Monday, September 30, 2013

About those bad days....

I'm having a "bad day" by my standards. I hit a curb got a flat tire on my way to work (and by flat I mean will probably have to be replaced entirely), and the spare is also on the flat side. For perspective, this happened in downtown DC during rush hour, so not the most fun time I've had in awhile. A homeless man "helped" me - he offered his services while I was getting the jack on, and boy do I wish I'd said no, because he knew less than I did. I was able to get to a parking garage afterwards (I'd been in a metered spot and had run out of time), although it took ten years to find my debit card while the guy stood there patiently.

I got back to work in a huff, frustrated at the wasted morning, wondering why I don't carry a pair of sneakers in the car while I'm driving in pumps (and wearing a knee-length dress), calling myself all kinds of names. And then it hit me.

These people have problems:

Pray for Syria. Pray for peace. Pray for us idiot Americans to realize just how good we have it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Taboo Stuff I Love

1. Snoop Dogg

Let's start this off with a bang shall we? (And oh, by the way, every single one of these takes is offensive in some way/ multiple ways. You have been warned). I always heard that Snoop Dogg was no talent. The naysayers are wrong. Yes, he's offensive in every single way - violence, sex, misogyny, etc. But he has got such a smooth flow, much better than Dr. Dre's. Everyone knows Gin and Juice, but Take it Back to '85 is much more fun: Make sure you're wearing headphones.  His best music was made when still producing music with Warren G (beautiful jazzy voice) and the rest of Death Row records. Yes, rap is music. Deal with it.

2. Eminem

I don't like his raps ironically. No, I sincerely like the early songs like The Real Slim Shady. Ask anybody in their mid-late twenties, and unless they're lying, they like it too. They'll bluff and beat around the bush and try to be all ironic, but don't be fooled. If it were to come on the radio and they were alone in the car, they'd start rapping it too, badly, with hand motions. Here are the lyrics, and they're clever.

3. Albert "Bert" "The Machine" Kreischer

My husband and I are big fans of stand up, and Albert Kreischer is possibly our favorite for live shows. He has a great stage presence and is able to improv like a pro - the sign of real stand up. While we were at a show in Baltimore in the summer, a group of rather trashy ladies were heckling, whooping, just being plain obnoxious, but he dealt with it with pizazz without becoming too crazy or having to throw them out. He started the show by throwing off his shirt and pouring whiskey all over himself; it was fantastic. What can I say, I like low-brow entertainment. (My moonshine making ancestors would be so proud.) His most famous sketch (which is actually fairly clean) concerns his escapades as a college study abroad student in 1990s Russia, and how he got mixed up with the Russian mafia. NOTE: I just listened to it again, and no, it is not clean. Not even a little bit.

4. Dave Chappelle 

Some people think he's racist. They are patently wrong. He is clever, and he is signifyin'.  I really wish I'd been here to see his show in D.C., his hometown. There are so many good clips of his that it was really hard to pick, but here are some of my favorites.

5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

And with that, I just lost whatever audience I once had. Full speed ahead! If you don't know what I'm talking about, you really should be familiar with the pop culture reference Time Warp. "It's just a turn to the left...." Actually, I have no right to list this at all, since I've never been to a live showing and am therefore still a virgin. But I have such good memories of watching this on a tiny TV with my college friends and dancing the time warp. This is seriously the most offensive thing on this list though: it has the song "Sweet Transvestite" and ends in an orgy. It's also very clever though - a great riff on the 1950s drive in sci-fi movies.

6. Eddy Izzard

Speaking of transvestites (I don't get to use that phrase much...). Eddy Izzard is a cross-dressing British stand-up comedian with a great delivery and hilarious jokes. This is my favorite version of the American vs. British culture pieces.

7. South Park 

This show is popular for a reason: it's the best satire on the market. And what's even better is that it bucks the trend of riffing only on conservatives: primarily it destroys liberal sacred cows. In that attribute, it's virtually alone amongst TV shows. This was the only show with the nerve to say that Americans love Walmart because of greed, not that Walmart was some monster by virtue of existence. They even had the audacity to attack the hypocrisy of obese anti-smoking advocates, which is unthinkable today. They can show subtle balance though too: the brilliant post 2008-election episode called "About Last Night" (which was in fact produced that night) hit the nail on the head regarding fans of both parties. As for the actual candidates, well, I won't give it away.

Y'all, they even mocked Muhammad in the brilliant two-part saga Cartoon Wars (which the creators discuss here). It's like they have a death wish or something. Comedy Central refused to allow them to include an image of Muhammad just standing there, and the episode ends with a supposed creation of terrorists mocking America, Jesus, and the flag with feces.  The irony is golden: look what we're allowed to put about America and Christianity. Seriously, nobody talks this way; how do they get away with it?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five Favorites: Quick Fixes for the Doldrums

(Public Service Announcement: by the doldrums, I don't mean clinical depression. If you've lost your appetite, feeling hopeless, constantly exhausted, wondering if life is even worth it, etc, then please see a doctor! There is absolutely zero shame in having to be on meds. I have to do it myself, even though I went kicking and screaming all the way. Would you be embarrassed to take insulin shots for Type 1 diabetes?)

1. Get Some Sun!

This is obvious, but when I'm feeling down, all I want to do is hide under the covers and make the world go away. Experience has shown that this method is ineffective unless I actually go to sleep, at night. During the day, get outside and get some fresh air! (And you people that live in the South and complain about the heat, remember how nice your fall and winters are. Remember the beautiful flowers that pop up around March. In March, I'm still bundling up in winter coats. Be thankful.)

2.Put on whatever clothes make you feel good

Some of y'all are full-face makeup kinda gals. I'm not, but a red dress does make me feel like a million bucks. There are all kinds of people out there - find what makes you feel beautiful.

3. Do something different

My husband describes the brain as a cornfield: you can walk down a path enough times to cut a real walkway, but if you stop going that way, it will grow back. In other words, you can create new pathways in the brain by doing new activities, but neglect will cause those pathways to atrophy. Building new paths can be invigorating! One of my favorite ways to do this is just to get lost in a new town or city (or even your own, if you don't know it like the back of your hand) and find your way home. Do keep your phone on you just in case though! 

4. Take a risk

This is like the one above, but it packs a bigger punch. Think of something that "you could never do" - not because it's immoral, but maybe because you're scared, or self-conscious. I am kicking myself that I never tried swing dancing in college because I was self-conscious. Kick it in the bud and just do it!

5. Know thyself

I see a lot of "mommy blogs" which encourage people to put some clothes on, leave the house, etc, and I just roll with laughter. For those of us that work (outside the home that is), these things are given. So for fellow employed-outside-the-home women out there: maybe a long bath would help more. Maybe going out with friends for beers (um, I mean tea) would be a welcome break from the office/ chores/ the office/ chores, rinse, repeat. Introverts, we need our alone time. Extroverts, you need your time with friends (and music! noise! action!). Do what works for you. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

C.S. Lewis and Misogyny

There are a lot of different opinions on whether or not C.S. Lewis was a misogynist or not. I think that the confusion is due to at least two separate issues: one, the difference between traditional gender views and misogyny, and two, who Lewis was pre and post his wife Joy.

First off, what is misogyny? I would argue that there is a distinction between "traditional" (read: pre- Second Wave feminism) and pure hatred or dislike of women on principle. At face value, C.S. Lewis was clearly a proponet of the first, but his views could be subtle. Most of us have heard of the infamous line in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Father Christmas tells Susan and Lucy that they won't fight in the battle because "wars are ugly when women fight." I personally think Lewis is being a bit tongue in cheek here. The battle scenes he describes in the Narnia books are far uglier than the cleaned up versions in most children's literature of that time.In Peter's battle with the wolf attacking Susan, he sees red, feels sick, and is not even aware of the exact moment when he kills the wolf. In The Horse and His Boy, Shasta is overcome with fear when he realizes how unprepared he is for the realities of battle. In Narnian battles, favorite characters are injured, sometimes killed, and the sense of foreboding and anxiety mixed with sudden action are ever present. So the wars are "ugly" even when no women are present. Readers should also note that Lewis was stationed in the trenches during World War I, exposed to the raw horror of modern warfare. So he was no stranger to the ugliness of wars, with or without women. It could be that his terrible experiences filled him with the desire to shield women from the trauma.

Another book is more damning however, and that is That Hideous Strength. There are many good things about this book, most of them surrounding Mark and his tendency to blindly follow an evil crowd to be accepted. But every time the action shifted to Mark's wife Jane I wanted to throw the book across the room. She was "perhaps not an original thinker;" she was a "modern" women in need who was "chastened" by the demi-god Ransom; Merlin considered her a candidate for beheading based on her (presumed) contraceptive use; worst of all, her marriage was on the rocks because she had "never attempted obedience." To underline his point, Lewis quotes the Donne line: “Hope not for minde in women; at their best / Sweetness and wit, they are but Mummy possest” which Jane puzzles over while working on her Donne thesis. Now, I think Jane does have serious character flaws, chief among them her inability to open herself to others out of fear of losing control. But the antidote Lewis prescribes is poison. And don't even get me started on the creepy character Ransom and how he kisses the married women so they can give his kisses to their husbands (!). The passages between him and Jane made me want to take a shower.

What I found most irritating about this book, however, is his portrayal of Mrs. Hardcastle, a cheroot-smoking, sadistic and probably lesbian chief of police at the evil NICE. Her only makeup is lipstick, which she smeared on with "no attention to the shape of her mouth." She doesn't wear a corset in spite of being overweight. Most damning of all (in Lewis' view) she associates solely with the men, making crude jokes and acting like one of the boys (when she's not torturing pretty women prisoners, that is). His associates claimed this was a thinly veiled critique of women academics, who made Lewis profoundly uncomfortable.

And who can forget his obsession with "sexually frigid women"? This comes up in Mere Christianity, That Hideous Strength, and The Four Loves, off the top of my head. This sounds just like those needy boys in the "manosphere" who bemoan the fact that intelligent women don't like them. This just smacks of an inferiority complex and a need to blame women for Lewis' relationship struggles.

Now, to be fair to Lewis, there is a part two: he had rarely ever been around women. His mother died when he was young, whereupon he was promptly shipped to a brutal boys' school that he called "Belson." His subsequent life experiences included war and an academic career at the overwhelmingly male Oxford. One of his greatest joys was "the sound of male laughter." So I can't really blame him for his fear of what he didn't understand.

What is clear is that after falling in love with Joy, his perspective on women changed drastically. Joy is not the meek, submissive wife that he extols in That Hideous Strength. She's a brass American Yankee divorcee with a tendency to hang with the boys, and Lewis can't get enough of her. The Narnia books that he writes after marrying Joy have a different tone towards women. Consider Jill, who is a superior marks-woman, wood scout, and all-around courageous girl. Not only does she fight in the last battle, but she is the one who recklessly enters the stable and finds the poor donkey. Prince Rillian says she was disobedient, but he says it with a smile. Most notably, Lewis wrote the beautiful Till We Have Faces, with its complex female protagonist Orual struggling to find real love and peace in this retelling of the Cupid and Psyche story. It's important here that we are seeing things through the first-person account of the older sister Orual, who covers her "ugly" face with a veil in the latter half of the book, not through the feminine Psyche. This shows a complete about-face in Lewis' view of women.

I think the earlier misogyny stemmed from misunderstanding and lack of contact with real flesh-and-blood women, not mere antipathy. But doesn't it always?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Relationship with Rap: When I was little

I grew up in what some people would call "the hood." It was once a "good neighborhood" and live oaks laced with Spanish moss line the streets. However, our town was badly prepared for late 20th century economics. The employment rate went down and the murder rate went up. In the 80s and 90s, crack cocaine was a booming business. In the last 15 years, meth has replaced it in popularity. And so it goes.

This was in the South, so it's not the Bronx - there are so many azalea bushes that in the spring it looks like a painting. Besides the huge live oaks, we had dogwood and pine trees - old ones, big ones - so many trees that the light barely got through their shade. Beneath their branches were mostly old, dilapidated houses from the 30s and 40s (we lived in one of these). I won't lie: our house had some charm. The bathroom was still tiled in the original art deco black and white. There was a hole in the hall where a stove pipe used to be, and I guess nobody ever bothered to fill it in. We had a mud room that opened onto the concrete patio: as a kid I loved the cracked and broken concrete because it was more interesting than plain, flat patios. We had a dining room separated from the kitchen by a swinging white door like they had in To Kill A Mockingbird.

Next door to us was a group of duplexes. Imagine that a kid scattered a bunch of deep red blocks on the dirt: that was the duplexes. They were separated from our house by a screen of trees and vines, and I wasn't allowed to go over there. But you can't cut out a kid's eyes and ears, so I heard and saw plenty anyway. I was an only child without friends, so I used to climb the vines and play with the kids in the trees. We all knew the same hand games so it was all right that they had rotten teeth. But they never stayed: their parents were always running from something, so the turn-around was quick.

I remember when I realized that I was white. I was talking to a girl about my age and her little brother. The brother touched one of the freckles on my face, asked if I was sick. I laughed, but his sister called him an idiot. "He's not used to seeing white people."

I think most white people have it the other way: at some point in life, they realize that the other person is black. I had to learn that I am white, that I myself have an ethnicity too. We don't talk that way though do we? The black women's hair section is "ethnic." The white women's panty hose are colored "nude." Y'all, we act like "white" is the default, and that all these other people are a departure from the norm. I hate to break it to you, but we're the aberration. Look around the world, and you'll mostly see people of color.

The norm was rap; the norm was 1980s Cadillacs (we had an old car too, because we were fly like that). The norm was poverty and broken homes, whether people were white or black. My family was super weird because my parents were married and college-educated.

The public high school for our district was down the street, and on Friday night it was a street party. Cars lined the streets, and the whole world was loud. I hated the rap but I loved the marching band, so I would push my way to the high school to watch them march around the stadium. My two white friends and I would stand on the concrete wall across the street and above the fray, and we just thought we were the stuff. This was ours! It wasn't much, but it was big and bad and it was (at least) not as ghetto as the county school. We weren't like those kids in the county over, with their small-town peanut festivals and such. We were downtown.

Oh how I hated rap then. It was the reminder that I would never fit in, that I was different. It was the soundtrack day and night, from boom boxes and car radios with busted speakers; it rattled and doors and windows. It was scary and different, and I thought that it encouraged the violence and crime. What I didn't understand I hated.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Favorite Childhood Poems

1. Jabberwocky

No list of children's poems is complete without mentioning the Jabberwock. In case you live under a rock and didn't have a real childhood, it's a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll and included in Alice Through the Looking Glass (not in Alice in Wonderland - in the sequel, which in my opinion is better). All together now: 

Twas bryllyg, and the slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves;
And the mome raths outgrabe.

 Beware the Jabberwock my son!

2. The Raggedy Man by James Whitcomb Rhiley

Do you know about James Whitcomb Rhiley? If not, look him up. He does wonderful local color stories and poems, complete with dialect (typically a rural Midwestern dialect). This is my favorite because of the simple love and affection of the child narrator: 

An' The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes,
An' tells 'em, ef I be good, sometimes:
Knows 'bout Giunts, an' Griffuns, an' Elves,
An' the Squidgicum-Squees 'at swallers the'rselves:
An', wite by the pump in our pasture-lot,
He showed me the hole 'at the Wunks is got,
'At lives 'way deep in the ground, an' can
Turn into me, er 'Lizabuth Ann!

3. When the Frost is on the Punkin'

This is another gem by Mr. Riley. Don't you feel this way about fall?

When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here— 
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days

From Childcraft Book Two, my introduction to poetry

4. The Purple Cow

Everyone knows this: "I've never seen a purple cow, I hope I never see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I'd rather see than be one!"

The author, Gelett Burgess, lived to regret his little poem because everyone quoted it at him. He had this to say about that: 

Ah, yes, I wrote the "Purple Cow"—
I'm Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I'll Kill you if you Quote it!

Another story tells of how Burgess fled to the kitchen at a party to escape the assault of quotes. There his host was beating an egg. The host said: "I've never beat a rotten egg, I hope I never beat one. But I can tell you anyhow I'd rather beat than eat one."

5.  The Highwayman

Yes, it's overdone, and overwrought, and all the rest. But I have such good memories of it. My grandmama was a poetry reader extraordinaire, and I always hear the tone of foreboding in her voice: 

    The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
    The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
    The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
    And the highwayman came riding—
    The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door. 

You may want to read it through before you read it to your impressionable children though. The woman buries a knife in her chest rather than lose her man - in gory detail. 

6. The Potatoes' Ballad 

This is a sad poem about how the sweet potato attended an Irish potatoes' waltz. He danced with the fair potato lady and fell in love, but the Irish potatoes were jealous and through him out in the cold. It sounds silly but it's beautiful. It used to make me cry (I was six, OK?)

7. The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat (or The Duel)

Don't you just love that picture? This was also in Childcraft. I love the way it starts: "The gingham dog and the calico cat, side by side on the table sat." That's the kind of rhyme that sticks with you, no matter how old you get. 

The animals proceed to have a fight to end all fights, but The Chinese plate and the Dutch clock had different accounts. One thing's for sure: it wasn't pretty. 

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
      But the truth about the cat and pup
      Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
            (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
            And that is how I came to know.
) - See more at:
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up! 

My poetry teacher in college said that children have an innate gift for rhythm that leaves when they get older unless it's carefully fostered. Think about it: Liar, liar, pants on fire! Isn't that delicious?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Amazing Dancer

Y'all, this girl has incredible coordination and skill. She's only 6 now, can you imagine what she'll do by the time she's a teenager?

(Usually I can't stand child prodigies, especially singers whose voices haven't changed yet because typically it ruins their vocal chords. But dancing is different, and this girl really is worth the hype).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Renting Blues

About two weeks ago I mourned the state of my potted garden. To recap, my tomatoes are sprightly, but the flowers are dead and weeds have overtaken two of the bigger potted vegetables. One of them I managed to dump, but I haven't cleaned out the pot yet, so it's just sitting there.

Well, when I got home quite late tonight, around 9:10, there was a paper stuck to the door that says "you have violated your lease. You are only allowed live plants and furniture." Turns out that they are doing an inspection tomorrow, and that everyone with a grill on their patio got a notice. This means that our grill on the porch (and possibly the dead plants) are a problem.

That's right. We can't have an f'ing grill on our patio. Because it's a "fire hazard." Are where, pray tell, are we supposed to put it? On the carpet in the living room? That sounds safe. Or perhaps we should stick it in the tiny kitchen where it can take up the entire floor space?

These are also the geniuses that decided that door mats are verboten because they constitute a "tripping hazard." Meanwhile, our bathroom ceiling has water bubbling under the paint due to leakage from the upstairs bathtubs. A friend of ours had the bathroom ceiling collapse (thankfully their 5 year old daughter wasn't in there). Their response? To paint over the problem and inform the folks above them "not to overfill their bathtubs." You see, the overflow into the device at the top of the tub has nowhere to go in our complex, so it just.... goes. And eventually collects in the downstairs bathroom ceilings.

A mortgage never looked so good....

Five Favorites: best current styles

1. Polka Dots and Stripes

I'm so glad we can mix (some) prints now. Personally I think polka dots on their own make me look like a little girl, but paired with stripes they look more sophisticated. 

2. Faux-Leather Skirts 

And shirts, dresses, blazers.... The leather makes this otherwise blah black pencil skirt look sexy. 

3. Peplum jackets 

Now, I don't like all the peplum I see. Everyone in DC is wearing it, and sometimes it's a little too much. This jacket has just enough oomph, but it curves downward instead of just out. You don't want to look like there's a flying saucer around your hips. 

4. Lace-overlay dresses 

It's not just for weddings anymore! I just adore this look - it's so feminine and classy. Most of the ones I like have a thick cotton lace so it looks nice but casual. It was a great summer look. 

5. Vintage Lace-Up Shoes 

Don't they make you feel like a 1930s movie star? 

Thanks for hosting Hallie!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why I Couldn't Pray

Some of you are spiritually mature. Just run along now, this doesn't apply to you.

OK, now for the rest of us: sometimes I can't pray for bad reasons. It has nothing to do with "dark nights of the soul," or doubting God's existence, or anything else that sounds spiritually interesting. Nope, I just don't want to change my behavior, and I have this sneaking suspicious that God will start bugging me to change if I let myself pray.

Is that familiar to anyone? It was a blow when I realized that. Here I was thinking I had some deep, dark reason for my prayer struggles, when all along I was clinging to my petty resentment and jealousy. I was kicking and yelling on the floor saying "but I want to envy other women for their clothes! But I want to hold on to my bitterness! I don't want to change and You can't make me." Jeepers.

Have you ever read The Great Divorce by CS Lewis? If not, you should. The spiritual insights are, in my opinion, the best in any book of his. Check this out: "of some sinful pleasure they will say 'Let me but have this and I'll take the consequences': little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of sin." Gosh, talk about a wake-up call. 

Of course, God isn't controlled by us humans. Shocker, I know. He didn't give up on me, even when I pitched a fit like a two-year-old, because He loves me. He loves us all: don't be afraid to run to Him, even when sin holds you back. His gifts are so much better than the sins we cling to.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Why Facebook is Evil

Yes, this post was also inspired by Jennifer at Conversion Diary. I have zero creativity this week. That said: I left some of the "strong opinion" comments, and here is why.


Facebook does not respect your privacy. In the latest of a long line of broken promises, Facebook has stopped getting explicit consent from users prior to airing their private content to new audiences. As the New York Times reports, this latest blunder has exposed the company to inquiry from the Federal Trade Commission for flat-out violating a 2011 agreement with FTC regulators. Let me translate that: Zuckerberg broke the law. 


Facebook is an unsafe environment for kids and teens. That may sound like an extreme statement, but I stand by it. To quote from the above article again, "Privacy advocates were especially troubled by a provision that states Facebook automatically assumes that the parents of teenagers using the service have given permission for their names and images to be used in Facebook advertising." Now, I am not a parent, but I would imagine that parents of teens would be, shall we say, perturbed by that statement. In addition to the advertising problem however, there is the possibility of communication with creeps. The most common objection to this that I hear (from family members and friends with children) is that they have the passwords to all the accounts and monitor them closely. Um, I hate to break it to you, but kids are pretty darn savvy. It's not all that hard to just create another account while having the "parent-approved" account with your real name. (I didn't do this - I was in college when Facebook started - but I do know teens that have done this. Very easily). The problem is that parents get lulled into a false sense of complacency because they "can see what their kids are doing online." Parents, I am young myself, and the generation younger than me is super savvy when it comes to the internet. Unless you yourself are a computer programmer or work with computers/ social media, your kids are likely two steps ahead of you.


It's so creepy that it deserves its own sci-fi novel. Do you know what happens when you finally have had enough and try to disable your account? Well, first of all they don't make it easy, and you have to search through the help topics. But when you do reach the promised land and click "disable my account," the creepiest thing happens. Facebook generates a list of some friends (comically, it was people I wouldn't miss) and says "Jane Doe will miss you." 

I don't think that needs commentary.


You get dumber. Consider what Facebook calls the homepage: a feed. That's right folks - line up at the trough. One commenter on Jennifer's blog said it much better than I will; the text won't copy for me, but in a nutshell, she celebrates the fact that she learned that it was Mother Theresa's feast day from a conversation with a friend and found some quotes by her. She says that she gleaned so much more from that experience than if she had been numbed by a serious of memes and quotes on Facebook that she "passively processed and automatically digested." Sound familiar?
Just the other day I was talking with a friend and I told her to look up whomever’s feast day it was and give that saint an extra shout out for prayers answered and…it was Bl. Mother Teresa. How cool! - See more at:
Just the other day I was talking with a friend and I told her to look up whomever’s feast day it was and give that saint an extra shout out for prayers answered and…it was Bl. Mother Teresa. How cool! And I hadn’t already read 4 quotes from [Mother Teresa], seen 6 memes featuring her image, or visually glutted myself on factoids from her exemplary life. I can’t explain how cool it was to organically ‘discover’ the knowledge for myself instead of passively and automatically ingesting it (and therefore not really processing it) when I logged in every morning. - See more at:
Just the other day I was talking with a friend and I told her to look up whomever’s feast day it was and give that saint an extra shout out for prayers answered and…it was Bl. Mother Teresa. How cool! And I hadn’t already read 4 quotes from [Mother Teresa], seen 6 memes featuring her image, or visually glutted myself on factoids from her exemplary life. I can’t explain how cool it was to organically ‘discover’ the knowledge for myself instead of passively and automatically ingesting it (and therefore not really processing it) when I logged in every morning. - See more at:

But even if you try to be thoughtful, it's a wasted battle, because the medium just isn't designed for that. It's designed for memes and one-liners. Believe it or not, no one is going to become pro-life based on your memes. They will ignore it or de-friend you or get in a protracted and fruitless online battle with you. Somehow I think that a prayer would be more effective, but I guess it wouldn't give that glowing feeling of "look at me I'm so pious and evangelistic."


Speaking of which - your ego will explode. I've got a big ego, and Facebook feeds (literally) the beast. It's been said that Facebook was made so that nobodies can google themselves, and it's so true. And before you know it you're telling people what you had for breakfast, even if you used to mock the people who did that. It's always different when it's you, because clearly you're important.


Moving on to more practical matters: it creates additional headaches in the rest of your life. Recently they decided to upload all email addresses and phone numbers of your "friends" to your phone (if you have an iPhone). Without warning. Just bam, contact-list explosion. And then when you try to delete the number, it won't let you. Let me repeat that: when you try to delete a phone number from your own phone, the software refuses to comply. It did the same thing to your calendar to - all of a sudden you have everyone and their brothers' birthdays. You have to actually go into the system and trick it. (By the way, if you're hopping mad about this and unable to disable it, here are instructions).


And finally, it's just too much work. It looks like the opposite doesn't it? A good way to chill out, catch up on your friends' baby pictures, maybe read a funny article that someone linked to. But in order to avoid all the above-mentioned problems, you have to spend inordinate amounts of time guarding your account. Constant vigilance! Facebook is always changing their privacy policies, without warning, so you have to be on the ball. And yes, you can specialize your Facebook "feed", but how exhausting. And half the time you end up with this agonizing decision: do I block great aunt Lucy who posts gigantic cat pictures every 10 minutes to obtain a cleaner homepage? If I do, I will really hurt her feelings, and she will get on the phone to every family member and talk about how uncaring I am.  And during election season, you will want to de-friend everyone you know.  Isn't it supposed to be fun? What happened to that idea?

*If you decide to delete your account, beware of the regular delete your account page. It doesn't work. Here are instructions for how to permanently (sorta kinda, because it's the Internet) disable your account. (Yes, there is a website called delete Facebook). And to lessen the angst from your friends and family who can't imagine why you would leave, give a nice warning on your wall and make sure you get numbers, email addresses, etc from people who want to give them.

**If you decide to risk it because you want to keep in touch with kids etc (which I'm very sympathetic to, by the way), just remember: this is the equivalent of your permanent record. Remember the cartoon Doug and how the vice-principal would always say "this is going on your permanent record!"? This is it, for reals. Think about that when you talk about the bathroom habits of your two year old. They won't appreciate that in a few years.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

If you don't read Heather King...

Why not? She is an amazing writer and photographer who says what needs to be said. This post from yesterday is pure gold:

"How much to say in the face of the unspeakable violence of our culture--what to say, when to keep silent--is an agonizing process of ongoing discernment. I've been thinking a lot about how Christ himself said so little! I guess when you're truly willing and ready to lay down your life, you don't have to talk about it. You just are. You embody truth. You are love incarnate..."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When you long for desert monasticism

I just read the excellent post by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary called The Mental Neat Freak. It made me consider why it is that introverts find daily life so taxing, and why modern Western culture makes it hard for us to flourish.

Unfortunately, we live in an extrovert's world, and we introverts are consistently misunderstood. It can be very intimidating for the introvert to explain what they need, because it sounds selfish to say "I need to de-stress after the fun evening I had de-stressing with people after work."  Which is why I've been agonizing over my mental state lately. You see, my husband and I have been blessed with visitors as of late. And by blessed, I mean that less than 24 hours after my in-laws' week-long visit, two close friends of ours stayed at the apartment for Labor Day. And because it's that time of year, the calendar just exploded (by my standards, which just means "I have somewhere to be 4 out of 5 times after work this week.")

In the course of events, I became a fire-breathing, multi-headed she-monster bent on total annihilation of other life forms. I knew it was bad when the steady invasion of crickets into our home became a personal insult to my autonomy, reducing me to flinging sandals at the door as my husband said "you know, it's just a cricket." I couldn't explain my inner rage, my fury at never being alone.

The other side of the coin, as Jennifer explains, is that some of us take it a step further and need time to clean up our brains so to speak. After awhile, unexamined events take their toll, and unless we have time to take mental stock, we end up overwhelmed. If you were a grocery store manager and never had time to take inventory, your store wouldn't survive would it?

We need to wrap our heads around this: mental inventory isn't selfish. It's necessary, and ultimately it helps those around us. If you never take stock, you will be incapable of doing your job, fulfilling your responsibilities, and nurturing those around you.

And guess what suffers first? Yep, the interior life. Think about it: if you never enter into your interior life, how will it survive? We push ourselves to exhaustion, say "yes" to every social engagement, make decisions without allowing ourselves time for discernment, and then we wonder why our prayer life is withered. And by our I mean mine. It was bitter when I realized that my prayer life was suffering because I was running myself ragged while thinking that I could be admired for all my "activity."

The truth is that we can't "have it all" - that's the world's lie. Something has to be sacrificed; are you surprised?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: urban gardening, or how to make a fool of yourself

Your neighbors in the next apartment move and kindly leave a full bag of potting soil and several large ceramic pots. Plus some wine, but we're not talking about that.


While drinking the wine, you have illusions of grandeur. You regale your husband and friends with tales of fried green tomatoes, freshly picked squash sauteed in freshly picked rosemary, mojitos made with your own mint. You ignore them when they point to the dried up bamboo plant in the windowsill.


In a fit of optimism, your husband picks out a wide variety of vegetables and herbs in little dixie cups at church in the spring. You become giddy when you realize that you won't have to pay a dime to have your potted garden.


You create a spreadsheet with information about each plant, including elaborate plans for canning. Meanwhile, the plants languish in their dixi cups.


When you finally decide to plant them, you realize that the pots aren't big enough, so your long-suffering husband buys bigger ones at Home Depot. You wish you hadn't bragged to everyone about your "free" garden.


Some of the plants prosper! In fact, two of them are bursting at the seams.You gloat to family members that you are turning into a "real urban gardener."


Your mother-in-law, who used to own a florist shop, remarks that the two "prosperous" plants are weeds which choked out the original plants. You make a note to stop bragging about things you know nothing about.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Five Favorites: Crunchy Edition

Homemade, Gluten-Free and Kinda Healthy Chocolate

Mine's not this pretty

Y'all, this is so easy. Mix equal parts coconut oil and a liquid sweetener (honey tastes the best, duh). Then start adding unsweetened cocoa powder by the spoonfuls until desired taste/ consistency. I recommend about 2 parts cocoa. Then start adding goodies. I like the plain dark chocolate with a 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and chopped walnuts. Other delicious additives: raisins, craisins, almonds, peppermint extract (yum!), grated coconut, chopped dates, you name it. To make it prettier , you can cover the balls in powdered sugar like the picture. Roll into balls (or pat into bars), arrange on a cookie sheet and stick in the freezer so it can "congeal." And speaking of chocolate....

Cocoa That Puts Swiss Miss to Shame
No artificial sweeteners, but plenty of dye

Or any other over-priced packets you can buy (including Godiva). Just make the above-chocolate (plain!) and melt in a pan with a little extra oil. When it's hot (not too hot - don't burn the chocolate) add milk until it's silky smooth and creamy. Don't boil the milk! It will look speckled at first; this is normal. Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream and grated nutmeg or cinnamon. Life-changing.

Pore-Clearing Mustard

Just rub it on your face. If you want to be fancy, use the organic course-ground stuff for a better punch. It will sting, and it will work. Mustard has natural salicylic acid, so don't waste your money on scrubs. This works better. Rinse well though!

Coconut oil for massage and "other things" wink wink  

My husband doesn't "do" lotion; he said it makes him feel sticky. I'm allergic to those heavily-scented chemical-laden massage oils. But coconut oil works like a dream, and everyone is happy. And... yeah, it works for that too. A little goes a long way. 

 Corn starch for dry shampoo
I wish my hair would turn colors like a real oil slick

Anyone who's ever visited a real crunchy website knows this, but it was news to me. Did you know that dry shampoo works wonders for those of us with limp, pathetic hair that gets greasier than a car engine? Did you know that corn starch works just as well as the over-priced commercial variety? Now you do.

Thanks for hosting Hallie!