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Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Being a Chill Co-Parent

I feel fortunate in a lot of ways.  I’m of an age where I see a fair number of friends and acquaintances going through breakups and divorces and most of them seem to be incredibly messy and full of hurt feelings and anger.  Thankfully, I don’t have that in my life.

Not to say my divorce isn’t laced with hurt feelings and anger, but those emotions are just a by-product of two people who came to realize that they no longer wanted to be married.  Those emotions aren’t driving our actions or consuming our thoughts like I see so many others going through.  They mostly flare up and annoy, if they need venting I’ll vent, but then I just let them go and move on.

Of course, we have two children that we keep forefront in our mind, and our number one concern is raising them to be happy and well-adjusted people.  Having two parents at war with each other isn’t going to help with that plan, and when I see a couple that’s split and has children and they constantly inject drama and high negative emotion into their lives, I just flinch and feel bad for their kids.

It made me feel a little better the other day, when I was talking with a co-worker and come to find out he was a single father.  I asked him how often he got to see his son (assuming as is usually the case that the child lived with his mom), and he smiled and said he rented a room from his ex-wife, so  he got to see his son all the time.  While I don’t think I could ever live with my ex again, we did share a hotel room for a couple days at the beach with the kids for vacation the summer after we split, and I spend the night on Christmas Eve so we can all get up and do Santa Claus together with our children.  We’re not a couple and not really friends, but we’re friendly enough and we share a love for our two little ones that gives us common ground and common interest in the way we interact through everyday and holidays.

I wonder how that dynamic might change when one or the other of us brings a significant other into the mix.  I’ve not dated and I don’t think she’s dated since we split… on my side, it’s not been because I’ve not wanted to date, but mostly because it’s so difficult to find time.  I’d likely make a really terrible boyfriend right now unless I find a gal who wouldn’t mind keeping odd h0urs with me until I find a roommate and can cut back on my insane work schedule.  I’m not even sure how I’d go about finding such a woman!

But one day it’s going to happen.   One of us will fall for someone and that person will become a part of the relationship dynamic.  And it makes me wonder how he or she might react to the fact that my ex and I aren’t at war, and we try to both share in our children’s lives as much as we can.  Will they find it awesome, will they find it tolerable, will they freak out about it?

What do you think?  Have you covered this territory before?  It’s uncharted waters for me, so any tips or tales ahead of time would certainly help.

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As I drove to go see Crazy, Stupid, Love I realized this was the first time I’d been to see a movie in 2011… and it was the end of August.  What a fucking travesty that I don’t even have time to go out to see a movie!  I used to go see 2-3 movies a month, often just by myself since I’m such a movie buff and it seemed difficult to coerce friends and significant others to go see them with regularity.  Yet another reason why I’ve got to change things, get more free time in my life.

Anyway, back to the movie review.  Since I first saw the previews for Crazy, Stupid, Love I knew it was a movie I wanted to go see.  The leads are all actors I like, and the premise really hit home—dude in his 40s, works hard, married, two kids and suddenly his wife asks for a divorce.  Check, check, check, check and check!  Dude moves out and struggles to start again, and gets help from ladies’ man.  The part about “gets help from ladies’ man” is where our stories diverge, but I was certainly hooked by the setup and intrigued by the notion of these two men from wildly different social backgrounds learning from each other.

Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly play out that way, to the slight detriment to an otherwise totally enjoyable night at the movies.

For the most part though it was great.  Steve Carrell did a wonderful job as the blind-sided schlep who’s in shock when his wife orders a divorce for dessert.  Of course, if eternally gorgeous Julianne Moore was your wife having her dump you would be catastrophic.  I mean, seriously…

it's hard to beat red hair and freckles in my book...

She tries hard to be the sad, unsatisfied middle-aged housewife… and Julianne Moore actually is 51, married with children, but seriously come on…

seriously, come on...

She’s a great actress and I’d get caught up in the scene and she’d be Emily the mom and ex-wife, but suddenly there’d be a close-up and other scenes flash through my head– making out with Amanda Seyfried in Chloe, her awesome orgasm face when she’s shagging Ralph Fiennes in the pivotal scene from The End of the Affair, and so many gorgeous nude and sex scenes in Boogie Nights…

Somehow though I don’t mind the distractions…

So back to Steve Carrell’s schlep Cal.  He devastated, numb… and goes out into the world to start his new life.  Gets an apartment, has the kids over (totally hit home with me).  But then he goes out drinking every night… which is when I stop relating on a personal level.  In fact, it’s a bit distracting because it does hit so close to home which is why that angle rang a bit false– I understand why you’d want to drown yourself in sorrow, but buying drinks in a bar is expensive.  Renting an apartment by yourself while also paying child support is expensive.  Yes, Cal and Emily both are shown to have decent jobs, but not necessarily upper upper upper middle class jobs.  I mean, me and my ex both have decent jobs, but I’m having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet (which is why I’m hunting for a roommate).  When I want to drown my sorrows, I hit the ABC store and kick back in my recliner.  Not only is it much more economical but I’m not risking a DUI or killing someone driving home.

Of course, drowning his sorrows night after night at a singles bar one way to advance the plot, which involves sad-sack Cal meeting up with Jacob, played by the incredibly handsome Ryan Gosling.  Ladies, if you’re lamenting the lack of eye-candy in your life, Mr. Gosling provides quite a bit of it.  Jacob is a lady-killer, with moves so smooth he never has to spend the night alone.  Of course, the womanizing is to paper over inner pain and tormoil, and so we figure the arc of the story involves Cal and Jacob helping each other deal with and overcome their pain.

Emma Stone is cute! Red hair is nice... does she have freckles?

Add to the mix cute and perky Emma Stone, who pops up as Hannah, the object of Jacob’s affection but who is one woman unmoved by his overt charms.  She actually plays a larger role in the movie than I initially figured she would.  This role is much more “grown-up” than previous roles I’ve seen her in, and at 23 she should be playing older roles and yet she looks so young and tiny it almost feels like Jacob trying to score with a high-schooler.Another woman in the mix is Analeigh Tipton, who plays Jessica, a high-school senior who babysits for Cal and Emily.  Analeigh plays Jessica well, adding in the right level of teenage awkwardness and innocence, and yet the actress herself just radiates this feline sexiness that I had moments lamenting this was not rated R so there was no chance of American Beauty-style shenanigans.  I mean, just check her out:

It's okay, she's actually 23...

It almost felt like they miscast the movie; even though they’re actually the same age, having Emma Stone be the babysitter and Analeigh Tipton be the law student who gets tangled up with Gosling would have “felt” more correct.  Now, I still liked Emma’s performance — speaking of movie rating, she’s central to a funny scene where they’re talking about movie ratings in a fun almost self-referential/meta way that I won’t spoil here because it’s quite amusing with a surprising twist.  Of course, Ms. Stone is a bigger star and Hannah is a bigger role so the producers probably wouldn’t have even thought about switching the roles… especially given the PG-13 rating.  If it were rated R and Hannah’s role called for nudity it might have been weird seeing Emma naked.  She just looks too young and cute to see unclothed on the big screen.  I think she needs some more seasoning before she goes that route.

Which is actually a nice segue for the next woman I’d like to talk about– Marisa Tomei.  She’s a woman that just seems to get more and more sexy the older she gets.  I remember when she first hit the scene she was a lot like Emma Stone– cute, perky, soooo young looking.  The years have given her a bit more curves, laugh lines, and a self-assuredness that just radiates sex appeal.  Her turns in Rescue Me and Before the Devil Knows Your Dead… whooie, red hot!

Mmmmmmmarisa....

Marisa plays Kate, a woman Cal meets in a bar after Jacob gives him tips and a make-over, and the scenes between Cal and Kate offer up quite a few laughs.

One last woman I’d like to mention — the awesome Liza Lapira plays Liz, Hannah’s best friend and confidant who in some ways is trying to help Hannah somewhat like Jacob is trying to help Cal.

Looooove Liza!

She isn’t on screen much, but when she was I found myself riveted by her smile and great dialogue.  I tried to remember where I had seen her from, and later realized she was on one of my favorite cancelled TV shows– Traffic Light.  The show revolved around 3 friends in various stages of relationships, and Liza played the spouse to the married friend.  A what a spouse– her performance was a tour-de-force and it was a damn shame the ratings didn’t carry the show to a second season.

Now, about 2/3rds of the way through the movie I realized that the plot was angling back towards the gravitational pull of a relatively tidy Hollywood romantic comedy ending, and I was a tad disappointed.  I thought the potential was there for something better, more muddled and complex and ultimately more satisfying.  I won’t spoil the details, but in terms of Hollywood romantic comedies it actually ended pretty well and I found myself smiling and even a little sentimentally misty-eyed.  However, in my idealized version of this movie, Cal would end up with Marisa Tomei, at least for the short-term (I mean who wouldn’t want at least a year with Marisa Tomei??).  And Emily realizes she made a huge mistake giving up on Cal and laments that it’s too late to go back.  It would make for a bittersweet ending and a break with Hollywood convention, but sometimes that’s a bit much to ask from movies these days.

Go see the movie, tell me what you thought about it in the comments!

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