Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, a day dedicated to the memory of all of our veterans, past and present. I consider myself a pretty sentimental kind of gal, and can cry in about two seconds thinking about "my" veterans.

So I don't want to do that.

Instead, I've been thinking a lot about what kind of memory I want to leave, when I am no longer breathing. How I want to be remembered. As a friend, as a daughter, a fiancee, a sister.

There are a lot of things I pride myself on. Loyalty. Ambition. Optimism.

But mostly kindness.

So there it is. Someday, when I am dead and gone from this place, I want to be remembered as being kind.

"The best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love".
-William Wordsworth

Friday, May 28, 2010

On Sister Margaret

I read a few blogs where the writer is a different religion from me. (Here is one if you are interested). In both of those instances, the writer is Mormon.

I don't know a whole lot about the Mormon faith, but I will say that there is something inspiring about 20 and 30-somethings who are so solid, so content, so invested in their faith. I have a few peers that feel similarly loyal, but they are certainly not in the majority.

I categorize myself as "cafeteria Catholic" in part jokingly, but frankly, I think it's pretty accurate.

Yesterday, my uncle Dan sent me to an article by NY Times Columnist, Nicholas D. Kristof. Essentially, a Catholic nun, Sister Margaret McBride, was employed by a hospital. She was on a committee that was charged with making a medical recommendation for a pregnant woman suffering from a debilitating condition - one that would surely take her life if her pregnancy was continued. The committee recommended terminating the pregnancy at 11 weeks, and Sr. Margaret? She was excommunicated.

For a church community that began with Jesus embracing the least among us (the Lepers, the poor, the sick) it seems to me that somewhere along the way, the message has been lost. "Love one another as I have loved you" seems to no longer be the commandment.

With the message so lost in translation, I am frustrated that my church leaders focus so completely on hating on gays and birth control, on covering up pedophilia and punishing a saintly woman who prioritized a living, breathing mother-of-four over her unborn fifth child.

I will admit to not being so steady in my faith. I want unconditional acceptance. I want to be positive and faith-filled and a lover of Catholicism. The thing is, I believe Jesus would have comforted Sister Margaret, and held her hand, maybe hugged her, after she made what I believe to have probably been an agonizing decision. I believe Jesus would understand, embrace, accept. My problem isn't with Jesus. No, my objection lies with the heirarchy of the Catholic Church, the people who we are entrusting to distill our faith and dole it out, lesson by lesson, teaching by teaching.

This time, though, they have it all wrong.

12 months from today..

Scott... Meet me on the alter 12 months from right now?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Kindess is in our power... even when fondness is not.
-Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Review: House Rules

I have been a fan of Jodi Picoult's writing since the summer of 2007, which was the first time I ever experienced her books. It was the summer I lived with my Summer Family, and one thing I had in common with the women of the house was our shared love of reading. They introduced me to this author, and I have read every single one of her books since then. Her most recent "House Rules" came out about a month ago, and I could not wait to get my hands on it.

This past weekend, I did.

House Rules is the tale of a woman and her two sons, one of whom is afflicted with Aspergers syndrome and the other who is "neurotypical". A brutal crime is committed in town, and everyone thinks he was the perpetrator. But was he?

(If you have read my other book reviews, you may be surprised that this is all I am giving you. This is the first fiction book I've reviewed, and I don't want to give anything away!)

I will admit that, at least initially, this book was a bit slower of a read then her other books have been (I particularly loved My Sister's Keeper and Mercy) but if you are a Jodi Picoult fan, do not let this deter you. While I was not disappointed in the story line, I will admit that it was a bit lengthier then I am used to for a fiction book (it's north of 500 pages!). The story line really makes you think about what it means to be normal, to be a family, and what loyalty really is.

If you're a Picoult fan, it is a must read.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just another reason I'm marrying him...

This photo is completely real, not staged... three bullseye's in three consecutive throws. Impressive, Special.

Looks like someone's been practicing....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Welcome to Chicago, Joe!

Today the youngest Maloney moves to Chicago. I am so excited to have him in town!

Here's to a summer of turning 21 (him, not me, duh), grilling out, beers, and Cubs games.

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 21

This is my mom:

(Isn't she a fox?)

Today is her birthday, and today only, I'm going to forget my dislike of cliches (like I said, today is a special day).

Happy birthday to the world's best mom. Words can literally not describe the depths of which I am thankful to have you in my life. I am a truly lucky daughter. I love you!

(Sorry to put this picture on the internet, Mom, but it is my all-time favorite picture of you).

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother"
- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Chicago Book Exchange

A few weekeneds ago, Scott and I ventured out to a park in the middle of Chicago. It houses a recycling center (which is the actual reason we went) where you can drop off all of your recycleables. I noticed this shed and was intrigued - it is a book exchange. You can bring books that you no longer want/need, and pick up a new selection. The titles were kind of strange (so this wouldn't be the place to go to check out the new John Grisham!) but I think it is such a cool concept.

(Seriously, there was a deer frolicking 10 feet away)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

"You win a few. You lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for all of them." - Satchel Paige

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

our hearts are hungry
for the food that won't come
and we could make a feast from these crumbs
and we're all staring down the barrel of a gun
so if your life flashed before you
what would you've wished you'd done?
- kris allen, live like we're dying

Book Review: Good-bye, I love you

I recently heard about a book called "Goodbye, I love you". As you know, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on that relates in any way to marriage, to love, to the right to marry.

This book combined all three, with a pretty significant twist.

The book centers on a couple, Carol Lynn and Gerald Pearson. They are a married Mormon couple, and Gerald is gay. He has been aware of his homosexuality since childhood, but has fought it for years because of the way that his religion, his world really, treats homosexuals.

On day, roughly a decade in to their marriage, Gerald decides that he has had enough, that he cannot continue to live in denial. So Carol Lynn and Gerald separate, with a surprising level of civility and continued respect. Carol Lynn is heart broken because while her husband couldn't share the emotion, she was truly in love with him. Even still, she is compassionate. She has known of Gerald's struggle for years (although the extent of which she learns gradually) and while she accepts that she may not have the relationship with him that she hopes, she believes that this doesn't mean that they can't have a successful friendship and coparent their children.

Much of the book centers on the reaction of their circle of friends to the news that Gerald is gay (their circle is composed of predominantly Mormons). The Mormon religion disagrees with the gay lifestyle (actually, more accurately they disagree with being gay), but Carol Lynn says "Compassion, love helpfulness. That's what it was all about. CHARITY NEVER FAILETH. That was our motto. What did it mean? Compassion. But not for wickedness. Not for the very lowest of the low. Not for... homosexuals" (77). Even Carol Lynn has problems with homosexuality, particularly in the beginning. Problems with accepting this situation, and problems believing that Gerald is acceptable as he is.

When told that he and his lifestyle are "wrong", Gerald says: "WRONG!... I have taken that word and used it like a whip on myself. I have flagellated myself with that word until I'm bloody. But it does not change things. I have fasted, I have prayed.... And it does not change things. If my homosexuality is wrong, then I am wrong, the fact of my being is wrong. Because that's what I am!" (92)

Eventually, Carol Lynn came to a realization, a light-bulb moment: "Our community viewed homosexuality as evil and disgusting.... In all the praying I had done, I had felt strongly that Gerald was as much loved of God as I was" (115). And furthermore, she felt that if God could accept and love Gerald as he is, why couldn't she? Or her children? Or the church?

Sadly, Gerald is diagnosed with AIDS. (When he was diagnosed, someone said "AIDS? What's that?" (181) which goes to show the time period that this was all happening). His health rapidly declines, and he dies.

It was an interesting book to read. I hard a really hard time relating to a lot of it, which I can attribute in part to the substantial religious and political differences, but not entirely. I had a hard time with the character of Gerald, with the man he was. Eventually, years after realizing he was gay and making the choice to hide it, he finally decided that the could not continue his denial. That was so frustrating to me. Ever day that he hid it, every day that he fought it, he built a new life for himself with children, with a wife. His ongoing denial just made it more and more of a challenge for his family, the family that he, frankly, deceived for years.

In my opinion, the most poignant moment in the book occurred on page 221, as Gerald was dying. Carol Lynn was offered help by some prominent and high-ranking members of her Church. After initially declining, she ultimately said that, yes, she would love help with some yard work. She assumed they would delegate the chore to children. Between tasks around her house, caring for her dying ex-husband, she looked outside and the Church elders were doing the work themselves. She said, "If there were no takers, there could be no givers. I had been a giver before and I would be a giver again. It was my turn to be a taker, and I was glad to do it".

Overall, it was an interesting read, but definitely not "airplane reading". (Airplane reading is my guideline for a truly good book - would I be able to get lost in this book for a few hours if my flight is delayed?) I wouldn't call it a page turner, but it was a deep, thinking book. If you are interested in reading the first 60 pages, you can do so here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quote of the Day

"You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are." - Alice in Wonderland

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Photo of the Day

Today is Armed Forces Day, and in honor of that, I would like to give a public-shout out to my Grandpa Gerry, a WW2 Vet, and a really interesting man. I am lucky to have him in my family, and we are all lucky to have the US armed services on our team.

An open letter to the Pope

Dear Pope Benedict,

Good morning.

My name is Kate M. and I have been a (mostly) faithful Catholic for over 25 years. I have received four sacraments, and next May, will receive my fifth. I have dutifully attended church weekly (ok, ok, with a bit of a lapse around 2005) for as long as I can remember. I pray before dinner, when my airplane lands safely, and most nights before bed. I believe in the Ten Commandments (although, admittedly, I struggle with number three). I have recently begun to put cash in my weekly envelope. I even went to Catholic school from grades 7-12.

Overall, I think it's safe to say I've been a consistently decent Catholic. (Not the best, not the worst... Somewhere in the middle).

Until, apparently, now.

This week, in Portugal, you called gay marriage an "insidious threat to the common good."

Your Holiness (that is your correct title, no?), I must object.

The common good is threatened by the lengthening war in the Middle East, by ever mounting cancer diagnoses, by the on-going threat of terrorist attacks. Not by two consenting adults wanting to commit for all eternity.

I urge you to wise up.

Also, Pope Benedict, I think you have bigger fish to fry, no?

Thank you,

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Faithfulness

With my wedding to Scott around the corner (ok, fine, around the corner and then a year), I've been thinking a lot about what makes a successful relationship. A lasting, thriving, happy marriage.

One such requirement I have found is the concept of faithfulness.


I've witnessed terrible marriages, ideal marriages, and several in between. I like to think that I have learned from their examples, but of course, the next sixty years will tell for certain. (Before anyone freaks out, aheeemmmm, of COURSE I believe Scott to be my person, and have every confidence that our marriage will be rock solid. Obviously).

It's interesting preparing for such a commitment while watching the institution of marriage crumble in the news. Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Larry King. I almost hate to put these names out there, because I am certain that there are hundreds of examples of unfaithfulness that I could be referencing, certainly some from my circle.

I guess I'm just confused by the whole thing. Do these people, these cheaters, not understand that the whole point of being married is to be with one person from that point on? That the days of multiple women, multiple partners, should come before marriage, not after? (And for the record, while I am decidedly Democrat, I am not suggesting that people should sleep around, I'm just saying that I don't know that we would all know or care that Tiger had been with 15 plus women, had he done it without simultaneously having a wife).

To me, faithfulness is a must in every one of my most important relationships. Faithfulness is an umbrella that covers lots of relationships. Faithfulness covers romance, sure. It requires that Scott is faithful to me in our relationship, but it also includes much more. Faithfulness requires that I keep my word to my mom. That I speak no ill of my brothers (even if they are acting very, very ill). It requires that I remain firm on my convictions, my morals, my sense of right and wrong. It means that I am loyal, steadfast, and "on the team" (so to speak) with those that I am being faithful to.

So, Jesse, Tiger, Larry - word to the wise? Learn about faithfulness.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

My iPod was shuffling in my pocket earlier this week as I cleaned my bathroom floor. A Kenny Chesney song on, I cranked it up.

I think these might be my favorite lyrics.

"well i'm what i am
and i'm what i'm not
and i'm sure happy
with what i've got
i live and love and laugh a lot
and that's all i need"
-kenny chesney

Quote of the Day

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
-Albert Einstein

(Sidebar: I love this quote. I think I re-read it three times as I was writing it on here, because upon first glance it is kind of a challenge to really get your mind around the point... but then when you do, you can't get your mind off of it. Or at least I couldn't).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Weddings vs. Marriage: A comparison

I have been reading a lot about weddings, but lately, mostly about marriage. As I have said repeatedly, I am no expert. I haven't been married for one moment, let alone 62+ years (like my grandparents!) but from everything that I have gathered about weddings, and separately about marriages, I think one important thing springs out:

Wedding and marriages are not synonymous.

(Which should be obvious. I know. But the thing is, once you get engaged, there is so much to-do about what your dress is like, what kind of reception you are having, what color your flowers will be, and so little about what this means - for the rest. of. your. life).

I was reading an article the other day that said (I'm paraphrasing) that weddings are to bamboo trees, what marriages are to the jungle. Weddings are like seashells, what marriage is to the ocean.

In other words, they are related, sure, connected even. But different. Oh, so different.

As someone who is actively planning my wedding, this is an important thing for me to focus on. My family and I are spending real money, lots of money, on one day. One. (Obviously we're cognizant of what we are doing, not spending more then we can afford, yadda yadda, but the fact is, I'd give up the wedding if I had to. In the grand scheme of things, it is not that important).

I'd give up my wedding, but I wouldn't give up my groom.

(See the distinction?)

The flowers, the dress, the DJ... none of this has any bearing on the kind of marriage that I will have. People with grand, amazing, fairytale weddings don't necessarily have grand, amazing, fairytale marriages. Just because you have the wedding, doesn't mean you'll have the marriage. One is not dependent on the other.

To me, marriage is about the commitment. I am committing to you, for today, for tomorrow, for every today and for every tomorrow. The long haul. It's about love (or it should be) but it's also about choice. Fidelity. Loyalty. Commitment.

Weddings are about a celebration of that commitment. (Look, I know it's also about a sacrament, and I mean no disrespect to that. But when you think "weddings!" or someone says "I love weddings" they really mean what comes after, the party). Good food, strong drink, fun music.

So to sum it up? I am so looking forward to next May 28th. But more then that, I am looking forward to May 29th, and May 30th, and every day from then on. I can't wait for my wedding to Scott, but I am more excited about being married to him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

on Austin

Today is my youngest brother's birthday: Austin is twenty.

(I'm only a few years older then him, but this makes me feel old).

As I have mentioned, I am a member of a "non-traditional" family. My mother married my father (my second father, chronologically) when I was twelve years old, but the thing was, we really married him too, and his children married our mom.

That is what happens when people with children get married. The families marry too, and they merge to create something new, a new family. At least, that is what happened with us: my mom married Shawn, we became a family with his family.

And we got Austin. (And his siblings, too).

Austin is almost six years younger then me, and I don't know if it is because of the fairly large age gap (for siblings), or because we have a lot in common, but we have always been close.

I am a better person for having him in my life, and feel lucky to have him as my brother.

Happy Birthday, Aust!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On Marquette

I've mentioned before that my religion directly disagrees with my sense of right-and-wrong. Here is yet another article that makes me frustrated with Catholicism.

Full disclosure: I was about thirty seconds away from going to Marquette University, and well, just chalk this up to another reason I am glad I did not.

(Lest you think I'm totally anti-Catholic, here is an article I can get behind!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quote of the Day

"If a man does his best, what else is there?"
-General George S Patton

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day of Prayer

Today is the 59th annual National Day of Prayer.

I don't know how I feel about the whole concept; seems like kind of a breach of the separation of church and state clause, no? But I suppose that since this isn't telling people WHO to pray to, or WHAT to pray for...

I don't know. I do think it's an interesting idea.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

you like it when i play the guitar
and look right in your eyes
i've been playing my whole life for you
so show me how to live
i wanna spend tonight with you.

- joe maloney, a piece of you

Triple Date, Round 1

I have two really great friends, Sam & Jennie, who happen to be really great friends themselves. We got together last weekend, with our beaus (does anyone use that word anymore) for the first round of a triple date (many more rounds to come). We indulged in guacamole, Margaritas, and lots of chips & salsa. A great date, indeed!

The group, sans photographer

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Photo of the Day

Navy Pier from my window, at dusk.