Thursday, June 27, 2013

Those Two People With Their Stupid Faces

by Giselle Renarde

If I were writing about my absolute favourite movie, I'd be asking if you've ever seen Ghost World.  (Have you? It's based on the graphic novel of the same name, and stars Scarlett Johansson, Thora Birch, and Steve Buscemi.  I only own six DVDs, and Ghost World is one.)

But, instead of talking about a movie that resonates with me, I'm going to talk about a character that does.

So, let's start again: Have you ever seen Friends With Money?

It was recommended to me by my sisters, who described it as "a movie that stars Jennifer Aniston, but it's not a Jennifer Aniston movie."  Hers isn't the character I relate to--even though she's the poor girl among the Friends... with money.  (haha... like Friends, but with money.  I just got that.)

Anyway, it's Frances McDormand's character I found myself relating to.  "Jane."  She's the one who explodes at the people who cut in line at Old Navy (watch the trailer if you don't know what I'm talking about).

Now, Jane is rich, works as a fashion designer, and is married to a man commonly assumed to be gay.  I am none of those things. In fact, I'm the opposite of ALL those things--poor, single, and only really comfortable in clothes full of holes--but none of that really matters.

What matters is the hair.  This character WILL NOT wash her hair.  Won't do it, even when fellow "friends with money" start commenting on her ragged appearance.  There's an explanation of why toward the end of the film, but it seemed forced, to me.  I like a movie with unanswered questions.

And then there's Jane's rudeness, her explosions.  What does it say about ME that SHE makes total sense?  She's fighting for the little things because, goddamn it, nobody else will.  Everyone in line just mutters under their breath when somebody cuts in, or they don't even notice.  Why don't they speak up for themselves?  Muttering under your breath isn't going to change anything.

I've always been the one to speak up, all my life.  When I was in kindergarten, my teacher assured my mother, "life will round out the edges."  Well, that hasn't happened.  If anything, I've gotten more jagged.  Especially in the past year.

I used to feel like I had control over my actions, and, to some extent, my emotions.  Yelling at the guy who cut in front of me at Shopper's Drug Mart used to be a choice.  Lately, I don't feel that way.  Not so much.  It's like a monster takes over, and she's screaming, and I'm watching her.  It's mood swings, it's PMS, but it's all the time.

A family friend told me a story about losing it all over her husband and son, yelling uncontrollably, and for no good reason.  She shook her head and said, "Menopause.  It's turning me into a psycho-bitch."


About a year ago, I mentioned to my mother that I get crazy night sweats, sometimes waking up in soaked sheets.  She said, "Oh yeah, that'll be perimenopause."

Like... WHAT?  I'm only in my thirties.  No fucking way, dude.

Sometimes I get really hot, when all my life I've been the I'm-always-cold type.  I'm a generally happy person, but extremely irritable at times.  When I looked up symptoms of perimenopause, it was a little like looking in a mirror--and it looked a hell of a lot like Frances McDormand's character in Friends With Money.

The breakthrough was this: I remembered a conversation between my many, many aunts, when they realized that those among them who'd had children experienced menopause at pretty standard ages.  But my aunts who didn't have kids?  Symptoms of perimenopause began very early for them.  Like... when they were my age.

I don't have kids, guys.  I'm ONE OF THEM.

And it's like I'm not myself sometimes.  I'm good and kind and very generous, except when I'm not.  Except when I turn into a character from a movie, and I'm watching from outside myself--and half of me is laughing, and half of me is scared as hell.


  1. Ah, Giselle! I'm sorry to hear you seem to be undergoing the damned "Change" so early. Definite drag.

    I love your post though. I am a huge fan of Frances McDormand. She can save even the worst movie. Just saw "Promised Land", written by and starring Matt Damon. Wasn't the worst movie I've seen (just predictable and a bit naive) but Sue, McDormand's character, really lights up the screen.

    Gotta check out Ghost World, too. (I've never heard of it.) Steve Buscemi is another one of those weird character actors who can save a film from the trash heap.

  2. Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johanssen sound like the movie has the right combination and Frances Mc Dormand is quite versatile. The first time I remember seeing McDormand was in Fargo. I think she received an Academy Award for the role.
    Sorry to hear you are having problems, Giselle. Although Momma X didn't have children, her menopause was better than easy. It was the sexiest time of our lives, except for when we were kids in high school. Momma claims her vegetarianism is the reason. Lots of soy products. I look around and our friends and those who have the most problems are the biggest meat-eaters. I am an omnivore, so I'm not disposed to preaching, but just sayin'... you may want to include some soy in your diet.

    1. Good thinkin' with the soy. I'm a dessert tofu fanatic, but I could be more fanatical. Meat doesn't figure much into my diet, partly because I'm not crazy about it and partly because I can't afford it anymore. I'll admit, I love a good steak when there's money for it.

      Mmm... steak...

  3. Hi Giselle!

    I haven't seen Ghost World but I've always been curious about it because one of my favorite Aimee Mann songs is called Ghost World and describes a girl who has just finished high school and is sort aimlessly riding her bike around without a clue what she will do with herself in the future "with college out of reach, if I don;t find a job its back to Dad and Myrtle Beach . . " The whole song is poignant and it describes so perfectly a way we've all felt in our life when one structure is at an end and we're drifting towards the next without knowing what it will be. Maybe you feel like that sometimes when your temper comes loose.

    Think I'll get out that CD and listen to it until I get owly.


  4. Giselle, sorry to hear about your mood swings, but I think you've nailed one of the best reasons to watch movies: to see characters do things you're tempted to do but don't, and maybe shouldn't. I didn't see Friends with Money (groaner allusion), but it looks good.


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