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Archive for March, 2011

I should be cleaning out the bedroom that just got filled up with stuff from cleaning out the future laundry room, but Betty Beguiles is asking for ten facts about you and your better half, and I simply had to oblige.

~1~

We met in the cafeteria at Catholic University. He was 24 and I was 19. He ate the pizza, and I believe I had taco salad.

~2~

We were both dating other people at the time.

~3~

He began pursuing me at the National Shrine, where we both worked in the bookstore. I’d be studying Bronte on my break and he’d come up and begin to read Jane Eyre at me in a funny accent.

~4~

We love watching goofy movies together, as well as BBC/Masterpiece costumey things.  That, some wine, olives and cheese and we are happy, happy people.

~5~

Our courtship took place over Friday night poker games with his roommates. I never got good at poker, but I got some great stories and a husband out of it!

~6~

Our first date was at a gun range.

~7~

Our first argument was over Irish nationalism.

~8~

Our first kiss was when we got engaged.

~9~

Our song is, depending on our mood when  you ask, either Be My Life’s Companion by Rosemary Clooney or the Mills Brothers, or I Will by the Beatles.

~10~

My husband once blurted out to me early in our dating relationship that he loved me. We were in the car and chatting about, of all things,  organic foods. I said “Just because I like bean sprouts doesn’t mean I don’t love a burger with grease running down my arms.” He said “I love you!” and turned purple. I just smiled and stayed quiet.

 

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You may thank me for not putting a music video from Living Color as the title of today’s post.

In the last week, I’ve heard three tales of scandal in the American church. The most recent is the accusation against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT of sexual misconduct.  Because of links on some news blogs, I discovered stuff about Fr. Euteneur and Nadine Brown.  That’s awful, I thought.  And then I read the comments.

Never read the comments when they involve a Catholic celebrity and potential bad news. Elizabeth Scalia, the Archbolds, Deacon Greg and Mark Shea deserve medals for not losing their cool.

First of all, people are crazy.  What else can you say about folks who go around giving vent to their hero worship, insulting bishops and capping it off by letting the world  know that Satan has landed? If you disagree, dislike or remain neutral over something about which no one but a handful of people can possibly know the truth about, you are a modernist, devil-worshipping person  of ill repute. And a Commie!

Everyone needs to just calm down and eat some fruit or something.

I guess I’m annoyed because it betrays such a want of humility, that pesky virtue all of us good Catholics demand from those in authority yet somehow really can’t bring ourselves to cultivate.  We prize obedience in our religious and if we see a bishop who radiates both humility and authority we know we’ve struck gold.  Why, then,  do we insist on finding loopholes to question and belittle those in legitimate spiritual authority when we disagree with something that isn’t a matter of faith or morals?  In the Fr. Corapi instance, as  soon as a bishop  said “he’s on leave” there was  a rallying cry from comboxes. The bishops are a bunch of nogoodniks!  They are out to  rid the church of courageous preachers of the TRUTH! Satan has entered the Church!  Interestingly, the lefty-leaning types say the same sort thing, barring references to the devil they don’t really believe in,  if one of their darlings is placed on leave.  There is no humility in these kinds of responses. There is plenty of self-righteousness and  gossip in the guise of fearless spiritual combat.

Just because someone teaches straight out of the Catechism, or has many spiritual gifts, or is on the front line of the pro-life movement  doesn’t mean that person is developed in virtue.  It’s simplistic to assume that orthodoxy  means sanctity. We’ve all  met plenty of people, priests, religious and laymen, who know the catechism backwards and forwards, liturgical rubrics inside and out and who engage in bad behavior.   You can’t be holy without being orthodox, but you sure can be orthodox without being holy.  Savonarola springs to mind. Maciel, does, too.

I’m not saying that Fr. Corapi is guilty of anything. I hope he’s not. He’s done a tremendous amount of good in the lives of many people It’s sad to see so many people hurt by the fallout.  I do hope that he, in the future, curbs the enthusiasm of some of his more strident supporters. All I’m saying is that cults of personality are dangerous things, and to elevate anyone to the level of sainthood before the he’s even in Purgatory, is problematic. As Catholics, we know who we have to follow and it’s not Fr. Corapi. It’s not the Intercessors of the Lamb, and it’s not Fr. Euteneur.   We are supposed to follow Christ.  We’re supposed to keep our eyes on our own work and hope for the ongoing conversion of everyone we meet. We’re not supposed to try to determine the state of anyone’s soul, whether we like that person or not. We just don’t know, and that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Instead of slandering and elevating our own opinions to the level of magisterial truth we might do something quite different. We might shut up and pray.

 

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Philomena and I went to the library for story time today. This is part of the ongoing effort to find free group activities for my increasingly precocious and insufficiently socialized child.  Only children tend to be really wonderful around adults and clueless around their peers, so really,  preschool outside the home is necessary for us.  Philomena tends to gravitate towards children she can either exert control over or who she wants to be like, and it’s always older girls who are either alpha females or barely verbal and from dysfunctional families.So, in an attempt at introducing the child to the concept of group learning and interaction, off to the library we went.

Looking back on this morning’s schedule, I’m pleasantly shocked.  The whole morning was taken up with accomplishing set tasks in a reasonable amount of time.  Usually my daughter, a born ditherer, takes a very long time to eat her oatmeal. She dawdles over getting dressed, preferring to make up elaborate stories and characters not for her dolls but for her bread crusts or spoons to act out.  If we’re completely fed, dressed, washed and combed by 9:30, it’s a red letter day and never a day that has a schedule to  be kept.  That never happens.  According to toddler rules, mothers of small children are not allowed to be ready ahead of time, ever. That way, when you arrive at your destination, sweaty and foul-tempered, people can look at you with either pity or resentment.  It’s a way to help other people develop emotional outlets.  Imagine my surprise when this morning, Philomena wakes up in a happy, dithery, imagination-filled mood and I still managed to get everything done by 9:30, knowing  we had to be out the door at 10!

We arrived at the library with five minutes to spare. Five minutes! Long enough for Philomena to look through a copy of Jan Brett’s gorgeous Goldilocks and the Three Bears and become utterly bored by the idea of listening to the nice librarian read stories about boats. I told her it was like school.  Each activity has a set amount of time, and we participate for that amount of time. It helped a little.  In spite of the very cool drawings by different SCAD students on the walls of the story time house, and an overwhelming and unusual shyness, Philomena listened. She  even answered some questions as long as no one could hear her (like mother, like daughter). She  clapped along at song time and shared the crayons beautifully when we went to make our sailboat craft.  We left with a Maisy Mouse book, Madeline and the Bad Hat, and the most beautifully illustrated version of Anderson’s The Wild Swans.  I even dashed up to the grownup stacks and found a copy of Connie Wills’ Blackout, recommended by the lovely Melanie Bettinelli. Modern fiction! I must be feeling secure with myself, or something. Anyway, a good time was had among the books.

When we left, Philomena let me know that she hadn’t wanted to learn about boats today.  She wanted to learn about animals.  I explained that when we go to school, or story time, the teacher has things to learn all planned out, and we should try to be interested. She didn’t like that. I foresee educational struggles.  It’s interesting how similar her reaction to learning is to mine. When I was a kid, I desperately hated to have to learn anything I didn’t want to learn. Funnily enough, those subjects were always the ones with which I struggled. Ah, perfectionism. It robs you of happiness and math skills. I see the same tendency in Philomena, and frankly, it terrifies me. How do you educate a brilliant, hugely independent and temperamental little girl who needs constant attention? If anyone out there has wisdom, please feel free to opine. I’m making this motherhood thing up as I go.

And so begins our quest towards preschool and socialization.

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Yes, the water in the fountain is green.

I realize the last thing I put up here was also a St. Patrick’s Day list, which momentarily deterred me from posting today. However, this year’s celebration was so epic, so over the top, that I am still processing it and need to make use of Conversion Diary’s kind  hosting.  If you don’t like St. Patrick’s Day for some mind numbing reason, feel free to not read.

~1~

You know you’ve arrived when your husband scores an invitation to the city attorney’s annual “Crack O’Dawn” party. Basically, you arrive at a vacant lot at 7:30 am, are handed a screwdriver or a bloody mary or a beer, a plate of cheese biscuits, ham, eggs and green (green!) grits and hang around listening to pipe bands tuning up and children laughing. Good morning. Why yes, I will have another bloody mary. How kind.

~2~

A green dress, a green scarf and a green purse are not over the top. To be really over the top you have to be wearing a slutty reimagining of the Irish flag, or be dressed as a seven foot tall Lucky the Leprechaun.

~3~

St. Patrick’s day, even in Savannah, has rules. You are encouraged to drink in  public, just not out of glass containers or cans. You can pass out next to a garbage can, your preppy sunglasses dangling helplessly from your neck, with go cups piled high around you, and you won’t be touched by the police, as long as you have no cans or bottles around you.  If you see a serviceman, a fireman, or a guy in a kilt who was a first responder on 9/11, you are obligated to smear on red lipstick and kiss him on the cheek. The rest of the day they wear your lipstick like a badge of honor.  When the military or fire department passes by in the parade, you must cheer. None of this politically correct army-hating nonsense. We in Savannah like our military and firemen, thank you very much. You must wear green, even if your sympathies are orange and even if you are obviously Asian, African or Scandanavian. And most importantly, if a band is playing Wild Rover, you MUST pound on something at the “no way, never” bit, as loud as possible.

~4~

It’s just sad when the little Southern gals, with their flatironed hair and skimpily torn up “I got River Faced on Sh*t Street’  t-shirts hang around by the stage and demand a makeout session with the lead singer.  Just…no. Keep it all inside, sweeties. Leave some mystery.

~5~

It’s great to make friends with the crusty looking trustafarian homeless crowd. They converge in Savannah on March 17. They are totally screwed up, and desperately self-conscious. That being said, they’re really, really sad, just as sad as people who really have no choice in the homeless matter. Maybe even sadder. So, when one of them toddles up to you and politely taps your shoulder and says “Excuse me, miss, could you spare a little beer?” just pour a bit into his outstretched plastic cup and smile. He’ll thank you for it and you will have made a new friend.

~6~

Friendliness is the order of the day. Random people will come up to you and toast you.  Catholics and Ulster Protestants will get together to hold prayer services. On your way to the grocery store in the evening toothless gentlemen will say “Hello, pretty lady” and give you their shamrock beads. Frat dudes in the grocery store will swap stories and go cups with the fishmongers.  I’m not kidding when I say you can really feel an open and loving atmosphere in the city throughout the day. Not that there aren’t plenty of opportunities for sleaze – there are. But overall, it is what you make of it, and for me, it was all about the love.

~7~

After you’ve gone to bed you will be awakened at 3am by the sounds of music. Dozens of dudes walking home singing “Black Velvet Band” in tones that can only be described as “utterly tanked” will march right past your window.  And the weird thing? You won’t mind at all.’

 

There you go.  I promise at some point I’ll be very serious and give the story of the real conversion of Ireland, and longwinded rationalizations about why we shouldn’t party in honor of an obscure English missionary, but frankly, that’s for the haters.  I’m glad Ireland was Christianized, and pray it is re-Christianized soon. It’s reason enough to celebrate.

 

 

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Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are legendary.  It’s the fourth largest celebration in the country, following New York, Boston and Chicago.  Sleepy little Savannah has been partying for the Christianization of Ireland since the eighteenth century, when Scotch-Irish Presbyterians began treating it as an anti-English observation. Time marched on, and the Catholics began to arrive in greater numbers. Our mission territory status had Irish priests coming to Savannah throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our bishop is Irish. Our pastor is Irish.  This week, everyone in the city wishes they were Irish. I don’t think I know of any other place where the Orange order and the Hibernians get together for a prayer service. It’s beautiful, really.

 

And then comes the party. Thousands of people pour into town to get drunk and sing Wild Rover. So, leading up to St. Patrick’s Day festivities are other festivities. We have to do this to inocculate ourselves against the drunken goofiness that is hard upon our heels.  Here are seven ways in which my town has already observed  southern fried St. Patrick’s day.

~1~

The fountains are green.  They dye the water kelly green every year, partly to be festive and partly to curtail the number of sudsy things thrown into the fountains during the week-long partay.

~2~

Our Lenten disciplines are relaxed by order of our bishop. That being said, daily mass attendance is up at my parish, and the green fanny pack wearing tourists  help with that.

~3~

In Savannah, it is required that you wear green for a month.  Somewhere in your ensemble, you must have green. The dear lay brother at church is even wearing a shamrock tie. You don’t have to be tacky. There are people who have gorgeous St. Patrick’s day outfits that cost a pretty penny.

~4~

There is  a drunk cage for the disorderlies on River Street.  I am seriously considering poking at them with sticks.

~5~

Archbishop O’Brien is coming to celebrate 8am mass!

~6~

Bands and bands and bands! Last night an Emerald Society band ended up playing at the Knights of Columbus. My husband was there, networking. When he left, he saw the band marching through town, playing. This was at 11:30.

~7~

My husband will be back at the KofC tonight, “networking”. Seriously, he’s met some lawyers who are hiring. Say a prayer! There is also a huge party. And by huge, I mean that the regulars are plastered by 7pm.

 

Oh, and we have green grits.

 

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The blog has been a weird combination of sparse and heavy/serious, lately, so I’m seizing Friday for something silly. My husband was away for a week, and has returned to the wonder that is March Birthday Madness. Here are my Quick Takes. Make sure you check out more over at Betty Beguiles .(stepping into the breach for Jen at Conversion Diary).

~1~

While Will was away, Iwatched Bollywood. Lots and lots of Bollywood. To the point where I now have a favorite male Bollywood lead: Ranbir Kapoor. Jury is still out on the female lead. If you haven’t seen any Bollywood movies, do yourself a favor and check out Rab Ne Bana De Jodi, Saawarya and Jab We Met. They are long, around three hours each. They have song and dance numbers. See them anyway.  I’ll be subjecting my husband to at least Rab Ne Bana De Jodi very soon.  He’ll love it. I promise.

~2~

Lent is coming up. Help us! I need spiritual reading, prferably something that gives a little how-to-actually-act-like-a-follower-of-Christ type lesson. It’s so much easier to be a good Christian to strangers than to your own family. I need help with it in a big way. Like, I’ve been scaring myself. Must jettison some thought and behavior patterns, pronto. Any suggestions would be good. I was thinking of Archbishop Chaput’s new book, but am unsure because I just read a a chapter in a good (read: not scary orginal) Imitation of Christ. What to do?

~3~

It’s so great to have good friends who are willing to babysit  for free so you can go out on a grownup date with your husband for the first time in months. Time to paint the town! We ended up eating far too much, and singing cheesy songs as we drove through the sqaures. We also strolled (it was a bit chilly, and Tuesday nights during the off season are, shall we say, dead). It was a lovely time, and we got home to a sleeping baby who had been happy all evening. We then collapsed, because unlike in our pre-marital days, we have to get to work at nasty o’clock in the morning.

~4~

When Will left for DC, I had a brilliant plan to start going to daily mass. I”ve noticed with increased  mass attendance, a toddler begins to get the idea that church is not the place for gymnastics, liturgical dance, or roller coaster rides for small acorns you found outside. Last Friday, while we did take our soaking wet boots off, we sat quietly and drew. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Much better that the repeated hissing, near-tears whispers of “Do I NEED TO TAKE YOU OUT?” and “THIS IS THE LAST TIME!!! I MEAN IT!!!” as if no one in church can hear you. Of course, then you leave church and it’s rainy and you have to drag your child out of puddles and scream her name across a square after she runs away from you, and you dash after her and nearly break your neck on wet flagstones and end up hissing at her to not run away ever again or…I don’t know what, but something will happen. And it won’t be fun. Ever again.

~5~

I have had some adult conversation in the last two weeks, even outside my newly returned husband.  I should have mentioned it earlier, but I got to meet Jim Caviezel and his family last week. They’re great. We hung  out in a coffee shop and Philomena fell in love with his ten year old son. His wife and I chatted. Yessir,  I know a movie star. I’ve also been meeting, in answer to prayer, quite a few young Catholic women. Some are single, some are married, all are great. It looks like we may get a dose of the new evangelization here in Savannah after all!

  ~6~

March madness in our house means birthdays. Today is Will’s thirty-fourth! This means I’ve known him ten years. Makes a girl think. He likes to keep his own birthday low-key, so I’m letting him sleep in, and I”ll do something nice for dinner. Besides, we have to party tomorrow for…

~7~

Philomena’s birthday extravaganza! Our beautiful daughter turned three yesterday, March 3, feast of St. Katherine Drexel, who, incidentally, is her patron for the year according to Jen’s saint’s name generator. Due to bizarre scheduling upsets, we decided to have Lulu’s birthday observed on Saturday. This means brunch (we’ve had requests for waffles), park, River Street, maybe the wildlife center, a birthday dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, and chocolate cake. Notice, I have not mentioned toys. We have enough toys for now. Her room is overflowing. We shall get a balloon and we shall like it.

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Working Mom?

My husband and I were talking the other night and came to a difficult decision. Due to our financial situation, the ongoing job hunt for my husband, and our level of student loan debt, I am going to get a part time job.

The level of discomfort this decision brought on was excruciating. I have never wanted to work while I have a little one. But, my husband and I had an agreement: I wouldn’t have to go out to work unless it was an emergency. And, right now, it’s an emergency.

Now, before the ranks of Catholic womanliness rise up against me, let me explain. No doubt some people out there will think what a martyr I am, having to go out and work when my husband is unemployed. What kind of a lazy ogre must I be married to? I’ve actually heard words to this effect before. Well, my husband is far from lazy, and he is no ogre. He’s been working diligently, trying to find a job, any job, and has, so far, had no replies. He is working pro bono in a law office a couple days a week, which is a great way to network and beef up his resume. Otherwise, he’s out, pounding the pavement. So, no, it’s not the fault of my husband. Another thing I’ve heard is why haven’t I been working all along if things were so bad? Truth be told, they weren’t always this bad.  Also, we had made the decision that I would stay home with the baby because it was the desire of our hearts. I chose it. I didn’t fall into stay-at-home motherhood. I love it, and look forward to the day when I can do that to the exclusion of outside the house work. I don’t feel like I owe the feminist movement anything. I’m not looking for a career other than my poor attempts at writing. I’m looking for a paycheck.

So, here is the current plan. I will be at home, doing a contract based job.  I will also look into a three nights a week waitressing job downtown. The money is fairly good, and I”ll be out no later than 11:30. Best of all, I will still be home during the day with Philomena. Will is hoping to get a crappy part-time job, too, in addition to searching for full time work. We plan to make sure Philomena is with one of us at all times. Day care isn’t an option.

I have gone from tears to peace in this decision. We need to take care of ouf family practically. It’s going to be hard, and it’s not the ideal for our particular family unit, but it’s temporary, and absolutely necessary right now. I know a lot of people who will pity me, and think “what a horrible plight” and there are others who will say it’s about time I got off my lazy backside, and there are still others who will say shame on my husband for not providing. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if it is small minded. All I can do is say that this is right for us right now. God will provide.

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