Monday, December 10, 2007

Inviting Christmas

So with great reluctance, I finally put my Thanksgiving away, the little Pilgrims and Indians back in the closet, the glorious red and russet leaves, still shiny, into a bag to throw away. All the pumpkins, great and small, a turban squash and the one truly royal, squat one were moved onto the terrace, awaiting transformation, as most of us do. There were no maple leaves on my table this year, because Spring came so late to my side of the street, and things bloom and flower and leaf here in strange disarray, as the sun hits them, so my side blossomed with jacaranda later than anywhere else, including across the street, and the maples never tired and dropped Fall onto the sidewalk, even into December.
But last year I'd had big, not exactly fat but scenically lush maple leaves on my table, and when I put the Pilgrims away, I found them, sprayed gold, as I'd done for last Christmas, still intact and ready to welcome the late come and even later acknowledged new holiday. It had been my plan to go to New York to meet up with loved friends, but the sweetest of them got ill, so the plan was cancelled. In my heart, where Jimmy Carter lusted, I was relieved, because I'd started my new novel and was grateful to stay put, especially when the news came in that it was 21 degrees in Manhattan.
Then I hied me to Blick Art supplies to get the gold spray for the pumpkins and the nuts and the pine cones I'd collected all year-- not many, but when you see one, you know to keep it, like a good friend. I had stopped by Trader Joe's for fresh flowers, some sprigs of pine, and roses, and drove into the sidestreet by Blick's, to park my car. There was a young woman pulling into one metered space in the shade, and as I had Mimi in the car, I pulled up beside her to ask her to move forward so Mimi wouldn't be parked in the sun. I honked my horn, before I saw how or who she was. To my surprise and general universal sorrow, her face was flat against the wheel, her hands holding the sides of it, her posture, shoulders not quite heaving, one of complete despair. I knew that it was only love that could do that, and wondered why it is called love.
Empathetic as I try to be and mostly am, I am also Mimi's mom, so I rolled down my window and asked her if she was all right and would she mind moving up. She was Asian, and young, and very lovely, her eyes not quite streaming. "It's going to be all right," I said, and hoped it would be. I went over to her after I'd parked and told her I was sorry for whatever it was, not saying I knew it was love, but that she was young and lovely, and everything would change as it always does. She asked me if we had to put money in the meter. As it was Sunday we didn't.
I saw her again inside Blick's, and knew she was an artist, so wanted to tell her to use what she was feeling to make a great work of art. But I lost sight of her in between the rows of paint and great displays of brushes, and couldn't show her something I'd found in one of those little books they sell for $4.95 that have about twenty words and are making people fortunes, that said 'Creativity solves everything."
I gathered up my spray paints and glitter, and paid and left. Her car was still on the street. So I took the most beautiful of the long-stemmed roses and left it in the handle of her car door.
When I got home I gilded all the pumpkins, and silvered a fallen branch I'd picked up in March it must have been, and set it in a glass vase by my fireplace, strung it with candy canes, stuck in some pine branches, and added some water. Then I hung some captious angels and red and green and glittery Irish fairy folk from the little dangles on the ceiling that are supposed to hold speakers for the sound system, but as I don't have one here, I imagined Carols in my head, and even sang "We Three Kings," first the melody, then the harmony. Star of Wonder, Star of Night. My daughter-in-law is very observant, so they have been celebrating Chanukah, and as our relationship is just starting to get really good, I know better than to try and show her my Christmas.
But it is very beautiful. Most glorious are the nuts spread out on the sideboard, all sprayed gold. Almonds are good, and that great ugly nut that my old friend the musician Tiger Haynes called 'nigger toes' because he could, being black, hold the gild beautifully. But best are the hazel nuts, as they add their own shine. And there's glitter on the pine cones. They stand like a magic forest around the nuts, so you'd hardly know this was Los Angeles.
And then I invited Christmas to come. I hope it comes to all of you. I hope it comes Big Time to the woman in the car.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Church for Britney Spears

As longtime friends know from reading this Blog, my life for the past several years has been a search not just for the cliches, Love and Fame, but also for God, perhaps in itself a cliche. Last Sunday in my panic to find inspiration, or at least the motif for a new novel, I went to Self-Realization on Sunset and walked twice, or thrice as Tommy Thompson would have writ, around the Lake Shrine, willingly suspending Disbelief, and asking for guidance. That night before I went to sleep, I believe I called aloud several times for Help, and asked that God make clear what I should be writing, or, even better, send me an idea.
The next morning I went to my computer, which is my sometimes wont, when I should be doing Yoga or meditating, and Lo! On the e-mail was my answer! So God is into technology, and could, should He/She choose, have an online service. Let let us call it FAITHBOOK.
Anyway, I started the novel and felt good about it, so today, having from the same source found an old Friend, capitalized as I met her in Quaker Meeting, and she told me she was now going to Unity on 14th and Maple, I figured what the heaven. Went there this morning at 9-- and the little children from the Mt.Olive Lutheran Preschool's Choir of Angelic Voices sang their sweet songs, and just before the parson, a woman, began her sermon, one of the mothers, in jeans, took her three-year-old, she must have been, up closer and held her and squatted and the jeans, cut low, went down below the mum's bottom cheeks to reveal quite fully the crack in her ass. And I thought this would be the right church for Britney.
I wanted to write that down but didn't have a pen so prayed for one, and Lo! God sent me a blue one, from the box beside the Hymnal, inviting me to make a donation(didn't.) At that point the parsonette began her talk and it was about Advent which this is the first Sunday of, getting ready for the Coming, and she said, referring to Matthew, that much of it draws on Jewish scriptures, and I thought, as I do from time to time, that is probably where I should be.
There was a minister in Weinheim, the little village in the Bergstrasse where I went to write my novel about neo-Naziism in Germany in the early '90s named Herr Lohrbacher, the only person in the town to admit there was such a thing, a precursor of the publishers who were to reject the book on the same thesis-- no neo-Naziism in Germany-- especially since they had almost all just been bought by Bertelsmann, the powerful German publisher who had never had any connection to Naziism either, until they finally admitted they had. Herr Lohrbacher, a highly intelligent and obviously questing man, had suggested to the local schools not only that they examine the Holocaust-- Weinheim had been one of the three villages where Hitler did his out-of-town tryout for Krystallnacht, on September 22nd, 1940,rounding up the Jews of that village, along with those from Hemsbach and Mannheim, and sending them to Gurs, a leftover Pyrenees prison from the Spanish Civil War, to see if their neighbors would say anything(they didn't)-- but also introduce Jewish studies into the German schools, since he was himself a Lutheran, and felt as the minister did this morning, apparently accurately. that much of Christian gospel came from Jewish scriptures, and, in addition, that there was a morality in Judaism that would be helpful to Germans. After that Herr Lohrbacher got about 85 death threats a day. But there was no neo-Naziism in Germany.
Anyway I left the service with little feeling of uplift, so that one isn't for me. But I did get a chance this afternoon to go see my old(88) friend Betty Garrett perform the songs she had written, abetted by a company of players at Theater West, which included a still radiant Lee Meriwether, Miss America 1954. That year has significance for me which some who read this will understand, but Lee said not to tell anybody, I don't look it, and at Virgin Atlantic Airlines where I have Frequent Flyer Miles, that is the year I was born. In the audience was Connie Sawyer, who is 95, sharp, pretty, still driving, and living at the Motion Picture Home where she entertains at lunch, to which Betty and I will go.
So there is uplift in unexpected places. We have only to be open to it, with hearts full of hope and love, at least on occasion.
In spite of the Stagehands' Union going back to work, I am having trouble striking my Thanksgiving, as I really love my table, all my little Pilgrims sitting on pumpkins and a bed of leaves I keep adding to. Because of the lateness with which Spring came to my block, the trees are still dropping leaves of a wonderful color, as I hope I will, too, in my attenuated Autumn.