Friday Five: Looking for Love and Hope In “Arrival,” Eleanor Friedberger and Andrea Marr

I don’t know if it’s a post-election hangover, the shorter darker days, the creep of holiday obligations or just hormones/brain chemistry/etc. But I’ve been feeling much more down and brain-foggy and sodden with sorrow this past week. I try not to burden this space with too much struggle — but instead create something bright with pleasure and fun here. But I also believe in honesty and sincerity, and I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. These following, though, are helping me find some consolation and faith and hope.

+ Arrival. My favorite movie this year, Arrival is moving, beautiful, intimate and yet epic all at once. This movie (directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams) is based on an amazing novella by Ted Chiang about a linguist who gets called in to translate when a fleet of alien ships arrive. Watching this movie made me feel still, serene and full of wonderment — in confrontation with the big questions of existence, but in a calm, expansive way. Strangely, this film is the first time that’s captured — for me, at least — what it feels like to be a parent loving a child — in a profound way. How loving your child is something that changes how you experience time and how you assign meaning to pain, strife and struggle. (And Amy Adams deserves an Oscar for such a beautifully subtle performance, both open and grieving.) I loved it; I absolutely wanted to weep with a strange mix of sorrow and happiness at the end of it. It’s getting great reviews all around, so please, go see it — it is worth your time and money.

+ Krista Tippett’s podcast On Being is something I enjoy, though in the past few months I’ve felt some fatigue with it. (Committing to an hour-long podcast seems like a lot sometimes!) But listening to her podcast with Vincent Harding on “Is America Possible?” is giving me some hope and consolation. He talks in part how a political movement also needs emotional and spiritual sustenance in order to be truly durable and viable. It’s worth your time and patience.

+ Re-reading Blake Nelson’s “Andrea Marr” novels. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, but feeling a little burned out, I decided to dip into some of my favorite YA novels. Ladies of a certain alt-indie persuasion know Andrea Marr as a kind of cult icon of girl culture. I haven’t read these in a few years, but reading them as a mama now, I find myself still reflected in her story: her drive for experience, her celebration of the wild and untameable and weird, her ability to observe. I haven’t read the 3rd e-book of this “trilogy” but I plan to next week!

+ I’ve been looking for music that feels organic, loose and yet not fake-uplifting. Just something well-worn, honest and authentic — like the blue jeans of records! Anyway, I’ve been listening to Eleanor Friedberger’s New View, which came out in January. It feels a bit like if Neil Young were a clever, no fuss, self-sufficient woman making music, and it hits the spot during these darkish, uncertain days. This is my favorite track from New View:

+ And finally, I’ve been finding a puckish sense of rebellion and spark in Halsey’s electropop anthem celebrating gay marriage and legal weed from last year:

Because I will always want renegade hedonistic rebels to win, no matter how much of a mama I am!

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