Wednesday, September 26, 2007


From the Archives

(May 2005) I checked my e-mail a little while ago. My spam says that Women Will Love Me and that Julie [7] says Hi Honey.

Am eating some locally made brie on crackers and drinking a nice glass of pinot noir because the lovely woman in the Whole Foods wine department snared me as I walked past with my creamer and cilantro.

“Hi there,” said she. “Would you like to hear about our pinot noirs?”

I thought well I would certainly like to look at your dimples a while longer and my purchases ARE disgustingly alliterative, so sure, show me your wares.

She described several pinots as I studied her gorgeous jaw line, then I said, So tell me, which pinot that doesn’t cost a small fortune has made you smile most recently?

She grinned at my question and handed me the bottle that I have just now opened, which is quite good ... plus I get to imagine her dimples deepening as she discovers this taste.

Yesterday, I passed the Joy Delight Commandment King Church van on my way up the mountain. I really wanted to look through those tinted windows to see if the bus was filled with shiny happy people (who probably wouldn’t get that REM reference) too. Their name reminded me of the (shiver) Baptist camp where I spent too many summers.

Whew what a God um forsaken place that was!

The shiny happy counselors confiscated my Neil Young cassettes (AKA Devil's music) way back in 1976 and I still want them back. They also forced me to memorize Bible verses and recite them before getting in line for my meals.

In my book, if you f*ck with someone’s food, then it’s brainwashing.

I did enjoy canoing there though—when the counselors left me alone. Usually, though, they decided that this introvert spent too much time alone and so called me in off the lake and made me join in a variation of kickball/dodge ball that involved us kids pushing a ball that was bigger than all of us combined up and down a fresh-mown field.

Idleness is the Devil’s workshop, I reckon, so canoeing instead of playing with big balls must have put my soul at risk of eternal damnation. Or something.

(Just an aside but wouldn’t you think that someone who places a bumpersticker of the American flag announcing These Colors Don’t Run on his truck would replace the dumb thing when it fades to almost white?)

My friend gave me a copy of her spiritual autobiography yesterday. She grew up attending a Seventh Day Adventist church—“the cult” is what she calls it—and first encountered television and films as an adult. She can’t watch either though because the violence is too real and the stories make her lose her faith in the goodness of people.

This fascinates me.

She wrote this last week:
You aren't afraid to go anywhere, are you? I just managed to make it through [my blog entry] SITUATIONAL ETHICS. You grapple with things I can't even get close to without nearly dropping off some inner edge. The first time I heard about snuff stuff, I threw up, and couldn't sleep for days without waking up screaming. How can you ponder these things, and then go about your daily routine? ... I wish I had not read that entry! Please remind me again that the vast majority people are not out to damage other people.

Um, okay. The vast majority of people are not out to damage other people. There’s no tangible evidence that anyone has ever made a snuff film. And, when you think about it, we mostly find a way to love extravagantly despite it all.

I wrote a short story and painted a disturbing, multilayered torture painting that Mud dubbed “The Angry Painting” in an effort to get the snapshots I talk about in that entry out of my head. I wouldn’t say that I ponder atrocities and then just go about my normal routine though.

We carry all that shit around with us like luggage (note absence of baggage here), I reckon, just as my body carries around every punch my father ever delivered and all the terror I felt as a child, and so it stays tensed and ready to bolt even now if I’m not paying attention.

But my body also carries around healing caresses, the comfort I feel falling asleep as my lover kisses my eyelashes, a snapshot of my little brother at age 4 holding out his grubby little hand and saying “I Made You a (dirty) cinnamon toast ball,” and so many acts of kindness, and passion and love and unsolicited generosity. So there is some balance, I reckon, if we’re fortunate.

I don’t think my friend could read JM Coetzee’s Waiting For The Barbarians, but his main character asks similar questions.

This pal has lost faith in humanity because a patient told her horrible abuse stories last week, in which a father anked his daughter out of bed and held her underwater till she thought she would die every time she peed in bed. This has made her lose faith in our goodness. Again.

I’ve been pondering what poems to send her way.

I'd send Vassar Miller’s sonnet “Without Ceremony” to myself, but am not sure it would comfort her. The final stanza of Frank O’Hara’s “Steps” would comfort me too:

oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

but I believe I will send her Kathleen Lake’s “In The Absence,” Mary Oliver’s “Morning Poem” and “Poppies,” and Wendell Berry’s “Work Song. Part 2, A Vision: The Wisdom to Survive,” which seems like the perfect poem for her.

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