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I haven't been here in a long, LONG time. And I can't say that I am apologizing for that, because I think that the time away has been good--for me, and maybe a little for you, too.

I've been Facebooking a lot, and find that I am probably better taken in small doses--little snippets of life, updated in more manageable bites, about more mundane stuffage.

However...there have been things on my mind lately--things that demand a broader examination than a wall post or a tweet can handle. Whether you find it good for you to read or not is up to you--mostly, I'm writing for my own edification, and my own need to express some of the new things I'm thinking about. In itself, it is grotesquely self-indulgent.

But then again, what expression ISN'T self indulgent? ;-)

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I'm embarrassed by a lot of the stuff I've written here. I'm sorry for a lot of the trouble I caused, and know that I will probably never know forgiveness for it. That's OK--I don't know if I deserve forgiveness (and really--what do any of us "deserve"? Forgiveness is a gift, and an act of grace.) But the truth of it is...while some of it still stings, what stings me now is not some of the things that have been said about me, but the kind of me that I was when I was having those things said. Because, really--there is no excuse. Not one. Not a single thing. And I have my old friends to thank for bringing that to my attention--not my old friends from 10 or 15 years ago, but my old friends from 30 and 40 and even 50 years ago.

Because they don't let me get away with a thing. And because, really...if someone can love you when you're in high school, they're probably going to love you forever, and believe in you, and, most important of all, see how far you've come, while at the same time still seeing that scared kid staring out of the corner of your eyes. The one who just wants to fit in. And in their enormous generosity....

they let you.

Just an FYI....

I have started doing tarot readings on Keen. If you would like to get a reading, or if you would like to refer someone for a reading, please use the clicky button at the top of my sidebar. It will indicate my availability, but if I'm away, you can leave a message to request a call.

I know, I know....

It's been a long time since I've been here. In all honesty, life has been busy at best, crushingly so at worst. And I've found myself in this wordless place--probably because I've found myself in a place that has had life and circumstances swirling so madly around me that there has been no space to think a thought, let alone craft a sentence worthy of anything but a Facebook status update.

It's been awful, frankly--and something that I've come to realize I can't continue, because without contemplation, without awareness, without making space, there is no real life.

Not one that I'm particularly interested in living, anyway.

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So Frank says that my assignment for the week is to do as much good for myself as I can, and to love and defend myself the way I would love and defend a friend who is in the same position. To give myself the kind of advice as I would give them.

It's harder than you think.

Because, you see, I have been very carefully taught.

Boldly going where no woman has gone before

This past week, I took my 81 year old father to the urologist.

This started about a week ago, when he called me at 8:30 in the morning, telling me that he had spent the night in the bathroom, trying unsuccessfully to urinate. And now it was getting scary.

My husband went with him to the emergency room, where they installed a catheter. In not such a gentle way, my father told me. But the catheter, he reported, is cool, because he can sleep through the night now.

This was just the beginning of the TMI.

So I ended up taking him to the urologist, to have the catheter pulled.

Me–in a waiting room full of old duffers discussing their pee-pees and the various vagaries of them. It was like sitting in the barber shop in Hell.

The nurse took my Dad back, and he looked at me as if I had betrayed him when I remained seated, so I ended up heading back to the examining room. I couldn’t bring myself to go in as he disrobed, but was invited back in when he was “decent” again.

I walked in to find him sitting on the examining table with a giant paper napkin over his lap, his trousers around his ankles and his cap on.

I burst out laughing.

I won’t go into detail about the other events of that day, because they are not fit for human consumption. But I will say that it’s quite a shock to find your Dad in a doctor’s examining room, looking like that creepy old man from the bus station.


My Karma Ate Your Dogma

On Facebook recently, I had the interesting experience of seeing a photo album posted to an acquaintence’s page. This acquaintence was someone I knew from having attended the same church she currently attends, long, long ago.

The pictures she posted were of a dance, conducted in the main meeting room of the church.

These pictures brought on a fit of uncontrollable laughter. I’ll explain.

When I was a young teenager, I recall a certain meeting of the “Brothers”, on the weighty subject of roller skating. You heard me correctly–roller skating. This special meeting was called because, apparently, there was much consternation that the church was sponsoring trips to the local roller rink, and there was some question as to the appropriateness of this activity for young people. You see, the crux of the issue was that they played MUSIC at the roller rink as people skated, and it was thought, by some of the elders, that this movement to music could somehow be interpreted by some onlookers as “dancing”. And if it was, indeed, dancing, or could be interpreted as such by those unsaved individuals who could actually see us skating, then what sort of a testimony for Jesus would we be, and how many of those unsaved would we cause to “stumble” in their quest for Jesus’ truth?

I remember quite a bit about this meeting–I was allowed to be there but, of course, being a female, I was unable to speak or participate. I remember the red faces, the shouting–even the tears as one brother pled with another on points of scripture, regarding our position in the world, and our duty to remain unsullied by the sensual pleasures of the same. I remember their discussing the finer points of roller skating, and which movements which were executed in roller skating crossed over from the wicked world of dance. Of course, there were some folks there who felt that being in the roller skating rink at all was sinful, because they played rock music in any case, and if you exposed yourself to that, even without moving at all, one was in a place that shamed the Lord, and no good Christian should even want to be there. And rumor had it that some folks drank beer in the lounge before and after skating–so there ya go!

Roller skating=rock music=dancing=beer=Hell. An astonishing slide from the Friday night mirrored ball to the Lake of Fire.

I remember the faces of my contemporaries as the old folks levied their judgment on what was turning out to sound like the most evil of activities–some were shocked, some were outraged, some were confused and some, clearly the most backslidden among us, were simply bored, and no doubt planning their next excursion to this den of wickedness on the next Friday night, in the company of the rest of the youth group or not. Those were the folks who, no matter how UNdevoted to the activity of roller skating they might be, were prepared to go and defend its honor, on principle. Or out of sheer rebellion–but then, it was the time in history when the line between principle and rebellion was very, very thin anyway.

And it was painful. Really, really painful. So painful, in fact, that many left that meeting, never to return.

I remember it in my mind as The Great Roller Skating Schism of 1971.

So you can imagine my astonishment when initially presented with photographs of young people from my old church, not only dancing, but dancing in the auditorium of the church. The very room in which the Lord’s Supper is served every Lord’s Day!

But not astonishment alone, but extreme amusement. Because while, at this stage of my life, trying to roller skate would no doubt mean certain death, and while dancing never was and never shall be my strong suit (having gone through my most formative “dance learning” years spending all my energy trying not to move to music), I am taken back in my mind to those days when it was such a big hairy deal as to be the final nail in the coffin of some folks’ connection to their “brothers and sisters in Christ”, and wonder at the ironic and hilarious way the world turns, and wonder at how things that, at one point in history, were so incredibly important to the fabric and dogma of The Church, are, after a few years, meaningless.

And it leads me, when I hear the screaming and hollering coming from the Fundamentalist faction of society about the dire consequences of some action or another, to picture them all on roller skates.


A much cheerier post

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."

-Bernard Williams

I love all animals. And while this house is replete with cats, and we already have a dog, you might recall that, while I was in the hospital, I began to obsess on a new breed, and the idea of what other dog might best round out our household. What new personality might lift the spirits of a home that has been, of late, far too busied with the business of sickness and death.

We needed a clown. We needed a burst of vigorous and exceptional and humorous energy. We needed a small, fey and sprightly spirit that was also full of love and affection. We needed a velcro dog, a lap dog, a puppy that likes to fall asleep at your feet without getting in your face. Not much bark, a whole lot of face-lick. We needed a dog willing to please and given to comical play.

We found him.

Meet my new psychiatrist.

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He's wonderful. He snores, he farts, he snorfles wonderfully, he doesn't run so much as he dances, like a tiny, tuxedoed pixie. He leans against you when you sit together. He sleeps under my chair as I type.

He is just exactly what I needed.

It's an indulgence, I know. I didn't really need another dog. But at the same time, indulgence is not always such a bad thing.

He's going to the Montgomery County Scottish-Irish Festival next weekend, if you want to come meet him.


The end

Well, yes. To all events, there comes an ending, and everyone had been invited back to the restaurant for a luncheon buffet I had arranged. For me, there is nothing more depressing than getting all these people together and then expecting them all to walk away from the gravesite, all alone. So there had to be some way for people to visit and to take care of each other. So there was lunch.

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So in the end, I know that what I did was nothing. In the end, I know that all I am is all I have always been to them--not good enough. And in the end, what went on between my mother and me was built on a lie--a lie that I had convinced myself had finally become the truth. That she had finally reached an ability to approve of me, to trust me, and to be satisfied with me.

I believe that people find, after death, exactly what they hope for. I believe that, after death, the final rewards come, and that each human being finds the peace and the happiness that they have wished for. I believe that if people want to go home to Jesus, then they do.

But I have to say that I hate the Jesus that compels such easy and unthinking and mindless cruelty, and it will not be his face I seek at the end of my life.

Not now, not ever.

So Mommy, sleep in peace, and in the comfort you so much deserved and so much wanted. And know that I am satisfied with YOU--not in your Christianity, but in your wonderful, flawed and perfect humanity. I will miss you as my Mother, for all the earthly happiness you gave me, and for all you taught me. I give you the release that you could not give me.

I love you. I forgive you. And I will see you again.


The Funeral

Paul came home from work on Monday, and in his hands were the photos that I had picked out from her albums...

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It was all quite Jesus-y, which was fine because that's what my mother would have wanted. I know she often bemoaned the fact that, at some of the funerals she had attended, the gospel hadn't been preached to her satisfaction, and the opportunity to "witness to lost souls" had been missed. But that was not the case at HER funeral, to be sure--there was plenty of talk about that.

Little did I know that I was that lost soul. But that was pointed out to me, in detail, later in the day.



The next morning, I had an appointment with the cemetary at 9:30, to take care of that whole real estate biz before going to the funeral home in the afternoon.

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Through it all, Paul kept me fed and rested as best he could, and dealt with the life-things that I couldn't pay attention to. He drove me everywhere, so that I could make and take phone calls in the car without worrying about cracking my own self up. It was he who was here when I cried that first night, and who just held me as I did.

He was, as he has always been, my hero.

I could have done it without him--you do what you have to do. But I am so awfully glad I didn't have to. It would have been unbearable without his calm and his help and his unutterable goodness.


I'm back

For those of you who don't know through the internet grapevine, my mother passed away last Friday morning.

Life has been somewhat scattered since then.
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This is going to come in fits and starts, as the whole thing is coming back and coming out of me like photographs in an album--little scenarios rather than a timeline. More to come.




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