American Beauty and not wishing your life away

Last night I was thinking about the movie American Beauty. Not so much because I think it’s the most awesomely movie ever made, but more so because it had a profound impact on my life.  It was about 10 years ago and I was working in my first big important job after college as an archivist. It sucked big time. Not the work itself, but for my boss. She was a shrew who would throw Mommie Dearest tantrums if the patron pencils weren’t sharpened to a deadly point. I am not usually a crier and she made me cry. I also remember a few nights that I went home and drank until I was numb…not a good road to go down. I was miserable. Then I saw American Beauty, and I so identified with Lester Burnham that it scared me. I didn’t want to wake up one day at 40 and regret my life—I didn’t want to wake up any day and regret my life. This is the only game we get, there is no going back to GO and there is certainly no one throwing $200 at us either, so I became empowered and decided to take control. After a 2 week vacation, I marched into the shrew’s office and told her how difficult I found her to work with and that I wanted to change our working dynamic…not such a great idea. She said some really nasty things to me and it was then that I decided to leave.  I couldn’t spend another minute working for someone who was so unhappy and whose main goal in life seemed to demean, belittle and tear down the people around her.

I gave my 2 weeks notice and I was out of there…with no job waiting for me either. Yea, I didn’t wait to find another job. I had been looking, but to no avail. Luckily, Mr. Indie Fixx had a job and was totally supportive of my decision. Now, we were poor, but I grew up poor, so I had that down.  We had enough to pay the mortgage & for necessities, but we just had to live frugally and be creative with our entertainment (hello, library). Not such a bad thing at all and I had my life back. I was determined to never wish my life away again, like I had almost every day at that job, but resolved to deal with the bad shit and/or move on if that didn’t work. Life is to precious to waste.

Now, American Beauty (remember this was about the movie) is certainly not the only movie to have such a profound impact on me, but it certainly has been the only one so far that was so life-changing. But, there are plenty of movies that stick with me and I know you know what I mean. There are those movies that you find yourself identifying with in some way and that pop up in your thoughts often.

So, share with me. What movies have had an affect on your life or that you have identified with in some way?

Here’s some more movies that have stuck with me.

Life Aquatic – You Wanna Talk Jive

Ghost World – Danny Brito

Breakfast Club – Dial M for Michele

Ok, not a movie, but just some Favorite Directors – Retrowhale

The Big Lebowski –  Retrowhale

Star Wars – Elloh

Easy Rider – Doc Martin Studio

To Kill a Mockingbird – Elloh

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Nicole Wong Illustration

Edward Scissorhands – Burnt Feather

Donnie Darko – Jkoob13

and practically everything in Claudia Varosio’s shop, including:


  1. wow, I can’t believe it, I watch american beauty and quit my job the next day about 10 yrs ago, dead end soul sucking job anyway

  2. I am so touched by all your comments, I really am. I wasn’t sure how this post would be received and was a little worried about sharing my story, but I’m glad that I did. It seems to have struck a chord with a lot of you.

  3. Great story. It was really brave of you to just quit without really knowing if your future was going to work out.

    I do love your blog!

    I would have have to say that the films that have had impacts on me are Amelie, Becoming Jane and a Phillipino one that I saw at a film festival, Magnifico.

  4. This is a great post, thank you for being so honest and sharing your story. I’m sort of in a halfway house situation in that my boss makes me quite miserable but I can’t leave completely so I’ve gone part-time. It has helped me not let her get to me so much plus it’s given me time to make real progress on starting my own business (two months and counting to launch, eek!).
    I love a lot of the movies you listed but have had big and little impacts on me but a couple more that spring to mind are It’s a Wonderful Life, Legally Blonde and Dead Poets Society.

  5. I loved this post! No job is worth it if it is tearing out your soul and making you dread your days. You obviously chose the right path, your blog is a delight and an inspiration. As for movies, I have an affliction where every time I have to remember a movie I really liked I blank out and feel like I never saw a movie in my life.

  6. i saw gone with the wind for the first time when i was 11. i was furious that i had watched this 4 hour epic and did not get a happily ever after at the end.

    i slowly realized the beauty in the realism of that ending. the inspiration for me came in the portrayal of an iron-willed female that was terribly flawed but ultimately admirable. still my favorite movie of all time!

  7. Wonderful story. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was my husband and my first date! Dirty Dancing was filmed 2.5 miles from where I lived in Virginia(not NY!) so I’ve always like that movie.

    I tend to rewatch a lot of movies such as The Enchanted April, French Kiss, My Father’s Glory for the cheer up factor.

  8. Wow, I had a similar reaction to this movie! It hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw it. Remembering that life is short and that the ability to find beauty in everyday life is a blessing, were lessons that I took from this movie. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jenn, oh i hope not. I think mine died. She has already had one heart attack by the age of 50 and was most def on the way to #2 when I left.

  10. No necessarily, Amy. I’m the sort of person who is always doing about 10 things at any given time, so there are always things on the move in and on the move out. 😉

    I take after my grandfather that way. My gmom worked the same job for 4o years, but grandfather tried this for awhile, then another thing & another & so on.

  11. What awesome comments! I’m so glad that you liked my post, I poured a little bit of my heart into it. 😉

  12. You’re pretty much the most fabulous entrepreneur I’ve ever known. An inspiration to fellow slackers (kidding, kidding)! I love ya Jen!

  13. I can totally identify with you on this post, not only because we {scarily!} have the exact same taste in movies, but because I also take movies to heart. Movies almost help me deal with my feelings about situations in my life.

    Great post! Spot on.

  14. I love this post. I can totally relate. Garden State had a profound effect on my life. I just love how movies have the power to do that. Same with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Vanilla Sky. I feel like sometimes you see a movie at a point in your life when you really need to see it, and it changes you, and that’s magical.


  15. The Piano… but while scrolling through the post I also remembered Donnie Darko’s impact. For me, it’s the music that leaves a lasting impact. I tend to not watch movies multiple times but I do revisit the soundtracks over & over again. Those two have haunting beautiful music featured in them, and it’s the music that reminds me of the script’s content & meaning & how they affected my life.
    Great post!

  16. What a great story! I think it’s great you were bold enough to try to change the situation, and yet able to pack your bags when the boss responded like, well, you know.
    Curious: was that leap of faith the beginning of a new career path?

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