This weekend TGIM and I watched Steve Martin's novella-turned-motion picture Shopgirl (which... great movie) and though it had moments of humor which one would expect from the guy who shall go down in infamy as That Guy Who Played The Jerk, the humor was quiet-- subtle, even. Further, the movie truly said something, spoke truths, and conveyed this in an atmosphere that was slow and thoughtful and deeply affecting. It reminded me quite a bit of Lost in Translation, actually, in both pace and poignancy. Both movies star over-the-hill comedians in quirky, May-December relationships with beautiful young girls-- and I do freely admit the thought of watching Steve Martin and Bill Murray playing any beautiful young girl's crush/lover initially squicked me right out-- but amazingly, they both pull it off, so yay them.
But most of all, both movies speak of loss and discovery and an emotional awakening in a way that I have come to realize I long to master in my own writing. But too often it seems that when I am writing and find myself faced with the choice of expressing myself in a thoughtful, subtle manner or in a humorous, bantering light, I inevitably choose to joke. And I joke because that's just what I DO, I laugh, whether life brings me gifts of joy all tied up with pretty bows or bitch-slaps me and hands me bitter disappointment, I laugh and laugh and laugh. Then laugh some more. To be honest, I cry, also, but not in front of anyone, not so anyone can see, because what if people find out there are chinks in this laissez faire demeanor I've created-- they could hurt me more, right? I don't like anybody to see me cry. Much like my youngest daughter Alli, who when she hurts herself will inevitably jump up from the spill shouting, "I'm all right! I'm okay! That kind of tickled, actually!" even though we all know it hurt her and there are tears in her eyes and she is just saying it didn't hurt so we will leave her alone and she can run away and cry in peace. In a way perhaps we are trying to say, "You can't hurt me. Nothing can hurt me. I laugh at pain! Ha ha ha!"
So I write and I'm silly and whimsical and manic and almost always utterly tongue-in-cheek, and though I quite often express exactly what I am truly feeling, it is more often than not hidden away in evasive verbiage. Linguistic smoke and mirrors, if you will. And though I know emotional honesty does not always have to be slow or thoughtful and that poignancy and humor are not mutually exclusive, I wish sometimes I could find the words to illustrate what I really mean without resorting to silliness and feigned vapidity. To be starkly honest, to lay my heart out in words so you could actually feel it beating if you just listened closely enough, and you just KNOW. You feel me. Hear me.
Then, inevitably, I run off to watch an old episode of Buffy or Veronica Mars and I am lost in the witty quips and snarky banter, and awed by the sheer brilliance of the marriage between humor and poignancy in the writing, and I'm like, "Eh."
Because although I sometimes yearn-- burn, even-- to write peaceful, thoughtful prose, yes, passages of deeply affecting language whose impact will stay with people for hours, days, even years after reading it, that is not who I am. I am impulsive and passionate, rarely peaceful. And I see life though a haze of sardonic humor and I can't help but spill it out in my writing.
And I think I am finally coming to terms with that.
Grr! Stupid Shopgirl. Making me all meditative and whatnot. Bah! I'm off to eat a donut and shake off this silly moment of introspective sentimentalism... I'm thinking cinnamon cake.
- ieatcrayonz commented:
It's been a lot time since I've seen such clarity and emotion in your writing.
We hide behind mirrors. It's what we do.
- » 6/05/2006 2:15 PM
- Odd Mix commented:
Cat, for all the silly snarkiness that we have come to know and love, the real you is in there for us to find. And we do. I am a fairly recent reader, but I often take the time when I begin reading a blog to read at least some of the archives, as I did yours.
I can read the love for your children; the pain you feel when they hurt; concern for right and wrong; affection for your friends; connection to your past. I read admiration for those who influenced you; contempt for those who deserve it; the insecurities of a mother doing her best; the desire to express what is inside.
I think you are a remarkable communicator - for you deliver your thoughts and feelings in a way that makes us laugh while we learn. I bet you were a rockin' teacher. I'm quite sure you are a great mom and wife. I know your writing has influenced mine - though only rarely might it be evident.
Enjoy who you are. I have never met you but I imagine I can hear your voice when I read your words. I bet most people who read here can hear it, too.
Now go eat your doughnut (Krispy Kreme's are best) and enjoy your rerun. Then come back and talk to us some more.
- » 6/05/2006 2:25 PM
- WILLIAM commented:
Actually it is one of the qualities that I love about your writing. There is so much in between the words the jokes the "biznitchs" that keeps me coming back for more. On occasion (like today) that you reveal a piece of yourself that ususally falls between the lines and impresses me even more than the jokes.
I would also recomend reading Steve Martin's play Picasso at the La pin Agile. Very funny and sublte.
- » 6/05/2006 2:29 PM
- FutureFoodTVStar commented:
My dad went to Jr. High with Steve Martin. Steve coined the phrase "Waco, TX. The only city in the world who's skyline flipps you off."
I will have to add Shopgirl to my list of movies to see.
- » 6/05/2006 4:16 PM
- Nilbo commented:
I dunno about anybody else, but I don't mind taking a few extra moments to look underneath the giggles and grins and find the honesty you always have buried there. Never a bad use of my time ...
- » 6/05/2006 9:11 PM
- Catheroo commented:
Awsome post, Cat.
I'm a frequent visitor, but I seldom comment. Your snarkiness always puts a smile on my face.
But this post struck me because I do the same thing as you...hide behind my sense of humor.
Thanks for your honesty and for letting down your Snark Guard for a bit.
- » 6/06/2006 8:25 AM
- Trop commented:
I find your posts, your humor, your observations of everyday life to be very poignant. You have a great gift. Thanks for giving it to us over and over.
- » 6/06/2006 3:09 PM
- kalki commented:
I get this. Every once in awhile I write something that is slow-paced and (perhaps) profound and those are the posts I'm most proud of. But that's not what I write on a regular basis because that's not what pours out of me.
I love your writing, all the way around.
- » 6/06/2006 8:19 PM