7 Quick Takes of Lenten Fluff

1. Have you heard of Bogs? They are the only thing getting me through this long season of always winter, never Christmas. I bought this pair in brown sometime in January and haven’t looked back. Waterproof and lined with whatever magic inside that keeps your feet warm and dry, these have been perfect for rain, snow, slush, ice and everything else this ridiculous winter has thrown at us. I love them. I think they came to around $90, with tax, on Amazon, and it looks like the Bogs website itself is having a sale on this particular pair. Pricey, but seriously the best money I’ve ever spent on shoes, period. Oh, and the cherry on top? I can put them on/take them off hands free. That is priceless.

I also found a pair of girl’s Bogs on sale for around ~$50 on REI earlier this year:

I ordered a size up and Lucia didn’t seem to notice, so hopefully they’ll last through this spring’s rains and next winter, as well.

A friend of mine out here has family in Alaska, and she said they outfit all their kids in these boots, so if that’s not testimony enough, I don’t know what else is.

2. I’d been keeping an eye out for a nice car/play mat, and when this one from Joey Boey showed up on Kid Steals for almost half price, I, well…stole it.

Beginning to lament the fact that I’m not even getting paid for this…

It’s a durable, easy-clean surface and the town is much more detailed than any other, similar playmat I’ve seen (there’s a library, church, school, airport, farm, park, various houses, etc.) I like how it lends itself very easily to imaginative play with just about any of my kids’ numerous cars, trucks, animals and people.

Tangent: The Joey Boey website also seems to cater toward your friendly LDS families with a….Mormon town version? Complete with Mormon temple? (“Visit the temple or cruise on over to the missionaries at the MTC.” Yes I had to Google that last acronym 😉

Perhaps not very Mormon.

What I’m thinking is….where is Catholic Town?! Get on it, crafty ones.

Anyways. Our kids are into it, and it’s also been a hit the couple times I’ve taken it to the playgroup in our church basement, so that’s a win for me.

3. Speaking of which, I’m probably jinxing everything by bringing it up, but the kids have been playing so well together the past three days…and it makes such a difference. On Wednesday, I swept and mopped the downstairs floors; did multiple loads of laundry; ORGANIZED THE BASEMENT, which has not been touched since we dumped things down there when we moved in over a year ago, and then realized…why aren’t they hanging on me? What is going on?!

The blissful answer: they’re starting to actually play with each other. While in the basement with me, they found a box of party supplies, including the Happy Birthday banner from Lucia’s 3rd, and the rest of the day was taken up with a pretend 5th birthday party, complete with party hats, cake baking, presents and games. Upstairs. On their own. Completely organized by Ms. Bossy Pants and supported by her toddling fan #1.

I know this is a “no duh” moment for moms who’ve graduated from the “small children and…more small children” phase and keep telling me “it gets easier!”, but this is a game-changer for me. They still pop up at inopportune times (read: the bathroom) and follow me around, but it’s not quite as needy, and Felix especially seems more willing to go off and play whatever game his sister has concocted. I’m a little more free, and they’re a little more pleasant to be around.

Life is not as terrible.

Jk, jk. I like my kids.

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Actually, this one was all his idea.

4. Ads for this movie keep popping up on Spotify (which probably says something embarrassing about my listening habits), and I would just like to say, as a Christian, that I find it insultingly bad. Bad bad bad. Insulting to my intelligence, insulting to actual non-believers’ intelligence, insulting to actual Christian artists making actual art and not self-affirming tracts featuring Duck Dynasty stars….and seriously? The Newsboys are still a thing? Anyways. I’m done. For now. I keep thinking up new lines for my diatribe, and I gave up Facebook for Lent, so it follows that expanding on the subject here would do wonders for my spiritual growth. Obviously.

5. On that note, tonight Luke and I are driving an hour into the depth of Connecticut to see my fave, Andrew Peterson, sing at…gulp…a Christian coffeehouse. We’ll see how this goes and whether Luke can keep his mockery to a minimum (though he keeps asking me questions like, “What if everyone just starts singing along? What if they start to sway? What will you do?“)

I do dislike 99% of Christian music. Andrew Peterson is a rare (one of, like, three) exception. If you aren’t familiar with him, he’s a wonderful lyricist with a very Catholic imagination and self-professed love for C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, and all those other authors all the cool kids like (yes, this is what I’ve always defined as “what the cool kids like”). His song “The Magic Hour” also introduced me to farmer and writer Wendell Berry, whose novel Jayber Crow is hands down one of the most exquisite books I’ve ever read.


6. And, because I’m realizing this post is making me sound like a terrible, jaded person…here’s another favorite Peterson song:

7. [Two days later] Well, they did sing along, and no, I did not, because I’m Catholic and whatnot and we really don’t take well to sudden, spontaneous audience-participation choruses, I realized. Actually, I spent a good portion of the concert (sitting in tiny, packed church on padded chairs with a happy, mostly middle-aged+ crowd) bemusedly noting all the ways I felt out of place in an environment that, in childhood, would’ve been at least as familiar to me as Mass, if not more so. With each little ripple of nodding heads and “Amens!” I became more convinced that, if you could shove denominations into the different temperaments, Catholics would be melancholics. (I also thought of Jen’s post on a similar theme recently). Maybe this is way too broad a generalization, but I think we’re okay with pondering. We can linger on big questions without feeling the need to sermonize or provide a pat answer within a three-minute song. We’re okay with staring at a crucifix for an hour. Every time the audience responded to a particularly poignant line with a smattering of applause or amens, my inner critic was yelling, “SHUSH! This is a GREAT SONG!! Let me INTERNALIZE!”

On the hour drive home, I told Luke about this while trying not to get car sick on the dark, winding forest roads. (At one point we drove over the top of a dam. I mean…seriously, Connecticut. Build some more highways). Apparently, it surprised even him. “Wait…THAT’s what you were thinking about?” Yep. I’m sitting in an intimate concert space with one of my favorite musicians, and I’m wondering whether Pentecostals would be sanguines or cholerics.

On the plus side, I did get to meet Andrew Peterson, thank him for introducing me to Wendell Berry, and tell him to read Pope Benedict. (I mean, he even talked about his growing appreciation for the rhythm of liturgy. I couldn’t let that slide 🙂 So all in all, a good date night!

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WWRW: SEALs, Mice and Octopus Balls

1. The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, by Eric Greitens

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It should really go without saying that this is not a typical read for me. Actually, it’s probably a first. But, my Air Force Special Ops brother gave it to me for Christmas and, feeling guilty about not cracking open the book of personal stories of North Korea escapees he gave me LAST Christmas (?!?), I started this.

The jist: In college, Greitens gets drawn into the world of international relations and humanitarianism. He pays his way to spend semesters in war zones as a volunteer and photojournalist in refugee camps, and later goes to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, continuing to research and visit some of the poorest, most ravaged parts of the world. Yet throughout both his formal education and time spent shoulder-to-shoulder with volunteers and NGO staffers — from American evangelicals in Rwanda to U.N. bureaucrats in Croatia — he comes to the conviction that, despite all the good that is done by volunteers and relief efforts after the fact, there’s no replacement for the warrior who steps up to defend the innocent who suffer most during war. Faced with the question of what he’ll do with this conviction, he walks away from lucrative offers from both Oxford and the business world, and signs up to be a Navy SEAL. Or rather, signs up to be yelled at, degraded, almost drowned and underpaid, in the hopes of becoming a SEAL. Spoiler! He does! And the journey there is incredibly well-told.

The last book that made me stay up irresponsibly late (11:30 p.m.! Who am I!) was In this House of Brede, a fantastic novel about life in an English Benedictine cloister. How on earth does the memoir of a Navy SEAL pull me in just as compellingly?

  • This isn’t some memoir of a meathead who just joined the military to shoot guns and be tough. Rather, Greitens comes across as well-rounded, principled and educated. His love of learning is very evident, from his familiarity with the Great Books to his frequent mentions of his childhood fascination with historic, wartime leaders. Pericles definitely gets in his fair share of quotes. And the man was in love with Oxford — how can I not appreciate that. At the same time, he maintains an admirable balance between reading and talking about issues, and doing something about them; between discussing world affairs with a seminar of fellow college sophomores, and leaving the university bubble to experience that world for himself.
  • Likewise, Greitens makes it clear that a warrior’s strength doesn’t reside solely in the physical — formation of character, including a keen sense of restraint, is integral along with the grueling training. He shares the story of witnessing Army Rangers take a suspected terrorist’s house, skillfully rushing and capturing the suspect while at the same time shielding an infant in the same room until they were able to carry her to safety. There’s a lot of heart and compassion in his story.
  • Raised in a Catholic-Jewish family, he also seems to be a man of faith, carrying a handful of religious medals given him by friends of various faiths and sincerely thanking God for sparing his life during two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He speaks well of the Christian volunteers he meets around the world, noting their good intentions even when some are more culturally insensitive (<–understatement) than others (the Southern Baptist Paula Deen character who tells survivors of the Rwandan genocide to accept Jesus or go to hell, etc.) All in all, he is very respectful of faith’s role in motivating people to do good, whether it’s his black boxing coach during his days at Duke or the Missionaries of Charity in India.
  • Finally — and this is probably something I appreciated most of all — he doesn’t come across as promoting an ideology, whether a faith in pacifism or military strength. He’s pragmatic, but hopeful and sincere — and most importantly, he backs up his convictions with a willingness to lay down his life, literally and figuratively, for them. There are some beautiful moments in the book that give you a sense of the sacrifices Greitens has made, along with his knowledge of what he was walking away from. To use Catholic speak, it was like reading a “how I realized my religious vocation” story. With his knowledge of history, philosophy and literature, he even raises the haunting, age-old questions himself throughout his story: What is freedom? What does it mean to live the Good Life? And what am I willing to do to grasp it?

And so, fellow literature nerds, humanities lovers, and stay at home moms whose idea of grueling exercise is trudging up and down three flights of stairs to retrieve a forgotten teddy bear — I highly recommend giving Greitens’ book a chance.

2. Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo, by Matthew Amster-Burton

Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo

Another Christmas gift, this time from my more similar-in-tastes sister-in-law 🙂 Food blogger/podcaster Matthew Amster-Burton takes you (and his family) on a zany, month-long, food-centric romp through Tokyo. Eels, ramen, and fried balls of octopus (not to be confused with octopus balls…which…I don’t think exist…) abound. A fun read resulting in me googling Japanese restaurants and scheming when Luke and I can get to New York.

3. Who Goes There?, by Karma Wilson

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A cute story about mouse companionship and all that, but what really makes it worthy of a mention here is Wilson’s book dedication to a certain, beloved British author. (Hint: the little jacketed guy on the cover is named Lewis).

Anyways. Looking forward to reading more reviews at Housewifespice — thanks, Jessica!

What We’re Reading Wednesday

  • Roundtrip drive to the middle of nowhere, Connecticut UConn: 2.5 hours
  • Standing in line to buy books: .5 hour
  • Standing in line to get said books autographed: 1+ hour
  • The privilege of eating Sunday afternoon college cafeteria food with my toddler: …let’s not go there.
  • Checking off the ol’ bucket list and talking about the awesomeness of Sigrid Undset and Kristen Lavransdatter with Tomie de Paola for like a whole three minutes: I just about peed, it was so great.

On what Luke is now referring dryly to as “Tomie de Paola Sunday,” Lucia and I went on a “date” to the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair last weekend. (The morning began auspiciously with my date’s meltdown/refusal to wear clothes, but Mommy put her foot down on that one, yes she did).

Long (probably very boring) story short, the man is even higher in my estimation now. Starting off the morning with a 20-min q&a (most the q’s coming from kids — “What’s your favorite color,” “What’s your favorite Strega Nona book,” etc.), he immediately struck me as very genuine and jovial. The tone of the event was also very casual, with toddlers and baby-wearing moms roaming the back of the room, a mute Strega Nona costume character bobbing up and down in one corner, and kids practically standing on chairs with their hands raised.

Then, off to the book-signing portion of the program, which he technically had an hour for, though it was clear he’d need longer than that. Across the length of the ballroom, one line stretched from nearly one wall to the other just to buy the books, only to turn around and form a new line in front of the actual author table on the other side of the room. I felt bad for the other authors who pretty much spent their time texting behind their empty tables along the other walls of the room, but….I was there for The Man. As were a couple hundred other kiddie book lovers, apparently.

He could’ve kept the line moving by not personalizing the autographs….but he didn’t. Or he could’ve sped things up by not chatting with each person, taking the time to ask and answer questions…but he didn’t. And he could’ve called it quits after his scheduled hour….but he didn’t. Truly a joyful, gracious man.

So all in all, I had over an hour to contemplate how to not commit word vomit/formulate what non-dumb fangirl statement to deliver when I finally got to the table. (Don’t worry, I scratched, “I like your scarf!”) Because you’re dying to know, it went down like this:

Liz: [Big Stupid Grin]

Nice male assistant (henceforth, NMA): “Okaaay, so….these are for Lucia and Felix?”

Liz, super perky: “Yep!” [thinking: What was I going to say again….?]

TdeP, to Lucia: “Do you have a baby brother named Felix?”

Lucia, wearing a paper crown at this point: [disinterested scowl]

Liz, recovering: “They have The Clown of God at home, and for the first month I couldn’t read it without choking up.”

TdeP and NMA, in unison: “Awww!”

TdeP: “Thank you! Yes…that is one of my favorite books I’ve done.”

[Silence as he signs the board books. I take the plunge.]

Liz: “So…I saw on your website that you like Kristen Lavransdatter.

I swear he lit up and could not look more like Santa Claus if he tried. He paused the signing and we chatted a little about how great KL is, and how he’ll burrow in and read the whole trilogy in two days (he nodded and laughed when I said it took me two years — “oh, yes, the first time, sure!” — and that he’s also read The Master of Hestviken but likes Kristen better (I was so agreeable with his opinions at this point), that he did like the film version, and that Sigrid Undset “was a very interesting woman.”

I ended with a random and way too excited, “I want to go to Norway!” before stepping away. Day made. Thank you, Mr. De Paola.

I’m a little sad at the lack of photographic evidence, but know that a picture would’ve looked like this:

 

Wheeeee!

Wheeeee!

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My new BFF

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Couldn’t care less.

Anyways, one of the books I bought on Sunday is Joy to the World, a collection of three Christmas stories along with several illustrated carols.

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De Paola pulls off his usual folk tale magic with The Night of Las Posadas and The Legend of the Poinsettia, both stories taking place either in the Catholic Southwest or Mexico (bonus points for setting the first story in Santa Fe, my favorite city to spend a day in when visiting my parents in New Mexico). The Story of the Three Wise Kings is just a straightforward retelling of the biblical story, but the illustrations are probably my favorite in the book, with de Paola pulling on Byzantine and Romanesque tradition to depict the Magis’ journey. I also picked up/had signed a couple board books for the kids (Bible stories and fairy tales), but I hope this collection stays a family favorite for many Christmases to come.

Thank you, Jessica, for giving me a place on the Internets where fellow moms/bloggers/readers of way too many picture books won’t find the above tale way too weird for comfort 🙂 

What We’re Reading Wednesday

As I sit here, eating an untouched half of Lucia’s pb&j sandwich from preschool this morning, avoiding a to-do list that was probably overly ambitious to begin with (“Treat laundry stains”? For real? “Mail voters registration” — that’s not toooo late, right?) … how about a tour of our kiddie lit library finds that haven’t made me want to gauge my eyes out lately?

Okeedokey.

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I picked up Building Our House solely because I recognized Jonathan Bean’s name from the list of authors who’ll be at the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair next month. (Sidenote: will I fulfill my dream of meeting Tomie de Paola and almost assuredly embarrass myself in the process? We shall see. All I know is, as I told a fellow mom and de Paola fan, if I don’t end up going and he dies before next year’s fair, I’m gonna be mad). 😮

ANYWAYS.  Building Our House is a picture book about the ultimate DIY family: they build their own freaking house. I mean. Come on. Oh, and like 3/4 of the way through, the mom gets pregnant and later on is carrying around a newborn like nobody’s business during moving day. (Just in case arts and crafty blogs and winsome, Montessori homeschool Pinterest boards don’t make you feel inadequate enough).

I kid, mostly. This is a pretty adorable book told from the oldest daughter’s perspective, although it’s based on Bean’s childhood experience of his parents really, truly building their own timber frame house. Even 3-year-old “I want to be a ballerina for the All Saints party” Lucia requests it daily, soaking in illustrations like children gathering stones from the neighbors’ pastures in order to break them up into the concrete mixture used for the house’s foundation. Who knew pictures of a pregnant mom stapling insulation in the dead of winter could be so fascinating?

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The Growing Story, by Ruth Krauss, is another cute one, and the fact that this edition is illustrated by Helen Oxenbury makes it a winner. The prose is a little too repetitive for my taste, and maybe teeters in the balance between simple/flat. (But — what do I know?) Still, the concept is sweet — little boy watches the plants and animals on the farm growing around him and wonders if he’s really growing, too — the end made me smile, and the illustrations totally make it worth it.

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I’m probably the last literate person on the planet to realize this, but — oh my gosh. THIS POOR MONKEY.

Luke was all, “What, you didn’t know George was kidnapped by poachers to be exploited in America?” but yeah, somehow I missed that subtlety as a kid.

Lucia tolerates the books as my attempt to transition her from PBS’ spin-off back to the written word (can anyone tell me why, in the show, George sometimes lives in the suburbs, and other times in a high rise in the city? Hmmm? This is literally something that kept me up at night this week). It amuses me how George’s shenanigans stress her out as much as they did to me as a kid. Same cloth, I suppose.

Go visit Jessica for more book recommendations! And Happy Halloween!

What We’re Reading Wednesday

Hello Jessica and friends of Jessica! (And friends of friends of….etc.)

Well, that is awkward. Days after posting about my grandiose plans of understanding evolution and reconciling it with a Catholic anthropology, etc. etc., I gave up. Too hard. Need the movie version. 😮

So, I picked this up as a fun, guilty pleasure read … and was pleasantly surprised.

Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture

Yes, Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, by a self-described “humanist Jew” from Brooklyn. Sounds cringe-worthy, right? Well, it was definitely hilarious (Radosh’s awkward encounters with well-intentioned evangelicals at Christian bookstores slapping him on the back and saying, “My Best Friend is Jewish!!”), searingly accurate (he perfectly captures the wholesome weirdness of the Contemporary Christian Music scene), and surprisingly respectful of Christianity. I know that’s probably not a glowing endorsement — “not as condescending or mean-spirited as I thought it would be” — but Jesus Camp, it was not. 

Actually, what I found most interesting was reading the book in light of Pope Francis’ recent interview in Americaparticularly those controversial quotes where the pope, very paraphrased, is basically saying: Let’s be clear: we’re not changing the teachings of the Church. But if we’re honest with ourselves, and we step out of our bubble where all our arguments and Catholic language are just bouncing back onto our own ears — if we genuinely try to understand how the rest of the world perceives us — something’s not working. And we’ve got to get our act together before we lose what’s left of our credibility. 

Radosh, now a writer for The Daily Show, comes off as an intelligent, compassionate, witty and probably very nice guy. The one time he lashes out in the book occurs when confronting a volunteer with Rock for Life/American Life League, who’s passing out literature against IVF on the basis that embryos are destroyed in the process and that it objectifies children. Radosh pulls out a picture of his twin toddler daughters, conceived via IVF, and challenges the now-speechless pro-lifer to accuse him of considering his daughters objects.

Other than that, I think he interviews his subjects fairly (from teenagers at Christian music festivals wearing terrible Christian t-shirts, to Ken Ham, the founder of Answers in Genesis, which operates the Creation Museum in Kentucky). He distances himself from the strident, militant tone of the “neoatheists” a la Dawkins (while saving his sharpest ire for their Christian equivalents), and I thought for the most part he avoided taking what could have been easy, cheap shots. I mean, he spends a chapter with a 20-something guy who straps on Spandex and plays “Bibleman” to live audiences in the Bible Belt. Come on.

With its outsider’s perspective, then, it was an enlightening and instructive look at the way Christianity (or at least, American evangelicalism) presents itself to the rest of the world, in all its sincerity and utter goofiness. I say “instructive” because I saw a lot of parallels with Catholicism, especially the Church’s task to engage in the New Evangelism, which I think Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis have been urging us towards very strongly.

So what does one Brooklyn Jew’s romp through Evangelical Land USA have to do with Catholics? My takeaways include:

  • When faith is divorced from reason, it’s immediately apparent to everyone except the guy in the awful Christian t-shirt that what’s left is utter bs.
  • I mean. I can’t even handle this.

     

  •  Radosh’s incident with the pro-lifer really struck me. I accept the Church’s teaching on the immorality of IVF. But I learned it as an already practicing Catholic, willing to accept a difficult teaching with faith seeking understanding. When it comes to communicating its message to the world, the Church has lost the privilege of assuming that that world speaks its language. A few months ago, my women’s reading group at our parish was discussing the marriage debates and trying to grapple with how it seems the Church, in the U.S. at least, is still struggling to articulate the basis for its opposition to gay marriage. I mean really articulate it, in a way that meets the opposing view on the same playing field, not just bounces back to our Catholic ears already steeped in Catholic concepts and vocabulary like sacrament and essence and natural law.* 
  • Likewise, I guess it’s cool and everything when your apologetics materials lay the smackdown on whatever hersey you’re trying to combat, but when you’ve lost sight of the person amid the argument, you’ve lost it all. Luke is fond of a phrase he and his friends jokingly used in college when discussing (or probably closing discussion on) a point of view other than their own: “Labelled, dismissed!” In short, satirizing the easy temptation to slap a worldview/philosophy on a person, assume that those couple words sum him up in whole, and casually file him away as completely understood. But, right or wrong, Daniel Radosh didn’t fit the pro-lifer’s notion of a Collaborator in the Culture of Death(!!!). And it showed, and everything fell apart because of it.
  • The most winsome method of evangelizing, says Radosh, is not evangelizing at all. Actually, he says something like, “The Christians I found most convincing were the ones who couldn’t care less whether I converted to Christianity.” Granted, this is maybe antithetical to the very definition of evangelical. Okay, the way Radosh puts it, it’s very antithetical. The point is (and it’s sad this has to be a point), you don’t treat people like projects. Not like potential “wins” to “our” side. Genuine faith, Radosh seems to realize, isn’t afraid of others with opposing views or no religious beliefs at all, which means it’s also not caught up in a myriad of frenzied gestures to come off as persuasive. It’s just…real. And free. And loving and (this is my addition, because it’d probably be too dogmatic for Radosh in the end… :)) certain enough of Who it’s founded on, that it’s okay with wading out into the messy, complicated, un-labeled world and being itself.

And so, Daniel Radosh, because you definitely are one of the five people who read my blog, next time Luke and I get our hipster on and are in Brooklyn (there are so many contingencies here, let’s say….in the next 10 years), let’s get a beer. Or, more likely since we both have young children, organic yogurt. That’s cool too, and you sound like a decent guy.

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*It reminds me of one of the most beautiful passages in the pope’s interview, in my opinion:

Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

What We’re Reading Wednesday

Straight Manby Richard Russo

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“What?? You’re reading something by someone who isn’t dead?!” Luke mocked in faux amazement (faux-mazement?).  

Why, yes. Yes, I did. And it was funny. As in, stayed up way too late for several nights, ostensibly because I couldn’t sleep, but really because I couldn’t put Russo down and was quivering in silent, embarrassingly hysterical fits next to Luke, asleep with his head under the covers (man, we need a reading lamp 😉 

And, no, not that kind of straight man. Think literary/comedic reference. There’s language, and some crudity, and several mentions of adultery. The witty protagonist William Henry “Hank” Devereaux, Jr., is not even an entirely likeable man; in the first 20 pages he gets his nose mangled by a colleague (those violent English professors!), and he pretty much deserves it. He is the king of irony and of distancing himself from everything and everyone around him, including the reader and maybe excepting his wife. I wasn’t sure if he’d succeed in making that turn required for me to actually start fully sympathizing for him by the end…but I think he pulled it off. (And even if he didn’t…Russo’s deadpan narration while describing the absurdity of the situations surrounding Hank’s midlife crisis is so hilarious, it was not time wasted). 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Anyways. Reading Straight Man got me thinking of the type of comedy I really enjoy. Thinking out loud about it to Luke once, I realized that it comes down whether it’s comedy with heart. Louis C.K. is funny, but overall he’s just too sad and angry for me (that makes sense, really). I can take crudeness, but not gratuitously, not if there’s nothing underneath that makes me laugh and think, aw man, he’s right. That’s totally how it is, and how it feels, and he nailed it. And heck, I’m not above slapstick, and just this past week I’ve been reduced to tears — tears!! — by at least one poop joke. But darn it, put some heart into it (joking, not pooping, that is…..wahwahwaaahh…). (My favorite recent comedy — Attack the Block. Taking more recommendations now).

Now I’m a miserable 10 pages into Darwin’s Pious Idea, by Conor Cunningham.

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It’s 400+ pages long with another 100 pages of footnotes (replete with references to Aquinas, Pope Benedict XVI, Jacques Maritain and the early Church Fathers), and all I want to do is read about more fictional shenanigans with Richard Russo. Yet I want to finish because a) I have an embarrassing lack of knowledge about evolution, and I want to understand it; and (intimately connected with a) b), I spent an even more embarrassing amount of time pre-college convinced that scientists are frauds and listening to amateur lecturers at homeschool conventions argue for a literal six-day creation AND the possibility that dinosaurs might still be roaming the earth. Omg. And we wonder why I might have a lingering complex about homeschooling.

On that high note, check out the other WWRW posts. Thank you, Jessica!

Life with Lucia

Me: Hey Lucia, ask Felix if he likes to [some inane activity I can’t even remember]!

Lucia: Hey Feeix, do you like to […]?

Felix: UHH!

Without skipping a beat, and putting on her creepy voice: HEY FEEIX, do you like it when I POKE YOU IN THE EYE?!?!??

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Watching eagerly as I open up WordPress: “Are you getting me a show????”

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After being banished from the kitchen amid the throes of a tantrum, she retreated to the couch, settled down, and began singing softly: “If you’re sad and you know it….woohoohoo.”

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Me, trying to wrap up bedtime prayers: “And God bless Mommy and Daddy and Cia and Felix.”

“And Bear, forever and never.”

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Sitting on the toilet first thing in the morning, after assuring me that she did not have to pee: “OH! I’M GOING PEE!”

Me: Yeah….did it surprise you?

Lucia: Yeah. It woke up!

Me: Uh…

Lucia: It woke up, and got out of bed, and CAME DOWNSTAIRS!

Me: Oh good heavens.

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Just a little draggy in the morning.

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“When he gets bigger, will Feeix wipe me, too?”

Luke’s later commentary: “Well as far as she’s concerned, even he exists to serve her. Equal opportunity narcissist.”

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