Sex & The Single Vicar

Tales of Ecclesiastical Dating

img_12891963. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?

Brown courdouroy smocked dress and white puffy blouse. Navy blue polka dot shift and  striped Danskins.  Parochial school uniform and Peter Pan collars.  Mary Janes, saddle shoes, and Keds.

1973. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?

Peasant dresses, halter tops, and army jacket. Denim cutoffs, bellbottom pants, and macrame belts. Parochial school uniform and Oxford cloth shirts. Platforms, flip flops, and saddle shoes.

1983. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?

Pleated skirts and cardigan sweaters. Padded shoulders and tailored slacks. Designer jeans, and tasteful flats.

1993. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?

Khaki trousers, corduroy jumpers, and denim overalls.  Cotton turtlenecks, kilts and tights. Embroidered vests and cable knit sweaters. Black flats, brown flats, and tennis shoes.

2003. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?

Target basics and Talbot’s work clothes. Cotton sweats and running suits. Clergy shirts and clerical collars. Random flats, Birkenstocks, and flip flops  — in every color under the sun.

And thirteen years on.

2016. Open my wardrobe and what do you see?

Funky tunics and interesting tops. Comfy leggings and skinny jeans. Prints, patterns, and primary colors. Autumn hues and basic black. Dressy dresses and dresses just for fun. Lululemon trousers and button down shirts. Bits of ribbon and bits of lace. TOMS, saddle shoes, ASICS, and a multitude of multicolored flats.

I have both lost and found myself in my wardrobe.

Middle child, parochial school girl, head of the class.

Flower child, high school nerd, and rebel without a cause.

Computer programmer, working mom, sometimes a wife.

Seminary student, kindergarten volunteer, and Del Ray mom.

Parish priest, divorcee, and mostly manic.

Half marathoner, storyteller, blogger, irreverent reverend, and pseudo-libarian.

I have lost and found myself in my wardrobe.

Clothes are the window dressing of the soul. Spiritual expressions of our psyches and personalities. Creative expressions of our passions and our moods.

In my darker days, my wardrobe was all solid colors. No prints. Basic and boring. I would buy three colors of the same pants and the same sweater.

All the better to hide in. All the better to disappear.

Those dark days are long — and hopefully forever — gone.

How do I know?

Because my wardrobe therapist tells me so.

My therapeutic fashion consultant, Stephanie Hernandez, helped me work through my closet issues.

Stephie is a very good friend of my awesome daughter Colleen. Stephie is a young LCSW with a passion for style and an entrepreneurial spirit. She’s the founder of  “Look Good, Feel Good”— “a therapeutic approach to finding your personal style.”

A brilliant idea! This bipolar soul signed herself up right away!

Personable, warm, and observant, Stephie first sat down on my couch and we had a chat. I walked her through a “regular day” so she could learn about my bipolar life — both at work and at play. I gave her a one minute tour of my condo and then we took a thirty minute walk through my wardrobe.

And then for the next half hour, we played dress up. Mixing and matching funky and flattering combos, Stephie helped me come up with outfits that  I can wear just about anywhere:  @LOC, @EEC,  walking Del Ray, or strolling DC.

Working with Stephie made me feel so much cooler and so much cuter than I actually am!

It was very therapeutic.

It was so much fun.

“Look Good, Feel Good Style”

It’s not just a catchy slogan, it’s fashion philosophy.

I recommend Stephanie Hernandez and her new enterprise most happily!

So friends, what’s in your wardrobe?

Singularly yours:

The Rev: Joani

Note: Also posted on Unorthodox & Unhinged: Tales of a Manic Christian

 

 

 

bookish heart pages folded

My lover is an open book.

Quite literally.

Currently I am intimate with three:

White Noise by Don DeLillo. Hilarious, beautiful, and strange.

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett.  “Lovely, lyrical, and deeply informative”.

and…

The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf.  “A big, magnificent, and adventurous book”.

Each is easy on the eyes, lovely to hold, and stimulating to my gray cells.

It depends on my mood which one I take to my bed.

I love a good conversation with a good book before falling asleep. Pillow talk is both provocative and conducive to interesting dreams.

My intimates are most passionate, as am I.

I am good with words. I make my living with words, but they often best me. Words drip like honey from their pens: quotable things describing intimate things — like this brief delight from Don DeLillo.

Babette and I have turned our lives for each other’s thoughtful regard, turned them in the moonlight in our pale hands, spoken deep into the night about our fathers and mothers, childhoods, friendships, awakenings, old loves,  fears (except for fear of death). No detail must be left out, not even a dog with ticks or a neighbor’s boy who ate an insect on a dare. The smell of pantries, the sense of empty afternoons, the feel of things as they rained across our skin, things as facts and passions, the feel of pain, loss, disappointment, breathless delight.  In these night recitations, we create a space between things as we felt them at the time and as we speak them now. This is the space reserved for irony, sympathy, and fond amusement, the means by which we rescue ourselves from the past. 

Such language, it makes me jealous.

Books are also a sensual thing to hold in the hand: smooth pages, ragged edges, the whiff of oak trees and earth.

And there is something evocative about the printed word, being engaged in black and white.  As sentences slither from left to right, my moods shift from dark to  light.

And books are a perpetual tease. Turn the page! Turn the page! Breathless, I dream of what is on the other side. It is so tantalizing to believe that if I just get to end of this chapter, I will be satisfied.

Deeply satisfied.

And the best of books, of course, make me think. They not only get into my bed; they get into my head. They puzzle me, challenge me. They expand my inner space and widen my outer world.

I will never be an astronaut but I have explored the cosmos. I will never be a philosopher but I have pondered by Walden Pond. I will never be a botanist but flowers and weeds both grow wild in my head.

All for the love of a good book.

Tumbled between the sheets, my lovers lie spent. Their covers lost. Their spines broken. Their pages torn. Their corners bent.

No man can possibly compete.

Or can he?

Next week I take the plunge and dive in deep. I start sixteen weeks of intensive training at the Library of Congress — where I will get to hear, see, and taste all of the delights this great Temple of Learning has to offer: its collections and its history; its rumors and its secrets.

Who knows who I might bump into in the hallways or meet up with behind the stacks?

There’s nothing like a sexy librarian to make me weak in the knees. The possibility of a literary assignation in the corridors of the LOC — lights me up like a firefly.

Yes,  a bibliophile’s dream.

Just one more week on S&TSV.

Singularly yours

The Rev: Joani

IMG_1234

Looking for bromance?

It seems Trump and Putin have been playing footsie under the table.

Putin flirts with Trump and Trump’s heart is all aflutter.

Tweet, tweet, Vladimir, strong leader. So handsome, shirtless and mounted on your horse.

Of course, we have much in common.

So Trump, a rank neophyte narcissistically plays the game — courting the love of a KGB thug.

Don’t cry over me, Crimea. The Ukraine? Take it. It’s yours!

NATO? You’re right. Too expensive. We don’t need it. Where is Estonia anyway?

The DNC and Hillary? Hack away, hack away. The server is in the basement.

What we won’t do for love.

Setting up my dating profile, my matchmaker asks me about my politics.

Liberal.

Definitely liberal.

Bleeding heart liberal.

Definitely a Democrat.

And in a mate, what would I find simpatico?

Definitely similar but not necessarily the same.

So in addition to all the above I add:

Moderates.

Centrists.

Slightly right of center.

Libertarians and reasonable Republicans are also welcome to apply.

“But NO Trump supporters,” I emphatically reply.

That would be a bridge too far, beyond the pale. A Hillary-Donald ticket is bound to fail.

My religious preferences, I should note, were broader than my political ones. This lady vicar checked “yes” next to:

Jewish. Check.

Buddhist. Check.

Christian. Check.

Muslim. Check.

Mormon. Check.

Spiritual but not religious. Check.

Atheist and/or Agnostic. Check.

I drew the line, however, at what I considered the outer limits.

Fundamentalist. No check.

It seemed best to steer clear of extremes.

Which, of course, leads me back to Trump — or should I say “Trumpism” – a blind faith that many embrace with xenophobic zeal.

Here I draw my line in the sand, so gentleman, please, play the political card early in the game. In this election cycle, there is no easier way for me to separate the sheep from the goats.

But my own choices make me wonder (Mary Matlin and James Carville aside) how is this election season  going down for all of those already coupled people out there.

The Civil War drove families apart: father against son; brother against brother; husband against wife.

Certainly the Hillary-Donald divide is putting a strain on relationships.

My therapist, without telling tales, of course, has confirmed that this is true. So who can I talk to? Who can I interview? It’s not like I am an actual journalist.

So, thank  you New York Times for putting a real reporter on the job. In the August 13th edition there was a great piece by Sridihar Pappu: He Likes Trump. She Doesn’t. Can This Marriage Be Saved?

This is the divisive tale of Dr. Stossel and Dr Maguire — husband and wife.

“If you vote for Trump, I will divorce you and move to Canada,” she tells her husband.

“He tried to laugh it off.”

“I am serious,” she replies.

“Before this spat for nearly twenty years of marriage, politics had never caused such friction. Then came the 2016 election, a political season that has made for some hot debates in the pubic arena has also seeped into private lives…”

In 2012, Dr. Maguire and Dr. Stossel planted opposing placards on their front lawn: one for Obama; one for Romney.

No problem.

Politics were very low on the list of priorities when we met,” Dr. Stossel says.”Therapists say you have the best relationships when you are clearly separate people. And I like to think we are emotionally centered, so that we can have a major disagreement and it’s not a big problem.”

But Trump? Trump is proving to be an insurmountable problem — a downright deal breaker, you might say, relationally speaking.

(I am pretty sure the supposed author of The Art of the Deal would not like being called “a deal breaker”.)

As a woman, I cannot even entertain the thought of dating a man who would vote for a man so misogynistic and vile. A man  who reduces women to their physical features. A man who has hurled at women the ugliest of epithets. A man who has alluded “to doing his daughter” if she were not his daughter.  A man who belittles his opponent as “not sounding presidential” or “not looking presidential” or “playing the woman card.”

This week Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster, was promoted to the top tier of Trump’s campaign. Part of her impossible job is to increase Trump’s desirability to women voters.

“The more people keep repeating the same insults, the more it invites him to very legitimately defend himself. Women, look at the full measure of the man and not just one comment.”

So a New York Times commentator, Anna North in Taking Note, did just that.

“In the last month, Mr. Trump has not publicly called women ‘pigs’ or insinuated that they treated him poorly because they were menstruating.”

He has, however, asked Russian hackers to break into Hillary Clinton’s email, doubled down on the insinuation that Ted Cruz’s father was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald, implied that gun-rights activists could respond with armed rebellion (or assassination) if they don’t like Clinton’s Supreme Court picks, and called President Obama the founder of ISIS.”

“It’s not that Mr. Trump’s insulting remarks about women don’t matter anymore. Rather they now look like evidence, not only of sexism, but of a broader tendency to malign anyone he sees as standing in his way — with no regard for the truth or the consequences of his statements.”

Trump is most definitely a deal breaker for both myself and my country.

Politics makes for the strangest of bedfellows…

or no bedfellows at all.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

archie and amelie book cover

“On December 5, 1900, the New York Herald headlines screamed:”

 

“CHANLER ESCAPES

Amelie Rives First Husband

IS OUT OF ASYLUM

Search Fails to Find Wealthy Demented Man

Who Left Bloomingdale Institution…

Former Wife, Princess Troubetzkoy, Also Insane.”

This is the dark and delicious tale of doomed passion: meticulously researched and wonderfully told in Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age by Donna M. Lucey.

 Archie is John Armstrong Chanler, born in 1862, and heir to the estate of his great –grandfather John Jacob Astor of New York.

Amelie Rives, born in 1863, is the goddaughter of Robert E. Lee and descendant of a storied first family of Virginia.

Archie’s family fortune was built on the fur trade, clear-eyed capitalism, and Presbyterian rectitude. Orphaned at a tender age, Archie and his siblings were raised by committee. “A wild and willful bunch” they were tamed by “nannies, tutors, and distant guardians.”

The eldest and legally responsible for his younger siblings, Archie, at Eton honed a refined and reasonable self-control — while underneath simmered his literary and artistic appetites.

A nephew of Julia Ward Howe, a progressive scion of the salon, Archie was intellectually curious and cautiously broad-minded. A romantic and eccentric soul, he was also an inventive young man full of ideas and boundless generosity.

Amelie Rives of Castle Hill was a gifted young writer  — gifted — with a dark sensuality. The provocative prose of her first novel, The Quick or the Dead?, garnered her both notoriety and the notice of the literary lions of her day – including the likes of Oscar Wilde and Willa Cather.

Amelie’s Virginia home had “an air of civilized taste and ancient leisure.” Her noble ancestors included revolutionary war heroes and ambassadors to France. But the “War between the States” left the family homestead in tatters. Her father, a civil engineer, like a nomad wandered from post to post to keep his family financially afloat.

And so women, strong women, ruled the roost at Castle Hill. Captured in an 1880 photograph “Amelie, a young beauty at seventeen, stands behind the powerful figures of her grandmother and her granite faced Aunt Ella – as if she were next in line in a dynasty.”

Seductively, Ameilie wielded both her pen and her person to woo the men in her life. Though a woman of the Gilded Age, she boldly bucked the constricting conventions of her time.

Amelie cast aside her corset and wore exotic flowing gowns. Described as “a sizzling vessel of molten lava”, she was also surprisingly religiously devout. Most passionate and erotic in her prose, she made her reviewers blush and made her suitors swoon.

Archie madly, deeply, hopelessly pursued her. After three persistent marriage proposals, Amelie accepted and they were engaged.

Hot and cold, like fire and ice, their eight-year love affair was doomed to failure. The first two years the couple skipped across Europe — settling down long enough only to become unsettled.

Amelie seemed to love Archie the most when he was absent. And when he was absent, Archie was a tortured soul never quite knowing how to rekindle Amelie’s ardor.

Eight years after their nuptials at Castle Hill, Amelie runs off with a dashing and penniless prince, a Russian royal named Troubetzkoy.

Divorced and disgraced, Archie, still hopelessly in love with Amelie, supports her  until the day he dies.

The truth be told, they drove each other mad.

Separately they suffer bouts of insanity. Some real and some feigned.

Amelie is prone to melancholy and takes up some unusual cures in the sanitariums of the Gilded Age.

Archie, wrongly committed by his scheming siblings for seven years, escapes the asylum only to descend deeper into a manic kind of madness. He becomes a prolific automatic writer of the self-published kind. A most generous and penniless philanthropist, he ends his days scribbling his name on the walls.

Bipolar love.

Archie, posthumously, is believed to have come by his bipolar disorder quite honestly. It runs in the family. A gift that keeps giving.

Amelie’s madness is of a similar kind. Euphoric, grandiose, verbose, and highly creative, she cannot help but crash from time to time.

Their marriage was both heaven and hell: Brief episodes of bliss, bright bursts of passion. Disrupted by storms, overwhelmed by sadness.

It could not possibly last. And indeed, it did not.

The madness of such love, is it worth it?

My sensible side says “NO!”, of course. Who wants to end up on the shores of life an emotional wreck?

But my bipolar soul, the manic-depressive me, screams “YES!”

Let me have a mad, deep, intoxicating, engaging, infuriating, invigorating, reckless, mad, mad love affair…

at least one, or two, or three.

Good for a novel, a movie, a play, a memoir. Good for some crazy tall tales to tell my grandchildren some day.

And maybe good for a blog post — or two, or three.

Who knows? Stay tuned.

I’ll keep you up to date one week at a time – right here – at Sex & The Single Vicar.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

bernie sanders with champagne cartoon

First date advice from DCSingles:

Dress up. Keep it short. Don’t talk about politics, religion, or your ex.

Hmmm…not talking about politics is a bit of a challenge especially when you live inside the Beltway. And not talking about it in this Trumpian election cycle seems really hard. A political  junkie, with seven news apps on my iPhone, this is going to be almost impossible. But I will give it a try.

Hmmm…religion is off the table too. So what kind of kabuki theater will this single vicar have to perform to avoid this topic? Well, I will obviously have to state the obvious about my profession.  But I will try to table the religious debate as I am able.

And not talk about my ex?  This one is way easy for me. William and I parted ways amicably more than a decade ago. Since then Joani has cherished her independence, loves being mistress of her own domain and master of her time and space. Joani also thoroughly enjoys her own company.

Only men of a similar ilk need apply.

This week, my DCSingles matchmaker matched me up with my very first match: a guy named Glenn.

5 foot 8 inches, dark brown hair, a retired environmentalist, Jewish, and age appropriate.

What’s not to like?

A quick conversation on the phone, we make a Starbucks date and to coffee we will go.

Guardedly optimistic and game for my new sport, I consult my fashionista- dating coach daughter Colleen. She passes muster on my chosen dress and flats.

“Necklace or no necklace?” I text her.

“Necklace.” she decrees.

I Uber downtown to case out the joint and grab a table near the door.  I try to look nonchalant as I read my book and also as attractive as I can. I sit and wait for this first blind date.

There is a Santa Claus looking guy checking his phone anxiously by the door. “Waiting for someone?”  I ask. “And you might be?” “Steve,” he says. And in my head I say, “Thank God, I thought that was him.”

And then right on time, in walks Glenn.

The date is blind. So sight unseen, I was not sure what to expect.

But I wasn’t expecting Bernie Sanders.

First impressions matter most they say.

Uh oh, so here we go.

I am pretty sure he slept in his clothes: grunge jeans, baggy shirt, shoes older than my children. He sported a fisherman’s cap and carried a grocery bag that looked like it had washed up on the beach. If he hadn’t been my date, I would have mistaken him for a homeless guy. To call him rumpled would have been a compliment.

“Okay, Joani,” I tell myself, “Bernie Sanders is awesome! Don’t judge the book by his cover. Maybe this guy is riveting. So yeah, let the conversation begin.”

An environmentalist, maybe his clothes are recycled? Hmmmm….no. Maybe he drives a Prius? Hmmmm….no. Solar power in his house? Hmmm…no. But he did once work on a solar project for water treatment plants. The globe is way too short of fresh water so this is a very good thing.

Do-gooders are definitely up my alley.

Okay, my turn.

“Well, I serve a local church,” I tell him. “It’s a happening, progressive parish.” Being a lady vicar is a tough sell, you know, so I give Bernie points for just showing up. His being Jewish though, I knew he would have questions. But I wasn’t expecting this.

“You know I am a biologist and we believe in evolution,” he says somewhat condescendingly.

“Well guess what? So do I. Episcopalians believe in science.”

Surprised by my answer, it seemed he had never met an enlightened Christian before. Possibly  he thought we were some rare species that had gone extinct.

Wow, Bernie, this is going great! Let’s move on.

“So now that you are retired, Bernie, what do you do?”

He leans forward in his chair smiling and definitely trying to impress.

“Well, I go the the gym twice a week and I swim half a mile, turn around and in an hour and a half I am back home!”

Satisfied with his answer, he leans back in his chair.

“Well, Bernie, I’ve walked two half marathons and am getting ready for my next at Nagshead in November.”

“You have to go out of town for those?” he asks.

“Yes, Bernie, I love going new places.”

“Hmmm, well, I don’t get much out of my neighborhood anymore.”

“Well, Bernie, good luck with that.”

I don’t want to belabor the point but  Bernie proved to be quite a suburban fellow for my urban tastes. He had never heard of Uber, SXSW, or the Rock n Roll Marathon. Though in his favor, I am pretty sure he did know how to use the Internet.

By this time, I am definitely eyeing the exit. Keep it short, remember?

Bernie slides his card across the table, not so subtly asking for a second date.

I in turn do not slide mine. Not so subtly telling him no.

“Thank you for the conversation,” I say shaking his hand. “Gotta go to meet my daughter Colleen.” (Yes, Colleen, you were my made up escape plan.)

Tucking out the door, I duck into the book store down the block. Ah, in here I can breathe. I order a latte at the coffee bar, sit down, and think.

If nothing else, it was interesting. A social experiment. A learning experience. A good first try.

But bye-bye, Bernie, you’re not getting my vote. You lost the primaries.

One candidate down. There’s five more in my plan.

Its still early in this election season.

Let’s see where it goes.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

 

vintage-dating-game-board-game-tv-show-1967-39536de1cb4709f405743f90b74693b6-2

I am dating myself in more ways than one.

A child of the sixties, I grew up in the heyday of game shows. Before Match.dot.com,  Cupid worked his magic on The Dating Game.

 Remember?

Three handsome, groovy guys sitting on stools behind a screen; one wide eyed young woman in mini-skirt and go-go boots; a list of cute questions written down on index cards.

Bachelor #1 “First date: burgers, barbecue, or beef bourguignon?”

Bachelor #2 “Which describes you best: knight in shining armor, handyman, or boy next door?”

Bachelor #3 “Tell me about a time when you were a bad, bad boy?”

Cue the fizzy pop music and the tick and the tock of the clock. Sixty seconds later, she chooses and its love at first sight.

From the technology of TV to the app on your phone, the dating business is still pretty much a game show.

So pick up your TV Guide, friends, and come along for the ride. I am filing my field report for the last seven days.

To Tell the Truth aired first in 1956. Remember? Three guys claim to be astronauts. Two are lying. One is not. Hmmmm, dating app, how do I tell the difference?

Well, read between the lines.

The profile says he lives in DC but he messages you from LA. FAKE.

The profile is erudite, witty, and well written but in his messages he can barely write a sentence. FAKE.

His profile picture appears to be clipped from a Calvin Klein ad in GQ. FAKE.

Will the real astronaut, please, stand up?

Uh, oh. Sorry, he never showed up. He was never really here at all. FAKE.

Queen for a Day was first a radio and then a TV show. One lucky lady gets flattered , and pampered, and showered with gifts. And we all know that flattery will get you ___________?

“Hey Beautiful. Hi Gorgeous. You look younger than your age. How is it possible that you are still single?”

“So you’ve looked at my picture, I see, but have not read my profile.”

“O yes I have and we have so much in common.”

“Really? What?”

And they respond with adjectives and generalities copied and pasted from a script somewhere.

They pledge their undying love after a text or two.

Flattery will get you NOWHERE.

FAKE.

The Gong Show was an amateur hour that first aired in 1976. Remember?

Contestants get up on stage and it starts out well. And then very, very quickly it goes south. Very, very quickly, the act gets really, really bad.

Attractive, well read, doctor guy goes from attractive to creepy to scary in just three texts. GONG! BLOCKED!

Middle school music teacher and bandleader turns out to be just a sleazy guy looking for sex. GONG! BLOCKED!

Soldier guy serving in Kabul is really a sixteen year old on his computer in his basement. GONG! BLOCKED!

As I said at the beginning, I am dating myself. Not just showing my age, but I am learning to know and value the datable me.

I am learning very quickly to weed out the scammers, to discern who is genuine and who is not. Sadly it seems that equates to practically everyone on these sites. You’re left pretty much left scraping the bottom of the barrel to discover anyone real at all.

The bar gets set very, very low.

This kabuki theater is not worth my time.

There is virtually no TRUTH here but the potential for dangerous CONSEQUENCES is very, very real – especially for romantic types in my demographic.

The Internet is full of “Digital Lotharios”. To learn this, you need only go the Internet and Google it.

Read all about it at Consumer Affairs or at The Huffington Post.

“Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” scripture says.

Face the truth.

Avoid the consequences.

Love is not a game.

Singularly yours,

The Rev: Joani

 

Sorry to disappoint but S&TSV is not about “kiss and tell”. Hopefully you will find it wickedly funny, brutally honest, but not indiscreet. And well, so far there has been no kissing so there is no need for telling. But I have been practicing. No, I have not been practicing kissing myself in the mirror! […]

via Practice Makes Imperfect — Sex & The Single Vicar

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