Thursday, October 10, 2013

Nobody Said It Was Easy...

This summer was a whirlwind, filled with hours upon hours of learning the ropes at my new job, exploring the island of Nantucket and all it has to offer, and finally getting to enjoy dinner at a normal hour with my husband. But there was one moment that really knocked the wind out me and frankly, it still makes me sad to think about it. 

It's crazy to think that, because technically this was a person I didn't know. It happened far, far away from where I am. I guess that it doesn't technically affect me in any way, but it still shocked me to my core. 

One late Saturday night in July, I felt compelled to check Twitter at 1 A.M. Now I'm on Twitter, but I'm not like on it to the point that I usually check it upon going to bed and waking up in the morning. As Steve lay snoozing beside me, I started seeing tweets gradually appearing claiming that a young actor in Vancouver had died of a drug overdose. I was confused, because at that moment I couldn't think of one celebrity who was Canadian (although I know there are plenty of them). After what seemed like forever, it was confirmed that it was Cory Monteith, the 31 year-old actor best known for playing Finn Hudson on one of my all-time favorite television series, Glee

I was crushed. How did this happen? He had gone to rehab earlier in the year, but it wasn't like he was Lindsay Lohan. No one really knew he had a problem. I tried to wake up Steve to tell him, and he just kind of moaned, "are you serious?" and fell back asleep. I took to the internet, hoping that someone, a fellow Gleek perhaps, would also be awake that I could commiserate with. 

I stayed up for like another hour trying to gather any info I could. It felt so weird to not know this person, yet be so invested in their story and feeling like you should have seen signs of trouble. I mean, this was someone I have never met. Even now thinking about it, it seems silly to still be this upset. But for the past few years, Glee has been a huge part of my life. Like many others, it did feel like we were friends with the kids in New Directions, if not for anything than that they reminded you of people you were actually friends with in high school. For me, a lot of what happened on that show was my life in high school, minus the teen pregnancies and singing in the hallways.

To say I've been kind of obsessed with Glee since its debut four years ago is kind of an understatement. I've liveblogged entire episodes. I made Steve dress up with me for Halloween as Finn and Rachel:

when i went to work that day, he had no costume. i came home & he had made this.

I also somehow coerced him into incorporating the theme to our holiday decor:

the "l" is for love.

Which became our Christmas card that year:

And there were multiple season premiere parties:

worst picture ever, i know. gimme a break, it was my first television premiere.

now that's how you throw a party. a high school tv show-themed party.

Which led to more photoshoots:

let's remember, this was pre-miley sexually harassing a foam finger days.

There was even one time that the Glee concert movie came out in 3D and we were convinced that we couldn't watch it without the deluxe viewing package (that was a fun $30 charge to explain to Steve).
just when you thought it couldn't get any cooler.
And Steve's family even threw us a Glee-themed bridal shower (yes, there were props):

what better way to celebrate your upcoming nuptials?

But mostly it was just me, tuning into my favorite show every week, buying the cd's and listening to them in my car every single day, defending it on the internet when people accused it of "jumping the shark" (and by people, I mean Steve). And now it was just like it had ended. Of course the show is continuing, but it will never be the same without Finn. At least, not for me. 

So in honor of Glee's tearjerking farewell episode tonight in honor of Finn Hudson (and Cory Monteith), I wanted to share a few of my favorite performances of his over the years. 

The Scientist
Season 4

This was the moment that the show really shifted for me. Not in a bad way, but in a "this is what happens in real life after you graduate" kind of way. All the essential couples broke up, which resulted in one of the most touching group numbers in the show's history. I find that this song can either be really beautiful or gut-wrenchingly sad, and in this episode, it was both. Most of it turned out to be in Finn's imagination, but he really took the lead in this song at the beginning, and he was the one I found that I couldn't keep my eyes off of during this performance. 

Just the Way You Are
Season 2

Now we think of Kurt and Finn as brothers, so it's hard to remember back when the show first started what an awkward relationship they had. Besides the fact that Kurt was in love with Finn, their parents ended up dating and getting married, forcing them to share a room together and admit their feelings to each other. Kurt confessed his crush as Finn quickly rejected him and called him the f-word. Things were touchy until their parent's wedding, when Finn had a major moment of self-growth and accepted Kurt as family. Yes, it was slightly weird when Finn sang to Kurt at the wedding- isn't this song about a girl? Wasn't Finn supposed to be singing to his mother? But it didn't matter. It was adorable. Rachel swooned, we swooned, and all was right in the world. 

What It Feels Like for a Girl
Season 1
Let me just start out by saying that I am obsessed with the Madonna episode. It was one of the first "themed" episodes which has since been kind of driven into the ground. But then it was exciting, especially when the Queen of Pop was concerned. The thing I loved about this song is that it was definitely unexpected- of all of Madge's hits over the years, how many people would even remember this song as being part of her expansive catalogue? After spending the majority of the episode treating the girls like crap, the guys of Glee realized the error of their ways in a five-part harmony around the piano. It was a really sweet rendition of a relatively unknown song, and little surprises like that were what made the show so special. 

Empire State of Mind
Season 2
I don't know what it was about this song that I liked so much. I still listen to it in its entirety when it comes up on my iPod. This was such a promising time for the series- it was the first episode of season 2 and Rachel had bangs! Okay, there was obviously more going on than that, but I just loved the guys taking the lead on this song and just rapping the heck out of it. It's like, sort of hysterical- I mean you really can't take a bunch of white kids from Ohio seriously when they are rapping in matching outfits at their outdoor cafeteria in the hopes of recruiting new members for their glee club. But despite having very little rhythm or swag, it seemed like Finn took his role very seriously and it came across that everyone was just having a great time. 
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Season 3
Confession: I first became obsessed with this song after they played it on the episode of The Hills where Heidi thinks she is pregnant with Spencer's baby (please tell me someone else remembers this?!). I love when you can take a well-known song and put a new twist on it, especially when you turn a peppy pop number into a meaningful ballad. While this song did not come as a result of one of Finn's finest moments, after all, he did just out Santana to the world (which I didn't sort of get why it was a big deal, I always thought she and Brittany S. Pearce were pretty open about their relationship, but whatevs). Obviously he felt remorse from it, and through song he attempted to show Santana what she meant to the glee club, and to him, which was really only one of like two times that it was acknowledge that these two had sex (remember the Madonna episode?!). A little uncomfortable, but he cracked through her icy exterior and they hugged and made up (for now).
It's My Life/Confessions
Season 1
I loved this episode because it was the first time we were introduced to the concept of "mash-ups" (which later became a tactic that was used in almost every episode). It was boys versus girls, and Finn had started to crack under the pressure to be the perfect all-American teenage boy. So why not take some drugs from Mr. Schue's crazy wife (remember her?!) to give yourself an edge up on the competition? Despite any moral objections you may have to how they got there, this performance was awesome. There were matching leather jackets, sweet choreography and lighting- but no exotic bird feathers, much to Kurt's dismay.
Bye Bye Bye/I Want It That Way
Season 4

Leave it to Glee to try to solve the eternal question: who is better? N Sync or Backstreet Boys? And if there's anything this show knows how to do, it's how to settle a dispute through song. This was a weird time on the show, as former BFF's Finn and Mr. Schue were temporarily in cahoots with each other because Finn sort of accidentally kissed Miss Pillsbury. It was hard to watch, but they battled it out in the best way possible- with what else, a mashup! Although this number did not resolve their feud, Finn helped his group capture the essence of the late 90s boy bands and I loved it. 
Roots Before Branches
Season 3
So to be fair, this is not a Finn specific performance. Actually, he really doesn't sing at all in this song. But Rachel does, immediately after Finn lets her go so she can pursue her dreams in New York City. Even though it was horribly sad and I cried my eyes out, inside I was super happy that we had avoided a potential engaged and underaged situation. The entire storyline of their engagement and Rachel not going to NYADA because of Finn's failure to get accepted to college was one of those situations that made me yell at my TV screen every time they discussed their upcoming nuptials. Although it's never easy when a show's central couple goes their separate ways, I appreciated the way it played out. Finn demonstrated maturity and selflessness in such a way that it seemed like it was the right thing to do, somehow making it a little less sad. I take that back. It was actually the most soul-crushing thing I've ever seen on television and just thinking about it gives me the sads. 
And now... it's over. It's time to say goodbye. I don't know if there are enough tissues on the island of Nantucket to dry my sure to be flowing tears tonight. I don't know what the right way is to do this, but I'm hopeful that the showrunners and the cast will handle it with the utmost respect to the crazy fans like me that have been supporting the series through its highs and lows. 


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And We'll Remember When We Said I Do

I met Jenna and Tony over a year ago when I did their engagement session- my first one ever! They were so adorable and in love that I couldn't wait to shoot their wedding this September. After more than a year, it was finally here! 

Everyone involved in the wedding was so fabulous, it made my job a breeze that day. It still felt like summer, and the weather was perfection. The only problem? While it seemed like summer, it was in fact early September and the sun quickly began to fade as the ceremony ended. But these guys were pros, and with assembly-line style formal photos, we managed to get some great shots of this fun-loving group, with ample time to party!

Check out some of the highlights from their day below. Jenna & Tony, thank you so much for choosing me to capture your day!