Madge and the Beast

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I sometimes say that Madonna saved my life while I was a missionary in Taiwan, because it's really kind of true. I hadn't much cared for her before my mission--I loved the song "Material Girl," because it was so witty, but so much of her other stuff just seemed like the silliest, shallowest dance music, and I liked my dance music rife with complexity and angst. But as a clinically depressed missionary given to long bouts of crying, I guess I felt that since the whole God thing wasn't working for me, I might consider looking to other things to offer me happiness.

I got transferred to Taichung, one of the larger cities in my mission (which covered the lower half of the island) at the beginning of June. It was monstrously hot, and spending all day riding a bike when it's 100 degrees and 100% humidity really takes something out of you, even if you're not being treated for depression. To escape the heat, my companion (an assigned working partner, not my lover) and I would do something we called "shopping first-contacting," which meant that we would go to some department store with air-conditioning, then wander around passing out flyers advertising the church until we at least felt human again.

Our favorite department store was called LaiLai's. It offered many attractions, including a restaurant in the basement that served barely edible pizza (as opposed to the inedible kind of you found everywhere else--Pizza Hut had not made it to Taiwan in 1986) and an electronics department featuring a big-screen TV that constantly played Madonna videos. We would often position ourselves right at the top of the escalator, which was also midway between an air-conditioning vent and the television, thrusting flyers at people without saying a word as the escalator crested. They almost always took them, looked at them, looked at us, and shrugged.

OK, OK, it was a lousy way to do missionary work. In my defense I'll say that there were other ways in which I worked really hard. But missions don't cut you much slack--you're supposed to work 63 and a half hours every single week--and sometimes you had to find creative ways to survive.

Anyway, the point is, watching those videos over and over and over again, I began to appreciate Madonna's genius. It seemed clear to me that she respected her religion without feeling bound by it. She was able to incorporate accouterments and ideas from Christianity into her own creative vision. She demonstrated something I suspected: dance music could be as inspirational as religious liturgy. About that time her third album, True Blue, was released, and she changed her hairstyle from the golden ringlets she'd sported for her first two albums to a close-cropped platinum do. She provided me with an example I needed: a woman who could reinvent herself.

As a result I have always loved her, and always will, even if I don't care for some of the stuff she's done lately: I bought American Life but couldn't even finish listening to it. I put it in my cd player once, took it out before it ended, and have never tried listening to it again.

Yesterday was her 47th birthday. I thought about making yesterday's blog entry a happy birthday shout-out to her, but that just seemed silly. Instead, I sent this email message to my friend Wayne:

You have probably already baked a cake and bought the party favors, but in case you forget, thought I'd remind you that today is Madonna's 47th birthday. I realized that this day is more important to me and requires more recognition than something like the summer solstice. She's crazy now, isn't she, really truly crazy? But I still have to be grateful for what she has meant to me.

Last night we were talking on the phone and he suddenly interrupted me to say, "Holly, Holly-- Oh, oh my god. Oh my god." And then he read me a news story about the fact that she had celebrated her birthday by going riding on her country estate in England, fallen from a horse, broken her collar bone and three ribs, and fractured her hand.

That's some pretty heavy karmic shit. Madonna's whole kabbalah thing requires her to believe that everything happens for a reason, that we draw energy and events to ourselves, and drawing to you the kind of energy that makes you fall off a horse and sustain several fractures on your birthday, two months before your album comes out, so that you'll be laid up in bed and unable to film any dance videos any time soon, is serious stuff.

But I still hope she recovers quickly. I've never had a broken collar bone or a fractured hand, but I have had a broken rib--it happened on my mission--and I can say that ONE is excruciatingly painful, so having THREE has to really suck. I can only guess about how bad the other stuff feels.

This morning when I got up, turned on my computer, and checked my email, I found this message from Wayne:

Good morning!

Repeat after me: Today I am going to be a ray of fucking sunshine!

So be it.

I am so freaked out about Madge and the beast. I have never really liked horses that much. Some things should not be domesticated. And some people, I suppose. Madonna's self imposed "English country wife" thing makes we wonder if I am fulfilling my true purpose or just deluding myself? Am I supposed to be wild and free or good and trustworthy or dumb and f*ckable?

One thing I like about Wayne is that, aside from the two times he did something so awful to me that we didn't speak for months until he worked up the nerve to apologize, it's really easy to be his friend. He claims he is hard to be friends with. But I think it's not at all hard to be amused and enlightened and captivated by brilliance and inspired to be a better person, all of which are things that happen when being friends with Wayne.

Or at least, I guess it's not hard for people who want those things. For people who want to be bored most of the time, and stupid most of the time, and content with the drivel the world has to offer, and given permission never to learn or grow, well, yeah, it might be hard to be friends with him.

So today I will take his advice and be a fucking ray of sunshine–a ray of sunshine who is also thinking about Madge and the beast. Am I fulfilling my life's purpose? I don't know.

I am also a ray of sunshine with a very sore neck. I injured it somehow helped SBJ move. It hurts to look anywhere but straight ahead of me. Perhaps that is also a message from the universe? I don't know.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on August 17, 2005 12:16 AM.

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