remember me

movies

This past November we took Giles to see Coco at the movie theater. He was eighteen-months-old at the time. This past Saturday Giles went to see it again, at a special screening with his Nana and Granddad. He came home talking all about it, now twenty-two-months-old. He said what sounded like, “mama me,” a bunch of times and at first I didn’t know what it meant. But then I realized he was talking about the song from the movie, “Remember Me.”

This song makes me think of my mom. Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be. 

I learned it on ukulele so I could play and sing it for Giles, and for myself. And for my mom.

Next November we have another baby due. Four wheels on the car. I’ll take her/him to the movies too.

 

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being young, being new, getting lost (and then being a little older)

ce13575399d87b88f00e1b221e280c58Sometimes a movie just gets me, and this week that movie was Mistress America. From the start it reminded me of myself as an 18-year-old college freshman in New York City. The girl even looked a bit like me, with brown shoulder length hair, trying to figure out her style. I used to narrate myself around the city (still do, in the country), exploring myself and the streets, being on my own for the first time, trying out different friends and eating perogies at Veselka in the East Village.

What is the feeling Mistress America sustained for me, during the 84 minutes it ran on screen? Is it being young, being new, getting lost? Eating mozzarella sticks alone in a booth at night, and then dancing with a new friend in a downtown bar. That specific time of 18-ness. Actually getting lost walking from Union Square to my dorm on 12th Street and 3rd Ave. Running around and laughing in Gristedes with my roommates and a couple of guy classmates I might like. Making tortillas in our dorm kitchen, eating brownie batter (mistake), drinking cherry coke when everyone else was drinking beer. Having deep crushes I never did anything about. That first semester, the only one when I didn’t have a job, when all I had to do was go to class and figure out the city and take naps and write papers which were the first ones any teacher ever told me were good. Deciding to become a writer. Realizing a little bit that maybe what I wanted to do and the way I wanted to do it did not fit in with what everyone else was doing.

But there’s also the other side of the story– being 30, and what does that mean? Having all that hope and creativity and wanting so badly to do something meaningful with it, but finding no place for myself in the city anymore. Being older, but still young, feeling a lifetime away from 18. Deep crushes leading to bad relationships leading to some good ones and even a really good one which became a marriage. Being 30, being an “adult,” having a dead mother, feeling lost in a whole other kind of way. But also having found a piece of myself again that was hidden for a while during those years of 18 – 26.

So, yeah, I loved the movie. I’m going to see it again on Wednesday.

march 10th and mood indigo

My friend Janet and I went to see Mood Indigo in New York City on Monday night, as part of the Rendezvous with French Cinema at the IFC Center and we got to meet Michel Gondry afterwards!

michel gondry

It was a magical night as you can probably guess. It was also the 5 year anniversary of my friend Lee’s death. On March 10th I never know what to do with myself. This year, I’m also looking ahead to the one year marking of my mom’s death on April 18th. For Lee I usually drink a Bottingtons, take some time out of the day to mark it, to feel sad and miss him. But there was something about being at the movie that night– maybe it was that the movie deals with grief in a really lovely way, but also just being there, doing something I really wanted to do, something special. Because I’m still here. I’m alive, and doing something I really want to do is taking advantage of being alive.

After the film, my old boss intriduced me to Mr. Gondry, and I was so excited my hands were shaking and I started sweating through my clothes. I had just seen something that touched me so deeply and was so beautiful, and here was the human being who made it! Right there! All I could stammer out was “I loved the movie.” In that moment I couldn’t wrap my mouth around the words I wanted to say. So, Mr. Gondry, if by any chance you are reading this, here is what I wanted to tell you about my experience watching your film:

Last year I was with my mom while she was very sick, and then dying. Your movie expresses this experience in a beautifully visual way: giving an image to the way it felt to go through that. Feeling the walls close in, the house being taken over by a strange clinging, climbing dust that covers the sunshine, the strangeness of doctors and machines and treatments, growing older so quickly, wanting to jump in and change my own story, the world turning to black and white.

I also got to see some friends in the city (to all the friends I did not see, I’m sorry! There’s never enough time to see everyone, I love you and I will see you soon):

20140310_13184420140310_13121220140309_170904

Some of the food I got to eat: 20140309_17183920140310_17435320140310_170013

And here’s my favorite bathroom in Manhattan: 20140310_182402

the flick

In the past two and a half years since I left New York City, I’ve felt at least mild anxiety each time I go back to visit. Something about the city itself, the streets I used to walk daily, the relationships I left there, my past coming face to face with my present. This week I went to the city for a day trip to see a play with two friends, and it was the first time I felt completely comfortable. Maybe it was because I was there with people I’d never been to the city with, or that enough time has passed…

April marks my five year anniversary of working in movie theaters. Five years ago, in 2008, I walked into the IFC Center and asked if they were hiring. That job changed my life in ways that only now am I starting to understand. On Tuesday, my friends Janet and Sandra (who run Images Cinema, where I currently work) and I went to see The Flick at Playwright’s Horizons. It’s a play about working in a cinema in the final days of 35mm film projection. Watching this play, which connects to my own life more than anything I’ve ever seen, feelings and thoughts rushed to the surface of my mind and heart.

Working as an usher/box office/concessions staff and eventually manager at IFC was such a sweet and tender time in my life (as well as a bit tumultuous). The people I met, the movies I saw, the things I learned became part of who I am. I remember my last day working there. As I walked through each theater at the beginning of the shift, doing my morning checks, I thought: this is where I became my adult self. I fell in love here. I changed. 

At Images Cinema I was given the opportunity to be a film projectionist: the dream! To project 35mm film for two years, the final two years before digital took over, was an honor. That was such a special job for me, one that I’ll never forget. I loved it. I miss it all the time. For these past few months there’s been so much to focus on with the new digital projection system, and all my new responsibilities, that I hadn’t taken the time to really think about what that transition meant. While watching The Flick all these feelings began surfacing: about film, and the regret of leaving it behind, the history of it and what it meant to me personally. I thought about Dave, the head projectionist who trained me. I really enjoy all my new responsibilities, and working with the new system– being a part of something new, on the cusp of change– but there’s something about my time as a film projectionist that has a sort of glow around it.

It’s hard to really explain how I feel about this play. Seeing my movie theater life– the mundane tasks of cleaning and running a theater, etc.– heightened on a stage was so exhilarating and touching. I have a lot of feelings about it, and I’m still processing them.

391565_410956015633780_1444561135_n in the projection booth at Images Cinema  217_516668979407_5720_n working box office at the IFC Center

the tiger within

photo from this website.

I don’t want to spoil anything, so if you haven’t seen or read Life of Pi, maybe you should wait to read this until you have. It might not make sense anyway without knowing the story.

I haven’t read the book, only seen the movie, but am moved to write about the allegorical and “real” stories of what happens to Pi, and what it means to me. Mainly about the tiger, Richard Parker.

My first instinct is to believe this whole story with the animals in the life boat is true. Richard Parker, that glorious Bengal tiger, reminds me of my own orange tabby cat, Henry. He was so wild at first, having been abandoned by his mother at too young an age, he did not even know how to properly be a cat. I had to teach him this, as well as how to love and be loved. He attacked me, bit me, behaved in a way I did not understand. But now he loves more than I have ever seen a cat love.

My mom and I talked about the movie today, and she brought to light some deeper ideas for me. That the whole story of the animals in the small boat with Pi, which quickly becomes just him and the tiger, is an allegory for what really happened after the ship sank– a way for Pi to tell the story and to think about it that is perhaps easier to deal with than the facts. A way of telling what happened that is not dissimilar to religious stories. Did Noah really build an arc? Does it matter? When discussing the truth in fiction I usually bend towards “Does it matter?” Stories, no matter how “factual,” are all True. That’s the reason we write anyway, to dig at that truth.

Tonight I am struck by another level in the tale of Pi and Richard Parker. It’s possible that this tiger is a representation of a part of Pi himself, a deep part, one that is capable of killing– both for food and other humans. This shy, skinny, vegetarian boy does not seem like someone who would kill or even harm another living thing. When he stands with a knife, threatening the hyena (who might be representing the Chef from the ship), he cries out, and Richard Parker the tiger jumps (seemingly out of nowhere) onto the hyena and kills him. Could this be Pi calling upon a beast within himself that can kill another man in order to survive?

I wrote this in an email to my mom tonight: i feel as though, in training the tiger, Pi is training and communicating with the animal inside himself– the part of him capable of killing, which he doesn’t understand. we each have that inside us, and in facing the most fearful times in our lives, the most challenging, we are given the opportunity to communicate with that tiger, to use it to survive. when we call upon that deep thing we don’t know we have, i think that is richard parker. what do you think about that?

Well?