Once More, With Feeling

Warning! “Buffy” Season 5 and 6 spoilers ahead!

I touch the fire and it freezes me
I look into it and it’s black
Why can’t I feel? My skin should crack and peel
I want the fire back

So, SPOILER, but “Once More, With Feeling” is sooooo going on my second part of favorite “Buffy” eps. I didn’t fully appreciate it back in the day, but it was one of those things where I always knew that was my bad. This time around, I was psyched to watch it again, and sure ‘nuff: LOVE.

Josh discovered a feature on the Season 6 DVDS: “Once More, With Feeling” karaoke! It only has three songs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sing those same three songs over and over and over. And over…

I touch the fire and it freezes me…

That line haunted me for years, even before I was into the ep itself. And this go-round, I felt an extra-strong kinship with Buffy. While I’ve never died, much less to save the world, I really empathized with her journey back from the grave. She’d been in heaven – warm, blissful, safe. Then her friends ripped her out, and she was back to the fear, back to the cold, back to not knowing how she was going to pay any of her bills.

That’s how I’d been feeling lately, every time I woke up from sleep, even during the times where I had nightmares. I wanted the fire back too, but the fire was long gone, back in my 20s somewhere, maybe even my teens. So I settled for warmth.

And what is redonk, is that I have a great life, in so many ways. My boyfriend is incredible, to say the least. I’m near my immediate family again; the town that I live in is magical.

And I know that I have friends who love me, friends that I’d die for, yet I simply couldn’t find it in me, the energy, the fire, to live for myself. Maybe because the hardest thing in this world…

Every single night
The same arrangement
I go out and fight the fight
Still, I always feel the strange estrangement
Nothing here is real
Nothing here is right

Rewatching “Buffy” in general has zoomed me back to my 20s. A time that feels so long ago, but when I watch “Buffy,” feels like just last week, and I can’t ignore the things that I’ve trained myself to. So Season 6 hit me particularly hard this go-round, especially “Once More, With Feeling.”

But that’s just TV, about a girl who’d been through the ringer (though not yet “Ringer”), and who wasn’t even 21 yet. Though she’d died, she still had a whole ostensible life ahead of her. I felt like so much was behind me, and I had nothing to show for it. A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend told me that I had my life to show for it, my writing. What he said, how he said it, sparked something.

But it’s really hard to build your own fire with only a spark, even if it’s coming from someone amazing. I’ve been trying though, more, since he said that. I finally started using my Judi Sunshine page on Facebook, the one dedicated to my writing site on WordPress. I opened a Kickstarter to try and raise funds for my blog book, though I haven’t launched it yet. I’ve plodded along, listlessly copying and pasting into a Word document for said book. And to paraphrase Jenny Lewis, I’ve been showing up to work with a smile.

I’ve been trying.

What can’t we do if we get in it?
We’ll work it through within a minute
We have to try
We’ll pay the price
It’s do or die
Hey, I’ve died twice
What can’t we face if we’re together?
What can’t we face?
What’s in this place that we can’t weather?
If we’re together
There’s nothing we can’t face

Josh and I sang that, together, over and over, with the karaoke feature. One day back in the ‘80s, my mother was singing at work, and her coworker said, “You must be happy, because you’re singing!” My mother replied that she didn’t sing because she was happy; she was happy because she was singing. I’m the same way. Singing these songs, written by the amazing Joss Whedon, was making me happy. Josh and I would finish singing the three songs on the DVD, look at each other, go, “You want to sing again?” And we did, over and over, into the wee hours of the night. Singing along with my best friend, and the characters who a decade ago sometimes felt like my friends, was healing me. I could feel it.

So I accepted the perma-earworm of Anya’s bunny belting, because though it could make me feel like I was going crazy from time to time, the energy of all of it was helping to build back a fire within me. It was scary, though, because I didn’t trust my own mental stability, that after so much time in the proverbial Stephen King tunnel, a light at the end could be more than just a mirage.

But if Buffy could do it, I could do it. And if Willow could come back from almost destroying the world, I could muster up some self confidence. What I love about “Buffy” among other things, is that everyone on the show goes through some kind of hell, literally and/or figuratively. But they keep fighting. And watching the show reminded me of how much I missed that fighting. I wanted the fire back.

Maybe it is sometimes just that desire that keeps the spark alive, helps to build it up. I never thought that the fire tiebreaker challenge in “Survivor” was simply about the ability to make one, but how much a person wants to stay in the game.

And the sense memory started coming back to me, a little. How the more I sing, and the harder I fight, the happier I am, and how that positivity can snowball, if I let it. That last part being the key. And the fear of dropping that snowball tends to be what gets me every time.

But it’s do or die, right? So the other night, I posted a status on Facebook, saying I was only six “Likes” away from 100, on my Judi Sunshine page, and to tell your friends!

What I did not anticipate was that one friend would tell 70 billion of his friends. Hurl has been my friend for four years now, and though we’ve never met, he’s one of my best. A truly good person, and one of THE best writers I know. Though I’m trying to gain confidence and pluck, I may never understand exactly why he cares about me so much, but he does. And the other night, he saw my desire for six “Likes,” and raised me nearly 800, at last count. My Facebook writing page shot from 94 to 871 “Likes” in 36 hours. My busiest day on WordPress went from 83 hits in July to 213 hits yesterday, and by the looks of things, today will break yesterday’s record.

And despite having typed for pages, I still have no words, truly, about what that means to me. As a writer, you can’t pay for that kind of publicity, especially if you’re broke. But even if I won the lottery and could immediately self publish and buy one of those often-creepy I-25 banner ads, there’s no guarantee anyone would care. And even if they did, it’s not the same as getting 800 Likes from people who are doing it from places of such love and loyalty to someone that I also love and…loyal towards.

It’s especially humbling and overwhelming to me because the reason I got into blogging to begin with was because of Sars from Tomato Nation. She is the one that taught me that you could create a compelling body of work based on personal essays and love for television. More to the point, she is the one who linked to Jersey Girl, a blogger on Diary-X, that thanks to Sars, gained a huge influx of readers, simply because Sars linked to her. Seeing Sars champion a much lesser-known writer than herself, and falling in love with Jersey Girl’s writing, gave me a confidence boost that maybe someone out there could find hope in my ramblings and “Buffy” obsession.

I’m surrounded every day, by incredible artists. Hurl is a great writer. My boyfriend is, as well, and so are many of my friends My brother started writing way before me, and his site is so awesome. My other brother is in a great metal band that is formed from people around the world. Natty is an amazing photojournalist. Devon has started an Etsy site to sell the gorgeous wine glasses she’s been painting for years. Rj is running a comics and collectibles store that seeks to bring artists together.

There’s nothing we can’t face

My town is like a real-life musical – you walk down the street, and greet one another by name. I’m surrounded every day by people who are just trying to make a go of it in this world, and this year, I’ve been touched by what it means, to live in a community like this.

And I am also living in an Internet community, that has reminded me all over again, how not alone we are. In the past few days, I’ve been reminded that sometimes our friends rip us out of the grave, and we need to lose the butthurt, and walk through that fire.

Thank you, Josh. Thank you, Hurl. Thank you to everyone who’s shown such an outpouring of support these past couple of days. Thank you to everyone who’s loved me and believed in me, even when I didn’t.

But never forget to beware those bunnies.

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This entry was posted in Buffy, Entertainment, Family, Friends, Miscellaneous, Music, TV, Women, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Once More, With Feeling

  1. Mike says:

    First! (reminiscing)

  2. Blu Hashagen says:

    i enjoyed your story keep up the good work Thanks, also Johnny Taco!!!

  3. Pingback: Pen Pals | judisunshine

  4. Pingback: Rewatching “Buffy”: My Top 15 S4-7 Desert Island Eps: Season Six | judisunshine

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