Thursday, January 03, 2008

The good and the bad

The good is that I had a good time on New Year's Eve. The celebrations were minimal, which was perfect. I went to Pele's house, hung out with a few friends, ate a bunch, drank a little, played some games and talked a whole lot. Perfect. I was still recovering from my cold so an easy night was all I could handle.

I slept late on New Year's day. I stirred around 9am and noticed Tabitha the cat sleeping near me, on top of the covers. When I woke up around 10:30am, she was still there. Highly unusual. Turns out she managed to knock over the canister with her food so she had no need to cry for breakfast. She was all tired out from her New Year's feast. I honestly don't think there is any way to keep her from being a fat cat.

I hadn't quite decided what to do with my day but I figured I'd call Mom and say happy birthday (Jan 1 is her b-day) and maybe catch a movie.

The bad is that before I had a chance to call Mom, I got an email from her. She thanked me for the present I'd sent and said I shouldn't call her unless I was ready to deal with her issues.


I thought everything was hunky-dory and I sent her an email to that effect. Her response was that our last conversation was about unimportant things and avoided the "real issues." Eventually we established that I could call to say happy birthday but that I shouldn't expect to have a long conversation.

I continue to fail to understand why our friendly conversations don't "count." Mom and I talked about as much real stuff (family, health issues, friend-updates, travel plans, minor annoyances) as I do on an average day with any of my friends. I mean, Pele and I have serious conversations, but we also spend about 10% of any conversation talking about football (it's not just for guys!). Ideally, I'd have a friendly, easy relationship with my mother with room for serious and frivolous conversations.

I have more to say about Mom, but what about some good to break it up? More good is that after my perplexing email exchange with Mom, the phone rang. I'm hesitant to answer my landline these days since it's usually a solicitation but I overcame my resistance and found myself talking to B2, my brother in Israel. (The home phone rings and it's most likely to be, in order: sales person, Dad, Mom, B2, B1.)

B2 was calling to tell me that the Big Box 'O Scarves had arrived in Israel safely and that my nieces (and niece-in-law) were delighted and wearing them all the time. In fact, it had just gotten cold there so the timing was perfect. Also, since people keep their houses colder in Israel, a lot of people wear scarves indoors. Perfect! I was so happy and gratified. It was a labor of love making those scarves. The process made me feel more connected to my nieces as I thought about each of them as I worked on her scarf. It's icing on the cake to know that they are wearing them and appreciating them.

B2 and I chatted about other things as well and it was quite a pleasant and friendly conversation. We don't talk very often but it's always good to hear from him.

After that, I decided to get out of the house and go to the movies. I also decided to call Mom on the way there. Somehow that conversation was going to be easier on the move.

I called and we eased into a friendly, random conversation. It seemed fine but when it was time to go, Mom let out a wistful, "So I guess we'll just keep avoiding the serious issues."

I said, "Look, I don't have a problem so I'm not really sure what the issue is."

"Sure, YOU don't have a problem."

"The only thing I can think of is the prayer shawl [a gift from my mother on the occasion of my Bat Mitzvah lo those many years ago] and, I don't know, I just think that if you want something, you should ask for it."

"That was not the point."

"What was the point?"

We ended up having a semi-productive talk about the prayer shawl. She said she didn't want it. What she did want was to know how I felt about it. I said that if that were the case, she should have asked me how I felt instead of implying that I didn't care about it. When we established that I do, in fact, care about the prayer shawl even though I don't intend to wear it, she seemed satisfied.

(As an aside, it really bothers me that I have to account for my feelings about this object to my mother. Why can't I just have my feelings? Why are my feelings any of my mother's business? I am trying to be sympathetic but this is a tough one for me to accept.)

You'd think that would be good. But no. Mom ended our conversation like this, "Well, that's one thing, but there are still more issues we'll have to deal with later. We can do that by appointment on the phone or I can write to you."

I said, "Happy Birthday!"


Then I went to see Juno. (This is full of spoilers, be warned.) I'll say it was a fine movie but one thought kept running through my mind as I watched, "Why are they talking that way?" the jargon/slang used by the teenage protagonists was too clever by half. I am no enemy of quirky slang dialog in teenage movies—I thought it was used to great effect in Brick. But Juno went too far in this regard. Also, the theater was crowded and the laughing stepped on many of the lines. I would actually need to see it again to hear everything. Did I like it? I'm not sure. I liked a lot about it but I didn't seem to find it quite as hilarious as everyone else. Was it the woman's Knocked Up? I don't think so. It wasn't from a "full grown" woman's point of view—it's the story of a sixteen-year-old girl. A relatively mature one, but not an adult. Knocked Up mostly took the man's perspective—a grown man who acted like a sixteen-year-old. It's not equivalent. It's not about a woman who should be, but isn't, ready for adult responsibility. It's about an almost adult girl who isn't ready and knows it and figures out a way to be responsible (I guess). You know what bothers me about this picture? It's not the short-shrift given to the abortion option, which, thankfully is at least presented. It's the short-shrift given to the sex that leads to the unplanned pregnancy. Now, it may be silly to ask that sex be motivated between teenagers. They are teenagers! They all want to have sex all the time! Ok, I was a teenager and I remember what it was like. That's not what it was like for me. Juno is a girl who is very cool and smart and, perhaps we're all meant to identify with her, but I only sort of did. The sex is never shown, which is good. But it's never clear how it comes to be. I wanted to know more about her relationship with the boy. It's still a boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-fill-in-the-blank-girl story. Where are the details? Why must it be so elliptical?

And, why are they talking like that?

Possible favorite line: "I'm a cautionary whale." Particularly amusing from the too-tiny-to-be-believed Ellen Page.

Happy New Year! (Better late than never!)

Grateful for: friends.

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