Unorthodox and Unhinged

Tales of a Manic Christian


Grounded Flight


I know nothing of aerodynamics but I do know that I have a helicopter in my head.

The propellers  begin to spin slowly, slowly at first.  Then faster and faster they pick up speed.

I feel a rush of wind, a little cyclone swirling counter clockwise.

My feet take leave of the ground.

Climbing skyward, I soar over the trees. I taste the clouds.

There is a lightness of being almost too delicious to describe.

I hover high above the earth. My heart beats so, I  hear the swoosh, swoosh of a rush of blood.

Heaven expands before me. Space and time, they stretch.

Gazing above, I truly believe the only direction is up.

Gravity has no hold on me.

Gazing down, I have no fear.

No fear at all.

Buoyant. Euphoric. Exquisite.


Or at least hypo-mania.

A mild and manageable outbreak.

Please do not ask me to medicate it away.

Yes, I have a helicopter in my head and I like it that way.

Hypomania is flying just under the radar at optimal altitude. It is the passion of a polymath.

(I love that word – “polymath”. Go look it up!)

This Peacock believes herself to be a person of insatiable curiosity. Engaging in encyclopedic endeavors. And with boundless energy, of course.

I blog. I preach. I write. I teach. I walk. I read. I talk and talk. I swim and float  and dive in deep. I delight, dig in, and devour my work. I scatter seeds and rattle beads. I vocalize and volunteer. I spin tales and search for holy grails. I cruise the river front. I wander DC. I pound the pavement in front of me.  I breakfast with the birds, lunch alone, and dine with friends. I binge watch Stranger Things. I speed read three tomes at a time. And I drink lots and lots of coffee.

Good coffee.

My head expands exponentially as does the universe, so Hubble says.

The world is so, so wonderful, I dare not miss a thing. I dare not go to sleep.

My brain says that I do not have to.

I stay up later.

I wake up earlier.

I hear the engine sputter. I feel the propellers falter, the copter lunge and lurch.

Turbulent, nauseous, like stumbling and tumbling over rocks.

Sky sick, I lose control.

The ground comes rushing towards me.

Crash landing.


I hate when this happens.

My grandiose pride bruised. It begrudges me my humanity.

But wings of wax melt in the sun. Weight returns to my body. More than I would like to admit.

You know, I think I need a mental health day. I play hookie and “call in crazy.

“Yes, Joani,” my colleague Chuck says, “that sounds like the sane thing to do.”

So I do.

Sleep in.

Drink coffee in my pajamas.

Stretch out on the couch.

Read the paper.

Veg out.

Surf Hulu and wade through Netflix.

Take a late shower.

Get dressed.

Tune in.

Gather my thoughts.

Scribble them down.

Publish  and post them on U&U.

The helicopter has landed.

This Peacock is safely on the ground.


NOTE: Manically submitted at midnight, Sunday, September 12, 2016.


Leave a comment

Chasing after wind…..


Googling myself the other day, grandiosity got the better of me.

I typed in “Joan Peacock” and lo and behold lots of “Joan Peacocks” popped up. I never guessed there were so many of us!

Add an “i”, yes, an “I” and up pops me – “Joani Peacock” and all the things the Internet knows about me!

My FB photo, my Twitter handle (I do not Tweet!), my blog U&U, my mom and dad’s obituaries, Unhinged at SpeakeasyDC. “Colorfully Bipolar” – a photo journalist’s slide show of me, the clergy page at Emmanuel, the staff page at Bishop Payne, and a few of my sermons.

Then I scroll to page 2. And there I am — a celebrity – on Rotten Tomatoes for a walk on role in “White Reindeer”.


Now the real celebrity here is my son – Zach Clark – the writer, director, producer, and editor of this very outrageous and very touching Christmas movie (not for children!).

Available on Netflix streaming, “White Reindeer” premiered in 2013 at South by Southwest and has played in festivals all over the world. Critically acclaimed, the film got rave reviews in the New York Times, Variety, and the Village Voice. The New Yorker called it “an instant holiday cult classic.”

I tried out for two parts: mother and priest. I got neither. Instead I got the part of “mourner” :one of many silent extras in the funeral scene.

Rotten Tomatoes’ critics rated “White Reindeer” a whopping 89% — and that’s a very good thing. Every member of the cast and every member of the crew – that rolls by in the credits – is now listed as a “celebrity”.

“Joani Peacock”: profile picture — blank; celebrity trivia – blank; memorable quotes (from my silent walk on) – blank. Vainly I try to update the blankety- blanks – but to no avail!

Then I considered all my hands had done and the toil I expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and chasing after wind.”

After a birthday party last weekend for my brother Tim, we all went back to hangout at his house: my brothers, my sister-in-law, my daughter, her boyfriend and me.

Tim pulled out a big box of family memorabilia – a total jumble of family photos, drawings, birthday cards, and wedding invitations. Brittle and faded, buried at the bottom of the box were a handful of newspaper clippings – news of when my family made it into the news.

Fifteen minutes of fame versus a lifetime of glory.

1959. Anacostia, Washington, D.C. There’s a full-page ad in the Evening Star.


“Curtis Brothers


The Winners


The Ferrari Midget Car”


The winners were my brother and sister. Maureen sits in the driver’s seat while Tim jealously looks on. The midget Ferrari had “pneumatic tires, sealed beamed headlights, and a fiberglass body.” It could go as fast as seven miles an hour on a rechargeable battery! Hours of fun!

My siblings won the car fair and square – but maybe not. My parents did buy a lot of furniture there. And the ad is a sales ad for “Washington’s largest furniture display” at “The home for the world’s largest chair” – with Santa seated there. It’s Christmas. “Charge accounts invited!”

In four years time, six little Peacocks drove the midget into the ground.

“All is vanity and chasing after wind…”

And then from the very bottom of the box, another yellowed clipping.

1968. November 19. The Washington Post.

 “Chaplain Liteky receives Medal of Honor”

 Lyndon Johnson pinned the medal on my second cousin’s chest. Both the paper and the faded White House program tell his story.

How could I have forgotten about my mother’s cousin: an army captain, a Vietnam chaplain, a war hero, a Catholic priest who left the church, married a nun, and advocated for peace?

So I went home and Googled him – and found out more – so much more.

His hometown headline in 2009 reads:

 “Charlie Liteky: ‘He was our quarterback, and quarterbacks save the world’”

 In 1948 he played football at the Westside high school, Robert E. Lee.

“It’s 1967, with his battalion ambushed in a rice paddy, Chaplain Liteky gives last rites to the dead and dying, often walking upright and dodging bullets. He carries more than 20 wounded from the battlefield to safety.”

“There is so much blood, he’ll smell it to the day he dies.”

In 1968, the President pins the medal to his chest.

In 1986, he gives it back. “At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Charles Liteky becomes the first person in history to give up the Medal of Honor. Cameras click as he kneels before the black wall covered with the names of the dead.”

And in ’86 he fasts on the Capitol steps. “Liteky is gaunt and burning with hunger. For six weeks, he and three other veterans have starved themselves protesting Reagan’s policies in South America. After 46 days, with one of them near death, they finally eat.”

In 2001, “inside a federal penitentiary…Charlie Liteky is turning 70. It’s his second time in prison following protests outside Fort Benning where the U.S. trained Latin American officers accused of atrocities in their countries.”

“It’s 2003, in Baghdad and Charlie Liteky is there with other protesters for peace, bearing witness to what he calls an unjust and an unwise war.”

“Talk for Charlie is cheap. He has to do more than write a letter to Congress or a letter to the editor. He has to put his body on the line.”

 Not for the front-page headlines. Not for fifteen minutes of fame.

An ex-priest, an ex-Catholic, a former chaplain, Charlie will tell you that he is far from perfect. A lifelong witness to God’s truth, his mission has cost him his faith. It has lost him his God.

“But I have tried to live life to the truth as I see it at the time. That’s a very costly thing; I’ve lost a lot. I’m an ex-lot of things. But what have you got? Your integrity.”

Charlie is not a celebrity but a man of substance. Not chasing after wind, but striving in this life for the things that matter most – life saving things — death defying things.

No matter what — at the age of 84– the best that he can — until the day he dies.

Thanks be to his former God.