My Godmother

Friday morning, I received a phone call from my Godfather. He told me that my beloved Godmother had died. We are entirely bereft, and this loss is so so sudden, and so unexpected. 

I love you, Aunt Mary. 

Born With Teeth

Hello, all! 

My favorite thing this week is actually a combination of a book, an audiobook, and an event that I went to. As many of you know (as anyone who has ever been in a room with me does), I am a hardcore Star Trek fan. I literally cut my teeth on Star Trek, teething as I watched The Next Generation with my mom. I liked Deanna Troi, the Enterprise’s Counselor, played by Marina Sirtis. Mom and I also watched Deep Space Nine, and then Voyager was advertised. And it was to be the first Star Trek series depicting a female captain. I was hooked. I watched the first episode, Caretaker apart 1, in complete awe. Captain Janeway was a scientist, a captain, and she was so strong, dignified, graceful, and still feminine and maternal. She was my hero. Over the seven years of Voyager’s run, I found a hero in Kate Mulgrew, who so wonderfully brought Janeway to life. 

I began to watch her other shows, and admired Mary Ryan, and Margaret from Throw Momma From The Train, which I think will always remain one of my favorite movies. After Voyager ended, I was gutted, but then Mulgrew committed to Tea At Five. I learned all about Katharine Hepburn, reading her memoir, Me: The Stories of My Life, and watching her films. I also read the autobiography of Audrey Hepburn, and watched her films, and found her grace inspiring and her struggles similar to some of my own.

I was 11 when my father died, and when I was 13, I went to Christian sleep away camp. It was the summer of 2003, and I was in grief that I didn’t know how to process or live with. I wanted to see Tea At Five before it left New York, but my baby sister was only 4, and I knew that my mom wouldn’t be able to take me. Before I left for camp, my neighbors/second parents/adopted grandparents/fairy Godparents took me into Manhattan, where we went to get tickets to the Tea At Five matinee. I hadn’t even packed for camp yet, which went over with my mother as well as you might imagine. 

I had been to see a Broadway show once, on a field trip, and had they bothered to tell us what the show was about, I might have enjoyed it. A lackluster first impression of the professional theater. But Tea At Five was magical. Mulgrew’s energy and the world that was created by the theater was intoxicating. 

You may wonder what any of this has to do with my favorite thing for the week, and I don’t blame you. Last year, I believe it was, it was announced that Mulgrew had sold a memoir to Little, Brown. I was delighted, and didn’t know how I would wait. Then, the title was released: Born With Teeth. Then, a cover: Mulgrew’s early headshot. The release date was set for April 14, 2015. So far away. 

I got an email from a friend of mine from grad school, saying I have something I want to give you. What’s your address? I replied quickly and then waited. When the mailer from her arrived, I had my theories about what it contained. I figured that it either had to be something from a class we’d taken together or a book. We did go to grad school for Creative Writing, after all. Everything was about books. 

I opened the mailer in the living room, while my sister and her home instruction English teacher were in the kitchen. And I tried not to scream and then ran upstairs to text and call and email and get some of my delight out. The mailer contained an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) of Born With Teeth. And it was amazing. 

I pre-ordered the Audio from Audible a while later, and then, having decided that I was going to her conversation and signing in Manhattan, cancelled my pre-order from Amazon, and instead bought the Kindle ebook so that I could read the book on release day with everyone else. I alternated reading and listening on release day, and on the train ride into Manhattan. 

I was a ball of nerves and excitement, and I tried to think of something that I could say while she was signing my book. I think it’s important to have that connection, however brief it is, to just get away from the commercial aspect and bring things back to the art. I had expressed my gratitude to Barbara Kingsolver and Terry Tempest Williams, and I intended to try to do the same thing at Mulgrew’s signing. 

Her reading was great, and the conversation was funny. She busted out Red’s accent and plugged Orange Is The New Black’s upcoming third season. She spoke of a favorite Voyager episode of hers, Death Wish, and summarized the plot, and Janeway’s ethical dilemma in the episode. She pointed out the people we were to “blame” for the book if it was without the merit she hoped it had. Her sister was in the audience and she pointed her out, and when she said something that people were shocked by, she would look at her sister and say, “Isn’t that right?” Needless to say, the event in question did occur. 

After questions, including one sent in by Taylor Schilling, we went up row by row for the signing. I was too nervous to say anything but thank you, so I suppose I will have to wait until the next tour, as I am indeed hoping that she will be writing and publishing again soon. 

  

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A few weeks ago, I had an idea to use the psalms to ground both my creative life and my spiritual life. My brain fog has made it quite difficult to be particularly much of either lately, but this seemed like a good idea.

I read the psalms in one of my mom’s old annotated Bibles, and it was deeply unsatisfying in the way that a movie you swore you loved is deeply unsatisfying or disappointing upon a re-watch. It was the translation that I have always read, but it was all wrong. Where I remembered beautiful language and song and poetry, there were ordinary words.

I decided that I needed to buy a copy of the psalter that I had grown to love when I worshipped near-daily at Little Portion. The St. Helena Psalter, which is well-known for its inclusivity of language and for its mindfulness of the chanting voice. This psalter is helping me, simply by existing, to feel as though my spirituality and my creativity are simply resting, and are not gone forever.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of the St. Helena Psalter (the Community has also written a Breviary, which I am looking forward to reading), you can purchase one from Amazon by clicking below. (Please note that this is an affiliate link.)

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I apologize: I’ve tried editing this post in excess of 5 times, and the image still will not display properly.

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My sister and I have largely different tastes and interests, but we both love YA novels, especially dystopian fiction. One of the things that we like to do is go to the premieres of YA movies. We’ve gone to the premieres of The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, Insurgent, Mockingjay Part 1, and probably some others, too.

Last week, we went to the Divergent Insurgent IMAX Double Feature, which for us meant that we saw Divergent at 5 PM and then the Insurgent premiere at 8 PM. It was a lot of fun to be able to see both movies back to back, because we were able to compare them, and we didn’t forget any details. We both love the Divergent universe because of its complexity, and its characters. For me, I love the idea that a city and a society could be divided into parts, and that these parts are so rigid and unchanging. It’s one of those ideas that feels as though it could be enacted, which makes it scary and dangerous, but also feels far enough removed from this world that we live in that it is entirely escapist. I love how strong a character Tris is, and I love her self-assuredness that she will get to the truth, and that she will do whatever it takes rather than backing down and doing what society tells her she ought to do and be.

A lot was changed in the adaptation of Insurgent, but I think that the movie did a very good job in both continuing the Divergent saga, and also setting up the third book (and third and fourth movies). We have no idea how they will adapt Allegiant, and haven’t known how it could or would be done since before we even saw Divergent, but we’re looking forward to the next installments!

We’re also looking forward to Mockingjay, Part 2, for which we saw a teaser both times we saw Insurgent in theaters.

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I love the documentary First Position.

I’ve seen it a number of times. It’s a ballet documentary, but not one that sugarcoats the ballet world, or what happens when you’re in a ballet career. The dancers that are featured are all young: the oldest is preparing to enter the ballet world and is looking for a job. First Position focuses on the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious, and highly competitive, ballet competition.

The dancers, and their families and teachers, speak candidly about the sacrifices that they have made to pursue ballet. The expenses incurred, the “normal” parts of childhood that they have missed, the pain that is endured in the pursuit of perfection…

One of the dancers, though quite young when she appeared in the film, blew me away. She had such a presence and I knew that if she managed to escape serious injury and did not burn out, she had the potential to grow into a major presence in the ballet world.

Miko Fogarty is still competing internationally, and is continuing to do amazing things! This video of her is a few years old, but I love the Black Swan variation, and she dances it beautifully!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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I like listening to audiobooks as I’m falling asleep.

Many people with anxiety problems difficulties falling asleep, because their minds race and their anxieties circle, and it makes going to sleep feel less like an occurrence to look forward to than a thing to dread. There are different ways to cope with this, of course. And audiobooks have proven helpful for me.

There is a narrator that I especially like, and her voice is soothing. I’ve listened to a number of books that she’s read, and I’ve listened to some of them more than once. I like listening to non-fiction when I’m falling asleep. It’s a bit more linear, and if I miss something, it’s less likely to be hugely jarring when I wake up. Recently, I listened to Outlander, which was quite a commitment: over a month of listening! I also like audiobooks, because they feel entirely separate from my daytime reading. I can read any type of book during the day, and it doesn’t distract from my listening, and vice versa.

When I’m having an especially difficult time falling asleep, I’ll watch Netflix on my iPad as I’m falling asleep. Usually a comedy TV show.

At first, I worried that I might be disturbing Zoey with the audiobooks and Netflix, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She burrows under the blankets, steals them from me, kicks me and nudges me so that I can move, and sleeps better than I do.

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Now that we’re solidly into Lent, I’m slightly more on track.

It always takes me by surprise.

Lent is one of my favorite seasons of the church year. The preparation and the waiting always seems much more important than it is given credit for.

Which is not to say that I’m ever prepared for Advent or Lent. I would be lying if I said that I was ever ready for the periods of waiting.

This past Advent, I used the Blessed Is She Advent Journal with many of the past alums from my Episcopal Service Corps site, Camp Mokule’ia, as well as all of the current interns and several staff members. It was so precious to me to know that even though I wasn’t speaking regularly to them that I was sharing those moments of preparation with them. During my time in Hawai’i, I grew very close to many of these people, and I will probably always consider them to be ohana.

When Blessed Is She announced their Lenten Journal, I bought it immediately. I’d tweeted them a few times, asking if they would make a year-round journal, so I am hopeful that there will be a liturgical year journal coming soon.

I’m old enough now to admit that I need help with my spiritual life: I need to make it easier and more accountable than it has been in many years.

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