The Chive’s List of Crappy Pre-Celebrity Jobs
Just a fun little link to compliment today’s blog x
The Chive’s List of Crappy Pre-Celebrity Jobs
Just a fun little link to compliment today’s blog x
My work days are long and taxing, but the consolation is that my mind can occasionally wander without affecting the tasks at hand. My mind is a loom, weaving a tapestry of crazy thoughts and pop culture references…I really should invent a machine that transcribes my thoughts into print, so when I come home after a long day–it’s all there, ready to be edited–or shit, while I’m out there inventing mind-reading machines, why not get this bitch to edit? Cut through all the nonsensical imaginings which, believe me, there is an abundance. But in reality, my husband just bought me a new cell phone and I’m totally intimidated by it. So…I’m not really the inventing type. And I really wish I could be, I am looking for that ‘dare to be great’ situation. I remember this childhood scrap book with space created for each school year. At the bottom of the page where you put your yearly photo was a checklist–‘what I want to be when I grow up’: “Nurse” “Stewardess” “Actress”, check, check, check. Why not? To think of it now, the crippling indecisiveness of wanting to do ‘everything’ has lead to a whole lot of studying, traveling, and waitressing. (PS, why does spell check have to hate-on the word waitressing? It’s a word dammit! I’ve lived it!)
I was discussing this with Robin, a former professor, now dear friend. I had just read a slew of Nora Ephron books, and felt mildly annoyed at her idea of her ‘before-success’ job, which was writing for the Post in New York City, which followed a Wellesley education, and a brief intern position at the White House for the Kennedy Administration. Not too shabs indeed. Robin says, “Well, she’s not going to write about the crappy jobs”, she’s going to skip that”. “Well I won’t skip that”, straightening indignantly, “I will talk almost exclusively about all the degrading, low paying jobs I’ve had, because people need to know just how long that road can be”. My shoulders slump slightly: “That’s if…you know, anything fabulous ever comes of me”, I think. Hmm, what a dreadful thought.
But anecdotes about Ephron’s early days as a journalist is not what I, the unpaid writer, wants to hear, I want to hear three things about life: that people can immigrate to their spouses’ country’s with ease, that women can have healthy children late into their thirties and that extremely successful people suffered before they found their niche. I want Brad Pitt in the fast food chicken suit, before the rambling Chanel # 5 ads and the fifty children he acquired with Angelina Jolie. I want Madonna at Dunkin Donuts, before the Gollum arms and as many fashion incarnations as Brad Pitt has kids. I want Channing Tatum as a struggling stripper because…who wouldn’t be into that?
And my personal favorite, tied with Whoopi Goldberg as a beautician in a mortuary, was Rod Stewart as a grave digger. Come on! How do you not feel better about your station in life after hearing that? Imagine Stewart, shovel in hand, feeling the indignity of such a shitty job…do you think he thought to himself: “One day, I’m going to have a string of gorgeous wives and make a ton of cash, be a easy listening radio staple and have children well into my seventies…and my hair will always be awesome”. Probably not…he probably did it because he needed the work, needed the cash, and couldn’t see the bright lights of his super sexy future. Take these thoughts as if they are a cozy blanket and wrap that around yourself. It too could happen to you. But it better happen to me first because I need to hire someone to teach me how to use my fancy new phone.
Images Courtesy of Google
Feeling exceptionally scattered today. Worked ten hours, then home and out for a walk in the sun, and am finally sitting down, lap top ready and waiting. I flip idly through my notebook for inspiration, shove a few potato chips in my mouth, and chew thoughtfully, thinking only that I would like to eat more chips. My mind skips around like a flat stone along a pond, and I consider the ripples. Throughout my work day I imagine what I’ll write about once home. And ultimately it whittles down to one thing: how much time do I want to commit to today’s blog? Recently people have been saying: “Oh I love taking five minutes out of my day to read”, which pleases me to no end, (if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing!), but it kind of makes me laugh, as any writer knows, it takes sooooo much longer to write it out than it does to read it. But, lets be honest, if I was focused, and gave no time to my beloved “dicking around” on the internet, I’d really shave off some serious time. But that’s research people, I can’t write about Beyonce without watching a dozen or so videos. I need to read about the movies I write about…and if that leads me from “200 Cigarettes…
to Courtney Love to Kurt Cobain…
to the Seattle Grunge scene…then so be it.
Yesterday my husband was waiting for me to finish blogging: “When will you be done?”. “Five minutes”, I lie. I am half-watching scenes from “Jesus of Nazareth”, and reading about Mary Magdalene, and obviously going to great lengths to prove whether or not Jesus was a hunk. Not everything makes it to the blog, but believe me, it all goes into the vault. And if ever you bump into me at some cocktail party, be prepared for me to drop some useless knowledge on you all. The internet is my oracle in which to seek out all answers and also to waste just a shit-load of time.
I’ve been really pleased with the last few blogs this week, and now I’m feeling a bit like when you were a kid and came home with an A, and your parents would say: “We are so proud of you, and will expect nothing but A’s from now on. Oh crap. Any room for a B average? When I was in university, my ‘rock bottom’ was a B-, so that’s going to me my gold standard promise…I’ll always provide better than C average work, but don’t be expecting A + work every day–I’d just hate to disappoint. As for right now, my husband is looking at me expectantly, I have a cold cider awaiting me, and these delicious potato chips aren’t going to eat themselves.
Images Courtesy of Google
I always intended to see “The Passion of the Christ”, if only to see what the fuss is about. But, if ever faced with the option of actually renting it–the thought of choosing it over a a light romantic comedy, taking it home, putting on your comfy pants and curling up on the couch to watch the Romans soldiers beat the crap out of Jesus. Just never felt right. And listen, I am sure that if you can trust anyone with the sensitive issue of Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection, it’s Mel Gibson. But it’s just never happened…so there that is. I’m more a “Jesus of Nazareth” girl, or as my mother always called it, “the one with the good looking Jesus”.
I personally struggled with the Easter story. Poor Jesus, I personally like the part of the story where he’s a sweet little baby. But then, I would get depressed in Church around Christmas because–I knew what became of Jesus from the spoilers in the years before. That’s why I stopped going to church, they just use the same book again and again.
On further inspection, I am surprised just how-star studded this film was: Laurence Oliver, Ernest Borgnine, James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp? What are you doing here?)–there were seven Oscar winning actors mixing it up biblical style in this famous 1977 mini-series. Anne Bancroft played Mary Magdalene.
Jesus was played by Robert Powell, though he was not director Franco Zeffirelli’s original choice. The first actor thought of was Dustin Hoffman and also Al Pacino, before it was decided that Powell should take the role because he had “wonderful blue eyes”. Which is fair, I saw that movie when I was eight or nine, and what I remember most are these piercing, unblinking eyes to compliment his bone structure and silky hair. Who wouldn’t believe in this guy?
This brings up a rather serious question: was Jesus an attractive man? Which is the first thing I Google, steeling myself to be struck by lightning for even asking. (This could really come back to bite me in the afterlife, when God goes over my lengthy list of faults before pausing…”Did you seriously Google, ‘was Jesus attractive?’, and then going one more down the list…”Are you about to compare “Jesus of Nazareth” to the “Breakfast Club”? To which I’d say, “Yes God, but don’t spoil it for everybody”.) Anyway, some websites say yes, Jesus was a total babe, but one website claims through bible verse that he was pretty average: “He had no form of majesty that we should look at Him, and nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him”. So, if it’s in the Bible, it has to be true. But it seems that Powell’s portrayal has become the most seminal, and therefore contemporary, non-religious people with only vague memories about biblical movies have no choice to believe that Jesus was anything but a stone-cold fox.
After seeing this six hour miniseries, I had a number of questions. What happened to all of the apostles, Jesus’ posse. I wonder if the Last Supper was actually like that scene in “The Breakfast Club”, where every one cries and reveals their true selves; that they are more than just a jock, a brain, a criminal, a basket case or a princess.
In exposing their flaws and failings, in accusing one another of similar crimes, they realize just how similar they are–they are just human beings, trying to get through life. Though they know that they love and accept each other, come Monday morning, they will betray each other by denying their affiliation with one another. As for the disciples, how I wished for a snappy epilogue at the end of the film, with brief summations about what Mary Magdalene and the Apostles get up to following Jesus’ ascension into Heaven. Simple Mind’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” could play and do a brief montage: Peter wept bitterly after denying Jesus, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John helped write the bible, and Judas committed suicide after betraying Jesus. On further inspection, it becomes clear that a ‘whatever happened to?’ special on the apostles would be a bit like the ending of a Shakespearean, Quentin Tarantino mash-up. They could sum it up with a group shot that said “Martyr’s Deaths all around”.
“Thomas sealed his testimony as he was thrust through with pine spears, tormented with red-hot plates, and burned alive”.
“Peter thought himself unworthy to be crucified as his Master, and, therefore, he asked to be crucified “head downward.”
“Andrew was hanged on an olive tree at Patrae, a town in Achaia”.
“Philip evangelized in Phrygia where hostile Jews had him tortured and then crucified”.
Matthew surely remembered his resurrected Savior’s words, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”, when he professed the resurrected Christ unto his death by beheading at Nad-Davar.
“Nathanael, unwilling to recant of his proclamation of a risen Christ, he was flayed and then crucified”
The list goes on, John is the only one of the twelve Apostles to have died a natural death. And what of Mary Magdalene? The romantic in me wants to believe that maybe she was Jesus’ old lady, his biblical friend with benefits, his best friend. She was certainly his closest companion.
This leads me to Googling another potential heavenly lightning rod to crash down upon me: “Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene lovers?”. There’s evidence that she was his wife, and even the mother of his child (The DaVinci Code has something to say about it, but I’ve never jumped on that bandwagon). Mary is generally remembered as a prostitute. Sounds about right, seeing that’s how the patriarchy likes to remember strong women. Listen, who knows what her life was like: there weren’t a ton of available employment options, and being a single girl is tough. Besides, people do a lot of crazy things before they meet Jesus. When she met Jesus, she famously washed his feet with her hair. Jesus said that a towel would have been just as nice, but that it was a solid effort nonetheless. They had a good laugh, he cast seven demons out of her, and they became fast friends.
Whatever her role was before she met Jesus, she was of great comfort to a man who had a pretty full plate. It wasn’t always an easy task. When his father told him about his Easter plans, it was understandably upsetting. Magdalene tried to calm him down and he was like “Talk to the hand, Mary”.
Magdalene is a prominent figure in the Easter “Who’s Who”. She is often referred to as “the apostle to the apostles.” She is present through Jesus’ last hours, the crucifixion, the burial, she goes to anoint his body early Sunday morning, and he appears to her first. She gets the task of spreading the good word. How does art and history remember her? As a weeping hooker. In fact the word “maudlin”, meaning “effusively or tearfully sentimental.” is a derivative of Magdalene. Maudlin is term reserved for velvet sad-clown paintings; Mary had front-row seats to the long journey to the execution site, his six hours on the cross, the mockery, the crown of thorns. (Thanks to a most helpful Easter timeline from the Grace Fellowship Church).
III. The Final Three Hours on the Cross [Noon – 3:00 PM Friday]
A. Supernatural darkness falls over the land (apparently instills silence into the scene for the three hours) [Mt 27:45; Mk 15:33; Lk 23:44-45]
B. SAYING (near end of three hours): “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (Father why have you forsaken me?) [Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34]
C. SAYING: “I am thirsty.” [Jn 19:28]
D. Jesus drinks sour wine (different from drugged wine offered earlier) [Mt 27:47-49; Mk 15:35-36; Jn 19:29-30]
E. SAYING: “It is finished.” [Jn 19:30b]
F. SAYING: (with a loud voice) “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” [Mt 27:50; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46]
G. Jesus gives up His spirit and dies. [Mt 27:50; Mk 15:37; Lk 23:46; Jn 19:30c]
I know it’s beside the point, but I felt rather bothered by the sour wine–sour wine? Why not just give the son of God milk while he’s dying on the cross? Mary should have pulled a Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment for a cool glass of H20.
Jesus takes his last earthly breath, and the mood shifts from mob mayhem to morning-after regret. An earthquake occurs, tombs opened, a Centurion laments: “Truly this was the Son of God!”. And the once-cheering crowd collectively cries “Aw, fuuuuuuuck”. Jesus’ body is collected, placed in a tomb, and watched over to prevent theft. Mary Magdalene never once left his side, leaving only to collect spices for burial.
When Mary arrived with the spices at Sunday daybreak, the large boulder that was placed in front on the tomb was rolled away. An angel arrives on the scene, gives them the scoop, and instructs them to update the apostles. She returns later with Peter and John, who eventually take off home, leaving her alone to have her famous cry in the garden. Jesus appears to Mary, but she thinks she’s the gardener, as according to John 20:11-18.
Jesus: “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Mary: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.
Jesus: Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Mary: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Mary (realizing he’s not just some gardener) “Teacher”!
Jesus: “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”
Mary: “Are you going to call me?”
Jesus: “Yikes Mary, I’m sorry, this is awkward…”
This all happens over the span of a long weekend and the Oxford English Dictionary faults her excessive emotion with a sad root word like ‘maudlin’. I think watching Christ perish on the cross would certainly merit a good hearty sob when you finally got a minute alone. As for her part in the ‘whatever happened to’, what happens to Mary is the stuff of myth. According to the Bible, Jesus goes to Heaven and Mary fades like smoke. Non-canonical writings and church traditions decree that after the resurrection of Jesus, Mary went to Ephesus, in Asia Minor, with the Apostle John and Mary of Nazareth. Mary continued onwards as a leader among the disciples, teaching, preaching, and healing. She locked horns with a jealous Peter, who disapproved of women and of female church leaders in particular. How I wish she had the technology to write a tell-all memoir about her relationship with Jesus, and the days that followed his passing.
What’s the matter Mary? Thinking about Jesus again?
Eventually Mary entered a cave in a mountain overlooking the Plan d’Aups (this cave is still a pilgrimage site today). According to other legends, she spent her last 30 years becoming the “first female Christian contemplative. Every day angels came and lifted her up to heaven, where she was fed heavenly food, then they brought her back to her cave. As she felt her life drawing to a close, Mary sought out Maximin at what is now St. Maximin la Sainte-Baume, died a glorious death in his presence, and was buried in the crypt under his chapel”. Who could ask for better golden years? As the caretaker of Jesus, there has to be some heavenly perks. The post-Jesus days must have been a real slog for the holy entourage. All but one apostle died horribly, and Magdalene’s epilogue falls through the cracks, her legacy subject to interpretation and imagination. Not the teacher, leader or feminist icon but as the the virgin/whore, Ally Sheedy vs Molly Ringwald.
With his long hair, rebellious nature, natural leadership abilities and a tense relationship with his father, I guess that makes Judd Nelson Jesus. Principal as Vernon Pontius Pilate with Emilio Estevez and Anthony Micheal Hall are an amalgam of all apostles: young, nervous, idealistic and frightened. They want to be accepted, no matter the cost. And the all-knowing janitor….is God? Whoa. Holy Bible by John Hughes. As we learned from both stories is that one can’t judge; the members of the Last Supper Club can not be lumped into stereotypes, for all humans know too easily how it is it be a doubter, betrayer, sinner, and a saint.
Images Courtesy of Google
The link to the film that inspired my latest tirade xx
Have you seen ever “200 Cigarettes”? Few people have, but it has enough of a pre-fame collection of actors (Paul Rudd, Ben & Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Chappelle, and Courtney Love) to establish a mild cult status nearly fifteen years after its theatrical release. Anyhoo, I’ll set the scene for you: it’s New Year’s Eve in New York City in 1981. And there are all these romantic and comedic storylines that are meant to intersect at a party in the East Village, but it’s the woman hosting that party who interests me most. Monica (Martha Plimpton) is so unnerved at the pressure of throwing this party, that it drives her to hysteria and intoxication. Well, to be more specific— it’s not the stress of hosting that bothers her; her loft is well decorated, the bar is stocked, she’s made crab dip and all that…but it is the fear of being left alone with said crab dip that causes her to unravel.
Listen, I’m going to spoil the ending for you. Everyone is out on the city streets: finding and/or losing love, smoking cigarettes, drinking to excess, and discussing the finer qualities about life and love in the back of Dave Chappelle’s taxi cab, they are also inching towards this party at a glacial pace.
It is in the empty, unattended room, that the hostess begins her descend into social anxiety. Feeling humiliated in her party frock, with her “Happy New Year” tiara nestled in her up do; she cannot reason that people are not there because they are not there yet. Instead, she panics and jumps to the worst possible conclusion: “I have no friends and everybody hates me!” she declares before eventually drinking herself to the point of blacking out.
She awakes the following morning amid the aftermath of a most successful party. She is left to piece together just how fabulous they evening was, and is devastated that she missed her own event. In fact, it turned out that Elvis Costello was at the party as well, desperate for the crab dip recipe, and for her, it begins a whole new shame spiral. Every time I see this movie, the irony of this woman’s situation makes me so sad. If only she could have just relaxed, had confidence in herself, she would have been vindicated in the glow of celebratory merriment, surrounded in the crush of happy party-goers
Okay…the scene I have just laid out for you is me on my worst day…a mirror in which I see my reflection. This is sometimes how I feel about blogging. Not the writing process, I find each day it gets easier or more enjoyable. It’s that in blogging…in establishing some kind of following through social networks, I fear it is a party that no one will attend. And what I need to consider is that a month ago, I wasn’t doing this blog…I wasn’t even writing daily. And I like where my head is at, I like filling a notebook with random thoughts and ideas, and knowing that I can give dimension and life to a few handwritten words on a page; before they would just lay in the darkness of a closed book, words that aren’t being read. But—sometimes there is a part of me (the ego I reckon), that can’t help but wonder where all the effing people are.
I felt this way occasionally while living overseas. I purchased lovely stationary, wrote several letters and envisioned all the envelopes I would receive and the mailbox was always empty. The blank, unused paper made a mockery of me, “So…are we going to do this thing or what?” And I felt suddenly embarrassed, like I do sometimes with the blog—all these clever thoughts and phrases strung up like streamers, humorous anecdotes blown up like balloons, and me sitting alone in my literary party dress amongst the frippery, afraid that nobody will come, that nobody cares, that nobody will read, that…I have no friends and everybody hates me. Though it must be said, I have readers and I am grateful for the support and comments. I don’t mean to appear ungrateful or greedy, but this is me being honest about my insecurities… and this is how I feel today… (actually this is more how I felt yesterday, but the words flow just as easily today).
In my research of successful writers and bloggers, I realize that everyone has growing pains…things take time. David Sedaris had a series of odd unsatisfying jobs before being discovered by Ira Glass, and did not publish until his late thirties. Julie Powell from “Julie and Julia” was awfully concerned that nobody read her besides her friends, husband and mother, which obviously, was not the case. She reached enormous success with the blog going to book to film… but then her follow-up book is now on clearance tables next to books written by Snooki from “The Jersey Shore”. It’s a crap shoot, what appeals to the masses…so I suppose its best—that time before failure or success, when anything is possible. I am currently reading Jenny Lawson’s “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened”, and this gal is one successful blogger. But from what I’ve read, she started “The Bloggess” six years before the book is published. These things take time.
One website writes that there millions…no wait scratch that…HUNDREDS of millions of blogs out there (which means my meager blog is a tiny grain of sand on this vast and eternal beach known as the internet—yikes). Also, that it takes anywhere from six months to a year to…oh, I don’t know, a solid decade to achieve a faithful following. A DECADE? I don’t have that kind of time, I’m 31, and it’s all crumbling down around me!! So, just cool it, you don’t want to freak out and miss your own party…if you build it, they will come…now did I just make that up myself? Or was that “Field of Dreams”? With Kevin Costner and Darth Vader, and the dead baseball players?
It’s one of those movies you catch in pieces on channels like TBS, and just never see the whole thing…but according to Wikipedia, it’s about a novice farmer, who, with the support of the world’s most supportive spouse ever, mows down their corn field for the sake of building a baseball diamond. This leads to financial ruin, but based simply on hearing ghostly whisperings: “if you build it…” and later, “Go the distance”…which then leads to a happy ending of baseball playing and success growing and father and son playing catch. Again, I can work with this analogy—sometimes blind faith and biding time are qualities of strength. So…where to go from here? Keep on keeping on, keep writing and day dreaming and throw a daily party with a devil-may-care panache, whether anyone arrives or not. It can just be me and a few friends, my mother and of course my husband, who encourages me on the daily to plow through our corn field for the sake of my own baseball diamond, so that maybe someday, the people might actually come.
Images Courtesy of Google
Due to an overwhelming response following the blog detailing my favourite childhood films (and when I say “overwhelming response”, I mean my best friend commented: “What about Grease? We watched the ever-living shit out of that!”) But that film came later, after David Bowie’s bulge and Captain Von Trapp’s whistle. But it does open up a new avenue of thought: favourite films from my teenaged years.
I peruse Netflix for an acceptable film to half-watch as I write, which has become a long standing practice. Even in university, during my English degree, I’d often have a movie playing as I wrote papers, I don’t care for the silence while working, and I require background noise to bring focus to my scattered mind. So, as I settle under a blanket, with “An Education” on in the background, I think about my own cinematic education.
Yes, there were many movies: where would anyone be without John Hughes movies and Molly Ringwald, “Breakfast Club”, “Pretty in Pink” but I will list my most-repeated classics. So, even though sequels are never as good as the original, lets take this bitch to the next level.
“Grease”: Yes, Evelyn, “Grease” was the word…for many, many years. I may have watched this film approximately 100 times in my youth.
How badly I wanted to roll with the Pink Ladies, sing boisterously in the middle of a school day, be kissed by Danny Zuko on the beach. Although, one must note that the ending is mildly suspect: both Sandy and Danny arrive at the end-of-school-carnival, dressed in outfits that they imagine will attract one to the other—Danny in a Letterman sweater, Sandy in leather pants. Be yourself bitches…that’s the lesson to take from this.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: I recently received a text from a girlfriend, telling me she watched this film for the first time “Where have I been?” she said. Where have you been indeed? I first saw this film when I was thirteen, on “Red Robinson’s Classic Theatre” on KVOS-TV. Holly Golightly was the seminal party girl. I was dazzled but her energy and eccentricity. The way she climbed into Paul Varjack’s apartment window, through the fire escape in her bathrobe. She smoked a cigarette, fixed a drink, and crawled into bed with him after claiming that he looked like her peanut butter obsessed brother.
It didn’t occur to me then that Holly was a prostitute, fifty dollars for the powder room seemed perfectly acceptable. And I don’t want to even think about what went on between herself and creepy old Doc Golightly.
But does it get any better than Audrey Hepburn in her little black dress? All I had ever seen of Ms Hepburn before was in “My Fair Lady”, which is not my favorite movie of all times. Watching this film was a revelation of style and grace.
“Reality Bites”: Two words, Ethan Hawke—has greasy hair ever looked more attractive?
Has chain-smoking ever looked more appetizing?
This movie was so cool, you just wanted to be one of the friends in this crew: cracking wise with Janeane Garofalo, but encouraging the use of condoms. Gently coaxing Steve Zahn out of the closet whilst force feeding carbs to waifish Winona Ryder. All the while making eyes with dreamy philosophical Mr Hawke.
At the time, I had no idea just how hard life would be post-graduation. I can now easily identify with the concept of finding a creative place in the world, regardless of what excellent grades were on your transcript. As Vickie (Garofalo) says: “My favorite part about graduating now will be dodging my student loan officer for the rest of my life. He will be in cahoots with the Columbia Record and Tape Company guy… been after my ass for years”.
“Empire Records”: If you ask Rotten Tomatoes.com, this is not a great film. But at the time I worked at a grocery store, and fantasized about how fun a job like that in a record shop would be. Though in reality, there is little managerial consideration for productivity vs. profit…seriously how many people need to be working at the same time? No wonder this business is going broke. Regardless, I grew up in a tiny town and I didn’t know anyone urban or hip. I wanted to look like Liv Tyler and pull off short plaid skirts, cropped angora sweaters and combat boots. Now, that record stores are becoming increasingly obsolete, you wish that places like that really existed.
But say no more, mon amour, lips are for kissing so je’ta dour. Also, loved the shit out of that soundtrack. Any song from that album takes me right back to a particular place and time where I was so awkward, and in such need of a new scene.
With that in mind, let’s move right along…
“Titanic”: It’s such a cliché now, but my god, how that film was worth the hour-long drive to the neighbouring city to see it at the cinema. I sobbed hysterically as the film came to its devastating conclusion, and the male friend I saw the film with said he felt nothing but annoyance. (He tries to climb onto the door once? What else are you going to do, floating in the Atlantic and waiting for help? Try it again!)
No matter, I was swept up in the tragic story…and come on, how about young Leo DiCaprio? I will also reluctantly admit that I did have a “Titanic” poster in my bedroom. I purchased it at the local Pharmasave while shopping with my father. I hung it above my bed, and it really complimented my vintage “Love Story” poster.
Tacked up along the album covers and pictures of Audrey Hepburn and James Dean, amongst other images which were torn out of magazines. That poster was given to me by our neighbor, who had it in her room when she was a teenager. My mother had given me her copy of the novel, and I soon moved on to the classic film. Actually, I’ve got to go ahead and give “Love Story” a proper shout out.
“Love Story”: maybe it wasn’t so much the romance I loved but Ali McGraw.
Cool and stylish, headstrong and slightly bitchy, Jenny Cavilleri was from the other side of the tracks; but despite her poverty, had the most spectacular wardrobe.
Ryan O’Neil is Oliver Barret the 15th or something, and they fall in love despite the socioeconomic odds. And then he refuses his father’s money out of spite, asked Jenny to give up an opportunity in Paris to support him through law school. They try for a baby, and then Oliver goes to the doctor (ALONE!!), and the doctor tells him that not only Jenny is infertile, she’s also dying. They decide to just sit on that information for a spell, until she dies about a half hour later.
She also makes dying look glamorous. Roger Ebert later referred to this as ‘Ali McGraw’s disease’, which is a “movie illness in which the only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches”. I watched this movie so many times in my early teens, and every time I sobbed until I was dehydated. Of course it was devastating that these lovers were to be parted by death, but it truly bothered me that she never got to live out her dreams. Top me, that was the real tragedy. Girlfriend never got to see Paris. Cue the music.
“Dazed and Confused”: Hey, this movie is twenty years old now, how does that curl your toes?
I loved this film so much, I was obsessed with it: great story, amazing music, gorgeous men, fantastic style. Made you want to wear high-waisted bell bottoms, toss your freshly ironed hair, and smoke cigarettes in the parking lot, leaning against a muscle car and discussing the night’s bitching last day of school party.
My high school boyfriend introduced me to this movie, and when we split up, I kept the VHS copy he lent me. Until he came over while I was at work, and tricked my little brother into giving it to him–ah thwarted! This was all I had left of our relationship! Plus I didn’t want to part from this movie. I didn’t feel well connected to a lot of people in my high school years, and we lived in a small town, and it was a rare occurrence to be allowed out for ubiquitous parties. In some way, these people were my friends, these were the parties I went to. These films became a part of my memory, this was my safe place to go.
I saw this film quite recently and marveled at how young everyone looked, especially the boy who I once thought of as dreamy…he literally looked like a little boy. And now he looks like this.
This is the thing about watching movies from the past…everybody looks so young, and this makes you feel quite old. But that’s what I love about these high school films…I keep getting older, while these characters stay the same age.
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As winter thaws and spring has sprung, styles shift to accommodate the warmer weather. Uh oh. I liked the layers; the scarves over sweaters over t-shirts that disguise the soft curvaceousness that envelope my body like freshly packed snow on the hard ground below. But in truth, on my best, most physically fit day…I’ve still got a considerable amount of junk in the trunk. According to the style chart at the clothing store I work at once a week, I am known as a “pear shape”; the good news is that I am excellent company, as Beyoncé and Alicia Keys are “famous pears”. How nice for all of us. Just another thing we three have in common: beautiful, talented songbirds… with overly abundant booties.
In my years of customer service experience, I’ve seen and heard it all. Once they are stripped down and vulnerable, women reveal their fears, their insecurities in the change rooms. Every woman dislikes something about her body, and their hatred is augmented in the florescent mall lighting. Now this goes for any shop— the stress, the pressures and the expectations make even the strongest feminist a puddle behind the change room door(especially lingerie stores—how is that an effective sales tactic to display airbrushed images of models in the underwear you are about to try on? You are setting your customers up for a fail before they even take their shoes off).
I have actually held women in my arms as they sobbed, boiling over with self-loathing, drowning in the abject frustration over a body they simply cannot clothe. And I get it. There is nothing quite like jean shopping that makes me want to punch myself in the face and light myself on fire. It’s that moment when you try to pull the pants up and your knees act as a border crossing to a Communist country, and only the most specific visa requirements will be accepted. It’s the age old battle of cloth and curves, and defeated, you nearly tumble over in the tight quarters, with jeans you will never own locked around your ankles (sadly, one of the most slender attributes you have). Glancing in the mirror you see nothing but flaws and failures, (why did I wear this underwear? Oh my god, has that mole always been that misshapen? I really must do more squats…any squats, really) and you realize that fashion does not suit you, you must suit it. Face it; you are not Kate Middleton with nice lean long symmetrical legs, looking chic in a skinny jean.
As for me, my thighs are like Godzilla, and my calves Tokyo, forever in the shadow of mythical proportions. This is where I exhale wearily and look for an A-line dress instead.
Discussions about body-issues often arise at my other job. What we don’t like about our figures, shopping pet-peeves and the like. One of my co-workers has a similar body type, and while I occasionally lament my own shape, I think she looks adorable. This is a version of reflective, low-grade body dysmorphia, when you think you look like a bit of a heifer, and yet someone else in the exact same frame looks perfectly acceptable. An issue that has personally plagued me for years recently came up in conversation, and I am astonished at the familiar suffering of others: the death of rare, beloved pairs of comfortable jeans due to the wearing out of the inner thigh. A holocaust of holes where the thighs rub relentlessly together breaking the material down before its time. When someone mentions this, I throw my head back and laugh uproariously. “Has that ever happened to you?” “Uh…only to every pair of pants ever!” And we talk about the many botched patch up jobs, and the devastation that these pants can never be worn again, and you shake your fist up to the heavens, and lament the pears that ruin pairs of precious pants.
A young woman from another department passes through the kitchen. (We call her Legs LaRoux, as she has Middleton style gams). We ask her whether she’s lost pants to thigh-friction. Her face twists in confusion “I’ve never heard of that” (I’m not even making this up; she probably still has jeans from the eighth grade). We all stare at her in silence…with similar sour expressions from the day she tried to offer up Bradley Cooper as a sexy counterpart to Ryan Gosling. She’s clearly not one of us.
But what is one to do? If I hated every woman with a nicer figure than me…I wouldn’t have a lot of friends. I’d like to be above that superficiality, not take too much stock in magazines, advertising and celebrity culture, but that would involve gouging my eyes out, and I’ve already punched myself in the face before setting myself on fire in this piece, so let’s just call it a day shall we? A little self-acceptance is in order, appreciating beauty in all shapes and sizes. And who doesn’t love a pear? It’s not my most favourite fruit, but who wants to look like a banana anyway?
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Another day of staring at the screen, the cursor flashing expectantly, like a pulse beating. I’ve been awake since 4am, worked at 5am and finished work early. Shortly after 10am, I am home, with the day ahead of me. There are tasks to be done: dishes to wash, laundry to do, and of course, there is the writing. ‘I’ll blog first…and then work on some essays’, I think to myself. The possibility of a productive period stretches out before me, and yet I can not concentrate. I wander from room to room, standing in doorways and looking into the space, my expression blank and my intentions dwindling.
Exhaustion takes hold of me, and the unmade bed looks inviting. I wish to sleep but am usually incapable of napping. My husband on the other hand is a champion, Olympic level napper, and can easily close his eyes and drift off for hours. Occasionally I will lie down first, and Ben will follow. And then, as if by magic he will be snoring quietly, blissfully unaware of his wife scowling beside him. But today, like dipping a toe reluctantly into unfamiliar waters, I lay down in the cool sheets. Light creeps in through the blinds, and when the vent below blows air, they flicker in the sunshine and create this technicolor dance of pinkish hues. My mind refuses to relent, to accept sleep, but I close my eyes anyway, and begin to feel myself falling like a feather floating from a great height. And I sleep…for three delicious hours. Not bad for a certifiable non-napper. When I awoke, I wandered through the house once more, looking at all that needed to be accomplished, inching closer and closer to the room where the laptop is. Though I am rested, my mind feels fuzzy, unfocused. And so I write about not much, only of the good fortune to have mid-morning nap. Not exciting, but this is all I am capable of today.
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I have always been a big fan of movies; in fact my first memories blend in with the films that my mother recorded from the television onto VHS. “Annie”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “My Fair Lady”, I would watch them again and again and then re-enact the scenes with my Barbie dolls. My imagination was a refuge, and these films were my fuel. Following is a list of personal favorites:
“The Wizard of Oz”, My mother tells me that she could feed me a line from the film and I could go for an extended period of time acting out the various parts and scenarios. I remember being put to bed and wrapping my arms around my mother’s neck and uttered Dorothy’s parting line to the Scarecrow: “I’ll miss you most of all”. It didn’t really fit the bedtime context, but I wanted to say it, just once in my life. Was not a fan of those flying monkeys though.
“Darby O’Gill and the Little People”, The 1960 Disney film was another favorite, set in Ireland and starring a pre-James Bond Sean Connery. Connery was arguably was my first crush (or at least tied for first with Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing”).
I used to dream of Sean Connery stopping traffic to ask me to marry him. (I’m eight, of course I’ll marry you!) When the latest Indiana Jones movie came out in 1989, my brother invited me to come along…that my ‘boyfriend’ would be in it. Now, as a small child who had not grasped the concept of time, imagine my surprise in seeing a near thirty year leap in my beloved’s life span. That was possibly the biggest shock of my life, and my first realization about aging. (That it happens, and it isn’t always pretty).
“The Sound of Music”, now I loved the shit out of this movie. This is another picture I could have acted out. Like “Wizard of Oz”, I knew all the songs by heart and belted them out in the backyard. Unlike “Oz”, I was totally into the “will they or won’t they” vibe of Maria and Captain Von Trapp.
In fact, I saw it again in recently, and was a little unnerved by this deja-vu feeling from yore, being a little bit bored with the Captain once marries Maria and starts getting choked up over “Edelweiss”. Much more preferable when he was dismissive and stern, bossing everyone about with that yummy whistle. (Ahem, start new list…things to discuss with future therapist). But speaking of things to discuss with a therapist…
“Labyrinth”—my first experience with a cinematic bulge. Jeez Louise, David Bowie packs quite a wallop in the penile region.
A) Few people can show up looking like this and it feel unacceptable. Personally this is a recurring stress dream, being tuck in the middle of the ocean wearing outfits that scream nautical meets Americana. Could you imagine anything more terrifying. The choppy waves, those red and white stripes…that enormous schlong and the captain’s right to, you know ‘anchor’s aweigh’.
Those poor Goblin puppets, all at crotch level, trying to avoid eye contact with “it”. And really, there is so much Bowie to look at, the dramatic makeup, the magnificent diva mullet, but your gaze would always fall like snow back to the bulge. As a child watching this film, you don’t realization that the well-endowed Goblin King was David Bowie…and that Bowie was actually someone important to popular culture and influential to music history.
This is the beauty of watching these films as an adult, recalling childish illusions and realizing the realities. (What? There were Nazis in “The Sound of Music”? Who knew?) Reconnecting with the glow of the television light, and basking in a long ago time when life was easier and stories were simpler.
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