Monthly Archives: December 2014

Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu

I watched Birdman over the break, and it’s a spectacular film worth seeing, especially if you haven’t already watch Aronofky’s The Wrestler or Black Swan—all portrayals of big celebrity personalities who have lost touch, or are losing touch, with reality. While Aronofsky is probably wondering how Alejandro González Iñárritu got ahold of his script, viewers are growing weary of the possibility of seeing suicide and self-harm, as emotionally unstable characters linger closer and closer to dangerous edges.

Michael Keaton is wonderful and nuanced and vulnerable, as are Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, and Amy Ryan. Emma Stone, who I love in over-the-top comedic and big blockbuster performances, seemed less capable of a performance en par with the work of her colleagues. It can’t be fun to be the novice among acting giants.

In part, the movie provides a delightful and smashing critique of…well, critique. And so, I am aware of the complexity of my own participation in the writing of a critique of the film. Bottom line, it was a pretty good film, with great actors, who did their best to bring new light to material and subject matter that has already been done to perfection by Darren Aronofsky.

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we haven’t winterkilled yet

Tonight my grandfather asked if Z was with us for Christmas. After a weekend of cold, when a piece of metal bound the auger in the pellet stove, and then an emotional phone conversation where it was decided that no, not right now, not Portland, and then my dear mother, and then a windstorm that banged against the walls and woke us before 4am and knocked out the power, and the resulting cold and dark day, we concluded that it had indeed been the worst weekend.

The company couldn’t’ve been better, though. There were lots of hugs and kisses with my nephew, as much to keep warm as for assurance (the only child I can hold like this because he is mine), and violin/piano duets, while Mom and I pick away at our favorite (easiest?) Christmas carols. There are also mice, who usually have the courtesy to die quietly in traps. But one made contact, chewing on something in my bedroom until I awoke, flipped on the light, and saw it on the floor making aggressive eye contact.

The next night it lost a small amount of blood as it died instantly in a snap trap. This is the country, and we haven’t winterkilled yet. We don’t plan to start now.

cold sky

evening sky

on holiday shopping-inspired humiliations

I like to do my Christmas shopping before heading home for the holidays. The selection is pretty limited where I’m from, so I try to get things that are a little different than whatever the local Wal-Mart might have. I also really like to have everything wrapped and ready to go because I love seeing the excitement on my nephew’s face as we unload the presents and put them under the tree. I hope it’s at least a fraction of the thrill I felt each year when Grandma brought out her presents.

This year, I’m not decorating my own home for Christmas. I might just eat some of those Hershey’s candy cane kisses and call it a day. In general, I’m not much of a homemaker. I think that’s mostly because I’ve never had much of a home. In the past two years, I found that I really loved putting up Christmas lights, threading popcorn on a string, and decorating a little tree, but that was because I was sharing it with someone. As it turns out, ritual is better when you have someone to share it with.

Which brings me to my point, which is that for me, sharing rituals is the most intimate and humiliating part of relationships. Nothing feels better than reaching a point where participating in ritual with someone feels safe. But later, when the relationship is over, I always feel deep humiliation about the whole thing.

I think it’s because my rituals are sacred to me. My family home, and returning there throughout the year, is sacred to me. There is land and space and wonderful people who listen when you talk. There is peace and quiet to read books and have long conversations that last all morning. It’s a privilege to be able to spend time there, and it’s something I hold sacred and private. And, it’s all very humiliating when someone sees the ritual and experiences it for a little while, and then chooses something else. Oh, God. Nothing’s worse.

one year ago

one year ago

i do rush home

I rush home to play the piano. (Well, keyboard.) I listen to songs on the radio and try to figure them out while driving. I fill out all of the exercises in my lesson book just for the joy of it.

My mom’s pretty competent at the piano, but has always wanted to play the violin. She started taking lessons this summer and absolutely loved it. I, on the other hand, have always wanted to play the piano. I took lessons when I was very young, but they were short-lived.

This summer, my mom inspired me with her violin lessons. She kept saying things like, “I just love it,” and “It’s so great.” It’s probably the English major in me, but I’m always prompting her to explain what she means. “What’s great about it?” She couldn’t quite explain. Now, neither can I.

I found a teacher who lives nearby and signed up for lessons this fall. I immediately loved it and, like my mom, find myself sort of inarticulate about it: “It’s the best thing ever,” and “It’s just so great.” At first I really loved the forced meditation. Music requires your entire brain, and when I’m concentrating, there is no room for chatter. There is no room for anything else, and it is divine.

One of the things I miss from my last relationship is music. I miss singing (though I am shy!) and I miss hearing the new song and the song that’s dedicated to me. So, I’ve tried to create that for myself. I’ve been surprised by how quickly I’ve been able to move through the lesson book and how satisfying it is to play.

I’ve always felt drawn the to piano. I have always wanted to be able to play. I love the sound of the piano. I’m also really fast at typing (and I think that actually helps.)

I don’t know what else to say. See how rambling and incoherent I am about it? Other than just “YES! I am doing it! And it is so great!”

morning scene

morning scene

good cheer

I know someone who is always smiling and so, so cheerful–in a way that makes you know she suffers deeply. When the dance class barges in, throws on the blinding florescent lights, and breaks up savasana after my yoga class each week, I wear the same friendly perma-grin at them.

If my writing in the last year has seemed sort of hopeful/melancholy/eerily sober it’s because I’m trying. 2014 has probably been the worst year of my life, which is really great because I’m alive! and physically healthy! and I’m totally fine! Still, there are days when I’m still “keeping it together,” and “putting one foot in front of another,” and “monitoring the situation.” I write about love and gratitude because, truthfully, they’ve required more effort this year.

2012 was one of the best years of my life. I was falling in love again, and by the end of the year I was in deep. I earned my highest degree and got a piece of paper to prove it. I went on the job market and found a great job in a great place. I moved to a new city and in with my new love and spent my time rushing home from work to be with him. Life was good then. Undeniably richer, smarter, funnier.

This semester I’ve started to work later and later. I was there until after 10pm one night working on a big project. Previously, that would have never happened. While it is now bittersweet to find myself working late, and then staying a little later to miss the rush hour, in no real hurry to get home, I am grateful for that beautiful time when I was in love and my priority was, every day, being near him. It was a really lovely way to be in the world.

This is a lovely way to be in the world too.

fall flower

fall flower