Aug 27, 2006


There was a knot inside my gut
Probably most of my life.
I probably came to know that knot as normal.
Well, that knot inside my gut began to unravel.
Little by little, until I awakened this morning and it was gone. Unstead, there's just contentment.

Thank you, Mr. Wilson

Aug 26, 2006


This is it. I slept pretty well, I think I got six hours. My makeup and hair gals are heading over. The special effects crew show up shortly after, and all us bridesmaids are going to look fabulous. I had a waking nightmare: what if my dress got stolen? Well, I'd wear something else. Something borrowed!

That's one thing I don't have. I have something old: me. Something new: the dress. Something blue: the garter. something borrowed ... okay I may grab someone on the way into the sanctuary.

I'm not nervous. I'm excited.

I'm fine.

Except that, there's a portion of the service, "Words from the Couple," where Larry and I are going to say something special to each other, or the people there.

And I am drawing a blank. Writer's Block. Tongue Tied.
Everything seems so trite or redundant.

And I'm a writer!

It'll come to me.

Aug 24, 2006

How Many REAL Hours Before The Wedding?

I used to play the count back/forward game with my sister when we were waiting for our summer vacation to start. If it was three weeks away, we'd count backward three weeks and try to remember what we were doing three weeks prior. In that amount of time, we'd be leaving on our trip!

It was our way of coming to understand the time we'd have to wait. What time was, really. Slow when you're not having fun, that's for sure

Larry and I have been playing that count forward/back game. Five weeks ago, we went to a barbecue at some friends house. We counted forward to our wedding, counted back five weeks. And the day seemed still so far away.

I can remember Larry saying to me just last week: yeah it's a full ten days away, and ten days prior to that seemed a bit in the distance.

But today is Thursday. I"m getting married in two days.

Two days ago, Larry got his sister from the air port. My sister and her family arrived that night. Two days ago was only the day before yesterday.

Yesterday, yesterday is so small an amount. I"m getting married in two days.

I can't count in atomic clock times. I have to count in solitude hours. How many hours of alone time will I have between now and the wedding?

Nancy's family moves to their hotel tomorrow afternoon. But then we're going to have a bonfire at the beach. And then the next day the rehearsal isn't until 1pm. But we've got to get there by 11am to put the supplies in the kitchen. And once I do that the rest of the day is going to be ... people people people. Rehearsals, pedicures, rehearsal dinner barbecues.

And then I wake up and the hairdresser arrives. THen I have to be at the church for makeup. Then they take pictures and then .. then it happens.

But it's not just the wedding, i've got to pack for two days at our getaway, and I have to start shooting a movie. So when I leave my house as a single woman I need to pack for a romantic weekend ... AND a movie shoot. and and .. How many real hours of solitude do I have before the wedding?

it depends on how much insomnia I get.


Good thing I'm marrying the right guy.

Aug 22, 2006

"Rowdy Sex Romp?"

Larry is blogging on the various myths about marriage. Myth #2 was: Marriage is a rowdy sex romp. He said it was awkward to write about sex, knowing his mom reads his blog. Try: knowing his fiancee is reading it! Like the fact he told the blogosphere that we're 'waiting' to you know, consummate the relationship. Aaaawwwkward Moment. Okay now I have to put in my two cents worth.

Larry also wrote that sex "has a way of making you stupid and ruining a perfectly good relationship." Assuming he doesn't mean married life, I have to agree with his pronouncement. I also have to admit, I learned this the hard way.

When I was in junior high, our geeky youth pastor tried to scare us into chastity by gluing two pieces of cardboard together, pulling them apart, and watching them shred to bits. "This is what happens to your heart when you have sex outside of marriage," he growled. Then smiled: "Let Us Pray." The cardboard story didn’t keep me ‘pure.’ What kept me pure was the fact I was terrified of boys and sex. But I also was pulling down a 4.0 GPA, and my parents barely noticed I had a pulse. So the first guy I really fell in love with, who loved me back … well the need to be loved was greater than the need to be safe.

Came the inevitable breakup, the cardboard analogy proved true. It's not just because the first cut is the deepest; it's because when you bond, body and soul, and then break up; it does shred you. There's way getting around it. The heart is what it is, the body is what it is.

I’ve spent many a yoga class, doing 'hip opener' exercises, allowing the somatic response to release the emotions in those muscles. Pain, anger, sorrow, loss. Stored in your body. Heck it's even in the Bible. You can’t escape it. That’s why I hated “Samantha” on Sex and the City: to think you can jump in and out of bed and not feel anything? If you don’t feel anything, you should be scared: you're numbing your heart out, one fling at a time. I had one relationship like that. I numbed myself with alcohol and cigarettes and cynicism. It wasn’t worth it.

But what was my alternative? That True Love Waits campaign worked for high schoolers. But what about after that? The guys in my church waited, all right. They waited. And waited. Forget the “40-year old Virgin." These guys were "Eunuchs for Jesus."

I finally met a decent guy and we started dating. He was not of the church variety (of course not … he DATED). He was also not of the waiting variety. And I’d waited long enough. So I took that risk. We dated three years. We loved each other, we thought we were going to get married, even though we were wrong for each other.

Why? Well, as Larry had written, sex had a way of making you stupid. You don't ahve the objectivity to determine how appropriate yo uare for each other. You're so bonded that you put up with him criticizing your weight or how you spent your alone time; you endure him throwing tantrums when you dared talk to someone else on the train instead of fawning over him. You overlook differences, the red flags, the dysfunctions. Why? Because you love each other. Because the sex, and the time and the events and the shared memories bond you, body and sou. Your'e together.

Until you're not anymore.

I’m so glad I didn’t marry that guy, he was wrong for me. I’m so glad ... Now. But at the time, I felt like my insides were being ripped out. Probably because they were.

I understood where they got the phrase, “want to crawl out of your own skin.” My skin hurt so bad I wanted to scrape it off; I wanted to cut off the layers of skin that had had contact with his, the layers whose DNA had changed to fit with his. It hurt to eat. It hurt to be awake. Often I had to just tell myself to breathe. I prayed for sleep, but I’d dream of wolves needing to cry and hearing his ten-digit phone number in my head. Everything hurt. All over.

There’s a science to this. It’s the chemical Oxytocin. (Not the drug Oxycontin). Oxytocin is a chemical that men and women release during orgasm and a woman releases when she gives birth. It bonds two people together. There's scientific proof. Not that I needed it: my heart was being evisceraqted, my psyche being disemboweled. “Oxytocin, they call it? Now nice. Now we know."

One night, I was back in LA after a trip to New York (where I attended two weddings and, while strolling Central Park happened to see my Ex making out with his new girlfriend … Yeah it was that kind of year). I was back in LA, just trying to breathe until betime. I pulled off the road, parked the car, and screamed and wept

I stopped a moment, and got this sense or presence of God with me. And he was angry. He was enraged. But not at me, nor at the Ex. It wasn't ao reprimand, "told ya so!" Just intense, vengeful anger, because his child was going through such pain. He was angry at the destruction that resulted from human bonds being ripped apart. He was angry. It was anger on my behalf.

Suddenly I got it, how much God loved me; how profound and beautiful and true his laws were. They were more like laws of physics. There was such beauty in the symmetry of them. The way things worked. The love behind that symmetry and reason for thins.

I felt awed. I felt so loved.

I vowed never ever have sex with a man until we were married. And it didn't make me feel like some prude. It made me feel like a smart, fierce woman who loved herself.

But then Larry came along. He inspired me, he made me laugh. He was cute, he ‘got me” and I got him. He fit me like no one ever had. If I were going to marry anyone ever again, it would be him. If I were to get intimate with anyone, it would be him. Yes, he fired me up. In a whole new, really profound way. But in the heat of the moment, can you really keep that vow?

It wasn’t I who decided we were going to wait. It was he. I was caroming between feeling loved or feeling safe. That’s when Larry said it. “I want to save this. I want to save you.”

I nodded my head yes. And I wept. Larry made a decision to protect my heart and protect the both of us from the confusion that occurs when the physical and emotional closeness don’t match. When you load so much spiritual freight (approval, security, expectations) onto a relationship that isn’t ready to carry it.

Well, Larry and I are ready to carry all of that now. As of Saturday, it’s legal.

I hope he can manage at least one rowdy sex romp.

Aug 15, 2006

Budget Weddings Are Expensive

If you really want to do an almost-free wedding, go down to the county courthouse, bring a witness and a bouquet of flowers from Vons, and get yourself married in their windowless “chapel.” The courthouse lectern and US flag on a pole are free. Then you can go home and feel really depressed about the eventlessness of your event.

Actually some friends got married at the courthouse. But they held a reception a few months later. Another couple invited friends out to a restaurant afterward. Because important events need to be experienced, given weight to, and remembered. Your wedding is probably the most important ritual life. Aside from your funeral. which you aren't alive to enjoy. So you might as well make the wedding worth celebrating . And it requires money to celebrate.

You CAN do a nice wedding on a budget. But be prepared to pay in emotional dollars. Because it takes a lot of time and energy to make your few dollars look like a lot.

Larry and I have refused to buy into the $26 billion a year wedding industry. We'll probably end up spending only about $6,000 for everything. Especially "$10 Exit Fee” goes according to plan. Ba DUMP! Hey that's a bargain. I know lots of people who've paid thousands of dollars to get out of church alive. It's called psychotherapy.

Okay, okay, I'll stop.

Larry and I found an adorable church close by. Grace Lutheran Church, with a wonderful wedding coordinator who helped talk me out of my panic when we were four weeks from a wedding and no location. Debbie Berger. I love the Lutherans.

The sanctuary is gorgeous. Red brick, stained glass, high ceilings. Just as I’d imagined on the rare occasions I imagined my own wedding. The Parish hall ... well it looks like a parish hall. Go figure. Raised stage and gray curtains. You can almost see the Sunday School doing the Christmas pageant up there.

“Amazing what a little tulle and streamers can do,” Debbie Berger said, cheerfully.
We were going to need more than streamers. Tulle? Lights? Sparklers? A fog machine? Maybe if we fogged it up, no one would notice the parish hallness of it all

So I started shopping. Trips downtown looking for decorator fabric. Mini silk flowers for wedding favors. What about wedding favors? Bags of Jordan almonds? I hate Jordan almonds. What about table centerpieces? Table cloths? I bought ten table cloths. Found out they were the wrong size. Returned them. Bought more, but they were the wrong shade of blue. Returned those. Trips to Big Lots and Smart and Final and Target and downtown. My friends Ruth and Catheryn came over and helped me assemble centerpieces and wedding favors. We watched movies and listened to music, glued, tied, cut, punched, and ate butter mints. Four days in a row I got home from errands after 9pm. My whole body hurt all over.

I thought about the people who eloped to Vegas. And I thought of the people who’d miss the event if we eloped. No, we were on the right track. It was taking effort, but a good celebration takes effort. It’s going to be a blast.

Anyone want to come hang brown lace fabric at 7 am?
Good with a heavy duty stapler?
Email me, darlin'!

Larry's Hair

It’s true, Larry's hair got mentioned at my wedding shower. It's also true, that after my first date with Larry, I told a friend that I didn’t particularly like his hair. It wasn't his hair istelf. His hair is nice and thick and curly. But it was the style in which he wore it: long, all one length, slicked all the way back against the back of his head. Maybe he was thinking “bohemian rock star.” but to me it said “Miami Vice thug.” In any event, my first impression of Larry (aside from the fact he didn't ask me a single question about myself) was: he had 'bad trucker hair.'

So, this friend repeated my first impression of Larry's hair at my wedding shower. And I was duly mortified: Larry’s two best women friends, Anna and Donna were sitting right there. But lo and behold, Anna and Donna admitted they have hated Larry's hair for years. “I told Larry he would never get a woman with a hair cut like that,” Anna said.

But Larry got me, and I came to love him, and even his hair. At least, when he left out the pomade and let the curls run loose. On a few occasions, Larry admitted his hair style wasn’t working, but he was also sensitive about the issue.

“You don’t have to go Microsoft on me,” I suggested. “Just layer it. Like Mick Jagger or Bon Jovi.”

“My sister told me to grow it really long so I can put it in a pony tail,” Larry mused. I never understood the logic of that: growing your hair long so you can pull it back tight with a rubber band, so that it looks short, but with a horse tail?

Anyway, when Larry’s hair came up at the shower, I told Anna: “Okay, say something to him. He listened to you about driving to Woodland Hills for a barbecue, maybe he’ll to you about a hair cut.”

Next thing I know, I open Larry’s blog to find had written about his hair. Or rather, he wrote his version of our conversation about his hair. Anna had been named “The Hatchet,” like I’d handed her the hatchet to do the dirty work. Which I guess I had. But still! He also quoted Anna as saying, “all women want to change the men in their lives. There's no such thing as loving you as you are." He also used the word nag in a sentence. “Men stop listening. The (women’s )nagging just wanes in time.”

This did not work for me. I'd dispatched a Hatchet Man? I didn’t love him as he was? I was a Nag? Aand all this he writes in a blog read by millions, without telling me?

It was SO time for another conversation. Filled with "I Feel" statements, conflict resolution. All delivered in a calm and quiet Michael Corleone voice.


If it's sunny outside you wouldn't know, what with the venetian blinds drawn so close only fractures of light eavesdrop into through the smoky air. Which is also puzzling since no one in the room is smoking.

Larry sits in a blood-red leather chair, facing a big desk. Don Susan relaxes back behind the desk, while Anna "The Hatchet” stands guard.

SUSAN: Mister Wilson, do you know why you’re here?
LARRY: I wrote in my blog about my hair?
SUSAN: About what you think your future wife thinks about your hair.
LARRY: That too.
SUSAN: Do you not see how it would have benefited you to consult first with your future wife, before speaking to the rest of the universe via your blog?
LARRY: Uh yeah, I guess, but --
SUSAN: I was not finished speaking.
LARRY: Sorry.
SUSAN: Do not apologize until you know the full extent of your infractions

An awkward silence.

SUSAN: You may speak now.
LARRY: I was just trying to make light of the whole thing.
SUSAN: is it not true, Larry, that you have said your hair was a sensitive subject?
LARRY: Yes, but ... Yes.
SUSAN: So blogging to millions of people, and using the word "nag" in reference to female communication was not the wisest use of the English Language. Particularly in reference to a woman you hope to know biblically in the near future. If in fact you are permitted such bibical knowledge after referring to said female as a nag.
LARRY: Hoestly, I wasn't saying she was a nag. I was just trying to be funny and put the whole thing behind me.
ANNA "THE HATCHET": Just admit it, son. If you admit it, we won’t kill you.
LARRY: Okay, I admit -- what am I admiting to? Never mind: whatever it is, I admit it.
SUSAN: Tell me Larry. If a man speaks in the forest, and his wife is not there to hear him, is he still wrong?
LARRY: I'm going to go with "yes."
SUSAN: You have answered wisely.

Okay it wasn’t like that. But Larry must have felt like it when I talked to him.

Anger is a tricky issue. You gotta be able to work through it in a healthy manner. Larry said in his family they never got angry. In mine, my dad spewed anger on a daily basis. He hit every topic from the Russians and the Democrats and Medicare, with a few “You’ll never amount to anything”s throw in for destructive measure. I hated his anger. And hated my own anger for hating his.

I think about how hypocritical this all is. Women are so darned sensitive about our body image. If I’m not a Size 2 I think I’m fat. But don’t let a man question if I’ve gained weight or I’ll call him a jerk.

Larry’s never commented on my weight. Imagine if I had found out my size had been a topic of conversation between Larry and his friends. “Just get her to drop five pounds, that’s all.” What if Larry had asked his friend Doug to encourage me to go on a juice fast.

I’d have written a lot worse than a few jokes about a Hatchet Man and a nag. It cuts both ways.

Larry and I had a very good conversation about the whole thing. He was calm and patient, and so was I.
Larry admitted that when anger enters a conversation, it seems to overwhelm everything.
LARRY: But when you said you aren't going anywhere, then I can trust this.
SUSAN: And the more we are able to have these conversations, the less overwhelming they'll feel.
LARRY:It will always feel a little scary, but yeah, maybe less and less.
SUSAN: It's an AFGO: Another F'ing Growth Opportunity.

The next day I went back and read his hair blog. You know, it actually was funny.

Four days later he showed up at my doorstep.
Larry had cut his hair.

It was still longish, but he had layers in it. He looked hot. He was also working on some serious mutton chop sideburns. Some people might think those a bit Miami Vice thug.

To me, he looked like a rock star.

Communicating, or AFGO

It’s been two weeks since I blogged about my wedding. Maybe because it’s been two weeks since the last planning meeting, and I’ve been on Overwhelm since then. Buying stuff for favors, getting table covers. Return table covers that didn’t fit. Finding out what sizes do fit. Try ironing dress. Buy spray starch. Wow, that mini ironing board I’ve been using doesn’t work on a dress, does it? Okay so go buy an ironing board. Considering taking dress to dry cleaners to have them iron it. Remembering Larry’s cotton shirt coming back from dry cleaners a different shade than it went in.

Try to write. Too exhausted to write.

The good news is, we found a place. This was after the “other” place strung us along for ten days before they said “no,” because their planner couldn’t do it. Then the planner called and said, “you really want to get married on a Tuesday?” We’d moved on from then.

But there were other stresses. Larry had wanted a barbecue. Back when we were going to have the wedding and reception in a friend’s back yard, that seemed like a good idea. But then it got to 119 degrees at that friend’s house one weekend, our guest list ballooned above the amount you could fit in anyone but Aaron Spelling’s back yard. And then I booked a movie that started four days before the wedding. They’d give me two days off to get married but I’d be back on the movie set the day after the wedding. So we’d modified our plans to do the wedding, a reception, and barbecue for the die-hard partiers. And I was going to get up the next morning to go back to the movie set.

What are we thinking? What kind of wedding night is that? I did not wait all these months to consummate Larry’s and my relationship with a two-minute drill, thank you very much.

So I emailed Larry about it. Actually, I lifted the steamiest verses from Song of Solomon and said, “in order to get to THAT part of the evening” we needed to do something about the barbecue.

Larry was definitely all for getting to the Song of Solomon interactive evening, but what about his barbecue? That’s the one thing he’s wanted: a time to hang out with close friends, marvel at what God has done, and eat pork chops.

SO I came up with a few ideas:

1) Make everything shorter: wedding, reception and BBQ. Upside: we to do everything. Downside: we do everything poorly cause it’s rushed.
2) Have the barbecue Sunday night
3) have the barbecue Friday night as the rehearsal dinner.

Larry agreed #1 was a bad idea. #2 was bad because his best man would already have left down. But he didn’t like #3 either. “No way” were his friends going to trek to Woodland Hills for the barbecue. “It’s not what I envisioned. It’ll be fun but it’s not a good substitute for what I hoped for.”

“Not what I envisioned? … Not a good substitute?” I counted to ten, and emailed him back. “Do you have a vision for a good substitute for what you’d hoped for?”

He didn’t reply to me, but instead emailed our entire planning group that he was relinquishing the barbecue. He was convinced people wouldn’t drive to Woodland Hills on Friday. And two. “I really wanted the bbq/community thing to happen. It was really important to me. But I'm prepared to give it up. I have to protect and honor Susan's vision for the wedding.

I was feeling a sensation I’d never yet felt toward Larry: Pissed off. He made it sound like his only wish was for a beautiful intimate moment of community, but Susan wants a wedding instead. Like I want some vapid alienating dead ritual?

I emailed everyone back. 1) It isn’t Susan’s Wedding vs. Larry’s Barbecue. 2) Woodland Hills is the same distance on Friday as it is Saturday. And 3) My vision of the wedding happens to be a community thing as well.

Anger is tricky. You can’t avoid it, but you can’t let it spew either. Larry said his family was the denial variety. Mine was the spew variety. At least my dad spewed. He blew acid rain on us daily, any thing from the Russians to the Democrats to “you’ll never amount to anything!” I hated his anger. I hated my anger for hating his. The ONLY bit of parental advice my mother gave me was: “if you’re angry people won’t like you.” SO I was screwed.

And here I was feeling the emotion I dreaded the most, toward the man I loved the most. Maybe because I trusted him the most that I could feel it.

A therapist once told me to use “I Feel” statements. That’s where you take responsibility for your own emotional reactions instead of blaming the other person for them.
“When you do _______, it makes me feel ___.
Such as: “When you __steal my wallet__ it makes me feel ripped off.”

Or when you say you’re giving up your dream of a deep and meaningful flesh roast so I can have a shallow, meaningless wedding instead, it makes me feel condescended to like you think I’m a shallow meaningless bitc… I mean, bride.”

I didn’t use either of the above. But I did let him know that what he wrote made me angry, that I felt condescended to. I said it all in a calm, quiet voice. Not like Al Pacino in the Godfather or anything. I mean, I really was calm and adult about it. Though I think I added a “don’t do me any favors.”

I know my feelings caught Larry off-guard. He reassured me the wedding was important to him as well, but that he’s an introvert and he connects better at smaller gatherings. And after talking to Doug, Debbie and Anna, he realized the Friday BBQ idea was a good one. In other words, my idea of the Friday barbecue was worthless until everyone else liked it? I think I found the I feel Statement for that one too. Something like, “when you totally dismiss my idea” it makes me feel “dismissed.”

Seriously, though. Larry explained he just needed to talk to the people who’d be traveling the longest distance to Woodland Hills.

Okay so we got through that one, learning how to communicate.

But then Larry went and blogged about his hair.

Aug 14, 2006

Bono at a Church conference?

No, not really. But he did tape an interview with a megachurch pastor, that was played at a megachurch conference. I edited this content from Tony Morgan's blog:

Bono said he's never had a problem with Christ, but Christians have been difficult for him. Christians seem strange to him. They can be very judgmental. They tend to judge people by surface problems. They have been the preoccupation of the church. Grace turned this view of the universe upside down. It's hard for us to grasp grace. Bono said he's much more interested in grace because "I'm depending on it." Bono said, "I grew very suspicious of Christians, but I was determined to learn more about the life of Christ."

As for the poverty in Africa: "How can this be? In a world of plenty, how could people be left to starve to death?" That's not the way the world has to be. He couldn't put that experience out of his head. "We will never forget this." At some point, he knew he would be called upon to revisit the questions that experience raised in his life. Eventually he became involved in the Jubilee Movement in the late 90s.

Bono acknowledged that God has given him a voice to raise these issues and move people to action. But the church has been historically behind the curve in getting involved in social justice (i.e. civil rights). At one point that only 6% of evangelicals were concerned about the AIDS epidemic.

Bono said, "Love thy neighbor is not advice. It's a command. In a global community, the poor and the disadvantaged in Africa are our neighbors. Matthew 25:45: "Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Let's stand up for the least of these. This isn't a duty. It's an opportunity and an adventure."

Aug 8, 2006

A New Kind of Church, or
"I'm With Larry"

Larry and I went to church on Sunday. Isn’t that what “good Christian girls and boys” do on Sunday? If that’s the case, then I have been bad Christian girl. I hadn’t been to a church service in months. And I hadn’t missed it. The head of a Christian counseling service said the same thing to me recently: he and his wife hadn’t been to a church service in months. “We’re disenfranchised, disillusioned and disinterested.”

He spoke for a lot of us. Church isn’t working for a lot of people.

One of the last services I attended, I brought a friend I know through writing and yoga. She said the pastor should have been a hypnotherapist. Yes, he was that boring. And depressing. After the service, a guy tried to engage my friend in conversation. It went something like this
Church guy: so are you a Christian?
Friend: Well, I was raised Mormon --
Church guy: (interrupting) Eeeewwww!
Friend: Uh, well, now I follow more of a Hindu Path.
Church Guy: Ick! … Well, at least that’s better than Mormonism.

I haven’t been back to that church since.

Larry and I went to an Episcopal church for Easter. There’s something downright wonderful about watching a bunch of stuffy Beverly Hills men with their arms high up in the air shouting, “Jesus Christ is Risen today, Halleluiah!” I love the sacraments and the liturgy of traditional churches. It’s not based on the charisma or popularity of the speaker. It’s your own participation and making it real for yourself. But I don't think Larry and I would make long-term Episcopalians. That denomination isn't sure whether Jesus or not was divine. And if you don’t know if the God you’re worshipping is God, why get up on Sunday and go talk to him?

For the last few months Larry and I have done our own thing. House church I guess you could call it. We read the Bible or a book, we pray together, just the two of us, or a small group of friends. It’s nice, but I do miss some things about church. Like good worship music, sung by a lot of people. Worship music is like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When it is good, it is very, very good. And when it is bad it is horrid.

This past Sunday we attended a Four Square Church. This denomination came out of the Baptist tradition. Oakie Tent Revivals, organs warbling during the prayers, that kind of thing. This particular parish is very modern. The warbling organ was replaced by a rock-jazz band. Really talente, professional musicians. It had been a long time since I’d had some good old-fashioned “rock n roll for Jesus,” so I was up for it.

The musicians were great. The songs, not so much. Randall Wallace calls it "7-11 music:" 7 words repeated 11 times. These songs probably connect to some people; they just don’t connect to me. Maybe it has to do with sense memory: whatever music you heard when you had your first spiritual awakening. The first songs didn’t move me that much, but it was good for me to get my mind off of my boring self and focus on “how ‘awesome’ or ‘cool’ God is.

We stood through the first three songs (Modern churches always do it this way: three songs, the leader prays, then you sit and sing something mellow … and modern churches say they don’t have a ritual!)

We sat for the "mellow worship song" and they started playing one of my favorite old hymns: “Praise To The Lord, the Almighty.” Maybe I just associate it with my childhood, when faith and love came so easy for me, but the lyrics are deep and the music is complex. I love it.

Praise to the Lord who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen:how all thy longings have been
granted in what He ordaineth?

(Don’t you see? The things you long for, God already willed for you to have?)

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen! sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him!

I’m stuck in my chair, trying to mellowly sing “Let the Amen sound from his people again!”
I wanted to jump up and shout it. Then they did a modern worship song with great lyrics and melody.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

"No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand." Deep in my gut that truth was set long ago, and it reverberated through all the years until now: I saw myself in childhood, as a young adult, in silly churches and profound ones. I saw myslef drunk and lost and angry. I saw myself inching back, standing outside, afraid and distrustful. Still that same truth God spoke to me again: “no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever take you from my hand.”

I wept.

This is what I miss about corporate worship. The weight and momentum of sheer numbers. The sound of everyone together. And here I stood next to the love of my life, he’s worshipping too. I never had all of those together: good worship and a great man.

But then the sermon started. It was some young associate pastor doing Olde 45 Minute Sermon. He tried to spice it up with a few jokes. “I wonder if Mary ever chided Jesus as a kid: Hey Jesus, get off your Big Wheel and come in and set the table!"


It wasn’t so much the jokes. Or that he took 45 minutes to relate minutes of content. It was also his thesis: God has to interrupt our plans in order to do what He wants with our lives.

On one hand I agree with that: I had some puny plans for my life. God took a wrecking ball to them and gave me something far greater. But His plans weren’t 180 degrees different from mine. After all, he made me who I am with the talents and longings I have. His plans were just a far more profound and fuller version of mine.

But I spent years in churches that taught “whatever your natural desires are, God has to kill them off, and then he’ll replace it with something totally different.” I wasted so many years, waiting on God to get me a life. Years waiting for him to tell me or show me what I was supposed to do INSTEAD. Years I will never get back. Meanwhile my secular friends were following their bliss.

Is God some kind of sadist that he gives you desires for one thing, only to make you have to kill them off and go do something else? This is totally FUBAR.

“hast thou not seen how all your longings have been granted in what he ordaineth?"

Anyway, this young pastor went on, stretchying his 5 minute missive into a 45 minute tape loop. I scribbled something on my program and passed it to Larry.

"I am SO OVER church. This is SO Y1K!"

He laughed. He leaned over and whispered his agreement. Actually he whispered a lot: about how the church doesn't take into account the way we process information, and how this guy was repeateing himself, and how Larry was so ready for something new and substantial and involved community.

"Anyway," he concluded. "I'm with you ... Or rather, you're with me."
"Yeah, I’m with you" I repeated, in that Avril Levigne kind of way.

Larry wants to start a more postmodern kind of community.
So once the wedding and honeymoon are over and done,
I'm going to hold him to it.

Trying to figure out this life
Take me by the hand,
take me somewhere new

I don't know who you are
But I'm with you, I'm with you

Aug 2, 2006

Marilyn Reincarnated?

Canadian singer Sherri Lea Laird claims that she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, and that her daughter is the reincarnation of Marilyn's mother.

That's not shocking. Madonna once claimed she was the reincarnation of MM. So did Anna Nicole Smith. Maybe after Madonna kicked MM out when she converted to Kaballah.

What's shocking about this earworn claim is that it made the LA Times. ... Oh wait, I see. It was verifired by a Malibu psychiatrist/new age lecturer. My apologies.

We're teetering on the verge of WW III and some moosehead chanteuse makes the news because she says she's MM? Didn't Madonna claim that once? Did Marilyn leave Madonna's body when she converted to Kaballa?

How does this all work?

Malibu psychiatrist/author/New Age lecturer Adrian Finkelstein said he uncovered Laird's previous existence after placing her under hypnosis for past life regression. "I'm a scientist, we end up believing in what we prove scientifically. I established through research that Sherrie Lea Laird is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe."

I'd like to see that research.

Funny how it's only Rich and famous people who get reincarnated. It's Never Pavel the Siberian serf got run over by a turnip truck. And even the celebrities are picky: its always Marilyn and Elvis who come back for more love and adoration. It's never Einstein or Thomas Payne or Benjamin Disraeli.

I understand the attraction to reincarnation. It's true, our souls are eternal. Reincarnation also affirms our awareness that we aren't ready to meet God or get to heaven/nirvana. Reincarnation affirms the truth that Humans are still filled with defects and the like. So that is true. Some guru said it would take a soul 285,000 lifetimes to cleanse one's soul and reach Nirvana.

That's a LOT of work. Looking at the world today, I'd have to say that Reincarnation as the path to purity is not working.

My friend Terrie Silverman told me that George Harrison had his ashes spread over the Ganges because he felt he was done. He'd had enough of being reincarnated and was ready to go to Nirvana. If that's the case, then couldn't anyone say, "I'm done. Beam me up?" Who decides who is ready? How can you make that decision for yourself.

Einstein said, "you cannot solve a problemw with the consciousness that created it."

I don't buy that MM has come back as a Canadian Chanteuse. Oh that psychiatrist just published a book on the subject. I guess anything can make the news as long as you have a book coming out.

Here's my latest book idea:

Einstein Naked In the Kitchen! Albert reincarnates himself as a raw foods chef, bringing us tips on going raw, how to dehydrate lettuce, and proving his theory once again: that Good Taste is Indeed Relative!

Blog Comments

A few blogs ago I commented on Larry and I looking for places to live. We cruised Los Feliz and Atwater. But apparently I didn't do the neighborhoods justice. Someone commented thus on my blog:

You must not spend much time in either Los Feliz or Atwater. Atwater in particular has a lot more than warehouses. Very walkable neighborhood streets with modest homes and neighbors who know each other. And a good deal of long-time locally owned businesses with pedestrian-friendly boulevards. Try Kaldi Coffee and Tea in Atwater on Glendale Blvd for some a/c with your latte.
Thanks for the info, Commenter! I have spent time in Los Feliz and am still underwhelmed for the overpricing. But I'm very grateful for the tips on Atwater. I'll make sure to check out Kaldi Coffee and tea!

On a less instructive comment, someone read my "Rejected By EHarmony" blog and sent me a scree: 'Oh you poor artists, you think you're so terrific. What are you, 15?" The commenter went on to admit that he/she too had been rejected by eharmony, maybe because of his/her/its problems with depression. I wish I'd left it up there. It was kind of fun to get my first scathing review. Reminds me of the composer Max Reger who, upon receiving a scathing review in the paper, wrote to the critic:

"Dear Sir: I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. Your review is before me. Soon it will be behind me. Sincerely, Max Reger"

I sincerely thank my Atwater connection for the info. I will definitely check out Kaldi. I remain underwhelmed by Los Feliz.

And as for the Eharmony Spewer: What a wanker. Sign your name.

Aug 1, 2006

Losing Joy in a Mountain of Details

Last weekend Larry and I met with our wedding planner group: Martin, Debbie and Doug. As reported, we did a read-through of our service, recited our vows, and proceeded to have our first “Freak Out” Moment. It was a weekend to feel freaked out. Not just because of the vows, or because we were in Woodland Hills where it was 119 degrees the day before. The fact we still didn’t have our wedding location was the biggest stress.

But I was carrying high hopes for a certain church, because I’d been a member there for many years, I knew the pastor. When I emailed him he replied they’d love to have us, as long as the admin guy could clear up the details. But in five business days I’d sent three emails, made four calls, left two “live” messages with the receptionist. And no one called me back.

Finally I stopped by the church right before our planning meeting and asked – no, begged – the youth pastor to have someone call me. Tell me anything. Even “no” would put me out of my misery. He nodded sympathetically … perhaps he had also experienced speed and accuracy of communication over there. Still, I left with high hopes to our planning meeting. At this point, the joint was the only viable option we had.

It’s hard to plan a wedding at a location you’re not sure you’re even going to get. Even harder when the planners have never seen it. Doug, Debbie, Martin hadn’t. Only Larry had, and only for a couple minutes. And Larry wasn’t into wedding planning, anyway. “You’re the girl,” he said, the last time his nonparticipation irked me. “The wedding details are more important to the woman. You make the choices of what you want. And I’ll make it happen.”

Okay, I could truck with that. Larry was planning the entire honeymoon and post-reception barbecue; I could do the wedding and reception. Yeah, we were planning a ceremony, a simple reception, then continue with an evening barbecue at Doug’s. That’s how ambitious we were. It kind of evolved that way when we realized we couldn’t do a ceremony in the back yard. Then it was: ceremony at a church, reception in back yard. Then we realized we’d still have 120 people in a back yard. So we figured, ceremony AND reception at a church. Barbecue in the back yard for the die-hard partiers

Now I understand why they say to plan these things well in advance. It’s not just reserving space. It’s allowing time for the foolish ideas to die on the battlefield of reality.

So here we were at Doug’s. We’d just read through the ceremony, and now we’d walk through the reception … at a location we are still not sure we’ll get, and a space no one really knew except me. Still Doug decided to take over as band leader

Okaaaayee,” he said in his thick Ohio accent with the fleeaaaht Veeeaaowals.

Doug: Okeeeay, so you’re gonna …see. Alriiieeet. So … (he adjusted himself in his beanbag chair. Yyer gonna walk out and teeaake yer pictures, righeet? Ya gatta allleeow at least 45 minutes for phoe-toes.

Larry: We aren’t going to take 45 minutes for pictures.
Susan: We’re going to take as many ahead of time as we can.
Doug: Well ya still gatta get the feeamilies togetherrr” Doug reminded us in case we forgot we had families.
Larry: I don’t want that “everyone in ascending order, then descending order” thing.

Doug: Okay so yer gonna leave and get pictures taken and the guests are gonna go where, the peahteeyo?
Susan: No, we’re talking pictures in the patio.
Doug: Well they can go where the cake and refreshments aaahrre.
Susan: That is also on the patio. We’re going to get the last pictures of us on one end of the patio while the food is being set up on the other end.
Doug: Great idea! What’re yer guests gonna do while you’re taking pictures? Give ‘em cake?
Debbie: We can’t give them cake before they cut the cake.
Doug: Then give them refreshments other than cake.
Susan: The refreshments are with the cake, on the patio, where we are taking pictures
Doug: that’s a bad idea.
Susan: You just said it was a good idea!

It was starting to feel like that Guard scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Doug was trying to help us, but I wasn’t appreciating his attention to detail. In fact it was making me nuts. I wrote on my notebook and pushed it over to Larry:


Larry didn’t say anything. So Doug kept going: All about where to put the cake, how to cut the cake, when to cut the cake, where to situate the bride and groom, etc. etc.

Doug: Okay so then they’re going to announce you and you’re going to come out.
Susan: Wait, coming out of where? The guests are going to COME IN to the patio where we already ARE.
Doug: You can’t do that. We’ll have to sneak you out, let them in, and then bring you back. We’ll announce you and then you do your dance.
Larry: (nervously) We’re doing a dance?
Doug: If you’re going to have the first dance, you gotta do the dance now.
Larry: Why do we have to do the dance now? I thought we were dancing at the barbecue.
Doug: Well fun dancing for everyone. But if you want the reception to feel complete, people are going to expect the First Couples Dance.
Larry: They won’t leave until we dance?
Debbie: Look, you guys can do whatever you want.
Larry: No First Dance. Pretend we’re Baptist.

Doug: Well do you want to have the toasts and speeches now?
Larry: We’re not having speeches.
Susan: Larry, that was the one thing you said you wanted: for it to feel like a community event, and give people a chance to share.
Larry: OK for a best man’s Toast, but I don’t want a bunch of people blabbing on and on.
Susan: So when it’s at the barbecue it’s “sharing,” but at the reception it’s “blabbing.”
Larry: That’s not what I meant.

Doug interrupted us with more details. Where are we going to have the receiving line? He’d suggest the receiving line in a section of the space he’d just suggested putting up the tables. Or have the bride and groom cut the cake before they were introduced.

I wrote on my notebook again: MOVE ON and showed it to Larry.

Larry said nothing. Why wasn’t he saying anything to Doug? Was he too chicken to say it? Or did he think I was being bitchy and I needed to get over myself? Or was he thinking it would just go away? Because it wasn’t.

Doug: What kieend of ceeeake are ya gonna get? Are ya gonna have the cake delivered on Friday or Saturday?
Susan: We don’t know yet.
Doug: Because you don’t want them to deliver on Saturday if they don’t deliver on Saturday.
Susan: That kind of goes without saying.
Doug: Now you’re gonna have to figure
out if the cake will fit in the refrigerator. Have you seen their refrigerator?

I didn’t actually say that. Instead I got up and went to the kitchen, poured myself a stiff drink of Fresca, came back and announced: You guys are so wonderful, thank you so much. I think I’ve reached my limit on details. I think it’s best I figure this out in my mind and then let you know.

Doug: Well, we're done. We’re done.

We were done. On top of the Vows and the jitters that brought, we’d just walked through a cobweb of details and tried to visualize them happening in a location we didn’t even know we could get.

We stood up. Debbie gave me a hug. “Susan you guys can do whatever you want, OK?”

So when Larry and I were standing out in the steam-iron hot night, we had more than just the vows on our mind. We also had the sea of details.

Susan: Next time I write "Make Doug Stop Talking" and "MOVE ON" on my notebook, I mean it. If anyone's goign to tell him to be quiet, it should be the guy.
Larry: Sorry I only saw "MOVE ON."
Susan: I didn't want you to have to read my mind.
Larry: I just want it to be simple. But I realize even the simplest thing isn’t simple.
Susan: I know it’s frustrating. But there are details we can’t avoid.
Larry: I just don’t want to lose the joy of it.
Susan: Well, it might get buried under the details for a while, but it’ll be there.

He gave me a hug. I felt calmer already.

My married friends would be laughing hard right about now. The “joy of it” had a lot more levels of Lost or Buried ahead of us.

We had still had four weeks before the wedding.
Only four weeks to plan. A whole four more weeks of stress.
Depends on how you look at it.

The "Make Sure He doesn't Leave" Scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail

FATHER: Guards! Make sure the Prince doesn't leave this room until I come and get him.
GUARD : Not to leave the room even if you come and get him.
FATHER: No, no. Until I come and get him.
GUARD : Until you come and get him, we're not to enter the room.
FATHER: No, no. No. You stay in the room and make sure he doesn't leave.
GUARD : We don't need to do anything apart from just stop him entering the room.
FATHER: No, no. Leaving the room.
GUARD : Leaving the room. Yes.
FATHER: All right?
GUARD : Right.
FATHER: Right.
GUARD : Can he leave the room with us?
FATHER: No, no. No. You just keep him in here and make sure he--
GUARD : Oh, yes. We'll keep him in here, obviously, but if he had to leave --- FATHER: No, no, no, no. Just keep him in here--
GUARD : Until you or anyone else--
FATHER: No, not anyone else. Just me.
GUARD : Just you.
FATHER: Get back.
GUARD : Get back.
FATHER: All right?
GUARD : Right. No problems.
FATHER: Where are you going?
GUARD : We're coming with you.