Monday, April 23, 2007

Let's the start the week off better...

Last week, there was a deluge over the weekend and rain that lasted nearly all week, a shooting on the Virginia Tech campus, some of the worst violence in Iraq since the start of that whole mess, and the Supreme Court essentially slapped women in the face as they allowed the Federal Abortion Ban to stand.

This week: the sun is out, classes are resuming at VT today, the Red Sox swept the Yankees in a three game series at Fenway for the first time since 1990, and even former GOP supporters of Gonzales are calling for his resignation.

I figured a change had to happen after last week's blackness. But there is still so much change that has to happen. There's a lot of nagging that has to start, and NOW.

After the Supreme Court ruling, Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Jerrold Nadler and others decided to reintroduce the Freedom of Choice Act. It is a sin and a shame that this needs to be reintroduced, but after last week's nonsense (including a truly demeaning decision written by Justice Kennedy), if this right is to be upheld, it needs to be done...and supported. NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood and other groups are all taking up donations to push this along, so GIVE. And/or at least NAG YOUR CONGRESSFOLK and let them know that YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION and will not let "Scalito" and the rest of that conservative posse chip away at your right to a safe and legal abortion.

As I have said before, it is not a choice I can imagine any woman wants to make, but if it must be made, they should be able to have a LEGAL and SAFE procedure.

It is truly disturbing that I have to write this post at all.

Particularly on such a GORGEOUS day.


Peace --Alex

Thursday, April 19, 2007

the slippery slope...

When you've got Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remarking in her dissention that this ruling is "alarming", you know something is wrong.

That also is the best way to describe the Supreme Court ruling, supporting the Federal Abortion Ban on late-term abortions.

90% of abortions occur within the first twelve weeks, but there are those times when, mainly due to the health of the mother or the fetus, or both, a late-term abortion must be performed. Sometimes it is performed when women don't have the money to get one earlier; they are in a situation where they are with family or other people who won't allow it and they literally escape to get help; they have no place to go in their area and find out too late about proper services elsewhere.

The idea that the Supreme Court could allow this ban that does not even consider the health of the mother is unconscionable and unconstitutional. This ban must be fought.

NARAL is taking donations for helping get info out about The Freedom of Choice Act. I don't have a lot to spare right now, but I do believe that this one is going to worth it. Something has to be done.

I feel like I got punched in the stomach.

CALL YOU CONGRESSFOLK NOW! and make sure they know about and will work and vote for The Freedom of Choice Act.

Peace --Alex

Friday, April 13, 2007

It is freaky friday...

And one cannot imagine what things must be like at the White House right now.

Tours are being extended as there aren't enough fresh troops for the surge, the Iraqi Parliament building was attacked by a suicide bomber, Patrick Leahy is taking no guff when it comes to the missing or altered emails that deal with the Gonzales case (what is the e-version of shredding? or as Leahy referenced "[it's] like the missing 18 minutes on the Nixon tapes"...). I love it.

even the GOP is reconsidering their support of him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

people leaving the Iraqi gov't...

NPR says that their departure won't cause the demise of the al-Maliki government, but still, this is yet another reason it's time to work out a proper plan to get out of there sooner rather than later.

Bush complains about the Dems not giving him the bill he wants and sends another warning rather than real help to Darfur...

and you wonder why the GOP is worried about '08...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

so last night...

The future husband and are getting dinner and, as the restaurant-like many here-is small with tight seating. We are seated next to a gentleman eating on his own and as he can't help but be part of our conversation anyway, Jeff invites him to join us.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to politics and our dinner companion says he can't imagine that George has actually purposely misled the country. Being a fellow Texan, he says that he "knows people who know the family", and from what they have told him, it just doesn't seem possible.

It's a small restaurant. I don't want to shout. I don't wanna start a fight. And this guy is only in town for a couple of nights on business and just trying to see some shows. ...hence I am left stifling the urge to haul off. And I was too tired to have a proper intelligent, calm disucssion/debate about W. (i.e. i wimped out).

Jeff does counter that, while he has read that Bush and his advisers put in much thought and prayed over what to do about Iraq among other situations, "all you have to do is open up the paper and see that it's all lies..." But George doesn't do that. His people scan the news and give him the headlines...kinda.

I also am left thinking about how George really may not see himself as lying to the nation. There are all those psychologists/psychiatrists who have diagnosed George with various forms of Narcisisstic paranoid disorder. He believes he is right, and anybody who is against him is...against him; out to get him and just don't seem to understand his vision...and are against the troops and the country.

He needs his "loyal Bushies" and is really having trouble dealing with this Congress the American people voted much so he has to wait til Congress is on vacation to yell at them for not giving him his war money.

[I think someone's going to be turning up the drip on George's Jack and Cocaine IV?]

IN THE MEANTIME...Three momentous things have happened for me.

1) I just finished the fantastic Composer-Librettists Studio run by New Dramatists and Nautilus. Basically, playwrights and composers learned how to better collaborate for music-theatre work. As they have to hear their stuff, they have performers be part of this as well and I was one of them. I can't applaud enough the work these people did at such a furious pace: 5 projects, a new partner each time, and 24-36 hours for each project. The performers; we had 20 minutes to a half hour to learn the music before presenting it in front of the class (I am going to order sight reading software-I've seen it-tomorrow). It was funny, it was frustrating, it was freeing and if they ask me, I will gladly do it all over again.

2) Baseball Season has begun! Okay the Sox TOTALLY blew their opening game, but tonight, perhaps they'll redeem themselves.

3) I FINISHED PRE CANA! Hence the last two entries of THE PRE CAN DIARIES...

Week Three:

It's the same guy as last week. Navy blue blazer, khakis, blue oxford shirt and all. ...and I am waiting to hear about the rhythm method.

There are a good number of near late or just outright late comers this evening and as I look around the room, I swear we have even more people skipping than last week. I asked Jeff about skipping tonight, he said with mock wisdom, though the knowledge (guilt) of a former altar boy ("there are no FORMER altar boys!") "God knows, honey."

Tonight, the topic is: The theology of a marriage, and how this is making a strong comeback in the Catholic Church...oh good this the indoctrination session? Could be, might not be, but there is a reference to babies and how they will be brought up "by a mother and father" and Catholic...not in my house.

Sacrament, I learn, is from the Greek word for "mystery". They are "events that make the transformation of the mystical to the physical". (like...MAGIC? Like with PAGANS?...ow! was that the poke of one of hell's minions?)

I learn also that apparently Jesus Christ was the first religious figure to say that the wife belonged to the husband and the husband belonged to the wife". Before, the woman was just property therefore, Jesus completely transformed marriage. Sim now says that women converted to Christianity because there were many more options for women than with the pagan lifetsyle (where women were worshipped goddesses, idolized for their gift of being able to bring life into the world and seen as the balance to men...and were elders, soothsayers, etc...sure...more options)

NEXT...marriage is entering a covenant. A contract. There are 3 characteristics:

1) Insolubility (?)- you can become an ex-wife no more than a woman become an ex-mother. quote "those who seek divorce essentially aren't willing to try to work things out" This, to me is part true, and part dumbass.

"Moses delivered a bill of divorce on your hardened hearts" he quotes, again. I'd like him to talk to a few of the divorced people I know who only got hardened hearts because they got jipped by an idiot spouse. And...I am left thinking of the wife of Spencer Tracey: he wouldn't grant her a divorce as he was a devout Catholic. um...

2) Unity - marriage means husbands and wives become of one flesh...and then bear children...

3) Truthfulness (I can't help but hear Steven Colbert say "Truthiness") - God is love. (true), something about the Holy Trinity, Father and Son are of same infinite nature...this love is perfect thus creates a 3rd party - the holy spirit. Perfect Love = 3 (or 6...or 12) This also could mean that women have nothing to do with love or birth and two guys in their perfect love created a baby. (OW! there go those minions...)

Sim quotes Pope John Paul - I'm surprised it took so long. I'm not feeling as much love the first two times I came to this thing, sadly. I am also tired and even Jeff keeps falling asleep. I am tempted to threaten that if he falls asleep one more time, we're leaving.


Sim claims that Pope John Paul II was a "veritable genius" about sex. I can't help but think about how had I had a beverage in my hand, I would have emitted a champion spit take. "he counseled young married couples...he loved young married couples, they were some of his favorite company..." oh yes that can be taken the wrong way...but I already have the minions holding flames of hell at the bottoms of my feet, why make it worse. I mean, really, is it wrong of me to doubt this fun Pope fact?

Speaking of fun facts, surprise! Sex is a mystery. Von Hildegard said "Sex is deep"...hmmmm...deep, man.

He now references The Graduate; the quote of the husband to Dustin Hoffman's character: "What passed between you and my wife cannot be reduced to merely shaking hands" (this is true).

Did you know that Descartes said that "there is personhood and there is body" The Church says that we are our bodies (I do agree with this theory), what we do with our bodies we also do with ourselves. When you have sex, it is an exchange of persons...a way of revealing ourselves. This is also something I agree with. You are sharing yourself with another person; at once your most vulnerable and your most powerful.

And speaking of revealing, when the word "know" appears in a sentence in the Bible, such as "Batsheba knew John", it does mean "in the Biblical sense" ("getting to know you, getting to know all about you..." okay I gotta stop...)

Pope John Paul II himself said "Sex is rapturous"(which of course reminds me two things: 1) Rasputin apparently led a cult type group in Siberia that practiced sex as a way to see God [don;'t quote me, may have to check my Russian History notes from high school] and 2) fertility rites were big with the pagans)

BUT why does sex exist? So we can "go forth and multiply". aaaaand we bring it back. It is mainly about having babies. It is pleasurable and it should be, but it should not be the only or main reason to perform the act. This is particularly hard to tell folks these days, Sim says, due to a rising "anti-natalist" mentality in this country. Why is there a dramatic birth rate drop? Fear? Communism? Overpopulation talk? (which is a valid argument particularly with all the children who are out there awaiting adoption). The other reason sex exists is for love. God created Eve so that Adam would not be alone. "Sex is for babies and bonding" Sim says. It is about the giving of self. Therefore, sex should always be about your partner. Your spouse should not be just an object of your gratification (he appears to direct this comment more to the men than the women)

Pope John Paul II apparently talked and wrote about sex for 5 years [insert your own comment here]

Sim then asks "Has the sexual revolution made us happier? Not really..." as there are new diseases, the out of wedlock birthrate is 1 in 20 (but if women had better access to birth control and men used condoms more often PERHAPS this would be lower.hmmmm?) and speaking of contraception...

According to Sim and the Church, any woman who is taking the pill or using contraception is saying to their partner "I am going to give myself to you...up to a point" To which I respond, any woman taking the pill or other contraception is giving MORE of themselves to their partner because they are not freaking out about potentially having a baby they are not ready for!!! I find myself wanting to give our erudite and articulate speaker a dope slap. Particularly after he claims that the breakdown of marriage these days is primarily due to the pill which makes adultery easier. As far as I recall, the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy didn't stop men in particular from cheating BEFORE the pill...the urge to dopeslap the speaker has just risen...particularly as he says that men saw women as a potential mother pre-pill, now they see women as a mere object...cause, you know, objectification of women didn't happen before the sexual revolution.

BUT...we do FINALLY get to what I've been waiting for...

except it's no longer "the rhythm method"'s NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING. Basically, you don't have sex for ten days after your period, and apparently, this ALWAYS works (and there are places one can go to learn how to do this properly). There are reasonable arguments for it...but there are reasonable arguments for the use of contraception as well...

AND NOW...the question and answer section.

What does the church say about adoption? they are for it
What if you can't have children? IS there a time to give up? What about IVF? the Church is fine with this, BUT of course with IVF there is 1) the loss of the physical act of love 2) the expense and complications of the process and 3) the left over embryos.

I notice more people are cuddling during the session.

A guy asks, why is that it seems like men make all the mistakes? What about the women? After a good bit of chuckling, Sim replies that women are more "atuned" to things like listening and such than men are. Though women shouldn't nag so much as this affects the confidence of the man.

Another guys asks, with the aftermath of the priest scandals how can the Church teach anything about sexuality and the morals that go with it?


Sim pauses and after pondering the best answer to this honest query, he replies that mistakes indeed were made, and while there is no way to "exonerate these people" it does happen all over in all facets of faith (a sad but true statement) Pope John Paul II even said thatthings were mishandled yet, any of these teachings about marriage should not be any less true.
The he said something about how seminaries should have been cleaned out...even Jeff is rubbed the wrong way by this statement.

Sim overall seems like a decent man, but he is bit too conservative for me.


I wanna t-shirt that reads "I survived pre cana!" ...and to celebrate with a large pint of Guiness.

Today's session is being run by a couple. Part of the process of becoming a deacon in the church is by leading a pre cana class. The Vaquez's are a very handsome couple. Luis and...I don't get her name. They seem fairly low key. She tells us that there are indeed CERTIFICATES that we will get at the end of the night.

Luis says "I don;t want to be here, and we know that you don't want to be here today. There's a Rangers/Devils game on!" - "And American Idol is on!" his wife interjects "Thank God for TiVO". They plan on keeping tonight's segment short.

They have been married for 18 years, have three daughters, 13. 10 and the surprise(!) who is 6 months. "It feels like it's been 4 days" Luis starts "holding my breath under water," he finishes. *ba dump bump cymbal crash*

Speaking of babies, the wife announces that the pregnant couple that had been part of the class had their baby this morning (!). His name will be Jimmy :) Apparently the husband came from the Bronx just to get the certificate. I love it.

Now on to tonight's topic. The sacrament of marriage as well sacraments in general.

A custodian who does not seem to care about the sacraments or this talk mops the floor with a toxic scented floor cleaner. The fumes are unreal...and this guy has to breathe them in everyday. I awake from the power of the fumes to hear:

"Men are scared of getting by the church" Luis is saying. " Oooo the altar! oooo the piece of paper! The church is not out to kill you!" to which Jeff must whisper in reply without missing a beat "They're just making sure you never have sex with another woman ever again...that's all!"

The sacraments include: Baptism, Confirmation, Healing (Confession), something, something, Marriage-"this is the mission we are on".

They repeat a lot of the stuff we've already discussed: you will go through different phases as a couple, there's Insolubility 0 "What God has joined cannot be put asunder" YOU BETTAH WORK at it, etc etc etc. I notice Jeff is cuddlier than normal tonight. He buries his head in my neck...he's tired. I assure him that the Vasquez's did say it would be short.

Okay Luis just literally said that the wedding ceremony is to show your marriage to the community, but it is not a true marriage between the couple until consummation - "the act of sex". When the couple join as one flesh. Even Jeff is surprised "Wow, he actually mentioned the sex..."

Couple must also make sure that the marriage is own each's own free will. Not forced. An annulment is okay if the marriage is not of free will, if a woman cannot concieve, new about this and lied to her husband about it, and infidelity. And somehow he was able to work in " and don't forget to guide your child in the practices of the church"


If a couple cannot conceive, there is adoption but also other things to do such as charitable work, hospitality (makes me think "well, that nice old maid over there who takes care of everybody else's kids")

and of course as I make a joke, Luis brings up the Nixmarie Brown case, as one of the other things we can do if we do not have our own children-though even, if not especially if we do-we should keep an eye on our neighbor's children. And just be there for our own children so things like this do not happen. ...and while scribbling I missed how he connected divorce to this situation. I think he was talking about how if you get divorced, and you don't keep a proper eye on your child, THIS WILL HAPPEN! (so STAYING married to the kind of psychopath brown's father was would've helped?!?!)

Luis now goes on a bit about how because "people take God out of school", bad things happen...(and what time is it? didn't they say something about getting out early?)

Luis and his wife get back on track about marriage, how the love we share is a grace of God. Marriage is our cross - "it could be an easy cross...could be a difficult cross" causing Jeff to lean over and say "You're my cross to bear, honey"...
and eventually we get to how we should not just go to church for bad times but every Sunday. know it every day, increase your faith every day...

Get your e-CATECHISM! (Jeff suggests 1-800-Confession...and I am tempted to google e-confession)

Speaking of Confession, they suggest that we go to confession before the wedding. Jeff tells me that I "don't need to're going to hell anyway..." I think Jeff is closer as I doubt he can remember the last time he actually went to confession.

Luis and his wife (feel awful that I can't remember her name and I didn't write it down...she was so pleasant). start the cool down section of the talk. It is all a bit of a blur right now as the protestant in me has tuned out as they tell the Catholics what to do. But next thing I know, Luis' wife announces that we are getting our certificates! They will call our names and we can go up and get them.


It seems like FOREVER as we wait for our name to be called. When they do call us, I am the one to retrieve it. I admit to feeling a bit awkward when I take our certificate from Luis' wife. I feel a bit like a...non-apologetic protestant taking accepting a certificate for going through pre cana. As I walk back to our seats, I have images in my head of the certificate suddenly bursting into flame before I get to Jeff, which of course would set my hands afire and then my clothes and by the time I reach my chair I am nothing more than a pile of ashes. Jeff apparently read my mind as he checks my hands for burns as I sit down...still whole and unscathed.

We are done.

As we leave, I think of how I like the idea of pre cana, of making sure you know what you are getting into as you prepare to marry, but sadly I can't help but wish that it was not taught by the Catholics. *sigh* I was really hoping to feel differently... and yet sadly all I feel is "thank God that's over!"

And so ends the Pre Cana diaries.

Peace --Alex