Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chain Prayer

To all my dear friends: Stop sending me schmaltzy chain prayers and Precious Moments pictures. I don't forward them. I delete, and move on.

But this one I liked. It didn't send me into a diabetic coma, and it actually spoke to where I am in my life at this moment. I still didn't forward it, but I AM posting it here, with some editorial bolding. Enjoy!

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let His presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

A Blog of Biblical Proportions

Let's face it: The Bible is a daunting text. Thousands of years old. Countless languages and translations. In-depth scholarly investigation. As many interpretations as there are readers. And one massive, overwhelming, mysterious, confusing, powerful, inexplicable God.

It's enough to make me not read it. (Oh wait. I don't. Hmm.)

Now we can thank David Plotz for approaching the material with a self-described 'lazy but faithful' eye at Slate.com's Blogging the Bible.

Basically, Plotz's entries tackle each book of the Bible in succession, and put into plain English what he thinks each one means. Some might read this and think it spiritually illiterate, but I find it honest, raw, and frankly, funny as hell. (I mean ... heck. Sorry Bible.) Just take his latest entry on The Book of 2 Samuel. Who else would describe Joab as an early Donald Rumsfeld?

But it's not all snarky comments and anachronistic comparisons, and that's what ultimately makes this blog project stick. Plotz asks some really hard and heartfelt questions about the confusing and contradictory elements that emerge in Biblical stories. And he opens it up to the worldwide audience for theories, explanations, and discussion.

At its heart, Blogging the Bible provides what many Bible studies purport to offer, yet do not: a welcoming forum, open expression, and the freedom to doubt and question. In my own experiences with Bible study, both Catholic and Protestant, I have acutely felt the lack of that last freedom. I don't understand the often angry and vengeful God of the Old Testament. I don't agree with the Bible's writings on homosexuality. And I don't take the story of Genesis literally.

These, among other viewpoints, have frequently put me at odds with many of my faithful peers, but I never could quite believe I was an exception. In fact, I think I'm closer to the rule. Blogging the Bible renews my belief in allowing people to question and accept at their own pace, and the power that doubt wields in forging a more perfect faith.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Manna oh Manna

Just got back from another successful Manna on Main St. lunch in Lansdale. The menu: nutritious and delicious three bean chili, tossed salad, whole fruit, and fun-size candy. Perfect for a damp and chilly day in November. No wonder this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite activities. It combines all my favorite parts of being Italian--food, love, and hospitality!

But it's our guests that remind me this isn't a run-of-the-mill holiday party. Our visitors often look tired, worn out, ragged,or dirty. Their clothes are stitched, and their glasses taped. Sometimes whole families come, the young kids eager to eat up. Today we had a crew from a mentally retarded group home. Every time it's a different crowd, with one common thread--hungry stomachs and hungry hearts.

That's why Manna becomes much more than a hot meal. The open door and open conversation are the nourishment that's needed most. It's a time to rest and put up one's feet, meet new people, and share personal stories, without fear of being turned away or forgotten.

The real travesty, however, is how inexpensive it can be to feed the hungry with balanced, nutritious meals. We fed over 20 people today for about $20, and no one left unsatisfied. That's $1 a person--less than a Starbucks coffee.

My question is, why aren't we feeding more people? Yes, we helped 20 today, but what about the millions left? This is a chance for social justice in action, and we need to act on it.

Gathering around the table is one of human civilization's most revered, dignified, and constant acts of love and community. Providing that opportunity to those who might not have it is the greatest offering we can give. And I intend to keep setting the table until all have a healthy, happy kitchen of their own.

Friday, November 03, 2006

At the Intersection

Thought from Taryn at yesterday's YourFra meeting (which I am loving, btw):

"Many people have a vertical faith, where their spiritual life concerns only their relationship with God. Many others have a horizontal faith--their spirituality is expressed in their relationship to the people and world around the world.

Put these faiths together, you have a cross. And at the intersection of the cross is Christ. That's where we are trying to be."

At the moment, I have a horizontal faith, and I need to develop the vertical. What's that you say? Prayer? Prayer will help with that? Do tell! I might have to try it sometime ...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Interfaith Intervention Gone Awry

Good follow-up to the Pope's comments on Islam a few weeks back. The following Economist article presents the thesis of my original post, says it much better, and sums up the true shame in the Pope's comments in its conclusion:
"There are two points he is especially keen to make. One is that
Christians in many Muslim countries do not have the same religious
freedom that is enjoyed by most Muslims in the West. The other is that
too many Islamic clerics seem to sanction or at least tolerate violence
in the name of religion. This was central to his Regensburg lecture in
which, as he later said, "I wished to explain that not religion and
violence, but religion and reason go together."

The value of that point in the present state of the world can hardly
be overstated. It is sad that it should have been put in such an inept
way that the only answers came in the form of burnt effigies, grisly
threats--and a great deal of sincerely outraged protest."

I hope the Pope hasn't done irreparable damage, though the entire
situation may have been far beyond his influence from the outset.

Time will tell--and hopefully correct.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Breath of 'Fresh Air'

Caught a terrific 'Fresh Air' episode on NPR yesterday, featuring David Kuo, former White House official in the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. He has written a book called "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction," all about the misrepresentations this administration has made about its true religious intentions.

Kuo's testimony was striking in its candor. He took the job because he saw it as a terrific opportunity to help the poor--or rather, help the administration help the poor. However, Kuo quickly realized that his responsibilities fell more along the lines of getting faith-based groups into the Republican corner, rather than putting government support in the corner of the faith-based groups.

Kuo hit the nail on the head when he said Jesus knows no political affiliation, and doesn't distinguish right from left. Jesus' mission was to serve the poor. Kuo saw his personal mission as serving Jesus. His job did not align with those goals, and now Kuo is calling out the troubling disconnects.

That's the tough thing about politics: Its functions often override its strategy. By that, I mean the mechanations of rallying voters, getting elected, and fundraising overshadow the actual policy creation ... essentially, the lifeblood that stands the best chance of saving the poor.

Kuo's testimony adds an interestng angle to the social justice discussion. Any administration of any affiliation is capable of enacting social justice. I agree with Kuo--religion is not, nor should it be, a party issue. Yet that is exactly what has happened, and with disastrous, divisive results.

Anyway, check out the audio archive, and let me know what you think. (Personal chuckle moment: Kuo referring to Bush's idea of himself as "pastor in chief.")

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tridentine Latin Mass: No Gum Involved

Anothing interesting Benedict move: fostering ties with our long-lost orthodox relatives. Call it return of the prodigal conservative, if you will.

And how is the Pope doing it? By possibly loosening restrictions on the Latin Mass. This immediately made me think of a fascinating discussion I had last year with the Sisters of St Joseph in Pittsburgh, as a guest of S. Mary Pellegrino. One of the other sisters was talking about Vatican II and its impact on her generation of Catholics (she was in her 50s).

"All of a sudden, there was this huge swing away from piety and toward social justice," she said. "I'm not sure that was completely the right approach, though it was important to do at the time. Now your generation is achieving more equilibrium, and balancing piety and social justice in a more complete way."

I think she hit the bull's-eye, and I think reintroducing the Latin Mass is a nod to that realization. Vatican II was a tremendous boon to our Church---a true sea change. Case in point: Making Mass accessible to its worshippers by celebrating in native languages, and with direct contact with the priest.

But in the rush to change, perhaps we did sweep aside some traditions too hastily. [I don't know, I wasn't there, but I hear things :) ] After all, isn't abolishing the Latin Mass just as pig-headed as insisting on it? Let's get the word out to people in any way they want to hear it, in whatever way speaks to them most clearly, and if the Latin Mass is it, then let's lift the restrictions on it.

This is all in the hope, of course, that the pendulum stays steady, and doesn't completely swing back the other way, taking Vatican II with it. But I don't think it will. I have faith in the upward movement of our church.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Limbo: How Low Can We Go?

Well, it's not official, but it's looking pretty weak: Limbo is in limbo, as the popular headline goes.

I'm sad to admit that I didn't know the Church's International Theological Commission has been examining the concept of limbo for over a year, and that Pope Benedict is personally against the idea, calling it only a 'hypothesis.'

I also didn't know that limbo was never even an official doctrine, and that the 1992 revised official Catechism (not the scary hellfire-of-doom Baltimore Catechism) doesn't include the idea at all.

I think eradicating such a frightening and arcane concept is a good step forward for Church doctrine. Since time immemoriam, our R.C. faith has been governed by fear and recruitment sub-agendas. I can just picture gnarled old bishops cackling, 'Quick, rope them in before they die--it's still another notch on the pole!'

I mean, really, what a horrid concept to instill your followers---sad, lonely babies floating aimlessly in space, wondering what the hell just happened. It's completely counter to everything else we're taught (in my mind, the real core of our faith) about the infinite love, compassion, and mercy that is God. Such a divine being would never let any soul, no matter what age, be alone. My God pulls everyone into a huge, warm bear hug, and doesn't let go for eternity.

True belief and true belonging in a faith community requires much more than the simple act of baptism, anyway. It needs the Sacrament in every sense of the word---the grace, the discernment, the searching, the finding, and the ultimate fulfillment of 'coming home' to God.

A baby has absolute purity, yes. That alone should warrant heaven. (Besides, you can't walk around for nine months waxing poetic about this 'precious gift of God', and then condemn it to limbo the minute it arrives and departs without being baptized. Come on, people.)

And those of us who are blessed enough to live achieve a depth afforded by a lifetime of trying to walk with God. Even when marred by sin, as our lives inevitably are, our journey creates a certain purity all its own--more of a baptism by fire. Why should we ever shelve such God-sent growth in an empty, unfulfilling space such as limbo?

We've got bigger and more important issues to grapple with in the Catholic Church. Let limbo go by 2007, and let's get back to the real discussions.

[BTW, this story puts another point on the board for Benedict in my estimation. His decisions and viewpoints continue to surprise me, usually for better rather than worse. I don't know if it's because I had such low expectations at the outset that it's cake for him to exceed them, or if he is truly proving himself to be a thinking, feeling, pragmatic religious leader. I'm hoping it's the latter.]

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Friars: Ready for MTV?

Fr. Tim sent some links to the Conventual Franciscans' new video shorts, detailing life and projects of Conventual Franciscans around the world. (He even makes a cameo in one about the Syracuse Northside!) And of course, I have a soft spot in my heart for the story about St. Julia's parish ...

These videos are pretty well-produced, considering they're probably on a shoe-string budget. And what a great idea as part of the Order's outreach to younger people to include streaming media on thier main site.

My one suggestion: Make them snappier, a little more energetic, depending on appropriate subject matter. Also, have contact info appear on screen at the end of every piece, and include that call to action. But overall, good work, and keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Double Religious Standards (?)

I'd be remiss if I didn't address this brouhaha with the Pope and his incendiary Islam quote in last week's speech (now two weeks, b/c I'm very slow on the uptake with the blog business).

Here are my questions/thoughts:
  • Why wasn't the Pope's speech vetted before he delivered it? (Complete text here.)
  • Come on, he apologized. Our Popes never apologize. That in itself is akin to a miracle. Yet it's still not enough?
  • The worldwide Islamic reaction--and the resulting deaths--certainly do not fit the offense.
  • Why do Western religions tolerate such disproportionate retaliations from radical Muslims, and allow thier own religions to be maligned with nary a peep?
  • Isn't Islam at its core a religion that promotoes peace? Is the visibility of the radical segment an extreme example of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," or is it truly representative of Islamic sensibility? (I believe it's the former.)
  • This is more reason than ever for this administration to steer clear of the 'Islamic fascists' rhetoric, IMHO. I'm surprised that hasn't drawn more ire already. At least the term 'terrorists' acknowledges the separation of church and state, no matter what the church.
  • The ultimate irony of this controversy is that the Pope's speech states that spreading religion through violence is not in accordance with God's will. And how do the radicals respond to the use of their ancient teachings as a (negative) example? With violence. How can this possibly refute the quote?
Does any of this insanity add up? I shudder for this world sometimes ...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Accidental Deity

Came across "Is God An Accident?" in Atlantic Monthly, and gave myself a headache. The article speaks to the duality of human nature, or the split in its physical and social consciousness. This unique separation of comprehension, the author argues, is what leads many humans to follow a religion. It allows us to separate our bodies from our spirits, and in turn, we search for a place to store the soul. Enter religion. That makes it not true belief or higher understanding, but rather straightforward biology. In short, an accident, a short circuit in the wires.

The article covers some interesting ground, though potentially demoralizing, for any waverers, as I frequently am. I still had a few questions. Why do humans, and not other species, exhibit these tendencies? Does this evolved duality apply to spirituality (assuming the author is not using spirituality and religion interchangeably, though I think he might?) Do we as humans fully comprehend the power of our own brains to guide individual beliefs beyond basic reasoning and problem-solving?

The author clearly restates his argument at the end:

" Religious teachings certainly shape many of the specific beliefs we hold; nobody is born with the idea that the birthplace of humanity was the Garden of Eden, or that the soul enters the body at the moment of conception, or that martyrs will be rewarded with sexual access to scores of virgins. These ideas are learned. But the universal themes of religion are not learned. They emerge as accidental by-products of our mental systems. They are part of human nature."

I think the fatal flaw of this piece is equating religion with supernatural beliefs--belief in an afterlife, fear/awe of a supreme being, seeing bodies as vessels, etc. This synonymous use--at least in my un-neuroscientifically trained brain--doesn't allow for simply feeling God in your life, experiencing communication through prayer, or feeling called to certain actions and decisions.

IMHO, our human duality certainly can account for the uniquely human conventions of creating laws, rules, rituals, ceremonies, and morals to organize and guide our daily lives. But I don't see where it accounts for the experience of a relationship with God.

The author may argue my questions merely points to a higher form of the short-circuit. That would make me, a believer, just a dedicated exploiter of this glitch--a metaphysical charlatan. But again, as a believer, perhaps I will never understand ... or never WANT to understand ... that my God can be explained by studies and papers.

And so the religion vs. science debate rages on ...

Friday, September 15, 2006

"We Feed the Feeders"

So said Capuchin Franciscan brother Fr. Paul last night at the YouFra meeting, when I very nearly burst into tears from sheer relief. The moment I walked into that room--damp from the rain, stressed by getting lost downtown, pinched by my work shoes and knee highs--I felt at peace. I can't fully explain it, but I knew I was in a place of refuge, and that no matter what my burdens or my sorrows, I could lay them at the door for two hours and breathe.

Essentially, I felt like I had walked back into the Alibrandi Catholic Center, my SU home away from home, complete with young adult-savvy Franciscan leader, peer support, and shabby but comfortable settings. People throw the term 'God-send' around, but this truly was one of those times---especially when Fr. Paul opened with the firm promise that YouFra is meant to provide ministry, not require it, of its members. It seeks to help young people deepen their Catholic faith in this wild, wacky, wierd world. Sounds like they're speaking my language.

Btw ... for any YouFra members that may one day read my site ... forgive me for my angst-ridden opening comments from yesterday's post. They were borne of previous disappointments, nerves, homesickness, and sogginess of spirit.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Once More Unto the Beach, Dear Friends

Tomorrow I'm going with Johanna to a YouFra meeting downtown, and I've already stressed myself out about it. The driving, the parking, the time commitment, the high likelihood that there will be an overwhelming amount of Catholic nerds there ... deep breath. It could turn out to be just the thing I'm looking for.

This pre-overreaction is a direct result of my post-vacation blues, where I got to spend a whole blessed week with many of favorite people in the entire world in my favorite place in the entire world. Emily, Sue, Nicole, John, Mark, Michael, and Jacob, all collected in a gorgeous sandcastle house one block from the Ocean City, NJ shore. (I took my watch off the moment I arrived, and didn't put it back on until we locked the house for the last time. The tradition continues ...)

There is absolutely NOTHING like gathering around a huge dining room table every night, eight guests strong, for home-cooked meals and excellent conversation. We had all the time in the world to sit and chat. And believe me, we took full advantage of it! It was just tremendous fun.

Since returning home, however, I have been overwhelmed by steady (and unexpected) waves of melancholy, loneliness, and homesickness for--of all places--SU. I forgot how wonderful it feels to have your friends at arm's reach, available any time of day, for conversations and meals and quiet time. It's an incredible support network: You never have to explain and excuse yourself. You simply are. That's why my friendships with these people are such a constant gift, and why every separation--however right or necessary--is poignant and bittersweet.

My friends don't fill my 'God space,' as Eileen would say, but they're pretty damn close to it. So add them to the crashing surf, multi-colored sunsets, and sun-warmed skin, and you're got one miraculous vacation.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Spirituality, Straight Up

Work is deathly slow today, so I'm reading 'Naked Conversations' by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel as a crash course on blogging. And since I always learn better with hands-on reinforcement, I hit up technorati and blogpulse, just to see all the connections for myself.

I searched for a couple variations on a term: Catholic, young Catholic, Roman Catholic. Let's just say I'm disappointed. It didn't turn up anything I was looking for, namely, a community of young Catholics. Now, this doesn't preclude such a space existing, but it doesn't bode well if no one's linking to you.

I'll continue searching on regular Web and news searches too for basis of comparison. But today's search puts a little tickle in my mind, a suspicion that there is a void out there in the seemingly infinite blogosphere. Will investigate further ...

In the meantime, I did find this one thoughtful and reverent voice, who takes God out of the anthropomorphic realm and translates Him to energy and environment. A surprisingly comforting and bolstering view.

P.S. I'm on vacation for the next week, so expect darkness ... but hope for the light ;)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Delay Is About to Get Longer ...

Sorry about the weeks of absence! (Though I don't know to whom I am apologizing, since no one knows this blog exists but me.) Truth is, I've hit a rut. Five posts, and I've hit a facacta (sp?) rut already. Story of my writing life ...

Here's the deal: I don't know what direction to take this blog in. I came up with a clever name, wrote a profile, and promptly ran into a wall. I tried to fly without any wings, i.e., I tried to blog without a particular message.

And therein lies the conflict. I have a TON of messages I would love to share. I want to catalog what I'm learning about the craft of writing. I want to talk about my spiritual frustration, and how it feels to be a religious young adult Catholic. I want to talk about destiny, purpose, and how somebody young and poor can set about saving the world. I want to write a book of prayers with the blogosphere's input, particularly from other young adults. I want to write about joyful events as an antidote to all the terror and sorrow ballooning in our world right now.

Can you talk about all those in one blog? Do you need a targeted theme? Hello? :::tap tap::: is this thing on? Anybody knowledgable want to chime in?

I should probably start doing just that--talking about everything, seeing where it leads. I'm always so frightened of heading somewhere without a plan. Gotta stop that. Again, how can anybody care what's on this blog right now? NOBODY READS IT.

Sigh, grr, arrgghh. Ok. Get it together, Julia. I think what I must do is join the blogosphere. See what other people are doing. Check out other messages, formats, styles, approaches. Start posting, and directing people back here for additional conversation. And for the love of god, stop thinking ahead to getting advertising dollars or signing a book deal, like that lady who blogged all the recipes she tried out every day while she was unemployed, and it swept the world in popularity, and led to her own cookbook. That's not why I started this (though I certainly wouldn't say no, haha).

Good. That's all settled. I'm glad we had this talk. One cyber step at a time, steady as she goes, and watch what unfolds.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I Heart Guy Kawasaki

I've only read "The Macintosh Way." I am by no means an aficionado. But I am quickly becoming a Guy Kawasaki devotee, especially now that I found his blog.

Today's post on Interview Tips was particulary on-target. Basic fundamentals--doing company research, arriving early, bringing extra resumes--are often overlooked among today's job seekers. Would you believe I was hired over someone else for a freelance production manager job in Pittsburgh because my follow-up e-mails were typo-free? Sad but true.

In fact, when I was job-hunting again a mere 8 months ago myself, my preparation and attention to detail made me stand out among my peers. I'm not particularly brilliant or revolutionary. But I am honest, attentive, and self-aware.

That's why Guy is my guy. He has incredible situational awareness. He processes, distills, and disseminates the critical information. And he does it all with humor and cheerful spirits. I honestly believe when I read his work that I could meet him for lunch, having never met before, and participate in a friendly, genuine chat throughout the meal. His spirit translates to the page.

That's an important distinction for me to remember. I've been frustrated lately because I can't hit a snarky tone. Believe me, I've tried, especially since it seems to be du rigeur for many blogs. But Guy reminds me that the best writers are true to their temperament. Writing in your natural voice--however sarcastic, dry, or ebullient it may be--is the surest path to strong, resonating results.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Ministry of Me

There comes a point in a person's spiritual life when she doesn't want to provide ministry, but instead needs to receive it. I've been at that point for quite some time now, yet haven't gotten what I need from my varying churches over the past year.

I thought the MYAC (Ministry of Young Adult Catholics) group at church would do it. To my chapter's credit, they really do host a variety of spiritual and social activities. But turns out, I'm the youngest of the young adults, sometimes by 20 years. (Since when is 40 a young adult?) Plus, scheduling is such that I can't make it to most of the activities. Just the same, I have somehow ended up on their core team, and will be providing for the service ministry. Go fig.

Has the Roman Catholic church neglected its young people? I fear the worst. I have never blamed my peers--many friends among them--who no longer attend Mass, or bother with any other R.C. tenets. The void is painfully apparent. Even worse, they often seem to abandon any faith.

I could say this is entirely a product of the young adult age, but in my heart I don't believe it is. The Church claims to welcome and foster us, yet stands by as we fall through the cracks. Sure, there seem to be a lot of sites. But these orgs are often populated with the most conservative and dogmatic among us. Open discussion isn't always appreciated. Or it's the same 10 people attending YAM activities over and over and over again. It's theological and bureaucratic hypocrisy at its worst.

If the Church has any hope for an active and deeply-felt following in my generation, it better start tending to that constituency's spiritual health, or face a slow bleed from the pews.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Generation Digital

At yesterday's gigundo family function (one of, oh, all of them), I spent much of the day with cousins Annamarie and Gabriele. And in the course of this one day, spent mostly poolside with relatives and friends demading time and attention, we still managed to check out the girls' Facebook profiles, MySpace accounts, Apple Quicktime multimedia presentations, and cell phone capabilities.

Now, my cousins are only 5 and 7 years younger than me, respectively. Yet I feel like they're lightyears ahead in understanding all the excitement and connectivity that online and digital social networking provides.

I know this digital inertia is a result of my own (very) late adoption habits--unusual for a Generation Y-er. After all, I'm supposed to be where it's at right now, correct? It's the multi-tasking 18- to 26-year-olds who are ruling new media, and prompting marketers to clamor for their network savvy.

And then there's me huddled in the dark corner with my chisel and rock slab, tap-tap-tapping my way into technological obscurity.

The good news: I'm upgrading to papyrus next month.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I Put the 'Ma' Back in Cinema

Netflix is the greatest invention since sliced bread. And since I can't watch bread--well, I could, but it wouldn't be very entertaining--I daresay Netflix is ever better.

Case in point: The cheery red envelope delivered a strong dose of innocent exuberance this week when it unveiled the TV Disney movie High School Musical, which I immediately fell in love with. According to my best friend, I'm late to the party on this one. But then again, she's seen it 10 times, cries throughout the whole thing, and knows every dance move. She may be an outlier.

Sure, the acting is a tad wooden, the songs have catchy beats but forgettable lyrics, and the romantic tension is sanitized to the point of blandness. Regardless, this sunshiny flick featured sincere performers, energetic choreography, and an all-around, thumbs-up, apple-pie, ethnically diverse, zit-free dream universe of how high school should be (and never is).

Is it Spielberg? Of course not. But Spielberg is not one for making me giggle. Let's not underestimate the power of movies like this as popcorn for the brain: It feels like a guilty pleasure, but is actually healthy for you ... especially when stripped of extra saccharine or fat.

See the EW review for a professional opinion. Also, a look at the numbers.

Along more IMS lines, I also have Netflix to thank for Pane e tulipani (Bread and Tulips). Accordion lessons, galoshes, exotic flowers, and stick-on bindhis pile up the whimsy as the love story unfolds in the Venetian canals. A great pick for a steamy summer night when you don't feel like moving.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Origins of IMS

Italian Mother Syndrome, more commonly known as IMS. To my knowledge, I am one of the only young women out there afflicted with this rare, untreatable disease.

I was diagnosed with IMS as early as high school. Symptoms included doorway-wide hips, a moustache like my mother's, and my persistent clarion call of "Eat something!!!" My friends started to suspect something was amiss when I kept getting cast as mothers, old women, and tough broads in school theatrical productions. Thank God they were paying attention--I thought all young women with any sense acted this way. Turns out I was wrong.

In the years since, I've slowly come to accept my situation. True, I worry about everything and everybody constantly. I fawn over every baby that crosses my lap. I will prepare fresh, healthy food for anyone whose stomach makes so much as a peep. I adore hugging people, and then smacking them. I was recently cast as a 40-year-old woman in a community play. (The man who played my 18-year-old son was 10 years older than me in real life.) I would rather be married than date. And I will never be a size 2.

But when all is said and done, IMS isn't such a bad thing to have. It's made me passionate, earthy, loving, and dedicated. Nobody's complained about all the free meals and hugs. I'll take it.

Now for god's sakes, mangia. (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what am I gonna do witchoo ...)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Comment Guidelines

Welcome to the wild, woolly world of blog commenting! This is a quick brief on Italian Mother Syndrome's commenting policy.

I moderate comments to ensure that conversations stay focused and friendly on the blog. My promise to you: to keep the conversation open and diverse. All pertinent, articulate, and appropriate comments will pass go, whether they agree with me, disagree, or raise a different point entirely.

Here's what will not pass go: anything that's waaaay off-topic, plagiarized, illegal, defamatory, threatening, obscene, profane, or considered hate speech.

By all means, let's debate the IDEAS till we're blue in the face. But any personal attack on me or other readers will not see the digital light of day. It's that simple.

A final note: If you have an issue, question, or topic that needs my undivided attention, please feel free to email me directly, and I'll respond prontissimo.

THANK YOU for helping keep Italian Mother Syndrome a welcoming place for all!