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if the devil’s in the details –

September 5, 2012

i pass a catholic church when i’m taking the bus to work. i’ve written before about my religious thoughts and mores, and the interest i have in catholicism, if only because of 10 years in catholic school. i’ve also written about my big love for the bible, because the bible is a collection of the queerest and most mind-blowing stories ever written. today, i noticed a diamante cross hanging in one of the windows in the parish. the priest was out on the steps, because everyone is awake so much earlier now that autumn is here and gears are grinding to a start again. it reminded me of own old school days, the trek to church wearing our little red ties, and the pinafores and the blouses. the sun was hitting everything at the right angle and somehow the drawn blinds looked comforting and i wondered about taking comfort and finding a way to stay my wild brain.

fall is always such an interesting time. i find that as the weather changes, so do people and emotions and patterns. i see it even in the rhythms of traffic – one day the streets are clear, the next they’re full of parents taking their kids to school. i promised myself that once fall started, i’d sit down for another extensive edit of my book.


do you know how hard it is to hold yourself to that? (on an aside, maybe my mind is all toothy right now because what i’m editing has such strong religious toeholds in it.) to make yourself sit down and stop farting around – and even just double clicking on the icon for the word document or just reorganizing the folders of the tens and tens of drafts i have is enough to make me feel scared and silly. it sounds melodramatic but it’s not. a piece of your own writing is a mirror and a day of reckoning, and it stares back at you with all of its adverbs and stupid paragraphs and its 100 000 words that need to be edited and cut and shorn and it laughs at you and it WINKS at you.

and you come at it with an entirely different set of emotions, too. things have happened to you since you last sat down to write it. you’ve grown (or shrunk) and maybe the entire ending needs to be re-done because you have a different way of writing heartbreak, or a different opinion on the ins and outs of family bonds.

let’s be honest. i’ve been a bit weird lately. (lately?!) come september 1st i did sit down to edit again, without consciously realising that it had turned to fall. and then i started dreaming things, weird things. the blue moon’s pull did nothing for me, but apparently opening the writing vault did. i don’t talk (often) (or openly) about emotions in day to day life, but sitting down at a desk and settling in for another round of edits, i feel like i’ve taken my chest in both hands and ripped it open and all of the goop has come pouring out. i dream every night as is, but recently it’s been dreams that are so lucid and distressing that the entire next days are spent in a wondering state because that line between awake and not awake is so tenuous. is this a result of writing? why on earth does this only happen when i write the behemoth? well, probably i’m scared. writing is scary, as is turning your eye inwards on the shit that’s circling around within yourself. i don’t like to look at my own foibles and flaws – nobody particularly does – and writing about them feels like using a cilice.


i never need an excuse to post a bosch painting.

i thought maybe it would be nice to have something like religion to hold to during times like these, where the seasons click together in ways that don’t quite fit, and where a bigger section of my brain power is cordoned off and used all day for thinking about writing. that sparkly cross looked kind of tempting, not just because i’m a magpie.

when i was younger, in high school, i knew very religious people. i asked them lots of stuff because i’m blunt and inquisitive and if i want to know something i’ll ask. i wanted to know why – why baptist? why catholic? why religion? why is it soothing? why do you like it? why do you try to get other people to like it? does it help you? the answers were always in the positive – yes. it helps me. it soothes me. it’s reassuring. i envied that. through my life, sometimes i felt a little unmoored. i never connected to religion in elementary school when we were going to church or reading verses from the new testament. as i get older, there are times i feel so low or shameful or alone that i want to have someone to reach out to. a confessional booth? a priest? or just – like in the ukrainian catholic church – an icon to pray to and talk to? someone to talk to at all hours, to hold court with. someone with (in the new testament at least) a good disposition and no judgment.

and then i started to write. really write. if what i was most interested in throughout years of religion class was, ultimately, the bible (and therefore the written word), then of course it would make sense that writing gave me purpose. and still does. in times of transition, when i feel so unsure about myself, my grace (suffering is grace, says chris urquhart), the way i’m turning into a person i may or may not want to be, i do always know that there’s a page with a blinking cursor waiting for me. that page seems to encompass that awesome (in the true sense of the word) and terrible feeling of trying to grab at something far, far bigger than myself. i know that  my writing colleagues often tee-hee at the way i speak about writing, like it’s some sacrament, but it sometimes can feel like trying to throat-latch something that’s running far too fast, when you know that your elbows are going to be yanked almost clean out of their sockets, but you do it anyway because the devil’s in the details and so is the other stuff.

so the devil’s in the details, but maybe my version of the opposing side exists in the terrible curves of lowercase “a” and the jags of “h”. it sounds trite, perhaps, but i believe that we all need something to hold on to. it might be the ecstasy in the burn of physical activity, or the fulfillment someone gets from volunteering. we all look for something – somewhere. i don’t think that sparkly cross is going to do it for me, which bothers me sometimes. i would love to say the act of contrition and have my upsets be soothed and my meanness absolved. but there are other forms of confession, i know. and so help me gawd, the empty page is one of them.

on that note, i’ve been looking for an excuse to post corb lund’s bible on the dash for a few days now, and this seems a very apt time to do so:



overflowing with the spirit and the bible on the dash.

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