SOA is ruining my life

JR and I have very different taste in TV shows, so it’s very rare to find a show we both want to watch. I love reality shows – from the really good, like The Amazing Race and Survivor, to the really bad like Teen Mom and Real Housewives of Orange County. He prefers the History Channel and Archer. We’re always on the lookout for a new show we can watch together, and it’s especially nice if it’s a series that is complete or almost complete and we can binge watch the whole thing whenever we want. Thank goodness for Netflix and Hulu!

We’ve watched The Wire, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, and Dexter and quite a few others this way (out of all of them, we both agree that The Wire is one of the greatest ever.) Several friends and family members raved about the FX show Sons of Anarchy, so it’s been on our “to watch” list for a while now. We started it in December and it’s basically been ruining my life ever since.

I won’t post any spoilers, in case anyone wants to watch the series someday – but I highly recommend you skip it. I’ve come to hate every character on this show. Like, literally hate them and think about them long after I’ve turned off the TV, which maybe says more about me than the series. If we watch it just before bed, I usually have some awful violent nightmare (this was especially true when we watched the first few episodes of Season 5). I even hide my eyes (and sometimes my ears) during the worst scenes, but the entire show is just so, so violent. Except when they’re having a shootout, because for criminals, they are the worst shots in TV history. I probably have better aim than all of them, which is says a lot considering I’ve only shot a gun once. No one ever gets hit in these scenes, so when they come on JR and I are usually laughing because they’re that bad.

There is nothing believable about the show. I mean, I don’t know a lot about outlaw motorcycle gangs, but the storylines are totally absurd and with so many new gangs and bad guys introduced each season, it’s often hard to follow (and to care). The characters do and say the STUPIDEST things. Most episodes end with Jax promising the club, or his wife, that they are all safe and things are going to get better – which of course it NEVER does.

My friend Erika and my cousin Jolene both watch the show, so I frequently text them when I’m getting upset. Here are some of my recent texts:

“SOA is killing me.”
“I’m beyond stressed. This show is stressing me out.”
“I hate Gemma with a fiery passion.”
“My heart is racing. THIS CANNOT BE GOOD FOR THE BABY.”
“I seriously hate this show.”

Another reason this show has ruined my life is that I’ve loved the name Jackson for YEARS, and it’s one of the few names JR and I agreed on for the baby, partly because it’s a family name on his side. Thanks to the main character Jackson “Jax” Teller, we’ll never be able to use it now and keep a straight face. If it weren’t for my current condition, we’d make a drinking game out of watching and that might lighten things up. They say “bro” at least 10 times per episode and hug each other twice as much. JR and I have started asking each other “you need a hug, bro?”

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You may be wondering why I’m talking about a show I hate. That’s the worst thing about it -at this point I’ve invested so much time and energy that I have to see it through to the end. JR left on a work trip yesterday and told me I could finish it without him because he’s over it. I’m so frustrated with myself for not being stronger and quitting earlier but I can’t now, I’ve given the show too much of my life. So now I’m trying to just power through – yesterday I watched 5 ridiculous episodes – and think happy thoughts when it’s over. Maybe I’ll put on a Disney movie later or something.

In completely unrelated news, Amy and I spent a wonderful morning yesterday away from the TV running a few errands around town. We stopped by her favorite jewelry store, and the owner was in a celebratory mood because it was International Women’s Day and the 10th anniversary of him opening his shop. In addition to offering us a discount on our purchases, he convinced Amy to partake in some rakia (the local homemade liquor that doubles as paint remover) with him. I don’t know what made me laugh more – that he kept his rakia in a water bottle, or that Amy went for it at 10am. When in Kosovo!

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Junik

The head of JR’s agency here in Pristina (I’ll call her MD) graciously invited me to accompany her on a work trip last week to visit a number of sites receiving assistance from the U.S. government. I didn’t know much about where we were going or what we would be doing, but I was very excited to get picked up by her driver and have a chance to see more of Kosovo.

We drove almost two hours before arriving in a small municipality called Junik (pronounced u-nick). Along the way, MD gave me some background on the area and explained some of the projects and rebuilding they have been doing, and how the US has helped. Our first stop was a school that was opening a Professional Development Center, with new technology and equipment to train teachers and students. We were greeted by the Mayor and other city officials. The school children were so excited about the visit, and erupted with applause after each sentence when MD spoke. A small group also treated us to a dance perfomance.

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We went inside the new center where several students had prepared demonstrations for us, using their new equipment.

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We left the school and walked with the Mayor to the Citizens Service Center. This center is part of an effort to create transparency and effectiveness in the local government (you can read some more about the goals here: http://www.urban.org/center/idg/highlights/highlight_Municipality-Junik.cfm). There was another dedication and more speeches by MD and the Mayor. The citizens of Junik continued to express great appreciation to the US for all the assistance and support they’ve received to rebuild their community after the conflict in the late 90’s.

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More pictures from our tour.

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Next we visited the Regional Tourism Center. The building is called a kulla, which is a traditional style house of Kosovar Albanians. Kulla means tower in Albanian, and the buildings are typically made of stone and a few stories high. This particular kulla is a new build, because so many buildings in this area were destroyed during the conflict.

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We were invited to sit and eat in a traditional room and a wonderful lunch was prepared for us. We sampled a variety of Albanian food and enjoyed wine and more conversation with the Mayor about Junik’s development. (I was very concerned that at any moment, our hosts would start bringing out shots of Rakia, which is a very popular liquor in the Balkans. It’s quite common to finish off a meal with Rakia, but I have not yet developed an appreciation for it. Mostly because it tastes like you might imagine a combination of gasoline, vodka, and a hint of fruit would taste. Thankfully, there was no Rakia in sight).

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Our last stop on the official visit was to tour a blueberry and dairy farm. The owner was excited to show us his land, and his cows!

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It was such a nice day, and very interesting to see firsthand how the US has partnered with the Kosovo people to help rebuild local communities and improve the lives of its citizens.