Tuesday, March 6, 2001

My Knew Friend Katie

"I know it's not my place. There's things, thoughts, and reactions I had that I couldn't understand or even try to explain to anyone else. Thoughts that made me feel like I was losing it or like I was some horrible person. I know it's different for you because it's always different."
-Tara to Buffy on the death of their mothers

I'm more susceptible to the latest news crisis of the day than most who have been to hell and back. Paranoia tends to have that effect. I'd be the last to accuse the media of exaggerating the potential impacts of things especially since at least two of my favorite people happen to be media jackals. But at the beginning of this winter when there was report after report about how bad ice dams were for the health of one's house, I decided to take a proactive approach. I figured if I kept the inside temperature of my house low enough, I wouldn't have to worry about heat loss and thus there was no way those dreaded dams would appear. Dammit, it now appears a questionable strategy and I'm tired of the 58 degree sacrifice.

And then the snow fell... After a week of being dumped on, my Dad was kind enough to buy for me one of them roof rakes. I was reminded of that old standby joke- know that thing I got for ice dams? -it worked, I got them. This despite my best efforts on Sunday as I trudged through waist high snowdrifts, stood near my roof and proceeded to drag a ton of snow from my roof on top of myself. Talk about wintry fun. There I was in the middle of my yard doing my best snowman imitation and wondering how exactly I'd reached that prestigious point. This wasn't something I exactly envisioned when I put down the downpayment towards being a homeowner. There are moments when the absurdity of life is as sharp as the jagged edges of the icicles dangling from the roof ready to spear a random victim.

Wednesday the state's budget forecast was released. I was assigned to cover Gov. Jesse Ventura's press conference on the reduced revenues available. I sat behind Star Tribune capitol reporter Dane Smith in the governor's reception room. A question was asked to Pam Wheelock, the commissioner of the Department of Finance that was technical in nature. Wheelock struggled to clarify the reporter's question. Ventura stepped to the mike and Smith said, "Let her speak," essentially telling the governor to shut up.

Ventura glared at Smith. Since I was directly behind the Strib reporter I too felt the wrath of the governor. He stepped back and for the rest of the press conference refused to answer any more questions. When KARE-11's Kerri Miller asked a specific question about the governor's conference Ventura had just come back from, he said he was through answering questions. She said, "So you won't even answer that?" And he shot back "I already answered that in my speech." And with that he stormed out of the room. The reporters snickered that they had been able to get under his skin. The whole thing reminded me of my days back in the second grade.

But it didn't matter to me because the previous evening I had seen something truly astounding, meaningful and inspirational and perhaps the most heartfelt piece of art (akin to the skill of the greatest Ingmar Bergman film) I've ever had the privilege to share in. It's probably getting old hat my advocating of the special mastery of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know I get a lot of rolling of the eyes whenever I praise the show. The same old "David is being David" look I got at Macalester my freshman year when Shawnee Khosden said to me, "I can't take anything you say seriously. Why is everything a joke to you?"

But when it comes to Buffy I ain't exactly kidding even though I know my words will be unintentionally interpreted as hyperbole. After what perhaps was the best hour long episode of TV I've ever watched I went home in a complete stupor. The show in which Buffy's mom dies, touched my heart but also amazed me with it's skill of what that horrible hand detachment feeling is like. The disconnection with one's heart. The disjointed life must go on attempts that paralyze with such trivial things as what is the appropriate attire to wear when one is off to comfort a grieving friend. A spontaneous punch through the wall, inappropriate comments from the new human, child like Anya- it was so accurate, so true to life that I was absolutely transfixed by the entire show.

And I wasn't alone. The next day the world's biggest Buffy fan in New Ulm, Minnesota emailed me and expressed his astonishment at the show. The sharing of words reminded me of how letdown I felt (probably unfairly so) at the behavior and lack of what I considered the minimal words I heard from my friends when my Mom died. After this truly astounding moment in television I was glad there was someone else around who recognized something that very few that I know could appreciate.

The episode was nearly flawless. There was an obligatory vampire kill at the end that made me groan because the rest of the hour was exquisite and so true in how well done it was and how accurate it portrayed a heart that I know I'll never be able to quite touch ever again.

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