Tuesday, June 18, 2019

THE JOURNEY BACK HOME


DC METRO

Hey folks, here's the link to my conversion story on EWTN's "The Journey Home" with Marcus Grodi. Question: why does Marcus looks giant and why do I look like a midget?

Speaking of journeying home, I've been in DC all week and HAVE LOVED IT! I'm staying at the Dominican Priory (not to be confused with the Dominican House of Studies across from the National Shrine) and the priests and brothers have been magnificent. Tons of walking and sightseeing. All is much more beautiful, charming and graceful than I imagined.

Today I'm headed to Dumbarton Oaks and then tomorrow I fly home. My plane doesn't leave till 3:30 so I'm going to arrive at Dulles early, take advantage of one of the two United Club passes I get each year with my Visa, and relax with food and beverages before boarding and being whisked back to LA at a reasonable hour (instead of having to get up at 4 am and schlep in a twilight state to LAX as happens when you live on the West Coast and fly East).

Thanks to all the well-wishers who watched the show last night and wrote or texted.


EASTERN REDBUD
U.S. BOTANIC GARDEN

Saturday, June 15, 2019

THE JUBILEE MUSEUM


VESTMENTS, VESTMENTS EVERYWHERE...

Here's how this week's arts and culture piece begins:

Recently I got flown to Columbus, Ohio, to tape an episode of EWTN’s “The Journey Home” with Marcus Grodi. I never tire of telling my conversion story, so that was a treat.

And I’ve grown to love staying in a new town for a few days: walking, pondering, checking out the zeitgeist. Part of conversion, to me, is cultivating a curiosity about the world, a willingness to go to the edges and be an anonymous participant-observer.

So I booked an Airbnb for a few nights in a charming section south of downtown called German Village: cobblestone streets, brick townhouses, Schiller Park.

I strolled the first afternoon to the Audubon Preserve, an extension of the Scioto Mile, a walkway which runs from downtown along the river.

I took the free city bus up to the Short North Arts District, visited the famous North Market (akin to downtown LA’s Grand Central Market), and trolled the pleasantly jumbled shelves at The Book Loft, located in a pre-Civil War-era building that now houses 32 rooms of bargain books.

But my main field trip was to the Jubilee Museum, a one-of-a-kind, must-be-seen-to-be-believed establishment that somehow could only have arisen within the one, catholic, holy, and apostolic Church.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.


THE CONVENT ROOM--MY FAVORITE.

Friday, June 14, 2019

THE ONGOING SLOGGING JOURNEY


Hey folks,  my "Journey Home" conversation with Marcus Grodi will air this coming Monday, June 17.

You can watch it on Monday night at 8PM Eastern on EWTN, and if you don’t have cable, you can still view it for free at EWTN.com.

The full episode will then be available online--I'll post the link once I get it.

"Unchurched" was their term--it sounds kind of awful like pagan or Wiccan. I explained that if I converted from anything, it was alcoholism, and that I was simply suffering and a lost sheep. As usual in these kinds of discussions, I lost. Thanks so much for having me on, though!

A MOTH THAT LANDED ON MY PILLOWCASE
ONE RECENT NIGHT.
DO MOTHS BITE?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

THE AVERAGE CROWD


ROBERT FRANK
DRUGSTORE, DETROIT, 1955

This then is how it is when God descends to men! The apparent folly and danger of it are so great that the just and orthodox prepare for legal condemnation. The event is not even clothed in the dignity of genuine poverty. That would also have been impressive, for side by side with the power of greatness there exists the moving or august power of poverty, which stirs by its own mysterious power. But it is not genuine poverty that accompanies Jesus--neither among his disciples nor in the cheering masses. It is simply the average crowd as it is to be found everywhere in workshop, store and street. Crowd in which we call could find our place--human reality, mediocrity bare of the pathos both of splendor and of misery.


How difficult it is to recognize the self-revealing God! How difficult to steer clear of the scandal to the worldly sense of propriety and righteousness!

--Romano Guardini, The Lord, from Part V, Chapter 1, "Entry Into Jerusalem"

Saw a wonderful documentary over the weekend on the photographer Robert Frank (best known for his 1958 volume "The Americans"): "Leaving Home, Coming Home."

Speaking of leaving home, I am taking off tomorrow for Washington DC where I hope to straighten things out once and for all. I mean enough's enough!

No seriously, I'll be staying at the Dominican Priory and plan to creep about to museums, gardens and churches and in some small, probably doomed way, have a teeny bit of a "vacation." I mean when you are single-handedly holding the burden of the world on your shoulders, it is kind of a dereliction of duty to take "time off!" I really do need a long nap, and am madly looking forward to my visit.

I could care less about the White House or Lincoln Memorial of any of that stuff. Dumbarton Oaks is more my speed.


ROBERT FRANK
HOBOKEN, NEW JERSEY, 1955

Saturday, June 8, 2019

MISADVENTURES AT MISSION SAN ANTONIO DE PADUA






Here's how this week's arts and culture piece begins:

More than 20 years ago my (now ex-) husband and I took a road trip to Big Sur, cutting off the 101 north of Paso Robles to take the scenic Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. Then newly Catholic, I swooned when we came across what at that point was the largely abandoned, picturesquely derelict Mission San Antonio de Padua.

We stopped there to picnic, basking in the quiet and birdsong. Not long after, I learned that the Mission was undergoing renovation and that retreat rooms would soon be available. Ever since, I’d had it in the back of my mind to return to this enchanting place.

A few months ago, I finally reserved a room for three nights, made the trek from Pasadena, and prepared to fulfill my dream. The Mission is 30 miles or so from the 101 and the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s also undergoing a noisy retrofitting and directly abuts a military base that seemed to have grown exponentially since our earlier visit.

The suggested donation is a reasonable 60 bucks a night. You bring your own food — there’s a fridge, coffee-maker and microwave. Behind a locked gate were the central courtyard, where volunteers worked the rose garden, a lovely church, and dorm rooms.

I arrived around 3 p.m., settled in, and reconnoitered the grounds. Here I learned about the Salinan Indians the missionaries met when they arrived in the 1770s, and whom they stayed to try to convert. You can still see the remains of the Mission Well, the Brick Kiln, the Mission Reservoir, and the “Temescal” (“Mission Sweat-house”).

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.


SUNRISE AT THE MISSION

Sunday, June 2, 2019

RAVISHED, ANOTHER EXCERPT

BUY IT
Monday, June 3, I'll be on Jon Leonetti in the Morning on Iowa Catholic Radio, 7:15 am CT. 1150 AM 88.5 FM 94.5 FM. Discussing my new book RAVISHED.

HERE'S AN EXCERPT:
PREFACE

I’m an ex-gutter drunk who graduated from law school in a blackout, sobered up, quit my job as a Beverly Hills litigation attorney, converted to Catholicism, and in the mid-1990’s embarked on the precarious life of a creative writer. My history includes promiscuity, abortions, adultery, a 14-year marriage that ended in divorce, and a life-long tendency toward romantic obsession.
Divorced, childless, single, aging, as a woman, in and out of the Church, I often feel I have nowhere to lay my head.
In and out of the Church as well, I’m also often challenged by my fellow women to be angrier. “How can you belong to a church that won’t allow female priests?” for example, is a question I hear often. The short answer is because Christ set it up that way. The long answer is that just because men do something women should be able to do it, and vice versa, is a notion that strikes me as moronic. I want to glorify womanhood, not water it down. Any woman who wants to be a priest for the right reasons—which is to die to self, to serve—will already have naturally ordered her life so as to be acting in a priestly capacity.
 Beneath the anger is fear. Beneath the anger is the one fact we’re really not “allowed” to say: that we long with all our hearts for the male gaze. To live with the tension of not having that gaze returned with the intensity we ache for, or maybe at all—and to react with patience, kindness, and creative nonviolence, while still loving men—that is the way of the real warrior and the real feminist.
So is trying to be kind, understanding, and compassionate to all women: the pregnant teenager, the trans recovering alcoholic, the gun-toting, home-schooling Republican.
 To hold such tension, all our lives, is the way of suffering. Not dumb, wearily-resigned suffering, but active, conscious suffering. “Stay awake!” said Christ. And before we start pointing the finger at everyone else, let’s remember that, being human, every one of us comes to the table with our egos, our agendas, our wounds. Even those of us sufficiently well-educated, well-traveled, and well-experienced perhaps to consider ourselves above the fray come with deep vulnerabilities and fears: that we’re not pretty enough, thin enough, loud enough, quiet enough. To acknowledge our vulnerabilities and fears—and to devote our lives to trying to live fully with many of them intact—is the way of strength, not weakness.     
Many of us come with a hard-wired propensity to “pick” and then to compulsively pursue emotionally unavailable men.
For most of my life, I’ve counted myself squarely among that last group. In fact, to have longed for a man and never to have had a truly reciprocal, healthy loving relationship with a man---partly because I’ve been blueprinted for another vocation, partly because my own temperament has engineered against it—is my deepest, tenderest wound.
My “failure” at romance is the part of my story that tends to make me feel most ashamed, humiliated, exiled, and like a loser. It touches upon my fear that I’m not worthy of love nor capable of loving others. It goes to the heart of my womanhood and my humanity.
To accept this reality—to have come to see my situation, even, as a strange grace—has been a long, painful crucifixion. But to have suffered the wound these last three decades without anesthesia—no matter how lonely, frustrated, and crazy I’ve felt; never knowing how long the suffering might last—has formed in me, at last, something useful, something eternal.
I want to tell the story of those years of purification.  
I want to tell of what has been the adventure, the pilgrimage, the gamble of my life.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Our deepest identity does not lie in our gender, our sexual orientation, our wounds.
            Our identity lies in Christ.