The Movies

Both my parents worked when I was growing up. I was six weeks old when I started at my godmother’s daycare. For ten years, she played a near-daily role in my life. That amount of time gave her great influence in my life – food, music, faith, reading, and movies.

I loved her room – it seemed one whole wall had bookshelves full of books. I do believe I gained my love of reading through the hours she spent reading to us, all our walking trips to the library, and the immense amount of time she let me lay on her bed reading any of the books from her shelves.

We always took field trips – to the Zoo, to Frontier Village (now gone), to San Francisco on the train, to the pool at the nearby high school where my brother and I joined the competitive swim team, to the convenience store for candy and slurpees, and to Thrifty for ice cream.  She also took all of us in the daycare to Vacation Bible School each summer. Pretty sure my mom still has some of the crafts we made there.

One of the things I remember most is going to the movies with her. She took us to the drive-in, as well as the theater. We watched movies at her house too, on tv. She made each trip an event, piling a bunch of kids in the car, settling us with popcorn and drinks in the back seat of the car or in the row in the darkened theater.

I can’t tell you all the movies we saw with her, but every time I walk into a theater and settle into my seat, I think of her. I think of those trips with her. It makes my heart smile. While I do love watching movies at home, there’s just something about going to the theater – seeing it on the big screen, in a reclining seat,  surrounded by other people. It is a process getting tickets, standing in the concessions line, paying entirely too much for a bag of popcorn, hoping you’re there in time to get a seat in  your prime, preferred location (I like to be midway up, or slightly higher, but on an aisle in case I have to take a bathroom break. My eyes don’t adjust to lighting changes very well, and I get paranoid about re-finding my seat in a dark theater!), but it just isn’t the same to wait for the movie to come out on DVD or On Demand.

I’ve taken the kids to the movies a lot recently.  We’ll probably go to the theater at least a few times this summer. And I’ll think of my godmother each and every time – of all the experiences she gave us, all the memories she helped create, and the role she played in shaping the person I am today.

 

The Ending

*Something of a spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen LaLa Land yet (holy wow, who hasn’t seen LaLa Land yet?) But if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to skip this post, cuz I tell you the ending…….*

 

I bought the LaLa Land DVD when it came out recently. I haven’t watched it though. The Princess and I did see it when it was in theaters, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it again. Here’s why – the ending still haunts me. I still haven’t been able to decide if I liked it or not. And since we’ve kind of been in an emotional place in recent months, neither P nor I felt ourselves in a place to be able to handle it. Heck, the music is enough to make me cry.

I did really love the movie, but that ending…..Did you like it, if you saw it? I get it – it’s more real life than most movies. We don’t always end up getting forever with that one person who was with us during a time we’re becoming, we’re discovering, we’re learning about ourselves. I had one of those – a boy I dated right out of college. I was starting my career, really figuring out what I wanted to do with my life, and I was making plans. Turns out he wasn’t supposed to be Mr. Forever, he was just Mr. Right Then. It took me a few years to figure that out, and I don’t regret that one minute. He encouraged me in so many ways, helped me grow and learn. And we had some amazing adventures together. He was there for me at a pivotal point in my life. But we both ended up married to other people, and that’s as it should be. Spouse is my Mr. Forever, and has stood by my side through things I don’t know that other boy would have been able.

My deal is this – when I go to a movie, I don’t tend to want reality. Hello! I’m there to escape reality. That means the boy gets the girl, and the girl gets the boy, and it’s forever. Amen, and pass the popcorn. I had NO CLUE I was going to get a dose of reality at the end of this movie. For real – who puts real life at the end of a magical musical? It was like a punch to the gut at the end. It took me weeks to recover. I think that’s a big part of why the music still gets to me.

P and I talked about it. We both kind of go back on forth on whether we liked it or not. What’s your take?  Should it have had a happy ending? Or did you consider this a happy ending after all? I mean, she is married with a beautiful child, and is a successful actress, but she’s not married to the guy who helped her get there, the guy who stood by her side as she worked towards her dreams and began to see them realized. There still seemed a certain sadness, a what if, to her at the end. And he definitely seemed sad, even if he did fulfill his dream of having his own jazz club. I didn’t walk away with an “everyone is fine” feeling. I’m leaning towards it not being a happy ending, and it making me sad.

That’s not how it’s supposed to end!

The Princess and I went to the movies the other day. I won’t give anything away about any story lines. There was a happily-ever-after, but not the one we usually get. Both of us were kind of torn up about that. It was still haunting both of us last night.

When you go to see a movie, or watch a tv show, you expect to be able to suspend reality – your favorite characters don’t die, good wins over evil, the underdog defeats the bully, and the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. That’s how it’s supposed to go  in movies and television, right? We want that, because we know reality is so much uglier. Favorite people pass away from horrible diseases, evil seems to win over good, the bully defeats the underdog, the guy and the girl break up, there’s no happily-ever-after.

We’ve had an emotional couple of weeks. We loved the movie, but we needed a different ending than what we saw. We both walked out of that theater just kind of dazed and saddened, because, dang it, that’s not how it’s supposed to end!

Hypersensitive much?

I’m an autism mom. I’m also a preemie mom, asthma mom, ADHD mom, mom to teens, mom to a middle schooler, part-time working mom, dance mom, cheer mom, golf mom, and cross country mom….but that’s all beside the point for today’s topic. I see the world through the lenses of an autism mom. Things that may have nothing to do with autism will sometimes still strike me as relating to autism or just special needs in general.

I took the Princess and Little Man to see Finding Dory last week.  We went because Little Man was OBSESSED with Nemo when he was little, and we wanted to come full circle. I loved Nemo too, if I’m being totally honest. Laughed and cried. We’ve watched it a thousand times, no lie. I didn’t read much on it beforehand – just saw a couple of snippets on social media. I saw some mentions of an autism connection,  but I didn’t read the details.

It was with those autism mom lenses I watched the movie. It hit me so hard – those silent tears dripped unwillingly out of my eyes. I cheered Dory as I would my own child when she completed a difficult and challenging task, when she did something she didn’t believe she could do, when she discovered her particular talents were looked  upon with admiration by those she cared about. “What would Dory do?”….the line undid me. It still does.

I cried when Dory’s mom worried to let her play with the “normal” fish, wondering if she would be accepted, or if her disability would cause her to be shunned, much less lost.I cried when Dory’s parents gave her the tools to survive, to find her way home, even though it took years for her to find her way back. I cried when Dory realized she’d used the tools her parents had given her, that they were right there all along. I cried when she believed in herself as much as others believed in her.

I spend my days reinforcing all we’ve taught Little Man, worrying he will be accepted, have friends, not be shunned nor get lost along the way. I try to manage as much as I can so he won’t see how different he is, so he will believe in himself, that he will remember all the tools we’ve given him, that he will find his way in the world and be successful in his own right.

I felt like Dory’s mom. When you have a child with special needs, who’s different, you worry, you fret, you do all you can to make their path easier….you sing songs, you reinforce, you encourage, you help, you hope and you pray. You leave a trail of shells (or goldfish crackers, or Pokemon, or Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddie’s plushies) because you know your beautiful child loves them and will notice them, following the path home. You hold your breath when he steps out on his own, into a new situation, possibly outside of his comfort zone. You wait for the sometimes-inevitable crash. You cry, and laugh, and sing when the wins come his way.

I don’t know if the writer of the script meant for all of that to come through in this movie. As I said, I had my autism mom glasses on, and carried that sensitivity into the theater with me. I will say, it was a beautiful testament to life with a special needs child. Let the tears flow, and the cheers roar.

 

 

A Conscious Decision

I went with a couple of girlfriends this past Saturday to see the movie, “Me Before You.” It’s one of my favorite books, and I’d heard they’d done a good job with the movie. Let me tell you – a) Yes, they did do a good job with the movie, although some character development and storylines were left wanting; b) It’s haunting me. If you’ve ever lost someone you love, you know you have those moments where you suddenly remember she’s gone, you can’t call her, you won’t ever get an email from her again telling you how many days left until Christmas, and your breath is stolen all over again, the loss as immediate as it was the very first day. I re-downloaded my copy of the sequel to “Me Before You,” knowing I needed to revisit it.

I also read a book this week by another favorite author, Emily Giffin’s “First Comes Love.” It’s haunting me too. While I was reading it, I didn’t think I really liked it much, and I definitely didn’t think I liked either of the main characters. I had a particular reaction to the sister who was the perfectionist, the one who always did everything right, who made choices based upon what others wanted her to do, rather than where her heart was leading her. She couldn’t seem to believe she was worthy, and that made her angry…with herself, with everyone around her, particularly when they didn’t seem to live by her rules, rules she’d set down for herself. I think I had a such a strong reaction, because in many ways, I could be her. No one really wants to see themselves that clearly laid out. I won’t go into all the details of the book. Suffice it to say, it’s  a good summer/beach read. You won’t regret reading it.

The thing that’s sticking with me is this – she didn’t believe she really loved her husband of seven years, that they’d gotten married because she thought that’s what he wanted her to do, rather than what she really wanted to do. She’d reached a place she felt blah, overwhelmed with the responsibilities of motherhood and career, disenchanted, emotionally disengaged. That’s not at all how I feel about my marriage, but there were things I could totally relate to.

When you’ve been married a long time, you know you’re going to go through ups and downs. Spouse and I have been married almost 18 years. We have our times of living on different pages, of being more roommates than anything else – those months where 99% of our conversations are merely logistical. We get disconnected, easily irritated, or indifferent. I know from experience, when those seasons come around, it’s time for us to get away on our own for a weekend or longer, to re-engage, reconnect. I make a conscious decision to fall in love with him all over again, to really listen to him, to really look at him, to appreciate his love for me, all he does for me as well as our family, to recall all the reasons I fell in love with him to begin with. Sometimes, it takes just a day or two of this conscious decision-making to right the ship. Sometimes, it takes longer to reconnect. But I’d rather do that work than have a relationship that’s just an existence. There’s so much more to marriage than asking what he wants for dinner, if he can grab milk on the way home, who’s picking up which kid, and where to go on the summer vacation.

Guilty Pleasures

It’s late Friday afternoon. I have spent the last six days undoing all we put together for the fundraiser we held last Saturday  night (a VERY successful night, but that’s a story for another day). Add to that two dance nights (we ditched Monday night because I was falling asleep by 5pm), a competition team party, one awards ceremony, and our elementary school art festival (which included four hours helping set up), and I am tired. I’m counting down to getting back home from taking the Princess to her babysitting job, and the wine will be poured. We have five more school days. Sigh. With all that in mind, I’m creatively tapped. So, you’re getting a list of my guilty pleasures, and I’m hoping you’ll share some of yours.

  • Candy Crush. I know, I know. But can’t you just hear the music in your head? What level did you reach before you finally quit? I’m currently on 386. Some nights when I close my eyes to go to sleep, I can see the game in my mind and start moving the candies.
  • Reading trashy novels. I have a literature degree, but after five years of reading what someone else told me to read, I needed a break. So started the trashy novel obsession. They’re brain candy. I can sometimes, if I have nothing else going on, read two of them in one day. My favorite genre is historical romance, why, I have no idea.
  • She’s All That.  Have you seen it? It’s your typical geek-turned-prom queen with the help of the Popular Guy, coming of age movie, but I love it. She’s so sarcastic and puts him through the ringer. And he’s just so dang nice, but also somewhat clueless. I think I like it because they learn something from each other. And, of course, it has a happy ending. I watch it every time I come across it showing on whatever random channel. I also have it on DVD.
  • Glee music. I loved that show. I miss that show already. Some days, when I really feel the need to sing, I will turn on my Glee playlist, close all the windows, and belt it out.
  • Books. I know I should go to the library, but there’s something about owning a book. And I don’t usually have the patience if a book is on a wait list at the library. I have the Kindle app on my iPad, and my Amazon account gets a workout.
  • Taking myself to lunch, by myself. Ahhhhh….I don’t have to ask anyone where they want to go. I don’t have to talk to anyone. I can sit there with my yummy food and a good book, and just enjoy the calm.
  • Smell good candles. Bath & Body loves when I walk in the door, which is typically when they put their candles on sale. I burn candles all the time. Ditto their lotion. My favorite flavors are Moonlight Path and Japanese Cherry Blossom.
  • Cheesecake. I’m not much of a dessert person, but I do love cheesecake, and find it hard to pass up.
  • Diet Coke. I gave up soda, for the most part, a few years ago. But there’s something about a super cold, icy, soda fountain Diet Coke. I don’t eat at McDonald’s anymore, but I do love their Diet Coke the best.
  • Shoes. I. Love. Shoes. I especially love shoes with really high heels, maybe because I’m short. I love the way my  legs look when I’m wearing heels. There’s just something empowering about wearing heels, for me anyways. But I also love running shoes (Brooks Ghost) and flip flops (Havianas).
  • Pens and paper. I could spend hours in office supply and stationery stores. If I find a smooth-writing purple pen, it’s mine. A blank notebook is a little slice of heaven.
  • Peanut butter and chocolate anything. Oh man…whoever first figured out that combination, I love him/her. Again, I’m not much of a sweets person, but give me a good Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or peanut butter mixed into chocolate ice cream….MMmmmmmmmmmmmmm
  • Water bottles, wine glasses, and coffee cups. I get one – or three – every time we travel.

So, what are some of your guilty pleasures? Please do share. And Happy Friday!

Divergent

I took the Princess to see the second Divergent movie – Insurgent – Friday evening. I’d promised long ago I’d take her the day  it opened. She read all the books last year, whizzing through them, which is new for her. She loved the series and had been anxiously awaiting the opening. I personally have not read the books.

Somewhere in the movie, Tris – the main character – is going through simulations. In one part, her mother who is dead appears. Tris carries a lot of guilt for her parents’ deaths. She cries that if she weren’t different (divergent), no one would have gotten hurt, she doesn’t want to be different anymore. My momma heart took it deeply. In the context of our lives, those words could have been Little Man’s. I started to cry. The Princess looked at me like I’d lost my mind, but I couldn’t help he. He has said those very words to me before, “I don’t wan to be different anymore.”

I watched the rest of the movie in that frame of reference – that of the mom to an autistic child. They way divergents were treated, excluded, looked upon as strange and something to be feared….it hit me so hard. I won’t give away the ending, but there were more tears, let’s just leave it at that.

As soon as I walked out of the movie, I texted my  BFF, whom is also an autism mom. I told her what had happened, what had gone on in the movie and asked for some vindication. I got it. She saw the movie later that weekend and took it the same way. So I’m not losing my mind completely.

I guess in the way Big Man’s prematurity has changed me and the way I see things, Little Man’s autism has also changed me, changed my perceptions. I don’t know what the author of the books was trying to portray with the divergents. The group could represent so many groups, anyone who is “different.” I happened to go this way with it. The movie, these thoughts have haunted me all weekend.