truman capote, death + addiction.

i was in trader joe's yesterday at 1:46pm when i got the text message.  did you know that going to the market on super bowl sunday is apparently worse than going the day before thanksgiving?  i did not.  but i do now.  anyway.  the text was from an old friend.  you hear the news on philip seymour hoffman? no, i had not heard the news.  but i knew exactly what he was going to say.  found dead in manhattan apartment today... just reported in wall street journal.  i quickly used my finely tuned iphone skills to open up the huffpost app and see if it was true.  sure enough, the headline confirmed it.  i'm not embarrassed to say i cried in the fruit aisle [of course being 31 weeks pregnant kind of gives me a free pass on this one].

now at this point you are probably thinking a few things.  things like, ok, this is a little dramatic.  and, certainly she isn't going to change her blog to post about a celebrity death, right?  well to those comments i would say wrong on both counts.

yesterday and today everyone will claim to be PSH's biggest fan.  he was my favorite actor!  i always loved him!  but in truth, i took the obsession a little far.  he was my favorite actor, hands down, ever, for all time.  he even made my list [what can i say, something about his creative genius was irresistible to me].  it started sometime around his career-changing role as truman capote in capote.  capote is my favorite author and i had recently read his biography, and was strangely drawn to the man playing such an inspirational yet tormented character.  my love for capote somehow was wrapped up in PSH and i came out the other side completely enthralled with both men forever and ever. 

and if you still think this is being dramatic, i will tell you that four different people called and six different friends and family members texted me to see if i had heard the news and if i was ok.  i know how much you loved him.  yes.  and i wasn't the only one who felt as if i lost a friend in someone i never knew.  ty burr said it best in his boston globe profile this morning: 'it seems as though a hole just got punched, not just in the movies but in the culture as a whole. weirder still: i never met the man, so why do i feel as if i’ve just lost a dear friend?'

i posted something on facebook about his passing, where more friends mentioned they had thought of me when they learned of his passing [seriously, i know, i was a little obsessed].  one friend brought a new perspective.  tragic, she wrote.  but i only have so much sympathy for drug addicts.


yes, sure.  PSH died of an overdose.  no getting around that fact when the man was found with a needle in his arm.  but i feel the need to say that i don't believe things are so cut and dry.  i have lived with addicts in my family.  i've seen, first hand, how addiction can change a person.  how in the morning they can be someone you love and trust, but at night they turn in to someone else.  someone you don't know - but deep down you know that person you love and trust is still in there somewhere.  with this first hand experience comes the deeply seeded feeling that there is a level of personal responsibility.  in PSH's case, there was his recent relapse, which started with prescription painkillers.  after being personally effected by drug addiction has given me the mindset that there is a time where you say no.  when you are prescribed those drugs and you look at yourself as a recovering addict, as a man with a family, and you say no. 

but the world is not so black and white.  this is something that PSH showed us time and time again in his many, many heartbreaking roles.  a good teacher, a better friend, but a man struggling with temptation in 25th houran outsider desperately trying to make himself fit in and dealing with the inevitable rejection in boogie nights.  the kind, approachable, yet possibly sinister priest in doubt.  a simple and sweet but painfully shy man trying to better his life and find love in jack goes boating.  these are characters that you don't pity - you end up empathizing with them.  such is the case with addiction. 

drug addicts are not inherently bad people.  'sometimes, when i see a great move or a great play i think, being human means you're really alone,' PSH was quoted as saying in his 2008 new york times magazine profile.  i think the struggle with drug or alcohol addiction is a very lonely struggle, and as long as we label people as 'bad people' because of their situations, those struggles aren't going to be any more possible.

anyway.  kind of a depressing subject for a monday morning.  but i read recently that often times writers can't fully process something until they have written about it, and i find that to be all too true.

jim carrey may have said it best on twitter:
but thinking over addiction and this grey area of life makes me think of a powerful line from a PSH film, doubt, choked out meryl streep at the end of the movie.

i have doubts, she said, through sobs.


on how i got here.

so i watched garden state the other day.  it was on and plus, who doesn't love that movie?  i saw it when it came out, bought it, and loved it.  but i haven't seen it again since watching it a few times when i was younger.

but to be honest... i don't think i really got it, you know?  i thought it was a great movie - funny, sad, romantic, entertaining.  it was all i really wanted out of a movie when i was 19.  but watching that movie again nine years later, well... it was different.  i was in tears throughout the movie, not just at the end.  at points, it was like someone was speaking directly to me.  i love when that happens in movies or books or songs.  it is the best.

anyway.  it got me thinking about so many things.  
you know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? all of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone...
you'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. you feel like you can never get it back. it's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. you won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. i don't know, but i miss the idea of it, you know. maybe that's all family really is. a group of people that miss the same imaginary place.
i thought about my family, and some fairly-recent family drama we've been going through.  and that last line, about family and home and missing some imaginary place really resonated with me.  it's not for me to go into detail here, but my tight-knit italian family has been through some shake-ups over the course of the last few years, some of which had to do with losing my great-grandmother's house [she was our family matriarch].  and some of us have had that very definition of family, of missing that same imaginary place.  losing this place that we all shared doesn't make us any less of a family, and neither does losing the person who, at times, was the one who seemingly held it all together. 

that line was never something that would have resonated with me nine years ago.  in fact, i wouldn't have really understood it.  but having grown up, moved on and in trying to start to build my own house for my own family, i just get it.  i do.  one day you walk into your parent's house, and it isn't yours.  you sleep in the guest room at your dad's house.  and while your room may be the same at your mom's old house, everything else is different.  and that's all ok, but it reminds you that, at some point, your home is your home and not your parents' home anymore. 
this is my life... this is it. i spent 26 years waiting for something else to start, so, no, i don't think it's too much to take on, because it's everything there is. i see now it's all of it.
but it got me thinking about something else too, something very far away that i haven't thought about in a very, very long time.  i once met a person.  our meeting wasn't all that spectacular, and over the course of a few months we developed a half-relationship-half-friendship.  i don't really know what it was.  it made my head spin, completely infatuated me for periods of time that came and then passed as quickly as they showed up, and ultimately pushed me down a road of self-discovery [that i had no idea or intention of embarking on at the time].

he was just a boy i hung out with casually for a few months.  we'd talk sometimes and see each other a few times a week, and then sometimes it would be a month before i'd hear from him again.  he was an on-again, off-again, super casual person in my life.  for him, i was a 19-20 year old girl he knew and would hang out with sometime.  but for me, he represented an idea of life.  it wasn't so much him so much as it was the idea of what my life could be like.  at six years older than me, he had already had a few of the life experiences i didn't even know yet that i always wanted.  he was the first person i'd met who was as impulsive as i always thought of myself.  he quit his job when it made him unhappy.  he traveled across the world and met people on his way that had changed him.

things didn't work out with us, which was fine.  one day he just didn't call again, and i didn't call him either.  no big deal.  but his idea of life stayed with me.  and through the next year, a lot of things happened in my life.  a death, a divorce, so many other of those types of issues have a real way about pushing a girl across an ocean.  when i saw that add for 'study abroad: prague! slots still open!' i just knew what i was going to do.  and that decision, the best decision of my life, has shaped all of my other decisions from then on.

it wasn't until later, much later in fact, that i realized that in this person, this guy i had known, i had kind of met the person i was going to become when i was his age.  what drew me to him so much was his life, moreso than it was him as a person.  i look at my life now, and i marvel at how similar it is to the life i was so intrigued by those many years ago.  and i think of that person and that time in my life as a catalyst for so many other things that have happened to me, and i'm happy.

19-year-old alaina, wondering what the fuck is up with life.  i still wonder that sometimes.
i guess you could say i'm just kind of 'in it' today.

good luck exploring the infinite abyss...

:)






PS - my thoughts + heart go out to those affected by the riots in taksim square and gezi park.  PI + i literally stayed right in taksim square in our honeymoon, and it's so sad to see such peaceful environmental protests go so violently wrong.

a quiet day's thoughts on prague.

it's been a quiet day around here.

i've been thinking a lot about my life back in prague... not sure why or how that was set off, but it's been on my mind all day.

i don't think i've ever really talked about my time in prague on my blog so far.  i'm not going to go into it all now, except to say that it was definitely the best and most influential year of my life.  while i was there, and when i came back, i was doing a lot of writing.  

in my first life, i wanted to be a writer.  writing has always been a strength and passion of mine, and for a long time i believed that i could make a life out of it.  after taking some time off of college and doing some serious soul-searching, i realized that wasn't necessarily true.  i still do love writing, but things have really changed since my freshman year of college, when i thought i could be hired on by some magazine to be a staff writer.  and that doesn't really matter all too much, a lot of things changed in my life to put me where i am now, and i'm glad those things happened because it helped me make sure that i graduated from college.  

but now i find myself, once again, wondering what comes next.  out here in boston i have the opportunity to choose my path, start a career if i want.  but i find myself one more thinking about my writing.  i'm not totally sure at this point if it is something worth going back to or not, but what i do know is that i would be upset with myself if i didn't at least try. 

so, what that means is that i am going to try to take a look at my writing again before i get on the job hunt.  i say 'writing' like that because i am hesitant to classify it as anything in particular: too young to be a memoir, and embellished here and there to be fiction, while other parts are verbatim non-fiction.

but whatever it is, i am planning on digging it out of my past and injecting some new life into it, before deciding if it needs to into a permanent dumpster. 

that's what is going on here, today, on a quiet and cold boston day.

view over the vltava river, august 2006 [taken by yours truly]