Saturday, August 29, 2009

Future Planning

When we last checked in on our intrepid blogger she was napping, reading the paper, wondering about her purpose in life and doing part-time shift work with a government agency. In other words: the same daily activities of 78.3% of all bloggers. (The other 18.5% are trying to sell you something. 3.2% have nothing better to do while waiting for their court date.)

Then there was the unintentional four day cliffhanger that illuminated for me why soap operas and Charles Dickens use them. Cliffhangers are GREAT for ratings and require no work. Just ignore your audience for four days and let them speculate. My cliffhanger came not for dramatic purposes but late summer ennui, but the effect was the same.

"Will the blog continue?" (Dramatic chords via organ or timpani go here.)

And we resume with our program already in progress. The answer is...


We here at Auspicious Enterprises are building ourselves a website, yes indeedy. Does anyone recall this blog when it first began and I could barely post without some major technological complication? Now imagine that same mind trying to build a website. CODE. There are expectations that I fiddle around with CODE. You gotta' be kidding me.

But the money has been paid. The domains are purchased. The hosting has begun. The writing, research, photo snapping, and web-building are all underway. As with every renovation project, virtual or residential, here I am up at 0315 wondering what I was thinking. Meanwhile a small little part of me is holding onto hope with a tinny little mantra of, "T-shirts. There will be t-shirts."

Here is the part where I tell you all about the new website. I include my lofty goals and enough tidbits to ensure your belief that you will not be complete without my website in your life. I woo you with a subtle combination of wit and poetry. I act cool. I get you humming Lucero songs even though you haven't a clue who they are. But you feel so Hip!

As the final deal clincher I reveal the catchy name and a snazzy, dazzy link. It is like the lush velvet curtain rising. It is like the "A... NEW... CAR!" moment on The Price is Right. It is like the ultrasound tech saying, "Mrs. Sherman, you are going to have TWINS." It is like...

None of these things because I just tried the link and was informed quite impersonally and somehwat snidely that I have not uploaded the site correctly. So it's back to Auspicious Jots - home for the e-pathetic. I am trying not to curse around the kids but at 3AM there are no children so...

{SITE ERROR error code dfs271// Foul language was loaded improperly. Website administrator is a total moron//}

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Will the Blog Continue?

Mother Confessor, it has been 39 years since my last confession. I went to see a movie tonight. With my mother. At a movie theater. First Run. Without coupons. AND it WAS NOT a documentary! REPENT! REPENT!

Yes, dear reader - it is TWUE like Princess Bride love. I did a normal American event and it was great. Mama and I saw "Julie and Julia" or we might have seen "Julia and Julie" and it is possible that we saw "Who knew Stanley Tucci was such a cutie?" Whatever the name - we enjoyed it.

I enjoyed the following elements: tall women were featured; incredible beef stew was cooked three separate times; they flashed Virginia Diner peanuts - the best peanuts in the world; Stanley Tucci looked very sexy (who knew?); and they made the Auspicious Jots/Lizard Eater friendship into a plotline. My mother was also featured in the film in the role of Julie's Texas mother. My mother is sweeter. But my mother is sweeter than all Texas mothers from what I hear.

I was not aware that the film would feature blogging so prominently because I do not do normal American things like see previews of movies or read reviews. Or did not do until the career change, retirement, sabbatical, or whatever it is I am doing with my life these days. Maybe this is why I did not get the Tucci Cutie memo before now.

But it was not the blogger who had the AJ/LE relationship. It was Chef Julia herself and some gal named Azil or Alberta or another appropriate mid-20th century name. They were best of friends and did not meet for 8 years because they were pen pals. It took Lizard Eater only two years to get to me in person. But had her husband not bought the ticket, it would have taken us 8. At least.

The movie made me think of all the nice things that have come into my life thanks to blogging.

* You, of course, are the best part of it (don't tell the others that you are truly my favorite.) But I also have met other delightful people all over the country and even in some land north of us that I still believe may be myth.

* I have had the unnerving but flattering experience of meeting people in person who said, "I read your blog" with an honest to goodness smile on their faces.

* I got to know my congregation better through face to face conversations inspired by the blog.

* And a few people each year, sitting in their PJs at 3 AM got to meet their first Unitarian Universalist.

All good things. Might I even hazard these are... auspicious?

The less auspicious moments are mostly predictable.

* My mother thought it was the stupidest thing she ever heard of. She groaned and rolled her eyes every time it was mentioned for at least six months.

* I ticked off a band with my prediction that they would burn out or become wildly famous. I was sadly right about the burnout, it would seem.

* The only thing I really enjoy writing about is death and dying which is hard to build a fan base on.

* I live with chronic illness and sometimes rotten luck, so I often did not want to write honestly about those things.

With all of this in mind, I gave myself a September 1 deadline to decide if I would continue the blog in my post-ministerial state.

I have decided.

THURSDAY Evening Death Club

A late summer Thursday evening in the hopping capital of the Commonwealth can only mean one thing: Death Club!!

Death Club is a group much like Fight Club of Chuck Palahniuk/Brad Pitt fame except the first rule of Death Club is: spread the news about Death Club. Oh, and unlike Fight Club where you have to fight - we don't die in death club. Not yet, anyway.

Death Club has two presidents and no members, a temporary state we hope. If we don't get members we are going to have a coup between us and that is just going to be ugly. Presidente Numero Uno is my undertaker buddy and the guy who puts the fun back into funerals: Richard. The President most likely to not meet the Pope but ask you to kiss her ring anyway is, well, that would be me.

When my undertaker buddy and I are at funeral director's conventions we say, "Death Club!"

When we are speaking on issues of death and dying at memorial societies, rotary clubs, church groups, and ethics in dying groups we shout, "Death Club!"

When we were the only people at the theater to see "Death at a Funeral" and we watched it on DVD, our only defense was, "Death Club?"

And we are calling to order another meeting of Death Club this Thursday at 6:30 PM at the Fountain Bookstore in Richmond's historic and beautiful Shockoe Slip. This time you are invited. The authors of Grave Expectations are rolling into town for a chat, schmooze, and, unbeknownst to them, Death Club meeting.

Come out and join us. Maybe we will elect you Sergeant at Arms of Death Club. Maybe we will put you on the Death Club e-news list. I'm positive we can get a cool t-shirt out of this eventually. And you will be bringing peace and harmony to Death Club thus avoiding a sham election, executive corruption, or Richard and I renting both seasons of "Dead Like Me". Again.

The meeting agenda includes talking about meaningful death rituals, examining how coming to terms with fears about death and dying can make life more enjoyable, and post Death Club cocktails somewhere in Shockoe Slip. (My stomach still hurts so I'll be throwing back ginger ale if you are looking for a non-alc buddy to hang with.)

For more on the Fountain Bookstore or Grave Expectations follow this link.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Life

I would hope that the costs of leaving a congregation based ministry would be obvious to all. The short list is: love, people, love, and thinking about really important things every single day.

There are benefits, however. (Ministers might want to stop reading here and go back to their copies of Augustine's Confessions and ironing their khakis with Gregorian chants playing in the background. If you choose to read on, don't say I didn't warn you.)

1) When you leave they throw you an amazing party and give you thoughtful gifts and make you feel like you should not leave. Oh, wait. That was going along pretty well before the end there.

2)I can truly wear whatever I want. The biggest shock to my former congregation would probably be that I was holding back on the clothing thing. Today I wore white, black, maroon, pink, silver, and purple and was happy happy. My custom made Converse they gave me are a STAPLE of my wardrobe and possibly my favorite shoes ever.

3)I am returning to my "I will listen to whatever I want and read whatever I want" self. I have read: Housekeeping vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby, At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances by Alexander McCall Smith, The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love by some crazy woman, and have started not 1, not 2, but 3 others.

As for music I have recently downloaded the new Delbert McClinton, Band of Skulls, Bex Marshall, Cage the Elephant, and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. Almost none of it would work in a worship service. Not even one of mine.

4) If you are miserable with grief, but not ministering to a congregation, you are not required to get up before hundreds of people and talk about really deep things that only make you hurt more. And you don't feel guilty when people ask "How are you?" and you lie lie lie.

5) People say outrageous things. People hold back on the outrageous around the minister. I blushed half a dozen times today just on what I overheard because no one knew a minister was in the room. Not kidding - I blushed so much it was starting to hurt. WOW!

5b) People curse alot more than I ever imagined. And more cleverly.

6) I have had dinner with my children every night for at least two weeks.

7) My husband and I go to bed and wake up at the same time.

8) My cleavage tattoo is almost healed and is stunning.

(Hee hee. Because my mother is alive, healthy as a horse, and taller than I am I must admit that I am lying on #8 or risk never getting fed her amazing shrimp and grits again.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Now What?

What do you do after beginning what is scheduled to be a 2 year sabaatical and ending the worst 10 days of memory?

Start a scrapbook? Knit? Watch a Spongebob marathon?

I don't know what to do. My kids, parents and I spent 9 days in Florida and travelling after hearing of my aunt's suicide. I performed the funeral, technically memorial service. We are now home. I have what I used to counsel people as "alien syndrome."

Alien syndrome comes as the aftermath of any major emotional event. You return to "normal" life and nothing is normal. You cry and laugh at the wrong times. You can't get on a normal schedule. In my case, I am having a hard time digesting and breathing. Any time anyone asks about last week my stomach starts to roil and churn. If I start talking, I begin to feel like I'm having an asthma attack. Writing this is unpleasant, so I'm going to move on.

I have been talking to myself.

The Rev. Me says, "Don't rush. Don't push. Don't commit to anything on a schedule. Don't do retail therapy. But go ahead and buy more Tums."


The Rev. Me says, "That is a perfectly healthy reaction."

The Niece Me says, "Shut up, you holier than thou, know-it-all, snot weed!"

The Rev. Me says, "Anger is an appropriate..."

The Niece Me interrupts, "Get me TUMS NOW!"

These have not been productive discussions.

The Rev. Me is calm that this is all going the way grief goes, particularly in the almost immeasurable grief of suicide. The Rev. Me understands that the pressure of having to do the service was immense and I was not allowed to grieve fully, nor experience healing through the service. The Rev. Me feels that blogging about grief after losing a loved one to suicide is healthy and removes some of the stigma for others.

The Niece Me just wants to be alone. No, with the kids. No, walk with the dogs. Wait. Let me try to eat. No, that did not work. Listen to the Rev. Me. No, she's an idiot. Talk to people. No! Don't talk. Take pottery lessons. No, drawing! No, go to bed.

"This is healthy, Niece!"

"Shove a sock in it, Rev."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Huge and Monumental vs Small and Fecal

Don't sweat the little shit.

I think I get to say things like that now that I am not a regular fixture in a pulpit. Not that I don't know dozens of ministers, priests, and rabbis who say that sort of thing on a daily basis. Nor do I know that I really get to say it now. But that nuance is some of the little shit I decided not to sweat today.

But if I had a nice roadside sign for my backyard wedding chapel that I have yet to build, it would read in fine Roman stencilling: Don't sweat the little shit.

I had 4 days off. 4 days of the rest of my life. On day 5, I was playing in my bed with the children at a luxuriously late hour, like 10. I had some nice plans for the day before I pulled my evening shift in training at a part-time job. (I'm lying on that "plans" part. I don't know what I was planning. I think I was trying to figure out how to get pizza delivery brought to me and the kids in bed.)

My mother called. She didn't invite us to swim or ask what we were doing. She did not say hello. My mother told me that her youngest sister was dead and we did not know why. I called my cousin, her son. I found out why she was dead. She had chosen, maybe accidentally maybe not, to be dead.

Five hours later there were five of us in a car to Florida in August. At some point I thought that we were the ones who had died and that post mortem reckoning had gone unexpectedly poorly. After 6 days of this, I am still not completely sure that is not the case. But eternity in Florida is no more than the usual little shit. I may be sweating, but I ain't sweating it.

My uncle is grieving in such a way that it is painful to be with him.

Meanwhile, my aunt kept a beautiful home, but not the best organized place. How dare she? My house is neither beautiful nor organized. This is why I plan to live until I am 115 because it will take me that long to clean it up.

My large extended family, many of whom I am meeting for the first time, is grieving.

I am grieving.

But I am not sweating any of that. That all has become little shit.

Why would I say such a ludicrous thing? How can I be so dismissive? What on earth would make me consider these huge, monumental issues small and fecal?

Because I am doing the funeral. I am presiding over my aunt's funeral. After she took her own life. No one will agree to speak. No one will stand with me. My uncle doesn't want anyone else.

Excuse me while I go hyperventilate.

But I am NOT sweating the little shit.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Or Maybe Not

When leaving a place of employment, subtlety and decorum are your keys to a successful transition. On your last day of work be friendly, kind, and unassuming in your presence. A successful departure from one job will lead to a fruitful beginning at the next. A graceful, quiet last day is the mark of a true professional.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

As Nina Simone so memorably sang,

It's a new dawn.
It's a new day.
It's a new life... for me.
And I'm feeling good.

Well, I'm actually feeling pretty tired. But this is the first day of the rest of my life, so what do you expect?

I worked my last day of my job yesterday. My high profile, high stress job that was full of constant human interaction and rewards that most people can only dream of in their professions. My job that I mostly enjoyed. My job that was how I was defined by many, maybe even how I partly defined myself.(?)




I am lucky to say in 2009 that I left my job by choice. (Lucky, stupid - I have trouble with my adjectives at times.) I am very lucky to say that I have other work lined up that will pay the bills in the short and long terms. I am working in law enforcement now. I will be working in a law office eventually. I am lucky.

But Nina Simone neglected to mention that the new dawn of the new day in a new life feels mostly quiet and foreign.

And messy. My former office held 10 boxes of books, 5 large boxes of miscellany, 2 pieces of furniture that were mine, a queen sized quilt, roughly 2 dozen pieces of art, and hundreds of files in paper and e forms. Then there was the wardrobe full of work clothes. Those are neither done, nor gone, nor over. They are sitting in my living room. And my car. And a friend's garage.

I have spent the past two months NOT posting to this blog as I decided what to do with it after I left the job that made me take up blogging in the first place. In a sense, it has been sitting in the middle of my living room getting tripped over, too.

If I end the life of this blog, it will be after the living room is clean. Since that will be awhile, and anyone in their right mind would choose cleaning a website over cleaning their real house, I did some redecorating around here. If only to prove to myself that I can still locate my right mind.