Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Now we are less than whores

Thank you feminism, for insisting on abortion. It has taught men to demand sex from us with the threat of moving on if we object. It has taught them to be utterly irresponsible. It has taught our friends, family and boyfriends to pressure us into unwanted abortions. It has filled our lives with disease, depression, and desolation. It has brought on unanticipated attrocities: date rape drugs, partial-birth abortion, infanticide.

It has taught women that the highest compliment is to be sexy. Second to that is young, or at least looking that way. Forget about our minds, our character, our aspirations--just be eye candy! Actresses flaunt their bodies across the silver screen, women dress immodestly, commercials are full of sexual innuendo, to keep the men hot and bothered and wanting only our flesh.

Marriage is tantamount to surrender for a man. They are warned, "Don't do it. You'll get less sex once they have a commitment from you."

Go on a date. The man spends some money on you. Doesn't matter that it's the first date--he wants to be compensated. Yes, now we are less than whores. Even they get a contract.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

make it go away

numbed and without thought
dull ache between the eyes
all vision a blank blot
all effort the body denies

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Warm, Clean Me

At mass today while bowing my head after communion, I glimpsed a little child going by holding her precious blanket. Her father was holding another corner of the blanket, as if it were an informal leash connecting him to his progeny. That one little fleeting vision transported me back a quarter of a century to when I had two little boys with precious blankets, simply called "bee"s, and I smiled at the recollection of the importance of a bee.

John's blanket was a thermal one in pastel stripes. He liked to finger the satin binding on the edges, and when he was distressed he would chew it. Once he fell and bit his tongue quite badly, and after that the chewed binding was so stained with blood and disgusting, that no washing would make it better. So, thinking that he was in need of a little nudge toward less dependence on the bee, I made a tactical and possibly traumatic error. I cut off the binding, which meant that the blanket became a little smaller by the width of the binding on all four edges. Then I added new binding to the shrunken comforter. The idea was to begin replacing the binding regularly, shrinking it each time, until... it was gone! John was upset and horrified with the first binding replacement and he never chewed the binding again. But he didn't reject it entirely. And his mother didn't shrink the bee out of existence either.

All of our children had a bee, and we encouraged it. When mom or dad couldn't be there to help, a bee was a consolation, and probably a relief to a babysitter who just wasn't what the child needed. It was always there when we snuggled up at bedtime or for story time. It was the first aid applied for any bump, scrape or disappointment. Often after a tumble, the child's first cry on catching his breath would be "BEEE!" and we would run to find it. And when laundry day came, I could count on the pattering of running feet when I called out "warm, clean bee!" Nothing compares to a freshly washed bee straight out of the dryer, all warm and fuzzy and soft and all-encompassing.

When our children got older they graduated from a bee to a real, handmade quilt. We still call them bees when they come out of the dryer. I love to pull them out and deliver them to their owners, calling "warm, clean bee" as I toss the quilt at them or over them. These quilts were not meant to be bedspreads. They get dragged around the house and usually left at the latest spot the owner was reading, watching a movie or playing a game. When one gets raggedy and too patched to repair, a new one is usually requested for Christmas or a birthday. One young lady just received one for Christmas--her first one--since she is marrying my son next summer. For me, it was the best way I could think of to say, "You're part of the family now." Whether or not this couple creates a family that includes bees is yet to be determined, but it was a landmark moment for me when I decided to make one for my son's beloved.

Bees are like receiving absolution in confession. You are distressed and unhappy, and you need to be comforted. You sob it all out with your bee, and it engulfs you and consoles you. Of course, there is more to confession than just getting something that makes you feel better. You have to acknowledge that you have sinned and want to amend your ways. God, like a bee, is merciful and enfolds you in his arms. Someone once told me that when he left the confessional he always wanted to call back to those still waiting in line, "See ya later, sinners!" I laughed at the jeering tone in his voice, but my temptation is to call out, "Warm, clean me!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Campaign Post Mortem

We campaigned. We lost. Today I went all around our congressional district, picking up any yard signs that hadn't already gotten picked off. Of more than 900 signs out there, probably less than 100 are still in existence. I only found about a dozen this morning, but the three plus hours driving gave me plenty of time to pray, think, and even sing. It was tempting to just pop on the radio and let my mind be lazy--but wouldn't you know it--someone messed with my radio and I couldn't get the station I wanted. Wish I could say that not turning it on was my first choice of options. But even so--my second, third and fourth options turned out to be best.

Our lives are so full of noise. Voices clamouring, like fish mongers at market, trying to get us to buy their ideas. And a lot of those ideas are smelly, old, or would be unhealthy for us.

I love silence. I'd rather turn off the music than turn it on. I don't have anything against music--it's just that there is music in my head that will get drowned out. OK. So maybe it's not music. Maybe it's poetry though. But too often it isn't even that. It's an argument! And because my opponent can't answer back, I'm winning! And I'm brilliant, invincible, and totally opinionated. Oh, the things I could say, if I could just get in a word. If I could just control my opponent's arguments by anticipating what they will say and having just the right repartee with which to annihilate their paltry points. I would be so condescending, patronizing their pitiable efforts of debate with the great me. This silence isn't golden! It's bloated, and oozing green pus. Ego has totally taken over, belching out ridiculous claims to demonstrate it's superior intelligence and benevolence and justice.

And that's why today I didn't start with my thoughts, but with someone else's. The great me's locomotive got derailed, to let a handcar silently pump its way through my brain. I got some mental exercise, some quiet, and a restoration of hope.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

So if you want to feel like a real wuss, take this book in. He blasts every excuse in the universe for not doing what you love, and you feel this stirring of nausea in your gut for being duped--mostly by yourself. And you can wonder how you ever managed to get anything accomplished when all the resistance out there (and in there) is stacked against you. The danger of reading it is that you will be inspired to make a lot of resolutions, even if it is not January first, and then utterly and in a most humiliating fashion... fail. But hardly anyone succeeds without failing a little bit, and my guess is those who succeed without failure have still not challenged their deepest skills and desires.

The anguish of my life is that there is so much to do and I will have to make choices, eliminating some things I love to nourish other things that I might love more. How to make the choice when you want it all? Right now, I love teaching. I feel most alive teaching. And I dread the possibility that hearing impairment may force me to abandon the classroom for a new challenge that must be begun at the beginning.

I cringe at that raw nakedness felt as a novice making mistakes that ace players snicker at beyond your supposed notice before offering a benign piece of trite advice with a straight face. Or the kindly meant but debilitating encouragement from a self-titled "genius" of the trade who suggests you just don't have it and to give it up. Or the fear that you are called into a vocation of failure because there is a need and you are the only one to hear the call to stand fast as a nobody for the sake of everybody--like the guy who takes the bullet and sinks into oblivion so that the hero can save the day.

And an even worse self-revelation than finding out you might be called to be a nobody is the realization that you are one and like it, because you are too cowardly to be otherwise. That you chose to not succeed, to not try too hard, to hide in the safeness of mediocrity because the bullets aren't flying there. You curl up into self-imposed hibernation and hope that when you are inconveniently awakened from your stupor the war will be over, but all the heroes will be dead.

Awake, my soul, and sing. Be not afraid. Be not cautious. Be heedless of the danger. Be free to be.