We are planning a family vacation to Virginia Beach. Patrick and I have gone twice before as a couple, and once on the Marymount Campus Ministry retreat. I remember two big houses up on stilts, the men in one with the priests, the women in the other: a giggling house full of unsupervised undergrads piled up on couches and spilling across the floor, doing each other's nails and yelling about sand in the bathtub. The ministry leaders scheduled a full weekend of discussion. The sexes were split up so that they would have a safe
forum-- so that they would feel like they could speak freely. The men's discussions were led by priests and the women's discussions were led by students. The women’s group
talked about how hard it was not to gossip, and the men’s group talked about
how hard it was not to masturbate.
For six years I worked as a sales associate at Agape Bears, a small business owned by my good friend Betty. She curated a wonderful collection of stuffed toys and artist bears, and now that the storefront is closed, she continues to sell down the inventory from her website and plans on spending more time working on her own bears.
This is a story about a strange encounter that I had when Patrick and I had just moved into an apartment at Ballston, a few
blocks from the bear store. I never did adjust to the new commute to work; I would
think "it’s only six blocks" and then dawdle at home, instead of thinking "I have to walk six blocks
instead of getting dropped off at the mall by the bus."
It got worse a couple of years later, when I didn’t adjust
to the extra time needed when I was pregnant, and couldn’t walk quickly because
of the ligament pain in my sides. But this morning I told myself "it’s only six
blocks," and stayed home long enough to boil a couple of eggs instead of
grabbing my usual packet of instant oatmeal.
I had just discovered soft-boiled eggs. My mother’s cooking
method is to put something on the stove, wander away, and come back when the
smoke alarm goes off, so I didn’t have an egg that had boiled less than fifteen
minutes until I was in my twenties. This morning I soft-boiled two eggs, ate
one, and considered the other for a moment before wrapping it in a paper towel,
stowing it in my backpack, and trotting down the road.
A high school teacher in Albany, NY gave 10th grade students the assignment to write an argument paper, using Nazi propaganda, describing why Jews were evil and to blame for German social problems. Here's the conversation my husband and I had about the assignment.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/13/nyregion/albany-teacher-gives-pro-nazi-writing-assignment.html?_r=0 Ouisi: Okay, I think what's happening here is that this is a college-style thought assignment. In college people learn how to think. But this assignment was given to high school students in a public school, where people are used to the teachers telling them what to think. They aren't expecting to have to think critically and examine deep moral problems. Maybe it's the right assignment and the wrong group of people.
Patrick: This is an English class. It would make more sense in a History class, but this may be part of the teacher's attempt to draw connections between the different disciplines. Ouisi: If we don't examine things like German nationalism closely, we can keep evil far away from us, foreign and alien, and not learn to recognize it in our own culture and in ourselves. So it is a good assignment.
Patrick: It's too close. Nazi Germany is too recent. The teacher should have picked something from further back in time--
Mommy: What are we going to wear for our play date with Mr. Elias, Sophia?
Sophia: "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."
Mommy: How about this polka dotty pant and bodysuit set?
Sophia: "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Mommy: Hey, what's this? It's the Ralph Lauren romper we found at the thrift store for five dollars! It's classic! It's adorable! Does it still fit? Hang on--
Sophia: "Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."
Mommy: It does fit! Ruffled tights. . . and a cotton Janie & Jack shirt with gathered cuffs. . . Look at you! You are so cute!
Mommy: Oh, look. You just shot poop right out the back of your diaper and four inches up your back.
Sophia: "The best laid schemes of mice and men/ Go often awry,/ And leave us nothing but grief and pain,/ For promised joy!"
SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion. Cue the hysterics. National news agencies report this as an attempt to establish a state religion, but according to Charlotte news site WCNC.com, this bill is a bit of braggadocio, a reaction against an ACLU lawsuit that attempts to bar the Rowan County commissioners from starting their meetings with a prayer to Dear Lord Baby Jesus.