Essay: Petulance and Accomplishment.

Wandering around Facebook feeling nostalgic the other day I clicked on my high school graduating class Facebook page and discovered that one of my classmates had written and directed a movie that will be opening February 14, 2013.

Objectively this is pretty exciting for the following  reasons: I went to school with someone who made a movie!; the classmate in question is female and I’m always standing on the “more women in Hollywood” soapbox!; the movie in question is about a topic near and dear to my heart (young women’s emerging sexuality) that isn’t often seen on screen!; there are recognizable actors in it who I enjoy!; also, if the trailer is to be believed, the movie looks pretty damn good!
You can check it out for yourself.  The movie is called The To Do List and doing a Google search will get you to promo material for it, including the trailer.  Be warned though, YouTube makes you sign in to watch said trailer because it’s not appropriate for all audiences.  The plot focuses on a nerdy senior in high
school who wants more sexual experience before she goes to college and makes a
list of things she hasn’t done and works through them.  It’s also a comedy, not a drama, so you can guess how the list will go.
So awesome, right?  Win-win? If only that were true.
I’d like to say that I’m enlightened enough to have a “yay for her, good job” reaction, but the truth of the matter is that I fell into a funk for a few days.  Then there were a few days of processing and here are the various layers of my reaction.
“It’s not fair.”  This was probably the worst reaction and it was the first.  It’s not like I’ve been working toward writing and directing movies as Maggie Carey seems to have been doing for the past decade or so according to her IMDB profile.  So shouldn’t I be happy that she has toiled and accomplished a finished product?  I should, but I’m petty and I am not.
“I do good things too!” This was best expressed one day at work after completing one of my daily tasks.  “Attendance is entered for the day and they can make a movie about that, dammit!” I announced to the guffaw of my co-worker who had the pleasure of observing most of my overly dramatic angst.
The truth is, I’m guessing that my not-so-glamorous life isn’t that different that Maggie Carey’s life.  I’m thinking that she has laundry and dishes too.
And a lot of the work listed on her IMDB profile is not glamorous movie-making work. It’s the equivalent of entering attendance in my world.  (I bet it pays better, though.)  The fact of the matter is, I think we all want to be recognized for just getting up and getting to work each day, no matter how we feel about our jobs.
Directors of movies just happen to have a calling card that’s a lot bigger than Office Managers of charter schools.
“She shouldn’t be the one to write that story, dammit!”  This took a bit to uncover because I was mired in the above two feelings, but here’s the thing.  The story is about a nerdy high school senior.  However, the writer of the story was in no way, shape or form a nerdy high school senior.  She was part of the popular crowd.  I understand that people don’t have to write from their own experience and that there are many more comedy choices in the main character being a nerdy girl, but I very strongly feel that I and my fellow creative nerdy friends should be the ones to write the nerdy high school tales.  It seems unfair for someone in the top pinnacle of high school society to write a story from the perspective of the rest of us.

Here’s what I remember about Maggie Carey.  She was on student council.  She was a cheerleader in Jr. High School, but not High School.  She swam on the fancy private club swim team and had an amazingly fast backstroke.  We sometimes had Accelerated English together and I found her a bit spazzy and annoying.  I’m not sure we ever interacted, and the only clear memory I have of her was the skit the student council put on during our Senior Year which was very clever and involved all the characters from Scooby Doo and perhaps she played Velma.  I went to a big school.  Our social circles didn’t cross.  Her being popular didn’t affect me, I had no desire to be popular myself and she wasn’t a mean girl.  I have no reason to wish her anything but well.

The boyfriend told me to get over it, especially once he saw the preview and pronounced that we were going to see it.  I know he’s right.  And I will be seeing the movie and eventually will be wishing her well.  But I hope not to hear in press interviews that she wasn’t very popular in high school.  She may have had an awkward adolescence like everyone else, but she was one of the high school one percent and if the topic comes up, I would appreciate if she owned that.

One thought on “Essay: Petulance and Accomplishment.”

  1. This post is amusing to me in some small way, and yet I completely understand the angst that is central to its theme. I was just having a conversation with Shawn about my own angst with the path that I am on. I am only amused at the presence of a former classmate and her role in bringing about this post. You know I wont see this movie and find it terribly vulgar, at least in the preview. It saddens me that to make a good comedy about growing up you have to stoop to some potty/sexual humor lows. Maybe that's not it, but you know what I mean. I wonder if she will be at our reunion. What a triumphant way to make the anniversary of our 10-year (or how I am calling our upcoming reunion). I do agree that she personally knows nothing about being a nerd. She was as popular as they come. No nerd knowledge for her.

    On the other hand, I know exactly how you feel. Here we are, a few years out of high school (let me live in my fantasy), and what do I have to show for it? What is my legacy? Of course my angst stems from a lack of progeny. Was choosing my students and their lives over my own possibilities really worth it? Do my former families and students even know the sacrifices I chose to make for them? Does that matter in the long run? Oh angst, if only you could be just a teenage visitor. I feel adrift right now with no real strong mooring. I don't know the path ahead and I can only see where I have been and where I expected myself to be. And that expectation vs. reality part of my life really shakes me. We just saw perks of being a wallflower (apparently, capitalization is null for that title) and it just made me nostalgic and reminiscent for times past.

    Thanks for the essay!

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