I went to a Christmas-slash-surprise Housewarming party last night, and really had a great time.
Until the end of the party, really, but that’s getting ahead of myself.
I wasn’t going to go. It is, after all Hell Week, and although I finished a draft of my huge fawkin’ Harriet Jacobs paper, I still had plenty, plenty, plenty to do.
But I figured I’d start the second one afterwards. Just stay an hour, drink some good coffee, do a good deed.
It was almost three hours before I left.
It was a church party, almost. It was select members of the church, apparently, at a Christmas party that doubled as a surprise housewarming party for a lady who just got an apartment here.
Two years later, and getting an apartment is still a huge, huge deal.
I got an email from the minister “Don’t talk about the party at church, some people might get their feelings hurt.”
I hadn’t made it to church; I haven’t been able to stay awake for it between everything else, so I don’t think I really paid as much attention to it as it deserved.
But I went to the party. Met a professor from LSU, really awesome woman. She found out from K that I want to write; found out that I want to pursue a PhD one day. “A professor is the best job in the world, really,” she said. And then she told me why. She uses her undergrads to do community service and makes their projects community oriented. I told her I wanted to teach high school at one point, but my heart’s at a university, and yet I still want to do something for kids and reading. She gave me some ideas on how I might be able to combine the two.
A lot of her ideas for her own field have been implemented after the storm, but that’s something I learned from her mother. She said the administrative bullshit is manageable, and it allows such freedom that it really is the best job in the world.
She wants to write, too, she said, but said she didn’t think she’d be good at it. She’s a technical writer. Wouldn’t be good at fiction. I asked if she got free classes by being a professor, if so, she should take a fiction class. If she can write, which she obviously can if she’s been published, and she has a good eye for observation, which she showed me that she does in talking about hummingbirds and other natural things (as well as her choice of fields in which to teach), then she’d make a good writer, I told her. Take a class, why not?
She has eyes like Steven Buschemi. Frighteningly blue. I swear, they looked like hallogen lightbulbs at full wattage when she thought about the class. I got her email address. I think I’ve officially “networked.”
And who knows, she may just end up writing the next great American novel.
She called me Future Professor when I left. I laughed and called her Professor Novelist.
And the woman for whom the housewarming was thrown had no idea until we presented her with a tree with money clipped to it. She seemed truly touched, and it was just wonderful.
But then I came home, put on some coffee, and tried to write.
Inspired by future Professor-hood, I could not write. Inspired by magical whipped-cream recipes, I could not write.
I was struck by this exclusionary notion of church functions. I asked the thrower-of-the-party about the email. She said, “Oh, those people, they’re just strange.” “You mean, like dangerous strange?”
“No, just strange.”
I’ve been feeling sort of disconnected from my church lately, both spurred by a lack of attendance and manifesting as a lack of attendance, I think. I never considered myself part of the in crowd, but I guess I am.
I was, after all, invited, and therefore considered “not strange.” And that’s a weird place to be, the other side of strange.
I know that the church body is not the faith, but I’ve questioned the faith before. I’ve wondered if I needed something more. But right here, right now, this faith the best of what I’ve seen and what is available with fellowship.
But exclusion in something which calls itself a Unity church bothers me.