As an English teacher, I have taught that film is a form of literature for a long time. From the beginning, but especially after movies like Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon, film has been artistic with depth and beauty that is the hallmark of great literature.
Move over, film. You have a new partner. Television. That’s what Breaking Bad did. It elevated television to an art form. Yes, The Sopranos was good story telling, and even in all its weirdness, Twin Peaks explored the arts in a way similar to Picasso’s eye.
But Breaking Bad brought a hero to life who was as much an anti-hero as he was a hero. Who made us feel, feel deeply, feel to the absolute depths of our bones, and it will be over too soon. I’m sitting here an hour before the season finale with butterflies. I have rarely been so excited to see what happens next and never been filled with such dread to see it end.
It has touched me like Harper Lee did with Scout when she said, “and thus began our longest journey.” This journey with Walt and Jesse, watching their deep love and respect turn to hate and revenge, has been one of my favorite journeys in all of literature. The characters are complex and the conflicts are heart wrenching.
And the string of coincidences is Dickensian to say the least. I think Vince Gilligan saw the entire story from the beginning and placed the foreshadowing in front of our very eyes, but like Dickens did in Great Expectations, he unfolds the answers a little at a time. But they are never cheap. Or lazy. Or contrived. They were there all along, so they feel like the natural evolution of real life.
I hope that Jesse lives. I hope that Walt goes out in a way that is noble. In a way that saves Jesse.
I hope that some day another show will come along like Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones. That will capture me and pull at me all over again. Because that’s what Breaking Bad did. It elevated television to literature.
So now when I teach my college freshmen, I have something new to add to the study of genres. Something they can understand. Something they know.
But here’s the thing about Breaking Bad . . . I wish I had never watched it. Just so I could see it again for the very first time.
Last week, I had the privilege of taking a group of honors students from my college to see To Kill a Mockingbird at the movie theatre. It is the 50th anniversary, and seeing the film on the big screen was an incredible experience.
I first read the book when i was 15 in Paula Molberg’s English class, and I fell in love. I mean fell hard. Since then, I have read the book at least once every year, and mostly at Christmas. This year will make the 35th year that I’ve read it. I have whole passages memorized solely by familiarity.
And yet . . .
I wept. Openly and without shame at that one scene in the movie. Stand up. Your father’s passing.
It was a joy to see the students experience the movie for the first time in some cases and for the first time in the theater in all cases.
I love that I get to spend every day at a job that never feels like a job. It feels like a conversation you might have with your friends over coffee or at a dinner party, a conversation that is stimulating and rich and full of life.
It feels like everything I imagined that first day in graduate school when I walked into a classroom, filled with terror and anticipation, and pride. Yes, pride. That I had made it through. That I didn’t die in my sleep as I fully expected because that’s the kind of luck I have. That I walked in, took a great big gulp, and said, “Good morning. Welcome to English 1301.”
And my life changed in that moment in ways I never imagined.
So to this small group of students, I want to say thanks. Thanks for sharing the ride, for reminding me about the wonders of discovering To Kill a Mockingbird, for believing that your education is magical, and for trusting me with the wand. I promise not to break it.
Not long ago I decided to fix a major problem with a desk that has great sentimental value to me. My grandmother had this elegant, feminine desk in her house when I was young, and when she passed away, I got the desk in my bedroom. I took very good care of it for many years, and when I was grown, I left it in our spare bedroom. My nephew moved in with us one year to go to college, and he left a wet towel on the floor that damaged the bottom of the desk.
Now, I love Justin, so this post isn’t at all about him but is about fixing something that was basically beyond repair. Nothing I did would remove the water damage and some of the other damage done from moving and rearranging, so I decided to paint it.
If you know who Miss Mustard Seed is (and if not, follow my blog roll on the right because she is magical), then you’ll recognize the style. Now, I can’t blame my poor skills on her because she has some wonderful tutorials and never makes the kind of mistakes I made on this piece, but still, it was my first attempt to salvage furniture, so I’m okay with the mistakes. I’ve made fewer since then. Here is the desk along the way. The pictures are from my i-phone, so I am def going to have to take new pictures, but for now, this at least gives an idea of what I’ve been up to.
What is really fun about this picture is that you get a sense of the mess my living room was in when I was in between craft rooms. It’s a huge room at the front of the house, and it seemed like a good idea to use it for my craft room since I had outgrown the bedroom. Of course, it wasn’t long before the room became totally dysfunctional, and after my son moved to Austin (boo), my husband built me an incredible craft room (yay). The important thing is that this desk now has a home in the guest room and gets the loving care it deserves. I still think of Grandma every time I see the desk.