Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Silver Linings.

Image via
I have this blog - and for the life of me, I cannot remember its name. It was created for the sake of writing reviews of movies, music, and performances I had seen and thought were worth talking about. I should be posting this there. But no one reads that blog. Because even I can't remember its name. Yikes. ***Update three hours later. It's called An Evaluative Expose. I should delete that.***

Today in my teenage angst, I'm a little slow on the uptake. Well over six months ago, Silver Linings Playbook was released in theatres. I remember, when that movie was first advertised, people were pretty upset because Jennifer Lawrence - just 22 - was playing opposite 38 year old Bradley Cooper. Hollywood is apparently known for this and someone did a graphic comparing Hollywood's longest leading men and the respective ages of the women to whom they starred opposite. It was effective. Because Hollywood has this tendency to glorify the age of men; in that with age men get wiser, classier, more stately, etc. To the opposite, it tends to demonize the age of women in that the older they get, the less attractive they become. And that's where it stops, am I right? But this afternoon, I watched Silver Linings Playbook for the first time, and while I understood the hesitancy then, I'm pretty over it now, because despite the fourteen year age difference, if I didn't know who these people were, I couldn't have guessed otherwise. As it has been said before, J-Law is an old soul, and this is no where more aptly seen, than in her portrayal of Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. 

If you need a summation of the movie, click here. I was going to write one, but then figured I could really just save the time and space and send you elsewhere. 

I went into this movie just so pumped to watch J-Law do what had earned her all those awards and appropriate attention; and I saw it. In that scene when she and Bradley Cooper had the discussion about which meds they were on and had been on before that, I saw it. When she first attacked Bradley Cooper running, I saw it. When she stormed into Robert De Niro's house and all but made that parlay happen (score one for educational entertainment), I saw it. There was never a point at which I thought, this is just a different version of Ree, or Katniss, or Elissa. This was Jennifer Lawrence, as Tiffany - the manic, emotionally unstable widow that just wants to be who she is desperately trying to understand herself to be. 

In the same way, Bradley Cooper did not present himself to be the ass that I've only ever known him as. I am not a fan of Bradley Cooper. He was the worst thing about He's Just Not That Into You and that's saying a lot. I have no interest in The Hangover and I'm probably not going to watch Limitless, or A-Team, or All About Steve (yes I did just scroll down his IMDB Filmography because who pays close enough attention to the movies he's in). This, though, THIS! put him in an entirely new category. 

Full disclosure, I have an anxiety disorder and have been on meds for five and a half years. I have been in that place where you are so crazy that every movement you make might land you in jail - or if you're me, in very serious trouble. I have felt so out of control that I have broken things; and screamed so loud, I've thrown up. The method through which Bradley Cooper presents the experience of psychological and emotional instability, was, at least for me, dead on. Nail on the head. Bullseye. And he wasn't douchey. But rather he was respectful, and kind, and had a deeply complex relationship with his - also psychologically unstable - father. He ordered Rasin Bran to avoid leading Jennifer Lawrence on. He was sick and he was hurting. But he was trying. We're all trying. Am I right?

The way that Bradley Cooper was able to embody the experience of psychological frailty in the midst of relational and economic loss, was unparalelled. He captured the complexity of the psychological experience in that it's not just your experience. It's the experience and influence of those around you; of those who made you. It's every event leading up to the break down, and every event afterward. It's every detail within the moment of your break down and the way that every detail of that moment is going to follow you for seemingly ever. The exposure of this complexity makes this film invaluable; to me, as one with psychological issues, and to director David O. Russell, who, as we now know, made it for his son. 

Jennifer Lawrence noted this importance her acceptance speech at the SAG Awards.

I feel more crazy than this morning before I watched it. But I feel more affirmed in my crazy, because in spite of it, I understand my crazy and I like to think that, by and large, I'm understood, by those who matter. I come away, so emotional, and I want to watch it again, now. I come away with a new and renewed appreciation for Bradley Cooper and J-Law (respectively). And I come away thanking David O. Russell, who understood the need for an examination of this subject and found the perfect avenue through to examine it. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Last night, in my teenage angst, I felt sad about my age for the first time. But that was immediately the thing; I didn't feel sad about my life - as saying you feel sad about your age often implies. I felt sad about how my actions were seen as relative to my age.

I used to teach Sunday School. It was really more of a church service for children. I would come and do ridiculous things to get them to like me and then I would tell them a story and pretend that they were interested in what I had to say. Then their parents would tell me how much their kids liked coming to my class and I would feel like my time wasn't all wasted - just some of it. Our group was integrated, which meant that we had about fifty kids from ages five to ten in one class room. At that point, from bottom to top they're pretty cognitively differentiated. I really liked the little ones. They were so cute and shy and crazy, if they had a comfortable enough group of friends. They were also super interested and generally captivated by everything I did and said.

The older ones, though, I'm willing to say now, three years after the fact, were the reason I was there. Kids ages 10-14 are my candy. They're fun, they're able to carry on conversations, and sometimes they're the worst, but mostly they're the funniest because they don't know what's going on and they think they have to be awesome all the time. I have a pretty easy time developing invested relationships, so during that time, some of those ten and eleven year olds, were some of my closest friends. I felt pretty good about that for a long time. I loved them, they loved me. There was a lot of love. And I could influence them. That part was pretty good too. I could encourage them to think deeply about difficult issues like homelessness and materialism and being a good friend. And we would learn; together, from each other.

The biggest problem with pre-teens is that they become teenagers. This isn't to say that I don't love teenagers. I do. Maybe even more than pre-teens. But if you lose contact with a pre-teen, don't think you'll be able to re-establish that contact after a couple years, because then they'll have left pre-teenhood and be teens; and believe it or not, teens are a lot more discerning in terms of how much longevity you're going to bring to the table. And longevity, at this point, is really what it's all about. Let's just remind ourselves the real reason of why Twilight is so appealing.

As I mentioned, it's been three years since I stopped teaching that class and every pre-teen I had a connection with is now a teen. But we all still live in this pretty small town, so I see them all the time. It's a consistently uncomfortable exchange. I work at the public library and so I most commonly see them there. I can't just ignore them, so I always go up and talk to them about how school is going and what they're reading and then make a comment about the sufficient awkwardness of the conversation. This always makes them laugh because they don't think they were allowed to say it. Then I leave them to their lives. It's pretty awful. But I do it. Because even if they don't still love me, or see me as they used to, I still think of them as eleven year olds, waiting to be befriended and influenced.

Last night, I was at Safeway buying donuts before I went to my friend Janelle's. I saw this girl across the store and noted how pretty her dress was. Then I got in line at the express check-out. I glanced at the girl who's dress I loved and low and behold, it was one of my pre-teens, with another one of my pre-teens. I didn't recognize either of them. They're now taller than me, wear higher heels than me, and wear the same amount of make-up as me which  effectively removes them from any illusion of childhood that I might have had about them. I said hi and told her I liked her dress. She said her feet hurt; I said I believed her. I noticed the other pre-teen, who said hi and giggled just like she used to when she was nine. Thank goodness. They were buying an ice-cream cake for their friend's birthday. They had taken her to Regina for supper (not dinner, ha). She was turning fourteen. I remembered that my plans for my 26th birthday in a few weeks are to watch the Season 4 premiere of Pretty Little Liars and eat pulled pork at home. We all smiled. Someone paid for the cake. I assume with their parents money. Our conversation ended.

On the conveyor belt I had placed a box of crackers, two donuts and two packs of Peanut M&Ms. I watched the first pre-teen stare down at my items the way you do when the 80 year old ahead of you is buying twelve cans of cat food and a box of molasses. I thought about what my items amounted to. It really didn't look like much. And all I could think was, "This is what 25 looks like, girls. This is what's waiting for you." And like, I'm single. I live with my parents. I will never not be saving for tuition. And I feel like that might be disappointing for them to think about. Because 14 is when going out for a birthday supper (not dinner) in Regina is the best you can get. But when you're 25, all you can think about is how much that's going to cost and how you could just sit and eat donuts at home wearing yoga pants. Is that what's waiting for them? Probably. But maybe not. According to Girls, yes. But according to the experience of the rest of my friends, no.

Last night, was the first time, I've ever been disappointed in my age. But not, really. I was disappointed in what people - down to the age of 14 - expect my age to represent, and may or may not be disappointed by how I am living up to that. But really, I'm pretty secure with my yoga pants and donuts. So I'm just going to stick with that.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Today in my teenage angst, I'm discovering that life outside of school is the best. When you're not at work, you're allowed to do - wait for it - whatever. you. want.

After a week, though, watching TV and fake-napping and not going to the gym, have gotten lame. So I decided to pick up a hobby.

I took French this year at school for my two-semester language credit. I had a really amazing French teacher in High School and I had retained a lot of the basics. So going into the first semester I was like, this is so easy, how could anyone not get a hundred percent in this class? I ended the first semester with a 72 and the second with a 69. So I guess me. It's just one of those things that isn't super hard to understand, but is one of those things that is super hard to apply if you don't try and apply it regularly. I didn't want to try. Because, really guys, it's my language credit.

I did learn a lot though, and participating in other languages makes me feel superior. So I have decided to take up translating French Poetry. This is my first translation. If you can't read it because thought I would be fancy and scan my translation notebook, you can find it re-written below the image.

You are silence
             and midnight.
You are science
         and instinct.
 And the scream
And desertion
The pacifier
                          and the forgiveness
The multitude
The desire and belief
Where he supports
               and unravels.
All loneliness.

It's also worth noting that I did this translation in my room while listening to Peter Gabriel's So, on vinyl. It makes me feel like a character from a Sophia Coppola movie. That, I feel, is something worth pursuing.