Thursday, April 14, 2005

It's my birthday! I am 37 now, which is kind of a strange number. A prime number. Hopefully this will be a prime year!

I just got back from the most amazing event--the Death Penalty Focus Awards Dinner. Sister Helen Prejean was the final speaker, and I am still rattled and inspired by her words. She talked about how bizarre it is that state sanctioned murder is still happening and most people are unfazed by it; she talked about how we all need to wake up, how we need to learn from the poor whose communities are most affected by death row. She said our hearts need to break before any change can happen. I felt my heart breaking--an actual ripping sensation in my body--when she talked about how a mother of a man about to be executed gave her son a peck on the cheek and then ran outside and collapsed on the ground. She later told Sister Prejean that if she had wrapped her arms around her son, she never would have been able to let go, that no guard would have been able to tear her away. I am getting choked up just remembering her words. What a mesmerizing speaker she is.

Jane Kaczmarek, who plays the mom on Malcolm in the Middle, had me crying, too--she gave such a moving and impassioned speech about her experience with Death Penalty Focus (she is so lovely and generous; she signed an autograph for my kids that says, jokingly, "Obey your mother!" They're going to be thrilled when they wake up in the morning and find it on the table next to her picture.) When she first accepted her award, she laughed about how Rupert Murdoch would flip if he knew two of his stars (Kiefer Sutherland was the other one) were being honored at an anti death penalty event (this is one reason I am okay with the fact that HarperCollins isn't going to publish my new novel--it means I can get away from being part of Murdoch's evil empire). Such a rich, upsetting, uplifting evening. An a capella singing group composed entirely of formerly homeless veterans just about brought the house down. The event was a continual reminder of the power we have, both individually and collectively, to change the course of humanity.

I guess I should try to get some sleep, but I'm feeling very wired after hobnobbing with celebrities and listening to such electrifying words (Jesse Jackson spoke, too! And a bishop who said something amazing about how we need to have a "lover's quarrel" with the world. I love that concept--we can love the world deeply but still argue with it, still want to change it.)

Well, the sleepiness is kicking in now. Good night on this morn of my birth (my mom was in labor at this time 37 years ago...)


Martha O'Connor said...

Happy Birthday, Gayle! xxoo Martha

Martha O'Connor said...

PS~sounds like an amazing event. You and I are totally on the same page with this one~

gayle said...

Thanks so much, Martha! And yes, it was a truly amazing event. I'm still reeling and buzzing from it.