Today I posted the first page of my new manuscript, Watching Rhonda Honey, on my website. The first page is about being raised Catholic. I’m glad I was raised Catholic, let me say that right now. It did three things that I like. It made me psychologically complicated, which is useful for a writer. It gave me a sense of shame, which is not a bad thing, I realize now as I’ve gotten older. And, best of all, the Catholic church taught me that, when you strip everything else away, at heart it’s all a big mystery.
Along with the first page of the novel, I posted a photograph I took in a Catholic Church in Mexico. It’s a picture of Jesus’ bloody, nailed feet. I think it’s a sign of the repressive times we live in, and the way in which we’ve internalized that repression, that I hesitated: would someone be offended? Was it in bad taste? Was I being disrespectful? —I hesitated, even though I knew that it it was right image, that if I could take a picture of what it felt like to be a little Catholic girl, it would be that picture.