Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday Five: Muy Caliente!

1. What's the high temperature today where you are?
Today it'll be a chilly 98 degrees deep in the heart of Texas.

2. Favorite way(s) to beat the heat.
Seriously? Throwing myself in the swimming pool for about 10 minutes then watching Fellini films in the dark.

3. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Evaluate this statement.

It's true -- I've lived in the swamp lands of Washington DC and I've lived in Texas. I'd rather be here when it's 110 than DC when it's 90-- but like some other obvious truths (There's no such thing as the Easter Bunny!) you're pretty much a jerk if you say it.

4. Discuss one or more of the following: sauna, hot tub, sweat lodge, warm-stone massage.
Sauna -- I don't see the appeal. Sweating in a room full of mostly naked strangers isn't really my idea of a good time.
Hot Tub -- something I thought I enjoyed but in reality just makes my tumbly rumbly.
Sweat lodge -- see "sauna" and add "high risk of spiders" and "smells like armpit soup"
Warm stone massage -- Never had one, but since I've historically been a firm supporter of anything that ends in "massage" then I'll have to say I approve of it, merely on spec.

5. Hottest you've ever been in your life

Summer of 1998. I almost died. The funny thing --aside from the thing that saved me was ice cream, which I have never liked-- was that I knew I was dying and and my only thoughts were "oh…I'm dying…hmm." Not quite Keirkegaard, you know?

**BONUS** Who's hot?

The lucious Gabriel Byrne playing a tortured (surprise!) Catholic priest in the movie Stigmata, which wasn't very good at all except for the soundtrack and Byrne's undeniable ecclesiastical hotness.

and of course #1 with a bullet, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Primate of my Heart:

Captain Alphabet!

y'all can see it too, right? I mean. I'm not crazy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Responsibility ramble

To make things easy, I say I have a crippling sense of shame. This isn't actually true. I don't have much shame because it only rarely occurs to me to do shameful things, and when they do occur, I'm usually too lazy to do anything about it (shave, wax, drive to Mexico with a goat, a chicken and 20 yards of fine-mesh cheesecloth…you know how it goes)

The reality is; I have a crippling sense of propriety. I'm not sure where it came from since I was the sort of kid who would run through a room with her skirt over her head just for attention (haven't done that in years) but somewhere lodged in the tarry black recesses of my psyche is a definite idea of what is and --more importantly-- what is Not Done.

Number one on the Not Done Hot 100? Being "common".

Common, obvious, lacking in subtlety…none of those words are quite right ("common" sounds too condescending, "obvious" makes subterfuge sound preferable, and "lacking in subtlety"…well, that doesn't precisely drip off the tongue, does it?) but maybe you'll be able to mesh things together.

I hate --as much as I hate anything-- the obvious, and friends, it is all around us. People are "too busy" to be subtle, that's the safe line. I suspect it's more apt that we've become too lazy, and maybe it's because I'm projecting some sort of deep self-loathing, but I think I blame women.

We've let our standards slip. We don't hold ourselves --or our men-- as socially accountable anymore. Men, God bless 'em, aren't the dumb animals they're portrayed to be, but they --with little exception-- do what they do so we'll let them do us.

I don't think women understand that responsibility. We don't take it with the gravitas we ought. Why? Well because we want to get laid too, and are tired of having to be the responsible ones. I dig it. I mean, being responsible isn't always the most fun. Being responsible seldom means you wind up doing fun things that end up in pregnancy or thigh-prints on the hood of a 1957 matte-black Cadillac. (what? I wasn't always Anglican.)

But it's the right thing to do. It's part of being good, and what is there other than being good? Not good like goody two shoes and not good like going to church and saying all the creeds with appropriately phoned-in nuance and diction, but Good. Like Jesus was good. Good and gentle and cleverly kind.

and never, ever common.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"I can't believe I'm not bleeding" my all-true, incredibly personal, totally unwriteable story

Transcripts sent? Check. Financial Aid forms submitted? Check. Contacts within the university and specific departments of interest? Check. Glowing yet sincere letters of recommendation from a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, and an executive director of a non-profit who just so happens to be a priest? Double check.

Actual application submitted? Of course not. Why? Because of the essay. I cannot write the essay. I want it to be perfect. I want it to be Hemingway and Shakespeare and P.G. freakin' Wodehouse all in one.

"Describe your background and interests. Explain why you wish to pursue the degree for which you are applying and what you hope to accomplish in this degree program. (1 - 2 pages)"

I've got a great story, too. I mean, I'd buy it at an airport. It's got everything.

Poor little rich girl traumatized by the events of her youth is shocked to discover a God she had never believed in was suddenly very real and wanting her to do something. She didn't know what. Overcome by wonder and the sense of true hope for the first time in her life she leaves her abusive family and starts a new life in a rural Virginia town and yet beneath the surface, a well of disease bubbled inside her. One November evening she collapses in a hotel lobby, a bloody glazed-eyed mess. She is forced to leave school and spend the following two years convalescing in the home of her grandparents, 2000 miles away from everything she ever knew.

Slowly she heals and makes a life for herself in this new town, she meets an older man --a philosopher and mystic-- and because stories like these must have romance she falls in love. On a non-descript summer morning three years later the healthy but unhealed girl wakes with a deep feeling of nebulous impending doom. She is powerfully drawn to walk the labyrinth of a strange church in an unknown part of the city. It is there at 12:30 in the afternoon of August the 10th she is struck down and receives in ecstasy what Teresa of Avila described as the Wound of Love. She is transported by joy, crumbled in gratitude and overwhelmed by an ineffable love. Her one clear thought? "I can't believe I'm not bleeding."

That afternoon she receives a five word email from her older man --the one who had played priest and Pygmalion for so many years-- "I've met someone else. Goodbye."

What happens next? Where does she go?

She goes where she's been called.

and that, friends, is where the real story beings.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ennui? Mais oui.

If I could just get a few good hours rest, I'd be fine. The night keeps me awake, as if it needs the company and the day rolls by accompanied by the steady sound of mechanical insects. The electronic by-products of meaningless work.

It's ennui. I've never been fortunate enough to suffer from ennui before. Usually there's something more pressing --this failed romance, that bit of familial blackmail-- that strangles my interest. Or the opposite, red balloon elation where each curl falls into place and I channel some better, stronger person. Never ennui. Never like this.

It's unfair. At least if I was unhappy I could indulge myself and say "the bastard was too old for you anyway" or walk the labyrinth and meditate on my pain. Feeling something, they say, is better than feeling nothing at all (let's ignore for the moment that "they" are often wrong). I can't even get up the will to make a bad decision. Take home a wildly inappropriate man? Couldn't be bothered. Drink too much? Yawnsville, man.

"Plum" --a nickname only my very close friends get away with-- "Plummy, you need to get laid."


I need a nap.
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