Sunday, October 29, 2006

by design.

today after service we were treated to bach's tocatta and fugue in d minor. what a blessing it is to find/hear art in the church. i sit there in awe of the bounty around me. and while it is not perfect, as there is no perfection apart from God, it is a joy, nevertheless.

the pews are still full of flawed folk. i still read through the sermons. today roethke kept me romping through snowbanks and thinking of tom cat entrails.

i've never heard the organ actually played. i've always only heard it banged on to get through a hymn. but to hear it opened up and do what it was designed to do, that inspires me.

have i opened up myself to create the way i was created to create. have i begun performing at the level of my design. if not now, then when? when and what will it take to coax that song from my fingertips. to call forth the work i was created to pen?

i think more and more that each moment is the fullness of life. each meal a gift. each shirt ironed (yes, i'm ironing now, and there is something zen about it), meaningful.

though i do not possess the understanding of all these things just yet, i can experience them and let them enlighten me. speak to me. reveal themselves to me.

the darkness, i've come to understand, is part of my warp and woof. i'm a tweed, perhaps pink with dark chocolate threads coursing through. woven in by the Master for His good pleasure. i will now, cease searching for an end to the darkness, but not go there (i never go there) intentionally.

when i am in darkness, i will learn the lessons of darkness. pen the works that others cannot. and bring them back with me to the light.

when i am in the light, i will ever remain tender to those who cannot find their way into the light. this is my purpose, i am sure of it.

use the gifts He's given. bless those around you.
as i will try to do as well.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


there is nothing quite like having someone understand your voice. to hear its tones and help you sing (or write) with greater clarity.

now, this side of it, having some bit of affirmation, i wonder, what was i afraid of? when i turned in my manuscripts, i was certain they were the best i could do, but i guess i wondered if it would be enough. i've come very far in my writing journey, is it far enough? do i need to keep putting distance between me and the writer i was when i first began?

sure. we all do. growing is a journey not a destination. but i was not sure, i've never been sure what i have to say and how i say it will be received. much less appreciated.

but i finally have word on my manuscripts, that word is

and i rejoice. rejoice. and again i say rejoice.

it does not change anything other than the next step. it encourages me that this long road will actually lead somewhere. though i guess all roads lead somewhere, but the somewhere of publication is the mecca for all writers, no?

then i read this line by emily dickinson,
publication is the auction of the mind

and i check myself again.

do i want it? do i want to let this go from my hands (though it is all ready gone from my hands to the hands of one i trust, but he cannot--no one can, if anyone could, he would i'm sure--promise me it will be what i intended it to be). perhaps it will become something more than i planned and imagined, if i listen. if i let this trust guide me. if i yield to his wisdom.

the letting go of a book is a precarious thing. who knows what the marketers will say. who knows if anyone else will see value in it. i cannot do anything other than hope my voice will find a place in the marketplace. that i will be heard. and that what i have to say will be redemptive. and liberating. and invigorating. and that how i say it will be enlightening. perhaps even stimulating.

in all things may God guide me and give my editor wisdom and grace to deal with me. i can be as unruly as my hair on a misty day (frizz city). i know this. but i am trying to behave.

praise be to God.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

betraying words

sometimes the words betray me. truth is too true, even for me to stomach. and i ache at the sound of it. a truth came like this to me yesterday, i wrote it and carried the pain of it with me. i had to leave the house, and that, at times is difficult for me, an exertion of great proportions. i have very little time here to just be still and silent. without having to go out.

so yesterday's words came. on the heels of previous pain. and i realized, i haven't much of a capacity, a vocabulary for joy. to describe it. to enter into it, to convey it. is that because i do not know it. i do not want to know it. or is it because i just have not studied it as i've studies so many other things and found their dedicated language familiar and incorporated it.

so i will study joy. as i set out to do this year. i have found some here and there, but i didn't realize until now, how lacking, deficient my ability without the words. where do i find them? i'm not really sure. i just have to look. and take them into me like so many words before them. like all the dark words that resound in me. like all the painful words and honesty that i so easily speak.

and then, someday, like acquiring a taste for a foreign food, i will hunger for it. i will mix up little biscuits and offer them to the hungry. i will have words to exhort one to joy, not merely from pain.

my words betray me. but not all betrayals are without merit. some are essential. crucial. necessary. some betrayals redeem.

Monday, October 23, 2006

the gift of strangers

listening to a juliard pianist on sunday, i was sitting in the front row (it was quite a dilemma for me, i couldn't see out the windows if i sat in the back--though that is where i prefer to sit. the view demanded i sit up front).

i had my head down most of the time writing, a lap desk with my journal splayed open, a roethke poetry book, the program. at intermission, a lady walks up and says

are you an artist?

i'm a poet.
looking up with a smile at being asked the very question i ask others.

your presence is amazing. i could tell. do you have any poetry with you?

as you know, i always do, but i happened to have copies of three poems i was going to give to the pianist who invited me to the concert.
here, read these if you'd like.

she said, and took her reading glasses out, slipped them on and sat in the seat beside me.

you have a strong voice.
she said.

i've fought hard for that voice.

she said. then asked me to read her a poem.

now? are you serious?

she said.

so i did. read it outloud right there in the front row during intermission.

do you have a poetry book? i'd like to buy one.

i'm not published yet. i'm on the cusp though.

good, where can i hear you read?

i gave her my information and where to hear me as i host a poetry roundtable in a nearby town.

she told me she writes poetry, too.
send me some of yours,
i said.
i'd love to read it.

it was a pleasure meeting you.
she said, and shook my hand.


the gift of strangers is this, they don't know squat about the bad week you've had. they don't care. they don't know if they are grasping at straws, though the way i dress, it ain't hard to peg me as an artist. but the woman was genuine and i needed to hear it. i needed to be reminded that i have a calling and purpose. that my gifting may not be for the church. or even for my friends. but for strangers.

and i must find a way to get my works to them. to let my voice be heard.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

speak, i will listen.

sometimes, God speaks.
sometimes, i can hear Him.
sometimes, i remember why I love Him.

the Processional Hymn from service today:

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Words: Robert Robinson, 1758
Music: "Nettleton" John Wyeth, 1813

1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer; here by Thy great help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

The Gradual Hymn:

I love thee, Lord, but not because

I love thee, Lord, but not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
nor yet for fear that loving not
I might for ever die;

but for that thou didst all the world
upon the cross embrace;
for us didst bear the nails and spear,
and manifold disgrace,

and griefs and torments numberless,
and sweat of agony;
e'en death itself; and all for one
who was thine enemy.

Then why, most loving Jesus Christ,
should I not love thee well,
not for the sake of winning heaven,
nor any fear of hell;

not with the hope of gaining aught,
nor seeking a reward;
but as thyself hast loved me,
O ever loving Lord!

E'en so I love thee, and will love,
and in thy praise will sing,
solely because thou art my God
and my eternal King.

Words: Spanish, seventeenth century;
trans. Edward Caswall (1814-1878);
adapt. Percy Dearmer (1867-1936), alt.
Music: St. Fulbert
Meter: CM

The Offeratory Hymn:


“Go up to Gilead and take balm.” Jeremiah 46:11

Words & Music: Af­ri­can-Amer­i­can spir­it­u­al (MI­DI, score).

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.

Some times I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.

If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say He died for all.

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.



Thursday, October 19, 2006

drive me away

yesterday on ma, i blogged about failure. which was just me honestly saying, here is where it is.

i had a conversation with a dear friend on sunday and said,
they'll string me up if they found out what i'm reading.

she replied,
a lot of good people have been strung up.

i guess i took the challenge. and may get strung up for it.

who are we talking about here?

the staunch traditionalists.

being in this liberal environment has made me rethink a great many things. not change my positions, but reconsider from another vantage point so much.

things i never thought controversial, things i never considered, all of it, now fodder for examination.

i'm not jumping on the liberal bandwagon, if i can help it. but i am listening. i am trying to hear. not be so convinced of my own rightness that i am blind to truth.

when someone more liberal than hilary says, the mythological section of the bible (meaning the creation story), i shake my head in disbelief. just because they believe lies, doesn't mean i will. i won't ever give up on God, or He me. that has given me a fearlessness which is probably a bad thing.

i am no buddist. i am no believer in anything other than the God of Heaven. do i need to convince anyone? do i need to be safe or honest?

there are so many ways we as a church live in fear. i've found those ways mostly in our unwillingness to let people speak their hearts. even if it is the worst possible words that come out, i want to hear it. i always want to hear a truth than what someone thinks i want to hear. truly. not just the pre-approved churchianity phrases that pass for soultalk.

and that others take what i say and dub me buddist because i've read a book, sinner because i've confessed to reading a book. well, ain't much can be done about that. i don't mean to change my reading habits because of a few christians who have "been there, done that."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

my epigraph

she incited men's passions

i won't even tell you what nationality he was, lest this become a racial slam. i don't intend that. but i drive like a granny since the ramplaunch. my husband today said,
it's slippery out there.
he makes a point of telling me,
drive slow!
these days. before leaving for work.

the good news being, he wants me alive.

the fact of the matter, i'm carrying precious cargo.

so, i stop at the yellow light. (NOTE that, and give me credit).

wait patiently my turn, and proceed through T junction into parking lot to obtain some overpriced undernourishing yummies, and following behind the car which had stopped where there was no stop sign (why do people do that?), this black camry who thinks he's being gracious by letting the stopped car in front of me go (it was a blazer, i think that had the right of way), so he --the black camry man--lays on the horn when i follow the blazer through the intersection.


i've rebuffed a few in my day with a hearty horn blast. i've let a few fingers fly in my day. i've done it all kids. but the people now, are crazy. the drivers, insane. worse than LA i think. too many nationalities, too many people thinking they have the right of way (and if they are crazy, let them have it whether they actually have it or not, my new rule. but knowing when one is crazy is the tricky part).

so, mr. blackcamry blazing his horn is about 2/3 of my car length behind me, making a point of blasting my ear so i know he's there. i saw the crazy man, but i did have the right of way. had i known he was really crazy. i would have let him go.

crazy before beauty, i always say.

so i stop. crazyman exits car, i get a glimpse of him, and launch my car forward, no good can come of crazyman being around my vehicle. i instinctively lock my doors (again, yes they were all ready locked), but one never can be too sure. and crazyman gets in his car to follow me because i doubled back to the T junction to get away from crazyman.

well, crazyman is right behind me.

again, no good can come of this and i'm not about to lead a crazyman home.

so i stop my car before i block myself in (the light was red, but the turn signal right was green, so i knew it wasn't going to be long).

crazyman jumps out. i lurch forward again. just enough to get him back in his car and without a clear view of me. he was crazy i tell you.

crazyman, proceeds to turn right. i whip around, back through the T junction and double back through the parking lot completely opposite of where i was initially headed and out a side exit.

but there is a red light. and crazyman is not behind us. but i still don't block myself in. i leave an out. and tell my daughter,
if crazyman shows up, we go through those two cars there, or over that median. getting away from him is all that matters. you see, how i can fit our car through there.

sometimes, it doesn't matter if you're right, you just have to let crazy people be right because they think they are right in their own minds.

she said.

very silent.

she didn't know what was going on. i'm sure she was scared.

but i'd been advised on situations like this before and watching all those crazyman shows on tv remind me that people will do things unexpected and to keep moving, get away.

once in a self defense class, actually, it was when i took karate, my sensei was a police officer. he said,
women, if a man with a gun pointed it at you from a parked car and said get in, what would you do?

some said,
get in.

he said,
no! run. the opposite direction of the way he's facing, because he won't have a clear shot of you. even if he did, odds are he won't hit anything vital. and if he did, better to die there then cut up in tiny bits in some crazyman's backwoods apartment (no, that is just my warped mind kicking in, but you understand the warning).

plus, being a cop's daughter i watched my dad. did what he did. he was very aware. my husband has this attribute and i admit, i've let it slide. i want to be taken care of. but there are many times, more eyes, more keen awareness is what is needed, not someone coasting on the alertness of another. sometimes, i must be the alert one.

i get on the wrong freeway (not intentionally, mind you, but because it has become my inadvertent habit. i will miss it, i'm sure, when i figure these damn freeways out and just get on and off where i'm supposed to).

crazyman does not follow us, praise God.

i am not woefully lost in new york (the freeways out here are crazy. if you miss your exit, Lord have mercy. you may end up crossing a huge bridge before you can turn around. i got blessed, i hit a cloverleaf exit and was able to do two loop de loos and made it home, or back to our village safely.)


so i incite men's passions. it is not always a good thing. when it results in poetry or song, verse or creativity, God be praised. but when it goes the bad way. i am just grateful there are more watchful eyes than mine. more guiding hands than mine.

and that He is not through with me yet.

the way

the way a smoker caresses a fat cuban cigar, rolling it gently between thumb and forefingers, examining the lines, breathing in the aroma of the dried leaves.

the way he grasps the foil band, slides it ever so gently down the length and girth of the cigar, before snipping or biting off the tip.

the way he strikes the match or flint to cause the spark, ignition. and draws in deep the first warm breaths of nicotine.

the way he fills his lungs and waves match through air closes lighter cover with a flick, and silent sits inhaling.

the way he watches breaths wafting upward from his lit cigar. the same breaths he will labor for in days to come, traded now for the comforting presence, the warm infilling, heady draught.

that is

the way i trade silver ribbed quarters to buy books, whose scent wafts upwards, old books. the kind that have seen ages and kept their secrets. the aroma of memory.

the way i grasp one in hand, run my hand over cover, page. turning it between thumb and forefingers, gazing at words to see if they captivate me.

the way i check bindings and flyleaf, for age and care, wear and tear. indicators all of value. who wrote it, when and where, do they have something to say.

the way my eyes skim pages, looking for anything redeemable. i'm willing to give a lot of grace, wanting to be impressed, by these stolen glances, but many do not warrant my caressing eyes, nor even move my hand to take them up. i'm a connoisseur that way, i guess.

the way i hold them close to my chest, when i want them, pressing them toward my pulsing heart, and move to pay whatever i must pay to bring them home. trading these silver coins for words that may in turn give me more than i ever imagined.

Monday, October 16, 2006

homeless books

always have a place with me because i'm a softy. i try not to look, it's like peering into a kennel for some people. those sad i-s, those lonely phrases all that effort, boxed on a library table, perhaps. waiting for the right lookyloo to glimpse them.

so i try not to peek. because when i look, i find. when i knock, the door opens to me. most of the time, i just set my gaze on the corner chair and pass the boxes unscathed. no books in hand that will overburden my overburdened shelves or end tables. the stacks of books around the apartment are mounting.

the danger with leaving boxes and boxes of books in texas, was nature abhoring a vacuum. sure we had to buy bookshelves and create a vacuum, but the abhorrence still applies. and i do vacuum pretty regularly now, but i've left my point.

so yesterday, i stop and look, knowing i won't find anything good. there are lots of old novels and some jewish history books, we live in a very large jewish community. many old text type books and on rare occasion, some poetry.

yesterday i found a mint condition selected keats. an old girl scout songbook, which my girl can use for piano practice, and a book on creating a personal retreat (very useful). the last lost soul was a book by eric hoffer, the passionate state of mind.

i open it to see if it is anything that would remotely interest me and this is what i read:

THE weakness of a soul is proportionate to the number of truths that must be kept from it.

home run!

i'm rounding third and ready to slide, when i read:

THE fact seems to be that we are least open to precise knowledge concerning the things we are most vehement about. The rabid radical remains in the dark concerning the nature of radicalism, and the religious concerning the nature of religion.

Vehemence is the expression of a blind effort to support and uphold something that can never stand on its own--something rootless, incoherent and incomplete. Whether it is our own meaningless self we are upholding or some doctrine devoid of evidence, we can do it only in a frenzy of faith.


i've read that to my best friend and a potential best friend and both times it left my blood chilled.

i ask my well read friends,
have you heard of this guy?

they say.

neither have i. but he's got something to say.

the flyleaf indicates that he was a migrant farm worker, San Francisco longshoreman, then (or now, as the flyleaf says) one day a week researcher at UC Berkeley of all places. the man has known poverty, hunger, hardwork, ease, academia. he read everything he could get his hands on in german and english then contrasted it against his real world experience to come up with what i now hold in my sweet little hands. a gem.

so this is the kind of book, i'll nibble away at. i'll carry it with me everywhere and let the tender morsels feed me (good thing i found this book, i was beginning to think there was no next book for me. or i couldn't find it. little did i know it would be mine!). which is the perfect segue to he most recent passage i've been stumped by, on passion and pursuit. allow me:

THAT we pursue something passionately does not always mean that we really want it or have a special aptitude for it. Often, the thing we pursue most passionately is but a substitute for the one thing we really want and cannot have. It is usually safe to predict that the fulfillment of an excessively cherished desire is not likely to still our nagging anxiety.

In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.


i just have to let that soak in. but i'm running through a list of those things i've pursued that are not the thing i really want. they are mere carrot dangling before mine eys. perhaps my dream last night of lockingjaw pitbulls makes some sense now. i think i want it. i'm bred to want it, to function in a certain capacity, and when i find that thing, i sink my teeth into it, and don't let go until i kill it. how much i recognize this pattern. how much i want to change this pattern.

somewhere it is written, admitting you have a problem is the first step.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

fulfilling promises

i promised friends i would pursue publication when i returned from dodge and made it through denver. this time is now upon me. and it has me wondering, pondering my strategy. consulting with the writers who have advised me thus far and elicited such brave words from me as, i promise. why i say these things, i do not know.

so i'm in my corner chair yesterday. reading keillor's good poems for hard times, and the trees are dancing for me in the breeze. they are distracting me, in the best of ways, and i spend most of my time gazing at them. watching the slight pale green of upturned leaves, wishing i knew their names and species so i could call them aright, not just tipleaf. a lick of crimson in an otherwise green tree caught my eye, so bright it was, i thought a cardinal must be perched there, but it was the turning, changing of seasons, which has finally begun outside my plate glass windows at the library, so it must be true. though i've been gawking at trees for weeks now.

i read some works and with poetry i find it evenly breaks for me, usually with anthologies, about half the works i don't like. wouldn't read again unless you paid me (even then, i might not). but i'm thinking about this promise, this pursuit of publication i've promised i'd begin and i wondered, does pursuit of publication for me look like an agressive move forward or a passive waiting.

for me, thus far, i've been waiting. growing. becoming. i keep telling myself, the work only improves with time. no one would argue with that. what's the rush to publication? i'm so glad i didn't come out with mere consolations back when i was ready to, a full year ago now, because it is not the work i want first out.

but my collection of work now is clearly christian and nonchristian, do i mesh these works and how? how much do i say? how much do i leave unsaid?

these are all serious questions, which need time to be understood.

the problem, the absolute problem with christian publishing, in my opinion is the rush and hurry to publication. i want my best work compiled and now, looking at the fifty poems i submitted for selection and editing, they are no longer my best work. the work keeps changing, growing.

but i did read through my entire collection of the past year and was encouraged that there is a story there, a preserved voice. i am saying something. whether it is something that will resound or not, whether it is something publishable or not, is not for me to decide. my task, is penning poems.

before yesterday, i'd not written in a great while. since the day before i left for denver. that is aeons for me. but i've learned to wait. to not sweat the silence. to be still and trust.

this is how i mean to pursue publication as well. it can only improve the work.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

death by squeal

i'm aching from working hunched over my sewing maching all day. my back feels like someone from notre dame, and i'm pretty fried mentally. so what is the next logical step, write. yes. document my fried state.

i was thinking, as i soaped my aching bod, that one horrible way to die would be death by firing squad. probably the only pleasure would be that long drag on a kool, or some fine cigarette, before hammers are locked and all eyes fixed on blindfolded me.

it kind of reminds me of an old scorpions album, i'll have to find it. so you can see. okay, maybe without the forks, but you get the idea. (that is an excellent album, btw).

so i'm thinking, what would be worse? what could possibly be worse?

i have it!

i went with my daughter's girl scout troop to a horse racing museum (of all places). it elicited many of the issues i had with the stubbs and the horse exhibit at kimbell (such a snoozer for me). my beloved, daughter and i ditched that docent tour because it was all horses. hello!

my girl is in a horse phase, and asked me to go to the museum, so i did. but as soon as i get there, i'm looking for an out. had my mp3 player on hand, fortunately, and dwelt in my own little world for a while.

though i had immensely enjoyed the drive up because my girl's friend's dad drove me and he knew the area and gave me a guided tour of the region. as we turned in to the small town, there was a phenomenal cathedral. then another, then another.

it struck me clear as day, i don't give a rip about the history of this region (got invited to go on the schooner amistad on columbus day, and i wasn't motivated to make it happen). but i opted out of the horse museum to go walk to the various churches and sit in their sanctuaries. look through the stained glass windows. see who actually had the biggest steeple (that is what it is all about, isn't it? the presbys if you're wondering).

the best windows were the episcops, and the lamest windows were methodites. i sat in each sanctuary and smelled that aged wood. stumbled around on the slate walkways (very uneven). and even managed to sit front row of the episcopy church without waking the dead. (my noise to presence ratio greatly decreasing, praise be to God. a lady appeared from behind the altar and said,
i didn't even hear you come in. i thought it was the squirrels.)

very sneaky. who knows what trouble i'll get into now that i can slip in unawares.

before i left, there was a great marble carvy thingy at the aft of the church. it read, so and so, and so and so, he sat in the gates and was known by the elders (quoted correctly and in a fine font, i shall have to find to employ at some point). for her it read, on her tongue was the law of kindness (that scripture, quoted in full).

ah, to have that be my epitaph. i left there wishing it were so.

i reentered the museum to find the group upstairs, my hour passed rapidly, and i wandered back outdoors. perched myself at a bench by a felled tree which some high falutin horse used to graze at. the track for harness racing before me, two horses circled the field. it was quiet and i was quite content. there i could have remained for many hours.

but it was not to be.

i was squealed at by little girls perched on a balcony. they can't help it that they squeal, they just do. when they are in large groups, i've noticed. either delight, or fear, excitment or frenzy elicits these squeals. and they are so ear piercing, so loud, i think it perhaps the worst way to die.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


there was the nicest man in church today. he had that great spirit that made you want to know him. to be in his presence. come to find out, his wife, is a lady who has this same kind of spirit (but it doesn't stop her from speaking truth).

i'm the kind of gal who would rather have a long conversation than talk to a room full of people. i don't talk to many people because these are not the types of conversations many are interested in having. i would rather wait and save all my words and attention for that one person, that one soul, willing to engage than all the mindless prattling in the world. which makes me believe i will never hold any political office, because i can't fake nice. or interest. if i don't care, i walk away. it is a problem on some occassions.

i was talking to my best friend who introduced the concept of not answering personal questions from strangers. i said,
huh. hadn't thought of it that way. maybe it is something i need to employ.

but you see, i wait so long for the right strangers that i don't find their questions much of a problem. because i also answer only the right questions. the sincere questions (you know they are sincere if they let you answer. many are the questions asked, punted out there, and answered by the asker. just hesitate in your reply a few microseconds and you will discover this to be true).

so i'm sitting there, silent. and this man's whole persona is the kind that invites communion. so i ask,
are you an artist?

this question elicits many responses. the most troubling perhaps are those souls who won't don the name from fear.
i write poetry, but i'm not a poet.
i paint, but i'm not a painter.
have it your way. i just asked a question.

he dodged out on the question in this way and i let him.

the lovely helen handed me a birthday card she got from her sister (she wanted me to see it and i didn't understand why until i read the first two lines. her sister had composed an imperfect sonnet. imperfect is neither here nor there, but after realizing it was not belabored and precise i merely enjoyed it. one couplet read: i've composed verse for years / now i'm compeletly out of idears. which elicited a guffaw from me and my standard, if you're going to rhyme, do it well speech).

i shared a line from the liturgy that i found striking and had seemingly never heard before. (i'll talk about that another time) and he said,
do you always write notes?
i said,
but i write about the things that strike me.

so we got talking.

his story is so compelling, i shall have to write on that another day as well. but first to his wife.

i met her six months ago, when i also met him and he met my peeps (as he reminded me when we met again at coffeehour). i considered not going to church this morning because, it generally sucks aside from liturgy. forgive me, but it's true. i don't know why i go sometimes. i just go hoping God will show up. and sometimes He does. sometimes i'm too distracted to notice. sometimes, well, you understand.

so the wife talks about all kinds of things from the occult to heavy metal and tattoos. i've been trying to figure out how to explain her buffeting. it was not the storm surge tsunami of conviction, but the gentle sweeping tidal flow that wears down stones. smoothes jagged shells. renders useful myriad sharp and pointy things.

i could feel the conviction growing the more she talked.

all she said was biblical and i've heard it all before. many of my friends have told me these same things. but the diffence this time was my perception of her sincerity. her holiness. i guess you'd say.

i believe my friends holy and sanctified as well, but sometimes they preach at me and i chalk it up to their being nutz. (i'm just being honest. i get off the hook that way because they are fanatical and i'm sane. though, read me any day of the week and you'll likely have a few religious points to make with me. and i will let you make them. but it was different. if there is no weight of life, of presence, of being, no true communion of soul, all the words in the world are just that. mere words. they have no bearing on anything. even though they are the selfsame words i heard today).

before she left, she was so impressed with my listening and interest, i told her,
you've utterly disarmed me. i have no defense for my tattoo, for listening to heavy metal, for writing the things that i do, but i must go home and examine my heart before God.

and she left it at that. she did not say,
i'm God's mouthpiece, repent sinner.
none of that turning the eyes of the sinner toward herself, but left me before the Living God who knows well enough how to deal with me. she left me in utterly capable Hands.

i'm not sure what will come of our talk today. she said so much. i have to let the weight of conviction and grace do their work. have their way. and i must not hide from the source of Light that shone upon me today. though it break me and make me confess all, again. i will confess all again.

i do not know if it will result in a change of writing or living, that remains to be seen. my best friend commented that i'd mentioned changing my actions, quieting my sounds some time ago. and i told her,
my intent stated does not always work itself out so quickly. it needs time.

though i did manage to slip into a church unawares on saturday. my husband would be very proud. but that is another story for another time.

Friday, October 06, 2006

silent professions

this is one of those topics that chose me. i have now, these two words which have come together and i could go many directions with them.

in my corner chair, i've noticed a few things. libraries are not refuges, havens of silence any more. the kids are back in school, but the librarians (one in particular) seem to noisily conduct themselves.

the corner chair is located about ten feet from the check-out desk. one gentleman librarian seems to dislike either his job or people. regardless of which it is, he is in the wrong profession. because he sits behind a little desk and cycles through people.

at our library when you check out videos, cds, and dvds, they come in plastic cases to keep you from stealing them. to remove these cases, the librarians place the bottom of the case on a metal silver contraption (a very technical word), to release the clear top.

the media is liberated and the plastic case is recycled for the next returned media.

the grey haired librarian, seems nice enough. except that after liberating media, he launches the cases down into the receptacle. where they crash into the previously launched cases with a CRASH!

i've come to believe if you hate people or your job, you need to be working where you can vent your frustrations. a machine shop. a sports field. somewhere you can be loud.

there is so little silence here. so little to be found and cherished. and what i do manage to find, i want to enjoy. i think my hearing is improving, which is a frightening prospect as i will soon, like my husband, hear the mouse that farts in a field 100 yards away.

some have advised me to wear earplugs. which seems to me, defeating the purpose of silence. granted, there is none, or very little. but, buffetting myself against the sound is not easy nor is it the best option for me. it's really just a form of artificial stimulation, though this is a stimulation of silence.

i don't want to insulate myself from life. even from the man who sits behind my chair and rattles the pages of the newspaper, and yawns twenty times in a row (loudly), then sighs heavily to punctuate his efforts.

i've stopped using my mp3 player, for the most part. though i found when i travelled, it made for a most enjoyable trip. that was nearly an entire day of travel, so a little comfort music was in order.

this everyday mucky mucky with life is every day. on going. won't stop. i either learn to cope with it or find ever increasing means to insulate myself against the sound.

strangely enough, since returning from denver, i've found more silence by being silent myself. no radio. no tv. no noise of any kind. then when the sirens blare, i laugh. oddly enough. when the imposter sounds creep in my windows, they are the exception not parting me from non-existing silence.

i guess i've found a way to create some silence, and a large part of that has to do with being silent myself. not expecting it from others, but grateful when it is undisturbed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

confessions of a sometimes stunt driver

when launching cars off onramps, it is imperative, nay more effective if one can do so without actually damaging anything.

the things i've heard from this latest stunt

again. (my mom, apparently keeps track of these things)

you've done this before (my sister, consort to the recordkeeper)

uy. (my mechanic)

i thought you'd belabor missing bly and brush over the accident. (my best friend, knows me well but didn't account for shock and gratitude)

i try to keep you guessing kids.

i've come to the conclusion they should ordain mechanics. though greasy wafers don't sound ideal, it would save everyone a lot of time.

why you ask, why i'll tell you.

one cannot long function without utter honesty to both priests and mechanics. nothing but standing naked before them, however humiliating the story may be, will do. to dub these fellows, either the priest with mechanical ability or the mechanic with priestly duties would allow for some multitasking.

the great problem of our day is specialization. everyone is so specialized, no one speaks common language anymore. proofs, give me certainties, give me the facts but only if you're a phd in your field with tweny years experience. not many qualify. by those standards we should be the quietest, least opinionated bunch of people around. but the human condition has not, will not change. we will always find little soap boxes and stand upon them.

another problem i see with ordained mechanics is the vestments, unless we could get the priest into overalls, i don't see how the robes and drapy bits would not get caught in the innerworkings of a car.

my mechanic does cuss freely. but he does it with a smile and granfatherly, albeit santaclausean style, it is almost admirable. though, i will admit it might offend some churchgoers, but he is the best mechanic with the best prices, so maybe that would be a uniting force.

i laid out my story for him (the whole thing, mind you) he shook his head and laughed.
let's lift her up,
he says. like a surgeon ready to do exploratory surgery.

then took a crowbar and bent something back in the undercarriage. tightened a bolt of somesort.

for the sake of a good story, i opened the trunk and showed him the rim and tire. i remember it was all gnarled.

no gnarles, i said,
huh. looked worse out there.

so, he gets it out, airs it up and turns to the other mechanic wrenching away on a truck on a lift.

you ever heard of blowing a tire off the rim, breaking the seal and not being damaged?

the other mechanic mumbled,

laughing, my mechanic produces an airaeter for spraying pesticides. only this one is full of dish soap and makes a nice bubbly concoction for checking for leaks.

he covers the entire tire and says,
i'll fill it up all the way then you drive around for a couple of days and we'll see if it holds air. right now, i don't trust it. but it's a new tire. shame to waste it.

i smiled.

now if he could have served me the eucharist and absolved me of my sins. that would have been something. but i'm likely not thinking of his time, or the details of breaking out the grape juice and crackers.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


is a terrible word.

i was feeling fine.
i was feeling not stressed (until i realized it's GS cookie sales time again)
i was ...

such a loaded word.

now, i'm trying not to think of it. i've been so busy this year, i haven't had time to help my daughter's troop out at all. i'm hoping that changes, but the squeal of little girls is not my favorite sound in the world. it is right on par with the squeal of breaks before a crash. not a sound i want to hear any time soon.

i guess some part of me is just taking a break from the whole gs thing, too. i founded a troop for my daughter to be involved, i had to carry that troop and assorted parents and girls for a couple years. it was exhausting. i decided i would not do that again willingly.

but i feel kinda bad about it. not being involved. i don't have to be so i am opting out of a great many things. excursions if you will.

my daughter keeps asking about going to girls only camp alone. i'm not sure if i'm brave enough to let her yet. and now we have to go hit the streets and try to sell some cookies.

selling stuff is not a fun thing for me. people are rude and some just slam the door on the little girl in front of them. these are all things i try not to react to lest i encourage pitying ways in her.

she gets sad about it, but i give her the, you can't control people, but you can control how you react talk. i've given it a thousand times. i need to listen to it more than just recite it.

i'm thinking a lot about desire these days. perhaps my thoughts will congeal into something. anything. perhaps not. i guess it remains to be seen.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

not through yet.

i'm up early and on the road by 6:15 this morning. robert bly was doing an 8am session on rumi, and i had to, had to be there. or so i thought.

i stood not two feet from him last night. and didn't say anything to him. i just didn't have anything to say. so i just stood there. smiling.

this morning, it's slick with rain, and i thought i was watching my speed, but apparently wasn't. or maybe it was me hitting the breaks, but i've fishtailed before and never hit the breaks. so i don't see why i would do that this time. i just remember the car veering right, then left and launching onto the freeway below.

yes, not the state approved way of entering highways, i assure you.

fortunately, the air bags did not deploy, which was a miracle realized only after, i turned the longsuffering toyota around (i was in the middle of the freeway facing the wrong direction with a flat tire).

and i pulled to the side of the road. give me credit for getting out the spare, finding the jack and crowbar, and trying. but it didn't work. i had no clue where to stick the thing, and i could only think of an old comedy where the guys put the jack in the wrong place and it came through the hood.

so i didn't try much. i was pretty freaked out.

so i decide, well, it's not going to fix itself. and since i don't have a cell phone, i'll start walking.

it was drizzling rain and i went back to the car for an umbrella. then decide to see what is on the other side of those bushes that flank the freeway.

an apartment complex, fortunately. i'm wading through the bushes and runoff to a chain link fence which i know i'm going to impale myself on if i try, so i don't try, i resorted to damsel in distress, because i saw a man carrying stuff to his car.

sir, i've had an accident.

he didn't have a clue where i was calling him from, since the freeway was right behind me.

sir, i'm by the trash can.
i'm waving from the bushes and not tall enough to even look over the fence just put my hand across it.

he waved at me. and started walking over after loading up his car.

do you have a cell phone i can borrow, i've had an accident. i need to call my husband.


so i call.

poor guy, my hubby wanted to sleep in. and now, not only does he not get to, i'm needing him to play prince charming and come rescue me.

and he does.

i'm thinking all kinds of things, what have i done to the toyota now? of course just before it is almost paid off. though, that may be the best time to ruin cars, i'm not sure.

but it used to pull to the left and i kind of took care of that.

a nice man who was a supervisor for the state of new jersey pulled over with the flashy lights on his truck and since it looked like he was one of those side of the road rescue people, i let him change my tire.

i was precariously close (or so it felt as i sat there) to the onramp of the freeway, and i had filled up the tank with gas before i got on. i could only think of all those cop rear end explosions and such and really wanted to move the car.

so the guy changes my tire. it looked so much easier than i thought and now i know where to put the jack. just like the little picture on the jack. duh!

but i'd never seen it put there, frankly, i've never really seen a tire changed. i was going to take an auto mechanics course in college until i realized it wasn't just changing tires, it was the whole shebang. too much information. that's like asking my husband to take a course in the history of poetry, meter, rhyming and verse. pointless. it would never happen. needless to say, i did not change my own tire.

so after about an hour my hubby shows up and then the cops pull over to see if all is well (one had passed me by as i stood on the side of the freeway with my umbrella. i could have used his help, then. but it was handled when they finally showed up).

all this to say, i guess God's got more for me to do because i'm still here. a little banged up and shaken. but fine. i opted out of the last day of dodge in case i really messed up something on the toyota and it died. so i came home.

i'll miss some bly readings today, but not much else. i'd seen everyone else. and i did get to see bly read last night. i'm still pretty tired and fighting a cold, though i am mostly well. it has been freezing at dodge. it was raining much of the day yesterday and i was willing to cuddle strangers, that is how cold it was.

one guy sitting in front of me had no jacket. just two shirts on. his shivers were making me cold. i wanted to rub his arms, or something, wished i had something i could give him, but nothing.

it was a wild time. and i've still not processed denver. so maybe i'll have some time to do that. maybe.

btw, half-leaf flew away yesterday while i was at dodge. mr. picky flew away while i was in denver. i got to see half-leaf, as we came home early friday. they got out of here just before the cold. praise God.