Thursday, February 23, 2006

No one told me

Last friday I had the distinct pleasure of partially attending a conference called WomanKind at St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond. It's a beautiful church, but that's not what I was after. Anne (pronounced Annie) Lamott was to be the keynoter and who can resist the woman who stood in front of a room full of Catholic's and defended women?

She started off by saying she doesn't believe in any kind of normal. That reminded me of a bumper sticker, "Why be Normal" with the N turned around.

Not one person thinks they've got the right owner's manual -- they're all just flailing. . .
I loved this because it spoke to our necessary offers for advice on how to live life "the right way." Quite plainly, there is no right way.

When you stop and realize that no is a complete sentence on its own . . . you're so free!
When talking about how women (specifically in the church) need to learn to say no in order to take care of themselves first, others second.

We can dust their butts off and pick them up and get them going again, but I will not carry the box home so you start throwing stuff out of the plane because it's keeping the plane flying too low. . .
When talking about the Special Olympics and how every participant has an Angel, someone to keep them focused, to help them up when they fall. When one runner falls or gets confused, the others will come back to make sure Suzie is okay. They are worried about that person and will often take their hand and finish the race together.

She mentioned Bush, though not necessarily by name and this is one of those times: She relishes the thought that when (if) Bush enters Heaven, he doesn't necessarily get to choose who he sits next to/with . . . and so he may end up sitting next to someone like her. Lots of laughter and applause from that one remark.

Very poignant and spot on remark:
I realized taht I've been damaged and certainly many women have been destroyed by trying to be sexy and throwing themselves at men . . . and I'm done with that.
This was in regards to a good friend of her who she said isn't particularly interesting, but she's extremely intelligent. Anne described this friend as being a "watcher," one who takes people and the world in, absorbing and learning from them. Then Anne said, "You can't throw her to the men at the table because she just doesn't play."

Then she said, "It's a great feeling when you realize you don't have to play," meaning play the demure femme games of the oppressor.

Eerily enough, she talked about the "demons of doubt" in her head. She said if she's going to write for 2 hours, she has to schedule 2hours and 45min, the 45min being for all the head talk and self-doubt she has to inevitably get through first -- remind you of any particular British woman from our past? Virginia Woolf and "A Room of One's Own" or "Professions for Women" perhaps? Let's all kill the Angel in the House!

Anne also said its gotta be a woman thing, to constantly be filled with self-doubt. I seriously wondered if she has read any feminist theory books, or Virginia Woolf even.

A few random quotes:

Try to be where your butt is.
In reference to feeling overwhelmed by the world, what's happening in it, etc.

No one told me the world was like the Special Olympics, where, when you fall down, someone is there to pick you up ---- and I'm not making this up."

The opposite of faith equals certainty, not fear.
Direct jab at Bush again. If you've read any of her stuff, you'd understand.

"The spirit rejoices when it hears something it knows."
Here my mom jabbed the shit out of my elbow with her elbow to make sure I wrote it down. I told her I couldn't write anything as long as she was moving my left arm like that.

If you don't get in the water, the voices of the oppressor's have won."
She actually used this several times - the voices of the oppressor's - and generally, I believe her to be speaking of Patriarchy though that's not what she said. I find it increasingly odd that she does not align herself with feminism even though that's exactly what she speaks of indirectly. Of course, it might have freaked some of those church ladies out to have heard the "f" word used openly.

No one tells you that's what being a woman of faith is - to be afraid and to say it out loud.
This was in reference to truth and how the church (and the current administration) doesn't speak of it very often and in many cases allow it.

A quote of Toni Morrison's she used, "The function of freedom is to free someone else."

I loved this one:
God loves you just the way you are but she loves you too much to let you stay like this.
I think it speaks for itself.

I don't know much about God, but I do know s/he isn't American or male.
Here's something we should all be living by:
Only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go or is going.
I've read several of Anne's books and I think she's a great woman despite having to overcome a life of several addictions early on. And hey, she's a single mom, too!