Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.


March 23, 2011

Hello, Hemlines

Well, thank the Dear Lord. Designers are showcasing longer hemlines that are not only more modest, but definitely more figure-flattering for the normal-sized woman. I've got to be honest. The past few spring and summer seasons have been tough. I have loved the feminine details that are emerging...the flowers, petals, jewels, and ruffles that made their way onto dresses and cardigans...but the hemlines were significantly above the knee, making tights nearly always a necessity. Let's be honest...who wants to wear leggings or tights in the summer? Not me. And if you're like me, the lower part of your leg is an asset, while the upper should remain hidden all year round. And even though designers really embraced defining the waist, which is flattering for every woman, the hemlines still crept higher and higher.


While I've been on spring break, I've been flipping through magazines, watching What Not to Wear, and getting myself to the stores with sales, riding this trend of longer hemlines and loving every minute of it. Even pants are starting to get a higher waist and a more flattering line down the leg. Throw out those board shorts from the past years ladies, because sleek, Audrey Hepburn-like pants that grace the ankle are back in. I would say the big A word to celebrate, but it's Lent, so...Praise the Lord!


My picks for dresses:

I bought this one!

I want this one.

Next paycheck.

My picks for skirts:

Everything you could ever want.

Splurge.

Hello, beautiful.

My picks for tops and accessories:

Figure-flattering.

Random, but fun.
Love scarves!

March 21, 2011

Archbishop Dolan is a Rockstar!






Check out this great video clip of the archbishop. What a gift to us!!!

March 19, 2011

Lent

So, I don't know much about the temperaments , but I do know that I am at least in part very melancholic. I mean, I wrote a graduate thesis on purgative suffering and its relation to hope, for goodness' sake. When given the choice, I always choose to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. And I really love Lent. I am drawn to think of our Lord on the Cross. Not sad, not emo, just a thinker, I guess.

Yesterday I went to my parish's Stations of the Cross, and I just simply fell in love all over again with this tradition. I love the Stabat Mater, I love the genuflecting, I love the meditation on redemption found throughout the Scriptures and how they are perfected in Christ. So, here are some things I'm using to help me with my meditation. Perhaps they will be of help to you, too!

1. A Holy Hour. If you can get to Him, go!


2. Bach's Passion of St. Matthew. This just gets me right in the zone.


3. Danielle Rose's Mysteries CD: especially the reflection on the Agony in the Garden.



4. Praying the Seven Sorrows Rosary with Immaculee Ilibagiza.


Prayers for a deepened encounter with the crucified Christ!




March 15, 2011

Clearing the Desk Linkfest

Sorry for my extreme silence on the blog. Life has been busy. But I've piled up a big list of links to share with you all, and am finally together enough to post them. I am so glad Julian brought up the Kay Hymowitz article, and will write my thoughts about it shortly. But I wanted to clear the decks first of all these piled up links. The final 3 have something to do with the Hymowitz article, too.


NOBODY GETS MARRIED ANYMORE by Gerry Garibaldi, City Journal:
Here’s my prediction: the money, the reforms, the gleaming porcelain, the hopeful rhetoric about saving our children—all of it will have a limited impact, at best, on most city schoolchildren. Urban teachers face an intractable problem, one that we cannot spend or even teach our way out of: teen pregnancy. This year, all of my favorite girls are pregnant, four in all, future unwed mothers every one. There will be no innovation in this quarter, no race to the top. Personal moral accountability is the electrified rail that no politician wants to touch.


ZIONIST SECT MARRIES GAY MEN TO LESBIAN WOMAN, by Yair Ettinger, Haaretz via First Things:
Rabbis from the religious Zionist community have launched an initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women - with some surprising successes.

...Etti and Roni, both religious, were married five years ago. Though they were honest with each other about their sexual orientations from their first meeting, to the outside world, they portray themselves as a normal heterosexual couple. Today, they have two children, and are thrilled with the results.

"It's incredible," they wrote. "Six years ago, we didn't think we would ever be this happy. We thought everything was black, that we'd lost our chance of a normal life. But today, things are good for us. There are gaps, but that's true in every case. And we fill them with the great love we give to and receive from our children, and also enjoy the simple human love we give each other, such as any two people can give and receive."


SLACKING AS SELF DISCOVERY by Rita Koganzon in The New Atlantis:
Extrapolating primarily from the statistics on the increasing age of marriage and childbearing in the United States and refusing to lament them, Arnett argues forcefully that emerging adulthood is a positive development. Free from external constraints (and often supported financially by their parents), twentysomethings have the opportunity to try an array of temporary jobs, relationships, educational paths, and residences to find which of these are most to their preference. In winnowing down the options, they are also able to “find themselves,” a discovery that will serve them well as adults, assuming they ever decide to become adults. Armed with the self-knowledge gained from a decade of working at Starbucks, joining the Peace Corps, and sharing a basement studio in Brooklyn with four other emerging adults, those at the end of emerging adulthood will better make the family and career decisions they had been putting off, resulting in a future of greater life satisfaction and stability.

...If this all sounds a bit confused, fluffy, and New Agey, Robin Marantz Henig, the author of the Times Magazine piece, has Arnett’s studies and vague neuroscientific speculation about brain maturation to back it up. Emerging adulthood, she argues, isn’t merely a description of the way a narrow sliver of affluent and well-educated people are choosing to spend their twenties, but a seismic shift that will have political consequences.


THE POWERLESSNESS OF THE SINGLE WOMAN by Drs. J.R. Bruns and R.A. Richards II, in Psycology Today:
These same forbidden themes of women's desire for marriage and their frustrations with men and dating have been box office magic in recent "Chick Lit" movies like "Bridget Jones Diary " and "Sex In The City". Feelings of fear, powerlessness and alienation are safely released as long as it is in fiction or pictured on the silver screen.

It turns out that today's liberated women want to marry. The problem, as Whitehead points out, is that the social infrastructure that was designed to help young women meet marriageable men no longer exists. Once upon a time the American courtship rituals of the Senior Prom and sorority formals accomplished their task of getting young men and women paired off. That era disappeared along with platform shows, bell bottom pants and mood rings.

Since many women are pursuing marriage after they have left high school and college with their pool of available men, these single women must take on this chore by themselves. Instead of dating and mating with men they grew up with or at least shared classes with, many are now dating and mating with strangers.

This new system is tailor-made for the mirage man. He doesn't even have to promise young single women to go steady to achieve his short term goals. He either "hooks up" or is "joined at the hip." The "hook up" is friends with benefits, meaning sex without commitment. The other option is "joined at the hip", where a couple that doesn't know each other very well commits to a sexual relationship and spends all their time together. Neither hooking up or being joined at the hip leads to many strong relationships that can weather the storms of life...


SEX IS CHEAP by Mark Regnerus in Slate:
We keep hearing that young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life. Their financial prospects are impaired—earnings for 25- to 34-year-old men have fallen by 20 percent since 1971. Their college enrollment numbers trail women's: Only 43 percent of American undergraduates today are men. Last year, women made up the majority of the work force for the first time. And yet there is one area in which men are very much in charge: premarital heterosexual relationships.

When attractive women will still bed you, life for young men, even those who are floundering, just isn't so bad.


ON DATING NICE CATHOLIC GIRLS by Max Lindeman on Patheos:
I was approaching carved-wood status, though not quietly, when I met—really met—my first nice Catholic girl. It was at a vocational discernment retreat. I was standing on the monastery porch, peering through the French doors toward the living room, wondering whether I should bolt now and apologize later, or vice-versa. I heard tires on gravel. Turning, I saw a girl step out of a Honda wearing a tight pair of jeans. They were not, I hasten to add, skinny jeans; they were cut '80s-style, high at the waist.
When the girl faced me, I saw that her glasses, too, were cut in the style of the Reagan Revolution: square, in every sense. But her legs—timeless. Perhaps her ensemble seems to spell out a mixed message? Not for me. I read: I am beautiful, but either don't know, or don't care.

Why, you could be my vocation, I thought, as she skipped past me, smiling.

It's moments like this when I love the Church. The world condemns bolts of magical thinking as lunacy. The Church dignifies them as the beginning of discernment. In I went.

March 14, 2011

Motherhood in Modernity



Just to start off: I am not pregnant. But one day, once I find a good man and marry him, I most certainly hope to be. Many times over, God willing. I have been learning so much about the difficulty of raising children in today's society from my wonderful "mommy" friends. I have one friend who got pregnant as a teen-ager, married the child's father and now has 5 kids! God has graced their marriage abundantly. She is a rock star as far as I am concerned. She is raising them to be gentle to each other; she homeschools; she nurtures: again, she is a rock star! But she is also quite young (27-28ish) and takes a lot of slack from others, including other mothers! "Oh, you have your hands full!" (To which she quite appropriately replies, "Actually, I don't. Look (open palms). They are empty!") Or the "Are they all yours? But you are so young!"

Oh, the trials of modern motherhood! And often times, society certainly does not encourage those of us who want to be mothers. I remember reading in a woman's magazine some years ago an article about having children. There was a photo of a mother with several children at the beach. The mother was holding a baby in one arm and was watching over two other little ones as they played about in the splashing waves. Sounds idyllic, right? Well, it should have been, but the mother was overweight and billowing out of her bathing suit under the headline: HAVING BABIES MAKES YOU FAT. So much for encouragement, world! Thanks! (According to my mommy friends, baby weight does in fact come off.)

So, when a friend of mine sent me this disturbing recent story, my initial reaction was much like when I was forced to read Kate Chopin's The Awakening....barftastic. (And yes, I have certified that word!) This is the story of one Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, who is a mother of two and (was at one time) we can assume happily married. But here she is (at the video clip linked above) shamelessly promoting herself and her latest book about how she left her family after taking a fellowship to study in Japan and then realized "why she never really wanted to be a mother anyway." She then in the next breath states that her children are fine and normal...meaning that they presumably find it emotionally (not to mention morally!) acceptable not only that their mother has written a book detailing how being their mother stifled her, but then went on national television to say the same thing. But don't worry, the kids are fine.... Who is she kidding?

Ms. Rizzuto states that motherhood was just too "all-encompassing" and she left her two young children and husband of 20 years to go essentially find herself in Japan. After an eye roll, a head-shake, and a shriek of "Are you serious?" I decided to take her seriously. Perhaps she does bring up a valid point about women feeling pressure to maintain the perfect household at all times. Maybe such a fear is contrived. I don't know. But her Nietzschean garbly-gook about having to find what was best for her is very disturbing indeed, and I think it reflects some of the very real failings of our society today: the contraceptive mentality, the hook-up culture, etc. all point to one teaching: I am the only who matters. And this is very disturbing. Very disturbing indeed.

Then we have the equally disturbing celebrity gossip magazines touting about which Kardashian is going to have "a baby on her own" or the story about Nicole Kidman who just had a baby with surrogate. What is wrong with us? Are our babies just a cute accessory that we carry around to give the paparazzi something to snap at? And a surrogate? Not to mention that is Catholic Nicole Kidman who did this! For any of you readers who might be thinking about egg donation, implantation, or being a surrogate, I urge you to watch the documentary Eggsplotation about the latest form of exploiting women and children.

Stories like these always bring to mind the fundamental questions of what it means to be a woman, and particularly what it means to be a Catholic woman who is a witness to femininity in the world today. I think we have a particular vocation to love as Christ did: in giving of ourselves to others. If we, like the Ms. Rizzutos of the world, feel stifled and unable flourish in our individuality in giving of ourselves, then perhaps we are not giving in the first place. Perhaps we are just like the celebrities who use their children as accessories or a photo-op.

One of my favorite mom stories is a little passage in the Gospel of Matthew. It is the passage from Matthew chapter 8, verses 14 and 15. It is about Peter's mother-in-law who was sick with fever and Christ heals her. Immediately, she gets up and ministers to them. And this is NOT stifling to her individuality nor insulting to her femininity. It is the perfect expression of what we are called to do: serve the Lord and others in the Lord, starting with the members of our own families. Let's pray especially that some of our more confused sisters will recognize this feminine privilege!

Photo Credit

Two Cents.

It's been a few weeks since the publication of Kay Hymowitz's article, "Where Have the Good Men Gone?" Comments have been posted, responses have been written. In a sense, there's not much else to say. In my estimation, Hymowitz is dead-on in her description of what is now called "pre-adulthood" - the twentysomething (or thirtysomething) who is free of familial obligations, is professionally successful and financially stable, and is well-educated. The milestones that used to mark adulthood for men and women -- providing for one's wife and children, taking care of a household, and bearing children, are not being met. To be sure, these other things are certainly goods in themselves, and serve to better society in some substantial regard. I, for one, am very proud of my graduate degree and my profession as a teacher of young women. It does feel good to be earning a competitive salary, and to hold my head up high in a room filled with other men and women my age, proud of my accomplishments and interested in those of the people in my company. These experiences we are having in pre-adulthood, well, at least some of them, give our lives some color and interest.

However, Hymowitz is also right that advertisers, marketers, and entertainers are all tempting us to give into desires for superficiality which is easy and experiences that are fleeting with no-strings-attached, distracting us from our most visceral area of vulnerability -- the desire to be loved. Though Hymowitz describes what is going on, she doesn't provide the way out:

What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.


No matter what demographic or sociological shift occurs, or what milestones are or aren't met, men and women, more than boys or girls, desire to be in loving relationships that are deeply satisfying. I don't think anyone in their right mind would claim that single men or women stuck in this limbo are particularly happy. At this point, it's not a matter of shifting the blame from one sex to the other, or to the act of sex itself. It's a matter of cultivating relationships of charitable friendship, calling one another to "man (or woman) up," and to meet milestones in the formation of character. Even if masculine and feminine virtues are said to be outdated, they are ingrained in our humanity, and will find a way back into society, if only we would have the "fortitude, courage, and fidelity" to try.


March 8, 2011

March 7, 2011

On Dating, "Frenemies," and 40 Days for Life

So, I have decided. Even though I certainly continue to pray for my future husband, whenever I should meet him, I simply don't have time for dating right now. I had three parking tickets in a week and almost burned my house down because I was so tired that I passed out while cooking something on the stove. My life is so busy going between three cities, that I decided dating is not an option - who has time to foster a romantic relationship when I cannot even remember to pay my parking meter. Not Edith.

However, I have been working to foster female friendships. I think these are such important relationships for us as single women. Say what you will about Margaret Mead, but I just heard a quote from her that hit the nail on the head: "There is a special place in hell for a woman who won't help another woman." And I think she is right. That is why this whole concept of "frenemies" makes 0% sense to me. To those of you who don't know, a "frenemy" is someone who acts like your friend, but secretly hates you behind your back. You can read about the phenomenon here (warning: since the whole entire thing is kind of trashy, don't be alarmed that this article is linked to Cosmopolitan magazine - one of its editors wrote the book).

Let me explain. I have been reading from Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild wherein she discusses the importance of fostering a woman's authentic sense of self. This authentic sense of self is warped, according to Shalit, when women are forced to take the "bad girl" oversexualized persona that is so jammed into our brains in this culture: think Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Kesha, Rihanna. Each one of these pop singers has one thing in common: sex. That is how they define their music, and that is what is incessantly blaring out of our radios.

I mean - I am going to go on a bit of a rant here - Rihanna's latest song is about how she loves Sado-masochism. Rihanna has a song where she belts out that she wants her lover to make her feel like she is the only girl in the world, the one who is in control, and the only one who makes her one night stand feel like a man. Through out the song, you get the sense that while she is desperately begging her lover to make her feel like the only person in the world who matters, when she wakes up the next morning, the feeling will be gone. And, just in case you were in any doubt, it will be gone in the morning - and he will too. Do I even need to talk about the others?

But, I digress. The point at hand was to explain why the concept of the "Frenemy" a. makes no sense to me and b. is linked to rampant promiscuity in women. You see, when a woman treats herself as a sex object, she actually becomes more shallow, less confident, and becomes obsessed with pleasing men. That is why many modern womens' magazines revolve around fashion, make-up, and sex - because really, if all you are is an object, what is left to talk about anyway? When women are encouraged to be sexual objects, they not only lose the ability to appreciate the goodness in men (they become jaded and lose hope in finding true love), they also lose the ability to bond with one another and see one another as sexual competitors. Hence, they become "frenemies." Scary world indeed.

As single women, I think we have a responsibility to foster authentic friendships with one another - the kind of friendship that builds a person up, that encourages gifts, talents, strengths, and yes - the kind of friendship that is genuinely happy when a friend accomplishes something awesome and when a friend finds a good man. In this way, we can help to build a civilization of love that respects the life of every person.

This Lent, I am observing the 40 Days for Life in Chicago. It is my hope to build friendships through this prayer and fasting campaign. I hope to build a better friendship with Christ as I discern my vocation and to foster friendships with all my fellow sojourners - both male and female. I believe that by fostering authentic human relationships, we can, by the grace of God, change people hearts about abortion. We are not frenemies. No, indeed we are not. We are called to love, as St. Paul tells us in Romans 12: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."
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