Happy New Year! Okay, so it’s 2010 and I am still living in the past. I had originally wanted to start “My Silver Lining,” back in October, but due to unfortunate circumstances, it was not possible. I then thought I would be able to rush through December, getting everything that happened to me in 2009 written up before the year ended, except I landed a job on a movie set that was filming in Hamilton. Since the commute back and forth for three weeks drained me, I was still unable to get it done. So instead of sweeping 2009 under the rug, I’ve decided to just keep on going with my stories. I believe that one of the great things about life is that at any moment you can start fresh, meaning that my new year can start happening whenever I’m finished figuring out the old one. It doesn’t have to begin on January 1st. Before I continue writing blog entries about the happenings of what is now last year, I wanted to write about some eye opening movies I watched over the holidays.
When I logged onto Facebook this morning I came across 5-10 statuses that read something like this: “Mary Jo Sue says: 2010 is MY year.” To these people I shake my head and say, stop jinxing yourself because you never know what is waiting for you around the corner. On day one of a new year, no matter how positive you'd like to be, you can't really assume it will be your best one yet. Instead, get off your narcissistic asses and get moving. Make it the year that you will take action and find meaning, rather than another year where you think you deserve everything to come to YOU. Otherwise, trust me, it’s probably not your year.
My Baba had a Yiddish phrase that she used to say anytime ludicrous things would happen in this world. Whether it was in the news, like a murder or a plane crash, or in her own personal life, like a friend or family member’s sudden death. My Baba would turn to me, or whoever happened to be around and say, “Pusterade?” (I apologize if the English spelling is totally off). The translation of this is, “What’s it all about?” or “What’s this all for?” A deeper meaning could be, “All that work, and this is what you get for it? Yikes!” The past year, when it was so hard to stay positive, I was constantly thinking “Pusterade?” I mean, why bother to try so hard when I kept getting shot down anyways. I happened to watch three movies over the Christmas break, that shed some light for me, and put a few things into perspective. I realized that, although I had fallen victim to some unfortunate circumstances, it didn’t mean my whole life’s path was wrong
My friend Erin, who I have known for over twenty-five years, bbm’d me on Christmas eve, telling me to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had never seen this classic movie before. I turned it on and instantly fell in love with the protagonist, George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brought about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. George Bailey had lived his whole life for other people. When his father died, he gave up his dreams of going out into the world, to stay in town and take over the family business. However, when the Great Depression hits, George loses everything. His whole life’s work goes down the drain, and bringing that dulling question to his mind: Was it worth it? (Pusterade?). Luckily for George, Clarence shows him all the lives he had touched and the contributions he had made to his community throughout his life. When it’s all said and done, George Bailey looks at his wife and his kids and realizes how much love he has in his life. He sees that life did give him back what he put in. To me, George Bailey is the perfect example of the saying Blossom where you are planted. There are so many circumstances in life that prevent us from being where we dream of, but if along the way we can still find meaning to where we have been placed, then in the end it will have been worth it. Just like George Bailey, sometimes we need people to help us see what we can’t see on our own.
The next movie, also a recommendation from Erin, was “Last Holiday,” starring Queen Latifah. In this movie Queen Latifah plays Georgia Byrd, a woman who lives a very rigid life, never stepping out of her bubble, until she is diagnosed with a very rare disease. With only three weeks left to live, Georgia cashes out her life and takes a last vacation in Europe. She stays in a four star hotel, and trades in her crummy clothes for haute couture. Georgia really whoops it up, experiencing a type of joy she had never known even existed. As her vacation comes to an end, Georgia stops in front of a mirror, all glammed up, and looks at her reflection. She smiles as she sees her happy self, and says, “Next time...we will laugh more, we'll love more; we just won't be so afraid.” I thought this was an amazing message and a great recipe for life. The truth is, you never really know when that plug will be pulled on you, so it is important to find ways to make yourself happy. Having friends that died when I was a teenager, made me understand how short life can be. I have never wanted to have any regrets about not trying things because I was afraid to. The great thing about Georgia Byrd was that although she may have come to that awareness too late, at least she recognized what it was like to live happy. Many people never do.
The third movie I watched over the holidays was “Gray Gardens.” This was a movie that I actually worked on, when it filmed in Toronto two years ago. It was a very memorable set for me to be on, due to my rival teacher in the city trying to sabotage me on it. It was also probably one of the only shows where I never had a chance to read the script. I was only there on the days the kids were, which happened to be during the filming of the earlier scenes. I got to watch the fun stuff being filmed, like when Jessica Lange, who is probably one of the classiest and nicest “stars” I have met, sang and danced “Tea For Two,” at the party. When I finally sat down to watch it, last week, I’m sure I was just as horrified as anyone else who has seen this movie. I even had to question if that was really Jessica Lange, as Edie in her later years (great job, makeup department!). I was most intrigued by Little Edie, played by Drew Barrymore. This poor woman was so stuck under the control of her mother, who made Joan Crawford seem like Angelina Jolie. However, Little Edie’s spirit was amazing. Despite the emotional abuse she had to endure, she never gave up hope of being a famous actress. There were so many moments while watching this, where I looked at this pathetic woman, wearing her headscarves, and thought, “Pusterade, Little Edie, Pusterade?” But afterwards, thinking about it, I realized how many people feel stuck doing what they thought they had to do? We grew up in a society that believed that we needed to follow in the footsteps of our parents and grandparents, so that we can move in a circle. At this moment, I can only think of a handful of people that are living outside the box. People that resisted the voices in their heads, that had tried to prevent them from stepping over that line and taking action. I know that I have been teetering back and forth on that line for years.
I remember reading an article in a magazine a few years back, saying that if you want to be happy in your life, you should be doing whatever it was you dreamed of doing when you were a child. It goes back to that question that adults always ask kids. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If you actually managed to follow your childhood dreams and are in that place you hoped you would be, I applaud you, and I hold you in the highest respect. If you are not, then I suggest you blossom where you were planted. But, if none of this has sunk in at all, then I suggest you keep your facebook status and answer this one question for me: “Pusterade?”