war requiem and meme of fives

this past weekend, the san francisco choral society performed benjamin britten’s “war requiem” at davies hall. i met with some other quakers who held signs (i held my favorite “there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear”) and passed out leaflets with requests that people consider the spiritual aspects of the peace and what they could do to help end the war (one side was full of volunteer opportunities with the afsc). there was also a short paragraph inviting people to quaker meeting.

the response was entirely positive. i was very brave and handed out pamphlets, which i usually shy away from. i had a few mini conversations and overheard a few. there were comments along the lines of “i didn’t know you’d made it out west” or “you guys are cool!… i think.” also a woman came and asked why we were protesting the performance. i said we were really more in solidarity with it (the two organizers of our little group actually held tickets to the performance). she said she would write about us in her article about the concert, and she gave me her card. look out for the next issue of the “ukrainian weekly” for the news!

a newish quaker described us as like the proverbial light on the hill, but with a path completely obscured and blocked. the man’s saying he didn’t know we’d made it out west is in line with that idea. i like whacking away a few of the branches. some might call it proselytizing, some might call it witnessing… to me it’s just saying, “hey, we’re here. we’re an option in this world full of options. and we’re friendly… and look, there’s even a young one!”

***

robin did the meme of fives and it got me thinking about some things, so i’m going to post it, too.

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

1) What were you doing 5 years ago?
i was meeting izz, miranda, amy, and johanna for the first time. going to the portland zine symposium for the first time. getting a job with princess cruises on their phones. getting acclimated to life after college and life in seattle. getting freaked out about getting close to the first anniversary of my dad’s death. trying to find the right unitarian church to go to.

2) What are 5 things on your to-do list for today?
contact hr. call the building manager for the meetinghouse to make sure the young adults can meet. go work at the bookstore for 6 hours today. clean something. stop sniffling!

3) What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
cheese and crackers, cheese and apples, yukon gold potato chips, pickles, vegan donuts.

4) What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
take care of my mom, do nice things for the world, live somewhere pretty, visit lots of places, help my friends.

5) What are five jobs you’ve had?
rose grader, childcare worker, botanical bookstore clerk, assistant in the humanities office, college bookstore clerk. (i decided to go chronological.)

and like robin, i don’t know who to tag, but it’s fun, you should do it.

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october.

in 2nd grade, my best friend and i planned our suicides. i don’t remember what exactly we planned to do, or even exactly why, but we talked about it a lot.

5 years ago, on halloween, my dad died of a drug overdose. i don’t know if it was on purpose or not, but… the way i’ve been thinking about it most recently is that he finished killing himself on that day. drugs and self-loathing were such a part of him, for as long as i can remember.

finally, for the first time, about a month ago, which was about a month after i had a “woah! maybe i’m not actually crazy!” realization, i finally thought, “woah! suicide is not necessarily an option.” for as long as i can remember, when things get bad, i’ve held hands with the idea that i could die if i really wanted. and finally finally i’m thinking, “or actually not.”

the last few octobers have been hard. particularly at the beginning of the month– i see the 31st at the end of it and i dread it. eventually, and actually well before the day, i make peace with it, and then on the 31st i’ve been more okay than i thought i would be. sometimes the 30th has been really hard.

this year, october has felt mostly okay. i was even thinking of dressing up. for logistical reasons, i think i’ve decided not to, at this point, but i’ve been actually weirdly excited about the day. but in the past day or so, it’s gone back to, “no, really? does it actually have to come this year? couldn’t it just pass? can’t i just sleep all day?”

i don’t know what the day will actually bring, but those were some of the things going on in me during meeting for worship today. and there was some ministry about death and lost people.

at some point, i clasped my hands and realized that my fingers are getting thicker. they’re harder to put around each other, which is strange. and my carpal tunnel was acting up a little. and i thought, “i am so much both of my parents.” my dad’s thick fingers, my mom’s sad wrists.

and i thought about how when i was first contemplating testosterone, i freaked out a lot about the concept of looking more and more like my broken, damaged, dead father. could i actually face that… face?

but really– and maybe it’s the effects of these hormones and maybe it’s growing up and maybe this gender really is a skin i’m comfortable with and maybe it’s the peace of quaker meeting– or maybe (probably) it’s a combination of all of those– and maybe it’s not permanent– i no longer terrify myself. and that’s pretty nice.

i cannot find my most recent paper journal. our world has been pretty chaotic, and so it makes sense. apparently our cat who pees when he gets stressed out has peed on a couple of our blankets recently, and i am not surprised. i am working on not freaking out about the fallout from the chaos, because i knew things were getting chaotic, and chaotic things make messes and that’s just true.

i’ve started going to al anon. people have been saying, recently, in a way that i’ve never heard before, “perhaps, cubbie, the fact that your father was a drug addict has had effects on the way that you deal with things now.” and seriously, that was a big shocker for me. obvious, but also startling. and i had never really thought of al anon before, but i’m trying it out. the two meetings that i’ve been to have both focussed on step 3, which is one of those about the higher power, and right now, since i’ve been running into some weird myths about god that i made up when i was really little, it’s been helpful to have this really focussed lens with which to look at them.

so, sunday, at meeting, i was looking at that some, and in this bright shining way, “god is not my need to be perfect” came into my head, and it was such a giant “a-ha!” and i am so glad that it came to me, because… that has been god for me in so many ways for a very long time. and it’s so not true.

Published in: on 20 February, 2007 at 11:10 am  Comments (1)  

“the soul selects her own society” : or what i want out of a quaker blog, PLUS extra bonus material about rage & cubbie

about two months ago, maybe going near 3 now, though i’m not absolutely sure on the timeframe, i went to my first quaker meeting. i went because i was dissatisfied by my recent experiences with unitarians, my desire for a faith community, my desire for more spiritual fulfillment, and because my partner, whose aunt is a professor at a quaker college, said something along the lines of, “quakers are nice.”

that first meeting, two things struck me: 1) that the silence was really nourishing & 2) that i felt immediately welcomed and accepted by everyone. i have not felt that at any uu church i’ve been to. i haven’t felt any animosity, but i’ve felt like the outsider of a cool clique.

every sunday, i’ve found myself wanting to do nothing but go to meeting. the silence has continued to nourish, in deeper and more profound ways, and that welcome has blossomed into a feeling of genuine care. there is such a recognition that we are all seekers. i love that. none of my questions have been brushed off. everything has been thoughtfully considered. i feel young and new and naive, but that has come from my own baggage surrounding those things (and has not always felt negative) more than from the group itself.

in, i think it was holy silence by j. brent bill, there is a part about community as part of the spiritual journey, and how for community to work, you really have to know each other. and… i’ve always been very much about putting myself out there to people. sometimes i worry that it is self-absorption. and i think some of it is. but as i said in the introduction, i want people to be able to learn from me– and at the same time… i think i, um… kinda wanna be… eldered. if i understand the term correctly. i want the been there done that people to hold me accountable. that seems really scary and also… kind of selfish — take time out of your busy schedules to monitor my spiritual growth!!! (please?) but i want to give back. in many ways i don’t know how that giving back will be, but…

i was starting to write “i am prepared to give so much to this spiritual community” and i think that’s true, but the word “prepared” startled me, so i’m going to not quite say it, in the hopes that it will feel absolutely true soon-esque.

i might get defensive, i might get cranky, i might cry a lot, but… i do that with the things i tell myself, too. i hope you will be gentler, stricter, and truer to me than i am.

today’s paper journal entry (i have so much i’ve written in the past months that i plan to share, but… this is what it seems i should post today. still with the giant and scary.)

“i have been battling more stress in the past 2 days. it seems like whenever i view my home as a sanctuary– and sort of specify what that means, there is trouble.

but i have noticed that the things that have brought me joy while calm bring me some calm while stressed– though it’s amazing how much i battle that. there are times when as much as i hate being pissed off, its still how i weirdly prefer to be. it feels like a gift, like something i deserve to feel– even though peace and joy would actually feel better. but i feel entitled to my rage and in it, i seem to say that nothing should get in its way.

it’s interesting, because i’ve noticed this in reference to my alone time related anger. and so it’s like, ‘well, if i don’t et my alone time i should be allowed to be really angry about it.’

but my anger isn’t constructive– it’s teary and frustrated and full of desires to physically rip holes in myself. the alternative brings a glow to things. it shouldn’t be hard. humanity is so silly.

this morning & yesterday morning i didn’t get or give myself my precious solitary time. yesterday i was so tired and slept until after noon- not waking up until bonnie called. this morning i had a staff meeting at 9, which meant leaving at 8, which meant an hour to get ready and i had to print out some things, which took up the “spare” time that i could have had. but i have made sure to give myself time later — and yesterday […puck was] very accomodating for my need for alone time. hurray!

in wrestling with our faith tradition by lloyd lee wilson–
‘Peace comes not by the Pax Romana or Pax Britanica, or even by the Pax Americana, but by the rule of Christ in human hearts. Our best defense, on every level, is evangelization: promoting the true knowledge of Christ in every heart. That will protect us (and everyone) from the mugger as well as the invader.’

and you know what, i believe that.

but at the same time, i still think i believe that belief in christ can be corrupted to be the ’cause of all outward wars.’ because it has been used for that justification for so long. and those who are used to that belief and justification get tense and enraged– on either side of the battle, really. either ‘jesus, he knows me and he knows i’m right’ or ‘you’ve been using your jesus to fuck me &/or my friends over for so long.’

and it aches that that is what has happened, but–

the holy spirit is not solely the christ holy spirit. i mean– it is the holy spirit of which jesus talks, but it is the holy spirit of other faiths, too.

and being ecumenical within oneself might be an attempt to bridge those wars.

but– i have heard and it makes sense to me that the surest way to find the meat, the heft, the truth is to follow one tradition to its core.

but in our society, the concepts are so misconstrued & diluted that the words have become almost poisonous.

and so– does one try to save the terms and explain what has gone wrong– or does one avoid the words.

(and then there’s the way that i think that people who seem hardwired for non-religion have the same access to truth as those to whom religion is natural and ‘easy’– but then who am i to say that they do not know it but they believe in something holy.

they believe in something i find holy.

…)

and then there are the wars that have nothing to do with what word you call truth– the person vs. self wars. the world falling apart in tiny immediate ways that breaks down the sense of inner calm, that embraces all noises, cracks, and ugliness– unless it is directly happening to you. the war of the world not making sense in a physical, literal way, minor disasters that seem to shatter everything and the self that responds defensively with an attack at the self that should have either fixed the world so it wouldn’t break in such a way, or has no right to get upset about it.

i went to the bathroom and then the toilet paper roll fell off the wall. i decided to fix it, but i couldn’t find the tiny screwdriver. then the drawer wouldn’t shut. then puck wouldn’t listen to me. then it turned out that the problem was deeper than something that could be fixed with the screwdriver, because the part in the wall where the screw was is stripped of anything to keep the screw in.

thus, the end of the world, complete with loud accidental noises, loud on purpose noises, shouting at inanimate obkexts, grudges, self-blame, feeling ignored (after having asked to be left alone), inadvertantly tiny [voice], and tears.”

see, see, see? i want to show you all my flaws, and that scares me, because i don’t want it to seem just like confessional and now i am absolved, woo-hoo!, but instead… so that you know where i’m coming from, what seems to be stuck in shadows. who this is that is coming to your community and saying, “i need things. point me in the right way. don’t give them to me, probably. but just… make sure i keep looking.”

and… since i am fluffy and stuff, i have also been daydreaming about this next bit of this post, which is the 10 things that i think i feel like most people know about me, but that since i am new, the quakers don’t.

1) religion has pretty much always been a big part of my life.

2) marilyn monroe is actually kind of my patron saint.

3) i actually identify is not a boy or a girl, but somewhere in between and also outside of the two… but i prefer masculine pronouns. i have been on hormones for about 5 months and really like pretty things.

4) my father was a drummer (reggae, blues, and some other things). he died of a drug overdose on halloween 2002. it wasn’t really a surprise.

5) i didn’t actually realize i liked kids until i did my americorps term last year.

6) puck and i hope to raise kids in community in a few years.

7) anti-racist and general anti-oppression work is really important to me, and it is also something about which i continually feel very dumb, inept, and clumsy.

8) we have 2 cats, butter and secret. secret is very mean. butter is very soft.

9) i have a history of self-injury that i’m still working on.

10) i studied religion in college– this made me feel clever, stupid, bitter, inspired, and like i will never ever be an academic.