Obvious Child, 12:17 am


It is 12:17 am on a Monday night (I guess a Tuesday morning?) and there are a lot of things I could be doing.

I could be sleeping, for one. I probably should be sleeping, to be honest, considering the amount of sleep I’ve gotten in the past week, which is not all that much. (Contrary to popular belief, anxiety is not fun! At all!)

I could be responding to e-mails or writing the draft of this multimodal literacy narrative due tomorrow that I haven’t blinked an eye at (sorry @ my professor, if you’re reading this. It’s been a rough couple of days) (also sorry @ dad who I know is definitely reading this, I’m keeping up in school, I swear, I’m just tired right now)

I could be reassessing my life choices, or just assessing them in general. I could be wallowing in a pool of guilt right now, or even self pity, but am choosing to put that aside for a moment and think about other things.

I could be reading Invisible Man or American Gods or Ragged Dick or Plato’s Republic or Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, all of which I’ve been assigned to read this week and have made little progress on. But it’s only Monday, right? I have time.

Instead, I’m in bed, relaxing in the afterglow of that disastrous and almost embarrassing presidential debate, my stomach full of penne capri and hard cider, just having finished watching the movie Obvious Child for the second time (the first time was with one of my best friends Catherine on her 22nd birthday). And it might be the hard cider talking, but Obvious Child is one of my favorite movies of all time as of right this very second (move over, Princess Bride).

For those of you who don’t know, Obvious Child stars Jenny Slate, a young Jewish woman in her 20’s who lives in Brooklyn and experiences a difficult break up, the loss of her job, a one night stand, and (**SPOILER ALERT**) an unplanned pregnancy. Yeah, Jenny Slate has a one night stand in this movie with Jake Lacy of The Office fame, who is unforgettably adorable. (He has great dimples, look him up.) Basically, he and his perfect dimples get her pregnant.  And she decides to get an abortion. And her life falls apart more than it was already falling apart before, but it also falls back together by the end of the movie in a way that made me feel whole.

Now that I’ve given you a vague summary (*YOU’RE WELCOME*), let’s talk about what makes this movie one of my favorites.

This movie was amazing for a lot of reasons. It was a gentle story about a woman who has an abortion. It was a movie about a woman who has choices and who tries to feel fully despite being emotionally stunted. It was a movie about the experience of a real woman, a woman with confidence and insecurities, who has sex, who struggles with taking care of herself, who leans on her friends, who is sad and happy and every emotion in between. And even though she had a happy ending whereas a lot of women might not, it was still real.

Jenny Slate’s “thing” in Obvious Child, aka what she does that makes her so inherently herself, is stand up comedy. I mean, what else would you expect from a comedian/actress extraordinaire? She gets up on stage at this little club in Brooklyn and talks about her life. And because she’s funny and her life is interesting, people listen and they laugh and she gets to talk about how she feels and what’s actually going on, if you know what I mean.

What makes Jenny Slate so great in this movie when she does her stand up comedy is that it’s honest. She tells toilet jokes and sex jokes, but towards the end of the movie she gets up on stage and announces to the audience that, yes, she is pregnant, and YES, SHE IS GETTING AN ABORTION. RIGHT IN FRONT OF MAN CANDY CUTIE PIE STUD MUFFIN JAKE LACY, THE GUY WHO GOT HER PREGNANT, WHO HAS ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY NO IDEA.

Which is crazy. Can you imagine getting up on stage and announcing something so personal, something that not everyone agrees with, and something that might make people HATE YOU? Can you imagine announcing that to an audience of mostly completely strangers? Can you imagine getting up and announcing that you’re pregnant and you’re planning on terminating the pregnancy for the very first time (I guess that “announce” suggests that it’s for the very first time she’s telling him, so that wording was redundant, sorry) to the guy that impregnated you?

It was incredibly admirable.

This week I read a personal essay by one of my best friends. She wrote about her ex-boyfriend, and how transformative that relationship was for her, and all of the things that she realized after it was over. A lot of it was not nice. But it was extremely well written. She e-mailed me this 22-page essay and I sat and read it on my phone with a plate of mozzarella sticks at Wegmans, and pretty soon I was sitting and reading and crying over a plate of mozzarella sticks at Wegmans. (What else is new?)

What my friend wrote was emotional and real. But most importantly, it was honest. It was raw. And it made me remember myself a little bit and who I was before all this happened, and I think that’s why I cried.

I miss writing. I miss writing so much. I haven’t written anything that I consider to be real and raw and emotional since December/January, when my grandma died. And it’s September, and it’s been so long, and I miss it.

I haven’t written because I’ve been afraid. I didn’t write a college junior year reflection because I was afraid. I was afraid of writing something that people would read and make fun of me for. I was afraid of writing something that people would read and say that it was clichéd for me to write it. I was afraid of other people and what they would think of me. And I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

Amanda Under Construction is my space. I’ve had a lot of space taken away from me this year. I’ve backed away. And part of that meant I had to stop writing. But I want to take my writing back, and I want to take myself back.

This week I wrote an angry poem, and I am no poet. This week I wrote a story about my mother, who I haven’t written about in a long time. This week I cried so hard that I felt hungover the next day (which I didn’t even know was possible). But it’s a start.

Watching Obvious Child and seeing how brave Jenny Slate was reminded me that it’s okay to be myself, and reminded me that my feelings are valid, too. It reminded me what it’s like to be brave, and what it’s like to be me. And it reminded me why I need to write, and why I need to try and write again.

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