Monday, June 2, 2008

The potpourri: Movies, Books, and Electrocuted Family.

So many things to say, so little space to make it all relevant and/or connected to every other thing that needs to be said.
Firstly, the Sex and the City movie. I guess I won't say as much as I was planning to, simply because it just isn't worth the space. But beware, reading this might ruin the movie-going experience. Wait. On second thought, this stream of consciousness has made me think that maybe I should post my thoughts at the end of the blog so if someone wants to read all the other junk, they're not tainted by my spoiler. Moving on ...

Secondly, I got a bunch of documents in the mail today from the St. Louis Dispatch archives. It amazes me that I can get a couple or three or four documents from one location for a whopping $6, whereas getting marriage licenses from various counties in Illinois is going to cost me upwards of $50. How does that happen? Mom has suggested it isn't worth it, but I'd rather collect the docs now and not have some relative trying to track them down in the future. Better to do the leg work and get it done than wait, eh?

So I received the obituary of my great-grandma's brother, Edward Weilbacher, who had died of electrocution in 1922. It sort of threw me because here's this 19-year-old kid dying of electricity in the early 20s. I was assuming perhaps it was some sort of fratboy incident gone wrong, but as it turns out, he died after being electrocuted while using an electric floor scrubber. The sort of mysterious part, though, is that supposedly it killed him because of a weak heart. His football couch marveled at such a thought (which is why there was an inquest) -- this was a healthy, athletic kid. How could he have had a weak heart? The story in the Dispatch is pretty long for some kid getting electrocuted, and as it turns out, the reason it was such big doings was because he had been the star quarterback and team captain of his high school football team. He was also in a fraternity, so chances are the listing of "scholar" on his death certificate means he was attending university. Where? The obit doesn't say. The obit does list his brothers and sisters, including one brother I was unaware of who isn't buried at the family plot. The mystery woman buried there could, however, be this other brother's wife I guess. Either way, how nifty that he died in such a tragic way. I mean, it isn't nifty ... but finding out these quirks in the tree is fascinating. The funny thing about it, though, is that after he was juiced, they hosed him down and put him back to work. Had they taken him immediately to the hospital, he probably would have survived.

Thirdly, I finished one book and got about 1/3 of the way through another book during flights and airport time this weekend. I finished reading Marc D. Angel's book on Orthodox conversion and then started reading Chaim Potok's "The Promise." The later is an incredibly quick read, and the former was as well. The thing about the former is that it wasn't what I expected in a conversion book. Most of the books I've read are very much about the ins and outs of the process itself and what people do or do not believe. Rabbi Angel's book detailed the history of conversion, the rabbinical rulings and responsa, historical fluxes in the acceptance and avoidance of converts, etc. He talked about the different types of converts and why they choose the path they do, and he included various essays from converts of varying backgrounds and what led them to the Orthodox route. (In more cases than not, the converts started on the Reform route because it was easy and/or accessible, only to find themselves reconverting later or finding a difficulty associated with their original route that led them to the Orthodox beth din.) I'm sort of zipping through books, which is a good thing, considering I have so very many of them to read, and the moment I get to graduate school, my reading style and habits will change greatly.

Fourthly, we come back to the firstly. The Sex and the City movie. I have to say my company was outstanding, and the way all the women in the audience were dressed gave us endless conversation. The estrogen abounded, and my movie companion was definitely outnumbered. But cripes. I found myself so upset at the end of the flick, in dismay, frustrated. Maybe I'm just worn out with the Happily Ever After movies. The scenario that everyone gets what they want, or rather, what we -- the audience -- want for the fictitious characters. Yes, it's a movie. We go to them to be entertained, to escape the sad and lonely existence of life. To watch characters fall in love and live happily ever after. Or, in the case of SATC, we see characters who don't necessarily fall out of love, but fall back in love with themselves. Not everyone in the movie ends up in love and with a spouse and the kids and the car and the house and the dream. But for Samantha, the dream WAS being alone -- being a sexy vixen who can have sex with anything and everything that moves without consequence. It's essentially who she is. So she, too, lives happily ever after. I guess I yearn for surprise. I yearned for Carrie to not end up with Big. For her to somehow realize that all the tumult, the shit, the mess, the breakups and get-back-togethers over 10 years were a sign that it wasn't all meant to be. Nothing's perfect, but anything that is so broken for so long must be like Humpty Dumpty, right? Maybe I just wanted validation. To know that ending my nearly three year on-again/off-again with the supposed man of my dreams was the right choice. Because for the length of that relationship it had been this Carrie/Big comparison, though I knew that there was no comparison. For starters, I wasn't in my 30s. I wasn't a cosmo-drinking sex column writer. I wasn't Carrie and he most certainly wasn't big. The comparisons continued though, as I dated a Russian and other exotics in between the on-agains. It was ridiculous how my friends and I made the connections. Maybe that's why the movie's end irritated the hell out of me. I wanted them to break as my little fantasy had broken six months ago. But it didn't, and life goes on. We want the happily ever after, because it rekindles that hope that maybe we can have what we want. That we should really fight for it. If it can happen in the movies, then ... right?

A girl can dream, anyway. Maybe I had the Mr. Big character in my life all wrong.