My Sweet New Life

This blog began in sadness and kind of dissolved when I got happy again.  When life is great, I would rather wallow in it than write about it.  But here is the gist:

Aeon and I had a beautiful, happy wedding attended by our favorite people, and afterwards we absconded to a charming cabin amidst redwoods, and some time after that we went to Italy and I drank limoncello by the Adriatic and Aeon told off a con artist who was stealing money from a church in Rome.

We settled into a snug apartment.

And we conceived a baby, who is due in the spring.

So that’s what’s going on with us.  My blog served its original purpose of nudging me to engage more with the world around me.  Fortunately, Aeon didn’t need much more than a nudge, being the flirty extrovert that he is.  I may revive the blog, or I may lock it up behind a “Private” setting… we’ll see.  Either way, my thanks to all of you who read and commented!

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Of Freaking Out and French Mommies

When I was four, I asked for a hunk of Parmesan for Christmas.  My subsequent Christmas lists were heavier on My Little Pony and Easy Bake Ovens (I never received the latter, possibly because my mom was afraid I would combine the two), but I’ve never forgotten that apparently odd request.  It isn’t really odd: who wouldn’t enjoy rich, flaky, salt-spangled Italian cheese?

That must have been my mom’s attitude when it came to feeding us.  As I’ve said before, she’s an amazing cook, and that gave her the power to overcome most of our picky-ness.  She didn’t try to make us eat tasteless, boiled-to-death things; she tempted us with the good stuff.  We were never forced to clean our plates, but she didn’t let us get out of trying whatever she had made, and she didn’t make everyone a separate meal.  “A child’s palate needs to be educated,” she told me later.  “How are they going to learn to like different foods if you only feed them what they ask for?”

Apparently my mom is French: this way of feeding your kids is praised in Bringing Up Bébé, the latest encomium to un-American parenting.  The author was amazed to see that French kids ate a variety of foods and only had one snack per day – somewhere along the way, maybe in the 70′s or 80′s, American parents went so off the rails that this now seems like a quaint Parisian travel fantasy.

I’ll have finally completed the herculean process of getting five young children out the door to go to an activity, and realize with a sinking feeling that I’m not done, because we’re required to bring snacks. I sign up to be part of a Bible study or a weekly prayer group, and one of the first questions I’m asked is which days I’ll be bringing snacks. My kids walk away from the dinner table leaving plates full of their favorite foods untouched, and I realize that the culprit is snacks.

Jennifer Fulwiler’s manifesto nicely highlights the larger problem with endless snack sign-up sheets: there’s an inverse relationship there between maternal effort and real benefit to the children.  You can see this in that alarmingly popular “Invisible Mom” story I criticized:  “Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’”  This (fictional) woman wears herself down to a dejected nubbin – why?  To help her children become more rude, more unimaginative, more helpless.  Imagine if the kids had to learn to tell time, memorize the number of their favorite TV channel, tie their own damn shoes!  They would be more confident, more self-sufficient, and much nicer to live with.  Mom could stop feeling like a Jeeves with multiple Berties to care for.
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That seems to be the overarching message of Bringing Up Bébé (of which I’ve only read an excerpt): true freedom can only be attained through self-mastery, and giving children a “frame” in which they must practice self-mastery makes life nicer for the grownups.  Heresy! shriek the Puritans.  If you aren’t miserable, you aren’t doing it right, and your children will never grow up to be billionaires.  Sadly, this secular anxiety, arising in upper-crust parents who believe that more parental striving equals more brilliant children and that their own children must take the lion’s share of prestige and worldly goods or else be considered failures, has blended with Catholic/Evangelical guilt and fear to produce an even more virulent trap for religious people.  There are certain circles where you must have 11 children and homeschool them all the way through high school or face judgement, and some Evangelicals have created harmful parenting philosophies based on their unknowingly secularized readings of Scripture:  says Christian writer Leslie Fields, “A few of the more stridently conservative writers are so confident of their parenting methods and outcomes, they describe child-training as a risk-free venture analogous to staking out tomatoes, training dogs, and teaching mules, only loosely veiling B. F. Skinner-like techniques with swatches of strategically placed Bible verses.”  (My friend Sheila has documented one particularly horrifying system here.)  If you run the right training program, your children will become “spiritual champions” – and if your son gets a boyfriend or your daughter becomes an atheist, it means you messed up somewhere.  Never mind free will – all that guilt is on you.
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Why am I so interested in French mommies all of a sudden?  Well, I’m getting married soon, and I’ve watched a writer friend of mine go through a really heart-wringing crisis because she feels she must choose between her writing and the happiness of her child.  Like any good Catholic, she sees greater degrees of self-sacrifice as the only answer.  There’s no way I can disagree with her in theory, but she feels trapped and I feel twitchy.
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The other day it all came to head when a certain Natural Family Planning group sent me their magazine, which I started receiving after Aeon and I took the requisite NFP class.  I opened it to find out “Why My Spiritual Director Urged Me to Quit Blogging,” and – well, first of all, it doesn’t help the image of NFP when the author, Annamarie Adkins, talks about unexpectedly having four children in six years and going half crazy because of it.  Her reason for quitting her mom blog was, it turned out, not completely unreasonable – she found herself using the Internet as a quick fix whenever she felt bored or lonely, and documenting her children’s lives rather than participating in them – and she doesn’t say she intends to quit her freelancing work.  Hey, I’ve kicked myself many times for taking the quick high of a blog post in place of the money and professional cred a published article might bring.
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But Adkins’ decision to quit blogging “to begin a more humble, hidden, full life,” as right and grace-inspired as it may have been for her, is not a good decision to hold up in front of young, female, Catholic writers.  How difficult it is for a budding writer to gather the confidence to submit something to an editor!  How insidiously sloth sucks us back up when the piece is rejected and we must face revising it or sending it off to the next editor!    Women in particular worry that they are consumed by vanity, while men never seem to give it a second thought:  if they want to write, they write, and they assume that someone out there will want to read them.  The Vida count put women writers’ minority status into stark, cold data; and while some wanted to blame discrimination, plenty of editors complained that they simply didn’t receive as many submissions from women.  For me, this rings true.  As a writer, I fight a constant battle against not vanity, but sloth.
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The Invisible Mom was obsessed with mortifying her own “strong, stubborn pride,” even while her husband and children were marinating in selfishness.  She could never be invisible enough.  I’m not doubting the capability of Adkins’  spiritual director to diagnose “vanity” as his directee’s root sin, but I think any stay-at-home mom who quit or hid her blog would feel, like Adkins, “isolated, a bit friendless and a little empty on the inside at times.” (All those qualifiers!)   Stay-at-home moms these days are isolated, sometimes to the point that people have suggested ministries to visit them as if they were shut-ins.  Perhaps Adkins has plenty of extended family… or then again not.  She finishes the piece thus: “Whenever the hole left by blogging aches, I remind myself that only God could – and should – fill it for me.  When I want to go to the Internet, I really should be going to Jesus.”  I acknowledge the truth in this – but if every Catholic mom, to please Jesus, had to quit blogging and do nothing except tend to her family in the most obvious, material sense, that would suggest that married life also embraces another vocation: that of a cloistered nun, but with no silence for contemplation.
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I wonder what one of those laid-back French mothers would think of the illustration that accompanies the piece: a nervous mother at her computer, angel and devil hovering on either shoulder, and five children running wild in the background.  There is a grinning boy with a squirt gun, a preteen boy teasing his sister, a baby flinging a bowl of cereal from his high chair, and a little girl singing karaoke.  I imagine the French mom would not consider the singing girl to be a problem, and would simply tell the boy with the squirt gun to play with it outside, leaving her with only two problems to resolve.  I’m not sure what the illustrator thinks the mother should be doing with karaoke girl and squirt gun boy.  Does he think they will suffer emotional trauma if their mother doesn’t drop everything to clap for her daughter and roughhouse with her son?  Both of them look ecstatic to me.
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I don’t admire everything about Pamela Drucker’s French moms (really just Parisian bobo moms).  And I do plan to breastfeed, and to homeschool (if it is right for us).  But I don’t plan to stop writing, and I don’t want to writhe, “self-wrung, self-strung,” on a rack of endless, toxic, mother-guilt.  If I feel guilty I will either acknowledge my sin and go to confession, or recognize the feeling as that harmful anxiety that we beg to be free from at every Mass.  If I have a daughter, I want to show her that growing up doesn’t have to mean giving up her dreams.
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How Not to Talk About Modesty (Among Other Things)

If she had worn a mantilla, those men would have respected her!

I am sure the author of this article is a perfectly nice Catholic man, but perhaps he has not been listening to the news for the past few months, or he would have been more leery of the examples he used to illustrate his views on modesty.   If there is one rule that a male Catholic writer should follow, it is this:

Don’t talk about rape if your article is not already about sexual violence.

The corollary, of course, is “make sure you are qualified to write about sexual violence so that you don’t end up horrifying people and starting slutwalks,” but let’s stick to the main rule.  Toutounji said some well-worn but mostly innocuous things for the first three paragraphs of his article, and then he took a turn for Crazytown:

Some years ago there was a terrible gang rape case in Australia by some Islamic young men. One of the local imams came out and instead of condemning the men, accused Australian women of inviting rape because of the way they dressed. His comments were highly offensive and inappropriate. Days of public commentary deriding the cleric asserted the right of women to dress as they pleased and the responsibility of men to control themselves. And the commentary was correct.

One stands in awe at the laborious care the author has taken to crash into this gaffe, like a skier hitting the only tree on the slope.  If he knew the imam’s words were barbaric, why bring them up?  Why, in the name of all the saints, couldn’t he have thought of a less awful and rapey way to say, “Don’t wear leggings as pants?”  Why did he go there?  But it gets better:

Even though this imam was completely out of place, the essence of his comment was that the way a woman dresses has an impact on men and to ignore that is to be foolishly unaware of the reality.

IgnitumToday advertises itself as “the social network of the JP2 and B16 generations.”  I’m not sure whether this poorly considered article reflects more badly on the site or on us Catholic youth – just look at some of the comments!  My heart breaks for the college student who wrote, in earnest, “If someone compliments my figure, however (like my legs or something; it has happened, college boys don’t always have a filter), I’m doing something wrong somewhere and should probably add an inch to my skirt or wear thicker tights or taller socks.”

Listen up, would-be modesty advocates: the more often you say these dumb things, the more we Catholic girls will begin to believe that you actually mean them.  Please refrain, therefore, from using such examples as “Iranian women have been stoned to death for adultery, which is bad, but still…” (for an article on preserving the sanctity of marriage), or “A certain tribe from Borneo used to eat the flesh of their enemies, which is gross, but still…” (for an article on the morality of military service).

But just when the reader reassures herself that the author is probably an NCB putting his foot in his mouth, she comes across his second analogy:

If I am inviting a friend who struggles with alcohol to my house for dinner, I am not going to offer him a beer as he walks through the door and an array of fine wines with the meal. To do that would be cruel to him and it would not be showing genuine sensitively for his particular struggle.

Again, perhaps Toutounji is just being clumsy here, but in his analogy, walking down the street :  inviting all nearby men to dinner, and walking around in skimpy clothes :  shoving beer into the hands of a recovering alcoholic, who presumably will be more pitied than blamed if he consumes the tempting libation.  Toutounji is very lucky that his post has not yet been discovered by the likes of Gawker or Jezebel.  They would be far less merciful to him than I.

Even the presumably godless editors of women’s magazines agree that it is tacky and immodest to wear leggings as pants.  And now I almost want to put on a shorter top (yes, I’m wearing leggings right now) and prance down to Starbucks.  Congratulations.

All I’m really trying to say is this:  as a young Catholic woman, I am interested in hearing how my dress or behavior might affect nice Catholic men, i.e., men I care about.  I do not care about the feelings of a psychopathic mob of rapists, and I do not understand where violent criminals fit into a discussion of women’s clothing.  Alrighty then.

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The Bra Matrix – MIND BLOWN

Note that these “DD” bras are very different!

The author of the natural beauty blog “Venusian Glow” is an evangelist for correctly-fitted bras.  I always knew that a good bra was hard to find, but I didn’t know how deep my ignorance went.  Honestly, I didn’t even know what the number and letter on bras stood for, and I doubt most of my readers know either!  I have always thought of myself as a small-chested girl, and worn something like a 36A.  But according to my new calculations, I should be wearing a 30DD!  How is this possible?  The Bra Matrix posts are extremely detailed, so I’ll boil it down:

1.  The number is based on the circumference of your rib cage, measured right under your breasts.  You know, where the band of the bra goes.  The band size should be roughly equivalent to that measurement, although many fitters foul that up by telling you to “add five inches,” a relic of times when bras were made of stiff, unforgiving cloth.  The band is supposed to do 90% of the support work (not the straps!), so the band should be TIGHT.

2.  The letter is based on the ratio of your bust to your underbust.  This is what blew my mind: A, B, C is NOT small, medium, large!  We’re all hopelessly confused by guys saying they like C-cups or our memories of buying an A-cup training bra when we were twelve and quite flat-chested.  In fact, if you are a skinny little thing with small boobs the size of apples – but said boobs are perky and stick out courageously from your torso – you could be wearing a C cup or higher!

I’ve ordered a couple of bras from a Polish website – I’m excited to see if this new method of measuring works out correctly.

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Pinterest and Patriarchy

Sheila shared this article on Facebook a while ago: DIY, Pinterest, and the Rise of the New Domesticity.  In it a Christian blogger confirms a WaPo writer’s fear that the current rage for crafting and home cooking is connected, at least sometimes, to women’s sacrifice of career opportunities – but as an effect, not a cause:

In the case of my peers, generally young Christian women, the return to crafting and baking and decorating has accompanied a renewed emphasis on the importance of family life. We see marriages crumbling around us, children struggling through cookie-cutter schools, and so for many, the solution comes by devoting themselves full-time to their families. They’re educated women with more than a heaping of gifts, but they choose to become SAHMs because they really believe that, at least in the early years, they can best care for their families there.

But the truth that many are learning the hard way is that staying at home isn’t without sacrifice. In the eight years that I’ve been at home, I’ve discovered that little ones don’t often want to discuss French existentialism or world events, and major life accomplishments have been reduced to having everyone clean and fed at the same time. It doesn’t take very long to realize that staying at home can be less than stimulating.

Hannah then shares an awesome Dorothy Sayers quote about the universal human need to be occupied in some way, and the vacuum left when the Industrial Revolution took over much of “women’s work.”  The rainbow of projects displayed on Pinterest signifies, at least for SAHMs, the creativity, beauty, and meaningfulness of work that is always in danger of becoming mere drudgery, and even the most frivolous crafts do more good to the world than the internet surfing and TV watching that mainstream America asphyxiates its leisure with.

Working women, however, have nothing to fear from Pinterest.  The nice thing about modern domesticity is that it is still lightened by a huge number of labor-saving devices – in particular, the washing machine.  I remember seeing my great-grandmother’s iron as a child: it was a horrible dark monolith of – what else? – solid iron, and it had to be heated on a wood burning stove to iron EVERYTHING, even sheets, because there was no permanent press back then and everything dried stiff as boards.  My great-gran had a mangle for squeezing out water – the thing could crush the bones in your hand if you weren’t careful.  She had a laundry bat, for agitating clothes in the tub, I believe; and she once forced my grandmother to whup a bully with it.

I had bloody-minded, ass-kicking farmwives on both sides of my family: another great-grandmother could skin a rabbit in one tug.  They didn’t have the luxury of wringing their hands about work-life balance.  Stuff had to get done and they did it.  For the modern urban woman, however, canning your own jam is the task of a weekend.  You don’t have to drop out of society to participate in fun, DIY trends – even if you feel seriously that you are helping your family’s health by gardening and canning, these things can still be done in your leisure time, in lieu of TV watching, blog reading, or gaming.

Honestly, aren’t men bored with corporate toil as well?  Does anyone fret if they take up hunting, fishing, building their own computers, woodworking, auto repair, or any number of hobbies that nourish self-reliance?  Not really – because these activities do not flow insidiously into the bottomless pit of bearing and caring for children.  Making your own baby food, sewing a baby wrap, stenciling the walls of the nursery – these are the slippery slope.  You could end up working from home, surrounded by kids, blogging about making baby food!  Unfortunately for no-gender-roles-ever feminists, this sounds like a dream job to a lot more women than men.  Not that men don’t dream of working from home as well, but even after decades of attempts to even things out, it’s still more socially acceptable for women to be the stay-at-home spouse.

But I think that the resurgence of domesticity, such as it is, is more serious than you would think from browsing through mason jar patio lights and homemade peppermint marshmallows on Etsy.  The heart and soul of the movement is not fluff, but food: nourishment, sustenance, daily bread.  Those urban homesteaders and backyard poultry enthusiasts from the WaPo article have picked up the torch from my rabbit-skinning great-grandmother: there is stuff that has to get done, and they are getting it done.  Rothman gets it right when she quotes a scholar who says that the educated young woman’s new love of domesticity is “a reaction against a broken food system in America.”

Not that Rothman herself is convinced:  “Clearly, knowing how to cook (or knit, or garden) is good and useful. Some of us — myself included — find it enjoyable. But is it a moral and environmental necessity? Is it not good enough that I earn the cash to buy the jam — or the pie, or the loaf of bread, or the scarf?”  Well, not being able to bake a pie is not so serious.  It’s when you don’t know how to roast a chicken or make a simple vegetable soup that I think it can be said that no, you don’t know how to take care of yourself.  If you can’t cook, you give yourself over to the dubious “care” of restaurants, delis, and canned and frozen entrees.  Unless you’re such a high-roller that you can afford a private cook (so pre-war), you end up as a culinary nomad, with no knowledge of what a proper portion size is or how food tastes before it’s salted.

A broken food system.  Strong words, but look at us: we’re getting fatter and sicker every year.  The health system is breaking too, under the weight of preventable, diet-related chronic illness.  And why is the food system broken?  Because of male-run agro-business and food-marketing, sure – but also because women voted with their dollars and their time and bought the idea of convenience food, of food as fuel.  As something they didn’t have the time to worry about.  Sure, it would be nice if we women weren’t seen as the “guardians of family health” – if men had realized that two working spouses meant sharing that burden equally.  But men didn’t pick up the slack.  Americans worked more hours than ever, and both men and women dropped the ball on making sure that family meals happened, that our food had integrity.  And if more women are deciding that “guardian of family health” is actually a pretty badass and essential job, why discourage them from hogging the lion’s share of it?

I called this post “Pinterest and Patriarchy,” but I barely touched on the patriarchy bit.  Rothman dives into it here:

Their domesticity can be seen as an effort to repair on an individual level what isn’t being fixed at a governmental or societal one. Pro bono. Because, as important and fulfilling as housework may be, it’s unpaid. And in a world where college-educated women still earn, over the course of their careers, about $713,000 less than college-educated men, that’s no small thing.

She wants to sound nitty-gritty and pragmatic, but to me this just comes off as petty.  Why should women strive to be that jerk at the cocktail party who wants you to know how much more money he makes than you do?  If you’re not factoring in discrimination, but only lost opportunity costs, why is this wage gap so unacceptable?  This is a really unpleasant side of feminism: a materialism that reduces all of worth to what it might cost in the marketplace.  Chesterton nails it here:

There is a plutocratic assumption behind the phrase, ‘Why should woman be economically dependent upon man?’  The answer is that among poor and practical people she isn’t; except in the sense that he is dependent upon her.  A hunter has to tear his clothes; there must be somebody to mend them.  A fisher has to catch fish; there must be somebody to cook them.  It is surely quite clear that this modern notion that a woman is a mere ‘pretty clinging parasite,’ ‘a plaything,’ etc., arose through the sombre contemplation of some rich banking family, in which the banker at least went to the city and pretended to do something, while the banker’s wife went to the Park and did not pretend to do anything at all.  A poor man and his wife are a business partnership.

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I Don’t Want to Be An Invisible Mom

When it comes to fashion, the only thing most Catholic writers have to say is “modesty, modesty, modesty.”  I’m sick to death of the topic, and if you’re reading my blog, I’m sure you are too.  What about beauty?  That’s one of the transcendental aspects of being, right up there with goodness and truth, no?  Nothing gets my dander up like religious folk obsessing about clothes while patently not caring about them.  My Christian college had a dress code, which I think was a good thing on the whole, but my post-college wardrobe doesn’t always conform to it, and I haven’t been kidnapped by white slavers (so far).  I have appeared in public (though not at church or work) in strapless sundresses, shorts, and even a bright coral dress that hit me mid-thigh – but I doubt anyone sane thought I looked slutty.  The strapless sundress had a floor-grazing skirt; the short coral dress had cap sleeves and a demure neckline.  I won’t wear a bikini, but I wouldn’t automatically unfriend a girl who did.

The point is, I enjoy looking pretty and I have a small, hard-earned store of knowledge on how to do so.  Aeon, a true NCB, enjoys my appearance, and I don’t plan on trashing it any time soon.  Let’s face it: we’re Catholic; we’ll probably (God willing) have a baby within the next three years.  But I don’t want to end up in a freaking denim jumper!  Gah!  When I look at photos of my grandmother holding her children, she’s always wearing some killer 50s outfit.  I want to be like her!  Don’t even talk to me about June Cleaver; I’ve never seen her.  Is she a hipster who makes bread-knives with owls on the handles?

This little inspirational gem has apparently been making the rounds of the internet.  The most offensive bit is the husband ignoring his wife at a dinner party, but this is the crux of the matter:

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England.  Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

This imaginary lady doesn’t need a condescending gift from her fabulous friend – she needs five freaking minutes to take a shower, and she needs to look at some style blogs and buy a few machine-washable knit dresses in bright colors.  And some knee-high boots.

Why should Invisible Mom care?  Well, if she were a cheerful hippie mamma that would be one thing, but she’s not.  She’s conscious of being “out of style” and grungy, and it makes her unhappy.  Also, if she has a daughter, Invisible Mom will be her most powerful advertisement for the state of motherhood.   Does she see a thriving, happy woman?  Why should she want to trade in her pretty, single state to become a meek, shabby, peanut butter-scented drudge?  Why would you wait on your daughter hand and foot, training her to enthrone herself at the center of the universe, when all you want is for her to grow up, marry a nice man, and forget about having a moment of peace or appreciation ever again?  How are you preparing her to be happy?

Rant over.  When I have kids I will:

1.  Keep this bookmarked.

2.  Remember that as long as it’s machine-washable, it’s all good.

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In Which Flirty Gets a Ring

Yes, my flirtatious introversion has finally paid off.  Aeon and I are getting married next year!  About a week ago he asked me to meet him on top of a hill near my house, and I ran all the way to the top, where I found he had marvelously set up a table and chairs and two glasses of prosecco. When he asked me to marry him and opened the little velvet box, I squealed “Yes!  Of course I will!” and glomped him.  Eeeeeeee!

“Flirty, I still have to put the ring on your finger.”

“Oh!  Right.”

This episode reminded me of the night we were introduced.  After a Catholic Event, Aeon walked up to preoccupied and awkward me and said “Hi, I’m Aeon.”

“Hi!”

Aeon’s friend: “Aeon, this is flirtyintrovert.”

Me again: “Oh, yes, um, I’m flirty.  That’s me.  Nice to meet you.”  Aeon found this improbably enchanting.

I was always afraid that I didn’t know how to fall in love, but the suspense is over now.  I used to comb through relationship columns, asking “How will I know?”  Sometimes the answers filled me with alarm: Seraphic, for instance, described a sort of head-exploding delirium that sounded quite beyond my powers.  You have to take your temperament into account, though.  Seraphic would admit to lifelong boy-craziness, whereas I am usually as crush-proof as a stainless steel briefcase.  It was only when a man would show active interest in me that I could form an attraction to him – which, come to think of it, is an awfully enviable gift!

My advice for any other calm, phlegmatic girls out there: you’ll know it’s true love when marriage is on the table and you really feel like marrying the guy.  I am sick of shuttling back and forth between my house and Aeon’s apartment; I can’t wait until we can just lock the door and go to bed without scandalizing all our friends and relations.  I just love him!  How else can I explain it?  I can’t report any flu-like symptoms, heart palpitations (yet lightness of heart most certainly), hallucinations or hysteria.  You don’t need to feel like you’re losing your mind.  Me, I just feel like I’ve found Home.

Here are some of the manifold excellences of Aeon:

1.  He is endlessly kind.  When I was freaking out over my grading, he came over and let me cry all over him.  Then he took me to a pub and bought me a Blue Moon and a martini.  Even aside from crises like this, he is very patient with my weird, meandering brain.

2.  He is soooo funny!  His personae include a 20s radio announcer, a narrator of nature documentaries, a D&D nerd, and a spy named Edgar Figaro.  He’s always trolling me, and we laugh a lot.

3.  He’s from Brooklyn and says ‘wardah’ for ‘water.’  He has big blue eyes with long lashes and he puffs out his burly chest if we are walking through a shady part of town.  He likes to drink Guinness and eat spaghetti and meatballs.  He is adorable (in a hot way).

4.  Fortunately he thinks I’m hot too.

5. Catholic; not a Jansenist.  Loves God.  Talks theology and philosophy with me.

6.  Makes money writing about superheroes.

7.  Has a million friends.

8. – 276. (to be continued.)

Okay, I need to wrap this up and find us some dinner.  The ring, if you’re curious, is  elvish-looking, Art Deco, and set with a pearl instead of a diamond.  Unique, not too pricey, but vulnerable to lemon juice and scratches, so needs to be treated gently.

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