before sunrise (richard linklater, 1995)

I was interested in seeing this again, because I've always thought of it as the weakest film in the trilogy. Not that it's bad ... far from it ... but I felt each movie was better than the one before, perhaps because the earlier movies added depth to the later ones. Returning to the first, I see that it is of a piece with the others, and if I still believe the third is better than the second is better than the first, my opinion about Before Sunrise is higher than when I first saw it and didn't know others were to come. (When I watched Before Sunset a few years after it came out, I found my appreciation of that film had grown, as well. Guess when I re-watch Before Midnight, I'll have to call it the best film of all time.)

The truth is, I didn't get any new insights into Before Sunrise by watching it again. There were no surprises I hadn't noticed before. I just find the groove Linklater establishes to be amenable to my own rambling thoughts. As always, I also have a crush on Julie Delpy.

This movie falls into another category that I am realizing over the years is more well-stocked than I ever knew: Movies I Love But I Bet My Wife Wouldn't Love. She isn't a fan of Linklater ... as she said about halfway through Dazed and Confused when I finally convinced her to watch it, "Is anything going to happen in this movie?" Saw Slacker and thought the same thing. I think the only movie of his she liked was A Scanner Darkly, and that came in part because we love the book and the movie was an excellent version.

Point is, I want to share my favorites with my beloved, but I'm crushed if she doesn't like them, too. I'm not talking about everyday favorites ... I don't take it personally if someone doesn't care for Gun Crazy (although Bonnie and Clyde might be a different story). But I can't bring myself to sit her down with the Before series, because I assume in advance she won't like it, and I really want her to. (The best/worst example of this is In the Mood for Love, one of my very favorite movies, which she would hate because "nothing happens".)

She often has the TV on during the evening and on the weekends. She has shows she likes, and movie genres she enjoys, but mostly she's looking for something she can half-watch while she knits. Mad Max: Fury Road turned up on some channel the other day, and that's only my favorite movie of the last few years. She liked it when we saw it, she is always ready to watch something again (since she's knitting, it helps that she already knows what's happening), and she loves action movies. I would have sat down and watched with her ... well, I would have stuck the Blu-ray in the player rather than watching the "TV version", but she never cares about that. But it seemed like a perfect movie for us to watch together. Instead, she surfed around until she found another action movie and watched that.

And I knew, once again, that we really don't have the same taste in movies anymore.

 


today i am 65 years old

The first time I had a birthday during the life of this blog was 2002. I was, what, 49 years old. Doesn't seem so old to me now, although it seemed ancient when I was 19. On that first-ever birthday post, I quoted Pink ... yes, I've been doing that for 16 years. Here are the lyrics I quoted, along with the song's video, which is deep ... I used it in class a couple of time.

I'm a hazard to myself
Don't let me get me
I'm my own worst enemy
It's bad when you annoy yourself
So irritating
Don't want to be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else
-- Pink, "Don't Let Me Get Me"

 

 


on this day: the readymades and me

On this day two years ago, I wrote a post ... it was an On This Day before I started using that idea. The post was about seeing Patti Smith at Winterland on May 13, 1978 (40 years ago today!). One of the opening acts was The Readymades, and I mentioned them in that post from two years ago, as follows:

The Readymades seemed to open every show we went to in those days, at least when it wasn’t Pearl Harbor and the Explosions. Their singer was Jonathan Postal, who has had an interesting career as a photographer. It was The Readymades who headlined a show around 1980, maybe at the Longbranch, can’t remember ... I was going to see a shrink at the time, paying, I don’t know, $25/session or something like that. I went to see The Readymades for $5, slammed around in the pit, and walked out feeling great. The next time I visited the shrink was my last ... I told him I got more of my money’s worth at The Readymades show.

Hope had a hold on me ... the timeline in the above anecdote doesn't match my recollections (of course). but whenever it was, I clearly thought I'd figured out the key to happiness, therapist be damned. Hope didn't last ... not long after this, I ended up in therapy again after freaking out at my house one night. And 20+ years later, I finally went on meds, after hearing the magic words, "Bipolar II".

 


on this day: better living through chemistry

On this day in 2005, I wrote about going on psych meds ... at that time, I'd been on them for three weeks, which means I've now been on them for 13 years and 3 weeks. In that post, I quoted from my friend Jonathan Sterne, who told what I came to call "The Parable of the Pissing Cat".

He was peeing everywhere in the basement right before we were going to sell the house and we had to do something. He'd had all the tests and was healthy according to the vet. He'd acted out once before (beating up the other cat) and we were told to put him on Paxil and couldn't stomach it. We were too worried about losing the better parts of his personality. Well, nobody wants to sell a house when the basement smells like cat piss (much less LIVE in such a place!), so we took the plunge and started giving him Paxil (that was an interesting conversation with the pharmacist). He slept a lot for the first few days and then more or less was back to normal except he didn't piss outside the box anymore. His meow changed slightly, and otherwise it's like he's the same cat minus the pissing. We took him off it as an experiment once and the pissing started again at our new place, so now he's on it for life. Yes I know that's fucked up.

But the house sold in one day.

I also quoted a friend who said, "Being miserable and crazy/funny/fill in the blank is overrated."

How is it, 13 years down the road? Mostly, I don't notice I'm on the meds, which I think is a good thing. And something is still true that I wrote in 2005, about the absence of anxiety:

You need to understand: I have suffered from anxiety for so long, I thought it was normal. If I considered it in any other manner, I assumed the social pressures of modern life was the cause. But basically, I couldn't identify the problem because it was ubiquitous, and when that happens, when you have nothing with which to compare, you can't define it, and so it doesn't exist.

Now I have something for comparison. I haven't felt anxious in a coupla weeks. Not once. And the absence of anxiety is what allows me now to understand that there hadn't been a day in my memory, not a day in 51 years as far as I know, when I didn't feel anxious for part of the day.

And it's a very nice thing to have that disappear.

Which is why I say my life under medication isn't marked by what's good, but rather by the absence of bad.

In the comments section, my son wrote, "We want some money for raising our parents!"

Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright, they just seem a little weird. Surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away.

 


and when we die

Robin and I were talking about what we'll do when she retires. Talking about finances, not "Let's move to Nerja!" It was more the beginning of a long conversation than it was anything substantial, but just bringing up the topic gets you thinking.

We should be just fine, and I hope I never forget how privileged we are that I can say that. It's all thanks to her ... my pensions are limited, and my social security is small enough that I'm just waiting for her to retire so I can climb onto her benefits. But we have options, which again makes us lucky.

It's not the decision making that's important. Well, it will be eventually, but to some extent, it's about calculating what we'd get if she started Social Security at 70 as opposed to 66, and what kind of payments we'll choose from her ... heck, I don't even know what this stuff is called, the money that's been put away for her retirement.

But you soon realize that what is being discussed is about money on the surface, but the crucial fact (which can't really be exactly known) is how long we will live. For example, just off the top of my head (meaning I could be way off), if she started Social Security at 66, she'd get about $128k over the next four years. If she waited until she is 70, she'll get more by about $12k a year, but won't get that first $128k. So, again just thinking without actually working at it, if she lived to be 80, she would make close to the same amount overall no matter whether she started at 66 or 70. But if she lived past 80, that extra $12k/year would make the Start at 70 option the correct choice. So how long you expect to live matters, and who wants to think about that?

Then there's the part where who dies first matters. If it's me, her finances won't change much, because we won't be relying on my relatively small amount in the first place. But if she dies first, I'll end up with a lot less money, if I understand how it works. And it's about then that you understand you're talking about Who Dies First, and once more, who wants to think about that?

So ultimately, a conversation about retirement always ends up being about dying.

Really, it's another form of privilege that we can even have these conversations. I've already retired, and Robin will retire some time next year, while there are plenty of people who simply can't afford to retire. And while you can't predict the future, we can at least imagine a retirement that isn't an exercise in frugality. It also helps that since Robin has worked for Kaiser for 15+ years, our medical insurance will still be there.

Until we die.

 

 


in loving memory, shyrrl

Shyrrl service

I'd just gotten my PhD. There was a knock at the door. I answered it. There was our neighbor and friend Shyrrl. "Is there a doctor in the house?", she asked. Then she handed me a quilt she had made. It was an Elvis quilt. She didn't like Elvis, but she'd visited down South once, knew I liked him, and so she bought a lot of material for some later use. That became my Elvis quilt.

At today's service, there were a dozen stories like that.