Musings on Muses
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Ash Wednesday
While working as a church secretary, I noticed a running theme, a sort of joke that many of the priests had about Lent. There's always good attendance when something's given out at Mass. Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, and Donut Days are fine examples of this phenomenon. The irony is that there is something given out every Sunday more rich in symbol than ashes, more majestic than palms, more filling than donuts. It is the Eucharist. Why don't we come home from Mass every week awed that God is present and available, given out freely? Maybe its because you can't bring it home to show others. ("Hey look, I went to Mass today and look what I got! ") Perhaps because it is priceless, you can't marvel at the deal you got. ("Wow, donuts/rosaries usually cost x and I got it for free!) But for whatever reason, if you are going for the palms and ashes, stay a moment and consider the gift given out every week that was first given at Calvary.
Panevale (Farewell to Bread)
This year for Lent, we are giving up carbs. It's kind of an expanded version of giving up sugar. So for Mardi Gras, we gave one last hurrah to all things starchy. So what was my last sugary treat for Panevale? Krispy Kremes. I really love these remarkable donuts. Enough to recognize that they are perhaps an unhealthy attachment. I am just of fond of soda, pasta, and lots of other sweet and starchy things. I am also overweight and realize all of these things got me there. So in the grand tradition of many Catholics at Lent, I am combining my diet and spiritual goals.

Don't worry. I am still observing the Fish Fridays and the Days of Fast. Which just means that I've have to become very creative in meal planning. I suspect that its actually easier to give up meat entirely. Although neither is pleasant. The reason I went this direction was that the penance is susposed to be something you are attached to. And I am verily a sugar junkie. My husband not so much but his cholesterol is currently a problem and the diet plan I'm following is supposed to help with cholesterol and blood sugar. So we are taking the opportunity to start a diet when we have greater reasons than vanity for sticking with the plan.

Lent is kind of like a spiritual diet. Our souls have become flabby. Spiritual exercises exist which can get the soul in shape but a diet is also necessary for health. Just as our bodies need the right diet, so do our spirits. The funny thing about fasting and abstinence is that it kills two birds with one stone. Because our bodies our not mere machines for our souls to power, what we do to the body can benefit or harm the soul. So giving up carbs, I am both giving up something that I am inordinantly attached to and also reorienting myself to God. If I lose some weight, I'll be happy, but just being able to stop saying "I really need a Sprite" will be a benefit.

And in 40 days I can have the occasional Krispy Kreme.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Long Weekend
We have been invaded, oops, I mean visited by our first official visitors. Mom and Dad came in for a day and a half. Many pictures were taken of The Baby, many meals were enjoyed, and we went to see a museum.

Beautiful. Three full hours of culture. The good kind. The kind that you sit back afterwards and think "I liked that." There was a lovely exhibit featuring artwork of Venice in the first half of the nineteeth century. Turner, the main artist, was a bit ahead of his time with an impressionistic style that captured the light and soul of Venice, rather than the precise proportions of the arches on the Ponte Rialto. The other exhibit was French Rococo, a guilty pleasure of mine. Yes its so much pink and blue and gold, yes the sketches look like toile, yes, but its good. It's not treacly like Thomas Kinkade. It is difficult to adequately portray beauty. Allegorical paintings are not easy to compose. Try to show the whole of a story from the Metamorphoses in one shot. Truly pictures worth a thousand words. And not one piece of modern dreck. This was art, designed to appeal to the better part of the appetites, to draw us towards the source of Beauty.

Also, Saturday through Monday, Chris's grandparents were in town. More pictures, lots of discussion of current events -- many of which we didn't know anything about, since we don't watch tv.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
I just put up our windchimes the other day. With the wind nice and breezy at 41mph, they are beginning to be just a bit annoying. Kept me up all night. No, I kept me up all night but the chimes certainly didn't lull me to sleep.

I've found my most productive time of day to be between 8 pm and 2 am. So I've taken to sleeping in late and just doing stuff when the sun goes down. Which might explain the incoherancy of my blogposts. My brain is awake during the day but I don't like working while the sun is up.

For that matter, we all seem to be nocturnal around here. Both me son and husband are napping right now. I think looking at the boxes makes us lethargic. But I finished my bit of the resume project so now I'll be concentrating on blog content and getting 3 years of filing backlog taken care of. And finishing all of my sewing projects. And figuring out menus to make our Lenten penance (low carb, sugar free) possible.

I am expecting my parents to be arriving within half and hour which is why I am not partaking in siesta like the rest of mi famiglia. (Appologies for my poor Italian.) I hope they don't mind the wind too much.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Barnes & Noble Links up and running
You may have noticed that I have a new search bar in the right column and that the Dangerous Beauty rant/post now has a link to the DVD at B&N. What is this, you may wonder. Well now, B&N gives me an itty bitty commission when you buy things after linking from my site. I don't like just begging for money outright but if you were going to buy the book anyway and I reminded you to look for it, B&N thanks me for my role as remote saleswoman. It's your little way of keeping this site up, running, and interesting while I try to make my living from home and raise my infant son.
Link fixed!
Yay! I managed to fix the Blogback button. Still having trouble with the pro-life clique button.

Resolutions for the upcoming weeks.

1.Learn enough HTML that these things stop happening.
2.Provide enough content that people actually start visiting again.
3.Try to find something upbeat and humorous to write about daily.

Check back on me in a few weeks and we'll see how I'm doing.
Pardon our Dust
While I figure out how to work these links to B&N, the code's going to make this site look a little funny.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Thank you for visiting our sponsors
I'm finally back on track and beginning to get content on an almost daily basis. So I am now adding a few extras. Pending approval, I should soon be affiliated with Barnes and Noble. Who knows, one day they might carry my books also!
Somehow, I'm not surprised...
Though I guess mommyhood hasn't completely sunk in since I didn't come up Kanga.

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

Bird in a Gilded Cage
Surfing the blogosphere this week, I ran across this quote from Amy Wellborn's blog, Open Book, commenting on what the culture of modern America is saying to our young women:

Be, essentially, a courtesan. That's where your life and priorities should be - in preening and flaunting your sexuality, and centering your life on when you get laid, by whom and how often.

I'm not sure how deliberate that choice of word, courtesan, was. Was it a polite term for whore, recognizing that she is, after all, a family blog. Or was there more deliberation. Because the courtesans of past ages were not common whores. They were usually educated, accomplished, and deeply involved in politics. More than sexual diversions, they were often intellectual matches for the men they serviced. Which brings me to why feminists seem to admire the courtesan. In a history where most women were seemingly mere chattel, they were able to enter the sphere of men for the price of their virtue. Re-watching the film Dangerous Beauty

(warning, the R rating is deserved due to nudity and language), based on a novelization of the life of Venetian courtesan and poetess Veronica Franco, I saw how the modern lens had focused on the world of 15th century Venice.

It becomes clear that all women are birds in gilded cages. Some, the wives, have security and virtue at the price of boredom, "a life of childbearing and needlepoint", unfaithful husbands, and restricted education. Courtesans have access to education, pleasure, wit, but not to love (which is fatal to their occupation). And she loses all of this when she loses her beauty. The only alternative is the convent, which is a cloistered life and not one that every woman is called to. All the lives open to women are cages. Or so we are told when viewing history through this lens.

We live in different times now. Men must no longer seek large dowries and political matches to satisfy their family. We can marry love matches. Women are not forced into prostitution because they would make bad ladies' maids. Yet feminism still sees the courtesan as the ideal. The heroines of history are for them the powerful mistresses of kings. At the center of political intrigue, skilled at pleasing men with not only their body but their mind, they seem to be the ideal of the liberated woman.

The question becomes can a woman attain the qualities that make a courtesan an appealing companion, that is a beautiful appearance, a lively mind and wit, and a desire to please, without sacrificing her integrity? Is there something about being educated that naturally leads to the fruits of the sexual revolution? Does "a promiscuous mind lead to a promiscuous body"?

I do not regret my university education. I believe that it has made me a better human being. Yet it did not prepare me to be a wife and homemaker. I might feel that my education was wasted had I majored in something more practical, more vocational, but I was idealistic enough to get a classical education. Had I majored in Marketing, I might be more hesitant to settle down, to leave the workforce and my hard earned career. In reality, I've been floundering for a calling and the best I've found so far is mother and wife. Am a better wife for my education or has it hindered me? Are more young women inclined to become like the "girls" on Sex and the City because their education has made flounder between choosing a career or a family.

In Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Lucas makes an unromantic match because she is realistic about her opportunities for security outside of marriage. Are we any better off for being able to choose careers or are they just new ways of becoming courtesans?

Thursday, February 12, 2004
Resume (Reh-zoo-may)
I have finally approached a point where daily writing seems like a possiblility. After two interstate moves in as many months, I am finally settled, my home is approaching the state where I am happy in it for more than a few minutes, and I know where to find my books. So I have been writing. Not stories, books or articles yet. Nope. Today I am a resume consultant.

My husband, in the middle of a long job search, has recruited me to help with the overhaul of his resume. With hard work and luck, he should be a lot closer to good employment in a few days.

The one thing I did not realize is just how excruciatingly boring and difficult it is to write these things well. I'm not talking about just putting down a list of where and when you last worked. But actually trying to highlight skills and show how they apply to seemingly unrelated jobs. I started this morning and I'm only just beginning to see the end.

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