Saturday, January 18, 2003

O Blessed Catharsis

It's funny how the simple solutions are always the last ones I think of... that it never occurred to me in this last week or so of anxiety, anger, horniness, obsession and unpleasantness to do something easy and cathartic to skim the top off of these emotions.

So yesterday was much worse than the day before, though there were fewer people involved. I did a great deal of running around, interspersed with a great deal of sitting at my desk waiting for the phone to ring. Though my paycheck was signed and ready to go during banking hours, I wasn't able to actually leave the office, because I was waiting for the other officer to come and sign my co-workers' checks. And all of this rigamarole because the former bookkeeper has refused to communicate with the new bookkeeper, his wife my now-former Boss Lady refused to sign checks even though her signature is still valid at the bank (supposedly because the attorney hasn't returned her calls in the last two days), and between the two of them refused to issue checks to my coworkers without signed timesheets and a resolution of whether their Christmas week off was a holiday or a vacation (which would have absolutely no bearing on the amount of the checks). Essentially, Mr and Mrs Former Boss-Lady have decided that they must and shall do anything and everything in their power to be a thorn in the sides of everyone in the organization, including the staff.

Having to drive my ailing car all over hell and half of China is bad enough, having to literally run to the post office so I could express-mail my coworker's check to her, and having to go through all of this for no really good reason... but having to sit still waiting for phone calls and officers while I am that angry is very very bad. By the time I left the office, I was so deeply infuriated that my stomach actually hurt. I was quite literally fuming... I wouldn't be at all surprised to find noxious smoke pouring out of my ears.

So then Caroline calls and suggests dinner and a video, specifically a Costco lasagne and A.I. I wasn't really in the mood for company, but I didn't have anything better to do with myself so I agreed.

Now I'm glad I did... actually, I was glad I did within minutes of agreeing. First, I was able to vent my spleen by telling Caroline all about my day and what I thought of certain people, using words like "Fucking Cunt-Assed Bitch" and "Goddamned Motherfucking Cocksucker Twat"... she listened patiently, agreed with me, and I felt immediately a lot better. This is the kind of conversation I couldn't have with just anybody, certainly not with Grandmother, and I needed to get all those words out of my head and into the open air. Then we talked of other things, joked and laughed and had a good time while the lasagne was baking, and I did some more organizing in my room while she showed me the latest crop of responses to her personals ad.

Then, after dinner, we went for a walk around my neighborhood and talked of many things, mostly about our parents and the ways different people are raised and how that affects their adult behaviors, particularly in relationships. It was a good, long, brisk walk with a lot of talking and a lot of thinking, and it was very cathartic as well. Then we sat down and watched A.I., Stephen Speilberg's much-panned special-effects extravaganza. We had started watching this film a month or so ago, when it was on HBO one idle Saturday afternoon... and about halfway through the film, the cable went out. After placating the screams from Grandmother's room (her very important football game had gone out too, but it was on a local station so all I had to do was disconnect her cable and adjust the aerial), Caroline had to go to work, so we decided that we would simply rent the movie someday and finish it.

And so that is exactly what we did... and at the end of the movie, both Caroline and I were crying like little girls. This wasn't one of those tear-jerker movies where there is a weeping-cue every ten minutes, either, so I was rather taken aback by my own reaction... but OH! That ending! "I love you David, I always have," she said to the little robot boy, and then she went to sleep never to wake again, and Caroline and I were suddenly gushing like the fountains of Versailles. Caroline thinks it was because we were talking about our parents and their failures in love to us, and I think it was because I had finally given up hope for the little robot boy to ever acheive his dream of being loved by the one being who he had been programmed to love... and then the aliens brought her back to life for one day, and at the end he got his wish. It was pretty fucking poignant.

But that's all it took... yelling, walking fast, and crying. I felt all better afterward, I slept like a baby, and I woke up this morning feeling pretty damned good.

The movie was very odd, though. If I hadn't had such a nice cry at the end, I would have started dishing it right away... but in gratitude for the emotional release, I'll try and be nice about it. I can see why the critics panned it so vigorously... the plot was inconsistent, with holes you could drive a truck through; the pace was wildly inconsistent, vacillating between a hypnotized dreamy sluggishness to a terrifying event-packed run without any real balance or segue; the characters, though sympathetic (Jude Law as "Gigolo Joe" was great fun), unfortunately made little sense, there was never any exploration or explanation of why they would do these odd and unexpected things; and the script called up all these really important and crucial questions, then totally fudged on trying to answer them... and then when answers were given, they were stupid. There was far too much reference to Pinocchio, without following any of the important plot points of that children's classic, though it shamelessly ripped off many of the less important scenarios. It was just badly done, is all.

The morality of the film is what I found most lacking in exploration. Why in the world would people have given robots such human characteristics as a survival instinct and sense of individuality? Why would they make them feel pain and fear if they didn't make them feel pleasure or love? At the beginning of the film, when Professor Whoeverhewas (as played by William Hurt), was proposing creating a child robot that would be programmed to love a parent, one of his colleagues raised a moral question that was so fucking pertinent that it should have been discussed at length... but then the scene changed almost immediately, with a segue in between that was so irrelevant that it was just confusing. The "Flesh Fair" could have brought up a lot of interesting points about how people tend to villainize anything that is perceived as making them superfluous... such as how illegal immigrant workers are often portrayed as stealing jobs from Americans, when there in fact wouldn't have been any need for those immigrant workers if there had been Americans willing to do the work. The Flesh Fair used robots as scapegoats for their own feelings of inadequacy, but that rather interesting theme was never explored in the least.

And then the ending was such a cop-out... all questions were "resolved" by David being buried in ice for two thousand years, praying to a statue of the Blue Fairy until his batteries ran down, while the human race and all the robots disappeared in the mists of time. Then alien archeologists came and dug it all up, providing a false resolution and taking time out to deliver a most specious sermon on the nature of the human race... to have an alien, who's never seen a live human, preaching to a little robot boy, who wants to be human, about the scientific and metaphysic nature of the human condition... well, it stank. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But still, that last five minutes was so beautiful, so sweet, so poignant. I used up three Kleenexes, and forgive all the stupidity that preceded it.

Well, now I have a new lighthearted feeling, and a lot to do, so I'd better get cracking. I'm meeting the delicious Miss Ivy Drip for lunch and shopping; then I am going to do some more work on my room, then I am going to a salon tonight and read (hopefully) from my favorite short-story-writer, Saki. Tomorrow I have a drag show to do, not with my usual troupes but with the Grand Ducal Court of Alameda County, revisiting my old haunt the Bench & Bar for that purpose. I haven't performed there in eight years or more, in all my time of sobriety, so it will be a bit of a trip to return to the scene of many past triumphs and tragedies. Then on Monday I am going to use my Martin Luther King Jr Holiday to finish my room and the rest of the house. Then it's back to the daily grind with all of it's problems, but I am not going to think about that until I get to it. I may not even think about it then. "Fiddle-dee-dee" and all that jazz.

And in the meantime, I think I'd better stock up on tearjerkers for the next time I get into a Mood. The Joy Luck Club always makes me weep, but I shall keep an eye out for more.

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