Quiet Times and Ci-ne-ma

Whew, did it rain a lot for the past few days. There’s not much a person with no car can do in a downpour, so I did the thing I’d say I’d do and found myself a plan B. I had Wi-Fi, and the condo place had a DVD rental station, so I’ve taken a few days to be introspective and do something I rarely do: watch a lot of movies.

That puddle had dried up, but not any more!

Why, you ask, don’t I watch a lot of movies very often? Well, this goes back a long way, maybe 50 years or so, when I fell hard for my high-school crush (also my college and most of grad school crush). He was laser-focused on cinema studies, even in high school. He was going to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who majored in filmmaking at USC. But he wanted to write.

Have some warm beverage while I ramble.

I, too, wanted to write, though I really didn’t care about what. Combine that with friends like Anita, who was also a writer type, and you can imagine how creative and eloquent the notes we passed around in school were. They were also very funny, since we also had cartooning skills in the mix.

Anyway, I figured the way into that guy’s heart was to love what he loved, so I watched lots and lots of movies. When we started dating, pretty much all we did was go to movies. No, not to do a lot of smooching, but to watch and analyze those films. We were fans of ci-ne-ma. You didn’t just go to a movie and enjoy it. Au contraire, you had to analyze the themes, dissect the camera angles, and make sure to note any editing flaws or continuity issues. This was serious business.

For those of you who are bored by my reminiscing, look at this cloud beauty.

It didn’t get any less serious throughout college. He majored in English, with a concentration in cinema studies, and I majored in linguistics with concentrations in cinema and Japanese. Japanese cinema, that was my ticket to academic glory, apparently.

Well, by the time I got partway through my dissertation, which happened to use Japanese movies as its data source, and that relationship ended when I realized I was trying way too hard to mold my life after whatever that other person wanted, leading to regrettable rebellions…let’s just say I was done with the ci-ne-ma. I was over the dolly shots and the search for Marxist themes in every film (to this day, I could not tell you one thing about Marxism, even though I had a child who followed the same philosophical path).

It did finally get more sunny later today.

Sadly, I also could not watch a movie without analyzing it. I’d see one thing that triggered my urge to analyze and I could no longer just be moved by immersing myself into the world of the film. That was not fun. So, I really don’t enjoy movies much anymore, especially old ones where I feel compelled to compare each film to its director’s “ouvre.” Poor Anita. She just wanted to watch Turner Classic Movies and I couldn’t look. High School Boyfriend had not ruined her ability to do ci-ne-ma.


Back to today, I guess all that introspection and shedding of old traumas has gotten me past some of my issues. I do better now, and try to watch movies with Lee. I’m just not good with horror and overly realistic violence, which cuts out a lot of the current movies out there.

Here, alone in my little space, I went out and rented every single rom-com, comedy, and wimpy family movie I could, and I watched them. I let myself get immersed in the story, the music, and the visuals and just had fun. What a gift to myself! I do have a couple of comments on some of the films I watched, though, in case you’re considering any of my wimpy choices:

Jerry and Marge Go Large: I’m not sure if I mentioned this one before, but it’s a lot of fun and based on a true story about people who figured out a lottery loophole. Any story featuring real-life mathematical geniuses and genuinely likable secondary characters is okay with me. ****

Addams Family 2: The animation was great, and the attention to detail in the scenery was wonderful. But that was one predictable plot. **

Jungle Cruise: I had low hopes for a movie based on a theme park ride, but I ended up enjoying all the references to the ride and the cheerfully campy plot. The stunts were fun, too, and it was nice to see the female lead portrayed as competent at jungle skills. The gay brother character was fun, too, as he reminded me of many people I know AND was a badass. This one’s worth watching if you want to just relax and watch something. ***

Elvis: GEEZ the guy who played Elvis nailed it. I love how this movie was made and edited (sorry, getting ci-ne-ma on you), and the soundtrack that mixed music from all eras was inspired. You literally see and hear the history of music since the 1950s in this one. Tom Hanks was creepy, though, as Col. Parker. But the rest of the cast, including the portrayals of influential black musicians, was inspired. The Little Richard guy was riveting. ****

The Lost City: This was way better than I thought it would be from the previews. It’s pretty similar to Jungle Cruise, so don’t watch them together. But this one’s one-liners were way more clever, and I found myself chuckling aloud at some of the asides. Sandra Bullock sure can do comedy. I had a blast watching this. *****

Marry Me: I watched this one with Lee, but I just wanted to say this was charming, sweet, and a perfect rom-com. *****

The Good House: Here’s when I ran out of big hits to watch. This one has nice actors and beautiful scenery, but the plot is a heavy-handed tale of a woman who’s an alcoholic and keeps reciting all the typical thing alcoholics tell themselves. It came out well-intentioned but a bit preachy. Kudos for showing realistic sex between older people. ** 1/2

Walking with Herb: This was literally the last film I could get that wasn’t a cartoon or part of a series I wasn’t interested in. Highlights of this one are the great scenery of Las Cruces and Palm Springs and the golf humor. I like golf humor, which is good, because it balances out the Christianity theme (as a non-Christian, I had to suspend my beliefs). Well, it was a sweetly Christian theme, and it was nice to see the Latino lead characters in a mainstream film. I did tear up at some points, so hey, it was okay. ***

I talked about King Richard, the film about Serena and Venus Williams’s dad in an earlier blog. But, I liked it a lot. ****

My solo time is coming to an end, though, because I’ve got my owl necklace (it’s a Superb Owl) on and plan to go watch the Superbowl with other folks at the little cabana bar downstairs. Then, if I can find transportation, I will head home tomorrow. All cabs are booked. Great. Uber is NOT cheap in advance, so I’m hoping tomorrow morning it will be better.

Knowing Your Issues Doesn’t Fix Everything, Nor Should It!

As always, things are changing in my life. One of the changes anticipated for this year is that Anita and I will need to move out of the Bobcat Lair house in Austin. That’s sad, because we really love the setting, the house, and most of all, the neighbors. But, the cost of just paying the City of Austin property taxes is more than the mortgage to our old house, and now that we are getting closer to me retiring from paid employment, we’ll need the money from that house as part of our income stream. Things are winding down, and it’s time for investments to pay off.

It’s the Austin house (Bobcat Lair) showing lovely dark rain clouds. Ah.

Yes, that’s all logical and good. Anita has her own little house in Cameron that we hope to get renovated as soon as her contractor is available and her tenant, who’s already month to month, knowing Anita is going to need to live in the house herself, finds another place to live. This is all quite reasonable, right?

But, when Anita started talking to me yesterday about how much she’s packed up already (she does all her moves all by herself, because she would rather invest her time than her money), and that she gave her tenant notice that she needs to be out, I found myself going back into one of my old, unproductive ways of reacting. I am not good with moving, AT ALL, and the thought of having to leave my beloved sanctuary sent me into a panic. It just seemed like a HUGE amount of work, change, and uproar was impending, and I kind of shut down.

A little wine on the deck helped me feel better, too.

Anita (bless her) kept talking me through it, and I began to realize that I can do things in stages, that I actually don’t have all THAT much furniture in the Bobcat Lair, and that I even have a place to store things like my books and such. And all the boxes I still haven’t unpacked (though there aren’t all that many now!!).

Plus, I plan to rent an apartment near my work, so I can easily figure out what things go where, move them, then get the rest moved to Cameron (except for what’s needed to stage the house). I’m just trying to breathe as I think of more things that need to be done, like electrical work to fix outlets that stopped working…but it’s not too much.

I just have to face it; I’m who I am, and I’m going to have trouble with changing things when it comes to my home, because having my own place grounds me. I’m still a fine person!

Ernesto apparently agreed with my coping strategy. Photo by  @juleslang via Twenty20.

I’m Not Alone

Speaking of my issues, which I am, I had an odd experience last night watching the PBS show on Ernest Hemingway. Now, he’s not someone I ever would have thought I had anything in common with, other than being fond of short sentences (he was way better at actually writing them, though). As I learned how he grew up, the experiences he had with his family, and how he coped later, I was really surprised to see how we have a LOT in common when it comes to our inner demons and how we deal with them.

One part of the show, in particular, hit me hard. He was talking about how happy he was when he had both his wife and another woman he was also in love with. He said it made him inexplicably content, even if he knew it was hurtful. And then he talked about how, in his relationships, he always made sure to have another love interest all lined up before he left someone. Ouch. Those were my destructive patterns in my younger days.

Hemingway statue in Cuba that apparently chokes people up.  @prezioso02 via Twenty20.

I’m really glad I didn’t live such a public life as Hemingway did, because reading all the criticism of my life, like he had to, would have been really uncomfortable. I’m glad I just got to judge myself harshly without too much help from others (except former partners).

I don’t think Hemingway was able to get much control over his demons, much like his father, who committed suicide when he couldn’t get a handle on his mental struggles. He knew perfectly well what his problems were, which is clear from his books, but knowing what his challenges were didn’t mean he could fix them, any more than I can help my issues with moving.

I’m glad I had help, good reading, and inner work that has gotten me out of destructive patterns, at least with romantic and friendship relationships. I’ll be interested in watching the rest of this series and getting more insight into this fascinating writer and historical figure.

What a good thing that we happened to watch this interesting Ken Burns documentary right after I was beating myself up for repeating patterns from my youth (I know perfectly well that I hate to move house because leaving my beloved home as a teenager was so hard on me). It gives me perspective to cut myself some slack and bear in mind that some of our personality “features” are deeply ingrained, just like those unconscious biases.

We can only do the best we can and keep making an effort to improve. Thank goodness I’m a lifelong learner and never plan to stop enjoying the challenges of living up to my best intentions. Let’s all keep open to ways to learn more about ourselves and others, and be patient with ourselves.

That’s my lecture for today. Take what works for you and leave the rest!

A Note from a Friend

After reading my blog (with all the typos I just fixed), my friend Kelli Martin Brew responded to echo my thoughts. I really got a lot from what she said, so I’m happy she allowed me to share her thoughts with you:

I love this. The longer I live, the more it seems clear that a lot of who we are and what we do is hardwired. But how I have wanted to believe that knowing something was the same as changing it! At this stage in life, I think we can use this hard-won knowledge to be more merciful – and to be honest about our own struggles and behavior. I grew up with a huge mandate to “be a good example.” At this point in life, I have contented myself with being just an honest “example” of… something. Whether it is deemed “good” or not will be decided sometime in the future, if at all.

Kelli, Facebook, April 6, 2121

I really treasure connections that allow us to share our inner thoughts, struggles, and learnings. I plan to be an example, too!

something poetic

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