Archive | November, 2015

We are all Charlie Brown . . .

16 Nov

I love this piece by Leonard Pitts.

If there is a person in this world who has never felt the sudden blush of shame that is so common to Charlie Brown, I have never met that person!

In fact, I believe the statisticians who say that most of us go through adulthood feeling like we are the *only person faking our skills and expertise in a world where everyone else is a skilled, legitimate adult.

Read that again.  We *all feel this way.  And we all hide that feeling for fear that others will find out what a total poseur we are!!!

I am convinced that the most savage attacks on others come *after someone is pushed into a corner and publicly shamed.  That should not be so, but it is.  Those who are bullied come out of the corner fighting.  And often they fight the most powerless person they see, as that person is easy to overcome.

As a milder person, I can bear testimony to that.  On the road, I tend to be the one pushed around by other drivers (I drive fast, but not aggressively, so I seem to be read as the lesser threat in almost every scenario.  I am *constantly tailgated in the right lane!).

So it was that I picked myself up from a Charlie Brown day today and lifted my head for another day.

I wasn’t sure at the time what had happened, but a miscommunication put me in a classroom full of millennial students who had been told they were working on their briefs.  *I had been told I was teaching them.

Imagine starting class with some general comments to which the students responded, then interacting with someone in the front row to give an example of class material and finding that no one else in the place was paying attention!  They were either talking to someone else or huddled over their computers working.

After trying to soldier through for several minutes, including asking for attention, I quietly left class and found their advisor.  It was then I found out about the miscommunication.

It had been surreal.  As though I were invisible.  As though I were being pranked.  As though I were Charlie Brown.

But the upshot is that it doesn’t kill us to be Charlie Brown every once in a while!!!

Now where is that football???

Queen Bee Chick Flicks

14 Nov

I resonated with this post.  No, I don’t have a daughter, but I *was a daughter.  And I was never part of anyone’s clique.  Still have never been.

I am *mostly okay with that now.  I have friendships one-on-one and find them to be richer that way.  But I still occasionally wonder what it might be like to always do vacations with the same set of couples or girls’ weekends with a group who all got to know each other in Bible study and stayed in touch after they had moved on . . .

Fact is, I can be curious as to why I am so eminently forgettable that I *don’t get calls from people who have spent nearly 20 years in Bible study with me or who have served with me several years on the same fundraiser committee for cancer research.  But, as I have said, I have rich friendships with those who do stick with me (a few all the way from childhood), so I try to let the rest go.

Sometimes I am tempted to attribute the shape of my life to the fact that our only child/son has high functioning autism.  I think both parents have vestiges of it.  I would be considered “shadowed” in autism lingo.

Yet I have talked to enough women, and have read accounts from others, that I realize that probably more than 50% of women resonate with my story, at least the majority of their lives.  There is no end to the long line of women who feel that they have spent their lives on the outside looking in.  It is a rather common configuration and has many members with whom I should be proud to relate.

That said, I do love a good “chick flick” with an ensemble cast of richly textured women.  Sometimes they inspire each other; other times they drag each other into banality and prejudice.  Both types of movies are fascinating.

Lately, I have been focusing (again) on Julia Roberts, one of my favorites.

I saw her in Mystic Pizza, where she, her sister, and their best friend find love and laughter while waitressing at a pizza restaurant in Mystic, Connecticut.  I also saw Mona Lisa Smile, in which she plays a Wellesley art professor who invades a very stereotyped, prejudiced world in the 1950’s and finds true friendship with some of her students and lifelong superficiality in others (or in their mothers!).

Then I watched The Help, about a group of suburban socialites in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s, and mostly about their black maids.  What an amazing movie.  History rolls on by and only one of these wealthy, privileged women realizes that there is a story to be heard from the maids.  This rare young lady gathers notes on that story and tells it in book form. Meanwhile, the others drive on past the roadblock set up when Medgar Evers is murdered, never realizing that the event was not just “oh, some Negro got himself killed.”

A couple of people in the film learn and grow but most do not.  They remain prejudiced and banal to the bitter end.

The lessons are many from films such as these and from the stories most women have of either being invited into a clique as it forms or of being left on the outside looking in, time after time, as they move on to new places in their life’s story.

Most of us find our peace and our balance somewhere along the way, but we always wonder what it is like for those who make the cut and have those lifelong friendships with the same group, or with more than one group along the way.

Sometimes those groups seem banal, with the members even seeming to be intentionally mean to outsiders; but often they seem deep and textured.  And sometimes we just don’t know what they are like, as we are not there and can only suppose what is said between friends . . .

Nothing Redemptive About “August: Osage County” and “Like Water for Chocolate”

7 Nov

I am a big fan of redemptive themes in movies and literature, even those that are not overtly Christian.

I even secretly believe that God Himself might make these films and books somehow fit for the eternal state, so we can enjoy their uplifting spirit forever.  After all, all truth is God’s truth, right?

That said, I have been watching movies lately with strong female ensembles.  There are several worthy of their own blog post.

And then there are these two dogs.  I was completely prepared to like them both.  “August:  Osage County” because it features Meryl Streep *and Julia Roberts, not to mention Benedict Cumberbatch.  “Like Water for Chocolate” because it is set in Mexico, land where I first traveled as a Spanish major in college.

But, no, both feature families with sisters and daughters and intrigue and secrets and secret sins.  Both feature families that literally implode due to the evil within them.  The only personages worthy of any respect in either one turn out to be the hired help.

There is not one redemptive moment in “August:  Osage County,” despite the fact that it contains no sex or violence.  It *does show the banality of evil, as the viewer spends two hours wondering why a movie was made that only involves family members spouting cruelty, filth, and profanity at each other.

“Like Water for Chocolate” is much the same, only it involves Mexican syncratic religion, a combination of Catholicism and paganism, with the evil mother haunting her daughter after her ignominious death.

Just wanted to review these two dogs to save anyone else the necessity of watching them all the way through, thinking there will be a point to them in the end.  There is not.

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