Friday Reads and Recommends
So guilty I feel the need to confess via blog

In which my weekend put me in that Let's Sit And Talk For Hours About WHO WE ARE MEANT TO BE! kind of mood

I had a fantastic weekend and I'm going to tell you all about it. 

First I got my hair cut. Again. I went to a different salon, I said, "I just have too much HAIR back here" and all the hair that was giving me the Very Short But Still Sort Of A Bob effect was promptly razored off. Which is exactly what I wanted. I'm now feeling all the things I didn't feel the first time I went in, ie: OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE. I mean, I love it. But I'm also extremely aware that it will take yeeears to grow it out. So even if I didn't love it, I would decide to love it. But I do love it. So there.

Second, I went to this thing at Seattle University, a Jesuit college, called The Spirituality Book Fair. Or Festival? I forget. It was advertised in my church bulletin, but all I really saw in the ad was the name ANNE LAMOTT and obvs I had to be there.

I really had no idea what to expect. The schedule included dozens and dozens of authors speaking on dozens and dozens of topics. The one I really wanted to attend was called something like Pious Trash: Writing About Faith For A Secular Audience, but more than anything I wanted to see Anne Lamott give the keynote address. I've loved her nonfiction books (I haven't read her novels) and I thought she was hilarious and brilliant when I went to one of her readings last spring. She is also my High Priestess Of Writing Advice and I'm just really encouraged and inspired by the things she has to say about not just writing, but the kind of person a writer is. For example, being a highly strung neurotic person may actually help. WAHOO!

Anyway, my friend Beth went with me (HI BETH!) and it was just awesome. Awesome! Even though we only attended 1) the Anne Lamott keynote and 2) a session called Spiritual Intimacy, which Beth picked out by the way, and during which I pretty much wanted to die a thousand invisible deaths. We would have seen more, but we spent most of our day in a fabulous French cafe eating a weeks' worth of calories. Totally worth it.

So I didn't see as much as I wanted, but I enjoyed just being in the hall with the book tables. I just loved the VIBE. Not in the Spiritual Intimacy session, ha ha, but the whole event. It was jam packed full of people interested in the kinds of things I'm interested in. I am very fond of Middle-Aged Leftwing Activisty And Maybe A Little Bit Strident Christian Ladies, and their ranks were flush. There were Roman collars and yarmulkes and head coverings and tables heaped with books and bookish people milling about, drinking coffee, talking about The Search For Meaning. 

That was ostensibly the topic of Anne Lamott's speech, but she more or less rambled on for an hour (a wonderful hour), just sort of talking about the kind of people we are. You know, the people in that room. The people who are interested in talking about The Search For Meaning and why we are the way we are and the things we do to move forward. She often used writing as an analogy, which of course I lapped up like a wide-eyed puppy. "If you think writing is your calling, your spiritual calling, and you're not doing it right now, one day you'll be eighty years old and you'll wake up and be heartbroken." That was, ah, rather convicting. 

She talked about how no one wants you to be a writer. When you tell people you're going to write, no one says, "Oh good! Wonderful!" It's in no one's best interest, in the same way being a pilgrim, embarking on a search for a higher power in your life, is in no one's best interest. It's not going to make anyone's life easier. If you want to write, according to Anne Lamott, you must waste a lot of time, a lot of paper, and stare into space. Same thing with looking for God. One thing she said really hit me: if you live this way, you might not achieve all the things you want to achieve. Things like earning a lot of money, climbing corporate ladders, getting published, becoming famous in some way. Things that often require a singular focus you can't necessarily give. 

There was a way that she sort of befriended the audience, knew that we were her people. She talked a lot about her plight as an "overly sensitive" child and assumed a lot of us were as well. She talked to us like she knew who we were, and since I was already feeling the Vibe, you know, I felt clued in. In some ways I felt like she DID know me. I felt I was part of a group of survivors. People who were familiar with The Abyss, as AL put it, and for whom God was real and large and present. 

Afterwards I was trying to describe to Beth what I so admire in AL's words and manner of speaking, and then Beth said, "She is comfortable in her brokenness." And that is so TRUE. That is exactly what I latch onto. It's not about shocking you or preaching or impressing or competing, it's this sort of matter-of-fact there but for the grace of God go I

I've given a lot of thought to writing, and the kind of writing I want to do, this weekend, and while I haven't come up with any big thoughts or decisions or realizations, I do know that I want to write about brokenness. Not in sappy or judgmental or preachy or know-it-all or super intellectual or even well-written ways, but just matter-of-fact. That this is who I am, and I know it, and I am as comfortable as I can be in it, and I can see my Abyss, but I am a pilgrim too, and there but for the grace of God go I. 

APPARENTLY I should have posted this on the Catholic blog. WHATEVS! And all of it reminds me that I have to respond to a churchy email from a beloved reader... seriously, if YOU want to send me churchy emails I EAT THEM UP. Perhaps certain people are too busy earning money and going to school and meeting with professors on Sunday afternoons to spend much time Discussing The Meaning Of Life with me. ALAS. 

Oh and THEN we totally invited ourselves over to Liz and Bubba's place for football watching, which is hilarious because 1) I know next to nothing about football, neither do I care 2) my kids are always little pests at their house 3) it just ENCOURAGES my husband to sit on the couch and eat and ignore me and 4) their TEAM was in the GAME. So I had to actually ROOT FOR A TEAM, when what I really wanted to do was finish off Liz's freaking amazing dip while writing snippy letters to the NFL powers that be re: Hair Guidelines. I mean, what was coming out of some of those helmets?! Yuck! And let's not talk about that quarterback's beard. SHUDDER.



My step-dad and step-brothers are hardcore Packers fans, so there was much noise surrounding our football watching last night. But even my scruffy-looking step-brother was making negative comments about the hair (both head and facial) in the game last night. Argh.


I'm clicking over to amazon right this very second and buying an Anne Lamott book because you have me convinced that I am Missing Out. And? The little bits you quoted totally hit home. Suggestions for my first AL read?

We watched the game because it sort of feels like one has to, and rooted for the Packers because DUH the stealers totally ripped the Seahawks off five years ago and I'm still not over it. So even though I've never been to WI, I was happy with the results. :)

Oh and the hair? Zeeb was absolutely convinced it was a co-ed game.


What an inspiring weekend! Get writing, lady!


There was at least one guy playing with a way worse beard than Rothlisberger (sorry, can't spell that), but I can't remember his name. Liz would probably know! I am sorry you had to root for the Packers, but I'm glad you had fun.

AL's fiction is really, really good. You should try it! I think she would be really interesting to hear speak.


Love it Maggie. I don't want to be 80 and heartbroken! Love it.


I've been reading her book Bird by Bird, and I'm so jealous that you got to hear Anne Lamott!

and do you feel you have to segregate yourself into a Catholic blog and this? I am curious. I love reading your blog - and it is more real when you include all of you. I guess I shall have to click over to the Catholic blog, even though I am not Catholic.


I, too, love Anne Lamott. I heard her speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing a few years ago (which you would LOVE, but it's in Michigan. Although if you went, I would totally come down and hang out with you if that's any sort of enticement).

Christina - You didn't ask me, but I really like Traveling Mercies.

I'm also with Tracy in that I like that you post this here. I have time limitations, so I don't always get to your Catholic blog

ccr in MA

I love Anne Lamott! Or, I should qualify that, I love her nonfiction (Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird especially). For some reason, I don't seem to get into her fiction. Is that weird? Don't you want to try her fiction now to see if you like it? I want you to!

Sarah in Ottawa

I, too, would love some Anne Lamott recommendations.

For all of you who are hesitating about reading Maggie's religious blog - DON'T. It is absolutely fabulous and you'll be glad that you did!

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