I’ve been distracted since Mom died – by actual commitments too many to list, and then just distracted. It’s hard to explain. I sat down to write my end of the year list of things I loved in 2012, and then went and did ten loads of laundry instead. I tried again and then went and hung some pictures. Once more in front of the laptop and instead of sharing with y’all that I loved “Silver Linings Playbook” and Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending, I took the dogs for a walk and vacuumed.
There are moments. They last about ten seconds. I catch a sob. The other night, Bun Bun wanted some ice cream (even though it’s freezing here by SoCal standards) and I scooped some Dulce de Leche from the pint I took from Mom’s freezer the day after she died. We had to clean out the fridge and we were raised to be frugal and not waste food, so I took several items back to our house. We’ve already eaten the frozen chicken (after I cooked it, naturally) and the unopened bag of pita chips (after I opened them, duh) and I was fine. But scooping the ice cream got to me. So did pulling out of the Ralph’s parking lot the other day, benignly. And oh, I was making a sandwich on Monday and realized Mom is never walking in my front door again. Not ever. As Taylor Swift would say, “Like ever.” (I didn’t love that song, by the way.)
I was busier over the holidays than I can recall in my adult life and when I found myself complaining about anything, I’d think, “No. I don’t want to be that person.” And while I’m past making resolutions, I did stop to consider 2013 as the year of getting on with things. Mom’s best quality was that she did stuff rather than talk about it (except the diets she always started on Mondays). It’s honestly what I most admire in anyone, it seems – the ability to live life rather than think about it. But here’s the rub. I’m a writer and therefore live much of the day in my head. I’m behind on a project because of this distraction that hovers over and around me like a squishy force field. (I’ll work on my similes.) So what’s a girl to do? Is there a cathartic cry I haven’t allowed? Buried emotions I can’t access? Exactly how does losing one’s mother evolve?
I know the answer to that question. It just does. Grief develops itself. But it’s been four weeks since I’ve written here at Daily Cup and I wanted to explain myself, for myself.
But for the record, and off the top of my head -
Favorite songs of 2012:
- Ne-Yo, “Let Me Love You”
- Gotye, “Somebody That I Used to Know”
- anything by P!nk
- anything by Rihanna (even the “Diamonds” song they won’t stop playing)
- Mumford & Sons, “I Will Wait”
- Passion Pit, “Take a Walk”
- Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time”
- The Wanted “Glad You Came”
- The Lumineers “Ho Hey”
- Alicia Keys, “Girl on Fire” (and I mean, ON fire)
- Ed Sheeran “The A Team”
- and the most fun I had listening to a song this year – Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”
(Can you tell I listen to the radio?)
Some books I read worth mentioning (for better or worse):
- the aforementioned The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes was quietly moving
- Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex from 2004 had one of the most likable protagonists, how could you not like this book?
- I’ve never laughed out loud harder and more consistently than when I was reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants (from 2011)
- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (2000) is expertly written and mostly entertaining, but too dense for my busy taste
- Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl disappointed in the end but getting there was super fun
- I finished Yann Martell’s Life of Pi the night before I watched the movie and thought it was one of the best film adaptations of a wildly original story that I can remember seeing
- Can’t say the same about “The Hunger Games”. The book by Suzanne Collins (2008), was far superior to the movie – disturbing, sad, triumphant – though Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss.
- I couldn’t finish Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! (2011). Well written but I couldn’t get my head around the story, or care.
- Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (1990) is on must-read lists for a reason. Its straightforward yet lyric depictions of Vietnam in separate-but-related stories illuminates again why war is bad, bad, bad.
- Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly is my favorite self-help book ever (I’ve read about four.) Inspiring.
- Short stories by authors like Sherman Alexie, Amy Hempel, Antonya Nelson, Junot Diaz, David Foster Wallace, Aimee Bender, Thomas McGuane – among many others - continue to demonstrate why I love the form. It’s more fulfilling than reading People Magazine and takes about the same amount of time.
- I’m happy to say I read more books than those mentioned here, though they’re not necessarily worth mentioning themselves.
My personal cinema score would be about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of the number of movies I saw, so keep in mind I haven’t yet watched “My Sister’s Sister”, “Lincoln”, “Django Unchained”, “Skyfall”, or “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. We’re busier in this house every year. That said:
“Silver Linings Playbook” made me happy – a quirky romance, an unexpected plot device, football fanaticism – it was complete, for me.
So was “Argo”. I enjoy most movies that teach me about something I’ve forgotten the details of. This story, of course, was previously unknown. I’m aware Ben Affleck manipulated the tension in the end and I didn’t care.
I would have directed “Les Miserables” differently than Tom Hooper (not so dark, not so many close-ups, the prostitute scene was too stage-y) but STILL. It was grand and moved me in ways most movies don’t. Amanda Seyfried has the voice, truly, of an angel. Hugh Jackman’s eyes say it all.
“Zero Dark Thirty” should have been 25 minutes shorter, but Kathryn Bigelow makes these films (including “The Hurt Locker”) exactly as they should be made – straightforward, non-manipulative, thorough. The controversy over the torture scenes is fabricated. There are torture scenes; Bigelow makes no comment on them. We’re the audience. That’s up to us.
I saw “Pitch Perfect” more than once because often, when I feel good about something, I want more of it. Who cares if it was a feature version of “Glee”? I love “Glee” for the same reason I loved “Pitch Perfect” – the music. And Rebel Wilson is a riot.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” took me to India and for that, I’m grateful. Transport me, while simultaneously entertaining me with the likes of Maggie Smith, and I’m good.
It was nearly impossible to watch “The Impossible” but it must be named among the best movies I saw. Based on a true story about a family who struggled after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, I couldn’t help but think, “What if that were us?” Surely there’s a special filmmaking award for the tsunami scene(s) itself.
I don’t always go in for Wes Anderson, but “Moonrise Kingdom” was what I needed several weeks ago when I watched it. Quirky in ways that only served to entertain me, there are few films with Frances McDormand that I don’t like. Anderson’s washed-out “Instagram” film stock effect was perfect.
Won’t see “The Sessions” or “Amour”. Can’t do it. Not now.
I watched one new show last year – “Veep” – and can’t wait until it’s back. Laugh out loud funny. I added “New Girl” because everyone should. I became further addicted to “Homeland”. My other regulars: “Modern Family”, “The Daily Show”, “The Good Wife”, “Downton Abbey”, “30 Rock”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Glee”, “Mad Men” and “Justified”. What I would like to add: “Parks and Recreation”, “Children’s Hospital”, and “Girls”. I promise to lock myself in the closet one of these days and power through all sixteen seasons of “Breaking Bad” because I know if I don’t, my friends will abandon me.
It’s nice to be back, folks. Having recently watched President Obama’s speech on new gun control ideas, aided by Veep Joe Biden, 2013 must be OUR year (that means you and me) to eliminate as many guns in this country as possible. Despite Wayne LaPierre’s idea that a good guy with a gun is the answer to a bad guy with a gun, LESS GUNS MEANS LESS DEATH, regardless of who is holding the weapon. About 35 percent of Americans have a gun in their house, which means most of us are not owners. There is a strong historical foundation for majority rule in this country and 65 percent is beyond even a super majority. There are approximately 4 million members of the NRA. The U.S. population is over 300 million. Do the math. What are you waiting for? Email your congressional representative. NOW. You don’t want to look your child in the eye ever and tell them you didn’t do anything to help prevent gun violence. Trust me, you don’t. Pass the word. Pass it often and quickly.
I’ll be back.
Life, Parenting, Politics, Reviews