Friday, November 30, 2007

Poetry Corner - Persephone

KC McAuley - Sept. 2007

The ground heaved –
Great mounds of earth and rock rose up before her.
She made her way through the rough terrain,
Gingerly stepping here and there.
The mud sucked at her ankles and held her fast.

A mighty chasm yawned before her and up from the darkness

He rose.

His chariot of twisted roots and hardened clay flew high above her.
Sinuous vines wrapped around her and lifted her up.
Up beside him.
Where he pulled her to him and kissed her with his sour mouth.

Down into the abyss they dove.
And blackness surrounded her.

A thousand hands were on her.
A thousand mouths devoured her.
A thousand cries to Zeus she wept.

Hades slept.
At last.
Slowly she slipped the vines from her body.
Slowly she forced the hands away.
Inch by painful inch she climbed.
Up – was light.
Up – was home.
Up – was all she knew.

With measured pace and careful step the darkness fell away.
Encased in mud
She stood upon the edge of the abyss
And spat into his eye.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raindrop Review - INTO THE WILD

I've had a hard time composing my thoughts about this movie, separating what it is as a movie from what it did to me emotionally. I give up.

I can appreciate the love and compassion that Sean Penn had for Alexander Supertramp. It's evident in the care he took in making this film. The scenery is beautiful. The supporting cast of characters that Alex meets along the way are note perfect. I can appreciate the desire Christopher (Alex's real name) had to escape the world, figure the meaning of life, get away from all the artifice and pretense and the complication of emotional relationships. But when William Hurt, playing Alex's father, collapsed into the middle of the street sobbing because he doesn't know where his son is or what has happened to him - all I could think of was how selfish Chris was being.

We all have our selfish moments. We all have days, weeks, months even when what we want is all that matters and we will walk over anyone, especially those we love the most, to get what we want. Most of us are lucky enough to not have to pay with our lives for being selfish. Most of us are lucky enough to be forgiven by the ones we hurt. Most of don't have to go to Alaska and live in the wild to learn that - happiness is only real when it is shared.

Maybe that's why I can't be happy anymore. Because I may not be living in geographical Alaska. But my heart is definitely living alone - in the wild. And nothing is real to me. Because I can't share it.

Maybe that's why I started this blog. Maybe I hope someone hears me. Maybe I shouldn't be so honest here - but who believes what they read online anyway...

Monday, November 26, 2007


I tried something new tonight. I was looking for a way to meet new people and do something I enjoy and am pretty good at. I went to a pub quiz. I knew there would be things I would know for certain - like - What is Ophelia's relationship to Polonius? Things that I might know or could make a good guess at - like - In what movie do the Beatles sing If I Fell... ? And things I wouldn't know no matter how my brain tried - like - What is the lowest weight class in boxing?

My first clue that this wasn't my night? The pub quiz was in a gay bar. No problem for me. I was the prettiest woman in the bar. In fact I was the only woman in the bar - even once the quiz started.

Next clue - the teams were all set and the group I was supposed to be meeting wasn't showing up. So I signed up to be my own team. I had my glass of Johnny Walker Red - I'd paid my 3.00. And there wasn't any reason to head out into the cold, rainy night and go back home. Beside, I wanted to see what kind of questions this pub quiz stuff would really have.

I did okay. I held my own in there. I took 2nd place. I even won one round by one question. I wasn't even really trying that hard. Didn't figure I had a chance all by myself.

I'm trying to think of this with humor. It took a team of 6 gay men to beat me. And they had to work hard to keep up. I nearly beat them - if I had bet all my points in the final round, I would have won it all. But it's the story of my life. Even in a room full of men, I can't find one who can keep up with me. 6 of them - to edge me out. And I know if I go back next week - they'll be happy to see me. We'll laugh and joke about it. Me and my admiring men. All of them telling me how fabulous I am and how I'll make some lucky man so happy and loved and if they were straight (or single or younger or older or richer or poorer or better) they would be proud to be with me.

And yet...

"I don't have a point to prove or a stand to make
I'm just trying to find my way
And a face to wear and a place to be
In the absence of your company"
Kim Richey

Friday, November 23, 2007


There were four of us there - all women, all alone. They were perhaps lured by the prospect of Brad Pitt's blue eyes and sculpted abs. They were sadly disappointed. I was there to see what Jim Beaver called Ingmar Bergman's western. I was not.

What I saw and loved was a poem. An elegy to loss. A loss of innocence, loyalty, heroes, trust, brothers, and life itself.

We Americans love our Westerns. We love the romance of a cowboy riding alone for miles and miles. As I once said to a dear friend of mine, Cowboys don't have families. At least that's what we like to tell ourselves. But the truth is much harder to face.

The west was brutal, lonely, unbending. Trust in another wasn't given, it had to be earned. And even then it was a tenuous trust and could be broken at any moment. Loyalty was a precious commodity. Families were fragile. And heroes weren't always the good guys.

Jesse James was a hero to many. Penny westerns and newspaper accounts of his exploits fired the dreams of many a young boy. Such a young boy was Bob Ford. We meet James at the end of his career. Scarred, physically and emotionally, he trusts no one. The small joy in his life, his wife and two young children, is short lived. They move in the middle of the night from town to town, when someone recognizes James and the fear of capture raises it's head. Brad Pitt is perfect here. Weary, in pain, depressed, longing for just a little bit of peace. You can imagine his own life must feel something like this at times - never a moment when you can let your guard down.

Into his life comes Bob Ford, Casey Affleck in yet another stunning performance. (With a name like that how could he be bad?) 19 year old Bob adores the James brothers. He can recite the stories, give you facts and physical descriptions of the men. His encounter with Frank James (Sam Shepard) is wonderful, juxtaposing the eager Bob with the aged, worn, fed up Frank. When Jesse "chooses" him as his companion, takes him into his very home, he can hardly contain his joy. But as with all heroes, once we meet them face to face, we learn that they are not the perfect human being we imagined. The gradual and painful disintegration of Bob's hero worship is what makes this movie. Bob needs his hero and Jesse needs to be worshiped, but eventually neither one can keep up the charade. And the result is inevitable, painful, perfect.

Technically, the movie is stunning, filmed to perfection by Roger Deakins, (he of Coen Brother's films - O Brother, Big Lebowski, etc). The grey and brown and white of the vast prairie lands are occasionally shattered by Bob Ford's clear blue eyes. The rich sepia of candlelight and firelight lend a shadow world to the bright light of day. The sound editing alone gets my vote for Oscar. The click of a gun, the exhalation of a breath, the echo of a gunshot, linger long after the image has faded. The cast is perfection - even if Mary-Louise Parker (WEEDS) and Zooey Deschanel are only seen and rarely heard. But then this isn't a place where women belong.

There are some who say the movie is a bit too in love with itself. I say, why not? Bergman isn't everyone cup of tea. But I like him. This is not an American Western. This is a western for the mature among us, for those of us willing to look a little deeper at what makes us who we are, and what we have sacrificed to get there. This is poetry. And I am, after all, a poet.

My secret

I have a secret. I've kept this secret for years - for most of my life actually. I've kept it because I feared misunderstanding, misinterpretation, punishment, retribution. So I've kept my secret and not let it into the light.

You see - I am a woman who loves...something that nice women don't love. Something nice girls don't do - or at least they don't admit to. My secret is not something isolated in one particular part of me, but is wholly integrated into everything I do. Everything I see, taste, touch, smell, hear is part of this secret, this power in me, this energy.

I've struggled with my secret for so long, suffered so many bad experiences and tried to make myself fit into someone else's vision of what kind of woman I should be. I've finally realized that trying to shape myself into these other visions has meant denying the very thing that I love I've been denying my own powerful, passionate, sexual, sensual self. When I let this secret out into the world, I get hurt. I make mistakes. I use others and am used by others. And now, there is no one I can trust. Especially not myself.

I am a woman who loves sex. Not anonymous, serial, one-nighter sex. But powerful relationship sex where that energy is a connection, a bond freely entered into with another. Passion and play. Intimacy and skin. Trust and honesty. Hot, sweaty, steamy, wet, fabulous, erotic sex.

It's very hard to be a woman who loves sex and live alone. You can't tell men that you love sex, because they will never look beyond the sex and see the whole woman that is waiting to give herself to them. You can't tell other women because they are just as afraid of their own secrets. You can't tell your mother or your sister. And you want to tell your daughter, so she won't have to keep her secret. But you can't.

I'm not a slut. I'm not a nymphomaniac. I'm not on the hunt or in heat. I'm not looking for a good time or a fast ride. I'm a deeply passionate, caring, honest, real woman, who lives alone and is pretty sure she'll be alone for the rest of her life. And it's very hard to think that I'll never find that relationship. That one person who wouldn't be afraid of my secret. That certain someone who'd find it an important element of me - but not the sum of me. I'd like to believe that I can trust someone with my secret. I'd like to think that someone would be willing to uncover the whole person and appreciate everything I've struggled to accept about myself. But I just don't think it's possible. I don't think I can be safe anymore. I don't think it's safe to be me in the world. I just don't trust anyone anymore. Least of all - myself.

A View from the Couch

This is the writing that led me to my name for the blog...the balcony is an online community of movie lovers that I have belonged to for many years now. I wrote this in August 2006 while recovering from surgery.


Due to a series of circumstances that I just won't go into here, I have spent much of the past month in hospital beds, my own bed, and finally my couch. While much of the time has been spent in a medicated haze, I have had the opportunity to view a great many movies. Not new ones, due to the lack of a Netflix subscription and/or willing souls to make a video store run for me, but whatever I could find on the pay-per-view, HBO, Showtime, Turner Classics and my own library.

It has given me an amazing opportunity to rediscover some of my favorites and to make some conclusions about movies in general - at least as they apply to those of us here in the balcony. I don't presume to understand the general public's movie decisions in the least. But I've "known" a good many of you for over a decade and feel safe in making the following statements.

1) A Bad Movie - is universally bad. This is a film with no redeeming features. Not a pretty face, no pretty clothes, no good scenery, horrible script, predicable story, and wretched directing and acting. These get about 20 minutes of my time to make their case - then I change the channel. It's been a long time since I went to the theatre to see a truly BAD movie. They abound on daytime and late night TV.

2) An acceptable movie is a variable thing. Movies which I would not find acceptable in a fully sentient state, are marginally acceptable when I am fading in and out of consciousness, up and down in pain levels, and just need the sound of a human voice. Acceptable films over the past few weeks have included - Kingdom of Heaven, Melinda and Melinda, Matador (which I slept thru the middle of and still managed to find the thread of the story when I did wake up) Without Limits, and Must Love Dogs. I imagine I will be adding Mr and Mrs Smith to the acceptable list later tonight after it "premiers" on HBO.

3) A good movie is personal call. For a movie to be "good" to me, I need a decent script, good acting, competent direction, well composed picture and interesting (not necessarily pretty) faces to look at, and something that engages my attention - that makes me want to stay awake and see what will happen next. We may disagree here in the balcony about what made a movie good or what would have made it better, but we are surprisingly quite accepting of one another's categorization of a movie as GOOD. Good Movies I have seen - Munich, Walk the Line, Downfall, All About My Mother, and a whole cadre of older films that I can't even begin to remember - Dark Passage, Camille (Garbo), Meet John Doe, Tess of the Storm.

4) The line between a Good Movie and A Great Movie is almost impossible to describe. But here's an experience that summed it up for me. I was watching WITNESS for the twelfth or fifteenth time. I didn't need to know the story - I already know the story. I didn't need to watch the action. I knew what the action would be. So there was a certain freedom allowed in simply sitting back and letting the movie show me what it had that might be new to me. And there it was. John Book is on the phone learning that his partner has been killed. All we see is the back of Harrison Ford's head in that ridiculous straw hat. All we hear is the voice on the other end of the line. And for a good 30-45 seconds, that's all we need to see. The back of Ford's neck tells us everything we need to know. The tension in his body rises and so does our own. And I thought - "How courageous of Peter Weir to trust the back of Harrison Ford's head. How courageous of Harrison Ford to trust Peter Weir. How courageous of the camera to stay with him. And God I Wish Peter Weir Made More Movies." I started to think of those kind of discoveries I've had over the past 10 years learning along with you how to watch and rewatch a movie. I personally can't wait to watch The Godfather and Godfather II again. And I challenge those of you who, like myself, will not be coming to it fresh - but with a history of viewings - to surrender that history. Sit back and let the movie show you something new. You may find yourself falling in love with Francis Ford Coppola all over again.

And THAT, for me, is what makes a GREAT MOVIE.

Happy Viewing -

What I think is....

(From June 2007)

My therapist said it was time. He said I was ready. Over a year of soul-searching, breakdown then build-up sessions, and he said I was ready to date. Ready to meet someone and perhaps find a partner who would be willing to walk by my side on this path I seem to be on. I'd identified my strengths and weakness. I'd examined my past relationships and determined what my expectations and losses and joys had been in each. I'd learned what I needed and wanted from a relationship and, more importantly, I'd learned how to articulate it. Not just say it in a couple of pat phrases, but to truly articulate it. This is where I am, this is what I've lacked for most of my life, this is what I expect, need, want. These are my deal breakers. This is who I am at this point in time. That is who I was, who I pretended to be, who I assumed others needed me to be. But today - this is me. Fabulous, funny, strong, sexy, sensual, talented, creative, passionate, independent, thoughtful, caring, generous, cautious, scared, open, honest, real. The whole package. The Powerball of womanhood looking for the guy with the winning ticket. Ready to try again - to love and laugh and share and give and receive. Ready to expect everything I ask for to be honored and respected and heard. Ready to negotiate through the quagmire of learning how to be a real grown-up in a real grown-up relationship. I was ready.

Well - what I think is...I may be ready, but I don't think the world is quite ready for me. At least not the world of dating men. I know I'm only a month into this dating thing, but so far I've been rejected, assaulted and stood up. And those are just the one's I've actually gotten to meet. Well except for the stood up guy. Still haven't met him.

There are the ones who respond to my profile or my icebreaker. I've had them ask me to color my hair, lose weight, change my movie or tv habits, change what music I listen to, what food I like, what I do for my workout - and then they might consider MEETING me. Not even a real date, just a meet. I've been told that I'm too in conflict with myself. I'm too honest. I expect too much. I am out of touch with reality.

Okay, so I'm an idealistic, romantic with many passionately held beliefs. What's wrong with that? I've chatted with plenty of men who don't hesitate to state their deal-breakers up front. Just because I'm a woman, I shouldn't ask for what I need? I should just wait for you to give it? No thank you.

Then there are the one who never quite get past the profile. That's okay. I've done my share of scanning the men.

Christian Conservative - nope. Sorry. Deal breaker.
Wants children - no can do. I'm not bearing the next Messiah.
Allergic to cats - well, that's workable. But then he rejected me.
Loves to hunt, fish, camp, ski, sail, run, rock-climb, etc. - I love the Pacific Northwest, too. But I've never been a big outdoor girl. Let me sit by the fire while you're on the slopes. Let me sit on the sand while you go for a jog. Let me sleep in a motel while you get up at 4:00 to get that salmon, tag that elk. I don't have to do everything with you. But they seem pretty determined to have an Olympic athlete with them. So...move on. And if I read one more "love to walk on the beach holding hands, curl up by a warm fire, dinner by candlelight" Please - we all love that.

What I really want to know is, are you going to put up my bookshelves when you said you would? Are you going to kill those ants because you know how they make my skin crawl? And are you willing to clean out the cat box, take out the garbage, sort the laundry, wash the car? How about washing the cat? How about helping me into bed when I've had major surgery and it's all I can do to get from the couch to the bathroom? Will you wash my hair when I can't? Because I know myself and I'll do all those things and more for someone I love. I'll drive all over town to find a blue shirt because it's your favorite color and you hate green - which is the color this year and seems to be the only thing in the stores. I'll fix your favorite dinner. But more than that, I'll spend years getting that recipe your grandmother always cooked for you - just right. And when I've found it, I'll fix it every time you ask me. How do I know I'll do these things? Because I have done all this before. Not because anybody asked me, but because I believe that when someone is important to me - there is nothing to big or small I do to show my love. In fact, the smaller the gesture, the dearer I hold it. Leave me strawberries in the fridge because you know I love them. Buy me that fabulous pen because you know I'll love how it feels in my hand when I write you little notes. Call me just to say you can't wait until you see me again - because you just saw something that you have to tell me about and because you miss my smiling eyes. Anyone can buy roses, but finding me violets in February? That's love.

But back to this dating thing. I guess I just don't date. I never really did. My first boyfriend was in my junior year of high school and he broke up with me because I wouldn't put out. He broke up with me when I was sick - with mono - which he gave me. It still stings. I didn't date senior year because I was going away to college and it just didn't make sense to get involved. I didn't date in college because I was too busy. Working, acting, directing, classes. My god it's a miracle I found time to even have sex. But I did. Or I guess I wouldn't have gotten pregnant at 22. I dated my ex. We dated while we were married. Or we would never have had time together. Life gets in the way so easily.

And what I think is...I'm not the dating sort. I'm the sort of woman you go with. You go to the same movie or concert. You go to the same art exhibit or restaurant. You just go along because it matters to me and because I'm the one you want to do this with.

What I think is...when I "date" - when there is an expectation placed on me, that I am to meet some nebulous standard of yours, I fail every time. I talk too much. I over share. You don't really want to know how long it's been since I made love. And you don't really want to know why my mother is still in my head telling me I want too much. You don't really care that I am incomplete. But I think it's important for you to know.

I think it's important that I haven't settled with myself yet. I think it's important that I want to keep growing. I think I'm growing into someone really wonderful, but this whole dating has me over thinking every tiny rejection. I spend hours agonizing over why they reject me - what do I have to fix in order to be perfect? What did I do wrong, say wrong, think wrong?

So this weekend I came to a conclusion of sorts.

What I think is...when I meet the right person I will be perfect. There won't be a thing I need to worry about or change.
What I think is...I need to stop looking at these internet sites as anything I really need to do and as the only way I'm going to find someone.
What I think is...that I need to spend this time working on the things I want to change FOR MYSELF, not for a date. I need to continue my workout and diet regimen. Not to get the perfect body, but because I feel better when I do.
What I think is...that I need to stop looking for a date and let the date come to me.
What I think is...I'm a really great woman with a great deal to give.
What I think is...anyone who makes me feel this insecure is definitely not right for me.
What I think is...Love isn't here, but it's somewhere. And when the time is right, it will find me. It'll walk right up to me and say "Where have you been? I've been looking all over for you!"
And then I'll know.
I'm ready.

A survey for big people

Borrowed this from Bridgete's Blog - Living, Learning and Loving the Law.

Here are some questions for the "out of high school" group...

What bill do you hate paying the most?
Rent. I love my place but I do wish I was building some equity with my monthly outpouring of cash.

Where's the best place to eat a romantic dinner?
There are so many great restaurant's in Portland, I have a hard time with this one. But I guess my very favorite is right in my own little apartment, candles and music and great wine. Makes the transition to other activity so much easier...

Last time you puked from drinking?
I was 20 and leaving a man I was very much in love with to go to college. I still think of him holding my hair back while I puked in his bathroom - how lovingly he took care of me that night and didn't take me home until I was relatively sober so as not to create havoc with my mother. I miss you, David. Thanks.

When is the last time you got drunk and danced on a bar?
Never, but I got pretty stewed at bowling a couple of weeks ago. If my boss hadn't been there, who knows?

Name of your first grade teacher?
My god, I'm ancient! I can barely remember my high school teacher's names.

What do you really want to be doing right now?
I can't post that on the web!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A Broadway Baby! World class actress, singer, dancer.

How many colleges did you attend?
4. Three undergrad - one for my freshman year, one community college, and then my alum - PSU. Grad school was UofPortland

Why did you wear the shirt that you have on right now?
It's warm, it's a good color with my hair, and it looks good on me. Nice rack, kat.

GAS PRICES First thought?
I'm so grateful I have options for commuting. I can make a tank of gas last for 5-6 week. But now that I'm trying to book airline tickets for my annual Oscar trip to California - I hate them!!

If you could visit anywhere and take someone with you...
Bridgete said "Paris, with my mom." I want to see so much of Europe - Paris, London, Ireland, Tuscany...and I would definitely take Bridgete with me - or my sister. They are the only two people I know I could easily travel with anywhere for any length of time.

First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
Monday Again!! Then I realized it was really Friday after Thanksgiving.

Last thought before going to sleep last night?
I can't print it...

Favorite style of underwear for the opposite sex?
I've always been a boxer gal. But once it comes off, who cares??

What errand/chore do you despise?
cleaning the bathroom. it's a good thing mine is so small.

If you didn't have to work, would you volunteer at an art gallery?

What is your favorite cartoon character?
Winnie-the-Pooh. Of course I don't actually consider him a cartoon, but a work of literature. So my second favorite would have to be Norbert Beaver. "Daggie-poo. Dagg-a-lagg-a-lindo"

Are you planning on remaining in your current field?
At this point in my life, there aren't many things that would make me change.

Do you see yourself married in the next five years?
No. Thank you, but see my other posts related to dating and sex and love and life. There isn't much point for me.

Your favorite lunch meat?

What do you get every time you go into a WalMart?
I am actively boycotting Wal-Mart.

Beach or lake?

Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?

TV show you miss?
Deadwood! Damn you HBO for not doing the final season! The story isn't done! The fire hasn't happened! Okay...done with my vent.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
bananas dipped in hershey's syrup. hell anything dipped in hershey's syrup.

Favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
There aren't many movies I don't talk about - but I'm a sucker for a good love story and I still weep at The Way We Were. Every single time...Hubble don't get in the cab!

What's your drink?
Single Malt Scotch

Cowboys or Indians?
I was the school marm taken prisoner by the Indians and waiting to be rescued by the Cowboys.

Cops or Robbers?
Always a cop. Always wanted to be a robber. Love those death scenes.

Do you cheer for the bad guy in a movie?

What Hollywood star do you think resembles you best?
Can't think of one. Wish I had Kate Hepburn's hair, cheekbones, spirit, balls...

If you had to pick one, which cast member of Lost would you be?
Whoever died in the first episode.

What do you want when you are sick?
Blankets,tea, toast, and a movie.

Who from high school would you like to run into?
I recently ran into him - Bob Rothery. Great guy, still.

What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
NPR - no question.

Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?
It was trusting someone who didn't deserve that trust. I've done it with more than one person. And I'm always the one who pays. I don't want to talk about it.

Do you like the person who sits directly across from you at work?
I sit between two of the greatest people I know. I'm proud to call them friend.

If you could get away with it, whom would you kill?
I don't like to waste my energy thinking like this. maybe W?

What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Jon Stewart. I love that man.

What famous person would you like to sleep with?
Oh my - there are so many...Mr. Stewart is one of them. Alan Rickman. Sting. would like to know if that tantric stuff really works...

Have you ever had to use a firearm?
No. Never will either.

Last book you read?
Mistress of the Art of Death

Several Winnie-the-Pooh, including my very first one who is over 40 years old.

Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?
I think it was in O'Hare airport after an international flight and getting through customs - then waiting for my flight home. Or maybe it was in Rome....

Somewhere in California you've never been and would like to go?
San Francisco. I know - I can't believe it either.

Number of texts in a day?
Zero. I get them very rarely.

If you had to choose- would you start a new career or relationship?
Either one would be tough at this stage in life. But I guess I'd rather tackle a new career than a new relationship. I don't seem to be very good at that.

Favorite Winter Olympic Sport?
The luge.... I just like saying...The Luge.

Pencil or pen?
I adore a good pen. I have several that I love to hold and write with. My handwriting has suffered since computers became my main mode of communication, but I still love the feel of a pen in my hand.

Ancient Egyptians or Mayans?

How many jobs have you had?
8 - not bad for my age.

Are you where you thought you would be at this age?
No. But then who is. Would I change anything? nothing of significance. Or I would be changed. And I like me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

My friends have been asking me to do this for some time now. They promised that if I started a blog, they would read it. We shall see...

So AJ, Brett, Nancy, Cindy, and all the rest of you - I don't promise I'll write every day. But I promise that when I have something I feel is important to say, whether it's about me or life or movies or my fabulous daughter, I will say it here.

To start with, I'll post some of my past writings. Get them out there in the world and see what happens. From there, who knows?

Here's hoping that you have a wonderful holiday and I'll be back soon.