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Archive for November, 2010

If you’re Catholic, or maybe even if you’re not, you’ve heard about the brouhaha over the Pope supposedly changing Church teaching on the use of condoms in certain situations. First of all, he didn’t change anything. Second of all, I have to wonder at the basic intelligence of journalists. It’s not really a hard point the Holy Father makes. He basically says that, if, for example, someone is infected with HIV and is already engaged in a destructive and sinful lifestyle and has hitherto had no regard for human life as evidenced by his continued sexual exploits with no regard for the health of his partner(s), then maybe, if he thinks to himself “hmm, maybe I shouldn’t infect these people. I will use a condom” this act might point to a teeny tiny moral conversion. Because you see, then he won’t be knowingly infecting people with a deadly virus. And that’s better than being a sociopath.

Dr. Janet Smith says it better. Go here to read it, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t think anything about the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human sexuality is going to change. It’s the truth, and Truth doesn’t change.

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St. Elizabeth Tends the Sick and Consoles the Poor, Unknown German Master, 1390s

Yesterday was the feast of one of my favorite saints, Elizabeth of Hungary. She was a Hungarian princess happily married to a German prince. She dressed simply andworked for the poor, giving out bread to the paupers who would come to the palace gate every day. She founded a hospital in honor of St. Francis. The court didn’t like her activities. She was cast out  after her husband died in the Crusades and worked to support her four children. She became a Third Order Franciscan,  continued her mission among the poor and outcast, and died at twenty-four.

She is a beautiful example of a married woman, a woman faced with hard times, a woman fully herself and fully another’s.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!

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7 Quick Takes

Because it’s been a crazy week, reminiscent of days gone by when a Saturday night would mean PARTAY, I give you 7 Quick Takes:  Revelry Edition.

~1~

When a friend comes to town and you both realize you haven’t had a girl’s night out since your birthday back in May you take advantage of your husband’s insistence on a Daddy/Daughter Day and leave. You look cute, you put the makeup on, and you hit the pubs. It begins!

~2~

You realize that walking to your local Scottish pub in heels is not something conducive to dancing, so you order a cab. You arrive at the pub to the sounds of obscenities being hurled in the direction of the UGA-Auburn game. Guess who lost?

~3~

You and your friend scarf down really good artichoke dip, a black and tan and a Guiness. You begin to be loquacious, and realize that you’re in for a real treat tonight.

~4~

You grab a pedicab, driven by a nice sound design major. You discuss theater. You arrive at Moon River Brewing Co., the most haunted bar in Savannah, and that’s saying something. Everywhere in Savannah is haunted if it was built before the Korean War. You sit down and discover the untold glory that is Tater Ale.  You eat, you watch the haunted pub crawl tour and smile. You realize that what you need is dancing and lots of it. So you grab a to go cup of Tater Ale (peace be upon Moon River Brewing Co.), sigh with delight that there is such a thing as a to-go cup for beer, and hoof it with your tipsy friend over to City Market

~5~

It’s a bit dead. You drink your ale and think, what could we do? Your friend suggests talking to the nice firemen who are hanging out with their engine. You say “go for it” and watch your single friend chat cutely with single firemen. You realize how glad you are to be married, because it’s just fun watching the game. You decide to go….TO RIVER STREET!

~6~

It’s quiet on River Street. Hardly any drunken revelers to be seen. This is unsurprising since it’s the USMC’s birthday ball night. But, wait a while and things will pick up. You and your friend decide to do the unthinkable. You toddle to a dive bar where there is a live (bad) band. You watch all sorts of people, ranging from the bachelor party offering free grabs of the groom- to- be which you decline, to the off duty streetwalker shakin’ it on the dance floor. We realized it was lame, so we went back to City Market to a wing place that has a dance floor, bar and a live  (good) band upstairs. You dance. Lots. You sing along to the greatest hits ever to come out of Jersey. You avoid the creepy dude with the backwards ball cap. You send out “I’M MARRIED” vibes and end up having a great time dancing with your friend and on your own. You realize that you never got to do stuff like this in college, because you took yourself far too seriously. You realize how lucky you are to have a husband who understands the need  to stay out late twice a year and get down!

~7~

You arrive home via cab. You collapse into bed. You smell like you’ve been to a bar because the smoking ban is not yet in effect. You feel like you might be an irresponsible, terrible mother, and your husband reminds you that you get out maybe three nights a year on your own. You feel a little better and fall asleep. When you wake up the next morning you feel like you’ve been run over by a train. You realize you are old because you weren’t drunk last night. You desperately need as much caffeine as you can handle. More, even. You are grateful for the quiet during mass and the huge brunch of corned beef hash afterwards. You are grateful that the itch has been scratched and you won’t stay out so late again until your sister arrives and you take her on the haunted pub crawl.  In short, you realize it’s just what the doctor ordered, with a sidecar of blech for the next day. Huzzah!

Thanks to Jen for hosting Quick Takes.

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It’s almost Advent. You know what that means. Trying desperately hard to have some semblance of spiritual recollection in the midst of all the commercialization of Holiday. My husband says he would kill to go back to the good old days of the commercialization of Christmas. Where do you go from “Holiday”? Winterval?

Anyway, Advent is upon us and we Catholic mother types search for both personal and family things to do to prepare for the birth of Jesus. I have to, because if I don’t, I’ll forget all about it completely, and Christmas Eve will arrive and I will realize I’ve been nasty and snappish for forty days. To prevent the spiritual meltdown, we do very concrete, thingy activities. Each year we have our lovely Advent wreath, with special prayers before dinner. We set up the creche in one end of the house and the Holy Family in another and we move them closer to the manger each night.  We try to do some individual preparation too. I like to attempt spiritual reading. Note the emphasis. So far, I have never succeeded. This year will be different. It will! Really!

And so begins another holiday season. I think that if I can keep my eyes on the material things that actually are channels of grace, and away from the stuff that spews selfishness and greed, I’ll be in good shape. 

Maybe I’ll avoid the mall.

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One of my favorite bloggers, Betty Beguiles, is asking for “How You Met” stories. I commented over at her blog, and then realized my poor wee blog has been neglected, and I’m suffering from writer’s block. Let’s see if my “How You Met” story unblocks me!

I met my husband in the dining hall of our university. Some friends from the college radio station had been saying for a while “You’ve just got to meet Cubbedge. He’s our version of Matt Drudge.” I thought Cubbedge was an interesting name. I also knew he was in law school, which, as a lowly sophomore, I found impressive.

We met. He had the pizza. I had the taco salad. He was painstakingly polite, which was unusual. He stood up, shook my hand and said “I’m Will Cubbedge. It’s good to meet you.” I had no idea we’d ever be married. Not a clue. No fireworks, no flutters, no “just knowing”. We were dating other people and we were both miserable in those relationships. We struck up a friendship, and I’d see him occasionally in the student center.’ He became one of a VERY few people I was consistently happy to see while I was going through a painful time. He would just be himself, and cheer me up.

Later he told me that when he first saw me he thought “My God, she’s cute!”  Apparently, a bit of a crush developed then and there. It grew!

When I broke up with Mr. Wrong I had just taken a leave of absence from school. I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown and just couldn’t handle it anymore. My friends, who had not really seen me in almost a year, decided it was time for a re-introduction to society. One of my dearest friends, the amazing and talented Colleen, had a birthday excursion to Krispy Kreme. I toddled over to her place and Will was there. He was on the phone. He came over to me and gave me a great big hug. I think Colleen had let people know ahead of time that I had just broken up; I put the nice hug down to that. But, one thing I noticed was that he gave the best hugs.

Afterwards he dropped me off at my house. It was a full car, but he shook my hand and held it longer than was strictly necessary. I started to think “Hmm. I think someone likes me.”

Some time passed and one Friday afternoon I saw him at mass. I was with my sister, who was more aware than I was that he was interested. He invited me to poker night at his apartment. It was a weekly think that he and his Alhambra Caravan had been doing for a year or so. I was hesitant. For one thing, I wasn’t looking for love. I had absolutely no desire to be in a relationship. I didn’t want the drama and disappointment, and I was reeling from the bad old days. But, Will was a good friend, and my sister said “You need to go. It’ll do you good.” So I went. He picked me up, and we chatted on the drive. When I got there, I was the ONLY girl. There was the table, surrounded by ten guys, all of whom cheered when I entered. This was the beginning of our courtship. I went, week  after week. It was fun, and there was no pressure at all. It was just a good time.

One night, driving home, Will, a Kentucky native, asked if I liked bluegrass music. I said I had really liked the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou, so even though I didn’t know much about it I probably liked it. He said he had an extra ticket for a Ralph Stanley concert, who had done a lot of music for the movie. He asked if I’d like to go. Now, I really didn’t know he was asking me out on a date. We had plans to go with some friends to a gun range the day before the concert, so I kind of assumed this was another friend thing. I wasn’t averse to going on a date at this point. I thought he was sweet, and a gentleman, and interesting. So, I said “sure!”

Our almost first date was at the gun range where he taught me to shoot. I did very well. It was scary, but I am here to tell you that a gun range is the perfect date. You have a potentially deadly activity,  and it’s nice and loud, and a bit scary, so you get encouraging hugs from the guy. It’s like a haunted house, but more fun. I showed my parents the target, and they thought it was great. The next day, Will showed up in a suit, ready to head to the concert. The weird thing is that his ex girlfriend had called him that afternoon and been a bit, well, odd. At any rate, we had a ball at the concert. I watched him closely to see what kind of date he was. Was he rude to waiters? Was he grabby? Was he argumentative? He was none of the above. He did actually try to see how contrarian he could be before I put the kibosh on it; I said “Will, knock it off. You’re being an ass” and he laughed and said “I know. I wanted to see what you’d do.” Apparently, he had bad luck with women just being passive aggressive when they dislike something, and my honesty (?) was a refreshing change.

It took off from there. Will took forever to ask me if I wanted to date.  It was in a diner, over milkshakes. I just sat there, smiling. I knew what he wanted to say, but was having a hard time saying. It was cute. He was so nervous! When he finally spat it out, I just said “Yes. I’d like that.” And went back to my milkshake. He said he’d ask my dad’s permission to date me. I really appreciated that because it was so opposite to what other young men had done. He showed up a couple days later on my doorstep with the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers, dressed to the nines, to talk to my father.

I actually was no longer terrified of the idea of marriage. It was great, because the way we discussed it there was no pressure to build up emotional intensity. There wasn’t anything put on. It was simply a case of us liking each other a lot, being good friends already, and seeing where this would take us. We decided early on not to kiss, because we had been manipulated by physical “affection” in both our previous relationships. I wanted to be sure I was within the will of God, and I wanted my head to be clear. Not that we weren’t affectionate. I’m sure my siblings, blessings be upon them, vomited on many occasions. This kind of decision obviously isn’t for everybody, but for us, it was a good idea. We needed healing in the romance department, and we didn’t want to mess up a good thing.

We dated for four months. It was the easiest, most natural thing in the world. I guess I did just “know”, and it surprised me. I prayed and prayed for detachment, and to be able to just let God take control. And He did. And when I got the go ahead from God to fall in love, I did, and it wasn’t scary or weird. It was peace and all good. I was certain. I knew that if he asked me to marry him, I’d say yes.

We got engaged in June, 2004, under a live oak tree in South Carolina. There were lots and lots of stars. It was actually just what I had imagined as a moody teenager. We suffered through engagement and got married a year later. We like  to think we got the bumps  in our marriage smoothed out early on, because, frankly, we didn’t have much of a honeymoon period. A saintly nun friend of mine once told me “God got you through the rough patch early so He could use your family in a special way. Now you’re holier than you would have been.” I think she’s right. 

I will finish now up by saying that we’re happier today than we were the day we got married, we love each other more, and can’t imagine life any other way.

Romance concluded. Now you can excuse yourselves  to the restroom and commence with the reverse parystolsis.

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Write letters to the Christians in Baghdad!

You’ve all heard or seen what happened at Our Lady of Salvation Church. I realize this is a little late in coming, but if you can, please write! When one of us suffers, we all suffer.

(H/T The Anchoress)

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My Olympus

 

When I first got married I was clueless about many, many things.  I hadn’t the faintest idea about how to deal with “making a home”, and was very resistant to the idea of having to actually work, in order to keep a house nice. Husbands, unless they are professional interior decorators, generally aren’t a help in this department. If you can keep the place disease free, they’re happy (unless you’ve married a neat freak, in which case, God help you). After years of sloth, I now have a child, and have realized that if I’m not at least reaching towards order in my home, I will get NOTHING done. I will be nasty, short tempered, and depressed.  My talents will lie in the gutter that is the dirty bathroom, squandered.

Fortunately, I have discovered that the goddess Hestia is key in promoting my tranquility.

No, I am not a pagan and I am not promoting Hestia as Your Best Deity Now. Think of Hestia as more of a principle of happy housewifery than a person and you’ve got my idea. In Greek mythology she is the goddess of the hearth. She didn’t get into trouble, or have fun seducing people and then turning them into animals. No, she was more of a stay- at- Olympus mom. Hestia took care of the place, made sure everything was relatively orderly, even when Zeus and Hera were having their drama queen moments. People loved her. They knew she wouldn’t mess with them if someone in a moment of foolishness compared a mortal girl to Aphrodite. She was quiet and calm, and put up with a lot of chaos. In my adventures in homemaking, such as they are, I find keeping in mind the actual importance of my job helps me not feel like a drudge. No one really likes having to do dishes by hand, or cart the laundry out to the shed out back because your falling down house doesn’t have a washer inside. But, if I keep what my work accomplishes in sight it doesn’t seem so bad. Because of my day in, day out work, my kid doesn’t look like a Punch illustration.  Because I remember to feed my husband vegetables, he eschews the Honeybuns and minute steaks he lived on in law school.  I am mighty. I am a domestic goddess.

Unfortunately, not being an actual denizen of Olympus, I get behind. Strewn over my living room floor are blocks, bags of summer clothes to be stored, a tube of Butt Paste, a tiara and a small bear. And ear buds for my iPod.  And a check book. And a sock. No, I do not know where the other one is. It’s time for some ambrosia. I’ll deal with it later. Even goddesses need tea breaks.

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