Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quotes of the Week

All three of these came up in my peer counseling triad. What on earth were we talking about?

"Curiosity is the fire under the ass of the human spirit."

-Chris "Chris in the Morning" Stevens, Northern Exposure, Season 3

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

--Marianne Williamson (often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela, still right on, though)

"I don't want to start talking because then I'll start talking"

--Kj Swanson

Monday, February 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, JR

You know your friends know you when they call you on Johnny Cash's Birthday. Thank you, Kim.

John R. Cash was born February 26, 1932 in Arkansas, and I'm sure glad he was. Maybe at some point I'll use this blog space to expound the significance of Johnny Cash to my life and my spiritual journey, and alongside him, my two other faith/life heroes: Lady Jane Grey and Charlotte Bronte, but for now, on Johnny's birthday, I'll let his words do the talkin'. Here's the lyrics to "Man In Black" which I decided to carry in my back pocket today, which felt silly when I thought about doing it, but once I had it with me, it started feeling like, not a memento mori (listening to Johnny sing to me on my Ipod while knowing he's not currently on earth and that I one day will not be on earth) but more like a memento Histori (making this up) a reminder of legacies preceding me, timelines past and my fragile but real part in chronology. He's gone, but I'm here, and his words are here with me, and my words will go somewhere too, don't know where. But I'll leave you now with Mr. Cash, God rest his soul earnestly and tenderly...


Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Can You get a Hangover from Making Drinks, not Drinking them?

So there was a benefit at the theatre last night, for a sorority- some one woman Diva show. I don't know. All I know is that I'm setting up the bar as usual, and decide, since my sign still says Disarronno on special, I'll just do that again, becuase it's easy. Ice, pour, serve. A couple weeks ago when we had an opera at the theater, I took advantage of the baroque atmosphere to do some of my preferred "Elegant" cocktails, my favorite being Kir or Kir Royale. I LOVE pouring Chambord in wine glasses and adding Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc. It makes me feel fancy.

Anyhoo, it felt like an Ammaretto night, but the first two women who came up to the bar proceeded to order Apple Martinis, and I could see the whole night flash before my eyes. So I changed the special to Appletinis (Lord, did I ever think this word would enter my vocabulary?). And the shaking began. Can someone please fly out and document this portion of reality where Kj serves Appletinis to middle aged Sorority sisters? I just need proof that this is actually my life.

SIX hours later, I stood waiting for my bus on the corner of Queen Anne and Mercer, cold, tired and feeling very foggy; sensitive to loud noises and bright lights. Woke up the same way. Is this what a hangover feels like?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More Fun with Photobooth

With the help of Mac photobooth, you too can create your own "Snow Patrol" album cover!

Hmmm...When exactly did I start looking like Kurt Cobain?

Kj! Don't forget to bring your bible to class on Wednesday!

This is Halilah, my roomate Carrie's cat. "Halilah" is Hebrew for "She who whines". Very apt. Very precious.

Hey Louis. Jealous......? Wish you'd treated me better, don't ya? Oh you cat, how you broke my heart daily. Halilah actually whines at my door wanting to spend time with me. Louis, you missed your chance, buddy. And yet, my heart is still yours...

On the phone with Katrina..

Homework? What homework?

GOOD poem

this was shared by someone the other night. love it.

Jack Gilbert-


Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann

The modern biographers worry
“how far it went,” their tender friendship.
They wonder just what it means
when he writes he thinks of her constantly,
his guardian angel, beloved friend.
The modern biographers ask
the rude, irrelevant question
of our age, as if the event
of two bodies meshing together
establishes the degree of love,
forgetting how softly Eros walked
in the nineteenth century, how a hand
held overlong or a gaze anchored
in someone’s eyes could unseat a heart,
and nuances of address not known
in our egalitarian language
could make the redolent air
tremble and shimmer with the heat
of possibility. Each time I hear
the Intermezzi, sad
and lavish in their tenderness,
I imagine the two of them
Sitting in a garden
Among late-blooming roses
And dark cascades of leaves,
Letting the landscape speak for them,
Leaving us nothing to overhear.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

One of the Things Chevy Chase and I Have in Common... that we both know all the words to "You Can Call Me Al"

So I finally got Graceland" on CD, after listening to it on tape since, what, I was five? So today, as I was standing at my secluded neighborhood bus stop where I always show up fifteen minutes early so I can sing along with my Ipod in privacy, "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" came on, and I realized this was the first time in 22 years of listening to this song that I was not sitting in a car. I realized this because without hesitation, I found myself dancing along. And not just bobbing my knees, I was fully psuedo-subtle West Afrcian style stepping on the corner of 100th and 14th, with minvans driving by. This was a very good feeling. I suggest listening to "Graceland" standing up from now on.

But here's my question: Those of you who grew up on "Graceland" how do you picture her shoes in "Diamonds on the soles of her Shoes"? Please respond and tell me. If you don't, I will call you.

Here's my answer: they've always been burgundy brown cowboy boots to me, and the diamonds are three small diamonds in a row studding the sole of each boot.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's in the mail...

...on the way to my house.

Basically, if she's sellin' it
I'm buyin' it

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Bring your Mac to Work" Night at Intiman Theatre

Ian: Hey, Kj. What's up?
Kj: Oh, just goofing around on my computer. Lots of time to kill before intermission. thought I'd take some pictures of me on the job using PhotoBooth. What should I do?
Ian: Pretend like you're giving someone their change.

Kj: That was fun. What next?
Ian: Pretend like you're pouring me tonight’s special.
Kj: Okay. “Disaronno on the rocks?”
Ian: Why, thank you.

Ian: Let’s use some effects. Ooh, Thermal Camera.
Kj: And I’ll pretend I’m shaking a martini.

Ian: Now we need a shot with some perspective.

Kj: Here’s my “You really want a Bloody Mary?” look.

Sachiyo: what are you guys doing?
Kj: Taking pictures. Come join us.
Sachiyo: No, I can’t.
Ian: Come on, it’s your last night here.
Sachiyo: Okay, why not.
Mary: What are you guys doing? Ooh, pictures. How does it work?
Kj: It’s just like a photobooth. Here, lets all cram into the shot.

(A half hour passes. Here is one of the thirty group shots)

Ah, I do love my job.

"Haiku!" -"God Bless you"

I learned the other night about a woman who writes Haiku every morning as a discipline, so I thought I'd give it a shot this morning.

Haiku as an Exercise in Procrastination
By Kj Swanson

Global citizen,
Riding bus. Oh Shoot! Did we
just pass the Starbucks?

Cancelled my “Premiere”
subscription. Tired of reading
Top “100” lists.

My “Star Wars” watch from
Burger King doesn’t keep time
As well as I’d hoped.

Dom, Sean, Billy and
Elijah! Look! I got a
Matching tattoo too!

Celebrating Awkward Human Interactions

Hipster Haiku by Siobhan Adcock

Thanks, Aunt Polly. But
Chili's gift certificates
Are no good to me

My sardonic wit
Doesn't tranlsate in e-mail
That's why I'm alone

Yes, my hair is streaked.
Yes, it sure is "different."
Yes, yes, Uncle Mike.

I'm a regular
The bartender knows my name
I'm lonely inside

If there's a bald man
In a Lower East Side bar,
It is David Cross

Sunday, February 18, 2007

We Partied Like it was 399

So my roommate Carrie had the ingenious idea to host a Poetry, Wine and Cheese party, and to have it around Valentine’s Day so that people could do something for Valentine’s Day that didn’t heighten one’s sense of aloneness. So we did it last Friday. Because I wasn’t sure if we could pull it off and that it wouldn’t be awkward or forced, I didn’t really invite anyone unless it came up in conversation and they seemed up for it. Mostly, it was friends of Carrie's, but I had two friends come and my brother and Rebecca were able to come last minute.

Needless to say, it was an unparalleled success. My brother even called me the next day to reiterate how great it was and how glad he was to have been a part of it.

Coming home from a five hour class that was intensely emotional for me, and coming off a week that was heavy with confusion, loneliness, etc, it was so amazing to sit for three hours listening to and sharing poetry. Sounds cheesy? It was, in the best sense. And Garth, you would have loved the stinky cheese people brought. One had a layer of ash! Delightful.

After the first two poems, people started “piggybacking” thematic poems that came to mind, and it rolled like that for three hours. And our conversations traversed every theme of life that poetry covers: nature, loss, love, death and of course, hipster haiku. So if poetry starts popping up on the blog a bit, you can assume that it probably came through our night of Dionysian Decadence where I got to sip Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blancs out of a little pink straw. Heaven in a can! I hope you’ll all fly out for the next one. We’re definitely doing it again, and this time, I’ll invite more than three people.

Remember Highlight's Magazine? It's Like That

Kim, here’s the watch. Why be subtle in your accessories, when you can be entirely anachronistic?

Feeling bored? Here’s a fun activity. In my room, can you spot the objects listed below?

1) The New York Subway centennial map
2) Two California License plates from Kendra Kohrt’s SUV
3) CASH by Johnny Cash
4) The 1919 ballroom group photo I bought from Molly Ringwald at a yard sale
5) A miniature of Minas Tirith poking out from under a curtain
6) A broken clock that I took out of the trash as Mars Hill was moving campuses- (yes, I have a broken clock hanging on the wall- I figured why not, since I can't read clocks anyway)-it’s perpetually set to 10:10, which is what most clocks in movies are set to because it looks like the clock is smiling and is therefore a subconsciously pleasant image for your audience. Do you experience this clock pleasantly?
7) A map of 18th century London
8) Photograph of a castle tower in Gaeta, Italy that my parents took near their house when they were newlyweds, and which I got to drive by last January.
9) Baz Luhrman’s Red Curtain Trilogy
10) My rarely ever (these days) played guitar.
11) the ladder to my Ikea Tromso Loft Bed
12) Part 2 of my Sepia toned group photo shots collection- the one Kim gave me for my 26th birthday.
13) A Narcissist’s hand.

Purging the Trivial

I was talking to Garth the other day about how clearly I am not "the Reluctant Blogger", since I've been hitting up this bad boy pretty regularly, and that perhaps a better name for this blog would be "Purging the Trivial". and it's true. Whereas many people use blogs to expound deep thoughts and explore issues, mine is more of a Bulletin Board of the Brain, where I can pin up random scraps of my mind for others to skim over. Is this because I have no deep welling ponderances, questions or struggles? Duh, no. But I've found that having a space to purge the trivial lists, obsessions and fascinations of my Self, is helpful in that it perhaps clears away space and makes room for the real contemplation and wrestling. Perhaps, it's simply helpfully dissociative. Like, the more intense my inner world grows- the more heavy my heart and earnest my struggle, the more tangential my blog becomes. And I guess I'm okay with that, Where am I going with this? I just wanted to approach the idea that I've been carrying a World in me this week, and haven't really had an outlet for it, and have felt it growing fuller and heavier and have had no way to set this thing down, or release it in anyway. And if I think about putting words on the screen about what's going on inside my heart, it wouldn't do justice to my feelings or my questions.

So I guess I would like to be able to use this space to voice some of the paradigms I find myself shifting within, or the even just some of what I'm learning out here, but I think it'll take time. In many ways, I'm just learning how to speak for the first time, and I find it's helpfull to have a playfull outlet to laugh at myself and celebrate the strange culture we live in. This is a very unentertaining post, so Ill end with Neil Young singing to me:

Old Man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you

I need someone to love me the whole day through

Have one look at my eyes and you can tell that's true

I miss my singing buddies right about now...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Things about our "Sex and the City/Cosmopolitan/Pointy Shoe Women" culture that I am okay with...

...Wine that is packaged like little soda cans with their own straws, inspired and designed by Sofia Coppola. I was giddy when purchasing a case (four little cans) last night, and even more giddy about trying it tonight. Is this the first step towards me wearing heels on a regular basis? I swear, Sofia Coppola reaaly is making me into a girl, er, woman? Anyway, I'm wearing earings again and a faux baroque costume jewelry watch thanks to her.

the wine: Sofia Mini

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One More Valentine's Day thought...

you know you're alone on Valentine's Day when everything the Indigo Girls or Simon & Garfunkel say seems uncannily relevant.

Some Valentine's Day Thoughts








ah, heck...


maybe I'll just watch "Lost in Translation"...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Gifts that were waiting for me when I came home tonight (Monday)

1) My (belated) Christmas package from Kim, some of the items included being:

a) the $80 Flaming Fair Isle Hat that Kim made and that I wore all last winter after I lost the hat she made to match my winter coat.
b) a pair of earrings Kim made out of old watch parts, which I will now wear everyday.
c) A group photo featuring myself and Bob Sagat, which will get stuffed in another drawer much like the one Kim must have found it in.
d) 3 designer mismatched socks for my mismatched feet that have not worn matching socks since 1991.
e) the tin where 260 Gates Ave 4A has kept it's Christmas ornamentss the past few years, plus the ornaments in it.
f) my long-lost missing "MobilGas" magnet that I bought at a Michael's Craft Supply in suburban PA while prepping for Sarah's wedding.

2) The only Valentine I will receive this year: from beloved Grandma Hazelton who also enclosed $20 which is more than she's probably spent on groceries so far this year.

3) An email Itunes link from Richard with a song that we (and the four other ladies included in the email) used to have to listen to in sixth grade in Mrs. Grimes' class while we journaled about Geology and passed the latest jokes about "Homo Erectus". I had not heard this "song" from the fruity New Age Narada Collection since I last wore matching socks!

Monday, February 12, 2007

More Hipster Haiku for You

All Haiku by Siobhan Adcock.
[All dedications by Kj]

[For Seth and Garth, (pre-Grant's Parlor)]

Calvin and Hobbes tat
Phish T-shirt, stink of incense
Can’t rent with this guy

[For Niegel and MYSELF]

Seeking freelance gigs
To make rent, I scroll, hopeful.
Shit. All internships.

[For Sarah Gancher and maybe for Garth too]

A bar’s authentic
Only if it contains some
Old Polish guys, drunk

[Definitely NOT for Kim]

Thank you, ReadyMade:
Now I have something to do
Sundays, besides nap.

[For Katrina (and most of us)]

Gone, gone are the days
When we spoke derisively
Of nine-to-five jobs.

[A definite Kj one]

Want to see my place?
It’s furnished with found artwork
Like this traffic light

Hipster Haiku: the beginning

So you know I hate those "gift books" that are not books, but actually just chacki knicks knacks or things to place in the bathroom for humorous toilet reading, but today I found the mother of all "humor" books. It's "HIPSTER HAIKU" by Siobhan Adcock. The georgously ironic self referential wit warmed the cockles of my de-Brooklyned heart, and I'd like, in the coming weeks, to post some dedicated to special folks. But here's a couple to get us going.

Hipster Haiku by Siobhan Adcock

Your "neighborhoodie"
Sends a very clear message
Which is: "I'm new here"

After my fifth year
"Philosophy Ph.D."
Didn't sound punk rock

And last for now, a personal fave dedicated to KIM HAMLIN:

Urban Outfitters
Like the Minotaur it lurks
In darkness to kill


Saturday, February 10, 2007

What happens when you get behind a bar after reading Henri Nouwen's "Can You Drink the Cup" and Miroslav Volf's "Exclusion and Embrace"

It was nice to be back on the job today. Though Intiman Theatre is on season hiatus, the Early Music Guild has a production of Monteverdi’s “Pappea” going on this and next weekend, so I’m back behind the bar for a bit. Bartending brings out a part of my personality that I rarely see. I think it’s the same part that emerged when I was House Managing Off-Broadway. Simply put, it’s my “Customer Service” self, a self that’s really good at short bursts of cordial conversation about people’s recent trips to Germany or how it’s evil to put Scotch on the rocks, or whatever it is that people feel like telling me while I get their change. I find I’m amazed at my ability to interact with this kind of dialogue, since it’s usually about things I know or care nothing about. If I was actually at a bar, and not at a theatre, maybe I’d be able to bring a bit more of myself, but I always feel kind of goofy when a customer leaves with their drink and I think “My voice has never sounded that giddy and cheerful in real life”. Though, I’ve begun to notice that I’m (thankfully) getting less sardonic and the part of me that is intensely passionate about roller-skating is starting to emerge more regularly.

My other thoughts from tonight behind the bar:

My favorite part of the night is right after intermission when everyone has run back to their seats and there’s a peaceful vacuum of silence before act II starts and I go around the lobby gathering all the glasses that are spread around the tables and bar. I realized tonight that I think of the glass gathering like a video game or something. I survey the carnage, then keep track. Every wine glass I find is one point towards the tip jar, highball glasses 2 points, and man, a ten martini glass night means I know I’m walking away with some serious cash. Albeit, it’s theater bar cash not local bar cash, but whatever it is, it’s in my wallet now. I love surveying the damage and collecting the glasses and placing them in the special glass washer machine in the most space efficient way possible. I love space efficiency!

The other thing I was thinking about tonight occurred to me when I looked at the coat check closet. It caught my eye as I was passing, how all these coats were hung so tightly together, most of them looking like they were embracing the coat next to them. I thought about how if these coat’s owners were in the coats, the coats would not be getting this intimacy time. And I flashed back to my Essential Community class last Friday, where after celebrating communion with good wine in a real goblet that every single person passed one at a time, raising it to the group, drinking, then giving it to the next person to raise and drink and so on until the final person stood in the center and drank the cup to the dregs, drinking fully the cup of life, the cup of Christ- so that we would hold that image and drink fully ourselves of life, of Christ, of everything that means. Well, after that sacred time, we were told to share the peace, which means you go around embracing one another and blessing each other. In that particular setting, it was a special and honoring thing to offer one another. I, however, quickly mumbled to the person next to me “Oh No, this is my least favorite part of any church service”. It is SO HARD for me to do the hand shaking “Hi, I’m Kj” thing every Sunday. I know I’m not the only one. But sharing the peace isn’t that. It’s blessing one another, the way you do when you give a great toast. But I had quickly and literally, sheltered myself in the corner of the group, hoping to avoid as many embraces as possible. Kj, the great unhuggable one was stuck not knowing what to do. After each embrace, whether it was awkward or appreciated I said to myself “okay, that’s the last one”. But then one of our teachers came around and embraced each of us and I was really able to receive that, like a beloved family friend. After that I felt a little more able to go with it. I wanted to, but so much of me resists being vulnerable and open in the way that an embrace symbolizes. So I thought about those coats holding each other gently, side by side, quietly being close with one another, and I really wanted a hug tonight. At Mars Hill, I’m starting to pinpoint a lot of the sources of how and why I relate to people, and I think my comfort level with touch is starting to circulate in my brain. So for now, if I’m still not good at giving hugs, I might start at least working on being able to receive them. It sounds cheesy, but honestly, some of you know what I’m talking about. Have I ever REALLY embraced you? No, it’s like a running joke. So I hope that by the next time I see you guys, I’ll be a better hugger and a more overall embracing type person.

That’s what I was thinking tonight back behind the bar while I gave myself smell tests trying to recognize the difference between Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire Gin. There is definitely a difference.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is Cognitive Dissonance

cognitive dissonance
n. Psychology
A condition of conflict or anxiety resulting from simultaneously holding contradictory or otherwise incompatible attitudes, beliefs, or the like.

So I’m starting a list of songs that use Christmas carols as the backdrop (or spinal structure) of a song about pain, lonliness, disillusionment, etc. These tend to be some of my favorite songs. Not that I experience Christmas as depressing: much the opposite. But it speaks into my love of the reinterpretation of familiar things. It’s like a poetic version of adaptive reuse: “I’ll use Good King Wenceslas to sing about how much I miss my ex-girlfriend” etc.

Here are three to start with. Let me know if you’ve got some to add.

Artist: Harry Chapin
Song title: “Mr. Tanner”
Christmas Carol used: “O Holy Night”
What is evoked? A story-song about a small town guy who’s a gifted singer. Pushed by his friends, he tries to make it as a concert singer and is trashed by the critics. He returns home and never sings again. As Harry Chapin sing-narrates, we hear “Mr. Tanner” singing “O Holy Night” in counterpoint. It’s incredible. One of my all-time favorite songs ever.

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Song title: “River”
Christmas Carol used: “Jingle Bells”
What is evoked? A minor key version of jingle bells serves as the piano chords of a song about wanting to escape one’s loneliness and hurt. “I wish I had a river I could skate away on”.

Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Song title: “7 O’clock News/Silent Night”
Christmas Carol used: “Silent Night”
What is evoked? Paul and Art winsomely sing "Silent Night" while a 1966 news broadcaster reads the depressing headlines and almost overtakes the singing altogether.