Some days you have one of those “I’m feeling really cute today” days. Yesterday was one of those days.
It looks like Twitter verified me sometime overnight last night.
Display Name: first of all, bitch,
monique judge. journalist. womanist. big hair enthusiast. coffee addict. tequila snob. bougie wrapped in a ghetto tortilla. opinions are my own.
This is Tiffany. She photographs well. She rocks hats by The Happy Hooker. She has a beautiful spirit. She is a part of my story.
Crocheting is a hobby of mine that has turned into a profitable side hustle. I make hats and sell them. Tiffany has modeled many of them, and so I made her this one as a thank you. She loved it, and she agreed to model it for me. It fits her locs rather nicely, don’t you think?
My eyes are my best feature I think. Well, my eyes and my lips. Also, I have a really big forehead.
Imagine you are a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University. You have a wonderful marriage with a handsome, equally successful husband, and three beautiful, adult children who adore you. You have just celebrated your 50th birthday.
Everything is perfect in your world, and then you receive the devastating news that you have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
After experiencing a few episodes of forgetfulness, Alice visits a doctor who diagnoses her condition after running a few tests on her.
When the initial shock of her surprise diagnosis wears off, Alice (played by award-winning actress Julianne Moore) and her husband John inform their children of her medical condition. Alice then does everything in her power to stave off the cognitive deterioration that threatens to disconnect her from her family and everything she knows and loves.
The 90-minute view into Alice’s world as she tries to maintain control is at once heartbreaking and enlightening. By the end of the film, the experience of Alzheimer’s has been brought home in a way that is both realistic and nonjudgmental.
The ugliness of the disease is not hidden from the viewer, and there is no candy-coated sweet ending to send viewers off with misguided notions of how Alzheimer’s impacts not just the afflicted, but everyone around them as well.
Julianne Moore’s Alice is happy, sad, angry, desperate, aloof, and forgetful. This range of emotions is covered brilliantly by Moore, and one should expect nothing less from the actress who has given us everything from a cocaine-addled porn star in Boogie Nights (for which she received an Academy Award nomination) to the suspicious, protective friend in The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.
Moore received a both a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Alice, and it is fitting because delivering raw emotion is what she does best. Through Moore we are able to feel the despondency of Alice as she goes through the taxing motions of trying to retain control of her own mind.
Moore’s Alice is supported by a loving family in the form of Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, and Kristen Stewart.
Through Baldwin, we get Alice’s husband John, who is angry with the situation, but forever in love with his wife. John supports Alice through every episode of forgetfulness, every angry outburst, and every tearful moment, often holding back his own emotion. Alec Baldwin is excellent in this role, and he makes it easy to forget that he has made his money the last few years as a comedic actor.
Hunter Parrish plays Alice’s son Tom. He is loving and supportive of his mother, and wants what is best for her. Parrish is an accomplished actor, but sadly his talent goes wasted and underutilized in this film.
Kate Bosworth plays eldest daughter Anna, a married woman looking to start a family of her own. Her mother’s moments of forgetfulness are not lost on her, but she chooses not to dwell or focus on them, and is instead incredibly supportive of the negative experience that Alice is going through.
Kristen Stewart is youngest daughter Lydia, and in a departure from most of Stewart’s roles thus far, she is not playing a variation of Bella Swan. Her performance is surprisingly good. Lydia’s love and support of her mother is unwavering, and even when she has a few moments of anger toward Alice, she quickly recovers from them and continues to be one of Alice’s biggest supports throughout the film.
Even when Lydia experiences her own personal dramas, she remains ever faithful to the mother-daughter bond she shares with Alice.
Viewers will come away from this film experience with a better understanding of just how unforgiving this particular disease can be, and the horrible effects it can have on an entire family when one member suffers from it.
The ugliness of Alzheimer’s is pit against a family that simply wants their loved one to be OK. As Alice quickly deteriorates, they all step up to help in small ways and offer encouragement to her, even when they know the end result is inevitable.
It is that sense of hope that carries the film, not in a soapy, happy tidy endings way, but in a way that leaves you rooting for the family to be whole no matter what happens to Alice in the end.
Like them, we are left wanting Alice to be, well, Still Alice.
Still Alice opened in December for a one week Oscar qualifying run, and had a wide theatrical release on January 15.
When I was 18, I had all these big plans for myself and how I was going to live my life. I was going to go to college and then go to medical school, marry my boyfriend Sean 1, get very rich, and have two or three children that we would only send to private school since we would be rich enough to afford it. We would have a big house, fancy cars, and we would live happily ever after 2.
When you’re 18, everyone expects you to have your life all figured out. You are supposed to start college knowing exactly what you want to be when you grow up, and you should have a carefully thought out plan to get there.
No one thinks about the fact that the average 18-year-old is making these plans simply to please their parents. No one acknowledges that a lot of these parents put undue pressure on their children (often based on their own failings), and they expect perfection because they are living vicariously through what they view to be a second coming of (and a second chance for)themselves.
That type of pressure often ends up with young people making lifetime decisions without ever having the experience or the skills to know what it is they really want, and that is totally unfair.
I’m not sure what I thought 43 would look like when I was 18, but I am pretty sure it looked nothing like what I am living now. The road here was long and windy, and there were many pit stops along the way. I got to meet a lot of people, travel to a lot of places, and do a great many cool things.
Without a question, the best part of the journey has been getting to know myself.
No one tells you that you won’t even know who you really are until well into your thirties. That is when you begin to figure out exactly who you want to be, outside of the expectations of everyone else. That is when you begin to live as your true, authentic self.
I’ve always been a writer, and I’ve always been writing, but it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I recognized I really had a talent for it. Up until then, it was just something I had always done in diaries, notebooks, and on random scraps of paper. And even then, even when I realized it was something that I could do well with every little effort, it still wasn’t something I took seriously or considered doing as a career.
In my thirties is when I realized I really had no desire to have children because I wanted to live life unencumbered and able to leave at a moment’s notice to follow whatever diversion I had discovered along the road of life.
My thirties were a time of great exploration for me. I spent a lot of time finding out what I liked and didn’t like. I took time to shake off old perceptions and work on new ideas. I spent time blogging and using storytelling as a way to figure out many of the problems and situations I was encountering in life.
My thirties were where I worked out many of the kinks.
My forties are where I have been putting things into action.
I’ve realized that we never really grow up. We just continue growing. Whoever came up with the concept of growing up anyway? It is limiting to think that there is some finite point at which you lose the ability to take on new challenges and learn new things
I am still learning. I am still growing. It is a process every single day.
There is still so much more for me to learn and discover about myself. There are still many places for me to go, and there are still a ton of things that I want to do.
There are probably still a lot more things I don’t even know I want to do yet, because I haven’t had a chance to discover them.
On this 25th anniversary of my 18th birthday, I want to be as wide-eyed, open, and curious about the world as I was back then. I want to remain ever engaged in the process of renewing my lease on life. I want to remember that as long as there is breath in my body, there is opportunity for me to do more, be more, and see more.
I don’t want to grow up. I just want to keep growing.
header image: Austin’s 13th birthday by Meredith Bell