Category Archives: love

Amy G Excerpt

I am unabashedly emotionally affected by the Amy Grant and Vince Gill romance story.   I was an Amy Grant fan as a child, and was somewhat renewed in my affection for her when her marital problems occurred around the same time that my own marriage dissolved.  I was cheered to see her find happiness in her new love with Vince, as it gave me hope for the future.  And I love her music and I absolutely adore her new husband and his own musical offerings.

With that introduction, I am willing to admit that I spent quite a few minutes the other night reading this transcript of a joint interview of theirs on Larry King, which I had never seen or read before.  I loved the idea that their relationship developed in a “Let’s give them something to talk about” manner, where others saw it before they did.  I also was smiling so hard at the fact that Vince’s middle name is “Grant”.  What karma.

But the real reason I am writing yet another “I love Amy and Vince post”  is that I found this excerpt from Amy’s new book on the Oprah website of all things, and this story made me so very happy.  The combination of my love for VG and AG and elderly grandparent-like people all rolled up in one touching anecdote.

You know your island is too small when…

This week’s BBC had a feature on a couple here in Britain who did not know they were twins, had been separated at birth, and who had gotten married married.  Eeeeew.  The courts had annulled the marriage when this mess was discovered (it’s never mentioned as to how?  Wasn’t it odd that the couple had the same birthday and year?  Did they not think that was a coincidence?  Or was that one of those “ooh we must be soulmates” things?)  It boggles the mind as a statistical thing, that this pair would meet, be both single, attracted to each other, etc.  It implies this island country really is too small and too densely populated.

It also brings to mind so many Jeff Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if…” jokes.  (“…if you go to the Family Reunion to Meet Women.”)  And it makes me want to start brainstorming “You might be British if…” jokes.  I’ll have to get working on that one.  Suggestions welcome.

Minnesota shout-out

From my homesick self (albeit finally a homesick self with a UK Visa Debit card! It arrived yesterday and even works!) …

Here’s a great little commentary on relationships, courtesy of my new favorite band The Dresden Dolls, as noted previously, and containing quite the Minnesota shout out:

Shores of California Lyrics
Artist: The Dresden Dolls

he’s been trying with limited success
to get this girl let him get into her dress
but every time he thinks he’s getting close
she threatens death before he gets a chance

and that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma
that’s the way it’s been since protozoa
first climbed onto the shores of California

she’s been trying with limited success
to get him to turn out the lights and dance
cause like any girl all she really wants
is that fickle little bitch romance
that fickle little bitch romance

and that is why a girl is called a tease
and that is why a guy is called a sleaze
and that’s why god made escort services
one life to live and mace and GHB

and that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma homa
that’s the way since the animals and Noah
first climbed onto shores of California

must not be too kind
stop thinking love is blind
clench your fists, yeah write
“she’s just not my type”

why all these conflicting specifications
maybe to prevent overpopulation
all I know is that all around the nation
the girls are cryin’ the boys are masturbatin’
the girls are cryin’ the boys are masturbatin’

and that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma homa
that’s the way since Aristophanes and Homer
wrote the iliad and lysistrata

that’s the way it is in Minnesota
that’s the way it is in Oklahoma homa
that’s the way since the ancient protozoa
first climbed onto the shores of California

Yeah it’s cynical but funny, especially the part about preventing overpopulation via the usual conflicts between the sexes. Love it, love it, love it. Video is here.  I particularly love the way Amanda Palmer successfully points to MN on the US map, just proving how awesome she is (and how unlike so many east coast types or foreigners who don’t know where it is!)

Fall is in the air

I went for a walk last night and realized that we had switched over from summer to fall without my really noticing. I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt and a sweatshirt but was still cold, wrapping my hands in the sweatshirt cuffs and breathing in the chilly air. It was also quite dark for just before 8 pm. Lileks noted that Target already has the Christmas decorations out, which makes me simultaneously sad and resigned (12 days of Christmas has become three months of Christmas?) but also homesick–any mention of Target seems to get me these days. I realized last night that I had never properly switched my wardrobe over from winter to summer clothes: summer in England strangely enough did not really require any different attire than winter in England. But as a result my long-sleeved t-shirt collection (all from Target of course) is looking a bit ratty!

On my little “fall is in the air” walk I noticed that there were a large number of people out and about walking around. Particularly interesting was the fact that there were a lot of couples of all ages. Most interesting was the fact that I saw quite a few very affectionate silver-haired couples. There seemed to be a lot of hand-holding and arm-around-shoulders activity. Now this looked different from “home” to me and I was trying to sort out why. Certainly back in the US there’s less walking around in general; unless one is in a major city, the car-driven society dominates. Although I admit it was actually a bit disgusting to be in Bath last weekend and realize that the town center was essentially a carbon-copy of the town center where I live: same shops, same restaurants. In several cases I was shocked to discover that restaurants were chains. But regardless, the “high street” phenomenon does seem to mean that people walk around town here more than I am used to in the US. And it seems that in the US, the city centers are for young people while the older people are out in the ‘burbs. Perhaps that more than anything was why I noticed the silver-haired folks with their affectionate partners so much. Regardless, it was a beautiful thing and certainly made me feel wistful. I used to be really disgusted with public displays of affection, but my tolerance levels seem to be changing. I always felt like it was a possessive thing more than an affectionate thing, but to me, last night, these couples looked affectionate. A girl can only hope to be in that position when the number of silver hairs on my hand increases to that point!

A rom-com I didn’t hate

Yesterday I got to finally see a rom-com movie that I did not hate. (See my previous rant on the subject here.) This was the true tour de force performance “2 Days in Paris” in which Julie Delpy stars, wrote the script, directs, composes, edits, and does a few other random things. Why did I not hate this movie? Glad you asked. Several things come to mind.

  1. It was about an actual, established relationship. There were no plot elements associated with “falling in love” or star-crossed lovers of any sort. It had this in common with the classic Tracy-Hepburn farce “Adam’s Rib“–the whole movie started with a couple in an established relationship and had as it’s plot points the ups and downs in the relationship across a couple of misadventures, in the case of the current film a post-vacation “meet the parents” exercise, and in Adam’s Rib a court trial with the partners defending competing parties.
  2. This Delpy film was actually laugh-out-loud funny, thus fulfilling the “comedy” part to perfection.
  3. This Delpy film was romantic not because of a classic gooey romance bit, but because the couple at hand struggle to work through real relationship issues and at the same time still find something redeeming in the relationship that makes it worth sticking around and fighting it out.
  4. This film kicked in the stomach the usual sorts of silly ways in which Paris the city plays out as romantic, and of course since Delpy is French we see a different Paris than the usual slushy version as viewed with American eyes. The film also gets across the frustration of an American not being able to follow the rapid-fire French conversation.
  5. Delpy’s real life parents play her parents in the film, with her father especially giving a fantastic and interesting performance.

For me, it was a great film. I came out of it feeling optimistic and hopeful. And my crush on Julie Delpy only continues to grow. (I have a well-known tendency to develop asexual crushes on talented people!) I was pretty much enamoured of her after having seen the “Before Sunset” sequel–for which she was nominated for an Oscar for writing–in which she also played the guitar and sang along with writing and acting. This new film is grittier and contains some very Gallic sight-gag humour that might not play well in the US, but overall, from me and the critics alike, two big thumbs up.

A little dose of humanity

It is no secret to those who know me that I have an extreme soft spot for the elderly. Perhaps it was because I was unbelievably fortunate to have all four of my grandparents live until I was in my mid-twenties, and they have all been significant influences on my life. I think it’s remarkably important but easily ignored that we need to acknowledge older people, to not marginalize them. Many of them had difficult lives, especially those who have been through world wars and the great depression. The modern world is somewhat mystifying to the people who were born in the age of the model T, and they have had to make amazing adjustments just to make it this far.

I know I have been slightly less than enthusiastic about James Lileks’ new blog role on buzz.mn, but the Mpls bridge disaster last week caused me to spend some time on the website trolling for information. And I hit an unexpected and unrelated gem when doing so. Today for a little dose of humanity, perhaps a bit of empathy, appreciation and even admiration for a total stranger (and I don’t mean JL, although the writing is fantastic), I ask you to take the time to read this anecdote about two elderly folks at a grocery store, from Lileks over on the buzz site.

If you have grandparents, elderly parents, widowed or never married distant relatives of any sort, I hope you take the time to tell them how much their sacrifices have been and are appreciated. It’s so easy to get caught up in life, in work, and to spend any available family time looking down the generation tree at the children. But it’s so very important to look up the tree and show a little love to the elders. In my experience, they want nothing from you but some of your time, and the rewards are priceless. On a personal note, I cannot wait to take the big plane across the big pond (17 days and counting!) and sit down and kiss my own nonagenarian grandmother.

A love letter for my sister

I just returned from spending four hours cleaning my first UK apartment in preparation for handing the keys back.  I ache all over and have to go back tomorrow to finish the job.  The UK landlords of that place would clearly benefit from a water softener: the amount of limescale remover I have used, and the amount of limescale remaining, is remarkable!

I only fully lived there for a few months, so it’s not even as bad as it could have been.  When I moved here I needed a place to live, and a furnished apartment was key since it would be months before my own belongings arrived here.  After four months in the original apartment, my belongings arrived and I had them delivered to a new place, one that was partially subsidized by my job such that it was not a disastrous financial burden to carry two apartments for a few months.  But the time has finally come and the lease on the original flat is about to end, and I have had to do the painful and inevitable scrub-down on my own.

Just over one year ago, right before I came over to England to inverview for this job, I was not a happy camper.  The job I had taken after graduate school had seemed like a dream but was in reality more of a nightmare.  I had worked out my one year contract and quit without having another job lined up (although by the time I left I had several options at least potentially on the table, England included).  I was leaving my apartment and storing my worldly goods without knowing where I would end up next or what the future would look like.  In that time of real trial, my sister came to visit and quietly and competently packed and cleaned my apartment while I was running around like a headless chicken.

Scrubbing hard today reminded me of what a selfless act it was, and how much she has taught me about the meaning of the word “love”.  Part of the changes I’ve gone through recently–perhaps best defined as really, finally growing up in the last year since moving here–includes my fully coming to grips with what an amazing thing it was that she did for me and how lucky I have been to have someone in my life that loved me that much.  So to her today, a public declaration of my love in return.   We may drive each other crazy at times, we may not see eye-to-eye on some things, but at the end of the day no one has taught me more about love than my baby sister.

A slightly better US-UK film

I just watched (and not for the first time–what a terrible confession!) a movie, “The Wedding Date” that has a mixed US and UK cast and plot.  Compared with my thoughts about “The Holiday” my overall response to this film is better… as evidenced by the fact that I had seen it before!   The whole film takes place in about 4 days, so the “love story” of the main characters (played by Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney) is a bit weak and subject to my usual rants about Hollywood insta-love, but the side story with the sister and her fiance redeems the movie for me.  They actually come through a messy revelation and triumph through adversity, realizing that their imperfect relationship is “worth fighting for”.  (There’s an in-joke here but I refuse to give more away, see the film if you haven’t!)  The characters on the UK side also include a few of my favorites, including Jack Davenport (from the UK’s “Coupling” and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies)  and Sarah Parish (who I loved in UK exports “Trust” and “The Vice”).  However, the funniest part of the movie from the perspective I have, an American trying to understand the English “stiff upper lip” attitude towards emotions, is this:

when the sister’s fiance has just found out about his fiancee’s dirty secret and he is sitting in the car with the romantic lead (Dermot), and all he can think of to say is, “I trust you’ve enjoyed your trip to England.” 

I saw this movie the first time before I moved here — that line would not have gotten a laugh from me then — but after nine months here that line had me literally doubled over.

Dance me to the end of love

From the BBC website:

  • China takes steps to curb passion
  • China is changing the way it runs compulsory dance classes, introduced to tackle child obesity, because parents fear their children may fall in love.
  • Sports officials say they will now encourage students to dance in large groups or by themselves.
  • Some parents had expressed fears that if boys and girls danced hand in hand they might fall in love and put their studies at risk.”

Now I have ranted previously on the strange way that the concept of “falling in love” gets portrayed as an instantaneous event (see this and this). But seriously, folks, if it was this easy, every thirtysomething female with the incessant sound “tick-tock” in her ear would head to the local Arthur Murray studio and go home happy.

Note: if you have not heard Madeleine Peyroux sing Dance me to the End of Love, go find it–it’s worth the effort.

Rom-com cynicism

On last night’s inter-continental flight, I finally made it through the perfect US-expat-in-UK movie, “The Holiday.” Brief plot summary: a cultural exchange takes place between two stereotypes (Kate Winslet as the English Rose and Cameron Diaz as the ultimate California girl) when they switch houses for two weeks to get a break from romantic troubles at home. New romances inevitably devlop.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I like Kate Winslet, who is rather unapologetic about her non-waif figure (for an even more blatant display of gorgeous real-woman curves, see Tony award-winning actress and Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez in her milk add). The story line with Kate Winslet’s character and an elderly neighbor in her borrowed LA neighborhood was incredibly sweet, and played to my love of 1940s classic film.

I’m less a fan of Cameron Diaz in general, and found her quite unbelievable as a sympathetic lead in this movie. (She was an awesome and utterly believable bad-girl in Ed Burns’s She’s the One.) I live in England and have never had the great pleasure of an emotionally-available man with Jude Law’s charm and good looks appearing uninvited at my place, but it makes good fodder for fantasy. However, I with my thirty-something post-divorce cynicism appear to have lost my ability to fully enjoy rom-com romps.

When Jude Law’s character declares his love for Cameron Diaz’s character less than two weeks after meeting her, I rolled my eyes and just about didn’t make it through the rest of the movie out of disgust. Even one of my all-time favorite fairy tales, Disney’s Little Mermaid, had me a bit uncomfortable a few weeks ago. I appear to have lost my ability to believe in any story line that involves “fall-in-love-and-live-happily-ever-after” plots that develop over the course of days or weeks.

Science is, of course, on my side here. It’s more-or-less universally accepted that the early stages of “falling in love” are associated with hormones that dissipate within a year or two (I quote: The romantic love state is a state of a drug-induced euphoria modulated by naturally produced dopamine in our brains. ). Actual relationships take time. Reassuringly for us pragmatists in the crowd, the concept of “falling in love” has been linked with the same brain chemistry as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Apparently the key to a happy marriage is shared housework. So, given our advanced knowledge of neurotransmitters and maps of brain activity by functional MRI, why does Hollywood perpetuate the myth of insta-love? And how sad is it for me that I can’t seem to suspend disbelief and enjoy it any more?