Everything Happens Eventually: a farewell and thank you to Bones

img_1694-1
Tonight FOX’s longest running procedural crimedy, Bones, airs its series finale.

Bones and it’s groundbreaking 12 season run has become one of the constant, greatest comforts of the messy journey I’ve taken these last 11 years to navigate life as it should be.

Confession: I did not know this show existed when it started. This little gem of a show came to me via my best friend during Hollywood’s writer’s strike ten years ago. She had watched Bones while all of television was on hiatus and then proceeded to get everyone she knew to watch it. (Seriously, she mailed her season one DVDs all over the world so our friends could fall in love with this show.) I will never forget the day she made me watch the pilot. We had just had a movie night and then I watched the pilot in the car on the way home, on her iPod. I was so into it, she circled my neighborhood until I finished the episode.

I was in.

After viewing the pilot, I watched the then three seasons in two and a half days. Yes, I did absolutely nothing but binge-watch three seasons of Bones before binge-watching was really a thing. This show became my favorite, and it’s been my favorite ever since.

This show is responsible for so much in my life. Bones made me a vegetarian. In season one when Brennan asked how you slaughter a pig, we both responded with “I think I just became a vegetarian” in unison on my first viewing. It stuck and I am ten years strong this August. It’s responsible for friendships and making memories. I made a handful of Bones “soundtracks” with the incredible music from the show. It’s even responsible for something as simple as my social media identity – chaoshopelove.

“We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love.” – Angela (Season 2, Episode 2: “Mother and Child in the Bay”)

Thank you to executive producer and former showrunner Stephen Nathan for those words that have stayed with me for the last ten years.

Two months after my three season binge, I saw Emily Deschanel and Eric Millegan perform as Sonny and Cher at an AIDS benefit in Hollywood. I got to meet Emily after the show and tell her how much I loved Bones and how it made me a vegetarian. She talked with me and my friends for a pretty significant amount of time and was the kindest, loveliest, most humble, down to earth human being. I will always be grateful for the way she so generously shared her time with us. I got to go to two of the three panels that The Paley Center for Media held for Bones over the years, where I briefly met Stephen Nathan and T.J. Thyne. I also met Kathy Reichs on one of her many book tours. Kathy is the real-life forensic anthropologist, writer and professor that Bones is loosely based on and inspired by. Of all of my Bones related experiences, I wish I still had the photos from that day. And for extra fun I’ve had numerous adventures at the Natural History Museum and California Science Center in Los Angeles, the site FOX used for the Jeffersonian exteriors and some scenes, with some of the dearest people I love most on this planet.

Bones has brought me nothing but joy, inspiration and helped me to find my inner-badass in the time it has been here to entertain us. I am grateful for that. Actually, gratitude probably isn’t even the right word. I hope that someday what I’ve taken from this show can help to change the world.

To the Cast, Crew, FOX and everyone who has ever been Team Bones: 

Thank you. Thank you for elevating stories about a real-life woman of science and believing those stories to be important enough for the world to see for an extended period of time. Thank you for holding a space for women scientists, women writers, producers, directors, artists and women of authority. Thank you for showcasing that women breaking the mold can be a normal thing but they can also exist in the way society “expects” them to without sacrificing who they are as human beings. Thank you for shedding light on the fact that EVERY woman is a woman of power. You’ve all changed the game, there was no show on the air like Bones when it began and their will never be another.

To Kathy Reichs, Hart Hanson & FOX: There would be no Bones without you. Thank you for changing the world a little more than you know. To Michaela Conlin: Thank you for Angela, who consistently showed us that art could make science her “bitch” but that the two could coexist without lessening the importance of the other. And for portraying that sharing your feelings and your heart with other people makes every woman stronger. To T.J. Thyne: Thank you for Hodgins, who made “bugs and dirt” way less creepy and gross and a lot more fascinating. Also, in these last couple seasons, portraying a disability with such care, respect, dignity and authenticity… as someone with a disability, I thank you for that. I can tell when an actor has done the work when it comes to that. Thank you. To Eric Millegan, John Francis Daley, John Boyd & all the Squinterns: You brought me so much joy in your own ways every time you were on the screen. Thank you. To Tamara Taylor: For 11 of these 12 seasons, you had such a pivotal role… playing a woman running a forensic science lab. Cam was vulnerable but her badassery never waivered and she made women harnessing their own power and executing it in their position in the world seem doable, and though scary, made for a generation of fearless women. Thank you. To David Boreanaz: Thank you for Booth – who was a man that held every person to an equal standard no matter their  job, gender or class as set forth by society. Booth always did his best to protect and fight for everyone as human beings and his country at the same time. The current state of the world could learn a lot from Seeley Booth. To Emily Deschanel: As Booth would say, you are the standard and the center by which this show held its own. Thank you for showcasing that love was okay, that science is the coolest, that a woman can be whatever she wants to be and everything that she already is, is what makes her unique in this world. Thank you for inspiring an entire generation to find their voice, to use their voice and to recognize that they matter. You inspire me every day.

To my friends:

Janice: Thank you for circling my neighborhood so I could watch this pilot. Thank you for not judging when I watched all those seasons in 2.5 days. Thank you for doing everything possible the night we met Emily. It’s been ten years and I am still on cloud nine from that night. Thank you for going to the Paley panels with me and being the first person to take me to “The Jeffersonian.” I also loved most when our nieces were little and we played “dancing phalanges.” Those writers had no idea they were creating tiny human magic.

Kyla & Becky: Thank you for pulling my wheelchair through the grass at the rose garden so I could participate when Kyla wanted to re-enact the “I think I could be a duck” scene from the pilot. Thank you for sitting on the fountain in said rose garden and listening to my Bones soundtracks with me. That is one of my most favorite memories.

Kyla: Thank you for… everything. You already know. But most recently, thank you for talking with T.J. about the important work he’s done. That meant a lot.

Annie & Anne: Thank you for that one Christmas when you watched all of the Christmas episodes with me. That particular ten day Christmas was the best of my life and I am grateful Bones was a small part of that.

Bones is going out at a time when the world needs a passion for science and humanity more than ever, but it’s still going out on top. And that’s how you do it.

Thank you.

The Conversation

Empathy.  Compassion.  Connection.  These qualities have driven me for as long as I can remember.  In early elementary school I went to several schools for children with special needs due to my Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida.  Most of my classmates were worse off than I was, I felt bad for them.  A boy in my class couldn’t use one of his hands – so I tried to break mine.  The girl that sat across from me on the school bus was slightly overweight and constantly bullied for how big her thighs were.  I wanted to step into her shoes, so I gained weight, as a six year old.  Seeing these things broke my heart – and I write this and it sounds crazy now – but I just didn’t want these kids to feel alone.  We already had enough stacked against us with our disabilities.  We were already different and didn’t fit the ideals of beauty as human beings – as children.

What does that teach a child about the world?  How does it affect the adults they become?

We as people shape and define ourselves by the way other people make us feel, especially in women.  There is one instance in my life that, to this day, I am convinced changed the way I perceived my body forever.  I was in the fourth grade.  At this point I was blessed enough to be mainstreamed into a regular school setting.  I lived in a town in Arizona on the Colorado River with a population of 1,500 people.  Everyone knew each other.  I was the only kid with a disability in our school and everyone wanted to be my friend.  I still fought a battle though.  My parents were physically and emotionally abusive and neglectful my entire life.  Despite the fact that everyone away from home seemed to love me, my self-esteem was in the below negative nonexistent category. School was my escape – until it wasn’t anymore.

On my tenth birthday, my teacher sent me away to the library for an hour to study and when I was summoned back to class – the room was decorated with balloons and decor from The Little Mermaid.  My mother was sitting at the table at the back of the room with a cake, candles lit, my classmates  jumped all around me screaming with glee when I entered the room.  My mother planned a surprise party for me – probably the first (and one of the only) nice things she’s done for me in my life.  After the party as things were getting cleaned up, she put a piece of cake in my lunchbox.  Soon after, it was lunchtime and after eating the healthy contents of my lunch I started to eat that piece of cake.  Two bites into it, the lunch lady walked over and took it away from me.  Remember what I said about this being a small town?  This lady was the lunch lady, bus driver and school nurse.  She called me “fat” and felt she was qualified and validated to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to have cake in my lunch.  There was no rule against this in any school handbook.  When I tried to tell her it was my birthday, she told me she “didn’t want to see anything happen” to me and proceeded to toss the cake in the trash.  In the days following, she’d monitor my lunch and take things away from me that she felt I shouldn’t be eating.  Those actions are the ones that were the catalyst to me learning to “eat my feelings” – I wasn’t a big girl then.  I even ate pretty healthy.  It’s twenty years later now, and still every time I look at food I hear her voice ringing in my head telling me I’m fat, and the scarred ten year old inside of me just wants to eat everything.  What little self-image optimism I had was stolen from me that day.  Then I’d go home and someone would emotionally tear me apart, telling me I was worthless and they wished I was dead and then hit me for things out of my control.  Never again did I feel like a valued and beautiful girl or even worthy to be living this life.

I’ve never been one to feel sorry for myself for my disabilities — sure, every now and then there’s a bad day and I wish I was “normal” — but what defines normal?  No, I’d feel bad about myself because being in my own skin was eating me alive.  I felt bad about myself because as much as I loved the people in my life, I didn’t have the love I so desperately needed at home.  I missed out on feelings, on how to handle emotion, on what it meant to be a human being.  And I had no one to teach me all of the wonderful things it meant to be a woman.  I’d sit in my room and look through magazines and long to be as beautiful as the flawless people that graced their covers.  To attack someone like Ashley Judd for her “puffy face” is ridiculous.  I am so proud of her for fighting back with the media.  She was not fighting only for herself, she is fighting for those girls that are like I was – the ones uncomfortable in their own skin, thinking people like her are of the most beautiful in the world.  To show them that they are beautiful the way that they are.  Thank you, Ashley, for making this “acceptable” to be discussed.

I am long past childhood and that insecure young girl that I was.  Here’s something I’ve learned as an adult:  Your environment influences everything that you are.  Growing up confined, scared and imprisoned strips you of your dignity and you get caught up in self-destructive behavior that belittles how you feel about yourself as a person.  You resent everyone around you that doesn’t seem to be struggling.  You long for just one person who can hear you screaming and will try to understand.  The toxic ramifications affect the world around you.  Everything negative links together – pressure on vanity, intolerance, bullying – it all stems from someone somewhere down the line not feeling like they’re good enough.  Who has the right to make someone feel that way?  You have to be your own change.  You have to fight for yourself.  I did.

In shifts I move with my own universe.  My disability isn’t going to  go away, but I walk whenever I get the chance – just to move because it makes me feel good about myself.  The consequences of the behavior and things I felt as a child  have affected me for the rest of my life.  I am not a skinny girl.  Sometimes it is hard, I would give anything to be able to go to the gym and workout in place of the person next to me in public complaining because they have to workout or hate doing it.  You all know someone like that – count that blessing.  Some of us would love to be in your shoes and we wouldn’t complain about it for a second.  I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly four years and I’m doing what I can to make healthier food choices.  And even though food still intimidates me, my body thanks me for it every day.  I’ve also broken away from the people who abused me, and God placed me in the care of a family that I made in my heart.  People that love me for who I am.  They don’t care that I have a disability, or that I’m not perfect physically or emotionally – whatever that definition of perfect may be.  These people only love me and only want me to be happy.  Such a drastic atmosphere change turned my whole world upside down.  Through such a positive and uplifting environment, I’ve learned the invaluable lesson of self-love.

Self-love is the key.  Own what makes you different – because it’s what makes you who you are.  This is a truth.  You have one body, care for it, be proud of it and don’t let any sort of outside influence get in the way of what makes you comfortable.  You want to workout?  Do it.  You want to eat a cupcake?  Do it.  Love you God?  Praise Him.  Are you gay?  Love who you love.  You are only as much a victim to your fate as you make yourself out to be.  You have to be your own hero.  No one can save you but yourself.  You have to want to live and breathe – and experience the real beauty found in all of the little things that are happening all around us in this moment.  Beauty isn’t found on the cover of a magazine – real life doesn’t come with an airbrush tool.    And that’s key too – we only have this life.  You don’t get a second chance.  Don’t let your society dictate who you should be – be the person who is awake in the depths of your soul.  Let that person into the sunlight – it’s warm and inviting.  You’ll never be alone again because you’ll always have a friend in yourself.  Just be.  It’s all we have and we do the best we can with it.

Look in the mirror and say:  “I’m beautiful.”

You are.

(You can read Ashley Judd’s essay here.  Keep talking.)