Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa*

So yeah, I have not written much here since December. For the most part, that is because of my distress about the outcome of the US presidential election. I had really believed that the US was moving forward to a time when we were able to protect all our citizens, put in place protections for our land and water, start to get more equitable in behavior between men and women in terms of pay, society and sexual consent, and protect workers rather than corporations… Do I need to go on?

Yeah, I was deluded. I admit it.

As a white, formerly straight, Christian, cis woman, under-descriminated (against) and over-educated, I was blind to the pain that a lot of people are in. I did not realize that white supremacy still put lives of people of color at risk systematically. I did not realize that poor whites would eat up the propaganda of fascists if it made them feel better about our capitalist economy moving their jobs to third world countries where corporations could pay the people there pennies to do work for which Americans would demand dollars. I did not realize that Americans would swallow outright lies if it meant that they didn’t have to face realities they did not want to face.

Climate change.

Wall Street executives gaming the system.

Systematic racism in our society, government, and institutions.

Systematic sexism in our… oh, wait, I’m repeating myself.

44-and-a-quarter, I thought, was clearly a celebrity has-been, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and unprepared for dignified executive power. Hillary Clinton was unarguably the most qualified presidential candidate America has ever seen.

What could possibly go wrong?


Um, how about “everything”?

And if I had not always been a student of World War Two, and a student of the Holocaust, I might possibly not blame myself for my short-sightedness.

But I have been.

So I do.

And how can I possibly own my credibility as a writer if I am so blind as a citizen, a historian and a theologian?

(All of this kinda makes my writer’s block a little easier to understand, if I look at it that way. And we all carry this kind of baggage to our writing projects…)

I’ve spent a lot of the last ten months writing fiction, particularly fiction that prioritizes the relationships of queer people despite the prevailing social narrative that marginalizes them, people of color, and others, which the (straight, white) general public doesn’t understand. When I started writing many years ago, I wrote fantasy: reimagining the world the way I wanted it to be.

Seems like three+ decades hasn’t changed much.


But anyway, now that I’ve figured out what my problem has been, I can start to fix it. Or in Christian terms, do penance, from the Latin, paenitentia, regret. So I pray:


God of all mercy,

I confess that I have sinned against you,

opposing your will in my life.


I have denied your goodness in my neighbors,

in myself, and in the world you have created.


I repent of the evil that enslaves me,

the evil I have done,

and the evil done on my behalf.


Forgive, restore, and strengthen me

through our Savior Jesus Christ,

that I may abide in your love

and serve only your will.



Prayer from: Enriching Our Worship. New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1998. 19. (Language changed from first person plural to first person singular. Italics mine.)

Translation of Today’s Blog Title: My fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.

Translation of Amen: Let it be so.

When I Am Seventy-Plus


It took a year-plus to relieve the trauma we recall

From last winter that pounded us with seventy-plus

Inches of snow. It took an unseasonably mild winter


To counter the instant dismay caused by a sky greying

Over like ice over broken tar. We paused, tensed,

Refused to panic. We checked our shovels. We relaxed


When we realized that the 36-inch forecast meant

An inch or two, though wet. We still shudder to think

Of the wall of snow on every sidewalk, the wall that made


Parking almost impossible. We still shudder to think

How cold we were. We still shiver. Last July, I heard a man

Talk about how he still couldn’t believe the snow had melted.


Last July, the last of the snow finally melted. Last July,

When the summer was mild and I was not melting

In the 70-plus-plus but not yet 90-degree heat,


I shivered, but not as much as I am shivering this winter,

This mild, mild winter, when Christmas is 70 degrees

And it’s snowing at Easter, and no one really knows


How to forecast the future, how to predict weather:

I shiver in fear that the extra 20 or 30 degrees added

To our winter will also be added not just to this summer


But to all the summers to come, both those now

When I squander my forties and those later when I, 70-plus,

Look around at the 120 degree heat, and learn despair.

Where is the Outrage?

Christmas in New Haven, CT was around 58 degrees this year, which is about 30 degrees higher than normal. This past Monday, February 1 was 60 degrees, which is about 40 degrees higher than normal. Can you say anthropogenic climate change?

At the grocery store, I keep hearing people being happy about this “nice” (unseasonable), “beautiful” (unreasonable) weather. Here is the thing people: I know, I really do know, that last winter’s 9 feet of f#$%ing snow was traumatic. I remember taking 2 hours to do a 30-minute commute via the MBTA. I remember climbing mountains of snow to get from the sidewalk to the street and then, on the other side of the street, having to do it all over again.


I remember this very clearly. Like you, I still have flashbacks.

But tell me, when it is July, which is usually in the mid-80s or August, which is usually in the mid-90s, if we have 110, 120, or 130 degree weather, are you going to call it nice?

Somehow I doubt it.

Preparing for Christmas in a Changing Climate

plain door wreath 450

Fall has been lingering this year. Normally, cold weather in Boston starts at the beginning of November, and by “cold” I am thinking below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which I begin to consider locating my long Johns. The first (usually uneventful) snowfall tends to be between Thanksgiving and the start of December. Not this year.

I’ve heard people say how “lucky” we’ve been with the mild weather, but in my book if the weather is routinely 20-30 degrees different than the usual temperature not for a day or a week but for (so far) a month and a half, that has got to be a bad sign. It also means that I have had a hard time accepting that Christmas is really on the way. I keep forgetting to pick up the wreath I usually put on the inside of our main door (trees don’t work in a small apartment with a large cat).


Now as the high glaciers melt into green

Ocean water, rising, rising, now when we look up

Expecting the water to fall in flakes for hungry tongues,

Now the sky is grey and strangely warm.


Unseasonal, that’s what it is. The nights are long

Just as you might expect, but the air lacks crispness,

The blue of the afternoon sky lacks snap. I cannot say

I feel lucky. Even after nine feet of snow in Boston,


Which only finally melted six months ago, I fear

What might be coming: either ten feet this winter, or,

Possibly, none at all. Either way we lose. Already

Polar bears are drowning for lack of arctic ice.


Already small Pacific islands are losing ground

The way an old man loses hair: a little at a time,

Then all at once. It’s the opposite with the stores,

Switching the candy and hangings from one holiday


To the next overnight and at least three weeks early.

I cannot make that transition at all this year. So much

Worry about the Earth, not enough glad tidings.

Too much grey and drear, not enough merry and bright.


In the face of this, I force myself to find a small, green

Wreath for the inside of my door, to dangle small golden

Pigs—for abundance—a red bow to remind me to take

The bull by the horns and face the absence of winter


And the endless presence of winter, both living in me

As I move through the warming world feeling colder

Now than I ever felt as a child in a snow fort. Courage,

Says the angel in the branches. Embrace hope.

Daylight Savings Time, or, It’s Not Dark Yet, But It Soon Will Be


There is a car that parks behind the bank next to my apartment building that has a strange bumper sticker that says, “It’s not dark yet but it’s getting there.” For months I have assumed that it was a cynical (and therefore accurate) commentary on the environmental mess we are in with climate change, superstorms, sea–level rise and what-have-you. All. The. Problems. (which our overbribed politicians ignore, deny and fail to lead on, of course).

Call me pessimistic, but I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. And it really needs to. But thinking about Daylight Savings Time made me Google the phrase and I discovered that it is actually the tagline for a Bob Dylan song that I have never heard (which is dark and cynical but more about human relationships than environmental disaster, apparently). Here is the final verse:


I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m movin’ but I’m standin’ still
Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.


In retrospect, I still think I was kind of right.


Dylan, Bob. “It’s Not Dark Yet But It’s Gettin’ There.”