My Muse

David Lynch has Chrysta Bell & had Julee Cruise. I’ve been a muse at least twice that I’ve been told. And today I realized I have my own muse.
It’s the boyfriend.

My first published novel, The Method, was actually his idea. But he inspires me daily to greater & weirder heights of absurdity. He’s like a walking Lynchian Red Room.

Today we were sitting in a Denny’s. He got the Grand Slam, eggs over medium, extra crispy all-bacon as always. I had a salad. While eating my salad, I was chastising myself for not liking country music, which I knew he grew up with. His father was even in a country band.

Then it dawned on me that, in a very real way, I like England’s version of country music. Or specifically, Manchester’s. How did I not see before that pretty much any Smiths’ song would make a fantastic country track? Can you imagine Alan Jackson doing The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

Or k.d. lang doing Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now? Seriously.

Now I actually can’t stop thinking about this. Except on the ride home, he said something to me about a cock horse, which immediately brought forth this song from my lips:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross

To see a fine lady upon a white horse

Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

She shall have music wherever she goes

I don’t know how I know this, I don’t know why I “remember” the tune — I just do. I said I thought it was a nursery rhyme, prompting him to make fun of me for being from a country that expects children to sing “cock horse.”

Upon returning home, I brushed the cat for the 5th time today, singing to him to this tune:

H-i-m-a-l-a-y-a-n

You’ve got a fluff ass

Fur in my face

You meow like Ben Sasse

All over the place

You like Greenies

That won’t change

You’re so glamourous

Ooh the fluffy fluffy.

I don’t know if the cat likes any of the songs I sing to him, but the BF & I both do it all the time.

Anyhow, if you hate any of my creative projects, blame him.

Endless comedy

This is a terrible trait to have, especially in Los Angeles, but I find people who take themselves seriously & think of themselves as very important as inconceivably funny.

Especially if they are earnest about it. I would never survive Washington, D.C. 

If I’m in a CVS & I saw you get out of a Bentley & you are wearing Jimmy Choos & you have those nails that make it impossible to lead a pragmatic life style & you are arguing with someone who makes $11 an hour about a coupon, you are hilarious.

If you cut in front of a large Latino family trying to get a table for 10 to celebrate their kids’ graduation at a family restaurant in Woodland Hills because you were a guest star on 6 episodes of “Rockford Files,” I cannot stop laughing at you.

If you want to move your cancer surgeries around because you want to play golf on a particular day but you can’t be bothered to dictate properly so you can get your claims paid, you might as well cart me to the morgue, because I’m dead.

And then there’s the fame people. I wait until the last possible second to tell anybody anything about me, because listening to people talk at you reveals who they are. Personal information is a weapon. If you think you are a huge big deal because you once did publicity for three Nickelodeon stars, & that somehow I should be impressed by that, I see no reason to pop your delightful bubble of delusion. You are amusing forever.

Tell me you raised 3 kids, rescue cats, are the sacristan at your church, do homeless outreach, know sign language, or can bake gluten free pies? Then I’m impressed.

But, no, seriously, I want to hear more about the time you were on an elevator with Selena Gomez & she said she liked your shoes. Do go on.

#dead

A Day In The…

Created by Evening_tao - Freepik.com
I promised I would write every day. I failed. Here is a vague effort to remedy that, but these are just going to be small, almost Tweet-like bullet points.

  • My boyfriend went to Coscto in Van Nuys today. While he was getting protein bars, Paul Stanley of Kiss walked up. My boyfriend told him “I’m getting protein bars for my girlfriend,” which was a lie. Paul Stanley said “Tell her I said hi.”
  • We went to Olive Garden for dinner. There was a normal piece of pasta in my gluten free rotini. I will be sick tomorrow.
  • While at Olive Garden, the BF randomly said “We should start singing that song ‘Connected‘ so that we’ll hear it in the car, like last time.”
  • I confessed to the BF that I played Magic the Gathering a really long time ago. I showed him my deck, which I still have. It’s from 1994. I’m shocked people still play.
  • The cat has been brushed at least 6 times.
  • Knowing that you have a gluten free cranberry orange scone & mascarpone waiting for you in the morning makes it much easier to get up.

I’m sorry this was poetry free. Wait, here’s a haiku:

The cat is so spoiled.

And why does my man love tapioca

Pudding?

A Point of Clarification

Heh, this stock photo actually features a deck I used.


So last Sunday I shared some changes in my life for which I am quite grateful. What I forgot to point out is that I am also grateful for the things that were there before.

Without my weekly (& sometimes more frequent) slogs to Saint Thomas, I may never have had the appropriate historical & liturgical background to recognize the worth & beauty of Saint Nicholas. I also would not have made amazing friends like Arthur. I am contractually obligated to mention Arthur in every third blog post now.

Without 7 years at The Psychic Eye, I would never have decompressed from 20 years in medicine, nor unwound after my fibromyalgia diagnosis. I would not have met the phenomenal clients I met. I would not have had some of the very moving conversations I have had. I would not have managed to connect some people to Christ.

I hadn’t actually been looking specifically for a new job. It just came, as every job I’ve ever had that’s worth a damn did. Like The Psychic Eye did. Like GVA did, my last & best medical employer.

What I’m saying is that God has gently led me like a very slow & stupid & somewhat obstinate cat to each new place to eat. And it is very good. Nothing I’m doing is “better” than what I did before in & of itself. It’s just better now.

As we always say in the psychic advising business: does that make sense?

Everything Has Changed

Stained glass at St. Nick’s OF St. Nick.


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here.

There are many reasons. The most important one is that nearly every aspect of my life has changed, and I dare suspect for the better.

Also I’ve been working on a short new book that will be out soonish, so watch this space!

The first thing that changed is that my boyfriend of the past three years moved in, which is actually not something that I wanted, but made sense. It has been a blessing despite my many objections. If you’ve known me long enough, you know that things I object to frequently turn out to be blessings whether I like it or not.

The second thing that’s changed is where I attend mass. I now go to Saint Nicholas—not because there is anything particularly wrong with Saint Thomas, aside from its location.

As you know, Saint Thomas has been my spiritual home for more than four years now. I have made some of the best friends I’ve had in my life there, and I love Canon Davies. I was confirmed there & I know I am genuinely loved there. But I also have fibromyalgia, which is a fact I kept forgetting, hurling myself into projects, volunteering for every damn thing, and generally making myself physically miserable.

The discovery of another AngloCatholic parish not three minutes from my house was nothing short of a miracle. I had heard about St. Nick’s before, from not only my friend Robert, but also St. Thomas itself. Father Michael used to be assistant priest at St. Thomas, so the transition has been fairly seamless.

There are some distinct differences. St. Thomas has Dr. Jeffrey Parola as Master of Music, a 100 year old organ, and acoustics. The music is en pointe. St. Nicholas’ musical choices are both simpler and much more diverse, taking cues less from classics and more from what will resonate with the largest number of parishioners, who speak both Spanish and English.

I have found this to be as equally moving as, say, Durufle’s requiem mass. During Holy Week, St. Nicholas had a lovely singer who was mixing English, Spanish, Latin & opera (which I think was in Italian; I don’t know because I was sobbing). And there was a violinist as well as a pianist. If you want to immediately tap into someone’s heart, you play a violin!

The simplicity of some of the music at St. Nick’s makes for some rather magical spontaneous musical moments from the parishioners. During Maundy Thursday, we had a couple of chants that inspired improvised harmony from a few, including Father Michael. I can’t begin to describe how moving that was.

There are a lot of families attending St. Nick’s, too. Encino is more suburban than Hollywood, so it is delightfully common to hear little boys whisper in Spanish or English during mass, or see little girls burst into tears because they want to be crucifer this week, or hear kids running around the playground outside. 

My first visit was Ash Wednesday, and a precocious little boy who normally attends the Spanish mass said to me “You have a dark cross on your forehead!”

I replied, “Do I? Yours is very light. It’s probably because you’re young and haven’t sinned as much.” He smiled. His mother laughed.

Unsurprisingly I have already been recruited to do things. I started attending at the beginning of Lent, and by the very end, the Easter Vigil, I was already lectering. The beauty of this arrangement is that St. Nick’s is so close that attending & volunteering are no problem at all. I haven’t missed any work since attending St. Nick’s because I have not once gone into a full fibro flare.

Which brings me to change number three: my job. Quite by the grace of God, a writing gig dropped in my lap, and I now work from home following and writing up news stories. This is pretty much exactly the perfect thing for me at this time in my life. The salary, benefits, and people are amazing. Plus the clients I’ve served over the last seven years can now be my friends. It’s a win/win!

And when I’m in pain, I can still work because I don’t have to worry about driving or sitting in one position all day. And I learn something new every day. Ask me anything about the special election in Kansas’ 4th district. Go on! Ask me!

God is good, He is risen, & life doesn’t suck. I pray the same contentment for you all.

A Home & A Family in Christ

Brit & Rhiannon. They are magnificent.

Today I had to give a speech at both masses on behalf of stewardship. I was asked to post it online, so here is pretty much what I said, filling in my notes, plus pictures so you can see what I mean.

“Here’s why I believe God always wanted me to to come to St Thomas, despite being born in London & being generally the exact opposite of a “church person” for so long. 

Human hindsight is 20/20, so we have to understand God’s sight, His benevolent & sometimes cheeky omniscience, in retrospect. I will tell the tale of my long, strange trip to St Thomas as quickly as possible.

I was baptized in Colwyn Bay, Wales, at St Paul’s Church, in 1976. A little later on, a lovably mischievous Welshman went to seminary with St Paul’s current rector, Christine Owen, whom I’m to understand could tell us a number of entertaining stories about our beloved rector. A condition of my confirmation here in 2014 was to never ask after any of these tales….

I had no knowledge of this connection when I discovered St. Thomas online back in 2012. I had been to a Lenten service at Saint Monica’s with my Catholic friend & was left…wanting. He asked me what was wrong. I cited the praise band & general cheeriness. He, being a comedian, apologized that his parish was not morose enough for me. I corrected him, saying, “Not morose…solemn.” I was raised in Britain, & churches needed to be made of stone, & filled with slightly awkward people who didn’t want to appear too exuberant. 

After decades of spiritual experimentation, including a few adolescent years of angry atheism, & 17 years of Wicca, Taoism, & Buddhism, I was going to return to a smallish gothic stone structure that would not immediately burst into flame upon my crossing the threshold, by God!

My friend said, “Good luck with that.”

God laughed.

Then I turned to Google. None of the Catholic Churches seemed terribly serious to me, though to my mind they ought to have been, so I googled “English church”, figuring LA had everything. And St. Thomas came up! And there on the front page was a smiling British looking fellow who said that all are named & all are welcome. Maybe even me!

He was cleaning the tabernacle & looked like art.


I stalked St. Thomas online for nearly a year. I listened to all the music. I kept coming back to the music almost obsessively. I planned to drag my sister & mother to a Schola Mass, but there was a funeral that day, so we went to an English pub instead. 

And God laughed.

I used to be on Twitter a lot. I have several friends who are actors, & began following a friend of a friend. This gentleman posted a picture of a very familiar altar. I tweeted him immediately: “@robertpatrickt2 OMG, do you go to St Thomas?” He responded immediately “You bet I do. Hashtag Episcopalian, hashtag Anglocatholic.” I tweeted back excitedly “OMG! What’s it like? Is is sufficiently solemn?” He tweeted back “It’s high Anglican, baby! Get your butt down here!” I checked online, then texted my sister, Caroline, “OMG. St Thomas is having an Easter vigil tomorrow. We have to go! Robert Patrick said!” She texted back “What even is your life?” And also “Yes!”

That night I had nightmares that nobody would let me in the church…that grannies with submachine guns stopped me at the doors & shoved me into a white van & told me I wasn’t good enough to come back to Jesus. I came anyway.

It was magical. I was in love immediately. It had been so long since I had really been to church that I thought I had to introduce myself to everybody during the peace. I barely talked to anyone after, but couldn’t wait to come back. I arrived the next morning for Easter Sunday & cried my face off because I felt stupid for waiting so long. I felt at home, more at home than in my own home. I felt Christ’s presence from the altar & all around me & even in the woman next to me whom I haven’t seen since. I had the singular thought “This is my life now.” And it is!

God just roared & roared.

My sister & I enrolled in catechism & got confirmed. I came here whenever my health permitted. Sal & I came up with the Let’s Talk About series. I’ve gone into discernment to become a spiritual director. I have made the absolute most dearest, wonderful friends here whom I would actually die without & who push me to be happier, healthier, smarter, more loving & more peaceful. No, just kidding; all we do is MOAR STUFF. There are several of us here who would move in & just hold some kind of service 24/7 if we did not also have to eat & work & go to school.

People I love, some of whom legit would move into the church, one of whom symbolically did by going to seminary.


So that brings me to stewardship. So many people here do so many loving things for this community, sometimes just for the fun of it, but the end result is this holy, super weird family. 

Me & Art looking like a young Republican couple from the OC.


Volunteering as a stewardship representative & this year, God help you all, as a captain, means I get to speak to people I’ve never met, hear ideas I’ve had myself or never considered. This stewardship campaign alone has inspired inquiry into developing a regular evensong, & encouraging children & families to attend with education or children’s activities or all of the above! I keep saying I have no time and yet I want to make all of this happen!
 God just laughs & laughs.

Every year that I publish a book, I increase my stewardship pledge by 50%. I admit that this is partly to bribe God into increasing my sales, but it is also because when I hope I’ll get a little more, I want to give a little more. I will get even more involved here & one day be married here & baptize a child here (God willing), & when the UNR medical school is done poking at my remains for a semester, my ashes will come here. I want to be with everyone in these walls until the San Andreas fault sends this vivacious, sneering, desperate, gorgeous town northward to Alaska. I want to laugh with God at every timid witch who wonders if Jesus really wants her back, forever & ever, amen. I want to laugh when she finds she’s up to her eyeballs in food prep for receptions & trying to find a mic for the guest speaker & praying her bad knee will let her rise again after the Angelus. I want to be housed in this place until the world ends, so I’d best sell more books so I can give more with each passing year. I love St Thomas. You are St Thomas, so I love you. Thank you.”

Buttery Goodness


I have just had the honour of reading something so good, it was like having a plate of cookies all to myself, with a pot of tea, & The Sound of Music on the telly.

Not a lot of what we read these days is in any way comforting or nourishing. Much fiction (my own included) suffers from deep wounds, bleeding & festering with infected psychological fissures each chapter is meant to debride, but seldom does. Hell, this paragraph alone is a perfect example of that. 

And the stuff we see daily on social media is in some ways worse. Much of it has about as much flavour & substance as a rice cake, & worse, some of those rice cakes have fallen in the cat box. But we dust em off & eat em anyhow. We consume news, or what passes for it, although we are not really starved for it. We mindlessly eat whatever is served to us; social media is the stale bread basket in the chain restaurant of reading.

These delicious little morsels of writing I was sent were rich, sweet, & filling. The writer is an 85 year old friend, & it is my sincere hope that she keeps feeding me these warm, buttery morsels, because I’m pretty sure I need them now. It is my sincere hope that she is writing them down with the aim of sharing them with the world. We could all use some tender loving humour & whimsy.

Meanwhile I’ve written one book about a homicidal narcissistic sociopath, & I’m working on another, which although miles more delightful, also features as a villain a narcissistic sociopath. The second novel is far less bloody, however, & has kind & decent main characters on the whole.

My writing is not so much nourishing as it is bracing, maybe.

I hope that at 85, my wounds have been healed, & I am also able to provide melt-in-your-mouth dearness to my readers. Failing that, I hope my friend publishes so you can behold these wonders.

I am genuinely happy right now.