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Sunday Morning Misfit

sundaymorningmisfitMood: Sticky
Drinking: Again with the tea

I’m taking to the sky in a few days. Which you already know if you read all that nonsense about my inability to pack a suitcase. Boy and I are heading south this time. To Alabama.

I’ve never spent much time in the south, although I was born in Virginia. But my parents moved me west and north before my third birthday, so I never had a chance to develop anything other than a mild Midwest twang. (Although after 6 years on the west coast, I now say “Dude!” far more often than is really necessary.)

I went to the Carolinas, once. I had a lapse in judgement while I was in college and dated a tall blonde boy with thin lips who went to a university in the southern-most Carolina. I flew down to visit him on my spring break. It was a bad idea all around, but that’s not Carolina’s fault.

Then there was the summer I lived in Indianapolis — I spent three months writing for The Indianapolis News/Star as part of the Pulliam Journalism Fellowship. And three months was more than enough time for me to decide there’s really nothing in Indiana that I want to go back for. Okay, except for my cousin Pam, who lives in Indiana. But that’s it!

So that’s the extent of my acquaintance with the southern states. (And I know Indiana doesn’t really count.)

But all that’s about to change. Boy and I are traveling to Decatur, Alabama, where I’ll spend the weekend doing something I haven’t done in six years. Going to church.

I know there’s no need to fly across nine states to get some pew time in, but this is a special sort of occasion. About six months ago, I received a request from the pastor of a Methodist church in Decatur. He had seen a video of a talk/essay/performance/whatever that I did back in 1998, and wanted me to come and speak at his church. I turned him down flat.

See, this video, “This Is Who I Am”, has been floating around the church world for quite a few years now and so I get speaking requests from church people from time to time. I always turn them down, for several reasons. The biggest of which is that “This Is Who I Am” is not who I am anymore. And most of the people who want me to come and speak at their church/conference/whatever don’t get that. They don’t read through my web site, they don’t pay attention to any of the poetry or cinepoems, and so they just have this idea of who I might be and what I might say from a 7-minute essay I wrote 9 years ago. And even back then, I wasn’t what you would call a Jesus-freak. But many of these speaking requests come from people who don’t do their homework. They see one little thing and just assume that of course I’ll be all rah-rah with pom-poms on the Christian float. They would be wrong.

But this guy from Alabama was different. He watched the cinepoems. He read all my web posts. He even bought a poetry book. And he still wanted me to come to Decatur.

Over the course of a few months and many emails, I became impressed with the sincerity of his request. But more than that, I felt like he had a pretty good idea of what I was all about, and he still kept inviting me to speak. He wasn’t deterred by the fact that I haven’t been to church in years or that I fully enjoy flinging the fuck-word around now and then or that I think Bush might be the devil or that I want gay people to be able to get married or even that I get really itchy around evangelicals.

In fact, he invited me to come and speak to his church about why I don’t go to church. I was completely flabbergasted. (And I don’t get to use that word very often!)

So I reconsidered. And then I said yes.

And then I spent the next four months wondering what in the world I was going to say. How was I going to justify all this attention? How was I going to make it worth these people’s while to fly me all the way from California? How was I going to offer them any wisdom, anything even the slightest bit meaningful or profound?

It all came together, finally, as it always does, and now I am sitting on 14 pages of words and 6 video excerpts. (The videos include a just-for-this-occasion cinepoem called “Sunday Morning Misfit” [that’s what the stained glass picture up above is from], and 5 interviews with a few of my favorite friends — people who are Sunday Morning Misfits just like me.) There’s no measly 7-minute essay happening this time around — I’ve got a good hour’s worth of things to say, and you know what? I am really excited about it. Not nervous or overwhelmed or unsure. Completely the opposite. I have stories to share that need to be heard, and I’m ready to go, mouth full of words.

I’ve received lots of really kind and welcoming emails from the people in Decatur over the past few months, and I am very much looking forward to meeting all of them. It’s safe to say that nothing quite like this has ever happened to me before, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

No matter what, it certainly will not be boring!

-Lo, who really doesn’t mind being a misfit most of the time.

Black Beauty

girl-in-blackMood: Ready, Set
Drinking: The tea with the ice

Packing for a trip, even a long weekend, takes me awhile. There’s so much to take into consideration: weather (do I need an umbrella or a big huge coat?), activities (kick-ass boots or hiking boots?), amenities that will be provided (my mom’s house is well-stocked with my favorite shampoos, soaps, and toothpaste), etcetera.

And when I’m going someplace I’ve never been before (Alabama) and doing something I’ve never done before (featured speaker at a conference and church service), there’s a lot of outfit selection, laying-out, trying-on, and discarding going on. (There may be some shopping involved, as well. I’m always happy to have an excuse to expand the overcrowded wardrobe.)

When I’m wearing something that makes me feel like me, something comfortable yet stylish, feminine yet odd, pretty but weird, something that makes me stalk around like a long-legged bird… Although that analogy is kind of creaping out on me, because now that I think of long-legged birds, I’m realizing that they’re not all that graceful. They’re actually kind of awkward looking, with the head-bobbing and the beak-pointing. But whatever. Long-legged and graceful. That’s what I’m going for.

So in the midst of all this packing and shopping and modeling in front of Boy and mirror and dog, I’ve been realizing something that’s really pretty damn obvious to everybody else.

I like black a lot.

It’s not something I do on purpose. Not anymore. Yes, there was a day when I used to comb the racks for the blackest inky blackness I could find. I even owned a tube or two of black lipstick at one point in time. But I’m not the queen of the underworld anymore. Not even a duchess. Maybe an acolyte, for old times’ sake now and then.

And I’m no Johnny Cash, either (and I’ll hear a thousand “Amens” to that one). I’m no romantic (wo)Man in Black. I’m not wearing black for the poor and the beaten down or the sick and lonely old. I don’t have any reasons as noble as that for my monochromatic style.

Actually, most times when I go on a shopping spree, I’m thinking in bright, starry-eyed colors. “Red this time, for sure.” “Maybe I could make violet work without looking to Grimace-y.” “Something green. Make my eyes pop.” But the color gods are not fans of mine. Most times, when I find what I’m looking for, guess what color it is? Yup. Black. I’ve even asked, “Do you have this in a nice cherry red?” Nope. “Just black, miss.”

So you see, it’s really not my fault that black appears to be my favorite color. It was just meant to be. And I’m not upset about it, either. Black is quite convenient. I’ve worn white on a few occasions and only last about 15 minutes before I’m looking all BritneySpears-frump with some anonymous stain marring my outfit. Black doesn’t betray you like that.

Plus, it just goes with everything. When you have a wardrobe that’s mostly one color, you don’t have a hard time matching.

And here’s a rabbit trail for no apparent reason…Wearing black does not make you “goth”. Yeah, I gladly wore the label not that many years ago, but truth be told, I probably only ever ascended to gothling stage. I was never a full blown goth like Siouxsie. (I never could get my hair to such light-socket stature.) But just because you like to dress in the color of night doesn’t mean that you secretly (or not so secretly) long to be a vampire or that you spend inordinate amounts of time languishing in midnight graveyards, clutching bouquets of dead roses and sighing while singing The Cure…

Anyway, my mother will be happy to know that I am branching out. I’ve recently discovered that navy blue has taken quite a liking to me. So much so that she’s earned a place of honor in my suitcase. Next weekend, I’m taking on Alabama while wearing the color blue.

Watch out world. It’s gettin’ crazy up in here.

-Lo, who had a very brief flirtation with the color orange back at age 15.