Wednesday, May 30, 2007

And the flames, they followed Joan of Arc

In my morning newspaper I read that on this date in 1431 Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. The saint first came to my attention when, as a Roman Catholic first grader, I read the following description in Book Two of "Miniature Stories of the Saints":

Joan of Arc did not start out to be a soldier. She was just a simple little shepherd girl.

She lived quietly in France with her family. But she loved God very much. And she wanted to see her country free and strong.

At that time, her country was fighting the English. The English were winning everywhere.

Suddenly Joan heard the voices of angels and saints speaking to her. "Go and save your country," they commanded her.

At first she was afraid. But then she knew God wished it. So she wore armor and rode a horse into battle.

The poor French king had not even his crown. The armies were afraid.

But Joan led them to victory. She crowned the king in his own palace. Then she said, "My work is done. Let me go back to my sheep."

But the king would not let her. Instead, her friends let the enemy capture her. And they burned her to death at the stake.

Joan's soul went straight to God. Her work was done. The French had won their country back.

And Joan is the patroness of soldiers who fight for their land.
Her feast is: May 30th.

I am oddly moved by this little description of this woman who was so clearly a major player and yet, somehow, still a pawn, in event upon the world's stage. I am moved by this not terribly syrupy description which accords Joan her dignity even as it simplifies what was undoubtedly a complex story. I am moved at the sight of my own childish handwriting, Magdalene Maidenname, in the front of the book... written in third grade, I am guessing, by the cursive and the use of a pen rather than pencil.

I am moved, too, as I read that line, "Joan is the patroness of soldiers who fight for their land," knowing as I do that there are American and Iraqi and Saudi and British and Sudanese and Kurdish and Palestinian and Israeli soldiers who can claim Joan's patronage.

And I am moved as I remember how this story struck me as a child, alongside with the stories of Saint Clare, Saint Dorothy, and Saint Mary Magdalene. I remember wondering, in awe, "Who is this Jesus, that these women are willing to give themselves so utterly to him? That they are willing to enter the monastery, give away all their wealth, leave behind their tender little lambs, and walk into the flames? Who is this Jesus?"

Years later-- just a year or two ago-- I discovered this amazing song, by the outstanding theologian, Leonard Cohen.

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc
as she came riding through the dark;
no moon to keep her armour bright,
no man to get her through this dark and smoky night.
She said, "I'm tired of the war,
I want the kind of work I had before,
a wedding dress or something white
to wear upon my swollen appetite."
Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way,
you know I've watched you riding every day
and something in me yearns to win
such a cold and lonesome heroine.
"And who are you?" she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
"Why, I'm fire," he replied,
"And I love your solitude, and I love your pride."

"Then fire, make your body cold,
I'm going to give you mine to hold,"
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.
And deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and high above the wedding guests
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart
he took the dust of Joan of Arc,
and then she clearly understood
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

Joan of Arc by Janeen Banko

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Perilous Journey of Being a Christian

Petra was confirmed yesterday, in a church which holds many memories of my faith journey.

This is the church to which I fled after my sojourn out of the church of my childhood, and a particularly painful working relationship in another church.

This is the church in which my life changed forever, upon hearing the words of the first ordination vow...

Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

... changed, because I was fleeing churches that endued human beings (mostly human males) with Christ-like authority. As I sat in the pew, listening to a new class of elders take this vow, it was as if I silently pumped my arm, and said "YES!"

This is the church where I was invited, as Director of Christian Education and an inquirer and candidate for ordained ministry, to preach about every six weeks over the course of three years, and where my pastor and mentor and friend taught me the first and most important lesson of good preaching, but one I still struggle with: You don't have to say everything in this one sermon.

This is the church where, when my marriage was on the verge of splitting in two, the intuitive and kind pastor (a different one) looked at my ex and me and said, "You look so, so sad. Are you alright?"

This is the church where, after a fourteen year journey with many twists and turns, I knelt in the front of the sanctuary and had dozens of friends, colleagues and loved ones lay hands on me to ordain me to the ministry of word and sacrament.

This is the church where, at the moment he (as an elder) was laying hands on me, my ex whispered the silent prayer, "Take care of her," and knew in his heart he was really leaving.

In this church, my home church no matter where I serve, I sat with Larry-O on one side of me and my ex and the woman for whom he left me on the other side of me, and beamed as Petra acted as liturgist for the service, reading the narrator part in the hilarious and bloody story of Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. That same kind, intuitive pastor gave a searing sermon on the difference between true religion and false religiosity that shook the church to its rafters.

Then, as Petra stood with four other young people and promised to renounce evil and cling to Christ, with God's help, I stood behind her, scurrying to the front at the last minute as I remembered that her mentor was out of town, not wanting her to be the only confirmand without someone who loves her standing at her shoulder.

As we celebrated communion, Petra read this part of the great thanksgiving:

This communion feast now lies before us on the table, gentle in the quiet of this place. Yet we remember what it meant and what it signifies. Over these elements voices of every language have cried for freedom. Inspired by its content, many strived for justice and peace. In response to its message Christians insist that everyone should have enough to eat. Thus the quietest of places now becomes the loudest message to the world. And we also join our voices, rising from these your saints of every time and place...

In this church, this place of such great joy and pain and joy while remembering pain... not unlike communion itself... I witnessed my daughter beginning to live into (as Larry-O said last night during our grace) the perilous journey of being a Christian. Amen to that. Amen, Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Five: Hard Habit to Break

Posted by Reverendmother at RevGalBlogPals:

As many of you know, I have been experimenting with some severely curtailed Internet usage. I realized that I had gotten into some bad habits, which got me thinking about habits in general. I understand that a habits/random facts meme has already been going around. In the hopes that it hasn't hit too many of us yet, be as lighthearted or as serious as you'd like with the following:

1. Have you ever successfully quit a bad habit, or gotten a good habit established? Tell us about how you did it.

Within the last year I have significantly improved the quality of my diet in the "strive for five" area... I always have fruit with breakfast and as a snack, and I always have raw green vegetables at one meal or another. I still have many miles to go, but I was noticing and appreciating this change recently. It's a good one.

2. "If only there were a 12-step program for _________________!"

Clutterholics. Pileholics. Can't seem to get through the reams of paper that know where my house is and invade on a daily basis.

3. Share one of your healthy "obsessions" with us.

I've always been a walker... I love a good three-mile walk (or more). I love the smell of the air in any season-- new grass and flowering trees in spring, sultry warm winds int he summer, woodsmoke in fall, the tang of snow in the winter. But do I do it every day (or even regularly)??? Ahh... frustration. Years ago I did the Boston Walk for Hunger, which is a 20-mile course. I am not in shape to do that right now, but I have wondered if that might not be a good goal to set for myself.

4. Share the habit of a spouse, friend or loved one that drives you C-R-A-Z-Y.

Two words: Guitar Hero. Not just one, but BOTH of my children. I keep offering to pay for real lessons on real electric guitars, but no one is taking me up on my offers.

5. "I'd love to get into the habit of ___________________."

That daily walk. I know it would do me a world of good.

Bonus: What is one small action you might take immediately to make #5 a reality?

I've planned to have lunch with a friend today. I've just decided to walk there.

Succulent fruit courtesy of maningue dot com and flickr.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Barrymores Did It

Last night, Petra, Larry-O and I all began rehearsal for this summer's production of The Mikado. All this (our becoming summer Savoyards) began three years ago, the summer after my ex and I split up. I had done theater in high school, college and beyond, even dedicating myself for a couple of years to the idea of theater and singing as a career. After Larry-O was born, however, I had switched gears, stepping onto the path that would eventually lead to ordained ministry. Though I regularly sang (sing) in choruses, coffeehouses, and essentially at any given opportunity, I had not set foot on the stage in 19 years when Petra and I decided to audition for a production of Ruddigore. To my giddy delight, they took both of us (though Petra was 5 years too young by their stated audition criteria). I got a lead, Mad Margaret, and had the satisfaction and supreme delight of rolling around on the stage singing an aria with a bird's nest and flowers in my hair in a kind of modified Ophelia get-up. Petra was made the "Littlest Bridesmaid" in a chorus of Professional Bridesmaids. Gentle readers, we had a ball. I mean, the time of our flippin' lives. And coming as it did just then... when I was so vulnerable and had just gone through--was still going though-- the trauma of my marriage ending... Well, it all felt very "of God," which is a marvelously strange thing to ever say or think about a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

The following year we were both in Pirates of Penzance, Petra as a daughter of Major-General Stanley and I as the hapless Ruth; Larry-O joined us late that summer, as they needed men, and distinguished himself by improvising a somersault as part of his entrance in "With Cat-Like Tread Upon our Prey We Steal." The following year I took off, as my dad was ill, but Petra was an assistant warder of the Tower (above, left) and Larry-O stole the show as Head Jailer and Assistant Torturer Wilfred Shadbolt (below, right) in a gorgeous production of The Yeomen of the Guard.

And this year? Petra is a school-girl chorister, Larry-O is KoKo, the Lord High Executioner (a promotion!) and I am Katisha, "an elderly lady, in love with Nanki-Poo." Of course, since the elderly lady in these trifles almost never ends up with the object of her desire (Ruddigore is a fluke), Katisha ends up married to and furious with KoKo. That's right, friends, you read it here first. I will be marrying my son, on stage, for two performances in July (the show's double-cast). When I raised an eyebrow to the producer, he exclaimed impatiently, "The Barrymores did it! The Richardsons did it, father and daughter touring together as Romeo and Juliet!" Alrighty then.

Donations to the therapy trust fund are being gratefully accepted.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tender Mercies

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere of late regarding forgiveness. There have been thoughtful posts and bloviating posts, people struggling to articulate what they think Jesus' position was and is, and people seeking to use scripture as a cudgel with which to draw blood in their opponents.

It is easy to see why forgiveness is so hot right now. Everyone is angry as hell with everyone else. Churches are splitting, loudly, publicly, with leaders and members making grand gestures on the world stage and slamming the door on their way out (even as they seek to hold on to the door in the property disputes). The issues are the same old, same old. Interpretation of scripture, especially when it comes to matters of sexuality and gender. Everyone believes herself to be on the side of the angels. No one is much inclined to extend mercy to anyone else.

About a month ago a Dear Friend pressed Tender Mercies by Rosellen Brown into my hands. It is an original hardcover edition, signed by the author (owing to my friend having lived in the same town years ago), with a somewhat tattered cover. The book, first published in 1978, is about the survival of a marriage following a horrific tragedy--- and when I use the word survival I hope to conjure an image of gasping for breath, the heart pushed to its furthest extremes of strain. That kind of survival.

When the book opens Dan and Laura, along with their two children, are returning to their home in New Hampshire following Laura's lengthy hospitalization. Laura is a quadruplegic. It is Dan's fault: he took the helm of a boat he could not handle while Laura was swimming alongside, and in a display of bravado (thoughtlessly gunning the engine), sliced her nearly to smithereens with the propellers.

Everyone knows Dan did this. Some people-- Laura's family, for example-- will quietly or loudly hate Dan forever for what he has done: there is no hope of mercy or forgiveness. Some people, recognizing their common bond of flawed humanity with Dan (while simultaneously thanking God that "it wasn't me") treat him more charitably.

But of course, it is Laura who has the right, if you will, to choose either to forgive Dan or to bind his sin forever. It is she who is the injured party-- the nearly killed party. The novel is a telescopic view of the hard realities of Laura and Dan's new and unfamiliar life together: both of them sleep-deprived, as Dan has to turn Laura every three hours to prevent bedsores and help her with her catheter every hour or so; Dan struggling to learn how to move Laura's dead weight without injuring her--and failing, repeatedly; Laura's desperate need to keep herself emotionally locked in, lest she be unable to cope with her own rage both at Dan and at her own body.

This is a hard book to read. I asked Dear Friend, "Do I have to?" She nodded gravely. "It's important," she said.

She was right. I learned much from the searing and beautiful experience of reading Tender Mercies.

We all commit unspeakable acts.

We ask forgiveness because our survival depends on it.

We forgive because our survival depends on it.

Image courtesy of isababoum and flickr.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


By a curious mixture of planning and happenstance, I am without work this month. I finished up my stint at Big Ivy U the last Sunday in April.

I loved that job.

I loved the students. I loved the experience of preaching in worship in that beautiful chapel. I loved the experience of preaching to that community. They are so utterly open. They are intelligent, of course, and analytical, and challenging; they by no means accept uncritically my view of scripture or of anything else. But they are open to the conversation. I had some of the best theological discussions of my life there-- ranking up with those from seminary days. I also had the experience of mentioning a local issue or struggle at joys and concerns-- and having a student approach me during coffee hour to say, "What can we do? Can we help?" Wow.

One of the things that struck me the most strongly about the students was the fact that they are not yet hardened into their roles or positions in the church. I am not preaching to (or chatting with) the Buildings and Grounds guy, or the Flower lady, or the Worship maven. How they will see themselves as part of a Christian community is still very fluid and unfixed... which I believe leads to things like the open-hearted inquiry, "How can we help?" What an absolute joy it is to work and worship with people who are not yet stuck in their own little territories and fiefdoms ('cause, I'm just sayin'. It happens. Ya know?).

So... I ended with sadness but real delight in the experience of being their interim chaplain. And now I am waiting.

I am waiting to begin a (very) short term interim in July.

I am waiting for rehearsals to begin for the production of The Mikado in which Petra, Larry-O and I will be performing this summer.

I am waiting for an interview with a nearby church for a permanent position.

But do you know what I am waiting for with the excitement of a lover anticipating a tryst?

I am waiting for July 21.

Yes. I am waiting. For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

On my very last day at B.I.U. I had brunch with a group of about a dozen students. A grad student and I began chatting about the release in July of the next Harry Potter book, and for an hour or so we swapped theories, reminisced about our favorite scenes and characters, and generally whipped one another into a minor frenzy of anticipation.

Word is, two people will die in this book. A lot of folks think those two will be Harry and Voldemort, because they are clearly connected to one another, and the likelihood is that Harry will have to die in order for Voldemort to die as well.

Neville might replace Harry in this scenario, though. Neville is clearly also connected with Harry, at least, in some way.

A friend wondered if the two would be Fred and George Weasley, who have shown a propensity for going out with fireworks. But that would leave Voldemort alive... if indeed there are "only" going to be two deaths.

But the issue that concerns me almost more than who dies is the issue of Snape. I am clinging irrationally to the hope that he will be revealed to be good after all, at the last. I so want this tortured character to find redemption... and of course, that might be accomplished by his death in service of saving Harry and killing V.

So I'm wondering... any theories out there? And any suggestions for someone who's... waiting?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Mother's Day Editorial

The following opinion piece ran in my local paper this morning. I am proud to say that the woman who wrote it is a friend. Happy Mother's Day to all, women and men, mothers and others.


Mother's Day movement born of Civil War's carnage

By Yvonne M. Lucia

When I was growing up, there was always a controversy in my house on Mother's Day. My dad believed that this celebration of mothers was just a ploy by "Madison Avenue" to get people who have mothers (which is everyone) to spend money on cards, candy and gifts. My mother, on the other hand -- the grand matriarch of a household of six active children -- loved being singled out for recognition and the opportunity to be treated like "Queen for a Day."

I admit to having inherited my father's skepticism -- and several years ago I did some research into the origins of this tradition which we celebrate every year on the second Sunday of May. I was surprised to learn that rather than being a sentimental celebration marked by candy and flowers, the seeds for the institution of Mother's Day were sown from women's experience of the horrible carnage of the Civil War. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe proposed an annual "Mother's Day for Peace." Howe and other mothers who joined her sent a message to the government, which was the original Mother's Day Proclamation. These lines are from the beginning of her text:

"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: 'We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says 'Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.' Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace..."

Sixteen years ago, I was in labor with my last child -- a son. It was January 1991, during the height of the War in the Gulf. To try to keep my mind off my discomfort, I turned on the TV in the birthing room. Across the screen blared details of the bombing of Baghdad, the fears of the Israelis, the slaughter of the Iraqis. As I labored, my heart was breaking, because I realized that somewhere in Iraq, somewhere in Israel, women in those distant lands were also laboring to bring forth new life, in the midst of death and devastation. Was my soon-to-be-newborn son's life any more precious in the eyes of the Creator than the new life being birthed by my Iraqi and Israeli sisters? The powerful contractions of my body became a prayer that the killing would stop, that the madness would cease -- and in those moments I understood with every cell in my body what inspired Julia Ward Howe to write the words of that first Mother's Day Proclamation.
Healthy mothering brings forth life, and desires to sustain life. Ultimately the mother, the life-giver, beholds the mystery that life comes not from her, but through her. The deepest mystery of motherhood is that all life is gift, and that we are stewards, not owners, of that gift. Life is not ours to give or to take -- our singular task is to protect it and to nurture it forward.

Imagine a world where everything we do nurtures., rather than destroys, life! Where all of our resources are expended in the service of health, knowledge, creativity, harmony, compassion, and peace! May Mother's Day 2007 herald a renewed Mother's Day Proclamation, wherein women as well as men pledge to stop the madness of violence and war, to say "Enough is enough. War is no longer an option for the human species!" Along with the poet Marge Piercy let us ask ourselves: "Where out of our wavering half-tainted desires ... can we birth the hard clear image of hope? Who shall bear hope back into the world? Who else but us?"

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Five: Potato, Po-TAH-to Edition

There are two types of people in the world, morning people and night owls. Or Red Sox fans and Yankees fans. Or boxers and briefs. Or people who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't. Let your preferences be known here. And if you're feeling verbose, defend your choices!

1. Mac? (woo-hoo!) or PC? (boo!)

Oh Mac, baby, all the way, from my vintage 1989 Apple II to the iBook G4 on which I type this very moment. I have a relationships with my Macs. They are my special friends.

2. Pizza: Chicago style luscious hearty goodness, or New York floppy and flaccid?

There is indeed some RevGal editorializing in the way these questions are asked this morning... I must say, each has its place. I tended towards the luscious, crusty Chicago-style. But then I went to seminary in the so-called "floppy and flaccid" city, and had some of the best, crisp yet tender crust of my life and times. So: both, friends. There is room in the world for both.

3. Brownies/fudge containing nuts:
a) Good. I like the variation in texture.
b) An abomination unto the Lord. The nuts take up valuable chocolate space.

I am all about the chocolate. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The nuts are... well, they just have to shove over and make room for the chocolate. Thus have I spoken.

4. Do you hang your toilet paper so that the "tail" hangs flush with the wall, or over the top of the roll like normal people do?

Yes, as I said... the editorials are fairly strong this morning. Though in this case our RevGal is right. Over the top, only over the top, ever over the top, even if it means I am A. the only one in the house who does it or B. I am constantly "correcting" the most recent roll replacer.

5. Toothpaste: Do you squeeze the tube wantonly in the middle, or squeeze from the bottom and flatten as you go just like the tube instructs?

Squeeze from the bottom. Correct others who can't figure this out. Get lots of eye-rolling. Get lots of toothpaste long after lesser mortals have given up.

Bonus: Share your favorite either/or.

Red Sox. I lived in Boston for twelve years, during which period I lived, briefly, within hearing distance of Fenway Park-- the year the ball rolled through Bill Buckner's legs. The era when WE had Roger Clemens. Also during that period the head curator of antiquities at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts wrote a wonderful piece for the Globe Sunday magazine in which he explained how the Sox are the epitome of Greek tragedy, because they always come thisclose... and then blow it. (That was then, this is now, baby.)

Photo courtesy of schuetzerp and Flickr.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Red Moon Rising

Last Friday night I was with a group of women at the New Jersey shore-- it was a healing retreat. We had spent the evening praying, sharing, listening to scripture and getting to know and trust one another. One by one the women drifted off to bed, until one other woman and I remained. She was sitting on the floor with her guitar, absorbed in learning a song. I stepped out onto the balcony to make a phone call.

The balcony of the retreat house overlooks the beach and the ocean, facing southeast. As I talked on the phone-- yes, everything was fine at home, all was well-- I saw a red glow growing on the horizon.

I hung up the phone and watched the glow. First I thought it might be the casinos of Atlantic City-- the coast curves in and out; perhaps the lights of the city might appear to be out over the water...? As the glow intensified and an object appeared, I realized that, no, this really was the middle of the ocean I was facing. I thought-- a ship?

I called my friend at the guitar. "S, I want to show you something." She joined me on the deck. "Is it a ship?" we wondered together. Then, I thought absurdly, Is it a nuclear explosion? A nuclear submarine that has imploded through some terrible accident or even attack? It was the color of lava. I said aloud, "Should we call the coast guard?"

Then at the same moment we saw. The object had risen sufficiently for us to make out the face-- the "man"-- in what was clearly the moon. An enormous, not quite full, cherry-red moon. Simultaneously we gasped. It was astonishing. We looked at one another.

"Who's up?" We had last seen N and D, so we went to their rooms to "knock them up" as the Brits would say. The four of us stood on the porch watching in awed silence as the moon rose higher and higher in the sky, changing from lava-cherry red to orange, and then to gold, and finally, to clear, glowing white.

For the first time in my life I understood why the ancients worshiped and venerated this night light. The utter mystery of its appearance and the way it changed before our eyes seemed to speak of an intelligence, a wisdom far beyond our limited understanding ("Should we call the coast guard?").

I wish I could share it with absolutely everyone.

Photo courtesy of Flickr and Devan.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's My Party... RevGals Friday Five

Today is Songbird's birthday! Happy Birthday dear friend! You are exactly one week younger than moi. In her own honor, she gives us this theme, inspired by not the greatest parties of yore. May this year be the one you remember, Songbird.

1) Would you rather be the host or the guest?

I would rather be the host if I am really excited and motivated about giving a party. I can remember a New Year's Eve party I really enjoyed throwing. I would rather be the guest if it's the party of a dear friend, and I feel that I'm really excited about going (rather than fulfilling a social obligation).

2) When you are hosting, do you clean everything up the minute the guests go home? Will you accept help with the dishes?

You mean there are people who leave the mess 'til morning? Ewww. Yes, I need to go to bed in an orderly house. Sure, I'll accept help-- if you're a really, really close friend. Or my child. Otherwise, no. That would ruin your party experience!

3) If you had the wherewithal, and I guess I mean more than money, to throw a great theme party, what would the theme be?

I have dreamed of throwing a Midsummer Night's Dream party for the summer solstice, complete with delicate Elizabethan music and gossamer costumes and daisy chains for all involved and summer wine and sweet berries, and maybe everyone taking a part and reading from the play.

I know. I'm a geek.

4) What's the worst time you ever had at a party?

Well, I do believe that would be the Thanksgiving party I attended with spouse and children, when I knew spouse was about to leave me and no one else knew. That was pretty hellish.

5) And to end on a brighter note, what was the best?

About three years ago, when I was newly single, and faced with an "empty" weekend (i.e., the kids were with the ex) I went to a benefit party for a women's art group. Sounds boring, right? Wrong. It was held at a funky local restaurant, which was decked out in a kind of "Cirque Risqué" theme. There were booths with activities such as a womb ride (being hugged by great swaths of pinkish silk, and then suddenly allowed to slip right out), there was a drag queen host, there were models who were painted to look like animals... it was quite the bacchanal. I think what made it all so memorable was a sense I had that there was adult fun to be had, new friends to be made, and my life wasn't, in fact, over. Now that's a good party.