Sunday, March 25, 2012

Which 1980s Molly Ringwald Movie?

The exhausting and wonderful Virginia Festival of the Book is over. I enjoyed presenting my book of short stories, Breaking and Entering, but I think I enjoyed hearing other authors read from and discuss their recent works and their writing philosophies and share what interests them and what they think makes good writing.

Ernessa Carter was on a panel at Barnes and Noble and she read from her book, 32 Candles. She is a lyrical and thoughtful writer and a charming person. I was so pleased to be able to talk with her further at the author's reception Saturday night.

The book follows Davie Jones, an outsider in high school (and who really wants to read too much about anyone who wasn't?) who dreams of Hollywood endings, thanks in part to the movie Sixteen Candles. Carter follows her character into her thirties, hence the title.

I liked the passage Carter read, although I can't say Sixteen Candles was my favorite Molly Ringwald movie. My favorite was Breakfast Club, which Carter said most of her guy friends liked best. She also said that her designer friends liked Pretty in Pink for the dress-cutting-up scene.

So that got me thinking. I wonder what our favorite Molly Ringwald movie says about us? Beyond the fact that I apparently have to give up my girl card.....And do all our choices in art reflect our personalities, especially our choices in high school?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The $64,000 Question

How do you balance doing the right thing by the world with your own personal happiness? Hell, I don’t even have my answer much less anyone else’s.
I often wrestle with this question in various guises, but I can’t stop thinking about it after a friend’s FB post on overpopulation. To paraphrase, he thinks having children is bad because human overpopulation will destroy the plant. (I have oversimplified his argument for the sake of argument – this friend is usually quite a nuanced thinker and kind person.)

We all balance many things in every choice we make, whether consciously or unconsciously. What about saving your premature baby? Waste of resources. That $600,000 could be better spent on helping 1000 people learn to manage their diabetes better. I don’t care that you want your baby to live. That’s selfish.
Vacations? Huge carbon footprint. I don’t care that they will refresh you and make you a kinder and gentler person maybe more likely to appreciate the variety of the world.

Your designer goldendoodle puppy? Better to adopt a neglected hound or pit mix from the shelter, even if you don’t know how to handle a dog with issues.
You should do what I want, what my experts think is best.

Everything we do is wasteful if we look at the big picture, swimming and making art included. While I absolutely think we should all bear in mind the consequences of our choice and try to do good by our fellow human beings, one way to do that is to offer the world the best versions possible of yourself.
It is easy to do the “right” thing in the abstract. It is much harder when flesh and blood individuals are involved with their own wants and needs and desires. And they are right in front of you.

Love complicates everything. And makes it wonderful. Numbers can’t argue with love. I don’t have children – I don’t want them. One of the reasons I never wanted them is because I think there are too many people in the world. But the key part of this sentence is the verb “want.” I am not denying myself something I want or love. I am not being a martyr.
I would rob a bank to save my husband. Or my dog. I would kill to save any of them. That isn’t exactly a terrific attitude for saving the world. But it is what love does to a person.

I drove three dogs 3500 miles to save their lives. What a waste. What an environmental degradation. What a joy.
I am a lucky person. My life is easier and better than I deserve. But joy? That is rare, even in a great life. We all deserve the right to grab as much of it as we can. Pay it back (or forward or whatever) somehow, but go get it.

It is hard to keep the big picture in mind as we live our lives. The central question is always where does my freedom end and your begin?