Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hector and The Search for Happiness

We watched the movie Hector and the Search for Happiness which was refreshing after thirty minutes of watching the Birdman  chosen by the Academy to be the best movie. Like the Academy Awards themselves: Birdman is self-indulgent and self-absorbed. I seldom walk out of movie or turn it off, but Birdman was just way too whacky for me. I nearly choked on all the navel gazing fluff.

I had no expectations of Hector who journeys around the world trying to find what makes people happy. Here's what he discovered:

  1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness
  2. Happiness often comes when least expected
  3. Many people only see happiness in their future
  4. Many people think happiness comes from having more power or more money
  5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story
  6. Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains
  7. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal
  8. Happiness is being with the people you love; unhappiness is being separated from the people you love
  9. Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing
  10. Happiness is doing a job you love
  11. Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own
  12. It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people
  13. Happiness is feeling useful to others
  14. Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are (People are kinder to a child who smiles)
  15. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive
  16. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate
  17. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love
  18. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think
  19. The sun and the sea make everybody happy
  20. Happiness is a certain way of seeing things
  21. Rivalry poisons happiness
  22. Women care more than men about making others happy
  23. Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy
Some resonated with me, particularly #14. I've learned recently what a rare gift it is to be loved even when you are disagreeable, say stupid things and sanctimonious.

What makes you happy?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


There's no turning back now. This little girl has mastered sitting up on her own. In a few days, she can add crawling to her repertoire. While this didn't make today's headline news, it was celebrated and noticed by a very enthusiastic crowd.

When I look at this picture, I am reminded of her mother. I had no idea when she was that age the places she'd go nor her many accomplishments. Maybe that's a good thing. There's already so much pressure on young parents to "get it right".

I don't feel that angst as a grandmother. I see my role more as a cheerleader and confidante.

What traces of me and my mother and her mother are found in this little girl?

I want to know the memories you have of your grandmother and the influence she had on you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ask Her More

twitters went viral with the #askhermore campaign to encourage media interviewers to focus on the woman and not just on her dress.

I've been known to ask zinger questions. I'm not Barbara Walters but I don't pull any punches either.  If I were the interviewer, here's a few questions I would ask:

1) how did you prepare for your role

2) what has this role taught you about marginalized women or Alzhemeirs patients that you didn't know about before.

3) how do you balance family and work

4) what would you advise prospective actors

5) what do you consider your greatest achievement

6) what actors have you were role models for you and why?

What questions would you ask?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Overdose

I'm just a few minutes into the Oscar orgy broadcast and want to note these:

Eddy Redmayne rocks his blue and black tux. Best messy hair. Best smile. I love this guy.

J Lo knows how to wear a gown.

Did Rosamund Pike run out of time so didn't do her hair? 
Or did she and Patricia Arquette plan to have the worst hairdos ever?

Forty women were nominated for awards this year. A married gay man is hosting the Oscars. We've come along way. 

It's show time.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day circa 1960

Going to Purdy's the other day, I noticed their boxes of Sweet Georgia Browns wrapped in pink foil with embossed hearts. A black garter gave it a little sass.  I bought one for Bob (maybe he'll share). We don't typically celebrate Valentines in any special way although this year we are going to a play.

Later in the grocery store,  the excessive amount of Made In China trinkets for your Valentine attracts my attention. Underwear with hearts, stuffed animals holding a heart, pink and red treat bags, candles in, you guessed it, a heart shape, muffin and cake tins and on and on. All this hoo-ha would make you think the whole world were on fire with passion and love. For me it was a  big turn off.

In elementary school, one of our art projects was to decorate a brown paper bag or shoe box for our Valentines. This was a time before the teacher sent home a class list to make sure everyone got a Valentine. No sir-ee. We let our classmates know exactly where they stood. Bulging bags amid thin or even empty bags were a sign of your popularity. I think now how Cheryl Davies must have felt each year with her empty or thin bag.

I didn't care about that very much in 1960.

Happy Valentine's to you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Almost There

One of my childhood pleasures was visiting my Aunt Mae's house in the city. The ride there wasn't much fun squished in between my older siblings. My brother couldn't sit still and my sister buried her nose in a book.

The reward for spending a hot and tense ride into the city came upon arrival. I say tense because my dad always got lost. He was a terrible driver in the city and it created no end of stress and angry remarks trying to find the right address.  Aunt Mae and Uncle Mike showered us with kisses, invited us to take something from her rose coloured ceramic candy dish and sent us off to play with our cousins.

The men always sat in the living room, the women cooked and did the dishes in the kitchen (hey this was the early 60s) and we played outside or downstairs. There was a little space underneath the stairs that felt like a clubhouse. We'd tip over the sauerkraut crock pots for chairs, put up blankets for walls and play house or school or doctor (that was innocent and before puberty).

Hanging on the wall near our fort, hung an oval black and white photo of my Aunt and her sister before they married. Their unsmiling faces and stern look made me think they could have been spinsters looking like that all the time. One was wearing a broach with ornate edging.  I always coveted it because of its unusual shape and composition.

Dinner was a big deal and always made from scratch.  We loved the placinta (strudel), cabbage rolls, roasted sausages and mamaliga (corn mush) and homemade pickles. This food set us apart. It was the delicious aspect of our otherness.

We played hide and seek and some of us often crawled underneath the big pine tree out front. We were never caught.  We played tag too darting all over the yard and once in a while Aunt Mae would come out and remind us that her gladiolas didn't like all that noise.

When most of the cousins had gone home, Uncle Mike would suggest that my younger sister Holly and I go for a walk to the little grocery store at the end of their block.

He had to sneak the forbidden ice cream. He told our aunt he was going to buy us ice cream which he did but there was always an extra one for him. He was tall thin man with a head full of curly grey hair. In his thick accented and raspy voice he would say "Don't tell your Auntie Mae".

Sometimes we stayed overnight. My younger sister Holly and I slept in their bed. I don't ever remember where everyone else slept. We loved this because we'd find those clear strong peppermints Uncle Mike hid in the little sliding drawer of the headboard.

More memoir later.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Go Set A Watchman coming to a bookstore near you

How do you follow To Kill A Mockingbird? Was Harper Lee paralyzed with writer's cramp? Did she have other story lines she pitched with no success? Did she pick up her pen and rush write?

 Over fifty years have passed since she wrote  Go Set a Watchman which will be published later this year.  Two million copies. Not shabby.  Already  booksellers are rubbing their hands anticipating its success. Still others like the Cambridge professor Dr. Ian Patterson who characterized To Kill a Mockingbird as a "soggy sentimental liberal novel" most likely won't be ordering the novel for his Kindle. 

 Sure I am going to read about Scout as an adult and her relationship with Atticus but for me the real story is Harper Lee and what's informed her all these years about her "lost" manuscript and  her Pulitzer prized novel. 

I studied her picture which appeared in The Guardian today. She's more attractive at 88 than she was at 35. Her Dutch boy bangs and rimmed glasses and red lipstick made her look hip. 

If this sequel ever is made into a movie who could give Atticus the depth Gregory Peck brought to the character?