Friday, December 29, 2006


First go here. Then come back.
Frankly I'm feeling a bit stroppy myself for some reason. I think it's the holidays and I'm worn out. Plus it's going to be New Year's Eve and I don't have A Boy To Kiss, which is just a little frustrating…not frustrating enough to actually do anything about it --pull one out of the bullpen if you will-- but just irksome enough to make me a tad bit grouchier on an already grouchy rainy day.

I'm also frustrated that no matter how I try to censor myself into just the meekest little lamb that ever lived, it just never works. To my credit, I am the same person pretty much all the time and there are few things that come out of my mouth that would be inappropriate for the bishop's ears. Well...more or less.

Still, as part of my continuing War on Self-Expression I have decided to spend the weekend Bishop-proofing my blog, the beginnings of which has already happened (if you notice, the entry about boobies, blue-footed and otherwise, has been deleted). Not that it's necessary, because

a) My bishop couldn't be cooler if she were made out of Diet Coke and Mentos

b) My "real" blog, Miss Adventure, is much more risqué and easier to find, considering it
lands on her doorstep each Thursday morning as part of the newspaper.

RevGals Friday Five: Dreams

1) a dream you remember from childhood
It was the summer of second grade and one of the hottest, muggiest Augusts on record. My room was so hot I would go down to the basement and fall asleep on the floor trying to press as much of my body against the cold green concrete floors. One night, I slept on the floor and had this amazing dream where I was on an ice floe that had been turned into a sort of party barge. There was snow everywhere, Snow in the flowerboxes, snow on the tables. My grandfather appeared, except he was a giant grey seal wearing an English sailor's cap and an orange and blue horizontally striped polo shirt stretched tight against his stomach. There were polar bears doing handstands and everyone was rejoicing. I woke up, in the words of Tennessee Williams from his movie Babydoll feeling "cool and comfortable for the first time in my life"

2) a recurring or significant dream
I was in my studio apartment downtown when all of the sudden, these two horrible people came in and started taking over my life, going through my possessions and generally taking up all the oxygen in the room. Apparently I thought they had some control over me, but then I put my foot down, told them both to get out of my home and what do you know? They did.

3) a nightmare
Oh just your run of the mill teeth-falling-out dreams. Since I lucid dream I'm fortunate enough to be able to put the kibosh on anything too scary before it even begins.

4) a favorite daydream
A perfect day in May of 9th grade I was sitting in English class while to the football coach read Romeo and Juliet aloud to us in his broad New York accent. I was humming to myself "Imagine me and you, I do…" as I watched the dust particles float in the light of the window. I know there must have been other people in the room, but I don't remember it, and my mind just floated off…I was in the same room in the 1973 and as I looked out I saw a girl about my age, dressed in bellbottoms, peace beads and John Lennon glasses walk across the quad. It was my mother. She had gone to the same high school I did, and must have looked out the same window. I guess I just dreamed a stitch in time, only I stitched backwards.

5) a dream for the New Year
I dream of an entire day without this stupid pain.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How is this even possible?

Riddle me this dear readers, how is it possible to have a morning after without a night before? Aside from communion wine and one small "toddy for the body" in the form of an Irish Cream consumed on Christmas Eve afternoon, I have had a hooch-free holiday.

And yet I seem to have awoken with the sort of hangover headache that inspires one to start the day with the word "mother" before rapidly descending into odalisques of profanity that would make longshoremen weep. It's a puzzlement.

As a rule I do not get hangovers. Mostly this is because I rarely drink. Even the morning after my gigantic birthday party where I woke up face-down on living room carpet, clasping a roll of tin foil
(don't ask) I was merely headachey for a few hours. Yet somehow I am sitting here, stock still and barely capable of sentence structure, wishing people wouldn’t blink so (deleted scene of colorful-yet-unimaginable verbal violence) loudly.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's not Christmas 'til someone makes you cry

There's no dramamonger like a familial dramamonger and there's no time like the holidays for said familial dramamonger (FDM) to just take complete leave of their senses and start spewing all sorts of nonsense everywhichway, during their annual War On Functional Interpersonal Relationships.

Of course I let myself get sucked into it today because apparently learning from mistakes is for chumps. Had I been smart --which sadly I am not-- I would have said to the FDM that I just did not have time to deal with their special extra-robust houseblend of dysfunction today. I should have taken a rain check and promised to listen to two hours of emotional blackmail, inappropriate acting-out and the litany of Why You Ruin Everything some other time, when I didn't have to get up and talk in front of close to 2000 people.

Even as I was descending into the maelstrom of Crazy, I was just too tired to do it. I mean, this wasn't just regular Crazy, either. It was Holiday Crazy, which is like a super-concentrated, smokeable rock form of Crazy. It was Crazy that shook my very foundations of belief as to who these people are, what they value and how they think of me.

And yes, it hurt, and it's going to hurt some more before it's through, but tonight I'm going to fiddle dee dee. They're not going to ruin my Christmas. They're not going to make yet another holiday All About Them.

I hope.

In that vein and for your enjoyment I give you The Truest Secular Christmas Song Ever Written: Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From The Family"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

St Thomas Bulldog, my new baby.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Après moi, le déluge.

Friends, I'm worried about Virginia. The Diocese of Virginia is the largest diocese in The United States and one of the richest --historically and financially. It was also my first diocese and will in some way always be my spiritual home. It was where I first discerned my call to ministry.

Now it's probable that eight Virginia parishes, including two extremely wealthy and historic (George Washington served on their vestry) parishes, will be leaving The Episcopal Church for the extremely conservative Anglican Church in Nigeria, Rwanda or Bolivia. Dozens --at least-- of other parishes are watching what happens to Virginia. If and when they do leave, I suspect many others will follow their lead and the Episcopal Church will be split forever.

The title of this post, for those of you who don't know, is paraphrased from King Louis XV of France who, foretelling the French Revolution and the end of the monarchy said "après moi, le déluge"

"After me, the flood."

Friday, December 15, 2006


Feeling a bit better today. My jaw is still clenched and is showing no signs of releasing its deathgrip on my face, but at least that gordian knot in my chest has subsided. Knowing I have healthy food in the house helped --I bought two cartons of mixed field greens, two broccoli crowns and some dried cranberries at the market this evening-- but what really dropped my blood pressure was finally putting a finger on what it is that I've been avoiding.

I'm going to see my mother for the first time in almost ten years.

It's like meeting an mildly bad ex-boyfriend, 20 years after he broke your heart. No matter how ugly the breakup was, the statute of limitations have expired. I just can't be angry. However, that doesn't mean I especially want her back in my life.

PeaceBang had mentioned something about a "self-care team" --I think I need to wrangle one-- I used to get bi-monthly massages, working out a trade with a RMT I knew. I baked, she massaged. It was great, but then she went on Atkins and I've been a mess.
What I really need to do is hie myself unto Red's Indoor Gun range for a theraputic hour with a .38 special. What? It works.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rabbit's tale.

Maryanne! Fetch me my gloves Maryanne!
I feel like the white rabbit, forever running and not getting much rest. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep it up. For the past three nights I've tried to sleep. I've tucked myself in bed a full 12 hours before I needed to be awake again, and yet the hours would roll by and soon it would be three o'clock in the morning.
I know I'm not taking proper care of myself. My apartment isn't as clean as I'd like it to be, I'm eating on a screwy schedule --handful of walnuts for breakfast in the car, whatever the lunch runner brings me for a midday meal (usually a chef salad) and whatever I have on hand at home for dinner. Ritz crackers, smoked herring, nutella on a spoon, I've been guilty of them all in the past few weeks. My laundry is far overdue and there's a check in my purse that's needed cashing for the past nine days.
I know part of it was the stress from finals --speaking of which, my term grades just posted. 4.0 thankyouverymuch-- and there's a lot of tension surrounding the retrospectively not-so-big but still scary meeting with my rector.
Another part is the pain. I don't talk about it much, but I'm in constant physical pain and I know much of it is stress-related muscle tension.
I'm not unhappy. I'm just in a holding pattern. Things that need to be done are being left undone (where have I heard that before?) and I'm not living up to my potential joy.
I feel as if I'm trying to avoid something, but I can't figure out what it is. I hope I snap out of it soon. This isn't who I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scary part two

Today I had my scary formal meeting with my rector --the first official step of approximately 45 towards ordaination. As it turned out, it wasn't actually the scary formal meeting, but an equally scary PRE-meeting, involving quesadillas which I would have enjoyed had I not been nervous unto puking.

I've been told to seek out a spiritual director (groovy yet possibly expensive)have a chat with a member of the ordained diaconate (not as groovy, but possibly interesting and also free) and start going to therapy as many clergy in my parish choose to do (groovy in that our priests see a shrink, possibly groovy in my having to go personally, definitely expensive)

Then, in a month, I have the REAL scary formal meeting.


I'm beginning to see the process a little more clearly, and apparently I'm not going to have to start the full-metal process --complete with the Committee on Judging You-- until six months before graduation, so basically a year from now which, if you recall, is when I said I was EXPECTING to have this meeting.

The good news: In the past three years, everyone my church has "raised up" to ministry has been approved for seminary.

The bad news: I feel like I'm being encouraged to go for the diaconate, which isn't what I want. I know it's not Jr League Priest, but it sort of feels like it.

Really! Big! News!

Dear Diary,

In 11 hours 30 minutes I have my first discernment meeting with the rector. I am terrified. Will he think I'm called to pursue ordained ministry or will we have to have that conversation that scares me so much I can't even bring myself to think about it...the one where he says "I don't think it would be a right fit for you."

God, creator of all things beautiful and terrible, fix my eyes so that I may see the goals you have for me and strengthen my heart with the courage to reach them. Let me not stray through pride or indifference, but guide me gently so that I may serve you in all my actions until on that final day, I may rejoice with you and the communion of saints in life everlasting. Amen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sundae cooking

My grandfather celebrated his 81st birthday this week. In celebration, I created a lovely lactose-free variation of a 19th century Parisian recipe. The French have specific names for their cakes --you've probably heard of Clichy and L'Opera--

This one was simply called "Le Cake" because it was a French interpretation of a traditional English wedding cake which is similar to a modern white fruitcake. The one I made benefited from the addition of carrots --Dada loves carrot cake-- and a tropical dried-fruit medley.

Here's the recipe. Remember, since it's a French cake; it's small. One 10" pan.

Le Carrot Cake

325 degrees.

1 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup vegetable oil
2 Eggs
1.5 C grated carrots (about a half pound)
1.5 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp grated or ground
1 C dried chopped fruit, plumped and drained.
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 C apricot or peach preserves, melted

Grease a 10" cake pan, line bottom of pan with waxed paper, grease the paper and flour.

In small bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Set aside. In large bowl beat sugar and oil together until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Gently fold in dry ingredients, mixing until just blended and no streaks of white flour are visible. Stir in fruit, nuts and carrots.

Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and springy-firm in the center. Turn onto cooling rack, remove waxed paper and brush with melted preserves. Top with a few pretty walnut halves.

Friday, December 08, 2006

RevGal's Friday Five

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
Fairytale of New York. The Pogues featuring Kirsty McColl. The first time I heard it I was listening to a CD someone had sent me and was moved to tears right there in the car, waiting for the light to change. It's a little slow to warm up, but it's amazing. Watch this live recording. You won't regret it.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as sung by Judy Garland from a live concert.

It's such a song of lost innocence and threadbare hope and you can hear Judy wanting to believe it.

Things are bad now, you're alone now, you're an adult and you're never going to have a golden, innocent Christmas again. But someday it might get better. It's not a promise. It's just a possibility. And that sliver of hope is enough to hold on to for one more year.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney. Oh how I hate this song. In fact, I'm not entirely sure this one crime does not invalidate at least one, possibly all, of his releases with The Beatles.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.

Of course there is redeeming value to this song. Aside from it being an excellent test to see if you've had too much to drink --"ooon the firsht day of Chrisssshmush…ANDLETMETELLYOUANOTHERTHING!" it's a lot of fun to sing with kids.

5. A favorite Christmas album

World Market released a few good Christmas albums last year, but right now I'm totally grooving on "Holiday Swing" which I got for $1 at Big Lots. Also, how could I forget RuPaul's Christmas Album "Ho Ho Ho"?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lessons and Carols

Lessons and Carols --our particularly Anglican form of Midnight Mass-- takes place Christmas Eve and I've been invited to participate as a lector by reading one of the nine appointed lessons all of which lead up to the birth of Christ. I am, of course, incredibly honored. I'm also moved because it is such a stark contrast from my most vivid Christmas Eve memory, 8 years ago.

I was 19 and miserable.

I had been miserable for years and had no idea that I wouldn't be miserable forever. I was living alone in my small college town in the mountains, suffering from my first broken heart and living on nightly fry-ups of onions and potatoes. It was all I could afford on the $5.20 an hour I made at the local bookstore. It was also my first Christmas alone.

I had to work on Christmas Eve and again the day after Christmas, but one of my uncles was scheduled to pick me up from the bookstore--I had no car at that point-- and take me to the big family celebration in Annapolis, a few hours away. I got a series of calls saying he would be late. But he never showed up. Retrospect tells me he had been drinking, and that it was ridiculous to volunteer to get me in the first place, especially as the rain that had fallen earlier in the morning was quickly turning to ice.

I had been holding it all together --just barely-- trying to get through 'til Christmas and when I realized I had been either forgotten or neglected (other family members swear this isn't true, and that's fine. It doesn't matter now) I just lost it. I had kept going, kept my spirit in tact just by sheer will for months and finally I crumbled.

I felt the overwhelming need to go to church. I had only been to the local Episcopal church a few times before, and never did I feel especially welcome.

I remember I wore black velvet heels and a long black wool cape that I'd been given and which had always embarrassed me because well, it was a cape. Wrapped up and sobbing uncontrollably I negotiated the two miles of icy hills and empty streets in the dark.

Everything was dark. I was dark, the sky was dark, and the streets were dark because there were no students left in town. I arrived at Emmanuel a shivering, snotty, quivering mess and as I got to the door I was greeted by two old priests decked in bright red vestments and capes just like mine.

I don't know why that made me so happy, the fact that we were wearing the exact same capes, but it did. I felt welcome. I felt like I was part of something.

The church was lit up in all its glory, there were evergreen boughs stuffed into every corner and candles burning on every flat surface. Incense --frankincense and myrrh plumed in the slightly over-warmed sanctuary. People were bustling and chatting and there was a buzz of excitement. It was then that I caught the first true whiff of Christmas.

Brain soup and big blessings

The hot and sour soup at Wanfu has magical "smartening" properties and is not to be trifled with. Last night --or rather very early this morning-- I made a journey to the late-night Chinese diner for a big bowl of brain soup, hoping against hope that I'd be able to do some much-needed work on a spiritual analysis paper I have due tomorrow.

At 2:00 a.m. the place was getting ready to close. The dining room was empty except for two cops eating "lunch" and me. When I went up to the counter to pay, I quietly told the young woman that I would like to pay for their meals as well.

At first she didn't believe me, which saddened me because this sort of thing ought not to be so out of place as to provoke disbelief. Eventually she forked over the bill and stood there, dumbfounded as if I were signing away a kidney, not a few bucks for some Orange Chicken.

I paid, left a note saying "Thank you, Merry Christmas and God Bless You" and signed it "a grateful Austinite" and went on my merry way.

As I pulled out of the parking lot I could see through the window the waitress showing the police officers the note. The big blonde one --visibly touched-- smiled from ear to ear and ran his hand through his hair as if he were embarrassed or at a loss for words. The small one smiled gently as he read the note.

well, I'm a big baby --which should surprise no one-- and I cried right there.

I'm not telling you this because I want to show off how good and generous I am, because really I'm not that good OR generous. I'm saying that for a cheap dinner --I think all three of our meals plus a nice tip was under 25 bucks, money I would have blown on something frivolous anyway-- I was able to share in an incredible moment of warmth and grace with three total strangers on one of the coldest nights of the year, and I will remember that waitress's confused look, the blonde cop's illuminated grin, the darker one's small smile for the rest of my life.

It's a Christmas blessing, mine for a bargain price.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bloody hell!

I can't decide whether I want to shout "Is this semester over yet?!" or "is this semester over already?!" but what I do know is that I've got quite a large paper due by Wednesday that isn't quite as completed as I'd like to be. In fact, some people might --not inaccurately-- describe it as not yet entirely begun.

For some strange reason I had it in my mind that final paper wouldn't be due until the end of December, a theory which didn't hold up to rigorous testing since I discovered on Friday the paper was to be turned in complete and unabridged on December 6th.

My good intentions to put a great and glorious dent in it this weekend also folded under societal pressures as I had to bake some cookies for my grandmother's bible study group and spend a lot of time addressing Christmas cards, thinking about how much I like advent and wondering what sort of hot rod I ought to buy if and when I ever come into a big wad of extra cash.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Happy first Sunday in Advent y'all. I love Advent. Love it, love it, love it, and love it some more. It used to be that my favorite season was Lent, but for the past two years it's been Advent.

A funny thought just occurred to me. Whenever we talk about seasons, in my head it's always liturgical seasons. Just like the word "collect" is pronounced first and foremost in my head as "CALL-ect."

I'm not sure if anyone reads this blog anymore, but if you do, I'd like to wish you a season of great joy, hope and anticipation.
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