Monday, May 28, 2007

Ellen Foster

I love Ellen Foster.

She's a wonderful invention of Kaye Gibbons.

Ellen is, without question, my favorite literary heroine of all times. And I've just revisited her after purchasing Ellen Foster and The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster as a birthday present for a special friend who is experiencing some major transition in her own life. Before giving my friend the books, I sat up for 3 late nights in a row re-reading both books, savoring every line like fine chocolate, piece by delicious piece, falling in love all over again with this sassy, strong, spunky little girl. The second time around, Ellen was no less inspiring, and I wrote down a passage that I think I will fold up and carry in my wallet forever, right next to my tattered, well-loved copy of Marge Piercy's "For Strong Women".

From The Life All Around Me:

"With no regrets or grudges against the tin and timber real life around you, let it be time to bring every memory inside like wood you put in a fireplace, piece by piece, wish by wish. The old need that wasn't met, the wants misunderstood, what you absolutely knew and guessed. What you dreamed or half invented. Saw and heard outright or saw and heard in words you read and adored. What was done to you and calls for revenge you let burn away. Each thing is of the same good use, and burning together, continually, the light the bundle makes belongs to you, your love and your work, what you see, how you're seen. By December, I understood the deeper the dreams and beliefs, the brighter and warmer you and the rooms you walk through are, and you're safe now passing through old places, not dark now, more than sufficiently kept lit by you."

Yeah. Brilliant.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

jerry: where are you?

It's been fairly impossible over the last week to watch the news or read the papers or surf the net and not see Jerry Falwell's sheepish grin looking back at me. Or to read about what a great guy Old Jerry was. Newt Gingrich practically cried a river of tears about Jerry's demise and said "All his life, Dr. Jerry Falwell bore witness to the Truth, secure in the promise that the Truth will make us free." (for more of Newt's 'tribute' click here, if you can stand it.) Prez Bush got all heartfelt and mushy and praised Falwell for having “lived a life of faith” and for calling on “men and women of all backgrounds to believe in God and serve their community.” Um yeah.

Of course, the airwaves and the ink press and the world wide web have also been brimming over with comments from people who aren't all that torn up that Jerry has "left the building. My personal favorite is this rager by Bill Maher (be warned: it's, um, colorful, to say the least.)

I guess everyone has their own SLANT on this one.

I surely have mine.

So yeah, Jerry, I know you believed in the afterlife, so listen up. The fact is that I'm just not going to miss even one thing about you, except maybe that you always provided me with a little bit of "juice" to work hard on those rare days I didn't feel like getting out of bed. I could always count on you for a some hate-partner motivation I guess. But there is a little more breathing space on earth now for pagans and abortionists and feminists and all things homosexual, and while I know some other right-wing fundamentalist whacko is waiting in the wings, I'm still glad that my own beloved queer community (and all the aforementioned freaks you claimed were responsible for 9-11) will no longer be subjected to your homophobic rants disguised as God-Speak.

There is one bit of information I could use though, because I think it will answer that ever-elusive-drive-you-bat-shit-crazy-keep-you-awake-at-night BURNING (no pun intended) question: "what happens when you die?"

The information I am seeking comes in the form of a question:

Where, exactly, ARE YOU right now?

Are you sitting comfortably in a plush throne next to your Maker in Heaven, Who is congratulating you on a life well-lived, and Who is thanking you for "bearing witness to the Truth"?

OR are you, at this moment, looking like a red-snapper hotdog that spent too much time on the end of a stick hanging out over a blazing campfire? Are you, in fact, feeling the heat in that proverbial "lake of eternal fire"?

Because here's the thing. I am well aware that we are all gambling here on earth, so to speak. I operate my life, my values, my moral compass on a certain system of beliefs that are DRASTICALLY different than yours, Jerry. And while there are precious few things that I can say I am completely sure of, I can say with 100% confidence that I am sure of this: where ever it is that you ended up, I am absolutely guaranteed to end up in the exact opposite place. So if I could just have some inkling, some CLUE at ALL about from which angle you are watching me now(are you looking up at me Jerry, or are you looking down??)then really, my own Eternal Destination Point (if such a thing even exists) will no doubt cease to be a mystery.

Jerry...where are you?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hiatus: Over

It feels like a month of Sundays since I've visited The Slant. Life has been unbelievably hectic, in an exciting way. I'm settled into my new Portland digs, and lovin' life back in the "Big City." Work keeps me out almost every night...and it's been fun meeting new people from the community. The only drawback has been the minimal amount of time I've been able to spend with The Posse. I miss my girls. And my Bangor Boy. Note to self: resolve that matter, as soon as possible.

I've been spending my late nights and early mornings writing--the old fashioned way--in a journal. It's been cathartic, in many ways, to write deeply personal thoughts about the experiences I've had over the past years, and to write them only for myself. As my dear friend Sue Comyns always says, "I didn't know what I didn't know." I'm digging deep into myself, cutting through the layers to get to the marrow of who I am. It's been revealing, it's been brutal at times, but I can feel an awakening within me, and it's something to celebrate. When you realize that you've effectively tethered some of the most colorful parts of who you are, you come alive in surprising ways when you free those parts and let them breathe again. I am happy, content, at peace, for the first time in many years. It feels wonderful.

This self-healing, this forward motion, is allowing my friendships to deepen, grow, and they are becoming a powerful part of my life. The Posse. I am ever mindful of the profoundness of those relationships. We are quite a motley crew, so different in so many ways, yet connected by the deepest of bonds that come from sharing each other's joys and sorrows. Corey, Kimm & Jen, Jenn & Carolyn and Baby Meghan, Kevin...they have become part of my soul. The Posse. Beautiful, magical connections that run so deep. We are all rooted together, I know for the rest of our lives. I am so grateful.

And as I move about in the world, exploring new friendships and relationships, I have such a sense of authenticity because I am feeling so connected to the truest parts of who I am. I wake every day and feel reborn. What's the Albert Einstein quote...
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.

I am living life like it is a miracle.