Tag Archives: Duff McKagan

Professor K. Cracks the Books

So, Duff published his autobiography, and I hereby order all of you to go read It’s So Easy.  I know I am as biased as they come about the man, but, the book is well worth the time you’ll spend.  I reviewed it on Amazon, so if you want more of my ecstatic waxing (that looked so much better in my head than when I typed it) enthusiasm over the subject, you can read my thoughts there.   I rather wish I had finished my thoughts about Bozza and Slash–not sure why I submitted without, but that paragraph should have read something like this:

Of the three AFD-era band members published so far, I enjoyed McKagan’s the most. Adler’s was painful in a I-can’t-even-finish-it sort of way, and while I enjoyed much of Slash’s book, I too often felt like I was reading Anthony Bozza–particularly in the quirky little questions and pseudo-cliffhangers. Folks who have followed McKagan’s post Guns-career and especially his writing will be unsurprised by how engaging the book is; folks who recall only the Duff of Use Your Illusion will be stunned. Readers looking for more salacious detail about the band once heralded as the world’s most dangerous will be disappointed. The memoir treads lightly–for the most part–there.

The same weekend I read Duff’s autobiography, I read Jack Grisham’s, which is titled American Demon.  For those who don’t spend their time mired in punk memorabilia and whatnot, Grisham hails from the early days of Orange County hardcore, most memorably for most in T.S.O.L.  Unless of course you were among those confronted by Vicious Circle, in which case, indeed, your memories may be a tad biased on the matter of the man.  And possibly his bands.  Grisham has rather oddly become a centerpiece in my class this semester, partially because his remarks in American Hardcore are themselves rather memorable, and also because it’s rather difficult to ignore that Slade in What We Do Is Secret is modeled on him (nor do I think it is intended to be ignored–and modeled isn’t nearly a strong enough verb).  As a result–or perhaps this is a matter of causation–I was drawn to the book.

While I’d undoubtedly recommend the book to someone, I’m not altogether certain who.  If you were running with Grisham at the formation during the heydays of OC hardcore, certainly it might be a take worth examining.  If you have any interest in the roots of OC hardcore, you still may enjoy it, though it doesn’t pretend to delve into punk for the most part, though he provides the obligatory and, frankly–given the rest of the book–mundane take on “real punk”:

Real punk is not being able to hold it together for your college degree, or for your long term, forty-hour-per-week day job.  Real punk isn’t fun or glamorous; real punk means that, against all your best intentions, you’re sitting in a lonely apartment with your head in your hands wondering how the fuck your destroyed your life again.  Real punk means that whatever you love is gonna be gone unless you get a touch of divine intervention–and as I said before, God doesn’t give  a fuck.

Real punk does suck.

[…]

…remember, history is rarely written by those creating it. So, I’d be careful what you read and believe. […] Columbus didn’t discover America, Edison didn’t invent the light bulb, and your favorite old-time real-cool punk band or singer wasn’t. (202-203)

I’m not sure what put me off more–the arrogance (I’m reading Jack Grisham, what else was I expecting?), the hyperbole (Edison!  Columbus!  Punk!), or the everyday wrapped in an air of revelation. As my students can testify, he’s hardly alone or original in those claims about punk.  Of course, it could simply be that I get irritated by any claim to know what “true/real/whatever” punk is.

It is all about me, after all.

As a recovery narrative–it isn’t.  I won’t go so far as other reviewers (and Grisham himself) to laud this as a book unlike the score of other books written by and about addicts in that it doesn’t end in redemption.  The publisher puts it this way: “Eloquently disregarding the prefabricated formulas of the drunk–to–sober, bad–to–good tale…”.  And, yes, the redemption narrative stops short–we don’t watch demon Jack recover, but that’s less a result of the narrative strategy than when the timeline of the book halts.  Fairly easy to avoid redemption when you stay out of the recovery part of the tale (and, indeed, there is that–Grisham has been sober for more than 20 years).  And, as more than a few examples can point out, mere sobriety does not necessarily render one a saint.  Nor a nice guy.  Nor even tolerable, nevermind redeemed and/or good.

Of course, it was intriguing enough to make me want to chart where the book belongs within the canon (such as there is) of redemption narrative and the sub-canon (far more codified) of the Faustian narrative, though that’s not quite what he produced here.

The book is worth reading, provided rape, various forms of violence (inflicted on women, men, children, well, everything, actually), and descriptions of alcohol and drug abuse aren’t triggering.  Also a general tendency toward asshole–it’s difficult to come away liking the narrative voice, though I certainly enjoyed the playfulness and the turns of phrase.  His description, for instance, of alcohol, was…uncomfortably familiar (and the very thought of Grisham in my head decidedly freaky):

Booze is a synthetic taste of God, created by man to satisfy a closeness that wasn’t there when he, the man, was created.  God, in His infinite wisdom (and need for acknowledgement), left a spiritual hole in man that only God could fill.  This way, man would have to search out his Creator to feel whole, and then than Him for being created.

Shit, that was a mouthful of words just to say that booze makes you feel all cuddly and warm inside. (45)

Okay, so not really in my head, but, yeah.  I smiled.  I even whipped out the highlighter.

Two books arguably about similar topics (white dude, hardcore punk, addiction, and in Duff’s case, life thereafter), but wildly, wildly, oh so incredibly, different.  If ever two books could showcase what differences in narrative tone and thesis can do to a story, these are ready for the pairing.

Go forth and read, my children.

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Addiction

For some of us, when the final penny finally drops, we’ll crawl to rehab or to wherever or whatever it is that will finally bring the peace of clean and sober.  For others, the final penny will drop only with the moment of death.  And none of us know which penny will be ours.  None of us.

Or which one will be the last, for that matter.

What needs to be said, brutally and beautifully about addiction and Amy Winehouse’s death can be found in Russell Brand’s “For Amy.”  Read it the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they’re not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but un-ignorable veil.

A softer, but no less apt tribute by Duff at Reverb:

I only know that addiction is a lonely and terrifying place to be. It’s not glamorous, and addiction does not care if you are well-known and rich, or a loner-hermit with no dough.

They are both entirely worth the read.

Addicts, the ones I’ve encountered in the last few days, myself included, have reacted with a bit of recoil:  Experience, Strength, and Hope is ALWAYS tempered by the reality that reminds what the other path will hold.  Amy’s death is one such reality.  And before her Andrew. Kurt. Janis. Jim. Jimi. Jimmy. Layne.  And scores of others heralded by first name to the family of fans and by so much more to friends and family, some of whom might have waited for the call.  And waited.  And prayed it was a cry for help or a resolution to find another way.  Accident or intent is irrelevant when the other call comes.

A penny dropped. And with it went a voice. A godmother. A friend. A daughter.

Fangirls and Community

Weirdly, this post occurred to me as I finished Brad Warner’s Sex, Sin, and Zen last night, coupled with the exciting revelation that I get to go be a fangirl with some of my favorite fellow fangirls in April *bounce, bounce,* when Loaded plays the Revolver Golden Gods Awards Show (add to this Alice Cooper AND Avenged, how was I to miss???).  Anyway, I’ll get back to his book and his notion of the effect of personal choices within a community in a bit, but if I recall correctly, I was initially inspired by the realization that I am something of a Brad Warner fangirl (read all the books! link to his blog! *sigh*) and in that regard, fangirl possibly doesn’t mean in my head quite what it might once have.

Fangirl (per Urban Dictionary) [A/N– all spelling errors belong to the site/poster, not kitsch]:

A rabid breed of human female who is obesessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy. Fangirls congregate at anime conventions and livejournal. Have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obesessions. 

I’m fond of the use of rabid here; good image, fits the rest of the definition, which seems to regard fangirls as a subspecies of Saint Bernard (read it again, am I wrong?).  I tend to use the term somewhat more loosely, as a female-identified fan of a particular stripe.  You sort of know us when you see us at a concert (yes, I have an lj, and yes, we’ll get to that in a moment).  We often travel in packs, it is true, and we are often a tad…let’s go with overwhelming to the uninitiated.  Couple of examples, all pulled from personal experiences:

At the Avenged show last month, I found myself, as my partner-in-crime observed, square in the ZackyV fangirl squad.  This was not, she also rather cheekily noted, an entirely incorrect placement, either (and not a bassist.  Who would have imagined?).  Now, I’m older than most of the denizens by a decade or more (man, that was horrible to admit–and older than the object of their affection by 6 years.  Ack), and while I sport a few tattoos, piercings, and dyed-hair, I’m afraid my particulars are rather tame in comparison to most of the girls that were in the area around me, owing to the realities of my calling (the industrial, visible tattoos, and penchant for wearing combat boots or Converse high-tops have probably pushed it about as far as I can go, though I would rock blue hair and a lip ring, thank you).  Now, for those of you who don’t congregate in General Admission pits, please note that I am not referring to the sort of lady who pitches her recently-shed thong (not footwear) on to the stage.  Or bra, if you were from an older, calmer era–about 1990.  Those are not fangirls; we have other names for them….like Roxana Shirazi (I kid).  Fangirls, at least the younger and more boisterous set, come equipped with signs that name the object of affection’s dogs (case in point:  “Icky for Prez”* was one that was spotted) and stuffed animals of various sorts.  While such items were certainly present in the ZV fanbase, I did find myself wondering what the group in front of stage left was like…I couldn’t see any of what was thrown at Syn, but I feel certain there were similarities.  Including signs about Pinkly (shut up. That one at least has an easy explanation for its placement in my brain).  And the pet thing…I’m pretty sure this random information collection habit is a holdover from my youth (I arguably reached stalker-like knowledge of the objects of my fangirl affection pre-internet.  Fangirls got it easy now, I tell you.).

More well-known around these parts is the fangirling over Duff and his various bands.  I’ve connected with other women (and men, but we’ll leave them off for right now) over Duff’s bands and Duff himself through various media, including (once upon a time) letters and (now) email, discussion boards, the comment section for Duff’s blog on Reverb, and in person over the years.  And while we embrace our inner teen divas when we rock out at concerts (yeah, much excitement right now), gone are the signs (mostly–they still crop up from time to time) and gifts are likely to be books from discussions or food, should there be any at all.  Giggling and screaming, admittedly, has probably not reduced by much.  Pack-level attacks, on the other hand, probably have, what with our far cooler adult approach to seeing the objects of our affection.

Hey, I managed to keep a straight face to write that!

Once upon a time, of course, I was one of those teen fangirls, complete with signs suggesting rather lewd behaviors (the lovely lady formerly known as CDR, should she read this AND remember any of those signs, is specifically forbidden to relay the contents of those messages.  Ahem.) and, probably, some sort of gifts.  I know I gave Steve Brown (Trixter) a photo album for his birthday one year–filled with live shots of the band (I think.  I don’t really recall what was in it now).  So, I get where the young fangirls were coming from, and I was amused and amazed at the similarities some 20 years on.

What I want to get at here is the formation of community–real, functioning communities–built around a shared adoration of a band/book/person/etc.  I’m utterly fascinated by the creation of such communities, their ability to self-sustain (or not), and the particulars of the communication strategies.

One other common feature of (some–YMMV) fangirls, and this is particularly visible now in communities,  is fanfiction.  Real Person Fiction, as such, has been around practically forever (I’m willing to hazard a guess that Farinelli had a good bit scrawled about him, never mind the fannish movie made in 1994.  Ah, stupid me–googled it.  There is fanfiction NOW about him.  Sheesh.).  I wrote (hideous) fanfiction as a teen, most of it band-related, along with those friends who participated in the same.  In those stories, we tended to work out our anxieties about growing up, about identity–and the band members functioned mostly as sockpuppets for whatever crisis we were attempting to work through at the time.  While I’m sure communities did arise out of such works, I first became aware of such communities only in my twenties, when a friend of mine joined a Xena community (I’m not sure how most of their exchanges were conducted, though.  One person subsequently self-published a novel from the community works, if I recall correctly).  I don’t write fanfiction anymore, but I do read it (as I’ve mentioned endlessly), and I participate at slightly more-that-lurker levels in some commenting areas, but the primary difference for me between now and then (other than identity establishment, maybe) is that I now have a shared language based on community (and to describe the fanfiction community as large would be a rather egregious understatement) standards and agreement, which means we all can more or less have a clue WTF the other person is ranting about.  The language includes an extensive vocabulary, rules–these are the most fluctuating**–and expectations of behavior from authors and commenter.  I’m also fascinated by the breadth of fandom–fiction, discussion boards, tumblr sites, and so forth (along with related expectations regarding ownership, censorship, and plagiarism); take a gander if you’ve not–it’s wild out there.

For the most part, the fanfiction of my youth, not unlike zines and DIY cassettes of the same period, was exchanged primarily through personal means–there was no large-scale publication that I am aware of, prior to the advent of online exchange.  Say what you will about fanfiction, there are serious communities that form around it, and those in bandoms are particularly interesting to me.   These communities form rules–some highly concrete (how to post, standards of exchange (banned words, slash/gen/het), ) and some more ephemeral–particularly in the portmanteaux that have become so common (Brangelina), the alliances behind which can cause some almighty arguments in communities*** (to say nothing of the One True Pairing fights) over what will be regarded as a canonical shorthand for a particular pairing; Glee fandoms have some of the best fights about them (personally, I still haven’t recovered from the advent of Puckleberry).  Like other online communities, the fangirl/fanfic communities have particular attitudes and, for lack of a better phrasing, flavor, based on the personalities of those involved and the participation level of the moderators (who deserve their own discussion).

To follow:  Some Communities are Self-Policing.


*Were Rikki sitting here, she would require the following confession, so in a spirit of honesty, she nailed me on the appropriateness of our placement in the pit when I translated the sign for her.  Her response was naught but a lifted eyebrow and a giggle.  At me.

**A recent occurrence, courtesy of one of my favorite fandom rant sites:  a lengthy debate over the necessity of trigger warnings and, more over, correct trigger warnings (that this debate mirrored one that happened at Shakesville was both astonishing and a bit heartwarming, though I tend to suspect there are more than a few of us in both communities).  The Supernatural fandom was particularly set afire by fics posted on this matter after episode 6.15.  That I am aware of the ferocity of the debate in that fandom is testament to how widespread it was (for that brief internet moment), since I am not a part of that fandom, though I do watch the show.

***We’ll leave off the various splinterings in fangirl communities over wives/girlfriends.  That, my friends, gets ugly.  Far more so than I care to touch, thankyouverymuch.  Like some of the stuff below, I feel certain the same existed in my own youth (I seem to recall some of it in conversations), but nothing like what I see online.  These debates seem particularly common on tumblr sites.

Listening

Whatever is going on in my life at a particular time, I inevitably find an anthem for that period.  The anthem isn’t always a song new to me, nor is it always an obvious one, but almost invariably, the song will smack me across the face one day and tell me that I have been listening for it (higher powers work in mysterious ways.  Mine is apparently a part-time musician and radio programmer).

Though it was certainly not the first anthem of my life (I can’t even remember the first one–my brain has simply always done this, though, were I to hazard a guess, “C is for Cookie” [thank you youtube!] was among the early contenders), a brain anthem happened about a year before the first time I got sober when I was driving home one day, listening to the radio.  I’d heard (and even listened to) Blue October’s “Hate Me“*** more times than I could count by that day (it was on heavy rotation–hello there, HP).   I found myself on that particular listen, crying.  Identifying.  Kind of wishing that G would, in fact, hate me–so that I could have an excuse to stop being such a thorn in his side.  This was 2006, if I recall correctly.  That song stayed in my head for months–right up until I finally sucked up and quit drinking.

Like earworms, which I also enjoy regularly, the anthems play in my head when the song isn’t on the radio, iPod, or in the CD player (and I typically play them over and again, even before I realize whatever lyric or movement my brain is picking up on).  Unlike earworms, my brain is kind enough to play the whole song through–it’s just always there, but subtle, unlike, say, when I had one line of “Unholy Confessions” trapped in my head for almost a week in December: “Nothing hurts my world, just affects the ones around me.” Now, given what I was struggling with in December, the hyper-focus on the notion that I was hurting others, not just myself, doesn’t seem particularly surprising.  But the earworm, which cycles only a portion of a song (mine never really go away until my brain is willing to let go of them–the trick of singing the whole song or listening to it seldom works), can be irritating in a way that the anthems aren’t.

There was a Betty Blowtorch song in here somewhere, but for the life of me I can’t recall which one, and, truth be told, Are You Man Enough? is one of my go to albums for damn near any contingency.  Along with Amy Ray’s Stag.

So, the next anthem that I recall  happened sometime after had stopped drinking in 2007, when I heard Duff’s “Then and Now” for what may have been the 10,000th time.  And the line, “if you saw me yesterday, you wouldn’t recognize my face” practically screamed out at me (good morning, HP)–I was, as I recall, running that morning.  Dark Days would end up powering a great many runs, but that particular song still gets me.

Didn’t happen the third time (probably because it was so farking short–though, I think I already had the song I’m about to cite in my head quite often by this point, I just didn’t know why).  Happened again this time, though, again with a song I listened to over and again since the album came out last summer.  A7X’s “Buried Alive” (again, thank you youtube–that’s the concert I saw in TN).  Yeah, the song says something about “sober up quick,” but that wasn’t the lyric that caught me (also, “psycho lunatic,” the cadence of which amuses me far more than it should).  I thought about trying to explicate the song, just for grins, because it’s an excellent example for me of the differences between explication (finding what is there) and the creation of meaning between audience, artist, and art.  I won’t claim to know what the song is “about, ” though, I’ve seen enough references on the matter to know what Matt says its about, and, yeah, it’s hard to ignore the obvious readings to “much has changed since the last time” when you’ve got a band recording an album in response to and in the wake of a bandmate’s sudden death.  Clearly, if nothing else, it was part of the band’s grief process.  But, since the album’s release, the song has been in my head pretty consistently, in no small measure because of the musical construction (I’m a sucker for a song that begins haunting and goes out blistering), but a couple of weeks ago, I heard this with new ears:

I walked the fields through the fire/Taking steps until I found solid ground/ Followed dreams reaching higher/ Couldn’t survive the fall/ Much has changed since the last time/And I feel a little less certain now/You know I jumped at the first sign/Tell me only if it’s real

Now, admittedly, I see a little Neil Gaiman running around in here–and, conveniently, Gaiman blogged on the very lines not to long ago (he saw them tattooed on a woman’s back), which came from Fear of Falling: “Sometimes you wake up.  Sometimes the fall kills you.  And sometimes, when you fall, you fly,” but that connection is as much the serendipity of Gaiman’s blog post and my own recognition of what the song was saying to me as anything else.  Because much has changed since the last time for me; more than I can presently articulate.  And, of course, there’s my fear, which is pretty roundly summed up here:

And I’m chained like a slave/Trapped in the dark/Slammed all the locks/Death calls my name/And it seems I’ve been buried alive

I’ve got some pretty good analogies about what alcoholism is like, but this sums it up about as well as any for me.  When they played the song the other night, I held up my surrender chip.  Why?  No clue–but it felt right (and, yes, I geekily looked in the linked video to see if I could be picked out with the flashing silver pieces.  I think I am glad the video was shot from the other side of the venue).

Not completely unrelated, but not musical: I heard something else with new ears last night: the Sixth Tradition.  For some reason, be it my mood, the setting, the increasing clarity in my head (not least because I’ve finished three major projects this week that have been looming over me for months–headspace is a glorious thing), and whatever united to make me hear “An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.” Given where my butt was parked, it could very well have been the setting, but hearing this last night gave me pause:  is this where the church institutional went wrong, that we moved away from our primary purpose, distracted by these other problems?  Or, more pointedly, are we so distracted by them that we are confused to what our primary purpose even is?

Reminded me of a conversation Rev. Dean and I had about the nature of 12-steps and the nature of churches.  I didn’t let this wandering thought distract me from my primary purpose of the evening, which was to listen to other alcoholics sharing; I took a lesson from meditation, named the thought, claimed it, and let it slide off until this morning.  Curious thought, I grant, but interesting enough to drop here, I think.

How It’s Done

Must be one of those points in my life, because the blog is becoming a bit Duff-centric again.  Nevertheless, onward.

Read this eloquent apology.  Don’t worry about the whys or hows or whos or whats.  Just read the damn thing.

I cannot begin to fathom what 1994 was like for Duff McKagan–he taps at the year every now and again, the collapse, the renewal, the fear, and the hope.  He appears to be as honest as he is able to be about the year; I imagine that many days are lost not only to the haze of almost 16 years, but, of course, to the addictions as well.

But his post…this is a life of integrity.  I screwed up and I am sorry.  No excuses–context, yes–but no “it was all just because…”  Here we see an honest evaluation of self and a recognition of a continual need to reevaluate in order to grow.  And publicly, at that.

Kudos to you, Duff.  Kudos.

Edited to add: Seems to be a bit more traffic than usual, and I suspect I know why.   For those of you looking for Krist Novoselic, please click here.  I lack the “t” on my name–and the grooviness as well.   And, no, you are not alone in the confusion, but it wasn’t a typo in the name on third response to Duff. That’s me.  Krist is here. Carry on.

Radical Transformation

I hold Duff McKagan entirely responsible for this text.

Okay, that’s not quite accurate–he inspires part of my ramblings today, but not all of them. And, hell, it’s not like anyone reading these pages could possibly find the above comment surprising. So, Duff, thank you for providing the board from which I will now gracefully leap, or be shoved, as it turned out.

Last week, for those who don’t (shame on you) keep up with Duff’s various blogs, Duff jokingly proposed (see, yes, I got the joke) a new political ticket: McKagan/Novoselic in a post in which he speculated on some of the current failures in American politics, politicians in general being the most central to these failures.  Krist (the Novoselic mentioned above, should you be wondering), responded with a fantastic takedown of the American public and the need for “we the people” to become “more personally invested” in the entirety of the political process.  Duff then responded in kind.

Got that?

For what it is worth, I agree with both–sort of.  I do think that personal investment and radical transformations are significant and necessary.  Even though my last adventure on the matter rather blew up in my face.  A small, if rather vocal minority, advocated for radical change and were summarily rejected, often in rather vicious ways.  In the end, many of us either stepped down or outright left the church.  Two factions existed, they could not come together, and one gave up the fight.

Do I see a correlation with the current Health Care Reform Bill?  Yes, I do.  In this case, a vocal majority advocates for change but spend a great deal of effort hoping for a better majority.  As my husband often reminds the kids, better is often the enemy of good.  Hell, any one who has ever attempted  a dissertation might agree–there are two types after all: finished and brilliant.

And those categories tend to be mutually exclusive.

Yesterday, I ended my membership at the aforementioned church. That I was struggling with the direction of the church is nothing new to anyone here, and it is true that I resigned my leadership positions in December.  My foot has been out the door for some time.  What changed this week, though, had little to do with the church theology and politics, at least I think so.  What happened was gossip.

Now, I’ve been pondering right speech of late any way in preparation for Lent (I was rather leaning on it as a theme), particularly after reading A.J. Jacobs’ delightful The Year of Living Biblically, which, sadly, I don’t have in front of me right now.  He notes in the course of the year that the need to think carefully before speaking becomes a concern of his almost to the point of obsession (the sections on honesty are just wonderful).  At what point do we abandon honesty necessarily?  What needs to be said?  Will it help or hurt the world for me to speak this particular act?

In the midst of all of this, I was reading slacktivist (granted, I am always reading Fred’s blog, it seems.  Really, I do have a life.  I promise) and this comment struck me:

The authors do a commendably thorough job of debunking and refuting Warnke’s claims. Their earnest, devout perspective makes that debunking even more thorough as it requires them to take agonizing pains to avoid bearing false witness or a lack of charity. You’ll rarely encounter muckraking conducted with such sorrowful reluctance or such genuine lamentation over every bit of dirty laundry uncovered.

And he’s right.  I read those articles and several more besides, as the writers at Cornerstone dismantled Warnke’s stories and others who helped to propagate the hysteria that has come to be known as the Satanic Panic.  Utter commitment to honesty and charity, even whist pointing out the myriad ways in which Warnke lied.

And then Tuesday happened.

I mentioned a few weeks ago (and the events I mentioned are largely why I’ve not been writing as much as I should) that several events had occurred in my life–big ones–but not ones that were mine to share, though they directly affect me.  I pondered laying all the stories out at the time, but it felt unjust.  And, truth be told, it still feels like it would be, so please bear with my vague references for a moment.  On Tuesday, it was relayed to me that one of those events had been shared with a party who had no particular need to know the situation.  The sharer of the story was a church member (who, I’ve no idea, given how few people I’ve told) and the sharee (?) was someone who has been troublesome in my life.

Again, suffice to say that the information was inappropriately shared.  At a time when I desperately needed sanctuary–and I was trying to seek it at the church, in my own small ways–a member of the church took it upon him or herself to tell the story to someone who not only was not a part of the tale but is also someone who I emphatically do not trust.

I wonder if the layers of conversation about gossip and right speech were to prepare me for a response to this mess.

Cue the Duff blogs:  Krist’s remarks in response to Duff made me think more about right speech–and right action.  I can sit back and complain about the ways in which I feel wronged or sad, or I can attempt action.  I can be that change, rather than simply hoping for it.

In other words, did the rugs get pulled because there is a transformation that I need to recognize and have allowed myself not to see?  Have I not been personally invested enough in something I need to pay more heed to?

I’m not quite at a point of action, though I did a damn fine job of running yesterday–maintaining a lovely 7:00 minute mile on the quarter-mile repeats. (Note to self: running fast–yes, this is fast for me–does not suck.  In fact, it rocks).  I am though at the point of consideration–seeking more examples of right speech (clearly, I don’t ever want to–even inadvertently–do this to someone else) and change.

I think, though, the notion of radical transformations will be my Lenten reading.  I’m also going to fast this time–I’m not buying any new books (this is HUGE for me, really) and I’m not going to eat meat during Lent, just to change up my meal structures for a while…see what happens.

I’m looking for book suggestions on this theme–any are welcome.  I’ll be blogging on the readings (and probably kvetching about the fast) throughout Lent.  I’m definitely going to include some political readings (I generally do, this is nothing surprising), but I’d really like to encounter some that deal with transformations of process, not just idea-worship (which I excel at already).

Okay, I promised to write on Beautiful matters, rather than just Disease ones, so to sum up the beautiful here:

  • Political dialogues by favorite bassists who are also willing to think and explore possibilities (what is not to love, really?)
  • Lenten readings
  • A chance to create, rather than receive, sanctuary
  • Running.  Running fast, in particular. Next race is at the end of the month.  Woot!

And while this last is clearly about addiction, it is also quite beautiful:

  • This Sunday will be 365 days

Straightening Out the Rug

Okay..weird.  I wrote this several days ago (last Thursday) and thought it had disappeared into the great beyond.  Lo and behold, this morning it reappeared.  I’ll comment on it below, but…it seemed worth posting this intact.


I don’t know how many of you remember the silly-ass movie Top Secret (ah, the days and youth of Val Kilmer), but the scene in the diner when he starts spinning on the rug, has for some stupid reason been in my head for the past few days:

Go to 1:26 to see the spinning scene, but the clip is worth the few minutes of goofiness.

Rugs are on my mind–and I am pleased that I defaulted to parody here–because the rug was pulled out from under me rather dramatically twice this week.  While normally I’ve no particular hesitation in sharing my various mistakes and tribulations, these two particular incidents are not mine to share.  They were big and unexpected and utterly terrifying, though.  I’ve not had a panic attack, nor given into my various demons, though I’m quite depressed.  I’m of the opinion that depression is a perfectly rational response, so I’m not worrying over it so much as just trying to maintain a semblance of normal.

The highlight of the past few days was teaching this morning.  I think I have one of those rare classes–mature beyond my initial expectations and wonderfully curious and opinionated.  While they have no idea what has happened, I can’t begin to express the gratitude I owe them for holding me up this morning, when they didn’t even know that they were doing so.  It felt so good to be up there, out of my little reality, and teaching, especially with such delightful students.

One casualty of the events is the marathon I’d planned to run on February 7th.  I’m sad to let it go, but it is prudent to do so.  Once I’ve dusted myself off sufficiently, I may decide to put the training thus far to use toward the ING marathon in Atlanta this spring, but we’ll see what shakes out.  And, as ever, I’m not inclined to believe that things can’t get any worse (or won’t get better, for that matter).  Situations can always degrade and improve.

Anyway, my prayers are with you all in your own situations and moments–good and bad.  My prayers are for all Haitians–ones who lived through the earthquake directly and ones who will experience the aftershocks in the days and weeks to come, both in Haiti and abroad.  My prayers are with those who my lesser brain would like to dismiss and deride right now, because, as a wise woman noted in her tweets of late: “I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought.”

Couple of readings to share:

On the upside, I’d like to share a few reading goodies: What I’m Up To, from Paradise Perspective.  Great thought: “Keeping focused on the moment, and remembering to be present for this inch, this stitch, and NOT the finished garment (or what’s for dinner) is the goal.”

This one is a couple weeks old, but worth the read:  Starting Over, from Duff’s Reverb Column.

(added on Monday): From slacktivist, Dear Pat Robertson, STFU.  I think the title explains all you need to know.  Amen.


I’m feeling better today.  My memories of last week are foggy at best–except when I was at work, when I was able to focus most– it was utterly awful.  And the third thing (convinced as I am that bad things come in threes) seems to be the possibility of additional furlough days (not sure yet–we have several already worked into the semester, but I’m not sure if they “count”).  But, it is what it is.  We’ll get through the two big “bads” of last week and the potential for more furlough days.  Our lives may look different in the end, but, we’ll get through.

Right now, I’m taking things one stitch at a time (most humorous to me, since one of my current books is this gem: The Happy Hooker.  Why the heck not, right?

I think for the next few posts, I’m going to work on compiling my Lenten Reading list (I need a theme–thoughts?), writing about books, and trying very hard to write the positive.  Focus on the Beautiful, for a while, rather than just the Disease.