Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mulieris Dignitatem.2

MD: "This observation on the limits of the analogy - the limits of man's likeness to God in biblical language - must also be kept in mind when, in different passages of Sacred Scripture (especially in the Old Testament), we find comparisons that attribute to God "masculine" or "feminine" qualities. We find in these passages an indirect confirmation of the truth that both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God. If there is a likeness between Creator and creatures, it is understandable that the Bible would refer to God using expressions that attribute to him both "masculine" and "feminine" qualities."

MD: "This characteristic of biblical language - its anthropomorphic way of speaking about God - points indirectly to the mystery of the eternal "generating" which belongs to the inner life of God. Nevertheless, in itself this "generating" has neither "masculine" nor "feminine" qualities. It is by nature totally divine."

EH: Once again, Pope John Paul II is pointing us to the similarities between men and women--the way in which both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God. He also talks about the way in which fatherhood and motherhood, human generation, bears an analogy to the generation of God. 

MD: "At the beginning of the New Covenant, which is to be eternal and irrevocable, there is a woman: the Virgin of Nazareth. It is a sign that points to the fact that "in Jesus Christ" "there is neither male nor female" (Gal 3:28). In Christ the mutual opposition between man and woman - which is the inheritance of original sin - is essentially overcome. "For you are all one in Jesus Christ", Saint Paul will write (ibid.)."

MD: "The comparison Eve-Mary can be understood also in the sense that Mary assumes in herself and embraces the mystery of the "woman" whose beginning is Eve, "the mother of all the living" (Gen 3:20)."(Mary reveals and becomes the dignity of woman, how woman was created to be (and how Eve, through sin, failed to be). Mary discovers this through a sincere gift of self.) 

EH: What strikes me the most in reading this thus far (again) is not how different men and women are, but how similar--for instance, Pope John Paul II emphasizes that Jesus makes women his disciples. What's radical about Jesus' treatment is that he shows them the truth about themselves in the same way that he shows it to men. Women (and his disciple John) stick by him at the cross. Before talking about the differences between men and women, John Paul II talks about their equality. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Missing APSA. Totally could have made it. (Maybe. ) (Although I'm not sure that I could have stayed awake.)

Mulieris Dignitatem

I realize that this is probably the most boring thing that I could post during Baby Leopards' countdown, but life must go on. Plus, dear reader, you can be like my whole family and skip the long, picture-less posts. 

One of my mentees suggested that we read Mulieris Dignitatem together; I agreed, and remembered, in the course of reading, that I'd read this before. Here are my thoughts (mostly notes for myself) as I read:

Mulieris Dignitatem: "It is a question of understanding the reason for and the consequences of the Creator's decision that the human being should always and only exist as a woman or a man."

Emily Hale: Is a human being always and only a woman or a man? Certainly in the scriptural account of creation in Genesis. Certainly in Aquinas' description of sex as a necessary accident. But what about cases in which it isn't clear? What about where chromosomes are XXY? What about intersex persons, where doctors and parents often choose one sex or another? This question comes from my work in disability studies, which is attuned to cases that are atypical. This letter focuses on the typical cases, but in no way touches on the other cases.

MD: Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, points us to the supernatural union with God that humankind is made for. Mary, like Christ, is a servant.

EH: Throughout this letter, and especially at the beginning, I'm struck by how much he emphasizes women's (through Mary's vocation) similarity to men, rather than difference.

MD: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). Man and woman derive their dignity and vocation from this beginning. The institution of marriage is in the same context as the creation of man and woman. Original solitude is overcome with the creation of man and woman; this is like the divine communion of the trinity.

MD: "We can easily understand that - on this fundamental level - it is a question of a "help" on the part of both, and at the same time a mutual "help". To be human means to be called to interpersonal communion. The text of Genesis 2:18-25 shows that marriage is the first and, in a sense, the fundamental dimension of this call. But it is not the only one. The whole of human history unfolds within the context of this call. In this history, on the basis of the principle of mutually being "for" the other, in interpersonal "communion", there develops in humanity itself, in accordance with God's will, the integration of what is "masculine" and what is "feminine"."

EH: I love this. Incidentally, discovering this idea that humans are called to find themselves through being "'for' the other, in interpersonal 'communion'" is when I decided that I'd like to get married: whether married or single, the point of life is this mutual help and this interpersonal communion. If I'm going to have to live for others and not for myself in the nice, ordered way that I sort of prefer, then I'd just as soon do it in the context of a marriage. 

MD: "The Lord Jesus, when he prayed to the Father 'that all may be one ... as we are one' (Jn 17: 21-22), opened up vistas closed to human reason. For he implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons and the union of God's children in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self"."

EH: The point here is, I think, that union among masculine and feminine through marriage bears some likeness to the union of the trinity. But this union among masculine and feminine is more pervasive than just marriage, too--it occurs in the context of the Church and in other forms of community. 

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our New Apartment

While we're waiting for Baby Leopard to make his entrance, I'll give you a little virtual tour of our new apartment.

I'm infinitely happy living in a smaller place, especially when it comes to cleaning. Hopefully that will hold true even after the baby is born.

And here, as a bonus, is the changing pad cover I sewed for the baby. Cute fabric, no? (It was as girly as I could get and still be boy-appropriate.)

I also made a crib sheet for the pack n play and a moby wrap. I did this all on a sewing machine that only half works. Francisco dreaded each evening that I tried to sew, because he knew what a bad mood it put me in. But sewing seems like a thing that a mother should do, so I persevered.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Diary of Pregnancy

38 weeks:

~ Everything aches.

~ I have a severely inny belly button. It is still an inny. I keep waiting for it to pop, but I'm beginning to suspect it never will.

~ No Group B strep! This makes me so happy as I don't think I've ever had antibiotics and was nervous that I would now have to have them. (When the presence of Group B strep is found, antibiotics are routinely given in labor and a third of women have it!)

~ My (very young) hairdresser asked today if the baby was expected or a surprise. Hilarious question from someone I've never met before in my life! (An aside: I do not enjoy having my hair cut, unless it's by one of the girls who I grew up with who give me all the local gossip when I visit my hometown. I never dry my hair, so why would I want a hair cutter to dry it? That's what the plain old air is for. She made it straight as a stick. Francisco says I look like I could run for mayor. He also says I should dry my hair more often.)

~ My friend here who has 5 little kids said to me the other week, "You must be at the point where you just hate everyone." When she said it, I didn't really know what she meant. But yes--I'm definitely at the point where I just hate everyone (and, honestly, it makes me feel better that she said it first). Incidentally--everyone keeps telling me to take lots of dates with my husband now, while we still can. But what they don't understand is that it's pretty difficult for me to be pleasant during those dates, because everything aches.

~ Francisco has recently named himself Chief Security Officer of our house, and he is taking security more seriously than ever: he's worrying about the strings on our Venetian blinds being too long (the baby isn't born yet, not to mention entirely unable to crawl around), he's worrying that any pictures hung in our room might fall on the baby, and he announced to me last night that he'd like to get a weapon--he's thinking a steel baseball bat. Note: he does not need a weapon to protect himself or me, but rather to protect Baby Leopard. Men have their own kind of nesting.

~ I've decided to call these the last days. As the Bible says,
"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."
~ Francisco apologized for only picking up one half-gallon of ice cream (not two). Such a man.

~ I'm so tired. I've definitely never been this tired before: I have 2 good hours in the morning, and then I'm back to feeling tired for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Emails from the Philadelphia Art Museum keep inviting us to "experience the dots, blots, and drips of one of the twentieth century's most creative draftsmen" at a new exhibit. The "dots, blots, and drips" makes me laugh.

Measurable Benefits

Lately The Atlantic has been touting the health benefits of lots of things I believe in, like walkable neighborhoods ("Do We Look Fat in These Suburbs? People in dense cities are thinner and have healthier hearts than people in sprawling subdivisions") and meeting your neighbors ("Always Talk to Strangers: People who know and trust their neighbors are less likely to have heart attacks"). On the one hand, it's nice to know that things that you're drawn to have health benefits (this is how I feel about coffee and sleep). On the other hand, if you do these things for the health benefits, you might not really be doing them: What kind of real neighborliness can come from you hoping to decrease your rate of heart attacks? Real neighborliness comes from a desire to care for and connect with the things around you.

Similarly, I caught the end of some Ford Foundation ad on NPR the other day; they were talking about something to the effect of making a measurable improvement to the quality of peoples' lives. A measurable improvement to the quality of peoples' lives? I'm all about improving the quality of peoples' lives; I'm just far less interested in measuring it. Here's how they talk about it with regard to combating child marriage: "Together, we have an opportunity and obligation to make a measurable, meaningful difference in the lives of millions of girls." What in the world does "measurable" add to that sentence? I agree--it's better if children aren't married off. Do we need to measure the increase in happiness? Do we only want to improve the quality of peoples' lives in ways that can be measured? Is everything measurable, given enough time and data?

I think that these things just miss the point of happiness. For that, we probably just have to go back to Aristotle.


Francisco is a man of many skills. Last night I got to see it first hand when he helped me with (read: did for me) a little work design project.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Random Assortment

~ "The Brazilian Bus Magnate Who's Buying Up All the World's Vinyl Records." This makes my compulsive scarf-buying look tame.

~ With our fancy HBO subscription, Francisco and I watched Parade's End, the BBC miniseries of the books by Ford Madox Ford (crazy name! he made it up himself). I liked it, to be perfectly honest, until the very end (despite my utter confusion at times due to the show's lack of clarity, which did not, however, make it unwatchable). I thought that, at the end of the day, Benedict Cumberbatch picked the wrong girl. Francisco was cheering Cumberbatch on. Alas, I lost.

~ Goodness: I wish I knew German to know if this translation is correct: "It doesn't look good when a woman gives orders. She should try not to get into a situation like that if she wants to remain feminine." Of course, she follows that up with "I don't know if I'm right." And "I always did what I wanted to do. I didn't worry if it was a man's job." Later:
"You ask about the effect my work has on others. If I may speak ironically, that's a masculine question. Men always want to be influential. I see that somewhat as an onlooker. ... If others understand in the same way I've understood that gives me a sense of satisfaction, like being among equals."
~ This is a reminder to me to drink this cocktail next month, when I plan to return to alcohol with a vengeance (not really; don't worry) (via Hopkins).

~ I don't have much to say about Ferguson that hasn't already been said. Even the most pro-war, pro-guns people of my acquaintance are silent about Ferguson. Which is to say, there isn't much of an other side, as far as I can tell.

My experience in STL was that it was the most segregated place that I've been to in my life. There were very few parts of town with any significant racial integration. And, as far as I understand it (I've never been there), Ferguson is one of the parts of STL that is in transition--it was previously totally white and is now predominantly black, which leads to its own problems of authority that doesn't reflect the inhabitants.

The thing that came to my mind on this was a moment from The Wire--a seasoned policeman tells a very green policeman that he can't just swoop in and arrest people on his beat when there's a problem; he needs to spend time on his beat getting to know all of the kids in the community so that he has rapport with them and can find out what's really going on when there is a problem. Several episodes later we seen the green policeman doing just that--he knows all their names and what they're up to.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


While many of Richard Linklater's films are nearly real time (or a little longer)--Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight--Boyhood is the opposite: made over 12 years, it documents one boy's life from first grade through twelfth (although I suppose it mimics the "Before" trilogy in sticking with one cast over many years).

There's nearly universal praise in the reviews (for instance, Rotten Tomatoes gives it a nearly unheard of 99%)--I didn't like it that much (although I did enjoy it). I found it hard to identify with--I'm not a boy (and thought to myself, holy goodness, why do we have to be having a boy?!). Boys come out as pretty passive and not as well suited for the educational regime we have in place as girls (the later seems to be true, what with college admissions and all). I didn't grow up in a broken home--it was sad to see the family's countless moves and losing people in the process. I certainly wasn't emo in high school.

And there was no arc to the story--the pieces were quite disjointed (which, of course, is part of the point). I was longing for something to be more literarily circular and symmetrical in the story. And nothing was. It just ended. The funny thing is, I think that real life is more literary and symmetrical than that film (at least my life is, or perhaps that's just the narrative that I impose on it).

His mother was great--super admirable--you have to wonder how she did it. It gives you a ton of respect for single mothers. Ethan Hawke, who plays the father, was good--but he just wasn't convincing when early on he was supposed to be the deadbeat dad who walked out on them--he's too friendly and chatty and thoughtful to be deadbeat. So the maturing transition that he supposedly goes through just isn't too much of a transition. And the sister--played by Linklater's daughter--isn't great; as Cardigan observed, one would expect Mason and his sister to end up much closer than they do in the film.

As is typical of his films, it's full of great music. And I was worried--it's 2 hours and 45 minutes--but it wasn't boring at all.

Friday, August 15, 2014


It turns out thrifting is even better if it's with your sisters. When Stearns visited, in the midst of our cooking madness, we stopped at lots of neighborhood thrift stores.

I found this for the baby/guest room. I find it charmingly Puritan and idiosyncratic (my theory is, it was made by a young girl who didn't quite get all her letters right). (Incidentally, it is exactly the same as this one, so maybe that theory doesn't work.)

I love this enamel pitcher, which now belongs to either Stearns or me. I think it's sublime, as were these gladiolas. They made me feel like a very rich person in a very grand house. Rich people have big flowers, right?

Francisco was interested in champagne glasses, so I was excited to find these, which I can't wait to put to use to celebrate the baby.

Speaking of, I found him a little toy.

This isn't from thrifting--it's from frantic nesting, which, who knew, can include crafting. Since Baby Leopard's father likes trains, I'm assuming that he will, too. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Diary of Pregnancy

36 weeks:

~ Baby Leopard made it to the magic date at which he can be born at The Birth Center. As far as I'm concerned, he can come any day he wants now. Francisco told him that, no, he isn't allowed to be born for another month.

~ Ina May's Guide to Childbirth: I don't think it gets any crunchier and hippy-er than this. Ina May Gaskin is a midwife at The Farm, a commune that she helped to found in Tennessee in the 70s. I think that she was at the forefront of helping to reestablish midwifery in the contemporary U.S. Francisco calls her, "Ina May, the sexpot," because, let's just say, she is attentive to the connections between sex and labor and delivery. Her book also really emphasizes the power of positive thinking--half of it is straight up positive stories of labor and delivery, and the other half, filled with more typical birth book information, still attempts to reframe labor and delivery. She advocates tapping into your inner primate, as well as educating the rest of the person about the human body's abilities to birth a child.

~ We (mostly Francisco) installed the car seat. This may be the most adult thing we've ever done.

~ I'm all packed for the hospital now, too. It's getting real.

37 weeks:

~ Francisco is in LA for a couple of days at NK and EL's wedding. The baby is most adamantly not allowed to come now. And any Braxton-Hicks I feel while Francisco is traveling make me freak out: I immediately lay down and drink a lot of water. (On the plus side, since Francisco is gone, and Stearns is here to keep me company/hold my hand if I go into labor, we've (she's) gotten a massive amount of cooking and freezing done: 1 lasagna, 2 meatloafs, 2 things of meatballs, and 2 things of chicken and beans meant to go inside of tacos.) (On the downside, I missed NK and EL's beachside wedding in LA!)

~ Also: my 80-some-year-old, very nice neighbor just offered to drive me to the hospital if my husband doesn't make it home in time.

~ Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way: Disclaimer: All I know about the Bradley Way is what I've read in this book, and I'm not planning a Bradley birth specifically. I'm just trying to read all the books about labor and delivery, because how else would you expect me to approach it? It cracks me up that all of these different books have very specific (and often contradictory) ideas about laboring positions and breathing techniques; it makes me appreciate the birth center, whose philosophy is you should do what your body is telling you to do, but don't worry--if you're nervous, we'll suggest some techniques and positions that may help. That seems pretty sane to me. What I do like about this Bradley book is that it prepares you for the average birth, which I think is the only thing that it makes sense to prepare for (although I am stubbornly, as Francisco always points out, a worst-caser, so it's hard for me to prepare for average).

~ At Little Sisters today one nun told me that she came from a close-knit family of 8 siblings and that she wishes the same for me (a close-knit family, I'm assuming, rather than the 8 kids). After mass, the priest spontaneously came up and gave me a blessing that includes a prayer for a safe labor and a healthy baby. I love being in a place where people just bless you left and right.

~ Francisco, while watching the Sopranos: "What if our kid turns out to be a criminal? Well ... hopefully he'll be a successful one at least."