A few weeks back I made this big stink about writing more frequently and yet since that time I have wound up writing less than ever.
I haven’t cooked anything new.
I’m still in the office a million hours a week.
And now I’ve taken on a second job, albeit a small one at one night a week, as a Quiz Master.
So, I’m writing today, dammit.
I’m trying to find meaning and balance in my life. I say “meaning”, maybe that’s a bit harsh. I am an adult now, which is easy to claim on the basis of age, but much harder to grasp in terms of…everything else. I have no children because they are expensive. Also, they smell, but I could probably get over that. I do not feel settled in my career because when you’re a child there is only the want to be. To be an astronaut, a veterinarian, a doctor, a teacher, a lion wrangler, something definitive, something viewed as great, and you’re blissfully unaware in youth of the lesser positions, such office administration, personal assisting, the horrible world that is retail, etc. You think everything is fair, that you work 8:30am to 5pm, at which point you’re allowed to have a life and holidays off. And for working those hours you earn enough cash to afford said life, a vacation once a year, medical bills, the surprise of a car breaking down. The world has changed, however. And I am cranky for it.
Where am I going with this? I don’t know. Maybe the world hasn’t changed.
Adulthood – Something I’ve sparred with more than once on here. It’s hard to view one’s self as a true adult as I base my idea of an adult on my parents, who I viewed most while a child in the 1980’s. Also, at its core my life is one of learning, of being excited for art, history, the beauty, destruction, and evolution of our past. This blurs the lines of being an adult personally because one is supposed to let go of the loves you have as a child as you grow into maturity. As a child I loved learning, I loved museums. And I will not let go of those.
Speaking of cores, we all have an inner voice within us. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to read silently. Boom. Inner voice. As we grow, mature, and learn this inner voices matures with us, is us, defines our rationals and decision making processes. Every once in a while, however, my inner voice isn’t me.
That sounds bizarre and creepy. Scratch that.
What I mean to say is that every once in a while my inner child speaks for my inner voice.
This morning I read an article about a new “Alien Horned” dinosaur discovered in Canada recently. It’s called an “Alien” based on it’s scientific name (Xenoceratops), Xeno of course being latin for Alien. Yeah, no, stop thinking Scientology. I mean, their use of Xenu isn’t exactly wrong, but it’s also not real. Dinosaurs were real (unless of course that offends you, but if it does then you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog).
The point is the new dino didn’t look all that different. He’s instantly recognizable as a close relation to the Triceratops.
Ole’ Xeno himself. (Photo Credit Yahoo News)
So, I see the headline of a new dinosaur discovery and I can’t click fast enough out of childlike wonder and excitement, only for my eyes to rest on a rather familiar-though-slightly-different face. And my inner child’s inner voice takes over and says to me:
“That’s not new. That’s the dinosaur I’d ride like a horse if I lived back then.”
And that’s my first thought on this matter. Not “My, a new relation of a classic. How interesting!”, not “A new discovery! How delightful!”, not “Oh, joy, something new! The World as we know it is astounding!” Nope.
My first thought is that this is boring, because I would ride a triceratops and all of his or her kin like wild ponies of the Cretaceous Period.
WHY is that my first thought looking at poor Xeno Horn over here? First of all, no I wouldn’t have. In the improbable event of finding myself stuck back a few dozens of millions of years ago in the Earth’s beginnings, I would not be saddling up great monsters. Trampled to death? Maybe. Stung by a giant, horrifying insect of yore and left for dead? Most likely. Tour around on a Xenoceratops? Absolutely not. Not only did my inner child hop a ride on a Jules Verne or H.G. Wells premise, but I also came up with the girliest, most childish thought:
Big beast. I ride. He my friend. I call him “Friendy”.
I say “girliest” because though I spent much of my youth working on farms just so I could ride horses, I would have much rather had a dinosaur or pterosaur as a trusty stead; ponies were just practice. This was me at my girliest.
I love history, I respect history, I learn from history. Apparently, however, I will not grow out of my periodic inner child no matter how immature she may forever be.
I don’t think I mind this, though. It’s that childishness that keeps me enthusiastic over the interesting things I love, and I find that joy to be easily contagious to those around me. Maybe it will even make me a good parent, if ever I decide to embark on that experience. I know it certainly made my father a good dad, albeit a pretty corny one.
When I was a child, I believed being an adult meant that I would have a career, I could buy candy when ever I wanted, and I would be awesome. I had a picture in my head of having a lovely home, only seen in glances, as I always pictured myself running out the door to work, but looking pretty professionally cool as I did so. That’s how I viewed my parents as a kid: loving, but always on their way to work. And they did it because they wanted to give my brother and I as good a life as they could; I just didn’t realize how hard it was for them. In my mind, you grew up, you had a job you liked, you then earned enough money from working so much that you had a nice home, and I would be physically fit because I had been forced to be on a diet since as far back as I can remember.
But that’s not what this whole “Adult” thing is about. I have to make decisions and live with those decisions, which is suddenly a very heavy thing to do. The odds of the average person being in a career that they love is slim to non-existent. Buying a house is filled with as many smiles as heartbreak. And you can’t eat candy all the time, because you hit twenty-four years of age and your body goes to shit – even more so than it was before. So, as an adult, I spend most of my time figuring out how to become an educational coordinator from the professional choices I’ve made, fixing my house or throwing money at past repairs we’ve made, working out, paying bills, and cuddling my loved ones when I get a second here or there. This all accumulates to cause me to over think my life. Daily.
I have a real draw toward beauty in natural surroundings. I can be alone for months if I look out and see beauty that makes my heart swell. But I’m adult now. So, I can’t just pick up and leave to admire another part of the country, getting a job where ever I land, because I need to be on a career path. And I’m an adult now, so suddenly where I choose to live means that the schools have to be decent, because I want to have a child one day, and I want that child to have a fighting chance. And I’m an adult now, which means I’m fortunate enough to share my life with another adult who supports me. And in turn, I support him, which means that out of respect for him, I have to be sure he is onboard for my insanity. And all of this comes down to accepting that I can’t leave Austin.
I struggle with living in Austin. Sure, it’s cool. And from certain parts of town, it’s even pretty. Find a list of Best Places to Live and somewhere amongst Portland, Seattle, and AnyWhere, North Carolina will be my little city upon the river they call a lake. Be young here, start a company here, retire here (try telling that to my folks). But, in a way, it’s also like living on an island in a sea of crazy. If you can focus on just your island, let yourself go, you’ll have fun, it’s chill, just flow with it. But remember that scene in Labyrinth, when Sarah is being wooed at the dance? Then Agnes is in her bedroom, giving her toys, and lipstick. But slowly Sarah comes to, remembers what’s important, and it’s just not fun any more, and she has to claw her way out. It’s a scene that makes me nauseous every time I see it. But, then, I’ve never been very good at the whole “relax” thing.
When I lived in Arizona, I was awed by the beauty outside my door every day, and when I wanted a change of scenery I drove an hour up north to Flagstaff, or an hour south to Phoenix. The politics and the schools there weren’t great there either, so I have to learn to let that go. But I loved the earth there. I loved the smell, the wind, the change in temperate zones, like it’s an area where the world is smiling. So why not just move there? Well, because I’m adult now and right when you have all the freedom in the world is right about when making changes seems impossible.
I moved here and got a job. Then I bought a home. Then I made a couple of friends. Then I made a few more. And these aren’t just “buddies”. These are people that I’m still surprised to have only known for a few years, because I could’ve sworn they were family. We support each other emotionally. We share and learn and play together. Sometimes we have Sunday dinner together the way we did as children with our blood relations. We give honest advice to each other, spend holidays within the warmth of each others’ homes, and, as many of us are far from our families, we have created the support of a clan within each other. It’s not a replacement, but it’s very tangible, and not something I ever expected at this time in my life. There are a number of things we still have to figure out in our lives, the two biggest ones being should we have a child (where? When?! HOW?!) and what the fuck are we doing with our lives? But one thing is for certain, it doesn’t look like we can leave Austin.
So, in that vein, I’m going to start really chronicling our Austin escapades, I’m going to remind myself as often as possible why exactly I live here, and learn, as best I can, to chill the fuck out and live in the present rather than the unforeseen future. If any of you have figured out how to do this please don’t hesitate to tell me how. I will continue with recipes and I will pick back up the pace on the Pop Bytes. I’ll nerd out more often on here. And we’ll make the best of what we’ve got.
Because that’s all you can do as an adult and these are the decisions we can live with.
I’m horrible to watch Antiques Roadshow with. I find myself shouting at the screen a la Indian Jones, “That belongs in a museum!”
And this really is the core of my being: I am excited by old things, find them amazing, fascinating, want them to be accessible to all, and want to get others excited about these objects as well. To learn is to better one’s self and I’d love to write and educate, to spread enthusiasm for something in my daily career.
There are 2 things I want to do with my life. To the average person, they’re very mundane. But to me, however, they’re the equivalent of becoming a rock star.
I want to:
1. Write lesson plans in accordance to state regulations for historical societies and museums in order to entice local schools to take field trips to such establishments.
2. Work and write for Cook’s Country/America’s Test Kitchen, working as an Ethno-Foodologist or, even better, a Food Archeologist.
When I was in junior high and high school I would skip class about once a month or so. None of my friends would ever want to join me and my parents were always very supportive of these escapades. You’d think I had egghead friends and that’s why they wouldn’t skip, or that I had hippy dippy parents that would allow me to be so flagrant about my education, but neither was the case. Well, my mom could kinda be hippy dippy, but that’s a different story. When I decided to skip school I would get a ride to the train station and take Metro North to Grand Central Station. Exciting, right? Who wouldn’t want to skip school to hang out in The City all day?! I would then walk up Park Ave. to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Or I would head west across the park to the American Museum of Natural History (or what’s know as the Museum of Mother Fucking Awesomeness by its fans) and I would spend hours and hours reading in silence, smiling over beauty…with the periodic stop off at the Central Park Zoo to finish the trip. I did this over and over and over again. In high school I was fairly popular, I was certainly no prude, and the most epic parties were normally hosted by my brother or I. But when it came to what I really wanted, it was historical solitude. I would have shared that time with others, allowing them to tag along, but who cared for those things but me?
Photo Credit Jessica Hische
I’m extremely fortunate in the sense that I’ve been to the museums of NYC so frequently that I can’t even count the days spent in their ancient and loving embrace. Dozens of times? Definitely. Hundreds? Very possible. I’ve moved away from that area a couple of times since graduating high school and being unable to take advantage of those museums is always the number one issue that I have when living more than a train ride away. I guess I miss my family, too, but I really miss those museums. In fact, when I visit my family, a jaunt to a museum in NYC is always one of the first afternoons planned. I am not so ego maniacal to ever think I could work at the Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In order to do something like that I would have had to make all the right moves, and absolutely no mistakes, in the professional decisions of my life. The employees and curators of those establishments are my heros, my Steven Tylers and Brad Pitts. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve done the opposite of not making professional blunders thus far in my life. I’ve created quite the resume and educational experience with not one, but two degrees under my belt. They’re just as far from the museum and/or food path as humanly possible. Awesome.
The first time in memory of going to a museum, I was about three years old and with my parents and brother. We headed out to the Museum of Natural History. My brother and I never really got along very well, and on trips like this we were more simply in the same place at the same time rather than actually experiencing something together. We walked passed the dinosaur skeleton in the entry hall and made our way around the mammoths and the naked, hairy neanderthals with the droopy boobs. This was prior to the Rose Center, otherwise we would have probably made a bee line for the giant glass box of Space. The favorite at this time, however, was the Great Hall. The Great Hall is massive, primarily so it can fit the life-sized model of a blue whale. It’s romantically lit, and by that I mean, that it’s somewhat dark, like the depths of the ocean. It consists of two levels with marine life exhibits lining the walls and a large open area in the center, from which one can admire the whale.
Photo credit Linden78. That bitch’ll crush yo’ ass.
I say “admire”.
There are two things I remember from this day, one of my earliest trips to the AMNH:
1. Being horrified in the Great Hall by this massive whale that was going to crush and/or eat me at any moment while…2. George Michael’s Careless Whisper played over the loud speaker. I mean, yeah, technically it was a Wham! song, but, c’mon, it was all George Michael and that damned whale. My mother said she heard “teeny, tiny pounding feet” and turned to see me flying toward her staring over my shoulder at the whale, horrified. And what self respecting toddler wouldn’t be? Even at that young age I knew anything from above could crush you below, both literally and figuratively.
It’s a hazy memory, but it’s very real, and it didn’t just end with that day.
I then proceded to carry around a fear of being in an ocean for years. Playing in the surf = good. Playing far enough out where water could go over your head and therefore allow you to be crushed from above by a whale = bad. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I could picture myself getting out of a boat and into open waters. I wasn’t afraid of whales, so much as being in water with them. I grew up along the north eastern seaboard, so going whale watching was a common activity. I respected their beauty and their power. And their ability to crush me in real life in the ocean or as a giant model in a museum.
Soul inhibited experience or no, I knew to differentiate my fear from what actually caused it and not where the experience occurred. Loosely translated: I didn’t blame the museum for this silly fear that followed me around for a couple of decades.
And to this day I want to be apart of some historical and educational organization that learns from and loves the past, whale or no.
She clambered up the boulder in Groom Creek, berating herself for being out of breath. Maybe at the top she’d find clarity. She reached the apex, feeling the porous rock under her hands and appreciating it’s sharpened, pockmarked texture from thousands of years of elements and having once been under water. That she could respect; it some how soothed her. There was a time when she lived there, and though she hated the company she had kept, she could always be calmed by her surroundings.
Photo Credit DigitalRvNet
Deep sigh. Just another view. She’d seen beauty, landscapes, created dreams in her head that she lived in life, and each one lacked. She knew that it was due to her own failings in looks. Every dream had to begin with envisioning herself as attractive first, an extra step that stung each time. Everyone who lived the life she envied was pretty, plain and simple. Strength and confidence seems to attract the same. Those that she attracted were the weak and inherently flawed. She wanted maturity, initiative and certainty, something she hoped to have in herself, but wavered all too often. She became ambitious out of need, and resented it.
Through years of hardships, “Be my pillar,” he had said. “Look how I fall, look how I’m so damaged by others that I must be cruel to you, only to forget when it suits me. Be my pillar because I need.” And as she stood like scaffolding for him, arms raised, stiff, floating away from herself and her dreams, motivated by necessity rather than desire, he turned. “Oh, look, I didn’t need you after all. Didn’t need any of it. I guess I was kidding.” And faded away.
She couldn’t remember when she stopped loving him, but she knew it was before he’d come to this conclusion. Whether or not he loved her, it was not the passionate love of a spouse, but that of a child. And that, at 30 years old, was not something she could handle. But was it better to be alone, unloved in her shameful and permanent ugliness, than to be with someone who at least needed her in some sense? Where was that decision? Had she reached a point where she only wanted disposable companionship, having been used and tried to exhaustion? She was thankful there were no children to consider. Now there were sure to be none.
So, another view. Another line of sight that went on forever. It was beauty, made her ache for things that were unreal. The rocks, the stillness, the trees that harbored streams and javelina, deer and sweet smelling earth. And the gentle pine needle covered ground that soften footfalls and emotions. And she’d seen it all before and had some how hoped this time it would be different.
“I used to live here, you know. This one time I accidentally hit a javelina that ran out of the brush into the front of my truck. I stopped short; it shook its head, stood, and rammed the front of the Toyota, annoyed at my intrusion. It couldn’t have been more than 40 pounds, but it was tougher than me.” She said it softly and to no one, just sharing something that made her smile with the wind.
She loved being alone and was never lonely. Her chest and throat hurt in the sunset as she turned, knowing that she’d continue looking for something she could not identify. It was the way she’d always been. And she had accepted it.
I don’t know what it’s like be my mother. I both fear her wrath and recognize her as simply being a human being. She has made it quite far, has lived quite a successful life, and, with the help of my father, made a wonderful life for her two children.
Now, I say two children.
The fact of the matter is that my father has frequently behaved as a third child. Yes, men mature slower than girls do, but if that’s the truth in my father’s case than he matures 1 year for everyone else’s dozen. And I mean this in a good way. If I was doing well in school and wanted him to play hooky from work so we could go to the Museum of Natural History or the Bronx Zoo, he would indulge me whenever he could. I knew early on where each and every scene of Ghost Busters 1 AND 2 where filmed because my father took me there. And I had a grasp of Renaissance art including both Italian and German artists by the time I was twelve because my father taught me their works and brought me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a regular basis.
Venus and Cupid, 1520 [MetropolitanMuseumOfArt]
I didn’t grow up in New York City, but I wasn’t too far outside of it. I knew train etiquette and was trusted to handle trips on my own from a fairly young age. I knew that the entrance to a museum was a suggested donation, but that if I could afford more than that request I should pay more, so that if I was too poor to pay once in while that was okay, too. And this is all because my dad was and is a good dad, mostly because no matter how old he gets he still always wants to have fun. And that flair of childishness has gotten him in trouble on more than one occasion.
When I was a pre-teen and teen, too young to drive, but too cool for just about everything else, sleepovers were my life. I’d hang at Anna’s house, we’d stay at Joanna’s house, and sometimes Laura, Erica, and I would lock ourselves in my room for days.
My parents would pound on the door, “What ARE you doing in there?!”
“NOTHING!” We’d all scream before dissolving in giggles.
Looking back on it I see that “nothing” was the truth. We did literally nothing. When one is a teenage girl, you can spend solid weeks on end “doing stuff”, thinking everything that revolves around you – and it all revolves around you – is suuuuuuuper important. And, really you’re not doing anything at all. Obsessing. Talking about boys. Talking about girls. Talking about the girls who liked the boys that we liked and how those girls were stupid trash because they had the audacity to live. All the things we wanted that our parents were too stupid and bitchy to buy us, because obviously that’s the only reason we didn’t have everything; parents have all the money in the world and they just didn’t buy us stuff because they didn’t respect us as the super mature, blossoming adults we were. Duh. And we’d talk about that crap for hours.
Photo credit ThisNext.com
Ugh. I can’t even think about this right now. It just makes me want my life back. I’m not going to chance having a female offspring now, either. I’m just going to adopt a boy out of safety.
Anyway, one day I was heading over to stay at Anna’s place. Anna was perpetually grounded and every time she was grounded she was allowed to go out, allowed to have friends over, but NOT allowed to use the phone. Really emotionally messed up, right? And, remember: This is before both computers and cell phones. Neither texting nor those free 100 hour discs of AOL featuring their messenger had even been invented yet, though they weren’t far off. Anna’s mom was very kind next to Anna’s constantly punishing father, and she would call my Ma and ask if I would like to come over or meet Anna at the mall, etc. So this was one of the many times I was hanging with Grounded Anna.
And my father was dealing with losing his little girl. Hangin’ with him was no longer the coolest thing in the world. The year prior I had asked for my own phone line for a birthday gift, and having my own answering machine made me pretty hot shit. To make matters worse, a couple years prior, I had come home from working at a stable (I did this from the time I was ten to earn equestrian lessons) to declare that womanhood was upon me. And my mother had to take me right back out to the pharmacy (Target and WalMart hadn’t been invented yet, either) for “womanhood accouterments”. Playtex would be proud.
In an effort to keep me, his PDSL, under his wing, Dad would terrorize me as frequently as possible. And by “terrorize” I mean he was merely being playful; this was at a time when my parents took me and my brother’s ever constant shouts of “GOD! Why are you guys SO annoying?!” as “I love you, too.”
This is a photo titled “Parents Just Don’t Understand” from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
As I was heading over to Anna’s that meant that my parents would also try to go grocery shopping. We lived on the edge of town and Anna lived in the center, so why make extra unnecessary trips? Being a teenager meant that each happening that had no relation to my own personal wishes was a total inconvenience to me, especially having my space invaded by uncool people – or worse: my parents. My mother drove and, out of shear teasing, my father chose to sit in the backseat with me. It was double annoying – first the grocery store, now this?! Ohmygod, lame!
“Go away, Dad.”
“Ugh, you’re so lame.”
“Do not call your father lame!”
“Yeah, your mother will turn this car around and slap your nose into next Tuesday.”
I started to snicker.
“Damnit, Christopher, do not mock me in front of the kids.”
“You’re in troooooooouble!” I said mockingly to my father. Being “In Trouble” was, of course, the absolute worst fate that could befall a person at this point in my life.
To which he retorted by reaching over and flicking my nose.
I slapped his arm. And he flicked again.
“MOM!” I shouted.
Photo credit unknown
This cycle continued for quite a while. It took just under thirty minutes to get to Anna’s home and by the time we arrived both my father and I were red in the face from laughing, I was horse from squawking for Mom, and Mom was pissed that she had ever thought it was a good idea to get married or knocked up.
Once in the cozy darkness of my friend’s basement living room, Anna and I proceeded to forget we had parents all together. We locked the door, put on The Dark Crystal, and sat on the step in front of the fireplace and “smoked” her parents’ cigarettes. I put the word smoked in parenthesis because I’m not too convinced we were very competent inhalers. It was all pretty pathetic. And we puffed away in front of the fireplace so the smoke would go out the chimney and her parents would be none the wiser. Which they weren’t.
An hour or so into our super adult, not-smoking yet smoking, ultra mature time, Anna began to stare at me.
“Kate. You have dirt on your nose.”
Naturally, we thought it was soot from smoking out of the fireplace and I promptly trotted to the bathroom to wash my face. A few friends decided to pop by, as was regularly the case since one couldn’t simply call Anna, and we all settled down in the dark to watch a movie.
Photo credit NYBBIS
Jen the Gelfling was just about to interpret the prophecy from the wall etchings that he found outside of Kira’s village when Tom detached his face from Anna’s mouth and turned to me.
“Kate. You have dirt on your nose.” I slid off the couch, thumped into the bathroom, and washed my face. Again.
At 11pm Anna’s folks shouted downstairs that anyone who wasn’t myself or Anna had to bugger off their premises for the night, because they were so uncool about everything. Jeez. Remaining in the afterglow of movie darkness and an evening teenage rebellion, Anna and I had another cigarette, hunched in the fireplace, before heading off to bed.
“Damn, Kate! You. Are. A. Mess! You still have dirt on your nose!” She said between giggles.
I brushed my teeth and washed my fave oblivious to the fact that with each wash not a speck of the dirt was coming off. In fact, if anything, the dirt was getting dirtier. But it all became very clear to me what had happened once I woke up.
“Kate!” yelled Anna’s mother through the closed bedroom door.
“Yes,” I snorted, jolting awake.
“Your parents are coming to get you. They need to take your brother to the DMV near here.”
“Okay, thanks, Mrs. Millhouse.” I answered, face down still in my pillow. Not one for pajamas I slept in my jeans, generally on the floors of my friends’ rooms. All I ever did was change my tee shirt. Anna remained asleep. I stumbled sleepily to the bathroom and flicked on the lights.
Big bright lights. Florescent suckers, unapologeticly highlighting every flaw and blemish of the human face.
And any noses that had turned deep purple with bruising.
I almost jumped at the site of myself. With an almost painted precision, my little nose, the adorable one I had inherited from my mother, was almost black from bruising. As I stared I slowly began to smile, realizing the flicks of my playful father were the cause.
And he was gonna be in SO MUCH TROUBLE!
“KATE!” Anna’s mom shouted over the beeping of a car horn. “Your folks are here!”
“ThanksMissusMillhouse!” I rushed as I grabbed my coat from Anna’s room and bolted out the front door, turning to the side so her mom wouldn’t see my nose. I thought it was funny, yes, but I was still self-conscience about it.
I ran out to the car on hopped into the back seat next to my brother who immediately began to grin maliciously.
“You look like a dog! Hey, Ma, Kate looks like a dog!”
“Mathew, DO NOT CALL YOUR SISTER A D-“
My father’s swear, so seldom heard, silenced the car. My mother wrenched at the rear-view mirror to get a good look at me. I smiled politely as she did so, for it was not I who would be in trouble.
That was the last moment we had silence in the car that day.
And, though it took only about a week for my nose bruising to dissipate, my dad was grounded for quite a while.
In a Super Secret Screening on Monday October 24th, the Alamo Drafthouse of Austin invited fans to a free showing of Young Adult, featuring in-person guests Director Jason Reitman and star Patton Oswalt. The film opens in limited release on December 9th and wider on December 16th.
Young Adult begins in Minneapolis, a city of industrialism without the prestige of Chicago or New York. Charlize Theron plays the washed-up ex-school socialite Mavis Gary, a ghost writer claiming famous author status, who returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota in an attempt to woo back her old high school flame. Darkness, rather than hilarity, ensues. Patton Oswalt plays Matt, an unexpected conscience and friend, who is just as guilty of being unable to let go as the delusional and pretentious Mavis. In usual Theron and Patton fashion, both play their characters as if they were built for them specifically, running a fine line between bleak truth and dark humor.
Young Adult doesn’t lack depth in its main character; Mavis’s failures and subsequent denial of them are more than evident through her boozing, inability to look at herself in a mirror before happy hour, and inherent conceit. The rest of the film, however, seems to barely scratch the surface by comparison. This story hits so close to home for so many that the script just isn’t enough to make Young Adult the home-run Juno was. The film does make attempts to get the viewer emotionally involved, adding a glimmer of back story outside Mavis’s ego. In a scene with an old flame’s wife, Theron portrays Mavis as not only naked and raw in feeling, but also unwavering in her blind egomaniacal sense of self when confronted with maturity. Another scene chances an impossible change of heart in Mavis while she shares a brief, but perfect connection with Sandra, played by the fantastic Collette Wolfe, but in the end it’s not enough. There are many questions the viewer will find unanswered, but that may simply be to drive home the fact that the universe revolves around Mavis; you’re in her world even though you don’t deserve to be. Almost twenty years after graduation, and with a career many would find envious, Mavis reveals herself to be just as sad as the hometown she mocks and resents.
While this film is enjoyable, Young Adult lacks a wow factor. The leap into something darker than Juno and Up in the Air is a adventure for Reitman that he pulls off well and Oswalt and Theron are fantastic with the story they’re given. The film, however, ultimately seems stuck deciding whether to be a drama or a dark, dry comedy of the ordinary. Theron is undeniable enthralling to watch, like a trainwreck that just keeps getting worse.
Stephen King once said “I hated high school. I don’t trust anybody who looks back on the years from 14 to 18 with any enjoyment. If you liked being a teenager, there’s something wrong with you,” and I agree. While everyone knew or – worse – currently knows a Mavis, seeing her on the big screen in all the glory of pitiful masochism and reminiscence is not enough for a truly fulfilling story. Young Adult begins well, truly tries in the third act, and its star and directors play their parts well. The story just simply falls short.