Leap, Year

Unseasonably warm temperatures have once again brought about the early blooming of daffodils.  It’s this time of year when I’m always reminded of Wordsworth’s most famous poem (“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”), but seeing as how I’ve already written a blog about that, I will refrain from repeating myself.

Needless to say, this once-a-year phenomenon is one of the few things I look forward to anymore, but when it comes this early, my joy is replaced with despondency because such an early bloom usually precipitates another frost or chill which will ultimately kill all of the newborn flowers.

IMG_4600freshly cut daffodils alongside fancy sippin’ whiskey

So in anticipation of an impending chill, and likely also in some futile effort to take arms against a sea of troubles (it’s been a rough week, folks), I myself wandered lonely as a cloud into my yard full of yellow blossoms and delicately cut a handful of daffodils, brought them into my home, and gingerly placed them in a couple of empty Mexican Coke bottles (I’m all out of bud vases– no such need for those silly things anymore).

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In other news, I watched most of The Oscars last night, and I was surprised to see both Maureen O’Hara and Melissa Mathison show up in the “In Memoriam” segment.  I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under, but I completely missed the deaths of these brilliant ladies, and I feel the need to write a quick note about both.

melissamathisonhenrythomasMelissa Mathison and Henry Thomas (aka Elllll-iotttt) palling around on the E.T. set

Melissa Mathison, who unfortunately happens to be best known to most of the world as the ex-wife of Harrison Ford, is best known to me as the screenwriter for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which was the first movie I ever saw in the theater and still holds the title as my sentimental favorite film.  It makes me sick to think of the talent she wasted and the opportunities she missed while she raised two children for her womanizing husband, Mr. Indiana Jones.  She deserved better from that man, and from life in general.  She was only 65 years old when she died of neuroendocrine cancer.

And what can I say about Maureen O’Hara other than I reckon I’ve always been in love with her?  I consider her to be the last truly great “old Hollywood” actress, and as far back as I can remember she’s been my favorite.  Not many actors could outshine John Wayne in every single movie they did together, but she sure as hell did, and I was incredibly saddened to see her face pop up during the “In Memoriam.”

maureenohara02Maureen O’Hara– as talented as she was beautiful

 

Stand up… Harper Lee has passed

harper lee

Harper Lee has died.  She was 89 years old.

Author of one of the most wonderful (and wonderfully overrated) novels of all time, Harper herself was a bit of an enigma.  A soft-spoken and somewhat reclusive resident of the small southern town of Monroeville, Alabama (the same tiny town where she was born is also where she would die), Nelle Harper Lee would become one of the most influential American novelists of the 20th century having only written one book.  But oh, what a book!  Harper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird was so successful that there was simply no need for her to write anything else; her lone novel eclipsing the entire body of work of her childhood friend, the brash literary genius Truman Capote.

She was a one-hit wonder for nearly all of her life until somebody at HarperCollins got wise and decided to make a small fortune last year by unscrupulously publishing her “rough draft” of Mockingbird, entitled Go Set a Watchman.  I initially withstood the urge to read this exploitative effort because I believed that some things should remain sacred, but the historian in me eventually won out and I compromised my principles and bought a copy.  And I’m sorry I did.  I made it about three-quarters of the way through the book before I completely lost interest and let the rest of the story go unread.  I should have known better, but HarperCollins got my blood money all the same.

51EU92Bi4GLdon’t judge a book by its cover…

It’s a shame, really, because To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of my favorite books, and one of a handful of novels I have read and re-read just for pleasure.  Damn near everyone has to read it at some point in high school, but I was about eleven years old when I first read it (although my first reading was equally mandatory).  My father, who was a literature professor, was fond of forcing books upon me and my brother during the summer months, even going so far as to assign us book reports, no doubt in the hopes of supplementing our public school education and preventing our tiny brains from atrophying any further from non-stop Nintendo playing.  [note:  we did not have a Nintendo growing up, and we had to visit our friends’ houses to get our fix.]

mockingbirdcover…unless its one of the most iconic book covers of all time

Though Mockingbird is set in the depression, its coming-of-age story is truly timeless.  Anyone who’s spent any of their youth growing up in the south will easily recognize chunks of their own childhood in the novel, which is one of the reasons I have such a special place in my heart for this book.  In fact, I would argue that this is perhaps the single greatest and most accurate account of childhood in all of fiction.  But the primary reason this book remains so beloved is not its depiction of the innocence and experience of growing up– rather, it’s the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) way in which it addressed racism and social injustice.  Mockingbird arguably opened up more hearts and minds to these issues than any novel had before (or since), and for that reason alone it will remain required reading in most schools for the interminable future.

When it comes down to it, though, my deep affinity for the book can ultimately be traced to one Atticus Finch.  He was the quintessential father figure– a hard-working man who was as tough as he was fair, as smart as he was honest, and whose bleeding heart carried a deep love for his family along with an unflinching sense of right and wrong.  He embodied the kind of man I aspired to be when I grew up.  In all the books I’ve read, few fictional characters have been as admirable or inspirational to me as Atticus was.

atticusfinchmy hero (and yes, I think the movie is better than the book– sue me)

As soon as I finished the novel for the first time, I knew that Atticus Finch was my literary hero, but it was Gregory Peck’s performance as Atticus in the brilliantly cast film adaptation that would later cement the character’s place in my heart, so much so that I can remember getting emotional years ago when I heard Gregory Peck had died.  One of my functionally-literate co-workers at the time seemed shocked.  “Jeez, it’s not like you knew the guy,” she said.  “You don’t understand,” I replied, “I, and millions of people like me, just lost the father I never had.  So yeah… I feel like I knew the guy.”

It’s with the same sense of familiarity that I am now mourning the loss of Harper Lee, and I can’t help but feel that Harper deserves the same kind of respect shown to Atticus when he’s leaving the courtroom:

R.I.P., Harper Lee.

Valentimes

lovecrystalbridges

*sigh*

Well, here we are again.  February 14th, a date which will live in infamy for most of us lonely hearts.  Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when those of us who are alone are not allowed to forget that we are utterly alone.  For the last couple of weeks, we singles have been ruthlessly and relentlessly bombarded in person and in the media with constant reminders that we are, in fact, fucking losers.  As if I needed a reminder.  It might as well be cross stitched into a pillow in my living room.

loser pillowSeriously.

I thought I could avoid this “singles shaming” by not leaving the house today, holing up on my couch and binge watching The Walking Dead, but even a show filled with flesh-eating corpses still contains just enough romance to put a damper on the day.  And it really couldn’t have been a more perfect Valentine’s Day.  Cloudy skies and cold rain all day long– not once did the sun come out to shine, not even for a moment.  Ideal weather for suffering the tortures of the memory of a lost love.

Lucy knows what’s up

You’ve gotta give Lucy credit– at least she’s trying, though her pursuit of Schroeder is fruitless and completely misguided.  For god’s sakes, Lucy, leave the man alone– can’t you see he’s immersed in his music, not to mention he’s most likely struggling with his own sexuality?  (Does anyone else think Schroeder is gay?  I’ve always just assumed so.)  But you really do have to give Lucy props for putting her heart out there and taking a chance.  Exactly one year ago on this very blog I wrote a Valentine’s Day post in which I mentioned receiving some sage advice from a pretty girl about the importance of putting oneself out there, but at thirty-six years of age, my options are so severely limited that there’s just no point to any of it anymore.  My best option for meeting people is the bar and club scene, but despite my penchant for drinking, I don’t belong in bars.  These are locales where my misanthropy and agoraphobia can combine to make for an unpleasant cocktail.  I’m far more likely to get into a fist fight with some douchebag in a bar or a dance hall than I am to get a girl’s phone number.

Roxbury douchebagsSaid douchebags: “What is love?  Baby, don’t hurt me…”

[SIDE NOTE:  in high school, my hair and sideburns looked just like Will Ferrell’s in Night at the Roxbury]

What is love, though?  Hell if I know.  There have been a handful of times in my life where I thought I knew– I was certain that I knew– but I was ultimately proven wrong in each instance and left holding my head in my hands wondering what I could have done differently.  But there’s no use in wondering now.  The past is gone, and it’s gone for good– there’s no return to any idyllic garden.  Much like Adam and Eve, I’m no longer in paradise, but at least I’m wiser for it, right?  RIGHT?!?

[crickets chirping]

It’s quite the disturbing thing to be stuck in a perpetual state of despair and apathy.  Both states of mind seem to go hand in hand with one another, and it’s not the good kind of hand holding, either.  There’s no “off to see the Wizard” singing and skipping while holding hands bullshit here– this is the kind of death grip hand holding when someone who can’t swim is drowning, grabbing at anything and anyone they can get their mitts on and pulling them under in sheer panic and desperation.

[cue Debbie Downer music: waaahhhhh waaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh]

I’m not really that bitter about the holiday, though.  I sincerely hope as many people as possible are finding happiness right now in the arms of a loved one.  I really do.  As for me, I’m going to polish off the bottle of whiskey I’ve been nursing all day in the dark with Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown running on a loop until I pass out.

One day

And maybe, if you’re lucky, the changing and rearranging will be for the better and you’ll finally find yourself living the life you’ve always dreamed of. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll start changing and rearranging only to realize that you’ve made a terrible mistake and now there’s no going back to the world you once took for granted and second guessed. It’s a coin toss, really– life’s funny that way.

Wonder Of My Worlds

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