Thursday, January 12, 2012

Movie tragedies. Real life.

I was on the radio today. I've never called into a talk radio show, but I did today. It was New Jersey 101.5. I was driving to my parents' house and flipping radio stations when I heard the talk radio hosts, Deminski and Doyle, talking about the new Tom Hanks movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." The movie is about the son of a man who died on 9/11. Apparently, the sister of someone who died on one of the planes on 9/11 believes that the filmmakers are exploiting the tragedy for commercial gain and is calling for a boycott of the movie.

I have complicated feelings about this. On one hand, I also freaked out when I saw the trailer. I don't like being reminded about that day. Whenever it is referenced and there are news clips that show the towers on fire, I cringe and have to look away. Even 10 years later. Every time I take the train into New York and I see the skyline that's missing two very important pieces, I'm reminded of that awful day.

On the other hand, it's part of our history. It happened. We can't pretend it didn't. Movies are made all the time about historical tragedies. One of the biggest movies of all time was about an tragedy. (Titanic, if you couldn't guess.) And it's not the only one. Pearl Harbor. Schindler's List. Hotel Rwanda. All about tragic events. All recent enough that people still living would remember it and be affected by a movie about it.

When I called in, (I was Aliah from Plainfield. Haydia is hard to say) I pointed out that there had already been a film made about 9/11. They had no idea what I was talking about. It was called "World Trade Center" and starred Nicolas Cage. No one remembers that movie. There was also a film called "United 93" about the people who brought down that plane in PA. So this film isn't new. It's just another in the inevitable slew of films that will come to be made about that day in September.

My advice to that lady who called for a boycott? Don't go see it. Change the channel when the trailer comes on. It's tough. It will probably always be tough. But 9/11 is a part of our cultural history. And pretending it never happened is not the way to go. Plus Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are in it. If anyone can be trusted to be gentle with that sacred material, it's those two.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


A year ago today, I was unexpectedly in the driver's seat of my dad's car, driving him, my mom, and my aunt to Long Island to see my grandmother in the hospital. It was unexpected because a) I hate driving to Long Island, b) I had been in Long Island less than a week ago, and c) my grandmother's health had declined very quickly.

We were about a half hour from the hospital and in some awful traffic when I heard a cell phone ring and my mother answered. I heard her say "Oh no. Inna lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Rajioon." My heart stopped. She has just recited the dua you say when you hear that someone has died. My grandmother had died and I had missed seeing her one last time by a half hour. And I had to keep it together because I was on the BQE in heavy traffic with a car full of people, two of whom had just lost their mother.

My father's mother, or Daddee-Ma, as I called her, was my last living grandparent. She lived in Long Island with my father's youngest sister and her two children.

I got a lot from Daddee-Ma. Physically, you could see that I am her granddaughter. I got her round arms. I got her short fingers. At the funeral, I sat next to her sister and was amazed at how similar our hands were.

I'm not sure what I wanted to say. I'm sad today. I regret not seeing her more. I miss her. I think was harder at her funeral because it felt so unexpected. With Ma (my maternal grandmother), I was there for her life, her sickness, her death. With Daddee-Ma, I missed so much. And now it's too late.