Tuesday, January 27, 2009

graded on participation

Mom sent me an email today that gave me a great idea for today's blog post.  It's a comment-getter, this one.  Because, you know, it actually asks for comments.  You know how I love movies and how I love to be moved by them.  I'm so happy when a movie somehow elevates our own sense of purpose, our right to exist.  You know those movie lines that sink in like "152 insights into my soul," and you wonder to yourself, "How did they know that?  How did that big Hollywood somebody see me and write my feelings that way?  It's surely happened at least once.  Remember my post (I doubt you do) way back when about how movie makers are like the people in a Quaker church standing up because they just know they have something to say?  Well, with all that intent, surely they've gotten to you at least once.  

If you've seen my MySpace page, you know the quote that is probably the most defining for my own life - ironically from the very movie that joked about the insights into my soul.  Meg Ryan's character wrote it in an email in You've Got Mail.  Thus, I have Nora Ephron to thank for one of the most defining movie quotes of my life:

I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small.  And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I want to?  Or because I haven't been brave?

From this quote on, I looked at life differently.  I have a whole theory about how important the "small life" is - because it is important.  But before this quote I lived life much more passively.  After it, I realized that living the life you're supposed to requires more than just patience.  Sometimes it takes bravery.

Recently P.S. I Love You spoke to me.  The defining moment in it is probably the scene where her husband writes in a letter that he is not trying to help her remember him but to remember herself the way she used to be when she knew what she wanted and didn't worry so much how perfectly she found her way to it.  "Just create."  That's what she knew she wanted to do then and what he wanted to remind her of now.  That movie speaks to me because of that belief in the importance of creativity and also for probably the most perfect love any human ever gave another.  The guy in this movie was so content just to love her, and he did it so well.  I definitely want creating things to come second to that part of my life.

Okay.  Now it's your turn.  A movie, a movie scene, a movie line - Pick one.  It doesn't have to have changed your life - it just has to have moved you.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

more things I love about movies

Question: How sad is it that most Americans are NOT smarter than a fifth grader? We have the board game at home, and I just failed half way through fourth grade. The question was something I really, really should have known. I'm embarassed to even tell you how much I should have known it. It had to do with the Alamo, and - well, I guess I just haven't seen enough movies on that one. The way Drew and I play, though, is that you get lots of chances to keep moving forward. And I totally nailed my million dollar Q. You want to know why? The question was, "In what year did the Great Depression start." So I replayed in my head something I'd read on my agent's blog recently - that their Christmas party theme at the end of the year was "Party like it's 1929." I also know the year of the Newsies strike (from the movie) and a few important tid bits on World War I (from the eighth book in the Anne of Green Gables series). And, YET, don't even think I could ace the pop culture section on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, because I only pay attention here and there even in that field that I love so much.

So, yea, I'm feeling kind of - well, not concerned - but interested - in the state of our intelligence. Because I know I'm not alone. I also know that at least I'm smarter than Kelly Pickler, who didn't know if France was a country or not, and the teen Miss America contestant who stumbled over basic geography in a question about why American kids don't know enough about geography and, seriously, most of the people interviewed by Jay Leno on the street outside of Universal Studios. I mean, that segment is just really, really sad.

Michael and I were talking about the economy today and various executive orders signed last week and the Climate Change formerly known as global warming. And of course, I eventually ran out of things I knew for sure and things of which I even had an educated opinion. That doesn't take long for me when it comes to current events. I've paid more attention to the current presidency in two days than I ever paid attention before. I think it was the fingers-in-the-ears philosophy. If I don't know it, it can't scare me, la la la. I think I got that from a movie too. And I quote:

There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser or a Corillian Death Ray or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they. . . Do . . . Not. . . . Know about it.

Isn't that the truth.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

it certainly is audacious

When I first met my surgeon, I had only been living with a cancer diagnosis for a few days. I was terrified and knew nothing. I thought I would read my death sentence in his face immediately along with a sorrowful apology that he couldn't do much for me. When he walked in the room smiling, my fear literally disappeared out the door behind him. He joked with me about my name because of the Seinfeld reference. He didn't say anything about my disease at first, so it wasn't his plan that made me brave. It was his attitude. I knew that whatever the fight would be, I could do it with him.

President Obama has that effect when he speaks. When he gave his inaugural address, I felt completely swept up in all the hope so many people were putting in him and the determined way he's meeting it. I found myself wanting him to tell us what to do. I wanted him to say, "Be kind. Love each other. In these frightening times, find a way to help not just yourself but your neighbor. Because if we all do that, the climate will change, and the economy will follow." Idealistic much? Oh yea.

I told you the world just lost a wonderful man named Keith Lawson. He moved to my hometown not long before I was born in it, and soon founded the food pantry that is still going strong. I wrote about that food pantry in an article you can find on Radiant Magazine.  The idea in the article is completely awesome.  Unfortunately, I'm still not really practicing.  It's one thing to realize you're not a giver.  It's another to actually become one.  Keith really was one.  

I like to listen at a funeral or memorial service and take in all of the kind things said, wondering what people might say of me.  I leave funerals with more resolutions than at New Year's.  In this case, what I kept hearing was how much faith Keith had in people.  Everyone kept saying that:  "He believed in me."

One preacher said that what Keith really believed was God inside of us.  That's probably true, but it reminds me of a theory I heard in a movie - that we all began as one soul that then broke into two and then four, etc., so that we are all now tiny pieces of a whole.  I kind of believe that about God - that parts of him are in all of us, different aspects more pronounced in you than in me and vice versa.  So that we can never truly know Him on earth unless we let in a whole lot of different kinds of people.  That's kind of what it means to me to believe in people.  

And it's how I feel about America's economy crisis.  I know that we could really fail this test.  We could all turn to greed and fear and burrow into our various holes with our various stashes of money, and everything would fall apart.  But I believe in us more than that.  I think we'll learn how giving is the best way to receive and that even though the unstoppable greed of some may have gotten us in this mess, it will be the hard work and sacrifice of the rest of us that gets us out.  And we'll do that, because of the part of us in which good people believe.  You have to admit - even if I'm wrong, I'd rather weather the storm with hope than without.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Updates on the Book and a Baby

Well.  I don't like to go this long without a blog post.  I took on some freelance work, which takes some of my extra time.  We had a teensy bit of forward motion in the book front, which took some of my week.  I sang in the memorial service for a great man who passed away.  And the rest of the time, I was doing this:

This isn't the best picture of her that I took, but it's the least dorky of me (since I kept making squishy, pouty baby-talk sort of faces because I was holding all this glorious baby-ness in my lap), and I'm really too vain to choose the ugly pictures of me even for my namesake.  Isn't she gorgeous though?  I mean, that skin!  Those lips!  That hair!  She spent about one day and one night at our house.  (Along with her sweet, cool mama of course), and simply nothing could woo me from her awesomeness.

On the book front, we're working on a proposal to give the manuscript a little extra selling power to the editors still interested.  If someone had told me how difficult it was to convince someone to add your memoir to their already over-published stack of self-discovery narratives, I would have fictionalized the whole thing and made it a great novel instead.  Still, we have interest.  And interest is way down the road towards someday being on a shelf, so it's good.  I'll try and stop by a few more times this week despite my obsession with the proposal on which all my hopes and dreams hang in the balance.  I'll tell you what a wonderful man Keith Lawson was (the previously mentioned memorial service) and what I learned from his life and I'll keep you posted on Jake's antics and the life of a struggling writer.  It'll be great.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on these.

Monday, January 12, 2009

looks like I need to hit the cinema before Oscar night

Somehow I don't really get the Jonas Brothers.  But this was the best picture I could find on Flickr from the Red Carpet Sunday night, and plus, I was thinking - three brothers in a band.  How fitting.  (photo by SassyPanda on Flickr)

I took notes during the Golden Globes.  First up, the red carpet special.  I don't like this part.  I mean, I don't want them to stop doing it.  But it's always disappointing.  ALWAYS.  I remember as a little girl when Mom used to let us stay up late to see who won the Miss USA pageant, and Felic and I would sit glued to the television eating Twinkies, hoping our favorites would win.  But by junior high, I realized I was never satisfied.  I wanted there to be a stand-out, some perfectly beautiful, pure-hearted angel who would literally make the audience gasp with her sweet, pure, inside-and-out beautifulness.  I wanted to be inspired.  But no.  It was pretty much just girls in bathing suits and high heels barely bumbling out an intelligible answer to philosophical questions.  And then the winner was always someone I hadn't really even noticed until the top 5.  That's how the red carpet event always makes me feel.  Where's the inspiration?  It's the same tired questions and the same tired answers every time.  Also, in case you didn't catch that, Nancy O'Dell, they said they CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER ALL THE FANS SCREAMING THEIR NAME.

Let's move on to the show.  I liked the lack of elevator music.  If no one was talking in the microphone, you could hear the clinking of glass and the chatter of the stars as if you were really there.  That was kind of cool and realistic.  I especially liked when a winner was anounced and then the running to the stage like they were navigating an obstacle course.  It was really long and annoying - that part.  Which made it very real.  And at commercial breaks I pretended I was chatting with Brad about my memoir and my future novel featuring a little nod to him.

The next thing I wrote down is, "Ricky Gervais is funny."  There hadn't been a lot of that before him.  Which makes now a good time to say that I really love Kate Winslet, and TWO, wow!, that's very impressive.  But her speeches were so boring!  I didn't mind - she'd earned that right.  But I don't think her speeches will make the montages next year, that's all I'm saying.

Next up:  Johnny Depp is alive!  Then he spoke, and I was like - sort of.  Dude, crack a smile.  A joke even.  (You'll have to read a couple posts down to get the Johnny Depp joke, and then you may have to click a link.  It's really too much work.  You don't have to get it).

Shortly after this, Heath Ledger won.  And I cried.  

My notes trickled off after that.  Nothing too interesting.  I haven't seen even one of the nominated dramas.  Not one.  But I saw Kung Fu Panda a LOT and feel that it was robbed in the animation category simply because Wall-E was all liberal and green and stuff.  I fell asleep for about ten minutes near the end (it was a long day!), and had to look up just now that Slum Dog Millionaire won best motion picture drama, because I couldn't remember.  I call myself a lover of Hollywood, but when awards season rolls around and I haven't even heard of many of the nominated films, I realize I'm just a girl who appreciates a good movie, a pretty dress, and a really moving speech.

What do you think?  Golden Globes 2019?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not just another Friday Night

So, the Wii totally inspired us.  There couldn't be that much difference between a small, rectangular remote and a 10-pound ball, right?  Surely we'd learned to throw straighter, aim better, grab a spare like kids find trouble when you're busy (every time).  The Wii is good for something right?  Yes.  It's good for completely disorienting you into thinking you're some sort of athlete when you're actually no better than someone surfing channels with a finicky remote that you have to point in several directions to get to work and maybe punch the buttons more than once while standing (occasionally).  It doesn't really prepare you for these big, slick lanes, the aforementioned ball, and these strange blue valleys all along the sides of the lane that literally pull your ball towards them like a magnet.  I'm not even kidding.  I was pretty bad.  Although I kind of lost my Wii bowling magic as well, so maybe the game's just against me.

Despite all that, though, I had the best night.  Jake is three.  THREE.  It's the third anniversary of hands down the happiest relief of my life.  We made it.  Jake Kenneth Bohon, born eight months after the worst doctor's visit of my life, 26 weeks after undergoing general anesthesia during my surgery, about four hours after Michael promised I will never do this to you again (a promise I did not extort), and 1 tiny second before I knew I had just met one of the very coolest humans on the planet.  You're so worth the gutter balls, Jake.  Every single one.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

but it will not be this day . . . and other great motivational speeches by men in medieval armor

If you stick with me through the Hollywood talk, you know how I love a good movie montage.  We're about to lose television - February 19th I think? - just as we head into awards season.  And Michael may not realize it, but I will disregard all his beautiful frugality in a heartbeat to make sure I have the necessary channels for all those wonderful movie montages.  The People's Choice Awards, Golden Globes, Oscars - they're all coming.  And even though I know that some big shot at the cable company got together with some big shot in government and decided television shouldn't be free anymore (I'm paraphrasing Father of the Bride there and directly quoting Michael last night when I suggested we purchase cable), I'm still going to let the big shots win.

Remember last year when they didn't even have a Golden Globes, and it felt like Johnny Depp had died?  See my letter to Hollywood last year for the details.  Well, this year awards season is back in all its glory.  And you can bet that's what they'll be saying, "Well, the dresses seem so subdued this year considering it's the Globes first year after they were cancelled because of the writer's strike."  And, "This is the kind of old Hollywood glamour we love and sorely missed during last year's Entertainment Tonight Golden Globes fiasco."  Trust me, we're going to hear stuff like that.  The whole will-they-go-big-to-celebrate-or-just-pretend-nothing-was-ever-amiss debate.  I'm sure you won't read the magazines that ask this question, but I'll fill you in.  You can count on me.

I followed one of my commenter's yesterday to her blog and found this very fun video.  I'm afraid You Tube will put a cease fire on it soon, because it surely breaks all kinds of copyright laws.  But as long as it's working, I just had to post it here too.  Thank you, Shelli, for leading me to it.  This is my kind of entertainment.  I would probably pay actual money to watch just these in a movie theater - just the montages.

This one is called 40 inspirational speeches in 2 minutes.  Now cue the powerful music, and join me in a tribute to that really cool moment in the movies when you know the underdogs are about to find their way.  

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm not all that resolute, so I'll call them New Year's Considerations

Well, it turns out that the Wii isn't quite enough to make me stop wishing that every post could be labeled "Road to Publication", that new years are scarier than they used to be, and yoga is awesome.

The first is self-explanatory.  I'm a teensy bit obsessed, but I no longer care.  You don't get what you want without caring about it very much.  So I'm just going to keep caring.  TTYR.

I adore the New Year holiday.  First of all, because I need a buffer between Christmas and reality.  Christmas is like a fairy tale.  January, especially in Missouri, is cold, hard reality.  The New Year eases me in with an extra day off work, warm happy thoughts, and lots of snacks and stuff.  I like that.  Plus, I totally buy in to all that this-is-our-year! stuff.  Because you never know when it just might be.  But then, this year, after thinking all those rosy, dreamy thoughts, I got scared.  Because I was probably all rosy back in January of 2005 too, and that's the year I had cancer.  Which despite giving me the premise for a book to finally actually finish and a new lease on life and a bigger laugh and stuff, also scared the living daylights out of me.  (I wanted to say crap - that it scared the crap out of me, but I don't really like to jar my mom that much, and she'd be really jarred if I said that on my blog - even though it felt more like crap than daylights - because I don't even know what those are.)  

I have a friend who used to look forward on New Year's Eve and actually pray with her husband and try to find out just what the new year held.  Even pre-cancer I knew I wanted none of that.  I hoped I could face anything that came, but I didn't want to know it ahead of time.  And this year, sure enough, I stopped short when I clinked my sparkling raspberry grape juice cup with the boys (turns out, the raspberry is not better than plain old grape), because I realized how little any of us know what the year might hold.  

Fortunately we don't know the good stuff either, and there might be plenty.  But all the same, I'm afraid I don't look ahead with the same naivety as before.  I think this is what people mean by one day at a time.  

Which brings me to yoga.  I didn't make New Year's resolutions.  I never really do, although I do kind of believe in them.  I mean, hey, if there's something you need to change it's worth a shot.  But I do really hope to be more fit this year, to put a little more effort into my well-being.  And I hope to be more grateful.  Every day.  Yoga helps with both.  I look forward to that hour, because it's energizing and relaxing all at once.  But then, throughout the day, I find myself whooshed to that yoga place now and then just when I was headed to perhaps a more stressful one.  It's very centering and peaceful.  Very serenity now.  I don't know if it's yoga specifically or just activity in general, because I took a walk with the boys today and felt awesome after that as well.  I can't do the walk barefoot, which is something I love about yoga.  But I can't hold Jake's hand during yoga either, which is something I loved about the walk.  

So here's hoping I care enough about my writing career to help it happen but not so much that I obsess, that I can face the year with gratitude for all the good and bravery for the rest, and that I remember what it does for a body - Just.  To.  Move it.