Monday, August 21, 2006


Stupid mechanical bull. Moreover, stupid short arms. That's right, my burgeoning career as a professional mechanical bull rider met a tragic early demise thanks to the two pathetic penguinesque appendages I call my arms.

Last Saturday night my carpetbagger roommate Jason, dear pal Betty Cash and I loaded into the Volvo and hied ourselves to beautiful if miniscule Coupland, Texas, to ride the only permanently installed mechanical bull in central Texas.

Coupland, Texas, is home to the appropriately titled Coupland Dancehall, owned and operated by Larry Kelso, a man of considerable character and facial hair.

This is Larry.

You'll hear more about him later this week. Right now, it's all about the bull.

This bull.

I'm not sure what sort of bull it is (although the Jesus fish on the back might suggest it's a papal bull…get it, papal bull? HA!) but it wasn't at all a gentleman…and I got thrown. Not even thrown really, I just sort of …fell off.

I got on, I got Johnny the Mechanical Bull Operator's solemn vow to give me the "pony ride" setting and then after 11 glorious seconds of: "Hold on!" "I CAN'T hold on!" "Use your arms!" "I DON'T HAVE ANY ARMS!" I toppled over the other side like a meatball.

Next time, I'm going to bring an orangutan.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

just typing

Luscious. Last night I whipped up a tiny batch of scones and ate three of them fresh out of the oven with soft butter and what was left of the cherry preserves. They were delicious, so soft and light.

I turned off the lights and went to bed.

Nighttime. I've been waking up in a fever the past several nights. I can always tell when the fever sets in because the colors in my dreams change from typically surreal dreamscapes to black and red. It breaks and my dreams are cool and lovely.

Dreaming. I've always had lucid dreams. Always. I can't really imagine what it would be like to dream and not know you're dreaming. Terrifying I think. Not that I don't have terrifying dreams. I used to have the worst night terrors imaginable, but I would see how deep I could go before thinking "Okay, this is pure scary. I'm waking up now." Masochistic? Yes indeedy.

Sacred lips. I feel badly for Leonard Cohen, when it's quiet he must feel that he's a failure. He was so close to sanctity but couldn't get past the sex. I guess that's a sort of sanctity, too.

Chomp chomp. Went to the dentist today for the first time in two years. Shameful, I know. Still, even the hygienist said she couldn't chastise me because my teeth look great, even in xrays. This is the last you'll ever hear me speak about teeth though. Teeth-talk gives me the heebiest of jeebies. Oooh. *shudder*

(pictured here on my Birthday with my two cakes and my party hair)

Higher Education. I've mailed off my essay, application fee, etc…now it's all over but the crying. Hope I get in.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I finally sent the essay!!!

The final essay! I sent it today.

The Essay:

It's taken me three months to write this essay; no small irony considering that technically I am a professional writer with a huge readership and a strangely devoted fan base. It's funny that today, an important one for reasons you'll soon understand, was the day I finally could sit down and complete my application. It's not that I'm just starting. I've gotten almost everything else done. 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. Wodehouse all in one.

Mostly, I'm just scared to tell my story.

I've got a great story, too. I mean, I'd buy it at an airport. It's got everything; romance, danger, the works. So I suppose I should actually tell it. Well, here goes.

A poor little rich girl (that's me, or grammatically speaking, that's I) traumatized by the events of her youth finds herself on a school trip, alone and wandering around a Montreal cathedral in a daze. I'm not sure what happened before then…how I got to the cathedral grounds or where my schoolmates were, but in the middle of a cathedral built for a God I didn't believe in a country I'd never visited, I received that bone-shaking summons from God. I got The Call.

Two years later, still filled with hope from that one bewildering-yet-wonderful moment of conversion, I graduated high school and left my family to start a new life for myself in a rural Virginia town. Armed with nothing but an ancient crocodile suitcase, determination and a sticky sort of tenuous faith, I set out on my own. I got a job, enrolled in college and --although I didn't know it at the time-- I slowly started disintegrating from a hidden disease. Here comes the gory part.

Three days before Thanksgiving 1999 --my sophomore year in college-- my grandparents who had recently moved to Austin stopped on their annual trek along the Eastern Seaboard and checked into an inconspicuous hotel in my small college town. That evening, they summoned me. I didn't have a car, so I don't know how I got there; but to be fair I don't remember much because it was that evening I collapsed unconcious into a shivering, bleeding mess on the floor of The Hampton Inn in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The next thing I knew I was in Texas.

Slowly I got better. I got a fantastic job and met new people including an older man; the impishly charming president of a respected non-profit. Since all good stories must have romance I'll admit I fell gloriously, deliriously in love and all my plans; college, seminary, ministry-- were summarily dismissed. I had a man; I had an enviable job with a small bit of celebrity that I'd earned through my own talent and hard work; I was quietly, almost boringly happy. Life was perfect. You see where this is going, right?

One non-descript summer morning three years later I woke with a deep feeling of doom. I don't tend to wake with feelings of anything but hunger or alarm-clock hatred, so I when I had a strangely powerful urge to walk a labyrinth, I paid attention. See, I don't like labyrinths. I didn't like them as a kid (too confusing), I didn't like them as a wannabe-devout college student (too time consuming) heck, I didn't even like that David Bowie movie with the scary Muppets (too many scary Muppets), and yet I knew I had to find a labyrinth and it had to be right then.

I pulled up a search engine and plugged in "Austin labyrinth" and hit enter.

Twelve blocks. It was twelve blocks to St David's Episcopal Church and the only stone labyrinth in Austin. I drove there, parked my car in the lot, and did my best not to look crazy as I told the receptionist that I had to walk the labyrinth right that very minute. She nodded, made some small talk and led me down a flight of stairs into a small, sunken courtyard. I took off my shoes, felt the smooth warm pavers underneath my feet and began walking.

At 12:30 in the afternoon on August 10th, right there in that little brown bricked courtyard I received in ecstasy what Teresa of Avila described as the "Wound of Love." It was a confirmation of duty; an ineffable communication of love --and I don't mind telling you--one hell of a wake-up call. My one clear thought?
"I can't believe I'm not bleeding."

That afternoon I received an email from my one true love --it was a tiny little note, just five words "I've met someone else. Goodbye."

I was destroyed for the second time in one day. What happens next? Where do I go?

I go where I've been called. Back to church, back to college and eventually on to seminary, and that is where the real story beings.

I just hope St. Edward's will help me write the next chapter.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hot for preacher. Do looks matter?

There was something strange a priest friend --executive director of a local non-profit--said to me when I came out of the ecclesiastical closet to him and I haven't been able to make sense of it.

"What great news! That is awesome – the church needs real women like you! Young, intelligent, attractive and willing to make a change in the church and the world"

Attractive? That's sort of strange, isn't it? It's not that he's attracted to me. He's got a model-gorgeous wife, but it made me think. What role do looks play in the clergygal game? Is it a coincidence that almost all the ordained women I've met look remarkably similar --either friendly and matronly with wash-and-wear, or benign with a bland wholesome prettiness.

more importantly, what does it mean that I don't fit in?
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