Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Man Who Owns Much

My dad says, "A man who owns much is much owned." This message was lost on me for a long time, until 2005 when I began to process it. That year we emptied the home where I spent the majority of my life.

Now that we're emptying the home where my grandparents lived for 40 years, I find myself thinking about it nonstop. The things in their home need a new place to live and serve a purpose. Thus the cycle of owning stuff continues, eh?

When I started working on Abandoned Allies, I made decisions that would change my life--specifically how I perceive the owning of stuff. I quit my job during a recession, which lead to a change in my perception of the world and where I fit into it.

I was spending time with people who valued the chance to live in the land of the free--having risked their lives to get here. That made realities about my old world slightly less desirable. The slow change made me see some realities I had previously ignored. I recognized my silly spending habits. I saw that what I valued (ie: where I spent my time, energy, and money) wasn't what I really longed to value.

The wool had been lifted. I began to see why people elsewhere in world might think of Americans as wealthy, frivolous, and selfish. I started to understand why they might only see raw consumerism, capitalism, and a massive waste of resources.

It changed me forever. I felt lost between the old and new worlds. The two clashed in a painful way, and I'm still struggling to figure it out.

It is a tough thing to explain. One of the vets with whom I had coffee last year explained, "The Montagnards? They have it figured out." He understood this clashing of worlds, changing values, and the truth of being somewhat lost in between them.

Regardless, here's the epiphany: you don't need stuff to be happy. That truth can be realized painfully, but it will inevitably set you free.

This Norelco razor is one of the things we found in the attic.
I've started photographing things that I think are cool.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Betty White's 90th Birthday

This photo isn't from her 90th birthday
celebration, but it's one I like a lot.
She looks so happy!
NBC recently honored Betty White for her 90th birthday.

Man, oh man. I adore Betty White--like most of the rest of the world. She's a fantastic woman: kind, funny, smart, and a little suggestive every now and then. Recently I have been reading a lot of biographies, and Betty White's was the first I finished. It was fantastic.

It's wonderful when the stars align and seemingly separate things come together without your own intent. When I started reading these biographies, I had no idea that her 90th birthday celebration was going to air. It wasn't until I finished three books--all of which overlapped one another in their discussion of the early days of TV--that I even heard the celebration was taking place. (Read my previous blog post about those books here.) I kinda like to think that's a little gift from my grandmother, who would be happy I've been reading her books.

So the stars aligned and I got to watch the Betty White birthday celebration because my kind boyfriend recorded it for me. We watched it this week, while eating a delicious dinner he cooked in honor of dating one another for a full year. What a wonderful anniversary gift--the chance to see so many of my favorite entertainment people packed into one special show.

I cried.

When Betty White came up on stage to say thank you to everyone, I choked back the unexpected tears before letting them just flow freely.

My head has been in the early days of TV because of these books. Spending a lot of time with these people hearing their life stories helps me understand them (and the industry) better. Some how I feel like they could be dear friends, you know what I mean? I've spent the past two months listening to Betty White, Carol Burnette, and Dick van Dyke talk about their work and the people they appreciate: Mary Tyler MooreCarl Reiner, Ed Asner, and soooo many others.

And I got to see many of them on that show this week. By chance.

Now I recognize that we all want to do great work but it's a challenge for so many reasons. Life simply happens and there are no projects or paths that are easy. Every step of the way I've struggled with Abandoned Allies, but I've learned really great lessons--but I'm getting paid now to put those lessons to work and that's pretty cool.

Plus, if this stuff were really easy, the victory might not taste so sweet. It's hard on purpose. You have to really, really want it. Because making a film is damn difficult.

My other epiphany repeat: life is just a fleeting moment in time. We aren't here for very long. My grandmother lived to be 91, but even that doesn't feel like a very long time to me. I miss her terribly, and simultaneously recognize my own limited existence.

So here to you, Betty White. Thanks for having an awesome 90th birthday party, and letting little folks like me share it with you.