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Leverage

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 and Up in the Air

2010 is here and with it comes a new chance to improve ourselves and keep getting better. I’ll be honest- 2009 was not my favorite year. There were some great moments but overall, the year was a big year of change.
It started with a fractured elbow for me, included an unexpected move, surgery for my wife over the summer, a job change (same company, just a new job there and for those who know me, changes stresses me out), a spectacular trip to Disneyland the week before Thanksgiving, and ended with not being able to go to my brother-in-law’s wedding at the temple because we had expired temple recommends.
But it is 2010 and a time for a new start. On January 2nd, we also saw a new movie, Up in the Air, and it seems to be a nice dovetail into this post. So, I will be talking about the upcoming year first and end with a movie review.
Last year, Aleisha and I had a motto, and it was- “Do more, more often.” This year, even though we’re still working on it, will be a combination of quotes from 2 Aaron Sorkin scripts, one from SportsNight and one from West Wing.
The Sportsnight quote comes from the episode “Quality of Mercy at 29,000 K”.. “Do anything- as much of it and as often as you can.”
Then, there is the West Wing saying that President Bartlet said at often in the first two seasons, “Mrs. Landingham! What’s next?”
Aleisha and I are setting some solid, important, high goals. They will both cut down on any free time we have, yet, at the same time, make our lives better and our marriage stronger than ever before.
For one thing, in a large nutshell, I will be taking care of myself this year. I will be getting new glasses, getting much dental stuff done, getting a new suit, exercising several times a week, and a few slightly personal things that will not be going on this blog. J
We are also working hard on our marriage. We are planning ways to spend more time together. One of Aleisha’s Christmas presents were coupons to local places that we have not yet been , so that we are forced to spend time together in new places. Who knows? Maybe we will find a new favorite restaurant or place to go on a Saturday night when a movie is not what we want to do (anything is possible). We are also going to be reading together at night from children’s books or anything that we both want to read together.
We are also working on spiritual goals. Some of the easy things like prayer and scripture reading have been continual issues in our marriage and we will be focusing on the basics and making sure that those are strong again. When it comes to home teaching, I have never had a problem going, but I hate making the initial appointments. Because I had such great companions in my old Provo Ward, if we missed a month, it was the exception, not the rule. In my new ward, my companion has changed several times in just 6 months and I have not had a chance to get into any rhythm. That will change as well.
Careerwise, I am still loving my new job at Pinnacle Security. For almost 2 years, I was a customer Service Supervisor. Now, I am the Executive Complaint Supervisor. I handle and write our official business responses from the Better Business Bureau complaints that come in, the escalated calls which the normal reps and Supervisors can’t handle, and, I am now starting to answer a bunch of official complaints from lawyers or Attorneys General. So, it keeps me on my toes and I love it. I feel like I have strengths in Customer Service and in writing- this job combines them both. I love the people I work with and I love the company. Right now, I personally am feeling a little down just because I am the only one doing this and, for some reason, we have had complaints like crazy since the last week of December, and when I answer 12 in a day, there are 8 new ones that come in the next day, so I take 3 steps forward and two back. I know it will get better. I am hoping to be caught up totally by the middle of next week, and then I just need to stay on top of them. Another week or so, and I will be great.
I’m not planning to leave Pinnacle at all. I’m planning on being there for the long haul, but, if I can, I am also hoping to be a published author. My mom and I have worked on a book together that will hopefully be purchased by a book company by the end of the year. If that can happen, by being a published author, I am hoping to be able to sell my novel that I have been working on as well by the end of the year. My goal is to finish the first book by the end of March, and finish the second book by the end of the year. That will not be easy, but, it will be very worth it.
The movie, Up in the Air, focuses on George Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham whose job is to fly around the country from company to company and handle the firing of individuals whose companies are doing massive layoffs or, who are just too chicken to do it themselves. There is a lot of voiceover in which Ryan talks about what he does and his feelings about it. At one point, he says that he was in the air 323 days last year which left 42 days when he had to be at his boring home.
His home life is so boring that he doesn’t even live there. Nothing is in his closets, the walls are bare, the fridge has the bare essentials in it. It almost looks as if he moved in the other day and hasn’t brought the boxes yet, only, he has been there for years. His sister is getting married in a month and he avoids the phone calls from his family as much as he can. He cares more about hitting 10 million miles on his frequent flier miles card than he does for his family.
His company hires Natalie, a new young woman fresh out of college with ideas on how to cut the company’s budget by doing the firing through teleconferencing and cutting down on travelling expenses. Because Ryan feels that his job requires the individual personal touch, his boss has him go on the road with Natalie to show her what the job actually is and how she can tailor the training to the job even more.
George Clooney looks the part, with his graying hair and his smooth voice. He feels like the kind of guy you would want across the table from you giving you the bad news. Clooney continues his streak of strong, leading man roles who are not just the stud looking for a hook-up.
The hook-ups are important as well. Vera Farmiga also gives a strong performance as a woman who lives the same lifestyle as Ryan- on the road many more days throughout the year than she is at home. She gives both Ryan a Natalie a strong foil when needed to either lighten the mood or bring reality home a bit. Farmiga also continues her impressive streak of playing strong women. She is sorely overlooked as an actress. Most people recognize her as the police department psychiatrist who helps Matt Damon through his struggles in The Departed. Yet, every time she is in a film, whether as the female lead or a thankless supporting role, she hits it out of the park. She works perfectly in the trio of lead characters.
Anna Kendrick shines as Natalie. Up until now, Anna is more known for Twilight than anything else, but this film proves that she has what it takes to make a long career if she wants. She could have played the uptight, rigid, fresh out of college wet behind the ears efficiency expert. But, instead, she imbues the character with a sweet sensitivity even while she is putting a crimp in people’s lives whether it is Ryan by telling him that his life will change or by firing a man through teleconferencing, even though Ryan and Natalie are in the next room, or while talking about her boyfriend leaving her. She is cleaning up the awards throughout the different end-of-year awards shows for Best Supporting actress and I am rooting for her for the Oscar as well.
The film is both extremely uplifting but also extremely depressing. Throughout the film, the audience can see what Ryan needs. It is offered throughout to him, yet he only takes what he needs at the moment. When he is challenged to make a different choice to improve himself, sometimes he takes it and sometimes he doesn’t.
Even though it sounds like a depressing film and premise, there is much comedy involved as well. Mch like Frost/Nixon in 2008, the humor comes naturally and is not forced or over the top, but fits perfectly. When it’s funny, you laugh hard, but then it bounces right back and smacks you in the face with a moment that rips your heart out.
JK simmons plays one of the soon-to-be-unemployed who asks Ryan and Natalie what he should tell his family. It’s a great scene that will probably be shown at this year’s Oscar ceremony at least once.
Up in the Air really spoke to me. It showed me that change can be good and bad circumstances can give you the impetus needed to make a change for the better. I feel that is how 2009 was for me. It gave me the necessary oomph to start this year right and rocket through, making a better year for me and everyone around me. Don’t worry, I don’t expect to be doing everything yet, but slowly and surely, over the next few months, I add one more thing a week or a month until I can ‘Do More more often’ and ask, ‘What’s Next?”
While Up in the Air may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it would not be a movie you could watch anytime, it was one of those films that I saw at the perfect time for me. I loved every moment of it.
Up in the Air Review Score:
Movie rating-7
Film Rating- 10