We are all stardust, the priest said last night as I sat in mass attending the Ash Wednesday service. For reasons I didn't understand, I was feeling weepy and strange, strung-out and a little hopeless, and the thought made me smile for the first time that day. I like the idea of stardust far better than regular dust -- a priest who can make things glitter -- that's my kind of priest! I knew I was in the right place. You are defined by the cross you are carrying, he said. Give it to God. I thought about a book I have with pictures of Southern writers in their work spaces and my favorite shot is Walker Percy in his bed with a crucifix over his head. The body of Christ is actually the crucifix. There's no tree -- Jesus has taken the form of His sacrifice. The rest of the room is spare, like that of a monk. Unlike Mr. Percy, I never write in bed and my work space glitters, more like stardust.
One of my favorite Woody Allen movies is Stardust Memories. Charlotte Rampling plays Woody's most disturbed and beautiful girlfriends (he has three in the movie -- Go Woody!). Woody defends his relationship to a friend, saying that for a day out of the month, she is the most perfect woman in the world. He's willing to sacrifice the other 29 days a month for that one day. Louis Armstrong's "Stardust Memories" plays during the scenes of this rapture, which don't include sex, but merely suggest a strong emotional connection -- reading the paper, smiling at each other, drinking coffee. I suppoe the question becomes how much we would sacrifice for the things we love and those moments of glittering perfection, like a diamond earring I once lost in the snow. I despaired -- I'd never find it in all that beautiful white! But I spotted it as if it were an imperfection. For a minute, I felt as if anything were possible and put that earring back into the hole in my ear that felt as if it had always been there, but in fact, the piercing had been my own doing and the filling of that hole with something beautiful and lost, if only for a moment, seemed nothing short of miraculous.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"on a hot day/ mayonnaise is supposed to kill you/ that's what my aunt told me/ she also told me/ never to go out without my wallet/ in case I got killed/ they'd need to identify the corpse." Sam Shepard, Motel Chronicles
Drinking reading suggestion: Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape Susan Brownmiller -- you're going to need a drink for this one, the first definitive study of the history of rape. Published in 1977, it's still brilliant and timely.
Benedictions and Maledictions
46 Days until The Sopranos airs!