Friday, January 27, 2017

Moving Along

I'm now writing at

A few words about this blog: mostly navel-gazing essays which allowed me to clarify (internally) what I believe on various topics. It was fun to post them and meet new friends, in my town and beyond, through blog connections. I found that I initially wrote when agitated over news items or to answer fallacies faced in daily life -- I'm thankful to leave that behind.

Last night marked a 19 year reprieve from active addiction for me. God has granted me a freedom that I hope to make the most of on a daily basis ~ from self-destruction through booze & drugs, but also a freedom from behaviors that hurt other people. I am not proud of my more strident pieces here. The last companion I had in my drunkenness (not counting the spiritual demons which I renounce to this day) was Dylan Thomas. His words about people and institutions still surround me; I love his spirit. To wit: "Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction." -DT

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Me and My friend Seth

Gangs of New York, 2002

My friend Seth is forty years old and has outlived at least half of the 9 lives allotted to even the feistiest cat. We now live a thousand miles apart, as we have for most of our adult lives. He has remained in our hometown, built a family and a life there around the seasons, while my husband and I came north fifteen winters ago. Our connection is sporadic but always warm and fraternal, like a big brother who has seen anything I'm about to show him but endures my antics anyway.

Seth's mother braided my hair and baked apple pies for all of our childhood. When his cat gave birth to kittens in his bed -- a handbuilt lofted bed perfect for forts and scary stories -- his stock rose exponentially in my five-year-old mind and has stayed there since. We played hide and go seek among the spruce trees and trailer parks of our densely forested, working-class Alaskan island. The snuggly rhythms of early memory gave way to some chaos in our respective homes, and we've also shared the messier milestones of adolescence and adulthood.  

Our parents are probably more surprised to see us raising ten children between us and baptizing them into a faith neither of us were raised in, than they were to pick us up from the police station together off and on in the early 1990s. Seth taught me about weed, subversive music and the delicate balance of supply and demand. We played F*ck the Police at top volume and did our best imitations of the bravado presented on MTV. His father was my only visitor when I was shipped to a nearby island for residential drug treatment. 

I will note here Seth's physical presence: he is massive. Foreboding, even. An uncle of mine who employed him as a commercial fisherman remarked that Seth is the quintessential gentle giant. He was a wrestler in high school and has always kept his strength in check; never bullying and even using his imposing physicality to defend would-be victims from teasing or worse. There's one particular story about the school bus that brings me near tears each time I tell it -- and the irony seems to be that the boy being bullied was of correct breeding and political class but wispy and nerdy, while Seth was the scrappy hero. That boy from the bus went on to some really prestigious East Coast college I can never remember the name of and now works for a Fortune 500 in the art dept (last I knew), while Seth put down roots in the same neighborhood from which the school bus shuttled him to & fro. When I watch the (glorious) movie Overboard I still see Seth in the oldest son. Noble and quiet but certainly not without spine. Perhaps his power lies in the suggestion of violence without having to deploy it. 

I thought of Seth in a special way after reading this piece. I emailed it to him, along with a half dozen other men and women, childhood friends all, with whom I often share banter about current events. We don't agree on every issue nor seek to convert each other -- we just like to stay in touch and rap about lifestyle and philosophy between diapers, work and errands. We're able to learn from one another without resentment or bitterness, pride or retribution. I see now that our unity may be a threat to those without agency in the present White House. Seth shared the piece on social media only to be accused of racism and effectively silenced. I would laugh if it weren't so sad and entirely missing (or proving) the point of the post.

Today, taking stock as if I were a raven perched in the treetops, listening to the foment of human pettiness in the wake of President No Good Really Bad, reading scribes from all corners, ruffling my feathers -- I see that the erudite leftist minds neatly bunch us all together. We are White. We are to be aggregated and educated, or at least ignored. Our varied opinions and experiences do not matter, for we share the embarrassing ethnicity of being Anglo-Saxon. Our immigrant stories are irrelevant, for we must absorb fresh wisdom, prostrate ourselves to the latest arrival. We're descended from countries that lack the exotic pedigree to grab the audience of National Public Radio with tales of victimhood. 

Never mind that Seth's children aren't even white, or that my husband is only second generation American, with grandparents who came as illiterate teenagers hoping to earn enough money to return to Portugal and buy a horse. If that hints at a certain pride, it's simply pride in the achievements and perseverance of someone else. It would never occur to me to ascribe pride to my race. I don't need census bureau stats to validate my existence, and I have 2,000 years of cultural heroism in Christ and His Bride to "fall back on" for identity. My kids attend a school with just seventy students. Laotians, Alaskan Natives, African Americans, Hispanic children from pockets of Central and South America, Caucasians. No one notices. We have families with foster children, families of truckers, clerks, engineers, physicians, pilots, families built by adoption and those with transient children. Our stated goal is to make saints. We look to martyrs, soldiers and scholars with equal fervor. We are not divided and we are not afraid.

As I said in the email scribbled to friends when I shared Dreher's post this morning, the weird alt-right thing gets no traction with me -- but the objective point being made by his commenter is quite illuminating.  Foreboding? We'll see. I do know this: the guidance of a nuanced gentleman who takes no guff is an invaluable force for children. Come what may, both Seth's children and mine have that in their fathers. 

If the American Left insists on fragmentation along lines of race, the carnage is predictable and its genesis rests squarely on them. They play with fire. Although the USA is unique, and this experiment of unity is worthwhile, we are all still human beings. I grieve the idea that men like Seth (who I use here without permission and not as a mythic hero; he's just a dude I know) are being trashed. Again to repeat myself --- white men are allowed to be anything except victorious. I would submit that the creepy racism of America was exposed, burst like a boil on Satan's ass, not with the election of a black man to the Presidency, but of a white one. Why is that?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Unused Creativity Becomes Toxic

So, my friend Rikki set me up with this lady by a few piercing quotes and I've been hooked ever since. This is a long interview, and far-reaching, but even if you have just ten minutes or so I say she's worth a gander. Groudbreaking points --- and not just one chick blathering, but the result of extensive research. It makes me thankful for the music teachers, hippies and counselors who cross(ed) my path.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Will return November 1

The neighbor's Lhasa Apso comes over like clockwork most nights at 10:30 p.m. My husband always lets him in.

Today our friend Jeff returned to the sacraments after forty years away. Confession. Holy Mass. He said it felt too easy. Isn't mercy, if we've hidden from it, often like that? I'm restored to grace, through none of my own power?

The best working definition of the nature of evil I've heard goes something like, "Evil is the voice that tells you before you do something, that it's no big deal --- but the instant you do it, Evil tells you that same thing is unforgivable." I wonder if there's a parallel to virtue ~ does not Satan himself imply that certain pursuits are overwhelming, and then convict our efforts as falling short or being futile, in the flip of an instant?

How does the New Age prompt go --- "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

The good news is, all men have fallen short of the glory of God. We're in good company!

I'm tired. Gotta push Junior out the door to finish his rounds around the bluff. Stupid little dog. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mother's Day of Healing with Fr. Michael Shields

Local readers: do not miss this day, if at all possible.

Mini-Retreat at St Michael Parish
Saturday, September 13
9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Lunch and childcare provided by AHG Troop AK1414
Palmer, Alaska

9-10 a.m.      Eucharistic Adoration and healing litanies, in the parish
10 a.m.          coffee break, downstairs
10:15 - 11:15 Talk by Father Michael
11:15-11:25   break
11:25 - 11:45 Question & Answer with Father
(written questions accepted anonymously during the morning, in-person questions welcome as well)
11:45-1 p.m. lunch and fellowship
1-2 p.m.         Sacrament of Reconciliation, upstairs, for those who desire


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Jehovah's Witnesses keep coming over

"The Catholic Church is an institution that I am bound to hold divine --- but for unbelievers proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight." ~ Hillaire Belloc

A few years ago I suffered a setback in my enchantment with all things Catholic. I finally saw the impenetrable bureaucracy for what it was. A priest friend sat up late, listened and studied --- he said this was good, that getting pissed and not leaving was vital to developing a mature faith.

In the matter of Timothy Cardinal Dolan and every other source of ecclesial agitation, I'm marshaling hope that it's part of being sanctified. Living in an age of penance. Being thankful for every upright soul I can learn from. My duty is to serve Our Lord by loving my family. Life can be really simple. I have no reason to be ungrateful. And a grateful heart cannot be disturbed.

The cat is gagging super loudly in a corner of the kitchen and my 'free hour' during math and Sesame Street is coming to an end.