Sunday, April 22, 2012

Looking Up: "Hey, I Don't Bite."

Carl horrified by Ellie's Cavalier Treatment of Library Books
Ellie: "I am about to let you see something I have never shown to another human.  You'll have to swear you will not tell anyone.  Cross your heart.  Do it!"

Ellie: "I ripped this right outta of a library book!" <Carl gasps in horror>

Ellie: "You know, you don't talk very much...  I like you!"

In 2009, Disney and Pixar produced Up, a computer animated film which received both critical and popular acclaim.  What sets this particular Disney feature apart from its predecessors (and anything that the Mouse-kateers have produced since) is that the film makes an artistic statement.  Up opens with the 10 minute love story of Ellie and Carl which sets both the setting for the main character and the themes for the film.  For me, perhaps like most, what always stands out about Up are those first ten minutes and how they tie so beautifully into the rest of the narrative.  My favorite scene in the entire film comes with a very shy young Carl meets a brash and loud Ellie.  As Little Carl runs down the street he hears Ellie barking orders at her Gerbil inside an abandoned house.  Curiosity gets the best of the Young Man so he quietly approaches Ellie, noting she, like himself, happens to be a fan of the World Famous Explorer Charles Munz.  Then Ellie notices Quiet Carl and barks at him asking if he believes himself fit to join her club. Poor Carl isn't sure whether to be fascinated or horrified ...or both.  But Ellie means well and when she notices her new buddy's uncertainty she softens her voice, takes off her goggles, gives him a smile, and pins a bottle cap to his shirt saying: "Hey, I don't bite.  You and me, we're in a club now."  Then Old Ellie takes Carl by the hand to find his lost balloon, causes him to break his arm, and later sneaks into his bedroom at night to show him her "Livre D'Adventures" (something she'd never shown anyone in her "entire life!")  As Ellie leaves she tells Carl: "You know, you don't talk very much...I like you!"  

Maybe what gets me about the scene is that I'm an Ellie: a little too loud, too harsh, full of trouble, and capable of ripping whatever I like "right outta of library book" without remorse.  But what I love most about Disney's Ellie is how she softens when she realizes Carl is unsure.  At least for this Gal, age has made it difficult to take off my Goggles, Speak Gently, Take Someone Special by the Hand, and say "I like you".  Experience has taught me that people do, indeed, "bite".  Then again, what are my other options?  Listen, an Ellie minus the kindness is a Scary Ass Bitch.  If she hadn't eased up a bit, softened her approach, and placed a pin on her new buddy's shirt the first ten minutes of Up would have ended with Carl running away red faced and Ellie barking more orders at her pet Gerbil.  Personally, I think there is a lesson there.  Being a Loud and Seemingly Fearless is easy.  But being Gentle isn' least not when it comes to the people who hold your heart.  Maybe what most of us need to hear is just what Ellie said: "Hey, I don't bite.  You and me, we're in a club now."  In fact, I felt strongly enough about my conclusion that it dominated my Pottery Painting Outing on Friday Afternoon.  In a week's time, I will be the proud owner of the Ugliest Piece of Colored Junk "Anyone has ever Saw", but that junk will remind me to take off my Goggles, Hold out my Hand, and Realize that Something Wonderful is Only Possible if We Share the Pages of Our Livre D'Adventure.  Of course, like Ellie, I still insist upon secrecy: "Cross Your Heart.  Do it!"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Owls: Return to Mad Potter

“Perhaps he does not want to be friends with you until he knows what you are like. With owls, it is never easy-come-easy-go.”  ~T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone

“The Owl thinks slowly, but the Owl thinks long.” ~Ursula K. LeGuin, Catwings
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” ~T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone.

Between the ages of five and fifteen, Disney's 1963 adaption of T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone was one of my favorite animated features.  My overactive imagination loved the idea of a Wizard showing up at my front door, animating my mother's kitchen wares, and offering to educate me in the ways of devilry free of charge.  To my young and impressionable mind, nothing sounded more excited than spending an afternoon researching life from a squirrel's perspective or watching a Wizard's Duel.  Yet, despite loving everything Old Merlin could offer me, I'll admit, my favorite character was not the kind Wizard, but, rather, his sidekick, the snarky and disagreeable Archimedes the Owl.

Archimedes: So, from now on, boy, you do as I say.
Arthur: Yes, sir.
Archimedes: Now then, to start off, I want you to read these book <Points to a huge pile of books>
Arthur: All of them?
Archimedes: That, my boy, is a mountain of knowledge.

Archimedes was the Fucking Bomb, Dude.  I'll brook no argument on that subject.  In fact, with age, I am beginning to resemble the Feathery Genius (yep.  I just complimented myself.  I'm shameless!).  My response to any question whether about a good way to pass an afternoon or a historical inquiry normally requires me to point to a "mountain of knowledge".   Read, my boy, Read! And of course, like my Grumpy Role Model, ruffling my feathers is not recommended.  Only deep affection stops me from pecking out someone's eyes. With all this in mind, last Monday, I returned to Lexington's Mad Potter for a little Ceramic Painting Therapy.  

The last time I visited that establishment, this Hysterical Gal was in the midst of a major crisis.  The upset of that period bothered me enough that I've never finished the piece of pottery I started that day...and I'm not sure I ever will.  Instead, I decided to make something Hopeful.  Something that would remind me of Dandelions in the Spring.  After making no less than seven laps around the store, I finally settled upon the idea of decorating a little Owl.  Each time I looked at that little bit of clay I thought both of Archimedes and a line from a Neko Case song, "This Tornado Loves You": "My Love, I'm an Owl on the sill in the Evening.  But morning finds you still warm and breathing."   "Perfect," I concluded.  

As usual, I plunked myself down and painted my Feathery New Friend all sorts of Wild Colors, ignoring all suggestions from the helpful staff, and finally writing a few words and names on my Buddy's wings when I'd finished.  The point of the exercise is to calm my mind and pour my hopes and fears into a project.  For a Wild and Emotional Tornado of Feelings such outlets are not only helpful, they are crucial to survival.  Of course, no one was impressed with my storied piece of junk.  But that's okay.  I didn't paint that owl for anyone else.  It was for me. That Messy Rainbow Colored Owl is a representation of my Heart: Not much to look at, Full of Mistaken Conclusions, but still Hopeful, still Waiting, still Loving.  Some Hearts might let go and move on, but I've always been an Owl.  And with Owls, "its never easy come easy go."  For now, I wll continue to sit on the window sill, pray, and remember: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Here is Neko Case's "This Tornado Loves You."  Enjoy
And here is an awesome Parody of Owl City's retarded "Fireflies" song called "Electronic Wuss".  Check it out!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"You Can Only Believe..Or Not": Edelweiss, Part II

“I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, great and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.” ~Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.” ~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
“You have a... remarkable memory." 
"I remember everything about you. You're the one who wasn't paying attention.” ~Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Its been a rough day, Folks.  The sort of Unstable and Insecure Tuesday that requires this Rainbow Haired Gal to walk a tight rope...knowing that if she loses her balances, for only a moment, she'll fall off her high wire, plummet toward earth, and land on the pavement with a pronounced SPLAT!  As I sit here typing away, I am hanging precariously from that wire by three fingers.  In all honesty,  part of me wants to give up, let go, and descend into a torrent of tears.  However, as one might suspect, being scrapped off the sidewalk, deposited into a plastic Walmart bag, and glued back together is a nasty business so this Hysterical Historian is still holding on for dear life.  In my humble opinion, there is only one benefit to being a Trembling Mass of Insecurity and Fear: As I seek shelter from the storm, I realize living life among in the Cold Mountains, among the jagged rocks, causes even the gentlest of souls to pull on a protective covering.  Thus, when presented with a predicament, rather than reacting to that protective instinct with anger, I can consider another option.  What is that option?: Setting one's Own Protective Armor Aside and considering Someone Else's Perspective for a moment.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it ain't!   Most of us who are trudging through a desolate and forlorn place search for Edelweiss, a Starry Flower, to brighten our days.  Hoping for a reprieve from Cold.  Yet, making such a long and arduous journey requires us to obtain plenty of padding from life's blows.  In fact, some of us live our entire lives in those Mountains, like Gray Moss.  Thus asking us to set aside our protection from the elements is quite a hefty request, my friends.  For my part, only that knowledge that with a Little Love and Care, Gray Moss will transform into Edelweiss, allows me to stand exposed.  Even with that vital knowledge, I understand the metamorphosis will be difficult one.  Becoming a Starry Flower demands a frightening measure of vulnerability.  For this Self Protecting Weblogger, the only way to overcome that fear is by allowing anxious concern for another person to outweigh the anxiety.

In fact, in order to even attempt to allow Concern triumph to over Fear I am forced to "close my eyes...and repeat my secret catechisms" (Iain Banks' Wasp Factory): "Love is not affectionate feelings, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far it can be obtained." (C.S. Lewis)  Personally, I find comfort in that definition.  Listen, if Love is measured by my ability to swoon, I'm in trouble, Folks.  Sure down deep, this Lady is a Princess Buttercup at heart, dying to proclaim:

"I know I cannot compete with the Countess in skills or wisdom or appeal, and I saw the way she looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at her. But remember, please, that she...has other interests...for me there is only you. Dearest Westley--I've never called you that before, have I?--Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley,--darling Westley, adored Westley, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love.' And with that, she dared the bravest thing she'd ever done; she looked right into his eyes.” ~William Goldman

Edelweiss Moss
However, My Friends, I cannot help but notice that The Princess Bride is a book.  Buttercup and Westley are simply fictional characters, not Living, Breathing, Human Beings full of Complexities and Paradoxes.  No Sirree.  Such a declaration might "only end in tears" (Bartok the Bat, Anastasia)  Even if we throw aside the great risk, not a person on earth could live under the weight of being either a Westley or a Buttercup.  No one is always perfect, sweet, and adorable.  We all have faults, flaws, and insecurities, the ones we were born with and the ones fate gave us over time.  Rather,  I believe "to love someone means to see him as God intended him." (Fyodor Dostoevsky)  Careful now, Dostoevsky's definition doesn't mean idolizing another person.  No such a strategy is inherently destructive.  Pedestals are uncomfortable both for the person looking up and the one forced to look down.  No, in my opinion, it means forgiving miscommunication and injuries because we care about the core of another person.  We look beyond the sting of insult because hanging onto that moment is not worth losing someone special.  And let's face it.  Most of us would do well to remember our own feet are made of clay.  The Dark Spots on my personal character abound.  Loving the Dysfunctional Mess that is Jennifer Nicole requires an Abundance of Grace.  And perhaps that is what becoming Edelweiss means: Giving and Receiving Grace.  Doing so requires us to become Vulnerable.  To stand naked in front of another person with our hearts open and hands held out knowing we are at his or her mercy, but unable to determine the reaction we will receive.  And that is the thing, my Friends.  "You can't know.  You can only believe...or not." (C.S. Lewis)  For my part, I think I'll choose to believe.  Believe in the character of others. Believe that Dandelions take time to grow.  Believe that Gray Moss, like myself, can become Edelweiss.  This evening, I am frightened, insecure, and close to tears once again, but "I do not believe the darkness will endure." (J.R.R. Tolkien) Instead, I think I'll say: "I came here quietly because there was need of me, that some blossom might brighten these solitude."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Deck Building Strategies in the Game of Life

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for.  The evidence of things unseen."  Hebrews 11:1

Doctor: "Miracles do Happen"
Arletty: "Not in this Neighborhood"~La Havre

"Because you are.  The universe is big.  It's vast, and complicated, and...ridiculous.  And--very rarely--impossible things just happen, and we call them miracles.  And, that's the theory; nine hundred years, never seen one yet.  But this would do me."~Doctor Who

Back in January, I reviewed a Finnish film, Le Havre, directed by Aki Kaurisamaki that ties together the themes of Care-Giving/Love, Risks, and Miracles.  That particular film holds a special place in my heart because I saw it last December on my birthday.  Having spent most of that morning choking back tears and struggling to deal with heartbreak, I found that discovering an unexpected miracle in Le Havre's plot provided me a measure of hope and peace.  I clung to that hope with both hands. Maybe, just maybe, I thought: "Miracles do happen." Of course, my difficult Birthday would be followed by an even more painful month.  Then, quite unexpectedly, Something Amazing finally happened.  I found the person I lost.  Like any real miracle, the Sun Shined through the Dark Clouds and I rejoiced.  Yet, somehow I forgot something important during that period: Relationships are less like a Game of Lost and Found (or Hide and Seek whatever you prefer), and more of the Deck Building Persuasion.

Sounds strange, I know, but allow me to explain.  Even at my best (and right now, I'm at my worst), this Weblogger is a bit scattered.  Most days before leaving the house, I set out on a little scavenger hunt to find my purse, keys, and shoes.  Once I locate those important items, I'm off.  No problem.  But People, my Friends, are not Shoes which either fit one's feet or don't. No, individuals are more complex.  Despite, compatibilty, we have personal histories, dreams, scars, and nightmares.  We change day by day, moment by moment, based upon our own perceptions of the situation.  Misunderstandings and hurt feelings happen due to those differences.  So where does Deck Building come in?  Well, in my opinion, we each choose which cards to hold in our hands and which ones we will play when Fear, Misunderstanding, and Hurts Happen: Anger or Forgiveness; Abandonment or Understanding; Love or Fear.  We employ either a Burn Deck only capable of causing Destruction OR a Control Deck capable of slowing the pace of an explosion.  Confession: I was raised to play a Burn Deck, preferring a Scorched Earth Strategy in the Wake of a Fallout.  However, with Age, Experience, and Someone I consider Quite Special, this Historian has changed her ways.  Time to slow down, remember mine is not the only heart at risk, keep calm, and carry on.  Today, is Easter Sunday, and I am praying for another miracle.  More than anything I want to talk to the person I'm missing.  Yet, the Anxiety, at the moment, is overwhelming.  Like Arletty, I know "Miracles don't happen" in my neighborhood.  Of course, that fact doesn't stop me from hoping.  Perhaps my new outlook will help the situation a little: I've set aside my Heavy Infantry and decided to go with a Lifebound Hero.  Hearts, I think, ought to be like Dandelions: a Hardy Little Weed which Refuses to Die...even if they get stomped now again.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Revising Randy Paush: Eeyore's Perspective

“Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh. 

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning, which I doubt," said he. 

"Why, what's the matter?" 

"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it." 

"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose. 

"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.” 

Being Crazy comes with a Few Perks, my Friends.  Insanity is a Full Time Position, Seven Days a Week, Twenty Four Hours a Day, Rain or Shine, the Crazed must Pack their Lunches, Punch their Time Cards, and Commit themselves to Lunacy.  Its a Thankless Job.  No one commends you for Incredible Feats of Irrationality.  No one stops to think how much effort being this crazy takes.  No Sirree.  Such an Existence transforms a Natural Born Tigger into an Eeyore.  In fact, this Former Bouncing Ball of Destructive Energy adopted an Calmer Perspective years ago.  Furthermore, despite what Randy Pausch suggested in his Last Lecture, in my opinion, Eeyore, not Tigger, Rocks the Hundred Acre Wood.  Need proof?  Sure you do!

“Bouncy trouncy flouncy pouncy fun fun fun fun fun. The most wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!” 

Tigger: Hello, Rabbit!  I'm Tigger.  T-I double Guh..
Rabbit: Please!  Please! Don't spell it!  Oh dear, will you just...just look at my beautiful garden!
Tigger: Yyyyyuck!  M-messy, isn't it?
Rabbit: Messy? Messy?  It's ruined!  It's ruined, Tigger!  Why won't you ever stop bouncing?
Tigger: Why?  That's what Tigger's do best! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!

My Darlings, lets just take a quick look at Tigger's Dominant Personality Traits: Egocentric, Violent, Remorseless, Pathological Liar, Possesses a Grandoise Sense of Self Worth, and is Manipulative.  He's a Fucking Sociopath, People.  Now, why don't we take inventory of how this Jumping Tiger treats his Friends, the same individuals who feed him cake and invite him to parties.  Throughout the course of A.A. Milne's books, Tigger manages to Trample the Vegetable Garden Rabbit spent months laboriously growing (with no remorse.  see quote above), Terrifies Poor Piglet near to Death on Multiple Occasions, and Bounces Eeyore into a River (then covers up his crime).  Destruction of Private Property, Breaking and Entering, and an Attempted Homicide.  In fact, the ONLY animal Tigger treats well and desires to spend alone time with, is Roo, a child.  One can't hep but wonder: Is Tigger a Pedophile?  This Possible Pederast with Sociopathic Tendencies is Randy Pausch's Prototype for Shaping Well Balanced and Productive Human Beings?  Allow me to offer a better alternative.

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing"
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore.  "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’. The Social Round. Always something going on.”

Eeyore is the best Character in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Despite being bounced into a River, this Donkey stays calm and politely floats down stream without much complaint.  Sure he might grumble a bit but that Sad Looking Fellow also attempts to find the brighter side of his most depressing days.  Might still be snowing but at least there hasn't been an earthquake, yet!  For a Crazy person, like myself, that is EXACTLY the mentality that sees ya through another day.  In all honesty, ever since I was a Little Girl, what I most loved about Silly Old Eeyore was that he seemed to be Gentle and Wise.  Never trampling anyone's garden, providing help whenever possible, and never uttering an contemptuous word.  If Americans want to mimic an A.A. Milne Character, perhaps Eeyore is the better choice.  

Please Note: Any long time Eeyore worth her salt must offer a Caveat to this Recommendation.  The Cold Hard Truth is that Our Gray Buddy is a Self Loathing Pessimist.  Years of experience has Taught this Neurotic Historian that a Negative Self Perception often leads to making mistaken judgments about other people's motivations.  While its nothing short of nauseating to assume that one's behavior is above reproach (i.e., a Tigger), its also dangerous to assume we know where another person is coming from.  Confession: When I really care about another person, this Eeyore assumes any hiccup in communication comes down to some sort of failure on her part.  If I had been better.  If I had been "enough".  If I had been something worthy then problems could have been avoided.  Not only is that perspective a recipe for a Depression Cocktail, it also demands I push the other person away.  Once Cocooned in Insecurity, My Vision Blurs.  I shut down.  In doing so, I commit a Great Injustice.  Do I really know what is going through another's mind?  Why a reaction happens?  If I hope to ever know than perhaps I should stop drawing my own conclusions.  Maybe, instead, I should pray for both of us, look beyond my own fears, and remember other people have feelings, fears, and personal histories too.  True enough that "we can't all, and some of us don't" have "Gaiety.  Song-and-dance.  Here we go round the mulberry bush."  But I think if One Eeyore cares about another than perhaps, she ought to remember hers are not the only Sorrows in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ridin' the Crazy Train

Guess what Kids?: Today, I am Certifiably Insane.  Not Crazy like concluding that Caning a Man near to Death is the Proper Response to a Family Insult (Year: 1856.  Parties Involved: Charles Sumner and Preston Brooks.  Go become Historical Detectives, my Darlings)  No, its more of a Completely Irrational, Unfounded Insanity resembling Cruella Deville's Obsession with making a Fur Coat out of Dalmatian Puppies minus the Desire to Skin and Wear Puppies. (Here is an article about Undaunted Puppy Flinging. Enjoy)  Because Yours Truly is Incapable of Making Good Sense, allow me to provide an example.

Friend says: "Hi Jen.  How's it going?"

I hear: "Jenni, I've never liked you.  You're an awful person and stupid.  Go away."

Now, the Good news is: I knew when I work up this morning I was crazy.  Thus, rather than responding: "Why you would say that?  I'm sorry.  Don't hate me." I force myself to repeat the EXACT words spoken to me.  After a careful replay, I conclude: "Perhaps it wasn't as bad as I first thought...maybe?"  Though one can never be sure about hidden nuance.  

I finally respond in a timid manner suppressing a flinch: "Its okay.  How are you?"

Nope, there is no moral to my story.  Why would you expect that?  I'm crazy today.  Any attempt at a moral would be nothing more than nonsensical ramblings: "Blue plus Seven Minus Kittens eating Bears Equals My Life is Falling Apart"  There.  Is that what you wanted?  Well, go figure out what it means because hell if I know!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Don't Mess with My Board Games, Man

"No amount of Plum Puffs can cure a Mind Diseased and a World Crumbling into Tiny Pieces," but often Board Games help this Hysterical Historian keep it together.  For instance, this weekend my plan is to devote at least one evening to nothing but gaming.  A delicious Smorgasboard of Fun and Distraction. Om Nom Nom Nom. Only a Fool would mess with me at the moment. Of course, the Golden Dome is home to more than its fair share of Fools.  Thus, this evening One Moron learned the consequences of attempting to thwart my Master Plan. What happened, you ask?: a Sadistic Fucker held one of MY Games Hostage.  In response, I came out of my Corner like a Rabid Dog.  Listen, on a good day, I'd find the refusal to return my copy of Ascension Chronicle of the Godslayer and the Storm of Souls Expansion Pack grating and unacceptable.  But it hasn't been a good day, my Friends.  In fact, its been a Fucking Awful Three Weeks.  I'm hangin' on the edge, Man.  Thus, when that Bastard decided he wanted to dance, I said: "Let's go, Buddy".  No Waterworks.  My tears are reserved for the handful of people I care about and pray for on a regular basis.  Not Periphery People.  Not a Jackass who first attempted to withhold my Game of Thrones Dvd Set and then wouldn't hand back Ascension.  War.  All out WAR.  I kicked ass and reclaimed what was mine.  "When you play a game of thrones, you win or you die."

Fair Warning People: When Your Friends are Fucked Three Ways Toward the Weekend, its best not to Shove them on Over the Edge.  My minded is diseased, my world is crumbling into tiny pieces, so taking away my Runes or Meeples is a Suicide Mission. You're messing with Walter Sobchak now: "Do you SEE what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass, Larry?"  So go ahead.  Try to take away one of Games.  Go for it. "You think you got that horses for that?  Well, Good luck and God bless."  And you know what?  My life is falling all to hell so I think I'll buy another game this week.  Maybe Pandemic, I dunno.  Remember when life Gives you Sadness, Buy Board Games.

*If my Gaming Threats frightened you then allow me to offer a calmer but intriguing alternative.  Click Here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Amelie: Dreams, Hearts, and Chances

Narrator: [Amelie has found Nino's photo album and his "lost" posters] "Any normal girl would call the number, meet him, return the album and see if her dream is viable.  It's called a reality check.  That's the last thing Amelie wants."

Narrator: "Nino is late.  Amelie can only see two explanations. 1-he didn't get the photo.  2-before he could assemble it, a gang of bank robbers took him hostage.  The cops gave chase.  They got away...but he caused a crash.  When he came to, he'd lost his memory.  An ex-con picked him up, mistook him for a fugitive, and shipped him to Istanbul.  There he met some Afghan raiders who took him to steal some Russian warheads.  But their truck hit a mine in Tajikistan.  He survived, took to the hills, and became a Mujaheddin.  Amelie refuse to get upset for a guy who'll eat borscht all his life in a hat like a tea cozy."

Porn Shop Clerk: "These are hard times for dreamers."

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2001 masterpiece, Amelie, is among my all time favorite films.  As the title suggests, the story's plot centers around a young woman named, Amelie whose childhood was marred by her mother's unfortunate death and her father's health concerns.  In order to ward off loneliness, as girl, Amelie creates her own fantastic dream world which allows her to define love and fairness in whatever way she sees fit.  When she finally becomes an adult, our Heroine's peculiar ideas about justice and romance cause her to act as both a secret matchmaker and a guardian angel to the people around her.  Yet, Poor Little Amelie remains lonely, finding herself still isolated, unable to connect with anyone, but her elderly neighbor, Raymond Dufayel.  With time, the Little Purveyor of Happiness becomes smitten with a young man who collects old passport photos.  She finds his peculiarities similar to her own and cannot resist connecting her heart to his. And Herein lies her challenge: Amelie must come out of the Shadows put and Actions to her Heart's Desire.  The task seems an impossible one to her until Dufayel reminds her: "little Amelie, your bones aren't made of glass.  You can take life's knocks.  If you let this chance go by, eventually your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton.  So...Go and get him, for pete's sake!"

The film is fantastic: tight camera angles, beautiful cinematography, and oh, so quotable.  Yet, as one might expect, I personally connect to Amelie.  Her isolated childhood, peculiar system of justice, and even her solution to uniting with her love.  The latter is unique and all her own.  "Any normal girl would call the number, meet him, return the album and see if her dream is viable.  It's called a reality check.  That's the last thing Amelie wants."  Yep, that's me.  In fact, my weblog often reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the film: "Amelie still seeks solitude.  She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as 'How many people are having an orgasm right now'? [scenes of various orgasms taking place]  Fifteen," she concludes.  For this Gal, 99% of my weblog posts start with an emotion, a pounding in my heart, a feeling I want to express, a longing just out of reach, so I find little questions to amuse myself with.  Little ways to veil the issue.  Pass time.  Hope that what is in my heart is understood and maybe even returned.  That's why I love Amelie.  At the moment, I'm still struggling, like our Heroine, with how to put action to feeling. How to drown out the fears.  I don't know.  I need some help.  For now, I'll content myself with writing this post, saying my prayers, and remembering "my bones aren't made of glass.  You can take life's knocks.  If you let this chance go by, eventually your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton.  So...Go and get him, for pete's sake!"

This one of my favorite scenes.  Much of my childhood was marked by similar deceptions and then my taking passive aggressive revenge.  Hell, I still wear Amelie's look today.

No Way Out: Dog Grooming Gone Wrong

For the past couple weeks, My Days have been marked by Wild Spurts of Energy and Hopefulness followed by Lethargy, Self Loathing, and Despair.  Aw, its Beautiful Cycle.  First, I run around my apartment cleaning like a maniac, cooking healthy meals, and assuring myself dandelions take time to grow.  Then..I crash.  The once Perky and Calm Woman is replaced by a Mournful and Pathetic Jennifer who lays on the couch in the fetal position humming "There's no way out of this dark place.  No hope.  No future." (From Disney's Crappy and Slightly Racist movie Brother Bear) Yesterday, I spent the morning and early afternoon as Self Loathing Jennifer (Gawd, she's crazy.  And why do all her scenarios end with orgies?  I dunno), only to transform back into Maladjusted but Still Productive Jennifer by the evening.  Toward the goal of productivity, I concluded that last night was as good of time as any to finally groom my dog.

You see, my canine companion, Brutus, happens to have long hair which tends to mat.  Yuck.  Honestly, its been a rough few months and I ignored old Brute.  What?  I'm sorry.  Somehow in between going insane and experiencing heartbreak I forgot to brush the stupid dog, okay.  Its just a dog, not a person.  Gawd, you're judgmental.  Anyway...last night I thought: "The time has come to fix the furry situation."  Fortunately, about month ago, I purchased a pair of Dog Grooming sheers from Meijer in hopes of tackling the issue right away.  Of course, by the time I got home from the store, a sudden bout of apathy hit me pretty hard and I never managed to open the scissors let alone use them.  Now, however, I was ready, armed with the right equipment and the proper outlook.  Time to beautify Brutus.

Confession: I'm unfit for the task of beautification. My Natural Instincts tell me Makeup is War Paint and that any Girl's Toy is a Potential Weapon.  Listen, I lack a certain innate gentility which might have made me a proper Stepford Wife. Examples, you ask?  For starters, when I was six I sheered one of my Barbies completely bald.  That was the first and best hair styling job I've ever performed.  As I walked around with my mangled Barbie my mother looked on in horror.  In truth, my own tresses only seem "together" because they happen to be naturally curly (i.e., easy to care for with the proper cut).  But let's move on to War Paint.  For me, Makeup Application came down to practice, my Friends, not talent.  Any skill I possess on that front were earned through years of intense social pressure, hard work, and dedication to the craft between the ages of 12 and 21. Also, Ladies, please note that when properly applied War Paint is a handy tool in your arsenal.  Its Camouflage, Girls. Look adorable and harmless and then pounce. You're wondering about the Potential Weapon aren't you?  Okay fine. At the tender age of four, my older cousin Ginger irritated moi.  Rather than crying or yelling for a parent, I began a careful examination of the baby doll I was clutching, noting with malicious intent its heavy rubber head.  The next thing old Ging knew my doll's head was flying at her mouth with me still holding the toy's leg to provide added force.  Yep, shut her right up.  (I turned vampire on her brother, Andrew, about that same time but that's another story)  The point you ask?: This was a suicide mission.

Despite that knowledge, last night, I went forward with my plan to cut the dog's hair. didn't go well.  I'll admit it.  Hiding the truth does not change reality.  Brutus looks like he was sent through a pencil sharpener.  Everything started out fine but before too long I found that chopping through the mats was difficult.  As I hacked away, I discovered that I was taking a lot more hair then I intended. The more I attempted to "even up" his trim the worse things got at which point I formulated a new plan: Cut all the hair off and let it grow back.  Only that didn't work, either.  By the time I finished, Brute had multiple bald spots.  One of his ear's now appears to be longer than the other.   His tail is asymmetrical.  Its terrible.  No, I'm not providing a picture.  Also, those scissors were a lot sharper than one might think.  YEEEESSSS, I knicked him, alright?  Good new is that dog didn't seem to notice but the Bad News is that event sent me into a torrent of tears.  There is no moral to this story.  Here I sit with an Ugly Dog, Feelings of Guilt, and Self Doubt is Overwhelming me...thoughts of orgies and my own inadequacies soon to follow: "There's no way out of this dark place.  No hope.  No future."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Code Yellow: Growing Up with the Savages

Wendy Savage: "He's writing on the walls with his shit, Jon.  Our Father.  Don't leave me alone with this."

Jon Savage: "I'm not leaving you alone.  I'm just hanging up.  We'll talk tomorrow."

Wendy Savage: "We don't even know where the man live anymore.  You want to know where he lives?  Sun City.  Have you ever heard of that?  Its in the middle of the desert somewhere.  We're gonna have to go out there and find him."

Jon Savage:  "Wendy, we are not gonna have to go out there and find him.  We are not in a Sam Shepard play."

Wendy Savage: "We have to do something.  This is a crisis."

Jon Savage: "Look I'm not actually sure this qualifies as a crisis.  Its an alarm, okay.  But its not a crisis.  Not yet."

Wendy Savage:  "You mean we're like in orange?"

Jon Savage: "What?  Yeah, right.  Exactly.  But we're only in yellow, okay.  So we should just be....aware and be...cautious.  When it hits red then we're in trouble."

In Tamara Jenkin's, The Savages (2007), Jon, a theater professor with illusions of producing a book about Bertolt Brecht, and Wendy, an aspiring but unsuccessful playwright, are siblings who have drifted apart but must reunite in order to care for their estranged father, Lenny.   As the brother and sister duo work to place their surviving parent in a retirement home, they each discover the other has yet to heal from the scars of their childhood: Jon cannot commit to his longtime relationship and Wendy only dates unavailable men.  As the film progresses, both characters are forced to finally face their own demons, finish growing up, and make peace with what their father was before he dies.  For personal reasons, I deeply enjoy The Savages, the dynamic between Wendy and Jon, the pain and humor that accompanies dysfunction, and the strength necessary to care for an ailing parent.  Perhaps because last week produced the death of one family member and this one may end with passing of another, I find myself once again considering the future and pondering the past.

If you don't want to be Isaac and Miria, you're dead inside.
In my opinion, when and how we "grow up" depends upon environment, personality, and Providence to some degree.  On many levels, like Frank Capra's George Bailey, I was "born old" or maybe I was "made old".  I dunno.  Responsibility, hard work, and obligation were concepts I grasped early on.  But when it came to developing emotional security, I remained an infant.  Precious intangibles such trust, self worth, and forgiveness eluded me.  Why that happened is unimportant at this point.  What matters is learning about them now.  Like Jon and Wendy, I work to evolve past my scars or at least cope with them.  Find some balance.  Hold another person's hand.  Become healthy enough to provide stability as well appreciate it.  The more I mature emotionally, the more I understand, life is not about avoiding cuts and bruises.  No, such a mentality is childish.  It assumes that I am free from fault.  That I never administer wounds.  Intentional or not, I do.  We all do.  Perhaps, what matters is choosing grace over nature.

Nice and Jacuzzi are good too though.*
Grace "doesn't try to please itself.  Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked.  Accepts insults and injuries," while Nature "only wants to please itself.  Gets other to please it too.  Likes to lord it over them.  To have its own way.  It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it.  And love is smiling through all things."  Tonight, I am too exhausted to think through the implications of those statements.  But I know this: While we can never be the ideals, we each choose whether we will hold onto one another or let go.  Whether we will have faith in each other or simply find fault.  Love is allowing anxious concern for someone else to outweigh the fear of being hurt.  That last part is the scariest and most difficult, at least for me.  Putting the "concern" into action is nothing short of terrifying.  But there it is.  Its been a long day, so for tonight, I'll say a pray for myself and someone I want to talk with, read for awhile, and remember we're still in a Code Yellow.  Not even Orange, yet.

*Round Heels is my new favorite description.

Giant Angry Face: Anatomy of a Failed Weblog Post

Spongebob: "Patrick, help me. I'm spiraling."

Me: "Could you read the beginning of a weblog post for me?  Is it too much?

Friend: "Sure, send it over."  <I email the incomprehensible babble below>

"No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful
Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful.
They want what they're not and I wish they could stop saying
Deputy dog dog a ding dang depadepa
Deputy dog dog a ding dang depadepa"

"I don't want to live in this world anymore
I don't want to live in this world."

In case the quotes are not obvious, its been a rough day: Parentals Predicting my Demise, Graphics Details of a Recent Death Trumpeted Over and Over Again, Family Members Marching Past My Newly Constructed Boundaries, and the Silence still Reigns.  That last part is the hardest because every fiber of my being wants to talk.  But fear is staying my hand.  What?  Don't judge me.  A.) This Muppet Diva Wannabe is Exhausted to the point of Hysterical thus, if the conversation went poorly, she'd dissolve into a Pathetic Puddle of Jennifer Nicole B.) Minus regular communication a sudden outburst suggests selfishness on my part. (i.e., I'm speaking because I need something from you rather than I'm speaking because I care about and miss you)  The latter is true but at this moment so in the former.  The only Solution is a Cocktail of Caffeine, Weblogging, and Self Pity Shaken Well and Served Over Ice.  Delicious

Friend: <Chuckling> "Well, Jen, its a little frantic. Kinda screams Giant Angry Face plus a Suggestion You Plan to Die."

Me: "I thought it was truthful while still being light hearted.  You know...funny in a sad way?"

Friend: "Well, maybe if everyone has listened to They Might Be Giants...and has spoken to you at length today.  More of a veil...and less frantic energy."

Me: "What needs to go?  All of it or is anything salvageable?"

Friend: "Well, not starting off with 'I don't want to live' or a swirling tornado of random seemingly unrelated events would be an improvement.  Listen, the post makes sense to me but I know everything that is going on with you."

Me: "Okay, I'll try again. Deputy dog dog a ding dang depadepa"