"A Star is Born" and what I’ll tell my daughter

2018’s “A Star is Born” hits some pitch perfect notes. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s chemistry, the robust sounds of their voices, and the tragic truth of stardom are all especially captivating. The film, by Bradley Cooper, bears out the metaphor of stardom beautifully. In order to shine brightest, stars are often eclipsing one another, and in the world of celebrities, paying for it with their very lives. Falling stars are at their most recognizable when they’re descending. There is nowhere to hide. Where “LALA Land” sang wistfully of the “City of Stars,” in “A Star is Born,” this song becomes a lament.

 Photo by  Phil Botha  on  Unsplash

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

As with stars, we all have an expiry date, and Cooper’s character Jackson Maine’s edict to Gaga’s Ally rings truest and most important of all: We’re all here to launch the message within us. It’s our raison d’etre. We can borrow another’s message, but it will never ring as true unless we assign our own interpretation. We can let others mold and fashion our message to their liking, and we will lose the essence of who we are, we will trade our truth for an advertisement, a glossy, photoshopped billboard.

The irony of “A Star is Born” is that it is itself a recycled work. It’s message is to be thine own self be true, and yet it is based on a prewritten message, repurposed for the new millennium. There are brief but potent nods to starlets like “Dirty Dancing’s” Baby, “Pretty Woman’s” Vivian , “Splash’s” Madison—all female characters whose ascendancy is inextricably linked to a romantic male character, their North Star of sorts.

It also employs a couple of Hollywood tropes that surprised me in their transparency. Dave Chapelle is an obvious Magical Negro who exists, it would seem, merely to rescue Cooper from his sunken place and remind him with wisdom and wit, that he should dock his boat in a safe harbor. The hackneyed mystical person of color who speaks words of life into the wayward white person made me roll my eyes a bit, even if I did love seeing Chapelle.

The damsel in distress trope is also undeniable. Gaga’s Ally possesses a sound mind and creative talent, but she is always thanking men for allowing her the opportunity, looking to men to validate her decisions, waiting for men to bless her words and deem her worthy. Spoiler ahead: I don’t recall anyone asking her to marry him. I don’t remember anyone asking her what she wanted. This may well be the film’s own critique of Hollywood, a place where women must still ask for permission to succeed even if we are finally beginning to demand an end to the forces that hinder our access or snuff out our light altogether.

I hope to share “A Star is Born” with my daughter someday. But I will do so gingerly, asking her what she thinks of what it takes to be a woman with a message and a microphone, and what costs she is willing to pay to share them with a world that too often wants to silence her.

Drunken Walking and the most important thing I have done in 2018

The other day, whilst walking Puppy, we passed a group from a daycare that had planned an epic trip to a football field. I could imagine the teachers discussing this voyage they were about to mount, and how it was the perfect day to be outside and feel the warmth of the sun and a little crisp breeze on the air. How if they left now, right after morning snack and just before lunch, they would be able to totally rock the field without any ornery tots falling asleep or jonesing for goldfish crackers. How if they just turned these kidlets loose on the open field, it might be the best day of their entire wee little lives.

I suspect it was. The best day of everyone’s life. Because for me, merely a spectator, I was completely intoxicated by the unbridled joy in their ruddy little faces. Oh my. The sweet reckless abandon of their little wobbly gaits, a bit drunken looking and still finding their sea legs. They darted in all directions. Some of the sturdier tots were taking to a plastic ball, giggling and kicking it back and forth like they had invented soccer just in that very moment. Others had not yet learned to walk so they were crawling, excitedly caterwauling across the football field toward touchdown territory. Maybe they’d done this drill before.

29948288607_ca60031578_k.jpg

I beheld this tableau of humans at their best and most unadulterated and it moved me in a way I cannot overstate. I thought about how God presents us with opportunities, wide open football fields full of chances and new experiences, but too often, instead of running arms flailing eyes wide tongues peeling out of our mouths excited toward the Wide Open Wonder, we are content to stay strapped into our strollers, chilling and checking our e-mail, sated by the endless scrolling of endless screens.

I wouldn’t normally have been strolling past a football field at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, except for the fact that I have a Puppy who needs to get out the zoomies sixteen times a day and I live at a boarding school where athletic turf is a common sight. I can well promise you that I considered all this an interruption, though, before we traversed the football field. Because Puppy is the most stubborn creature on four legs, I am typically dragging/lifting/shlepping/bribing her across great expanses of terra firma. On this particular morning, though, she was walking me, and I was also being held. Held by a God who sees me and sees my agenda and crinkles his eyes and laughs uproariously at all the things I think I am meant to accomplish, that carry such weight. He holds me still for a moment and turns my face to see the sun and the patchy grass and the little drunken munchkin prophets speaking life into my raggedy heart.

I have done some things in 2018 that have earned my work a spot on the refrigerator, but by far the best thing I have done is adopt this stupid cute Puppy. She forces me out into the world and forces me to be neighborly. She has interrupted my work and my sleep and completely foiled all the plans I had made to not notice the matchless beauty, to not feel the warmth of the sun.

It may be time to Feel Your Boobies

**I was compensated for this post and this post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

I wondered what more I could add to the panoply of pink in this, the month of Breast Cancer Awareness. I imagine we all have too many friends and family members who were diagnosed either far too young or far too late in the game to fight the good fight. Other than education, what more can we do so that the day may come when we no longer have to organize walks and races for the cure, where we don’t need to hawk pink merch to remind women (and men!) to feel their boobies? Here are a few ways that may help to move the needle…

Podcast re: Breast Health + Imaging

Recently, I have helped to promote the book of an author, Heather Frimmer, who is also a radiologist specializing in breast health. Heather was featured on a podcast interview recently where she talked about something I was not as familiar with: the notion of “dense breasts.” The interview mentions the words “dense breasts” roughly 29348029384 times and that sort of grosses me out to think about, but now that I know about breast density, I’m a little more empowered. (Basically, you won’t know you have this tissue unless you have a mammogram.)

Bracelet for a Cause

In principle, I’m a little meh about the commodification of causes, especially if they’re only offering a small portion of the revenue toward a cause and are merely an excuse to sell more goodies. However, I thought this bracelet by Stella + Dot was quite fetching. The Tribute Bracelet is attractive and fairly minimalist, but also, what a perfect accessory to remind one to do a quick breast check. See pretty bracelet. See pink beads. Check boobies. No lumpies. Rinse and repeat.

Another reason I liked the Tribute Bracelet is because it benefits an organization, Bright Pink, that is clearly making Breast Cancer Awareness education as accessible as possible.

Check out Bright Pink
Here are just a few features on the site:

We may not be able to see the end of breast cancer as we know it in our lifetime, but I truly believe with more education, we will advance progress toward a cure.