Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Friday, December 19, 2014

Movies, Feminists and Books to Keep You up at Night



There are plenty of jokes around about people who watch the Hallmark and Lifetime movie channels. Heck, I’ve made them myself. But not anymore. Not since this holiday season when I realized that since Don died those sappy holiday movies have become my Christmas tradition. I’ve pigged out on them three years in a row. They play in the background while I do other things and when I do glance at the TV I’m not lost, I know the plots because I’ve seen the endless loop of movies more times than I can count. And they’re so predictable that if I didn’t know better I’d think I wrote the screen plays myself. No holiday movie ever has an unexpected plot twist or a surprise ending. The lonely bachelors nursing a hurt and widows who were just going through life on auto-pilot always find happiness at the end. The kids wanting their families back together or a new dad or mom get their wishes come true and small, dreary towns always start pulling together to get their Christmas spirit off life support, fully revived and amped up to full throttle by the end of the film. I’m just a romantic at heart. Happy endings during the holidays seem to be what I need as an antidote for whatever it is that ails me---the underlying sadness of being alone? The scary state of the world? I don’t know what ‘it’ is exactly, but it’s there.

But I must say I actually watched the 1994 version of Miracle of 34th Street recently---well, I was knitting too but that’s not much of a distraction---and I didn’t like it as well as the 1947 version. They cut out one of my favorite parts, the one where they bring the mail bags containing letters written to Santa Claus into court. Instead, they brought in a reindeer to make Santa look foolish by asking him to make it fly as proof that’s he’s the real deal. Mc Dreamboat (Dylan McDermott) did a standout job playing Bryan the lawyer/love interest and little Mara Wilson taking the Natalie Wood part as Susan was adorable. Even Santa was great but the other parts all seem cartoonish to me. And you’d think as a Feminist I’d like how they changed the ending when they made a point of saying that Susan’s mother’s Christmas bonus would make the down payment on the house, but I didn’t. I think because Susan’s mom was already looking to buy a house---that house---before Susan asked Santa for it spoiled it for me because eventually the little girl would have gotten a house even without the Christmas miracle/myth of Santa. I guess that was the point, single moms don’t need a man or a miracle to make that happen.

I hope they never remake It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. They’d probably have Mary as a working mom who can come up with enough cash to replace the bank’s money that George’s Uncle lost and that would be the end of the movie a half hour after it begins. Whitewashing our collective social history out of classic films does nothing to educate those who didn’t live through those times. Of course, we all know movies are about making money and if they can do a remake, updating for a new audience, it’s cheaper than starting from scratch. But I'm old and I don't have to like them.

Speaking of Feminists, it drives me crazy when young women today think if a guy in the workplace says they look nice that’s sexual harassment. No, ladies, sexual harassment is when a guy pushes you into a corner, sticks his tongue down your cleavage while groping your butt and driving his man part up against your body. Been there, done that and we older women know what it was like in the workplace before the second wave of Feminists changed all that.  A young lady asked me recently if the TV series Mad Men was an accurate portray of the times. “Yes, Virginia, it’s more fact than fiction,” I told her, "but I really don’t know if that’s true," I added, "having only watched the show one time. I wanted to barf the whole time it was on." Boy, didn’t I go off on a tangent here jumping from It’s a Wonderful Life to Man Men.

I bought a book yesterday and stayed up late reading it. It’s an action-thriller that one reviewer promised would give readers whiplash from all the plot twists and cliff hangers. I’m only 100 pages into Runner by Patrick Lee and I think I have the ‘mystery’ solved but since the main character is an ex-special forces guy I’m sure they’ll be some adrenaline pumping parts to read before I finish the nearly 400 page book. It’s the perfect counterpoint to all the fluffy, sugary Christmas movies I’ve been stuffing my head with since Thanksgiving. I’ve never read or heard of this author before but when I learned he lives in West Michigan, where I do, it makes me want to like his work. I sure hope it turns out that way because already the Hallmark channel is advertising the coming of their Valentine’s Day marathons and it would be nice if I have a series of engrossing novels with a few sickos and underbellies of society to mix in with the hearts and flowers movies I’ll no doubt get sucked into having running in the background throughout my January and February. ©

18 comments:

  1. I've not watched any Christmas anything this year. Or last year or the year before. I'm good with that. I would love to read the book you're reading though. Sounds fabulous. Perhaps I need to purchase. I think I will.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. If you do read it, let me know. It would be fun to have a little "book club" meeting about it.

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  2. Hi Jean. I've followed your blog for over a year. So glad to have found it. Your writing and humor have been a huge inspiration since my husband died last year. As for the book, I happened upon him last winter, and it became a marathon of reading! Loved every one of his books. Read over a dozen (all from the library). Enjoy! Ann in IL

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    1. Hi Ann, I'm sorry to hear about your husband's passing.

      Thank you for chiming in ab out the book and for reading my blog. I'm so glad to know that I found a good writer worth a marathon read of his work. I wish I could figure out where he lives here in MI but Google hasn't helped me much. Take care of yourself over Christmas.

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  3. I like to watch Frazier and the Golden Girls on Lufetime and don't like the 24 hour movies from Halloween to New Years but my time will come, soon enough.

    Smiles, Bee
    xoxo

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    1. I love Frazier and never tire of those reruns, The Golden Girls sometimes, too.

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  4. I'd be stalking Patrick Lee by now. Patricia Cornwell used to live near me, but I think she moved to Boston and bought a 6M condo. Many of her books take place here. I thought about searching her out, too. LOL

    Christmas can be a lonely time. It's definitely a time for missing what you've lost. When we had dinner with my longtime divorced friend recently, she had the Hallmark channel turned low running in the background when we arrived. There were children and a grandma and grandpa and a mom who was a widowed and a dog. As you predicted, all ended well.

    H DVRd the old Miracle on 34th Street for me last night. :)

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    1. I could stalk an author, too, so maybe it's a good think they aren't easy to find. :)

      It's really surprising how many Christmas movies had widows in them. We've become a stereotype for loneliness in fiction.

      They played old Miracle on 34th Street Thursday and the new one on Wednesday. I'm sure it will be on again. Some things are too traditional to let go of, aren't they.

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  5. I'm glad that I am not the only one who had that reaction to Mad Men. I didn't like the sound of it when I heard it reviewed but I decided to give it a try a while ago on a long distance plane flight and I think I got through one and a little bit of the second episode before I decided that I never wanted to watch that again. Some things, to me, are inappropriate to be glamorized. Years ago, I remember having a similar reaction when Vanessa Redgrave was playing a prisoner in a WWII concentration camp.
    For us, avoiding Christmas films is the routine. We load up on DVD's from the library: things like Inspector Lewis and Sherlock.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I'm so glad you share that about Man Men! You put the finger on something about it that I couldn't verbalize about why I didn't like it: It DOES glamorize something that shouldn't have been glamorized!

      I think I've turned the corner on Christmas movies. I just finished the book I mentioned in this post and ordered another one of his for my Kindle. I'm going suspense-thrillers with lots of blood for awhile. LOL

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  6. I have been bingeing on TCM--Turner Classic Movies--I sat and watched 3 just today! I got the exec pushing me in the corner of the Xerox room and the grope--that was in 1992--doesn't seem all that long ago. We didn't even know about sexual harassment back then. I just told my boss and he took care of the matter. You keep saying you are a Liberal Feminist, but some of your posts, like this one, appear to make me think you may be a touch of Conservatism about you. :-)

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    1. I don't think any of us is 100% all Liberal or Conservative. Do you? I can think of things about you that don't fit the profile of a social conservative and I can be pretty old fashioned about some things.

      I keep forgetting about TCM! This week I discovered ION movies. They've been Christmas movies but not as predictable at Hallmark or Life Time.

      1992? Wow, that wasn't very long ago for that kind of sexual harassment to happen.

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  7. Hmmm….I really should try those Hallmark and Lifetime channels. I tend to avoid them but as get older, and especially at Christmas, I'm a sucker for a predictable, happy ending. :)

    As for Mad Men….oops I love it! I guess I don't see it as glamorizing the era at all. I see it as an accurate portrayal of what the time and I watch with head-shaking amazement that it was like that and gratitude for the changes since then. But I realize I was not yet an adult and basically caught the tail-end of the kind of misogynist discrimination and attitudes portrayed. But catch the tail-end I did and had two bosses who physically accosted me (early 70's) at a time when it never even occurred to me to report it -- to whom? I would have been laughed at or ignored. Wish I could go back and ruin their careers -- both high up professionals and I was a lowly secretary/assistant.

    My "guilty pleasure" is Lee Child novels -- his lead character is a loner, badass ex-military guy who finds himself embroiled in situations involving innocents he must protect or defend. He dispatches the bad guys with cunning, brawn, and violence. I don't know why I like this sort of thing….must be as you say, a good counterpoint to "fluff" on TV, and my usual non-fiction self-help, spiritual enlightenment reading.

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    1. I kind of think age does make a difference how we all view Mad Men. I know a lot of younger women who just love the series but I have not met a single person in my age bracket who likes it. Hits too close to home for my tastes. As for reporting the misogynist discrimination back in the 70s, it would have been you more likely, not the men who did the accosting, to get fired if you had reported it.

      Okay, now I'm adding Lee Child to my list of authors to try. Thanks. I read once that action-adventure fiction gives us an opportunity to see how we would react to violent situations without having to actually live through them.

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    2. That is so true, about who would have been fired. After that I reviewed one of the episodes in my mind and I recalled that I actually DID report it to the "second in command" (the perpetrator was the big boss) and he listened politely and did absolutely nothing about it. I found an opening in another department and got a transfer. My new boss couldn't have been more wonderful. I do understand how watching a TV show about those years when women older than I had to deal with this all the time would not fall under "entertainment".

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    3. "We've come a long way, baby," as they say.

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  8. Hi again, Jean. This is Ann in IL. I need to correct my previous comment. The dozen thrillers I read, about an ex-military guy, were by Lee Child. No, I didn't read any books by Patrick Lee. I am hoping this mistake is just a lingering effect of widow-brain. Really am very sorry! But I can highly recommend all of Lee Child's books. They are mystery thrillers without too much gore. Also, thank you for your kind reply.

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    1. Easy mistake to make, especially with widow's brain.

      That makes you the second one to recommend Lee Child. Now I know for sure I have to try him.

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