Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Three weird things about me that have absolutely nothing to do with one another

Because, really, there's just not that much going on lately.

First . . .

My dear, dear husband has been working himself into the ground lately.  I got a voicemail from him Monday, partway through the day, in which he reported that he was going to have to work all night.  I thought this was the stuff of exaggeration, the same way I'd say I'm starving to death or I'm so mad at her that I could just kill her or some such nonsense.

Little did I know that he really meant all night.

He came home at about 9:30.  Now, I think that most people would consider working until 9:30 a pretty late night.  The thing is, he wasn't coming home to just, you know, be at home; he was coming home to change out of his work clothes, pack a duffel bag of work clothes for today, and head back into the office.

I kid you not.  Let's all just pause for a little moment of silence for David.

I woke up at about 6:20 Tuesday morning when he fell into the bed beside me.  When I woke up half an hour later, I saw a post-it asking me to set the alarm clock for 10:00.  Because, you know, three-and-a-half hours' sleep is just fine.

Oh, it is so not fine.  

The thing is, David has to work late-- really, truly late-- on a regular basis.  It's totally normal for him to get off work after 8:00 (after leaving for the office between 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning), and past-midnight nights are not infrequent.

Which leaves me a lot of evenings at home alone.  And which brings me to the first weird thing about myself.

When David is working late, I almost never eat a proper dinner.  I don't re-heat leftovers, or pop a Lean Cuisine in the microwave, or even make a sandwich.  (I don't think any of these things is truly a "proper dinner," but I think any of them would be adequate for an evening at home alone.)  Instead, my "dinner" will generally consist of some combination of the following items:  pepperoni; crackers with garlic and herb spreadable cheese; chips and salsa; Kalamata olives; wine; and maybe some kind of fruit (blueberries and raspberries have made recent appearances).  

David never fails to make fun of me for it.  Am I the only one who would prefer to eat a bunch of snacks instead of supper?

Second . . .

I have a minor paranoia about leaving the lid on the toilet up.  It's not just that I don't want to look at the inside of a commode when I walk into the bathroom (and, yes, my toilet is clean!).  That would probably be a pretty normal reason to insist on keeping all toilet lids down.  Rather, I have an unreasonable fear that, if the lid is up, I will drop something into the toilet.

You'd think that this fear would perhaps be based on a previous bad experience.  It's not.  It's just a random, unshakable feeling that I'm somehow going to end up having to fish my wedding ring or my hairbrush or something out of the bowl.  It's not a justified fear; it's just my minor craziness.

It did, at least, prevent David and I from having the "seat up/seat down" debate that married people always joke about.  

Third . . .

I'm sort of obsessed with Sex and the City.  I used to watch it when it was on HBO, and now I work the entire DVD collection.  In fact, when David and I were living in Florida, I would go over to his apartment to watch the show, and he would make me Cosmopolitans.  

I've probably watched the entire series at least four times all the way through.  I'm not really proud of it; I recognize that the show is completely morally corrupt.  I have a theory that at least the corruption is really out there, so that anyone who is offended can simply choose not to watch (and any halfway intelligent parent can recognize with no deep thought that his/her children should not be watching this show).  

I'm trying to break myself of the habit of mindlessly turning on the television when I'm bored in the evenings (see David working late all the time, supra).  Instead I'm trying to pick up a book or pick up the phone to call a friend or relative or do a few chores around the house.  Or play on the shiny new computer!  Like I'm doing now . . . as David spends Saturday at the office.

Maybe now I'll go make myself some "lunch"-- chips and salsa, of course.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vanity Plate of the Day

David and I like to amuse ourselves by laughing at other people, often when they have no idea that they've done anything funny.  We've long pointed out crazy vanity license plates to each other, because for some reason or another, there seem to be an unusually high proportion of them in the metro D.C. area.  Are people here just more full of themselves?  Do they think they're clever?  

It started to become a regular thing when we kept seeing one particular plate over and over.  (It's not unusual for us to see the same cars on our commute on a regular basis.  I've often followed a blue Honda Element with a Susan Collins bumper sticker and an Olympia Snowe bumper sticker all the way from Alexandria to my parking lot on the Hill.  Strange, eh?)  This particular plate was on a Lexus, driven by a woman who was obviously quite proud of her ride.  In case you couldn't tell that she was driving a luxury sedan, or that she is a woman, she told you right on the plate:  "LEXYLDY".  

Get it?  It's kind of like she's a sexy lady, but in a Lexus, you know, so she's Lexy . . . .

I've sometimes wondered whether LEXYLDY is married, and, if so, whether her husband ever drives her car.  Because it would be a little embarrassing, don't you think?  Ah, but I'm sure LEXYLDY is too much LDY for just one man.  Silly me.

The plates that announce that someone is a CU T PIE or HOTTIE1 or BIGMAN2 are our favorites, because we have a hard time believing that anyone who feels the need to announce his or her cutieness or hotness or bigness is really so special.

And so, I give you the first installment of the Petroni Vanity Plate of the Day Awards.  Today's winner is . . . JER Z QT!!!  You probably are from Jersey, and perhaps you're cute.  What's important is that the vanity plate proclaims it, and so it must be true-- at least in your head!!  And that's important . . . to you!  And at least you have the whole self-delusion--ahem!-- I mean confidence thing going for you, so that's something.

Here's to you, JER Z QT!  Congratulations!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Flashback

David and I have been spending way too much time lately obsessively watching Netflix-ed episodes of The Wire.  (Yes, I know.  We're disturbingly behind the times.  We have busy lives.  Well, David has a busy life.  I'm just lazy.)

As all of you already know (because we're the last people in America-- or at least the metro D.C.-Baltimore area) to watch The Wire, it's an incredible show.  It's disturbing in a lot of ways, because, you know, drug gangs and kids getting involved at an early age and the criminals' seeming inability to get straight even when they want to and union corruption and the failures of the justice system and whatnot.

One of the interesting things about it, though, is that it's actually set at a particular moment in time.  And I don't mean in a The-Brady-Bunch-was-set-in-the-1970s kind of way, but rather in a way that's much more specific.  

For example, we recently saw an episode that referenced the cicadas that descended upon the D.C. area back in 2004.  I had completely forgotten about them.  Last night, McNulty's date was watching a postmortem of the 2004 presidential election.  I've been so wrapped up in McCain v. Obama that I got a little rattled to see Bush v. Kerry all over again.  (I do keep trying to console myself this election year by remembering that everyone had written President Bush off at this time in 2004.  I'm hoping for something similar in 2008 . . . but I'm not holding my breath.)  This isn't just a show of the 2000s; it's a show that is unapologetically of-a-moment.  For what we've been watching lately, that moment is 2004.

It's weird because, to me, 2004 really does seem like yesterday.  When we were younger, the year-to-year changes seemed so consequential.  A four-year span back then would have meant the transition from middle school to high school, or high school to college, or (for me) college to law school.  When did my life become so the same year to year? 

If I'm honest with myself, I can see some obvious-- and major-- changes that have occurred since 2004.  This time four years ago, I had just moved to D.C. from Atlanta.  David and I were engaged, but we wouldn't be married for another year and change.  I was in private practice, and generally hating every minute of it.  I knew very few people in Washington, and the people I did know were all David's friends.

Life is definitely better now.  I have a job I love, even when it makes me crazy.  I have lots of friends (although I'd be lying if I didn't say that I miss my Georgia girlfriends desperately).  David and I have settled into married life, and we haven't driven each other nuts yet.  Of course, we thought that we'd have children by now, but we are learning more and more everyday to trust in God's timing on that front.  (Any time now, Lord!)  We belong to a parish that we love, and in which we're becoming increasingly involved.  We have a comfortable home in a neighborhood we enjoy.

It makes me wonder what my life will look like four years from now.  And will the next four years pass in a flash?  What should I do to make sure that I remember to enjoy life as it comes, rather than always waiting for the next thing?  How can I remember to count each day's blessings, and take to heart each day's lessons?  How do you do it?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home

As a former Episcopalian, and as a former (female) postulant to the Episcopal ordained ministry (I hesitate now to call it a priesthood), I have been watching with some interest the developments at the Church of England's recent vote with regard to women "bishops."  That church voted on Monday to allow women to serve in that capacity, and it made no formal provisions for those in the ministry and the laity who believe that women should not--indeed, cannot-- so serve.  In essence, it punted on the question of how to accommodate dissenters, but I have my doubts that any accommodation will be satisfactory to the more orthodox believers within the Anglican faith.  

I am blessed to be observing the Anglican events from afar, but I have many friends who are still a part of the Episcopal Church, who fall on both sides of the liberal/orthodox divide within that denomination, and whose hearts are breaking at the prospect that their church is facing a true split.  

I officially left the Episcopal Church in 2001, when I became a Catholic at the Easter Vigil.  It was a pre-Gene Robinson decision, brought on as much by a certainty that the Catholic Church contained the fullness of the Faith as much as by a conviction that the Episcopal Church lacked it.  

I'm lucky, I think.  I'd been raised a Southern Baptist, and had become Episcopalian only in high school.  I found that the beautiful liturgy and music suited my inherent snobbishness, and the lax moral teachings and social progressivism suited my high school and college whims.  The point is, I wasn't wedded to the Episcopal Church by generations of family, by childhood memories, or by existing family traditions.  As soon as I realized that there was something better, fuller, and truer (or, really, something Full and True) out there, it was easy for me to run to it . . . and away from what I recognized as an inherently flawed church.

I feel for my friends who are tied to the faith of their families, the faith of their childhood.  I don't know whether I would have been able to leave, had I been in their shoes.  Perhaps I'd be mourning this week's decision.  (More likely, though, I'd be applauding it; as an Episcopalian, I was every bit as liberal as the church to which I belonged.)

My prayer for those Anglicans who are dismayed by this week's decision is that they will open their hearts to the possibility of returning to Rome.  I pray that they would find in the Catholic Church what I have found, which is not simply a conviction that what we believe is unequivocally true.  It's also a profound connection with the Church across time and throughout the world.

One of the men in my RCIA class had been a professor of mine when I was an undergraduate.  (Go here, click on "Faculty/Staff," and scroll down to "Divine Hand" to read his story.)  Through a strange set of circumstances, he was asked to create a display of bronze hand molds for the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center here in Washington.  He was not a Catholic-- or, really, much of anything else-- when he embarked upon the project.  Over the course of about eight months, he traveled to 27 countries to meet with Catholics, learn their faith stories, and take impressions of their hands for the installation.  He was so moved by the faith of the people he met (including the Pope!) that he simply couldn't resist the Church.  I still remember seeing him at Mass after we were received into the Church, and watching the joy on his face every time he received Christ in the Eucharist.  He just lit up, a little smile playing on his lips.  He'd found his way home into a family that spans the globe.

When I attended Pope Benedict XVI's Papal Mass here in Washington in April, we saw an amazing, inspiring video on the stadium's big screen prior to the Mass. (Scroll down to "Epic," at the bottom of the page.)  I saw it again later that week, at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, and I was hooked. Since then, I've visited this website many times, because it reminds me of how the Church also spans history.

So, in the end, I can mourn with my Episcopal friends about the divisions they're facing.  But I hold out hope that, through the sadness and loss, perhaps they will come home, like I did, and that the peace and joy I've found after crossing the Tiber will be theirs, too.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Harbor Springs

The weekend before July 4, David and I joined Arwen, Bryan, and Camilla at Bryan's parents' condo just outside Harbor Springs, Michigan.  I'd been to Michigan only twice before, both times to Detroit.  Detroit, not lovely at all.  Harbor Springs, though, was stunningly beautiful. 

It was something of a shock to this Southern girl.  To quote my sister-in-law, Maureen, who was in Traverse City around the same time we were in Harbor Springs, "Michigan . . . who knew?"

Arwen, Bryan, and the 'Billa have been down to Washington several times this year to visit us, but this was our first foray into their turf.  It didn't disappoint.

We flew into Detroit on Friday evening and stayed overnight at Arwen's.  Billa was asleep when we arrived, and I was a little curious to see how she'd react to see us at her house when she woke up the next morning.  Within half an hour of everyone waking up, I walked into the living room to this sight:


I think it's safe to say that Camilla is now totally comfortable with David, and also that she was glad to see us.

After we loaded up the car, we piled in for the multi-hour drive "Up North."  We stopped along the way at the Big Buck Brewery and Steakhouse.  I will say two things about the Big Buck.  First of all, I wish that their website had photos of the restaurant interior, because it's HUGE and covered with dead animal trophies.  It was a sight to behold.  Second, they served what I think may be the best stuffed potato skins I've ever had.  Yes, yes, I really am quite the gourmet, I know.

Once we arrived at the condo, we discovered that the beauty of being Up North is that you can do whatever you'd like, or nothing at all.  There was a lot of reading, napping, and chatting.  There may or may not have also been some drinking, at least for David, Bryan, and me.  'Billa and Arwen didn't partake, because Arwen is pregnant, and the 'Billa is, well, a little young to be hitting the hard stuff.

The low point of the weekend was probably Mass at the local parish.  I hate to call Mass the low point, but I do so here only because I'm fairly confident that Jesus would agree with me.  The parish was in a lovely building, but, oh, the hand-holding.  And the Gather hymnal.   And the non-homily homily, during which the priest described an upcoming parish "town hall" meeting, where churchgoers would be able to share their hopes and dreams, their fears and longings . . . all in the name of better discovering how to "be church."

We all agreed that the phrase "be church" gives us the heebies.  We also all came away appreciating our home parishes just a little bit more.

On Monday, we drove north of Harbor Springs to have lunch at a fun restaurant called the Legs Inn in Cross Village.  The weather was perfect, despite the ominous forecasts I'd seen online before our trip, and we ate on a huge patio overlooking gorgeous, sparkling, I-can't-believe-how-it-just-goes-on-forever Lake Michigan.  


For a girl who grew up thinking that Lake Lanier was a big lake, let me tell you:  Georgia ain't got nothin' on the Great Lakes.  But don't take it from me:


I told you so.  

And, of course, we couldn't resist taking some shots of ourselves:




Later, we headed into Harbor Springs proper again, where we ate delicious ice cream at Kilwin's and just looked around at the water and the gorgeous houses along the shore.



Camilla clearly enjoyed herself downtown:


Dinner was Arwen's amazing King Ranch Chicken Casserole, which takes forever to make, but is so . . . worth . . . it . . . .    

The only bad thing about the trip was that it was just too short.  We had to fly back Tuesday evening due to Wednesday work commitments, which meant leaving Harbor Springs pretty early on Tuesday.  Work really does get in the way of everything, doesn't it?  If only we could figure out some other way to pay our bills!

All in all, it was a very relaxing and much-needed escape from D.C.  We can't wait to visit again!