Thoughts on The X Files

The X Files was probably the first show I fell in love with. It was on a school field trip somewhere (I honestly have no recollection where) and an episode played on the tiny bus televisions. It was my first time. I was hooked.

Back then, it came on Sunday nights at 10pm (maybe 9pm? Who can remember?), which means by the time I caught on to it, the rest of the country had, too, because it had been moved from it's death-by-timeslot initial night of Friday. And after that bus trip, I became obsessed with it. The thing is, it wasn't even necessarily about the aliens or conspiracies (though those helped); it was about Mulder and Scully. Their multi-layered relationship was pure brilliance. I knew they were in love, because Scully would quickly glance back and forth between Mulder's eyes and his mouth, seemingly unconsciously. (I recently read an interview with Nathan Fillion where he tells his Castle co-star Stana Katic that she does that to him on camera, too, which is true. She claimed to not realize she did it. Either way, it works.) It was about the two of them - how they interacted, their body language, their longing glances. Yes, I am still one of those people who believes that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny belong together. It's why I never took to Tea Leoni. (Sorry, Tea, it's nothing personal.)

A few holidays ago someone - maybe my brother? - bought me one of The X Files mythologies DVD sets and it was incredible to watch from beginning to end. So incredible, in fact, that I splurged and bought the complete series on DVD. Tonight I pulled out Season 6, episodes 3 and 4 (both sort of stand-alone episodes, which I wanted, rather than mythology eps). And you know what? I still love love love the show, but it's pretty clear now, in retrospect, that it's not perhaps the finest television ever created. Most of the scenes are too dark (in the literal sense - I often can't see what's happening on screen), and occasionally Mulder has a line that is utterly cringe-worthy.

But still. The components that I watched it for back in the 90s are still there, and still why I will love the series forever. And it made me think -- they're the same components that make me love my favorite books. I can overlook flaws when the relationships are there, and when the author has made me care deeply about the characters. I can overlook a bad line or two of dialogue, or a muddled scene, if I'm still finding new layers to the characters.  And yes, I am willing to overlook aliens in Mulder's apartment and an implanted chip in Scully's brain, just like I'm willing to overlook a book based on kids who get sent to kill other kids while a nation watches on live television*. Because I need to know how all those characters survive. I care about them.

*Omg. Are Katniss and Gale the new Scully and Mulder?

Ode on a chocolate microfiber couch

Mary Oliver's "Spring Azures" is one of my favorite poems of all time; there's a line in it that I think of, and repeat to myself, often. Last night was one of those times. When Kel and I moved in together three (?!?!? Has it been that long since my twin sister moved to New York?) years ago, we first bought a little futon thing to tide us over until we found a cheap couch we liked. Eventually, we succumbed to an Ikea piece - black and white striped, so cute! - that was, simply put, fine. It was fine in all aspects of the word.

Fast forward to summer '09. One day the right side of the couch felt a little lower than it used to; a few days later, I sort of slumped into it and was practically sitting on the hardwood floors. When we tried to examine the damage, it was clear: the couch was broken.

But you see, we were sort of in flux - Kel was considering a move back to DC, I was considering leaving NYC altogether to go find a solitary hut on the beach - so neither of us wanted to spring for a new couch. We'd make do.

I am embarrassed to tell you how bad it got. Like, I'm 30 years old. I should have a non-broken couch in my apartment. I hated even looking in my living room, the couch was so painful. Kel and I would watch The X Files Abduction Mythology (kudos to whoever bought me that, bee tee dub) whilst sitting in contorted, ridiculous positions on that couch; I stopped Netflixing because I didn't feel like watching movies in the living room anymore. FOR SERIOUS.  So in December I sprung for a new one; it arrived in January.

Never let anyone dismiss the importance of a real, working couch in one's life, especially if one is a tv/movie watcher and book lover whose favorite activity on a snowy day is to snuggle up on said couch with a quilt hand-sewn by one's grandmother and watch the city drown in ice. NEVER underestimate the comfort a couch can bring, particularly when one had been avoiding - seriously! avoiding! - one's living room in favor of one's bedroom just to watch some television in comfort. I mean, truly, this new couch has changed the entire feel of my apartment, and my viewing and sleeping habits, for the better.

Screeching back to Mary Oliver for a moment, she says:

Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy, and all the tricks my body knows — the opposable thumbs, the kneecaps, and the mind clicking and clicking —

don't seem enough to carry me through this world and I think: how I would like

to have wings — blue ones — ribbons of flame.

She goes on (and seriously, read it, it's a singular poem of importance for me), but my point about the couch is, there are moments when I feel a profound sense of gratitude for beds, floors, couches, chairs, simply for being able to withstand the pressures of people depending on them. Because I, too, have moments where the bones of my body feel too heavy, that I can't believe anything could support them. I came home very tired last night, and I sat on my beautiful new couch (did I mention it's a sectional? And it has STORAGE contained within it? Did I?), and thought: this couch is carrying me. And that is something to behold.