Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mama Finally Got Her Frontline Fix: Raising Adam Lanza

I'm still holding a grudge against the Academy for not giving a Best Picture award to Brokeback Mountain years ago. Maybe that's why I wasn't very interested in this year's Oscars. Or, it could be because I only saw two new movies in the theater in 2012:  Brave and Mirror Mirror.  

Obviously my husband and I need to leave the kid with the grandparents and go on dates more often.  The problem is, his idea of a fun date night includes seeing The Hobbit and ordering a slab of ribs at his favorite barbecue joint.  Mine is seeing Silver Linings Playbook and ordering the vegetarian combination at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant.  I think that's how we got roped into only seeing kids movies at the theater last year: we both compromised and gave Katie what she wanted.

Now it's my turn to get what I want.  

I was at work at the public library when I stumbled upon the realization that last year I saw zero movies I had picked out for myself, that I was tired of watching kids' movies with Katie and action/fantasies with Will.  While checking out some videos for Katie and Will I suddenly wanted to get my hands on a DVD of my choosing.  A good ole drama that greases the gears of my critical thinking skills.  

We were getting ready to close the library and I still hadn't decided what DVD I wanted to check out for myself.  Everything I tried to find was already checked out.  There was a big snowstorm approaching the area, the second in a week, and other people who also enjoy quirky, darkly dramatic, plotless character studies had wiped out much of our stock.  I finally settled on a Richard Linklater film that had been on my To View list far too long: Waking Life.

Here's what imdb has to say about it:  "A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe."

Hells yeah, that sounds like my kinda movie!  Anything with one iota of possible ambiguity.  Something deep and meaningful and not necessarily possessing a happy ending.  I'm so sick of all these good guy vs. bad guy plots that comprise most movies I've seen lately.

I rushed to check it out, helped my co-workers with our closing duties, grabbed my stuff, brushed some snow off my car, and drove home.

But after all that, when I stepped through our front door, I choked back a sob when I looked inside my bag:  I had all the videos I checked out for Will and Katie, but not Waking Life, the ONE I checked out for myself.

After I had checked it out, I didn't have time to go into the back to put it inside my bag, so I just tucked it under my arm while I was running around closing the library. I must have set it down briefly and left it somewhere.  Inside the library that is closed now due to the snowstorm.

I'm telling you, the Hollywood fates are not on my side.

I thought about caving and renting it online, but why bother with Netflix when I can get it free from the public library?  I've waited this long to see it.  I can wait another day to retrieve it from the library.

Although today's an ideal day to watch a movie I like.  We're snowed-in.  The city plows haven't been down our street.  Katie's busy watching the complete first season of Pee-Wee's Playhouse on DVD from the library.  I could watch it with her.  I do love me some Pee-wee.  But I'm not in the mood.  So I moped downstairs and got on my laptop.  Facebook is my TV.  My grandmother used to like to sit in the lobby of her senior high rise and people watch.  She often grew bored with television, but she could sit in the lobby all afternoon and chit chat with her friends, coming and going, waving hi and bye, stopping by to show off the latest photo of the great-grandkids.  To me, that's Facebook.  It's my community center.  My neighbor's porch.  TV is boring.  Real life stories on Facebook is fun.

We don't even have a television that works with broadcast channels.  We just use it to play DVDs, even old VHS tapes Will has saved from his childhood or he's found at trade-in stores for cheap.  We dropped cable a couple of years ago to save money.  Now we catch all our favorite shows on YouTube or other free online sites.  While scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook I noticed PBS had shared a new teaser to an upcoming show.  And then I remembered: I had planned on watching the Frontline episode Raising Adam Lanza last week when they posted it, but I got sidetracked with life devoted to taking care of others.

But this morning I managed to find some me-time.  So, while Will was outside shoveling the driveway and Katie was outside romping around in the fresh, new snow, I sat my butt down in my comfy chair and watched something because I wanted to.  About a mother who devotes her life to caring for others only to get shot with her own weapon by her own son.  

Chock-full of ambiguity, just the way I like it.

Watch Raising Adam Lanza on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.