Monday, April 25, 2011


Desperate times lead to desperate measures ... ploys ... even, strategeries for impulsive women. And that is how I came to create an online profile on a Catholic dating site.

Stop, let me rewind to Easter morning. Easter morning was one of those mornings where I awoke in a state of absolute panic at my quiet place, my half-empty bed, and the realization that no matter how much PABA I'm taking and how gifted my stylist, the grays on my head are breeding faster than lab mice.

Sunday morning and it all hit. I am going to die alone.

Okay, we are all going to die alone, fine. But I mean really alone. Or maybe with a hospice nurse, or, even better, a physician who will let me have a Brompton cocktail if I'm lucky. And nothing more to say for myself than a lot of weird random stories that I will only share with a few near and dear peeps who I will have outlived. Maybe their children will come visit, although as my cantankerousness increases with every waking moment, probably not. And I will have little to lure them with besides my student loan debt. And denture tricks.

It was an unpleasant, shaky, shuddering feeling and there was nothing to do but hit St. Mary's with the cheerful Father Gene* and just pray pray pray for it all to go away. Unfortunately, the maxim regarding Catholics who only go to church on Christmas and Easter proved to be true even here, and by the time I got through the doors, it was standing room only at the back. There I stood, in a crumpled t-shirt and jeans, next to a woman who I'm pretty sure - given her loud choral performance and jazz hands during "Lamb of God" - was none other than Carol Channing living out her last days in St. Alphonsus Parish.

And then I saw them. Babies. Babies, slightly more than babies and other assorted children all edgy for the Easter Egg hunt. Pewsful full of pedo-cuteness. And I found myself looking at them much in the way of the women who steal infants from maternity wards. Except with slightly better hair.

And then I started studying the couples who held these little creatures, and it hit me, like a thief in the night (har), what was missing. I needed to meet and marry a Catholic man.

I began to study the crowd around me in the back of the church, all of whom seemed to be single thirty-somethings who, like me, didn't feel like fighting the Easter throng for a seat. "Huh," I thought. "Not bad. Not bad at all." However, already knowing how awkward I am wishing for people to have peace be with them (as if peace is so easily commanded), I didn't even want to take the chance of further loosening my tongue with a "peace be with you, and hey, are you, like, seeing anyone?".

My eyes strayed to the bulletin crumpling in my suddenly sweaty palms. Ripping it open, I was disappointed to find that, despite my previous mocking of the event, there was no Wednesday night singles mixer scheduled for the upcoming week. "Could it be," I wondered, "that maybe it's because they've already all met each other and have started breeding ever more babies to stick in a baptismal font?" Dear God, no. No, no, no.

I'm not going to pretend for a moment I have never done the online dating thing. I have. There, I confess. (Mass after-effect.) But my forays into online dating have always turned into twisted bizarre novel-like stories, worthy of only sharing with a select few who adore satire. But still, how to handle this needing-a-Catholic-man issue?

I thought about friends who had dipped into the specialized online dating services. One had joined J-date, where the only person who expressed any interest was a 52-year-old man from Idaho. Who, when she politely declined meeting him, told her to "stop kidding herself." However, that ended happily when she met and is now engaged to a very lovely Jewish boy a year later. My most recently engaged friend, of the Indian ilk, met her man on Idate. And countless others who met on eharmony, which I think is probably run by the Mormon mafia. Okay, no, but it has decidedly family values bent, and after okcupid - where men have said such charming things like 'what's your stance on blowjobs?' - such a change might be welcome.

And so I looked up catholic

The first thing the website emphasizes is how love for God is first, and love for each other is second. This is obviously going to come in handy whenever I do something stupid that will completely jeopardize our relationship.

"I did it because I love God," I will say. "I love him so much I don't even know or understand why I did that. I just know it was what he wanted."

Second bonus, unlike other sites, I got to check out the goods without creating a profile. First off, nice. Clean cut boys without drunken photos. I bet some of them even went to Jesuit. (Oh god, I can't believe after six years of rolling my eyes when a guy mentions they went to school at Jesuit like it makes them kings of New Orleans, I actually thought about it in a good light. But still.) Better yet, I got to check out the competition too. No airbrushed boobie shots, just normal looking women. I've got a shot here, I think.

So, I decided to create a profile. Catholic spares you the drama of having to come up with a clever catchy but not-too-over-the-top-cheesy profile name. Nope, it's simply your first name and a number. Like you're in prison. First step to altar accomplished.

Now, the tricky part. The dreaded profile questions. I blew through physical description with all A's, wavering only at whether my eyes are green or blue (I actually don't know, they change all the time, like when my other personalities kick in). But then, unlike plain vanilla, it started getting difficult.


Um, yeah.

Body piercings?

Do ears count? I'm going with no.

So far so good so far so ...

"Do you subscribe to the following Catholic beliefs?"

"1. Transubstantiation."

Um, well, I don't really know. Pass? Okay, no. I don't like to think that partaking of communion wine makes me a vampire. So, sue me.

"2. No contraception."

Wow, seriously? On a dating site? I'm going with no.

"3. No abortion."

BIG no.

"4. The pope is infallible."

Does ANY Catholic still believe this?

"5. No premarital sex."

See answer to #2.

"6. Immaculate conception."

Actually, virgin birth IS possible according to my sixth grade health care teacher who once lasciviously described a situation where two people were heavily petting whilst naked and somehow his little swimmers made it up there without her being un-immaculated. That's bull. False.

"7. Only men can be priests."

And just see what a mess they've made of it. NO.

So, there you go. Zero for seven of the church's tenants. At this point, I'm wondering why I even bother going to Mass. Couldn't they have at least brought in the Holy Spirit? Or love, peace, or brotherhood? I could've easily gone for that.

Biting my lip and sighing, I began the grand tradition of online dating misrepresentation and changed my answers to "Yes" for numbers one and six. "I'll explain later," I think. "Like, after the wedding." While I was on a roll, I listed my favorite sacrementals as holy water, candles and rosaries - which sounded very sexy, I thought, particularly when combined with my favorite prayer "The Act of Contrition."


"Do you intend to pursue a vocation (priest or nun)?"

{Record scratch}

Why on earth this question emerged so late in the game is beyond me. Perhaps it was a recruiting attempt, and can catholic be blamed? The very idea of dating these days has often sent me into wondering if I weren't better off thumping the fat knuckles of preteens and getting free meals.

Don't worry catholic, I'll be back in five years when it's all gone down the tubes.

Then game time. A personal description. I have often prided myself on the wit and art I can summon to impress perfect strangers into buying me dinner via my inspired dating prose. However, given the context, somehow my efforts this time just fell flat.

"Am currently looking for someone to spend some time with that is also in the Catholic church and shares my faith and values. I am a young professional not originally from the New Orleans area. I attend mass at St Mary's Assumption on Sunday mornings."

Great, after that masterpiece, I am going to have to get professionally airbrushed, if and when I actually put a face to this hot mess.

But now I can look around. And dontchya know it, I almost immediately find an eligible young buck and my jaw drops. Cute, and reading all of his likes is like reading my own, right down to "Lives of the Saints" the imperfect yet endearing Nancy Lemann novel that led me to this crazy city in the first place. Best of all, a self-mocking lawyer ("All I've learned is that you can only practice law, but I'm never moving out of Louisiana. No more bar exams!"). Exactly! Exactly, Mr. Right-I-Will-Bear-You-Tall-Easter-Clothes-Wearing-Children!

In my excitement I have to go for it. I have to email this guy. The combination of "The Sun Also Rises," "The Decemberists," and "pub visits" - while maybe not incredibly original - are quite enough in my new frame of mind. Sure, he says he believes in the seven thingamabobs, but he's probably just misrepresenting a little too.

And then catholic informs me that to e-mail him, I have to actually subscribe and pay a fee. Apparently my occasional crumpled notes in the weekly basket are not going to count as a subsidy in my newfound role as burgeoning Catholic wife.

Or maybe it's a sign to stop and think about this for a minute.

[my own addition to Catholic beliefs]

"8. Do you believe in signs?"

Yes. Yes, fervently.

I'll pay the fee as soon as I get my professional photo on.

Peace be with you, Mr. Lawyer guy. In the meantime, please change your answer to number five.

*For reasons that are probably obvious to my tiny readership, I will not link out on this blog to my church's website. If they are savvy enough to have a website, they will undoubtedly be able to find where hits are coming from and uncover my not-so-Catholic secrets. So do yourself a favor. Google "St. Mary's Assumption New Orleans" and check out Father Gene's bio. The picture of a young Father Gene cuddling a hamster with the caption "love of all things great and small" will just make you smile your face off.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Report

Water for Elephants
Sara Gruen

There are times where you just want to bitch-slap an author for trying to act like their screenplsy is a novel. Or when the dialogue between characters is so awkward and stilting that you suspect that you might be on a horrible first blind date. Or the plot twists so predictable that the one thing making you hold on is some hope for character development. In other words, Sara Gruen, I offer you a bitch slap.

It was bad enough when you ripped off the love triangle from Sophie's Choice, plugging in characters that were so obvious and insipid that they no doubt made Styron roll in his grave. (BTW, that behavior is actually more sociopathic or bipolar, not paranoid schizophrenia. The dude had a grip on reality, and no hallucinations. Couldn't you have at least picked up a DSM IV? Not every mean abusive lover is launched into paranoid schizophrenia land. Besides, paranoid schizophrenics tend to have actual character). But then you pretty much ripped off the underrated U2 video for "All I Want Is You" as well. However, one thing I would have forgiven you for ripping off would be "All Creatures Great and Small" because I just couldn't figure out where all the human-animal love came in. It's not a great friendship because you say it is. Show us, already.

I think I would've been happier with this book had it stayed more centered on the protagonist's later life, and didn't have so many eye-rolling authentic jargon-drops. Yes, you did your research on circus life by reading exactly five books, most of which were circus photos (seriously, read her commentary). I think it would have worked better though if you gave your readers some credit for having a brain cell or two that would mean they could pick up on context. I mean, I was able to do it for the incredibly long Polish sentences you stuck in there. Show-off.

From reading her non-fiction commentary, I get the impression Gruen probably writes excellent journalist pieces. Which she should stick to, and stay far far away from fiction until the next time she decides she needs another book-to-film deal. At least I'll know to stay away from the next one.

Only recommended if you are stuck in hospital in a foreign land with nothing else to read - a honor I previously only reserved for "Eat, Pray, Love." Congratulations?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


On saying goodbye ...

"It is the evening of the days
Where we have chosen to remain.
And while you hurt with all that pain,
The stars will kiss your pretty face.

Come away with me today.
Everything should be okay.
Fill you pockets while you pray.
With some to eat and some to save.
Nobody has to stay,
But we wish they would anyways."


Substitute "she" for "he," "woman" for "man". It's unisexually applicable to being a young lawyer to me.

"He was at a starting-point which makes many a man's career a fine subject for betting, if there were any gentlemen given to that amusement who could appreciate the complicated probabilities of an arduous purpose, with all the possible thwartings and furtherings of circumstance, all of the niceties of inner balance, by which a man swims and makes his point or else is carried headlong."

George Eliot


"In an army's strength
Therein lies the denouement
From here you're haunting me
By the Seine so beautiful
Only not to be of use

So strange, Victory
1,200 spires, the only sound of Moscow burning
Empty like the Tuileries
Like a dream Vienna seems
Only not to be of use

In the last extremity
To advance or not to advance
I hear you laughing
Even still you're calling me
"Not tonight, not tonight, not tonight"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011



While terror claims the night, we laugh on,
Taking it in our pockets, to spread like breadcrumbs.
Why should we stumble in the darkness?
Why not seek treasures with hearts so light?

For grace dwells
In what is awkwardly obscured,
As when a child
Covers her eyes with her hands,
Then giggling,
Opens her palms wide
To find all that is gleaming.



Ah, this song. It has often occurred to me that the things you share with someone when you first meet them define what you become. In this case, this was once sung in the garden of a hotel in Arles with someone, who, five years later, would fit every lyric perfectly.

Which is why I love the upbeat turn at the end of this song. I feel like Sinead is saying "Woah-oh-oh!" to the thought of looking back. And she's right. I'm done with it.


Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly

"Long ago, in youth, he squander'd
All his goods away, and wander'd
To the Tinskoop-hills afar.
There on golden sunsets blazing,
Every evening found him gazing,
Singing, 'Orb! you're quite amazing!
How I wonder what you are!'


Later, in his morning rambles
He perceived the moving brambles
Something square and white disclose;
'Twas a First-class Railway-Ticket;
But, on stooping down to pick it
Off the ground - a pea-green Cricket
Settled on my uncle's Nose.

Never - never more - oh, never,
Did that Cricket leave him ever,
Dawn or evening, day or night;
Clinging as a constant treasure,
Chirping with a cheerious measure,
Wholly to my uncle's pleasure
(Though his shoes were far too tight)."

-Edward Lear


I'm pretty happy with my life lately. (Probably a good reason I'm not blogging so much, as I normally blog to try and make a joke out of my angst.) Part of this is recently making a decision that it's time to hang up the dating hat for awhile. I just don't have what it takes right now to want to care about anyone else romantically, and, strangely, I've realized that I am enormously happy alone. This is not a revelation to be taken lightly.

I've made one exception for a guy I like, but only because he is leaving soon. Although at dinner the other night, when he mentioned he might be staying, and I then decided to let him in on my no dating rule, the night turned somewhat awkward as he tried to suss out what that meant for us.

"Friend, that means when we finish this sushi, I am going to tell you that I genuinely enjoy your company, and will happily give you a kiss goodnight before I head to bed. Alone."

To his credit, he seemed to take it well (but not so well that I started to wonder) which is why I liked him in the first place.

This is not a glove thrown to the ground. This is an honest establishment of boundaries, and establishing boundaries are huge for me right now. Mainly because I've been spending my life either feeling like the entire world is trying to invade me, or inadvertently overstepping them myself. The largest issue I have though, is establishing those boundaries without sounding preachy, angry, condescending, or hurting other people's feelings. Or like Michael Collins (played by Liam Neeson). Which is a difficult task for even the most sane among us, so it's little wonder it rarely gets accomplished.

Despite my desperate and oft-failed attempts, every once in awhile, I do nail it. I spent Sunday with a friend at a swim club here. It's clothing optional and mostly caters to gays, which is why I've started to go since there is less chance of a co-worker seeing me in a bikini right now (something only strangers with sunglasses that protect them from glaring whiteness should witness). For the most part, the crowd is more than happy to lounge around in their (very tattooed) birthday suits and not bother you while you read or chat with a friend.

However, last Sunday, I got an Obnoxious. An Obnoxious is a species of boy who inexplicably seem completely drawn to me right now - maybe because they can sense a man is the last thing I want. You probably know the type. They pull up, talk at you in a long rambling monologue full of bragging and machismo and horrible awful compliments. One of my neighbors recently had an Obnoxious staying over, who invited me to come have a drink with him outside. After about 30 minutes of basically telling me I know nothing of NOLA's music scene (despite having lived here for six years), bragging about his successful catering business, and his awful divorce (gee, how did that happen?), I decided to just excuse myself without letting him in on the fact that I was not joining him in the lawn chairs he put out in a particular section of our yard because my neighbor's dog likes to unload there, and she's not so great about picking it up. Shit talking deserves some shit walking.

The Obnoxious at the pool was a cop. I have nothing against cops, normally. In fact, I have a little drinking crew of cops at a local bar that always make me feel welcome and tell funny stories while we all try to drink away our worries.

But I do have problems with cops that want to impress me by talking about horrible rape scenes he's witnessed while I am lying by a pool on a Sunday afternoon with a book now covering my chest because he keeps staring at it while he is talking.

After some experience with this, I've concluded that perhaps many men in the "life-saving" professions think women are all into hearing about how they saved people, how they bagged the bad guy, how they saw this trauma and helped some victim. You're right, maybe I do as long as you can demonstrate some good story judgment.

But don't try to do this while starting to outline exactly what thugs did to a rape victim. Not on a Sunday afternoon, and not to someone who knows how ugly rape is. I frankly wanted to kill him. Here he is, the "good guy," thinking he's a hero telling a stranger about probably the darkest moment in this woman's life. In a sad pathetic attempt to get in a girl's pants. Sick.

In another moment in my life, he would have experienced rape with my lounge chair. But where does it get us in the end? What good is spreading anger, to people who are so completely oblivious?

"Dude, I don't mean to be rude, but I just want to hang out with my friend and read right now. That sounds like it was really traumatic, especially for the victim, and I don't think she'd probably want other people to know those details."

And, bam! "Oh god," he said. "I never thought about it like that. Sorry, I hope ya'll enjoy your afternoon."

Hell, yes.

One for well, one million. Baby steps.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Mary Poppins ranks up there with movies I can never quite get enough of. And this song, which I've been known to sing only to canine audiences and small children who are a bit rowdy at bedtime and can't get on me for less-than-perfect pitch is why.

"All around the cathedral
The saints and apostles
Look down as she sells her wares.

Although you can't see it
You know they are smiling
Each time someone shows that he cares."


Being Young and Green

Being Young and Green, I said in love's despite:
Never in the world will I to living wight
Give over, air my mind
To anyone,
Hang out its ancient secrets in the strong wind
To be shredded and faded—

Oh, me, invaded
And sacked by the wind and the sun!

-Edna St. Vincent Millay


My high school calculus teacher was very fond of writing quotes on the board. Sadly, although she no doubt wrote things more eloquent and profound, the only one that stuck with me (probably mostly due to its strained rhyming scheme) is the following:

"Spring is sprung,
The grass has riz,
I wonder where
The flowers is."

It's a funny little chant that tends to pop into my brain in the midst of dark and dank winter months, but now, as I sit in my yard with flowers all around (having, no doubt "rizzed"), I welcome it and all its illogical little charms.

For Spring has sprung with all its NOLA gorgeousness, and I am falling in love with this town again after having gone through a couple of months feeling slightly disenchanted and edgy to move on. Part of my resolve to stay has been the little existence I've spent the last six years creating, and the other part was just a complete lack of ideas on where to head next, and what to do there. Now, it's simply NOLA itself sneaking back in with the stealth and warmth my smallest dog employs to get into my bed at night when I'm sleeping. Where I wake up with her soft little body curled up next to mine and simply sigh happily into her caramel dog smell.

As I'm writing this two bugs are crawling across the arm of my lawn chair. They are the bugs that apparently get stuck at the butt in some bizarre mating ritual, where the male gets to have sex and forage for food all at the same time, bring the female along for the ride. Part of me finds this highly appropriate on such a fecund afternoon. Part of me is seeing this as a sign for relationships in general. And really, do I want to just be along for the ride, wondering when I'll get to eat? Nosiree, not this chick.

Still, my love life hasn't been at all bad lately, and I'm sure it would be better were I not to feel like I need to analyze everything that escapes the other person's lips as a critique of myself. For instance, I've been going out with a guy recently who really is quite fond of parking very close to wherever it is we need to be. When I once said he could park anywhere, I really do not mind walking, he said:

"I just don't understand far parkers. It's like they give up too easily."

Obviously, this meant that my practice of placing my Volvo out of harm's way by parking in a location that isn't too nuts, too close or poses very tricky parallel parking issues is pretty indicative of my lack of staying power on any project.


"You are obviously intelligent, well educated, and creative. So I am a little perplexed. It's very curious. Do you think you intimidate potential partners?"

I am a praying mantis, ready to strike at any moment.


"So (smiley face) when are we hanging out again? (smiley face) Because I think you're great. (smiley face)"

I am too easily repelled by the fact that you use smiley faces after every sentence in a text message. I am further repelled by the fact my new phone converts said smiley faces into little attenaed aliens who are gaping happily at me while I try to figure out a nice way to decline. The latter is not your fault, of course. But I am still annoyed because I have been trying to come up with that parting line for almost three weeks now and you keep trying.

Read: I am a heartless bitch.


"I had a really awesome time last night"

The boy was obviously very drunk, or somewhat surprised.

Spring is for lovers, indeed. But they're kind of a hassle. I am blowing off a promising date to have dinner with a friend this evening, opting for some real conversation that centers less on my inadequacies, and more on the sweetness life brings. Lychee martinis don't hurt either.

Also, the guy is a clinical psychologist. There is no way in hell that would ever end well.