Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

It's New Year's Eve. I'm sipping a lovely Willamette Valley Syrah and watching television. On my laptop, I'm chatting with a dear friend and playing a game of Wordscraper, which was Scrabulous, which now is Lexulous. I don't give a damn what it's called. I just want to play a game or two with friends and loved ones.

So here's a little recap....

Last New Year's Eve, I was home alone, sipping wine watching Fred and Ginger dance across the screen. I was rather hoping Turner Classics would do that again, but they didn't. In the first few weeks of 2008, several friends lost a parent. It was almost an epidemic.

I wanted to go visit my dear friends George and Nancy for the Oscar's, but I broke a tooth and my savings went into that. Nancy was one of the friends who had lost a parent, her father. I really wanted to be with her. She was so exhausted from the whole experience. But I wasn't alone for Oscar. I chatted with my daughter, with Nancy and with my friend Bert. Aren't computers a wonderful thing?

No visits to the hospital this year, but a few medical disruptions. I spent Memorial Day weekend with a scratched eye which became infected and took ages to heal. Now I have to wear my glasses all the time and forgo the contacts. I miss my contacts. But I'm looking forward to getting new glasses now that a new insurance year has come around.

Even though I missed Oscar's with Nancy and George, I did get to spend a weekend with them in July. We met up in Eugene and drove to Crater Lake. I grew up near Crater Lake and hadn't been there for nearly 35 years. It was a lovely weekend with my dearest friends.

I also took a mini break for my birthday and went to the coast. Finally got to enjoy the wonderful Sylvia Beach hotel - the Shakespeare room. Paired with a lovely dinner and perfect company, the day was warm and wonderful and memorable.

Then I capped the year with a wonderful week in Boston with my lovely daughter. It was a real adventure and one that I'm actually writing a story about. Keep an eye out for that one.

No weddings. A few new babies. My friend Janet became a grandmother on Feb. 15. Her granddaughter has become a light in her life. My sister was blessed with her 9th grandchild. I got to spend Thanksgiving with her entire family! What a day that was...lots of love and lots of joy.

Deaths...some celebrity passings that moved me - George Carlin, Paul Newman, Harold Pinter. Miraculously my mother and aunt are still here. Mom's nearly 91 and Aunt Gertie will be 99 tomorrow!! Good Lord!! But my niece Sarah passed in March. She was a month shy of her 26th birthday. I'm still rather stunned by it.

I went to far fewer concerts, movies and plays than usual. Partly money - partly lack of someone to share the experience with. I do like having someone to talk to about these things. And the fact that I go alone now seems to magnify my aloneness. I did go to see a road show of Sweeney Todd with my friends Mike and Mary. That was a lovely night. And I saw the Wallin' Jennys with my dear Bert. That was great as well.

I haven't moved, but my neighbors have. I have new ones across the hall and down below. The girls across the hall are college students and remarkably quiet. Pretty with lots of friends who drop by, they remind me of my daughter. It makes me miss her - miss watching her life grow richer and fuller with every day. The woman downstairs is one of the most annoying, narcissistic, unaware people I've ever encountered. But I think she's a resident or something at the hospital. She's rarely home and wears surgical scrubs a lot.

So what am I hoping the new year will bring. I should like to feel healthier. I am making small changes that I hope will have made a significant difference in a year. If only I can be patient enough with myself to stay the course.

I hope my daughter continues to grow in happiness and knowledge and success. I hope to rebuild some relationships that have grown distant over time.

I hope to continue to grow kinder with myself. To forgive myself more often and enjoy myself each day.

I want to continue to explore my creativity, expand my support group, and actually write those stories rolling around in my head.

I want to see the year through with love and kindness and grace and compassion. Can't think of anything else. Except for the Italian villa, the Boston condo, the perfect job and loads of money to be philanthropic with.

Happy 2009 Everyone. HOPE and CHANGE are just around the corner.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Poetry Corner - Mary's Lament

Merry Christmas everyone - and a Happy New Year filled with HOPE for CHANGE.

Mary's Lament

Why have you brought me to this place?
Have I not followed your every step?
Opened every door?
Trusted every vision?
Stepped into the dark at every command?

Why am I found worthy of this task?
Why have you chosen me
To bring light to the dark?
Hope to the hopeless?
Joy to the sorrowful?

Oh Lord, I wait for your guidance.
I wait for the step to be illumined.
The door to open.
The vision to appear.
I wait and step into the dark
Praying for the light to follow.

Christmas 2008
KC McAuley-Watt

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Boots Today

I have a great pair of boots. They are thigh-high black leather with 4-inch stiletto heels. I love to wear them. They make me feel strong and powerful and sexy and just a little dangerous. But I don't wear them to work very often. They attract too much attention and it's a distraction from the normally invisible worker I tend to be. But yesterday, I needed to feel in control. So I wore my boots.

As predicted, I got attention. Mostly good, women who wonder if they are comfortable. (They are. And I get to sit most of the day.) Men who notice and aren't sure what to say. I get everything from "We have to talk" to "You are too sexy for this place".

Today, I have no boots. Instead I have my favorite clogs that are falling apart and I'm going to have to replace them. Today I found out that the man who broke my heart 3 years ago is getting remarried...and it's not to me. Today I need my boots. Today I need to be in control. Today I need to be strong. But today, I have no boots.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Still searching

I've been subjecting myself to a little deprivation of late. Reading deprivation. It's part of my Artist's Way group - and I forgot how hard this was. Obviously, one cannot completely stop reading. I'm in the middle of 2 major work projects that require me to write and edit (which means READ) training materials. And work is all about projects these days.

But I find myself leafing through catalogs, magazines, advertising of all kinds searching for ideas for Christmas. For recipes, gifts, decorations. Then I suddenly realize...I'M READING!...and I put it down and try to focus inward; see what my heart says about all the busy-ness I'm caught up in. I'm learning how often I silence my heart with busy-ness. I'm realizing that I haven't listened to it in quite a while. And why is that?

Do I feel guilty for not taking care of things that I know I should be taking care of? Do I feel ashamed that I have ignored the longings of my heart? And the answer is...Yes. I do.

I have felt lately that there is something coming for me. I don't know what it is. I don' t know if it will be a choice that will leave me with guilt or shame. I pray that it will be neither. I am trying to prepare for that gift. I don't want to miss that opportunity. So I am learning to care for myself, nurture my mind and my body, give myself time to heal and prepare. Learn that I am deserving of my good...of my God.

Race drivers have to learn to look away from the wall. They have to be taught to focus on the goal, because study has shown that we unconsciously steer where we are looking. So a driver that looks at the wall, fearful of hitting it, unconsciously goes to the very thing he feared.

I have to look away from the wall. I have to teach myself to stop looking at the things I fear and focus where I want to go. Even if the goal is not clear yet, I have a sense of where that is, so I have to steer toward it...and away from my walls. I may not know what the winner's circle holds, but I'll never get there by looking at the walls.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Life I Have Lived....The Life I Hope to Live

My daughter Bridgete had this list on her blog. The object was to copy the list, bold the items you have done and post it for everyone to read but I am going to follow her example. I have separated into three groups-- have done, not yet and no thank you (if I can help it).

Have Done

1. Started your own blog (2 in fact...the other with Bridgete detailing the move from Portland to Boston)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (Wonderbroads Rule!)
4. Visited Hawaii (and would love to go back)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
10. Sang a solo (many, many times)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (I still suck at art!)
16. Had food poisoning
21. Had a pillow fight
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (but not for many years)
24. Built a snow fort
26. Gone skinny dipping
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (both)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I’ve been to Germany, but still have many places left to see)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (its all in perception of satisfaction)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
60. Served at a soup kitchen
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
67. Bounced a check (that was a long time ago!)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (Winnie the Pooh is over 40. That’s all I’m saying)
77. Broken a bone (It was only a toe…but it’s a bone)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
83. Walked in Jerusalem (and Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Masada, Jerico…)
88. Had chickenpox (I have no idea when…but my blood says I did)
90. Sat on a jury (twice)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one (too many…way too many)
94. Had a baby (only the best !)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (Does the Dead Sea count? It’s A salt lake?)
97. Been involved in a lawsuit (Does bankruptcy count?)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Hope to Do Someday

9. Held a praying mantis
12. Visited Paris ( in 2010)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (will do when I get there)
20. Slept on an overnight train
25. Held a lamb
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (MUST get to Italy)
29. Seen a total eclipse
32. Been on a cruise
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (see 28)
40. Seen Michelangelo's David (28)
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (made it to Yellowstone..but missed Old Faithful)
44. Visited Africa
47. Had your portrait painted
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (again…28)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (see 12)
55. Been in a movie (would love to put this on the have list!)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
68. Flown in a helicopter (planes of all sizes…even small craft)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times
74. Toured the Everglades
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (2010)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (I am not walking out on that clear bridge thing, though)
80. Published a book (I FULLY intend to achieve this, a few times)
81. Visited the Vatican (well if I haven’t seen the Sistine Chapel…)
82. Bought a brand new car
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
89. Saved someone’s life
95. Seen the Alamo in person

No Thank You

8. Climbed a mountain
11. Bungee jumped (oh hell no!!)
15. Adopted a child (too old…)
22. Hitch hiked (too scary these days)
27. Run a Marathon
31. Hit a home run (I’m really not gifted sports wise)
39. Gone rock climbing (I don’t do heights)
46. Been transported in an ambulance –(I really hope not!)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (don’t swim)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (see 48)
65. Gone sky diving (see 11)
75. Been fired from a job (Please no)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (ewwwwhh)

Monday, November 10, 2008

6 secrets - 6 tags

I've been tagged to reveal 6 secrets and tag 6 other bloggers to do the same. So here goes.

1. I have an inner bitch...I wish I felt more comfortable in letting her have her say.
2. I secretly dislike tiny blond women...they do have more fun and get away with more.
3. If it were nutritionally possible, I would live on bread, chocolate and wine, with the occasional cup of really good coffee and superior ice cream.
4. I believe in past lives...or at the very least a psychic link to other souls who have had a human experience.
5. I have had lovers both significantly younger and significantly older than myself. Both have had their advantages and disadvantages. And I wish age didn't matter - but sometimes it does.
6. I believe in casting bread upon the waters. And I know it has come back to me a hundred fold.

So now I tag...
Bonnie - Season Liberally
Chris Dashiell
Bridgete - Living, Learning and Loving the Law

And any other bloggers who wish to jump on board.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Yes I Can

I'm a liberal - a Democrat with a capital D. And it has not always been easy to be so. My parents grew up during the Great Depression, married and started a family during WWII. Watched their family grow and prosper during the post-war boom. And watched the world change dramatically during the 60s and 70s. They taught me that I was responsible for myself. I had to work for what I wanted and never expect a handout. Yet, they also taught me that I was responsible to others. Not FOR others, but TO others. I was not to achieve my goals at the expense of another's dignity or basic humanity. Shaming, cheating, suppressing, stealing were not the ways to success. And the achievements of another were my achievements as well. What improved the life of others, improved my life. Good for one is good for all. Pretty socialist ideas, aren't they?

It has not been the experience of my life that good for others has been good for me. I have seen my country shamed, cheating, suppressing, stealing, lying. And I bear that responsibility. I have stood by and watched as these liars and cheaters have stolen my very dreams from me. But no longer.

Today, tomorrow - and if need be - for every day I have left, I will speak out. I will knock on doors and make phone calls and honk my horn and wave placards. Please vote. Please vote for a man who has managed to make me believe in good again. A man who has made me feel that I have the power to change the world. A man who has given me the audacity to hope once more.

Please vote - for Barack Hussein Obama. Because You Can. I Can. WE CAN.

Friday, October 10, 2008

AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka on Racism and Obama

Tell it like it is. There's only one BAD reason to vote against him. Share this with everyone!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Long Time Coming

I know I've been MIA for quite a while. It's was a frustrating and busy summer. Aside from the eye infection that wouldn't heal, there were visits with friends and family, parties and celebrations, and a chance to be on stage again.

There were movies. I loved, DARK KNIGHT, VICKI CHRISTINA BARCELONA, IN BRUGES. I hated ATONEMENT. I enjoyed SEX AND THE CITY, FLASH OF GENIUS and MAMA MIA.

The weather this summer was a long time warming up - then it was suddenly very hot, for a few days. Then cold again. I got the ghastly summer cold. Now it's truly autumn. Snow fall in the mountains, cold nights where a cat and a blanket are just not enough to keep me warm. Some trees are turning and losing leaves. Squirrels are flashing through the trees gathering nuts.

And I've had a birthday. I'm 49. I never thought I'd be this old.

I try to ignore the news right now - economy is bad, presidential race is tight and in the middle of it all I keep hearing about "people just like us..."

What makes us feel a part of a group, or what makes us feel separate from the group? I come from a large family and there were rituals, traditions that defined us as a family. We had our place at the table. My dad made the coffee and always got the first cup. When it was time to decorate the Christmas tree, dad did the lights first, then we each had our own special ornament that we placed where ever we wanted. Christmas morning, we could open our stockings, but nothing under the tree could be touched until Dad had his coffee, coffee cake and a cigarette.

Then there were other traditions. My mother would bake cherry pies for my brother's birthdays - it was their favorite. She even did it for her son-in-laws. But the apple pie I wanted for my birthday was too much work. I'm all grown up now, and I do realize that apple pie is a lot of work. But it still hurts that my mother didn't want to make apple pie for me. I was too much work. I didn't get to share that tradition and that made me less of a member of the family. I was less like my siblings. And I was certainly less loved. (I say all of this from the child within me who still feels those pangs of not belonging.)

I have some traditions with my daughter. Music has been a part of many of those traditions. We both love music. We both have our own tastes, but share many artists we both love. But we both treasure singing along with our cat, singing lullabys and good nights with Steggie. And one very special song that will always mean 'we'.

My daughter is a brown-eyed girl. I'm a brown-eyed girl. I used to sing Brown-Eyed Girl to her when she was very small. That evolved into singing with it every time it came on the radio in the car. That became a ritual whereby every time we went on a road trip, the cassette went into the tape deck and Jimmy Buffet came along singing Brown-Eyed girl.

Last summer, when we were traveling from Portland to Boston, Bridgete had loaded her Zen player with all kinds of songs. We hooked it up to the radio and headed out. It wasn't long before we heard the familiar opening cords. We glanced at each other and immediately burst into song.

"Do you remember when?
We used to sing?
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-dedah!"

There was a sense of completeness, of destiny to that moment. And a satisfaction in knowing that tradition was with us.

That's what we look for in traditions - in rituals - be they sacred or silly. We look for those moments that remind us of our connection to one another. Things that remind us we are not alone out here.

Where we go astray is in letting the tradition or the ritual take precedence over the connection. Or when we fail to recognize how important a small gesture might be to someone else. Maybe I'm unusual in that I make connections with other people easily and I feel them deeply. Missing my annual trip to Nancy and George can make my whole year feel wrong. Friends forget to take me to lunch after having done so for several years...and I am likely to conclude that they no longer consider me a friend - rather than the obvious - we're all just so busy - answer.

I live alone. I work alone. And it's very easy for me to say that I'll just stop making connections - because it hurts too badly when they break.

Or maybe I just need some apple pie. Really good apple pie.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Eyes Have It....

The eyes are the window to the soul...
Love looks not with the eyes...
Close up his eyes and draw the curtain close...

And I could go on and on. There is an entire page of entries for Eyes in my tattered and torn Barlett's Familiar Quotations. And it is very tattered and torn and loved. Over 30 years old, the only reference book more abused is my Roget's Thesaurus, which I cannot find a decent replacement for. They just don't make reference books like they used to.

But I digress.

I haven't written for a month because I have been robbed of the normal use of my eyes. I scratched my corneas and they got infected. Then, after many visits to the doctor and many trial and error combinations of eyedrops and compresses and some gooey stuff I use at night, I have gradually regained my vision.


A bit of backstory here. I am terribly nearsighted. I've worn glasses or contact lenses since the age of 6. If I am somewhere unfamiliar, I can't go to the bathroom at night without my glasses. I am used to not seeing clearly without corrective lenses. I am not used to not seeing clearly when I have my glasses on. I am used to seeing the world differently. I am not used to seeing it out of focus. It has been agony for me. Not only has the pain been physical, but the frustration of being unable to read or write, unable to work...because I spend 8 hours a day in front of a computer...unable to be online with my daughter and my friends, and unable to drive comfortably, to walk in the sunshine (the light was painful) to do even the simplest of tasks without careful planning.

I have spent much of this time remembering moments of my life where eyes - my own or others - have been the focus...so to speak. When my daughter first heard my voice and her eyes searched around for a shape to focus on as the source of this sound so familiar to her. When I got my first glasses and I stepped out of the optometrist's office into a whole new world. When I got contact lenses and could now audition for plays and musicals (just try being an actor when you can't see the other actor's faces and react to their actions) When I first looked into a lover's eyes and knew that a kiss was imminent. When I first saw...Niagara Falls, the Rockie Mountains, Hawaii, a sunrise, a sunset, a rose, a violet, a dead cat, my father lying in a hospital bed, unconscious and dying. The moments never end. I can close my eyes and summon up any of these moments. And I am not ready to stop having them. I still need to see Paris, Rome, London, Shakespeare's resting place, the Mona Lisa, the David, the Sistine Chapel. There is so much more to see.

I am on the mend. My vision changes daily. So I may have one day where everything is nearly normal. Then the next where the blurriness and the dryness return. I am a patient person, with everyone but myself. And this has tried my patience to the very limit. I value my independence. I don't ask for help easily. I am frustrated with the process of aging...new aches and pains and limitations every day. I worry about becoming a burden to my daughter and my loved ones. And the financial aspects of even a minor illness can alter my plans unexpectedly. Already this year, I've had to cancel a trip because of a broken tooth. I will be miserable if this latest frustration means I have to cancel or change plans for weekend and day trips I am planning.

There are too many faces I have yet to memorize. Too many things to see. My eyes - still have the top vote with me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Poetry Corner - Untitiled

5-22-08
KC McAuley

For my lover -

Every morning,
Before I open my eyes,
I feel your arms about me and I draw you closer.
Such safety there
Such love
Such joy.
Until I remember that you are not there.
I only dreamed of you.

Every day
As I go about my business,
I hear your voice nearby and I drink you in.
Such understanding there
Such love
Such joy
Until I realize that it couldn’t be you.
I only dreamed of you.

Every evening
As the day dissolves
I see your smiling eyes and I melt down to you
Such laughter there
Such love
Such joy
Until I blink and you have vanished.
I only dreamed of you.

Every night
Before sleep has pulled me down
I long for you and call your name.
I close my eyes and open my heart.
I hear your voice
I see your eyes.
I feel your arms.
Such love
Such joy.
I only dreamed of you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Living on the Edge

Most of my life, I have felt like I didn't quite belong. My brothers must have picked up on this and would always tell me that I wasn't really their sister. That my real family was the crazy family who lived next door and Mom and Dad felt sorry for me and adopted me. Somehow this made sense to me. I was so much younger than my siblings. I was always on the outside of whatever they were doing...watching and waiting until I was old enough to play too. Of course, by the time I was old enough for that game, they had moved on to a new one. I was never quite part of the team.

My parents were much older and I went to cocktail parties and meetings where I sat in the dens and family rooms of other families, watching television or reading while the world went on on the other side of the door. There, but just on the edge. Waiting and watching.

For a time, I thought I had found my place. The theatre seemed to be a gathering place for the odd, the strange, the eccentric, the ones on the edge. But even here, I was too extreme, too intellectual, too political, too feminist, too much for the outsiders. I wanted to do art that spoke to me...not to a foundation, a fund, or a board of directors. I was edgy, but it wasn't the right kind of edge.

So now, here I am, nearly 50 years old, and I've realized that I will always be just a bit outside of the rest of the world. It's not that I don't have "normal" life activities. I have a job, sometimes very busy and hectic and exciting, mostly very routine and ordinary. I have friends with whom I work and play. We laugh and talk and share and enjoy. I have wonderful family who invite me to parties and holidays and we celebrate our common unity. But I always feel just a little outside of where they are. My thoughts are just a bit off from theirs. My dreams are just a bit different. My passions are just a little odd.

I think these people who choose to be with me and have me in their world truly love me. I can tell that they do. But there's also a sense that part of my appeal to them is my slight eccentricity. Even my therapist says he loves to talk to me because I make him laugh and I see things in such an interesting way.

Do I mind it out here? No. I've tried to conform and it really doesn't work for me. Do I wish I wasn't always alone? Of course I do, but I've accepted the idea that there just isn't a way for me to be with someone all the time. I'm too much work. Sometimes I'm even too much for myself. But I'm finding my way out here. Stop by and visit sometime. I love company.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Raindrop Review - THERE WILL BE BLOOD

THERE WILL BE BLOOD - (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson)

Paul Thomas Anderson has become a mature filmmaker. And THERE WILL BE BLOOD is his master American story. A tragic tale of a petty man who uses everyone and everything around him to assure his standing in the world.

Daniel Day-Lewis' Oscar winning performance is the soul of this film. The heart, if you will, of a heartless man. We are never given the full story of Daniel Plainview, but only glimpses into the soul, cracks and fissures, like the ones where Plainview finds his oil. His life blood. It is suitably black and dangerous.

Visually, I now wish I'd seen this on the big screen. The vast American landscape of the 1900's is one that I am attracted to. My father was born in Oklahoma in 1913. His father and uncles worked on oil rigs. I kept looking for glimpses of my ancestors in the blackened faces of these men.

Plainview's son H.W. (Dillon Freasier), is an angelic wonder. A gentle face and soul juxtaposed with Daniel's rugged, vacant eyes...stunning.

Other characters surface to challenge Plainview's plan, world, family, etc. Each of them meet some tragic end crossing the path of this soulless man. And in the end, Plainview is left alone in his castle by the sea. I thought of Hearst and San Simeon. Charles Foster Kane. These men live in legend and in fact throughout America's painful, tragic history. Daniel Plainview is now one of these men.

The one problem I had with this film was the score. It jarred me and removed me from the story every time. And the use of my favorite, soulful, romantic Beethoven was tantamount to sin for me. It showed a lack of care from Anderson...or a lack of understanding how sound and music are truly essential to some movie viewers. Like me.

All in all, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a good picture. And time may show it to be a great one. Definitely deserving of the accolades it received last year.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Raindrop Review - THE COUNTERFEITERS

THE COUNTERFEITERS (Die Falscher, 2007, Stefan Ruzowitzky)

The true story of the largest counterfeiting operation in history, this film is my kind of Nazi movie. When trying to present a story based on WWII and Nazi actions, I find that films tend to treat all Nazis as evil and all victims as saints. THE COUNTERFEITERS neatly avoids this by giving us a hero who is a known criminal. A man who is not even trusted in the confines of a concentration camp.

Salomon Sorowitsch, was the King of Counterfeiters, a master criminal, who on the very eve of his departure from Germany in the late 1930's, is seduced into fashioning a false passport for a lovely Jewish lady. The following morning, they are discovered in bed by the police and Sol is sent to prison. Five years later, he is sent to a concentration camp where he uses his gift as an artist to secure better food and privileges painting portraits of the officers and their families.

Suddenly he is taken from Mauthausen to Sachsenhausen, where he is to be part of the Nazi scheme to undo the British and American economy by producing counterfeit British pounds and American dollars. The officer who arrested him in Berlin is now an SS Officer in charge of this project. This special team is treated well. Given clothing rather than prison stripes, although they soon learn that these clothes have come from other prisoners in the camps. They are given regular showers. They are well fed, have their own doctor, comfortable beds and any necessary tool at their disposal. They are isolated from the regular camp and the sounds of suffering outside of their world is muted by the music they are allowed to listen to.

All of this suits Sali just fine. He's doing a job, just like any job. He's keeping himself alive. He's surviving. And along the way, he's saving other lives through small acts, small measures, small gestures. And in these small ways, Sali's real humanity is revealed.

Karl Markovics portrayal of Sali is pitch perfect. His face, his eyes, his gestures tell more about the character than a dozen lines of dialog might.

The cinematography is beautiful. The characters in the film always talk about color, but the world in which they live is gray and drab and completely colorless. So a green dollar, a pink watermark, a red and yellow pack of cigarettes grabs the eye and stands out beautifully. And the blood. Always the blood.

Director Ruzowitzky has created a gem of a picture, filled with all the moral questions we all like to think we would answer correctly, and reminding us how hard it is to hold on to who we are when everything around us would tear us apart. And the final image is one I will carry for a long, long time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Poetry Corner - City of Rose

I live in Portland, Oregon, known as the City of Roses and home of Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Coffee People and Powell's Books. For April, Powell's sponsored a poetry contest seeking original poems about Portland. The following is my entry.

City of Rose
KC McAuley

The sun slips behind the west hills
The light shifts and everything is bathed in color
City of Rose
Amber and violet
And deepest of blue.

The sun rises over the hooded mountain.
The light shifts and brings back the color
City of Rose
Amber and violet
And deepest of blue.

From my window
I watch each day as the light shifts across this city.
My city.
City of Rose
Amber and violet
And deepest of blue.

And here is a link to the winning poems. They are all lovely ones.
http://www.powells.com/poetrycontest/winners.html?utm_source=oneoffs&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=poet_winners&utm_content=Read%20all%20the%20winning%20poems

Monday, April 14, 2008

Are You Smarter Than A Hyena

I learned recently that when a kill is made, the females surround the kill and let the children eat before the males of the pack. The females mean business and they will attack any male that attempts to breach the kill. And I had to ask myself, are we humans smarter than a hyena?

Every 3.6 seconds, someone in the world starves to death. 3/4 of those deaths are children under 5. 75%! That is unacceptable and should be unacceptable to any thinking person on our planet.

What do you think would happen if all the women in the world surrounded our children and INSISTED that the children be fed and housed and educated before one more penny is spent on war. I think we might just stop war.

And think what the impact might be on the world economy. Farmers would be paid to grow food, not to NOT grow food. Instead of building bombs, we'd build houses and schools. Teachers and growers and pickers and canners and all those job forces would have to be increased. And with such a demand for workers, those salaries would have to increase.

Don't you think if it was profitable to feed, clothe, house and educate people that business might actually do it?

It's not enough anymore to work against war. We have to work FOR peace. It's not enough anymore to have 'acceptable levels of violence'. There's no such thing as an acceptable level of violence. It's not enough anymore to tolerate differences. The mere use of the word tolerate implies a sense of superiority and separation.

I heard a woman on the radio say that she couldn't feel for the deaths in Iraq or Darfur or Israel, because that child wasn't her child. I disagree. ALL CHILDREN are my child. And ALL CHILDREN are my responsibility.

It's time I started thinking more like a hyena and less like a human being.

Friday, April 11, 2008

25

I've written before about my daughter, Bridgete. I've said often how proud I am to be her mother, how brave I think she is for finding her path and sticking to it, how much stronger and better I am for having let myself follow her lead. But today of all days, I need to say it all again.

She's 25 today. I still remember how I felt when after days of labor, no sleep, no food, no progress, I was being wheeled into the operating room where I would have a Caesarean section. My arms were strapped down so the anesthesiologist would be able to monitor my vitals and keep me numb. It's a very odd feeling to be awake and completely unable to move your body from the chest down. But while I was unable to feel pain, I was still able to feel pressure. My contractions were still happening, but it was as if there was someone pushing on my stomach. Then they hung a barrier up between my head and shoulders and the rest of my body. My husband could look over and see what was happening, but all I knew was what I could pick up from the conversation around me and what I could feel in my body.

I felt the pressure of the knife, the widening of the incision, something popped and John said that her head was out. Then the doctor told me I would feel more pressure as they pushed her out of my body.

Through most of my pregnancy, Bridgete had a foot stuck just below my ribs on my right side. Occasionally, when lying down, I could coax her to move it by rubbing on the outline of a foot I could see there. But somehow it always got back there. Now here she was halfway into the world, and that foot was still stuck there. The doctor was pressing and pressing on it. I could feel Bridgete flexing her foot and stubbornly staying in place. Then all at once, she relaxed. She must have been as tired as I was. Her foot dislodged, she came into the world and after the cord was cut, she was weighed and measured (8lbs, 15 oz. 21 1/2 inches long) bundled up and brought over to me and laid on my chest where I could see her. I still couldn't hold her. My arms were tied down and there was still work to do on me.

But Bridgete was here. I spoke her name and she opened her eyes and looked right at me. I felt her body relax onto mine and that was it. I was in love.

For the last 25 years, I have fallen in love with her over and over again. And I know I'll never ever stop. My beautiful, brave, talented, courageous, stubborn (oh so very stubborn...the foot was just the beginning!) independent, honest, intuitive, insightful, passionate, forthright, funny, sweet, love of my life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

TAGGED

I got TAGGED!


What Ifs:

What if I could meet someone in the art world to chat with?
This is just too easy for me…SHAKESPEARE. I know, I’d probably be disappointed and find out he really was a mediocre talent at best and someone else did the good stuff. But I love Shakespeare, so it has to be him.


What if I could have one wish granted for the benefit of all mankind?
I know it’s easy to say world peace. But it’s not easy to achieve. Peace is not simply the absence of war. It’s a state of mutual respect and acceptance whereby all beings are one.

Pretty big wish.


What if I could travel anywhere in the world?
England. That blessed rock…so much there I want to see and touch and taste and smell.


What if I could live in a period other than the present, for 24 hours?
I want to be a player in Shakespeare’s company at THE GLOBE in Elizabethan England.

What if I could make over three areas of my body?
I have a very Germanic heritage… so…tummy tuck or liposuction, I’d love vision that doesn’t require corrective lenses and my skin is rather scared from bad acne.

What if I could become an animal for 24 hours?
I’m basically hedonistic (read lazy)…so I think a bear as long as it’s hibernation time!

What if I could bring someone back to life for 24 hours?
I’ve lost a lot of people in my life…but I couldn’t bear to lose them again after only having them for 24 hours. Way too hard.

And now, I'm supposed to tag three other bloggers. Bonnie, Chris and Greg! Have at it!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April 8, 1913

The above date wasn't important in history, nothing of great note seems to have happened. Well, the 17th amendment to the US Constitution was made law. And if you know what that one was, good for you. But this date means a great deal in my personal history. This is my father's birth date. If you are calculating, then you would realize that means he would be 95 today if he were still alive. That would be a pretty amazing thing even in this day and age of longer life expectancy. But when you know that my father died 27 years ago, even you would have to say...he died too young...a mere 2 weeks short of his 68th birthday.

I was only 21 when he died. I didn't know then what an impact that would have on me. In some ways, I still am not aware of how deeply it effects me.

So far, this year has been one of loss. Dear friends have lost parents, which makes me aware of what I missed by not having my father all these years. My niece, who was only a year older than my own daughter, died last month, very suddenly and unexpectedly. Last time I saw her, she was a very alive and vital young woman with her entire life ahead of her. My guilt over not seeing her enough and sharing in her life more has been something to work through. A man I was once very much in love with and hoped to someday see again has died. And finally, last week, our family cat was put to sleep.

Yet somehow, life goes on. I sleep and I wake up and start another day. The sun comes out, or it doesn't, but day goes into night and into day again. Better men than I have written profound words on death, loss, pain, grief. I try to remember that the loss means I have room in my life for new. I try to shed my sadness and look for the new joy that can be in my life. Most of all, I try to cherish what I do have today. I remember that I have wonderful friends, a fabulous daughter, a terrific extended family and that as much I love them, I also have their love with me.

I haven't lost my father's love. I feel it every time I hear his laughter inside my head as I listen to "Car Talk". Someone nearby jingles the change in his pocket and he's here. And I look into the eyes of my own child and know that the love I have showered on her is with her even when I am thousands of miles away. But I have lost his voice, his hand holding mine, his arms when I cry, his eyes full of pride, his being.

I miss you daddy. Every single day, I miss you. Thank you for being my daddy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

You have no idea what you missed...

I woke in the middle of the night with tears running down my face, crying out to my mother...."You have no idea what you missed." I was in the middle of one of those extensive cinematic dreams complete with the fabulous scene where the main character (me) finally confronts their obstacles (mother) and either 1) Hollywood ending - everything is perfectly and miraculously resolved. 2) Hero realizes that s/he cannot change the world and moves on to change his/her self.

My mother is 90. I'm 48. She isn't going to change. And the only person I can heal in this life is myself. So I guess I have ending number 2 now. But she really has no idea what she missed and it makes me very sad. What makes me even sadder is that she isn't the only one who doesn't realize what they missed by trying to make me the person they needed or wanted and failed to see the person who was standing right there. It hurts. And I'm tired of pretending it doesn't. I don't ask anyone to take away my hurt. But don't ask me to pretend that there isn't a gap between what I should have had, especially from my mother, and what I got. It left a hole in my heart and I'm doing my best to heal that.

So....to all of you I have loved and lost.

You thought I would change your life, but your life wasn't ready to be changed. You have no idea what you missed.

You thought I could be shaped into what you wanted. You found out that I was stronger than you knew. You have no idea what you missed.

You loved my passion, until it was for something you didn't understand. You have no idea what you missed.

You thought me easy, fun, smart, quick, a good listener, a fabulous fuck, a partner, lover, friend. You found out I was complex, moody, messy, needy, passionate, committed, human...and more than you wanted to deal with. You have no idea what you missed.

I know I'm not perfect. I don't ask for perfect. But I do ask to be loved as I am...messy and complicated as that is. And you have NO IDEA what you missed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Raindrop Reviews - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and JUNO

I've been very neglectful of my blog. There have been things happening in real life that have kept me from writing. But as I have some time today, spring looks like it might finally be here and I feel like writing again. So some brief reviews of movies I've seen lately.

Firstly, the Oscar winning NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007, Joel and Ethan Coen) is just what you expect from the Coen's. Bloody, bawdy, and brilliant. Much has been said about this film already, so I'll simply add that Javier Bardem's Chigurh will live on as one of the most terrifying, sociopaths ever on film. A tragic vision of violence and evil, the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's book is a wonderful film, beautifully filmed by Roger Deakins, wonderful use of sound and silence.

Deakins is having an amazing year - With NO COUNTRY, ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH. Good films which all deserve a look on a big screen and a rewatch with a remote where you can stop the frame and appreciate the shot.

JUNO (2007, Jason Reitman) Again, much has been said of this film. Sharp script, good story, great acting. Well directed. A film worth watching. And it works for one VERY IMPORTANT REASON - Ellen Page. She is by turn smart, biting, sassy, sweet, vulnerable, fragile, tough, one smart cookie. You will fall in love with her. And so you will fall in love with Juno.

I'm hoping to catch a few other Oscar noms this week. And I will try to do better with the writing. Thanks for your patience everyone.
'

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Roll Out the Red Carpet

"It's the Oscar's! Get your fuckin' hair done!"

My friend Nancy has had an Oscar gathering for years. And her friend's Mark and David are best known for shouting at the TV one year at some young starlet who showed up looking a tad shabby - "It's the OSCARS! Get your fuckin' hair done!"

Aside from the laughter, I remember Mark and David every year at this time. This year, I don't get to make my trip to Nancy's house for the Oscars. Money, time, life...it all gets in the way. And I'm missing Nancy and her dear husband George. Once a year, they take me into their home, feed me, let me sit in the California sun and shed my Oregon winter blues. Nancy and I watch at least a dozen movies from all decades and genres. Then on Oscar Sunday...we are couch slugs. Potatoes would be too kind a comparison.

It's a time I look forward to all year long. The pampering and attention I receive lifts me up, makes me feel special and loved, and restores my soul.

Why do watch these celebrities with such fascination? Is it just because they are beautiful? Just because they have money and lovely clothes and everyone makes a fuss over them? Or is it just that we all have those times in our life, especially women, where we are the center of attention. And we remember how that made us feel. Proms, weddings, graduations, job interviews, all of them occasions where we pamper ourselves, give ourselves the luxury of getting our hair done, maybe even our make up.

We all deserve to feel like a star from time to time. We all deserve red carpets and hairdressers and someone to pick out the very best dress for us.

So don't wait for the occasion to find you. Make your own occasions. Roll out your own Red Carpet.

IT'S THE OSCARS! GET YOUR FUCKIN' HAIR DONE!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cell Phone Karma

The Squirrel made this one a necessary addition to the blog. I love it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

His name was Paws. But before long, it was clear that this cat needed a new name. At 6 months old, he weighed nearly 10 pounds and his paws were huge. Fully grown, he reached an awesome 25 pounds. He was over 2 feet long from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail and he frequently lay stretched out to his full length. His tail was a lethal weapon! So he became PWAS. Pwasimodo the Hunch Cat of Notre Dame. Pwas.

We adopted Pwas and his brother Ba (that's another story) when my daughter was 8. Our tiny house was soon overrun by these two playful tuxedos. Ba was the smaller of the two. Small only in our house. Pwas was the alpha cat. He chose where he slept, where he ate, what windows were his and who would pay attention to him. There was no ignoring this cat. If he wanted you to get up and feed him, his hulking mass sitting on your chest made breathing difficult, let alone opening your eyes to see him staring at you. His demanding "meow" let you know he meant business. "Feed me or I'll eat your nose," he seemed to be saying.

Even though he was a mighty beast, he was always very gentle with my daughter Bridgete. She could bathe him - the only one who could. (He once tore through a leather jacket and scratched my husband who was holding him so I could give the cat his medicine) She could trim his nails. And she could make him seem half his size.

Pwas was always present at bed time and soon became part of the routine. He would listen patiently to the story, curled up next to Bridgete, his deep purr often distracting us from the book. Then it would be time to sing a song or two. Now, I am a singer. I have a lovely voice, even if it is a bit deep for a woman. I'm a tenor - but I have a lovely voice. Yet something about it made Pwas uneasy. I would start to sing and he would get up, walk into my lap and put his paw on my mouth. We would laugh about it and set him down on the floor where he would pace until the song was done. I don't know when it happened, but soon Pwas became part of the music. I would sing the old song, " I love little pussy, his coat is so warm. " And every time I reached the end of a phrase, Pwas would meow at the very moment I sang the last word. Over time, I stopped singing the last word at all and he would add his throaty response. We were a trio, Bridgete, Pwas and me. I don't know who was more sad when Bridgete grew out of needing tucking in, Pwas or me. Of course, he still went along when she went to bed. One night I accused my teenage daughter of playing music late at night. It was actually Pwas lying on the floor of her bedroom, which was the ceiling of my bedroom, and purring. When we realized what the noise was, we fell into paroxysms of laughter.

Pwas was a huge part of our family. Even in a 4 bedroom 2500 square foot house, he dominated the scene. His chair by the kitchen window had to be placed just so. His "perch" on the foot of my lounger remained up all the time. I had to figure out how to get in and out of the chair. His food was first to be served in the morning and evening. And if he thought he was alone in the house, he would wander from room to room, his 'boppy", a stuffed sock-like cat toy, gripped in his mighty jaws, moaning. It was a most mournful sound. I can't even describe it to you. I've never heard thing like it from any other cat.

There I would be in the basement family room, watching TV, and the moaning would begin. I would call to him, trying to make myself heard over his cries, and finally I would hear his thumping footsteps on the stairs. He would make way over to me, drop the boppy, and jump up onto the perch. A few pats and comforting words and he would settle right down, purring and happy, and sleep.

Now Pwas has cancer. My ex-husband has custody of Pwas and he's making him as comfortable as possible. But the end is near for this lovely cat. He was a good cat. A great pet. A companion. A source of humor and a bond between the three of us. It is the end of something that shaped our family. And I'm not sure how to deal with the loss. So if you can imagine it...hear me singing this nursery rhyme and hear the deep intonation of Pwas at the end of every phrase.

Oh I love little pussy, his coat is so (warm)
And if I don't hurt him, he'll do me no (harm)
I'll sit by the fire and give him some (food)
And pussy will love me because I am (good)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Poetry Corner - Cowboys

My friend Brett has had a loss. His father died this morning after a long illness. Another friend, Pete, lost his father on Sunday. And my dear friend Chris is currently sitting beside with his father.

I wrote this for Brett on his last birthday. I post it here for him. And for Pete and Chris and all my friends who are watching our parents age, watching ourselves age and wondering when we all got so grown up.

Just a man and a horse.

And a tumbleweed or two.

During the day,

The horizon had no end.

At night,

The sky held too many stars to count.

Cowboys don’t have mothers or fathers.

Cowboys don’t have brothers or sisters.

Nobody tells them the way to go.

Cowboys know the way.

During the day,

He’s just a man.

But sometimes.

At night.

He dreams.

He’s a cowboy.

April 30, 2007

KC McAuley

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Poet's Corner - ROAD WORK AHEAD

Road Work Ahead

KC McAuley

Dec. 2007


When she labored to give birth

The road to the hospital

Twisted and Turned

The sign announced

ROAD WORK AHEAD.


When she sent her to school

Lunch box and loose tooth

The bus pulled away

The sign said

ROAD WORK AHEAD


Every road had work.

School and books and math.

God and boys and drugs.

Sex and love and marriage.

College was long road from home

Even longer when she returned.


Together they traveled the longest road of all.

Three thousand miles from coast to coast.

They traveled broken roads,

Mended roads,

Detour roads,

No roads,

New roads

And old.


When she left her daughter

The cab ride to the airport

Twisted and Turned

The sign announced

ROAD WORK AHEAD.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Movies in Review

I watch a lot of movies - many, many more than once. And every year, I keep track of the new (to me) movies that I see. This past year I watched 114 new movies. That's an average of 2 per week. So when I went to compile my list of the best movies of 2007, I was a little surprised to find that I couldn't come up with 10 "best" movies. I have 5 that I think will stand the test of time. And another 5 that I thought worth noting. I must preface this by saying that I have not seen what many consider to be the best film of the year - No Country for Old Men. Nor have I seen Juno - which is getting praise from many different circles of friends. So without further ado, here is my list of the Best movies of 2007

5. Zodiac (David Fincher) Based on Robert Graysmiths books about the Zodiac killer, this is a fine thriller. Fine performances all around especially from Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo. The film is well paced, taut, tense and everything a thriller should be.

4. Sweeney Todd (Tim Burton) I loved this film version of the finest Stephen Sondheim musical. There were elements from the stage that I missed, but overall, a good job from beginning to end.

3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik) I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is a beautiful movie from start to finish. Loved the look, the sound, the feel, the maturity of this movie. Don't miss it.

2. Rattatoille (Brad Bird) Pixar just gets better and better. And this is IMHO one of the best. The story is great, the rats are wonderful and the Proustian moment when Anton Ego tastes the simple Rattatoille meal - classic.

1. The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) Technically, this film is from 2006, but I saw it in Feb '07, just before the Oscars. It was the best film I saw all year and the only one I think will truly stand the test of time. Ulrich Muhe's performance is among the great film performances of all time. So sad that we in the West discovered him only to lose him too soon.

Honorable mentions - for first time efforts, swan songs, and a return to the things you do best.


Once - the musical that took the movie world by storm. It's still playing around Portland in small houses. When it opened, it was only on one screen in the whole city.

Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck's directorial debut shows his strengths and weaknesses. I look forward to more from him.

Into the Wild - Sean Penn obviously loved his subject and his scenery, but I just couldn't get behind the young man at the center of the story.

Waitress - Adrienne Shelly's sweet love story was everything you want a good pie to be. Sweet but not too sweet. Light and fluffy - not too filling. With a perfect crust to hold it all together.

Black Book - Paul Verhoeven returns to his homeland and the people he knows best. I found much to like in this film. But overall, it left me feeling empty and longing for a hero.