Old Indie Theatre: “Another Happy Day”

ahdI like watching movies, especially obscure little indie movies that almost no one’s heard of or, at least, that I haven’t heard of. Recently I watched “Another Happy Day” (2011) a dark comedy starring Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church, Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, George Kennedy, and, one of my favorite good-bad guy actors, Ezra Miller. The film is written and directed by Sam Levinson who won the 2011 Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival for this film. I chose this movie strictly based on a great cast, only knowing it was about a large family getting together for a wedding. Ha! It was far from a simple family dramady.

The story is about a family week-end in Annapolis where the estranged son of mom Lynn (Barkin) is getting married at the estate of the Grandparents (Burstyn and Kennedy). Lynn arrives with her two sons in tow, a 17-year old who is a volatile, wise-ass druggie who’s just come home from his 5th rehab stay (Miller) and a 13 year old who has (a little bit of) Asperger’s. A daughter (Bosworth), a cutter, joins the family later. Lynn’s two sisters, their husbands and kids are already there and immediately you sense the hostility and derision they have for Lynn and her kids and you see this throughout most of the movie.  Lynn has hopes for a happy reunion with her betrothed son whom she has seen very little over the years because he lives with her first husband and his wife Patty (Moore), an aggressive, aging trophy wife and (allegedly) ex-stripper.

If you think you have a crazy, dysfunctional family you really should watch this film. This is the most f-bombed up family I’ve ever seen and it made me feel ecstatic that mine is so tame! Lest you think this film sounds depressing it actually isn’t. These characters are multi-layered, complicated, issue-driven and tragically comical, at times.AnotherHappyDay_2 Miller’s portrayal of the cynical druggie son vacillates between chuckle-inducing smart-ass juvenile humor and plain old selfish meanness that makes you want to slap the shit out of him. Demi Moore’s portrayal of second wife Patty is the typical middle-ageing beauty who wants everyone to think she’s still hot but she is one cray-cray drama queen who appears to have everyone fooled. I looked everywhere to find a photo of her in her black step-mom-of-the-groom dress with a huge  white ruffle down the back that looks like a dragon tail but this is the best I could find. (See the trailer below!)another-happy-day_404930_10498 The dynamics between her and Lynn could be a hit “reality” TV show.

The people in this family have so many layers of issues and craziness that they could fill their own DSM. Not a moment of this film is boring and I think you will find yourself, like me, exclaiming over and over “this family is so effed up!” The acting is superb, especially Barkin whose every emotion plays across her face like a symphony.

I could write so, so much about this movie but I won’t because I want you to watch it yourself. It’s a  movie about love, hate, heartbreak, life, death, teenage problems, mental and emotional disorders, marriages, and of course, family. It’s a great story with great actors and great dialog. What more could you want?


A Reminder of What Was Lost….

Losing my mom at the age of 64 six years ago was the most difficult thing I have ever been through. It all seems rather unfair to me that she was taken at such a young age and I feel like I have lost my best friend, confidant and mentor. By nature, mothers and daughters have a special, unbreakable bond with each other and my mom was simply AMAZING.

I miss talking to her every day and I miss getting random phone calls from her to just “check in.” As in most families, especially in the south, my mom was the glue that kept everyone together. Over the past 6 years, our family has changed so much since she passed.

At first we rallied together to try to get through the hurt of losing her and the losses of our family homes in this new version of our life we were still adjusting to post-Katrina. Today, our family has drifted apart and has turned into something I don’t even recognize. I’ve tried to fill her shoes to be that person to keep our family close like we used to be, but there’s just too much resistance and I can’t bring everyone together like she could. I know she is watching over us and I would guess that she is probably very hurt to see that things just aren’t the way they used to be.

My kids are the youngest in our family and I often feel like they missed the amazing opportunity of getting to know their grandmother the way I knew her. My son was only 4 when she died and he doesn’t remember her other than through the photos, home videos and stories that we have shared with him and this hurts me more than anything.  My daughter was very close to my mom – she was only 9 years old when she died and I don’t think she has recovered from losing her either.  Like most grandmothers, my mom had a way to make each grandchild feel like they were special and that they were loved. I know my daughter misses that feeling and I just wish my son was able to experience it longer.

Today as I reflect on the past six years without my mom, I realize that no matter when this inevitable day would have happened…the result would be the same for me – I miss her every minute of every day. We shared a very close bond and losing a parent, especially your mom, is the hardest thing in the world. So, whenever I hear my friends talk about how much of a pain their mom is being – I remind them that life is short – whatever you do – please give your mom a big hug and tell her how much you love her as often as you can. Don’t fight over the petty things…they don’t matter. Spending quality time with your mom = PRICELESS.

There are reminders, signs if you believe in them, of her every day. From the yellow butterflies that I see following me along the path to work, or the images of giraffes that I spot in random places and then there are the times when I look at the clock the same time almost every day that I like to think is her way of telling me “I’m still with you.” Not everyone believes in life after death but this is a discussion we had several years before she died and she knows I’m a believer.

Clearing Out the Stuff

If you’re of a certain age it’s inevitable that you’ll face the unpleasant task of cleaning out your parent’s stuff. My father-in-law passed away in 2010 and my mother-in-law has been in a nursing home for a few years now – visited daily (sometimes twice) by my husband and I. The home where my husband grew up in Mississippi, the home that was built by his grandparents back in the 30’s, has been vacant over 7 years now but is now being renovated by my sister whose daughter will be living there while she attends school. A house that’s been vacant for that many years suffers from being empty, holding nothing more than memories and deteriorating furniture. Cleaning out a home that held three generations of family, and the precious keepsakes collected throughout those years, can bring forth some surprising and heartrending mementos. You get a glimpse of moments frozen in time through newspaper clippings and letters and it gives you a completely new view of those you thought you knew well. It makes you realize how much you really don’t know about those you hold most dear. And it’s sad, in a way. It’s sad that you didn’t hear those stories or see those black and white photos when memory was still clear and words still coherent. It’s also gives you a kind of creepy feeling, a feeling of being a voyeur, that you’re invading their privacy even though it’s done with respect and love.

In my last post, I talked about my mother’s death. We haven’t gone through her things yet and I don’t know when we will but it’s something I dread, really. What do you do with your own mother’s personal items? The clothing that you remember her wearing, the shoes, the jewelry she loved so well. The makeup and toiletries she packed in the little bag she took with her to the hospital was finally, tearfully, dispersed by my sister weeks after her death. And just a week or so ago my dad found something very, very precious that she had kept hidden for years that none of us knew anything about. What does one do with such personal and sacred things? Almost all of us have things in our lives that we never share with anyone else – the very essence of our beings. Finding the sacred things of someone’s life after death is a feeling that can not even be put into words. Sifting through a life’s privacy is unsettling and emotional.

I haven’t spent a night at my mother’s house since her funeral. I’ve been home but I’ve stayed with my sister. Is that wrong? I don’t know. I only know it’s really, really hard to be in my parent’s house now with all the reminders of my mother everywhere around. I don’t want her things to disappear but I don’t want to see them, either. I want to touch her clothes, hold her hairbrush, breathe her perfume. But in another way I don’t want to.

I want to pretend she’s still up there in Mississippi and I can pick up the phone and call her whenever I want. But I can’t.

I apologize for being so obsessed but writing helps.


I woke up today feeling very vulnerable and sad. I really can’t pin down the reason for being blue. I guess it has a lot to do with what’s going on in my life right now. All the thoughts and repressed emotions have bubbled up and today was the day that they reached the surface of my consciousness.

Don’t take this wrong, I’m not writing a “woe is me” post, just airing out these things to try to put them in perspective.

One of the oldest issues I’ve been carrying around is my impending loss of employment. It’s not the losing the job that bothers me as much as losing touch with people I’ve literally grown up with:

We will soon scatter to different parts of the country, perhaps never to meet again. Social media will help some of us keep connected, which makes it a little easier.

Actually I’m excited about my future. I have absolutley no idea what I’ll end up doing and that doesn’t really bother me. I’ve done the corporate things for more than half my life and I am over it!

My beautiful, sweet 23 year old daughter left for her last semester of school today. That makes me melancholy . While I truly enjoy my alone time, I cherish the time that she and I get to spend together. She has grown up smart and strong and I am extremely proud of her.

She will be graduating in December at a Chef/Nutritionist. She and I spend so much time talking about food, exploring grocery stores, creating recipes and eating. I miss her presence.

My husband’s 86 year old mother passed away last week and the services were on July 30th. I believe the catalyst for my sadness was the memorial services. While she led a fruitful and long life, I was saddened to see her family suffering emotionally, especially her 90+ year old sisters.

Life is full of changes and we get through them any way we can. We become stronger by surviving the not so good changes. Experience is a fantastic teacher. The good changes in life also mold our character as we go through life. We experienced a good change a few weeks ago when we adopted a puppy. A huge, excitable puppy.

His name is Deuce and he is five months old. 55 pounds. He’s part Lab, part Chesepeake Bay Retriever. He drove me to frustrated tears today. See, Deuce had a little sore on his leg so he had to have a the E-cone put over his head. The cone is falling apart because Deuce is such a goofball so he runs into things. I was trying to tape the cone together this morning and it was impossible to do by myself and I lost it. I am not a dog person. While Deuce is extremely smart, he’s still just a puppy and I don’t know where to start in calming him down. He’s fine right now while I’m sitting on the sofa typing. But the minute I get up he starts wagging his tail and wants to jump. Someone tell me WHAT is a way to get a puppy’s attention? It’s driving me mad! He will sit on command (for a second), but his puppyness makes him have a very, very short attention span.

So yeah, life is full of changes and I’m happy to embrace them. I guess we just have to take some days off and process all the changes and regroup our emotions so we can get through life. That’s what I’m doing today and that’s why I posted this, it helped! Thanks.

The Forgotten Eleven of Deepwater Horizon

I’ve been wondering lately… what with all the press about the oil disaster, I must have missed the stories about the 11 men who were killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Somehow, even though I have a google alert dedicated to “Deepwater Horizon”, I’ve missed the tributes, the memorials, the outrage of these deaths.

Or have I? The Washington Post has a story in today’s paper, including a photo gallery, about The Forgotten Eleven. An exerpt:

“But in a string of towns that ring the gulf, where men leave home for weeks at a time to work good jobs with good benefits miles offshore, the families of the victims struggle, and not just with grief. Loved ones are trying to come to terms not just with lives lost, and no bodies to recover, but with what feels like the country’s collective skipping from dead to gone. There was no national pause to honor the victims, like the one for the 29 West Virginia coal miners who died last month, though both miners and riggers work to fuel the country.”

Read it all here and think about the fact that this could happen to your husband, your brother, your wife, your sister, your child, your friend unless more stringent safety measures are enforced on every drilling and production platform offshore and on.

Update: A thoughtful article from New York News Today, For oil rig workers, risk comes with paychecks.


Disclaimer: This will probably be a rambling post so feel free to go on to more important things, if you wish.

I’m up in rural Mississippi visiting my family for a few days, kicking back like I haven’t done in ages and feeling quite removed from all things New Orleans. I’ve barely been on the computer (dial-up sucks!) and have watched very little TV so I’m way  behind on the oil spill situation, what happened on Treme and the tweets of my friends back home since Twitter is impossible to get on.  I feel a twinge of guilt now & then because I’m not reading or keeping up with the spill 24/7 like I was but I remind myself I’ll be back in a day or two and it won’t take long to catch up. TV viewing is limited (no cable or satellite) but I don’t really care. I’m rereading A Confederacy of Dunces and, as a result of my laughing out loud, my mom has put it on her to-read list. Everything is in slow-mo here….days are long and languid. I awaken to the braying of  John the Baptist (the donkey), the lowing of cattle and the sweet twittering of birds. I haven’t heard a siren, a bus or a horn in 3 days.

I needed this.