Betty Duffy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Theme of the Week: The Holy Spirit Speaks

When a first born child starts to misbehave, a mother worries: What happened to my sweet little boy? What have I done to cause such a change in him? Why is he acting this way? But the behavior passes eventually, younger siblings enter similar stages, and the seasoned mother, now acquainted with the various rebellions of a three-year-old says, “Oh, we must be entering tantrum season.” The misbehavior is a sign that the child is developmentally on target. The child’s writhing and complaining can be almost funny when a mother knows that her child alone is not the only child on Earth to cast his body flailing around on the floor like a captured carp. She knows that this tantrum shall pass, and so too this difficult stage in his emotional apprenticeship.

I walked into Pedge’s house yesterday morning to find her and Irene, looking sort of glum and hashing out the weekend’s events: “I’m so fickle.” “I feel like we are always the squeaky wheel.” “I guess I thought that our sphere of influence would be a little bit wider at this point in our lives.” And I had to burst out laughing, “You mean I’m not the only one having this crisis this weekend? How dare you women take the words from my mouth!” It took a minute for them to realize I wasn’t laughing at their problems, only that, of course we would be grappling with similar themes at this stage in our lives. It was funny that I should expect anything else.

This weekend my husband and I had an anniversary, and my mom offered to keep the kids, all of them, even the nursing baby to whom I’ve been attached for the past six months. Such an occasion called for big plans. We would laugh and talk until we’re blue in the face, go to where the beautiful people are, drink wine, and dance all night. When the stakes are that high, the reality can only disappoint. As the fates played out, we spent our special night, sharing an early bird special with the old folks at an antique mall.

On my drive over, I’d been thinking to myself, “I have absolutely no reason to wallow in this malaise. Why can’t I kick these expectations that always exceed the reality? What am I doing wrong?” But when I heard my dear friends discussing their similar experiences, it became a sign to me, that God might be saying, “No child. You are right where you are supposed to be. And this too shall pass, once you have mastered this stage in your emotional apprenticeship.” It was both a comfort that I am not alone in my experience, that I am on some familiar terrain, and a confirmation, that God uses the people and events in my life to communicate with me, intimately and lovingly.

As confident as I feel that God is interested and involved in our lives here on Earth, sometimes I also have doubts that he would care so much as to speak to us, and at times be so straightforward.

“You my child shall be called a prophet of the most high.” “The Almighty has done great things for me.” “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Am I being a little grandiose when I say these prayers and think that God could be speaking these words to me when I harbor such ingratitude? How can I speak the words of the Saints? Is it prideful to interpret the relationships and communications of my life as a discourse with God?

Olivier Clement wrote, “Everything—the world, history, other people and myself—can be a source of revelation, because through everything we can discern like a watermark, the face of the Risen Christ, the friend who secretly shares with each of us the bread of affliction and the wine of mirth.”

The more blogs I read, the more news articles, I am confirmed that God is in very clear and direct communication with his children. I would even say that God provides a sort of theme of the week--ideas that come to me independently from various sources, a conversation here, an article there, and then I read a few blogs and find out that other people are thinking about the same things. And my friendships are no exception.

I meet with Pedge and Irene every Tuesday morning to read the Gospel and discuss things that are going on in our lives. So many times I have been affirmed of the presence of the Holy Spirit working in our lives through these mornings of reflection. I’ve been made aware of the goodness in my life, been moved to action, and learned to be grateful for the uncertainties and imperfections of my life.

Sometimes the epiphanies are profound, sometimes they are not. On this particular morning my epiphany was this: Maybe I fell off the track to super skinny, super famous, writer, if I was ever on it, but at least my life is not bullshit. We are rich in the things that matter. Pedge’s mom is coming into the Church this weekend and will receive the Sacraments for the first time. Between Pedge, Irene and I, we have fourteen healthy children. We all have hard working and faithful husbands. My life is not bullshit. It’s good enough for me. But like a child, I always want more. And I throw a tantrum, until the storm calms, and I can see that I have a room full of toys, more than I’ll ever need.

I love my imperfect husband, our imperfect marriage, our imperfect children, and our imperfect house. I love my imperfect Church family, my imperfect mom, dad, siblings and in-laws, my imperfect friends, and I love the way God speaks to me through each one of them. I can say that with confidence, God speaks to imperfect me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

People All Over America Were Contemplating the Problem of Evil...And Then it Rained.

Early this morning, I went for a run at my parents’ house. They live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields, small rocky creeks, and woods that are mungy and green as a jungle at the moment. A threat of rain hung in the air, but it was cool enough that the mosquitoes didn’t cluster in the ditches and dips in the road.

I decided to run hills, which took me past the home of my parents’ illustrious neighbors: in the mid-nineties, a grown son, one of eight children, murdered his mother, father, and several siblings with a rifle, in broad daylight, at various points around their homestead. Some bodies were found in the house, some in the barn, some in the yard. He lived on grubs as a fugitive for several months, and was eventually found in a woods in Kentucky and put in jail. A surviving brother still occupies the home where the murders took place.

I’m still afraid every time I pass the property, and especially on an overcast holiday morning when not another soul is on the road. I wonder about the surviving brother, how he can walk around in the presence of such ghosts. He keeps the blinds on the front of the house closed tight at all times because his stigmatized property is a well-known point of interest for people in this neck of the woods. Even so many years later, his life takes place in the rear of the home.

I’ve been in and out of a dark mood lately, if you haven’t noticed. It happens sometimes. And contemplating the thin line between sanity and insanity, trying to make sense of how a child could lose it and open fire on his brothers, sisters and parents, brought all of my motherly fears to a crest. If I had to look down the barrel of a rifle that my child pointed at me, I would not weep for my life, but for his, and for his survivors’. How many different ways are mothers’ hearts pierced by the suffering of their children?

At that moment the sky opened up and rain fell in sheets. I don’t remember the last time I was caught outside in a rainstorm. As a mother, I’m trained to see the signs of impending weather and heed them. But if I needed, at that moment, to experience the Sacramental everyday, God gave me a Baptism that could wash away even the most incomprehensible sins. Within minutes I was soaked down to my underclothes, and had to hold my pants up as the water increased its gravitational pull on them. My darkness and worry turned instantly to exhilaration.

It sounds almost too cute that relief could occur at the precise moment that the weather delivered on its threat in such a location. An ominous overcast sky is uncertain and seductive. A good rain is joyous and of the moment. And who am I that God would make it rain because I needed it to rain right then and there? But it did rain, and I want to think that God was telling me I had no need to make the acquaintance of despair. If the presence of the evil in this world seems too large a threat to face, the rain says God is bigger.

So I ran on home, puddle jumping and feeling so gleeful that when an old farmer in his pick-up pulled up and said, “Need a lift?” I said, “No thanks. I feel great!” Not sure why I needed to inform the farmer of my mood in order to decline his ride. He shrugged his shoulders to say, “Suit yourself,” and drove on. And I wanted to call him back and say, “No, really, don’t take it personally. I don’t think you’re a weirdo for offering me a ride. I’m not afraid of this world. I’m just too happy to come in from the rain.”

Maybe the rain is just an easy solution for Betty, whose greatest suffering is fear of the unknown, but she'll take it, nonetheless. People go on living their lives after unthinkable tragedies. Mothers continue to have children even when faced with the problem of evil. Maybe all the evils of the world don't come with a magic rainstorm to cleanse the Earth in their aftermath, but the survival of people who have suffered is a testimony to the Mystery, Sacrament, and miracle that are the salve for the suffering in life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some Scary Things

My kitchen sink, without a handle on the faucet:

Remember when they used to sell real-life-like babies in the Sunday Coupons?

A spider on my book, on my book...

Actually, sort of lovely

Children playing in a giant toilet on my son's field trip. Overheard on the way home: "I sure did love that toilet!"

Someone around here was eating the butter as though it were a candy bar.

I had a few existential moments with my camera this past winter:

And finally...Did anyone ever play with Mrs. Beasly? If so, I understand if you now have psychological problems. My sister-in-law brought this relic out of the closet the other day, and it only seemed fitting to give her a drink.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In Love and War

Wednesday nights, I teach a Catechism course at my church. Tonight's topic was love. Aside from the fact that I'm really not a good public speaker, and that no matter how I prepare, I end up doing a lot of umming, and forgetting what I meant to say, I left class feeling like it created more problems than it solved.

The book suggested discussing how each of the Ten Commandments are based on love. We covered that, and then for some reason, I felt like I needed to throw in some current events and practical applications for love. I asked the question, "What does love look like for us, for our Parish, right now? How are we loving?"

Freshly versed in the lovingness of the Ten Commandments, a loud portion of the room answered that love means admonishing one's neighbor, boldly speaking the truth in order to save others from hell, and not putting up with people who complain that we are judgemental. And if they can't stand the truth, and they want to silence us, then we might even have to fight for our right to speak it.

It was amazing how quickly the leap was made from admonishing others in love, to having others declare war on us for doing so.

A quiet minority in the room said, "I don't think we should judge." Someone, under her breath said, "I guess this room is full of perfect people."

And I stood there in the middle looking for the words to propose that we can have clear knowlege of right and wrong, and still love magnanimously, without necessarily shaking our fingers at every gay person we meet, for an example.

The loud side of the room said, "But they're so in our face!"

So if a homosexual person walks through these doors right now, and sits down on this conversation, you would feel a need to return a piece of the "in your face" pie, all in the name of Christian love, of course. Or you would say, "Welcome, Gay Person. Thank you for having the courage to walk into this room full of people who are poorly disposed to love you. I'm glad you are here."

As troubled as I am by the notion that Christians should be unable to judge right and wrong in our lives and in our culture, simply because we are not exempt from sin, I am more troubled by the notion that Christian love is about reminding people of the law that's written on their hearts ad infinitum rather than practicing love that feels impossible, loving those who are most difficult for us to love.

"OH! But that's what I'm doing when I admonish!" they say. "I can't let them go to hell! That would be unloving!"

What I know about hellfire and damnation is that Jesus has the power to redeem us, and it is questionable how much power we have to save others from hell.

What I know of admonishment, from admonishing my children, is that the more I admonish them, the further they run from me, whereas the more I love them, hold them close, show them affection, the closer they stay and the more likely they are to listen to my corrections. I wish I could remember this fact in the heat of the moment, when I'm so set on correcting, and they are so set on not changing their behavior, that war breaks out.

War is bad. We do not want war, Christians. War is worse than gay marriage. War is worse than Obama speaking at Notre Dame. If we must do battle, let it be against ourselves and our own personal sin that we are lucky enough to have take place mostly behind closed doors and within the walls of our hearts.

I'm glad everyone is so anxious to become a martyr, but let the martyrdom happen now, within our souls. Die to self and our constant bleeping need to be right, which is so very different from our constant need to be sanctified. That's what I wish I had said.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Festival Grotesque

The Gravitron sends out its Metallica siren song from the Parish lawn, and from all the corners of town come Catholic school children and their hard-working parents, nubile young girls, and the boys, who’ve not yet thought to return their stare, and miles and miles of bleached, frosted, split and tied up hair. Pale men stamp out their cigarettes, then head down into the multi-purpose room for black jack and a spin of the roulette. The Parish Festival with hopes to win the funds to execute our Mighty Lord’s call, brings us with all of our sin to the public square for a rollicking fall.

In the underground kitchen the women cook with sweat on our foreheads and a frequent look at the clock that tells us when the crowds will arrive. In the wee morning hours I cracked eighty eggs, sifted one hundred cups of flour, stood and stirred til I was weak in the legs, and drizzled the dough on the fryer. We load our cakes in a pan and send them up to the stand for purchase and possibly to clog an artery and claim a well-worn life.

When my shift is over I walk home from Church, past carnie trailers and a merry go round. My children, anticipating a Poor Jack ride, race to the door at the sound of my return. “Can we go now?” “I want to ride the Pirate ship!” with its rickety pulleys and chains and greased up rails, I shudder, envisioning my children’s entrails kersplatting on the Parish parking lot. “Sorry, my dears, the cost is just too high for each and every one of you to buy five tickets apiece for one measly ride.” So they all lay down at my feet, and cried. “Maybe you can try to win a gold fish at the ring toss,” I say, calculating in my head, the odds of my children’s aim and the likelihood of loss.

It’s a deal we make, that I will take them for a quick turn past the scary half-clad dame on the fun house wall, so they can see the rides they will not ride, if they promise not to whine or bawl when I say it’s time to go home. But I should have been more wise, than to think a glimpse of the moon walk, and the smoking pit where the Knights of Columbus grill turkey thighs, would satisfy my star struck, festival happy little guys. Each one I had to physically remove from the crowd, load into my van with reassurance of my love. The festival, with its head-banger music and obscene tees, will always be more for the enjoyment of other families.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wanted: Someone To Do My Dirtywork

I would like to hire a professional conflict solver. I enjoy my conflicts when they are of a more internal nature, but when they involve other people, with whom I might have to assert myself, I tend to shy away. For instance, I have a gym membership that I haven’t used since I had the baby. They have a policy that babies cannot go into the childcare until they are six months old, so their policy has rendered my membership useless. I asked the manager to remove the additional childcare fee until my child is of age and he said he would, but my most recent bank statement says that he didn’t.

Obviously, I should now go into the gym, and demand that he produce the paperwork immediately that would change my monthly withdrawals. And not only that, I should ask for a refund of the childcare fee for the past four months. I get all worked up about what I should say, and how I’m going to speak to him like I mean business, and if he balks I’ll use the word, “lawyer.” And all of this, I’m going to do…tomorrow, or next week sometime, or maybe if I just rest on it for a little while he’ll realize he’s made a mistake and automatically credit my account and I won’t have to talk to him at all.

Conflict avoidance: one might not expect it of me, but it is entirely related to sloth. The other kind of conflict, the kind I enjoy, like a little intellectual sparring or playing the devil’s advocate, is related to pride. But this conflict, the kind that requires something of me, I just want to ignore it until it goes away. And surprisingly, a lot of conflicts do go away; there’s an expiration date on many difficult phone calls. The event for which you have no good reason to RSVP negative will pass and you won’t have to fumble through an insincere conversation where you inevitably spill too much information and apologize for being such a bad and mean person who has to say “no” this time.

At this point, Pedge is rolling her eyes and saying, “No, Betty, just say no. You don’t have to give a reason. You don’t have to apologize. You just call them up and say you can’t make it, and you end the conversation.”

I think I might frustrate Pedge with my unwillingness to face the conflicts in my life, like yesterday, when I was chatting with her and Irene about how blah I feel about my life right now. Also related to the new baby, it’s been a long time since I’ve gone out on the town with my husband, or had much impetus to keep a clean house, or fight with my kids when they sneak in and turn on the TV. I’ve been letting my life, my kids, and my house happen to me, and then complaining when I don’t like how things pan out.

Even keeled Pedge says, “We are told to fill the earth and SUBDUE it. That doesn’t mean naming the animals and eating them for dinner. It means taking control of your children and your home and creating order.”

Surprise! Surprise! There actually are a few things that won’t go away if I ignore them long enough: Laundry, dishes, children, and probably not my problem at the gym either. Subdue them. Pick the crap up off the floor and subdue it. Insert the laundry in the washer and it will be subdued. The children are more complicated. None of them are willing to be subdued by force so I pulled out my last defense for a peaceful evening tonight. Daddy is out of town, so we will get Happy Meals if every one brushes their teeth, uses the bathroom and goes directly to bed with no playing around after lights out. Utterly subdued. Life is so much better, so much more orderly on the other side of conflict, and even a little bribe/slash reward here and there. It doesn’t have to be all drudgery, right?

And the final battle of the night: turn off the computer and go to bed. Subdued.

A related post.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I am plagued by vanity at Mass. When I don’t dress up or wear make-up, I feel plain and ugly. I want to hide in the back so no one will see me. Today I was dressed and had on make-up and still wanted to hide because I was afraid I looked too “done.” But hopefully, and most likely, no one was looking at me at all. That’s the irony. No one was thinking about what I had on.

But I noticed that the lady in the front of me, not a small lady, wore her pants too tight, jeans—and she had to adjust them when she stood up, doing a partial bend and straddle to release them from her crack. Her bottom was twice the size of her husband’s, which is why I try to wear black skirts to Mass. I remember notable bottoms in the pews before me—they have captured my attention during the Transubstantiation. Might as well consider tight pants the work of the devil because time and again they’ve drawn me away from the great Holiness at hand. I’ve tossed so many graces up the cracks of distracting rear ends.

So maybe people are looking, actually, because I certainly am.

...And Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Quick takes

(Hosted at Conversion Diary)

On Wednesdays I go to a play group at a friends’ house compiled of five or six women who all have a minimum of five children. We come from many different faith backgrounds: Catholic, Mormon, Protestant, and one or two who don’t go to Church regularly anywhere. On Tuesdays I meet with a group of Catholic women for a prayer group, at which family size ranges from four up to eight children.

I was puzzling over my relationship with these large families, wondering have I just been like a magnet to all the large families in central Indiana, or is there really a baby boom going on? It does seem that there are more large families now than there where when I was growing up. I posed the question to the prayer group today: why are there so many large families in this area? And a mother of eight, who looks eighteen herself, looked at me wide eyed and said, “Well what else is there to do in Indiana?”

My husband’s company went through a round of lay-offs a couple months ago. He works in a bio-tech field where he and his colleagues could joke, “What we need is a good pandemic.” Then their job security would be made in the shade. Ask and you shall receive: I have barely seen my husband since the swine flu outbreak. Good, bad, or ugly, someone always stands to make a dime—actually, come to think of it, maybe the swine flu is part of Obama’s stimulus package.

My husband was the county spelling bee champion in 7th grade. He can spell the Gettysburg Address faster than I can say it. In the early days of our courtship, I used to ask him to spell for me, and I think that might be why I fell in love with him.

Anyway, in the wee hours of Wednesday night, I creamed him at Scrabble.

The following night he challenged me to a rematch. Within the first couple of plays I had doubled his score. This rarely happens A.) that I should beat him in Scrabble B.) two nights in a row. Naturally, he lost interest in the rematch.

But I have a confession to make, dear husband. When you went in to the kitchen last night to make your snack, I stole the J and the Z out of the box. I’m sorry.

I’ve been animal sitting while my parents are out of town this week. I’m not an animal person. I didn’t get the gene. As far as dogs are concerned, I’d rather have ten kids. And my dad’s dogs are farm dogs, which makes them…a little bit stinky. Nevertheless, when my daughter came in from the chicken coop displaying a freshly laid egg, and when she dropped that egg on the floor, the dog had it cleaned up in about a minute. It’s tempting…

Here’s a pic of the baby chicks for the Darwin kids:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blogger's Meetup....Hmmmmm....

I met the Darwins today. I've never met "people of the internet" before because I've been told it's a dangerous thing to do. Though to me, the greater danger is the loss of my semi-anonymity. Hashing things over with Pedge afterwards, she said, "I know you're going to want to write about this, but you can't now because you've met them." But let me not be deterred, dear Pedge, I am truth teller. Hear me roar.

Upon first meeting, we all do the mutual size up, a split second erases the image you had in mind, and a new one takes shape: So that's how it is... And fortunately the Darwins were friendly, and fun--I could have talked to them all day (I did talk to them all day)--and not murderous or freaky, as one might expect from an internet arrangement.

But I also feel My pretty little cyber-persona has been cracked. I'm supposed to be an "enviably cheery and efficient fifties style housewife" (thanks P) or a "hip Catholic mom" (what?) So you have to wonder, does anonymity supply a blogger with just a little bit more credibility?

There are some bloggers I read who have done such a fine job of shaping their online personality, I'm not sure I could tolerate having my fantasy taken away from me with the dirge of real life. And that doesn't even touch on the expectations I have of you based on your name alone. If your name is "Rich" I've given you a notable adam's apple. If your name is "Kate" you're automatically a brunette. I want to picture you as a melancholic businessman in Italian suits. I want you to be a wood-cut of a Catholic martyr, a Renoir painting, or a dreamy profile on gold damask. It's all part of the fun, or at least, part of the genre. We get to be whomever we want to be. Or we get to be wholely ourselves, but protected.

The Darwins and I had a laugh today about the idea of "making connections in the modern world." So many modern story-tellers are fond of waxing philosophical about it (as I seem to be doing right now). Have you ever read any of Miranda July's short stories? I like one or two of them. I liked her movie, "You Me and Everyone We Know." The rest of her stories made me want to poke my eye out. There's something really corny about getting too complex on the issue. It's just meeting people. It used to happen all the time.

And maybe because there's so much history already aquired by reading one another's lives, things feel instantaneously intimate, even when they're not. How can I look Mr. Darwin in the eye when he knows I posed in the buff? Well, it wasn't that difficult. The Darwins don't make pretenses of being anyone other than who they are. I, however, have made it clear that I stretch the truth a bit on this blog. Or maybe I just say that to bamboozle my mother. I'll never tell.

At the end of the day, these blogs are just a bunch of words. I have a tendency to weigh the words too heavily. In real life, we ate, we drank coffee. Our kids played and fought with one another, and we let them work out who was going to be in who's club on their own, while the adults had conversation. Conversation being an entirely different animal than (and infinitely superior to) this blogging thing.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Since its the Weekend...

I thought I'd post this for anyone who's still interested in the art/soul/objectification discussion that began here.

Upon reading the original post, my friend, Karly, wrote this to me:

"I have to believe that artistic expression can aim for the communication or representation of soul, although it must speak in the language of shape and form--or, in the case of writing, these clumsy words. (in fact, that was the subject of my master's thesis, on Thomas Eakins' portraits---he wanted his students, after being well-trained in the matter of anatomy, to learn to capture the figure's "centre line"--a unique, determining meridian, from which all else flowed.)"

In response, I went looking through my old files from college and found some writing I did immediately following the posing nude episode. It touches on this subject a little:

Thoughts on Becoming an Object of Art

There had always been discussion of my posing for Anne. We met in a figure drawing class where we weekly observed the arcs of an emaciated and tattooed woman. The woman was elastic, her poses hyper extensions where you could almost see the stretching tendons and ligaments. Her feet could point outward like a ballet dancer. Her arms could reach behind her and upwards in incredible backwards knots. Her pubic area was shorn. Her ears were pierced as were several other parts of her body. She had, apparently, worked very hard to turn herself into a sculpture. Her vision of herself was so realized and manipulated—that it made it difficult for me to own her, acquire her, or invent her as I needed to do.

Anne, however, was always, and still is a mystery to me. She has long brown hair—as many women do. Her eyes are bluer than average and shocking on first looking at her. Her skin is pale, unblemished and young—yet she purports herself with an unlikely maturity, both as an artist, and a woman of her youngish age. She is professional and shy, unwordy as she is expressive. She is methodical in her speech as she is thoughtful in her art.

And I am her opposite. Blue eyed, yes, but blond—as many women are. Where she slouches, I am straight and brazen. Where she is thoughtful and discerning, I am running back in time to make corrections and ask forgiveness. Where Anne’s body arcs inward, mine bellows out. Anne’s art is defined by the layering of colors, textures, and coats of paint. Mine is defined by erasures.

When Anne paints me, I examine her. I do this because it is counter to what is supposed to be happening, and I enjoy conflict. Anne enjoys order and peace. Instead of allowing her, in my mind, to be an artist, or creator, I create her. I pretend I know her. I think I have her figured out—that she is someone in her element while painting. Her hands are full of brushes—three, now only one, and a piece of cloth to blot, smear, and confine as she discerns. She illustrates herself in these movements. Her foot is propped at the base of her easel. She will not paint hands and faces because she is afraid to look there. People are organic shapes. My face will be a blur on her canvas, nondescript and shadowed. I know her fears.

I do paint hands and faces, and I don’t know what that means.

While she is painting me, I ache to remind her that I am here and that I think. If she should turn me into an object of art, I hope that her art would transcend objects and make me in a way, more than human, more beautiful, more representative than in my worst moments, I imagine I am.

In the midst of our art, and our staring back and forth, and our internal improvisation of recipes and formulas for each other, we listen to Shostakovich, Piano Quintet, and we delightedly wrinkle our foreheads with the dissonance as though cooing at something unbearably cute. We crave those missing and misplaced notes that keep the rises and scales from sounding complete, finished and comfortable.

Here, now, we begin to understand what we could not communicate over coffee in the Hub, in our amateurish art—attempts at realism and creation, in our watching each other and scrutiny. We understand at the hands of a musical creator of dissonance and rhythm and harmony and ego—we understand that art has nothing to do with our eyes, our hands, or our bodies. Art can only be what is missing—those notes we don’t hear, the vulnerability that blushes and dimples behind our nakedness.

Not that something I wrote almost fifteen years ago is gospel, or even that I knew what I was talking about at the time, but it does seem to imply, as Karly said, that there should be a center meridian, even when as a student, I failed to realize that, or to capture it.