In Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” Hugo Cabret says, “every body has a purpose if they didn’t then why are we here?” It’s a life long question, isn’t it? What is our purpose?
I’ll never forget walking on to campus as a freshman at SUNY Binghamton and asking my adviser when I could declare my major because I knew I wanted to study English/Creative Writing. I knew early on that my purpose in life came from my passion for all things literary.
Like Monsieur Melies in “Hugo,” I was always intrigued by the imagination and the stories we tell from our imagination. For me, my fascination started with the Brontës. How did three sisters living in the isolated West Yorkshire Moors of England, who knew nothing about romantic love and relationships, write some of the most compelling and complicated novels of our times?
As a teacher, teaching Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night I’m constantly answering questions. Just the other day a student asked me, “How did Shakespeare know that a prank in the form of a love letter would be so popular?” I replied that it’s how you know something is good literature: it stands up to the test of time. One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is unveiling the heart of a story and seeing my students not only connect to it but recognize some aspect of the story in themselves.
Going back to purpose, Monsieur Melies wanted to take people away iinto their wildest dreams. He was a magician, who saw the first moving picture at a traveling circus and knew he needed to be a part of it. He created his own camera and then created his own movie sets, scripts, and visual effects. He believed in the imagination and wanted to create a magical experience for viewers.
I’m not sure what I wanted to be when I was a little girl, but it was probably a Veterinarian as I grew up with two cats and a dog. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer or a teacher until high school English, when I fell in love with British Literature. I have to admit that reading was not a big part of my childhood, and I’ve always felt I missed out on the gems of Children’s Literature. So, while reading was not a major part of my formative years, movies definitely were.
It was my mother that introduced me to old movies. We used to rent them from the local library. We watched movies like ,”Now Voyager,” “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” “An Affair to Remember,” miniseries like Richard Chamberlain’s “The Thornbirds” and epics like Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh’s “Gone with Wind.” With that said, none affected me like Lawrence Oliver and Olivia de Havilland’s “Wuthering Heights.” As a young girl, I longed for that kind of love, longing and intensity. I marveled in the way Heathcliff sacrificed his life for Cathy and the way that he loved her so deeply that he damned her soul to never rest.
Now, you should know, it wasn’t until I read Wuthering Heights in 10th grade English that I discovered the 1939 movie was only half the book. It was a wild discovery both for the mind and the soul. There was more to the story and I loved reading of the eternal tug of war between Thrushcross Grange and the Heights. Needless to say, it was always the story that I wanted to keep with me. What I love about Wuthering Heightsis the way that you can literally trace the way it has affected other writers like Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, Carole Maso, Stephanie Meyers and many others.
I love the things that inspire me in life: art, music, poetry, and movies. I have always enjoyed the “movie experience: the lights, the hushings, the candy, but more importantly, the feeling of being transported into a new life, and a new world.
It’s ironic that two of my favorite movies of the year are about the power of movies: “The Artist,” and “Hugo.” I loved both deeply. I was accused once of overusing the word, “love,” but for me there is no other word to describe the way I felt this afternoon when I came out of the theater after seeing “Hugo.” When I saw “The Artist” at my favorite Manhattan theater, "The Paris," I literally felt transported back in time.
I love the way movies capture the things we feel and the things we want to feel in life. It’s also one of the things I love about poetry. I’m a passionate person and its one of the things I love most about myself. You can’t learn passion, and it’s needed as a teacher, and well, definitely as a poet.
I’m going to end this first posting by saying that this is my favorite time of year: Golden Globes time! I’m a sucker for Hollywood glamour. I love the red carpet, the dresses and the jewelry, the presenters and the speeches, but moreover, it’s the celebration the movie experience.
I’ve always come home to Long Island to watch the Golden Globes with my family. We have a party. We print ballots, we vote, we cheer and we boo and it’s now become a family tradition.
I always celebrate a good story, and I think it’s part of what my purpose is in life.