Sunday, January 17, 2016

When you grow up...your heart dies...

John Hughes is one of my heroes. His prose lives inside my head to such a degree that a lot of the time I don't even realize that it's him that I'm quoting. As a director, I find that he excelled at minutiae, not so much at endings. But that is surely because they weren't really ending. They were trailing off, short stories really, with characters who would drift away from each other in the reality of life.

The Breakfast Club is my favorite of all the John Hughes movies. Allowing the girls to watch it this young was something I really mulled over. It is so important to me, carrying so much of what I consider my truth, and they are young for the content. Not just the swearing, which they seem immune to (according to them, they know all of the curse words from the school bus), but the pot, the references to sex and virginity, all of that.

But the point-the theme of the movie is vital. They understand bullying. And cliques. And stereotyping, even if they don't exactly know that word.

It is within the stereotypes that John Hughes excels as a director. Take, for example, the lunch scene. He does not go out of his way to make a big deal of it, but within their lunches lie their homes. Claire, of course and most obviously, has sushi. Brian has the well-balanced lunch. Allison makes a sandwich of Capt'n Crunch and pixie stix. And then there is Andrew's never ending bag-three sandwiches, chips, a banana, an apple, and on and on. He never points out that John does not have a lunch. Nowadays, that would be a huge plot point.

I'm not sure that they could make The Breakfast Club today. The crying. I don't think that they could just let them open up and cry. Certainly the gun. Brian would have gotten much more that Saturday detention. And the adults. They would have made a bigger deal of them, of the fact that they are sad and pathetic. One disillusioned with his job, the other the former big man on campus now reduced to cleaning up after the kids that would have worshiped him eight years ago.

But Judd Nelson is amazing in this performance. I always feel sorry for Judd, when they trot him out for whatever, and he ends up having to talk about The Breakfast Club, like he never did anything else except possibly Suddenly Susan. Judd is a great actor who gave many great performances but, such is life, this is what he is remembered for. His performance, though, is profound. Yes, he has to keep going off the wall, screaming and carrying so much of the heft of the movie. But his character is the heart, the soul, and the connection point of the audience. This is surely one of the bravest decisions that John Hughes made as a director. Bender is not the character most people would select as the most accessible. But watch his face in the scene where Vernon is begging him to hit him. Watch what he is able to convey with very few words-how scared this kid is as this adult informs him that his greatest wish is to beat him up.

I realize that I am now an unequivocal grownup. I am the parent pushing my kids to succeed, hoping that they chose friends that help them to grow and not that pull them down a rabbit hole. I am raising children who have to split time between their parents, surely the worst punishment of all in the Brat Pack world. I am sorry for that. But I'm also kind of still watching the world around me in wide eyed wonder, hoping to run into John Bender and help him to find some solace. My heart isn't completely dead yet.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Slight musings on starting a new year...

My New Year's Eve was not really very exciting this year. I actually just talked to the girls and then basically fell asleep. It is probably the first time in 30 years that I didn't at least make it to the ball dropping.

I did, however, watch When Harry Met Sally... yesterday. Which is how I always ring in the New Year. Harry is one of my all time favorite movies, and Meg Ryan's character of Sally Albright is one of my idols. In my life I have basically tried to emulate 4 fictional characters: Anne Shirley, Charlene Fraiser Stillfield, Corky Sherwood, and Sally Albright.

And here's the exciting part: I am so much like Sally! I have never watched When Harry Met Sally having gone through a break up. Basically because I have never been through one before. But this year, with all my wounds still fresh and stinging, watching this movie was like a balm to my soul. The character of Sally is trying so hard to move on, to accept that life is moving forward, and she refuses to feel anger over her life changing in such a huge way-it was me to a tee. Many, many people have told me that it would be best for me to just get really angry, to scream and fight and let that emotion overtake me, even if just for a little while. I don't doubt that they are right-it probably would feel good-but I have yet to really feel it, and at this moment I can't imagine that I will go there. I feel many things-most profoundly, overwhelming sadness-but I don't really feel anger.

I also feel panic. There is a line that Carrie Fisher's character utters that so describes me right this minute. She is telling Sally that she should get out there and date, and Sally's response is that she is in a mourning period. Carrie says, "All I'm saying is that somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don't get him first, somebody else will, and you'll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband." Now, just setting aside the irony of me suggesting this applies to my life, this is how I am feeling at the moment. Like if I am not getting out and seeing people, the person that I am supposed to end up with might end up with someone else. But I also feel like I don't have all that much inside of me to give.

Which is all neither here nor there. What happens will happen when it happens. In the meantime, my plan is just to keep trying to heal and grow and become a better person. Let's hope.

My week has been fairly good, even if I did miss the girls like crazy. I spent an evening with my sister, which was so fun. I went out to eat with my friend Niki, which was good conversation combined with a delicious chili at Tumbleweed. I got my hair done. I went to yoga. My radio did this weird cutting in and out on my way home from April's, which made a mash up of Little Drummer Boy and Turning Japanese, which was wicked cool.

And tonight I get my girls back. We will make our resolutions. Mine is basically to keep healing. Here's to 2016-let's hope it's the best year yet.