I did a reading at CU in Boulder and met the Subito Press folks. Such fun, young, and eccentric folks--just as I had hoped. Add to that: they are in Colorado! Certain places should be outlawed . . . They are way too fun.
Here I am post-reading with my awesome cousins, celebrating my birthday, just a few weeks ahead of schedule. Any excuse to celebrate. Any excuse to go skiing.
Today, when driving around, I was listening to the radio, to these two young priests who were being interviewed. One started talking about his priestly life enthusiastically. He said that people have misconceptions about what it entails to be a priest. They don't understand the meaning of celibacy, for example.
They don’t? I asked myself. What's there to understand?
I started wondering. I was reminded of this story about a man who was so spiritual, he claimed he never had to eat. He said he could get his energy from prana, or the air. So folks followed him everywhere. One day they caught him at 2 AM on a binge at a fast-food joint. The man was unapologetic.
Sure, the man said. I do eat sometimes. But not because I need to. I just enjoy it.
I thought maybe celibacy was like that, too.
Or maybe there is a Catholic text somewhere which explains the varieties of celibacy available to its practitioners. Or perhaps it contains a list of optional definitions. Maybe there is literal vs figurative celibacy. Or theoretical vs actual celibacy. A via negativa and a via positiva for celibacy. A celibacy that is not celibacy but is not not celibacy. A virtual celibacy, an ethereal celibacy . . . Or maybe there is:
Celibacy for the priest: It only happens if/when he hears the call. Please note: the word, it, is open to interpretation. Celibacy for the layman: Yeah right. Celibacy for the pensive: A recurring nightmare, frequently discussed by those who engage in Freudian therapy. Celibacy for scientists: A hypothetical reality, best not tested. Celibacy for magicians: And you thought cutting a woman in half was cruel magic. Celibacy in ancient Greece: A curse cast upon a man who had taken liberties with the goddesses. Celibacy in the Middle Ages: A term used in battle to describe the state of a warrior who has been parted from his horse Celibacy in fairy tales and fables:A term used to describe a legendary character who had nothing, wanted nothing, felt nothing, and suffered from nothing. Celibacy according to the angels: Proof of human idiocy. Also, a preference for the wingless life. Celibacy according to Elvis: Are you lonesome tonight? Celibacy according to Odysseus: They had to tie me to the mast. Celibacy according to Sheherezade: I will tell you the rest of the story tomorrow. Celibacy according to Zorba: "There is no greater sin than when a woman asks you to her bed, and you do not go!" Celibacy according to Anonymous: The fallen leaf can never return to its branch. Celibacy according to Moliere: "I prefer an accommodating vice to an obstinate virtue." Celibacy according to St. Augustine: "O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet."
A couple of years ago, I received a letter from Nike asking me if I wanted to try my hand at writing an ad for them. They said they’d read one of my poems, and they thought I had a gift. And they’d pay me to try. I called to be sure. Yes, this wasn't a joke. Even if I failed miserably, Nike would send a nice check in the mail.
I thought about it. I remembered a high school English teacher who, like so many English teachers, fancied himself the next great American poet, but his greatest success was an ad for instant coffee. His ad was something like: What smells like, tastes like, is like fresh ground coffee?
But I was told a one-liner would not do. The Nike spokesperson seemed to think I might want to tell a little story in my ad, and maybe use some rhyme scheme, you know, compose some genuine poetry.
I tried to explain that I am not into rhyme schemes. I am not sure about the stories my poems tell. Or how genuine my poetry is . . . . I tried to warm them. But to no avail.
At the time, Nike was in the news for it’s sweatshops in third world countries, so I didn’t think I owned any Nikes. I tried not to, anyhow. But I did find a pair of draw-string Nike sweats. And I really liked them. All the elastic was long gone, and the pants were so thread-bare, they almost felt like they weren’t there. So I wrote this nice little ad. And several others.
Are you, too, looking for something new in your life? Something that's more you? Do you want that special something that protects you from the influx of unwanted news, loneliness, despair, inexplicable blues? That let's you feel as if you are outside in the summer air, strolling down the sidewalk or sandy beach feeling nothing but the wind in your hair? No chafing at your soul or pinching at your wrists and waist, no endless lists of reminders and regrets, no unsettling fears of, oh shit, or what's next? Do you often say, fuck this?
Nin Andrews is the author of 5 full collections of poetry and 6 chapbooks. She is also the editor of a book of translations of the Belgian poet, Henri Michaux. She keeps a literary blog and a blog of environmental comics.