There’s a great scene in Juno where Jennifer Garner says to 40ish husband Jason Bateman, “If I have to wait for you to become Kurt Cobain, I’m never gonna be a mother.”
Going through my old journals for this L.A. story I’m writing reminded me of what a painful turning point it is when you realize you have to give up your dreams of being a rock star. Sure a lot of people reconcile that by the time they’re college age, but those people probably don’t pack up and move to Los Angeles. By the time you’re 35 or 40 and haven’t made it in the arts, it seems logical to give up and move on, but on the other hand, you’ve already put so much time into the quest, it’s like it was all a waste if you quit now. Sort of like gambling–you want to keep playing to recoup your losses.
After all my years in L.A., I don’t personally know anyone who’s “made it” on the national level. By that I mean I’ve never been watching television or a movie, never turned on the radio and boom, there’s so-and-so from that financial corp. I temped at or that guy I used sneak champagne with when we were cater waiters.
I always wanted to be a singer-songwriter and I finally gave up when I realized I just wasn’t good enough. Thank god and my own creative flexibility that I fell into writing, a field that is much more right for me–it’s natural and satisfying in a way that music never was.
I do feel for the guys I knew that had to put their artistic dreams aside. (For some reason almost every musician I knew in L.A. was male, maybe partly because most of the reviewers were men, so they kept the beautiful female singers to themselves?) I know a lot of them went into production and session work, which would be fulfilling, I guess.
I think a lot of times a wife has to play Bad Cop when it comes to her aging musician husband giving up his rock & roll dreams, which is unfortunate. It also puts her in the Mommy role, which is icky.
It’s ironic or maybe just the way of the world, but a lot of the women artists I know would never have the lifestyles they do if their husbands didn’t have good jobs. Marriage enables them to pursue their creative dreams without having to worry about a sell-by date or a time-and-soul-sucking day job.
The Jason Bateman character in Juno was portrayed as selfish, but he probably would have supported his wife if she had wanted to become a full-time poet.