Sunday, January 27, 2013

on feminism and choices

The other day my mother-in-law shared an image that someone else posted on Facebook affirming Roe v. Wade.  It had the caption "let's keep a woman's right to choose between her and her healthcare provider".

It had a few comments from friends and relatives, things like "too bad the unborn children don't have the same rights" or "no Christian would support this".

Well, I'm Christian and I support it.  I recognize that some reading this might find me a bad Catholic, and frankly.... I don't care.   (By the way, making that judgment probably makes you a bad Catholic).  27% of abortions were done to mothers that are Catholic  (more than 1 in 4!) so I'm certainly not alone in my thinking.

 I thought I had blogged about this before, but I searched through the archives and couldn't find it, so here I am.

I am a Catholic, and I support abortion.  Kind of an inflammatory statement, but dramatic and strong and that's how I intended it... though it is a bit misleading.  No one truly supports abortion.  Abortion doesn't make me happy, and it doesn't make the women having them happy either.   While it's certainly misused, I do believe that overall abortion is exactly how it's intended - a last resort for women who desperately need one.   I have never been in that position, but I can close my eyes and imagine the despair, the fear.  I support legal and safe abortions, and I believe in a woman's right to choose.

I can understand the comment about "too bad the unborn children don't have the same rights", but it's a scientifically weak one, in my opinion.  88 percent of abortions happen during the first trimester, a point in development where the fetus is a cluster of cells, and without the mother as a host-organism, not one that is supportive of life.  I think it's wrong to prioritize the rights of the cluster of cells over the life of the mother.

As a woman, I can't imagine not supporting a woman's right to choose.  I am the authority on my body, and what it does and what it gets to do.  Me.  And when I want a second opinion, I don't look to my Catholic leadership... I look my doctor.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

friday night sushi fest

Scott and I joined his parents, sister and aunt for a going away dinner for his sister, who was going back to school.  We met at a sushi/thai BYOB here in Chicago called Ruk.  Scott and I brought Sake (what else) and wine, and had a nice time with his family.

I love sushi, and take almost any opportunity to order it.  I am not a super adventurous sushi eater, in that I don't like fishy-fish, so I typically stay with vegetarian or other more mild sushi.  Anyway, the sushi at Ruk was good... and the wine was fantastic.  :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

as told by my fortune cookie

I love blogging, but sometimes life is demanding.  And busy.  I hope you know that I appreciate you reading, and perhaps more importantly, that I love writing.  The days just zip by sometimes, and then it's been a week since the last post.

This was an especially good three day weekend, and I'll be doing separate posts in the coming days about some of the fun that happened.  A meal with Scott's family, shopping in the suburbs, an engagement party for Lindsey and Jamey, a hilarious trip to the liquor store, another trip to the suburbs for lunch with Sam and Jennie, Jennie's first dress fitting.  There was a lot of friends, food, and fun.  

After a sushi meal last week, I got a fortune cookie that said "Your hard work is about to pay off.  Congratulations!"  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but here's hoping for something good this week.  

And some blog posts.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Photo of the Day: Panes Edition

Panes is a cute bread cafe in our neighborhood.  My first Chicago apartment was around the corner (literally) from this place, and I've loved it ever since.  It sells sandwiches on crunchy, delicious bread, salads, soup, desserts and breakfast (but only on Sundays).  It also has the best Diet Coke in the state, in my opinion :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Scenes from LalaLand

I was in LA for about 60 hours this week for a conference, and just couldn't get over the landscape.  It's like perma-vacation out there.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pizza Rustica: Chicago

The other weekend, Scott and I had a date to a fancy pizza place near our apartment, Pizza Rustica.  It was freezing cold out, but we walked the eight blocks there to work up our appetite :)  Once there, I started with a new beer (Sweetgrass American Pale Ale) and then we ordered their veggie pizza.  We were shocked by how quickly it came out of the wood-burning fire, but it was out within 15 or 20 minutes... and it was unbelievably good.  Best pizza either of us has ever had.  It was not "Chicago-style" pizza, as it was super thin crust, but it was crazy good.  The ambiance at Pizza Rustica was also very cool - pretty twinkly lights, exposed brick, big wood-burning oven.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Italian Themed Dinner Party

Scott and I found ourselves with four consecutive days off over the New Years holiday with no plans and no place to be, so I suggested we have his parents and siblings over for dinner.

We made a homemade pasta sauce that called for burned off vodka - chef Special had the honors:

We also had homemade bruschetta (onion, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and bacon) and a bunch of other appetizers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


For Christmas my mom gave each of us Steil-Maloney-Specials a "Strength Finder" book.   The idea of the book is that each of us has characteristics intrinsic to us that are our key strong points.  Maybe it's empathy, maybe it's discipline, maybe it's focus.  The book includes a link to the website and an individual passcode to take the "test".  It's a 20-30 minute long questionnaire which asks you questions that you then rank based on your personality.  Do I prefer to clean or to relax?  (That's the only question I remember because Scott and I literally answered as differently as possible on this one).  If you prefer cleaning to relaxing, do you kind of agree or REALLY agree.  Those kinds of questions.

After you've taken the test, it provides you with your top five strengths in order.  I'll share mine:

People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is
best described by the order they create.

People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work
hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the
performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.

People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They
find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by
imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

I thought my results were very interesting.  I am very organized, I thrive on being busy and productive, I love my relationships with other and I am a "feeler" who can easily imagine being in other people's shoes.

Our family all shared our results with each other, but the rest aren't my results to share so I won't.  I will say that it was really interesting to see everyone else's results.  My brothers and I had many in common, and I also had at least one in common with both of my parents.  It was interesting to see the similarities across our family - particularly because ours is a blended family.

One of the things that I think our culture does wrong is to focus on our weaknesses and trying to improve them, versus building on our strengths.  It's an interesting shift in perspective, and it's something that I'm working on doing in all aspects of my life.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years 2012

In addition to seeing "This is 40", the other thing Scott and I did was stay home (judge me) and drink the fancy champagne that we received for our engagement (thanks Dan & Barb!)  I'd been saving it since August 2009 for a special occasion, and even moved it between apartments.  But I got to questioning why I was waiting to drink it.  What occasion would be special enough to crack it open after all this time?  So we drank it.  And it was delicious.   Thanks D&B!

A belated happy 2013 to you.  It's going to be a good one.  I can feel it.

this is 28

Scott and I saw the movie "This is 40" last weekend (on New Years Eve, incidentally) and I'll be honest - I loved it and I hated it.  It was funny with very real-sounding wisecracks, and a cast of characters that are quintessential Judd Apatow.  So why did I hate it?  It made my head hurt, it stressed me out.

The movie centers around a husband and wife, turning 40 in the same week, as they tackle the frustrations and grievances of their life as parents, spouses, children, and employees (the joys were briefly apparent too, although they were few and difficult to see).  And it was just - a little too real, maybe, for this 28 year old?  It made me think about life and choices and disappointments and accomplishments in my own life.  In a lot of ways, I'm not even close to where I thought I'd be as I steam toward 30.  (I'm being dramatic, I know.  But a friend was asking me today if Matt & Kelly had set their wedding date, and I said "oh yes, next October" and she said "wow, that'll be here before you know it" and without a second to contemplate it I said, "yes I'll be 29 then".  I mean really?  How is that even possible?)

I had a picture in my head of what thirty would look like on me.  Clean cut.  Responsible.  Short (probably brunette) hair.  Cardigans.  Two story colonial with a driveway and a washer and dryer.  And babies - lots of babies.   And I dunno, as the days pass and my age continues the (not-so-slow) steady creep north,  I just feel like life maybe isn't turning out the way that I had envisioned, and this is exactly what the characters from "This is 40" are facing.

And I'm not saying that any of these differences are a bad thing.  I love my life and am living it exactly as I want to right this exact moment.   I'm not ready to let go of my blonde highlights, and probably never will be.  (What, you thought this was natural?  I haven't had "virgin hair" as an aunt once described it since 1996.  What of it?)  I'm not ready for kids, or responsibility or a minivan or a house in the burbs.  I kind of want a tattoo on my hip (trashy? possibly).  I bought a pair of leggings today, and Scott laughed at me because I have a closet full of black leggings... but I bought them, and I didn't worry that the money would be better spent in my IRA or on diapers or groceries or a 529 account.  (First world issue - definitely).

I guess what I'm saying is that unlike the characters in "This is 40" I'm not dissatisfied with my life - but sometimes I feel like I should be, like I'm falling behind in some cosmic sort of way for not wanting to take the next leap towards the suburbs or housewifery or parenthood. 28 looks a lot different to this generation than it did to our parents, and especially to our parents parents.  (My mom had 2 children when she was 28, and I am quite confident that my grandma had more than that).   Four of my cousins got married within a year of me (so five of us total) and every single couple has a child, or is currently expecting one.  I'm not kidding - every single one.  And while I'm overyjoyed for all of them (and adore their babies without hesitation), a part of me wonders if I'm missing the boat by not being there yet - and not wanting to be.  My biological clock might be ticking, but my internal clock is drowning it out.

This morning was in the single-digits, temperature wise.  As I froze my ass off walking the three blocks from the bus to my office (in 9 degree weather), I texted Scott "let's make Mexico happen in 2013".  So we pulled out our calendars, and ya know what?  We couldn't find a single week that would work... until December.  Eleven months from now.  We have the cash, but not the time.  And isn't that the rub?  Something has to give.  Sacrifice this for that.  Sacrifice grad school for a full-time job.  Sacrifice yoga for beers during the Bears game.  Sacrifice babies for "us time".  At every turn, life is a balancing act.

I was browsing in a card store last weekend, when I came across a quotation: "Between the wish and the thing life lies waiting".  It's my new mantra... I don't want to sacrifice the now by worrying about the then.  And I don't want to wish away my life with worry or excitement.   I'm so excited for Matt's wedding in October, but I don't want to wish away his engagement.  I'm excited to be a parent, but I don't want to wish away the "just us" phase.  I'm excited for summer, but don't want to wish away half of the year.   And I think that's kind of the point of "This is 40", too.  The journey matters.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

4) Run a half marathon

Scott and I are registered for the Chicago 1/2 Marathon.  It is more than six months away (it's in July) but we are officially registered... it's happening.

chapter ten: a special engagement

I moved in to the apartment on Ohio Street on August 1, 2009.  My parents bought me a tv stand, and I bought a high-top black “pub table” with two chairs.  My mom made me black and white accent pillows, and I got my parents old TV and green leather couches.  It was a high-rise apartment with a doorman, and a receiving room for packages, and I thought I had made it.  The big time.

I called it my Carrie Bradshaw apartment, and told my grandma that I “love love loved” it (and for the next couple years she would ask how my “love love love” apartment was).  I turned 25 on August 11th, and flew to Huntsville, AL that very day to spend some time with Scott.  It was an extended visit, where I’d be there from Tuesday til Sunday.. the longest we’d been in one town since college.  I flew in to Nashville (fares were almost $200 cheaper at that airport) and Scott picked me up, and we headed in his Scion south towards the Alabama state line. 

After a quick pit stop at his apartment to drop my luggage and get a little dolled up, we headed out to a restaurant I’d been wanting to try in his town – the Melting Pot.  I was wearing a sleeveless black dress and red slide-on sandals.  We ate dinner, and I had a Bloody Mary.  Then Scott ordered champagne, and with it, the waiter brought the most beautiful ring I have ever seen.  Scott said beautiful things and asked me to marry him… and of course I said yes.  A couple a table away from us took our picture.

My first call was to my mom and dad, and then my grandma and then my brothers.  Scott called his mom.   We were engaged!

I can’t say it enough: planning my wedding with my parents and Scott was among the highlights of my life.   My mom and I are organizers by temperament, and we spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on the phone and in person analyzing every detail.  I wanted the wedding to be classic yet modern.  We focused heavily on our guests experience  - what would be more fun as a guest?  (For example, I originally wanted Scott to not see me until I walked down the aisle at the wedding Mass, but then photographs would have to be post-ceremony, and I decided that the timing wouldn’t work, because I wanted the cocktail hour to begin as quickly as possible for our guests benefit).  We worried about the details big and small, how it would be seen, how it would be remembered.  We wanted the Mass to be personal, the reception to be fun.  (Someone later offhandedly said that I was "anal" during my engagement, and the description still stings.  I was certainly focused on the details - it was the most important - and expensive! - day of my life, and while I was focused, I was not obsessive).  

Three cousins got engaged in the months after my engagement, and I was both overjoyed for them and for thrilled for myself.  Being able to experience several weddings while planning my own, did add a little somethin’ somethin’ to my wedding planning.  There is a formula for success for traditional types of weddings, but it was a fine line because I still wanted mine to be uniquely Kate and Scott.  (For example, my cousin and his wife got married about six months before Scott and me… and their beautiful wedding featured navy dresses, a candy buffet and the first dance “You and Me” by Dave Matthews.  I’d already picked navy dresses and the same first dance… so while I really wanted a candy buffet, it was more important to me to have elements of individuality so I scratched that). 

My parents came in to the city for wedding dress and bridesmaid appointments, and both cried when they saw me in my first dress (coincidentally, the one I went on to purchase).   My parents and Scott and I did a blind taste test of wedding wine, and taste tested cakes from several local bakeries.  We decided on favors, and visited printers for invitations.  We went through about 15 iterations of the wedding program.  My mom and I visited about 5 locations of the same store, trying to get enough matching backordered clutches for my bridesmaids.  Videographer appointments, venue taste testings, photographer consults.  It was an important day, and we gave it the preparation it was due.

I had a bachelorette party that was crazy and fun and wild (and involved dancing at a latenight bar until 4am) and girls that came in from across the country to celebrate with me (shoutout to my California and Minnesota and Iowa family for making the trek). 

Scott had interesting opinions: he thought that chair covers were crucial to our venue, and his opinion on that was so strong he offered to rent them (and he did!).  He did NOT like one of the two bridesmaids options that I was debating between (so we went with the other one).   Sometimes brides get a bad rap for having the wedding be all about them, and while I certainly had a vision and opinion, Scott did too, and was an active and equal participant.

In the end, our engagement was a true collaboration between the four of us… all working together to make Scott and my wedding weekend the best it could be.