Ticket stubs from our two most recently viewed movies. This could be habit-forming!

Remember last week when I promised Lily, my inner fourteen-year-old, that we’d go to the 1:50 PM screening of “Last Christmas” this Tuesday? I am pleased to report that (drum roll, please!) we did it! We went to the movie!


To a normal person (such as yourself) this might sound like way too much fanfare for something so simple. But remember: since Bruce and I moved here in 2007, we’d only gone to the movies twice. The second time, when we saw “A Wrinkle in Time,” I insisted we go, or, at least, that I go. My impressive foot went solidly down on that one, and not only did Bruce have the wisdom to join me, he ended up enjoying the movie tremendously.


Lily and I have a much better record. Since July, we’ve seen THREE movies together! She insisted on (but was a bit shocked by) R-rated “Midsommar,” loved-loved-loved “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and was bummed when we ended up taking an afternoon nap instead of seeing “Terminator: Dark Fate,” due to a birthday wine-tasting incident turned way-too-fun. To placate Lily, and because I’d heard Lulu Garcia-Navarro’s intriguing interview with Emilia Clarke on NPR, we set our sights instead on “Last Christmas.”


That was weird of you. You don’t like rom-coms much and your attitude about Christmas is pretty lame. Plus, who is Emilia Clarke?


Everybody on earth besides us knows the answer to that one, Lily. Emilia Clarke, I learned in the interview, was a critical player in “Game of Thrones,” which, as people without television (or however you watch stuff on screens at home these days), we did not know. What resonated with me was the intelligence of Clarke’s answers to Garcia-Navarro’s questions and the fact that she plays a deeply flawed protagonist in the movie.


What I didn’t know, and wouldn’t have guessed, was that a rom-com could make me cry. For the last several minutes, in fact. In the beautiful, slightly shabby setting of contemporary London we watched the goofy heroine evolve from a complete disaster of a human being into the self she’d lost. This happens because (a favorite happening in Lily’s and my own life) SOMEONE PAID ATTENTION! The “someone” in the movie (played by Henry Golding) is a smart, super-cute, very kind guy, strangely alone and available whenever the heroine needs help. Is he a really a sweet garden-variety odd-ball, or, as the heroine suggests (only partly in jest), a well-disguised serial-killer? Neither, he is- –


Nope, not going to spoil it for you. But sharing the message of this movie won’t hurt your enjoyment of it one bit: helping other people is what truly makes us happy.


Do you think if I sent a fan letter to Henry Golding he’d write back?


Lily! Is it possible you have a crush on him?


Of course not! And don’t you dare put that in the blog!


Oops, too late! For the record, I thought Henry Golding was adorable.


Adorable? What are you, his grandmother? He’s hot!


No argument there. But back to the movie. In a way, seeing “Last Christmas” was a dare: I dared myself to enjoy a rom-com set at Christmas time. Again, if you are a normal person, this shouldn’t be hard to do. The thing is, memories of where Bruce’s health was going, at this time last year- -all the tests and procedures and progressively bad news- -are sneaking into my thoughts. On the way back from the movie it hurt, inside and out, to drive past Providence/St. Mary’s Hospital. My eyes, normally at street level (where they belong when one is driving) flitted up to the fourth floor, the floor he’d stayed on for a few days that seemed like an eternity. The window of his room looked down on the funeral home we’d selected to do his cremation. For a few seconds, seeing it again was just too much.


Specters of last year’s run up to last Christmas, the one Bruce didn’t make, are all around me. I’m more thankful than ever for my positive and optimistic nature, my determination and strength of mind, the support and concern of family and friends. All of these things have kept me more-or-less balanced. So far. I know I can survive this, that I can make it through. If I have a plan, so much the better. Knowing that I am, say, going to shampoo the living room carpet on Christmas morning, see an early movie, go out for Chinese afterwards, is my rough draft. And maybe I’ll find an opportunity to help someone, too.


You can help me by lightening up.


Yes, dear. I mean, yes, Lily.


And don’t forget to tell them how you’re doing with NaNoWriMo.


Right! I’m pleased to report that, as of today, I’ve drafted over 1,667 words of the first draft of a new story, every day for fifteen days straight, and am only a few hundred words shy of thirty thousand of the targeted fifty thousand words! Aside from these stats, I’m also experiencing a change in routine that makes me feel more like a writer than ever. This month, the writing comes first, every day. Only feeding the four-legged kids and downing two cups of coffee comes before I settle in at the desk and get it done. Everything else is still getting done, too- -exercise, household chores, drafting this blog. The biggest payoff: I don’t find myself panicking at 2 PM, when I realize I have yet to write a word.


In short, I’m paying attention, because sometimes you have to do that for yourself.

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