Saturday, May 25, 2013

Krush


Note: The following was written and performed for the May 2013 Queens MFA Alpha Krappy Grammar All-genre SLAM in Charlotte, North Carolina.

My first love was a Danish man named Søren. I was twenty, a college sophomore; he had been dead since 1855.

I met Søren Kierkegaard in Philosophy 201. It was love at first read. That semester we stayed up all hours of the night, contemplating the mysteries of existence, truth and subjectivity, the difference between looking backward, and living forward.

It is all fun and games until someone changes her major.

Fear and Trembling became my version of beach reading. I forgot meals. I had trouble sleeping. “Sometimes,” the great Dane wrote in his journal, “there is such a tumult in my head that it feels as though the roof had been lifted off my cranium, and...it seems as though the hobgoblins had liften up a mountain and were holding a ball and festivities there.”

It was something like that.

One afternoon, autumn of my senior year, I sat with friends reading in a favorite coffee shop. Our college chaplain, Trygve, spotted us across the room, sidled up to our booth, smiling.

“Are you reading Kierkegaard?” he asked.

“No...”

“I bet you’re thinking about him, though.”

I blushed.

“I think you have a schoolgirl crush on Kierkegaard.”

It was true. A copy of Works of Love was in my purple backpack at that very moment, and I could not stop thinking about it.

The thing about falling for Kierkegaard is he will inevitably break your heart. He will teach you to distrust the romantic love of the poet, to wed yourself to the divine. He will not come home to meet your parents at Christmas, or take you dancing on Friday night.

Despite this, I followed him to graduate school, where after years of study culminating in a masters thesis -- on love -- Kierkegaard and I took a break. A long break.

I needed to read other people.

Lately he’s been coming around again -- showing up unexpectedly in articles, conversations with friends, even the latest Terrence Malick film.

I think about telling him to take a hike. “It’s over!” I’ll say. “I’ve met someone else!”

But that would be a lie. I just ordered a copy of The Concept of Irony.

It is true, what they say: old crushes die hard -- even those that have already been dead one hundred fifty-eight years.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Talking Taboo

For those of you who haven't heard, an essay I wrote will be included in a new anthology in the “I Speak For Myself” series called Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith. The book will be published in October of 2013 by White Cloud Press. Today is the launch of our Indiegogo campaign. Why today? May 7 is the feast day of Saint Rose Venerini, who was a teacher to girls and women. Our goal is to have 1,000 advance orders of Talking Taboo.

The anthology includes personal essays from 40 Christian women under age 40, writing about topics that are taboo in the church. The basic idea, as I see it, is that there are things that are difficult for women to talk about, especially in the church. Or, perhaps one might say that it is difficult to be listened to when talking about these issues, or that other people talk merely about us without ever giving us -- the young women folks -- a chance to say what we think and feel, and how these issues affect us. Talking Taboo is a chance for us to tell our own stories, in our own words. Hopefully the book is just the beginning.

My essay, “Swing and the Single Girl,” explores some of the joys and challenges of life as an unmarried adult woman. Speaking of taboo, let me be frank: every time I think about the fact that this story will be available, in print, to anyone who wants to buy a copy of the book (and I hope many people will), I freak out and have to resist the urge to go re-read my essay once again to reassure myself that it isn’t terrible, and that I managed to be honest without saying anything I’m ready to take back just yet. This talking taboo business? It’s not easy. I tend to be vulnerable in my writing, and less so in daily, face to face life where I don’t have the chance to edit my words and craft the perfect sentence. I keep a lot to myself. Even for those who think they know me likely don’t yet know half of what is going on in my head.

Still, it is liberating to share part of my story, in my own words. My life is messy and unfinished, and I don’t know what the final answers to any of the questions I ask will be. But I’m going to let you in. I’ll crack the door open, just a bit, and give you a glimpse. Maybe, if you’re careful, respectful, kind, I’ll open it a little further, and a little further after that, and maybe eventually we’ll really be talking, sharing those deep joys and sorrows and questions. I don’t imagine the fear ever goes away entirely, but I hope we become more brave in our honesty. I hope we learn to listen and speak in love.  I hope that by talking taboo the subjects that feel off limits -- like being a single adult woman in the church who isn’t just waiting for a blind date with someone’s nephew to solve all my problems  -- will become a little easier to share.

One of the things I am most excited for as a part of this project is the opportunity to read the stories shared by the other 39 contributors. We come from a wide variety of religious traditions -- Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Evangelical, Mennonite, Baptist, Unitarian Universalist and Christian Agnostic -- among other differences of viewpoint and background. Some of the authors’ names may be familiar to you, while many of us have never been published in book-form before. I hope you’ll check out our Indiegogo campaign, and consider pre-ordering the book. You can also learn more about the project’s editors, Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro, on their blogs. Need further incentive to check out the project? Go here to read advanced praise for Talking Taboo from Rachel Held Evans, Brian McLaren, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Parker J. Palmer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to hyperventilate again because I just referenced Rosemary Radford Ruether and my own writing in the same paragraph.