Tag Archives: movie

Having a bad day, are you?

Because we didn’t have other plans on Thanksgiving, we decided to eat dinner early and then see a movie. I’d been wanting to see Happy-Go-Lucky since I heard that Mike Leigh had a new movie out, and the rest of the family agreed to see it.

The film focuses on Poppy, a 30 year old woman who seems to have an unending amount of good nature in all situations. Near the beginning of the film, when she discovers her bike has been stolen, simply says something like “I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.” The film goes on to show Poppy with friends, at work, jumping on a trampoline, taking Flamenco dancing lessons, taking driving lessons — all with a smile on her face and good cheer all around.

Of course the film is much more than that — it’s a Mike Leigh movie after all. Behind Poppy’s happiness are other emotions. Behind the faces of others in the film are more emotions. It’s not really a lighthearted movie, nor necessarily a “feel good” film — and possibly the kind of film you’ll need to see more than once to appreciate (I plan on seeing it again sometime this week).

I’ve been thinking about happiness for a while now — way before I saw this film. Maybe it started back when I posted about the woman with the dog who was laughing, but I suspect it was before then.

Back to Poppy — in Happy-Go-Lucky, Poppy, when encountering someone who doesn’t laugh along with her, often asks, “Having a bad day, are you?” They invariably reply that they aren’t. I’ve got a feeling that if I met Poppy, she’d end up asking me if I was having a bad day.

See, I don’t smile much. So much that people often think I’m having a bad day or in a bad mood or angry at them. I suspect that I’ve been like this since I was very young. I remember being the kid in my classes — it might have been around 3rd grade — who always wanted to be the good one. Always wanted to be the kid who didn’t laugh at the antics of the class clowns. I remember forcing my facial muscles into a frown when they wanted to smile. In 3rd grade. I didn’t want the teacher to see me laughing. I wanted the teacher to know I was on her side.

This tactic served me well until I got older and lost friends, or at least the opportunity of friends, because I looked so stern. People often ask me if I ever smile, and more times than I can count, someone tells me I have a nice smile and should use it more.

I lost at least one job opportunity because I didn’t smile enough during the interview. I know this because the interviewer asked me why I didn’t smile during the whole interview and said that the students at that school needed someone who showed positive emotions.

My daughter has brought this up many times — and tells me that I’ll feel better if I smile. Maybe she’s right — it just feels unnatural.  I think it’s like posture. I’m used to frowning like I’m used to slouching. Standing straight feels strange as does smiling.

Last night, as I got ready for bed, I thought of something amusing. I noticed that, even then — in a dark room and basically alone (my husband was sleeping) — I forced the smile that wanted to erupt on my face down into a frown. Why was I even keeping a smile from myself?

It’s not that I am not a happy person — I think I’m as happy as the next person, but I refuse to show it. Am I afraid I’ll get into trouble if I laugh occasionally? From whom? Myself? Don’t I deserve to be happy? If so, why not?

Maybe I’ll take a cue from Poppy. And the laughing stranger. And even Marcia — I don’t really remember her being unhappy — she was always good-natured. Maybe that’s how I’ll celebrate her life — and my own, by changing an aspect of my own and smiling more.

I’ll work on the laughing bit later.

Becoming Dona

When I was in the 6th grade I had a friend (fittingly named Eugenia) who introduced me to romance (mostly gothic) novels. I began with Phyllis A. Whitney who, I just discovered, passed away earlier this year. I then moved on to Victoria Holt and all of her pseudonyms. Eventually I read some of the Brontës’ work. I never read Jane Austen.

One trait most of the women in these novels possesses is a sharp tongue and the habit of provoking bantering conversation with all men, but mostly the men they were interested in romantically. Being relatively sheltered and shy, I didn’t have much opportunity to converse with males other than my relatives, so I didn’t really know how to talk to them, especially guys I was interested in. So I took a cue from the romance novels I read and, in my imaginary conversations with guys, carried on sharp-witted banter with them in my head. Oh, I was witty. My fictitious retorts to imagined flirtations were brilliant.

My real conversations with guys wasn’t so successful. Either I’d blush and look down and stammer something unintelligible until they walked away, laughing; or I tried to be witty and the guys would look at me like I was insane. They never bantered back.

I didn’t realize that “normal” people didn’t talk like that. That it was just fiction. In fact, it wasn’t until the past ten years or so that I finally really understood that I was not going to find my perfect verbal sparring partner and that the banter I’d expected to experience just wasn’t going to be a reality in my life and, in fact, was a pretty annoying thing to listen to.

Clare and I started watching Becoming Jane last week. We got about a quarter of the way through it and couldn’t’ deal with the banter. Perhaps Jane Austen did talk like that. Perhaps men and women of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s bantered. Perhaps to be the ones bantering was exhilarating. But to listen to consistent banter? It’s downright irritating.

Kennywood 2007 Adventureland 1987

I stumbled upon this news as I clicked through some film related information — a new film is coming out in August called Adventureland and was filmed at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. I was drawn to the name Adventureland because as a child my parents took me to an amusement park of the same name. When I saw it was being filmed at Kennywood, that kept my attention.

We’ve been to Kennywood several times – including the 1980’s, the time period this film depicts. It will be fun to watch.

This YouTube clip of a news broadcast about the filming:


It seems that even more of Pittsburgh is shown in the film, such as parts of Shadyside, the area where we lived in the 1980’s. The Post-Gazette ran an article about the director’s ties to Pittsburgh.