MCN Columnists
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Memory Lane

Published under 1,000 Monkeys.

Why 1,000 Monkeys? David and I spent a lot of time talking back and forth about a new name for this more philosophical, life-stuff column. One day in frustration, I said to David, “If you put 1,000 monkeys at 1,000 typewriters, they could never write the craziness that is my life right now!” And so the title of this column was finally agreed upon. I hope you find some value in the words that find their way to this space; if not, I’ll still be talking movies in my regular Voynaristic column every week. Thanks for reading. – KV

My daughter Neve and I were driving through Bellevue and Redmond the other day, near our old neighborhood where my three younger kids were born. And I got to feeling nostalgic, perhaps because I’ve been going through this separation/divorce and medical nonsense lately and I’m feeling my mortality and wondering if I’m still at the “midpoint” of my allotted years, or if this illness could move the line in the sand for me. Some days lately, I find I’m feeling more sentimental than cynical. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. This was one of those journeys.

So, picture this: In an oldish, rather unfashionable neighborhood in Bellevue, land of 6,000 square foot spandy-new McMansions, there sits a little beige house with brown trim that, once upon a time, was our family’s first Seattle home. It’s a cozy little house with a big fireplace in the living room and a woodstove in the back family room, with a kitchen and dining room nestled in between. It has well-worn hardwood floors that didn’t mind little feet pittering and pattering across them, and walls painted with a miraculous paint that staunchly withstood many scrubbings of crayon masterpieces.

We moved to this little house when I was five months pregnant with Jaxon, who just turned 10 last month (she says with a sigh). In that house Jaxon, our first born son, took his first breath, cried his first cry, slept his first sleep curled up snugly on my chest. He was my first home birth, born in the peaceful setting of our home two years after the C-section I had with Neve, his sister. Bringing him into the world took 29 long hours of labor, some of it in the labor tub (duly delivered to our home for the birth) with a warm fire blazing in the fireplace, some of it lying on the bed with my husband, Jay, alternately dozing off and waking to rub my back through each hard contraction. It was a long, long, night, that birth, but it ended with my beautiful, dimpled, blue-eyed boy in my arms, his father reaching out a hand to touch him with tears streaming down his cheeks, his sister ecstatic, my mother just relieved it was over.

Just twenty months later Veda, now eight, was born in that house (yes, folks, we did plan it that way). Veda was a water baby, born in the labor tub; Neve, who was 4 1/2 by then, was allowed to help catch, and she squatted her little self down in the tub and was the very first person to touch her baby sister’s head as it emerged into the great big world. Veda, now my skinniest, most energetic child, was at birth a nearly-10 pound butterball of baby deliciousness and brown curls. Sometimes these days I’ll wake up to find my girls snuggled together, and Neve almost always has a hand on her sister’s head. They are as close as sisters can be.

In this house I learned to slow down, for a little while, to get off the career track I’d been on for years without realizing it was a spinning hamster wheel that did not lead to either peace or happiness. And here I learned that peace and happiness can be found in quiet moments of looking deeply into your baby’s eyes while nursing him; or the whole family taking a nap sprawled on a bed with feverish children after a long night battling stomach flu; or finger painting away a rainy afternoon, or celebrating the holidays by fixing dishes passed down through your family: the perfect stuffing, your husband’s favorite corn casserole, sweet potatoes made just-so.

Here, we mourned along with the rest of our country the loss of nearly 3,000 lives on 9/11.

In that house, my oldest daughter morphed overnight from a well-behaved little girl into a startlingly mouthy teenager with a penchant for drama and door-slamming. She once left a note written in secret teenage code lying around, and it took her stepfather all of 10 minutes to solve the code and read her the innocuous teenage nonsense the code was intended to hide. She was furious at the violation of her privacy; he recommended she read a good book on encoding and learn to hide her secrets better. She learned to hide her secrets better in that house. She also grew from a girl into a responsible young woman there, and now she is a mother herself, with a young son who will someday have his own secrets to hide.

When Veda was still a babe in a sling, we moved to a bigger house over the border into Redmond. This house was big, and boxy, as if some giant’s uncoordinated toddler had been playing with its building blocks and constructed a toy house by stacking a block here, a block there. But it had huge picture windows all along the back wall, and awesome wood ceilings, and a spacious kitchen, and an enormous yard that wrapped around and blended into neighbors’ yards in one enormous greenway. We could walk five blocks down the hill to the lake below.

Here in this house, I went into early labor with my son Luka, and found patience I never knew I was capable of when I was confined to a hospital bed for six weeks while the doctors kept him inside me longer through extraordinary means. To this house we brought him home safe, my little blond-haired boy, and carried him in the same careworn slings that had snuggled his brother and sisters. Today he is six years old and full of smiles, creativity and gentleness and wants to one day be a mountain-climbing pizza man who also owns a store he wants to name “Luka’s Pillow and Blanket Palace of Softness.” He is a charmer, my last little lamb, and at six he swears he wants to live with me forever, not knowing that in a few years that will pass for me like the blink of an eye, he will be aching to leave this nest and find his way.

In front of this big gray house lived some lovely neighbors, and my children learned to love dearly their gentle German Shepherd (rest in peace, Solomon, you good old dog). Jaxon, then aged four, met the boy around the corner who would become his best friend — a friendship that endured through our move to Oklahoma and back again, and is still intact. At around the same time, Neve met her best friend at the theater, and that friendship also survived the trauma of our moves. You can’t replace a true friendship, nor can you put a price on it.

Behind this house was a mysterious, forested place the neighborhood kids dubbed “the Glen,” and there they whiled away many happy hours trysting with fairies and living in fantasies until the sky turned orange and pink with sunset. When the property on which the Glen resided was sold and the kids learned the new owner planned to tear it down, there was much moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth, much begging of parents that we hire a lawyer to prevent the grave injustice.

At that house, my computer-geek husband built with his own two hands a play structure for our kids to slide and swing on, and I believe he felt like Pa Ingalls, swinging that hammer and wielding that screwdriver to build this thing for his children. In the fall, when the leaves on the lovely tree in front of the play structure turned a brilliant gold, my small ones would swing up, up, up into the branches, trying to swing right up into all that goldness, laughing their musical, throaty laughs. Here at this house, we would walk to the beach in the summer, to spend glorious days of lazy sand castle building and swimming and summery cavorting. Here we spent many happy holidays and birthdays and plain old ordinary days, surrounded by family and friends and love.

I have so many memories of that little beige house in Bellevue, and the boxy gray house in Redmond, memories that are stepping stones through the last decade of my life. How many fine, crisp autumn days did I sit nursing a baby in the living room of our big house in Redmond, looking out the big picture windows at the trees dressing up in their fall finery, while the water of the lake shifted subtly from bright summer blue to moodier autumn grey? How many brilliantly colored leaves did I watch tumble gently down from trees, never pausing to consider that each one that fell marked a moment, a day of my life that could never come back?

Like the water I have many moods, ever shifting. But as I took that stroll down memory lane the other day, it didn’t make me sad to see the ghosts of time along the way. Instead, the beauty of the fall colors reminded me of the cycle of the seasons, and I felt a sense of completion, a sense that, even though things have come to this — to illness and a marriage that crumbled at the foundation — these things, too, are merely seasons in my life, and there are more leaves yet to fall. Things fall apart, they do. But out of the rubble there is still much beauty, much to remind me that these were not 14 wasted years, but years of building things that will carry forward into the future.

There will be cold, dark winter days to get through yet, but somewhere around the bend, spring will come with its promise of hope and of new life. I don’t know what that season of my life will look like yet, but I’m feeling more eager these days to greet it. In the meantime, all these pieces of my past, these warm and lovely memories, will live in my heart, keepsakes of what’s been, and reminders that there are treasures ahead yet to gather.

– Kim Voynar
November 16, 2009

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon