Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Virtue Cooking

I feel as if I'm supposed to reflect on the last year--it was momentous and all. Got engaged and married and moved into a new house. But I've mostly just been thinking about food--eating it obviously, but also cooking it.

I love cooking. Just last night we were enjoying the company of some friends we've made over the last year (another momentous thing), and I began to tie cooking in with morality. Honestly I think about it now and see that were I of this ilk, the topic could easily have fit into one of those horrible "spiritual but not religious" type conversations. I could write a book, the way some people do about stuff like the spiritual connection they feel to the earth when they go running barefoot. Not sure, though. Many of my cooking tricks are, "Well, if it don't taste right, just throw butter-fat-salt-sugar-cheese-meat in it." Really that's just one trick, I guess. I'm convinced there is such a preparation combining all the above ingredients which would make even hard tack excel, and once I discover it, restauranteurs will beg, and all the monies shall be mine. Until that day comes, I shall have to rely upon my book sales, which is unfortunate, because I feel that most of the people who might be inclined to read a spiritual chefery odyssey would be more, "If your aura-salad is a bit dim, try adding some leaf-bean-nut-fruit-wasabi-smiles in it." Not really the same crowd.

But what I said was that cooking teaches me a kind of patience. I am extremely slothful, and sloth is impatient. One of the things that surprises me when I'm cooking is that, right in the midst of truly enjoying it, there are times during the process that I think: "You know, I really would rather be doing something else." The surprising thing is that this thought is not true. It's not even really a thought, but an impulse that has temporarily seduced my reason, which sends the impulse a lovely arrangement of English words. I of course don't stop cooking, but it's difficult for a few minutes, maybe more than a few minutes. But from thinking about that, I could connect it to all kinds of other things: thoughts that aren't thoughts, just importunate desires that trick me into willing them.

If anyone is interested, for New Year's Eve, I made a nice minestrone, caramelized bacon (mostly burned, but I managed to salvage a few pieces), spicy mustard gruyere bread batons and spicy pumpkin cupcakes with maple icing. None of that would have happened if I'd just run off and did that whatever-it-was.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Return...you know, maybe

I got married!

That's right, just like my Lady Monica. Happily unlike her, I am not married to a pagan who's mean to me and cheers his offspring to dalliance and worldly ambition. Not that we have any offspring as yet, and I hope I can borrow some of St. Monica's tears when it comes to their salvation...I mean, I've got tears, but they're probably not as good, and plus I wanna use them for other stuff. Like laughing--exchange em for something a little more positiva in the via, if you know what I'm saying. Bottom line is, Monica the Man is indeed married, but he is not married to Patricius the Pagana, and both of these things are good.

(Sidenote: for any child we may have, I'll definitely put forth some variation of "Augustine" for his/her praenomen, which I know in advance is a doomed project, but maybe I can slide it in as a nickname, or even just an honorary title, which is what it was for Caesar Augustus. "Not praenomen, sweetie, just agnomen. He can say the alphabet, which I at least think is pretty--ahem ahem--GREAT. What can we...? Ah! Augustus! Yes, Augustus Alphabeti Declamator." It'll work.)

But I needn't think about any of that at the moment.

Right now we're just enjoying being around each other and giving presents and stuff, figuring out who does what and how well. Christmas was of course two days ago, which was our first one as a married couple, and yes I know I'm supposed to write about the Nativity and how commercialized Christmas is and how wrong that all is and offer up new ways of thinking about the Incarnation and how we should pay more attention to the Octave and the Gradual at the Pope's Mass (which is cool) and the pallium he just wore and so on. But no. Have you seen all the blogs about that? I'll just be a wallflower at that party. I'm pumped about my presents!

My excellent wife bought me two books: Hobbitus Ille, which is The Hobbit in Latin. Tolkien probably wouldn't have liked that...meh. Man's a genius, but he could be pretty crotchety; he didn't like a lot of stuff. I haven't gone through it yet, but the reason for that is...

She also got me The Founding of Christendom by Warren Carroll. Never read it, never heard of it, loving it. I've only read a couple of chapters, so I can't talk that much about it yet, but I will.

Other than that? Huh. I don't know. I'm a little rusty, but Monica Man might be back.

Monday, May 17, 2010

RIP Monicomputer

I'm sure everyone's been wondering, "Where, oh where has my Monica gone?" Well, I'll tell you: nowhere! But my computer died this weekend, and I cannot say I am at all sorry. The fact of the matter is, I struggle with sloth, and having a computer at home and being plugged into the internet was more often a feather bed than a lash, which is what I really need. I'm not particularly interested in getting another one, either. I see this as providential.

I'm going to try to find a way to continue on with writing on the ol' blog, but I don't know how I'll manage that as yet. In the meantime, I can offer the occasional workplace adventure. Ran into another "Catholic" customer today. Here's what happened.

He writes a check. I check the check. I check the license. He has a Polish last name, and I say, "Is that a Polish last name?" He says, "Yes, Polish." I said, "Catholic?" "What?" "Catholic, are you Catholic?" "Yes...well..." and I know what's coming, "I go to a Presbyterian church, because my wife was Baptist..." And then I assume my nicest the-customer-is-always-right tone (and I'm not good at that, because they aren't): "Oh, I see. You married a Baptist. Mmmmm..." He asked, "Why, are you Catholic?" "Yes." Dude couldn't run out of there fast enough. I'm sure I warped before his eyes into some hardened old Polish relative of his. I hope I did. I came that close to saying, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself...or someone should be ashamed of themselves." But I didn't.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fresh oranges

Where I work there's one of those sorts of people that talks just to say something. I used to open the store every day, so in the mornings it would be just the two of us, and even though I clearly didn't care, he would always run through the latest new bytes, both local and national. He will be talking. Just now someone was eating an orange, which led to a conversation about oranges, and I said, "My great-uncle has an orange grove in Florida..." and was about to continue when our friend chimed in with, "Are they fresh oranges?" There was a pause. He was waiting for me. I was waiting for me. I said, "Uh...yeah...fresh, fresh off the, you know...tree." Laughter ensued, and our conversation was at an end, because where can you go after that?

Happy Birthday, George!

That's right, George Lucas is 66 years old today. And no, I didn't just "know that." I promise. One of the greatest things on IMDB is the little birthday ticker thing. Today is also Cate Blanchett's birthday, along with Sofia Coppola, Tim Roth...and others.

Probably some people will think, "I can't believe he's that old," but I honestly thought he was older, if not dead. Star Wars, to me, is something that was made in the very distant past, and by the time I saw the movies, everyone already knew the lines and I found myself understanding past statements or actions as allusions. "Oh, that's why my dad said 'I am your father' in that weird voice. It's all clear to me now." So, it was already there as a cultural assumption, which made it feel venerable. I don't remember how old I was (less than ten, I would say), but I can remember that even at that age, everyone in my family was surprised I hadn't seen it yet, which is weird. It's not like my parents didn't know what movies I'd seen, but it still came as a (probably mild) shock that I hadn't seen Star Wars...I mean, everyone's seen it, right? It was also a cause of excitement--"Well, we're gonna watch 'em all!" And we did. The whole family--parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles--was on vacation in Arkansas, but one day we stock-piled all the best junk you can dump into your belly, and my elders wound me up all morning and early afternoon. Smelling my mom's and grandmother's cooking, looking at shiny junk food wrappers and hearing them crinkle impatiently at the hands of my sweets-loving grandfather, surrounded by loved ones and feeling a general air of carefree excitement and initiation--I can't think of a better way to prepare for a boy's first trip to Tatooine.

So thanks, George! Your philosophy might be crumby, but I didn't know it, and you still told a great story! And swords that are also lasers? Pff. I was in heaven.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are you a Christian hipster?

Apparently there's some book coming out called "Hipster Christianity: When Church + Cool Collide." (Pre-order now!) See the website. I can't quite figure out what the point of it is...it seems to me like the kind of book a Christian hipster would write (and read), so all the clever barbs (and they are) seem a bit boomerang-ish. I was interested in the four "types" of Christian hipster, mostly because the props in some of the pictures are of Catholic imagery--mostly of the Sacred Heart--liturgical calendars and books by Catholics. Cherry-picking through Christian traditions and molding them around oneself, which totally misses the point. Growing up Protestant Evangelical and working at L'Abri exposes one to a lot of this kind of thing: rhetoric about "relevance" (ugh), concentration on matters really peripheral to the faith (like homosexuality, women in ministry, etc.), an almost obsessive focus on the church's "failures," especially in matters of "justice," that translates into long confessions and postures of welcome to and "engagement" with the rest of the world. Often I've found that the anti-establishment posture was against churches, because it was all the cradle Protestants knew, and stuff like NPR and voting Democrat was exciting, relevant, and edgy. In their world, they were going against the flow (just like Jesus, right?). Which is hilarious. I could go on. There really are types, and it's pretty funny to see how this author depicts them. Still, like I said...the whole exercise is one which would require one to be a Christian hipster to engage in with any amount of seriousness. (Note: not everyone who showed up at L'Abri was like that, but they were definitely around.)

There's even a quiz to see where you fit in the ranks! I took it, I admit. Most of the questions were completely irrelevant to me (so, joke's on them!), but I answered them as best I could.

Take the quiz here. I myself scored at 61/120, so apparently I have a...

"Low CHQ [Christian Hipster Quotient]. You probably belong to the purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Christian establishment, even though you are open to some of the "rethinking Christianity" stuff. You seem to like edginess in some measure but become uneasy when your idea of Christian orthodoxy is challenged by some renegade young visionary who claims the virgin birth isn't necessary."

I can't decide how much the phrase "renegade young visionary who claims the virgin birth isn't necessary" is supposed to be a joke. How long has that been around? I think the old word for this kind of "visionary" was "heretic," but hey. I guess I'm just "uneasy." You know, easily shaken...and apparently "Hawaiian shirt-wearing."

Where do you fit in?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shout out!

This one goes out to easily the loveliest Nashvillain in our state capital. ELV, this one's for you...especially the "Woo!" at the end.