Thursday, December 27, 2007

For Unto Us a Child Is Born...

I haven't written much about Christmas, but I've been thinking about it a lot. Some people may know and giggle appreciatively or derisively at the fact that I've been listening to Christmas music since mid-October. And now, for reasons both experimental, spiritual, psychological and emotional, I'm trying to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas which begin on Christmas. So, when it's all said and done, my Christmas season will have spanned about four months; a literal season.

While there's a lot I could reflect on in regards to Christmas this year, there are two specific events that are impossible not to connect and wonder about. I'm not sure the best way to share them or really what I want to say, but I want to present them anyway. I also need to be sensitive to some privacy issues, so I'll do my best here.

The first event takes place on Christmas day in the evening. Enjoying the winding down of a wonderful meal at a friend's family's home, I wonder aloud "When do the games begin?" The answer, to my surprise, is that the game portion of the evening is being pushed back an hour or so because the game officiator (father of the house) has to go deliver a baby. He's on call. So a Christmas Party is interrupted by the birth of a new baby. How appropriate.

The second event begins on Christmas Eve. A young woman is part of a Christmas play. She dances the role of Mary every night. This year, her role of Mary is even more fitting because she's pregnant. Today, on Christmas Eve, she starts having contractions during the show. She heads off to the hospital. This would be another adorable annecdote, were it not for the fact that she's only in her second trimester. By Christmas, she has lost her baby. This will be her Christmas story for this year and every year to come.

Tonight, hearing the songs of that Christmas play, every lyric that sings of birth, the beauty of a baby, the gift of life, is singed with tragic irony. The singers must feel it too, though the audience thinks only of the nativity story. How will these songs sound to this mother who lost her child on the day we celebrate what is arguably the most famous birth in history?

It's no secret that Christmas brings up complex emotions, likely whether you celebrate it or not. The whole country seems to light up and demand that you do to. So what do you do with the empty manger? It's so different than the empty tomb. What do you do with the gifts you hate? Is it better than not receiving any? What do you do with the family you want to hide from? What do you do for those who have no family?

The glow of Christmas seems at times to shine the light on our deepest hurts and fears. Your unfulfilled hopes burn that much more cynically when you're surrounded by propaganda of love and joy.

But this year, I'm trying to cling to the hope of Christmas. The mysterious, chaotic dichotomy of divine life born in the stench of animal shit. Beauty cradled in poverty, A teenage girl nursing the Ancient of Days. Two mothers in the hospital on Christmas: one with a lifetime of birthday parties to plan, another, with unanswerable questions to face.

These are the images that stay with me even as I walk around shouting "Ding Dong Merrily On High" to anyone that will let me. The images stay with me as my eyes go dreamily aslant at the sight of a row of trees with white lights in their branches. The images are there as I sit by a fountain in the dark, weeping over my own heartache, wishing it was over. The images are there as I see 2008 approaching. The images are there as I kneel to take communion.

O come, O come Emmanuel...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finally Done

With the completion of a take home Greek final, I'm finally, truly, absolutely done with school for the first time all year. Be it bad luck or bad design, both of my short short short breaks between spring/summer and summer/fall terms ended up being full of school stuff, the worst being the week break before fall term that was spent in a 5 day 9-5 class. Which means that as of today, it really is the first time I don't have schoolwork to be thinking about. Well, I mean, give it a week or two and I'll probably have some reading to do, but for December, I really do seem to be free. Not that I don't love school, I really do take ridiculous delight in research papers, but constant brain work definitely takes a toll.

Here's some pictures I semi-furtively took on the last day of Greek class. Everyone was doing their individual research/translation presentations, and contrary to what these pictures show, it was a really great class. What you see on these faces is BRAIN FRY, not boredom (at least more loopy or end-of-the-rope-ness, than boredom).

So with much love to my fellow M-Div-ers, hope you're getting some rest. And sorry I stuck these super-flattering pictures here without your permission.

Hearts and Flowers to you all.

This is also pretty good documentation of the "Apple" orchard that is the MHGS MDiv program. And of course the pictures were taken with a Mac too.

Also, considering the gorgeous adaptive-reuse Brick building that is our school, why does it look like our class meets in a church basement?

Friday, December 7, 2007

"What I Did Before Thanksgiving Vacation"

So I was asked to write something for MHGS' blog Elliott & Wall about a Thanksgiving service I spear-headed and co-created. It was kind of a big deal for me- stepping into some first experiments with what types of things I might want to do with this degree I'm working on (did you see all the parenthetical/passive/hypothetical language usage there? Clearly not ready to make declarative statements yet...). I was really pleased with how it turned out. You can read about it if you follow the link. I think it should makes sense to non Mars Hill-ians (though we run into similar "you had to go to Bennington to get it" kind of language and context barriers here too) but I'd love to interact with your thoughts and ideas about this kind of stuff, ie: worship, church, meaning-making, etc. There's no comment option on Elliott & Wall, so feel free to comment here if the mood strikes.

(Oh, and yes, there are some typos in that other post, unless they've been fixed by now. FYI)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

How Paul Simon Taught Me To Sing My Future...

I, like many of you post-Gen-Xers, grew up listening to Paul Simon's "Graceland" album. It's an album (perhaps the album) that I recall as a constant in memories from various parts of my life, from being a kindergartner singing along to it with my brother while being driven to our grandparent's trailer on a Minnesota lake, to the nerdy kid on my bus in fifth grade who brought a boombox everyday so that all of us could listen to it on the forty-five minute bus ride to our magnet school, to singing along on a walkman in high school, to a friend in college requesting that we not listen to it on the drive to New York city. No matter how far back I go, "Graceland" is there, and I'm singing along.

Well, that's what made it all the more shocking the other week when someone explained a lyric to me that I had never connected the dots to. In the song "That Was Your Mother" which is a zydeco hybrid, I'd always assumed every street and building reference in the song was about New Orleans. This was in a no way a stretch of the mind, since the second refrain says "I'm standing on the corner of Lafayette, state of Louisiana..."

As I was standing with Garth, in NY, around Astor Place across the street from the building we'd worked in together over a year ago, which sits next door to The Public Theatre, he quoted the first verse of the song (which I've known the words to since I was at least six) where it says:

"Well I'm standing on the corner of Lafayette, across the street from the Public, headed down to the Lonestar Cafe..."

It was like footlights exploded in front of me or something. There we were, standing on the corner of Lafayette, across the street from the Public, a few blocks up from what was once the Lonestar cafe. How many times had I stood on that corner, coming back from Staples, passing Philip Seymour Hoffman and Liev Schreiber taking smoke breaks in front of the Public Theater, then lugging bags up the fourth floor to our wacky non-profit cubicle? How many millions of times had I sung that lyric, without ever considering that the song was partially about New York? It was spooky and freaky and surprising and awesome. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but at that moment, it was this realization that I'd spent my childhood unknowingly singing about a place I would spend a large chunk of my life. And not just the city, but singing about a specific spot on a specific sidewalk of a specific street in a specific city. That is just too crazy. And I only learned of the connection once I had moved away from New York. I'm just glad the revelation came while I was standing there on Lafayette at least. (You know, where the Walgreens is now that used to be the Astor Wines & Spirits that's now across the street by the Public...)

Somebody please agree with me that this realization is cool.

Monday, December 3, 2007

If Everyone Jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge...

If someone tagged you on their blog...
I guess the answer is finally "Yes, I'll do the mental work to respond to a Blog Tag. I mean, my favorite thing to do is fill out lists and questionnaires about myself, so why has it taken me this long to finally repsond to one of the various blog tags I've been tagged with?

anyway,Kim tagged me, these are the rules, and I'm giving it a shot.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I have not worn matching socks in 18 years. This is not so much a philosophical issue, but really just a time saving device. Why bother matching what no one will see? And when people do notice, it always kind of takes me by surprise, like "What? You mean you actually bother to match your socks? Why would you do that?"

I really, really want to stay in a Scandinavian Ice Hotel, and have drinks at a bar made of ice and sleep in a room made of ice and be surrounding by rosy-cheeked Swedes wearing sweaters (I think I'll fit in).

The fact that I've never been able to name what exactly it is I want for a career (how do you say "I want to make collaborative performing art that both transforms and reflects contemporary culture) has led me to fantasize for years about being either A) a cross country semi-truck driver who eats at truck stops and listens to books on tape, or B) and orthodontist's assistant who has a definable, hire-able skill that can have a salary in any town you live in.

Four: I write in all CAPS but insist that my two-lettered initial name be spelled with a lower case j.

Five: I have a red belt in Taekwondo.

So now I'm tagging
Lucy, who has tagged me with quite a few good tags, and I never had the wherewithall to give it a go. I don't think she holds a grudge.
Mackenzie, who's known me since fourth grade and probably has a lot more than five disturbingly random notes about me. And I, her.
Sarah Courtney Tudor, who may or not mind that I have called her "Miss" since she was nineteen.
Cabe, who is the least likely to do this.
Katrina who watches the NYC sunrise on the way to work everyday

Sunday, December 2, 2007

"Snow" A Very Good Poem by Katie Swanson

(in honor of the first snow of the season, yesterday on December 1st, which continues to this moment, falling outside my window)

I like snow.
Really, I love snow.
Snow is beautiful because it makes you feel magic
Snow is special because it only happens sometimes.
I love snow because it comes in winter.
I do not like spring or summer because they don't happen during winter or fall and I love winter and fall.
Snow makes me feel very special.
I was born in Minnesota and it snows there a lot.
I grew up in San Diego and it only snowed there once on Valetine's day when I was riding my bike to school in fourth grade.
Snow makes my cheeks rosy.
Pretty much anything makes my cheeks rosy, but snow is my favortite thing that makes my cheeks rosy.
Snow makes me feel like a princess.
Snow makes me feel like I'm in a Charlie Brown special.
Snow makes me feel like I'm in Narnia.
Snow makes me feel very, very young, and quite old.
Snow makes me feel like something special is going to happen to me.
Snow makes me fall in love and I fall in love with snow.
Snow is my best friend.
Snow doesn't care that I don't have boots anymore.
Snow doesn't care that in Seattle, the city shuts down in fear of snow.
I welcome snow with arms open wide.
I welcome snow with mouth agape.
I welcome snow with singing and clapping.
I welcome snow because snow welcomes me and tells me who I am and who I can be and whom I have been.
Snow is nice.
I like it.
I love snow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Home for the Holidays

The Christmas season is officially here (though I kicked off my own Christmas season somewhere around the second week of October), so it's only fitting that I spent the last week feeling a lot like Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" as well as Ebenezer Scrooge. No, I didn't revisit regrets while being tour guided around my life by oddly dressed angels, but I did indeed visit my life, in a sort of surreal, feeling under-water kind of way. I went back to New York for Thanksgiving, for the first time since being carted away in a traumatic flurry of hospitals, oxygen tanks, and half-said goodbyes. This week was the only time I knew I'd have at least four days free with no work or school (and I ended up skipping a class anyway) and I knew there was nowhere I'd rather be for Thanksgiving than with my Brooklyn Family.

The weeks leading up to the trip had me wondering how I would react in returning to the place I'd lived for three years and not had any closure with. Would I start sobbing the minute I stepped off the plane? Would my life in Seattle evaporate and just convince me that I still lived in New York? Would I go numb? Would I be happy?

Well, it was kind of a multi-combo. I won't take the whole space to describe it, but more or less, most of my first day back I really did feel like a ghost revisiting my past. Everything looked familiar, but felt unfamiliar. I knew where to go, but couldn't remember how I'd gotten there. I realized, as I sat with Kim on the sofa I sort of helped pay for, in the apartment I'd spent 3 years of my life in, and realized that I'd never lived somewhere, left, had everyone remain and keep living that life, then return to visit that life. You know, when you visit your home, your peers aren't still in high school, things change. But going back to New York, for all intensive purposes, nothing had changed. Like Scrooge and Jimmy Stewart, I was visiting my life.

Also, the ghost metaphor makes sense, since when I left I was pretty much a ghost of myself. Barely walking, hardly breathing, and my parents had flown in and packed all my belongings away. I don't think it's an understatement to say that it was as if I had died. And suddenly, here I was, alive, walking down Franklin Street again-riding the C train and transferring to the F to meet up with people in the East Village- pedestrian dodging on 42nd street.

Fortunately though, I wasn't there to make up for past mistakes (though if I tried, I'm sure I could have found some). Mostly, it was just to rest in the warm embrace of those people that lower my heart rate, help me breathe easily, and call me nicknames I haven't heard in almost two years. Oh, oh the love. And the gratitude. And the Thanksgiving.

It was a short four days, but every second was a blessing. I thought about a lot, but also didn't analyze much. I made a lot of mental notes, but also just went with the flow. I was totally nostalgic, and completely in the moment. Rest. Rest. Rest.

I want to share more, and hopefully I will. But for now, being back in Seattle, I'm so glad I went back to my home, found it still warm and hearth-like, but also felt like I was the same person there and here. I know I've changed, but it was so nice to pick up where I left off, not feeling like I had to shift gears at all. I'm know I'm really different after what my Seattle experience has been, but it was nice to know I'm still the same. Coming home to Seattle was another homecoming. A different home, but one I'm grateful for as well. I'm grateful that there are nicknames here too, and different people whom I can rest with. And this doesn't take away from any other friendships. There's a difference between 1 year of friendship, 5 years, and ten years. And I'm so thankful for all of you. It was the best Thanksgiving week I've ever had.

Thanks for the pictures, Kimmy! And for my new/old digital camera!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Words and Lists, Lists and Words

After an unnsuccesful hour of trying to fall asleep after what has likely been the 11 busiest days of my life, and knowing that this current night is the last time I'll sleep in my bed for the next week, and that later "tonight" I'll be "sleeping" on a plane, I just can't stop the lists from running in my head, so maybe if I climb down from the old loft bed and type something out here, my brain will take a seven hour nap for the rest of tonight.

So in honor of the 50 pages worth of reserach papers I've written since mid-August, one of which I finished an hour or so ago, I thought I'd post the titles of my recent ones. After all, coming up with titles is my favorite part of any paper, (besides doing the research and reading the finished paper again about once a month). So here ya go:

Searching For Continuity From Plato To Kant

Genesis 35:22
A Case For Compassion And Creativity In The Interpretation Of Reuben’s Biggest Mistake.

Ways Philosophic Principles Can Guide the Church

Lessons from the Early Church for the
Seeker-Church Movement, in the face of Postmodernism

What The Emerging Discipline Of
Performance Criticism
Has To Teach Us About The Text
We Thought We Knew By Heart.

A Look at Dismissive Attachment Strategies in Partnered Relationships

I know, so fun right?
No, I mean it.
Which is why I'm doing it for four years instead of two.
But I would like a little break or something...

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The LIST is coming

It's almost december, which means 2007 is almost over and that means...

My 2007 FILM LIST is almost done.

That's right, it's exactly what it sounds like: A list of every movie I watched in 2007. I mean, I know I'm not the only one excited about this. Everyone loves reading lists of what people do in their spare time. Try to be patient. It takes a year to make this list. Hopefully you can wait just a bit longer. We just have to. There's no other way...

Friday, November 16, 2007

No Time To Blog, But I Did Want To Ponder This Briefly...

I'm always fascinated by the cultural artifacts that are web banners and pop up ads, and this one may be my favorite so far. Is this what I think it is? I mean, come on, it's Is there really a dating service to help wealthy men meet trixies? I love the stress on "gorgeous" single woman, but the not-so-cryptic silence about these "succesful" men's appearance (despite of the euro-model they stuck in the picture). I mean, the parrallel study isn't hard to do here:
Men- succesful +women- gorgeous, young
= men- not young or gorgeous & women- looking for what "success" can provide

I mean, if you're really a high-heeled wearing gold-digger, don't you have enough assets to do your work for you? Do you really need a service to help you find lonely, rich men over 40? I think you know where to find them by now. And if you're a wealthy single guy whose just looking for a trophy date who wants a sugardaddy, what is a website gonna help you find that a sorority party won't?

I love the interweb...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Hi, My Name Is Kj, and I'm Addicted to Library Requests..."

So, at the end of 2004, when I stopped being able to purchase every book I wanted to read and turned instead to the obliging New York Public Library, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn't long till I figured out that you could rent movies from the library for free, two weeks at a time, and (in NY) the late fee was only a dollar a day, so even four days late, it was still cheaper than renting. My roommates at the time can attest to the fact that after possibly forcing them to watch one of my "new arrivals" till 1am, I would then pull out my headphones and watch another movie till about 3, in a dark living room, so as not to keep them up any longer. You see, you can place items on hold online, and choose what library you want to pick them up at. I swear, most of my job errands were actually reasons for me to swing by the Jefferson Market (with my beloved curving staricase) or Ottendorfer Branches of the NYPL to pick up the 3-12 movies that arrived for me every week. I would check online sometimes five times a day to see if what I was waiting for had arrived yet. By noon, "American Splendor" might be in, but "Green Street Hooligans" would still be in transit, or worse, might have 277 Holds ahead of me. And NYPL would only let you request a maximum of 15 items at a time, so the very second something arrived, I moved another item up from my queue. It was a perfect poor man's NetFlix.
Well, the Seattle Library is quite decent, but the branch locations are not as easy to get to. I have to route my way through Ballard and switch buses, and time it perfectly along with another trip, like going to work. But, unlike NY, their late fees are only 15 cents day. Huzzah!!

And here's the biggest news, which I just found out. You can have an RSS feed telling you when your hold items have arrived! This is revolutionary! So, Seattle Public Library, though you're essentially out of my way, and you're a lot slower with hold items, and you have an understandably limited catalogue compared to New York, still, I salute Thee!

And I'm currently waiting for:

Northern Exposure, Sixth Season
Apocalypto, Mel Gibson
Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron
The Bridge, Eric Steel
Beaty and the Beast, Disney
The Holiday, (don't judge me)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Surly Haiku of the Tired Person

New Moon! Let me sleep!
Stop telling my brain to stay
Up all night with you.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Smells Like My Grandma...

At least three times in the past week or so, I've entered a space, be it elevator or bathroom stall, following a woman of elderly persuasion, and been overwhelmed by a very familiar perfume smell, both pungent and intensely floral, causing me to, well, feel dizzy, then remark out loud "Smells like Grandma." This has brought me to wonder why it is that all grandmothers seem to wear the same perfume. And though it may not be the exact same brand of "Spring Flowers" from Crabtree & Evelyn (as I suspect one of the offending perfumes to be) but that there seems to be a cultural consensus on strength and specificity of floral scent appealing to this certain generation of women (and, perhaps implicity, their generation of men). Two questions emerge: the specific "why strong flower smell" question and "Why a generationally consistent perfume choice?"

To the first question, I wonder if the strong smell has to do with the difference in scent strengths in the 1940's- different chemical potentcies? Or strong smell as a status symbol in the depression era maybe? Or does strong perfume have more to do with weakened senses of smell by the wearers and their spouses? Will we wear stronger perfume as we get older to remind ourselves that we are still feminine? To cover the encroaching medicinal and bodily smells that are travesties of how deliciously we smell coming into the world as powder-fresh babies? I don't know the answer to any of these.

The second question of why a whole age of women would seem to wear the same perfume (and to my memory, my grandma has smelled this way for the 28 years I've known her) brings me to a recurring thought about when certain practices, preferences and abilities seem to solidify. I've heard various theories around this question, such as that:

1) women tend to dress in the style of the era during which they felt themselves to be at their personal peak of sexual attraction (why so many of our grandmothers still wear 1950's perms).
2) One's abiblity to draw stalls at the age that you stop doodling. Thus explaining why I draw at the level of a twelve year old.
3) Drug addiction causes emotional development to halt at the age one started abusing- ie: drug addicts with the emotional maturity of 14 year olds.

Now, please notice the above statement that these are theories and I don't neccesarrily agree or with any of them as law or generalized truths, but a lot makes sense about settling into what we think works either concsiously out of comfort, or subconsiously through seeming lack of options.

Which leads to me posit that in the 2030's there'll be a lot of grandmas smelling like Posion and Obsession, and around 2057 or so, there may be a lot of grandmas smelling like vanilla or CK One. I don't know which will be worse, but in the case of CKOne, grandmas and grandpas might all smell the same. Sorry grandkids...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

New Friends

My Birthday is a special time of year, because, besides Christimas, it's the only time of year that my DVD collection has any shot at real growth, (and it rarely grows beyond 2 at a time). I've been working hard to curtail my film purchasing, 1, because I have about $12 in my bank account, and 2, because for the past few months I've been babysitting my brother's 400+ DVD collection, and thus, never have a day without something new to watch. The introduction of my brother's film archive to my house also affected my wishlist, because a good 40% of the movies I had on "High" priority, suddenly moved into my bedroom, so it seemed redundant to ask for them when they were already close at hand.

So, that said, I really didn't expect to get any new movies this year. Also, I've really been hankering for books in a way I haven't since I lived in New York. Thus, it came as an awesome surprise to find my DVD shelf overflowing this year with new additions. So much so, that I've had to move some books around to new places in my room (and beyond). Likewise, this birthday saw some great new books added to my library as well, not the least of which being, a Jewish Study Bible TANAKH translation, that I fell in love with earlier this summer and did not want to return to the school library and now don't have to cuz I gots me own!

Anyhoo, he's the new eclectic members of the Kj Best Friends Forever DVD Club. Thanks to all who participated in blessing me through my love language of DVDs.
The Station Agent
State and Main
Edward Scissorhands
Groundhog Day
Jane Eyre
Star Trek: First Contact

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I finally made it to the infamous Seattle Central Library a week or two ago, when an evening class had to be moved off-campus. I'd heard from a billion people that I had to check it out- that it was a sight to see, etc. That was about as much detail as I got. And of course, whenever people want you to like something, one will naturally be inclined to be unimpressed. Well, upon entering at the ground floor level, I didn't see much to be excited about except that I liked that the wooden floors were covered with three dimensional texts. I wondered how long it would take for the words to get flattened by foot traffic.

Then, winding my way around the gigantic building, trying to find the conference room we were meeting in, I stepped down a stairwell and suddenly entered a giant ear canal. The hallways ceased being gray, and became bulging, red walls curving outward and sideways, like a Dr. Seuss tunnel. I liked it. And somewhere in there, a door opened, and boom, I was in the classroom.

During the break, a friend showed me the library sights, and it was somewhere between riding the lime-green escalator, and staring over the metal-grated railings looking into a five story abyss in the center of the building, that it all clicked as being very, very familiar. "This building wasn't designed by Rem Koolhaas, was it" I asked Jamie. She responded that the name sounded right.

"Of course" I thought. "No wonder I feel so unnervingly comfortable in these gray, industrial walls peppered with high sheen florescent painted floors. I've logged over 1,000 hours in another famous Rem Koolhaas building: Second Stage Theatre in New York- Koolhaas' famous Bank building-turned-Off-Broadway theatre space. The design is pretty fun, but from a House Managament perspective, it was horrendous. There were no walls separating the lobby, theater entrance or auditoriurm, so if someone got up to use the restroom, a staff member had to guide them by flashlight through the darkened lobby space, making sure they didn't speak or make too much noise with their shoes, otherwise, the director taking notes in the back of the house during previews, would complain to stage management. I spent every show having to stand at the top row, catching stray patrons as they tried to find their way to the bathrooms, then shoving them into an elevator, all the while trying to keep them silent. It was ridiculous. But I did love the solid orange bathrooms.

It was nice to recognize the architect that has caused me so many awkward interactions with strangers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reading Story into Ourselves

" Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure will she have for it even as an accomplishment and a recreation. To those duties you have not yet been called, and when you are you will be less eager for celebrity. You will not seek in imagination for excitement, of which the vicissitudes of this life, and the anxieties from which you must not hope to be exempted, be your state what it may, will bring with them but too much. "
--Poet Laureate Robert Southey to the as yet unpublished Charlotte Bronte, 1837

The thing that's so powerful about story, is, that because good stories reflect truths of the human condition, it's possible to have your own story grafted onto another story. Those favorites books we have, have increased impact as we revisit them every few years. What mattered when you were 12 is different at 17, and world's apart (yet so familiar still) at 28. Good stories offer a chance to re-read yourself, as you re-read the characters and situations. Who do you identify with now that you once ignored? Where is your heart tugged and what seems implicit, that used to be jaw-dropping?

I spent a little time with friends today talking about our formative books. It's hard moving around so much, knowing that many of my precious volumes with underlining and dogearing by 14 yr old and 21 yr old Kj are sitting in boxes somewhere in the desert, but I still found some quotes and narratives to relfect on, and got to hear some new ones as well.

This event, and the impeccably attuned gifting of a long-desired DVD by a friend who understands the sublteties of wishlists, brought about the reamarkaby refereshing, surprsing and heartbreaking exprience of watching Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 adaptation of "Jane Eyre" tonight. It was this film adaptation that introduced me to the novel which affected my life in no small manner, and pointed me to author Charlotte Bronte, one of my founding mothers, I guess. A voice I value deeply, especially in light of her struggles, and the vast differences in her situation and mine. The irony is not lost on me, as I feel myself being "grafted" onto the story of a 19th century governess, while I'm working on a Master's degree. When I was in my Thomas Hardy phase of 2005, it felt almost unfair of me to be reading about Tess of the D'Urbervilles wandering the Wessex hillside, abandoned and abused because of her naivete and powerlessness, while I switched subway cars on the way to my various New York City jobs as an independant woman, able to make choices for my own future. Stuff for women may still suck, but I have more options than poverty/marriage/governess/prostitute. That is saying a lot when you look back at the last three thousand years.

Franco Zeffirelli says he believes women return to the story of Jane Eyre because it's about a woman on her path to dignity. I think that's true. But for me personally, it's also the story of who I was reading it at 16, who I was reading it for scholarly purposes in college, and who I am watching the film now, at almost-thirty, trying to make my way in the world, wondering what dignity looks like, while also beating Jane to the punch when she looks at herself in the mirror and says "You're a fool". Her story is mine, even if it's just because I'm a reader of her story, and thus, a more focused reader of my own story.
Where do you read your story?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday: And It Was Good

Walking into the bathroom first thing in the morning, and finding a sign on the toilet seat lid that said “Happy Birthday”. So much better than notes stuck to the mirror.

“And don’t forget: your face is a stupid place!”

“Hello, my little husband”

Mashed potatoes,
Macaroni and cheese,
Fried chicken,
French onion dip,
Dr pepper,
Cream soda,
Green beans,
Giant generic grocery store birthday cake

Toasting beloved friends

Playing celebrity password

Birthday time on Facebook- virtual plants, birthday cakes and greetings from an assortment of unexpected folks.

Pevear & Volokhonsky’s translation of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” at the exact day and time I was about to purchase it for myself.

All of it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yawn and the World Yawns With You...

...Write a book about "The Something's Daughter" and the world will too.

The oldest book in this list was published in 2005, most are 2007.
What's the deal?
They do make for fun juxtapositions, though.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter: By Kim Edwards
The Gravedigger's Daughter: By Joyce Carol Oates
The Rabbi's Daughter: By Reva Mann
The Preacher's Daughter: By Beverly Lewis
The Abortionist's Daughter: By Elisabeth Hyde
The Doctor's Daughter: By Hilma Wolitzer
The Bonesetter's Daughter: By Amy Tan
The Pirate's Daughter: By Margaret Cezair-Thompson
The Storyteller’s Daughter: By Cameron Dokey And Mahlon F. Craft
The Hummingbird's Daughter: By Luis Alberto Urrea
The Storekeeper's Daughter: By Wanda E. Brunstetter
The Quilter’s Daughter: By Wanda E. Brunstetter
The Minister's Daughter: By Julie Hearn
The Mistresses’s Daughter: By A.M. Homes
The President's Daughter: By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Admiral’s Daughter: By Julian Stockwin
The Florist's Daughter: By Patricia Hampl
The Professor's Daughter: By Joann Sfar And Emmanuel

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On Today's Agenda...

So, my friend Niegel is currently directing part of Suzan Lori-Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays project, (wherein for 365 days starting in November 2002, Parks wrote one play a day for 365 days, and now theatres across the country are performing those plays for 365 days), and one of his plays calls for 365 post-it notes with to-do tasks written on them to be onstage, so he asked a bunch of us for some additional random tasks that coudl be anything from "Pick up a box of cheerios" to "Travel back in time". There are few things I enjoy more than making lists, so here's the tasks I sent to him:

Watch "Taxi Driver"
Place heart on sleeve
Learn Hebrew
Attend high school reunion
Let go of the shame
Mail that postcard
Remember the Alamo
Confront you-know-who
Light a Yankee candle
Ask her forgiveness
Pledge allegiance to the flag
Refuse their advances
Turn off your computer
Read "Anne of Green Gables"
Smile at him tomorrow
Start praying again
Return grocery cart
Call them on their shit
Use some crayons
Buy a big pretzel (with salt)
Sing me a song
Use a bandaid
Accept the crown
Leave wings unclipped
See the Taj Mahal
Write your memoirs
Include three references
Steal the painting
Talk about it with someone
Eat more carrots

Monday, October 15, 2007

Autumn Journal

It's finally Autumn, and with every gust of cold wind that smells of wet leaves, I feel more like myself. I'm so glad I was born in October. To acknowledge the grateful return of Fall and the nearing close of my 27th year, I'm posting something I wrote exactly a year ago on a day retreat I had to go to, but wasn't really engaged in, so ended up walking around, carrying my journal, then stopped, wrote this, then kept walking. It feels appropriate. (and I didn't edit it at all, so don't hate on the lack of grammer too much...) Here goes:
"I’m 27 and I’ve never stopped under a tree and watched leaves fall.

I stopped my walk because I could hear soft pulsing, almost like rain- and it was the drying leaves moving on the branches with a very slight breeze.

The tree has lots of moss on its trunk and branches.

At first, about five leaves fall at a time. It feels like snow.

Then I just watch individual leaves fall- some spiral in tight, fast concentric circles- almost like they’re on a pole.

Some glide- almost fly, as if they are following a smooth flight plan.

Some of the larger and more dried leaves fall in a solid diagonal steady drop to the earth- no swoops or upturns. Just tree to earth.

And some spend lots of time spinning- lifting up, being swooped down and rising again. They take as long as they can before they have to land.

This is their one moment of action- of freedom. Their only time as a single being- leaf, singular. Not leaf-in-a-tree, lost in the oblivion of many,
or leaf-on-the-ground-- mashed mass of wet browns and yellows underfoot.

The leaf-flight is the only time this leaf has a presence of its own.

For some, it’s a chaotic, dizzy spin to earth,

For some it’s a careful, graceful downward movement,

For some it’s as quick as possible- a heavy drop and land.

And for some it’s a playful, joyous, bittersweet spin and swoop- rise up again and again- drawing closer to the mashed brown and yellows below- but grabbing every last possible up-current before the inevitable end.

I watch one fall, land and I pick it up. It’s dry, not yet damp and mottled on the path- it’s bright yellow against these dead leaves.

I put it in my journal and take it away from the rest."