driving

I just got back from seeing Trucker, which is a lovely small movie starring Michelle Monaghan that’s making the art-theater rounds. It’s about a woman who is a truck driver, living her life on the open road, who has to confront her past in the form of her 11 year old son, who she’s never spent any time with but now has to raise up for a while as his father is dying.

Like I said, it’s a small movie; a simple plot and just a couple of characters, Monaghan and Nathon Fillion and Jimmy Bennett as the child, to move it along. It was shot out in the desert out in Riverside and San Bernadino counties, down in Southern California, and one thing I liked about the movie was that it got the light all right, the white-hot glare of that part of the country, with its open sand and rocks and asphalt.

It’s a heartbreaking little movie, just about as sad and as happy and as full of cussin’ as real life; and Monaghan plays a character that I’ve almost never seen on screen, it seems like: a woman who just wants the road, who just wants to run and run but who’s still proud of what she’s got and what she’s earned, a woman who can stand up for herself and be heartbroken and uncertain all at the same time, a woman who doesn’t necessarily love anything the way she’s meant to. And there are all these shots of big rigs rolling down the interstate; framed by steel guitar on the soundtrack, it made me want the open road. They filmed on I-10 near the Arizona border, and I recognized it with a craving as if for a drug, or a lover. Sometimes I, too, want that sensation of just driving, driving forever down the interstate, driving down the road without much awaiting on either side, want it so much it makes me crazy to stay in one place, want it so much that it’s all I can do to not get the car and leave tonight without looking back. Staying in one place makes me so tired, sometimes.

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I saw another great movie last week, too: Whip It, which is wide release. It’s about roller derby, and growing up (in Texas), and it’s fabulous. I strongly encourage anyone who has ever been, or who ever plans to be, a teenage girl to see it. With your mom or your best friend or both, if you can.

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I’ve been working a lot, during these first few weeks of school, teaching classes and what not. Fall quarter is always busy. I’ve been flirting with getting sick, too, and have spent a couple of days at home trying to ward it off. My friend Ellen, who is writing her dissertation, is staying with me, and we are both working hard and watching tv and cooking dinner in the breaks. And that’s my life lately, in a nutshell.

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I read a great little book last week — an extended essay, really — called Payback, by Margaret Atwood, which is subtitled “Debt and the shadow side of wealth.” It’s about the idea of debt — not high finance or how to get your life on track — but debt in literature, and debt as a human notion. It is interesting, this construct that we let rule our lives, that seems more innate, in a way, than money or wealth itself. I owe you, you owe me, that’s unfair. Where do we get these ideas from? That’s what Atwood explores, and I enjoyed both the subject and experiencing the work of a truly masterful author. It’s nice, when you’ve been reading all sorts of stuff, to read something really, really good once in a while, just to remind yourself of how it’s done.

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And oh, Wikipedia. As usual there’s a lot going on. I am working a lot on the strategy project, and a few free hours a week writing the Signpost. I’m going to Wikisym week after next, down in Florida, and I’m thinking a lot about next year… but more about that in a later post.

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