my summer of prequels, sequels, and nonconsensual sorrow

Three very important books came out this year: Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal, The Carrie Diaries: Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell, and Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. I’m a teacher and as the summer approached, I was thrilled as I anticipated ordering the three from my local independent bookstore. When I called in the order over the phone, my girlfriend put her hand over her face in embarrassment, but I was too excited to care.

Books about girl friendship are my thing. I’m not totally sure why. I read or heard somewhere that every good TV show has as its base a fantasy ideal and maybe as someone who was socialized female but was always unpopular and confused, the cadre of girls who have my back is my fantasy. And I also have a distinct childhood memory of daydreaming about the future of The Baby-Sitters Club. I was excited to have found a series about young girls because we both had our whole futures ahead of us and I could read about their futures as I lived out mine.

The Baby-Sitters Club was my big series as a kid, and I attempted to start a book group about them a couple of years ago but I wasn’t as much on the pulse of my generation as I hoped I was. Fans are putting out “Where Are They Now” articles about them and my friends email me links to those because they know I will be pleased. Last summer, along with the first Carrie Diaries, a Baby-Sitters Club prequel came out. It was fine but I didn’t find it more engaging than just picking up Claudia and Crazy Peaches or anything like that. I’m a big fan of the graphic novels that were published a couple of years ago and I wish there could have been more of them.

Even though I knew of no big Baby-Sitters Club related publishing events, I was still thrilled. I’ve known about Sweet Valley Confidential for about a year and anticipated a second Carrie Diaries book since the first one hardly even got her into New York. I didn’t discover Sisterhood Everlasting until right as the summer began, and that was the one that my girlfriend was genuinely excited about.

The summer started innocently enough. We were actually having beautiful weather and while my girlfriend was at work, I would take Sweet Valley Confidential out into the back yard and read it, stretched out on a towel, even though I do not have a girlish size 6 figure with blond hair, blue-green eyes, and a dimple in one cheek. It was completely devourable, in the exact same way as the original books were- overly dramatic, simply written, and with familiar stereotypical/archetypal characters. There was some surprise gayness, an ending that untangled a lot of the romantic drama, and a list of “where are they nows” for an epilogue.

We had a trip planned for a few weeks into the summer and my girlfriend was planning to save Sisterhood Everlasting for that trip. She would grin when she saw the book, anticipating the joys it would bring. I would grin in response, pleased to be the provider of excellent girly fiction. Eventually she just couldn’t stand it any longer. She decided to just read the book, even though we weren’t leaving for a week. “Bee lives in the Mission!” she told me, as we were cuddled up together in bed. I was trying to extend my girly fiction summer and was reading The Dud Avocado for the first time. I felt the bed shake with laughter. “She had to dig through the trash to find her phone!” So like our impulsive Bee!

And then the bed was shaking again. I looked over, and there was my girlfriend, tears streaming down her face. “This is a bad book,” she said. My vision of myself as Good Provider Boyfriend shattered and I felt like Puppy Killing Boyfriend. She kept reading anyway, and her hints about loss in our own lives and my periodic peeking over her shoulder led me to figure out the tragedy in advance. And I’m going to tell you one part of it, feeling guiltless because it happens very early in the book and because it seems so frustratingly unnecessary as you are reading it. That one part is that, yes, one of the sisterhood dies.

How can this happen? This girl is not Beth March, Walter Blythe, Hilary Whitney, all deaths that you see coming and that have some sort of noble martyrdom in them. This is one of those “What the fuck? Why is this author mean!?” deaths. My theory, looking over Trisha’s shoulder, was that it was for the rest of the characters to grow. But as I watched my strong beautiful girlfriend who has already mourned so deeply in her life already, my opinion was still that the author was unnecessarily mean, even as I tried to comfort us both with my theories that growth would be involved in all of this. I mean, I hadn’t let her read Commencement, and here I had handed her this razor blade apple of a book.

I finished The Dud Avocado and then a reread of Rainbow Valley and then dove into Carrie Diaries: Summer and the City. I have a love/hate relationship with the Sex in the City TV show and movies, baffled in some ways by where the love comes from, having a lot to say about the socioeconomic, race, gender stereotypes and messages. But I’ve seen it all and think of “the girls” as some old friends who I know well and who never change. I read Sex in the City as I was about halfway through watching the series a few years ago and I thought it wasn’t very interesting, except that Stanford Blatch had long hair (I have only since watched There’s Something About Mary). But I grabbed the first Carrie Diaries book as soon as I could and read it quickly. It reminded me of Ellen Conford’s books or some other poky, sort of boring and dorky, sort of scandalous, somewhat dated paperback I would get out of the spinner at the library in the mid-90’s. Like in the other book and the series, Carrie’s epiphanies are not that impressive, but she’s just charming, flawed, and likable enough to keep you going. The last chapters get interesting as she finally makes her way from the suburbs to New York and one of the other “girls” makes a surprise appearance.

Summer and the City is set almost entirely in New York City and reminded me of all the ways being eighteen and naive makes everything seem like an epic adventure. It makes me miss the epic adventures but not enough to be stupid enough to make them happen again. I’ve only been to New York City once and am planning another trip, so the romanticized glamor of New York, amidst fabulous Carrie fashion decisions, made the book a really fun read. Nobody died and more characters from the TV series show up, and I was pleased by this fluffy read as well.

Trisha was staying up late nights to finish Sisterhood Everlasting and in the end she declared it a good book. I stalled for awhile, reading High Fidelity before braving it. Finally, I did. I brought it to a coffeehouse one grey San Francisco morning, and as I read it my insides got chillier and chillier. I got angrier and angrier as I read, telling the author, in my head, that I and the characters had grown plenty before this book and this was totally unnecessary.

The real problem with the book was that Ann Brashares was writing about grief in all of its specific steps and stages from the point of view of three different characters, and it was all completely recognizable. It was a bad, cruel book because it dragged you unwillingly through the steps you already know too well. You see, it’s all about consent. I did not consent to be grieving in the middle of my summer vacation. And I didn’t want to grow. I just wanted pants magic.

And then, like always, it came. I’m a sucker. Each character grew and changed and lived on the page, and I was right there with them, like Bastian to Atreyu. We went through the mirror gates, we faced the Southern Oracle, and when we were done, we were able to wish and hope again. And even though I hadn’t consented to any of the sisterhood dying, it turned out it wasn’t a bad book, because it shook me up, cleared out cobwebs, and actually wound up being fun again, eventually.

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Published in: on 4 August, 2011 at 6:45 am  Comments (1)  

looking through a stripped copy of the fall issue of bitch magazine. there’s a review of danya ruttenberg’s surprised by god: how i learned to stop worrying and love religion. i skimmed the review and put the book on hold at the library. the bit that really got me was “On the other hand, she learns that religion is– and by definition, must be–a communal endeavor.”

i haven’t been to the meetinghouse since thanksgiving day. i like going there for holidays a lot. it was a pretty silent meeting, but the food sharing was convivial and i love that part. i love that feeling of being surrounded by caring people, without the “typical” holiday stress stuff.

and i haven’t been back since. that’s only 2 sundays, but maybe that’s my biggest streak ever. i’ve been busy, and last weekend an unexpected (and ultimately somewhat wretched) out of town trip happened… is that why i feel so disconnected from… something?

i’ve been feeling a little disconnected from the meeting lately, which is unfortunate. i’ve moved across the bay, i’ve gotten a job that, while wonderful, makes it hard to stick around for evening meetinghouse events. there are plenty of reasons that are completely… reasonable. and then there’s the way that i’m not really the baby anymore and i don’t have the drama anymore, so i don’t “need” aspects of the meeting in the same way that i used to. it’s really easy to be a flake right now.

i feel like it’s become “too easy,” maybe, but i’m also “too busy” to do more. even in my personal life, my prayers have become short and breathy. but in other ways, i feel very steady.

“She dismisses the contemporary American practice of assembling a personal faith from bits and pieces of many religions as a symptom of endemic consumerism. Religion, she argues, is not a form of self-help or self-actualization. For her, it is service. It is submission of the self to a larger reality of purpose.”

i’ve started questioning what is missing, and if it’s actually missing or just deep. i think i need to be doing more work than i am, but i don’t know what that work is, or how exactly to do it. and i both want more help from quakers and i don’t feel quite ready to commit to doing anything different than what i’m doing. don’t you hate when that happens?

Published in: on 12 December, 2008 at 8:48 pm  Comments (3)  

everyone has one.

“’My pain is ugly, Angel Juan. I feel like I have so much ugly pain,’ says Witch Baby in a dream.

‘Everyone does,’ Angel Juan says. ‘My mother says that pain is hidden in everyone you see. She says try to imagine it like big bunches of flowers that everyone is carrying around with them. Think of your pain like a bunch of red roses, a beautiful thorn necklace. Everyone has one.’”

Witch Baby, Francesca Lia Block

i just reread my favorite book. dangerous angels by francesca lia block contains the first five “weetzie bat books,” weetzie bat, witch baby, cherokee bat and the goat guys, missing angel juan, and baby be-bop. it’s so good. so so so good.

and so so so problematic. it romanticizes everything, and since it’s written by a white person, the people of color can become caricatures and stereotypes, even when she’s trying to write about them with the utmost love. parts of it hurt me in a big way…

but it wouldn’t have the power to hurt me like it does if it wasn’t so fantastic and wise in so many other ways. it deals with queerness and love and pain and angst in this way that has healed me so many times. that quote at the top of this entry has effected me in so many ways since i first read it. it helped me stop hurting myself and now it reminds me of how to connect to people, how to be open, how to listen and not be afraid, how to love.

i want to give this book as a gift to everyone i love, and i also want to hide it. reading it feels like praying, and like a car wreck. i don’t know what to do with all that. for me it’s only 2% car wreck and 98% praying, but i’m in the dominant culture. how would my pain necklace stab me if other pains were reflected in this book over and over again?

Published in: on 1 June, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Comments (6)  

i’ve got a post bubbling, but i think it will take some more thought and an extended session in front of a nonwork computer for it to come out right. but i’ve been tagged for a meme from both cat and robin for this meme, so i’m doing it.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
as usual, i feel like i need a ruler to do this meme. and also, closest to what part of me? and this time, there’s the particular joke of… i don’t own any of these books! they are all around me, but they belong to the store i work at. i’m going to pick the one that i can see most clearly from the computer, rather than the one that is as far away from my leg as this one is from my head, or the one that’s at the bottom of the stack and thus, actually closest, probably, because it’s right by my hand.

“Prayers are addressed to him only in case of sickness. ‘Thou who art above, take not my child; he is still too young!’4 Offerings are rarely made to him except during storms.

4 Martin Gusinde, ‘Das höchste Wesen bei den Selk’nam auf Feuerland,’ Festschrift W. Schmidt, Vienna, 1928, pp. 269-274.”

cheerful.

that was from the sacred and the profane by mircea eliade. it’s the 1959 harper, brace & world edition, for those keeping score at home. it has some interesting markings on it from the previous owner.

i’m not a big tagger… despite the perpetual blueberry-scented expo marker in my pocket… so i’m going to skip that part. but feel free to do it on your blog if you want.

Published in: on 7 March, 2008 at 8:23 pm  Comments (1)  

everybody’s got their something

i’m reading two books that are working as companions to each other:

if god is love: rediscovering grace in an ungracious world by philip gulley & james mulholland

&

wide awake by david levithan

i’ve never read anything by the authors of the former, but it’s in our meetinghouse library, and it’s been recommended by a few people (like robin m.). it’s a hopeful, helpful book about acceptance, love and compassion as part of what god is and what god wants.

david levithan is my favorite young adult writer alive today. i’ve read 2 other books by him, and each book he writes seems to fill an empty space in the universe. the books he writes the world needs, and he writes them lovingly and elegantly. this book is about a time in the not too distant future when a gay jewish president is elected! it’s set after “the reign of fear” and during “the jesus revolution” when people– especially young people– are embracing that whole love and compassion and acceptance part of christianity. it’s a delicious book.

***

the beyond diversity 101 training has been postponed until the fall. i’m sad, but it also makes things feel a bit more expansive. i don’t have to “get everything done” by the end of march. and i feel okay with exploring local options a bit more.

as usual, i got my head out from under the blankets by laying out exactly what they were with a few friends (of varying capitalizations) and experiencing their compassion with my confusion. golly, i love that there are people in my life who will let me be a brat for awhile and will actually scold me for calling myself a brat, rather than for the bratty things. because the only way to get through them is to just have them and accept them and to… get through them.

you cannot scold yourself away. you will always be there with your everything. and so will everyone. and accepting all of that is the challenge. and it can be a pain in the butt, but it can also be really fun.

our goal should be to figure out our role within the context of the whole

my therapist said, “you were unpopular growing up, of course you like having such an accepting spiritual community.”

this was in february or something. it sticks with me in the paranoid moments. she didn’t exactly phrase it that way, like, “i know this fact about you that i’m going to bring up as you are telling me a joy,” which is what it looks like. we were just talking about this or that, and then she brought up that or this.

if god is love is community, and i want community because i was lonely once, where does that leave god?

but not always. because it’s not always that simple.

i finished the rob bell book, and in fact it did get all “marriage is between one man and one woman.” it never got “and so not two men or two women or 5 people of various genders and definitely no intersex people or trannies.” but it seemed strongly implied.

and sometimes his descriptions of love and holiness were so Good and right on and just right, and so i want to scream at his smug way of sliding past me and slamming the door.

because no matter who i become, what i look like, how much i pass, who i’m with, i’m still queer, and i think of that as a blessing. i like that part of me. in the same way that i like the weird ways my middle fingers bend away from each other and the color of my eyes and my musical taste. it’s how i fit here. and i’m not about who i sleep with or how i identify, but it’s still there.

dear rob bell, how is it that the way that i love less holy because i can’t make babies?

dear god, and why is it that i can’t make babies?

i saw juno on christmas night. i went to the swedenborgian church and st. gregory’s episcopalian on christmas eve night, and then i went to the quaker meeting and the potluck after that and then i went home and i sat down on my bed, and then i remembered i’d wanted to see juno at some point and so why not now. the secret is that as i was sitting at meeting, i was getting some mean menstrual cramps because i’ve been taking progesterone this week to get some stuff out of my system that’s been building up for the past year. so going to a movie about a pregnant teenager on christmas while i was bleeding was surreal on a whole lot of levels. i’ve got a bad case of baby fever, and the film didn’t help.

there was a point to this other than some sort of weird “this is what a tranny’s life is like sometimes” moment, but it’s true. sometimes, you feel weird and unnatural because you are putting the hormones that your body would naturally be producing in your body instead of the ones that feel much more right. and you ask yourself a lot of questions about that, especially if you’re me. but i’ve had this minor crazy feeling this past week. all unsettled and off and crazy. and it’s reaffirmed my trans identity, even though there’s a part of me that is viewing it as ridiculous. how is it that i only feel at home here (here=in my body) when it’s got this stuff in it that my body does not make (or makes in lower doses?). i don’t know. but that is the state of things right now.

charles gave me a photocopying task this week. he knew that i wasn’t working at the school and so he offered to pay me for photocopying this beautiful old book of edward burroughs’ works. it was published in 1660something (i think 1662) and has all those beautiful elements– multi-sized fonts, the long s that looks like an f, the slight indentations from the printing. and misnumbering like crazy. 346, 347, 843, 349…. 561, 572, 573, 564, 565… etc. but it always eventually sorted itself out and the numbering was correct again. is there a metaphor in this?

i did not do the photocopying in quaker silence. i broke out my ipod (someone abandoned a charger cord at my house just before i moved in and we’ve officially declared it unclaimed, so when i have access to a computer, i can charge mine!), and listened to some of my favorite things that i haven’t heard in ages. kimya dawson, the mountain goats, christina aguilera’s back to basics, the idlewild soundtrack, le tigre’s “keep on livin'”! and i danced! and i turned the pages, gently pressing them down against the glass as i bobbed my head and kicked my feet, and i thought about joy and life and love and how much i like liking myself. how much i like “keep on living” because it reminds you that you are worth something, even when you don’t need to be reminded. how much i like the mountain goats because they are always so sad and yet there is something hopeful there. how much i like kimya, because her music and her life are these giant inspirations because she’s been through shit and she’s still here and she wants to give people what she’s learned because it’s important. because the world is beautiful and we have to remember that.

and then i got home and i looked at my livejournal, and there was an entry from kimya about hitting 9 years of sobriety. and i thought about how hard it is to live, to not self-destruct sometimes, and how grateful i am to not be there right now. and if god is love is community and that is how we survive and how we thrive, what more is there? what more can there be but the things that make us remember why we are alive? except then it got so so so sad because someone she knew died and and and… that is part of life too. part of living and loving life and getting through it and pushing past the self-destruction is learning and relearning and relearning that there are people that will stay there and eventually they will leave and it’s not your fault and it hurts.

and where does self-help end and religion start? of course it is god, but when god is love is community BUT also those moments of deep deep aloneness that is not aloneness that is indescribable but is part of yourself… what is it? what is it what is it what is it?

this past week’s on faith question is about hr 847, the house resolution about christmas. i read starhawk’s response today and found it to be a very loving but challenging answer, going into what christmas is and what it means and how our current politics reflect that meaning… or don’t. the comments were also interesting, too.

that’s all. good night.

Published in: on 30 December, 2007 at 12:35 am  Comments (4)  

so this is what the volume knob’s for.

i’m reading sex god by rob bell right now. among other things. i read a lot of things at once. not at once exactly, but they’ve got bookmarks in them. i open them at least once a week.

rob bell is the guy who does the nooma videos, which robin m. introduced to our meeting about a year ago. they’re a mix of earnest and too clean, but they were definitely thought-provoking. it’s been exciting to read a book by him, even when i feel a bit like i’m being played. as someone who came to see a few of the nooma movies with us said, “this isn’t a movie; it’s a sermon.” and there are aspects of sermons that you learn from and there are parts where you just watch the person’s attempt to teach you and that distracts from your ability to hear it.

anyway, sex god is about sex and god. and in general, it’s smart and loving, two things i like in my sermons. but i was about midway through, and i was noticing a distinct lack of mention of homosexuality. and i got really curious, so i decided to go on the internet and google the words “rob” and “bell” and “homosexuality.”

and then i found myself in the magical land of homophobia! *sigh* not exactly the best way to end christmas night. i forget that people think this way sometimes. i forget that love is lost and forgotten, joy is completely out of the question, and bible-based self-righteous rage is all that is left.

and i am so permeable and malleable still. and that was the first i ever heard of homosexuality really. not from my family. my dad made some gay jokes, but i didn’t know that’s what they were. but when i was in high school and depressed anyway and then starting to come out and then suddenly BAM, i heard that the way i was feeling was a straight road to hell. and i’m having a mean ol’ case of baby fever these days, and the echoes of the way that traditional baby having is not possible in my case (and there is relief, of course. it’s a lot harder for queers to get accidentally pregnant than it is for straight people. but it also hurts.). and it was, you know, the middle of the night, and i just couldn’t stop reading, curling further into that high school angst and sadness.

but at some point fortunately, i remembered joy. i remembered it as something bigger than what was being talked about. i remembered that there might be words written that say that things that feel Right to me are Wrong, but that my gauge of Rightness vs. Wrongness is the joy in it. there is love where i live and it’s better for me than following rules that hurt. and that’s what i know.

in san francisco, there’s a group that’s called gay shame. they do a lot of anarchist action and graffiti and one day i saw a sign they’d made that said, “fags hate god.” and it was so obvious. if all you know is that god hates you, all you’re going to do is hate god. but… for me at least… there’s joy in god too. god is all truth and queerness is part of my understanding of truth. god is in my queerness. hating one is hating the other.

oh, right, back to rob bell. all i could find out from my reading is that no one knows what he thinks about homosexuality. that he keeps being vague about it. the people who sounded so angry were angry because it implied softness. i’m just nervous because not knowing is worse than knowing the worst. not that i need rob bell’s endorsement, but you know, when you’re reading a person’s books about how sex and god are linked, you kind of want to make sure you have the same definitions of sex.

Published in: on 27 December, 2007 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

yesterday morning, my mom’s visit to san francisco from florida ended. i visited her before work and then she left. my ladyfriend had left the morning before. but i had a plan.

christmas may not be the day of jesus’ birth, but it is a day when much of the northern hemisphere is in need of some light and warmth. so appropriating the whole solstice thing was pretty smart. and although my understanding of the way that it got appropriated is pretty troubling, i still like the gathering in light and warmth. and since my dear ones were either away or had other plans, i decided to go church.

i actually had this giant scheme of going to as many church services as possible on the 24th and 25th. but i invited someone along with me, and coordinating that among two people can be hard. and my list felt a little bit like a list of tourist locations i wanted to visit, so i let it be a little less crammed. and the two services i went to last night and the meeting this morning were just right.

the first service we went to was at the swedenborgian church for their children and family service. there was scripture reading and singing, and i found myself singing my heart out with a group for the first time in a long time. for much of my adolescence, choir singing was what i did, but as i got older i didn’t want my high-pitched girly voice any more. and then once i started ridding myself of that voice, with the aid of hormones, i discovered that you don’t approach a tenor voice the way you approach a soprano voice, and when you try, you sound like peter brady. which was really hard to deal with. but i sang last night, and i sat with these people who reminded me of so many congregations i’ve shared christmas with in the past.

and then we went to st. gregory (after getting turned away from a church that was too full), the episcopalian church that is hugely featured in take this bread, a book i read recently. and it was just like it was in the book, and it was lovely, and i am not an episcopalian. at the end of michael engaged paul, the “interim rector” as the website tells me, in a conversation about a comment paul had made about shepherds as disreputable characters. he responded JUST LIKE HE WOULD HAVE IN THE BOOK, which was really weird. i KNEW he wasn’t a fictional character, but having someone who you’ve only ever imagined in your mind come alive right before you can be pretty fantastic. paul welcomed us both and asked if it was our first time there, and i told him yes and that i’d read sara’s book, and that while i appreciated it, michael and i were definitely quakers. he laughed and said, “i love quakers! we’re sort of the tibetan buddhist quakers.”

we came home, and i put my vegetables in the oven for an hour while i did some pre-bed things. somehow those two services had been all i needed to feel welcomed, to really appreciate my own community, and to feel terribly exhausted. eventually i made it bed, falling asleep pretty much immediately.

this morning i made breakfast for myself and michael, and we headed over to the meetinghouse. we were the first people there, shortly followed by elizabeth, who brought the turkey, some pies, plum chutney, and table decorations. more people gathered and then there was meeting for worship.

ruth spoke of herod and his love of power and how that is an addiction and how sorry she feels for him, and pete who was sitting next to me talked about forgiveness and how difficult that is. later, during lunch, i heard ruth remind pete that forgiveness isn’t the magical automatic thing people make it out to be, and that you first have to accept that the anger you are feeling is okay to feel, that the hurt is real. and maybe that was just some sort of psychological insight, but that moment felt strangely important.

i also spoke. i spoke about this being a time for family and friends, and how paradoxically i found myself desiring to be welcomed as a stranger. i spoke about how at this time of year the line between friends and family instead of strangers becomes a little blurrier. i spoke about my gratitude at how i was accepted at the other churches and how it reminded me of being welcomed at our meeting, and how welcoming strangers is so important, because that’s the only way to build friends and family, to build the beloved community.

before i spoke, i had some things i really thought i was going to say, but something shifted as i stood there, and i’m still not sure what it was, and if the shift was my own or outside of myself. i had really meant to focus on how hard it is to welcome strangers, but that never made it out. maybe it was too smug? or maybe it was there without me having to say it.

later i talked to a few people about it, including michael, who hadn’t thought of our journey in quite the same terms (though neither had i until meeting for worship), and to whom i mentioned that it was as much a matter of me welcoming strangers as it was them welcoming me.

being a stranger at someone else’s church is a lot like being with family. we are coming from the same place, but we do it so differently. and the places we meet at can be delightful, and the places where we differ can be so tense. because if we share so much, how can they do things so differently? how are we still strangers?

o’er they spirit gently stealing, visions of delight revealing, breathes a pure and holy feeling…

i am at the san francisco monthly meetings annual retreat at ben lomond quaker center. it is so good. it is rich and full in giant ways that i think i can only express in bullet points right now, hopefully to revisit later.

* i’ve noticed people’s faces change almost immediately upon arriving. the faces are more soft and relaxed and happy. i’ve never noticed that happen quite so strongly before. people who have slightly pinched faces most of the time are absolutely giddy here. it’s lovely.
* (puck and i are breaking up, and a lot of that is coming from some strength i’ve found from going to co-dependents anonymous.) robin m. shared vocal ministry about knowing how to let go of something and she mentioned the serenity prayer and i cried and cried.
* baby molly has been at the meetings for worship and her crows and gurgles have been wonderful for me. i’ve been thinking about how much like a baby i am– so excited about learning to stand, so confused and sad for reasons i don’t understand sometimes, making a mess of myself sometimes, being surrounded by love, misinterpreting love and feeling threatened…
* we had worship sharing about god’s call for us, and i just kept coming back to how right now i don’t feel called to much outward work and how i’m focusing inwardly and… i wound up saying something like, “it feels decadent to say this and i’m kind of embarrassed about it, but i feel called to learn how to be comfortable with and grateful for who i am… and not to perfect it all away.” i feel like the “learning to be grateful for who i am” part of it is very new.
* i got to misquote kate bornstein at bible study today. i got the gist of it, but i couldn’t remember the exact words, but i have it elsewhere, so i can share it accurately here: “It takes a great deal of courage to be delightful in this world.” we were reading john 15, about jesus’s command to love, and his warning that people will hate those who follow him.
* i am rereading anne of avonlea this weekend and it is just right.
* there has been so much music and laughter and delicious food and happy children and light light light in so many ways.
* today during meeting for worship (once the moldy peaches’ “who’s got the crack?” got out of my head), “all through the night” (the folk song… not the cyndi lauper song, which i also love) was in my head and it really resonated.

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.
it wasn’t until i was walking back down the hill that i remembered the parts that lull, but i was just thinking about the parts that protect. things are night-ish for me right now, and so… it was good.

* deer! close up!!! and a fawn!!!!

reading karen armstrong’s the battle for god and ann brashare’s 3rd sisterhood of the traveling pants book, girls in pants, i was startled to find a similar theme. the them and “moral” of both, seems to be that… when people feel bad about themselves and/or when they feel threatened, they get mean. this is, i guess, sort of obvious, but… i think we miss it a lot when we are dealing with difficult people. i thought about it a lot today at the peace vigil outside the federal building. mostly people who passed were really positive, but we had 2 really angry people, too. when i was hearing the happy honks, i thought about the idea i’ve heard some that “the tide has turned” and the way that this is linked to people’s frustration (mine included) that it took other people so long to realize that the war is wrong. i’ve heard (and i think said) “how could they be so stupid for so long?” but maybe not’s the right question. “why are they so hurt and scared and angry?” might be the right one. ministering to their hurts is probably the best way to win them over… but i’m still speaking of us & them…

and, also, i was a total grouchy brat yesterday, so it’s not like my insights into human nature are doing me a whole lot of practical good right now.

….

in other news, i was going over some quotes i marked from the battle for god and these got me thinking about quaker plain dress:

“Western observers were particularly dismayed by the spectacle of women returning to the veil, which they had seen as a symbol of Islamic backwardness and patriarchy since the days of Lord Cromer. But it was not experienced in this way by those Muslim women who voluntarily assumed Islamic dress for practical reasons and also as a way of casting off an alien Western identity. Donning a veil, a scarf, and a long dress could be a symbol of that ‘return to the self’ which Islamists were attempting with such difficulty in the postcolonial period…

Where Western men and women attempt to bring the body under the control of the human will in their gyms and workouts, and cling to this life by making teir bodies impervious to the process of time and ageing, the veiled Islamic body tacitly declars that it is under divine orders and oriented not toward this world but to transcendence. In the West, men and women often display and even flaunt their expensively acquired tans and finely honed bodies as a mark of privilege; Muslim bodies, concealed under layers of very similar clothing, emphasize the equality of the Islamic vision. By the same token, they assert the Koranic ideal of community over the individualism of Western modernity.”

… it’s funny because it gave me insight into my own trouble about plain dress. how plain dress and plain speech for me right now involve revealing all. all of who i am… believing that that’s important.

… i have more to say about both of those topics, but i have to go.