Monday, February 7, 2011

The Soothing Holiness of Laundry

Another Seattle U Book Festival is behind me, and it was both more than I hoped and all that I dreaded.

Under the More-Than-I-Hoped banner:
  • Somehow I have never managed to hear Anne LaMott speak before, nor to read any of her many books. She's big, if you didn't know. So big that she doesn't even need to maintain her own website--a sure sign of being both hugely famous and hugely grounded. In any case, I appreciated her humor and honesty and wisdom as she shared on her turbulent life, what it means to be a pilgrim "searching for meaning," and her purpose to walk the earth as a "resurrection story." I think we all came away excited to tend our "emotional acres."
  • Hanging in the break room with SU staff and Festival authors was a blast, as ever. I met a woman who writes comic books, for crying out loud (file under "Her Job is Way Cooler Than Mine"), G. Willow Wilson, and got to hear her opinion on Wonder Woman's costume re-design (!). Mark Shea shared a hilarious story of being booked to speak on an Alaskan cruise on the first day out, right after lunch, when everyone was (1) sleepy, (2) fighting seasickness, and (3) ensconced in cushy armchairs.
  • Attended Dori Jones Yang's fabulous session on the unknown history of Christianity in Asia--who knew there were Asian equivalents to the Dead Sea Scrolls? That Marco Polo encountered communities of Christians along the Silk Road? Can't wait to read her historical fiction Daughter of Xanadu, if I can get the Olivia Newton-John song out of my head.
  • And finally, during my half-hour Sit of Shame (also known as the Book Signing time), I had a lovely chat with writer Ellie Belew who sat next to me. I've already started her book Run Plant Fly, the story of a small Washington town sucked into a virtual-reality thing called the Simulator. She has a lovely way of sketching full, interesting characters without gazillions of spare words.
And under the All-That-I-Dreaded banner:
  • Rather sparse attendance at my session. Less than half what I had last year. Not that those who came weren't delightful, and we enjoyed ourselves, and there were actually some Qs to A, but I'm not wholly convinced I'm not something of a misfit for this particular festival and that everyone's time wouldn't be better served attending sessions where there are deeper thoughts being thunk and more Edification happening.
  • The Sit of Shame (see above). I felt a little like the people behind the counters at the airport who shout at you to come talk to them, even though I don't think a single person in airport history has taken them up on it. Even the couple people who bought MBC didn't come to have them signed!
All of which is to say, I came home somewhat demoralized, the final note having been the Sit of Shame, to find the heaps of clean and dirty laundry exactly where I had left them in the morning. (In my husband's defense, he offered to do the laundry while I was gone, but seeing as I was leaving him with the 7-yr-old who was threatening to barf, I let him off the hook.) Strangely enough, I was glad to find my work there. A phrase popped into my head: "The Holiness of Work." Something to do with my emotional half-acre, I suppose, which had just been ridden over rough-shod. Here were piles of clothing which had nothing to sell me and nothing to buy from me, who had no judgments of my self-worth, no preferences for me or for anyone else. They were just there to be dealt with. They were soothing.

So here's to work and what it does for our souls. Beth Moore has declared today an experiment for her Twitter followers: try to go the whole day without complaining. I already messed up once about the school bus driver, but it sounds like a good plan to me. Hence this post for all you worker bees. Thank God It's Monday, right?

Nothing to do with Dori Yang's book


  1. Oh dear. I am glad you got to hear Anne LaMott, and that she went over taking care of your emotional acre. I wish I had been able to go, too. I would have come and had you sign my copy of MBC! Sorry your emotional acre took a beating. Wish it had gone better for you, truly.

    Still, I love the Brother Laurence finale to this wee sad post. You are right! There is so much goodness in work.

    Oh, and the Dori Jones Yang book sounds fascinating! I will put it on my list.

  2. One of the things I have always liked about housework is its satisfying sense of completion, however brief, in contrast to the many impossibly long-term projects of adult family life. Parenting, for instance. Career goals, for another. Balance is a wonderful thing.

  3. Um, Lawrence, I mean.

    And what does it mean that the code I had to type in to publish my comment was "Suckush"? :)

    Hoping for a good week for you.

  4. We read for entertainment, comfort, a laugh. You give us all of those. I would like to think everyone was too busy at home reading one of your wonderful books :-)