Posts tagged Titanic

Vintage clothes and people who don’t know…or care

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We will have the vintage clothes person come up today from 75 miles away to look at our holdings of clothes at the Carnegie. She is more interested in 1940s and 1950s clothes.  We have a LOT of 1960s and 1970s clothes and want to find buyers who are interested in these kinds of things.  We have taken photos of nearly 250 pieces and we probably have about 500-600 more pieces of clothes to go through. That is NOT counting the shoes, hats, purses, etc. that are stored above the ten stuffed cabinets.

We are in gridlock at the Carnegie building right now because we have no where to turn with all the STUFF that has been collected over the years.  We had a yes/no vote taken this weekend by e-mail to find out if people on the historical society board were willing to sell some of these clothes.  Most all on the 15 member board said yes, there were a few dissenters. One said that he thought it was illegal to conduct an e-mail survey…what does he know?  Talks uppity but doesn’t do anything and is so eager to leave the meeting that he is always the first to adjourn our monthly board meetings.  I’d like to see what happens when we start talking a LONG time about clothes and how to store them properly and see what he does…or says.

Some people don’t really know anything and yet spout off about things as if they DO know something…also, there are others on our board who don’t care.  They show up once a month for the meeting (and the food) and vote and maybe make a motion so that their name will be in the minutes…but they don’t care about what is really happening.  We are running out of money and we need to be sure to go down with the Titanic. That is what we are on right now, we have hit an iceberg of reality. We have soooo much of everything, six treadle sewing machines, 10 grandmother clocks, six pump organs, 20 irons…the list goes on and on.  Supposedly we can’t get rid of things because they are on loan from a certain family, we don’t want to hurt that family’s feelings.  What do we have on loan at the museum? We should NEVER have taken anything on loan but instead told the people who “gifted” the museum that we would use the article of donation appropriately for display purposes or sell it.  We have to pay for the lights, electricity, heating, etc.  There are about ten buildings that are on the 8 acres of museum grounds. We don’t run on fumes and yet there are board members who don’t have a clue about what business sense it is to NOT make some money for this non-profit organization. We still need to pay the bills even though we are a non-profit entity.

Okay, enough venting…this has nothing to do with Kazakhstan, I realize that. However, I do know that this old country, the ninth largest in the world, currently has many painful growing pains to go through. Our museum is going through the opposite with having a dying population in our area where the grandkids purge grandma’s house and attic and “gift” us with all the rejected material that they don’t want.  In some cases, that is more than less.  Kazakhstan has many older kind of ideas about how the country used to function before communism took over. Probably after one hundred years, that has all perished.  There may be pockets of the country that still have some of the lingering old customs.  However, I think for the most part, people who still live in the hinterlands are living in poverty and are prey to the human traffickers.

We live in a fallen world, I realize that. Especially after getting some of the dissenting comments about what we are trying to accomplish at the Carnegie. Leave it to a few “do-nothings” who want to throw their weight around and express ideas that are NOT based on realism or on forward thinking functionality.  Here are some of the clothes that we are documenting and hoping to sell…eventually.

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“As Good As It Gets” in Kazakhstan

I feel like the Helen Hunt character, Carol the waitress,  from “As Good As It Gets” which came out the same year Titanic did.  Both Jack Nicholson and Hunt deftly swept up the Best Actor and Best Actress award against all the other awards Titanic captured.  These two actors deserved it, I’ve watched this movie maybe about ten times.  The lines in AGAIG are quick, quirky and very funny.  The one simple line I especially like is delivered by Carol to Melvin, “Pay me a compliment, Melvin.”  Then she instructs him with, “A compliment is something nice.”  I’m waiting for some word of encouragement or even a compliment from my employers about my teaching these last two years at my “former” place of employment. 

The three misfits in this hilarious comedy are probably based on real life people in New York. It would be very difficult to make up these characters and their lines from one’s imagination. First is Melvin the neurotic, but very successful novelist. Next Helen, the cash strapped waitress who is also a single mom living with her mother. Finally, Simon, the gay guy who is an artist but has hit rock bottom, he is friendless and without money to support his lifestyle.

I claim to be similar to the Helen Hunt character of Carol and as a New York city waitress, she had a service mentality. She served Melvin his daily meals. I came to Kazakhstan to serve the people and was barely paid minimum wage after paying all the expenses of airfare and housing in high priced Almaty.  As a working Mom, Carol had to take care of her ailing son.  I taught academic English courses to my Kazakh and Kazakhstani students so they would not fail their classes in their future academic career.  Carol, the waitress, was uneasy about getting involved with Melvin because he was so rude to everyone and to her.  She regained her dignity when Simon made her feel good about herself.  He drew her from an artist’s point of view because he valued her beauty as a person.  Westerners are like that, identifying the individual for the gifts and talents they possess and reveling in that.

I see Simon as personifying Western ideas, he was accustomed to a fine lifestyle of luxury and the fine art.  However, that crashed in around him when his flat was broken into by vandals and he was beaten up very badly.  I see at our place of employment there is a fair share of America bashing going on since supposedly our institution was based on an American system of education.  Discrimination against Simon and at the same time against anything American seems to be in vogue for some people at my institution of higher learning.  Some say negative things to my face about how America has done this wrong or we as Americans aren’t correct on some other policy.  What do people say about Americans behind my back?  I shudder to think.  Well, Simon loves his little dog and that’s what helps get him through his ordeal.  Incidentally, the little dog plays an important role in this movie.  I believe he should have gotten an Academy award as well for bringing Melvin and Simon together as tolerant “friends.”

However, Melvin has an evil streak coursing through his cold veins.  At the beginning of the movie, he throws Simon’s dog down the garbage chute.  No reasonable explanation is given except that he seems to hate Simon and what he stands for.  Melvin is full of paranoia and he needs therapy.  Melvin has a huge ego and is a frustrated, demanding old man but paradoxically writes novels about romance. Yet he knows nothing about love and spends his life pretending there’s nothing wrong with him. He has to have everything completely sanitized and clean and he locks many doors to his flat because of his many fears. 

Enter Carol the waitress into the picture to encourage Melvin, the twisted old novelist, to re-enter the human race of compassion. She boldly helps confront his fears about relationships head on. The rest of the movie portrays how guy meets girl and with the help of a gay, the two finally get together all the while taking baby steps. There is “give” and there is “take.”

That is why I would love to say to my former employers, who have acted like Melvin sometimes, “Pay me a compliment…a compliment is something nice.”  I guess if there were a sequel to this movie, it would be that Melvin broke up with Helen. That part makes me sad.

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