Please bear with me today as this will be a lengthy posting. I’m asking you for a response that represents where you’d like to journey with me on this blog.
In my first two postings, written in late May, I laid the groundwork for how and what I’d write. The following is from “The Garage Poltergeist.”
“Dee, write a memoir,” a Minnesota friend suggests.
“Why? My life’s so ordinary.”
“My life’s ordinary,” she counters. “Yours is interesting.” Stunning moment.
I toss around the idea and even set to writing. But rather quickly I stop. Too much work. And somehow, my life seems boring in the telling.
Then another friend suggests a blog. Ah. A post whenever a story from the past moseys to the street corner of my mind and announces, “Tell ‘em about me! I’m a humdinger.”
So that’s what this blog’s going to be—the story of my life as moments present themselves to me. We’ll move together from convent to cats to Meniere’s Disease to edging into the 21st century. Back and forth. No trying to be sequential. Just meandering.
In the following excerpt from “Pieces” I expanded on what my plans were for doing an on-line memoir.
These memoir memories resemble jigsaw pieces. In the past two years, I’ve emptied the puzzle of my life on a figurative card table. Now you’ve gathered with me around that table. We pick up a piece, examine it, and place it somewhere in the landscape of my life. Lower left corner. Upper right. A border piece. Smack dab in the middle.
Together, we view that picture as it emerges.
The individual pieces may seem haphazard. How do convent, Meniere’s, work, growing-up, and cat stories relate?
—Would I have stayed in the convent if cats had lived there with us? I've wondered about that. Picture a longhaired calico cat like Maggie with whom I now live. Watch her weave her way down the choir-chapel aisle as we chant Compline. The nuns gathered there try to suppress their laughter. It erupts into loud guffaws and we mangle the Latin. Maggie ignores us. She's ambling now for her fleece pillow in the sanctuary. Now that's contentment.—
I want to alert you that the color of these memoir memories will sometimes be dark; other times, light. I hope many stories will tickle your funny bone. For myself, some are poignant; others just strange. If you stick with me in this venture, you’ll get to read the whole shebang.
I hope you’ll gather often with me at this card table. I hope also that you’ll jog my memory by adding comments and asking questions about something I’ve mentioned that bemuses or intrigues you.
Well, your questions and comments on my convent experience have helped me retrieve more memories about life in the novitiate. I still have several novitiate ones I’d like to share with you doing the month of November. Those will end with my making first vows and becoming a scholastic.
Beyond that, I’m wondering where to go with this blog. That is, so many of you seem to enjoy these convent stories. And truthfully, I enjoy writing them. After first vows there will be stories from the seven years I remained in the convent. These stories will be about—
· Going on mission to teach and becoming known as someone who could rescue a situation
· Attending graduate school for three summers
· Learning what the vows meant in practice
· Living with many caring, compassionate, fun-loving, gifted nuns
· Dealing with illness.
· Becoming known for being a born teacher
· Praying the Divine Office and becoming enraptured with Gregorian chant and melody
· Steeping myself deeper and deeper in the possibilities of wholeness
· Becoming increasing sure that the life was not for me.
Of course, before and after the convent I had a life also. A year after the seeming abandonment when I was five my parents moved us to a farm. The years following were both light and dark as growing up must have been for all of you.
Years later, my mom may have been right when she said I entered the convent to escape my father’s drinking. But in childhood there was also molestation by a neighbor. This of course exacerbated my belief that no one could love me. That I was unlovable.
There has also, of course, been life after the convent: experiencing hallucinations for ten years; choosing life; working as an editor and curriculum developer; protesting the Vietnam War; teaching in the inner city and getting involved with the Civil Rights Movement; living with cats; helping men who were HIV-positive or had AIDS; saying good-bye to thirty-five of them before they died; working as a freelancer for seventeen years; undertaking a lifelong spiritual journey that has led me to a belief in the Holy Oneness of All Creation.
Oh a lot of things have made up my post-convent days, which has stretched for nearly forty-five years.
So here’s the question for today: Would you like me to continue writing about the convent or are these stories becoming monotonous? Would you like me to return to my early life or tell you stories of my life after the convent?
You see I’m ready to share all of this with you, but right now I’m at a turning point. I can cover the convent years as they happened, or I can meander back and forth between pre-convent, convent, and post-convent days.
I’m truly flummoxed about what to do. I don’t want a tediousness to creep in—just one more convent story after another. On the other hand, if you are truly enjoying this taste of a life that wasn’t your experience, then I’m game to continue writing about it.
Please share your thoughts with me on this. I’m in this blogging business for the long-term, so all the stories will ultimately be told. It’s just the order that’s puzzling me today. Does sequential work best? Or meandering?
I need help!