July 24, 2005

Heels

Today is a day of oppressive girlhood.

I wore heels to church this morning --- which isn't so unusual, but I happened to visit another Orthodox church today that happened to be refurbishing their sanctuary, and so we happened to hold services in a small room without sufficient seating. So I ended up standing for about two hours in my heels --- which are very cute, by the way --- wondering what would happen if I passed out.

After church, I continued my reading of a book by one of my boss's clients on the need to preserve the Boy Scouts of America. We need the BSA, the author contends, because boys need an outlet to become men: possessors of an aggressive, dynamic, creative masculinity, a counterpart to nurturing, supportive femininity.

He quotes John Eldredge a lot, which isn't terribly unexpected. I get a little annoyed with Eldredge and company. I think it's great that they're calling for a revival of masculinity, I really do. But although women are often the objects and apparent beneficiaries of the masculine exploits encouraged by Eldredge, it seems to me that a lot of men do things for women because it means something about them. Which isn't the same thing as being selfless and noble at all, really. Plus, it makes a worrier like me wonder if women are being discouraged from doing and dreaming in favor of being passive recipients of masculinity.

I know I'm way overthinking this. For some reason, I'm very prone to fear that guys who esteem themselves as aggressive and logical and "better at spatial reasoning" will scorn women as silly and frivolous and foolish. It's not like it's never happened before. Even when some guys are "respectful" toward women, they treat them the way they would a diminutive cat. Which is just annoying.

I wish I didn't panic so easily. But I just do --- I'm just hypersensitive to the concepts of maleness and conquering linked together, possibly because I've seen conquering become confused with dominating and humiliating. I just can't seem to get over those experiences. I promise I've tried.

Last summer, near the end of my stint at the Focus on the Family Institute, the guys threw the girls an extravagant dinner party. The evening overwhelmed me a little, and I spent probably fifteen minutes crying into my cloth napkin, trying to be inconspicuous about it.

Shaking, I asked a couple of the "waiters" if they were taking drink orders (coffee, not cocktail). They said no, not yet. Another guy, Jeremy, heard my request. He knelt at my chair, looked me in the eye, and said fervently, "What do you want? I'll get it for you." He returned shortly with a fluffy, chocolatey coffee drink.

Later, everyone mingled and danced as a Norah Jones CD crooned overhead. I found Jeremy and said, "Hey --- the coffee thing? Really, really big deal. Huge deal, in fact. Thank you."

He smiled and asked if I liked Norah Jones. I do. He asked me which was my favorite song of hers, and I stammered a little (Jeremy always made me nervous) before deciding that track number five was my favorite. He told me to wait and I watched, perplexed, as he wandered toward the CD player.

Moments later, I heard my beloved "Come Away With Me" over the sound system and saw Jeremy walking toward me. He extended his hand and smilingly said, "You don't have a choice."

I'm a terrible dancer. But it didn't seem to matter.

That night was the single greatest night of my life. And every week or so something happens to fuel my doubt that my husband will never make me feel bad about myself to make him feel good about himself, and the distance between me and that summer night grows painfully wider.

But the beauty of that string of moments is that they seem to be quite resilient against biting remarks and horrific news stories and the passage of time.

Because of that dance, I will not be afraid to wear heels tomorrow.

July 07, 2005

Experiment Update ii

Yesterday I wasn't in a great mood. I guess it wasn't a bad mood exactly; just not a happy one. I'd just finished reading an emotionally thought-provoking novel, and people in my family were mad at each other. And maybe the whole orthodox thing was just kind of occupying my mind --- I've been thinking a lot about community and the lack thereof in my life and how to remedy that and the multitude of reasons why I suck at it. In any case, I just wasn't in a perky, self-assertive kind of mood.

So when I talked to people, my voice was quiet rather than firm, and I probably didn't make great eye contact. But I decided that's okay. Because if acting like a confident girl is about self-acceptance, it has to be okay for me to just be kind of quiet and pensive sometimes. That's how I am. And that's okay --- right?

I'd feel better if I weren't going to Denver Sunday for a publishing conference, during which time I'm going to be largely on my own and will need to mix and mingle with people I've never met. I know it's going to be a great time, but I'm seriously not a natural mingler. I wish I could be one of those instant friend-makers just for four days.

But I'm not. And so the experiment continues.

08:22 PM

July 04, 2005

Adventures in Orthodoxy

Yesterday, I visited an Eastern Orthodox church. Everything was fine, except I went down for communion--and I wasn't supposed to. The usher waved me over, so I stepped into the aisle. My friend Cameron tried to get my attention, but I didn't hear him. It wasn't until I got up to the front that I remembered that non-Orthodox-type people such as myself aren't supposed to take communion in an Orthodox church. So I had a little panic attack, and Father Bill asked me if I was Orthodox. I said no, redfaced. He said, "Okay, well just give you a blessing, then," and crossed himself. It was ungodly embarrassing.

Aside from that little incident, it was a great experience. As I've mentioned, for some reason Eastern-sounding music and chants sound very devoted and religious to me, which I love. And the solemn atmosphere gave me the opportunity to be still and reflective and reverent, something I rarely experience in church.

I don't know if I'll be hopping on the Orthodox wagon, though. I'm honestly having a little trouble with "high" religion. What I love about liturgy and ritual is that it's order and discipline, an expression of devotion by submitting myself to a structure for an hour and forty-five minutes. But I can also see myself getting bogged down in all the stuff --- and I'm very aware that Jesus most sharply criticized those who were showy about their religion.

I guess it's a matter of keeping your heart in the right place, which a person has to do in any worship setting. No luck getting out of that one.

Whether or not I'll start going to an Orthodox church has less to do with liturgy than with the fact that I've become convinced that the point of church is coming together --- synagogue. It's all a matter of whether or not I'll find community/fellowship/koinonia in an Orthodox church, which I have a few doubts that I will, simply because I saw so few people my age there.

It was a good Sunday, though, communion or no.

04:30 PM