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Category Archives: Life

Kicking At The Darkness

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Not about movies today.

Politics has been very much on everyone’s mind; here at Chez Wadswords as well.  Even though I have been mostly writing about movies.  In fact, movies have become a sort of go-to respite for me – I never know what else to say about zero-tolerance policies against families seeking asylum or trade-war tariffs that may affect my family (we have a small niche farm that may be affected) or an ongoing investigation of foreign election collusion or….or, or, or any one of a host of things that haven’t already been said by other people in other places with more knowledge.  Forget knowing what to say – I don’t even know what to think, or what to do, without curling into a howling ball of despair.

Still – I’m not exactly a stranger to trying to go about your life when it feels like the world is about to topple over a precipice.  I had the luxury of being a teenager before; you don’t expect a 15-year-old to be dwelling on geopolitics anyway.  The fact that I was aware of the comparative arsenals for the US and one of its rivals at that age was arguably really weird.  But even then, that’s not all I thought about – I also thought about more typical teenage woes like acne and crushes and chemistry tests and losing the lead in the school play (I’d accidentally done something weird in the audition, but still felt like I was robbed, dangit).  But being a teenager also gave me the freedom to check out and seek solace in more frivolous things, like movies – and books and music and silly gossip and in-jokes with friends.  I wept a lot as a teenager, I woke up nights from nightmares where I thought the world would end – but I also made up alternate lyrics to Phil Collins songs and giggled over Star Trek episodes and talked about boys and sex in made-up code words and…

….And turned my face towards life.

The musician Bruce Cockburn is someone I’ve really only become aware of recently, but two of his songs would have easily made it onto my mix tapes as a teenager; he sounds like he was equally as aware of the dangers of nuclear war as I, and was equally as terrified.  One of his songs in particular was about exactly this kind of life-despite-terrorCockburn had a couple of daughters about my age in the 1980s, and was struck by how they were still going through the same kind of early crushes and pursuing the same kind of young-love romances that teenagers always have, even though they also knew that the world was in a dangerous state.  They were no dummies – they knew, like I knew, that we could have blown up a thousand times over, overnight.  And they were still nevertheless chasing after life and love in the face of it.  He thought that urge was incredibly poignant, but also incredibly hopeful; and for them, he wrote the song “Lovers In a Dangerous Time.”   (Linking you here to the Barenaked Ladies cover from the 1990s, which I slightly prefer.)

Of course, time went on, the Cold War ended and his daughters grew up.  But the song is still just as relevant – in later interviews, Cockburn has noted that people struggling with the AIDS crisis or economic uncertainty or terrorism or any one of a thousand challenges have turned to it for comfort.  And in 1990, when asked to comment on it for a collected songbook, he admitted “Lovers In a Dangerous Time” is pretty timeless – “Aren’t we all,” he wrote, “and isn’t it always?”

It’s not all simply a pretty love song, though. For most of the song the lyrics are about finding love in another, chasing it despite the threat of annihilation and terror – “Spirits open to thrusts of grace, Never a breath you can afford to waste…” but at the very end, the words are a call to action:

“Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight,
You’ve got to kick at the darkness ‘till it bleeds daylight.”

And that is what seeking solace in life does.  Spending time with the things and the people you love to rest and regroup, and remind yourself of the reason you’re fighting.  And then – when you’re ready, get up and move forward again.

Because love always wins.

Remember that. 

Love. Always. Wins.

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Faculty Note:

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The following conversation happened in my apartment a couple days ago, between me and my roommate:

“So, listen – I’ve quoted you in my blog a couple times, is that okay?”

“Oh, really?  Wow, yeah, that’s cool.”

“Great.  And since I’m probably going to do that again, I should come up with something else to call you aside from ‘my roommate’, so what name would you prefer? Your real name, or…?”

“Oh, yeah, my real name’s fine.”

“Very good.”

“…..Yay, I’m a character in the blog!”

Yes, he is.  You will hear me quote Alex now and then in future.

Appreciative Audiences

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(This has nothing to do with movies!  I’m actually writing about the rest of life for a change!)

I like to cook, and I like to bake.  This has always been the case, since my friends and I were bored as kids and our parents would suggest we make cookies.  Or I would “help” Mom with dinner.  Or maybe it was simply gluttony – in seventh grade I had a social studies class about immigration, and the teacher proposed that maybe we could have a class party where we all brought in some food from our family’s heritage.  “Oh, you like to cook?” she asked me, when she saw my face brighten.

“I do,” I said.  “I like to cook because you get to eat afterward.”

My challenge, though, has been an adult lifetime of single dining.  I had a live-in boyfriend for a couple years in my 20s, and I’ve had the occasional dinner party, but other than that I’ve been forced to cook only for myself – my roommates usually have kept radically different schedules, or are on special diets, or just are used to making their own dinners and don’t want to impose on me.  So I’ve gotten into the habit of automatically scaling down any recipe I see for “serves one” or “serves two,” or I get ready for lots of leftovers that clog up the fridge, especially when I get bored with “oh god that bean soup again I’ve been eating that for five straight days no more”.  

Desserts are the biggest challenge – I would love to have a slice of cake or a piece of pie sometime, or make a fudgy batch of brownies, but…not if I’m the only one eating it. I’ve had to toss out half-eaten cakes that went hard, or pies that went moldy.  It did force me to expand my dessert repetoire into things like créme bruleé or mousse, but sometimes you just want cake, you know?  I finally broke down and got some wee little cake pans and tart tins, and have been collecting recipes for “smash cakes” in search of “single-serving recipes”.  But I’ve missed being able to just cook with abandon.

…I have just had a roommate move in, though, that may change things somewhat.  We got on very well when he came to check out the place, and his sister and brother-in-law came to help him move in and I got on very well with them too.  And a couple days after he moved in, when he was still in the settling-in stage, I was heading into the kitchen to get something started for dinner – and paused.  “…Hmm.  If I made a double batch of what I’m making, would you eat it?”

“What are you making?”

“Just some chicken tetrazzini to use up some roast chicken I made.”

“…What’s chicken tetrazzini?”

“Chicken meat, mushrooms, peas, pasta in a cream and cheese sauce.”

“Huh.  Okay, sure.”

And – he liked it.  I mentioned my cooking-for-one woes in passing, and that this was a refreshing change.  About an hour later, he gave me a thoughtful look.  “…So you like cooking, huh?”

“…yes, why?”

“How would you feel if….okay, I used to have like movie nights at my old apartment,” he said, hesitantly.  “Just like…a bunch of people coming over and watching a DVD or something.  How about I could get that going again, with you inviting some friends too if you want of course, and if you were interested in us cooking something then – ”

“YES.” I said, grinning.  I didn’t even let him finish.

The guy doesn’t quite yet understand what he has unleashed.  But when he sees that I have whipped up an entire eight-course Thai spread or an entire dessert table, he will.

The Simple Woman’s Day Book – April

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Hello, it’s a new thing!  I came across this community recently – the Simple Woman’s Daybook  seemed a lovely way to sort of stop a moment, look around and take everything in.  Even if I am only organized to do it once a month.  Because life isn’t only about movies.

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Looking out my window:

Right now, it’s sunny – which is astonishing, since first thing this morning there was heavy snow.  In April.  Some of my friends have been quoting Prince all day.

I am thinking:
For the first time in a very long time, I’m feeling optimistic about things.

I am thankful:
That for the first time in a very long time, I’m feeling optimistic about things.

One of my favorite things:
A couple weeks ago I finally got organized enough to frame some of my vacation photos and make a gallery wall near one of my favorite chairs.  And in the place of honor in the middle: the certificate my great-grandmother got from TWA Airlines when she was one of the very first people to book an international flight with them.  Like Nana, like Kim.

I am creating:
So, I’m in an ongoing effort to use up various craft things I’ve acquired over the past few years.  I’ve got a lot – I have a knitter friend who moved and gave me three enormous bags of yarn she didn’t want to pack with her (all of it super-high quality, too!), and another friend who is preparing to move cross-country and is bequeathing me lots of her candlemaking supplies.  So I have been cranking out dishcloths and candles by the score.

I am wearing:
A cuddly fleece tunic that I put on for comfort today, in the snow, and the jeans that I hastily changed into before my new roommate’s sister showed up to help him put furniture together.

I am reading (read) /watching (watched) / listening to:

….Heh.
I just finished reading After Londonthis month’s selection for a quirky book club I belong to here in Brooklyn (we focus on post-apocalyptic fiction as a genre; yeah, it’s a niche).  I’m also consulting a couple guide books for Coastal Maine, doing some initial research for a potential vacation.
* ….Any questions about what I’ve been watching can probably be answered by checking the last couple posts in here, since most of the rest of my blog is about movies.

* I had a dentist visit a few days ago, and they asked me what music I wanted to listen to while the dentist worked.  I went right to my comfort song.

I am hoping:
That the new roommate who’s moving in today is indeed as awesome as I suspect he is.  We got on like a house afire when he came to check the place out and I have a very good feeling about this.  ….If nothing else, I hope I can borrow all his Doctor Who DVDs at will.

I am learning:
…How to get some more balance in my life.

In my kitchen:

I have more food than I thought!  I have mostly been cooking for myself (hi, I’m single and was without a roommate for a month) and got seriously diligent about getting into a weekly meal-planning habit: using the food I had, and stocking things up so I can brown-bag it for lunches during the work week.  But I also really really like to cook.So in my fridge right now, I have:

  • Four servings of a mushroom goulash
  • Five servings of a French-influenced bean and vegetable stew
  • Two servings of a Mexican-influenced lentil stew
  • Two servings of an asparagus soup
  • Two completely different French bean-based salads
  • A Cornish pasty
  • The better part of a roast chicken from yesterday’s dinner
  • Three kinds of homemade ice cream

And that’s not counting the flourless chocolate cake, the tiny coffee-and-walnut cake, and the half-pound of fresh asparagus that is waiting for further use.  Or the recipe for salted-chocolate-coffee-brownie-cookies that I immediately resolved I am going to make some time this week.

Post Script:
My dear friend Colin is a photographer preparing to embark on a whole new adventure in Colorado.  I will miss him and his partner Niki terribly, but he’s got an ambitious future waiting for him there.

Shared Quote:
“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and because it has fresh peaches in it.”  – Alice Walker

A moment from my day:

The aforementioned certificate from Nana.

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Closing Notes:

New kid on the Simple Woman’s Daybook block; hi.  I’m Kim, I live in Brooklyn, NY, and most of the rest of my blog has been chronicling my efforts to watch through all of the movies in the 1001 Movies To See Before You Die books.

 

Movie Crash Course Extra

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When people find out about the Crash Course, they’re curious about what I’ve seen.  Most of them are pretty unfamiliar with the things I’ve seen; there’s been a few people who heard of Birth of a Nation or Dracula and Frankenstein, maybe some sci-fi buffs heard of Metropolis, and some people have seen the still of the moon with the rocket in its eye from Voyage Dans La Lune. For the most part, though, people are kind of out of touch with older film.

But apparently, there’s a speech from Chaplin’s Great Dictator that every so often makes the rounds of social media, with a preface declaring it “The Greatest Speech Ever Made” or something like that.  It’s having a Moment of sorts, and the Youtube channel “React” recently featured it in one of its own videos, showing it to a series of college students to get their reaction.

Most have heard of Charlie Chaplin, don’t worry (this isn’t an “oh gosh those ignorant kids” kind of clip).  They’re also pretty astute in their assessment of how timeless a speech it was.  The hosts ask the kids if they’re going to track down more contemporary film, but I’m hoping at least one or two of them delves back into older film; because, yes, some of this is timeless.

 

The Movie Crash Course Holds a Bake Sale

Image result for a wrinkle in time

So!  There is a lot of buzz around the upcoming movie adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. I’m going to be seeing it for certain, and am especially intrigued to see what Ava Duverney does with the story.

Towards that end: there are more than a few schoolteachers who’ve started Kickstarters and Go Fund Me drives to take their classes to screenings of the film.  I’ve actually thrown my hat behind this drive, from a school in Oakland, California; several of the students speak English as a second language, but this teacher sounds like a hell of a force of nature, and I’d love to see them make their goal.  They are pretty close, too.

If you have some shekels to spare, please consider donating.

Thanks – the next review coming soon.

Need A Long Winter’s Nap

I have the whole week off work this week, and am staying in town – devoting the time to a long-overdue clearing-out of closets, cupboards, and other dark corners of the house.  I started with the pantry, so I could then better plan the grocery shopping and maybe even be organized enough to start being super-organized enough to do meal planning.  …So far, so good – I discovered I had enough random odds and ends to make a lovely sausage and canellini soup for lunch today, with leftovers.

The pantry was the first hurdle – I pulled everything out of it and laid it out on all the tables, shelves, and such around my living room, carefully writing everything down and making some amazing discoveries (“Why do I have a package of mochi flour?”….”Oh, shit, I forgot I already had this marzipan, I didn’t need to buy any last month after all,”….”oh hey, I have corn flour, maybe I can try making my own tortillas”).  After wiping down the counter and dutifully logging everything, I started to put it all away, with a more organized system – random Asian ingredients on this shelf, liquid sweeteners on that one…

…And I went to put away my sugar. And couldn’t find it.  Which was bizarre, because my sugar canister is a bright yellow plastic tub, big enough to hold an entire five-pound bag of sugar.

I looked at all the tables.  I looked under them.  I checked behind chairs.  No sugar.  I looked on the floor in my living room, in all the corners.  No sugar.  Did I maybe put it in the bathroom?….I’d fetched a spray cleaner to wipe down the cupboard, maybe I’d distractedly brought it in there.  I checked – no sugar.  Maybe I put it in the fridge?….Nope.  Maybe….in my room, because I was running out of room?  Nope.  In the hall closet?  Nope.  Any of the other kitchen cupboards?  Nope.

I re-checked the living room.  Re-checked the kitchen.  Re-checked the fridge.  My room.  The bathroom.  The hall closet.  The kitchen cupboards. No sugar.

I remembered reading that saying the name of the thing you’re looking for makes you more likely to spot it – it’s a hack for your brain.  So I then re-traced all my steps, muttering “sugar, sugar sugar sugar”.  Nothing.  I did it again – “sugar, sugar, sugar, SUGAR goddammit”.  Nothing.  I tried invoking St. Anthony, Catholic patron saint of lost objects – “Help me out here, St. Anthony, I’m losing my mind looking for this motherfucking sugar.”

Yes, I cussed at St. Anthony. I was not quite in my right mind.

All told I spent a good 20 minutes fruitlessly wandering in circles around my apartment bleating out “sugar!” and getting more and more frustrated. How in the hell could I have misplaced a five-pound tub of sugar in a two bedroom apartment, when I had only been in one room of that apartment?

I got desperate. Only a second set of eyes could help, I thought – I had clearly somehow developed a weird tunnel vision, and someone else would probably walk in and see it right away.  I swallowed my pride, and called my friend Colin – sometimes he picks up art supplies in my neighborhood, so I was going to beg him that if he was going on a supplies run today, maybe he could come by and help me find my sugar.

I braced myself while the phone was ringing, trying to figure out how I was going to explain this one.  Colin answered, and right as I was taking a breath to make my plea – I happened to finally look up instead of down.

There was the sugar, sitting on a bookshelf.

“….Hello?” Colin asked, tenatively, when I didn’t speak.

“Um. Hi.” I said.  “Well, I was initially going to ask you a favor, but it literally just resolved itself right now, so I instead have a funny story.”

Colin laughed uproariously after I told him everything, and then suggested that maybe I should go back to sleep.