Positive Outcome

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Orson Welles

When doing five minutes of research, I realized that I probably shouldn’t title my post happy endings, but essentially my thoughts and queries revolve around the term happy ending as it applies to books, movies, and life.

How do you define the words happy ending or positive outcome?

Much of fiction ends “happy”. Good guy wins out, the couple fall in love, the moral dilemma is resolved. But just because things end where the audience thinks they should, does it necessarily mean that it’s happy?

I’m going to give you a spoiler alert about Friends- the on again off again relationship between Ross and Rachel appears to be on for good as the show takes its final bow. There are many that think this is the ultimate relationship and this is the ending they wanted all along. However, Rachel gives up a dream job in Paris to stay with Ross. Is it happy or settling?

I recently watched a TV movie with my daughter- one of those Netflix things about a twenty something that does something stupid. What made this movie different was that many people would not consider it to conclude on a positive note. While some of the things said are a step forward, the viewer is left wondering how the protagonist will fare in the future. Of course, the warning label before the movie said “drug use, sexual situations and unlikeable female character” so apparently the American public needs to know when it might not be happy ever after and they need to be prepared… (I guess I could write a whole blog just about that phenomena…)

How do you define happy ending/positive outcome?

Can you give an example about an ending that was positive that you thought was good?

Can you give an example of an ending that was not “happy” and why it did or did not work?

What do you think of the Welles quote?

Happy ending: Yes or No?

Three Questions

I recently read Did I Say That Out Loud? Midlife Indignities and How to Survive Them by Kristin Van OgTrop. In it she states that a thoughtful man said we all needed to ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. Why am I going there?

So I pose the questions to you. Can you answer them?

Think of this as a check in for New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Someone who needs to lose weight
  2. To start on a path of healthier eating and moderate exercise
  3. Because my cholesterol is high and I need to adjust my lifestyle

or

  1. Someone who hates their job
  2. To a job search link
  3. Because I deserve to find a job that doesn’t crush my soul

Now these might be a bit literal, but you get the idea: These questions allow you to quickly take stock of what’s important to you, and what isn’t, and what you can do to get to a place that you want to be.

So on this fine Monday halfway through the first month of the year, take stock. Ask yourself those three questions and look at your answers. What is one small step that can get you closer to where you want to be.

How would you answer those three questions?

I Came, I Saw, I Ate- 1/15/22

Ten Things: 1/14/22

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

My new routine is to close out the night with a list of things that happened that day- good, bad, gratitude or to look forward to. These are a sample from the previous week.

  1. Mel Brooks memoir a little pompous
  2. I really don’t like the taste of many wines
  3. Had wonderful at home face masque
  4. Am reading a book about the birth of MOMA, then saw some paintings that I had just read about- really added to the experience
  5. Easily beat my family in trivial pursuit
  6. Hadn’t talked to my friend C in a bit and it was nice to text a little
  7. I prefer sauna to steam room
  8. Last tuition payment in the books!
  9. My favorite jam stand wasn’t at the farmers market this week
  10. Have been doing cuticle cream every night but they are still dry

How did your week go?

Anything Can Happen Friday- The Scam

So my Mother called me the other day…

She received an email from one of her neighbors. The email said that this particular neighbor was having a rough go and needed my Mom to get her a gift cardfor either Amazon or Apple.

Now, I know most of you are thinking the same thing as I thought about this email…

But my Mom…

My Mom can be a very trusting and helpful sort of person. If someone is in trouble she will try to help. She has a sort of Capraesque view of the world, where good wins out over evil and all the other stuff. She assumes that people are good, and that no one tries to take advantage of another.

In theory I guess it would be nice to be that trusting. But you know…I’m a realist not an idealist…so most of the time I’m looking for the angle.

Is this real?

Can I trust this?

What’s the possible downside?

My mother emails back, asking how she can help. She gives her “friend” her phone numbers in case her “friend” can’t find them. And then she proceeds to try to figure out how to buy the gift card.

Now this is a time when I am glad that my Mother is not tech savvy. She couldn’t figure out how to buy the gift cards.

My Mother then calls her friend, to tell her that she can’t buy the cards…

You probably know that the friend’s email account was hacked.

My Mother called me, worried that these scammers have her phone number, and she responded to the email. She was worried that accounts could be opened up in her name using her phone numbers. Honestly, I don’t know anymore what people can and can’t do with information, any information, so I told my Mom to watch her statements and she uses one of those companies that call you when an account is trying to be opened, so I told her to just monitor things…

After I got off the phone with her I heaved a big sigh. While I have got over scams with my daughter ad infinitum, I never thought I would have to go through this with my Mother. I assumed that my Mother would just know when something seems off…But now I really have to worry that she will think the Crown Prince of Nigeria really needs her help.

I love that my Mom is trusting and wants to help others, but now this is a new worry that I have to contend with. Realistically I know that I can’t protect my Mom, but it sort of crushes me that I can’t stop bad people, bad things from hurting her. This is the part about being a daughter that no one really talks about- when the child becomes the parent and the protector.

I sit and try to figure out where to go from here. Is there anything I can do to help my Mother than I hadn’t thought of? Is there any way to prepare? I have to remind myself that there’s not always a solution to things: that there are things that I can’t write as a list and check off the things I’ve done and look ahead to what comes next…

I realize that this is where I need hope: hope that things won’t be too bad, hope that I can fix whatever happens, hope that life will be pleasantly uneventful.

Hope. Sometimes it’s the best option.

Loss

All losses have their own private complications, and, whether we acknowledge them or not, their lasting consequences will show up somewhere- in the next relationship, in a drunken fight, in a panic attack, in jealousy. That’s why we should honour the heartbreaks that matter deeply to us, however insignificant we fear they might seem to someone else. The bigger challenge is how to carry those losses inside us without letting them distract us too much from our lives. Natasha Lun- Conversations on Love

Loss.

We all experience it.

We all experience it differently.

When someone is grieving, it is not up to us to decide how they should grieve. Grief, loss, recovery from these things is a very private matter, and there is no “right” way to get over loss.

I think we often think that there is a timeline on grief: you lose a parent and you should grieve for six months, and then after that, life is great. We lose a great job: one month. Serious illness: three months. But each of us comes with our own set of background experience, we all come with different personalities. No two people are the same and therefor no two people will experience grief and loss in the same way.

We have to allow ourselves the space to grieve and get over loss in the way that is best for us as individuals.

However…

Lun states, we do need to be able to get on with our lives, so the challenge becomes how do we acknowledge loss, grieve the way we need to, and still get on with our lives?

If your grief, recovery from a loss is hampering your day to day, is it time to try to figure out how to handle the situation better?

I think when people say that someone should be “over” something, what they might be trying to say is that there comes a point where you must move forward, because if you don’t move forward you are no longer living. If ten years after a divorce you are still talking about all the things your ex did that annoyed you, maybe you should ask yourself why you are still stuck in this loop. Are you still grieving the loss of a marriage, or is it something else? I have no doubt that people grieve for former relationships forever- hurt and love can last a lifetime- but are you living your best life by still starting out conversations and journal entries with- remember that time my ex did … You can still hurt, the loss can still sting, but is there a better way to deal with it?

Now it’s your turn:

How do you recover from loss?

Do you think people recover differently?

How do you get past your heartbreak and move on while still being true to your grief process?

Discuss

Documenting

I appreciate a good documentary. The problem is, what exactly is a good documentary? What I think makes a good doc might not necessarily be what someone else thinks is good. So how should we think about docs?

  1. Should a documentary be entertaining? A few years ago I saw a doc Three Identical Strangers about triplets who were separated at birth as part of a social experiment trying to solve the whole nature/nurture dilemma. I thought this was a highly entertaining, and mind blowing, film. I was all in for the ride of these men. It made me like and recommend the film to others. It did not get nominated for an Oscar even though it did well in the theaters. Does making it entertaining detract from the seriousness of the subject matter?
  2. Should a documentary take a side/stance or should it flat out tell a story as down the middle as possible? When I go to a doc, I want to learn about something, or look at a different perspective of something. Should a doc present more than one side to a story? If it only shows one side, is it more of a propaganda piece?
  3. Should the maker of the doc be present in the doc? I recently saw All That Breathes. ATB is on the shortlist for an Oscar nod, and has received much critical acclaim. The style is the fly on the wall, wherein the filmmaker just documents the people he is filming- no directorial interaction. Though an interesting story, I came out not learning as much as I would have liked because the subjects were often mum- Should the director have jumped in with some questions? Conversely, in From Where They Stood, the documentarian was very present, asking questions, and this got to be distracting. What is the line the filmmaker should be taking?
  4. How narrowly focused should a doc be? Should a doc include the entire timeline of something, or should it focus specifically on a small piece? How do you make the decision as to how much to include?
  5. How long should a doc be? I find that long docs get to be tedious. But does a director need a lot of space to tell the story properly? Moonage Daydream is 2h14m. As this is basically a collage of David Bowie, I thought the story should have been capped out at 90 minutes because I felt it got repetitive. But was there a need for it to be this long?

Your turn:

Do you like documentaries? Why or why not?

What do you think makes a good doc?

Do you have a favorite documentary?

Discuss

What is Love? Ha Ha Ha

Love is the quality of attention we pay to things.

J. D. McClatchy, Love Speaks its Name as quoted in Conversations on Love by Natasha Lun

In her book, Lun states that sustaining of love is to create a space for simple moments and then to notice them. Seems so simple, right? But is it?

The incident Lun refers to is about cooking a meal with her partner- being present in the moment and just enjoying each others company. To be present with one’s partner…

What simple moments have you shared with a partner in the past? Do you recall those moments with a sense of peace? Are they pleasant memories?

It doesn’t have to be romantic love though. It can be love of a friend, love of a child. When I think about my closest friends, the thoughts that always pop into my mind are of simple moments of just being together, or talking about nothing. A few months ago we got into a day long text chain about staplers. One of my friends remarked that day that this is why she loved us: because we could spend an entire day talking about staplers. And now, when I see a stapler I think of my friends and the thoughts are happy- it’s about a silly conversation that just sort of captured all of us in a perfect moment of togetherness.

It’s your turn: Is love the quality of attention we pay to things?

Is love noticing the small moments that make up life?

Discuss:

What We Miss

My daughter is about to go back to college (for her final semester if you can believe that!!!) It’s always bittersweet when I give her a hug as she lugs her bags into the cab to take her to Penn Station to catch the Northeaster to Union Station… There are parts of me that will miss her, and their are parts… not so much.

I love having my daughter around because she is intelligent and we have great conversations. She is well versed in current events and culture, and has a mind of a sponge because she remembers things that were taught to her in years past. Yesterday we were at MOMA and as we looked at an exhibit she recalled things her 8th grade social studies teacher did as a lesson that correlated with the work we were looking at.

When she leaves I miss the conversations.

My husband doesn’t eat cheese. When I say this I mean that he doesn’t eat nachos or cheese fries or a charcuterie plate that includes cheese. While sharing cheesy tater tots isn’t an activity to base a marriage on, his not eating cheese and most things dairy can be difficult to plan meals around and takes away some small things that I find pleasurable. My daughter eats cheese.

When she leaves I will miss having someone to snack on cheese with.

My daughter will pretty much try anything cultural. Off beat play? She’s in. Weird art? She’s in. Foreign film? She’s in. Golden Girls themed dinner? She’s in.

I will miss having her around to see things and discuss things.

My daughter likes to stay out late. She doesn’t do this every night, but one or two nights a week she is out late. If she’s not home I don’t sleep well. Just can’t.

I will not miss being bleary eyed because my daughter was at a club till 3am, and then had pizza.

While my daughter is highly intelligent, she is also mainly book smart. She lacks life experience and a certain amount of maturity that only comes with the years. Because of this she can be righteous. Oh boy can she be righteous.

I will not miss the righteousness.

She asked me the other day if I missed her being younger- she said there’s been a lot of TikTok’s about how parents miss their kids when they were younger, when they had trouble walking in snowsuits and mispronounced words and just generally the things we find endearing about the not so fully formed humans. She asked if I ever wished she was five again…I told her that while I have many fond memories of her younger years, I have appreciated every stage of her life: but, I don’t wish she were younger or had stayed frozen at any point in time. I have enjoyed the journey of parenting her from being pregnant (ok- not morning sickness) to toddler to preschool, elementary to middle to high to college, and now as an adult. The memories are wonderful but I don’t want to live in the memory. I’m ready to close out the undergraduate years and look forward to watching her as she encounters the next step on her journey.

When you say you miss your kids, what is it that you actually miss? Do we really miss kids as they were, or is it just a little wistful to look back at time and see how fast it really goes when you’re not paying attention?

I Came, I Saw, I Ate, I Lived-1/8/23