Tuesday, March 31, 2009

rain and bird and iPod

This morning was qualitatively different for me, somehow. Even though it was raining snowballs at 9am, and "slushing" the rest of the time; even though the sky was a silvery-gray and the wind damp and cold; I had the iPod going as I walked up to the bus stop and truly everything felt okay. Is this just an iPpod story? Dunno.

I listened to the Wiseguys and Mono and Happy Mondays; Technotronic and BT and Black Box and Bjork (running my puny 800 songs on shuffle.)

At the shelter on the parkway, I watched as a seagull hovered and wheeled and balanced over the wet intersection. He must have spotted a scrap of something, tantalizing garbage beneath the wheels of cars that hissed along the pavement. He moved his wings just a twitch now and again, only the occasional wingbeat; the planet almost seemed to spin beneath him, and he merely motionless as we tumbled around the axis of him up there, pearlescent bird beneath a cotton wool sky.

I'm still wearing my long black coat. I didn't bother with an umbrella, when the rain seems on the verge of snow, and the wind so gusty that an umbrella is impossible. My son has a new umbrella that he got at the zoo on Saturday; rainbow colors, with a tiger's head for a handle. He has carefully practiced opening and closing, opening and closing like a giant flowerin search of sun. And then, he quietly pried the plastic caps off each of the umbrellas ribs, exposing sharp points, and asked me politely if I would remove "the tent" altogether. So we talked about whether that was a good idea. He walked to the car with his father and the umbrella this morning, a boy satisfied with a new tool.

Everyone on the bus looked beautiful. It's the light, I think.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Seven Things

For pete's sake -- I thought I hadn't posted in a century and it turns out I did it just last Friday. I'm going to jump-start my brain a little bit here by succumbing to the Seven Things trend. Here it is: Seven Interesting (or maybe not-so-interesting) Things About Jen.

1. I have two 5-inch scars, one 2-inch scar and several irregular random scars all collected on my legs (which don't look nearly as bad as they sound and make up most of my 5-foot-10-inch frame.)
2. At one time I had amassed a collection of hundreds of found notes. Found, as in located on sidewalks and in gutters while out walking around. Journal pages that had been ripped out, love notes crumpled up and tossed away, angry notes, grocery lists, directions to and from, notes passed in class, etc. At one point I just couldn't figure out WHY though, and after trying unsuccessfully to do something artistic and cohesive with them, I threw them all out.
3. Contrary to the opinion of certain friends, food really does delight me. There are certain foods I find to be at least as good as sex, if not better. In no particular order: Passion Fruit ice cream by Sebastian Joe's. Sushi, particularly Ebi and Unagi and Masago. Port wine. Very fine dark chocolate. Really smelly goat cheese. And, perfectly ripe dark cherries.
4. I made out with one of my teachers in high school.
5. I have lost count of the thousands of hours of volunteer time I have logged over the years.
6. I don't believe in True Love. At all.
7. The first car I ever drove was a Jaguar coupe. I racked it up twenty minutes later.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I'm in love with hands right now, which stems from a particular interest in a few pairs of hands and has since branched out into an unexamined (until now) fascination with hands and what they do. I get all uncomfortable with the singular versus the plural, "pair of hands" (singular) versus "hands" (plural) but will forge ahead.

I love, for example, the hands of one Jude Hill. She creates the most sensual, incredible, mythic and innocent artwork in fabric and thread. Her work really speaks to me right now, in that it is totally about process and finding one's way, and yet it comes out speaking fluently of its roots and its origins as it evolves, seemingly without any sort of control or controversy. She stitches, embroiders, invents, deconstructs and reassembles these delicate tapestries of narrative in fabric -- and she has big hands, hands that defy feminine convention, which I adore. (Being someone who has never felt comfortable within the parameters of feminine convention.)

Other hands currently captivating me include those as innocent of want and malice as my young son's; and progress to those of folks I won't name out of respect for different types of confidence and intimacy.

Hands though -- where it can be so difficult to find people, find their hearts, in their faces -- still, you can get some sense of who they are, what they mean, what they love, from their hands.

Monday, March 23, 2009

the day

I was supposed to post something in anticipation of World Water Day today, as a good Bloggers Unite member; alas, I did not. Instead I spent a very large portion of the past 24 hours slogging through box office tally sheets for the spiritual theater festival, which ended a couple of weeks ago, in preparation for today's Part One of Board-level festival debriefing. Not a happy use of my time, but necessary, like all the other financial unpleasantness in my life right now.

I also had a killer workout biking to and from downtown for the meeting -- the wind is ripping out of the southeast today, and I ride a heavy bike, especially when it's loaded down with 35 pounds of file folders and etc. I'm already stiff, nervous about tomorrow's aches and pains. But I just got the bike out this weekend, and after a four-month hiatus I'm determined to burn off some winter funk.

What can I say about water? That I should probably have consumed more of it during the ride. That pollution and depletion of major aquifers should be a sin of progress that ranks with global warming in the popular conscience. That out in Nevada it doesn't just come with your dinner plate when you dine in a restaurant; you have to ask for it, and they charge you, because the desert is getting bigger all the time. And they don't give you ice, either.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I'm up late and I'm tired and therefore I'm not going to post. But I just wanted to say Howdy. And fair thee well, for the night.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


No one is on Facebook tonight, and no one is sending me email. Am I the only person without a life out there tonight? Sitting at home, feeling depressed. The death of Natasha Richardson gets me down in a way I can't explain to myself entirely. She died today, and it's a freak occurrence - what should have been no more than a mild concussion at worst turns into a brain hemorrhage, apparently, and she slips into a coma and dies. Leaving behind Liam Neeson, whom I adore, and two young sons, which breaks the heart. And they were a great couple -- she was my height, and a really reasonable weight, plus beautiful at 45 and gainfully employed, in love with her groovy husband, etc. I hate that some crazy neurological event has taken her from her family and the world of entertainment and theater; and it makes me think of my father.

But then, much worse -- I got an email tonight from my friend Georgette Sosin, of Sosin & Sosin Studio, that her beloved husband Henry has just been diagnosed with a complicated, metastatic, very bad cancer. And he is in his late seventies, early eighties, and a retired physician. It's heartbreaking. He's a potter, sort of self-taught in his retirement, and Georgette's boon companion. I feel I've never done enough to acknowledge the debt of friendship I owe Georgette. And now, it's the long haul for them. I'm not an inner-circle person in their life, but I love them both. I'm so sad. I'm meditating on ways I can be of support without getting in the way.
Note to self: those Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies (or whatever they're called) do not GO with a nice glass of port. Not in the same way that, say, truffles go with port. Or a good sharp cheese. Nope. Thin Mints should really only be consumed with a cold glass of milk. But I had a tamale for dinner (very late), and was casting about for dessert. Because as I've discovered previously, chocolate covered raisins from the bulk bin at the Co-op don't go with port either. And I know better than to keep the Good Chocolate around.

We had Fudge at the Chocolate Bible Study tonight that wasn't half bad. But it went down best with coffee. I don't imagine port would have been welcome at Bible Study.

I had two Guiness earlier tonight (2$ taps at Psycho Suzi's) and maybe five chicken wings. Then I went to church. Hence the need for late-night victuals. And booze.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

more coveting & communion ...?

Another blind reach towards the smallest part of a small audience. I read a sermon last night by Nadia Bolz-Weber, and wish I'd heard it on the very heels of Sunday morning's experience. I might have understood better right then what I only suspected after Communion was served -- that feeling really crappy about "lusting in one's heart" is not exactly the point of Lent. The sermon begins on the premise that no, it's not enough simply to "be a good person." And it ends with this:

A professor of mine at Luther seminary says that this whole thing isn’t about moving from vice to virtue. We actually move from virtue to Christ. We can stop all of it because in Christ God has come to us. The direction is decidedly from God to us, not from us to God. So it ends up that it actually is good news that “just being a good person” is not enough. Because the cross is enough and perhaps we should remind each other of that whenever we slip in to pride or despair. We should remind each other that you do stand in righteousness before your God, not due to your virtue, but due to the cross. Only a God who slips into skin taking on flesh in all it’s broken glory – only this God of foolish love who dies a scandalous death without even lifting a finger to condemn the enemy – only this God can love you where you are. Right now. Because in the world according to God that’s how things work. And it’s beautifully, bafflingly foolish. Amen.

The phrase that culminates, resonates is that one I've set in bold type above. "Only this God of foolish love --" -- this God of loving anyone for no reason, and more, for loving the worst in myself along with my best; this God in Christ crucified, who doesn't accuse me but only points to the cross. "-- who dies a scandalous death without even lifting a finger to condemn the enemy--" It's a lesson to learn over and over, and it's so simple that it's difficult to grasp. "Only this God can love you where you are, right now" --

I was for a long time one of the people who said "I'm not religious; I think it's enough just to try to be a good person. And if there is a God I can believe in, it's that kind of God. (The kind I can please by trying hard to always be good.) And presumably, he'll let me into Heaven for being good even if I don't go to church." And I still get stuck in that occasionally; Lent is an easy time to get stuck. What are you giving up for Lent? Vice -- aiming to replace it with virtue. Which is evidently all fine and good, except it's not enough, not exactly the point. If it had been, I doubt I would have had that dream about the cross some four years ago. Because while I had made some mistakes over time (breaking not just one or two of the Commandments), I generally did try to be good (in an always-evolving sense of what "good" meant.) I volunteered thousands of hours for social justice. I stood up for the rights of the underrepresented. I thought about "the greater good," though it was a looooonnnnnnnggggg time before I had even the beginnings of a clue as to what that really meant.

The other option of course, if we do not look at the demands of God with self-congratulations, is to look on them with despair. Jesus helped to up the ante here for those of us who think “just being a good person is enough” To those who feel self-satisfied that out of virtue they do not commit adultery (check) he says anyone who has lust in their heart has committed adultery. (oh. Maybe un-check) To those who are prideful that out of our virtue we give to charity (check) Jesus says oh yeah, sell all you have and give it to the poor (ok, maybe un-check). It can feel like a set up. Looking at how impossible it is to really fulfill God’s demands leaves us with a tortured conscience. I wonder if moving from vice to virtue isn’t a really a lousy salvation plan namely because it’s not actually possible to pull it off. The thing is, me-based solutions don’t look very hopeful.

This comes about half-way through the sermon. The me-based solution to the tortured conscience. Well, what else is there? Asks the person trying to graduate from being a "good enough person" to being a "good enough Christian." Jesus is not, is NOT, the Old Testament -- he's not Leviticus, not a list of rules, not a play-book for life. And I know not a few people who want in their best hearts to believe in Jesus the teacher, Jesus the leader and philosopher, who are yet quite unwilling to "buy" Jesus as God made flesh, crucified for our sins and bodily resurrected.

See, Jesus isn’t a new Moses bringing a better law we’ll never live up to. Jesus isn’t just sitting in heaven waiting to see if we can pull off the impossible and then condemning us for our inevitable failure. Jesus subverts the entire paradigm. Jesus actually IS our righteousness. This righteousness we have is not our own, but that of a Merciful and gracious God who comes to us in vulnerability and suffering. And the thing is….with the righteousness of Christ there is no extra credit to be obtained.

I also know one or two people (including myself quite often) who don't want to think about the decimating grace of being loved by Christ, by a loving God, because it gets in the way of their anger, or their self-loathing -- because it's actually easier to be angry and self-loathing than it is to give oneself up for loved without actually being cured of or excused for one's worst habits, and without getting the whole wished-for package of answers to thorny problems like evil and loss.

I don't often consider what it would be like to see someone who loved me with their whole heart willingly put to death on account of something I did -- I never imagine what it would be like to see someone I love give up their life for me. And I DEFINITELY don't like to think about someone I love, who loves me, possibly giving up their life willingly for someone who could care less about them, who had never heard of them, who maybe even hated them -- someone I had never met. Because that would be horrible, wrong, crazy, wouldn't it?

So we offer no me-based solutions here. Not if we preach Christ and him crucified. Then you know what we have to offer? Divine foolishness. But to the weak and the cynical and the socially awkward and the gays and those injured by religion and the parentless and the unemployed and the alcoholics, Christ crucified – the foolishness of God – is life in a way that our own wisdom can never be. Only a God who intimately knows such pain and sorrow can take on all our crap at the cross and exchange it for Christ’s own tender blessings.

In my church we have lots and lots of sinners -- people who have done things that are really wrong, sinning against the law, against morality, against the Spirit --- including myself. But we are blessed, all of us, in really tangible ways. The love of God is not a hard-to-locate thing where I go to church. None of that really addresses though the shame and self-loathing I chose to feel on Sunday; but it does address the love I felt as I served Communion, and in just one or two cases where the person I was serving met my eye, they saw that love and they returned it in their way. "The blood of Christ, shed for you."

Don't call CSI and ask them for proof that blood was shed on such-and-such a day 2000+ years ago. Don't read the Bible looking for proof that Mary Magdalene got to the empty tomb first, or that the Virgin Mary really was a virgin. Ya ain't gonna find what you're looking for, possibly because you don't really know what you're looking for.

And what I have to get through my head is that my anger, my self-loathing, my self-pity, my pride, my self-aggrandizement, my judgement, my sorrow, ad nauseum -- is loved. Loved by someone I never knew, who for many years escaped my attention -- loved by someone I didn't care about at all, and sometimes hated -- loved by someone I cheated, lied to, stole from, cussed out, betrayed and murdered, maybe. I am loved for where I am right now by someone who died for me, died DEAD. I have to get that through my head, identify my heart's right response to that, and live that in the world.

I think.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ode to Spring

In spite of multiple complications is was, in fact, a beautiful day.

For better and (only momentarily) for worse, I wound up spending several hours out and about with my son today. My spouse has the flu, and since he's also on his spring break right now, our daycare plans (and plans for taking the car to the shop) are a little uncertain. It evolved that I needed to choose this morning: leave my five year old home with his legitimately ill father (who has no patience at all when he's like this) to face a long day of not going outside and not being allowed to roughhouse with his dad; or, stay home myself, for a second day of tiptoeing around the house not getting anything done; or, take the kid to work with me, knowing he could at least spend some time in the park across the street and would perhaps let me get in a few hours of work while he watched cartoons and played with my typewriter. Option three obviously sounded best, and that's what we did. He watched a cartoon, he typed a little, he helped me a lot in the food shelf. He ate a muffin.

The dad came around at about Noon and offered to pick up HT, even saying he felt well enough with the additional rest to let me attend a 7pm meeting I'd been hoping not to miss. So I went home early and took HT to the park, then cooked supper. 45 minutes before my meeting, my spouse got up and went to bed. When queried about the wisdom of me leaving again, his response was one of utter incoherence. Since I'd promised organizers I'd attend after hearing the earlier assurances, I really felt on the hook. So, after HT took a stab or two at his dinner, we hit the road again -- this time for a meeting downtown at the Open Book center. 35 mostly older gals and one guy sitting around watching a film about Peter Beard, as it turns out -- I was there to exchange volumes with my Altered Book Round Robin compatriots, but had to wait interminably while Beard nattered on about himself, and then the group nattered about Beard. But my son was incredibly patient and well-behaved. He drew, he played for almost an hour with the giant magnetic poetry set on a fridge in the print lab, he let me take him on a tour of the press room. He whispered. He was very quiet and self-contained. Held out until the bitter end, nearly nine pm, when his self-control was just beginning to fray. I felt guilty, and proud. I let him stay up late and watch a show, with a glass of chocolate milk.

He's a great kid. I hope he'll be interested in some of my passions, as he grows older. And I hope I'll be able to find the resources he needs to feed his always-expanding intellect.

Did I mention how smashing was the weather?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

coveting, and communion

I had a church experience today. And for some reason I feel I should preface this with a warning or two; because a few of my readers seem tired of the religous stuff, and the thing is, this is what I got folks. It doesn't make me less of a cusser, less artist, less human. Think of the human having the experience -- still, in certain cases, someone you know reasonably well.

Anyway. Today's sermon was just a pisser (see note above), because it cut to the heart of something I struggle with, which is coveting. Without wandering off into all sorts of anecdotes, suffice it to say that I've always always had the habit of indulging in imagination, and longing; in the what-ifs of life. And sometimes that involves envy, it involves the desire for something other than what I'm due. It's about credit cards, and people I'm not married to. It's about the other life, the one I wish I had a piece of, that other people seem to be leading while I, alas, am not.

I'm intelligent enough to know the difference between something I can work toward, and something that simply doesn't belong to me and/or is outside my sphere of attainment. When I was young I used to take some sick pride, for example, in my ability to get pretty much anything (and anyone) I set my sights on -- but I learned the hard way why certain rules exist (even though sometimes it seems they exist to be broken) -- and now I mostly just stew when the coveting really gets bad. So in listening to the sermon I felt shame and embarrassment, and a deep, rich irony at my own expense (after all, as Hannibal Lecter said, what do we covet? We covet what we see every day. Lots of my envy is focused on people I know via church.)

And yet, today was one of my scheduled days for helping with communion.

Now, I love Communion. Love it. I'd take it every DAY if I could, as controversial as that would sound to some. Because I honestly, genuinely feel close to God and Purpose at that moment, 99.9% of the time, regardless of whether it's a good day at worship. And today I was able to serve.

I got the wine, and it was "the full meal deal" today, the tray and the tiny shot glasses. And I found my shame and self-judgement fading and moving aside as I served, because I felt love for each of those people as they stepped up before me -- and I knew all their names, I was surprised to find. As each of them took their cup, as I said "The blood of Christ, shed for you," I could add their names to myself in silence. Shed for you, Geri. Shed for you, Lloyd. I didn't say the name aloud; I'm not a pastor, and what if I forgot one? But it was a healing thing.

I'm still a terrible covet-er. And anyone who knows their Zen Buddhism knows that longing is fatal. It's something I have to work on.

Meanwhile... my best friend wasn't in line today. And because she's experiencing lots of doubt right now with regard to the goodness of God, I must wonder. She doesn't need me nagging her though, I've already done some of that. I wish, I wish.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another night of wondering why I'm still awake. Listening to Craig Ferguson in the next room (I confess, I find him mostly hilarious.) Listening to my husband cackling at Ferguson, but at my limit for couch conversation at the moment (I hate our couch. It's really ready for spring cleaning -- it sucks you in and makes your back hurt -- it is to the television what kneelers are to the altar -- it defines us as a family -- I could go on...) My husband just came in to tell me that Christina Ricci showed up wearing a 40 gallon trash bag. Whether this is true or simply my husband's interpretation of fashion is a good question, and worth some hang time.

I am supposed to be working on the book page (due Monday) and a quilt (due end of month.) Just FYI.

"If you don't vote, you're a moron." Remember this? No you don't, because you hate Ferguson. "Frankly votin' is a pain in the ass, but here's the thing: It's your duty! If you can't take your hand out of your bag o' Cheetos long enough to vote, then you got no right to complain when we get President Sanjaya."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rev. Peg Chamberlin on church and state, and love.
Tap tap tap. My finger on the touchpad, poking at the ol' Laptop. Any new emails? New Facebook updates? Anything? It would be loads more productive to sew, or watch TV even, then to sit here pining for personal contact at this unreasonable hour.

stay out of the way of the guns

Seems like the news is full of guns lately -- another crop of random shootings, murder sprees, suicides. I get a little panicky at times, wondering if it's some b-movie phenomenon involving tree pollen or subliminal messages beamed from a satellite somewhere (remember that rotten Shyalaman film with Markie Mark? Remember "The Astronaut's Wife?") I wonder if it's the moon. Full moon last night... wait, is it also a full moon in Germany? I should know this, my husband would say. It's one of those things I should just know. Like coreolis force.

Rice Freeman posted something on her blog today about kids with handguns. Now, Rice does not love kids, first of all. And second, she lives in Texas, where she has been a white woman married to a black man for many years -- she has come to grips with the guns, and with racist kids to some degree, but the two combined are still a lot to take (and why not?) Rice didn't shoot anyone, but still -- she went from the bad smells of little kids to the unsupervised handguns being toted to school by racist youths, and didn't leave much room in between. (I mean, my five year old smells funky sometimes, but we don't have any damned guns in the house, so come on. Cut my kid some slack.) Guns -- guns everywhere -- in the hands of kids, even, and often if not always, tragically so.

Sometimes I get tired, trying to come up with reasons why people should feel hopeful about our country, about the future of our society.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

in the nutshell (and in dreams)

Something a friend offered this morning: "Your recent essay reminded me of something my brother told me after he first quit drinking: he discovered that in some way he couldn't fully explain at the same time he had to give up a habit he had been in for many years of putting himself to sleep through elaborate fantasies of becoming a famous and successful artist - having a big opening in a major museum, the accolades of peers and adoration of crushes, sort of thing." I really appreciated this remark, and the others I've heard since my original post on sleeplessness, lust and Lent.

As I mentioned to my friend subsequently, I fell off the wagon last night. And went right to sleep. But, I had a dream not long thereafter which mocked my failure to resist temptation. In it, I essentially played out my fantasy sleep-inducer not with my usual imaginary playmate but instead, with some guy I'd never seen before who vaguely resembled an old ex-boyfriend (a relationship I wasn't proud of, by the way) -- and in an ugly, messy apartment, where three teenage girls always lurked in the next room. These girls kept walking in on us, and forced us to change rooms twice during our "interaction" to avoid being caught (and whispered about, ratted out -- because we weren't supposed to be doing what we were doing.) Finally, even though the guy was becoming less and less appealing and girls were giggling around the corner, I got my kiss and the all-important embrace. Only to discover that somehow in all the excitement, I'd lost a filling in one of my front teeth; the bits of silver floating around in my mouth. FINAL SCENE: Me, standing before the mirror in a filthy bathroom; a narrow mirror with a single fluorescent bulb above it, watching myself spit crud into the sink.

NOT the idea, at all. Can't even enjoy a guilty imaginary pleasure. But it's amusing in a way -- more than one person has shared with me their idiosyncratic sleep-inducers, and it's easier to laugh at myself knowing others are equally ridiculous. So I suppose I'll try again tonight, to break the habit -- and try again to focus on the reason for this discipline.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The wind is howling, snow blankets the sidewalks in an inch or more of white that covers the exposed brown of earth beneath retreating ice. Thaw and freeze, melt and then more snow. A friend reminded me today that the sun has not appeared since Friday -- a ghostly circlet behind layers of fog and cloud at best -- and the persistence of winter is always the theme in mid-March Minnesota. My friend suggests this is the reason I don't sleep lately -- not enough contrast between Noon and Midnight to tell my body when.

Well, it's not the Northern Territories, and we exaggerate a little. Just a little. Wine consumption is up, at my place, and I suppose it disrupts the pace of dayintonightintoday just enough. I'm not sewing either, the past few days, or just barely. Instead I sit on the Internet until my head starts to bob, then tumble into bed with eyes sore from the glare of the monitor. I've asked nearly everyone I care to out for drinks or coffee. I'm looking for breaks in the monotony.

Monday, March 9, 2009

nourish me

I'm eating blueberries, or I was. I'm over budget on calories today (I ate McDonald's for lunch, and not the salad I was planning to get either -- nonono. It was the greasy, salty, wonderful horrible double cheese burger. SIN.) Blueberries are little antioxidant bombs, which I need in a plentiful smart bomb sort of way, to counteract the partially hydrogenated SIN I ate for lunch. The dangers of comfort food. And why should something so nasty be so comforting? Read on.

I find myself avoiding the news again. This means only reading a few Times articles per day: aid workers expelled from Darfur. Joan Allen returns to the stage. Gagosian is still the Darth Vader of the art world. Pastor shot and killed during sermon in Illinois. I can't sleep, is the thing. Reading lots of news only gives me more to not-sleep about.

Getting to sleep is even harder than usual right now. This may be due in part to a recent change in my mental routine for falling asleep; a change of thought patterns, replacing the comforting thoughts on which I normally meditate at these times. Because while those thoughts are warm and reassuring, and conducive to a semblance of peacefulness, they are also strictly speaking not terribly productive. What the heck am I talking about? I'm talking about escapism.

Choosing words of explanation here could be tricky. And by the way, this change in my routine is a Lenten thing, so those of you who have tired of my religious blogviews should feel free to duck out now. No hard feelings. But hey, I'm not about to go off on a puritanical rant that condemns others and makes me some sort of hypocrite. Don't forget the double cheeseburger.

When I need to fall asleep, when I need to feel comfort, my thoughts are not totally in line with my relational responsibilities. There are a few people with whom I am only, only friends, who nevertheless make the scene when I need to imagine being held and feeling peaceful. I'm not really talking about fantasizing here, which isn't necessary. I'm just imagining being held, by someone I know cares for me. It's important, in fact, that my comforter NOT be someone I'm likely to end up in a real life horizontal-embrace with (read: my husband) -- because I need this comfort to seem uncomplicated. It's not a plan. It's not something I expect or even much hope would happen. Moreover, my comforter needs to be imaginatively uni dimensional. Just there to get me to sleep. Not someone who gripes about the laundry, or wakes me jarringly each day to keep me on the schedule (I like a long wake-up.) And not someone who would undoubtedly be jealous if he knew.

BUT. (And here's the Lenten bit.) Twigging certain (real life) people for this role too often leads to a whole imaginary line of relational nonsense that is not terribly productive. Imaginary conversations, imaginary developments, a fictional side to a real relationship which might just make the object of all this attention uncomfortable, were they to know. It leads to a little lust, in truth, though we should meditate on this word in its full gamut of definitions.

So, I'm trying to give it up. The imaginary comforter, and all that imagination leads to in this case. And the lust. And it might sound ridiculous, embarrassing, but this shit is HARD. Because my imaginary life has always been as much who I am as the real life. I am an escape artist. I spend a significant amount of time in the realms of the unreal.

My doubter friends might be tempted to lump my faith in with this tendency, but know this: if you do, you're only short-sheeting yourself. My little Lenten dilemma is a microscopic personal quirk in the vast universe of divine love.

However, none of that gets me to sleep. I can stay up all frickin' night, in the absence of a useful routine for getting to sleep. How will I replace my imaginary friend, out of respect for my real one?
Another late-late night, with sleeping patterns somewhat marred by the spring forward and a longish nap taken with my child this afternoon. They say well rested children rest well, but my little napper refused to get to sleep until nearly 11:30pm. He doesn't tend to nap anymore, even though he frequently needs it (in my opinion), but tonight's restlessness is the downside. So I dozed off and on beside him, between 9pm and the time his breathing finally grew deep. And now I'm awake -- the Sunday night wakefulness, an especially cursed kind since few contacts check in and few of the blogs I follow have been updated.

Had a pleasant evening celebrating C's birthday with a few girlfriends at the Wilde Roast, a coffee shop/restaurant/wine bar that might be the only hoppin' place around Northeast on a Sunday night. Generous, extra rich desserts, a nice wine list, a roomful of interesting people... when it first opened there was a gay bookstore attached, which has since gone under (they use the space for added seating now.) It's altogether enjoyable, and busy much of the time. The decor is sort of "off" (and the artwork often typical amateur coffee-shop stuff) but the staff are always terrific.

The home life has been dominated by not-sleeping activities tonight, though, and I suppose I should give it another go instead of pining away for social contact at this hour. Once upon a time, 1am was not an unreasonable time to be hanging out regardless of the day to come. Not so much, now, which is a social situation rather than a physical necessity for me. My husband doesn't get this, and is generally frustrated with the amount of time I spend on the 'Net. But many of my friends online are my age, my circumstances.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

H had a difficult moment last night, which makes me wonder how he'll sleep tonight. We were watching a movie, and H was only intermittently interested in it (the plot line was above him but the characters, including a young girl, had him checking in regularly with questions.) The movie ("Whale Rider") is pretty inoffensive but there's a particularly sad scene at the climax (which resolves happily at the end) that brought my boy to absolute sobs, which came as a guilty shock to me. There's no violence, which is the main thing I guard against, but the scene clearly depicts a dramatic fracture in two relationships -- there's almost no dialogue, but the acting is incredible, and one of the actors is crying. Evidently he'd been tracking the buildup to the scene well enough that he could identify a little with the characters (and, he was pretty tired by 9pm.) Anyway, it was just heartbreaking to see him so affected by fiction, and while I guess I'm not surprised, I feel badly about it -- he needed help calming down. It took a Curious George book to bring him around. *sigh* Another reason to love George. As someone who can remember having moments like these as a kid, I'm really torn as to how much I should protect him. I remember getting hold of a copy of "Hiroshima" in the 5th grade, and weeping in horror as I read it. On the one hand, that's sad. On the other hand, it's not a bad part of who I am, nor was the experience damaging to my worldview. The opposite, probably.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

minuet in G

Never mind the lust.

On a Saturday morning, we're all about the Minuet in G. My in-laws are coming over, disrupting the normal routine sufficently that at 10:30am not only are we all showered, and the house cleaned, but my son is hanging around at the piano trying not to be noticed while he plunks away at a scale. 1-2-3-4-5, I show him, but he also isn't interested in being taught today. If I come near, he demands I play and sing "Simple Gifts," then jumps up and runs away when I start in on Minuet in G. Creeping back, he'll watch, attentive, as long as I don't notice him.

Whoops, they're here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lusting in one's heart

What am I giving up for Lent?
Some of you might be disappointed to hear it's Lust: in as many of its permutations as I can manage.
More later.

dodging the bullet

Look! Another reason to be thankful. Evidently we've had another close call with an asteroid: an object discovered just two days ago, that approximates the size of the one which hit Siberia a century ago and leveled 800 miles of forest. Ever see "Deep Impact?" Since we don't need Morgan Freeman to stand in as our black President anymore, I guess we'd better make sure we're not recruiting septuagenarians to the space program; otherwise it'll be life imitating art, and the entire Eastern seaboard will be wiped out. Prozac, anyone?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

the ongoing saga, part 3 or 4

Oh boy.
So I've been in something of a holding pattern about the memorial for my father, the past two weeks or so. I've spoken to a small number of close friends here about attending, and gotten advice about whether my stepmother should be invited. I was waiting for the chance to talk to one more friend/adviser about it, to ask for help envisioning the order of service and the purpose of the service. But the schedule hasn't been easy to resolve, so we didn't sit down until yesterday -- and then, thanks to plenty of interruptions that came from both sides and were unavoidable, we really only had about half an hour to talk.

There wasn't a distinct answer or direction I was hoping he'd provide, but it was important to me to talk to him. Since the conversation was forced to be brief, I followed up with an email explaining a couple paragraph's worth more in terms of background on the other family members involved. His response (by email) was brief, but supportive -- he acknowledged that I'm reviewing a lot of personal history with this act, some of it painful, and that I've chosen to bear a burden that many would avoid. For some reason that particular phrase really struck me -- and due to general uncertainty, it also made me question the wisdom of what I am doing.

I also did some crying, and my response by email (though short) mainly conveyed my uncertainty and perhaps read as an objection to his phrasing. He wrote back later, to clarify his empathy and respect for what I'm doing, and really his opinion of this is not the issue (and shouldn't be -- I may be weighting his words too heavily.) I tried one more time to simply enunciate my doubts about all this, and I hope we're square. God knows I don't want to push anyone away from me with this line of inquiry.

Doubts: What is this is going to be too hard for me? I tend to think nothing should be outside my abilities if I just apply myself. But what if I'm just dragging friends and family into a yuckiness that does no one any good? What if the kind of resolution I want isn't possible? And, what burden have I chosen to carry?

My friend's comments contrasted my choice with that of someone who chooses to remain detached from this family pain, or chooses to avoid it. If being detached means carrying around a suitcase full of pain that is never opened, I'd just as soon lay that baggage down. Or is that avoidance? Really, I just want to let this crap go. I was hoping the memorial would bring something like closure to this trajectory.

It's more than grief over lost family members, more than grief over being denied access to the rights of full participation in the grieving process. It's also the reasons behind the denial of access -- several years of abuse at the hands of a step-parent, followed by 30 years of excommunication from that side of the family. And when my father died, we were just beginning to understand each other as adults, and maybe to approach our relationship in a new way. Other complications include the fact that my mother doesn't really know about the abuse -- my years of living with my father and stepmother were her idea, in part, though my father also suggested or strongly supported it -- and there's no reason for her to feel guilt over something she couldn't control, couldn't have predicted. And my husband has trouble hearing all of this, for personal reasons of his own, though he is trying to be supportive. These few facts are what I tried to explain to my friend yesterday.

Do I want someone to tell me it's a bad idea, this memorial? I'm not really a quitter --

-- the pain this exercise brings up from me is rather extreme though. If you've ever felt such pain that you thought you might actually have left your body a little in the process, you get the idea. It's in there though, still, and it seems wrong not to try to get rid of it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

light housekeeping

So I rearranged some of the page elements in the sidebar, and updated or deleted a few links as well as condensing some info. I realized that I do tend to use this blog as a homepage of sorts and I haven't been scrolling down far enough to catch the Digg or some of the non-blog links -- And it's out-of-sight, out-of-mind as we all know in this visual age. If you feel like it, do peruse. I've also added a number of new blogs to "The Usual Suspects."

There's a great little posting on the pitfalls of Facebook for clergy, at RevGalBlogPals.

My favorite artist-blog right now is Jude's Spirit Cloth.

And I think I should add a link to The Onion. The March 1 edition had us rolling tonight.