Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"The Holiday" - Loner, Loser, and Complicated Wreck

It's that time of the year when I watch my favorite movies for the holidays.  Right at the top of my list is "The Holiday," staring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black.  Though I never saw the movie in the theaters when it was released, I stumbled across it a few years later on DVD and fell in love.

Every Christmas season, I dust it off, pop the corn, and watch an endearing tale of lonely singles navigating the world trying to find love. The movie contains some iconic lines that only miserable singles can relate to, but also other lines that will stay with you for years to come.

Let me preface by saying that Cameron Diaz has never been a favorite of mine on screen.  This is probably the only movie I've ever watched where I fell in love with her portrayal of a character named Amanda Woods.  Amanda is a rich woman with a business of making movie trailers, who has recently broken up with her cheating boyfriend.  Out of the blue, she decides to take a vacation and get away for Christmas. 

To plan her trip, she sits down and puts in a search term in Google about where to travel.  Since she wants to go where they speak English, she picks England.  Her search takes her from Los Angeles to a small cottage in Surrey, England, where she does a house swap arrangement with another pathetic, brokenhearted single played by Kate Winslet, whose character is Iris Simpkins. I was surprised to find out that there are services where you can swap houses with people from around the world.  It's a scary prospect, as far as I'm concern, but works perfectly for the movie. 

From the onset, the single humor is spot on.  As they correspond via instant chat on computer making arrangements, a few iconic lines are spoken:

Iris: [reading aloud what she types to Amanda during live chat discussing home exchange] I'm Iris, by the way. I'm very normal, neat-freak, healthy, non-smoker, single...
[stops, fighting back tears; then adds to herself]
Iris: Hate my horrible life!
Amanda: I'm Amanda.
[to herself]
Amanda: Loner, loser and complicated wreck!

They switch homes and their lives are drastically changed forever.

Poor Iris is the typical woman caught up in unrequited love with a man she adores, who is now engaged to marry another person. Iris is really pathetic, and Kate plays a normal, down-to-earth woman with endearing qualities as well.  She arrives at Amanda's huge home in LA and is overwhelmed by its size and beauty.  She meets Miles, played by Jack Black. He writes music and loves a woman who continually breaks his heart.  Jack Black, by the way, has never been one of my favorites either.  This is the first serious role I've seen him play and actually enjoyed.  

Iris and Miles have much in common and spend time together helping each other get over their pathetic love interests.  Another interesting character that comes into Iris' life is one of Amanda's neighbors, Arthur Abbott (played by Eli Wallach who recently passed away). They strike up an unusual friendship.  Arthur helps Iris find her self worth again, and she helps him in many ways.

Kate Winslet gets to deliver some fantastic lines that are frankly haunting.  Here is a favorite:

Iris: I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said "love is blind." Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night. And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert.

In England, Amanda meets Iris' brother, Graham, played by the handsome Jude Law.  Gosh, he's awful cute in this movie.  Amanda is a different sort of woman.  She doesn't cry and has trouble falling in love. Because her parents were divorced early in her life, Amanda is cynical when it comes to relationships. She is convinced that she cannot love like others. Graham enters her life and everything changes, but he has two secrets that Amanda knows nothing about.  If you haven't seen the movie, I'll keep that little spoiler under lock and key.  All I will say is that it a very touching and endearing.

I think why I love this movie so much is because it's emotionally moving in many ways, the dialogue is great, it's filled with truths and profound thoughts about love lost, love gained, and love wasted.  Among the seriousness of it, too, is the humor and lighthearted scenes that make you sniffle.

The movie is set during Christmas time, but it's not heavily Christmas oriented. If you haven't seen The Holiday, I highly recommend it. Now streaming on Amazon for a whopping $2.99.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Need to be Understood

In the past I've written about our need as singles to be loved and seen.  However, it wasn't until recently that I realized how important it was to me to be understood.

I think loneliness comes to us in many forms.  It's not the mere companionship of a mate that heals are lonesomeness in life. I think our needs go much deeper than a warm body next to us in bed at night.  If anyone of you have ever been in a relationship and still felt lonely, you know what I mean.  Sharing a room with another human being doesn't always cure the emptiness that we feel inside.

As I've said before, we all have needs as humans.  The fact that the number one post on this blog is entitled, "Why Can't I Find Love?" tells me that search term is placed into Google and other search engines often.

In July of 2010, I wrote about the need to be seen.  I was going through a period in my life of not feeling noticed, I guess.  It's that feeling you get when you want to wave your arms back and forth and say, "Look at me!"  I exist.  Doesn't any one care?

Even if someone looks over and thinks you're a real dork for acting that way but decides to walk over and talk to you, it doesn't mean another important need will be filled.  Deep down inside, I've come to realize that I really want to be understood as well.  In that understanding, I want acceptance and an ounce of empathy, I guess, for some of the crap I've gone through in my life.  Frankly, I don't feel anyone really understands me. You know, it's that thing that makes you tick inside -- the life experiences that have molded you into the person you are today.  They contain your deepest secrets, longings, and hopes.  Does anyone really give a damn?

I suppose I could ask myself that question when I think of the people that I interact with every day.  Let's face it, I'm just as guilty.  Maybe because they are married, successful, and financially secure, I don't think they need to be understood, because they have others in their life. 

One thing that used to grate on my in my earlier days, was the attitude prevalent in the churches that I attended that every singles group had to be run by a married couple.  Frankly, I felt like they were babysitting us, acting as parents, and not really understanding what we as singles were struggling and facing in life.  That was especially true of divorced singles being guide by a happy married couple.  How can they understand the pain, the loneliness, the feelings of failure?  I never felt that one married couple in that leadership position really cared to . . . understand.  It just made me feel like we needed to be morally watched, and a single in leadership couldn't do that job because of temptation. 

Well, I've said all this to say that this past week I met another person who understood what I had experienced as a child and how it formed who I am today.  Just having the chance to exchange a few emails spilling my guts, sort of perked me up a bit.  I felt . . . understood.  Until then, I really hadn't realized as a single that not having understanding from another human contributed to my loneliness. 

As I've said in the past, I don't have the answers.  If I did, I wouldn't be writing this after 14 years of being alone.  I guess if I want to say anything to you today, it is that I understand what you're going through.  I don't know if that makes you feel any better, but I know it did for me.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

That's about my life.  Me and my cat.  I'm definitely looking for hairballs when I get home from work tonight.

Check out the link to Stephanie's blog below, if you're a dog lover.  You'll get a great laugh on Valentine's Day...or a least a smile.

Have a great day!  Go out and buy yourself something! 

Copyright Stephanie Piro 2014

"The Tasty Heart"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Now on Audio - Conflicting Hearts - My Single Romance

Conflicting Hearts, my contemporary romance novel, is now available on audio.  Andi Arndt narrated the story for me, and I'm extremely thankful for the wonderful portrayal of the story and characters. It's about two single people, both who struggle with secrets and failures of the past, and come together to find healing and acceptance in each other.

It touches on a taboo subject, but one that is very real to many women in today's society. Though this is a fictional work, that actually documents a factual event in another person's life, it has the power to open the eyes of readers to better understand those who have suffered sexual abuse as a child. Written with a sprinkle of humor, believable characters, brutal reality, and sizzling romance, it is a book that some claim should be read by every woman.  

You can purchase the book in print and eBook worldwide; and find it on audio at Amazon, Audible.com, and soon iTunes.

Picture Listen to any of my books free! With an Audible membership, the first book is free, then one book a month for $14.95.  Sign up for an ideal introduction to Audible.  

Below is a sample of Rachel Hayward and Ian Richards.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hey, It's THAT Time of the Year Again!

Well, you know, I try to be humorous for all you singles out there on Valentine's Day.  Last year I gave you Maxine.  This year, I give you funny cartoons from a Facebook friend of mine. Here are a few good ones for the season.  Enjoy!  

(You can visit Stephanie's blog HERE for more inspirational cartoons for Valentine's Day.)

Copyright 2014 Stephanie Piro

Copyright 2014 Stephanie Piro

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


If you haven't seen it, you might enjoy it - then again, you might not. It's a movie about the human condition and the need to connect with others.

Set a few decades ahead of 2014, HER is about a society that is in touch with technology.  If you think it's bad now with everyone's telephone in their face, you've seen nothing yet.  Society is technology hyped, though I can't see that the clothes have evolved much.

Basically, it's about a man going through a divorce, who is lonely and broken. His dating endeavors have not been going well.  Theodore finds it hard to connect and open up to anyone - even his former wife.  However, when he's given the opportunity to buy the latest technology - an OS (operating system) - his life changes.

Just think about it.  A perfectly programmed mate to your life made just for you.  You can choose a male or female voice.  The system grows and adapts and learns everything about you.  And while doing so, it evolve to discover what it means to be human by getting in touch with its own electronic "feelings" if you will. 

Theodore finds Samantha (his OS) easy to talk to.  They go places together.  He walks, she's in his shirt pocket. They explore the world, talk, keep each other company, and have make believe sex.  She tells him that she is in love, and Theodore has fallen in love with HER.  

Well, it's a complex relationship. At one point he almost walks away because of the absurdity of it all. It's obvious he has trouble with human relationships, so should he pursue the electronic ones instead?  After a brief struggle, he throws all caution to the wind.  However, even like real relationships, it ends in heartbreak after he learns that Samantha is not a one-guy OS.  In fact, she has over 8,000 other companions and declares love to over 600.  Talk about fickle! Of course, the news devastates Theodore, and in the end, the OS's evolve and abandon humans for their own kind (or at least that's what I got out of it).

It's a strange movie, but it is filled with the honesty of struggling to be a single and sole individual who has a deep need to connect.  If one can't connect humanly, then companionship can be found electronically.  However, I strongly believe that our society is becoming disconnected because of technology.  Our phones are in our faces, along with computers, iPads, Kindles, and every other device that we use to get lost in, so we can depart from the human race.  Rather than giving us a stronger society, it is giving us a society that connects through electricity, but cannot connect humanly.

If you're single, I think you would enjoy and relate.  Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant and heartfelt through the entire movie.  He's a man who wants to be loved and accepted.  And if that love comes from an operating system named Samantha that understands him more than any other thing on this earth, then so be it.

That is HER.  Now, if I could only have a HIM with a voice like Jeremy Northam, I'd die a happy woman with my OS next to me in bed.