this is the way i pray

March 20, 2018

i'm pretty sure i'm not the woman god wants me to be. i'm convinced of this on a daily basis. at a quarter past six almost every tuesday night i drive nineteen miles from conroe to montgomery to go to bible study that meets for ninety minutes beginning at seven p.m. why does it take forty-five minutes to drive nineteen miles on a divided highway that's got three lanes for traffic in each direction? why does it take the better part of an hour to drive less than twenty miles? because people are selfish bastards. they don't want to be behind anyone else. they don't want anyone cutting in front of them. they don't want to go any faster than the posted speed limit of fifty-five miles per hour on that well-constructed highway that's wider than a river because they don't want to get a ticket. but they'll be damned if they move over for you. they won't slow down to let you go by. they won't speed up and risk getting that ticket. they're perfectly content to pace the fucker next to them and block traffic so everyone else gets caught at all the lights with them. they follow just closely enough so that it's impossible to wedge your vehicle between theirs and someone else's.

i am not a patient woman. and the stupid vision issues with which i have been blessed make driving in a pack of metal at fifty-five miles per hour with little to no way out should an accident occur create in me a sensation of anxiety i do not desire to know. i am not a kind woman, and my lack of patience and kindness is never more evident than when i am making that nineteen-mile trek to montgomery.

when i googled the distance i was shocked to know it was only nineteen miles. it feels a HELL of a lot longer.

interestingly enough, the journey to the church this evening was definitely one of the more peaceable ones. this could be because i ran a couple of yellows to avoid getting stuck again when, thanks to the grace of god, i'd managed to extract myself from the pack and put some good distance between us. and maybe i was going sixty. maybe.

usually the ride home is pleasant. that was not the case today. i changed lanes like i was driving in a nascar race. i rode people's asses. in those moments when i saw an opportunity to get by someone, another car would fill that hole, and i'd be stuck again. and none of these drivers were going over fifty. all of them were going the same damned speed.

i want to be the kind of woman god wants me to be. i want to be gracious and patient and kind and good. i know i'm capable of these things. but so often, the lesser demons prevail. i want to be the kind of woman who isn't practically foaming at the mouth and ranting at others with whom i'm sharing the road. i want to be the one who's not screaming GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY even though the only ones to hear me are me and god.

i want the goodness i get from those ninety minutes to last longer than ninety seconds once i've walked out into the night and headed for home. for my heart and mind, my eyes and ears to be open to the lord's will and word.

one of the things mentioned tonight was we are encouraged to hate evil. not the person doing the evil, but the evil itself.

hate's not the answer, and i don't believe god wants us to hate, anyway. i think he wants us to love. i'm not good at loving. i'm good at being hateful. maybe that's why it's difficult for me to believe he would want me to hate anything. it always feels wrong when i do it. i never like myself when i am being hateful. ever. and yet... put me on the highway, and i can't be anything but hateful.

that is not the woman i want to be. that isn't anything close to resembling the woman i want to be.

i want to be fearless.

i want to be able to employ those tactics for safe driving that i learned in high school -- the safe distance, the constant vigilance... the yielding of the right of way. to demonstrate love in my life. i want to have joy in hope and patience in affliction and faithfulness in prayer.

sunday i drove to tyler to find something in that town with earl campbell's name on it. the distance from tyler to hawkins, where i lived from the time was i was three to eight, is about nineteen miles. i'd only been to hawkins once since we moved away, and it's been so long ago that my only memory of that visit is the auditorium at the high school. so i made that twenty-minute trek (which is how long it should take to travel about twenty miles), went to my old school and my old house and had dinner at some restaurant there. i let the waitress surprise me with my order. i told her to order what she felt was the best item on the menu. she served me fajitas, which is not a thing i order, but they were good. i liked them.

in bible study tonight, one of the girls said that she had a friend who would pray, god surprise me.

i want to be surprised. i want this life of mine to feel more purposeful. i want to feel like i'm contributing, like i'm doing the work he wants me to do. like i'm using my voice for good. like i'm not wasting it to curse the folks in the cars next to me.

i want my car out of the shop. i'm driving a rental (which i almost wrecked on the way home this evening, by the way) because some dude hauling a flatbed of pallets stacked to high clipped the right fender of my car at a gas station (i was standing at the pump, getting ready to fill the tank and watched, dumbfounded, as that trailer tore the bumper off). when i'm renting a car (on the day of my older's death, by the way) and tell the clerk that it's the anniversary of my brother's death and i need this process to go smoothly, i want him not to be confrontational and condescending.

one of the songs playing at that restaurant sunday night was brad paisley's i thought i loved you then. when i hear a song like that, when i hear a story like the one told in that song, when a man can communicate the love he feels for another in such a way as to be sweet and good and loving, when it inspires in me a sense of wonder, i want to be happy that a man could feel that way for a woman and not be afraid to admit it. i want to be happy for the woman receiving such admiration. i want my initial reaction not to be sadness and jealousy and to mutter things like even happy country songs are depressing. and when a friend questions whether a happy country song exists, i want to refrain from replying: it's sweet and good and sentimental... and just the sort of thing that could make a single gal want to clobber a couple, and the damned steel guitar makes me want to snatch that thing out of some dude's hands, yank the strings off and wrap them around his throat.

when a handsome man walks into my place of work, i want to be able to speak to him without being anxious or seeming flirtatious. i want to be able to talk to him like he's any other customer. i want to be able to appreciate those physical attributes that are worthy of attention without cataloging all those i lack.

i want to be able to talk with men and not be accused by their girlfriends of being in love with those men. or be accused by other men of flirting with those men.

on the rare occasion a man asks to meet me for dinner or drinks, i want that man to be interesting and attractive to me. i want the words i speak to be the right ones. i want to feel as though i am enough.

a couple of weeks ago i was hired to write an article about a man who manages a cycle shop in the area because so much of that shop's business comes from recommendation... word of mouth... the encouragement of others.

when i'm tasked with an assignment like this, i want the wheels to be greased so well they spin effortlessly. i was chosen to write this story. i'm happy -- excited and honored -- to do it. i want to be able to do it in such a manner as to prove to those who have given me the opportunity that they weren't wrong to do so. but i am being met with reluctance and am frustrated because of it. that reluctance and frustration just feeds the ire i so often feel. i want the fire in my being not to be an inferno but a source of warmth and light.

i want less hate and more love in the world. i know that starts with me, but oh, how quickly i forget. i want to remember.

six things to celebrate in march

March 3, 2018

i've changed things up a bit, and for the sake of my sanity (because i've made this one a bit more convoluted, i'm forgoing spelling out numbers with regards to the dates, even though it goes against my obsessive compulsive tendencies... whatever). there's a LOT of dates in this one. i hope i don't confuse the crap out of yall. all of the information i'm sharing in this post was acquired from on this day: history, film, music and sport.

one. ludwig van beethoven had his first debut performance as a pianist on march 29, 1795 in vienna. first performances: fourth symphony in b -- march 5, 1807; missa solemnis -- march 26, 1824; string quartet no. 13 in b flat major (op 130) -- march 21, 1826. he died march 26, 1827; three days later, 20,000 attended his burial in vienna.

the task: pick ONE of the pieces mentioned here, play it three times -- first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, and on the third, write down the things you imagine as you listen -- maybe your high school teachers did this sort of thing during english class. my junior teacher was really fond of this kind of writing assignment. share what you wrote with the rest of the class -- and DON'T worry about writing style and grammatical correctness. just write. let your mind wander. where does the music take you?

two. tennessee williams and edward albee were born on march 26, 1911 and march 12, 1928, respectively. elizabeth taylor won a golden globe march 10, 1960 for her performance as catherine holly in the film version of williams' suddenly last summer. she divorced eddie fisher on march 6, 1964 and married richard burton nine days later. taylor and burton starred in the film version of albee's who's afraid of virginia woolf? she starred with paul newman, who, by the way, won best actor in the 59th academy awards for his role in the color of money, in williams' cat on a hot tin roof.

the task: watch ONE of the three: suddenly last summer; who's afraid of virginia woolf; cat on a hit tin roof. what are the two best lines of dialogue in the film; what two things make the film noteworthy?

three. vincent van gogh caused a sensation with 71 of his paintings at a show in paris on march 17, 1901 -- eleven years after his death. his sunflowers sold for a record 22.5 million pounds ($39.7 million) on march 30, 1987.

the task: find and view the van gogh armchair travel exhibition on screen: van gogh - a new way of seeing. what three things did you learn about the artist from that production? what's your favorite of his paintings? share three things you love about that work.

four. kerouac, campbell, sedaris... jack kerouac, aaron eckhart and dave eggers were born on march twelfth of 1922, 1968 and 1970, respectively. earl campbell, perry farrell, amy sedaris and billy beane were born on the twenty-ninth of march in 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1962.

the task: pick THREE of these celebrities and learn FOUR new things about each of them. read a book or watch a movie that is about them or stars them. if you live in texas, for example, campbell was born in tyler. make a trek to that town and find a statue or mural or SOMETHING the town loves to show off about him. i'm giving yall free rein to interpret this task in a way that suits your abilities and interests. but you must share FOUR things (lines of dialogue or text from a novel, lyric or script... four facts new to you... SOMETHING) of your choosing for EACH of the three.

five. delerue and silvestri. georges delerue and alan silvestri were born on march 12, 1925 and march 23, 1950, respectively.

the task: watch films (FIVE for each, if you can) whose scores were composed by either gentleman. whose music do you prefer? give me five reasons why one's better than the other.

six. jack nicholson won best actor twice: in the 48th academy awards on march 29, 1976 for one flew over the cuckoo's nest; in the 70th academy awards on march 23, 1998 for as good as it gets.

the task: watch BOTH films. share six lines you love from each. give six reasons why you prefer his performance in one film over the other.