Monday, July 27, 2015

Drunken Birthday Blogging

Now that I have your attention, let me modify that title a bit: Slightly Tipsy Day-Before-My-Birthday Blogging

Even with those qualifiers, it's probably not advisable to be putting fingers on the keyboard at this time of the evening with the Blogger window open on the laptop and a purple-pink hazy sky fading to blue in the west. It's the eve of my annual July 28 birthday, which, yeah, comes around every year.

But better I should be writing here at The Perverse Lutheran than opening up and working on files that were carefully and closely honed and edited this afternoon, yesterday, Saturday. I could do some real damage that would have to be repaired tomorrow, on my real birthday.

It's my blog and I'll say what I want to. Forty-five minutes from now I can choose whether or not to click Publish. And I can always take this down tomorrow morning and do the necessary repairs to my reputation, should that be, um, necessary.

Went out for a birthday dinner with my mother and my two younger children this evening. Had two pints of beer, a Krumbacher Pils, which son Kurt informed is what homeless guys drink from paper bags under bridges in Germany, followed by a Revolution Anti-Hero, which is my fave, what I should have ordered the first time. Two pints is one over my usual limit. I'm not sure if the problem is that alcohol affects me quickly, because I am a woman of slow metabolism, or that I have so little psychological tolerance for letting my guard down.

Van Morrison was playing on the radio on the ride home, kind of a basic identity thing in this family, and I was drawn back to younger days and to the part of myself that was more free, more confident, more certainly loved. More able to enjoy a summer night. A creative force, more able to speak with authority about the world and life and love. Not more right, not wiser, just more able.

"Who am I supposed to be here?" I ask myself. Quick change to patient mother as Eliza asks a question. Quick change to faithful friend as I read my email. Pose as spiritually conscious blogger when I wander over to the Perverse Lutheran. Who am I when I finally tumble into bed at night and bury myself in a novel? Who am I when I walk in the door at work in the morning and put on the cheery/ironic/smart face I wear on the job?

Am I the ever-widening bottom that sits in an easy chair in the backyard, for hours on end with a book, a notebook or the computer? Am I the woman who every now and then gets to walk really fast, because she's going somewhere all alone?

It's a summer night. Maybe that's why I ask these questions. The air is gentle, humid, caressing. Even at 9 p.m. you can still see the clouds and all the texture in the sky. I'm a child of summer, born in late July, who grew that one year older in between school years, when no one could see except the characters in the books I read, and my own precious self.

From James Agee's "Knoxville Summer of 1915":
After a little I am taken in, and put to bed.
Sleep, soft, smiling draws me unto her,
and those receive me, who quietly greet me
as one familiar and well-beloved in that place.
But will not, not now, not ever—
But will not ever tell me who I am. 

I'm okay with that mystery.

(Samuel Barber set this text to music. Listen here to Sylvia McNair. Or to the original performer, Eleanor Steber.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bribery and abundance

When I talk bribery, I'm usually talking about bribing myself. And what I really mean is setting up a situation where I am away from distractions and forced to get some work done--either because of a reward at the end, or because of what I've set on the table next to the laptop--to keep me at the table and working.

I scored big tonight. I had an hour to kill this evening while Eliza was at a party. I sat at a window table at Healy's Westside in Forest Park, ordered a Revolution Anti-Hero, and opened up my computer as the waitress lowered the shade to block the sun that was in my eyes. I didn't ask for the wifi password.

Could I knock off one more 1055-character meditation in an hour? One more chunk of a series whose deadline is approaching rapidly? Could a good IPA help me speak with Jesus and Peter by the Sea of Genessaret?


Especially when followed up with a soup plate of today's special: spaghetti noodles topped with chili and hot melted cheddar cheese. Kind of like what you would make at home when randomly dumping leftovers together.

It was an abundant way to work at a piece of writing that was going to be a wind-up to showing God's surprising abundance as its climax. I may hate the writing in the morning (I'm afraid to look right now), but at least there's something there to revise.

There's plenty of troubling stuff going on around me, with family, friends, work. The usual sort of life worries that I feel all all-too-responsible for fixing. I spent an hour or two driving my head into my pillow last night as I wandered through the worry labyrinth in my brain instead of sleeping.

Life is difficult, but so often this seems to come as a surprise. I, for one, expected a life made mostly of fuzzy-focused happy endings, but they never seem to arrive--or if they do, they don't stay more than hour or two. At my age, the consciousness of life's limits is very much with me--not so much in terms of my own finitude, but in the knowledge that trouble will continue to find me and those I love, because trouble is out there waiting for all of us.

But a good beer and a good bowl of whatever they called that daily special can sure take the edge off. The happy, dancing girls and the scoop of coffee ice cream offered to me at the birthday party when I went to pick up Eliza didn't hurt either.

Sure beats the great catch of fish that represented God's abundance to Peter--at least in my world!