A Madmen’s World – Impressions on Seasons 1 and 2 of Madmen

Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue
Don Draper of Mad Men works on Madison Avenue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine for a moment that it is the early 1960’s. You are a Madmen – an advertising account executive or copywriter. You chain smoke 2 packs of  cigarettes per day; this is a social thing and you offer a cigarette to your buddies or clients whenever you see them. You are aware that there is evidence telling people smoking is bad for them, but you and everybody else keep on smoking. You do not know that smoking gives you  black lungs and cancer – or that it will. Moreover, you drink as much as you smoke, hard liquor mostly but sometimes you add it to your milk or 7 up, just so they are palatable.  You are busy and sure of yourself. You get to create ads for such brands as Lucky Strike cigarettes, Playtex bras, Clearisel acne cleanser, Mohawk airlines, and President Nixon. Moreover, you like 20 something women, women who are not your usually your wife (you love/like her/hate her too but she has her place at home with the children) and because of all the women you work with, do business with, and meet in bars, you are not faithful to your wife. You do not have a conscience about this or little conscience; having a mistress or a fling with a secretary, well it’s just what madmen do, its part of the life style.These are my first impressions of the TV series Madmen that I have watched on Netflix these past couple weeks. I never found I had much interest in the show, besides the wonderful 1960’s fashion, but watching the episodes in sequence, getting into the story of the characters from the beginning,  I have become a  Madmen fan. Here are my thoughts and details on the two main characters of the show Don and Peggy:

Don Draper is an extremely interesting character. He is a successful shareholder and account executive at Sterling and Cooper, very successful, but his personal life, past and present, is a mess. Don has several mistresses and lovers, is a lady’s man, and never quiet seems happy unless he has an affair on the go. At the same time, he loves his wife Betty and their children, would never spank his children because his father spanked him hard. He would also never hit his wife. Don likes his conventional family in their beautiful suburb home but he is always looking for something else outside his family and job. Don has problems when he can no longer hide an affair from his wife, but he still keeps sleeping with other women despite this fact.

Don also believes in and gives Peggy, his secretary, a chance to write and eventually gives her, a job as a copywriter for women’s products on his creative team. He even visits her in the hospital when she is very sick. Don is a mess of conflicting character aspects. He is also very talented at his job and has a way of explaining advertising concepts to clients that really appeals to them. At the same time, he is also not really Don Draper at all. He hated, had a rough time, growing up with his family and when he is mistaken for a commanding officer ” Don Draper” after an explosion when he is in the Korean War, he leaves his old life behind and becomes a new man. When the real Don Draper’s wife comes searching for her husband, he even becomes friends with her. He cannot find a place for his little brother in his new life though, when he comes searching for Don in New York. The best he can tell his little brother to do is leave and gives him a few thousand dollars to start a new life. He is shocked when his little brother hangs himself, and feels remorse when all his old family is truly gone. Yes, Don, our hero, at Sterling and Cooper, is a very complicated person.

Another important character on the show is Don’s secretary Peggy. Peggy is hampered by the traditional role of a woman who is supposed to meet the perfect man in her twenties stop working as a “secretary” and be a stay at home wife. Peggy is smart though, and she wants more. She is also initially confused by the expectation of the men at the office for the secretaries to sleep with them, yet remain ‘pure’ for marriage. Peggy works hard at her job at the office to the point where she becomes a junior copywriter with her own office space, a better job then any other woman in the office has, and many men. Yet, Peggy is initially seduced, two times by Pete a copywriter in the office out to conquer the advertising world, and even becomes impregnated by him despite being on birth control. She becomes fat and does not realize she is having a baby until she gives birth and has a little break down. After giving the baby up to her sister and mother, she goes back to work confident that being a copywriter is what she wants to do. She could not be both a mother and have a career in the 1960’s, yet Peggy is bothered by the decision to give up her baby, cannot bear to look at him even. The religious implications of what she has done haunt her, yet she continues to thrive in the office and volunteer at church. She shocks Pete, who despite being married, tells her he loves her, when she tells him he got her pregnant and she gave the baby away. She allows nothing in the way of her career and she is only 22 years old.

There are many other interesting characters in Madmen, but I think these are the main two character storylines of the first and second season. The sacrifice both Don and Peggy make for their careers is amazing. The complexity of both Don and Peggy learning to deal in their separate worlds the best way they know how and sometimes the worst ways, are aided by the lifestyle encouraged in the advertising business. Drinking, smoking, sex, and fierce competition at Sterling and Cooper, forever alter, the way each character develops.

If you’ve never watched the show before I highly recommend it and  I will be back with updates and my thoughts of  seasons 3 and seasons 4, followed by seasons 5 and 6 of Madmen as I watch them this summer.

A Sunny Evening at the Taste of Edmonton

A Taste of Edmonton 2009
A Taste of Edmonton 2009 (Photo credit: Michael Kwan (Freelancer))

It’s around 10:00 pm and I’ve just returned from The Taste of Edmonton a second time. It is one of my favorite events in Edmonton in the summer time, the mixed aroma of all that delicious food in the air makes me happy. It is food comfort. It is also a comfort people watching. All the families, couples, groups watching them enjoy the many foods available in appreciation; no matter their age, way of dressing, or otherwise; the love of food brings people together. I am sitting by the city hall fountain surrounded by children playing in the water and eating their treats; it is a picturesque place to wait for my friends to arrive but alas, I get hungry go and buy some more tickets and buy a piece of cheesecake from Spaghetti Factory. Cheesecake is one of my favorites and I look forward to it each Taste of Edmonton. Once my friends arrive, we go in search of our favorite dishes, new and old. I point out some of my favorites from yesterday’s lunch: pineapple chicken and beef dumplings.
My friends choose some different desserts and menu items and I settle on Tirimisue for my final dish. It is so yummy. Then all three of us Tiana, Tara, and I save our remaining tickets for sangria and white and red wine. We settle down into some good conversation – wedding gossip, things we have been up to, just generally whatever. It has been a good night. The sun is sinking an interesting vocalist is singing old rock and roll hits from the 80 ‘s and 90’s. Holding 3 glasses of sangria I almost lose some I think. The crowd of people still walk and eat on the giant pad of cement that was once green grass and picnic tables. But it is a good time. I am happy to see my good friends; happy to be. It is the perfect temperature outside and comfortable inside the alcohol tasting tents. All too soon it is time to go home and I am left with the memory of one of those perfect summer nights where all seems well and the world stands still if only for a moment or a glass of sangria.

A Perfect Birthday

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...
Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I turned 27 and as I become older and older I find that birthdays have less significance, even though I think that everyone should be treated special and spoiled on their birthday no matter what their age. But what I mean that is after 21 there are no real important birthdays for a while. Maybe 30 will be big but even so it is just another stage of adulthood and we do not place emphasis on adult birthday’s such as we do on children’s birthdays or even young adult’s birthdays. Once you are officially an adult and can drink in the states, well that is it. Nonetheless, yesterday I felt like I had a really special birthday. A lot of my 18 to 20 something birthday’s have been good but I think this one stands out.

I started the day visiting my Baba with my mom and dad. My Baba sweet lady that she unexpectedly  told me that 27 ” is not so old” so I felt happy. And when your 80 something I guess that anything under 50 must seem quite young. But I did her nails and my mom dealt with some water issues she has had in her suite.  I had come that day not only to see my Baba but so that my mom could drop me off at West Edmonton Mall so that I could wait there for my boyfriend who was meeting me at 12 pm. My dad dropped me off at the mall at 10:40 am in the morning so I had some time to kill doing what else – shopping. Leaving a girl alone in that big mall with her credit card is a risky thing to do. At the same time I have become aware that I have shopped too much since spring; recently, even I have decided I have made enough clothing purchases to last me to the Christmas Sales with maybe the exception of the gift cards I have received on my birthday. This decision to save money and not shop so much after this month still left me a little time and money to shop in July. So I frugely picked up a pair of Lululemon groove crops (the one’s I had earlier this summer had a flaw and I was refunded a gift card), some make up I needed, and a couple bras I also needed. I have a couple of packages coming in the mail, and that is it for clothing spending then. But it was a nice way to spend an hour on my own looking in stores I usually do not look in, in a half empty West Edmonton Mall because it was a Monday morning. I was able to check into a few things I am considering already for Christmas presents such as beginning a Pandora (or copy Pandora) necklace or bracelet for my mom.

Once my boyfriend arrived (I convinced him to meet me a little earlier at 11:30 am) we had coffee and breakfast at Starbucks and just got to talk and for me that was really nice because my boyfriend is quite (at least in English his 3rd language)  and I really enjoyed spending time with him. Then we went to some of the stores he likes looking clothes in. He was looking for a T-shirt or pair of jeans that he likes. We did not find them but it is fun to shop with a guy who actually enjoys shopping (unlike my dad who will not set foot in a mall) and help him pick out clothes. Being a little taller than my height, skinny, but built, my boyfriend has a lot of options in men’s clothing. After, I got to hang out with for a few hours at his place and it was just nice being close and talking before he goes back to work for three weeks. Having a boyfriend a really nice and hot one well, that definitely makes a birthday special compared to other birthdays.

Once, I got home my family whom I adore, had a wonderful supper for me. Bacon wrapped chicken, half pieces of baked potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, strawberry and sliced almond salad with raspberry vinaigrette, and to top it off a big chocolate cake from Safeway that was so chocolatly and sweet and so decadent. I was stuffed. I got to open cards, make some of the money back I spent at Victoria Secret, and I also got a beautiful spring/fall coat from my mom and dad. My grandma also came and had a good time so I was happy and got to talk with her a bit.

At night I got to relax and read and realized I had had an extremely satisifying time that day and was blessed with energy to take part in everything I did. It is not so bad being 27. I think I will probably take that back some day in the next year, but for now at least it is a true fact.

I am looking forward to celebrating with my friends going bowling but today, was perfect.

Communication – it can be frustrating!

English: iphone Deutsch: iphone

My friends might call me quiet, even a bit shy sometimes (or at least I feel shy sometimes) but when I want something to occur I am a very straightforward communicator. I say what I want and have no problems about asking for that something. I might have a nice way of asking for it, or have a roundabout way of getting to tell you what I want, but I’ll get there and as soon as I can. Moreover, I plan ahead – I have learned that I have to. Having a limited amount of energy to do things means that I have to plan in times (days) I can just rest and plan times when I really have to (or want to) get things done.  As a communicator then I will ask a week often more, in advance events I would like to do with friends like coffee dates, dinners, wine tastings, etc. This is between doctor appointments, school, occupational therapist visits, and all the other stuff I need to get done in the month. I like to have a balanced calendar and it can be a bit stressful when I have too many things to do and not enough time to unwind. Things get cancelled, people you want to see do not get seen, and appointments do not go very well.

I can also do only one big thing in a day. So if I spend 4-5 hours going to school that’s my activity. If I spend 4-5 hours hanging out a night with some friends on the patio that too is my activity. But not both. So sometimes this whole planning and communication can be a little difficult to explain and work around when you are meeting new people. Many people are used to just going where ever they feel like when ever they feel it, when time permits them. They do not understand about organizing and planning something; Incidently, I do not only think planning is necessary for me, but for anybody who is trying to accomplish certain activities or goals in their life. I understand people work that they are constrained by work hours and things like there families and other responsibilities but I get really frustrated when people leave things to the last minute with me. It sucks to be waiting around all day for someone to tell you if they are or are not going to be doing something with you, or at what time (because you do not want to tire yourself out because then you could not do anything with them). It also makes me feel like I’m not important, like I am a last thought or someone they are  doing something with because nothing better came up. If someone is important to you make the time to see them and tell them when approximately you want to visit them. Tell them what your thinking in regard to your plans, you owe other people that much; be accountable. Everyone else has to be accountable to the important people in their life, why shouldn’t you?

Communicaton can be really difficult and figuring out how someone communicates whether through talking, telephone, or email can be especially difficult. With some people you know if you do not bother them and bother them they will not communicate back to you. Some people you can count on to get back to you right away. Sometimes you know people will not get back to you right away, but they will get back to you eventually. I think you should be able to expect that people within reason will get back to you as a common curteousy. Now sometimes people forget, get busy, but sometimes not – and that is when I get frustrated. Communication is not clear cut as much as I would like it to be, a lot of times we as people are left to figure out how to communicate back with someone, if we want to communicate back to a person at all, or if we simply sit back and let someone else enniate communication.

As for me, I have decided that there are certain people in my life I will wait for, and certain people I will not. I try to be courteous and give people chances but after a while you are either in or you are out, or you are in that gray area I assign to people I do not think I will hear from, but some day unexpectedly I just might. But what I would really like is just to know the day of an event, what is happening? What time are we leaving? And how should I dress? In the end that’s what I care about. If you could give me that curteousy, I would much appreciate it and so would other people I know.

Brights of Summer

Banana Republic just outside of Grand Central
Banana Republic just outside of Grand Central (Photo credit: bitchcakesny)

Summer is here and there is some beautiful colorful fashion out there. I thought I’d share with you some of my favorites:

1. Banana Republic – the perfect summer skirt. Swishy and fun and light and bright cobalt blue. $95.00

2. Another Banana Republic find from their Trinia Turk Collection, this classic patterned dress: $160.00

3. Modcloth.com – the perfect classy little sundress in a bright teal color – it fits like a dream: $42.99

Midnight Sun Dress in Aqua

4. Modcloth.com – Dive inSkirt – lovely A- line and turqoise!: $37.99

Dive In Skirt

5. Jacob – my favorite summer T-shirts, this one is in mint but the T-shirt is also available in lilac, and peach: $14.99

Embellished summer t-shirt

6. Jacob – Abstract Print Blouse – in lovely deep bubble gum pink: $24,99

Abstract print sleeveless blouse

7. Ninewest – the perfect white sandal for summer and a heal at a great comfortable height $72.00


8.Aldo – the perfect sunglasses $12.00


Thanks for letting me share and have fun with your own summer shopping. There are lots of sales on right now so it is a good time to shop!

Tough Decisions

Even More Meds

A tough decision – something a lot of us have to make one time or another. Now I hate to talk about my experiences with depression a lot; I do not want that to be the only example through which I can relate to you on a lot of issues; however, in this instance, well my life now is what it is and having a depressive episode a major one, has challenged me to make a lot of hard decisions.

Before, my episode I was utterly clueless to the ways mental illness actually affected someone with the exception of my Baba who is a paranoid schizophrenic. But the thing is, there are many types of schizophrenics, many different types of anxieties, and depressions and each illness experience, although perhaps sharing some similar symptoms. is unique to each person. Have you ever thought about that, how does it actually feel on the inside to be mentally ill? The other concept I did not understand was how ‘physical’ depression can actually be. Your body can literally, be “physically” depressed and not just your emotions. Your mind can be physically depressed – which means you man not even feel sad but physically your brain is still affected by the depression. My episode was three years back, but I continue to be especially physically affected by it both in my energy levels and ability to concentrate and have mental endurance to do activities for long periods of time.

My struggle to live a normal life with depression has lead me through a sizeable amount of prescription drugs. Sleeping pills because I cannot sleep on my own anymore, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and stimulants. Each drug I have tried with the exception of the ones I perhaps, had to go on when I was first very ill, have been tough decisions. Now you make think a little pill, well, is just a pill but it is not. Ever watch those prescription drug commercials on TV and ever notice the wide range of side effects each drug has? Those are the tough decisions when you are taking a medication, do the benefits of this drug out weigh the bad side effects? Now each drug I have continued to use I have continued to use on the basis that when I started to use it I felt somehow better. I do not always know exactly what that ‘better’ is but something just clicks, starts to feel better so I continue to take the drug because it helps. Nonetheless, I have tried many medications that have not worked for me. I found that doctors and nurses cannot tell you exactly how a drug will affect you, truth be told, they do not know, particularly, in psychiatry I think but maybe it is that way with medication and physical illnesses such as cancer as well. So some drugs make you extremely sick. And although I may be encouraged to continue to try a drug that makes me feel awful, where life and death are not concerned, I do not believe it is worth it to keep taking that drug. When medication is doing you more harm then good, physically and mentally making you sicker, giving you bad side effects, and not showing you that glimmer of improvement that you would like to see, I believe that drug is not for me. Now I do not want people not to take their medications because sometimes the truth is, you do need a drug even though it makes you ill, but for me, in this case, drugs that make me feel really sick even if it has only been a couple of days, are not the medications for me.

Such was my experience with Clozapine this last weekend. I have never felt so sick, not even from a bad flu, as this drug made me feel. After, two days I was done with it. Clozapine is supposed to be  a ‘last resort’ antipsychotic and it was for me to. Typically, it may be used for schizophrenia but also in cases of depression or where a psychotic episode has occurred.  It was a difficult decision going on this drug – blood tests every week for the first 6 months and less often( for a longer period), a very good chance of large weight gain, and increased chance of diabetes,  extreme tiredness, possible immunity disorder (hence the blood tests weekly), and other conditions having to do with the heart etc. The thing was though that, I had never tried this drug so it was a good option to try and Clozapine actually heals the brain a little bit every year, one of the only drugs in psychiatry to do so. Also, Clozapine causes you to sleep without the use of sleeping pills.  For some people this is the ‘magic’ pill, for me it was not. I am comfortable with that decision especially given what that means.

I have gone through so many medications that I am told by my doctor she does not know what to do to help me medication wise after this. I can function half normally on my current medications but not enough to work, to go to school full time. And suddenly, I am okay with that. I do not have a choice and I am fine. Someone somewhere may come up with a drug that may aid me in the future, but now I am at the limits of my doctor. And like a big weight off my shoulders when I decided I had enough with the Clozapine, I was okay with that. At least I can be stable, where I am at now. I know what I can expect this summer, in terms of what I can and cannot do. I still face many challenges such as my insomnia, and an energy decrease in winter months by a degree, but I know what to expect. And this brings me peace.

Tough decisions, its hard to tell yourself you are okay with having a limited life, but it is also foolish to limit yourself. Many people suffer through many illnesses and bad times, and go on to do great things. Rather, than accepting my limits completely, I am learning to work around them to the best of my abilities and that is all any one could ask of me. I am blessed by God in the place I am at in life. It was not where I thought I would be, but I am okay with that. How about you? Are you okay where you are at in life? What tough decisions have you had to make?