Sunday, March 2, 2008

SLOW, SLOW- quick quick: My Night With Anne Lamott

By the grace of God, two weeks ago, I discovered, while surfing the net, that one of my favorite authors, the "Billy Graham" of the liberal-feminist-Jesus followers- Anne Lamott, was coming to Pittsburgh to help the Church of Reconciliation celebrate its fortieth anniversary. My heart racing, I purchased the best tickets I could afford, on-line, and last night, with my buddy Christina holding down the fort here, and a thousand prayers that Seth would sleep, Tom and I drove to the campus of the University of Pittsburgh to see her. For me, it was a magical evening- second row seats amongst throngs of people, black/ white/ young/ old/and somewhere in between, gay/ straight, single/partnered- warmed by the mutterings of liberal conversations all around me...serenaded, at first, by the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered choir of Pittsburgh, then, like your big sister or your best friend, Anne Lamott (Annie, as she prefers to be called), sauntered out onto the stage- and I found myself whooping and hollering, overcome with excitement that this woman, this wisest of souls, this lover of Jesus and of justice and of people, was before me, in the flesh. So incredibly human, suffering from symptoms of the flu, she addressed the hundreds of us as if we were on a comfy couch, sipping hot chocolate- pausing to gather herself or catch some fleeting thought, with no apparent self-consciousness or need to be smoother. My mind wandering only to my deepest prayer that Tom would not begin snoring (as he did the last time we had front row seats- to a Mary Chapin Carpenter show), I sat entranced by her spirit, finding myself moving closer and closer to the edge of my chair- as if to try and hear deeper her every word, at one point nearly collapsing overtop the seat in front of me- which, luckily, was empty. I nodded with every thought she expressed, and cheered loudly- overjoyed as each of the feminist or slightly "leftist" views would escape her lips (she voted for Hillary- I nearly wept). She, again and again, brought her talk back to the mantra, "slow slow, quick quick"- the way she and her boyfriend were learning the foxtrot in ballroom dancing, and also the method by which she believes we all will find success on our journey in writing, in recovery, in life, and in Christianity. And she so profoundly ushered forth the truth- that faith was not the opposite of doubt, but the opposite of certainty.

Afterward, during the book-signing, I went through the line focused on what in the world I would say to this marvelous soul (while Tom, in true man-fashion, attempted to engage me in conversation about the various civil war artifacts surrounding us, in display cases, on the wall- we were in the Soldiers And Sailors Museum).

Annie greeted me with a smile and asked how I was doing- I took a deep breath, laughed, explaining to her that I was nothing short of giddy- as if I were a teenage girl in front of the Beatles or Elvis- tempted at one point to throw my bra up onto the stage- except for the fact that it was a very tattered, worn-out nursing model- , much too delapidated to grace the presence of someone of the likes of her. She giggled, thanked me for wanting to do that, then posed with me for a picture- both of us removing our glasses to look, as she described "cuter."
(when I recounted this conversation to Lily- she was nothing short of horrified that these were the words I chose to say to someone that great...yeah- that's me- wildly uncooth- but I'm sure, in some corner of her most comedic being- she got me)

If you've never read any of her marvelous works on faith and life, throw on your shoes, now, and run to the nearest library or bookstore- you will be amazed that you've lived so long without her inspiration.


kirsten said...

judy, wow!!!!!! i am so jealous [but utterly excited & delighted for you] that you got to meet her & got your picture with her. wow!!!!!!!! that's amazing.

anne lamott is a hero of mine for several reasons: a christian who is not afraid to live outside the stereotype: left-leaning, kooky, feminist, radically accepting, irreverent, all that ... someone who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, someone who isn't afraid to march to the unique drumbeat going on inside her own head. someone who isn't looking to be coddled or to say something that the christian masses are going to agree with.

i can imagine having similar feelings as you describe: giddy with excitement, wanting to throw your bra on stage. i'm sure she loved that & will carry that compliment with her!! ah, i'm so excited for you!!!!

i just ordered another book of hers that is specifically on the writing life. i can't wait to get it & pour through it, i can't wait to glean more of her wisdom & life experience.

hoorah, i'm so excited for you!! that's amazing. i'm so glad you got to experience that!

Christianne said...

judy, just popping over from kirsten's blog because i couldn't resist seeing who your mysterious person was that you met last night . . . and was SO THRILLED for you!!

anne lamott is my hero. i love her for so many reasons, but one of which is that she profoundly changed my life through her writings.

thanks for sharing this! i got to see a video of her doing a reading through the borders rewards program -- it was an hour or so, including a coffee-shop interview and a reading of her newest book "grace eventually" and it demonstrated exactly what you shared here -- just a very intimate conversation, even before tons and tons of people.

i would have been giddy and flustered, too. :)

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Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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