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Meg's Blog

Grey Gardens, Jackie O, Emma, and Me

Well? Have you taken the Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You Quiz yet? Take it now, and find out who you are!

I was a tiny bit disappointed (but not very surprised) to learn that I am an Emma.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being an Emma (I personally love her. Emma is probably my favorite Jane Austen)!

But let’s face it, everyone wants to be Elizabeth Bennet. Emma’s just a little bit bossy:

You are Emma Woodhouse of Emma! You like being the queen of your social circle (small and provincial as it may be), and feel it’s your duty to help those less influential than you. You often meddle in the affairs of others, though you do it with a pure heart. You are often deluded in your flights of fancy, but your good intentions and creative spirit make you someone anyone could like.

I am Emma Woodhouse!

Take the Quiz here!

On the other hand, maybe all writers are a little bit Emma. Aren’t we always bossing around our characters, telling them what to do?

Anyway, since my friends and family have learned better than to do what I tell them, my characters are the ONLY ones I can boss around anymore. (Dang it!)

Maybe that explains why my absolute favorite movie of the moment is “Grey Gardens” starring Miss Drew Barrymore and Miss Jessica Lange.

This movie is currently playing on HBO. If you’ve never seen it, you need to watch it (it’s also playing On Demand on Comcast and will be available on DVD in July).

The original “Grey Gardens” is a documentary about an elderly mother and daughter, “Big” Edie Beale and her daughter, “Little Edie” Beale, who are cousins to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. They lived in a crumbling mansion in East Hampton.

More importantly, they suffered from my favorite mental disorder, hoarding.

As an Emma type, I can assure you that there is nothing I love more than the idea of “fixing” a hoarder. I often lull myself to sleep at night by thinking of how I would fix up houses I know of that have fallen into disrepair thanks to hoarding (or neglect from hoarders).


Grey Gardens Before the Beales allowed it to crumble due to hoarding


Grey Gardens After hoarding took hold…the horror. The horror.

Seriously! They had raccoons living in there with them! And piles and piles of garbage!

I love the Beales, who weren’t crazy so much as eccentric, even as they were hoarding and sniping at one another.

(Favorite quote: “Mother wanted me to come out in a kimono, so we had quite a fight.” Of course you did.)

But the best part of the movie is when Jackie O finds out about the squalor her cousins are living in (she finds out because the story is broken in the press. Scandal)!

Then she, just as Emma would, descends upon Grey Gardens (in her limo!!!!), and saves the Beales from the raccoons and their caving-in ceiling. Or tries to, anyway.

When the workmen were throwing the Beales’s mildewing furniture into the Dumpster (my favorite part), I nearly had a heart attack of joy….

…even though Big Edie was quite upset at her dirty old stuff being taken to the dump, where it belonged.

I kept thinking to myself, “What did Jackie say to the Beales to get them to agree to the Dumpsters?” (Of course, they didn’t have much choice, because the city health department was on the case. But still.)

Because you know it’s very hard to get a real hoarder to agree to Dumpsters. I would love to know Jackie’s technique.

There is no fantasy that makes me calmer or happier—for instance, during turbulence on an airplane—than the thought of parking a Dumpster outside the house of a hoarder and throwing all their garbage into it (or better yet…four or five Dumpsters!), then driving away and leaving their house all sparkly clean, with plenty of storage space.

This is, I know, what makes me truly an Emma.


“I must throw a party for her. Otherwise everyone will feel at once how much I dislike her.”

Despite what you might be thinking (which is what always kept me from watching it), this movie doesn’t have an unhappy ending. Quite the opposite, in fact.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

PS And yes, I do worship the technique of Niecy Nash of Clean House.