Changes

September14

My son turned 9 in June. Always a thoughtful, precocious dude (in his mama’s indulgent eyes anyway), he has now entered what Rudolf Steiner termed “the nine year change.” My kids started out in a Waldorf school and if I were a good Waldorf mother I could quote chapter and verse Steiner’s philosophy. I’m not. But here’s what I know.

Bodhi_Age9Nine is an age where authority is questioned and danger becomes real. Bodhi is squarely “in the world” now – asking how much things cost, how certain things historically came to be and (most annoyingly) realizing his parents are fallible. That last one is a pain in the ass. Every day he is a lawyer in the Courtroom of Life, drilling down questions to catch us in lies.
Which he does, of course. To us, they are white lies. To him they are EVIDENCE that his parents can be WRONG.

We were in a coffee shop. CNN played yet another image of yet another angry police state. Riot gear, sobbing citizens, rocks picked up to be thrown. I turned him away from the TV so we could have one more lunch in the Age of Innocence, before me (adult) would learn of another gruesome story and he (nine year old boy) would know of another upset in the world.

It was Ferguson. Bodhi was deeply interested in all that went on there. He has many friends of many different colors, so the whole idea of modern “racism” was new. He’d learned about Rosa Parks and MLK in a historical context, but those were the Bad Old Days of Segregation. That was all done, right? If not, why the hell not?

He asked me about it at bedtime.

“Here’s the thing, bud,” I began, groping for words like parents the world over. “In Ferguson – in a lot of places, actually – if things have not been worked out and expressed between two sides, a law won’t change that. It’s supposed to. But if there are still feelings that haven’t been expressed or ways of doing things that aren’t fair, they will bubble up. There will be a ‘final straw’ and it will all bubble up. It seems out of nowhere, but really it just means there have been things heating up below ground for a long time. Like a volcano.”

Long pause.

“Adults tell us all the time ‘use your words” but then they pick up guns and shoot each other. Why don’t they what they are always telling us to do?”

Nine year change.

Also, the truth.

His secondary interest, besides the Courtroom of Life, is roller coasters. (I know, I know. From the sublime to the ridiculous.) With exacting detail that borders on tedium for us non-zealots, he will explain all the rides in parks around the country and – most significantly to him– the height limit for each.

Fifty-four. The magic number. Fifty-four inches and you get to ride everything.

There are previous cut-offs at 42 inches, 46 inches, and 48 inches — each threshold met with the excitement of a Bar Mitzvah. But 54 inches? That day you really are a man. And get to ride Batman.

Again, bedtime.

“You’ve really had a growth spurt, honey,” I say idly.

Bodhi’s eyes light up and he races for the tape measure.

“REALLY? Do you think I’m 54? I think I’m 54. Let me put on my sneakers to see if I’m 54.”

Wearing nothing but his underwear, he puts on the sneakers with the thickest sole. I stretch the tape measure and with a pen mark the 54-inch spot on his door jam. He stretches up — no tip-toes (he knows better) but the longest giraffe neck a human being can muster. His eyes are wet with anticipation.

“Woooooow,” I say, drawing out the word, delaying the inevitable. “So close, buddy. So close.”

“Am I 53 and three-quarters?” (Thank you third grade fractions.)

“Uuuuuuuugh.’ More drawing out. “Not … really. More like 52 and a half.” More like 51 and three quarters.

For all the newfound cynicism of the nine-year-old, they are still children after all. With lightening speed, they switch from eye rolling to inconsolable sobs, as Bodhi did then. Stretched out on his bed, he wept for the injustice of it all, for the confusion of being all grown (seemingly) only to be slapped down to the kids’ table once again. The sobs were so committed and so sudden, I wanted to laugh. I am an actress after all. “Aw honey, “ I wanted to say, “that cry is so fake! No one will believe it!”

But of course it wasn’t fake. It was a cry from the soul, and as such warranted nothing but love. I rubbed his back and murmured, “I know. I’m so sorry. This must be so hard” – none of which had any effect. So I tried telling the truth.

“Bodhi, here’s what I do know. Once you are 54 inches, you will never not be 54 inches again. This time seems so long because you want to ride Batman so badly. But once you are tall enough to ride Batman, you will never not be tall enough to ride Batman again.”

Once you know about racism you will never not know about it again.

Once you know about hypocrisy you will never not know about it again.

Once you know about global warming, you will never not know about it again.

I don’t want to keep my children artificially innocent. I have no fantasy that there is a place on this earth where this moment is any easier. Small towns, cities, USA or otherwise – this is a moment in child development that is inevitable, necessary, and breathtaking. I only hope that as these awarenesses come to my kids, they also have tools, community and courage with which to face the very real problems of their world. I hope that they – and I – can be part of the solutions and not exacerbate the problems.

Our reward for all that? A long ride on Batman.

Seems like a good deal to me.

Vulture.com: Amy Chats about “The Leftovers” Finale

September9

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Amy Brenneman on The Leftovers Finale, the Guilty Remnant, and Justin Theroux’s You-Know-What

By Jennifer Vineyard

AB_Vulture_090914The following interview with Amy Brenneman covers the entire first season of The Leftovers, and as such, contains spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the series up through Sunday night’s finale. Proceed with caution.

As Guilty Remnant member Laurie Garvey, Amy Brenneman didn’t have many speaking lines during the first season of The Leftovers, but the actress has plenty to say about questions viewers might have about what her character didn’t explicitly spell out for them. So, was Laurie the mastermind behind the big Guilty Remnant plot, which fell on her to execute in the wake of Patti’s demise? “That was all Patti,” Brenneman declares to Vulture. Did Laurie tell her family where she was when the Departure went down, and that she lost the baby? “I go back and forth about that,” she says. Okay, but was Laurie as truly and fully committed to the GR as she was to her vow of silence? “She was half in and half out,” she says. Brenneman cleared up these and other questions Vulture asked in a post-finale chat, which somehow also involves twerking, dragons, and Justin Theroux’s bulge.

That was quite a finale!
Right? [Laughs.] It was pretty extraordinary.

How would you feel if people went in your home, stole your family photos, made lifelike dummies of your deceased or departed family members, and put them in your home when you were sleeping? And do you think this was all Patti’s doing, or did Laurie come up with the plan, hoping it would be therapeutic somehow?
Well, you know … mad! But in a way, Nora’s catharsis was prompted by seeing her family. That’s probably the shred of buy-in that Laurie has for this particular action. It’s kind of helping to let it out. A true catharsis. Because these people never got to bury [their Departed]. It’s pretty aggressive, but they’re thinking, I’m doing this for your own good, even though it’s f—ed up. But it was all Patti. [Laughs.] I think it’s more aggressive than Laurie usually is.

Is Laurie out of the Guilty Remnant after the events in the finale? And if so, will Laurie talk now, and will she be reunited with her family?
Um … I don’t think she knows! I think it’s pretty raw and immediate. And what’s beautifully depicted the whole season, the way Damon pitched it, is that Laurie was halfway in and halfway out, and the reason for that is because she has these ties to her children. My feeling is that, story-wise, it’s a game changer that she put her daughter at risk. My thinking throughout the season, which we didn’t do specifically, is that one of the reasons Laurie was in there was that her children were better off with her there. She was probably pretty unstable and didn’t want to suck them into the madness. So that she made things even more unsafe is a pretty big game-changer. Any relationship that’s been frayed, you wonder, Was it always really fraught, or were these people really good at one point? And I think they were great — great — for a while. And we didn’t really see that in the flashback. They had already fallen apart there. I go back and forth whether she would have told them about the baby. Did Kevin know? I think he would have confessed [the affair] to me, and I think infidelity was the least of it. I think what’s beautiful about the flashback episode is that she’s watching him for signs [and saying], Is this a safe environment?

With the baby, she had been robbed of her grief, like Meg. It might have been hard to get sympathy for a departed fetus that hadn’t come to term, when it’s weighed against what happened to Nora.
Yeah, definitely. I like that. And whatever happened, it happened inside of her body, and it’s hard to know what to do with that. It’s crazy! I rewound that scene a couple times. And I wanted to know. I was hungry for that, for Laurie.

It was interesting to learn in the flashback episode that Laurie used to be a psychiatrist and Patti was her patient, if you want to talk about unstable …
It was fun to know that was coming. [Chuckles.] As opposed to someone like Patti, or even someone like Kevin, post-Departure, he just became more of what he was. It’s a beautiful throughline. But Laurie was a fully functioning, type-A working mom [who] wore the pants in a lot of different ways, while Justin’s character was the man-child, working for his dad. She made the money and she kept it going, so she had the biggest visual change. And that story point with Patti [from the flashback episode], we knew that from the beginning. What’s so delicious, plot-wise, is that you have a character saying, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” and of course you go, Oh, dear … and then she’s right! Wow! How would that embolden someone like Patti, who has a borderline personality? When Ann Dowd and I were doing that coffee-shop scene in episode five, and she’s having that wonderful aria, part of what was going through my mind, through Laurie’s mind, was, Holy shit! This is the Patti as I first met her! Very unstable — and I tossed my lot in with her? This is not good. [Laughs.] And you know, Patti recruited me the way I recruited Meg, and I would love to see that journey — something about what she stood for, and the intimacy of our relationship just got to me, to make me think that was the best option out there. That the world is over.

Sounds like you’ve got a season-two flashback right there.
Don’t you think? Because even with that amazing plot point of knowing where Laurie was at the moment of the Departure, that woman doesn’t join a cult overnight. And also, as Damon [Lindelof] and I talked it out over a year and a half ago, with Laurie’s backstory, the moment that season one starts, she’s been in the Guilty Remnant for about six months. So for about two-and-a-half years, she tried to hang in there. That’s pretty interesting, right? So I think for a good, long time, I was still a shrink, and I can imagine the entire town coming to me and talking to me, but at some point, I made a choice that all of that was meaningless. So we’ve got to do that moment!

Do you think she thought she was entering a pacifist movement? Because the Guilty Remnant acts nonviolent at first, but they incite others to commit violence, as we see with how the town responds to their planting the Loved Ones dummies in their homes.
With what we’ve seen, one thing that attracted me, and therefore Laurie, when we go into the town’s Heroes Day event and the townspeople come at us, we thought of it as the Freedom Riders, right? We were nonviolent protestors. And in that initial conversation Kevin’s having with the mayor, she says we’re nonviolent. At that point, we are nonviolent. But we become violent. That’s what happens. I think that’s one reason Laurie is sort of brokenhearted. And it would be interesting to pursue that idea. Season one was so violent, but I like that nonviolent point of view, especially in light of what’s going on.

So you want your own nonviolent army?
I do. I’d like to be Khaleesi. I’d like a dragon. Maybe they have some extra dragons on Game of Thrones! Just toss one my way. [Laughs.] So I’d like to be Khaleesi, but I’d also like to be 20 years younger than I am and have a long blonde wig. That’s what I really want.

I think HBO would be more likely to incorporate your other idea, about Jennifer Aniston being a Guilty Remnant member.
[Laughs.] I can only imagine she’s dying to swap out that good-girl thing. Enough! Maybe they could just insert a couple frames of Jen Aniston, the way they insert a couple frames of a hot dog subliminally, to make people get hungry? Just a couple frames. And then you go, Wait … was that? No … Just enough so it gets in there.

Or maybe she could just be there to smoke and glower at anyone staring at Justin’s bulge?
[Laughs.] Exactly. Hey, listen — I was married to the bulge! It’s a nice bulge. They’re just really odd running pants! And it makes me laugh, because they’re just not stylish. Justin is not Kevin, but there are very few things that Justin Theroux could wear that would make him look geeky, but those running pants are geeky. They’re just geeky.

You wrote on your blog that Lea Michele recently told you that she wants to dress up as Laurie Garvey for Halloween?
She liked the idea of the winter whites. She was asking me if there were different ways she could carry her notebook, since some of the Guilty Remnant carry it around their neck. The sexy notebook place that I discovered was that I would stick it in my boot. That’s an option.

On the night of the finale, you tweeted about the news of Miley Cyrus wearing pasties and twerking at New York Fashion Week parties, writing, “Why is this news?”
I don’t know, man! It’s such a hard time for everyone, and we need distractions. I need distractions. But there’s so much good happening as well that I would love to have that be in the news more, and not have the only distraction be Molly … what’s her name? — Miley Cyrus twerking. That’s like, Wow.

Can you imagine if any of the members of the Guilty Remnant could learn how to twerk? Just to lighten things up next season.
I think that would be fabulous! [Laughs.] Perhaps Laurie could do a little pole-dancing. Or the dragons. I think the dragons should be twerking!

Read this article at: www.Vulture.com

The Leftovers Season Finale

September8

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I was going to live Tweet the finale.  I love live Tweeting, really – a chance to watch in real time (kinda) the show with those who made it and those who watch it.  But when I started reading the Twitter feed from the east coast, I knew I was in trouble.

Oh yeah, that’s right.   This is The Leftovers. This is an elegy for loss, an examination of the crevices of the human heart that rarely get exposed.  This is the show that not easily parsed into 140 snappy characters.

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[Margaret Qualley and Amy in the first season finale of "The Leftovers."]

You saw I tried.  You saw I gave up.  Like you, I was swept away into the gorgeous heartbreak of Mapleton and watched in awe the gifts of my collaborators.  I knew the script was strong.  I had liked it immediately.  To those worried that their “questions would be answered” I could say confidently yes, many questions get answered.  Some do not, but hell – that’s what a second season is for.  But yes, many deep yearnings get answered – those yearnings that are beyond language or plot points. The yearning for forgiveness, for connection and for release.

Something else occurred to me as I watched last night (and has occurred to me during other episodes as well.)  In the past 9 weeks that the show has aired, the world has fallen apart.  Gaza.  Ukraine.  Ferguson.  Ebola.  ISIS.  I hide the morning paper (yup, I still get one) so my children do not see front-page agony on a daily basis.  Images of members of my human family around the globe howling in agony or wild with violent revenge – this is our regular fare during these challenging days.  Like most of you, at times I want to float away from it all; finding the balance between overwhelm and grounded, productive engagement is my honest prayer.

Watching my dear show last night, these images looked familiar.  Women holding guns, wild with grief for their suddenly departed children.  Villagers torching the homes of a designated villain.  The “villains” themselves, battered and bloody, clinging fervently to a belief that they are not being martyred in vain.

The Leftovers is no longer an outlandish sci-fi premise.  It is a commentary on front-page news.  The question is always the same:  how will human beings act when they feel there is no future?

I am deeply proud to say that in the world of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, human beings strive  — beyond reason sometime – for connection and humanity.  You didn’t know that, did you?  The Leftovers is the feel-good show for the new millennia!  I watched plots that culminated last night and the inevitable arcs of all the characters and I realized: the constant thread was connection, connection, connection.  Through our connection and our common need for it, we will be led – if not out of the darkness, then at least through it holding someone else’s hand.

I heard a smidgen of good news on the radio this morning – something in the business sector doing something positive – but the reporter ended his story with some counterpoint and with the admonition:  “this should not be taken as a sign for optimism.”  God forbid. The newscasters generously remind us that even good news is not really good news.  God forbid we choose optimism and hope, for then the governments, corporations and media outlets that make their profits on our anxiety will have a bad quarter.  To this I say:  bullshit.  If the battered heroes on The Leftovers can choose life, who are we to not?

Follow Amy on Twitter: @TheyAmyBrenneman

and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyBrenneman

Amy visits with Pilar “On The Page” – a new podcast featured on iTunes

September7

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Here’s the iTunes link to the episode: www.itunes.apple.com

Here’s a “listen now” link right on Pilar’s website for those who don’t have iTunes:  www.onthepage.tv

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