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    by Mary Beth Ellis
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    Random House Trade Paperbacks
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Saturday
Mar222008

...And Then There's This.

I'm generating enough new-allergen snot to sink an aircraft carrier, but just in time comes a reminder that back at The Swamp, Northern Edition, life carries on as usual.

Money quote: "They're really nice guys, they were just really drunk yesterday."

But my very favorite part is that the news item, filed by the site under "Local and Regional Headlines," is completely indistinguishable from the links posted as "News of the Strange." What's it like to live in Florida?...That.

really nice guys at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Friday
Mar212008

"Crucify Him!"-- UPDATED

Catholics who attend Good Friday services all take part in a little play. The Passion according to St. John is read, with two lectors taking the part of a narrator and various players, the priest speaking the part of Christ, and the crowd-- well, the crowd is in charge of being the crowd. That means we say, many times, many ways, "Crucify him!"

When this is a yearly thing, it's easy to tune out and plunge all this into banality. When I was a sophomore, one of my brothers softly changed "We want Barabbas!" into "Wewease Woger!" at a Notre Dame Palm Sunday dorm Mass, which earned stifled snickers from those around us and one hearty glare from the celebrant.

But somewhere between the Peeps and the Magic Crayon, there is this: You're responsible for what happened that day. I'm responsible. This extends beyond guilt into truth and action. Because even though there's a good ending to Good Friday, we're still responsible--for each other.

Crucifixion UPDATE: I seem to have offended at least one (Apparently Now Former) The Reader with this one, and I'm sorry if the post is not clear. I meant emphasize the meaning of Good Friday--which is not only that our own sins put Christ on the cross, but that we are also charged with treating one another with mercy, kindness, tough love when necessary, and extra Peeps at every possible turn. A blessed Easter to all of you.

Wednesday
Mar192008

Equinox

It's spring, apparently.

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Time to hike. But only while carrying a velor purse.

This marks my third season in a row after five years in Florida. In the depths of January, I actually suffered anxiety attacks when I would touch the window, and not only was it not warm, there was nothing I could do to make it warm, and it apparently wasn't going to be warm ever, ever again. And so I thought that two consecutive days above fifty degrees would be most exciting, but-- no. Instead, there was illness and general physical misery, for I had forgotten that not only was I new again to spring, I had an entire tri-state-plus-Beltway area full of unfamiliar fauna to experience.

So I stayed inside and sniffled and colored eggs. I have colored eggs a lot. Josh has colored them twice, but showed himself a natural with the Magic Crayon.

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Not so much with putting the correct color tablet in the corresponding cup, however. And that is okay. Jesus loves the orange eggs in the green tub, too.

vinegar at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday
Mar192008

"Thank You" for People Who Hate People

As a non-people person, this is the non-suckiest idea I've seen in a long, long time. And I'm going to start doing it.  Just as soon as I once and for all figure out my right hand from my left.

Spread the word.

Wednesday
Mar192008

Hike

A Catholic church in the area recently sponsored a trip for teens to a local seminary. It appeared in the bulletin under the title "Hike and Hail Mary!" which makes it absolutely the most awesomely named thing I've seen since the article about a tightrope performer in Korea entitled "Skywalker Crosses Han Solo."

You have to do this with The Kids Today, I've found, because "Nuns are Neat-o!" probably isn't going to herd them in. At Notre Dame, the Office for Vocations scattered posters around the male dorms featuring two priests in full Roman collar and sunglasses, staring at the camera over the words "JOIN THE MEN IN BLACK." (At the time, I wasn't even aware that Saint Mary's, with its walking-around audience of 1600 women, even had an office for vocations. I had to look it up just now to make sure one existed at all.)

There is a severe priest and nun shortage on, and several orders, with shocking population pyramids far more dramatic than the one we face as a nation, are simply phasing themselves out-- no new sisters, no new brothers, because the leaders are projecting that there won't be enough future members to care for the religious who join right now.

Whereas not one single person ever sat me down with a veil and an application form, my parents received almost daily priest-and-nun job ads as they grew up. It was very much a part of the system, a strongly encouraged professional avenue from within Catholicism rather than the sensational "No! Really?" type of decision it is today. Maybe it's because the job field is so open to women and both sexes are now attending college in record numbers without the help of religious orders, but despite twenty-two years in the Catholic bowling ghetto, I know exactly zero ladies and two men of my generation who full-on chose this path. One man spent a year in Colorado Springs Holy Cross Novitiate. The other I chose to cheat on my then-boyfriend with. Both have since left the seminary.

Oh, crap, it's me. I'm the problem.

In more ways than one. In the days when the orders could pick and choose, my mother applied to the Sisters of Charity, who politely told her to kiss off. Their loss. My mom would have been an awesome nun. But you'll excuse me for a bit of selfishness when I announce that I'm really rather glad the Lord said, "Nooooooo-- I need you to give birth to a person who gets lost in handicapped bathroom stalls instead."

not on the SAT future career check-box at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com