An Artist Finds True Love in P.S. I Love You

“My business is to create.” 

In this post about art-related films, I mentioned that I thought P.S. I Love You was “not a good love story, but a good art story.” After my traditional St. Patrick’s Day viewing of the film (more on that in a moment), I’ve decided that I may have made a hasty judgment, and that art and true love might be more closely related than they seem.

So once upon a time, Josh and I went to Ireland for Spring break and St. Patrick’s day. It was a wild ride and totally exhausting, but absolutely beautiful. It’s something we would love to do again. Spending time in the land of the shamrocks those years ago put me in an inexplicable mood to watch P.S. I Love You–inexplicable because when I last watched this flick as a single and hormonal teenager, I completely hated it. The critic in me thought it was depressing and cheesy as all get-out.

Relax, you swooning and now-irate Gerard Butler fans. Upon watching the film again as an adult in conjunction with Dear Frankie (Butler accent marathon!), I quite surprisingly found it among some of my favorite films of the decade. Not only this, but Josh was quick to second the motion–and it’s a chick flick, guys. Needless to say, it’s now a family favorite.

I’m pretty sure that where I went wrong when I first watched this movie was in watching it as a chick flick–as a cliche story of romantic love, romantic love lost, and romantic love rediscovered.

As a traditional love story, P.S. I Love You is mediocre at best; however, as a story about art, identity, intimacy, and true love it is quite touching and maybe even outstanding.

According to the quirky Holly’s quoting of William Blake in an attempt to impress roguish Irishman Gerry Kennedy, “My business is to create.”

As an art student with no idea what she wants to do with her life, the only thing of which she and (she believes) everyone else on the planet can be sure is that we each need to create something–not because we are obligated to offer something beautiful to the world, but because this something is an inescapable part of who we are, how we are unique, and how we communicate that.

“All I know is, if you don’t figure out this something, you’ll just stay ordinary, and it doesn’t matter if its a work of art or a taco or a pair of socks! Just create something . . . new, and there it is, and it’s you–out in the world, outside of you–and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it–and you know a little more about . . . you. A little bit more than anyone else does.” 

What do you know about you?

Not enough? Well, you don’t have to know everything, believe it or not. If you did, what would be the point in looking for yourself through the soul-searching act of pure creation–of pure art?

Which reminds me of another favorite P.S. quote . . .

Holly: “I see people buying bigger apartments and having babies. I get so afraid sometimes our life’s never gonna start.

Gerry: “No, baby. We’re already in our life. It’s already started. This is it. You have to stop waiting.

Man, this scene hits me like a ton of bricks every time.

I know that I and many others like me are constantly guilty of looking to the next milestone of graduation or getting our dream job or buying a house or having kids. We’re too busy looking ahead to inhabit our own lives in the moment.

As far as I’ve been able to figure out in my meager 22 years, life isn’t about scrambling to find out what you’re supposed to do with your life so that you can blissfully do it for the rest of your days ad infinitum.

The scrambling–the journey–the search is your life.

Personally, I believe as Holly does that creating is a big part of that search. It’s a part of the process of knowing and being known–or trying to. It’s reaching deep down inside yourself and and pulling out a piece of what you value or how you see the world, and it says out loud (even if only to you) “This is who I am.” When you appreciate the creations of others, you’re stepping into a bit of who they are and taking a walk around, willing to share that intimacy with them.

This ideology is how I try to approach every moment of each one of my days on this earth. It’s my goal–my mantra–

To know and to make known.

This is love to me. Self-love and love for others all wrapped up in one beautiful life mission. This mantra includes tolerance and acceptance but also challenge and discussion when it comes to really getting to the bottom of what makes a person tick. It sounds so over-simplified, but it’s really not simple. Sometimes what you know about yourself, your God, and your friends/family/etc don’t quite jive, and you have to reconcile that.

But somewhere in the process of constantly pursuing a depth of knowledge of yourself and the world around you, you encounter people who love and understand you for who you really are.

So make something. Make a poem. Make pasta. Make a mess. Make love. Make mistakes.

Every time you let that glimpse of who you really are and who you want to be out into the world, you are leaving yourself vulnerable–open to being known and loved fully, or fully rejected–and you are promising that same love to those who open themselves to you.

Okay, so I know that I waxed a bit philosophical in this post, but I hope that I’ve encouraged lonely people everywhere to let art lead them to every pure form of love.

Halloween Around the World

This post is for those of you world travelers spending today immersed in a culture far from the USA. I’m sure you’re doing a great job blending in, but you might be receiving just a few more stares than usual today.

Are you the only person for miles around wearing a costume?

Are you the only person for miles around NOT wearing a costume?

Well, my friend, you could be mistaken as to whether or not your country of temporary residence celebrates Halloween.

Here are some fun facts about a few of of the world’s countries that do and do not celebrate Halloween. Some might surprise you.

US & Canada: OF COURSE

Japan: YES

Western culture is all the rage in Japan, so now Halloween is, too! And, boy, do they go all out. Costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, parades, plays … Much of the holiday’s success is due to the popularity of Disneyland Tokyo where this photo was taken.

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England: NOT SO MUCH

What? All Hallow’s Eve originated in Britain. What gives?

While still observed, Halloween is largely unpopular in England. Rumor has it that Halloween has become such an outrageously festive display in the US that youth in the UK have started attempting to make more of a splash. There is now a huge security problem with “antisocial” behaviors such as egg-bombing and placing lit fireworks in the homes of people who don’t give good candy.

For theses reasons Halloween has declined in popularity in the UK.

Scotland and Ireland: YES

Celtic Halloween or Samhain sounds like a ball, but there are similar security issues in these countries. So beware!

Spain: NO

My husband and I learned during our study abroad that Halloween is not really observed in what otherwise is a total party country. On the other hand, traditional Spanish communities throw so many “carnivals” throughout the year involving costumes and candy that I doubt you’ll miss the special night very much at all. Switzerland describes a similar “festival overload.”

NOTE: In many European countries, children of British immigrants still try their hands at trick-or-treating despite the low turnout.

France: YES

Another common study abroad destination, France has opted to jump on the Halloween bandwagon—but in a much classier way than us Americans. Trick-or-treating is uncommon, as the holiday is mostly for adults who dress up to attend masquerade balls.

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No, dressing as Marie Antoinette is not mandatory.

Italy: YES (finally)

Due to the proximity of the Vatican, there was a 17th-century campaign on behalf of the Catholic Church to ban Halloween and other “pagan” holidays from Italy altogether, but thanks to the influence of American pop culture in the 1990s, Trick or Treat (in Italian “Dolcetto o Scherzetto,” literally dessert or joke) is now a household phrase.

Poland & Slovakia: NO

Since All Saints Day is perceived as a very somber occasion, many refuse to join in the “fun” of Halloween.

Hispanic South America: YES

Even though the words have no meaning, children in most Hispanic countries will walk up to neighbors doors and say, “Triqui triqui,” an attempt at the English “Trick or treat.”

Mexico: NO

You’re thinking of Day of the Dead, which is arguably way cooler than Halloween. The thing about this holiday is that you can’t wear just any costume. You have to dress like this:

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So in other words, you have to look totally badass.

Philippines: YES

Because of a large Catholic population, All Saints Day has long-term roots in the Philippines; however, since these islands are so far-removed from other lands colonized by the West, their traditional All Hallows Eve never morphed into Halloween. Only recently has the tradition of “souling” been replaced by trick-or-treating, and the holiday is still called All Saints Day.

Basically, the Philippines have long celebrated the “non-pagan” version of the holiday that first originated in British Christendom.

Australia: YES (reluctantly)

Another British colony, it’s not surprising that Australia has adopted Halloween traditions. What’s surprising to me is that many Australians are actually resistant to this type of celebration. The Sydney Morning Herald was quoted as saying that many families think of Halloween as that “American import, a satanic ritual, a junk food binge …”

Most people with bad feelings about the holiday, however, just think it’s “too American” and “not really one of our traditions.”

Wherever you are, a Happy Halloween to you!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Party Empanadas

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Awkward:

  • Kristen, Neme, Josh, and I spent St. Patrick’s Day last weekend with just the four of us, some snacks, and one Guinness each. After experiencing (and in Neme’s case, growing up in) the party culture of Spain and spending last St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, nothing we could do this year seemed incredibly exciting. What we lacked in booze we made up for in food!
  • Those savory pastries in the picture at the top of the post are bacon-date empanadas. Bacon. And date. In an empanada. Sweet and salty paradise.
  • This picture of Neme where he is obviously wiping away tears of joy because my empanadas are so beautifully delicious. Not really . . . but he was close.

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Awesome

  • Okay, so seriously, I completely winged the empanada recipe based on something that Kristen’s host mom Ale (who owned a bakery) had made us in Spain. I was really nervous for Neme to try them because 1) he knew how good the originals were and 2) he is a cook. He had one bite and said the only thing in his limited English that I really wanted to hear . . . “Oh yeah.” Major win!
  • Spanish cheese on baguettes with cranberries and candied nuts. To die for.
  • And they sell them at Aldis. Whaaaaat?
  • A friend offered me a puff on a cigarette one chilly night, and for a split second I was like “Thanks! Wait, what? No!”