Friday, January 27, 2006

Decisions, Decisions.

Making a decision and sticking with it – something so many of us find exceedingly difficult, but why? Why do we struggle with the simple yes’s and no’s and then agonize about whether or not we got it wrong after there is nothing we can do to reverse it?

“I ordered whole milk in my coffee, maybe I should have ordered low fat milk or skim! I’ll probably get fat now! Why didn’t I think of that before? But what if it tastes bad with skim? Hmm… maybe I should have gotten a small… Excuse me, miss…”

A simple trip to Starbucks in the morning can easily bring about this reaction - and on so many levels. I envy the girl who can go up to the barrister and rattle off something like, “grande green tea frap, no whip” (a past favorite of mine) without hesitation. That was me once before they stopped making it and indecision set in. I’ve faced Starbucks with fear and trepidation ever since…

And what about the real choices we must make in life?! Where to live, what to drive, what job to take… the list goes on. If we have this much trouble deciding what kind of caffeine fix best “represents ourselves as a person,” (sense my sarcasm?) how can we be expected to make a lasting decision on matters which carry far greater consequences?

Today I did. At approximately noon, I mailed out my law school application. After reviewing my personal statement countless times on end, I finally made up my mind to just mail it – and I did! And I’ve never felt better. (We’ll see how long that lasts!) Now I’ll just have to decide whether to accept or defer should they choose to accept me… but that can wait for now!

There is no relief like making up your mind and knowing you did everything in your power to make the right decision. Now, it’s in God’s hands and needless to say, I am much more comfortable with that.

Yeah. I could really go for some coffee right about now… how about you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fear. Doubt. Second Thoughts.

And suddenly it hits you.

The old familiar feeling of panic that had for so long been absent comes racing back; anxiety, worry, fear settles in. With nothing gradual about its onset, you almost didn’t notice it was happening, but it has. It’s too late to stop it. And now all you can do is worry about the how and why of it all, as you try to figure out a way to slow the racing thoughts, to escape the nagging questions you haven’t yet begun to answer for yourself. This is the consequence of falsely believing you’ve finally made up your mind, that you finally know what you want.

But this is not about M.

This is about my other passion – or what has for so long been my passion – my desire to go to law school, and the reasons why I’ve put it off for so long -- and the nagging desire I feel to finally take it on and to redeem myself for all this waiting -- and the contrary advice of others who are able to pinpoint the doubts in me I still can’t bring myself to admit.

What do I really want? I thought I knew.

I moved from my native Brooklyn, NY to Virginia two years ago with the hope of making a life for myself here so I could get into GMU law school as an in-state resident (the only way I could afford to go). After various professional experiences in public and economic policy, on the Hill and off, I found myself time and time again toying with the idea of going. But there was always something in my way. Be it health concerns or issues, competing job priorities, financial concerns – something always kept me from following through with what I thought I always wanted… until a few days ago, when I decided that now was the time to apply.

Until a few minutes ago, when my boss sat me down and picked apart my vainly concealed reasons for wanting to go now. For fear that at 24 if I wait any longer, I’ll never be able to start a family at a young age, for fear that since I’m getting married, it’s time I get my ducks in a row, for fear that after spending 3 months in the hospital and being an endless disappointment to my family back home, it was time to vindicate myself and prove that I still have what it takes. And I admit – a lot of this decision has been motivated by fear, but it’s also motivated by desire… to do more with my life, to live up to God’s will, to do something with my education and not just give up and settle down. I’m so conflicted.

Now that I have M and I’ve overcome the obstacles that plagued me this past summer, I’m ready to tie up loose ends. I’m ready to take the next step. But is law school the logical choice?

There are just so many choices, still so many competing priorities. If I don’t do it now, will I ever do it? Is that reason enough to take that leap? I thought I knew, but now – in the words of someone I’ve quoted many times before – I’m not sure that I know what I think I know.

I wish I knew.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Besting Barbie?

After a hectic holiday filled with much of the usual fare and the official announcement of my recent engagement to my family, I’m still recovering… The fact that I’m engaged has slowly but surely sunken in and now I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts. Still, the nagging questions of when and where and how are all flying at me relentlessly. For example, I was asked by at least 3 people on the day after M popped the question whether or not we’d set a date yet. YET?!?! Do people usually set a date in under 36 hours?? Nevertheless – and in spite of whatever today’s current trends are - I’m taking this in stride and cautiously so.

So how does engaged life differ from dating life? Well, aside from having a notably large diamond ring that by far bests any other piece of jewelry I’ve ever owned in my entire life on my left hand, and aside from dodging the aforementioned questions, hoping I don’t blind anyone on the metro with my newest accessory, feeling a deeper attachment and security in my relationship with M, and having to tell and re-tell the story of our engagement to countless others, I’d say it’s pretty similar. :)

I must admit, however, that it is taxing. A recent rush of newly engaged co-workers has succeeded in putting every issue from dresses to rings to flowers front and center and making each of them entirely unavoidable. Not that I’m being evasive in anyway. I am - truth be told - a devotee of browsing and WeddingChannel websites obsessively. I’ve also taken heart in the fact that I can now live vicariously through my rail-thin co-worker (the model) by clipping every gown I wish I were a foot and a half taller to wear and passing it to her each morning. It’s more fun than playing Barbie ever was!

But the real fun will begin this weekend… when I discover for myself what the infamous designer “trunk show” is all about. I’ve been informed to bring with me magazine clippings of what I’d like to look like. I’m wondering whether or not they’ll be amused when I show up with pictures of gowns fit for tall, waif-like women that are twice my height. I’m 4’10 1/2'” (and no one will deprive me of that half!) – but so what? That can’t be what I want to look like?! Who among us doesn’t want to look like a towering model? Forgive my dabbling in stereotype, but really now…

Though it was my nickname in summercamp for many years when I was younger (and probably the same height!), whether or not I’m ready for the role of Barbie quite yet is to be seen -- but Lord knows, I’m enjoying every minute of it. That is... until I see myself in blaring unforgiving pale white tulle. That will be another story… Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Match Point: Zero Love

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As one critic's review after another waxed poetic about the deeper meaning and depth behind Woody Allen's latest film "Match Point," I couldn't help being a little intrigued. Praised as being the director's best film in years and one that would fully demonstrate his nihilistic worldview, Match Point promised to offer up a look at life as nothing more than a series of events occuring purely by chance -- or better yet, luck. Critics were all too eager to jump on the bandwagon, praising the film for doing exactly that. Whether or not the film actually delivers - on any level - is another question.

Match Point is more than a story of supposed blind luck, it is a story of moral bankruptcy replete with underhanded and vainly concealed attempts to push its agenda on the audience.

Set in London, the film follows the undertakings of Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a struggling Irish tennis pro turned instructor who - as the narrator suggests - is neither good nor lucky. But his so-called luck changes when he takes on a student named Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) and is introduced to his sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer) a rich socialite who is clearly determined to make Chris her own. However lucky Chris is to meet this woman, whose father practically buys him as a gift for his daughter, turning him seemingly overnight from a sweaty tennis instructor to a business man clad in a three piece suit, his luck seems to be cut short when he meets and is instantly taken by Nola Rice (Scarlet Johansson), Tom's fiance.

On nearly every level - not the least of which is beauty - Nola is Chloe's opposite and Chris' match. As a struggling actress from America, Nola hangs on to her diminishing dreams only to show other people that she can make it. Chris also has ambitions to rise above his circumstances (as he tells Chloe rather lamely, "I want to do something more with my life. I want to make a contribution") and in the two siblings it seems that Chris and Nola have found their way to the top. But would a writer/director as pessimistic as Allen allow these characters to have such luck?

Despite marrying Chloe and "making it" to the height of London business (thanks to Chloe's dad and his willingness to bring him into the family business), Chris continues a secret affair with Nola that began before his marraige and before Tom decides to give Nola the boot for another woman. Though Allen pushes and prods the audience to believe that the events that follow are merely a matter of chance, they are clearly a matter of choice.

On every level, Match Point is little more than a tease. Promising to deliver romance and passion, deeper meaning and social commentary, it fails on every count. The love scenes between Chris and Nola start off as enticing and provocative but are maddeningly cut short. Instead, Allen would rather show us a window and the snow falling outside, as though the weather mattered. The scenes are so contrived and tentative that it's impossible to ever discern whether Chris actually loves either of the two women in his life (or bed). All that is clear is that nearly every character in the film lacks a moral compass and that the audience is to believe that it's not Chris' moral repugnance that we should mind, but the sad "truth" that there is no deeper meaning to any of it.

Recalling the scores of reviews that promised the film would take sudden unexpected twists and turns, I held out hope that the film would redeem itself -- but there is no redemption in Allen's world. Where the film ultimately takes you is where you are reluctant to go, but unfortunately the reins are in the hand of a director bent on making a point that never really gets off the ground.

To say that the film leaves you cold is an understatement. While it may seem that Match Point is an artistic portrayal of the battle between love and lust (or in this case, greed and whichever), it is a film with no heart. It is not the world that the characters inhabit that is devoid of meaning or God or justice, it is the screenplay -- and it is a very showy and obvious attempt to push this worldview on its audience.

To borrow from the somewhat corny theme that is paralleled throughout the film... In this case, the point was served, but for this reviewer, it utterly failed to make it over the net.

Match Point is rated R for some sexuality