An Open Letter to My Cat: You had me at meow

Dear Sadie,

I love you.  You know I do.  I mean, I carried you for however long cats gestate.  I birthed you, for crissake. Don’t you dare listen to people who tell you otherwise.

I give you things.  I buy you expensive cheap toys and then go into the bathroom to cuss the world when you prefer to chew on my expensive therapy books instead.

I let you sit on my lap.  Even when I am trying to blog and eat ice cream at the same time.  Even in the summer, when you’re a steaming ball of fur that sticks to my sweaty legs.  Yummy.

I brush you.  Even though you get into a frenzy and try to bite the brush and end up biting my hand.  I understand; you can’t control yourself.  Those crazy social grooming-induced endorphins render you impulsive and violent.  But I know you bite because you care.

I feed you.  Even though you’re picky, and not even consistently picky.  You really love to keep me on my toes.

Most of all, I clean up after you.  I do all the normal expected cleaning up, sure – with pleasure.  I scoop your box full of clumped liquid and solid evil and then breathe in dust that probably causes evil-like organisms to grow in my lungs.  *cough, cough*

But you see, I go above and beyond because you take me to that place.  You challenge me.

It would be too easy for all the evil to be deposited in your box, and so you like to hide it.  And boy does that get an enthusiastic reaction from me.  Boy oh fucking boy.

It would also be too easy for evil to come out only one end of your Abomination Factory you call a body.  Gotta increase production during these hard times.  Maybe you have a monthly quota or something, I don’t know.

These additional little gifts, these little bits of Chewbacca Surprise really light up my mornings, especially when I am already late for work.

For all this, I’d like to thank you.  Truly.

Because what would I do with all that free time not spent scooping and scrubbing and cussing?  Let’s be honest, I’d probably be eating more ice cream.

So thanks.  I’d be fat(ter) and with less black lung disease without you.

And thanks also for the little extras you throw in, like when you serve as my alarm clock I never set on Saturday mornings.  You have no idea how much joy it brings me to hear your howling cries of longing as you reach up and jiggle the handle of my annoyingly loose bedroom doorknob.  I miss you, too, my little fur-demon.  I guess we can both sleep in when we’re dead.  Let’s see which one of us goes first.

You complete me.  You had me at meow.

Your loving Mama,

Melissa

P.S. – Remind me to tighten my bedroom doorknob.  And electrify it.

How to succeed in pissing me off without really trying

You know what gets my panties all in a bunch?

Of course you wouldn’t know, because it’s none of your friggin business, but I’ll tell you anyway.   It’s when people who are not my most closest friends and family (read: everyone in the world minus about 7) ask me questions that are so incredibly, mind-numbingly personal and private like they are asking me what my favorite Justin Beiber song is, or which Kardashian is my favorite. (Answer: all of them.)

So, if you enjoy pissing people off and haven’t had the opportunity to piss off yours truly yet, read on, cuz this is your Christmas morning come early:

1. Ask me when, not if, I am getting married, even if you don’t know me very well, or just met me a few nanoseconds ago.  This question should just fly out of your mouth once you see that I am an amazingly attractive late 20-something female with a glaringly bare left ring finger.  Remember, making assumptions is crucial; you’re the one who has all the answers and also the right to tell people what to do.

2. When I hesitate to answer, please assume this means that I never want to get married, that I hate the institution of marriage, and that I will end up dying alone covered in cats.  Quick, someone please get me some more cats.  Then stare at me weirdly and stammer something about leaving the stove on.  Next, run away.

3. If those don’t work, please, please judge me based on how long I have been with my partner because that timeline is somehow too long to be with someone without being married yet. (First, you’ll have to run back in my general direction, since I told you to run away in step 2.  I know, I didn’t think this through.  I hope you’re physically fit.)  ‘Too long according to who?’ I say.  ‘Too long according to, well, me,’  You say.  Oh, I’ve somehow violated your expectations of how I should behave and live my life?  Wow.  Hang on, I’ll apologize to you as soon as I am finished setting my bra on fire.

4. Now, go on to make the assumption that I plan to have kids (because if I wasn’t planning on having kids, it’d be pretty obvious, since my uterus would promptly shrivel up and eat a hole through my body so that it may crawl out and find a proper place to die in peace, leaving a gaping hole in my abdomen…ruining swimsuit season for me forever.  oh, and I’d probably grow horns, too).  Then ask how many and when each of them will be done baking.  Again, please ask as soon as possible.  Just met me? Not soon enough.  Why haven’t you asked me already?

5. Lastly, make sure that when you bring up the above casual conversation starters that we are in an extremely public place.  Crowded movie theater?  Not crowded enough.   Immediately after saying grace at the Thanksgiving dinner table the year we invite neighbors, in-laws, and the local grocery store employees?  That sounds about right.  And make sure you speak up when you ask.  Not only do I need to hear you, but so does everyone around me within a 500 foot radius.  Hell, ask perfect strangers to weigh in with their opinions, too.  You know.  For good measure.

Kicking Ass and Taking Names (in more ways than one)

Since the boyman has been hunkered down in his hole working on his thesis, the two of us haven’t been to many (any) movies recently. So now that he’s all good and gradumacated (pause for applause), we’re going hog wild!!

Basically, we struck a deal. I love women kicking ass and taking names, and Brian loves history and war where men are kicking ass and taking names. This means we went to go see Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and War Horse.

SPOILER ALERT! I reference a few details of these movies, but I don’t spoil any endings. Hopefully you’ve either already seen these movies cuz you’re superfly, or you don’t care about them being minorly spoiled because, hey, it’s better than getting your toes gnawed off by a rabid clown.

TRIGGER ALERT as I reference events of sexual violence.

Both of these movies are about wild, spirited creatures who are being controlled by others more privileged than they are. Both of these movies involve intense violence, perseverance, devotion, and justice. It’s very possible that this is where the similarities end, although if I was in a pinch I could probably drag this on for a few more paragraphs.

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie so moving, so beautifully stunning, so captivating, but still have that constant reminder that you’re in a movie theater surrounded by cranky old people??! Then see War Horse!

I don’t understand why older folks feel it’s ok to talk through movies while at the theater. Do they even realize they are doing it? Do they realize it and not give a fuck? It was all I could do not to turn around and ironically ask them if their parents had ever taught them any manners.

Not only did these cranky-pants folks comment throughout the movie, the things they said were in no way contributing to the richness of the entertainment (although, now that I think about it, unless you’re at Rocky Horror, commenting at the screen will in no way improve the experience). The asinine comments can be placed neatly into 3 categories. Some examples:

1. My personal life and hopes and dreams should be heard by everyone

“My arm hurts…it’s been hurting me all day.”
If you keep talking, more than just your arm will hurt, sister.

“This movie has been everything I had hoped for.”
That’s nice, lady. I had hoped for a movie free of bitching and moaning, but I guess we can’t both have what we want now can we?

2. Captain Obvious to the rescue!

“Whoa, there’s the horse!”

“Ooh, he’ll be competition!”

“Oh look, they’re in love!”

Let’s see if I understand. Either you don’t quite get what’s going on and you’re attempting to confirm your current comprehension level by indirectly asking for input from your fellow moviegoers, or you very much do understand and you are selflessly translating the difficult content so that those around you can catch up. Either that or you have no filter and can’t keep your trap shut. Not sure, though.

3. Maybe if I yell loud enough, Spielberg will hear me

“No, don’t kill him!”

“He’s not dead, he just needs medicine!”

Ok, so that last one was from Lord of the Rings, but still, I admire your sentiment and I actually agree with you that the horse still had more life left in him, but hows about we give the cute horse our moral support in controlled, mature silence?

[Edit: contrary to popular belief, these last two statements do not give away the ending of the movie.  It’s the kind of movie where you’re left guessing til the end.]

Bottom line is that if people want to talk during a movie, then STAY THE FUCK HOME and wait for Netflix.

So I guess that was my review for War Horse. I recommend it, especially if you like horses or war. And the story is an Odyssey story, in that it follows the horse through the war and through various owners, places, and predicaments. My only caution is if you have this rare disease where you’ll die from overactive tear ducts, then don’t see it. And also, if you’re like me and you can’t stand to see animals in pain, then there will be one heart-wrenching scene where you’ll have to look away while your body is heaving with sobs. Needless to say, I felt very cleansed and vulnerable in the aftermath. My therapist would be proud.

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Now for Dragon Tattoo.

I read the books, saw the Swedish movies, and now I am licking my chops for the American versions.  I am a huge stickler for staying true to books in the movie versions, and any significant deviation from the original plot warrants a strongly worded letter in my book.

I thought Noomi Rapace’s Swedish performance as Lisbeth in the original movies was pretty well done, and I was skeptical that any second attempt could improve on the character, especially when left in the hands of Americans.  David Fincher  and Rooney Mara did not disappoint!  In fact, I thought that Lisbeth was indeed made much more three-dimensional, we could see a few more layers to her, and there was even some time devoted to giving a peek into her traumatic past, tidbits of the story yet to unfold.  Yes, Lisbeth sometimes chooses violence, but she does so only when she’s provoked and only when she sees no other option.  When we see Lisbeth mugged on the subway, she first hesitates and then runs after the guy and fights only to get her bag back and then runs away.  After her escape, we see her heave a sigh of relief and not one of satisfaction.

In my personal opinion, Lisbeth suffers from severe PTSD (post traumatic stress). The books describe her ability to cut herself off from all emotion and often stare back blankly when she chooses not to answer a question (that choice is yet another way she is able to fight back against her imposed narrative of being victimized and having power taken away from her).  I feel that this vital piece of Lisbeth’s behavior hasn’t been expressed fully enough in either movie version.  The American version did a slightly better job in that Lisbeth avoids eye contact and physical proximity, but the Swedish movies had Lisbeth responding with too many quips, too normal, too wordy, too talkative.  I wish some director out there would have the balls to put that gut-wrenching silence up on screen.  Let her eyes and that defiant silence do the talking.

I very much preferred Daniel Craig as Blomkvist to the actor in the Swedish version for the same reason as Mara – Craig was more human, more 3D.  In this version, Blomkvist was warmer, sweeter and less stoic than in the Swedish version.  He was also a bit more passive and humble.  His reaction when Lisbeth first comes on to him in her no-nonsense fashion was endearing, with his wide-eyed, stammering, chivalrous concern.  And plus, Daniel Craig is an awesome piece of ass to look at.  Thank you, casting director!

Another concern going into this movie was how Americans might portray the rape and sex scenes.  On one hand, I appreciate Europeans being able to portray sex and sexual violence with more transparency, rawness, and in graphic detail.  The books were certainly in graphic detail, and so there’s that part of me that wants the movie versions told as closely to the book as possible.  The American scenes were not as graphic as the Swedish ones, and maybe it was because I have already seen the Swedish scenes that I didn’t feel like anything was lacking from the American scenes.  The fear and pain and anger were all still there.

In closing, an ode to Lisbeth.  I fucking love Lisbeth Salander. She is a tortured soul who doesn’t play the victim.  She uses violence only when she doesn’t see any other options, but when she does use violence it’s with awesome warpaint that would scare the shit out of Hitler, let alone pathetic rapist pigs.  She’s not a maneater or oppositional-defiant in a negative clinical sense.  She’s not empowered by the violence she inflicts, she merely wants to level the playing field that has been tipped against her favor even before she was born.  People like me relish watching her take her power back from her abusers in any creative way she can think of, like tattooing their heinous acts on their chests.  She does the things that I sometimes wish I could do and she says the things I sometimes wish I could say.  She doesn’t abide by gender norms or sexual norms, she does what she wants, when she wants, and basically just asks people to leave her the hell alone.  My inner angsty-feminist teenager squeals with pleasure when Lisbeth comes on the screen.