Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The List of 52

Here on campus, students are facing final exams.  I'm not in the line of academic fire, but I can easily conjure up memories of packing my brain with a semester of facts to spill onto a blue book or into multiple-choice bubbles.  Strangely, my exam memories from freshman year are the most vivid: drawing up mnemonic devices on history outlines with Brite Line markers, making Matchbox 20's song "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell," my anthem before my Logic final, voicing sheepish prayers with my roommate that pleaded: "Jesus, please help me pass tomorrow. I'm sorry...I love you?!"  (I laugh out loud even choosing which of our antics to type, Sarah!)

One of my absolute favorites is The List of 52.  Sarah and I hosted our friends Kati and Stef for an extended sleepover in Memorial Hall, and one of the myriad of topics that we discussed was what kind of man we would someday like to marry.  Standard discussion, I know, for a teen girl squad.  Kati and Stef, from the University of Nebraska, had traveled to Benedictine with a list of characteristics they would like in a future spouse. Their list randomly ended at 52, and it was decided that Sarah and Tala would also create a list of 52.  We conveniently took up the task during finals week.

To assure our mothers and any potential suitors that we weren't expecting an unreachable ideal in a man, we generously titled the page:

The Fifty-Two Suggestions
(Not requirements, but positive characteristics that we look for in a guy.)  

I know. You're welcome.

I love this list. Most definitely not because I use it as a measuring tape for the men I know...a guy who perfectly fulfilled each of the 52 would be a freak show...but because it is Exhibit A when I need to be reminded of just how incredible my friends are.  I have friends who would still dream sweet dreams with me, like #21:

     21.  Knows how to dance sweet and cute dances like the waltz…or is willing to try.

I have friends who live out #6:

     6.  Loves Mary, prays the Rosary (with his eyes closed).

Or #37 - #44:

     37.  Doesn’t mind being in or smiling big in pictures.
     38.  Holds your hand.
     39.  Is gentle and strong.
     40.  Isn’t a quitter.
     41.  Looks at you differently than he looks at anyone else.
     42.  Feels comfortable to pray with you all the time.
     43.  Is able to lead without making you feel like a lesser person.
     44.  Can be flexible in bad situations, is a problem solver, doesn’t complain a lot.

It's clear when you read #33 that the list was written in a freshmen girls' dorm room, with year-round Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling and fake flower garlands draped over our bookcase:

     33.  Will tolerate girlie mixes on CD because he loves you, but doesn’t really like girlie mixes because that would be weird.

Maybe I feel older when I read it.  Maybe I feel the 8 years that separate me from the Year of the List...but I always agree with the girl who nodded in earnest when her best friend suggested #31:

     31.  Sings loudly at Mass (even if he has an ugly voice…especially if he has an ugly voice).

I wish you could have been there. It was a lovely time. The gravest issues in our personal lives included how our friend couldn't join us at the Caf because they froze his meal card when he forgot to pay his Perkin's loan.

And my roommate? As I wrapped the assorted bows from her bridal shower into a bouquet for the wedding rehearsal in 2009, we read the list to see how her fiancee Dan would fare.  We laughed and re-told the stories that always deserve a good re-telling.  Dan passed the test with flying colors while still steering clear of freak-show status, and I was reminded again that God knows the desires of our hearts. Even #49:

     49.  Can have a conversation with you using only your eyes. (*Caution: May involve appropriate winking.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"We are just breakable girls and boys."

Think of the Noshville Delicatessen, and picture the perfect the egg-over-easy: soft in the middle with the white fried all the way around. I will always secretly call eggs over easy "dippy eggs," (in the same way that putt-putt is known to me as "goofy golf").

The "dippy egg" is a word picture that I use to explain just how delicate the heart is.  There's a thin layer that keeps the inners of our hearts from spilling all over, and when that layer is pierced, we get messy.

I've seen so much mess this week.  My first sorority party lived up to every stereotype; if the couple in my direct line of sight hadn't been wearing clothes, they would have been making babies (to the tune of Justin Bieber's "Baby") on the dance floor.  I "Fox on Demanded" after a morning at the Country Music Marathon and caught the latest episode of Glee, where half of the characters debated "losing the V card" with a Madonna soundtrack to empower them.  Frannie's CNN article is still creating a TV movie of her life, and I've been SO surprised by some naysayers' reactions.  Really, people?

Do we know that our hearts are so fragile? Do we act with care when handling others' hearts? Why does every third woman that I meet seem to be in immediate danger of letting her heart spill all over the plate?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quite an affair.

Here's what I'm working on:
"Let your religion be less of a theory 
and more of a love affair."  
-G.K. Chesterton

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bold love hits the presses

No hooking up, no sex for some coeds

By Stephanie Chen, CNN
April 19, 2010 9:07 a.m. EDT
Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) -- 
Almost every weekend, there is a tradition called raging at Vanderbilt University.
It's a recurring, drunken activity that isn't the proudest moment for student Frannie Boyle. After consuming large quantities of alcohol before a party, her night would sometimes end in making out with a stranger or acquaintance.
Casual hook ups fueled by alcohol may be the norm across college campuses, but Boyle, now a 21-year-old junior at the school, chose to stop. Her reasons to quit hooking up echo the emotional devastation of many college students, particularly girls whose hearts are broken by the hook-up scene. "I saw it [hooking up] as a way to be recognized and get satisfaction," said Boyle, shaking her blond ponytail. "I felt so empty then."
The hook-up culture on campuses may seem more pervasive than ever, especially as media outlets, books and documentaries rush to dissect the subject, but some college women and men are saying no.
Some, like Boyle, experimented with hooking up and quit. Though she is Catholic, she says her reason for disengaging herself from the hook-up culture had more to do with the unhappiness she experienced afterward. Others influenced by religion have abstained from casual physical activity from the moment they set foot on campus.
The idea of rejecting hook-ups may not be as strange as it sounds in a generation surrounded by sex. Pop star Lady Gaga recently announced she was celibate and encouraged others to follow. In Kelly Clarkson's song "I Don't Hook Up," she addresses the dominant hook-up culture: "I do not hook up, up I go slow, so if you want me I don't come cheap."
The term "hook up" is ambiguous, usually defined as a no-commitment, physical encounter with a stranger or acquaintance. Hooking up can range from just a make-out session all the way to sex. Other lingo for the no-commitment sexual encounters are "booty calls" or "friends with benefits."
Various academic studies have cited at least 75 percent of women have engaged in hooking up on campus, and the number is usually higher for men. The activity is most likely precipitated by alcohol, studies show. Boyle's decision to quit hooking up leaves her in the minority.
Evidence of the backlash on hooking up on campuses can be seen in the growing popularity of the Love and Fidelity Network, a secular, nonprofit group dedicated to helping college students open the discussion for a lifestyle that doesn't involve casual sexual activity with anonymous or uncommitted partners.
The organization, which promotes sexual integrity and defends marriage though discussion and speakers, has gained a presence on at least 20 schools from Harvard University to the University of Notre Dame since its inception in 2007. There is no official count on the number of students who participate in the Love and Fidelity Network. But at Princeton University, about 40 students have joined.
The group says it does not judge those who hook up, but it does promote abstinence.
"A majority of college campuses, when it comes to discussing marriage and sexual relationships, tend to be very one-sided," said Cassandra Hough, founding director of the Love and Fidelity Network. "We feel that it does add to pressures for young men and women to participate in a certain type of culture."
At Vanderbilt University, a pristine campus defined by elegant, Southern-style architecture and manicured lawns, the hook-up culture can be hard to avoid, Boyle said. The Greek scene also can create more pressure to hook up, added Boyle, who is a member of a sorority.
Boyle explained the warm weather compels some students to engage in "day fratting," imbibing for hours in the front yard of a fraternity. Day fratting can result in "afternoon delight," noncommittal physical activity between two people that can include casual sex.
"Right now, people conceive the idea of what they think from the media and friends -- that the only options are to extremes: to deny everything fun, including sex, or just to hook up," says Emily O'Connell, a freshman at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
After observing the hook-up scene as a freshman, O'Connell is starting a nonreligious group to talk about alternatives to hooking up.
"There's definitely a middle ground, and it's not that outrageous," she said.
In addition to protection from STDs, some students may have good reasons not to hook up. Over the past decade, scholars, researchers and authors have begun to examine the psychological toll of hooking up.
An April 2010 study from James Madison University in Virginia revealed more college women tend to want a relationship out of a hook up compared with men who prefer to stay independent. Other studies have shown the instability from hooking up can cause depression. Repeated rejection and detached relationships can also damage self-esteem.
But Laura Sessions Stepp, author of "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both," said not all hook-ups have a negative impact. Some students can engage in no-strings relationships without suffering emotional trauma. Some women say casual sexual activity allows them the benefits of experimentation.
It's unclear at what point hooking up eclipsed traditional dates. But what is clear is that some students, like Boyle, want old-fashioned courtship to return.
Kathleen Bogle, who wrote "Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus" in 2008, says she's found there is a strong and growing desire to bring back traditional dating. Bogle points to the uptick in college students participating in online dating.
On Facebook.com, several groups are rooting for the traditional dates. The motto on the group Bring Dating Back reads, "This group is for all those girls who wish that once in a while a guy would take her out on a date before trying to get her into bed. At least invite us to dinner before expecting us to get down and dirty!"
Vanderbilt student Boyle says her decision she made at the end of her freshman year to quit hooking up came with criticism. She is still surrounded by friends and peers who do it.
She's already lost some guy friends who couldn't understand her decision. But Boyle counters, "They probably weren't my friends anyway."
Several students from her school participated in the Love and Fidelity Network's annual conference earlier this year. There is a possibility that Vanderbilt may start a similar nonreligious group that provides an alternative discussion to hooking up.
"I'm respecting myself," Boyle said confidently one sunny morning before class. "And I won't waste my time with some guy who doesn't care about me."


And, from the Huffington Post, this gem:

Frannie, I'm so proud of the beautiful witness that you are...to me, everyday, and to CNN's audience in this article. Thanks for living your story and having the guts to share it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

An e-filing shout out.

"If it weren't for TurboTax, 
I don't think I would do my taxes. 
I'd rather just go to jail."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three Reasons to Try

When I want to fly to San Diego, I begin my list this way:


Aunt Bernice goes in the first slot.
Then beach camping.
Finally...Disneyland? If I'm not convicted, I leave the last place blank until I can fill it in with a better-than-mediocre reason to spend my money.  Until I can proceed to southwest.com and slap my airfare on their proverbial counter with a certain swagger that says "I've weighed my options, and I'm not spending this on a car payment for a REASON," I don't.  It dampens the delight of the whole experience just enough.

The same goes here.  Why take the time to write online, where anyone could google their way to my words, and judge me because I don't know how to add a paisley background to my blog?  (Do you know? I do love paisley.)

This is what I've determined. It seems appropriate to pen my list of three on the blog that it allowed:

1. For those things that Mom and Dad and I don't get to on the phone.
2. Because of Nella, and NieNie, Trish, Tina, and the American Papist...it seems that I so enjoy blogs that it was a sacrifice to offer them up for Lent. (But now...He is Risen! Alleluia!)
3. To note the art of living. Beauty and function. Whimsical things that make me a better person.

If blogging doesn't make me better, I quit. Will you remind me of that if I forget?

The last reason of three usually takes some time to percolate, and this instance was no exception.  Although it takes time, I secretly like the adventure of waiting for the final leg of the stool to balance the whole thing upright.

San Diego, here I come.