Papa, Hemingway in Cuba — A Review

papa Hemingway in CubaIf you are a writer, do not miss the new film “Papa – Hemingway in Cuba.” This is the true story of how writer Denne Petitclerc spent time with Hemingway near the end of his life. The story begins in the late 1950s, when Petitclerc, a young Miami Globe journalist, writes Hemingway a fan letter, assuming nothing will come of it. Instead, the legend invites him to go fishing, has him over for drinks, and then says, “We’ll be your family, kid.”

In the midst of the Cuban Revolution, Hemingway advises our young reporter on his writing, while Petitclerc continues to report back to his paper on the revolution itself. I did not know until after viewing this film twice, that Petitclerc wrote the screenplay for it. He had begun work on film production at the time of his death in 2006. This is the first major movie to be filmed in Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

As Petitclerc slowly enters into Hemingway’s turbulent personal life, he finds a world of anger and anguish. At that point in his life, Hemingway’s disappointments with writer’s block, impotence and the demons that haunted him from his past, lead to explosive alcoholic tirades, including continual suicide threats. Petitclerc soon sees how ‘Papa’ and Mary have a love/hate relationship, often putting him in the middle. He observes all this, and yet he enjoys building relationships with them, especially Mary, coming to appreciate the challenges she faces daily for being close with a legendary figure.

mary hemThe greatest surprise for me, after enjoying the depth and excellence of this film, were the many negative reviews. I assume many viewers hated to see their favorite writer reduced to a common, raging alcoholic. But from all reports, that is exactly how he spent the last years of  his life. He killed himself 18 months after this film ended at age 61. There is so much here for a writer to enjoy! If you listen carefully, you will be rewarded with many great lines of dialogue. For example: Two men talking about marriage at a bar at the beginning of this film: “The things we put up with for that micro-second of ecstasy.”      I could also relate to the young writer’s plight, his desire to become a “real” writer, like when he announces to Hemingway and his friends that he finally sold his first story. I remember that feeling so well, back in 2006. It somehow seemed incredible to get paid just for my creativity in words.

This film is so well-written, well-paced and intellectually challenging. It successfully chronicles the highs and lows of a young writer’s impressions, while hanging with Ernest Hemingway near the end of his life. Fascinating!

Please note: Any films I see are available through the La Veta Public Library!

I disagree with every review I have read. See this film, you will not be disappointed.

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Boomer World: And the Beat Goes on…

I must say, when I started this little website two and a half years ago, to share the slow progress on our passive solar home here in southern Colorado, I never expected for it to grow to 23,000 visitors with over 50,000 views. And I most definitely didn’t expect to see readers from over 80 countries of the world! Hallelujah!

blog pictureSomething else I never expected is that I would still be participating in the same Boomer Blog Carnival that I began in 2008! OK, so the members have changed constantly. I’ve even changed blogs since then. But come rain or shine, we are still bringing together some great blog posts for you to peruse each week!

Speaking of which, today over at Heart Mind Soul, Carol Cassara shares how her husband managed a painful surgical recovery without pain meds. And in another great post she tackles a tough question for most of us: Why is it so hard for us to ask for what we need?

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting says: For so many of us computers are an integral part of our life nowadays. When the device runs smoothly we have a window on the world, using it for work as well as for all kinds of recreational pursuits. But when problems occur, those of us who are “non-nerds” become frustrated. That is what happened to Meryl this week. Her long-time computer companion had issues. Here she recounts her experiences in My Technologically Down Day and Hacked! 

According to Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, Saturday was National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. If you weren’t able to return your unused or expired drugs, check in your community to see if it has a permanent location. It’s important because medications in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning. In addition, if you leave unused prescription drugs in your bathroom cabinet, teens or others may steal them and become addicted to prescription drugs. It happened in Robison’s family; it can happen in yours.

Of course many retirees like to travel. And Tom Sightings says, if you do, more power to you. He admires your sense of adventure. But as for the rest of us, he argues in If You’re Retired Do You Have to Travel? we shouldn’t feel that we’re missing out on something by staying closer to home. Travel is one thing to do in retirement; but it’s not the only thing, and it’s not something we should feel required to “check off” in order to fulfill our retirement dreams.

You tell ’em Tom! Our retirement dream was to move to such a natural, peaceful place that we wouldn’t feel the need to leave much, and I believe we succeeded…

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                        This is our view this morning from our solar perch with the sun pouring in!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI created a journal version of all we went through to end up in our toasty warm solar home in southern Colorado:   A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado    Let’s work around Amazon (the evil empire!) Contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!    Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

                        

The Edge of Seventeen: A Great Teen Film!

“Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and its all over much too soon.” – Woody Allen

the Edge of SEventeenIt is a mystery to me why I so enjoy a good movie about the teenage years, but I do. And I haven’t enjoyed anything like The Edge of Seventeen (2016) since Juno back in 2007.  I happened to pick it up at the La Veta Public Library and was so glad I did. Talk about a great story and amazing writing, not to mention some great acting in the mix! No wonder it was chosen as one of the ten best movies of 2016 by Vanity Fair! If you enjoy a film that takes you into the life of a very smart but confused teenager with a wry sense of humor, you’ll like this. Every scene drew me further into Nadine’s world of boundless insecurity and self-consciousness. The acting between Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson (her favorite teacher) was spot on, and the cinematography also captured those moments of complete disillusionment so a part of being young and inexperienced in the insanity of life.

Hailee Steinfeld in the edge of seventeen

For example, I related to Nadine’s frustration with her boomer Mom (Kyra Sedgwick) whose husband recently died. She captured the messed up, self-absorbed parent role perfectly, but in a funny way! I had to write down her advice to Nadine who is constantly depressed. Mom said: “When I feel down. I get really quiet and still inside. And then I say to myself:  ‘Everybody in the world is as miserable and empty as I am, they’re just better at pretending.’

Luckily, Nadine had a great teacher to go talk to about all of this. Talk about comic timing with her teacher played by Woody Harrelson. I loved him in this!

Thailand_1973 Photo for blogOn a personal level I so related to Nadine’s teenage angst. Nothing made sense to me at 17. I felt so ugly and awkward all the time. I hated the caste system at my high school in Colorado Springs. I hated how my supposed friends vaporized when they got a boyfriend. I hated how the popular kids could take advantage of the rest of us. The entire scene turned me off, and I knew I just had to survive this insanity and make it to college to finally try and find a better life.  As it turned out the kids at college were just as messed up, if not more, and the self-consciousness and insecurity just kept coming for years after that. I will never forget asking a friend’s Mom when I was 24:

“When will life begin to make sense?”

She thought for a moment and then turned to me and said,

“It will take quite a while, but it will get better.”

And you know what? She was so right!

I only wish I had had a great film like this to watch when I was a teen. It would have made me feel much less alone. This film was so good, it makes me want to write a screen play!

We’re newcomers to rural southern Colorado. After two years I compiled a short diary of our ups and downs as we moved from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home in the foothills:   A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please share this information with your friends and feel free to contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

The Supreme Freedom of Retirement

Retirement hasn’t been at all like I pictured it. In fact, I never even pictured it until I met Mike thirteen years ago. The fact is, I couldn’t afford it back then, instead I was quite busy looking for a new job at age 49.

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At that time, good fortune visited me big time! I decided I needed to change careers, and Mike decided he wanted to support me in this new endeavor. Thus emerged my “Midlife Crisis Queen” blog (now defunct) and my three books about the challenges and rewards of changing everything in midlife.

Then Mike and I moved to rural Colorado in 2014, which required some major mental adjustments (at least for me) and we worked full-time to produce a passive solar home in a little over one year. It was only after that major life achievement that we began to officially “retire.”

retirement living for yourself

Now, a couple years later, I recently realized that retirement may be my first chance to observe my true nature. For the first time in my life nobody is telling me what to do, no parents, no boss, no need to be nice to make money, no need to prove myself to anyone. Basically no pressure and very little stress of any kind.

For the first time I get to decide how much self-discipline I want to have. At first we both had very little. We were both so exhausted from over a year of home building. Mike and I both felt numb. We loved to sit and look at our view and just feel glad to be alive.

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The meaning of life is having a spectacular view…

But after a while, you begin to wonder who you are beyond all the rules and self-discipline that has filled your life up until now. Do you like who you really are? Do you enjoy hanging out with yourself and your significant other?

How will you fill your life now? These are the kinds of questions that keep some from ever retiring. They may be afraid of what they might become with no rules or structure. I enjoy this phase of life so much more than I ever imagined! I love the lack of rules or structure to my days.

Mike at home

I don’t need very much to give my life meaning, because my meaning is in the enjoyment of each day.

I appreciate the fact that I have a better life than just about anyone else on planet earth right now, and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of that until I draw my last breathe…

forget the past and failures

To learn more about how midlife questioning helped to create a new lifestyle for us in an amazing passive solar home in the Colorado outback, go check out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

 

Nature versus Numbness

Xmas 2010 JackThis past week I spent some time with my father, Jack Carter, a botanist and naturalist. He was a professor of biology at numerous universities and colleges, and is now a professor emeritus at Colorado College. He chose, much like Mike and I, to leave the city behind as he retired, and lived in rural New Mexico until recently.  I feel like my father understands the importance of developing special connections with nature, so I enjoy discussing with him how my own feelings have changed in the past few years just by moving away from the many distractions of city life.

 Crab Apple Tree

I enjoyed my time up north in the city, because spring has already arrived there. Just outside my parents’ door is a marvelous Crab Apple Tree in full bloom. What a beauty! The cities have so many introduced trees and plants that make it more colorful in the spring. I experienced a small amount of spring-envy…

On the other hand, as I walked around the lovely grounds near their home, all I could hear was traffic in the distance. This is a sound I am completely familiar with. Every city I have ever lived in has this distant roar of people in cars going somewhere, or at least trying to, with an occasional siren thrown in.

When I spoke with my Dad about this, he observed that everything in cities is about getting in your car to go somewhere. The distractions are constant and everywhere. They don’t allow us to become fully aware of our surroundings or even the people we meet. I sat outside, listened and understood why I haven’t connected well with nature for most of my life. There was just too much else going on.

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Then I started explaining to my Dad how much I finally appreciate nature. I love the morning silence, something I have heard so rarely in my life. I love the sound of birds as they get louder, welcoming another bountiful spring. I feel so in touch with each new change in the trees, the plants, the birds, and the weather. It is like a new awakening in my own soul.

Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

My Dad understands these things. These are the reasons he chose to live outside cities until his health required moving closer to his doctors. There is something so reassuring about how the cycle of life and death continues regardless of anything we do to change it. This seems like cause for celebration for me, and I celebrate it every morning as the sun comes up.

Laura 60th birthday partyI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

A Whole Day Without Rules or Self-Judgment

The world is full of rules… Be the exception!

Laura 60th birthday party

Not so happy on my 60th birthday, because the damn house isn’t finished yet!

I just celebrated my 62nd birthday. The gift I gave myself this year was a whole day without judging myself or my actions. I found this to be so much easier said than done: So many rules, so little time!

tell negative committee to shut upWith every decision I made yesterday, I found someone in my brain there to question it. Should I do this or that? In each case I chose exactly what I wanted and ignored the “shoulds.” In this way I became even more conscious of all the rules in my own head. Wow, who knew what a negative committee I had been dealing with my whole life!

Then last night I started thinking about the many well-meaning (but annoying!) friends (and one ex-husband…) who were constantly offering me advice and instruction in how to live my life better.

DO THEY REALLY THINK I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TOXIC ADVICE FROM THE NEGATIVE COMMITTEE IN MY HEAD YET? SURE, POUR IT ON!

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A number of years ago, I was visiting my parents down in Silver City when I saw this dish at an art gallery. I had to buy it, and then displayed it prominently in my living room. Did it work? No. By age 60 I began marking those friends off my list when they turned out to be duds.

Do you really think I haven’t lost weight because you haven’t arrived yet to share your latest tip on taking more walks or eating less? Gee, it might be my fractured ribs, two head injuries, COPD and other lung problems that are making walking at 7,000 feet a bit more challenging for me…

if-you-obey-all-the-rules-you-miss-all-the-fun Katherine Hepburn

Whatever else I might be, I am super smart when it comes to solving my own problems, and I already have plenty of rules in my head that I’m slowly paring down for reasons mentioned above…

Thanks for trying, but I think I may know myself a tad bit better than you, since I just met you!

following the rules