The Upside of Anger, Jane Fonda, and Jane Austen

Tonight I was supposed to go with Jesse to a party that John Varvatos threw. I was really looking forward to it as I haven’t seen him (Jesse, not John Varvatos) in weeks and Ian Hunter played a few songs, which would have been cool. And of course it would have been an opportunity for quality footwear exhibition.

But I woke up feeling peakish and by mid-day was completely fevery with a weird toothache where I believe an impacted wisdom tooth lies. Blargh. I have so much shit going on with my teeth and gums I could write a whole blog about just that. Suffice to say that even with dental insurance it’s sucking all the money I had allotted for botox, restylane, and tattoos this year. You think I jest, and yet I do not.

I was so weak and sick that Drew came to my job to bring me home, and I should be in bed reading Pride and Prejudice for the nine millionth time in my life. But I just had a pretty deep conversation with my sister over the phone and now I feel like writing a little bit.

My sister, who I’ve just lauded in a previous blog, may have to put one of her dogs down because even with serious training and work he’s attacking everyone. And her husband is quitting smoking so he’s temporarily rotten and on top of that she’s babysitting a fussy newborn baby while also taking care of her very busy two and a half year old son, who in my eyes is completely perfect and can do absolutely no wrong, but is still a handful at times. So let’s just say she’s not really interested in overpriced French shoes at the moment. Please give her a break and don’t bug her about any of this, btw, I don’t want to drive her over the edge with a too-revealing blog.

A girlfriend of mine is raising her three and a half year old son almost completely by herself while running a business from top to bottom on her own–design, production, packing, shipping, invoicing, etc. It’s an enormous load and lately she’s been sounding really fucking tired and I feel powerless to do anything but listen.

Another friend is struggling to find her way to the positive side of a life in which she has never received guidance or support from her family from the time she was a little girl. Instead she just got told she was worthless in both word and action and I watch her battle the resulting demons on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t look easy or fun.

One of my favorite movies to come out in the last couple of years is The Upside of Anger. Joan Allen plays a middle aged woman with four daughters who gets left by her husband and is so completely pissed off at life that she’s nearly immobilized with rage (and vodka). I have watched this movie over and over again, and I think it’s because I see so much of myself and my friends in it.

Another thing I’ve seen recently that is tying this all together in my head is an interview with Jane Fonda that happened on my favorite channel, Turner Classic Movies, with my favorite TV host, Robert Osbourne. I like to pretend he’s my surrogate dad, everything feels safe and warm when he’s on the screen.

Anyway, if you get a chance it’s on the free movies on demand channel, somewhere in the 1000’s. It’s very much worth watching because Ms. Fonda is just completely centered in herself and 100% honest about where she’s been, how she got there, and who she is now. It’s ostensibly an interview about acting, but so much about being human comes out that it’s much bigger than just a regular interview, at least in my mind. And it occurred to me as I watched it that here is this woman who from the outside was handed everything on a platter–beauty, money, the fast lane to Hollywood, etc., and yet who still had to find her way through a heavy and sometimes very painful journey to get to the deep truth of who she is now.

The point of all this—hmm… only women bleed? Nah! Men bleed too, but tonight I am thinking about the women in my life and how most of them seem to be carrying heavy loads.

I have it so good right now in my life. I do have the occasional problem, but as I’ve mentioned before somewhere along the way things shifted and now I learn my lessons primarily through joy with small amounts of pain, rather than through the great suffering chasms of agony and self-loathing I once dragged my ass through. The people that surround me are so loving and patient and kind and I am more than grateful for my good fortune.

And contrary to the belief of some, I don’t believe that it’s cool to be a raging bitch all the time, and sometimes find myself thinking that many women my age are so fucking bitter and pissed off it’s no wonder many men choose infants and beige wallpaper. There’s a speech in The Upside of Anger made by a character that dates really young women that I love. He says,

Who should I sleep with, Terry? Women like you? Your age? My age? I don’t. You know why? Cause younger women are *nice*. You take them out, and they’re actually grateful. “Oh look, a steak. Yummy.” You go for a walk after dinner, the air smells nice, they say, “Thank you. This was *nice*. This was *fun*. You’re *funny*. Tee-hee-hee.” What should I do, Terry? Settle down and marry some pissed-off thing like you? I’d rather have someone come over and do dental work, every day, from my backside, up through my ass!

I get that. Because me and my girls, we’re not easy. We’re tired and we’re cranky. Maybe I’m a little less cranky at the moment than some of my peers, but I can point out a couple of people who would be willing to tell you the multitude of ways that I can be a raging, sarcastic, high maintenance, paranoid, controlling pain-in-the-fucking ass. I will never be sweet and malleable the way I was long ago. Too much time and painfully gained information has passed through me.

But I am much kinder and more compassionate than I used to be, and I try very hard to empathize with the humans around me now, even as I torture them with my incessant need to be the queen of the Universe. When I was in my teens and 20’s and just saying yes all the time, it never occurred to me to think about what someone else might be feeling. I just wanted everyone to love me, or at least want me, no matter what it might cost them (or me).

And I think that might be the case with many of my angry girls out there. It’s not easy to be an adult, to raise kids on your own, to keep businesses afloat, families functional, dogs from biting. It makes a girl pissy at times. But underneath that and maybe through that comes a depth of spirit that most of us aren’t born with. And maybe that’s the trade-off for a little bit of bitchiness. And maybe once we get through some of our shit, hopefully with the help of a patient man here and there, when we reach Jane Fonda’s age we might get to be as grand and marvelous as she is right now (and come to think of it, my mother as well).

Anyway, just fevered, drifty thoughts for the evening. And now I’m gonna go take an Advil and read a few pages of a Ms. Austen while the cats fight over who gets to lay directly on my head.

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