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

Saturday, September 8, 2018

From Crazy Rich Asians to Living in a Shoe Box


Since one of my bi-monthly Monday brunches with my Gathering Girls pals fell on Labor Day we moved our date to Tuesday and near a movie theater. Tuesdays are cheap movie days and we took advantage of that fact to see Crazy Rich Asians. After seeing the trailer for the film I wasn’t interested enough to see it with my Movie and Lunch Club last month, but for five bucks I was curious as to why the reviews from the club members varied from, “It was the best movie I’ve seen this year” to “It was cute” to “It was okay but I wouldn’t recommend it.” Professional reviewers, however, were not all over the map. They pretty much all agreed on a four star rating. 

IMDb describes the storyline this way: “This contemporary romantic comedy, based on a global bestseller, follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family.” What that synopsis doesn’t mention is the fact that the boyfriend failed to tell Rachel that his family is one of the richest families in Singapore---old money and power. Another review says the film was a “visual razzle dazzle” and that sure was true. The glitzy sets, glamorous people and over-the-top parties certainly were the very definition of crazy rich and it boggles the mind that so much money is spent just to entertain a bunch of party goers. Half way through the movie it made me sad/sick to think that some people actually live that way. Yup, I know that money spent filters down to the caterers, florists, entertainers, transportation companies---helicopters, limousines---private island rentals, party ship rentals and endless service staff, not to mention the clothing and jewelry the guests buy before arriving at those glitzy parties supports A-list designers and shops. But underneath it all this is an age-old fairy-tale plot of a woman and a man from different social classes who overcome an obstacle and living happily ever after. Cinderella and the Prince but in this version Cinderella is smart, educated and has a job that doesn’t involve sweeping floors.

So would I recommend the movie? I don’t have an easy answer to that. For five bucks on a leisurely afternoon seeing a movie like this in a nearly empty theater where we could make wise cracks like, “I was hoping he’d be naked” (when the leading man hopped out of bed) was fun. But for full price in a crowded theater it would have been a different experience. The redeeming message of the movie was a good one---that prejudices based on centuries old class distinctions and habit can be changed. And judging by the wedding of Prince Harry to an American last summer I’d say that’s happening in real life as well as in fiction. If you saw this movie and want to compare favorite scenes, mine was when the song, I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, was playing at the wedding which makes me a hopeless romantic, I guess. And I'd be remiss if I didn't add that there's humorous bits sprinkled around the film that made us all laugh.

New topic: Two of the eight houses on my cul-de-sac are up for sale. Good neighbors are going and we’ll start the dance to learn nuggets of information about the new ones. One of the neighbors moving out---a couple---have been kicking the idea around for a couple of years. He wanted to downsize and she was the hold out. The other neighbor is a woman with severe Parkinson’s. Both her sons went away to college this year so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see an army of volunteers working to pack up her house ending with a ‘for sale sign’ in the yard. It would have been hard for her to live alone given the fact that she’s starting to hallucinate and her prognosis isn’t good. Her move was a spur-of-the-moment decision that she made happen in a whirlwind. She had to do it that way, she said, so she wouldn't overthink the decision. Boy, do I need to take a page out of her playbook. I'm the queen of overthinking.

They left a mountain of stuff by the curb that the city won’t pick up and people have been picking through it. I wasn’t going to do it but when my lawn care guy said he was going down to check out some pails I went with him and I came back with, of all things, an Anna of Green Gables doll in perfect, boxed condition. It went directly into my donate-to-Goodwill box. Waste (trashing usable things) and blatant consumerism (like in the movie) bothers me. The earth is crying over our disrespect for her land, water and air. And the older I get the more I regret my own contribution to the world of consuming more ‘likes’ than ‘needs.’ Yet you won’t find me joining the Tiny House Movement even though the idea intrigues me and I can't stop reading about it. (I still love my stuff!) In my defense, I dare say there aren’t many children of Depression Era parents who could develop the minimalist mindset to that extreme. It would give me a panic attack or hives or both at the same time to live in a 100 to 144 square feet shoe box. ©

 Movie Trailer

34 comments:

  1. I haven't been able to work up much enthusiasm for seeing that movie. I've not been that interested in how the ultra-rich live or aspired to be one of them. Even if I had that kind of money I don't think I would live in the manner many do, but can we ever be sure of what we might do until we're in the actual situation?

    Certainly thinking about how we've treated our environment and our basic materialism is worth some thought. I, too, have been intrigued with the various interesting "homes" that are being devised such as these Tiny Houses.

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    1. I would hate living like the super rich in that movie did.

      Aren't those Tiny Houses shows on TV interesting. What do they do if they get sick or broke a bone and couldn't climb the stairs to the loft to lay down? I keep thinking they would be borrowing everything from family and friends. We had neighbors once who bragged about living cheap but they didn't have the basic things you need to keep up a house and they were constantly begging to use someone else's vacuums, floor scrubbers, garden rakes, lawn mowers, etc.

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  2. Thank you for the review on Crazy Rich Asians! A new twist on the boy-meets-girl story. Extravagant, conspicuous expenditure has always been the way with the majority of the rich. Each to his/her own. Its their money, and no one can take it with them.

    Good on you for picking up that beautiful boned doll and sending it to Goodwill. It'll make some young child happy. I HATE waste too. ~ Libby

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    1. If memory serves me right there are only seven basics plots in all of fiction/story telling and this movie is classic rags-to-riches....my least favorite.

      I think that kind of over-the-top living gets to some of the super rich as they age. That's when they start building hospitals, parks and art museums, etc.

      The doll is really beautiful but I'm afraid to ask my neighbor (we email) what her story is. Maybe an old gift from her x-husband I'm guessing. A bad memory attached because other useful things were put inside the garage for her church members to pick through in addition to the stuff by the street.

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  3. I have no reason to even see that movie. The rich of today are getting even richer due to those in control who always say they are working for the every day person. Ya, I can laugh at that. I want to laugh, hear music and fun movies.
    Jean how are you making out with the moving idea? Any nibbles? We've been looking but heck the prices are going nuts. I know that I would get a good price of my place but even a smaller home would cost us a big price. The world is going nuts I believe. Good luck my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I have no plans to move in the near future. I'm looking towards 2019 if our country is still in one piece by then. In the meantime, I'm going to keep pecking away at downsizing. We downsized from two houses and a 100 foot pole barn to move here, and from here I'd be going to a house half the size and will take some hard decisions. Every time the world is so unpredictable, I get scared of changing to the unknown. Got too much of my mom's Depression Era thinking in my head. I still remember taking zippers and buttons off old clothing because "we might not be able to buy them in the future."

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    2. I hope that many of the Americans vote positive in upcoming election. I pray that they finally realize the problems with Trump. I'm scared of all that he's been talking about destroying Canada.

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    3. Scary times, Paul. But I don't think he can muster any support for "destroying Canada." Most people here are shocked by that kind of talk against our long-time friends.

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  4. Sounds like a whimsical movie for sure. There must be something wrong with me ... I haven't seen a movie in a theater for years! Not too many sound like they would be worth the $$$ to me. But I forgot about the frugal day. And I prefer real butter on my popcorn!

    I love love love watching Tiny Houses. I think we need a show that visits after one year, five years, etc. because clothing storage is usually a joke. I live in 130 sq ft (just my room and closet and desk area) and it's tough even with the five foot closet having double rods.

    How on earth could I climb down a ladder to get to the potty in the middle of the night???

    I love your blog! Thanks for investing your time!

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    1. Thanks! It is time consuming to blog twice a week but I look at it like it's mental exercise to keep my brain healthy. Not just the writing/thinking and process of writing but it also involves a little research here and there and working out technical consumer issues.

      I, too, would love to see a Tiny House after someone has lived it it a couple of years. I'm pretty sure my bathroom and closet are more square feet than most of those are. I think they hang out in a lot of public places like libraries and coffee shops when they need to stretch out. But a temporary illness would put them in a world of problems.

      I love the big screen for movies. At home I'm usually multi-tasking or feeling guilty if I'm not while a movie is on. I love seeing what pop-culture thinks is currently hot or good. I never eat popcorn at the movies, so I don't care what they put on it.

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  5. I could not live in a shoebox either. Our house is quite a bit smaller than out last, and we surely do not need a bigger house than this, but you can't throw out everything. I tossed a lot before we moved here, and I continue to evaluate the situation, not allowing myself to keep too much, and keeping an eye on how much H takes to the attic. He has tendencies, don't cha know. I have five drawers in the bathroom that I said I was going to go through and clean today. Maybe tomorrow.

    Thanks for the review. I will wait for it to come to Netflix.

    Some lucky person will enjoy the Anne of Green Gables doll.

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    1. I don't have an attic here but if I did, it would be in danger of H-ifying it. LOL My only rule to downsizing---this time around---is to do something every day even if it's just sorting out one drawer or writing one listing or putting one thing in a donate or recycle box. Anna of Green Gables saving me from one day of sorting. LOL She sure is pretty. I have get her out of the garage next week before I weaken and list her on e-Bay.

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  6. Jean:

    I hate how these rich asians live & the way they spend money on weddings.I have seen in our own family. I can't imagine spending that lavishly where you might see so much poverty nearby, makes one wonder do we have right to spend resources like that, though hubby thinks by spending those resources you are providing income to so many people in food chain, flowers, decoration, bridal makeup, ton of jewelry, band, so it makes sense. though it does not to me. I guess each of us have their way of getting joy, I get joy differently.
    Asha

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    1. Interesting that you and your husband have a different view of the lavish weddings. I was in the wedding business for 20 years and know that a lot of people spend beyond their means, going in debit to impress their friends and family. Never made sense to me....even for the super rich. The could take same amount of money and donate half to do-go-cause and still have a great wedding with the other half. Do-good-causes also spend money that filters down to others same as with weddings. Just different....

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  7. I will have to wait for the DVD to find out which group I fall into about the movie. Odd how the reviews are so different. Yours was more middle of the road.
    Last time I moved I left my unwanteds by the gate and it was usually gone by the next time I went out. Amazing what you think is garbage lights up someone else's eyes. That doll however is a mystery. Might be a collectible worth a bit of money.

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    1. As a rule of thumb any so-called collectible that is actually made as a collectible like these dolls and collector plates, etc. do not hold the value that people pay for them. After the first few years where people are on a mad dash to complete a set, the values drop like rocks. I looked up what she are selling for on e-Bay and that's about $15.

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  8. Hi Jean,

    I read both books - Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend. They were just nice pieces of escape fiction - beach reads, I guess. I think the movie is the same way - a 90 minutes escape into another (strange) world. I also found it hard to grasp the amounts of money these characters spent, and how they were so concerned with appearances, fitting in, who had more money or less money than them, and one-upping each other. Amusing and interesting, but I wouldn't want to live that way. Glad to put the book down at the end and rejoin my own quiet, comfortable life and lack of social status.

    Deb

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    1. Escapist fiction. Very much so. We did have fun but we all agreed we wouldn't want to be that rich if it comes with so much shallowness.

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  9. Interesting point about how easy it is to live a Minimalist Life if you borrow a ton of Stuff from other people. Having someone constantly begging me for my Stuff would get old really fast.

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    1. It did wear thin with me to live next to someone too cheap to buy necessary things. It's one thing to loan something in a pitch but to expect you to loan them something every week because they are "living cheap" or have no room for a vacuum or washer/dryer or lawn mower would is quite a different can of worms.

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  10. 900 sq. ft. is as tiny as I want to go.
    i certainly wouldn't want to climb up a ladder to get to my bedroom and have the ceiling so close I couldn't sit up in bed.
    My manufactured home is laid out so well--most of them are.
    Just like you did for your nieces, I have given a lot of the ancestor's antiques to my kids and sister. I still have some things, that bring back nice memories, like my baby dish and spoon, but there is room for them here.

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    1. I still have my baby spoon, cup, shoes and assorted other small things that all fit in a shadow box. Got keep some stuff. We're not dead yet. LOL

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  11. No tiny house for me, that's for sure. But to throw perfectly good things that could be donated, that's really sad. Too bad they just didn't call Goodwill or some such place and say "C'mon over and pick through my stuff..." Hope you get good neighbors.

    I haven't been to the movies in ages... I should some time!

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    1. My neigbhor made the decision to move and was in a week's time. She put the stuff she wanted to keep in storage, moved in with her parents until the place is sold and she can buy a new place and told the people from her church who helped her pack to take anything that's left over they wanted. Then her sons put the rest out to the street. A trip to Goodwill would have been in order but I think they were more focused on moving into their dorm at college and by then, she was no longer in town. When I said she moved in a whirlwind, I wasn't kidding.

      Me too on getting nice neighbors. It makes a difference. Thanks for chiming in.

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  12. What an interesting blog. I read the top paras about yourself and thought: that’s me. I’ve been a widow for 17 months; although it’s still hard sometimes I am slowly finding back to myself. I am going through all the things widows go through, making decisions about the here and now as well as the future.
    But contentment and an interest in the world come high on my list.

    By the way, I had to go and read your piece on the man with the orange toilet lid on his head. Had you been an admirer I wouldn’t have commented.

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    1. I'm sorry you've joined the 'widow's club' but I'm glad you stopped by to read a bit. I love having readers from overseas.

      I checked out your blog and it looks like you've been a blogger for a long time although I couldn't figure out how to look at your backlog of posts. Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

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  13. Reviews of Crazy Rich Asians were all over our Sunday papers this week. The reviews were pretty positive on the whole but I shall wait until it comes on TV before I watch it! I've been trying to declutter and was amazed - and slightly ashamed - at how many possessions I had that were too shabby even for charity shops (or "goodwill", as I think you call it in the USA).

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    1. Our two biggest places to donate are Goodwill and the Salvation Army who both operate stores all over the place. I didn't know or forgot you're not located in the States.

      No shame in getting all the use of possessions. Much better than throw out goods that still could be of use to someone like my x-neighbor did.

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  14. I did not go to see Book Club for the same reason you saw Crazy Rich for only $5. I figured when it was $5 I'd see it and I did when it was $4.99 on my video on demand by my salettite provider. It was cute and my husband I liked it and laughed. But to go to the movie theatre ,not so much. I will fork out good money to see A Star Is Born though. :-)
    My husband has a difficult time purging too Jean. I have things that he can't part with and I keep moving around. My friend told me to just toss them out when he isn't around. I can't do that to him, I want him to purge them on his terms, but those terms aren't coming fast enough :-)

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    1. The new 'A Star is Born' looks good to me. We saw the trailer on the big screen and we all want to see it.

      It's a bad idea to just toss out a spouse's "keeper" when they aren't around, in my opinion. For some of us, that stuff is like a security blanket and it's a break of trust to go behind ones' back. What build that kind of resentment up in a partner? For us, purging wasn't/isn't always about being sentimental. It can also be about recouping the money spent on stuff and in many cases, far more than the money originally spent. What worked/works for me, is to say "keepers" have to fit in a certain space (a box, drawer, closet or showcase) and if they don't fit whoever is attached to them has to downsize them until they do fit.

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  15. It never had occurred to me until I read your post that I've lived in a tiny house of sorts: a Catalina 31 sailboat. I'm not sure how many square feet there would have been in it, but I can guarantee you it wasn't much. All you have to do to get a rough idea is multiple 31' x 12' (the beam width) and you get 372 square feet. Of course, then you have to account for the bow, which is significant narrower, and that fact that there's a head and a couple of bunks in there, along with lockers, a galley, two settees and a table, and you're down not much free space! There's a reason a lot of boaters have a storage locker somewhere.

    I liked it, but a little larger would have been better. A 38' boat's just about right. And it was great fun to be able to take my 'house' out for a sail. But eventually I got a hankering for a bathtub and a real closet. And besides, living aboard in a marina when you varnish boats is like living at the office. Not good.

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    1. Definitely living on a boat would quality as living tiny in my book, but the Tiny House people usually build their houses on trailer frames and park them on land owned by friends or family. Boats and tiny houses have a lot in common because you'd have to have a place for everything and everything in its place. They both have scaled down appliances and you can't rearrange the furniture. LOL I think it would be fun for awhile, like playing house when I was a kid.

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  16. movie sounds interesting dear Jean

    will you believe that i was always afraid of richness and rejected the offers for marriage from rich families as i belonged to a middle class family and i loved to be that way

    never dreamed about big houses and luxury life

    i believe the less i have the more peace will be in our lives because when we get our lives out of balance all gets messed up

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    1. I do believe you. And your reasons are sound. I'm been downsizing a lot lately and while it's hard I feel freer, too, with each thing I let go.

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