beccavox: (quizzical girl)
Annie and I went to see Thelma and Louise tonight. Same place we saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid back in January. Apparently, we can only go to that theater to see buddy movies where the anti-heroes die and we cry at the end.

I hadn't seen the movie since it was in the theater in 1991. I saw it once with Annie and once with Brenda Pascall. I saw it with Brenda because she hadn't seen it; she was a middle-aged graduate student in the English department (I was a traditional age student) and we were in Wyoming at a writing conference. I loved the movie then, Annie loved it, and Brenda (I think) was empowered enough by it and her new education that she left her husband a year later.

Here's what hit me about this movie, twenty-five years after its original release. Louis shoots the would-be rapist, and the two women run, knowing that the police wouldn't believe them because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with him throughout the night. And, unfortunately, the story would more than likely be the same if the movie was released today. Women don't report rape or most sexual assaults. Because they were asking for it. Because they should have known better. Because they said 'yes' earlier in the evening.

It was all bullshit then, and it's still bullshit now.

Twenty-five years later, there are still major debates about birth control, abortion, taxes on sanitary napkins and tampons, and gender equality. There is finally a woman running for the Presidency, and instead of debating her ideas on policy, she is dismissed by a broad part of the population as 'shrill' and 'unable to do the job' because of silent sexism--very much like the same silent racism that Obama has faced for the last eight years.

I wrote an essay about Thelma and Louise years ago. My thesis was simple: the women become more masculine as the movie goes on. They abandon their own lives and ties to men, Thelma tells her husband to 'fuck off' and Louise leaves Jimmy, knowing that it was a failing relationship after all. Thelma takes the shirt from the hitchhiker who she has sex with, and who ultimately forces Thelma to turn to robbery. Louise trades her jewelry for an old man's cowboy hat, and after they blow up the asshole truckers big rig, Thelma grabs his hat. Literally, they're taking souvenirs from the men, and metaphorically, they're gaining their own Independence.

Their last decision, to not get caught, breaks my heart. Thelma tells Louise, "Let's keep goin'", and the last shot of them holding hands as the Thunderbird roars ahead hits hard. But like Butch and Sundance, they went out on their terms. They didn't have to answer to more men who wouldn't listen.

I was pretty independent when I saw the movie back in '91, and I've become more independent as life has gone on. I broke up with my fiance less than a year after I saw the movie, and I never looked back. Annie is the closest thing I'll ever have to a spouse, and she's as fiercely independent as I am. I think if we were in the same situation, we'd drive that Thunderbird as fast as it would go.
beccavox: (butch and sundance)
Last night, Annie and I went to see a special viewing of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Paducah. I've seen it a million times, but never on the big screen, so I convinced her to go with me. She hadn't seen it since our college days (so quite a long time ago), and, to be honest, I hadn't seen the second half of the movie in years.

I watched it not too long ago, before Christmas, I think. But as soon as the outlaws have escaped the pursuit by Joe LeFors and Lord Baltimore, I turned the tv off and found something else to do. You see (Spoilers for a film that came out in 1969), that's when Butch and Sundance decide to go to Bolivia, along with Etta Place. And that's where they eventually die.

I was only two years old when the movie was released, but it would be broadcast on television when I was around nine or ten. I watched it with my Mom and Dad, thrilled that I was allowed to stay up late and watch a grown-up movie. That is, I was thrilled until the end.

Butch and Sundance have just robbed a courier in the jungle and escaped with their money and their mule. At a local village they stop for food but have their identities discovered by a young boy. The local police begin a gun fight that escalates quickly with many policeman killed and both outlaws wounded. And here's where it gets tough for me. While Butch and Sundance bicker with each other in the safety of a small cafe, the militia arrives and lines soldiers with rifles one after the other. Butch asks if Sundance saw Lefors among the men shooting at them. Sundance says no, and Butch, leaning against a wall for balance from his wounds says, "Oh, good. For a moment there I thought we were in trouble." The film ends with a still shot of the two charging out in their last stand with continued sounds of gunshots as the camera pans away from the outlaws.

And that first time I watched the movie, I felt sick to my stomach. My mother commented that she always hated the ending as she got up to go to bed. Dad stayed up, as he often did, watching the news and anything else until the stations would go off the air. I went to bed, but my little brain kept going over the final moments of that movie. I got up and padded to the living room, stood next to my father's chair and asked, "Did they get away?"

"No, they didn't," he said. "You saw all those soldiers."

"But maybe they got to the horses..." I hoped.

"Nope."

"Or all their guns jammed at the same time and that let them get away," I pleaded.

"No. You know that wouldn't happen." Dad was always pragmatic.

"So they died?"

"Yeah, baby. They died."

I must have looked like I would burst into tears (I've cried plenty of times while watching the movie even as an adult), because Dad added, "But they did a lot of things when they were alive."

"Yeah, I guess." I said goodnight to my father, kissed him, and he quietly told me to get to bed, it was way past my bedtime. And I lay there, thinking about Butch and Sundance, hoping that no one I knew would ever die that way.

I cried at the movie last night even though I knew death was coming. I cried because Butch and Sundance are like old friends who I hate to lose. I cried because my Dad isn't here anymore; I can't ask him about the end of the film. I cried because I'm older than both Newman and Redford when they filmed the movie. I cried because I couldn't imagine being in that situation with my best friend and losing her.

I'll watch the movie a million more times (I hope), and I'll probably continue to stop the DVD before they head south. I don't want to think about Bolivia.
beccavox: (quizzical girl)
It's been two weeks since I almost died. No, really almost died. No exaggerating, no embellishing...almost...died.

My heart started beating at around 220 beats per minute somewhere around 2:00 a.m. I knew instantly that it was either my tachycardia or Vincent D'Onofrio's acting on the Law and Order: Criminal Intent marathon that had been on for several hours. I'd had this happen before (the tachycardia, not the reaction to VOD) after my ileectomy ten years ago. There are tricks that someone with Supra-ventricular tachycardia can do to slow the heartbeat down; I massaged my carotid artery, I bore down like I was having a terrible bowel movement, I held my nose and tried to blow air out of it, and I tried to relax. Nothing was working, but I was sure that my heart would click back into regular rhythm at any moment. So I dozed through a few more hours of Goren and Eames solving crimes in very dramatic fashion.

I got up from the couch, where I'd spent an uncomfortable night, at 9:00, and my heart was still pounding. I started to get ready to go to work. Fixed my hair. Put on makeup. Got dressed. Then, when I couldn't raise my arms any higher than my waist, I thought that I might not be able to drive. And I panicked. I should have called my mom, my best friend, or an ambulance when my 'at-home' methods didn't work. But I was trying to be cool, work through it, be a tough guy, and not have to see a doctor. But I couldn't fool around anymore. It was real, and I was scared.

I called work to let them know I wasn't coming in, I called my Mom and asked her to drive me to the ER, and called my best friend who talked me through the time it took for my Mother to get to my house. I sat on the front porch, phone in hand, trying not to cry and petting my outside cat and the neighbor's cat. "You'll be okay," Annie kept saying, even though I told her I was scared (and I never admit to that).

The drive to the ER was about thirty minutes and at that point I couldn't sit up, talk without hurting my chest, or think clearly. At the ER entrance, the orderly wheeled me in and took my blood pressure and pulse readings and rushed me to the nearest room with a crash cart. I could barely comprehend what the doctor was saying, but I could make out "tachycardia", "electronic shock", and "cardiac arrest". None of it sounded good, but I understood what they were going to do. I'd seen it on television a million times.

Let me digress: when I was a kid in the '70s, one of my favorite shows was Emergency!, and at least once every two weeks they would have a patient in cardiac arrest who would have to be hit with the 'paddles'. The patient was lying down, the doctors would grab the paddles that were hooked to a machine, someone would yell "Clear!" and the paddles were applied and the patient would react like a huge volt of electricity was going through them. That method, on television, always worked; the patient would be fine in a matter of minutes and, of course, by the end of the show they'd leave the hospital all smiles and unicorns.

That's not how they really do it. First, I was sedated (because 'we can't do this if you're awake' the doctor said, 'it hurts too much'), then, instead of paddles, several sticky patches were applied to my upper and lower torso. I don't remember the first electric shock that stopped and re-started my heart (or the second or the third), but I remember hearing myself scream and I thought, "Why am I screaming?" Oh, yeah, my heart was stopping and starting.

After the third shock, my heart went back to a normal rhythm and I came out of the anesthesia around ten minutes later. I did get one hit of pain killers to help with the sensation of being punched in the chest by an elephant, and the doctors and nurses kept a close eye on me. When the ER doctor came in and talked to me, he said, "I can't believe your heart kept up that rate for that long. To be honest, it should have stopped before you got here." I followed up with my GP who said the same thing, and he scolded me for not getting to the ER sooner.

I've never thought I was invincible, and I've thought, from time to time, about death. But there it was the other day, staring me down, shaking its head at my stupidity. So will I now 'live my life to the fullest'? A little more, sure. I don't want to die anytime soon. So I might as well get on with living.
beccavox: (caine punch)
I have to get this out of my system. I am so fucking tired of being ill that I want to scream. My Interstital Cystitis is kicking my ass, and my life is suffering for it. It hurts too much to go to work. It hurts too much to go have fun. It hurts too much to think. And it's not going anywhere.

I've been in pain with the IC for almost four years now. That's too long to hurt. My doctor ordered rehab, and it helped. Then my insurance refused to pay for it because I was getting better. I wasn't at 100%, but that was enough, apparently. So I've kept up the exercises that I can do unassisted, but it's not enough. I've had 'bladder installations' in which lidocaine is physically pumped into my bladder. It helps, but a treatment only lasts 2-3 days. At the moment, I'm fighting a bladder infection (that could have been caused by the installation, go figure).

Pissed off is an understatement. I am livid. I want to destroy cities.

But the anger doesn't make it feel better. So I try to relax, meditate, and, most importantly, take my mind off the constant pain. So far, nothing is helping. I don't want to make the move toward pain medication; I want to treat this by fighting it, and not by giving in. But, it is, at the moment, winning.

I need to find my way back to hope.
beccavox: (surprized girl)
Mad Max was back in theaters this week, exclusively in IMAX 3D. I went yet one more time (twenty-four) to see it. Sure, it was after a doctor's appointment where I had a 'bladder installation', but at least it was one more time to ride with the War Rig on the big screen. Chesterfield has a Wehrenberg theater that boasts a MEGAscreen (three and a half elephants high -- how they know that, I'm not sure) and a rocking sound system. It was also the first time I saw the movie in 3D. And it was glorious.

In 3D, the cars were exquisite, the storm was awesome, and the final wreck was a blast. It was like the moment when you think you've eaten all the chocolate and then you find one last piece. And you savor it and love it because it's the last.

Yep, I'm officially in love with this movie. We're getting married in the spring. Gift registry will be at Napa Auto Parts.
beccavox: (IDEA)
Thursday afternoon was the final showing of Mad Max:Fury Road at the cheap theater. I drove up to see it on a big screen one more time, and I didn't care that it was yet another two hours on the road. As I was driving west on the interstate, I kept seeing street rods heading east. One after another. Chevys, Fords, roadsters, and coupes. Then I remembered that the Evansville Frog Follies were this weekend. A car show that started small, and a show that my family went to every year along with members of Dad's car circle, and now a car show that has around 6,000 cars every year. Then, as I was just a little way from home, I saw a State Trooper who had a car pulled over. The car number was 13-31; that was Dad's number during his career. I smiled (and cried a little) because I'm sure that Dad was saying 'hi' and heading with me to see the movie one more time.

That viewing made it twenty-three times; twenty-three times that I drove to see it (every time was at least an hour away). It made me feel hope. It made me happy.
beccavox: (brick)
This was the summer of Max.

I have seen Mad Max: Fury Road a total of twenty-one twenty-two times at the local theaters. I'm coming out of five years of debilitating illness (a combo of Crohn's and Interstitial Cystitis) that left me unable to do activities that were physically difficult. You know, like walking and stuff.

I refused to be beaten by my illness when it came to seeing Max on the opening night. I waited thirty years for this movie; I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way. But here's the really, really good thing...

I'm feeling better. A change in medication (and diet) near the end of the spring semester has helped me start to get my life back. I can do basic house cleaning without needing to lay down every twenty minutes. I can take the garbage to the curb without collapsing in the driveway (which happened one night...it was too late for any neighbors to see, but all the neighborhood cats were talking about it for weeks). I can go out with friends and not have to leave the restaurant far too early. I'm feeling like me again.

While I'm not running any races--and definitely not running yet, at all--I'm gaining strength and I'm gaining motivation. And some of that came from Max.

As I started to feel better, I found myself going back to see the movie over and over. I've already written about my history with this franchise (see earlier post), so it wasn't surprising that I'd want to see it more than once. But every time I watched those characters find hope in the wasteland, every time I saw women who had battled for equality and independence, and every time I saw Max remember who he was, I felt a part of myself breathe a little more deeply.

My dad always had faith in me. He once told me that he was awed by my strength in dealing with a chronic illness (and he said this as he started to wither away from cancer), and he said he knew that I would be okay. We bonded over car chases and questionable fashion choices with the first three Mad Max movies. But we always had hope.

Maybe I'd forgotten what hope felt like. Maybe that's why I couldn't stop going to see this movie.
"Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland. In search of our better selves?" is the coda; white letters on the black background. I have to find my better self -- whatever that means -- so that I don't lose hope again.
beccavox: (IDEA)
Mad Max:Fury Road may be the best action film I've ever seen. Thanks, George Miller for writing Furiosa -- she's in the same league with Ripley.

I just ordered "Dog TV" for my cat. $4.99 a month so my cat can watch television. It is the end of days.

Speaking of which...

Aunt Olive passed away a little over a year ago; she was 100 years old (plus a couple of weeks). She always said she just wanted to make it 100, and she did. Her mind was still sharp until right near the end, and then she just started talking about her grandmother, her childhood, and her brother. She was always a woman who I looked up to. She never married, only dated a few men, designed her own house, owned and operated a small loan business, and lived life on her terms. I do miss her, but I talk about her all the time.

Annie bought her house, so it's like I'm still visiting Aunt Olive. Even though Annie doesn't care, I have a hard time cutting through the yard (you're supposed to use the sidewalk) and going upstairs to the loft/bedroom (you have to ask permission). Annie's even turning into Aunt Olive a bit. I'll call and ask what's going on, and she responds, "There's a funeral today." The house is directly behind a funeral home, and the large windows make it impossible to not know that. Aunt Olive would always keep us up to date. Now Annie does.

I've been diagnosed with Interstitial Cyctitis (and still have Crohn's disease); it's kept me down for almost three years. Getting the diagnosis was a relief, until a second opinion told me I didn't have it. A third opinion seven months later told me I did. Once the doctors made up their minds, I found myself in physical therapy, eating a very restrictive diet, and taking more anxiety medication than one person needs (but it all helps). I'm hoping for a fairly restful summer; I'm only teaching one class online (so I can pay my taxes). Perhaps I can feel well enough to go for walks with my cat.

Oh, yeah...Frank. The sweetest little black ball of fur who got adopted when he showed up on the front porch (and then the back porch), and who will murder all the other cats in the neighborhood if he's left to his own devices. Well, he doesn't really murder them, but he does love to beat 'em up. He's named after Frank Castle, the Punisher, because he's black with a little white fur on his chest, and like the last Greg Rucka written comic, has an eye that has been lost in battle. He's currently on lockdown in the back bedrooms; he can come out and wander, but he has to be monitored. Once yard is over, we go back to his room for his nightly beating. He's getting an outside pen, so he can enjoy the outdoors without risk of injuring the rest of the feline population.

Okay, I'm hungry. Off to find something bland for dinner (but I do think there's ice cream for dessert)!
beccavox: (I'm too old)
While it's apparent that LiveJournal has turned into a large empty pit, this seems like as good a place as any to start writing again...slowly...we wouldn't want anyone to get hurt by just jumping in and rattling off a good story or two.

So, it's time to reminisce about important things in life. Namely, Mad Max.

My father and I made it our New Year's Eve tradition. There would be a few rousing games of Trivial Pursuit with both Mom and Dad (and Dad and I would grumble if Mom actually won a round); He would usually accuse me of reading the questions beforehand if I won. And then we'd eat some popcorn, Mom would go to bed, and Dad and I would settle in to watch The Road Warrior. While he and I both agreed that the first Mad Max had merit, it was the second film that we both loved. Even though it was filled with violence, there was something weirdly hopeful about people who were still fighting to keep a certain way of life. The first time we watched it together, neither of us knew the twist: Max was driving a tanker full of sand, and not oil. There have been nerd arguments raised on both sides -- was Max in on the con? Dad and I decided that he wasn't. He wouldn't have sacrificed so much and driven so far if he knew that he was a pawn in the game. But Max didn't seem to be too upset about the events. It was just another day, another car chase.

I saw Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in the theater when it was first released. I loved it immediately and told my Dad all about it when I got home. He hated going to see a movie in the theater, so we had to wait until the VHS release. I think I loved watching him watch the movie more than I enjoyed it myself. He laughed, cheered, and shook his head at the ending, "He just can't catch a break, can he?" No, I offered, he couldn't.

We'd repeat quotes to each other from both films from time to time. Dad would talk about how he wanted to build a car like Max's Interceptor and race it across the Outback. We talked seriously about going to Australia to just see what the Outback looked like even without a crazy car chase. And, of course, there was the ringing in of the New Year, when Max left with his tanker of sand, would remind us that sometimes, life bites you in the ass.

Dad was diagnosed with cancer in the late 90s, and one day we were talking about Australia. I'd heard a rumor that they were making another Mad Max film. He smiled, "That would be cool." Yeah, it would.

He's been gone for almost thirteen years now, and I have tickets to go see Mad Max:Fury Road tomorrow night with Annie. I hope that it's all that the early hype says it will be. I know that if it's anything near what The Road Warrior was, I'll be entertained. But I also know that during the extra long car chase, the insane stunts, and the world of Max, I'll be missing my Dad and wishing he'd built that car that we could race to the sunset of a slightly better world.
beccavox: (IDEA)
Wow. How does this thing work again?

After almost three years of major health problems, I'm almost back to the land of the living -- and writing. In the meantime, I'm off to sleep before it's officially Christmas. My gift to myself this year is finding the keyboard again. :)
beccavox: (Default)
Not dead. Hanging out at the other LJ.

Wow...

Dec. 5th, 2010 02:38 am
beccavox: (coco chanel)
I haven't updated in ages...but there's not much to report. Christmas break is almost here and life is on course. Christmas might be a bit different this year since Aunt Olive is in the nursing home (although her broken neck isn't slowing her down); we might have a quiet little Christmas dinner and watch movies.

Watched "It's a Wonderful Life" tonight. Are you officially old when you can't help but cry at the ending (especially since I can't listen to "Auld Lang Syne" without tearing up, anyway)?
beccavox: (curvy books)
Just one more day of classes for the summer semester; I'm procrastinating grading, which makes for good fic writing time. And with hateful_piglet's new job, we'll have weekends free. Time to sit at the winery, look at the fake sheep, and let her give me some story prompts (most of which involve cheese wrappers).
beccavox: (Default)
I'm home from my 'working' trip to Seville, Spain and Canterbury, England. The girls are home now, too, after their stay at hateful piglet's. Life is getting back to normal. I miss the Spanish food, the orange trees in bloom, and weather in Spain. I miss the rain, the cathedrals, and the accents in England. *sigh*
beccavox: (Default)
From sunny Spain to rainy England, I'm having a great trip. The tour of Canterbury is tomorrow morning, but I think I could give it myself (well, I could give the charity shop tour of Canterbury). I'm off for dinner with my friend, Jayne Anne and her mum.
beccavox: (Default)
In Madrid, and taking a break from walking around the Puerta del Sol (or something like that). It´s beautiful here...reminds me of my weekend in Gibraltar, but with more Spanish. ´

When does the jet lag hit?
beccavox: (down with this sort of thing)
Just ask Aunt Olive. She was in the hospital last week and then had a short stay in the nursing home over her 96th birthday. Mom and I had just gotten her home two days ago and she got sick again. She's back in the hospital tonight, hopefully resting, and I'm wishing, hoping, and praying that she gets to come home soon.

Her memory is slipping a bit, and she's exhausted at the moment, but she's still funny and hard-headed. If I make it to 96, I hope I'm as together as she is.
beccavox: (travel buddy)
Got the Outback serviced today, and it turns out that the horrible screeching noise was just a belt that needed to be tightened. A quick forty dollars later and now my car won't frighten small children and animals when I start it or when I turn to the left.

In family news, Aunt Olive has been in the hospital for a week with pneumonia (and a side order of congestive heart failure). At 95 (96 later this month), she's got a battle ahead of her to get back home, but she's already up and getting ready to start rehab. This woman will never cease to amaze me.

And now I have to go avoid grading...
beccavox: (Default)
Since I've made another journal just for my fic, I've been posting here a little less. But if you see a chick named vodkaplaid, be nice to her, won't you? It's just me.

*waves to anyone still reading*
beccavox: (curvy books)
Whew...I had a full week of teaching. Glad I got a day off to rest. Got a haircut, clipped the kitties' nails, ate some lunch. Gonna go write (and maybe, just maybe, finish something). It's a good day.

And have I mentioned how much I hate FriendFace? Oh, yeah...it's called Facebook. Who's with me? Piglet?
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