Thursday, July 26, 2007

From the DayBook Archives

Day 45 (June 10, 2006)

I've not been gone, just underground. Underground and no longer chronological. What's not been here has been inked on yellow sheets of paper, an experience I found that I've liked and missed: but, I've just spent an afternoon wiled away at two libraries and mind-rummaging as I browsed through three books over coffee in the dingy little cafe at Central Market. I prefer the coffee at Whole Foods, but I prefer the dingy cafe more. So, I settle for lesser coffee and better (dingier) digs.

The three books sent me back here, to the DayBook, the one not inked (the inked is a DayBook as well). Three books: Annie Lamott's Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, and Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. Total truth, it's Lamott who got me back here: Miller will come later, though I did poke around for a bit.

I've poohed, as is my wont, Lamott for several years now: dissed her Bird by Bird, based on about half an hour's browsing at a time at which I could have given a shit about anyone else's notions of writing and living; dissed her fiction, on the basis of nothing other than guilt by association. When I first caught wind of her "Life" with "Jesus," I was, at best, amused, but mostly, of course, fairly dismissive as well.

Tina ran across her on good old Tavis a night or so before we headed to the beach this past week, time enough for me to grab up volume two in her "Life" with "Jesus," entitled Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. Tina needed reading for the beach, so I piled it in with my hoard of Dickens, Donald Miller, and - once again - Kathleen Norris. I dipped into the latter two while down at Port Aransas; Nicholas Nickleby, I'm afraid, got short shrift, Chuck. But it was Lamott that I devoured, just as I gobbled up a fair amount of what she had say in the dingy cafe a half hour ago.

I'm not sure why it's important to say, but it's pressing on me: I went out into the streets of San Antonio this afternoon looking fairly grizzly: unshaven, unbathed, hair a greasy mess plastered to my skull. I didn't care: I was lost in anonymity and wanted to stay that way. The air was hot baked stone bread outside, bordering on unbreathable, unlike the sweet air we had enjoyed the last four days down on the coast. I think I just wanted to hide under the weather and not come out for a full blast of it. My dinge and the dinge of the cafe were a good match: mutual ugly, full of crumbs, dismissal-worthy. An extremely dapper old man, beautiful white hair, cane, black beret, spiffy slacks and sport coat sat at the table beside me. I had endured his slow dredge for coins in line ahead of me, buying his fruit cup and coffee, shuffling to the table. Along the way, he dropped his plastic fork, unaware he had done so. The part of me that is loving and not so easily dismissive, grabbed another fork for him, touched him lightly on the back, and handed him the new utensil. The grousy part of me was still growling, unimpressed by the schmoozy self. Later, as he shuffled off for something else, he asked if I would watch his things for him: the schmooze smiled and said sure, while Mr Grouse wondered how long I would have to delay the rest of my day waiting for him to shuffle back from the bathroom.

Still, I read on, in my inner and outer dinginess. Read of Annie's first unmistakable sense of Jesus "in the room" with her as she is crawling out of a reptilian life; the sequence is fuzzy to me, but she also tells of being followed by him like a cat wanting in, wanting to adopt her as cats are wont to do, her persistent attempts to elude, and then finally, this "lovely" "conversion": "Fuck it. Just come on in." Another later meeting takes place in the john: annunciations don't get much better, do they?

I might as well have been in the john when, two months ago, I had the sudden conviction that I needed to be in church, not some anarcho-pagan-zen enclave, but just straight Episcopalian, no chaser. All the Jesus and Him-ness, with Mary and Divine Mother (not to mention my own mother Yemaya) and all other possible permutations left off the style sheet altogether. Much more Jesus-exclusiveness than I would have expected from what I once knew as Episco-paganism. I have obediently propped up a limping Bible Intro class as one of its two regular attendees just because, well, just because. I get weepy at the drop of a hat: with a sudden surge of choiry-ness, at the communion rail, just looking at pictures of "Jesus," a slide show of Jesus paintings mixed in with photographs of members of the congregation. Annie's conversations/prayers with God and Jesus so often approach the level of village simpleton, her attention span rocketing off just as mine does at the oh so simple and straightforward prospect of sitting down for a divine chat.

So, Annie's conversion stories are half of what got me back here. But something else prodded as well, a mere blip in the initial reading of Bird by Bird, the kind of comment that ordinarily would have either passed right by as filler, or passed right by with eyes rolled. I don't even know where it slipped in, but slip in it did: Tell the truth. And at that moment, I was seized by a passionate desire to do just that, for one long haul, right her in the DayBook. Yes, I've been writing feverishly elsewhere, struggling on with my novel Galilee, inking away on yellow paper, hamstringing myself for two weeks' worth of 100 words daily at 100 words, but missing a place where I just say something real, something true, something pretty well unvarnished, as I set out to do when I first put words in this venue.

A couple more confessions:

43 Things is another venue where I've been wordplaying of late. At one point, I posted the URL to this DayBook, but very quickly pulled it off and replaced it with an old blog address, full of all the bluster of the daze before I had to get my butt in a pew or else. Paschal's DayBook just seemed way too "exposed" for me out there in 43Land, so I pulled back. Still, on the other hand, I'm not trying to get all evangelical either: part of me also feels like I need a quieter place to pray and find my way through this odd conviction: it doesn't need me in my usual song and dance in FunkyTown.

Let me be clear about this: my butt in an Episco-pew, my schoolboy attentiveness in Bible class, my volunteering for an children's art series next month at the church, my increasing openness to just about anything Church of Reconciliation has to offer is not about any conversion to mainstream One Way Jesus: it IS about following a thread home to something I feel calling me, that so happens to have a hell of a lot of Jesus in the path. I love Yemaya, I love Mary, it's even quite easy for me to conjure up a whole lotta love for Buddha, whover they might be. But this Jesus, this Son of Man: I can barely sit still in the same room with him. Why is that? Apparently it's time I found out, and find out what all this feels like home weepiness is all about, too.

The last confession: while dinged out in the dingy cafe, I glanced at two young sun-browned women all fresh and beautiful in their youth and thought for a moment how I've essentially come to the down side of anything approaching sun-browned and fresh and beautiful. My son, who is seven and all of the above himself, has years of Adonis-hood ahead of him, but - as dear Judy Garland sang it - "not for me." I was trying, in between the lines of my reading, to just get down with the reality of all that, and cede the coming generations their comeliness.

The two Aphrodites departed, leaving me to Annie and my shuffling cafe-neighbor. Ten or so minutes later, the next shift of paired beauties arrived. I cast a troll's glance their way, and dipped again into the stew of Lamott and ceding and Judy Garland all over again. But as I gathered all my stuff to go, I glanced once more the way of the lovely generation, not for any purpose, just as a dingy troll-writer is wont to do, a throwaway glance, but what came back my way was not a throwaway glance at all. Dark-haired beauty looked straight at me, smiled broadly in an unmistakably inviting way, and just in case I wanted to stay confused as to why, looked straight at me again and widened that smile, as if to say, "yes, I mean you, beautiful man." There was, I swear, nothing sexual about this invitation and acknowledgement, but there was also nothing dismissive about it either. It was a full-throttled, come hither, "yes, I am beautiful and so are you" look right into my very soul, a big sack of Mardi Gras beads and doubloons dumped on a sap who'd given up dreaming anyone on a float would ever notice him and rain down Joy on his lonely little parade. And I have no doubt - none - that was Jesus shining all her Joy right back at me.

"Careful how you peg, buddy boy," s/he said.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Lee said...

Very nice, Pat! This kind of writing I can connect with and understand. Heck, I can empathize with you. There's a copy of Bird by Bird on my library shelves which I've started but never finished. Susan suggested reading it. Maybe I'll start it again.

Happy Sunday!

7:44 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Lee: Glad you liked this: I certainly felt "propelled" to write it, and I like the straightforwardness of the DayBook, too. However, I have other surrealist chatterboxes who also like to write. They get some of the Murat11 canvas to play on.

4:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home