Tag Archives: Michelle Brafman

Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons Up In The Air Is For Grown Ups

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

My husband and I went to see Up In The Air last weekend, which has just been released in the U.K. We really liked it (even if one of us didn’t think Vera Farmiga was all that hot…ahem.) And yet, when we came home and talked about the film with our 17 year-old sitter, I didn’t advise her to go see it. In fact, I’m not sure I’d advise anyone under the age of 30 to see this movie.

Why is this, you ask? It’s not the sex (of which there’s none, and only one shot of nudity) or the violence (ditto). It’s just that for my mind, this is a really grown-up movie that can’t be well appreciated by someone who’s not…well…middle-aged.

So despite the PG-15 rating, here are five reasons why I think this is a movie for grown-ups (Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t yet seen the movie yet, this post contains some revealing information!):

1. It’s about the economy. As my former colleague Michelle Brafman notes, this is a movie where the recession plays a starring role. It’s a movie about downsizing, lay-offs and the way in which technological advances affect office life. I’m not saying that someone in their 20s can’t appreciate those things, but they won’t have quite the bite that they do for people who’ve lived through a few economic booms and busts. Evidence in support of this theory: the most moving parts of the film are all shots of real-life middle-aged or older people whose entire lives have been turned upside down by getting fired.

2. It’s about feminism. This is also a movie about feminism – as I define it – by which I mean women making independent – and sometimes shocking – choices about their lives. In this case, that amounts to having an affair (not so shocking) and not wanting to ditch everything for your apparent soul-mate, even if he’s George Clooney (a bit more  shocking). There’s a point in the film where the 20-something, tightly wound, overly professional and overly idealistic colleague of the Clooney character thanks Farmiga’s character for “all her generation has done for feminism.” We’re meant to laugh, because there’s only about 10 years between them. But later on in the film – when Farmiga tells Clooney that she’s a grown-up and that he should call her when he’s ready to play with the big kids (i.e. to accept a sexual friendship with no strings attached) –  we understand that the last laugh’s on us. This lady *is* liberated.

3. It’s about commitment. As many people have already observed, this is also a film about loyalty and commitment. In my own view – and as I’ve written in this space many times before – it’s incredibly hard to stay committed to the same person over the long haul. And that’s just not something young people worry about. They’re off experimenting and having fun and aren’t terribly bothered by what’s coming next or how long anything lasts. And that’s just as it should be.

4. The romantic leads are middle-aged. At one point in the movie, the script (foolishly, IMHO) suggests that Farmiga’s character is 34. She looks more like 38 or 40 but whatever. The point is that while she’s no Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated – (and despite what my husband thinks, Vera Farmiga *is* hot) – nor is she the young, naïve 23 year-old who also co-stars in this film. At one point, I thought they’d write the ending so that Clooney ends up with the younger woman. Thank goodness they didn’t. The whole point of this film is that it’s about what it’s like to fall in love – or “in like” as the case may be – when you’ve already been around the block a few times.

5. It doesn’t have a happy ending. I’ll fess up to having a preference for dark movies and sad endings. This film has neither. But – other than for the 23 year old – nor do things end on a particularly tidy note. Which is – dare I say it – a tad more realistic. And also comforting for those of us who’ve also been around the block.

*****

For those who are interested, please do have a look at my post in PoliticsDaily.com yesterday on whether universities breed terror.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Back To School Jitters (For Parents): What Should I Wear To My Son's New School?

Hi Folks.

Just back from a whirlwind tour of the East Coast of the U.S. and still a bit jet-lagged. But I wanted to jump on RealDelia for a moment to say hello and let you know that I’m back in action. I’ll post tomorrow about some thoughts I had about my home country while on vacation. But given that millions of children the world over return to school this week, I thought I’d post on that time-honored topic: back to school jitters.

We all know that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get when you go back to school following a long summer vacation. You wonder what your new classroom will look like, whether your friends will have changed at all, and if you’ll get that part in the school play.

But it isn’t just kids who get the jitters. Parents get them too. A colleague of mine over at Politics Daily, Michelle Brafman, has even coined a term for this phenomenon. She calls it Placement Anxiety Disorder. It encompasses “all that stuff parents worry about when confronted with the reality that another school year is about to begin: is this teacher a good fit for my child? Will the class jell?” Or in my case: do I really have to pack another school lunch?

I’m having these jitters in spades this year because my son is starting a new school tomorrow. And – as with so many things once you’re a parent – he’s fine and I’m a wreck.

Why is it that anything to do with our children’s schools brings out our inner 15-year-old?

Take clothing. I don’t think I’ve agonized so much over what to wear to an event in the past five years. And by “event,” allow me to clarify that I’m talking about the five minutes it takes to deposit my son at the front gate of his new school, at which point he will no doubt distance himself from my clinging arms as fast as he possibly can. It’s not like anyone knows who I am, so why should I possibly care what I wear? (Especially given that, for the past three years, I’ve shown up at most drop-offs in some version of my pajamas?)

Still, for the last week or so I’ve repeatedly stewed over the *right* outfit for this occasion. Will a jacket look too professional? A tee-shirt too casual? A skirt too severe?

I finally settled on a white cable-knit sweater set –  I believe that “twin set” is the technical term – that my mother gave me when I was back in the States. I guess I figued that, when in doubt, it’s always a plus to look like you’ve just returned from Centre Court at Wimbledon. (Sadly – according to Wikipedia, at least – the twin set denotes “frumpiness” or “conservatism.” Darn.)

But clothes, of course, are just a reflection of a deeper set of anxieties about fitting in. When I first moved to London three years ago and enrolled my son in his previous school, I gazed at the sea of unfamiliar faces and wondered how on earth I’d ever cut it in this new crowd. The answer turned out to be joining the PTA, which conferred an instant legitimacy.

This time, I’ve decided – for the moment, at least – to eschew all voluntary parental activities and just stay on the sidelines and watch. My hope is that at one of the zillion parent events scheduled this Fall, some poor soul will pick me out of the crowd and say “Hey, that new girl, she’s not so bad.”

I just hope that when, as and if that does happen, I’m wearing the right shoes…


Image: Back to School 2008 004 by Tom H. Jones via Flickr under a Creative Commons License

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl