just like you and me...but not really

Today is my mother's birthday (and, coincidently, my brother-in-law's). When I was a kid we'd always put up our holiday decorations on her birthday, since it's usually right about halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keeping that tradition alive, we put out our small collection of Christmas decorations...a kitchen tile, a tubby little snowman door stopper, a couple of miniature nutcrackers, and a pine-scented candle. For the first eight or so years of adulthood I would decorate a table-top tree that my Dad gave me, but that tree was sacrificed in the move east. So the pine-scented candle will have to get us through another holiday. Fortunately for us, my brother and his family included us in their weekend of gingerbread-house building and Christmas tree decorating so I feel sufficiently ready for the holidays. I've got a mysterious thing for wreaths this year, so I might have to go out and get one, but otherwise, I'm all set.

Despite the fact that it took us all of ten minutes to decorate for the holidays, I'm finding it hard to concentrate on this final week of review board preparation and paper writing. I've got cards to fill out, projects to finish, a little more shopping to do, food to make... And while I feel mostly ready for my review board on Wednesday, as it gets closer I can't help but get a little nervous and feel like I should be doing something to prepare. Something in addition to the hours and hours I have left on my latch-hook pillow that I'm not sure what to say about, anyway.

And perhaps if I get a little pop culture recap off my chest, my mind will be a bit clearer. As you probably know by now, Melrose did not take the ANTM title last week. Going into the final episode, I told myself, as I always do, that I didn't really care which of the top three (Melrose, Caridee, or Eugena) won. Especially considering I've been a bit disappointed with this cycle since it began. But I wasn't surprised or terribly disappointed that Eugena got the boot about halfway through the finale, leaving Melrose and Caridee in the top two. And I have to say, when Caridee was revealed as the winner, I was disappointed that Melrose didn't win. I understand why Melrose didn't exactly take viewer's choice award, especially in the last couple of weeks. While her attitude didn't bother me as much as it seemed to bother other viewers, I did feel like her personality was a little lacking, a little flat maybe. But the girl did everything right! She took consistently good (although, I'll admit, not as amazing or transformative as past participants) photos, won most of the challenges, has a knowledge of the industry (and seems moderately intelligent, in general), and can work the runway. Other than that first week and her Covergirl commercial and photo shoot at the end, she was pretty stellar as far as the competition goes.

And to be fair, Caridee was one of my favorites from the beginning. Her personality was likeable from the start and she took gorgeous photos. But about halfway through the competition I think she lost it a little bit. She's a little more than "unpredictable," as Mr. Jay pointed out in the final panel. And in the review of their photographs throughout the competition, I'm pretty certain the panel of judges completely changed their position on Caridee's photo from the bull fighting shoot. I remember them dissecting that photo, saying Caridee looked awkward and that her face was too sexy, too pinup. Perhaps compared to Melrose, what they meant is that it was still less than perfect but better in comparison, but I feel like they changed their story a bit to justify the less qualified candidate winning the title.

Ultimately, my theory is that what makes or breaks an otherwise top model is the CoverGirl contract. All cycle long the girls are encouraged to be fierce, high-fashion, runway-strutting top models. But in the end, it's the awkward girl next door who's a wreck on the runway (and in general) who wins because she's likeable and America can relate to her. But you know, models are a little like politicians. I don't want my President to be like the guy next door, 'cause the guy next door is probably not qualified to lead the country. Likewise, I don't understand why it's so important for a top model to be just like your girlfriend next door, other than because she has to sell you lip gloss. And who do you trust to sell your product, Melrose or Caridee?

So, needless to say, I was disappointed, in who they chose to win, in the fact that Melrose wasn't a little more diplomatic throughout the season, and with this cycle in general. Too much Tyra, too many floofy dresses and big hair, and one too many weird photo shoots. Will I watch cycle 8 in the spring, though? You better believe it!

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