Monday, June 02, 2008

It's 4 AM on a Monday Morning and Your Girl is Lovely, Hubble. (Obligatory SATC movie post)

[UPDATE: Somehow this published last night without the last two paragraphs. Sorz .. Fixed now.]
I saw the colors and the wind in their skirts; four women clompity-clomping down a sidewalk and the sheer power of their power seemed like parting seas. I saw Carrie perched like a cat at the edge of her bed, typity-typing words that were just for us to eat up like bon-bons stuffed with both alcohol and fortunes. We could crack open our sweetest spots and inside we could read: "Do mistakes make our fate?" "Do we ever give up the ghosts of relationships past?" Then we'd eat our cookies and the sweetness would stick to our teeth.

I believed those were our sweetest spots: "Is it smarter to follow your heart or your head?" "Is hope a drug we need to go off of, or does it keep us alive?" Our sweetest spots weren't what we'd suspected (animals wanting their bellies scratched, or food), they were what we'd hoped (a drug that keeps us alive).

And then; we could eat our cookies.

And, in Michigan, alone at night-time when I'd feel like an alien accidentally born on the wrong planet, I'd watch this show called Sex and the City on DVD and I'd write in my journal: ONE DAY YOUR LIFE WILL BE FAR MORE FABULOUS THAN THIS. I'd cut out magazine pictures of women in powersuits and paste them into my journal and draw pictures with colored pencils. A boy would call and I'd glance benevolently at his name on the ID and sigh at how silly and small he was compared to this city. He was insignificant and mean, I was clompity-clomp and mean, he'd eat my dust like an expensive bon-bon and it would taste like my mouth and then I'd bite his hand.

I saw the sex. I saw the city which got dark and dirty at night -- teeeming with prostitutes and puddles and heartbreak and shoe-break. I saw these things only -- the way the word "brunch" sounds like "french," like french kissing, or french toast. I heard other sounds too; women laughing, the self-assured lilt of Samantha's unapologetic lust, full of pride and self-reliance and hunger. I heard Charlotte's lips twisting in prudish neurotic adorable Charlottehood. I felt Miranda's eyes rolling far far away and then reluctantly returning to the table like someone who'd just eaten your fourtune without reading it and then offered you a really good book in exchange.

I heard Miranda; "We're four smart women with jobs and men is all we can talk about? It's like seventh grade with bank accounts." I thought; true story. I thought; let's talk about women instead. Let's talk about other kinds of desire, the kind we already understand but maybe don't know what to do with yet. Not these strange games and boundaries, where closets and rings mean more than poetry.

"Carrie" was right about one thing -- it is our mistakes that make our fate. And that's got nothing to do with mistakes and a lot more to do with fate. We've all got the same one, and maybe we come here to escape it. And if we don't come here -- to this immortal city -- it doesn't matter. What we come here for is the same exact feeling that every person everywhere feels through fucking or through drugs or through a car speeding through a clean night or through laughter or the kind of love you can't put on a keychain or in a newspaper or on a blog.

Through the moments when stars looked like bright lights, big cities. Through silence. We came here 'cause we wanted it double, which means paying double too.

Here, here, here, this city. Its lights and garish billboards of women selling shampoo like shampoo is secretly a blow job from a girl made out of candy and colors. Women selling underwear like underwear is sex or a city or sex in a city or women on magazine covers, the sides of busses, is women still making less than men but fighting just the same. Is women made immortal by the ambivalent wave of an airbrush, like photographs are magicians and women are bunnies with their ears pert and open. And also by the dirty things women don't talk about, by the compromises.

This is New York City: sex isn't always a soundbyte, isn't how Samantha comes like she's warning the neighborhood. Sex is not always brunch or french.

Sex is not always coloring though sometimes it is. Sometimes it's like the colorful dresses the girls wore in the movie and the show that I liked when I used to have dreams like balloons that kept getting bigger as long as you remained willing to blow.

Sometimes sex is like touching someone's skin with your fingertip and feeling that you've accidentally split their lungs right open and then saying "It's okay, I can teach you how to breathe." It's saying, "trust me," and then leading them underground with one finger latched into their finger and a darkness only you understand.
It's saying "look me in the eyes and tell me how much you like me," and then crawling inside of that feeling like it's a swimming pool you can sleep in without drowning. You can just dream and kiss forever after all.

Is like hitting someone in the face, or just wanting to.

And sometimes sex is a strong hand on the back of your skull, is a moment when you close your eyes and think about ponies and pudding and the sound of your best friend laughing and licking frosting off the spoon while your mother makes cake and you are small and far away. It's thinking these things until it's over and you're still gasping for air and then later, alone in Manhattan at night, walking towards wheels to take you home, you'll hold a cigarette tenderly to your lips to remind yourself that sometimes you can choose the kind of death you let inside you. It's how easily smoke covers his smell and every smell you've ever smelled.

It's the relief of a night where no one gives a shit, where you could drown in a puddle or a pool of pudding.

And the city ?

Is work. Is women working their assess off as if we never took back any kind of night. Is everything that happened after the year 2000 when we realized actually none of us had the right to vote. The city is women working in big, hulking, angry buildings that raise triumphant and phallic into the sky. Is women winning and losing and giving up and leaving and winning and auto-winning some.

Is Samantha in Richard's office, determined to get the account. Is Miranda. Is everything about Miranda until the movie. Is the episode when all four women admit they've been taking care of themselves for a long time, and they aren't really necessarily ready to let someone else take that part over. The film at times felt like women begging for someone else to take over, clinging to prior independence like an illness they couldn't shake. Not 'cause they were tired -- which I fully understand-- but because it just wasn't so important, not as important as keychains and purses.

In the finale, I cried when Big said; "You three are the real loves of her life." Did you? And I wanted a moment in the movie like that. Some were close -- the girls shuffling Carrie into the car outside the library (I'm trying to refrain from spoilers) -- but I wanted one step closer. Clickity-clack, and how do they feel about Carrie's book? How's she doing?


I came here expecting that kind of life and it hasn't been that way at all -- not even for one minute. I came here expecting lessons and shiny shoes and the colors. Tutus. Pillows like apologies and/or hugs and a world where women could have their cake and make it, too. Men like tiny snacks on little pieces of bread. Clackity-clack go the women on the street. Typity-type on the computer.

I'd never understood why people got upset that TV characters had unrealistically large Manhattan apartments, like Rachel Green in Friends. It's teevee, I thought, who cares? It isn't real, we all know that. Who cares?

I guess ... I did. I cared. I believed in Sex and the City.

And watching the film, I couldn't help but wonder ... how, exactly, does Carrie manage to write about her sex life in a weekly column and regularly publish mysteriously profitable books while managing to avoid that occupation's two elemental repercussions:
1) conflict over writing intimately about the lives of her friends, lovers, and friend's lovers.
2) financial struggles.

The L Word unquestionably cloaks characters in Free City, but it's easier to swallow Shane's $200 t-shirts than Carrie's shoes 'cause we literally see Carrie shop. It's part of her character. She cabs, she brunches, and -- most enviable of all --- lives alone in a nice neighborhood in Manhattan while putting in approximately two hours of work per week.

I came here expecting that but with no real “plan” for obtaining it. I wanted movie magic. Did Carrie have a plan? Did you?

The only part of a wedding I ever got excited over was picking bridesmaids, and thinking about a dress I could wear that'd piss everyone off besides whatever woman had agreed to marry me, and that woman would think the dress was sexy.

What happened when she'd put out three books divulging all her personal failures, put it out there for everyone, and was still the only one without a savings account? Did anyone care that she wrote about them? Did Gawker cover the Vogue fallout? How, how, how ... I wanted to see Carrie's plan, the overlap of the personal and the professional. Her body, her self.


"So here I was, a 35-year-old single woman with no financial security, but many life experiences behind me. Did that mean nothing? After all, heartbreak and breakups are the hardest kind of work. So shouldn't there be some sort of credit for enduring them? And if not, how do you retain a sense of value when you have nothing concrete to show for it? Because at the end of yet another failed relationship, when all you have are war wounds and self-doubt, you have to wonder, what's it all worth?"

-Carrie Bradshaw, episode 64, "Ring a Ding Ding"

[Howevs -- she has $40,000 of shoes. In the Book of Riese, ebay gold star seller, those be some assets, SRSLY.]

I came here wanting experience ... and rewards for experience ... at at times, I've had it!

I've had moments that make me jealous of myself and they all felt like magic and gifts. Almost everything I've gotten here has been through magic and love and things I deem unquestionably real, deserved.

This isn't a good long-term plan 'cause magic comes and goes but 9-to-5 jobs are forever, but luckily I believe very strongly in the moment and try not to think about next week.

As for financial security and white knights ... I guess I was looking for a different kind of rock. For what I loved about the show and loved for those brief, multi-colored moments in the film when the four girls rounded the corner and they could've been twenty or two hundred, what mattered was they had each other and they had themselves. Which matters to me more than any kind of deep deep closet.


We saw the movie on opening night in Chelsea at midnight. A drag queen introduced the movie. I raised my hand when he said "Who's a Miranda?" Miranda didn't believe in jackshit. 50% of the theater -- mostly gay men -- cheered for "Who's a Samantha?"

I was entertained and delighted and sometimes moved to tears. I had to hide under my hoodie a few times when it got too cheesy -- most scenes involving J-Hud, or when our dear Stef, fully wasted, punctuated her favourite moments rock-show-style with a scream and a fist in the air. But I believe in that, too.


I didn't come here expecting to give up men altogether, I didn't come here expecting anything that I got. I may've come here expecting the precise opposite of all this in which case yes, my mistakes did make my fate except I don't believe in fate. I believe in many silly things, but not that.

As for this city and what it's got that I believe in; I believe in love, and I believe in Caitlin and I believe in Alexandra (though they don't live in the city proper, 'cause no one does anymore) and Natalie, and I believe in music and I believe in english muffins and Team Emily and words and books. In art. In everyone who lives here that I love and who will walk down the street with me in Chuck Taylors.

As for that silly movie -- I found Charlotte charming, Samantha oddly bearable, Miranda not pleasant though she's usually my favorite, and Carrie -- I don't know. I liked the fashion show in her closet. I liked the moments that reminded me of 80's movies about cute girls in suburbs who wanted to have fun. I was thoroughly entertained. I didn't like the parts where strong women had nothing else to talk about besides men.

What I love about SATC the show, and what changed my life while I thought I was watching love stories and colors in fabric, was that it challenged my perceptions of the centrality female friendship could hold in one's life. Prior to SATC and TLW, most onscreen female friendships were a series of Brenda and Kelly esque catfights -- competitions over boys or cheerleading squad, etc.

This was embodied in Carrie's walk to Miranda's apartment in the movie -- so totally bogus, and yet so beautiful. And the snow. And the city and the sex inside it and all over it. The places we dream of, the places we can't bear to be found.

Later that day, I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that split you right open like the heart is just another fruit and those that yank you from your present and drop you mercilessly into the feelings of someone you thought you'd left behind. There's those that remind you of where you were, those that help you get where you're going, those that make you think you've got it all wrong and those that lift a heavy gate revealing something right and full of color. There's those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I let tv/movies fool me even though I know better than that. But sometimes, really, it's just so enticing.

Do you think that happens, though, with people's blogs too? Like your version of NYC doesn't seem at all shabby when you present your adventures.

Thanks for entertainment this early in the morning.

Mercury said...

The TV series annoyed the crap out of me cause we never knew Big's name and CARRIE ASKED SO GODDAMN MANY QUESTIONS in her her narration. Usually they were questionified statements, like, they'd have been complete if you just rearranged the words and exchanged the ? for a .

Therefore, I watched the whole thing through once, but have not been able to bear repeats.

I liked the movie because I honestly thought from the previews the whole thign was gonna be about the wedding... and I guess it was, in a circular way, but it spanned over a whole year, so at least we got a good break. Also Carrie sleeping for 3 days straight was done well. I've done that.

Also we learned that Big's named John James Preston and Carrie made more statements and asked less questions.

Also there was a super cute black girl!

But I sort of wish it had ended like the end of Gilmore Girls, when Rory tells Logan she won't marry him, the end. Like, why is marriage the happy ending? I'm w. Miranda, it ruins everything.

Mercury said...

PS You're brilliant, I love the things you write at 4am

Bourbon said...

Ahhh!!! *shields eyes* Are there spoilers in this post? It's not out here yet...

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this film, yet, but I read this anyway, because I knew I would love it, as I did. I've set aside Thursday as my special "SATC" day: a huge lunch for one someplace disgusting yet delicious, the movie, complete with disgusting and overpriced popcorn, and an apres-cinema treat of, again, disgusting yet delicious ice cream. All spent by myself, and with my memories of this show, and how it truly did form my life, allow me to relate to it, to take comfort from it, and to, at times, extract dreams from it. I loved reading about your moving experience of the series and film; they were quite a warm treasure after reading all of the detritus written by critics over the past several days.

frank said...

In the finale, I cried when Big said; "You three are the real loves of her life." Did you?

I cried when I read that.

dani said...

this is so beautiful.

frank said...

you're like Comments O'Toole today. and for the record, you're the only girl i'd let leave her shirt on during the intercourse.

Anonymous said...

This was one of my favorite posts yet.

riese said...

burninsteady: I think that happens with people's blogs too. After all, it's only my adventures that I present, rather than behind that music, or before or after it? (and you're welcome, pleasing insomniacs is my life's work!)

mercury: this week's entertainment weekly goes through every episode, and it's amazing some of the questions they actually anchored episodes on, like "are men in their twenties the new designer drug?" I too loved Carrie sleeping for three days -- it was perfect, and I've done that too. I got that. I thought J-Hud looked hot, but her part felt to corny to me, all of her "grrrrlll you better .." and the 50's throwback believing-in-love shtick, y'know? I was also glad the whole thing wasn't about the wedding, but at first I was even more excited thinking that we were getting it over with so quickly into the film (p.s. thank you).

razia: no spoilers in the post, I was supercareful!

athertonbartleby: I love love LOVE that you've set aside thursday for SATC and love even more that you've planned your snacks already. And thank you for continuing to find my personal attachments to pop culture endearing as it seems it's not been such a good week for women finding ways to talk about themselves when talking about society. Can't wait to hear what you think of it ...

dave lozo: Crybaby.

dani: (!!!!)

dave lozo: I think that's supposed to be a compliment ... why O'Toole and not O'Douls or McGee or Bernstien? I'm a jew, not an irish, or an irish and a jew.

laura: (!!:-))

Anonymous said...

it's things like this that make me glad we're friends. between you and haviland you both have enough feelings about satc for all of us. this is why i love when you write about things we've done together, cause i love reading your perspective. i was watching you a movie, you were watching a movement.

riese said...

yes yes indeed ... I'm always watching the movement. I like that idea/line/thought/everything.

DH said...

I've never watched SATC, but as I was telling Cait earlier, I'll probably go and watch the movie 'cause everyone else I know plans to and I don't want to be left out. Comes back around to being young and impressionable, etc, let's chat, etc.

eric mathew said...

on my door:

"If you are single there is always one thing you should take out with you on a Saturday night... your friends."

and it's so true.

okay i'm gonna go watch the nanny and eat ice cream.

dorothy said...

I don't know that there was anything obligatory about this post.

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)