Monday, August 28, 2006


Seems to be a lot going on in my head lately, spawned by current events, personal issues, gripes, surprises and the occasional epiphany. In no particular order:


It is no secret that the Catholic Church (MY church, or so I thought) frowns upon homosexuality, stem cell research, same sex marriage, freedom of choice and any number of other issues that I either espouse, practice or agree with. But up until Sunday, I always felt welcome at Sunday Mass.

Apparently, there is a new associate pastor at St. Ann's in Bethany, a young man who has decided to lead with his chin when he gives his sermons. To paraphrase his intro to this Sunday's sermon, he decided he "wasn't going to go near the gospel passage that entreated wives to obey and be subordinate to their husbands" -- "not with a 10-foot pole." That got a chuckle from the parishioners. Nope. He decided instead to lash out against the inherent immorality of gays, stem cell research and same sex marriage. And he cautioned that anyone who supported any of those activities was not welcomed in the Catholic Church. Never before have I felt so insulted, offended and enraged, all in the space of less than 60 seconds. "Welcome to Catholicism."

I guess, given his audience of mostly middle aged, white married couples, he figured it would be safer to single out those of us who belong to the fringe element. It rather reminded me of Senator George Allen's recent oafish remarks to a young opposition researcher of Indian descent who invaded Allen's campaign event in rural south western Virginia: "Welcome to America, Maccaca."

What irks me most today, 36 hours later, is that I have chosen to remain a catholic, despite the overwhelming exhortations of friends, because my Bowie pastor assured me a year ago when I returned to Mass after a 30-year absence, that I shouldn't let the fact that I am gay stand between me and my God. Seems the Bethany priest didn't get that memo, because he certainly doesn't operate with the same degree of tolerance or compassion I found in Maryland. I feel like a gauntlet has been thrown down, and I must summon up the courage to address it, spiritually and then literally, to the St. Ann's pastor.


Having faced that slap of cold reality on Sunday, I decided to come to grips with another issue I have been putting off. In what will seem like the mother of all non-sequiturs, I turned my attention to my boat. Since early May of this year, it has been sitting idle in the slip I purchased for it last Spring... a $25,000 investment moored to a $30,000 hunk of floating real estate.

I intended to name my boat "Baramula East" in homage to a long-ago Mendocino vacation cottage that was sublimely idyllic. In hindsight, I should have cut to the chase and named it "Bucklew's Folly," because it represents the most outrageous example of impulse buying I have committed in all my 56 years. It also represents a time in my life when luxury boat-buying was only one of the several questionable decisions I made.

So this morning I made the decision to cut my losses -- at least my material losses -- and put the boat (if not the slip) up for sail.. er, sale. What is true is that my life has careened in many different directions since May 2002, and the solitary confines of boating solo no longer holds the charm it once held. And I never guessed it would be so difficult replacing my "First Mate."

NEW CHALLENGES (or) "When God closes a door, He opens a window."

Exit boating, enter GOLF. When I embrace a new interest, whether it is a new hobby or a new skill, I throw myself into it 300 percent. It was true 20 years ago when I got interested in wine, it was true 10 years ago when digital photography first delighted and amazed me, it was true five years ago when boating consumed me, and it is true today, as I embark on a new passion, thirsty to learn all that is required to be respectable in playing a game of golf.

Perspective is everything, and for me, at this stage and age in my life, finding something that inflames my passion for learning a new skill, especially one that relies as heavily on physical prowess as it does mental focus, is absolutely a GODSEND. It is juicy and delicious and humbling and enthralling and oh so beautiful in the morning when the fog has just lifted and the dew is still heavy on the ground. And it is practiced in graceful, bucolic surroundings offering the most magnificent vistas. Almost like an outdoor cathedral.


I am into my second year in retirement, and this new obsession couldn't have arrived at a more opportune time in my life. I have the time, the resources and the incentive, not to mention a gazillion opportunities, to study the rudiments of the game, take practical instruction, practice what I learn and put it all together on any number of fine local golf courses.

And unlike boating, where it was next to impossible to meld schedules with anyone who might join me on the high seas, golf has expanded my social circle and given me an open door to a pasttime that I can enjoy well into my dottage. It is something I can enjoy in solitude, on the driving or practice ranges, and it is a team sport that welcomes participants at all skill levels. What's not to love about that! And almost every woman I know plays golf!!!!!!

Surely the most gratifying aspect thus far for me is that with a modicum of weekly golf clinics and due diligence on the driving/practice range, I have gotten good enough in a mere six weeks to post a respectable round of 80 on the scoreboard after 18 holes at a local course. The magic of golf is that no matter how many humbling stinkers I hit, there are those pocketful of lucky shots that just light my hair on fire when I hear that coveted "ping" of club face squarely meeting the ball.


Maybe it is just summertime or a new era, but life has gotten more social lately and my community of friends is slowly but surely widening. In the past six or seven months, through the wonders of online social networks, chance meetings, new hobbies or full moons, I've met many new friends and enjoyed a more robust social life than I did my first summer here as a Delawarean. And what is true, is that no matter how much I enjoy my "life of the mind" perched here at the computer or bent over an art or photo project, nothing takes the place of personal interaction: making someone smile, sharing a meal, engaged in friendly competition or sharing a heart to heart talk.

ISN'T IT MORONIC (Sad but true headlines)

* Tom Cruise and Paramount parting ways... YAWN...

* John Mark Karr -- Your 15 minutes is over...

* Bush celebrates Katrina anniversary... PUHLEEESE!

* "Morning After Pill" finally given the green light -- eight years after the launch of Viagra...

Enough for tonight...



Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - who else might i have been?

(Go on and take the bait, Mare!)


I'm tempted to go totally "Walter Mitty" here, skydiving like the Red Baron and pirouetting like Ballanchine through alter-ego lives full of derring-do and romance, but the truth is, I'm mostly smitten with the me that is...

Who I am is mostly a result of the choices I've made in my life, and less so the result of external forces, at least, that's the way I see it.

My parents assumed I would graduate from public high school and GET A J*O*B. But I've never been one to jump into anything without a little research, and I didn't expect anyone would hire an 18 year old high school graduate to play sandlot baseball, write melodramatic poetry to the light of the moon or crack jokes, and those were the main skill sets I had acquired at 18.

So college beckoned despite my father's insistence that he wouldn't pony up the tuition so I should just GET A J*O*B!!!

I knew how to craft a sentence or two back then, so I wrote an essay, masquerading as a senatorial scholarship application, outlining my suitability for higher education and my total lack of financial resources. A brash young state senator from Maryland, who is now the House Democratic Whip in the US House of Representatives, liked what he read and decided to take a $250 a semester chance on me to attend Frostburg State College.

So that choice, to go to college, detoured me from what might have been a more traditional (back then) path of high school, job, marriage, kids, divorce.

When a teaching job didn't materialize upon graduation from college, I GOT A J*O*B working for an international freight forwarding company in DC for the summer, thanks to a high school friend who was working there full time. On a lark, having shipped tons of household goods all across the planet, I applied for a Peace Corps teaching job in Western Samoa, never for a minute thinking they would seriously consider me.

Must have been another craftily worded essay, because a month or so later, a large manila envelope arrived from the Department of State/Peace Corps, inviting me to an orientation in Chicago that November, where they would interview me and psychoanalyze me and grill me and test me within an inch of my 23 year old life, to see if I was suitable Peace Corps material.

So off I went, for two years in James Michener's South Pacific, looking for remnants of Margaret Meade and finding instead a descendant of Bloody Mary... it wasn't Bali Hi by any means, but neither was it Capitol Heights, Maryland, the small town from which I hailed.

I had never seen poverty and wealth juxtaposed so closely as I did during my two years in the Peace Corps. Funny thing was, the Samoans didn't consider themselves poor or impoverished, and were in fact some of the most generous and genuinely hospitable folks I've come across, before or since. I learned more about myself than I taught over the course of those two years:

  • Sexuality is a fluid and often confusing endeavor.
  • Teaching kids is fun - hassling with school administrators is hell.
  • Abundance and scarcity are in the eyes of the beholder.
  • Grading papers for the rest of my life was not for me.
I chose at that point to return to the International Freight Forwarder in DC when I returned from Western Samoa, and basically stayed the course of transportation for the rest of my working career, albeit not in the same place.

A lucky internship with the Department of the Army resulted in the government paying for my Master's degree in Communications, and I parlayed that degree and those wonderfully useful skills and abilities into a lifetime of writing for various government transportation agencies. In the bargain, my employers sent me hither and yon around the globe, interviewing soldiers, photographing cargo ships being loaded with ammunition for mock military battles in Europe, and generally chronicaling the lives of ordinary folks doing often extraordinary feats.

Now that I am retired, once again I have the opportunity and the means, within reason, to be someone other than who I am... but the fact is, whether I'm a cat burglar or a science fiction writer, I'd still be who and what I am:

56. Female. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Niece. Friend. Blessed.