Saturday, February 28, 2009


What makes gossip so tantalizing? Why is it that talking about someone else's business to a third party makes someone feel better about themselves?

I know something you don't know therefor I'm more important because I have privileged information.

Poor So-and-so, we're so much better off than them.

Did you hear what happened to whats-her-name? What a shame.

Recently a lady, who I know just marginally from walking Zeke in the park, came up to me and asked me how my sister was doing. Last month my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and she's now currently undergoing chemo treatment. I've spoken to only a few people about this. I feel like this is a personal and delicate matter that I'm not quite sure I've processed myself yet let alone feel comfortable discussing with peripheral dog-park people. I felt violated.

I said "Excuse me?" She said "Oh, I just heard about her and wondered how she was doing." She scurried away. I must've shot her a threatening look, she has avoided me since and the subject hasn't been brought up again.

This morning another one of the dog-park ladies tried talking to me about yet another dog-park lady. She asked if I'd heard something about her and began trying to pull me into a conversation by making fun of the other lady, setting me up to take verbal jabs at her.
I identified the impulse to engage but almost immediately got angry at her for encouraging this behavior as well as at myself for being susceptible to it.

Is feeling better about oneself at another's expense an inherent human trait or is it learned behavior? Does everyone naturally fall into this trap or is it a character flaw engaged in by only the morally weak?

I don't like the way it makes me feel. Being someone who talks about other people's business is not the kind of person I want to be. Having just recently been on the other side of this I'm more convinced now than ever how hurtful it can be.

Should I confront these park gossips about their nefarious chatter or just try to be an example by avoiding their indulgent clucking?

Gossip! I don't want to do it and I don't want to hear it. I realize I might show more compassion as these ladies may only be talking about other people's business because of a lack of substance in their own lives. Still, I find myself annoyed and offended.

Every morning Zeke and I walk briskly around the park as the same cluster of neighborhood ladies stand in the same spot and jibber the same jabber. Their dogs run around them as Zeke and I circle; down the stairs, along the river, up the path, around the playground, up the stairs, down the path. Two or three times we do this and the ladies gab and cluck.

I'll not be drawn in. I'll not be affected. I'm there to walk not talk. If I can make just a small difference by not even listening to it then I've done something good.

Friday, February 20, 2009

arbolé, arbolé,

Tree, tree
dry and green.

The girl with the pretty face
is out picking olives.
The wind, playboy of towers,
grabs her around the waist.
Four riders passed by
on Andalusian ponies,
with blue and green jackets
and big, dark capes.
"Come to Cordoba, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
Three young bullfighters passed,
slender in the waist,
with jackets the color of oranges
and swords of ancient silver.
"Come to Sevilla, muchacha."
The girl won't listen to them.
When the afternoon had turned
dark brown, with scattered light,
a young man passed by, wearing
roses and myrtle of the moon.
"Come to Granada, muchacha."
And the girl won't listen to him.
The girl with the pretty face
keeps on picking olives
with the grey arm of the wind
wrapped around her waist.
Tree, tree
dry and green.

~ Federico Garcia Lorca

Sunday, February 8, 2009

sexual healing

Today at church, after the regular worship service, I attended a group discussion on faith and sexuality. Some of the questions offered for consideration were: How does one have a faithful sexual experience? What does it mean to be a sexually active Christian? If my sexuality is God given, how can I express it in a way that is healthy and worshipful and in a way that I believe would be aligned with God's will?

These are great questions and it was a decidedly interesting discussion. I feel very fortunate to have found a church community that would host such discussions when most religious institutions would certainly not encourage the topic of healthy sexual expression in a Sunday afternoon group.

There were married people and single people, straight people, gay people, lay-people and clergy.

I 'd like to further explore this idea of a sacred expression of one's sexuality. I think it's something that too few people give much thought to. The further we got into the discussion, however, the more I became aware of the fact that I don't have a healthy sexual outlet. I don't even know how to date someone let alone have a partner that I could feel safe enough to reach some kind of worshipful experience with.

Now, this is not a new topic for me. If you've read this blog you'll have noticed several older posts about my frustration on this very subject. Today, however, my frustration burrowed it's way to an even deeper and sadder place in my consciousness. Being in a room of young, attractive, articulate church folk I felt somehow, older, dirtier, more used up, as if I had less of a chance of what we were talking about than the others in the room.

Downward spiraling thoughts came steady and fast: "These people don't know about my past, my poor choices, my health status, they're so young and clean and full of promise, I have nothing in common with these people, they don't understand me, I'm so different, I have no business being here..."

I realize that these thoughts and feelings are the darker, flip-side of self-centered grandiosity but, still, my mind easily snaps into self-sabotaging behavior when I begin to feel vulnerable. My emotional experience, real or imagined, often becomes my reality. I fell back into a familiar, disconsolate and lonely place. Not just lonely. Loneliness is one thing but a loneliness accompanied by a sexual urgency. It's an all-too-familiar feeling that can become paramount to all other interests, driving, overwhelming. How can one hope for a healthy, spiritual, sexual life if driven by self pity and sexual urgency?

I somehow managed to pull myself out of the mental quicksand I was sinking into before I got caught too deep. Luckily, I've been spending a lot of time lately dealing with other people's problems and that's great as it keeps me from diving headfirst into my own pool of romantic obsession and sexual self pity. But I can't be busy with other people's business all the time so I've been asking for strength and guidance, patience and kindness and a reprieve from my difficulties so that I might be useful to others. I don't necessarily get what I want but, like it or not, I know I always get what I need.