booked reading weekend
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As wine connoisseurs pair their drink with the right cheese or meal or Anne Bogel selects book flight picks to pair with her monthly Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club selection, I have paired a couple movies and a book for your entertainment pleasure. They can fill a weekend with a united theme or be stretched over a couple weeks, whatever way you enjoy it. I just aim to pair some selections that may unify a theme or thought for you.
Just in time for the holiday shuffle, this trio reminds us we have more resiliency than we think and that we can overcome obstacles.
How to Walk Away by Katherine Center: This book ties with Wonder by AJ Palacio as my favorite read this year (and wins for book published in 2018 I’ve read). It follows a woman in her late twenties on the brink of transitioning into the adult life she worked hard to acquire. After graduating from her MBA program, her boyfriend proposes to her while showing her his piloting skills. Then the plane crashes. Margaret lands in the hospital facing an entirely different life than she planned. Due to her paralysis and long hospital stay, she loses her job offer. She also loses her fiancé. As she goes through physical rehabilitation, she reconsiders how her values fit into her new life and discovers she has the strength to overcome her losses.
Cast Away: Coincidentally, this movie also involves a plane crash. Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, a FedEx man who lets time deliver not only his team’s packages but his success. On a last minute business trip on Christmas Eve, his plane crashes and leaves him stranded on an island. He must fight to survive and does not have the support Margaret had with her. The years pass, and he remains steadfast on his mission to get back to the woman who held the engagement ring he left as a Christmas gift.
Jerry Maguire: Tom Cruise stars in this critically acclaimed Cameron Crowe film. While he doesn’t survive a plane crash to necessitate his resilience, he loses his job as a top sports agent. He uses that blow as an opportunity to start his own business from the ground up. In the process, he learns how to treat his stars humbly and how to have deeper connections with others. His famous “Help me help you!” line shows how he too needs others to move forward successfully.
All these characters endure significant losses and obstacles. Yet they find a way to cling to hope and to keep their lives centered on their values so resilience pulls them to the other side. Not only do they make it through their setback, they find a way thrive.
Bonus: I am fortunate enough to have an advance reader edition of Katherine Center’s upcoming book The Things You Save in a Fire, and I enjoy what I’ve read so far. The review will come soon.
blink-182, books, Dracula, Edward Scissorhands, entertainment, fall, Frankenstein, Halloween, I Miss You, Isaac Marion, Michael Jackson, movies, pop culture, reading, Stranger Things, The Rules of Magic, thriller, Twilight, Warm Bodies, weekend
Even though Halloween ranks last on my list of favorite holidays, it does fall during my favorite season. I do find it fun to participate in the seasonal festivities. In honor of that, I’ve created a list of suitable Halloween themed entertainment that fits the theme without including a scare factor. Consider these movies, books and songs for the upcoming weekend and holiday.
Bonus: The third book installment by Isaac Marion releases in a few weeks.
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson
This song captures 80s pop culture as much as it does Michael Jackson’s rise as the King of Pop. Fun rather than scary, the hit has pep and even includes its own zombie inspired dance. It also makes a perfect background song for the Stranger Things 2 trailer, a modern cultural phenomenon showcasing the 80s that released Halloween weekend last year.
“I Miss You” by blink-182
This song has the lyrics and the video to capture the more emo side of Halloween. The music video takes place what could represent Dracula’s castle and its eerie outskirts, including a graveyard. The song mentions nightmares and references Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It even uses a simile comparing a spider eating insects caught in its web to relational angst as they sing, “like the webs from all the spiders/ catching things and eating their insides/ like my indecision to call you…” Oh, how I miss the teenage years when I first heard this song.
Ten years ago, I graduated high school. While I may not have a reunion to attend, I can spend a weekend basking in world of young adults. The movies She’s the Man and Hairspray as well as Sarah Dessen’s book The Truth About Forever came out during my high school years. The characters in these stories grapple with the cost of pursuing their dreams and the tensions that arise within themselves and from those around them as they take aim. Spend the weekend in the high school realm with Amanda Bynes on your screen and young ladies of various backgrounds reminding you to hold onto your dreams.
In She’s the Man Amanda Bynes’ character Viola follows the plotline of the Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night as she poses as her brother so she can play soccer. Laughs follow as she attempts the mannerisms of an adolescent boy and hones in skills. Though her mother wishes Viola to shine as a debutant, Viola proves she can wear a dress as well as a soccer jersey.
Hairspray, which stars Amanda Bynes in the best friend role, demonstrates not only the tensions that arise from pursuing a dream but also racial tensions as Tracy Turnblad auditions for a dance show and supports integration. Singing and dancing abound as people start to notice the talent surrounding them. In the face of rejection for her weight and her views, Tracy holds onto her desire to dance and to develop her friendships.
Sarah Dessen’s novel The Truth about Forever deals with loss and the discovery of new and old dreams as Macy recovers from her father’s death. She and her mother don’t discuss their situation, and at a new summer job Macy makes new friends who help her sort through her pain. Though her mom resists the friends at first, Macy evaluates her life and how she wants to progress. Rather than box herself in with rules, she starts to consider goals again as she opens up with herself, her mom and her friends.
As young adults, high schools start to really take hold of their dreams. Even as an adult ten years out of high school, I struggle to keep those dreams close and pursue them despite tension that may arise within myself or from those around me. As these characters show, our goals have a purpose that can benefit not only ourselves but those around us. We can join forces with friends and family to progress them and see positive results.
This weekend I’m catching up on NBC’s hit tearjerker This Is Us, and the second episode doesn’t disappoint. Filled with touching moments, especially between characters who haven’t been as close previously, it captures the difficulty and depth of developing a family. Randall and Beth further contemplate fostering a child. Through Randall’s doubt and Beth’s persistence in their discussions, they demonstrate the uncertainty in family connections and the communication necessary to develop those connections. They show triumph over uncertainty and difficulty to connect leads to the development of strong family ties.
Randall knows firsthand what it feels like to struggle through childhood. As the adopted child of the Big Three triplets and only one of a different race, he knows how easy it can be to feel separated. He also has witnessed the effects of parents’ problems on children; his adoptive father Jack struggled with a drinking problem passed down from Jack’s father, a problem that stirs conflict within Jack and Rebecca’s marriage and family, and, his biological father struggled with drug problems and ultimately died from cancer. Randall understandably fears not feeling equipped to deal with a foster child who may have been abused in some way (Beth at first guesses he feels nervous about answering the question about his family history of alcoholism and drugs). As Beth points out, they didn’t know what they would get when they had their two daughters.
Their discussion and their potential to know beforehand whether a child would have the difficulties of healing from abuse or difficult medical histories intrigued me. As Bev points out, people generally don’t know what problems may arise related to their children or their preparedness to parent. Life, and families in particular, face a lot of uncertainty. Yet Randall’s life proves that the uncertainty and challenges can be overcome. Perhaps some of Randall’s perfectionism and hard work ethic stem from a desire to prove himself worthy. It also fuels him to work to stay connected with his family despite the difficulties. Ultimately, in this episode, we see how Beth’s insistence to continue their discussion until completion of the foster care questionnaire demonstrates how communication can further deepen and develop family connections. She does not let Randall give up, and together they progress their goal to broaden their family.
Beth’s story arc in this episode also shows how connections can develop even where they don’t have much depth already. She informs Randall that she does not find his brother Kevin funny and that she does not care to watch the recording of Kevin’s show The Manny. Kevin knows their relationship does not go deep, but he still seizes his chance to be there for her and his brother. Beth finds herself in Kevin’s room backstage and shares her frustration with Randall. Rather than remove himself to give Beth space, Kevin chooses to stay and communicate. As she divulges their plans to adopt, Kevin sees Beth’s need for understanding and connects with her through a humorous background story Beth didn’t previously realize connected them. It serves as a point for them to start deepening their friendship as well as encouragement for Beth to not get discouraged in her journey with Randall to become foster parents.
As usual, this episode makes me tear up at the touching depth to these characters and their situations. They remind me that with effort and communication we can all develop deeper connections with family. Their strength does not come without difficulty. Opportunities always exist to connect as well, whether they be with family members who have been around for years or with ones who may not have joined yet. Like Randall and Beth, we should not let fear of uncertainty steer us away from developing those ties.
I should be listening to live music at Middle Of The Map festival right now. I could bask in the wonder that accompanies a concert, spend quality time with a friend who loves the experience as much as I do, and take advantage of the music scene and writing inspiration offered by this city life. Yet here I sit at home. Alone (unless the dog counts).
Capturing the opportunities here rests solely in me. The designated people have already arranged and agreed to this festival. I am missing the music as I write. I have chosen this city as my new home for the potential it holds for the goals I have. Easing into it makes sense considering how long it has taken me to simply peek from my shell and how I have given myself considerable more change and adjustment. No excuse remains to keep me from joining the communities here though.
It’s time I find the times and places bands play, church groups meet, friends hang out, and more so I can build my home here. Those aspects accompany the physical act of maintaining my personal dwelling. At those events, I get to capture the memories that line my walls. I keep myself surrounded by what has significance to me.
Now I just have to get out there and keep building and maintaining my home, both literally and figuratively. The time has come. Nothing should hold me back.
From what are you hiding right now? What moments and opportunities can you seize from the world around you?