I was poised to write a thoughtful reflection on my current feelings of anxiety. But then, I saw that The Time Traveler’s Wife was on HBO. Having read the book, I knew exactly what it had to offer. I watched it, I cried, and now my inspiration has evaporated.
This is not an unusual situation for me, and I’m not altogether sure how common (or uncommon) it is. Approximately every two weeks, the faintest traces of worry manifest in my gut: worries about life in general, work, writing, not writing, family, the future, the mounting pile of dishes in the sink, everything. I brush off the feeling as it builds until, at some point, I can’t stand it. Then I seek relief — not in the more obvious choices of booze or drugs but in movies (and occasionally books and music). These are what I refer to as my “triggers,” the stimuli that coax the worry out of my system.
My ultimate go-to’s are inspiring dramas and romantic comedies, mostly movies starring Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts. I’ve watched my You’ve Got Mail DVD more times than I can count. (For me, romanticizing email correspondence is the equivalent of shirtless George Clooney or Robert Pattison). When I moved to London for a year, I watched one of three movies virtually every week: Notting Hill, Something’s Gotta Give, and You’ve Got Mail. Most recently, I’ve discovered that Gran Torino, a dark horse of my triggers, can inspire tears as long as I tune in at least 15 minutes before the end. Impressive or terrifying? Perhaps both.
My triggers are my comfort food, and for the purpose of reading and writing more, I suppose it’s time I went on a diet of sorts. The ultimate goal would be to need no trigger at all, of course — to just react to life as it happens. But for now, I’ll settle with more books, more movies, more music and maybe a little less You’ve Got Mail. For the record, You’ve Got Mail is fantastic and the clip below captures everything I love about it.
My progress so far? This week, I subscribed to Harper’s Magazine and started reading Nora Ephron’s (coincidentally, writer/director/producer of You’ve Got Mail) 2006 memoir I Feel Bad About My Neck.