You don’t need to read anything for this one! We’re just going to talk about the connections between the Emmy-winning television show, “Ted Lasso” and Sense and Sensibility, and the work of Jane Austen.
I had a GREAT time discussing Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen, and Ted Lasso for the latest episode of the podcast, Coach Bear’d Book Club. You can listen to the episode here: https://linktr.ee/cbbc
The women who run the podcast are so smart and had really interesting and thoughtful analysis to offer about the show and Austen and the connections and themes. It was a great book nerd bonanza.
I’m looking forward to more discussion on the links between the world of Ted Lasso and the world of Jane Austen tomorrow with those of you who can make it!
Historically, I f*&#ing hate November. Daylight savings ends, the trees are bare, the weather gets frigid and rainy. Ugh!
Not to mention it is the month that my father, my papa, and two of my uncles died in past years. Plus it is the birthday month for my nana and my best friend’s mother, both of whom died. Plus there’s Veterans Day and the Marine Corp birthday, both of which remind me of my father, who, as I mentioned, died in November, in 2007.
Also right around now it so ridiculously, painfully busy at work. It might be better this year because of some developments in the way things are conducted, but it will still be busy, just maybe not as overwhelmingly so.
That’s why for November, it seems every day there’s some morose reminder of the death and decay, both with the browning leaves and the holidays and death days. Not to mention the fact that the Thanksgiving story is based on a myth that masks the genocide and systemic racism against American Indigenous peoples. Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning for the Wampanoag.
Given all that, I have come to dread November. To just loathe the whole month. Because of this personal historic loathing of November, I’ve decided to reframe the month. And so this year, and hopefully each year going forward, I’m going to spend each day of November concentrating on things I am grateful for. I will post to Instagram and Facebook each day, and do my best to get those post onto Tumblr and this blog as well.
If you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the month of November as well, feel free to join me in my effort to #FillNovemberWithGratitude
Maxx was in my very first group of students my first year as a full-time classroom teacher, when I taught high school at Lisbon High over 20 years ago. He was a great person. The news that he is one of the victims who died in the horrific mass shooting in Lewiston is so shocking and so devastating.
Spirituality and Spiritual Practice in Times of Grief
As things would have it, another former student of mine from the LHS class of ’06, is also a witch and posted this Hekate graphic on her social media. It was exactly what I needed to see in this time of deep shock and grief.
I evoke various goddesses each day at the end of my daily “Morning Pages.” — Morning Pages are a practice from the book, “The Artist’s Way.” You take 3 pages to just cogitate and expatiate AKA a “brain dump.” After I do that, though, I then take some more pages to write down the following:
3 things I’m grateful for
3 things I’m looking forward to
what deities I wish to evoke to help guide my day
When I speak of evoking deities, I am not thinking of celestial beings in the clouds looking down upon us. Instead, I consider them as archetypes within our consciousness and subconscious, whose essence or spirit we wish to call to mind in order to have the most mindful, connected day we can live.
Every day, my list starts off with Brigid, who I am–in essence–named after, and Hekate, the goddess of witches. I call on Hekate to help me infuse my day with my spiritual practice. I consider her the goddess of self-assuredness, self-identity, self-esteem, and sense of self. I also consider her the goddess of smashing the MFing patriarchy. Her misalignment in traditional mythologies makes her the representation of this ultimate goal of my existence.
I find the more connected I am to my spirutal practice and spiritual identity as a witch, the more connected I am to the world at large and the specific day unfolding. When I don’t take the time to do these daily practices, I feel instead like a hamster on a wheel, spinning in place and merely plodding along rather than purposefullying living my life.
It’s been difficult for me to journal these past days since the shooting though. Putting everything down in words on this blog and in my journals forces me out of the shock mode I’ve been in since Wednesday night at 9pm, when I got the first news by text of what was unfolding in my former home. I have not been as regimented as I normally am. I’m still doing some writing, some meditating, some rituals of calming and reflection. But it’s hard to go into one’s mind in traumatic times like this.
I will keep at it though, because I know it is what nourishes me. I received many hugs from my fellow UU church members, after I shared my sorrow during Joys and Sorrows. Hugs are good.
I Don’t Really Want to Go Here Right Now but I Have to Say It: I Have and Always Will Hate Guns
Our mental health services and infrastructure need a huge amount of support, funding, and promotion. People of all kinds needs to be more assuredly enabled to address and process their vulnerabilities and emotions. Having a gun, statistically speaking, makes you less safe and more likely to suffer from gun violence, either through accidents, suicide, or homicide. We are the only nation in the world with the epidemic of mass shootings, because we are the only nation with the ludicrously lax gun laws. I hate guns. I was raised to hate them, and I agree wholeheartedly with my father, a Vietnam Marine Corp veteran, who instilled in us a loathing of guns. The NRA and gun manufacturers’ stronghold on our gun laws at the state and federal level is an abomination. I attribute this all to the kyriarchy, aka the patriarchy, which fills people’s minds with the notion that we are more free and more safe with unfettered access to guns. We are not. I’m writing this on my blog, but not really on social media because I do not want to debate people in that online platform about this issue. The only thing I plan to do is work even more diligently at the local level to get better gun safety laws in place in my home state of Rhode Island.
Life in Lewiston, 2001-2004
I want to wrap up this long post with a personal story about how meaningful this city of Maine is for me.
I moved to Lewiston all by myself as a young grown up, aged 23, in September 2001–another month fraught with tragedy. The only person I knew was my college BFF, Jenny. I left in 2004 having met hundreds of people. I made dear connections with students and colleagues in education, from Freeport and Lisbon.
Like many others I have vibrant memories from early adulthood going to the recreational places like Schemengees and Spare Time, sites of the shooting. Lewiston offers these type of places to the whole surrounding area, as the second biggest city in Maine. Mostly I used the Blue Goose as my Cheers but each one of these taverns and recreation spots of Lewiston have a special place in the social lives of the people in the area.
And most importantly, I found extra family and lots of lifelong friends from my 3 years in Lewiston.
One night from my apartment on Russell Street, I had a conversation with my Gramma out in San Francisco. She let me know that my father “was born in Florida but he was conceived in Lewiston, Maine.” I was delighted by this TMI. It must have explained why I always felt at home–my dad was “from” there.
This year was special for a few reasons. First, my mom and my brother were there for my reading. (They were heading to Fenway for the 13-1 slaughter by Blue Jay).
And the other reason was that it was my final year as an organizer of the Boston Poetry Marathon. It is very fun to organize such a large-scale event as a poetry reading marathon featuring over 100 poets, but it is A LOT of work. I’ve called it my unpaid part-time summer job. And I am absolutely brain dead today. I probably shouldn’t even be making this post. Am I at all comprehendible? (comprehensible? see, this is what I mean.)
But it is a MAGICAL event. All ages, all geographies, all languages, all spiritualities, all heritages, all gender identities, all sexualities, all races, all ethnicities, all aesthetics, all experience levels, all poetic credentials, all poetics, all practices, all forms of poetry, all types of poets perform their work at the Boston Poetry Marathon, and everyone gets 7 minutes a-piece. It’s fortifying and nourishing on an artistic level. Once I take a couple weeks to recover all the energy it takes to put this event on, I’m left with deep appreciation and inspiration.
As the rare breed of Extroverted Poet, being an organizer of literary events the perfect type of thing for me to do–meet, welcome, engage, introduce, converse with lots of people in the purpose of connecting poets to each other, to each other’s work, and to the literary arts in general. I also have a knack for organizing chaos, and chaos it is to wrangle poets, as my friend and poet Andy Peterson called it. Meeting so many people and connecting with them in such a way is my favorite part of the whole process.
But the process does take its toll. As a Cancer-Scorpio-Scorpio, I’m an Ocean Girl. (Perhaps that’s why I’ve always felt right at home in the Ocean State, when I moved here the same summer I started organizing the BPM!) But my beach days, and a lot of other summer enjoyments, like my garden, get neglected in favor of writing email campaigns, calendaring important dates, holding planning meetings, creating the mammoth schedule, and so many other small and big things that go into making the magic happen each year.
It’s been an honor to be a part of the BPM and have this small but meaningful place in Boston poetic history. And now, I get to enjoy it as a participant in future years. And do my herb garden. And make 4x as many summer beach trips (I hope). And write more posts on Notebook Witch (finally). And help my downstairs neighbor as she gets older (that would be my mom …). And not have a big old mental load of To Do’s on my mind from April-August. And devote more of that mental load to the 3 boards and 2 committees I belong to in Rhode Island for politics and my UU church. Ha! What can I say? I’m an extrovert and like to get involved!
If anyone in the BPM community is reading this: thank you! I felt a lot of love this weekend and for the past 7 years as an organizer and 14 years as a participant. Looking forward to the future as this marvelous entity continues on in its various iterations.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one is in that rare Venn Diagram overlap of “Devout Tori Amos Fan” and “Totally an Extrovert” it is practically one’s duty to organize a pre-show EWF meetup (& I’m quite sure I’m in quoting the from the wrong fandom…) 😆
Therefore, I have organized one again for this year, starting at 4pm. The venue for meetup is the patio at Lord Hobo, 2 Drydock Ave, Boston. I have reserved the patio of Lord Hobo for 20, but they want me to call if we will be a bigger group than that, so please make sure to RSVP on the Facebook Event page or by emailing me.
I organized a pre-show meet up for Tori Amos’s Boston last year, and it was so much fun nerding out with my fellow Ears With Feet (nickname for Tori fans) 🤓🥰🎹
See you all soon!!! 💙💙💙
PS I’m crossposting this all around so you might see it a bunch ☺️
I felt this meme would be good to post for today’s holiday, #Juneteenth 🖤❤️💛💚
For me, the spiritual is the political, so to speak. My spiritual practice as a modern pagan Unitarian Universalist solitary eclectic witch is intrinsically tied to my firm belief in equality, equity, and justice for everyone, especially minoritized groups.
I put energy into fighting for those things through volunteer work, and at my paid job doing whatever I can to promote the equity agenda there. And I also do so in my spiritual practice, however I can.
Which brings me to this meme. For me, I don’t think of crystals as wielding power as if in a fantasy story. I think of them as tools to help evoke in oneself the capacity to do what one sets their mind to. In that case, a plain old selenite wand, or clear quartz, touched as I toil away on paid and volunteer work for those thing I mentioned working on, is a crystal for helping promote equity and justice.
Jane Austen’s Letters edited by Deirdre Le Faye, 3rd or 4th edition
Saturday, June 3 at 11am, online event
The next meeting of the Boston Austen Book Club will be Saturday, June 3 at 11am, and we will meet online. (We may try for a late Summer in-person meeting, and we can discuss that at the Spring meeting…)
About the Spring 2023 Book
We’ll be discussing Deirdre Le Faye’s collection of Jane Austen’s Letters. (I’m using the 3rd edition; there’s also a 4th edition but there isn’t much difference between those two.)
This will be too much to talk about the whole book, so just go through and read what compels you and when we meet, we’ll each discuss those bits with the group. Some of us may have overlapping interests in the same parts, or not, but together we’ll help each other get a good sense of this comprehensive work.
If you don’t have a copy of Le Faye’s collection of Austen letters, you can read the free copy available online at https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42078 and be sure to note the date of the letters you’ve read and want to discuss so we can refer to them during the discussion.
a fake 2-day festival of Tori’s most nature-y and/or eco-justice-y songs
Bey Hive, Swifties, Deadheads, Phish Phans, Ears With Feet–all devoted fan bases have the same troubles: what to do with oneself when the tour is over and we are no longer weirdos on social media constantly refreshing our feed for news from people at the shows, waiting for posts on the latest song from the set list.
What’s an EWF like me to do at the end of the 2023 Ocean to Ocean UK/Europe tour? Why, make up a 2-show Imaginary Earth Day Festival playlist of Tori songs, of course.
Behind the Scenes for the Imaginary Earth Day Festival
I do not want to tell you how much time I put into this. Actually, yes I do! First I had my own brainstorm, then I went to the Facebook Tori groups and to Tori Twitter and asked for further recommendations. I gathered them all up, added the songs to a playlist. But then, I went even further and put the playlist in a specific order. And then I didn’t like that order so I redid it. And I didn’t like that one either, so I redid it a third time, this time hand writing out each song on the playlist on quarter sheets of scrap paper (reduce reuse recycle) and grouping them by subtheme, then building a set from that.
Then I listened to the end of each song and beginning of the next to make sure they flowed well, and did some additional tweaking to get that part of things correct. And I also made sure to incorporate almost every studio album (sorry, Midwinter Graces).
The Fake Set List Vignettes
I then went to Tori’s social media, downloaded a setlist picture, reuploaded it to a “font finder,” did some research to find a comparable font in Canva, and created fake PDFs of the Tori set list. My next phase is to decorate the set lists like Tori’s social media team does. And then I’ll post those and the link to the YouTube playlist so my fellow EWF can geek out with me.
This process took a ridiculous amount of my non-existent free time, was so incredibly geeky, and was also entirely too much fun.
Next I’ll make up keys for the songs (I’m not doing THAT MUCH research; there must be a limit!) and add them in my best facsimile of the handwritten notes.
And finally I’ll be gathering up all my witchy and whimsical tchotchke to put around the printed set lists to make it look like those lovely vignettes we get on Tori’s social media channels of the final set lists, and I’ll photograph those for Notebook Witch social media and will also post in this blog entry.
Stay tuned right here for the final product. (Might be doing something special for the official unveiling, though.)
Don’t Just Listen: Act!
Proceeds from this imaginary festival will go to the following organizations. Please consider donating to these worthy causes:
Emily Dickinson’s Poem Illustrated by Bridget Eileen
An Illustrated Version of Emily Dickinson’s Poem ‘Blazing in Gold,’ as Part of a Close Reading Project
Before I polished and primped my critical thesis for my MFA in Creative Writing, I blogged the content of the project. In fact, those posts were the origin of my arts and culture blog. Below is one part of my third semester critical thesis project on the concept of “a close reading of poetry” and what it entails.
In honor of the author India Holton’s latest novel, “The Secret Service of Tea and Treason” I posted some of my illustrations of this poem by Emily Dickinson’s to my Instagram, and I said I posted the whole thing to Notebooke Witch. The poem is quoted during an EXCELLENT scene in the newly released book 🤭 (IYKYK)
Blazing in Gold and quenching in Purple Leaping like Leopards to the Sky Then at the feet of the old Horizon Laying her spotted Face to die Stooping as low as the Otter’s Window Touching the Roof and tinting the Barn Kissing her Bonnet to the Meadow And the Juggler of Day is gone
Blazing in gold and quenching in Purple
Leaping like Leopards across the Sky
Then at the feet of the old Horizon Laying her Spotted Face to die
Stooping as low as the Otter’s Window
Touching the Roof and tinting the Barn
Kissing her Bonnet to the Meadow
And the Juggler of Day is gone
View the Close Reading of “Blazing in Gold” that Goes with These Illustrations
These illustrations were created in part to help with an exercise in close reading, that I did as part of my third semester critical thesis project in graduate school. The accompanying close reading can be viewed at:
On Joining Bell Street Chapel Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Providence, Rhode Island and the Convenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS)
As of Beltane 2023, I am officially a member of the Bell Street Chapel Unitarian Universalist Church of Federal Hill, Providence (my old neighborhood). And I am now an official member of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).
This is the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans Vision Statement:
CUUPS is an organization dedicated to networking Pagan-identified Unitarian Universalists (UUs), educating people about Paganism, promoting interfaith dialogue, developing Pagan liturgies and theologies, and supporting Pagan-identified UU religious professionals.
Bell Street Chapel is a small church but it’s full of wonderful people Every Sunday, I drop my mother off at her church on the East Side of Providence, the Church of the Redeemer. It is also a small church, and Episcopalian, and also full of wonderful people. (A very LGBTQ+ friendly, social justice oriented congregation, which is important to my mother.) Then I drive back to my old neighborhood and go to the UU service.
For this past Sunday, we danced around a May Pole and had readings dedicated to the Spring season and nature. And I signed the church membership book and took part of a new member ceremony.
I like the music, the people, the space, and I really like unplugging for an hour and having some deep contemplative time. I also love that modern pagan holidays are incorporated into the services throughout the year, along with services about social justice issues.
To turn a phrase, the spiritual has always been the political for me. That’s why I renounced the Catholic church a long time ago. But upon renouncing Catholicism, I have always missed the fellowship, the education, and the spiritual congregational aspects of the Sunday ritual of going to church. This is exactly why being a modern pagan witch, a Unitarian Universalist, and a member of CUUPS fits so well with my spiritual identity and practice.
Happy Beltane to those who celebrate! Happy middle of Spring/middle of Autumn, depending on your hemisphere. This has been a momentous one for me and I’m really happy to have a spiritual home.