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Seasonal Announcement

This may come as a surprise to a certain segment of the people that know me, but I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. Specifically, in the Wisconsin Evengelical Lutheran Synod. They’re the people that Michelle Bachmann caught hell for being a member of as they’re people that believe the Pope is the antichrist. They also have a ton of beliefs that tick all sorts of boxes in “right-wing nutjob” Bingo: young-Earth creationism, misogyny (no woman is to have authority over men in the church!), deadly homophobia, an interesting relationship with Martin Luther’s vicious antisemitism, etc.

I don’t think my mom is too happy about that upbringing not really taking hold, what with me being a communist, polyamorous, bisexual queer that believes in taxation over charity (I mean, if we’re forced to remain a part of the capitalist model.) Note: I’m not actually sure how much of this paragraph my mom actually knows. I do still own two Bibles, two hymnals, and my Small Catechism. I also own four Tarot decks, an anthology of Aleister Crowley writings, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upshandis, and Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles and have dedicated a chapbook to Glycon, the snake god.

In any case, a few things did come about in my childhood. One important thing is the concept of Advent.

Background: The church year is, obviously, very important to members of the church. My extended family lives by counting the Sundays After Pentecost. Advent is the time of year in which Western Christians are expected to prepare themselves for the coming Christmas, to contemplate the new year that (according to the church) has just begun, to set their affairs in order to properly celebrate without distraction. The fact that it comes in the dead of winter is one of the few wonderful paradoxes–there are many not-so-wonderful paradoxes–in the Christian faith.

The solitude and peace that is supposed to come during Advent is often mixed in with other, more somber feelings. Not only is Advent a time for preparation, it is a time for reflection on the year past, to remember the cycle of life and death. The typical church service omits the Gloria section of the liturgy. A number of low-key, even dirge-like hymns get pulled out. My own church would have Thursday night services, accompanied only by piano, lit only by candlelight. (Incidentally, my mom was and still is the pianist for those services.)

So this was the part of the season that always intrigued me, this juxtaposition of somber excitement, of mournful expectation. It’s the same part of me that looks out the window on the skeletal trees, unable to tell the difference between those which still live and those that have been killed by ash-borer beetles, and tries to derive meaning. It’s a time of year that has always been uneasy for me, as we face our own mortality, alone, in the cold and snow, while simultaneously hatching the plans for the new year, which will always be better than the year previous–yet somehow rarely is.

And so this year, I’m trying something different. I’m actually celebrating Advent. Not in the Christian manner, of course. I’m pretty much a lost cause on that front. I’m giving something else a shot. I’m going to try a low-power hibernation, often suggested by Warren Ellis to recenter and get one’s brain and body ready for the coming year.

While I won’t be falling off the grid fully, I’m definitely kicking Facebook to the curb for the month of December. I’ll still (begrudginly) use their messenger app, but I’d much rather have a real, long-form dialogue with you, if you’re interested in in doing so with me. Many of my favorite creative writers were also prolific letter writers as well. So here, email me: cummings (dot) rick (at) gmail (dot) com. I’d much rather use that. Twitter: rickiep00h. These are likely the only channels I’ll be using for the month outside of text messaging (who calls people with their phones anymore?) because I have Plans Afoot.

Not only will I be reflecting on the previous year (or seven), I’m also going to be figuring out what the next stage of my life will be. I have one specific project I might be enacting, which is really a bunch of smaller projects, and will be planning out over the month. Hint: organizing/writing a poetry book is just one part of it.

So starting tomorrow, Dec. 1, I’ll be battening hatches and scurrying below decks to bathe myself in whatever liquor I can find and to eat all the oranges. Hopefully I’ll have good news come January.

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