2020s, In My Opinion, inspiration, photography

IMO: Middle of the Night Reflections

Today is my birthday. I’m 59. It’s 2:15 in the morning, and I can’t sleep. This post is a year in review, of sorts. Quickly, though–I still have to get up in the morning and teach. And celebrate being 59.

Blogging: In years past, on the 13th day of the month I’d host a “Cindy’s Lucky 13 Film Club” post. I miss that, talking to friends about the film industry. Many times the post generated over 100 comments. As it stands, I have lost the thrill of watching movies on a regular basis. A favorite hobby run dry. Why? Covid broke the habit of going to the movies, for one reason. Streaming changed the way I find entertainment. I seem to watch TV series more. I loved watching: Timeless, Jamestown, Poldark, Astrid, and the Tudor trio series The Spanish Princess, The White Princess, and The White Queen. As far as films go, I will report that The Power of the Dog, The Courier, The Green Knight, Belfast, Dune were winners for me.

Health: I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Do you want the list of issues and surgeries and hospitalizations and relapses? Don’t worry, I won’t waste your time. I confess I hate it when I’m in another doctor’s office, and they want to review my health conditions. In the end, I feel like a walking timebomb. What happened to the athlete from twenty years ago? How can living an active life of hard work and activity cause one’s body to break down? When I start to feel sorry for myself, I only have to consider all the people who are suffering from diseases I don’t have or are completely immobile. I believe “a body in motion, stays in motion” so I move. I will share when I was 17 riding my bicycle, I was hit in the back by a truck at an intersection. That began a lifetime of pain. Add a bad gene pool combined with too many hours at the computer–that recipe will ruin anyone’s body. But I’m not giving up. I am back at the gym, moving, stretching, building muscles. It feels good to do the right thing. I must.

Grief: Mom’s been gone for a year and a half. Blunt force trauma for me. A turning point. Juncture. Crossroads. Pick your synonym. Watching her die of cancer was too painful. People die every day. It was her turn. I get it. Anyway, time is softening the blow. The result of her loss caused me to return to the Catholic church. My mind took a break from religion a few years back because I was mad. Now I don’t care about my thoughts on religion. I just need to go to mass. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

Grief is the ambivalence of pain and numbness. Grieving is the absence of rational thought. It’s thrashing about in a pool of overwhelming feelings. These days, I just talk to her. We are all on journeys with beginnings and ends. It’s all okay.

Writing: So that book. I have been too numb to be creative. I am normally a goal-oriented, follow-through kind of gal, so I suspect I will finish it. I’ve only the final chapter to write before the editing begins. Since it’s about WW2, my new goal is to complete it before the 80th anniversary. My self-pity shrinks when I think about the destruction and the lost souls during the war. I feel a personal debt is owed to the men and women who served. I love what my flag symbolizes. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

The Move: Sometimes you just gotta change it up. Stir the pot. Clean the slate. The changes in my head, heart, and soul instigated the crazy move from Arizona to Virginia. It’s happening in stages. Stage one — sell the house. Stage two — get a job in Virginia and finish out the current contract. We wait. Jim and I are happy in our motor home with our big sky and beautiful view. We listen to music, get buzzed, and sleep heavily.

I have an interview for a job today! What a nice birthday present if I got the job, yes? It is to teach German to eighth-graders. I am not fluent, but I have a fun time getting them to love learning Deutsch. In my current position, I have four preps and report to three departments. My Master’s degrees are in history and English. German was a minor because I had the lofty goal of earning a Ph.D. That did not happen. However, for seventeen years now, I teach English Composition courses as an online adjunct for a community college in Virginia. I rationalize I achieved the lofty goal. At 59, I’m too young to retire. I will continue to teach because I can. And, I like to earn money and spend it on trips. I don’t care if you think that’s silly.

Love: I’m feeling it a lot lately. My list of what I’m grateful for keeps growing like my love for my husband, my children, and my grandchildren. My dog. I want to live. I want to see and celebrate my 60th birthday in style doing something crazy cool around all those I love. I love my blogging friends, too. Who knew you would all be more real to me than the people I pass on the street?

I don’t care. And I care greatly. I am a work in progress. I thought being 59 meant I would have it all figured out. I know nothing. There’s bliss in that.

"Sincerely, your favorite fan", actors, Are You Not Entertained?, Dear..., directors, Film Spotlight, movies

Dear Jane Campion,

Benedict Cumberbatch has an excellent shot at an Oscar nomination/win.

I wanted to thank you for adapting Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel and directing The Power of the Dog (2021). Your films feel like good books that beg to be analyzed. Take The Piano (1993), for instance, your signature film for the past thirty years.

I taught it in English Composition class as a visual text twenty years ago. We discussed how the piano was a character in the film. Was it not the voice of the mute protagonist Ada? Was it not a metaphor for the treatment of women in a patriarchal world in 19th century New Zealand? That is, the piano was a burden to men. It was carried, abandoned, tattooed, mutilated, and drowned at the bottom of the sea.

We compared and contrasted the spiritual connection of Ada and George Baines while the clueless colonizer Alisdair Stewart (one of Sam Neill’s best roles) attempted to control his environment, the Maori people, and his wife with disastrous results. The best character was the eight-year-old daughter, Ada. Flora was a precocious, mischievous “angel” who becomes a little demon, manipulating Christianity to punish her mother for choosing to distance their bond for another man.

You embraced the wild scenery with a passion. It was necessary for the piano to have a complex voice. Michael Nyman‘s score is still breathtaking.

Today, I’m awestruck with my favorite film of 2021. I feel compelled to write you and extend my gratitude for your adapted screenplay and direction of The Power of the Dog (2021). The emotional wrestling between the characters makes it worth many discussions. Set in Montana in the 1920s, you embraced the topography and shared to the audience the beauty and harsh realities of the cowboy culture and the ambitions of a ranching family.

Kirsten Dunst plays Rose, a fragile mother who is intimidated and close to ruin by the bossy, jealous Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch). Photos courtesy of Netflix.
Kodi Smit-McPhee, smoldering, complex, and exciting to watch.

Jane, your characters are never one-dimensional. Their motivations are hidden. Their feelings are hidden. Their narrative arcs are complete. Through the camera’s lens via close-ups, staging, and the stark lines of the setting, you flush out their feelings. To some, the characters may seem too hidden, but I’ve always been a fan of inference and subtlety. That disturbing score heightens psychological warfare. You have created a beautiful film and given me hope that the art of filmmaking has returned.

Sincerely,

Your Favorite Fan

P.S. What did Phil Burbank see in the hills? What was he staring at? Ah, the lines of the hills are hips, torsos, legs of a lover’s embrace. Perfect.

Arizona, Five Shots of..., five shots...., glamping, nature, photography

5 Shots: Arizona Winter Skies

Sitting on a bluff in our motor home, the winter clouds fill up the big sky with the depth and breadth of unique cloud formations. This is my kind of drama. We sit in the late afternoons and watch the day transform into the night. Which shot do you like best?

1. Strips of Clouds
2. Verde Valley
3. Rolling Hills to Sedona
4. The Rain Falls
5. Peek-a-boo Light