Monday, November 24, 2014

This is Me, Being Professional

Last week did & did not live up to all I had imagined it could be.  It had its ups, & it had its downs.  It's essential that you know, right from the beginning, that a work-related incident occurred on Thursday of last week, & I would love nothing more than to delve deeply into a play-by-play of it for you . . . She said this, to which I replied . . . but, I cannot.  I cannot because I am a professional, & professional people don't take to their personal blog & air all of their dirty work laundry, because that would be unprofessional.  So, this is me, being professional, which is not, by the way, nearly as satisfying as narrating a play-by-play for you, ranting a bit, & soliciting your thoughts on why I am right.

So here I am, being professional.

I feel like such a grown-up.

You can imagine how thrilled I was that this work-related incident occurred on Thursday, a day I awoke with one thing on my mind.  I'll give you a hint: it was not being a professional (it was Peeta, okay, totally Peeta . . . & popcorn).  So, I stewed a little Thursday afternoon, & by the time my posse of babysitters arrived just before seven in the evening, I felt I was in a good state of mind to go enjoy my movie.  If you've read Mockingjay (& you should read it), you know that a Peeta-loving fool like myself does not need to be encumbered by the weight of additional emotional baggage when walking into the theater, because oh my goodness, the movie is intense.  Intense.

Remember that time I wrote a blog about visual images, & how powerful they can be, & how permanent they often are in our minds?  Mockingjay is a dark book, with very few humorous or lighthearted scenes interspersed for levity, & so watching it unfold on the big screen (& the screen was very big, as the book club occupied one of those first two up-up-close rows in the packed theater) was a haunting experience.

Throughout the first two novels, there is a constant undercurrent of momentum.  Even before the reader, & certainly before Katniss, realizes the inevitable, that a revolutionary war with the Capitol looms ahead, there is a sense that something momentous is going to happen, & Katniss will be the catalyst for it.  She is all the more powerful because she doesn't realize her own strength; as Peeta says, "She has no idea, the effect she can have."  *Excuse me while I sniffle & blow my nose.*

What is tricky about Mockingjay is that the momentum that's been building for two novels, during two harrowing trips to the arena for Katniss & Peeta, comes to a bit of a halt.  Suzanne Collins can afford the slowdown, as she's got her readers on the hook after the cruel, tortuous cliffhanger that is Catching Fire, but I was curious as to how the dramatic change in pace would play on the big screen.  Katniss, the girl on fire who survived two rounds in the arena & has defied the Capitol at every turn, is suddenly a mute specter, a ghost haunting the halls of the underground District 13, where she was evacuated at the end of Catching Fire.  She initially has no interest in the rebellion she incited, largely because Peeta is being held captive in the Capitol, & via short video clips she sees of him, it is apparent his condition is deteriorating.

Obviously you're aware this post contains major spoilers, so this is your only *spoiler* warning before I forge right ahead.  After witnessing some of the Capitol's atrocities, Katniss gets a little of her spark back, & Peeta is eventually rescued from the Capitol.  Sounds great, right?  Let's go, rebels!  Not so fast.  When the long-awaited reunion with Peeta finally happens, it becomes apparent the Capitol has been busy rewiring Peeta's mind, & he now believes Katniss is his enemy & he tries to take her life.  The Capitol has turned Peeta into an assassin whose one target is the woman he's spent years pining after.  I know, it sounds like soap opera stuff, but I've watched soap operas & let me tell you, this is so much better.  For one, you will never see the likes of Jennifer Lawrence on a soap opera.  The woman is a phenomenal actress.

Mockingjay is a complex novel in which many, many things happen, one of which is a rebellion to overthrow the tyrannical Capitol, however, the novel also concludes one of the most heartbreaking love stories I've read.  Katniss has spent two novels unsure of her feelings, rarely having a moment to give thought to what or who she wants, beyond simply surviving.  Finally, burrowed below the earth in District 13, separated from Peeta, she begins to realize who she loves, & realize the extent to which she has taken his affection for granted, the affection he has always so freely given, & then he is finally returned to her, only, he's not.  Ms. Collins gutted me the first time I read it, & she guts me still.

To say it is a crushing blow to me Katniss is quite the understatement.  Sadly, & a bit ironically, after all her efforts to keep herself alive, through years of near starvation & two stints in the Hunger Games, it is when she realizes Peeta is likely lost to her forever that Katniss demands to be sent into battle, no longer seeking her own self-preservation.  It's a move that would infuriate the baker once known as Peeta, the boy who gave Katniss bread when they were children & her family was starving & who tried, in a hundred other ways, to keep her alive, only to have the Capitol turn him against her.  It's tough stuff, y'all, but the story doesn't end there.  In my opinion, the best moments in Mockingjay will unfold on the big screen this time next year as Katniss & Peeta again negotiate their relationship amidst the backdrop of the ominous Capitol.  A preview - -

Slowly, as I would with a wounded animal, my hand stretches out and brushes a wave of hair from his forehead.  He freezes at my touch, but doesn't recoil.  It's the first time I have voluntarily touched him since the last arena.  
 "You're still trying to protect me.  Real or not real," he whispers.
"Real," I answer.  It seems to require more explanation.
"Because that's what you and I do.  Protect each other."

I've mentioned the lovely & talented Jennifer Lawrence, but the entire cast is fantastic.  Off the top of my head, I have no complaints about the movie.  I know, right?!  I can't believe it either.  There are a few conversations in the novel that I needed to see in the film to keep my anger at bay, conversations I was hoping to hear word for word, & guess what?  They're there, almost word for word.  One such conversation occurs between Katniss & Finnick Odair, a tribute who escapes the arena with Katniss at the end of Catching Fire.  Finnick explains to Katniss what the reader already knows, & what almost everyone but Katniss already knows, that she loves Peeta & that this is why the Capitol took him, to hurt her.  I tell you, Francis Lawrence is a fangirl.  There is no other explanation for his ability to make these films in almost the same way I would, you know if I knew the first thing about directing a big Hollywood production.

You see what I did there?  I gave you a play-by-play of the film, rather than a play-by-play of the work-related incident, because I am a professional.  I lose my emotions in fiction, & then am better able to cope when confronted with real world issues that seem small after watching Jennifer Lawrence wade through the ashes of her former home, stepping on a skull here & there for good measure.

So, fangirl week has ended, & I suppose I am glad.  It's always a rush, but I am getting older, & it wears on me.  Between the work-related incident about which I steadfastly refuse to divulge details & the ache I left the theater with after seeing the first half of Mockingjay come to life, I am ready to move on with a new week.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I pledge not to mention The Hunger Games again for, oh I don't know, at least a few weeks.  So, be thankful for the reprieve.  I am of course rereading Mockingjay through to the end now.  I reread the first half, stopping about where I felt they'd break the first film, but after walking out of the theater Thursday night, leaving Peeta trapped inside himself, thrashing around while a helpless Katniss looks on, well, I cannot wait a year for closure & I have to read the second half of the novel, which includes many details about the war with the Capitol, but also poignant details of Peeta & Katniss finding their way back to each other.  I should note that when I said I wouldn't mention The Hunger Games again for awhile, I should've added, *after this post is concluded.*  I don't want you to feel I've misled you, because I am, after all, a professional.

I plan to return with non-professional pictures of Thanksgiving merriment featuring my children, whom I know some of you visit this blog with high hopes of seeing, only to all too often read & read about Peeta & Katniss & other nonsense & get to the end & realize I have again yakked & yakked about fictional people while failing to picture, or even mention, my children.

A few non-professional shots to tide you over until the holiday deluge begins - -

Last Saturday I left Henry with Trey & took Reagan to the grocery store with me.  Some days we brush our hair, & some days, not so much.

These are from a trip to the park a week or so ago on one of those days when the high was in the mid-forties:

It was cold, but how can you not take him to the park when there's a reason to put him in this get-up:

In all honesty, despite my dour spirits over Thursday's work-related incident & the ache in my heart after seeing Mockingjay, the holiday merriment has begun (I've been listening to Michael Buble's Christmas album for weeks now, maybe since around the end of October . . . I tried desperately to put it off, but who was I kidding).  

While I was watching Peeta lose his mind Thursday evening, Jessica & Maisie were en route from Dallas.  We all made a trip to the park Saturday, & here's how that went:

We were aiming for a Von Trapp feel with these:

And finally, one of my children looked at me:

Jessica took these of me & the child I can still force to sit on a bench with me.  

So, there you are.  I still have kids with whom I spend a fair amount of time while juggling a demanding career as a professional adjunct instructor, & an even more demanding reading list & the fangirling & book club duties that accompany said reading.  Yesterday, before two in the afternoon, I dressed everyone for church, herded us & our many necessary bags off to church, ate lunch, took both kids to the grocery store, filled my car with gasoline, unloaded & put away the groceries, got Henry down for a nap, & was wading through our Christmas decorations with Reagan as the clock struck two.  I once turned in a paper in graduate school that was around forty pages long; the Reference page accompanying the paper included around thirty entries.  At two o'clock yesterday afternoon, I believe I felt more of a sense of personal accomplishment than I did when I turned in that paper.  In all things, I am a professional; when it really counts, I am a BOSS.

Before bidding you adieu, I'd like to say Happy Birthday to my late cousin, Elizabeth, who would've turned thirty-seven today.  She was a beauty.


My prayer is that you, dear reader, have a wonderful week free of all stress, work & otherwise, surrounded by family & friends you love, with whom you pray & laugh & share a meal, realizing that we do not know what tomorrow holds.  


No comments:

Post a Comment