August 28, 2010

"Mary and Max" and "Little Nightmares, Little Dreams"

I often find myself writing about how seemingly unconnected things are connected... the winding way circumstances and deliberate acts join to make the most interesting of days...when least expected. In an attempt to tag a post, I can only enter "serendipity." And hope for the best.

This Wednesday was one such day. It was a funky day. Things were not going right and an atmosphere of gloom and doom seemed to hover over our field of dreams. How to fix it? Take the day off (food is delivered on Wed. and FedX was late and everything was frozen solid, really) and visit the Ohio University Inn, just down the hill, where they have the most delicious breads, salads, steak and coffee.

Not to mention our favorite waiter, Reid. It had only been a week earlier that we'd mused on whether or not Reid, having obtained his degree at OU, was now off in the world doing all the wonderful things we imagined would be found on the path he was working so earnestly to create. This guy has the kind of intelligence, charisma, and energy that a couple in his parents' generation can only consider wistfully.

"I need to go to a movie," I said.
"Dinner out would be nice," Mark said.
"Our food is frozen solid," I said.
"We got a new Netflix movie today."
"What is it?" I sighed.
"Mary and Max. It's claymation."
Rolling of eyes on my part. "Okay, do you want a burrito?"
"Let's go to OU Inn."
Now you're talkin'!

I threw on a dress, (ever notice how dresses are so great because you can throw one on, apply lipstick, and you're suddenly ready for anything?). (Here is the dress, which guy who checked out my books at library called "awesome dress" and I am just ancient enough to really have that make my day; though I wondered if he was doing a "play it forward" kind of thing, being nice to the motherly looking woman.)

At the restaurant, who was there but Reid. (I do not have a photo of Reid, but he kinda looks like this guy.) Already the cloud was moving to Parkersburg way.

"Reid, you're still here!"
"Tonight's my last night!"
Reid shared his story of post-graduate decision making and between his remembering Mark's Pelligrino and my love of real butter and the special bread, not rolls, and his making of the chop house salad (no bleu cheese for me because I am allergic to like everything), Reid informed us he was bound for Washington DC. Had chosen DC over NYC. And the pros and cons. Anyway....

He gave me a hug and I was getting choked up. "I won't wish you good luck," I said, "because I know you don't need it. Everything wonderful is already waiting for you there, you only need to go get it." (Was I talking to Reid or to my son, Jesse? Are all mothers always talking to their own children, well, that's another blog isn't it.)

Mark, good man, left a generous fare-thee-well tip and we returned home to watch the movie, thinking how glad we were we'd visited OU Inn on Reid's last night there. We would have missed not saying goodbye to him.

Now, about Mary and Max. I can't describe it as well as the website, or YouTube trailer. Or wikipedia.

If you are interested in any of the following, this is a movie you will not want to miss! It may become your next favorite movie. (Note: right click on the links and "open in new tab" for some surprising information. You might want to bookmark this blog post for later surfing.)

* The movie, UP!
* Asperger's
* Loneliness
* Australia
* New York City
* Old Jewish men who live alone in a big city
* Young girls who don't feel pretty
* Claymation
* Wallace and Gromit
* Humor and angst
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Chocolate
* Mail art
* single people who live with pets
* dysfunctional, alcoholic mothers
* taxidermy
* birthmarks

Marveling at how said dark cloud had moved over our home after the ingestion of a delicious meal in a quiet restaurant... OH, I forgot to mention the piano player! At OU Inn on Wednesdays there is a guy who plays the piano and Mark, who knows these things, states he is right up there with the best guys who play piano in the best restaurants in NYC. I loved all the songs he played and I could name that tune because my parents had a big stereo in our living room and all these songs were played on the record player.

So, doggies settled in, couple with full stomach, and Mary and Max begins. We watched the whole movie... without any talking. It was mesmerizing, wonderful, sad, funny, creative, artistic, enlightening. Jeepers, you've got to see it!

Then, bedtime. On a day that started out so gloomy and progressed to several electronic things going awry, but then picked up with the promise of food, took a turn to teary with the leave-taking of Reid the Waiter... and then a wonderful, thought-provoking movie... well, what could be next! Perhaps the day should be done.

Nope, time to read before sleep. I picked up "Little Nightmares, Little Dreams" by Rachel Simon. This book is out of print (pshcurfurgl that big NYC publisher and its business model). But, I bought a copy at that godsend of writers with long careers and readers with long attention spans, AbeBooks. I started in the middle of the book, because it's a book of short stories and I like that I can do that, just start where it strikes my fancy... so I started with "Twins."


"Twins" is the story of a sheltered workshop for folks with disabilities. One day two new clients join the workshop, and they are joined to each other; they are co-joined twins and the story is how they are perceived at the start by the other folks and how everyone figures out how to think about this. It's a great story and rings so true to my experiences with this community. I thought about how a few years ago when we would go to the MRDD (now it is just called DD, which sounds like "DeeDee" to me, and I wish they'd come up with a better handle, liked SNP, Special Needs People, or DAPs, Differently Abled Persons... or something, let's have a vote). Anyway....

...there was a guy there at the dance. He looked to be in his fifties, he was a small guy, not too tall, kinda thin. He was all face, a big smiling face. The biggest smile ever. He didn't dance, he'd start out at one end of the room. Raise his hands in the air, smile going all across his face, and he'd RUN as fast as he could past the girl with Downs Syndrome and a fake plastic guitar, past the old skinny lady with red lipstick and a pink purse, past the "player" guy who was kind of good looking and wanted to shake everyone's hands, and past the table with cookies and pop.... to the other side, where he'd stop abruptly, turn, hands in the air and smile at everyone. Then do it all again.

The dialogue and thoughts Rachel Simon portrays in "Twins" read true. Enlightened. Did the interesting job of portraying someone really different from many of us in such a way that we realize how much we all have in common. What art!
When I turned off the light, I sighed and realized the day had turned out pretty well indeed. When our own creativity let's us down, there are always others to point the way forward.

---Janice Phelps Williams
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Here's what I listened to while writing this post.

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