Friday, June 29, 2007

Seven Days and Counting...

It's strange that we mark things by year. I mean, I understand the whole 365 days (give or take) based on the earth orbiting the sun, etc, but when we say "Wow, I can't believe a year has passed" what do we mean? Can you feel 365 days? How do we know how long a year should feel like? Are we shocked that the earth has travelled around the sun since the last time it was June 28? Why don't we seem to notice the passage of time when it's been four and a half months or two and a quarter years since one's wedding or move to Nebraska? Yes, we may take note, but we don't have that calender reminder that says "Take note: a year has passed and you should take stock of your life since then" etc.

I bring this up, because I've definatley been thinking a lot since June 22, about what was going on this time last year. (Quick catch up for any newcomers: I was living in New York, had been accepted to Mars Hill Graduate School for the fall and was going to move to Seattle at the end of August, but instead, I was hospitalized for ten days for severe pneumonia and had to live with my parents in Arizona for two months while I recovered-learned to breathe and walk again- before moving up to Seattle at the original time planned). There was so much that happened during my hospitalization, so much time I was alone, seven days in the ICU with no TV, nothing on the walls and no way to fall asleep at night amidst endless rounds of blood tests and X-rays that never abated till morning, so many thoughts and experiences that I didn't talk about when people would show up to be with me the next morning, mostly because the last thing I wanted to talk about in the morning was the night before which had been spent solely counting the hours until Kim would walk through the door and bring familiar faces and voices to visit me. Well, in all that time of locking away memories, I just assumed that once I got to Arizona and had some time to process, or certainly once I got to Mars Hill and had to start walking through the story of my life and being counselled, etc, that I would re-examine, explore, give voice to and grieve over everything that experience was. Then "suddenly", I find that a year has passed, and I've barely shared any of that experience with anyone, much less looked at it myself.

Well, I'm not going to write out all the hours of the night that I stored up for those ten days of being in the hospital and realizing that, without any warning, I would never be returning to my work, my life in New York, or staying more than one last night in my apartment or neighborhood with my loved ones, but now, as each day ticks down to July 2, when I was released from the hospital, only to fly to Arizona the next morning, I've been trying to let my mind go back to some of those places. I want to put a few down, in hopes that I'll be able to face more of it on my own and not let another year pass without pausing to really look at what I came through/was brought through/survived. So here's a little bit.

1) Niegel came the first or second day that I was in the ICU, and I think he noticed that there was nothing on the walls in front of my bed except an empty bulletin board, so, on the back of what I later discovered to be a discarded title page of a script he was working on, he wrote "Kj is a Ray of Sunshine" and drew a little sun/cloud doodle and stuck it on the bulletin board. The wierd part is that all that night, (at this point I was being given sleeping pills at night, but having my sleep interrupted more than once an hour for blood tests and things, so I was really, really delirious and exhausted) I stared at that note which I could hardly see being that it was night and I wasn't wearing my glasses, and I stared at it to the point that it actually started to look like a full-color Italian oil painting that had a window sill looking out over a seascape with sailboats heading out to the sunset. The next morning, I looked at the simple pencil note and wondered what the heck they had put me on.

2) After seven days in the Intensive Care Unit, 36 hours of which I had been being promised to be moved out, they finally secured a bed for me out of the ICU. (Albeit, the only space left in the whole hopsital was in a 3 person room in the Geriatric Ward: yes, I was in the Geriatric ward with roommates Rose and Mary). So they brought a wheelchair, and I got into it and they moved me into the hall, but we stopped right in front of the door for a moment for someone to get something, and at that moment, I burst into tears, realziing that I hadn't been out of that room in a whole week. It felt so strange. frightening and relieveing to move past that doorway- to leave that room behind. Then, being rolled in the wheelchair, being overcome by the sensation of more movement than I'd experienced in seven days, seeing people and doorways and windows, I just couldn't believe how isolated I had been. That was a crazy, crazy feeling.

3) A good-ish memory: By my second morning being out of the ICU and being in the normal (though geriatric) portion of the hospital, I'd been given permission and encouragement to try taking brief walks down the hallway, which of course involved rolling an IV pole along wherever I went. Well, since they still kept me up all night with tests and IV changes, I found myself wide awake at about five in the morning when the sun was coming up, and decided to go for my first walk. Woodhull Hospital had been originally designed to be a prison (no pun intended), so it had these endless, like serioulsy quarter-of-a-mile long hallways, with windows looking out over Brooklyn. So I unplugged my little leg-circulation things that looked like moonboots for galactic Tokyo cheerleaders, and wheeled my IV pole around the bed and headed out the door of my room and went around to the endless hallway which was completley quiet and empty except for all the new morning sunlight, and I walked slower than any Grandma has ever walked, step by step down the hallway, going as far as I could until my breathing got laboured and it seemed like a good turnback point. It was the first time that being alone there felt peaceful, and felt like a choice.

So that's a few places I've found myself going in my head. Don't know if I'll put more on here, but until July 2, I'll still be trying to navigate this strange passage of ten days that happened 365 or so days ago.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When I Woke Up This Morning...

...this song was in my head. I haven't seen "Kids in the Hall" for at least ten years, but that doesn't stop this little ditty from rousing me from sleep at least once a month. Thought I'd share the gift that is having this song in your head ALL DAY! Thank you Bruce McCullough.

Don't you love his little belt and high waisted jeans? Not to mention his jaunty little walk.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pocket Check

For most of my life, or at least as long as I've been wearing jeans everyday, I've had a habit of leaving things in my back pockets until they deteriorate, or until I realize there's no more room in my back pocket for anymore receipts or ticket stubs. I often take inventory of what's going on back there, and it reads as a dishevelled Book of Days for the past week to two months, depending on how long I've waited to empty my pockets and start afresh. As I'm currently about to start fresh, I thought I'd post my pocket inventory. Why? Because that is exactly what the interweb is for!

1) May 26 ticket stub to "Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End" at Lincoln Square Cinemas in Bellevue.

2) June 6 recepit from Sushiland Marineoplis, the Pacific Northwest sushi restaurant chain that has a conveyor belt with plates of tekka makki for $1.50!

3) June 7 ticket stub for "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" at Shoreline's Crest Cinema, and an $8.50 concessions receipt at well.

4) June 15 ticket stub to "Ocean's 13" at AMC Pacific Place downtown.

5) June 23 ticket pass to the Seattle Center Monorail, which is apparently one of the oldest or first city monorails or something like that. In less than one song length on your Ipod, the monorail takes you from downtown Seattle to the Seattle Center in Lower Queen Anne. It costs two bucks, and I could have just taken the bus and used my expensive three month bus pass that's already paid for, but I would have had to walk farther to the bus, waited about twenty minutes and had a twenty minute bus ride to get me exactly where the monorail got me in two minutes. Worth two extra bucks? June 23, definately. Regular basis? Not so much.

Stay tuned next month or so for another exciting installment of "What's in Kj's Pockets, and Who Cares Besides Her?"
Today's post was brought to you by The Film Industry: "Stealing your money one $10.50 ticket at a time."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

June 21

I have a disturbingly good memory except when it comes to dates and knowing left from right. However, there are a few dates that somehow have succeeded in sticking in my memory amidst all the birthdays I cannot remember. June 21st has long been one of them. Every year since 1989, I've had a reason to remember June 21, and the reasons keep adding up. Its probably safe to say that I have a propensity towards remembering things having to do with the number 21 because I was born on a 21 and its my unnofficial favorite number. Anyway, here's a starting line-up of June 21sts.

June 21, 1989
The Swansons move from Maryland to San Diego, CA. This marks the official changeover from Katie to Kj (techinically still K.J. at that point), as I arrive in a new state where there's no one who ever knew me as Katie.

June 21, 2003
Mackenzie Newman (who I met not long after June 21, 1989 in Mr. Rosell's 4th grade class, thus making her my official oldest friend) marries Matt Sterling and becomes the first of my peers to wed, and my first time as a wedding party member (outside of family).

June 21, 2006
My last day working (or walking) in New York City. I'd be in the hospital the next day. Because of the proximity of my pneumonia adventure to June 21st, I'll now always remember the date of my chaotic exit from New York. More on that probably tomorrow. Or maybe not.

Seattle's Best

It didn't take long, once I arrived in Seattle, to notice a strange, new and alluring curiosity: men, of all shapes and ages, walking around in kilts, and specifically, kilts that look like they were made by Carharts. This at least weekly occurance combined a few things I'm very fond of:
a) Carharts
b) Scotland
c) men wearing kilts.

In Seattle, seeing kilts is about as common as seeing hair scrunchies- they're out there, but not overwhelmingly so, and when one walks by, you turn your head and think "Yeah- you wear that!"

And it's all thanks to local Seattle company Utilikilts, which is exactly what it sounds like: Kilts that are utilitarian and good for every day carpentry work, skateboarding or church pew sitting. I saw a fifteen year old kid get on the bus last week who was actually busting a sag with his utilikilt. I send a holla your way, young sir. Especially now, since I've done some research and see that utilikilts are not cheap. There is no apathy when it comes to public kilt wearing; It's all the way.

Kilt-wearing men of Seattle, I salute you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pub Trivia Update: Mama Treats Us Well

Our totem sitcom star keeps 'em coming. Team Candace Cameron won for the third time last night, with last week having a very respectful second place finish (including $20 in gift certificates). Last night we truly ruled the school, coming in first in every category except one, and for that one we still got 9 out of 10 questions correct. The hyper-dork-mega-squad category of the night (which we had suggested previously) was Greek Mythology, which we rocked hardcore, getting 10 out of 10 questions right (that might have been the first time). The surprise challenge of the night, was the category for the film "Stand By Me", which I felt pretty confident about since I've watched it three times in the past 8 months. It turned out to be pretty obtuse, but we still got half of them right.
All things considered, Team Candace Cameron has won almost $200. There is talk of quitting our jobs and going professional.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Am I becoming a Francophile? Don't tell the Brits.

I was delighted to find an adorably morose postcard waiting for me at home last month, after Garth's visit to Brussels. You know you've got good people on your side, when someone picks out Jaques Louis David's "Death of Jean-Paul Marat" as the picture on which to tell you how he finds the difference between Brussels and Amsterdam to be similar to San Francisco versus New York: "Amsterdam, like NY has become a tourist-attraction-immitation of itself, but still has the culture to make it worthwhile." Nothing says culture like a dead french doctor/journalist/revolutionary murdered in his bathtub by a floppy hat-wearing woman.

But, thinking back to Charlotte Corday and her hat that started quite a fashion trend in 1790's Europe, I realized how long it's been since I spent time pondering the French Revolution, which was a pretty regular pasttime for me in high school. Now, since falling in love with "Marie Antoinette", not only have I begun to (finally) start gaining an appreciation for my German heritage via the Hapsburgs and their Austro-Hungarian empire, but I have a whole different perspective on what happened before the Reign of Terror. I mean, not that anyone views the Jacobins or Girondists as inncoent freedom fighters, but I just can't join them in demonizing the monarchy that was. It's not like Louis XVI had anything to do with ruling the country anyway.

Now when I hear the word Versailles, I get a little giddy. So what does this mean for my old friends the Anglo-Saxons? Will I stop memorizing the dates and names of all the Plantagenet, Lancaster and Tudor monarchs? No, I think it just means that France was a lot more interesting in the 18th century than England was.

What's your favorite historical regime change?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Film: Week in Review

Since Jan 1st, i've been keeping a calender list of every film (and TV season on DVD) that I've watched thus far. I've done this the past few years, but this is the first year that I'm actually showing what days I watched what. So, as I looked at my first week of June, I thought it a pretty eclectic mix, worth recounting for you, the discerning film viewers out there who might be looking for recommendations and dissauasions. Also, this week pretty much made up for the stinker week of Shrek 3 and Pirates (those films we don't speak of). So here you go.

Rating system
1 star = not worth ever revisitng of seeing for the first time
2 stars = it didn't kill me, but I wish I could have spent that time and money elsewhere.
3 stars = I may never think of this movie again, but the experience was enjoyable, and I wouldn't dissuade others from seeing it.
4 stars = This was quality film making/movie going experience. I want other people to like it as much as I did.
5 stars = This movie has changed the way I view myself and the world. How soon can I own it?

Sunday June 3:
Robin Hood Men in Tights
viewed: at home
1 Star

This was a revisit after a good 10 years since I used to watch it a lot. Along with having finally seen "Blazing Saddles" for the first time a couple weeks ago, I'm feeling pretty sad about the fact that Mel Brooks movies do not age well. I mean, there's the obvious thing that the humor is way too specific to July 1993, or whenever it was released (you just can't laugh at Arsenio Hall Show references anymore) but much of the poor aging process actually has to do with the fact that Mel Brooks birthed a film humor genre that now has so many grandchildren and bastard children, that roll-your-eyes-one liners and self referential movies that talk about themselves as movies, just aren't that laugh producing anymore.

Monday June 4
Best in Show
viewed: at home
3 Stars

I own this as part of the Christopher Guest trilogy, though it's my least favorite of the three. The more I watch it, the more I appreciate the dynamics of the different couples (I love Stefan and Sean and I love the weimeraner-Parker Posey couple), but this (and Mighty Wind) lack the narrative strength of "Waiting for Guffman" wherein you have a group of people working together towards a common goal. I like when there's more interaction between the characters. And I feel that Eugene Levy gets under-used in this one. But there are some sweet, sweet ha-ha moments here, and I'm pleased to have it on my shelf.

Tuesday June 5
Paris Je'taime
viewed: Loews Uptown
4 stars

I read about this film last year when it was at Cannes, and was stoked to hear it was playing in Seattle now. 14 filmakers (including some awesomes like Tom Tykwer, Alfonso Cuaron, Gus Van Sant, Gurinder Chada, the Coen Bros & even Wes Craven) made films that are about/evoke/take place in 14 districts of Paris. They're billed as little romances, and a few of them of stunningly insightful, heartbreaking and lovely. Some are cute, some are wierd, some are sad and some are hard to follow. I loved this film experience and am pretty sure I'll buy it on DVD. It really reaches a perfect crescendo with the final segment by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Sideways, et. al). Go see this if you can.

Wednesday June 6
Marie Antoinette
viewed: at home
5 stars

If you've ever spoken to me, this film (or Walk the Line) has probably come up in conversation. They're both kind of my main hermeneutics for movies that have mattered and changed me in the past year or so. I love every chance to revisit this one, because I get hit differently every time. And each time I watch it, I think, "okay, this time, I'll be used to it and the end won't get to me" but it always does. I love what this film offers in terms of painting portraits of lonliness and futility. As I've said elsewhere, Sofia Copolla's films really represent to me meditations on what it means to be trapped. This movie means more and more to me as I learn about the ways I feel hemmed in and when I start to taste a little bit of freedom. (And also, it's pretty and I like the soundtrack and I own it.- i mean the soundtrack and the DVD and the coffee table book. i like this movie a lot...)

Thursday June 7
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
viewed: The Crest
2 stars

I read about this last year as well because it won Best Picture at Cannes. I wanted to see it cuz I'm a big Cillian Murphy supporter, and because I imagined it would be a cross between "The Thin Red Line" and "Days of Heaven" but set in Ireland. Surpisingly though, it was rarely poetic, barely engaging, and not much to write home about. It's kind of your basic well done historical film. I learned stuff and was affected by some of the realities portrayed, but I have not thought of it again untill right now. So, my low 2 star rating would be a steady 3 star middle-of-the-road rating, except that it has been touted as the best film of 2006. I could heap titles over this one that should've won the Palm D'or instead. "Pan's Labrynth", anyone?

Saturday June 9
The Science of Sleep
viewed: at home
3 stars

I really wanted to see this in the theater last fall. I love Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine" and am a big fan of actor Charlotte Gainsbourgh and was really curious to see what kind of love story this would be and how much more French it would be than "Sunshine" was. I'd heard mixed reviews, and mine is pretty mixed as well. You start wanting less dream-world seqences (though, it's likely that the whole film is just differing degrees of dream state) and you want more interaction between the protagonaists. But when interactions did happen, they were seering, heartbreaking and true, and the best metaphor I can come up with is that I felt througout the last third of the movie like the film had tapped into me with an IV and was pumping pain medicine right into my veins, and though it was painfull, it was also medicine. I would consider owning this, but I wish there could be an opposite to the director's cut- a version where there's less of the original film, than the theatrical version. I will revisit this movie at some point, though. And a great performance by Gael Garcia Bernal.

So, it turned out to be quite a French-themed week, though it started with parodies and had some 20th century freedom fighting in there as well. And sometime this week I'm gonna finish watching Kubrick's "Lolita" and revisit "American Splendor", which I loved last year. And yes, I might even go against my word and go see "Ocean's 13". I am a very weak person. What can I say? Popcorn is my favorite food.

Happy Movie Watching!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We Are the Champions

Yes, my friends, you're looking at one of the undeafeted, four weeks running, Pub Trivia champions of Lower Queen Anne, Seattle. Team Candace Cameron, (which has included Cabe Matthews, Ian Klein, myself and Becky Tucker) won another outstanding victory Monday night, bringing our winnings to a total of $120.

Now, I could explain that after our first win two weeks ago, there were no trivia matches for two weeks, so Monday night, our first time back, was really just our second win, but that still means that we've been undeafeted for four weeks. And if you happen to be walking along Roy St, be sure to stop by the front door of Jabu's Pub and see our picture on the bulletin board of champions. At last, my picture is emblazoned on the entryway of a pub. I think I only have like five more life long dreams to accomplish, and from what I hear, Ewan McGregor has actually been looking for someone to record an album of Air Supply covers with, so I guess I'm all set with that too.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Imaginitve Remembering

From Walter Brueggemann's "An Introduction to the Old Testament":

"The liberal Christian's temptation is to accommodate dominant culture until faith despairs. The conservative Christian's temptation is to fashion an absoluteness that stands disconnected from the dominant culture. Neither of these strategies, however, is likely to sustain the church in its mission. More likely, we may learn from and with Jews the sustaining power of imaginative remembering, the ongoing lively process of traditioning that is sure to be marked by ideological interest that, in the midst of such distinctiveness, may find fresh closures of reality not ”conformed to this world.” The preaching, teaching, and study of Torah is in order to ’set one’s heart’ differently, to trust and fear differently, to align oneself with an alternative account of the world. All this Israel fashioned and practiced— imaginatively resolved, ideolofically driven, inspired beyond interest– under the large, long, fierce voice of Moses. "


Friday, June 1, 2007

June Haiku: Seattle

Though I love winter,
I like still seeing twilight
at 10pm here.