I always made fun of my father for watching Sci-fi but it’s different with “Doctor Who”.
I understand the direction my nerdiness is going and quite frankly it scares me. Now I make connections and references to “Doctor Who” under my breath, When I try to explain my obsession, the concerned stares convince me that I’m slowly going mad…perhaps I need a doctor…and if David Tennant happened to be my doctor I would gladly become sick.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Culture Shock

Returning to America from the Middle East was a painful and long process of acclimating back to American culture. Compared to Jerusalem, British and American cultures seemed like kissing cousins, so I logically concluded it would be a quick transition. During Christmas break I experienced a few shocking moments in the mall when I spotted wife beaters, gold chains, grungy sweats worn in public and mullets –and we are not talking Euro Mullets but legit down to your butt cuts- and after this I decided I could handle American culture mullets and all. I was wrong; for under the umbrella of American Culture lies a subculture which I did not account for: “the Bubble of BYU”.

Brigham Young University is a unique campus, besides the obvious high levels of chastity and sobriety. The culture shock I experienced sinks a bit deeper, deep into those dark roots of the Utah platinum blond. They may be hard to spy at times due to excessive ratting which provides a shield. The culture shock lies within the orange finger painting foundation and smoky eye shadow. I have became accustomed to the dapper old British men in their argyle, the businessmen in sharp suits and ties, women wearing eclectic and chic ensembles and the casual Brit still sporting cords or nice trousers with a smart jumper. Instead I see one to many ugg boots paired with nondescript sweaters and the more homely unadventurous shirt and jeans which hang limply swallowing up the wearer.

I felt so comfortable in London because both the Brits and I am private and somewhat cold people. So, when fifty or so people I do not know smile at me while I walk on campus it makes me uneasy. My only response is to set my eyes to the pavement and hope I get to class safely. Smiling at complete strangers could be construed as a wonderful uplifting gesture, but to me it’s a bit creepy. It does not stop at awkward lip splitting smiles…it continues into awkward greetings and conversations. While waiting outside of my French classroom with fellow students a passing engineering major –I’m assuming his major because we were in the engineering building and his lack of social skills and nerdy persona could only be an engineering major- asked us what class we were waiting for and we replied French. A minute later he walked back the other direction and attempted to speak every cliché French phrase he could think of, but he did not speak to us, he muttered loudly under his breath while scurrying by.

I adore British dry and sarcastic humor. At BYU humor revolves around the one thing all students share: being Mormon. However, everyone around me seems to find these jokes hilarious. This convinces me that students either do not know what clever wit is or they simply have become desensitized to good humor. While at family home evening we were going around in a circle introducing ourselves and when someone asked a boy in a group if he and his roommate knew each other before, he replies “in the pre-mortal existence”. The shocking part was not the reply but the response: people laughed. I wish I could say they laughed out of pity but these were genuine giggles. While everyone shared this hilarious moment my mouth dropped open in horror.