Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on Weddings, Dancing, and Pure Fashion

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— 1 —

I was doing well with all my weekly theme posts. Then I stopped doing so well. I haven’t given up, though (and it’s not my fault Booking Through Thursday wasn’t posted two weeks ago)! One of my central qualities is that I don’t give up. I’m also very stubborn. Thus, I will charge on with these theme posts and these quick takes. Huzzah!

— 2 —

I went to another wedding of friends last weekend. It was my first time being inside St. Mary Cathedral, if you can believe it. I never went there for work. Our big diocesan events are always held in larger churches; there’s only such much room downtown. I’d never been invited to a wedding there (until this one). As it was, I was just barely on time (curse you, Austin traffic!), and we were squeezed in between an earlier wedding and confessions, so I didn’t have much time to look around.

I did look around some, though. Our cathedral is super small! I’ve seen photos, of course, but it seemed much, much bigger. This wedding had around 250 guests, by the bride’s statement, and the church was nearly full. It’s the TARDIS of cathedrals, basically.

— 3 —

Dance classes have continued to go well. I didn’t get to practice at the wedding, though. I don’t know if any of my friends can salsa. I was waiting in line to have my silhouette done for the favors/guestbook when the country songs came on, and I was wearing heels, so I couldn’t practice two-step, either.

Overall, I’m just glad I’ve found a casual, free (except for donations) opportunity to learn to dance with other single people. I don’t have a built-in partner, but it’s nice to know that I will be able to follow when I get one!

— 4 —

Also related to the wedding, I think that’s the largest one I’ve ever attended. The reception hall was a great size, and the food was delicious (I think they sprinkled magic on the broccoli), but I didn’t get to see anyone!

I’ve lived in Austin long enough that my friends are all getting married and inviting me to their weddings, so I usually see the same people at every one I go to. This is good because it’s an excuse to buy a new (budget-friendly) dress every time. This was bad this time because there are people I remember seeing only once or twice during the several hours of the reception. It’s such an odd problem to have: I’m so popular that I can’t get around to seeing everyone I know!

— 5 —

In addition to dance lessons on Sunday, I volunteered at this month’s Pure Fashion event. I was running late there, too. (I’m getting good at putting on my pearls at stoplights.)

This session was Dessert with Dad, so we went to a fancy country club resort and had yummy cakes while learning about chastity and the importance of family relationships in being a lady of grace. I manned the boutonnière station, mostly because I was the only volunteer who knew how to do that part. And I didn’t even stick the dads (and brothers, and one mom). I call that a win.

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Me with my fellow Young Professionals volunteers. Photo by Anastasia Curtis.

— 6 —

Since Sunday night has rolled around before I managed to get this posted, dance classes have switched to salsa. I’ve had a few salsa lessons before, so it was good to get a refresher of the basics. I’m nervous about learning something new next week, but I was nervous about two-step, and that turned out well.

I even got used to moving in high heels tonight. It felt so natural that when class was over and I walked back to change into driving-friendly flats, walking felt lame. Dancing was much more exciting. Then, my flats made my feet feel weird! I’ve always enjoyed dancing, and now I think my body is getting with the program my brain’s been pushing already.

— 7 —

When I was in undergrad, some friends of mine formed a traveling Theology of the Body evangelization group. As they walked from Maine to Maryland, they gave presentations in parishes along the way. One of their regular presentations involved teaching swing dancing. In partner dancing, there is a lead and a follow. Both must do their part and not do the other’s part for the dance to work.

Recently, I stumbled across Theology of Dance, which is the direct version of that presentation.

I realized tonight that there’s more to the dance than just leading and following, though. As a follow, I have to trust my lead. There is one particular lead in my class who I just don’t trust. Our paths have crossed off the dance floor, and I try to be encouraging, but I struggle with letting him lead. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling that he’s actually not a very good lead. Dancing with him goes best when I completely ignore the music, don’t chat with him, and just try to follow.

That’s not much fun, though. With every other lead, I have fun. I even got called out as an example of a good right turn tonight!

Any advice for how to follow when you don’t trust your leader? (Only on the dance floor, not in life.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Being Not Alone, Trying Not to Judge, and Children

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— 1 —

I did a lot of staying at home this week. One of my friends threw a birthday party at her apartment last night, and I invited my roommate who was also home to go with me. It was a good party, but when we left (early), I realized just how much I’d needed party adrenaline to keep me going. (That’s not a euphemism.) After working all week and all day on Friday, I struggle with Friday night parties. I’m getting old, guys.

I was also especially grateful to have the roommates that allow me to live in our house. I enjoy throwing parties here occasionally because we have the space for it. In my old one-bedroom apartment, I barely had even one person over because it felt too small. Without roommates, I could never afford our cute little starter home, and I would still be both lonely and alone.

— 2 —

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I finally got it together on time to join the Not Alone Series this week. My post practically wrote itself since the topic is so directly applicable to my life and easy to talk about. I’m hopeful that the women participating in the series each week will be able to commiserate with me, to confirm that I’m not just thinking myself in circles or in destructive patterns. It should be interesting!

It doesn’t hurt that it was fantastic for my stats, either.

— 3 —

Verily published an article this week venturing into the debate over children. The title is misleading. It capitalizes on the happy news of Kate and Will’s new baby on the way, but it’s not just about judging “women who have multiple children.” Taken along with its comments (which are worth reading on Verily), it’s about judging couples and their children, period.

I must admit that I have a hard time with this issue, but I’m intentionally trying to improve. We live in a world where many Catholics ( by baptism, which is the most basic definition) are using contraception and see no problem with that. That’s a reality, and it’s awful. The knotted part of the situation is that, along with those couples, we also have those who:

  • have zero, one, or two children, but can’t have more (or any) by moral means, although they want them
  • have zero, one, or two children and have used moral means to intentionally not have more, although they probably biologically could
  • have more than two children who were all morally planned
  • have more than two children who were not specifically planned but were joyously welcomed
  • have any number of children conceived through immoral means
  • have any number of children without moral consideration of the effect of each child on the existing family

And there are situations I haven’t even considered.

It is so easy to look at a couple and their children and automatically place them in one of these groups. I find myself doing that more than I’d like to admit. I shouldn’t, though; none of us should. All couples, parents or not, deserve our prayers for their marriage and any children they have now or might have in the future. That is all.

That is hard, too. Anyone have ideas about how to make it easier?

— 4 —

On a lighter note, Verily also posted this image as their Daily Dose. I read them all, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.

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— 5 —

I also read a book proposal of sorts about “how American parenting is killing the American marriage.” I clicked through to read about the authors’ book (on marriage). It sounds like the exact opposite of everything I believe about marriage.

Their parenting versus marriage comments, however, sound spot-on. Life is valuable at every stage, not just when we are cute, cuddly babies. That means spouses have just as much value as children—maybe more, since the children usually come by way of the spouse. We demand a lot more of mothers than of fathers, to the point that a “mama’s boy” is a bad thing, but “daddy’s little girl” is okay.

When I did marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), many couples were surprised at the FOCCUS idea that their future spouses should be more important than their children. I laid it out like this: after you get married, any children you have will also be parented by your spouse. You need to be on the same page with that other parent, 100%. You need to accept that your children might turn out just like your spouse and nothing like you beyond biology (and they might get all of your negative biological traits). When the children grow up, you want them to have the experience of a good marriage—yours—as they prepare for their own vocations. And when they’re out of the house, you will be left alone with only your spouse. Try to make that a peaceful image, not a depressing one.

It’s nice to have some secular support.

— 6 —

I had one more article to share last week. I thought about doing a whole separate post on it, but now it’s going here.

I think I clicked through from Boundless to wind up at Shauna Niequists “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.” Her main point is solid, but some of her support veers off base.

We help newlyweds set up households because, until recently, most of them had only lived in the homes they grew up in. They didn’t have furniture, kitchenware, or fine china. These days, not only do we have more unmarried people living away from their parents than ever before (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I’m doing it), we also have more cohabitors than ever before (which is a bad thing; I won’t do it). You can make a “moving out on my own” registry, but you can’t throw a shower for yourself, either.

The idea of a coffeemaker as a “basic human right” does not help Shauna’s argument. It’s not a humorous article! I do agree with her, though, that if you can afford the good stuff, you should buy it for yourself instead of waiting for your wedding day.

Except that not everyone will have a wedding day. She doesn’t actually address people who won’t get married. She writes, “Some of the people I love most in the world are single—either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended” (emphasis mine). Not everyone will get married, and divorced people are not the same kind of single. Those groups should not be lumped in together.

Furthermore, as Maddie Joy notes in a comment, being single is not just about not having something. It’s also about having someone to be your person. Being single is lonely. And as she also writes, it ought to be okay to be unhappy about being single.

I hear that. I’m burned out on everyone that implies I will get married, or I just need to “get out there,” or I must have so much time/money/energy/freedom because I’m single. I should be able to feel however I want to feel. I’m tired of hearing all those marriage platitudes.

— 7 —

That was a lot, so let’s just make it six takes today, shall we?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Crashplan, Pocket, and Singleness

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— 1 —

I was all set to post this last week, but then I had to figure out why CrashPlan was never backing up my computer 100%, and then time got away from me. On the bright side, I figured out what was wrong, and in the process, I discovered that with the mobile and web apps, I can instantly download any file from my computer that has backed up to CrashPlan.

Did you catch that? From my laptop to anywhere with Internet access, including my smartphone. That’s awesome! I pay for the service, so I get unlimited space, and because I’m paying for it, I have a higher stake in it and I feel like they owe me the service I paid for. This is better than Dropbox.

— 2 —

As I mentioned in my Booking Through Thursday this week, my diocesan newspaper is good, but I almost never read it since it’s an actual physical newspaper. Tonight, I sat down to read the July/August issue (having been shoved into action by the arrival of the October issue), and I found this gem in the Saints for Our Times column about my heavenly bestie, St. Maria Goretti:

[Alessandro Serenelli, Maria's murderer] became a model prisoner and was released from prison after 27 years. … Alessandro’s prison experience and subsequent remorse for his crime has been cited as an argument for the abolition of capital punishment.

Yes! Ending the use of the death penalty is one of my favorite causes, and Maria Goretti is my favorite saint, but I never made that connection. And I might never have made it unless I’d read my big unwieldy diocesan newspaper. (I still say it wouldn’t be that difficult to put the existing online articles into an e-newsletter.)

— 3 —

I started using Pocket this week. It really is freeing to be able to close my browser without worrying that my session won’t be saved (or waiting forever for it to open back up). It also helps me single-task by reading just one article at a time. I can Pocket any links I encounter and know I won’t forget about them. The reading interface is elegant, and I’m getting better at the keyboard shortcuts. Give it a try if you, like me, are struggling to manage your online reading backlog.

— 4 —

In addition to capturing internal links, Pocket has been useful for capturing links to e-newsletter articles I want to read. It has helped me reach Inbox Zero again, a sight I thought I’d never see in my personal email again, even after I declared LinkedIn Group Digest Email Bankruptcy a few weeks ago.

One article I read that immediately stuck out was from Boundless. I read Boundless while I was in undergrad, but I stopped afterwards when my e-newsletter priorities shifted (to zero). Boundless doesn’t mention denominations often, so when I spotted a link to “What I Learned About Singleness From Attending a Mormon Church Service,” I had to click through.

The author brings up a reasonable point: when we isolate unmarried people into groups and functions specifically for single people, it puts undue pressure on them to pair up and get married. It implies that they are not invited to interact with anyone besides other single people. He writes, “When we do that, we rob single people of the opportunity to be a vital part of the life of the larger congregation, and we rob the congregation of the opportunity to receive from the gifted, single members of the church.” I like knowing who’s available, but I do not want to be sent to the church version of a leper colony.

— 5 —

I don’t quite remember how I wound up at More Than Don’t Have Sex, but I wandered around through internal links to find “God the Great Withholder.” For a non-Catholic, Justin M. Campbell has a very three-dimensional view of chastity. In that particular post, he knocks down the platitude that single people remain so because their spouse isn’t ready for them or they are not ready for their spouses. Something about that never quite sat well with me. His explanation is so clear and straightforward that I will just let you go read it without co-opting it here. It makes sense!

— 6 —

Last weekend, I was so popular that I was out of the house almost the whole time. It was overwhelming to be moving about town so much, so I am glad that I get to recharge this weekend.

To summarize, I:

  • woke up early both mornings
  • reluctantly went to a morning workshop at my parish
  • zipped through grocery shopping
  • didn’t manage to clean the house
  • attended a lovely baby shower two suburbs over
  • enjoyed a birthday party downtown (in an apartment, not a bar)
  • volunteered for almost four hours
  • went to Mass
  • blogged
  • hand-washed some delicates

I was exhausted by the end of it all. If that’s what being an extrovert is like, it’s no wonder that I rest firmly on the line between extrovert and introvert. I am staying in for most of this weekend, and I am ecstatic.

— 7 —

I started writing my first ever blog post series! It’s about the survey Pope Francis sent to every parish in the country in advance of the upcoming synod on marriage and the family. Oh, you didn’t hear about the survey? I did, but my response was not the best. I’m making up for it with my series, so check it out starting with the intro post.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Rain, Twitter, and Well-Balanced Reporting

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— 1 —

We had some rain here in Austin. This is not a town where it rains often (or even a regular amount), so people forget how to drive and how to dress. I emerged from HEB with my waterproof coat and umbrella on Saturday only to spot a miserable-looking middle-aged woman in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. That is not how we respond to rain. This is how:

(Yes, that’s me that he retweeted!)

— 2 —

In other exciting Twitter news comes this gem:

Back in college, some friends and I were inspired by Wendy Shalit‘s Girls Gone Mild (now in paperback as The Good Girl Revolution) to write an editorial about mdoesty for our campus newspaper. My name went into the byline, and Wendy herself found me and friended me on Facebook. These days, she found my review of her earlier book, A Return to Modesty, and tweeted my image!

So yes, Maura (my college roommate), I do feel famous!

— 3 —

Enough tweets. It’s been a while since I rounded up 7 quick takes. My luau birthday party was delightful. It appears that scheduling it before the start of football season last year was critical to attendance. Many people I thought would come either never showed or came after their game finished. I kind of liked the staggered arrivals, because it kept the party going at a nice manageable pace rather than our usual flood of people mid-party, but I also missed the house-filling throng. Lessons learned for the spring.

— 4 —

I promised more about my young adult group disbanding, and then I didn’t deliver. That’s partly because it’s disheartening to think about. The nutshell is that participation had been declining for a long time (months and months) before I was asked to join the leadership team, and it dropped sharply thereafter, despite my efforts to be all things to all. I burned out around Independence Day, and we (mostly I) made the decision to close up shop and move on.

I have chosen to see the end of the group as an occasion for hope. Most of the new members that came to an event or two never really got involved beyond that, so there won’t be much for them to miss. We long-term members have formed actual friendships outside of the group, and many are involved in the other Catholic young adult groups in the area, so they’re not just out in the cold.

Being on the forefront of something new is not my thing. I don’t like seeing things end, either, but it was time, and I am at peace.

— 5 —

Tonight, I am at home on the couch, but last Friday, I went out for karaoke. A friend of mine hosted a large-but-private room party. I guessed that most of the people there would be people I didn’t already know, and I was right. I do like to sing, I’m decent at it (but nothing to write home about), and I had been looking for opportunities to stretch myself socially. There are no single men living in my house.

So I went, even though the aforementioned rain in Austin turned everyone into terrible drivers, and I had a really good time. I sang so much that I almost lost my voice, but it was so good to just be without worrying about what people would think. I might not ever see some of those people again. It was freeing, and it was fun.

— 6 —

Does anyone else have trouble staying on top of email newsletters and blog posts? I had some time recently to do a reading spree, and I feel so much better than I did looking at those growing numbers. The Inbox Zero part of my heart is happy. I did declare bankruptcy on selected sources, but I find myself going on these reading binges more often now, more often than I’d like. I have a technique beyond “try to read everything,” but there’s got to be a better way. (I sound like a kitchen gadget infomerical.) Any ideas?

— 7 —

The CatholicMatch Institute blog published an article on the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion without an annulment. They can’t, but I think that is one of the few articles I’ve read on the subject that covers both sides without making anyone seem like a fool. It’s so easy to say “you’re heartless and unrealistic” or “you’re a heretic and a sinner” without taking time to think the issue through. I did not get that impression from CatholicMatch, though, and I’m grateful for that.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge, My Birthday, and Dating

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— 1 —

It was my birthday on Saturday! I slept in, had my favorite breakfast (a bagel and orange juice), did not clean the house, painted my toenails, and made cupcakes to share with my trivia team. I got a special birthday shout-out at trivia and they played “Africa” even though I did not request it. It was a pretty good run.

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One of my roommates left me these pretties as a surprise. I coaxed them all open today!

The official party is on Saturday. There is much to do before then, but I think it’ll be a great night, too.

— 2 —

As I posted on Facebook, I have mixed feelings about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

It is awesome that awareness is being raised for ALS research and treatment. It’s a disease that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as others (say, for example, that one with all the pink stuff). I usually have a big problem with the concept of “raising awareness.” Those walks and races with pink-shirted participants are not “raising awareness” for breast cancer. There once was a time when women would rather die quietly than admit they had breast cancer. That is not true anymore. People are fully aware of breast cancer. Awareness has been raised, and that is fantastic. You can raise money, you can volunteer time, you can offer treatment to women (and men) who can’t afford it. Those are all noble causes. “Raising awareness” is not among them, so snaps to the Ice Bucket Challenge for actually raising awareness.

But if I hear one more person say “dump a bucket of ice water over your head or donate to ALS research,” I might scream. “And” is the word you’re looking for, not “or.” There’s no consensus on the dollar amount: I heard $100, I heard $25, and I heard no specific dollar amount. Several of the videos don’t mention any amount that will be donated. If the message that has gone viral is that dumping a bucket of ice water over your head is the way to get out of donating, then that’s ridiculous. I hope everyone I’ve seen posting those videos has donated, too, but there’s no video of that part. (Well, Charlie Sheen did. If he has become my standard, the world is now a very strange place.)

There’s also the concern that the ALS Foundation supports embryonic stem cell research, which has cured nothing. Adult stem cell research has been curing dozens of diseases for a decade.

The best response I’ve seen is a post by the wife of a man who actually has ALS. All of her suggested challenges (except maybe 5, 6, and 8) sound doable, video-recorable, and awful. When I see those on YouTube, I will feel better about this whole thing.

— 3 —

My friend and accidental office neighbor Michael Raia wrote a lovely post for his company blog about Catholic church architecture. He does a great job of describing the situation, from the importance of architecture that is beautiful and thereby leads us to think of the source of all beauty (i.e. God) to the challenge of balancing the vertical and horizontal dimensions of worship. It’s the kind of writing that sets itself up well for Part II. He’s laid out the problems. Now we need a solution.

— 4 —

I am not currently dating anyone but I would like to be. And I do call it “dating.” I like the idea of not dating the way most of the world does, but I feel as though the evangelical version of courtship is very different than anything I would suggest Catholics do or actually do myself.

I came across “Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed” on Facebook a few weeks ago. My friend Marie posted it as an article that made her think about what she wants for her children in the future. I thought about using it for my Austin CNM column, but I try not to get too personal there, so I decided against it.

That original post and the follow-up Q&A still have me thinking, though. A model of courtship where parents are in charge of their adult children really does sound foolish. Why is it that none of these articles are ever written by Catholics?

— 5 —

Then there is this post from Verily about transforming the dating scene by returning to person-to-person introductions. The author suggests that married couples introduce single friends to one another by hosting gatherings in their home. Well, that would be great, except that many of my married friends have moved on, many to having kids! When there are children underfoot, it becomes much more difficult to have adults-only time, let alone host it (at least as far as I understand). I feel bad about bothering my married friends to find a man for me. They’re so busy already. They’re moving on into their lives as married people and parents, and I am so happy for them, but there’s clearly no room left for me.

— 6 —

For the last two weeks, I continued doing my regular job as well as filling in for our accounts payable admin. He was in Alaska on vacation. He couldn’t have known that, on the very first day of my fill-in, we would suddenly have two staff members leave the company, and I would be simultaneously be slammed with work for two of my three main projects. It was the perfect storm.

From this experience, I learned that (a) I have demonstrated how capable I am to all my coworkers, (b) although I can basically do accounting, I definitely dislike it, and (c) that particular admin can never leave for that long again.

— 7 —

My idea for being a better (read: more frequent) blogger is to flesh out some of these quick takes into posts of their own. This is a blog about my life, so why do I always feel like I must have something profound to say before I can post? So that’s my goal: more posts, shorter posts, better posts.

Don’t worry, I’ll make it into a SMART goal later.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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