open our notebooks and let truth fall out

butterfly emerging from its chrysalisLast night I heard an owl in our back yard, the kind they record for movies, loud and sure of itself.  It woke both Fresh! and me up, over and over hooting into the quiet neighborhood. Fresh! said, did it wake you up, too? We were quiet, listening, in thrall.


Tonight, Pat Schneider will be at the Pacific School of Religion, (7 pm–9 pm, 1798 Scenic Avenue in Berkeley), talking about the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method that she developed and has been practicing for lo these many years. She will show the movie Tell Me Something I Can’t Forget, about the Chicopee Writers, about the women she worked with in a housing project in Chicopee, Mass., women who altered their lives and reconnected with their voices through the writing together, through the writing however they were drawn to write, through the treating everything as though it’s fiction, through the confidentiality, through the talking about what we like in the brand new writing folks offer to the room, through the remembering that no one has to read — we can write whatever we want because, remember, we don’t have to read it.

What else do I want to tell you about this — Pat (and her husband/partner Peter) shows me what tenacious means, what faith in practice means, what get-up-and-do-your-work-in-community means.  Many other folks show me those things, too — but Pat is one of my teachers, and I mean that in the old way. And she shows me that this practice of walking your talk can go on for a lifetime, even with hiccups and messiness, even with the broad human sludge that we bring to every endeavor.


This morning I want to write about the hot and intimate and lovely erotic salon that happened on Friday, about family and struggle and the ache of triggers that live in every fiber of some of us, about last night’s writing workshop and what happens when just a few folks come together in a quiet room and open their notebooks and let truth fall out and onto the page like anchors like lead like rain like ghosts slipping out from under our fingernails like blood like mystery like night like morning — but there’s something else pushing at me here and now, emerging —

Something slow and achy and messy, something about my own mess, my own human sludge, the facts of my complexity — how I, too, present one face to the world and then can act differently behind closed doors; how I, too, am one of those people — and that maybe I’m still worthy of love (and, yes, life, as I just mis-typed) even in that deep imperfection. That even when I don’t act in all of my integrity and ethics, it’s still ok that I use air to breathe.  That in all of my messiness and learning how to be in this life, it’s amazing that I have friends who love me — who see more than I want them (or anyone) to see, friends who know my masks maybe better than I do, and still they want to hang out on the porch with me and drink bad coffee and laugh.  That kind of makes me weepy this morning — it lifts me like wings.  It’s that incredible.

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