samedi, décembre 19, 2009

The Stranger

Yesterday I was exchanging emails with a guy I had interviewed for a story. He's good with the quotes, smart, and very opinonated -- no shock then, that many writers call him up and ask him to, err, pontificate. He's got a liberal point of view, he was a journalist himself, and he is nice about giving reporters what they ask for -- the pointed quote.

As one often can in email threads, we digressed, to chat about an acquaintance with a conservative public persona. Our friend is a very nice guy in private, but very much "in your face" when he comments for attribution.

A sense of weariness came over me. "It's like a pavane" I wrote to J. "Everyone knows their moves, and their lines."

If I have one consistent criticism of my fellow journalists, and of myself, it's that we construe complexity sometimes as dualism -- Republican v. Democrat, single v. married, librarian v. sexpot (sorry don't know where THAT came from). Yet as we grow, hopefully we make room for all of these complexities within ourself.

What of the relationship bloggers? Mommy bloggers? Dad bloggers? What about bloggers who run from categorization like me?

We trade in self-revelation, hopefully written in a way that touches something common in someone else.

Most of us don't want to share all of our complexity -- we don't really know the people at the other end. I've been the subject of enough crazy comments in venues like the Washington Post to know I don't want to hang all the dirty laundry out. And intimacy needs to grow in real time. Yet it seems that sometimes our online personality can become detached from our real self -- or glamorized -- or take on an energy that is potentially toxic.

Where are you, fellow bloggers? Are you and your online persona one and the same? Do you stray off the reservation?

Or are you another participant in the predictable dance?

If so, do you ever think of taking some real, not virtual, risks?

Talk to me.

mercredi, décembre 16, 2009

Remembering Dave

I guess I can't avoid the subject weighing down my spirit this morning.

A few hours ago the clergywoman who heads our deanery (yes, archaic), emailed us to tell us that one of our colleagues, had died last night. Visiting his sister in Vermont, he crossed the divide between this world and the next in his sleep.

Dave was, in so many ways, larger than life. He was a big guy -- I'm sure I'm not the only friend who was concerned about his health. He had a hearty laugh, and a great sense of humor -- much more Chaucerian than most clergy, at least for normal consumption.

He wasn't, in that traditional way, genteel. He told it the way it was. He didn't have a lot of time for frauds. If something was troubling him, he'd tell you, most of the time.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I've been posting stories about clergy who have mental or emotional issues - -and the lengths they often go to keep to delude others, and often to deceive themselves.

You pretty much knew where you were with Dave. As his assistant a number of years ago, when served as an interim rector in a previous job, I didn't always agree with him. But I respected him -- in part because I knew that he felt that way about me.

Some laypeople may want to be around social climbers or be part of the clergy social circle. But more crave the kind of courage and openness he showed. He was indeed a role model, but not because he let anyone worship him instead of God.

In a country in which conventional forms of religious commitment are becoming less appealing, he was a credit to his calling.

Dave, you were a rare bird. We will miss you so much. Pray for us, as we'll be praying for you and the ones you loved -- and love.

lundi, décembre 14, 2009

The pity factor

What on earth do they think of me, I wonder sometimes.

Honestly, I'd rather not wonder. I like to go through my life feeling like, in general, I'm part of the crowd.

Lots of us have to deal with bad luck, or broken relationships, or, particularly recently, financial problems.

Telling some friends about my septic tank melodrama (want me to talk dirty to you?), I was stunned into brief silence when the wife said: "You always have such troubles, Elizabeth. Our lives just go along without problems."

As it happens, that isn't really true. But as I grinned at her husband, I have to admit I felt a bit pissed off.

I've know real grief -- a brother lost, way too young. A mother who never got to meet her grandchildren. But oh my goodness, I've been so blessed in so many other ways.

Am I pleased that my neighbors got a variance 25 or so years ago, when this was the WildWild West, to bury their waste in my yard? No, of course not. Will it matter in a year?


I have so much -- healthy children, a place to live, money enough not to stay up at night wondering how we'll eat, good neighbors, work that fulfills, a God who loves me... and who loves you.

Yes, it would be awesome to have a man here to help me cope with tanks and toilets and folding the wash -- and all those other things some men are good at. And if he shows up, it will be another thing to marvel at....but I'm not feeling sorry for myself.

So why do you?

I am more like you than unlike you -- you who fluff your feathers in the perceived security of a marriage, or good health, or successful children.

I think it might be different in a less conservative area, where there wasn't quite the same stigma to being a woman with a failed marriage who hasn't buried the evidence by remarrying.

But when someone starts with the supposition that managing my life without a man makes me less competent, I bristle. I know it says more about them than it does about me, but kid in me still stamps her feet.

That being said -- I have a suggestion for those of you who pity us.

Start with what we share -- and what we don't share won't be quite as frightening.

dimanche, décembre 13, 2009

Hug me

I have a confession to make.

And I make this one with more anxiety than I would admitting to getting angry with my ex (which happens, even in our "amicable" split) or envious of friends who still have living parents, or a night of irresponsible, torrid sex with someone I don't know well (I'll leave you guessing).
When he's here, and he asks me, I lie down on the twin bed, next to my 12 year old son, and put my arms around him.
Until he asks me to leave, and I boot out the cat, and close the door gently, and say: "Good night, sweetie. I'll see you in the morning)."
Lots of boy kids Mr. C's age don't want their mom anywhere near their almost adolescent shoulders. But both his father and I have noticed that this boy needs a lot of physical affection. As a toddler, he would come downstairs in the morning, and make a beeline for our laps.
When he's sitting in church next to his dad, he'll lean in so his head rests on his dad's shoulder. In the house, when I'm cranky, and one of the two children is driving me crazy, he'll come up behind me and stroke my back.
I know that lots of boys his age are playing war games on the computer, while he plays chess and Toontown. Some are out killing animals with guns their dads (or moms) taught them to use. Some are closing their doors and posting "keep out" signs.
And yet, almost every night that he sleeps in our house here in the country, he says "Hug me." Stay with me. The night is dark, even when it glitters with stars and the moon leans in as though it would enter the windows as we sleep. The fears are more realistic, but they are still there. Magic stalks the small hours.
Hug me, Mom. Someday soon I'll know that's not what other boys do when they are trying to get some distance from their first love -- and I'll tell you.
But not now.
Not yet.
Hug me, he asks.
And I do.