After This…

How many times in my life have I said “after this…” then I would be able to do the things I’ve always wanted?

I set goals, I long for change, yet the day-to-day spirals beyond my control. The lie I tell myself, the lie we all tell ourselves at one point or another, is “after this…then I’ll be able to do that.”

As if life will somehow slow down or stop entirely, allowing us to engage in a Thoreau-like existence of meditation and self-improvement in wood cabin, off the grid, away from society.

I caught myself thinking “after this…” today, as I once again face down three months of rehearsals and individual practice time for the musical, while still teaching, while overseeing a student news organization and co-managing sports broadcasts, while still serving at church, while still maintaining relationships.

“After March,” I caught myself thinking. As if March and the end of the musical didn’t signal a chain of interviewing journalists for next year’s staffs, or commence soccer and baseball broadcasts, or who knows what else. Life won’t get easier in March. Or April. Or May.

Even in the summer, though I’m not tied to as strict a schedule, the days and weeks somehow fill and I catch myself saying “after summer…”

I’m sure life has been like this for a while now, a constant stream of responsibilities and personal pursuits, at times quarreling for my attention because I say to one, “After this…” and ignore the other. For some reason—age? experience? necessity?—I’m grasping more fully the reality that “after this…” doesn’t exist.

Each year as people start making and sharing resolutions, whether it’s setting SMART goals or selecting a word to live by or scribbling a bucket list of longed-for accomplishments, I am tempted to join in. As if “after December 31” will signal a complete change of character and I’ll be wealthier, thinner, smarter, more productive, or less single in 365 days.

Instead, I’m shifting my paradigm in 2019: eradicating the trap of “after this…”

I need to embrace the 14-hour days as evidence I am physically and mentally healthy enough to handle that kind of load. I need to look at my calendar objectively, and find the pockets of time that appear—and then fill those pockets with endeavors that don’t include time-wasting vortices. I need to say yes a bit more often to friends and family, to view that time spent as energizing (because it almost always is).

“After this…”, I’ve learned, is a surefire way to collect a few regrets. So if you are also feeling the pull to start something new, as many do with the advent of a new year, I have two suggestions:

  1. Do things.
  2. Don’t wait until January 1.

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Plot: Tracy Lord is getting married to George Kittredge, someone way beneath her social station, and Spy Magazine wants all the scoops. So Spy sends writer Mike Connor (Mike is short for Macaulay, decades before any Culkins slapped their own faces), and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie to capture the festivities. Tracy’s ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven escorts the pair as a Spy liaison (and low-key blackmailer), and in the course of about 24 hours, the three Spy employees manage to unravel the pending nuptials.

Best Moment: When Mike and Liz first show up, Tracy and her little sister Dinah put on the show of shows for them. It is hilarious. Dinah literally performs–walking on her pointe slippers, speaking French, and ending with a vocal performance while she plays the piano. Pretty much anytime Dinah opens her mouth, I’m a fan.

Worst Moment: In the opening scene of the film, Tracy is chasing Dexter out of the house, throwing things at his feet, breaking one of his golf clubs. In return. Dexter shoves Tracy through the doorway back into the house. I know I’ve seen this movie before, but I don’t remember that opening scene. It jarred me on this viewing, especially having been shoved through a doorway by someone much bigger than me.

Epiphanies: My unpopular opinion: I don’t like this movie. I find Tracy insufferable. I don’t think it’s romantic (Rotten Tomatoes ranks it as the 3rd best Romantic Comedy of all time). I find Dexter incredibly presumptuous to think Tracy would want to remarry him mere hours after breaking off the engagement to George.

If anything, this film reminds me of this quote from Mindy Kaling:

“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”

And maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a rom-com-sci-fi flick when I popped this one in the DVD player. It’s not exactly the time of year when I’m feeling particularly hopeful about anything related to relationships, so I fully admit I was not in a good headspace while watching.

Recommendation: Well, it is on the National Film Registry and it is on AFI’s list of the 100 greatest films of all time, and if the only Jimmy Stewart film you’ve seen is “It’s A Wonderful Life,” then you owe it to yourself to see him play a completely different character from George Bailey. Plus, Stewart won the Academy Award that year for Best Supporting Actor, so it’s worth your time just for him.

What Hallmark Channel is Selling Me.

I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies, and here’s what I’m being sold* while watching:

  1. A magical eyebrow shaper.
  2. Nordic Track/Bowflex/Peleton.
  3. Wayfair. All the time, Wayfair.
  4. Life Alert bracelets.
  5. Balsam Hill Christmas trees (which, by the way, can run up to $1,000).

 

*In addition to the science-fiction fantasy that Christmas is a magical romantic time where all my dreams come true.

The Ancestors.

I’ve done a bit of digging around my family tree and have learned some things. Here’s five of my most fascinating ancestors*.

  1. Frances Fenton, who got her PhD in 1910 from the University of Chicago.
  2. Jean Tatlock, who allegedly had an affair with Robert Oppenheimer and was a total communist.
  3. John Fenton, who fought in the Revolutionary War.
  4. Fenton St. Clair Butterfield, who was married in 1863 but I cannot find any death or divorce records from that wife…but he married my great-great-grandmother in 1881…
  5. Hyman Gindich, who left Kiev during the Russian pogroms in 1906.

 

*Ancestors I did not know personally. Both of my grandmothers were pretty kickass.