Future Attractions

Here’s a look at some of the topics I plan on writing about in the near future:

  • Catholicism

I’m currently in the middle of a VERY strong fascination with Catholicism.  I’ve always been somewhat interested in it, but it’s gotten to the point where I’ve actually reversed my view on the morality of contraception, which if you would have told me I’d do that a month ago I would have said you were insane.  I’m reading this great book called Catholic & Christian by Alan Schreck.  I hope to post a review once I’m done.

  • Doctor Who

Thankfully, the BBC has decided to end the misery of Whovians everywhere by broadcasting new episodes starting this Saturday (which is tomorrow, I guess!).  So you can anticipate (a) review(s).  (Spoiler warnings will be prominently displayed to help prevent sharing unwanted knowledge).

  • More musings on my future

Not only am I now considering being a SAHM one day, I’m also considering homeschooling. One of my aunts does this, and it sounds like it’d be really interesting.

  • More music recommendations

That’s something that I haven’t done a lot of on this blog, although I meant to when I started it.  Hopefully, more music reviews will be coming soon.

And of course, more baby names for possible future children will be shared!  Today’s “name crush” is Declan, an Irish boys’ name that means “man of prayer.”


What Do I Really Want Out of Life?

It’s time for another rambling post on what I want out of life, spurred on by my visit to Truman this weekend.  My friends keep asking me what I’m going to major in, and I keep telling them I’ve decided to stay with computer science.  I’m not exactly passionate about it, but it’ll get me a good job until I figure out what I really want to do.  I do like Web design though, so maybe I’ll go into that.  I just wish I had the kind of consuming interest that some of my friends have towards their fields of study.

Growing up, I never expected to really like my life.  I know that sounds weird, but I thought I was just being mature and realistic.  I figured I’d probably become an engineer since I was good at math and science.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be an engineer, I just sort of felt that I “should” become one, like it was my duty to society or something.  (Explanation: My senior year in high school, I was finally diagnosed with depression, then prescribed antidepressants.  They have made a world of difference in my life.  Given the incredible transformation my personality underwent, I suspect that my brain chemistry was slightly off from birth, creating a persistent, fluctuating state of depression.  When you combine this with some difficulties at home, plus a somewhat legalistic religious upbringing, you can better understand how I would have come to hold such a view).

Somewhat as a result of that, I’ve never really found my “niche.”  For a long time, my dream job (which I obviously never thought I’d be able to get) was to be Secretary of State.  Then I read a biography of Madeleine Albright and found out what the job really entailed.  I had been under the impression that it consisted of me studying foreign policy, coming to informed decisions that improve life for Americans and for those around the globe, and then going around the world to meet with leaders, discuss important issues, and sign treaties.  Instead, I found out that it involves a lot of political schmoozing, plus the people who actually do the vast majority of the research are State Department underlings.  Realpolitik considerations often curtail which policies you’re actually allowed to support.  Your success is largely determined by how well you curry favor with those in power (or on their way to it).

That seemed really superficial to me.  Not to mention it totally doesn’t fit my personality at all.  Even being a research underling doesn’t fit me, since I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to writing papers, etc.  I thought about becoming a professor or something, but I’m REALLY burnt out of school, and plus it’s so hard to get one of those jobs anyway.

More than anything, right now I just want to finish school.  Currently, I have three semesters to go, so I should graduate in December 2014.  I’ve given up on finding anything I’m passionate about before then.  Afterwards, I might be able to find a job in Web design that I’d like, although I’m thinking about getting a job as a pharmacy tech instead since I’ll have my certification by then.  It’s mildly interesting, and it would allow me to support myself.  Honestly, at this point, I just want to quit trying to be the academic superstar and get on with my life.  As long as a job would allow me to do that, I’m okay with anything that’s legal, moral, and ethical.  I’m sick of trying to find the perfect job that will magically give me a purpose in life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I said in one of my earlier posts, about how I could never see myself as a stay-at-home mom.  However, this hasn’t stopped me from going through a recent spate of baby name fever (I apologize if I’ve tortured anyone with my long discussions of the pros and cons of various names).  The more I think about it, the more I can see myself as a SAHM.  Obviously, that’s not exactly something I can set up a five or ten year plan for.  I don’t even know if I’ll still want to do it if/by the time I marry and have kids.  All I’m saying is that the idea is no longer totally repugnant to me, now that I’ve seen that having kids doesn’t have to stress you out all the time.  I think there’s so much pressure in American society today to achieve, and I feel like raising kids could be much more enjoyable if parents resisted it (at least to some degree).

Anyway, I guess the point is that I’m officially declaring that I would like to have kids someday, God willing.  (The five-year-old me who was extremely anti-domestic and refused to play “House” or dolls is off laughing somewhere at that, I’ve no doubt).  I’m trying not to obsess about it since a lot of factors that lead into that decision, like marriage, etc. are out of my control, at least to some degree.  However, it is nice to know that I do still have some goals in life, even if they’re not exactly the ones I came to college with.  Still, it probably wouldn’t hurt to go home and reread The Feminine Mystique and de-romanticize my view of motherhood a little bit.

More Future Boys’ Names

Obviously, boys were severely discriminated against in my last blog post (mostly because I can’t think of good first/middle combos).  So I’ve decided to rectify the situation by dedicating an entire blog post to boys’ names.  I’m not going to try to come up with combinations, since it’s just too hard.  So here are the names jockeying for second place*:


A biblical name that means “listener.”  I think this one has a nice vintage feel.  It’s rapidly moving up my favorites list, and may even be my second favorite boys’ name (after Rory).


Means “blessed”, which I like.  Name of the former pope, which (whom?  Having a grammar moment here) I also like.  Also, Benedick is the male lead in my favorite play Much Ado About Nothing (I changed the ending for obvious reasons).  Bennett, the English medieval form of Benedict, might be a possible substitution.


Reminds me of Arlo Guthrie.  Has that “folksinger” kind of image but isn’t over-popular like Dylan is (although Bob Dylan is so awesome I might go ahead and use it anyway if I ever have a boy).


After Johnny Cash of course.  I love both his music and his life story.  I’m not a big fan of word names though, so I might use it as a middle name instead of a first name.


Apparently, this is a German variation of Robert, and means “bright fame.”  I mostly like it because it reminds me of the character Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Because of that, it makes me think of a British librarian.  However, a future son of mine might not share my enthusiasm for that associated image, which is why I’m on the fence about it.


I’m not sure what I think of this one, but I associate it with Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, so I thought I’d include it.  Also, apparently the “G.” in G.K. Chesterton stands for Gilbert.


Means “peaceable ruler.”  I like the nickname Fred.


It means “wise-protector”, which I like.I like the nickname Ray, but I don’t think I’d use it as a stand-alone name.  I’m not crazy about Raymond though.  Plus, having a Rory AND a Ray could get confusing.


After Abraham Lincoln, of course!  This might be my third favorite boys’ name (behind Rory and Simon).  The only downside is the nickname “Linc/k” which reminds me of the video game character one of my cousins was obsessed with when he was four.

*Minus Anthony and Daniel, which are names I love but are really popular.  Maybe by the time I have kids they’ll be less so.

Names for Hypothetical Future Children

So, as those of you who are my friends on Facebook know, I recently discovered baby name blogs on the Internet and have become slightly obsessed.  I came up with a bunch of reasons to justify my obsession, but then I thought I’d just skip the justification and embrace my weirdness. Here are a few of my current faves (by gender, otherwise in no particular order), along with reasons why I like them, as well as nicknames.

Agatha Leigh, aka Agatha (not Aggie!)

I like Agatha because it has that vintage 1930s English feel thanks to Agatha Christie, and I like Leigh because it’s Dorothy L. Sayers’ (another favorite mystery writer of mine) middle name.  Also, I think it flows nicely.  Also, “Agatha” means “virtuous woman” which I think is a nice meaning.

Domenica Mireille, aka “Carly”

I love the meaning of “Domenica”- it means “belonging to the Lord.”  Plus, it would allow me to use “Carly” as a nickname (I know, a bit of a stretch, but Carla sounds dated and Carly as a formal name sounds a bit juvenile.  Donna would also be a potential nickname that’d I’d love, thanks to Doctor Who).  Mireille is French and means “admired.”  It’s pronounced Meer-AY, and I just thought it sounded pretty.

Lydia Elizabeth, aka “Liddy”

Lydia just means “from Lydia”, but Lydia is one of my favorite Bible names for women (also a neat Bible character- she was a businesswoman!).  Elizabeth is my middle name, and means “God has sworn an oath.”  I thought the two names flowed nicely together.  Also, I like the nickname Liddy.

Eugenie Cordelia, aka “Jenny”

Eugenie is my newest “name crush” (according to Nameberry, the name blog I registered with, that’s actually a thing).  It’s pronounced YOU-zhen-ay.  I like it because Eugene is my grandfather’s middle name (he goes by Gene) so it would be a nice way to honor him.  Also, it has a nice royal ring to it, thanks to Great Britain’s Princess Eugenie (Ironically, Eugenie means “well-born”.  Wonder if Prince Andrew and Fergie realized that when they picked it out, lol). Plus, it would allow me to use the nickname “Jenny”, which I love, without using either Jennifer or Genevieve (I loathe Jennifer, and am not a huge fan of Genevieve). Cordelia means “jewel of the sea”, and I’ve liked it ever since I read Anne of Green Gables (Cordelia was the name Anne wished she had).  Plus, it was the name of a character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which adds to its modern cool factor.

Gregory Joseph, aka “Rory”

I just don’t enjoy picking out boy names as much as I do girls’ names.  But Rory is definitely my top pick for a boys’ name, thanks to Doctor Who.  I think Rory by itself sounds a little too informal, so I thought I’d formalize it to Gregory (which happens to be my dad’s name).  I chose Joseph because I like the Biblical story of Joseph, and I figured a potential boy should get a middle name, too.

Music Recommendations!

I just realized that my blog’s been trending rather Christian-ly the past couple of weeks (I blame you, Pope Francis).  So I thought I’d take a break and post some music recommendations, since I did say music was going to be one of the topics of this blog.  So here are my top three music recommendations of the week, with a little blurb about why I chose them.  You should be able to find them all on YouTube and/or iTunes.

1.  “Father And Son” written by Cat Stevens, sung by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple

I love this song!  The lyrics seem to perfectly encapsulate what I’m going through right now.  And the harmonies are awesome.  Plus, it’s JOHNNY CASH!  Seriously, if you only listen to one song from this list, make it this one.  You won’t regret it.

2.  “The Priest” written and sung by Joni Mitchell

This song has nothing to do with actual priests. Instead, it’s about Mitchell’s relationship with songwriter Leonard Cohen (the guy who wrote the “Hallelujah” song that was in Shrek.).  I love the melody- it sounds very medieval, down to the minor key used throughout the song that ends with a major chord.  This is probably the most folk-inspired song of Mitchell’s that I’ve ever heard, and now I understand why some people classify her as a folk musician.  Also, the lyrics perfectly capture the intense but ultimately transient nature of romantic chemistry.  In conclusion, Joni Mitchell is brilliant, and so is this song.

3.  “Jupiter” from The Planets by Gustav Holst.

I decided to break up the genre of my recommendations list and include a classical piece (Ugh, how I hate that terminology!  Baroque, Classical, and Romantic music should not all be lumped together under “Classical.”  Although Holst is recent enough that perhaps The Planets could be classified as Modern, but usually I think of Schoenberg or someone like that when I think of Modern era music.  Anyway, music nerd digression over.).  I played this piece in orchestra back in high school, and my church’s handbell choir is currently rehearsing it (I find it a bit odd that a church is doing a piece named after a planet named after a pagan god, but nobody asked me for my opinion…).  It’s an awesome piece, and will get stuck in your head (in a good way!)  I don’t have a preference as to which version to listen to, they’re probably all decent.  Even if you hate classical music, you’ll probably like this piece!

Pope Francis

As promised, here are my thoughts on the new pope!  First off, let me explain why I care.  I’m Missouri Synod Lutheran, not Catholic.  We do actually have a president of our own, but he’s much lower profile (I’m fairly religious, and I still don’t know who he is.  Although he did make it into the papers a couple months ago for forcing an LCMS pastor to apologize for participating in an interfaith service after Sandy Hook.  I get where he was coming from, but really?!)  Anyway, I look to the pope as sort of a defender of the Christian faith.  My Lutheranism makes me skeptical of giving one man that much power, but my quarrel is with the papal office itself, not the man who fills it.

His selection of the name Francis is an excellent sign, I think.  With connections to both St. Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier, this signifies a commitment to simplicity, humility, and outreach, all of which appear to have been integral to his Argentine ministry.  And the novelty of choosing a name no pope has ever borne hopefully indicates that he will be willing to clean up the corruption in the Church and finally take decisive action to deal with the sexual abuse crisis by showing compassion for the abuse victims and bringing justice on the pedophile priests.

Now onto my qualms:

I’d like to know more about what he did during Argentina’s “Dirty War.”  I’ve heard claims that he cooperated with the military dictatorship as well as that he worked to protect those the regime targeted.  I don’t know which is correct, so I’m withholding judgement on this area.  I’ll assume he’s innocent until proven guilty, but I’ll be watching as more information comes to light.

Also, I find his comments on women and gay marriage disturbing.  His quote about how women are inherently unsuited to political office creates a disturbing precedent.  I’m not denying men and women are different, but saying that one gender as a whole is unsuited to a particular profession seems wrong.  Where does it end?  Does the fact that I’m a woman make me worse at computer science?  Or does me being a computer science major somehow make me “less of a woman”?  As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, this comment particularly disturbed me.

As for the gay marriage comment, that was also disturbing.  I don’t think anyone seriously expected him to break with the Catholic Church’s historical condemnation of homosexuality.  However, I believe that gay people should be allowed to legally marry.  I believe it’s a civil right.  If the Church wants to forbid holding Church weddings for gay people, no one can stop them.  I would agree that there’s a difference between religious marriage and civil marriage.  But Francis seems to have conflated the roles of the two, which doesn’t seem to respect the separation of church and state (which Argentina also has, for those who aren’t familiar with Latin American politics).

In conclusion, I’m slightly wary about Pope Francis’ election.  I believe he’s a sincere Christian who will do his best to spread the Gospel and promote social justice for the poor.  At the same time, I would like more information about his actions during Argentina’s Dirty War, as well as what exactly he believes about women and gay people.  Although I am somewhat apprehensive (and missing Benedict a little) I believe all of us who are Christians should pray for him, that God may give him the strength and wisdom to carry out his new role.

Corrie ten Boom and Living Out Our Faith

Yesterday evening, I was reading Corrie ten Boom’s memoir The Hiding Place.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, she was a Dutch woman who hid Jews during the Holocaust, and consequently was later interned in a concentration camp along with her sister.  As I was reading, I was struck by how passionate they were about the Gospel.  It made me realize that I’ve never been that passionate about my faith.  She and her sister even gave thanks for the crowded conditions in the camp because it made it easier to share their beliefs!

What also struck me was not only how in love they were with God, but also how God was able to use them.  Even in the concentration camp, they strove to love others both through their words and their deeds.  Corrie went so far as to carry bedpans around to the other hospital patients when she herself was sick, because there was no one else to do it!  After Corrie was released (her sister Betsie died in the camp), she traveled the world, sharing her story and the Gospel with many, many people.  She could have been bitter after all she’d been through, but she chose to spread God’s love and forgiveness with others, even one of her former guards at the concentration camp!

It made me realize just how radical God’s love and forgiveness are, if it enabled Corrie to forgive one of the concentration camp guards who had mistreated her sister.  Rationally, it would have made sense for her to hold a grudge for the rest of her life.  However, her forgiveness enabled both her and the guard to move forward with their lives in emotional freedom.  It made me realize that sin really is bondage, and what a great gift Jesus’ death was for us.

Also, I loved her comment that the safest place in the world is the center of God’s will.  Although she did some very impressive things, she was careful to emphasize that it was God working through her, not her own power.  It reminded me of the words of the Apostle Paul, in the verse in Philippians that says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” and another verse in 2nd Corinthians “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Because she was obeying God’s will, she was given the strength to do these things, even though she was only (in her own words) “a plain spinster watchmaker in her 50s.”

What would the world look like if every Christian tried to really live out their faith?  If we tried to love everyone, even if they’re very different from us, remembering that we are all made “in the image of God”?  After all, we are commanded to love one another, just as Christ loved us.  Obviously, this is impossible to do on our own, but it IS possible if we remember that we are the branches and He is the Vine, and allow His love to flow through us.

“Having It All”, Feminism, and Me

I’m writing this after reading three recent articles.  (All are cited at the bottom of this paragraph).  One is a response to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent comments about women in the workplace, one is an article about Betty Friedan’s predictions about feminism and the workplace, and the other is about how 20-something women shouldn’t feel bad about wanting boyfriends.

http://ideas.time.com/2013/03/07/confidence-woman/                           http://ideas.time.com/2013/02/15/what-betty-friedan-saw-coming/ http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/03/women-in-their-20s-shouldnt-feel-bad-about-wanting-a-boyfriend/273737/

Rather than critiquing each individual article, I’ll attempt to comment holistically on all of them by sharing my thoughts regarding dating, marriage, and children.  (Insert usual caveats about how not all women have the luxury of choice, other women are free to make different choices that work for them and their families, etc.)

Regarding the Atlantic article, I think the prevalence of the “hookup culture” is exaggerated. I don’t know anyone who actually hooks up.  Maybe that’s because Midwesterners are more conservative, or maybe it’s just the crowd I run with.  Keeping in mind my sample might be biased, I don’t know anyone who’s ashamed of wanting a boyfriend.  My friends tend to fall into two groups. Most of my high school friends are engaged (one’s married!). Most, but not all, of my college friends are single, and aren’t focusing on relationships right now.  It’s possible that they do secretly want a boyfriend and are in fact ashamed of it, but I’m inclined to take them at their word.

I fall somewhere in the middle of the pack.  I’m not in a relationship right now, and I’m okay with that.  I’d rather be single and happy than married to the wrong person (especially since I wouldn’t consider divorce except under exceptionally grave circumstances). However, some of my college friends do consider me slightly romance-obsessed.  I’m not in a rush to get married, but if I did meet the right guy, I wouldn’t postpone the wedding solely on the basis of my age.

Although I want to have kids, I can’t see myself as a stay-at-home mom.  Being home all day leads to me crashing in front of the TV and/or the computer.  I need social interaction with ADULTS to function well. On the other hand, I don’t want to be insanely stressed out all the time.  Even assuming my future husband substantially helps out with the child-rearing and household duties, that’s still a lot of work.  If that means I have to cut back on my work hours or take a less challenging position, I’d be willing to do that.

I don’t consider thinking about work/family balance when considering careers to be a problem; I consider it responsible.  There are only so many hours in the day, and climbing to the top of the corporate ladder does require a huge time commitment. Some people are willing to do that.  After much consideration, I’ve realized that that’s not what I want out of life. Sheryl Sandberg’s schedule works for her, but it would leave me feeling frazzled. I want work outside the home to be a fulfilling part of my life, but not the only source of fulfillment.  In the words of Betty Friedan (as quoted by Judith Warner), I want to “fully realize my potential.”

In addition, I don’t want to make promises to my employer that I won’t be able to keep.  This is where I disagree Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to “don’t leave before you leave”, referring to women avoiding less-demanding positions even before they leave to have kids.  As a single woman, I have no problem with this.  I’m going to live my life and not wait around sitting for Mr. Right, since for all I know I might not marry until I’m like 50 (that is, assuming I do marry).  But if I were married AND planning to have kids in the near to immediate future, it would make a lot of sense to choose a job with less pressure that would allow me to spend time with them.

I do consider myself a feminist.  I’m glad I’m not automatically slated as a future housewife just because of my gender.  In my understanding, feminism is about being able to make my own choices about what I want to do with my life, rather than having them dictated by society.  And I refuse to let society tell me that my career must take precedence over my personal life.

“I Don’t Know Who I Am, But You Know Life Is For Learning”- Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock”*

So of course, now that I finally have time to blog, I can’t think of anything to say.  Such is life.  But I felt like blogging anyway, so here goes.

Actually, I’m going to discuss my lack of things to say.  The longer I’m at home, the more I feel like my personality is draining away.  Many of you know that my mom has a somewhat controlling nature, as well as a temper.  Although I’m sure she means well, that doesn’t make it any more tolerable.  I’ve spent so much energy into being what she wants me to be, that I don’t have much idea of who I am.  (Hence the quote that’s the title of the post).

I’m not sure what I can do to work on this while I’m here at home. I’ve already tried discussing this with her in a non-judgmental way, but all that did was make her angry.  I suggested family therapy to my dad, but my mom’s been sick and/or busy ever since I got home in December, so we haven’t brought it up.  Or maybe we’re just scared to.  Either way, I’m not overly optimistic about anything changing.  So I’m thinking I’ll have to work on other ways of improving my mental health.

So much of my focus is on trying to make my mother happy.  Mostly this means agreeing with whatever she says (whether I actually do or not) and doing whatever she wants me to do.  I want to “honor my parents”, but I think I’ve gone to extremes and become codependent.  Even on fairly impersonal matters, I’m unwilling to openly disagree with her.  The other day, we were discussing Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Defense Secretary, and she commented that she wasn’t going to be proud to claim him as a fellow Nebraskan, and I couldn’t even say that I thought it was nice to have someone who’s served as an enlisted soldier (not an officer) in the position.

At least spring break is coming up in a couple weeks.  My parents will be gone for the first half, and I’ll be in Kirksville for the second half, so hopefully that’ll be the much-needed vacation I’m hoping it will be.  After that, it will only be a couple months until the summer, when I’ll hopefully be able to get an internship or something outside of the Cedar Rapids/Marion area.  If not, I’ll settle for any job I can get, the more hours the better.  And even if the worst case scenario happens, August 22nd (the day Truman starts classes) is only 170 days away!

*If you know my mother, please don’t mention any of this to her, of course, or the fact that I even have a blog.