Measured Extravagance

19 January 2002 - 7:49 p.m.

It's been a full day after a long week, so after I finish writing this, I'm going to put in an hour at my easel and then collapse on the sofa with something alcoholic (like Cragganmore), something cozy (like an Alisa Craig novel), and a plate of French mountain cheese (Sama's solstice present just arrived: a Zingerman's basket. Cheeses, mustard, cookies, chocolate, bread, and lavender honey. I am beside myself with joy).

It started out at a coffee shop in west Nashville, where I interviewed a prospective student for my alma mater, which turned out to be a lot of fun - we ended up chatting for over two hours on subjects ranging from independent film and rhesus monkeys and Beat poetry to friendships and city life and community service. I think he'd do really well there, so now I get to write a glowing recommendation letter to the admissions committee. I'm going to enjoy that.

After the interview, I was feeling restless, so I crossed West End and prowled around The Parthenon for an hour. It was freezing in there, and there were some particularly dim tourist specimens adrift around the statue of Athena, but I loved many of the paintings in the Cowan Collection (especially George Henry Bogert's Moonlight, Venice and Charles Courtney Curran's The Hilltop and some of the seascapes), and Anna Jaap's fabric prints were interesting (not my cup of tea, but interesting nonetheless).

By 1 p.m., I was ravenous, so I went back across the street to P.F. Chang's and sat at the bar writing notes and postcards. The bartenders served me a virgin strawberry daiquiri, a plate of crab cheese wontons with plum sauce, a plate of spicy eggplant with brown rice, and a good laugh when they gave the house manager grief for asking me "Was everything okay today?" when I hadn't yet received the entree (HM: "I'm allowed to ask her in mid-progress, aren't I?" Bartender: "Not when you're using past tense, you're not").

Then I went on to the Sherlock Holmes Pub, where I ordered a slice of chocolate-pecan pie and a pot of decaf Earl Grey tea, snagged The Last Camel Died At Noon and The Terrible Tide in Bill Baker's book giveaway, and took minutes for the 3PP meeting.

And here we are. I'm the lay leader for tomorrow morning's services, so I've just finished choosing and copying down the texts I plan to use. When I ring the bell that opens the service, I will speak these words by Dorothy Smith Patterson:

Listen. Everything matters. Your heart is beating, and that of the person beside you...Let us take the time to hear the heartbeats within, to hear the rhythm that is life, and faith.

Patterson is a prominent African-American UU. It's not a detail I need or want to flaunt to the congregation, but it does give me an extra measure of satisfaction knowing this going into MLK Sunday.

For the lighting of the chalice, I'm using a passage from a Haggadah quoted in the hymnal:

May the light we now kindle
inspire us to use our powers
to heal and not to harm,
to help and not to hinder,
to bless and not to curse,
to serve you, Spirit of freedom.

There's going to be a third service in the afternoon - a joint MLK celebration with Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church. It's going to be a rouser - the Reverend Enoch Fuzz (isn't that a great name?) will be preaching while perched on a 14-foot ladder, and the combined choirs will be singing Jason's "King for a Day," which is a gospel rocker with piano, drums and electric guitar. There will be potluck afterwards (and the Beautiful Young Man has been delegated to pick up the 150 pieces of fried chicken ordered by the Fellowship chair).

And so to practice, and so to vegging. . .

One year ago: '. . .when I'm feeling like the big bad world might eat me alive, sometimes I simply tell myself, "You passed the bloody bike test, so you will certainly get through this" and sometimes that's enough to persuade myself that I'm Little Red Riding Hood with a blowtorch, ready to barbeque any wolf who invades my space.'

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