In which people I know (Amy “The Best” Whipple and Sal “I HAVE OPINIONS” Pane) debate the merits of particularly moving episodes of The Golden Girls and Batman: The Animated Series. What’s weird is that this is a thing that is on the internet? And it’s not just a conversation I’m listening to them have in a bar? It’s also weird that Sal gets so emotional about Batman.
Taking planes to cities in which Hermione Granger lives. Being shown the city by boyfriend who went to college in said city, nodding appreciatively but secretly keeping my eyes open for Hermione Granger. (“Listen,” I said, “In all seriousness, if we see Emma Watson on the street I am just going to start crying and not be able to stop.”) Driving to other states, where weddings are. Wearing a dress that looks really good on me. Really good. I’m not going to lie to you, Tumblr—really good. Weddings. More crying (projected). Dancing. Eating. Coming home again to Pittsburgh. Watching Emmy pre-shows on E!; watching Emmys on NBC. More crying (possible). Grad school, year two. More crying (definite).
Once, I was driving around in a car with this guy and he said, “Do you want to meet Finn?” Finn is the name of his sister’s dog. It is a testament to how badly I wanted to make out with the guy that I, all my life Not A Dog Person, said “Sure.” I met Finn. All the lights went off. I kissed the guy. That was two years ago tomorrow, and still not a day goes by where I don’t feel a sudden and consuming rush of something that feels like this.
It strikes me now that both the LADY PHENOMENON movies I saw this summer (Sex and the City 2: Lawrence of Samantha’s Labia, and Eat Pray Love) were branded with the same damning label of “self-indulgent.” Ugh, these white women, right? And their designer shoes and their feelings and their racism(*)? Both involve women taking trips overseas, although their end goals from their journeys are notably different (in the former: decadence, girl power; in the latter: God, self). And both of their protagonists display themselves to be not great significant others to their significant others—Carrie can’t bear to watch old movies with Big because it means they’ve lost the “sparkle;” Liz Gilbert’s husband considers going back to grad school and she’s all, “Whatever, dude.” The main difference is that the audience is, I think, supposed to sympathize with Carrie a little—WHAT ABOUT THE ZA ZA ZOO—whereas in Liz Gilbert’s case, her not-greatness is kind of the point.
Anyway, all this is to say that while I spent SATC2 moaning and crying (ironically), I enjoyed Eat Pray Love. I found myself getting a little defensive on Liz Gilbert’s behalf. Why shouldn’t someone travel around the world to find herself? What’s so wrong about riding a bike around Bali? Who is she hurting? Having not read the book, I don’t know if it passes itself off as “Irrefutable Life Guide for Every Person,” but the movie presents the story very much as “Just How One Woman Pulled Herself Together.” And so I just kept thinking to myself—well, why not?
And I’m making this comparison, between Sex and the City 2 and Eat Pray Love, for a particular reason, which is this: these are two movies made for women, specifically for women over the age of, say, 35. In one, everyone gets their own private Arab butler. In the other, a woman scrubs the floor of an ashram to try to find peace. In one, the most feminist character praises Spanx. In the other, the protagonist convinces a younger friend to eat an entire pizza and afterwards they’ll just buy bigger pants. One is, for all intents and purposes, a cartoon. The other is pretty thoughtful, in an Oprah kind of a way. Is it the greatest movie made for women? Probably not, but its general messages—enjoy your life, forgive yourself, have some pasta—are gentle enough (and true enough!) to keep it from being the worst.
The worst is Sex and the City 2.
*There are certainly some weird race/culture things going on in Eat Pray Love, but it would take a more nuanced thinker than me to talk about it. All I’m going to say is that there is no wacky romp scene in which a number of women remove their burqas to reveal designer clothes. But if you think about it really hard, you can probably figure out another movie in which that happens.
that tonight I’m seeing Eat Pray Love. In theaters. And I’m not doing it ironically or with any expectation that I will hate it. Maybe I will hate it, a little. But you know what? Probably I will like it.
(I have not read the book).
(But I sort of don’t believe that the entire amount of vitriol leveled against it can merely be about the oft-repeated claims of privileged/whiny/self-indulgent. Not to say that Elizabeth Gilbert is not privileged/whiny/self-indulgent).
(It’s just that I think something else is going on there).
(You can probably guess what I think is going on there).
“The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation.”—You say this like it’s a bad thing.
My parents bought Kevin and me dinner after we arrived in New Jersey from Pittsburgh. They are at the end of a week-long stay-cation, and they are funny people who gossip about relatives and pretend to shoot at other cars with their fingers. “Your parents are fun,” said Kevin, before he left for his own parents’ home. “I know,” I said. “They’re kind of like us,” he said. “I know,” I said. “It’s weird,” he said. “I know,” I said.
Then my parents had me look some people up on Facebook for them. They don’t have Facebooks of their own, so this is the sort of thing I’m good for. Work acquaintances, friends from high school, the sorts of people who like pages like “O.B.A.M.A—ONE BIG ASS MISTAKE AMERICA” and “NO I WILL NOT PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH, LEARN OUR LANGUAGE” and “NO TO THE MOSQUE AT GROUND ZERO,” etc., etc. They were horrified and so was I, and then after a moment I realized that most of their horror stemmed from their belief that these were sentiments manually typed in by their friends, rather than blanket statements with which their friends agreed.
I’m sick of getting angry at other people’s opinions on the internet. I’ve made an effort not to respond to what I consider the offensively worded offhand statements, the underdeveloped lines of thinking, the racist, the sexist, the anti-Michael Cera. If I could collect all the hours I’ve spent staring at a screen with my hands at either side of my head and my mouth wide open, silently screaming at somebody’s anti-abortion links or snide dismissals of the film Juno, I would have maybe five new years of my life to live. Out in the sunshine, reading books, drinking iced tea, trying to see the best in my fellow human. This is the person I would like to be.
“One of the central points of Franco’s art and career, as I read them, is that adolescence isn’t something we should look away from, a shameful churning of dirty hormones. It’s the crucible of our identity, the answer to everything that comes later, and we need to look long and hard at it, no matter how gross or painful it might sometimes feel.”—No, really, read this article.
Everyone told us to prepare for some fights and I know it’s only been a week but none have happened yet, unless you count yesterday, when there were too many wires under my desk and I went into the bathroom to cry baby tears of toddler frustration. Kevin took my hand once I left, still sniffling, and handed me a pillow to scream in if I needed to, and then he moved all the wires to a neutral location. This is the sort of thing he does all the time which lets me know he is The One.
Mostly it’s been episodes of Futurama playing as we unpack boxes, or unbelievably weird dreams, like the one I had last night, in which the two of us murdered one of my high school classmates and nervously got away with it. I’ve made a couple of pitchers of iced tea; Kevin just handed me a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich. All these things add up to bliss, the kind of bliss that keeps you from caring about the fact that you don’t have a couch yet and so you’ve been sharing the same chair while you watch the endless marathon of Pittsburgh documentaries on PBS.
“Up to this point, all I knew were beaten paths, tattooed with footprints, and I had come to the understanding that they were not much fun to travel because so many people were waiting for you at the end, wondering what took you so long.”—“The Museum of Whatnot,” Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson (via thebooksimreading)