I Grow Older, I Grow Older

I have an unpopular opinion, and so, I'm just going to admit it. I hope we'll still be able to be friends. And if not, I can understand. But I will still hope you will be nice to me. 

So here it is:

I'm not excited about "Star Wars" anymore. 

There. 

I admitted it. I said it. I've confessed to the large amount of wondering eyes and sighing breaths and angry fists. 

I'm not much of a "Star Wars" fan these days. 

If you knew me as a kid, I think it would be hard to find a more shocking statement come out of my lips. I had Star Wars T-shirts I'd picked out myself, I argued for Jar-Jar's character, and I would have been very happy to meet Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen. I tried to like the other movies all the actors were in (Ewan McGregor turned out to be the winner there -- to this day, the soundtrack to "Moulin Rouge" will intermittently play while I write), I read a lot of the books (and as an adult, I ordered about $200 worth of books from their different spin-off series), and I have collected everything from soda cans to magazine pictures to Barbies. 

And now it's gone. 

So what changed?

LOADS OF THINGS CHANGED. 

This is not one of those "It's not me, it's you, Star Wars-Dear John-type letters. I changed. The franchise changed. Movies have changed. The Internet ruins things. 

Luke Skywalker got old. Just sayin' ... ;) 

I didn't think I would ever outgrow my favorite stories. But I did. Sort of. I think it used to be easy to feel small and wonder against the large backdrop of those imaginary worlds. And maybe it was.

As an adult and a writer, I think it's hard to recapture that sense of wonder because it's so much easier to understand that world -- not just technically, but from different worldviews and political, religious, and military standpoints. Those are all things that as a kid, you can wonder at, because you don't understand how their small nuances affect you on an everyday level.

"The Force Awakens" did not do much to appeal to that childlike, latent wonder, and gave me very little in the way of hope. In fact, that's pretty much what I was expecting it to do, and it didn't. There will always be people to take up the banner and fight for good when evil is around, even when the banner comes to them unexpectedly. People said the prequels were bad, especially compared to the classics. 

I've thought about this on a thematic level, because emotional catharsis is pretty much my only requirement for me to like a film. On its own, "The Force Awakens" would have been a decent movie. But in the larger picture, combined with all the others, what hope can it really give us for the characters we have come to know and love in the originals? It destroyed all the hope of the classics. Some people will argue this is realism, and I would agree. But I would also say that I did not fangirl over Star Wars as a third grader for realism, but for heroism. 

Heroes are not normal people, you know. That's part of the reason they're special. Heroic efforts go beyond the call of normal life's demands. Yes, I'm happy there are new people to take up the mantle of the Light Side of the Force. That's good, something that will give me hope. It's sad to see that it comes at the cost of the characters I loved. 

I liked "Rogue One" better. 

I didn't outgrow the stories. Rather, I grew up in them, and now I am unable to see then as a world to which I can escape. Sometimes, listening to other fans, it's too much. I want that wonder. I want that newness. "Star Wars" has new things, but their world isn't new. 

I'll probably see the movie one day. But the days where it makes me taste my anticipation, the days where I literally just can't even ... Those days are behind me. And I'm grateful for it. I am truly thankful for what "Star Wars" has given me, both as a childhood escapist world and as a place that inspired me to be a writer. But I see now that it's a stepping stone -- a store that I could walk into as a child and hang out for a few years, before heading further up the street. There are more things awaiting me. Whether or not it's my own work remains to be seen. But I'm excited to see what's ahead. 

Finding Home

This blog post's subtitle should be something like: Cheesy Romance Movies and Thoughts on Meeting my Husband, 10 years later. 

I'm going to tackle the "Cheesy Romance Movies" part first. 

I've been staying up late recently, so I thought I would waste the time by watching cheesy romance movies on Netflix. I've watched a lot of them recently, just because I think the Rom-Com has died in Hollywood, so a lot more indie ones are coming out and they get to Netflix pretty quickly or something like that. (Come on, what was the last really good Rom-Com Hollywood produced?) 

As I was watching one last night, I realized that most of them have a good premise. Most of them even have good actors, even if they aren't famous. Probably the worst things I've seen in the movies are related to character, and too much emphasis on dialogue. And they all even have between one and two really good lines/discussions about love or relationships that made me smile. While I don't think the execution is always the greatest, whatever the reason (unrelatable character, unexpressive character, character is obsessed with dating/getting married/etc., side characters are hardly fleshed out, or some of the weird side-plots, most of them have made me stay to watch the end and sometimes I'll even tear up, the hard-to-impress-impossibly-high-standards-for-romance-romantic that I am. 

So, what does this have to do with my husband? 

This year marks the ten-year mark for us. We've been together for more than a third of my life, and if life's averages are any indication, I have fifty to a hundred more years more with him.

As much as I'd like to think our love story could rival  some of the literary greats, I know ours doesn't. We met at college. I'm not the most likeable person when you meet me, and even after you meet me, and he wasn't the most articulate, and neither was he really prepared for a real relationship. We had a lot of touch and go, and then all of a sudden, we clicked and then the rest followed. 

In many ways, I think our love story is sort of like a cheesy romance movie, where my character is this diamond in the rough (diamond in the really rough) and he was this wandering soul looking for a home even as he had to build one for himself. At times, the dialogue was bad, but we have so many good lines over ten years I can't help but smile as I think of them. And at times, the subplots are definitely weird and uncomfortable, and there are terrible fights followed by half-muttered apologies from me or grand ones from him. My tragic flaws are still there. True love has changed me, and continues to do so, often at my pride's displeasure.

So while cheesy romance movies are less than completely captivating, I find that they are ultimately more real than most of the mainstream ones. For me, after ten years now, it's a good reminder about the realities between realism and fantasy. I thought I would fall in love and get married and live happily ever after, but that "live" part is still about so much more than just being happy. It's about being true to yourself and your life, even if it's a grand mix of emotions and a wide range of experiences. 

Happy 10 years to you, my beloved!

Looking for My Own Niche

One the best moments this year was when I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and the guy - whom I desperately admire, have severe brain crushes on - said something that was terribly profound. 

He said that adults were just people who are doing their best. That the majority of them were people who weren't sure what they were doing half the time, or they were just reacting in the moment. 

It was a relief to hear that. 

So much of who I am wants me to know I am doing the right thing. Whether it is writing or mothering or wifing around, I want to know I am doing the best thing all the time forever. 

It's hard to feel like you're doing the right thing sometimes. Some things are black and white. Other things allow you a rainbow of selections. 

For example, what is your favorite color? Mine is pretty much blue. I love blue. I don't know when I started liking blue, but it's always been something I've known that I love. Is there anything wrong with loving blue, instead of some other color? I don't think so. (It would take a lot of persuasive convincing to get me to change my mind on this.) This type of scenario is different from questions like "Should you rob a bank?" where the answer is pretty obvious.

There's a trick to knowing which ones are which when it comes to that. I haven't quite figured that out yet. It's easier to see when things are black and white. But we live in a world of gray, along with the rest of the rainbow. 

So hearing that I'm not the only person in the world who has a problem being told to "be your best self" and having no clue what to do for half of that and having very little ideas of where to start to get there (especially after all the major things have been taken care of) ... That makes me feel pretty good. 

And I'm glad, because not knowing where I fit into life in the grand scheme of things can haunt me. 

While this is something I will probably struggle with for the rest of my life, give or take how much attention I pay to it, the quest begins to find my own writing niche. 

I'll have to think about that some - even if it's something I probably should have thought about before, ha! 

C. S. JohnsonComment