Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I had a medical procedure yesterday. Just to cut to the chase, all is well. I have no new problems, and some of the old have even cleared up. Rejoicing ensue! The procedure involved anesthesia, what they refer to as "twilight sedation," which has nothing to do with vampires, but instead causes drowsiness and amnesia.

It also causes impaired judgment. I was given instructions not to drive for at least 24 hours following the procedure. One nurse commented that one of the problems manifested by people who have been sedated this way is that they exhibit "overconfidence."

I need no overconfidence behind the wheel, that is for sure. I think of myself as a pretty damned good driver. I imagine with this stuff flowing through my veins I might feature my little hybrid leaping tall buildings with a single bound, or perhaps going into FTL mode. So I obediently abstained from driving for the required time.

I am late (very!) submitting my article for our next newsletter. I hesitated to write it under influence of the "overconfidence" drug. Can you imagine? Pastor Cecilia invites congregation to a drag show! Or some such thing. They should warn people not to write newsletter articles for at least 24 hours.

Other things they might mention:

No entering dance or karaoke contests.

No trying on clothes in department stores.

No applying for mortgages or credit cards.

But here's the one I really, really wish they'd mentioned:

No heart-to-heart conversations with your children. Or "candid" emails.

That would have been helpful.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ow: Shameless Bid for Sympathy Alert

Warning: boring post filled with too much information.

My back is out.

Here's how it happened.

I have these really awesome clogs, sort of "prescribed" for me as a result of some issues I've had with my feet.

I under pronate. Do you know what that means? It means, the way my foot hits the ground, my shoes tend to wear on the outside.

So, my awesome clogs wear on the outside. For about a month, I've been thinking, Hmmmm, better get some new clogs. These are worn on the outside!

Fast forward to last Saturday. I am wearing my clogs, carrying a big pot of chili to a church supper. (We watched "Up!" "I've been hiding under your porch because I love you!") It's a little slippery out. I under pronate, and I twist my ankle.

By Sunday morning my ankle really hurts, but I know nothing's torn or anything-- it's not swelling, I can put weight on it. So I take some (ineffectual) meds, the kind you can take when you have colitis and an ulcer, and plan to ride it out.

Tuesday. My back starts to feel funny. I've been favoring my right ankle, so my back ends up going badly out of alignment.

I'm toughing it out. Yesterday I tried to lie down on the couch in my office, but I realized I needed a different book (I'm trying to prepare for my sermon). I tried to get up, and then I went into such a spasm I thought, Oh my Baby Jesus, lying in his Graco playpen and chewing his little divine/human toes, do I need to call an ambulance???

I managed to get up. And home. Where I lay on the couch until Beloved brought me dinner. I groused and complained and generally made a nuisance of myself until she said, GO TO THE DOCTOR.

So. Today I will do that. And, hopefully, write a sermon. And, hopefully, get ready for a retreat I'm helping to lead tomorrow into Saturday.

::Sigh:: I mean, Ow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shut Up, Pat

I wanted to start this off by saying, as a kind of professional courtesy, I generally don't want or like to publicly criticize other ministers or clergy.

Ah, who am I trying to kid? Only myself.

Many wiser heads than mine have commented on Pat Robertson's outrageous statements regarding the cause and effect of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. But that's not going to stop me from adding my two cents. Of course, it reminds me of when Jerry Falwell, may he rest in wisdom and peace, blamed 9-11 on God smiting Teh Gays (to which a dear friend of mine replied, then his aim wasn't very good, because he missed the West Village entirely).

I wonder at the hate behind such comments. I wonder at the ignorance. I wonder why this guy continues to get viewers and money-- oh, wait I just figured it out: because he is a wonderful spokesperson for those who share those prejudices. I wonder how he reads the New Testament and finds THAT Jesus, that fictional hater he thinks agrees with him on all the pure crap that emanates from his mouth.

So here's what I believe. The devastation in Haiti can be traced back to:

~ corrupt rulers who stole the people's money and did not insist on building codes being created or enforced...

~ the shifting of techtonic plates which may or may not be related to ongoing global weather patterns related to climate change...

God smiting Haiti? Hitting the already impoverished country over the head with a cosmic 2" X 4" so that they would "turn to Jesus"? Not a chance. Not the God of Jesus. Not a chance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Hard Time Letting Go

I had a conversation with a member of my congregation yesterday in which she described an older gentleman, a Depression baby like my parents, who just couldn't let go control of all sorts of things-- being in charge of his food, being in charge of his medicine. Now, let me say, first off, hat's off to him. Do not go gentle into that good night, and all the rest. Just a few hours earlier than that, I read the text of a sermon that was delivered to my congregation on the Sunday of my vacation (January 3). (No, I don't read all the sermons that guest preachers deliver to my church. This one was written by a good friend.) A line of the sermon brought tears to my eyes: "It's hard to pull away from this scene." A couple was standing in a windy, barren downtown on Christmas eve, on their way to volunteer at a shelter, gazing into a store display window in which there was a manger, with a doll for the baby and mannequins for the mother and father.

I too am having a hard time letting go right now, of all sorts of things.

I sit writing this in my darkened living room, by the light of my Christmas tree. I suppose you could pretend with me that I've re-framed "Twelfth Night" as the 12th night of January, but that would be disingenuous. I don't want to let go of Christmas this year, in the worst way I can remember.

I don't remember whether I've written of this here (I don't use those handy labels... my bad), but I grew up feeling fairly Christmas-deprived. My mother, especially, hated Christmas. To my parents it was a crazy-busy season that meant they and we had to work all-out. They owned two liquor stores, and the push was not just through December 24, but through December 31. They made enough money during the Christmas season to get to the Fourth of July, and enough money on the Fourth of July to get to the Christmas season-- that's how they described it.

I should note here that my mother, particularly, hated Christmas. She hated Christmas carols. She hated the obligations of the season. Before my brother and I were even born she stopped sending out cards, she felt they were such a burden. And the whole thing reminded her of a childhood in which there was no money for presents, and there was barely enough money for food and clothing.

So December would find my brother and me in the back room of the store (over which we lived in a big apartment) gift-wrapping boxes and bottles for my parents-- they had lots of items that were popular enough that we pre-wrapped cases of them, as they could depend on selling them as gifts. The last year we had a tree I was seven years old, in 3rd grade. After that we never had a tree because my mother took my brother and me to Florida as soon as school was out, and my dad joined us, either right after Christmas or right after New Year's.

I must have whined and complained about my tree-less existence, because I remember a couple of attempts that were made to satisfy my itch by sending me to the homes of relatives who did have trees and decorations and traditions that looked like the one's in the Ladies' Home Journal. Thinking back on it now, it was a pretty bad strategy. It just made me feel more deprived.

As I write this I am fully aware that not having a Christmas tree (*pout*) but having to go to Florida on vacation instead (*sigh, stamping my foot*) is hardly anyone's definition of "deprivation." It's pretty embarrassing, in fact, to confess all this. I am very aware that my definition of "deprived" sounds pretty much like that of a spoiled brat who doesn't know the first thing about it. My mother did. (Read a bit about it here.)

What I'm really trying to set up for you is this: I now find myself professionally obliged to observe, at least, the religious significance of Christmas, beginning the first Sunday in Advent and going right on through the second Sunday after Christmas. Cool! None of this is to say my house resembles anything I ever saw in the LHJ (though I may be a good candidate for a photo in one of those "Declutter Your Home!" articles). But I do have a tree. Always. And we do have our Christmas traditions, such as they are. And this year, I fervently, almost petulantly, don't want any of it to end.

This is not all I don't want to "walk away from." As I write this I am nearing the 90 day mark in my abstinence (from flour and sugar), again. It's a big milestone. But I approach it with an inner unwillingness to commit myself to this program for life, which all the "successful" people in my 12-step program have done. I know, I know. It's supposed to be "one day at a time." And that is how I'm doing it. But not exactly. I'm committed to this program while it helps me lose weight. That is a big secret at this point-- something I haven't admitted to just about anyone. I don't want to give up a glass of wine (whine!) or a cookie for the rest of my life. I just don't. For today, I will do this, and probably for tomorrow, too. I make no promises about a year from now.

Last night I dreamed of cookies. In my program we call that a "freebie." In the dream I was unable to stop eating, and I was filled with regret. I was also filled with anger towards my mother, who was feeding me the cookies, and I was making plans to run away from home, a replay/ reinterpretation of a terrible argument from my college years. But as the dream progressed, I thought, I'm not a college kid. I'm an adult, with a job and responsibilities. What am I doing?

And then there was the dream from the night before, in which my ex figured, a recurring dream in which I believe we are getting back together (and I am hoping for it).

I am someone who has a hard time letting go:

Christmas, and all it represents: the fantasy of some kind of childhood dream.

My addictive substances: the fantasy persists that I will manage them well, or at least better.

Hurt and anger, whether at my mother or at my ex.

As I write this I can hear Beloved moving around upstairs, getting in the shower. She has been living with us for nigh on a month now, I think, as the work continues on her building and apartment. And I love it, I love it even as it disrupts everyone's lives and schedules and routines. I love curling up next to her at night, every night, like an old married couple spooning. And... at some point her building will be finished, and she will return to her home (which she so dearly loves) and most nights, again, I will sleep alone.

And I will have a hard time letting go of this too.