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It’s always fun to look for someone to blame when all the big plans you had for your life have splattered to the ground in a messy disarray.

I blame movies.

I was going to have a life where nothing went wrong. I got good grades in college, was class president—even valedictorian!—so naturally it would follow that I’d meet a nice guy and settle down with a steady job, summers off to write the great American novel, and a couple of kids and a suburban house and a shiny Honda Accord. (I have a thing for Honda Accords.)

Even my death would be picturesque. My husband I would die together, wrapped in each other’s arms like that couple they found under the rubble in Pompeii.

Sometimes the end of love is no one’s fault. “Love,” says the mime in Singles, “It just dies, baby.”

But I’m still going to blame movies for my backward vision of how love and marriage works. This promise of “forever.” This expectation that once you find a partner, you two are in it for life. Because sometimes, life is just too long to stay with that particular partner. Maybe God has alternate plans. 

What do I believe? I believe that love is grand, and beautiful, and what we humans are made to do. But, older and wiser now, I’m wondering if my expectations would have been a little different if my favorite movies had more realistic endings about love. 

Here goes.

(There may be spoiler alerts if you haven’t seen, and still want to see, some of these movies. Beware.)

Jerry Maguire

jerrymaguire2You know this movie, with the Bruce Springsteen song, “Secret Garden”? Basically Jerry (Tom Cruise) is a handsome, ambitious guy who kind of has a dark night of the soul, and his life gets completely turned upside down—no more job, no more hot fiancee—and he’s lucky enough to stumble into Dorothy Boyd’s world. (Dorothy is Renee Zellweger.) She has a cute kid with glasses who likes to recite facts about humans and animals. But Jerry’s heart really isn’t in the relationship. As his friends say, Jerry is “good at friendship, bad at intimacy.”

I was really a sucker—like so many of us were—for that line at the end where Jerry stumbles back from days—weeks? a month?—of loneliness, with baby eyes, and pours out his heart and says “You complete me.” And Dorothy is still so gaga over him she says “Shut up. You had me at hello… You had me at hello!”

But you know what? After the hug and everything gets back to normal—and the credits roll—Jerry is still going to be emotionally distant. And Dorothy is going to continue to get annoyed and feel lonely and isolated. And finally, one day, she’s going to say, “You know, Jerry, I really am going to take that job in San Diego now. I’m not happy. This isn’t working. I’m really sorry. But I have to move on.”

And then she’s going to rent this awesome apartment with a nice view and love her job and go to yoga classes and maybe, I don’t know, dabble in lesbianism.

Say Anything

sayanything

Do Lloyd and Diane have anything, like, anything in common that would make their love last? Sure, the charm is that they’re an unlikely pair, and that he’s so cute and devoted to her. But I suspect that when they get to England and she starts this fellowship, she’ll meet a really smart, ambitious guy who knows all the big words she does, and is studying to be an international diplomat or something, and Diane will have a sad and heartfelt conversation with Lloyd where she tells him they want different things. And Lloyd will kind of understand and pack up his stuff and probably backpack around the UK for a couple of years with a broken heart and then maybe meet a single mother like his sister and teach kids to kickbox. In his spare time he’ll write a novel about high school love.

And I don’t really care what happens to Diane because she’s not that interesting a character.

Reality Bites

realitybites2Okay, this is one of those movies with the love triangle. Attractive, artsy Lelaina (Winona Ryder) has to choose between two men: the clean cut, ambitious yuppie who’s sweet to her but not that cool (Michael, played by Ben Stiller);  the other, a bruised and battered philosophy major and Marxist guitarist/singer with greasy hair who challenges her and is emotionally distant. (Troy, played by Ethan Hawke.)

Troy is more mysterious and artsy and difficult, which is of course why she chooses him. (But it’s a bad idea!) At the end he shows up at her door with this little breathless speech about how he’s been wrong and finally says he loves her and she runs to him and they kiss in a Houston street like Romeo and Juliet.

And even Shakespeare knows, that when reality does bite and the movie ends, here’s what’s going to happen: Laney and Troy are going to move to shabby chic apartment and live together for a while,  but they’ll mostly be poor, and two years later Troy is still going to be bruised and battered in his soul and smoke pot all day and make no money.

One day, Laney will get sick of it, and she’ll break down and write a script about their broken love affair—while drinking too much wine at night—and finally her screenplay will be accepted and she’ll escape one night while Troy’s passed out on the couch and she’ll move to Hollywood and become a writer for awesome new woman-centered television shows. 

Meanwhile, Troy will be reciting Beat poetry on his dirty couch. 

And maybe Laney will dabble in lesbianism.

Pretty in Pink

pretty_in_pink

Andie (Molly Ringwald) decides she doesn’t want Andrew McCarthy’s character, Blane (for a few reasons, one of which is that AWFUL name!) or Duckie (Jon Cryer), because Duckie is a little silly and not sexy enough, though he’s sweet, and Blane is kind of a pussy, and she’ll realize that shit, she’s going to college soon! She’s got her whole life ahead of her rather than being bogged down with this high school nonsense.

And she goes off and studies in New York and dates lots of intellectual, thoughtful guys who don’t wear much deodorant, and eventually she becomes a fashion designer and buys an apartment in a cute part of Alphabet City.

 

The Godfather

 

Godfather

When Michael says, “This one time, Kay, I’ll let you ask about my business,” and she asks, and he lies, she sees through it, and he shuts the door, and she’s like, “I didn’t sign up for this. I’m out.”

And Kay dyes her hair black and goes into a witness protection program and moves to—I don’t know, China? (She can’t go to Italy; the Corleones will find her)—and becomes a financial advisor to rich Chinese men and decides to live with one of them long-term and goes to the opera every Friday night.

And maybe—I can’t help myself—she dabbles in lesbianism too.

 

Do we detect a theme? Yes! Love may not last forever, though it can last for a time, but the other things women have to offer the world—chutzpah, intelligence, creativity—those things are really important too!

And maybe being straight isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’m starting to wonder.

So all I have to do is get hired to write these movie scripts, and we’re off!

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SuperWoman Returns

February 1, 2016

media_superwoman

I haven’t been SuperWoman for a long while. I’ve been busy trying to be a regular woman. A human being. Embracing my human-ness and compassion for all of humankind.

But fuck that shit.

am SuperWoman!

(And I do still have compassion for all of humankind. Well, not all. I do have a few people I don’t really like.)

If I’m to get all metaphoric and hope-y/change-y on your ass–and part of me wants to–I’d stand at a podium in front of a large audience and say something like–

We’re all superwomen. Each and every one of us.

one of us….

We have to just find and access that inner part of ourselves that is full of love and light and capable of boundless things….

boundless things….

And Supermen. Too. I guess.

(I’m only saying that “Supermen” part because I feel bad for men because women are taking over.)

But, e-hem, back to me. Being SuperWoman.

When I started blogging, it was the winter of 2010 (Oh my god, six years?!!). It was January something, and I was slowly and painfully learning the ropes of caring for a new baby and a toddler. I was between jobs and anxious and starting to realize I had postpartum depression. I was married to my college sweetheart and husband of–at that point–seven years. I was not happy. And blogging was my therapist.

(Until I got a real therapist a few months later, thank God. Then blogging was like my really smart psychologically-minded friend.)

The road has been long and winding from that point on. I taught college writing, I worked as an editor at a magazine, and loved it, and then lost my job. So I did yoga teacher training and meditated a lot. Then my husband lost his job, and we kind of decided to be poor so he could start his own business. (Fail.) I started a literary journal, renewed my vows at a ten-year-anniversary Quaker wedding ceremony, taught writing and yoga at various colleges again. I had a third baby (WTF?), and then, out of the blue, found myself in the middle of a nasty divorce.

Jesus.

I mean, really, Jesus.

(See why I haven’t been blogging much?)

So now, friends, in keeping my head clear and my heart open, I am returning to SuperWoman again. Transforming, if you will. Unbuttoning the work attire and passing the office cubicles with head held high, hair bouncing behind me.

I’m donning the red cape, the knee-high boots. Exploring territory previously unknown. Traveling back to the great galaxy of Amaza to converse with oracles and rejuvenate in the warm springs and sunny air before returning to the Land of Coldness and Snow and Ice otherwise known as suburban Philadelphia.

To zap the forces of evil into nothingness. To win once and for all.

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Money Changes Everything

January 28, 2016

Track #5 on the Janarama 2016 Mix? I hate to admit it, but I think Cyndi Lauper may be right. I kind of wish money didn’t exist. I wish it wasn’t an issue. But it is. My ex-husband said “Money can’t make you happy, but you can’t be happy without it.” An older friend from […]

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Snow Blowers Be Damned

January 25, 2016

This year, I was a bit more anxious about the oncoming snow storm than in previous years. I would be alone in the house with my kids. Likely for three days. My heater has been on the fritz, so I wasn’t sure if I’d have heat. I have a pretty long sidewalk that would require […]

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Poetry File: The Snow Man

January 22, 2016

In college, I took a class called Masterpieces of World Literature with a very beloved professor named Timothy O’Hara. Basically, we read “masterpieces” he had selected–Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (interesting), Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (snore), James Joyce’s Dubliners (interesting enough, but that guy, I suspect, was an egocentric asshole). We also spent a bunch of time on Wallace […]

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My Kids Listen to Women Scream

January 20, 2016

Okay, “scream” probably isn’t the right word. But lately–maybe more so than usual–I’ve been listening to a lot of women singers belt it out. Adele, for one. My 18-month-old loves “Send My Love (to Your New Lover)” about as much as I do. Send my love to your new lover– Treat her better, It’s time to let […]

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Track Three

January 13, 2016

  It’s the lyrics of this song that are unforgettable. The bipolar relationship…. The woman needing to be on top. I don’t know. It just sticks with you. For years, and years. And years. And then there’s the best lyric of all: Eeee – eeee – eeeee… Eeeee – eeeee – eeeeee – eeeeee. (Ah, […]

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Soundtrack for the New Year (Track Two)

January 4, 2016

A couple of years ago, my Quaker meeting had a day-long retreat exploring the internal gifts of our members. We sat in groups and discussed moments in our lives when we overcame obstacles or were proud of ourselves. We passed around papers where we had the opportunity to describe or name the unique talents we […]

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Soundtrack for the New Year (First Track)

January 2, 2016

Throughout the year I’ll be sharing music picks that represent the stages of my journey in this—dare I say it?—magical life. Beginning the new year is Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks.” It’s pretty much perfection, the kind of song that comes on at the end of a movie, when the girl/woman gets in her car and […]

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The End of Suffering

January 1, 2016

I think it’s possible that God gives us the gifts we most want, but sometimes don’t know we need. Christmas Eve this year was hard and strange for me. It was my first Christmas without my kids, without the usual excitement of Santa Claus filling my house, without a spouse who helped me finish wrapping […]

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