In addition to my duties as a Features Reporter at the station where I work, I also book guest for the morning news show. As a favor to my friend Lana Hughes, who’s also one of the anchors, I booked a woman who at the height of her Hollywood career–at a time when her star was rising to an incredible apex–turned her back on fame and fortune and became a nun. Mother Dolores, was once known as Dolores Hart, one of those beautiful cool blonde starlets (the kind Hitchcock would have obsessed over). She starred in the early 1960’s spring break epic, Where The Boys Are, one of Lana’s favorite movies. She played Merritt, a beautiful, but brainy college Sophomore from a northern university buried beneath early spring snow, who comes to Florida (where the boys are) for Spring Break. Merritt was the one in the perpetual up do who wanted love and all its trappings, but demonstrated just enough sexual curiosity mixed with restraint to make this 1961 celluloid classic the moral imperative it was.
She was pretty, wasn’t she?
Smart, too and studio execs loved her as much as the cameras did. She was called ‘the next Grace Kelly’. She starred in ten movies and made more money every time she signed a movie deal. She was in “Come Fly With Me” in which she played a stewardess (as they were referred to back then) and also gave Elvis is first on-screen kiss.
While in New York appearing on Broadway, a friend suggested a little weekend R&R at a convent in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Born and raised a Catholic forced to endure a parochial education, a weekend with nuns (and relatively cloistered ones, at that) was the LAST thing this popular actress wanted, but she agreed to go. In her recent interview with Lana, Dolores Hart said she knew something was different the minute her foot touched the patrol grounds on which The Abbey of Regina Laudis called home. In a matter of days, it became an urging; a deep-seeded longing that came over her quickly and went from a whisper to a scream in no time flat. It beckoned her–confounded her conventional wisdom. She was a successful actress; a career that had already beaten the odds. Her heart was the last hold out. At that point, her soul needed no convincing.
Dolores Hart not only heard God’s clarion call; she also answered it.
Goodbye Hollywood. So long, wealth and the adoration of a million fans and any man she wanted.
But she chose God.
I am fascinated by this…this…’committment’ to devotion and avocation.
I suppose I know something about it. For example, my lifelong desire to become a journalist. It never hit me like a lightning bolt…it was something I always knew I wanted. It was innate. I was born with it. And every other job I’ve had outside broadcasting or journalism left me bored and feeling unfulfilled. Invariably, I always came back to the microphone. I will always come back to the keyboard. Am I devoted to my craft? Yes, but it was never to the extent of saying good-bye to my MAC cosmetics, Narciso Rodriguez perfume, my Hermes Berkin (that will someday own) and my abject attraction to the opposite sex. I don’t think I could ever exercise temperance in any form or fashion–I am neither that principled OR disciplined and there are times God help me, when screaming “SHIT” and “ASSHOLE” at the top of my lungs feels completely remedial.
And wanting to get laid is essential.
Yet, at this stage of my life, I suppose one could say I practice a varied form of abstinence. And right now, that’s okay and that’s also where I am. I’m not at all elated with my life, but I am ihn a neccesary place that I am hopeful will eventually open up to more joy.
I ahve as confession to make: if I’ve ever used my blow to say that I was happy before or in a good place, I was lying. I’ve spent a great deal of time lying to myself about so many things. The truth is, I don’t have the energy to do that anymore. It takes a great amount of exertion and time to keep up with the Joneses in my own head. Additionally, trying to convince myself I was all right when I clearly wasn’t, was such an exercise in futility. It was like I was in this unending fire fight with a disconnected part of myself and I had no idea this was an fight that could never be won.
This is extremely frustrating—like being forced to go to a family reunion against your will and being threatened with being rounded for life if you don’t play with your bratty cousin, who you’ve never liked, but the fact that your just 18 months apart makes that a foregone conclusion. The game of choice is Battle Ship and you know the little bastard is cheating; lying boldly to your face, saying “missed”, when you KNOW the number you’ve just called out has either hit a section or completely sunk his ship altogether.
That’s one of the things…that frustration is something I’m making every effort to release in my life.
I read something recently that resonated with me.
It’s an awful thing to be at war with oneself. It’s an awful thing to keep fleeing and arriving at the same place, over and over and over again.
It ain’t a walk in the park to come to terms with the amount of lies you’ve told yourself either. When I read this (and yes, I HAVE to make an American Horror Story reference here) I was reminded of the scene when Violet realized she was dead and therefore confined to the House. She’d run out the front door, only to immediately re-enter through the back door. It didn’t matter when she tried to leave or how…it didn’t matter which door she chose to exit. She left only to immediately return. Why would anyone do that to themselves? Yes, of course, AHS is just a TV show and as a result, Violet was able to instantaneously enter and exit and exit and enter through the magic of digital editing. Yet, people live like that all the time.
I was one of them.
And I no longer want that.
So for Christmas, I gave myself the gift of forgiveness. Forgiving myself for infrations I’ve committed and the way I reacted to the sins commtited against me. I’m also in the process of learning to make certain allowances–and be perfectly fine with them. I am learning to allow myself permission not to be in control (actually, to even imply that I was ever in control is just another lie. I’ve always allowed Life to control me….or rather, I just reacted to whatever it handed me and usually with counter-productive anger and resentment). I’m okay with not knowing all the answers and I’ve allowed myself the right to arrive at the three-pronged fork in the road and just stand there for as long as I need in order to decide the right direction in which I need to go.
Sorry to sound self-indulgent, but well, this blog is cheaper than therapy. And I ask for your indulgence because I can honestly say that I’m finally arriving at a groovy place. Where’s that, you ask? Well, let’s just say I’m hiking up to the top of Mt. Contentment. Once I arrive, could I ever be that happy? That fulfilled? As selflessly joy’d up as Mother Dolores (Hart) underneath that wimple of hers??
No, but I understand my limits and I’m now perfectly willing to realistically operate within them. And no more pretense.
Yeah, I’d love to say I love opera but I don’t. I’d love to say I have the strength and single-mindedness to become a nun, but that’s something I could never do….not when I still have so much Laurie to perfect. I’m not disputing the proverbial “call”, but its an undeniable fact that some women seek a monastic life because they’re running from something. The reality is, that could be said for anything—from marrriage to a membership of a country club…to joining an Elk’s Lodge. We all want and need a sense of belonging; to be a vital part that contributes to the whole. I understand this, but right now, I’m a sisterhood of one and sue me; no one else is allowed in. This is one time when there isn’t safety in numbers. This is one of those times when my solitude becoems this hyperbaric chamber that promotes true healing.
I’m like a baker who has to work solo and fortunately, I’ve now assembled all the ingredients I need:
- a cup of patience
- a dash of self restraint
- a tbsp of pride
- a smidge of self confidence
- a sprinkling of independence
In the past, I didn’t get the chemistry involved in the creation of being emotionally self-aware. Ingredients are the basis of a cake, but the applied heat is what brings it all together. It’s what turns the batter into cake. And that is a precise process: 46.9 minutes. Removing it at 46.8 minutes would render it undercooked; 47 minutes would burn it.
I just checked my timer: I’m right at 44.3 minutes. That little red plastic thing will pop out of my navel when I’m done. Ain’t turkey roasting technology grand?
In closing, I admire Mother Dolores a great deal, but I’m far too self-centered to ever take a leap of faith like that. Besides, a postulate sounds like something a dermatologist has to lance. And not only that, I still want to wear jeans and eye liner and laugh at the raunchy ribaldry of Lisa Lampanelli. Plus, I’ve only been able to deal with my own Catholicism in small doses.
The truth is, I unapologetically like wealth and the material things it can buy. I enjoy my Michael Kors purses, my huge watches that are as big as trash can lids. I want to take trips to places where hedonism is welcomed and encouraged and someday…SOMEDAY, I want to find a loving, adoring man who I will allow myself to love and adore. Oh, how I want to call him my own.
Happy New Year.
Here’s to optimism.