Uh, Well, That Was Interesting, Sorta

Okay, uh, 2020 was hard.  I was isolated, set apart, and miserable, and then Covid-19 happened.  Yeah, the other stuff had already taken place before Covid-19 burst onto the scene.  I lost a friendship and my compass, as I realized I have had more conflict with women as a woman in six years than I had with women as a man in 60 years.  I won’t write any more about that right now.  You’ll have to wait for my memoir to come out in June.  I definitely wrote about it there.

Before Covid hit full force I squeezed in one last speaking engagement.  I spoke for a conference at Rutgers University on March 7. The conference was packed with students who didn’t seem to have a care in the world.  The speakers felt otherwise. We were all antsy, and more than a bit uncomfortable with the meet and greets scheduled after each session.  One of the other speakers was the editor of the Onion.  It seemed ironic, since everything happening felt like an article in the Onion.  Another speaker was an elderly Holocaust survivor.  I felt so badly for him as students crowded around to express their admiration.  It was obvious he would have appreciated more adoration from a distance.

When I flew home from NYC the next day, a flight attendant on my flight out of Charlotte refused to fly until the crew was given cleaning wipes with over 67 percent alcohol content.  There were exactly 15 American Airlines personnel in the jetway mediating the dispute as we all sat on the crowded plane waiting to fly to Denver.  The flight was an omen of the chaos to come.  I have not flown since that CLT-DEN leg on March 8.

Within a week, all of my live speaking engagements for the remainder of the year had cancelled.  Then I was pulled from the preaching team of our church, which left me sitting at home alone trying not to catch a virus that might well kill me.  Which turned out to not be a bad thing, because I also had to write a memoir, which it turns out is about as fun as eight months of daily root canal procedures.  I do not recommend writing a memoir when you are not currently in therapy.  I kept having to schedule one-off sessions with Naomi, my New York therapist for 28 years. Dredging up your past in the middle of a pandemic while you are also in the saddest and most troubling work experience of your life (which in my case is saying a lot) is not something I would necessarily recommend.

Then after a few months I found myself a co-pastor again, working with people I adore.  That was nice, and redemptive, and the church is thriving.  Then all of these corporate conference departments realized if they didn’t use their budgets they were going to lose them, and I started doing one keynote after another after another, all from my living room.  I earned more in two months than I did in my first four years as Paula.  And about 1,200 people a week watched our worship services from John Gaddis’s front porch, including people from New Zealand and Australia and British Columbia and Mexico and Brazil and Ireland and England.  Which was all kind of cool. And then writing the book didn’t suck so much for a while, until it did again.

Writing about gender inequity (two chapters) and the unfortunate realities of evangelicals and their rejection of LGBTQ people (another two chapters) and a chapter about the differences between male and female sexuality and spirituality were all enjoyable.  Then my editor said I had to get real and talk about the things I didn’t want to talk about when it comes to my own journey from Paul to Paula and what happened at church, and suddenly writing sucked again and I wanted to give back my advance and throw out the whole book.

Then my editor reminded me that I had told her I didn’t want to write a good book.  I wanted to write a great book and if I wanted to do that, I had to get down and dirty about the stuff I didn’t want to write about and I knew she was right, and I did write about it.  I wrote for about 10 hours a day for three weeks and finished the manuscript before Christmas.  It still has to go through copy edits – but it’s mostly done, and I don’t hate it.  I’m not sure if its great or not, or if it will sell, or if the folks at Simon and Schuster will hang their heads and say, “Why did we offer that contract?” and I’ll never get a contract to write ever again, which happens way more often than you might think.  But getting nervous about that can wait for the second half of 2021.  That I was able to write at all during the pandemic is an accomplishment in and of itself, right?

Cathy and I got together on New Year’s Eve and ordered in a nice meal and talked about getting married 48 years ago when we were only 12 and 10 and how things have turned out so far.  Then she went home, and I went to bed and it was well before midnight.

All of 2020 felt like this post – disjointed and without a thread running through it, other than random chaos, which is a thread of sorts, I suppose.  And I haven’t said a word yet about the man who will still be president for another two and a half weeks, which in Trump world is time enough to start a war or two, pardon everyone who has ever been to Mar-a-Lago, and search for still more heart-stopping ways to destroy our democracy.

Here’s to 2021.  It’s gotta be better, right?

15 thoughts on “Uh, Well, That Was Interesting, Sorta

  1. Rough summary of a rough year. So, have you figured out why we women have so many conflicts with women? Bring on 1/20/21!

    ____________________ Holly S Hoxeng 5981 Chivalry Dr Colorado Springs CO 80923 303-877-5373 (c) 719-574-0176 (h)

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula, the more I learn about your personal life, the more I admire you as a person. The way you still think about God, despite all the garbage you had to endure from religion seems miraculous to me, and though I have not had any similar experiences of religion messing up my life, mostly because I have seldom considered myself to have a religion, it seems to me that the messages you give come pretty directly from God. I think that is a very cool thing, and I, for one, am very thankful that you exist, and I was able to find you, and that lovely community you hang out it. Please, keep on keeping on, Paula. I know for sure that I am just one of many you have touched in your ministry. You are doing big things for a whole lot of little people, and I thank you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. With so much nourishing reality, and such warm-hearted-despite-weariness positive energy coming through a “chaotic” blog post, I’m betting that “As A Woman” will be a great book indeed!
    I hadn’t previously given any particular thought to this coming June, but now I’m really looking forward to it.
    A blessed and blessing 2021 to you & yours, Paula!

    Like

  4. I never read nonfiction, but will make an exception for your memoir, if for no other reason than to hear your thoughts on why women can’t get along with each other, esp at work. After hearing all those tired stories about women not getting along or working well together, I was determined that I would not be like that, and that I would help as many younger women in their careers as I possibly could. Then, a female boss sacked ME, and I never could understand why, except perhaps jealousy or threat. I’ve thought about it for years, esp when my takeaway was, “I never want to work for a woman again.” I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Paula,
    I always appreciate your thoughts even though I don’t always comment. I’m really looking forward to your book. I hold you up to my transgender daughter as a role model of a successful transgender woman. My daughter has been “out” for two years and is just starting her career.
    And yes, I hope Dear Leader can keep from doing further damage over the next two weeks.
    Here’s to a better 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been waiting for a spokesperson such as yourself to articulate the differences emotionally between male and female ‘ways’ for at least 20 yrs. YOU are the one who can do it. I am would be shocked and dismayed if your memoir did not become a hit! m.gould

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So sorry this year has been so very rough for you. Sounds like things improved a bit but still sounds like a bad year. Left Hand loves you that’s clear and I am beyond thrilled to have stumbled across you during quarantine. Love your preaching.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely Paula,

    I am grateful for you in the world, and grateful to you that you continue to let us “peek under the hood” into how life is for you, even the rough bits. Vulnerability is a tough gig when everything is going well in our lives and the world, and you are engaging in a tremendously vulnerable act in all of your writing. As an extravert, this has been a trying and difficult 55 weeks for me personally. I appreciate your wisdom and kindness in the things you let into the world. Be well, and I pray for a 2021 that includes you flourishing.

    Thanks,
    Kate

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Like many people, I am looking forward to reading your memoir.

    Women can be the most amazing support and also our own worst enemies. I’ve had both. So I feel your pain in those few brief sentences you wrote..

    I am full of hope for the new year! Sending positive vibes your way!

    Warmly,
    Becca

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  10. Paula, I’ve been remiss in my correspondence with you. I read every blog post you write, carry on one-sided conversations with you regularly, think to myself “I need to write and tell her what I think about what she wrote,” and then I don’t. You know how the urgent steamrolls over the important. I am steamrolled regularly. But I can’t put this response off any longer. Yours of January 1 was one of your best, not just because I could match your Charlotte-based AA flights horror stories, though I could; and not only because I share your pain as a involuntary shut-in (thanks to covid); and not because I recently published a quasi-memoir, so can feel your pain as you rummage around in the basement of your memories–especially that part about part when “suddenly writing sucked”; but because I especially liked your last two paragraphs. The first of the last: You and Cathy celebrated New Year’s Eve right, as mature adults should. (Bet I beat you to bed, though. More mature, you see.) All along I’ve been touched by the energy both of you have dedicated in order to preserve your friendship, demonstrate genuine love, and bless your children. As my Aussie son-in-law would say, “Good on ya, mate!” In this case, mates. And then the final one. For a few decades now I’ve felt pretty lonely in my tribe politically, but my isolation has increased in the last four years. I can’t understand how some of my friends–intelligent, generally perceptive in so many ways–haven’t been able to see through Mr. Trump and seem to feel no disconnect between what he is and does and what the Bible we preach from says and expects. I’m wondering how these friends feel this evening, January 6, after they watched his Trumpites storm and trash the Capitol building–in honor the same Mr. Trump. Madness. I haven’t had the courage to call them to ask. Nero comes to mind, or James Buchanan, who has just been bumped from his standing in the ranking of American presidents. Mick Smith and reconnected recently. I was pleased to learn that he’s in touch with you. That friendship confirms my high opinion of both of you.  Please remember that somewhere out in the Wild Wild West there’s a feeble old man who still likes calling you friend and who hopes that someday, when covid is defeated and we can once again wander from home as the buffalo roam, we can actually have a cuppa together. My treat. Blessings, Roy

    LeRoy Lawson

    Northwest Christian Church

    Senior Associate Pastor

      2315 Villa Road

      Newberg OR 97132

      503-538-3104

    Like

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