Friday, July 23, 2010

The Working World

Yesterday turned out to be not quite as unscheduled as I'd hoped, as the glass company finally had my new window ready. That meant waiting during the "they'll be there between x and y" time (and then a little more), then hovering in the living room after they took out the whole window to put the new pane in (I figured I ought to hang around while I had a giant hole in the front of my house). That ate up most of my afternoon, but I now have a nice, clear window. The old one was so fogged between the panes that it looked like frosted glass. Today is jam-making day. It's an all-day process because my recipe calls for the jam to be cooked, then cooled to room temperature, then chilled for a couple of hours, then cooked again before putting it in jars. It's currently in the cooling to room temperature phase, which takes a while. I started everything first thing in the morning so I wouldn't be doing the canning at 10 p.m. Right now, my house smells like strawberries.

I think this afternoon may be movie day, either something on HBO or something from the DVD collection. I want to do some brainstorming, and that seems to go better with background noise. I guess the movie gives my conscious brain something to distract it while the subconscious generates ideas. I think I'm close to done with one part of my research. I found a documentary on the subject at the library, and when watching it, I found that nothing in it was new to me, other than the visuals to go with it. I still have a few more specialized areas to dig into, including one that's so specialized I'll be surprised if I can find any references on that subject alone. I'll have to see if there might be chapters on it within other books.

The other day, HBO showed Working Girl in the afternoon, and although now it looks so very late 80s (those suits! those shoulder pads!), I still have a lot of fondness for that movie. Some of that has to do with the circumstances in which I first saw it. It was during the spring semester of my junior year in college. I was interning at a TV station and had worked that day. We'd had one of those freak cold snaps the previous day, where the temperature drops something like 50 degrees in a couple of hours, so most of the stories we were doing were about how various groups were coping with the cold. One of my friends from my journalism classes was also working that day, and we got to go out on stories together. Then we stayed at the station during the evening news. That meant I missed dinner in the dorm, so my friend suggested we go out to dinner together. During dinner, we decided to go to a movie, and we picked Working Girl. We were both all dressed up for work, and the fact that we went from the TV station meant I felt very grown-up and sophisticated, which fit well with what was going on in the movie. That friendship never developed into a relationship after that quasi-date, so I guess he didn't see me that way, and since I don't recall being horribly disappointed that he didn't ask me out again, and I don't remember pining, and we were still friends when we graduated, I guess I wasn't all that into him, either. I just remember that while we were out together, I found myself thinking that I wouldn't mind if it developed into something more, and that meant the evening felt full of possibilities, which gave it an extra charge, even though nothing happened. (Strangely enough, my brother ended up working with this guy years later, as we discovered in one of those weird "I know UT was a big school, but did you know ...?" conversations.)

So, anyway, that movie brings up memories of one of the best dates I ever had, even though it wasn't really a date. As for the movie itself, one of the things I like about it is that it wasn't ever really pitched as love vs. career. Her ultimate dilemma was love and career vs. personal integrity, and she stuck to her guns, being willing to sacrifice both love and career to hold true to herself. The guy was the one who had to choose love or career, with love representing personal integrity, when he had to decide to risk his career to stand up for her. It's a nice switch from the usual romantic comedy dilemmas. Although it's a heroine-centered film, she really just gains confidence. He's the one who has to really change because he has to stand up for himself and for what's right and who has to learn to be bold -- she's the one who has to persuade him to try unorthodox approaches, and he's the one who can't even bring himself to break up with his girlfriend. It's a shame that Harrison Ford didn't make more romantic comedies when he was in the prime age for that sort of thing (when he was roughly in the same age range as the romantic comedy leading ladies). Both Han Solo and Indiana Jones showed that he's got excellent comic timing, and he had a kind of ruggedness that made him look like a man instead of a boy even when he was young. The scene where he's stuck with her after the combination of Valium and alcohol knocks her out and he can't think of anything to do with her is classic -- the running, apologetic monologue as he carries her up the stairs to her place and then fumbles to play host to his unconscious guest by offering coffee or herbal tea (that he doesn't actually have, but that sounds good). It's that Indiana Jones in professor mode self-deprecating humor that's so very charming.

If you've read my books and remember Mimi, you might suspect I've had a few evil bosses of the Sigourney Weaver character's variety, and you'd be right. I think I had more women during my career who were problems than I had men. I did sometimes get a little patronizing and condescension from men, but then I spent my career dealing with doctors, scientists and engineers (who were condescending and patronizing to everyone, and I'll tolerate a little patronizing from someone with a Nobel prize), but I don't recall any real sexism of the "you can't do that because you're female" variety from men. I was more likely to get competitive bitchiness from women, and something I saw a lot of was the women who'd come up during the "man's world" era, when it was unusual for a woman to make it so far, and who didn't seem to want any other women to succeed. They were special and unique as women in a man's world, and it was almost like they were afraid that if more women made it, they wouldn't be special anymore, so they tried to sabotage any women who might make it. I never had anyone steal ideas, but I did have clients who lied to my boss about what they'd assigned and what I'd done and tried to get me in trouble (there was one we had to start recording in meetings to prove what she'd really asked for) or who CCd everyone above me with the very first complaint about something, which usually involved asking why something she'd forgotten to ask for hadn't been done, or checking to see why she didn't yet have something that wasn't due for another week. Those experiences make the conflict in the movie even more real and vivid to me now than when I first saw it and the working world was still just a fantasy of a potential future.

Now I'd better go check on my jam.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never seen "Working Girl," but now that I've read your review of it, maybe I will sometime. My husband loves Harrison Ford, so maybe he'll even like it. :)