Oh, Suzannah

I don’t remember a lot about high school.  I didn’t like school and I liked being in public school even less.  However there are moments and days that I do recall with fondness.  One such day, which began like any other, my life would be changed forever.

I had switched over to public school from parochial school in 8th grade, taking Algebra a second time because it was the highest math offered in junior high.  It was fine with me, because it was an easy A.  Geometry my Freshman year was a breeze.  Now a sophomore, Algebra II was difficult for me.  One of the youngest in the class, I was also pretty shy, so I sat in the back and mostly paid attention.

One day, a girl I had never seen walked into the classroom.  She had stringy red hair and jelly shoes on her feet.  I giggled.  What kind of person wears jelly shoes?  (I mean, besides the toddler kind.)  Who was this weirdo?

Turns out she was a transfer student.  Her name was Suzannah Dove.  She was from San Diego, California, and I just knew her parents had to be hippies.  She had freckles on her porcelain skin, an easy demeanor and kind smile.  She was assigned to sit in the empty desk to my left, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Throughout that school year, we chatted, we studied together, we figured out how to pass notes to each other in our graphing calculators.  (So I guess you could say weI invented texting. You’re welcome.)

Suzannah was like the butter to my toast – we were so different, and she was everything I wasn’t, but together we were better.  I had never known a friendship that was so effortless, honest and fun.  The things I loved about her then are still qualities I admire in her now.  Twenty years later, we are still best friends.  Both moms and now living on opposite sides of the country, our lives have changed drastically, but our bond remains intact.  We have weathered our share of storms and been up on peaks and down in valleys together, and I am so proud to call her my best friend.

Most of our conversations happen on Skype now, but they are still as effortless as the day we met.  Suzannah (whose mom is totally a hippie) is sweet and honest, and she still laughs at my jokes.  I still ask her advice about fashion (are jelly shoes in again?) and dealing with my dad, and I have no doubt that we will be friends for the rest of our lives and after.

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Cinema Dry Spell

Movies.  Let’s talk about movies.

Cinema, film, the theater.  I have a great affinity for the medium.  When movies are good they can make us laugh, cry, and wonder.  They can make us feel joy, curiosity, sadness and pain.

Lately, though, all they make me feel is pain.  Not the pain of being emotionally involved.  Not the pain of reminiscing lost love or the pain of not knowing how the story will end.  No, mostly the pain I feel lately in relation to the movies is more like how it feels to break up with someone you’ve been wanting to leave for a while now but you can’t find the words, so you let them linger.  And every time you see them you’re just like “ugh”.

Movies, you make me say “ugh”.

Where are all the good choices?  My husband and I were last in the theater for Gone Girl.  Admittedly, going to the movies isn’t something we do often, as wrangling a sitter and getting dolled up is infinitely more difficult and less cost effective than just choosing something we’re mutually “meh” about on Netflix.  [Don’t get me started on Netflix – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.]  Since then, we have not been back ot the theater, and that’s not for lack of trying.  Every time he gets a day off or someone offers to watch our kids for a while, we get excited.  Pull up the Fandango app and let’s see what’s playing!  And then, disappointment.  Every.Single.Time.

Here are things I won’t pay to see:

* Scary Movies, any kind.  I don’t care if it’s ghosts or zombies or supernatural things or hexes or witchcraft or someone wearing night vision goggles running through the woods, I will not see it.  No way, no how.

* Potty Humor movies.  These, and it makes me sad to say, seem to be the majority of what’s considered “comedy” in America today.  Bodily function movies, movies that use words like p****, c***, d***, etc., I will not see.  I am embarrassed for everyone involved in these NONfunny films, from the writers to the actors to the audience members who choose to support them.  If you can’t make me laugh without passing gas, getting naked, or being otherwise inappropriate, you aren’t funny.

[Just eliminating these two types of movies pretty much eliminates my choices altogether.]

* Animated films. I have no problem if we are taking my 5 year old to see the Lego Movie.  That movie was entertaining and, again, the 5 year old was with us.  For a date night, I don’t really want to see a cartoon.

* Stripper movies, soft porn, 50 Shades of “Even Though I’m Grown I Still Think My Grandfather Would Be Disappointed in Me” films.  I don’t watch porn.  I’m not going to pay to watch porn.  I’m not judging you if you watch porn, but for me it’s a no.

So, using this list, let’s look at the options available to me right this minute at our local movie theater:

50 Shades of Grey – no

Spongebob – no

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Paddington – no (but this will be a YES for my son. I adore Paddington.)

The Wedding Ringer – no.

So my option is Kingsman.  To its credit, Colin Firth is wonderful and I could probably be at least mildly amused listening to him read a phone book.  Does it look like the kind of movie I want to spend $200 on (plus $355 on popcorn and drink)?  Not exactly.  Again this week, we will not have a movie date night.  And I’m telling you, it’s been like this for months!

Gone Girl was pretty good.  I mean… well, it was ok.  It wasn’t what  I wanted it to be, but I also didn’t leave feeling like I should demand my money back.  Still, after hearing and reading such rave reviews for the actor and the story and then experiencing its total mediocrity, I was left wondering, is bad the new good?

Are we, as a culture, so used to seeing abysmal films, that when something with even a hint of creativity, a smidgen of hilarity, comes along, we jump up and down and sing its praises?  No matter that the dialogue doesn’t make sense or the costumes are horrible.  Don’t pay attention to the similarities between the film currently showing and that OTHER romantic comedy (many times starring the same actors) that you paid to see LAST month.  In Gone Girl’s defense, the ending was a bit surprising.

Where is my generation’s answer to Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Why has no one written a screenplay that can stand up to  Shawshank Redemption?  Why are extraordinary films so hard to come by?

There is a cinema gift card in the drawer of my desk.  It may never get used.  Maybe that’s a good bad thing.