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Wednesday Was My Birthday

December 08, 2013

HEY, IT'S MY BIRTHDAY. Well actually Wednesday, December the Fourth was my birthday. Since it is actually now Sunday for this post to arrive, it may not be a great revelation when I say that I really don't know how to celebrate my birthday - in my personal life and especially on blogs. Except to capitalize announcements that it's my birthday.

What I've admired about other bloggers I've followed over time is how they (seemingly) with ease reflect on the past and their dreams for what's to come. Reaching twenty four years young, this felt like a momentous year to take it all in. I knew I wanted to tackle my moment of reflection for turning another year older, but I didn't know how to put it all into words.

Watching The Perks of Being A Wallflower (twice) helped me sort out the way in which I wished to reflect on who I am. A film about young adults coming of age, similarly aged Emma Watson navigating her way into the world of high school and college, made me think strangely about how much life has been cemented through movies - either through character similarities, personal experiences, and even just changing how I think about life in general. Despite being a movie buff since I was making a home in the womb (literally Mom took me to see The Little Mermaid at 8 months "pregger"), I didn't realize how wonderfully common yet majestically rare it is to not just watch movies but love them so much to nitpick, write, and learn about them. Because it's been my longtime obsession, I felt there was no other way commemorate my birthday by reflecting how my obsession has changed me over the years....

At 4 years old it seems from the very beginning I was destined for "fandom" or to become a cinemaphile. When I was a kid, I only let a few movies cross the threshold of the VHS player. And God Bless my family letting me get away with reruns of the same flicks day after day. Realizing now that Forrest Gump and Grease are not particularly kid-friendly movies, somehow I got away with sitting in the living room for hours on end watching. It's even wild to admit that at such a young age, memorizing entire films was easy-peasey, so much so that it's not hard to believe I speak in movie quotes regularly these days.

Back then though, I firmly knew what I liked and didn't like, and you couldn't dare persuade me otherwise. More memorable movies that were iconic favorites include That Thing You Do!, October Sky, Cats Don't Dance and George of the Jungle. Any time we made a visit to the now de-functing Blockbuster store, my relatives were in for some repetitive evenings every week when it was my night to pick what we rented. I simply wouldn't let anyone get away with anything else and could entertain myself with the same scene over and over.

Entering the hopeless and bleak years known as teenagerdom, my life was emphasized at the time by darker films. Take five different characters from Girl, Interrupted and leave out the insane asylum, and you had me - self-conscious, shy, hermetic confused me. As I was ramshacked by one emotional catastrophe after another, it was a period where I began to identify parts of myself in characters - no matter how unstable they/I was. For someone who was pretty friendless despite how many attempts I made, my world become less lonely as I found characters that resembled me. It was the first of many times in my life where I could escape into another place and not feel isolated.

This was also a period where I dared to watch anything and everything I could get my hands on - despite how far out of my age range it was - American Psycho, Unfaithful, The Machinist. At the time I think it was about seeing how many extreme images my mind could stand before I snapped. Like I said, I was up for causing myself a lot of pain. Those years have long passed as my tastes have grown. Watching movies isn't about feeding myself films I don't know if I can handle emotionally (or mentally - if it's just a really bad movie). I emphasize now on picking out movies to watch if I have a genuine interest in seeing them or feel like taking a risk on something new.

On the other end of the spectrum, my happy place in my teenage years is dog-eared by Judy Garland. My mom being a Classic Hollywood fanatic, and thus passing down her film genes to me and my sister, I watched all kinds of classic films growing up. The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me In St. Louis, and several other Garland-starring films were mere holiday landmarks. One chilly cold-to-the-bones afternoon when I was fourteen years old, I huddled up in my living room under some blankets and watched Dorothy Gale swoon about troubles melting like lemon drops alone. Something majestic clicked. I fell in love with her presence and delved into everything Judy Garland - her movies, her music, her life. I've never looked back.

Other interests that were sparked following my fan affair with Judy Garland included legendary musician Johnny Cash, lifelong membership to the Leonardo DiCaprio for Oscar club, and now countless other fandoms like Doctor Who, Harry Potter, The Office and so many other movie stars. You could say she kindled my way of being able to look at films and movie stars in a different light. I realized appearances are never quite what they seem. People's stories come in all sorts of amazing packages and are meant to be unwrapped. They are always there for everybody to learn about.

While my mom and sister were in a theater showing next to mine seeing North by Northwest, this was the first movie I really recall taking a chance on seeing by myself and feeling rewarded by the experience. I went by the glory and immense popularity of the Oscar races to see Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. At an afternoon matinee, I was alone in a huge cinema by myself looking at the screen minimize itself into a wider setting. Something so small caused a moment of awe to wash over me; the empty seats around me, a movie being projected onto a screen, and a performance that was I transfixed by. My family had always been passionate about watching movies and never letting anything surpass our curiosity. At 18 years old, this was the moment where everything changed.

Judy Garland helped me embrace my buried interest in learning about the history of film. There Will Be Blood provoked my own special way of letting them be my own little passion; going to movie marathons, writing & reading essays, escaping my own world, and even starting this blog.

Now at 24 years young, with the hundreds and hundreds of movies I've watched, my little cranium has glowed with dozens and dozens of aha moments. Obviously I couldn't let this post slip by without shedding a spotlight of gratitude onto at least two dozen movies that have expanded my views of myself and the world around me.

127 Hours - Always tell someone where you're going.
The Artist - Silence can be golden
Back to the Future: If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.
Barefoot in the Park - Shama-shama
Breakfast at Tiffanys - The thing you're looking for could be right in front of you
Carousel: You'll never walk alone
Casablanca - It's the beginning of a beautiful friendship
Clue - There's more than one way to end a movie
The Dead Poets Society - Words and ideas can change the world
The First Wives Club: You don't own me
Harry Potter - It's all happening inside your head, but that doesn't mean it can't be real
Independence Day - A PC program can defeat an entire race of aliens
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Let it go
Inception - Blockbusters don't have to be masterpieces for everyone
It's A Wonderful Life - Every act and person makes a difference
Matthew McConaughey - Lightning can strike early but might not make its biggest impact for years
October Sky - Your ambitions won't fly unless you push the button
Speed - Pop quiz is a catchy way to try to one-up your enemy
That Thing You Do! - Everything can change when you hear an uptempo beat
The Odd Couple - Don't point that finger unless you intend to use it
The Perks of Being A Wallflower - Participate; there's plenty of cool people left to meet
The Tree of Life - There are two ways through life; the way of nature and the way of grace
Titanic - Make each day count
Up! - Thanks for the adventure! Now let's have another one!

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