Friday, July 1, 2011

When Life Bites You in the A**

"Maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”
 –Chuck Palahniuk

In case you have not heard, Bridesmaids is on track to becoming Judd Apatow’s highest-grossing film to date. The movie is about a woman named Annie who happens to be going through a particularly dark period. Her business has gone under, her best friend Lillian gets engaged, and her creepy British roommates are itching to kick her out. To top it off, she has to compete for Lillian’s attention with Helen, an uptight harpy who invariably appears to have just stepped out of a J. Crew ad.

I have seen the movie twice in the theater. It is rare to find a movie in which a woman is shown to be going through a tough time professionally that does not end with her landing that Big Job at Vogue. When I do find such a gem, I appreciate it to no end. (The last film I remember welcoming in this way is Sliding Doors, which came out in 1998.)

Spoiler Alert: The rest of my post may give away some details about the movie you might not want to know if you haven’t seen it yet.

What I enjoyed most about this film is the fact that Annie does not find the perfect career in the end. As yet. But she does learn to open herself up to the possibility of finding happiness again, by becoming a better friend (as Jessica Grose at Slate also observes), daughter, and (possibly) mate. Though she does not land a baking segment on The Today Show, she does bake an “apology cake” for her love interest, which ultimately symbolizes her willingness to once again spread a little joy with her God/universe-given baking talent.

End of Spoiler Alert

Since ending my law career, I, like Annie, have attempted to become a better person and to find interests outside of my career. I send more birthday cards these days. I “like” more of my friends’ baby pictures on facebook. I even try to pay more attention to my dog, from whom I could stand to learn a thing or two, since she seems completely fulfilled by a just few walks a day (and the occasional soupcon of peanut butter). I am also looking for new volunteer opportunities, since I am no longer able to volunteer at the same shelter I used to back in my home town.  I hope to one day discover my natural talent and to share it. 

Bridesmaids reminded me that life is never going to be perfect. Career failures and missteps are inevitable, but as Ani DiFranco put it, if I keep looking down, I’ll “just miss all the good stuff.” Including some really funny movies.

What sorts of things have brought you joy in hard times?

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