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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"A Lady's Prayer" -- Catholic school for life.


People who know me know that my high school years... weren't my happiest. Between being an Orthodox girl in a Catholic school, being bullied regularly, and my favourite teacher dying on the first day of my senior year, I don't look back on it with many feelings of fondness. A few, but only a very few.

There is one positive to having a part of your life that's just dramatically, ridiculously unpleasant: it makes for great inspiration. And I recently played with the concept of hybrid essays: writing a piece within the structure of something else. A tarot deck, for example, or a medical book. An existing poem. What have you.

My essay 'A Lady's Prayer' was originally written for (and ultimately rejected from) an anthology focusing on hybrid creative nonfiction. It used the familiar old Lord's Prayer as a framework, taking each line and tying its meaning (or a meaning) to an event from high school that shaped me, my dealings with the outside world, and my feelings on religion as a whole.

Very few of the vignettes are pleasant. There's the aforementioned bullying, to the point of me staying home in bed. There's loneliness. There's psychological trauma. There's a genuine attempt to find out why, despite being a Christian in an historically Christian family that came to America specifically for the freedom to worship, I was told on my first day of high school that God doesn't love me as much as the rest of my classmates (and that he loves Jewish people even less). Mostly, there is an attempt to resolve what my family taught me about religion -- kindness, tolerance, and the pursuit of knowledge for one's own betterment -- with what I was told every day when I went to school.

Ultimately, my essay found a home with Jenny, a magazine put out by the YSU Student Literary Arts Association. While I'm not a student, they do take entries from non-students -- and they do promote and celebrate their new issues every spring and fall.

"A Lady's Prayer" is currently available to read free online as part of Jenny's fall issue, and I hope you'll give it -- and the rest -- a look. Regardless of your feelings on religion (or lack thereof), I like to think it's at least somewhat enlightening.