Saturday, 29 September 2012

Michaelmas Celebrations

Today is the Feast of Saint Michael and the fourth anniversary of Benedict Ambrose being received into the Church! It is thus also close to the fourth anniversary of when I first arrived in Scotland.

We are soon going to Mass in the city, but first I will post up photos of the Historical House. So that you don't splatter coffee all over your screens, you should remember that we live in the attic. It is a nice attic, but it is not Downton Abbey.

(Update [Sunday]: Photos removed. I honestly had no idea people would be able to find out my address on the internet just from me putting up the photos! Guess how I feel now. I mean, we have a state of the art security system, but's my home. Live and learn. Thanks to the reader who let me know.)

Update: We have returned from the city! Highlights include one baptism according to the Old Rite, one Mass in celebration of the Feast of Saint Michael according to the Old Rite and one boozy lunch with B.A. in a small French restaurant

B.A.: Daring, your mantilla is stuck to the bottom of your shoe.

Seraphic (boozily): Och! So it is!

I have been pondering Charming Disarray's thoughts on the dark side of Traddyism (which I call Tridism, myself), and it makes me think some boys have Lost the Plot, although all the Trid boys I have met in Edinburgh, Rome, and South Bend are marvellous. I will have a think and maybe come up on a subject of what to do about carnaptious or merely froward Trids/Trads.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Dear American Readers who watch TV...

... please explain "Toddlers and Tiara" and, especially, Honey Boo Boo Child.

My dad's from Chicago. I used to vacation in Rolling Prairie, Indiana. You can tell me. It is safe. I will not sneer or be judgmental. I think girls and women who can rock whatever pudge they happen to bear are enviable, and if that is how confident women in small towns south of the Mason-Dixon line are, that's cool.

I just want to understand.

Seraphic Service

The whole point to adult Christian life is service. Really. If you are a Christian adult, and you are not serving anyone, then what on earth are you doing? And how can you be happy?

I was talking to my pal Andrew yesterday, and he mentioned that although one would think that service would feel like a downer, it really feels like a great privilege.

I think it is that feeling that tells you you are in the right form of service! It has to be a free gift, so if you are already in a service profession, I guess it might be when you go the extra mile, or perhaps when someone great thanks you with real gratitude for what you do.

Sometimes, of course, you are not really in a position to serve in active ways, like elderly and infirm Jesuits who give up their last professional duties with a sigh and say that now their service is to pray for the Society. But doubling your prayers because you no longer have another service to gives is service too.


Thursday, 27 September 2012


Mustard Seed brought up an interesting question about why if men want to talk and talk and talk and let the date go on forever, women should call it a night instead.

And this inspires yet another post in which I compare men to puppies, which might not sound flattering, but I like puppies. Men are good; puppies are good. They both can be really cute, and they bark at scary people and might rescue you if there's a fire. They vie for the title "Woman's Best Friend." Nobody write a snippy little post about how I'm obviously bitter and hate men. Au contraire.

Some puppies, I am told, do not know when to stop eating. They just don't know. You have to dole out the proper amount of food and hide the big bag of dog food, because if you just leave the open bag they will eat and eat and eat until they throw up and then they will eat and eat and eat again.

I think many young men are like this when it comes to early dates or the heady early days of a relationship. Such a young man is having such a good time on a date that he wants it to go on for hours and hours and hours. Or he is so enamoured of a woman, that he wants to see her all the time.

And then, not always but often, strangely and bizarrely, unless you remember my poor bulemic puppies, he feels bored and empty. He's lost that loving feeling. He thinks that that was nice, if ultimately not what he was looking for, and it's time to move on. He might even be surprised and annoyed that you don't see the wisdom in that. After all, you had a good time, didn't you? Why ruin the memories with this tearful scene? Aw, don't be like that.

Many of us Catholic women have sat through chastity lectures where impassioned speakers, their foreheads wrinkled with moral seriousness, tell us that we have to be STRONG for men's sakes, because in some aspects of life we are STRONG whereas men are WEAK.

Many of us swallow this line although others sit there thinking, "Uh-huh, it's a good thing you can't see what's going through my mind half the day, honey." Some of you, I know, have felt outraged because this "Women are strong, men are weak" philosophy seems to give Catholic boys a free pass to behave like barbarians while Catholic girls have to act like the world's snottiest doorkeepers, or else we're trollops and hussies.

So I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that young women are emotionally smarter than young men, and you know not only how you feel now, but how you will feel tomorrow if X, Y or Z happens, and a lot of young men simply don't. They don't know that if they get as much as they want today, they will feel disappointed and bored tomorrow.

And this is why, even if you and Mr Date are both having a great time on your date, you must end the date when you thought the date would end, and not agree to go somewhere else afterwards. And why you should not live in Mr Date's pocket in the first heady weeks of your relationship. Spending all that time with him, will make you--the woman--feel attached and will risk making him--the not-woman--feel satiated and bored.

Women and men are different. To honour men is to honour their differences and to honour yourself is to be rooted in reality.

And yes, it is hard to be that disciplined. It is hard to get up early on a cold morning to go to the gym, but lots of you do that day after day, and frankly, I don't see why it has to be that much of a difference.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Postcard from Rome

Dear Auntie Seraphic

We’ve had a lot of talk on the blog about just being friends with other women, moving to new cities, going places and participating in events with others, and it occurs to me that it might be nice to have an informal get-together, a “meet-up” if you will, of seraphic singles in Rome.

I know very few people here, and I’m sure there must be others who read your blog who live in the eternal city. Do you think it would be possible to post my suggestion? I thought of your blog because you mentioned that two readers met in real life through it, and I’d love to meet some fellow readers. (Women, obviously.) It seems like many of us have common interests. Of course, if you wanted to visit Rome, I am sure that that would spark a gathering as well! Rather than my personal email, I’ve started a new account for this purpose that I don’t mind being tossed about the internet:


Well, girls? Anyone in Rome want to meet up with MaryJane? She's studying there, and I know firsthand how absolutely miserable it can be to move to a new city where you don't know many people. And, really, it is very, very difficult to be a Single woman, and a Single graduate student, when you don't have anyone to talk to on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Pleasure of Your Company

As you know, I get a lot of Auntie Seraphic emails. And I think I must get some of the best-written emails out there because they are usually so crystal clear. They have an excellent narrative structure, dialogue, and lots of detail. I read along quite easily, and my mind says, "Uh huh, uh huh. Mm hmm. Good. Uh huh. Yes. Oh, wait. OH NO!!!!"

Sadly, there is all too often the great train wreck moment, which is all too easy to recognize because of the train wrecks of my own life of dating, which began when I was fourteen. Incidentally, I would never, ever, ever allow my daughter (if I had one) to begin dating at fourteen. My mother decided I could because she had been invited by an upperclassman to the prom when she was fourteen. In 1962 or whatever. Definitely before the world went to hell. Me, I would be like, "Darling, there is no point in you dating until you are of marriageable age. And if you have trouble finding anyone, your daddy will introduce you to historical house loving viscounts of clean life."

I would be the most awesome mother of the 2030s.

Anyway, I won't put the most recent email up yet. Instead I will harp on a theme inspired by its train wreck, which is "Never sound too grateful to have been taken out on a date."

Imagine a purely hypothetical reader--not the writer of this email I am thinking of--who is, say, 22, and hasn't dated all that much. Many of her friends--it feels like most or all--back at her super-religious college got married to their college sweethearts shortly after graduation, leaving her feeling like chopped liver. She is a pretty, intelligent, loyal, chatty, fun girl, so she doesn't know why she doesn't get asked out on dates. (Hands up all who identify with this hypothetical reader.)

However, then something great happens. She gets asked out on a date by an NCB. She isn't sure how she feels about this guy, but he's accomplished, good-looking, has a good character, goes to Mass. So she goes on the date, and it is a great date. They talk and talk and talk. And--huzzah!--they go out on a second date. And they talk and talk and talk and after dinner and the film, the guy still wants to talk, so instead of taking her home, he invites her out for drinks, and they talk and talk some more. And when he finally takes her home, your hypothetical fellow reader gushes, "You know, I never dreamed ever in my life that someone could be so nice to me."

No third date.

"What happened?" wails the hypothetical reader.

"What happened?" wailed my real reader, of her situation.

"What happened?" I wailed several times, of various of my own situations.

All over the world, resounding through the ages, are the voices of young women wailing "What happened?"

I'll tell you what happened. First, there was too much talking. Second, the dates went on too long. Third, the hypothetical reader sounded pathetically grateful, as if she had been lifted out of the gutter, hair matted, wounds festering, flies buzzing about, and bathed clean by Mother Teresa so that she could die in comfort.

That is no way to talk to men, m'kay? Men are horrible savages who are lucky that women pay them any attention at all.

No, I take that back. I love men. Men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. But a man who is completely deprived of female company is not the self-sufficient hero of individualism he might pretend to be. He is greatly to be pitied. If there is no-one around to pity a man who cannot get as much as a kind word or a hug from a woman, he pities himself. He is tempted to write bitter misogynist screeds on the manosphere and, worst case scenario, starts plotting to shoot women at his health club.

In short, if a man asks you out for dinner, or to a film, you are doing him a favour by going. He is paying you a compliment, and you are bestowing the pleasure of your company upon him. For up to two hours (maybe three), he has a woman's undivided attention, or at least her presence as you watch a film, play or lecture together. This is a big deal in Man Land, especially among men who can't ask women out, for a variety of reasons, or who have been refused time and time again.

However, this does not mean that men are itching to have big heart-to-heart, three-hour-long chats once a week with the same woman for the rest of their lives. That's what good female friends itch for. And, despite first and even second date evidence to the contrary, men get very bored by hours and hours of chat. It's like they have a limited number of words they can say and (especially) hear, and if you let them use them all up on the first two dates, there will be none left for a third date.

The solution to this problem is to keep early dates short. SHORT. Coffee date = one hour, and then you must dash. Dinner date = two hours max and then you must dash. Dinner and film date = no drink afterwards although you'd love to, but you really must dash.

Another wise thing to do is to keep a lid on your most private and personal feelings and memories. The idea, as in all entertainment, is to keep them wanting more. If Mr Date finds out enough about you on Date 1 to (wrongly, of course) thinks he has you figured out, he might not be curious enough to ask you out on Date 2.

And, for heaven's sake, you must not look or sound pathetically grateful to a man for asking you out because if you do, he will start to wonder if there is something wrong with you. Men look to each other for cues as to how to treat women, so if you give a man the impression that normal behaviour for men is to ignore you, then don't be surprised if he drops you like a hot potato.

This is not an invitation to go to the other extreme and act like a "princess." (Real princesses, by the way, are trained from birth to make other people feel special and happy in their presence.) This is just a reminder that as a woman you are more important to men then they generally want to admit, for fear of looking vulnerable or stupid or whatever, and it is perfectly natural for them to ask you out, if they do. It is a nice compliment to you as a woman, and you are paying them a compliment just by saying yes.

At the same time, you value yourself and your time as so valuable, that you have only so much to bestow upon any man not your kinsman or husband. Your most private thoughts, feelings and stories are for yourself alone, or to share with proven friends, because they are so valuable and you would like others to know you hold them valuable. Capisce?

Take it away, Stevie.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Auntie Seraphic & the Blog Requester

Dear Auntie Seraphic!

I would like to say first that I've been reading the blog for a while, and I truly appreciate the wit, humor, and kindness you dispense on a daily basis. Having said that, while I think I am called to marriage at some point in time, that time is almost certainly not now, and I need to not focus on it quite so much. To me, this means, well, not reading quite so many relationship-oriented blogs. As fun as it is to live vicariously through the romantic misadventures of others, it seems a little, em, unbalanced when my primary internet activity is romantic in focus. As I was considering this, I realized with dismay that I really had no idea where to look for good blogs that were non-romantic. (I am convinced that obsessing about romance shrivels you. SHRIVELS.)

This is all to ask: could you possibly ask your readers where they go for online unromantic fun? They all seem like wonderfully interesting people, and I'm sure they must follow some fascinating blogs/sites/SOMETHING/ect. If not, I understand, and I appreciate your patience.

Blog Requester


Well, girls? What cool, non-relationshippy blogs do you read? Please add links!

Friday, 21 September 2012

Angry in Public is Rarely Good

Another sunny day in Edinburgh--how nice! The sky is blue, there are no clouds, I am full of coffee, there's a party tonight. All is well in Seraphic Land.

I was saying to my neighbour yesterday that when I was in my late twenties I was very thin and high-earning, but I was miserable and angry, whereas now I am in my extended late thirties and plump and make very little, but I am happy. Young + thin does not = happy, and 39+ + plump does not = miserable.

I admit that this happiness has something to do with B.A. and the vastly interesting life he was having in Edinburgh and offered to little me. (Actually, the amount of plump does too. The very air has calories.) But I don't think he would have offered it if I hadn't striven very hard to be as happy as possible in my Single years. I don't think B.A. likes angry people because, come to think of it, we don't know any. At least, we don't socialize with any.

Oh, except me. Because I often get angry, usually at myself, most recently for leaving a plastic spoon to melt on one of the stove elements. But I also harbour grievances towards other people and institutions for this or that, and need to remember not to dwell on them. Particularly in social life.

Righteous indignation is rather delicious, like a martini, and has the same intoxicating effect, but too much of it becomes addictive and takes its toll on your personality and looks. It does add excitement to things like columns in newspapers, so occasionally I trot it out, like here, for example.

Personal unhappiness, though, is an even more dangerous drug, and if you wish to share your personal unhappiness with others, it is very hard to get the tone right.

Can you imagine if I had a "How come everyone has a baby except me?" blog? Shudder, shudder, shudder. Who but ghouls and Dementors would want to read it? I can't even read the fertility message boards; the grief, desperation and icky details seem to leak from the screen and fill the room with a dank fog.

But there is a good tone for expressing unhappiness and frustration and disappointment and all, and I think there is room for that on the internet rather than at parties and dinners and after Mass tea. The internet is still public, though, although you wouldn't know it from the frightening way people express themselves in other comboxes. Yikes.

Recently I defended the Duchess of Cambridge in a combox attached to the online Telegraph, and I was amazed at how people addressed me. I was tempted to reply that I thought the Telegraph was for thoughtful, educated people, but I did not want to demean myself.

By the way, I am always delighted when you tell me how much you enjoy the usually gentle tone of the combox. Once upon a time I felt bad about erasing and blocking comments, but I soon got over that. I think of my blog as if it were a magazine, and of myself as its editor, particularly its letters editor!

Update: Absolutely awesome metaphor for today's theme. "I'm a pirate!" Wah ha ha!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Anna Karenina

Update: If you don't know the story already, there are plot spoilers ahead.

Yesterday I went with three Single girlfriends to see the new Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, on the big screen.

I am so glad I did not see Anna Karenina with any male friend. So glad. Soooooooo glaaaad! I would have died of embarrassment forty-five times, each death more painful than the last.

I have not read the book, so all my remarks are confined to what Tom Stoppard left of it for this film which, I should say, was a fantastic adaptation. It was deliciously classic--the clothes!---and sharply contemporary and original at the same time. It was enthralling and devastating. My writer-painter buddy and looked at each other afterwards in the Ladies' with dazed, stricken eyes.

"If that doesn't teach us to be good, nothing will," I said.

And looking just at the film, I say that it is a film about marriage and married people. So it can be embarrassing for a married woman to watch with Single friends, rather in the way it is embarrassing to watch Sex and the City with innocent 19 year olds. This may be because married women can see Anna Karenina from the inside, so to speak, and know what the problems with the Karenin marriage were, and know why Anna would behave so stupidly, and also--shock, horror--why society had to ostracize Anna.

Somewhere or other online I came across one of you freaking out because someone suggested that married people know more about marriage than Single people, but this is in fact true, in the same way that an Olympian knows more about the Olympics than you do, even if your parents were Olympians and you watch them every four years. It is a big, life-changing, psychologically serious deal, quite apart from whether you love your spouse or not.

Love does not make your husband your husband. What makes your husband your husband is two acts (yours and his) of free will, a public declaration and the recognition of society that your husband is your husband. It is more than a personal, private arrangement, and this is not me saying what I think marriage should be, but what marriage actually is. So when Anna tells Karenin, her husband, that "Vronsky is my husband now", she is simply not rooted in reality.

It is really such a devastating story because [in the film] none of the principal characters are wicked or even that annoying. Karenin is a very good, very dignified man. Anna is a loving mother who wants to be good, but after her fatal decision, discovers that she increasingly can't be. (Her passions slip more and more out of her control, as the film brilliantly depicts.) Vronsky, to my great surprise, actually loves Anna. Anna's philandering brother is funny and full of life.

If there is a baddie, it is Vronksy's mother, who thinks it a delightful thing to have affairs as long as they aren't too obvious or taken too seriously. How angry she is when her son takes his affair with Anna seriously. Hypocrisy may be the tribute vice pays to virtue, but virtue is infinitely superior.

Hypocrisy, though, is better than total social meltdown, and that is what Anna seems to want. Anna doesn't just want to love Vronsky; she wants to rub everyone's nose in it. (Everyone's, that is, except her son's.) Anna thinks making plain her passionate love is more important than her husband's peace, her husband's standing in the community, the feelings of her community--which, incidentally, accords her infinitely more privilege than it does, say, the serfs, and her relationship with God.

"I'm damned anyway," says Anna, and yet is wounded when people treat her like the damned. After all, who is she hurting? Oh, yes. Her husband. To a certain extent her son. The feelings of her society. And you.

I don't want to chuck stones at Anna. She married at 18 to someone she didn't love but presumably found impressive, as Minister Karenin is quite obviously impressive, and must have been a terribly good catch. It is unlikely either Anna or her husband had any idea of the importance of eros in the married life when they entered into it, or Anna would not have had her head turned by Vronsky. So I feel awfully bad for Anna.

But I think you can draw a straight line from Anna's behaviour to current Western society, where my readers note that Yes, we now can vote now, yes, we now are equal to men in law, but we now wonder if we can get married if we don't put out first. Sex is no longer for marriage, but something to be indulged for its own sake, either in the throes of romantic passion, or for fun.

And if we don't go along with this, if we want to be as virtuous and cherished as Ekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatskaya (Kitty), we are thought of as anti-sex and mean or crazy. Outside conservative religious circles, there no longer seems to be a distinction, sexually speaking, between wife-material (like Kitty) and escaped brothel-workers (like Masha).

All those women being nasty to Anna in the film were trying to keep the social order at a time when even aristocratic women had very few rights at all. If married women felt it okay to leave their husbands and children, and run about Russia openly with their lovers, and respectable people opened their doors to them (thereby siding with them against the innocent husband) where would it end?

Unfortunately, I think we have all experienced where it has ended--for the moment. I don't think we have yet hit bottom, although Western civilization--inextricably dependent upon keeping the passions under the guidance of reason--seems ever closer to throwing itself under a train.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


I grew up talking first and thinking later, so it took me a long time to discover that although I often regretted saying things, I never regretted keeping my mouth shut.

I am not talking about theological and political beliefs here. One of my few treasured memories of my PhD years is my mad rant about sin. It was awesome. Someone in a seminar class--we were all seated around a table--asserted that Catholicism was too obsessed with sin. There must have been some right-on murmurs of assent because I totally lost it and said the problem was not an obsession with real sin but an obsession with demonizing things that weren't really sins, like eating meat, smoking and voting for the Republican Party.

Was there a shudder of horror before my hearers realized I could not, as a Canadian, myself vote for the Republican Party? I cannot tell you, peeps, as I was a theology student on the edge of a nervous breakdown. But I can tell you that today--writing from my bed under the eaves of a Georgian mansion in Scotland--I cherish every moment I was a total pain in the posterior of the powers and potentialities that control American academic theology. Heretics. Where was I?

Oh, yes, keeping my mouth shut.

Right. The stuff I do my best to keep my mouth shut about, since I realized I never regret keeping my mouth shut*, is super-personal stuff.

I am reminded of the poor Duchess of Cambridge, so much in the news this week for having taken off her bikini top when she thought she was completely alone with her husband on the balcony of a French chateau owned by her husband's cousin. She thought she was completely out of view of any other person but her husband, and indeed she would have been, had not a third person been looking through a telephoto lens from a kilometre away.

What happened to the Duchess of Cambridge was a complete violation of privacy, and I am horrified not just as a woman but as a married woman because what happened to the Duchess of Cambridge was also a violation of a private moment with her husband. Indeed, the French magazine responsible for publishing the photos emphasized the marriage aspect in its drooling caption. There she was, feeling safe and happy, all alone with her husband, enjoying the sun, her proximity to him and an aspect of married sexuality. And some time later, while visiting a Muslim-majority country, BAM! The revelation that someone had been watching them, and now the whole world could see that too.

The photographer is disgusting. The editors of the French, IRISH (!!!) and Italian magazines running the photos are disgusting. Whoever ogled those photos is disgusting. The photographer should go to jail, the editors fired and the oglers screamed at by their mothers. But the damage to the Duchess of Cambridge's dignity has been done all the same, and if I were her, I would be wailing, "Oh, if only I hadn't taken my top off!"

(I realize, while I write this, that you people write me personal stuff. If it is super-personal, I wipe it from my email, and no matter what I always do my best to forget who told me what, which is not difficult, given the number of emails I've had.)

As I have said many times before, there is no law that you have to tell people your business, either to "keep it real" or to prove that you are a friendly person. You might chose to reveal something private to a suffering person, if you can rely on their discretion and you are sure it would help--and not oppress--them.

But if its a situation of desperately needing to share, do consider if this is because you are having cocktails with the girls or because you feel like you are going crazy. If it is the first situation, suppress the urge with the same discipline you employ to suppress the urge to eat another doughnut. If it is the second, pick your confidante wisely.

*I did regret keeping my mouth shut when I sat through three writers' club meetings without saying something about the nasty anti-Catholic stuff. But I don't regret it now because A) I discussed the problem with the organizer and B) I only yesterday hit on the exact wording for what should have been said.

It wasn't that I was offended--because as a freedom of speech advocate I shouldn't be using "I'm offended" as an argument--it was that anyone who wants to talk or write about Catholic should actually know something real about Catholics, otherwise they aren't being the thinkers and writers they could be. It took me two weeks to figure out the most charitable response, and so now I don't regret keeping my mouth shut.

Update: I would like to stress that this is advice for women. I have been reading up on suicide (Lithuania is number one) and it would appear that one reason why so many men (compared to women) commit suicide is that they have trouble confiding their emotions in anybody. Hmm.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Friendships with Reserve

Men and women can be friends, but men can't be women friends and women can't be men friends. Let us be clear on this.

I have had some interesting correspondence about the following situations:

1. The man has a crush on a girl. He tells another girl all about it. He gets over his crush on the first girl. He develops a crush on the second girl. The second girl doesn't take him at all seriously.

2. The girl has a crush on a man. She tells another man all about it. She gets over her crush on the first man. She develops a crush on the second man. The second man doesn't seem to be interested anymore.

We could chalk this up as a tragedy of bad timing, or we could posit that there is something unwise in telling members-of-the-opposite-sex friends about our crushes.

If there is one thing I have learned about men, it is that they are not girls. And if they are attracted to girls, they do not appreciate being treated as if they were girls. Sometimes they resist this quite vigorously. But sometimes they do not because, being attracted to girls, they will cut girls a lot of slack. But, in general, they don't like being made to feel like the palace eunuch. Their semi-conscious resentment could be expressed in the parlance of the neighbourhood of my youth as "What am I? Chopped liver?"

Male friends who identify as gay do not seem to mind as much, but even then you really must understand that they are not "just some of the girls" even if they say they are. They are men, with male sexuality, and whereas their advice might be have an internal logic as far as men who identify as gay are concerned, it might make absolutely no sense for women, particularly chaste ones. Whenever men who identify as gay give me or tell me about relationship advice they have given other women ("And I told her, Darrleeng, you should take a lover"), my hair stands on end.

I like my guy friends so much, I don't treat them as if they were girls who might enjoy talking about girl stuff, e.g. my feelings. Possibly I slip occasionally, and bore them senseless, for which I apologize.

There's a fine line between treating all nice young Single men as if they were just Husband Potentials/Impossibilities and treating them as if they were girls. I call it Friendship with Reserve. It's respectful, it's kind, and, if this applies to your state of life, it keeps the options open.

Monday, 17 September 2012

And How Was Your Weekend?

I just met a deadline this morning, so I am not in a chatty mood. Also, I am a wee bit tired from last night's Sunday Lunch.

My church friends tend to have a Sunday Lunch almost every week, and yesterday it was B.A.'s and my turn. This meant a Saturday of meal planning, shopping, tidying the flat, cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen, taking out the recycling (always a chore as it goes way out past the woods), cooking, baking and mild argument.

Sunday morning included carrying two big tables from beyond the woods into the house and setting them up in the dining-room before going to Mass.

The results were, of course, very much worth the effort: drinks and then a sit-down traditional British Sunday Lunch for eleven people, of whom only B.A. and I were married people. Yes, we fed nine Single people (one of them ordained) yesterday, so think about us the next time you suspect all Married people drop their Single friends. Not true.

Meanwhile, we were certainly not setting any of them up together. Setting Single people up together at our parties would never occur to us B.A.; what an appalling idea. At least, what an appalling idea for a Sunday Lunch. Sunday Lunch is about being Catholic friends together without any love stuff to make us blush. Down with love stuff, that's what I say. At least at Sunday Lunch.

Now you. What did you do?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Too Picky?/Settling?

There's a fine line between being "too picky" and "settling" and it is difficult to describe this fine line.

This chap tries to explain it here, in terms that make a married woman (i.e. me) blink.

Talking about the Single life is much different from talking about the Married life, because when a married person talks about the Married life, the reader cannot help but look past the writer to their silent spouse. This is one reason why I will never have a Seraphic Marrieds blog, peeps! B.A. is really laid-back and tolerant, but there is a limit.

I didn't identify with Quinn's piece because I did, in fact, marry my soulmate.* That is, I fell crazy-insane in love and gave up my Canadian life to live in this cold and rainy (and very beautiful) country with Mr. Perfect for Me.

And when I say Perfect for Me, I mean that. For example, we are both over a certain age, so we no longer possess the radiant beauty of YOUTH. And one night after spending a delightful evening with some radiantly beautiful youths, I came home and looked at unconscious, snoring B.A. and was so thankful that, on top of having the same religious outlook, and sharing a love of art and literature and old stuff and people, we are the same age. He does not look at me and think "Old person." He cannot but look at me and think "Normal."

Living with another person, one who is on other levels extremely different, being male and a Scot, can be challenging, so these moments of gratitude are very important.

But I am a woman and therefore as deep as the sea. As far as what motivates men to marry, if they decide that that way forward is to find a pretty girl who seems nice, make a commitment to her and stick to it, great. Whatever makes men marry instead of flollop around aimlessly or acting as though finding a wife is just like finding the ultimate sound system.

Of course, it is probably not a great idea for them to write arresting pieces describing how their wives are not their soulmates. It might hurt their wives' feelings or decrease their status in the eyes of their peers.

It strikes me as something only a young man would do. But then it would be very unfair if young men possessed both radiant beauty and the wisdom of age, too.

*I am not actually sure of the definition of soulmate. I don't believe that there is only one person in the world you could marry and if you don't find him, it's your fault. That's ridiculous. I think that God might have a person or people in mind for you, as part of His plan for you and for all of us together. It's His job to bring you together, and your job to be good.

Update: You may be thinking, "But what about Hauerwas? He's no spring chicken, and he said it too." And my answer to that is that Hauerwas said it generally, about the random thoughts of married people in general. He did not say "My wife is not perfect for me."

The problem with "I married the wrong person" is not that most married people do not occasionally think this. Of course we do, especially if we are in a very cranky or selfish or lustful mood. (And academia is packed with men who ditched the wives of their youth for their sparkiest, tastiest graduate students.)

It's that sometimes--sometimes--the married people are right. Then the question is if the marriage really is a marriage, in which case you just have to come to terms with it, or if it isn't, in which case you may seek to be released from the false bonds.

Friday, 14 September 2012

I am not Elizabeth Bennett

And neither are you.

My mother read me most of Jane Austen's novels when I was growing up. It was an evening ritual. She would read, and I would rug-hook. The stories soaked into me, and when I went to university, I was delighted when an Austen novel appeared in a course. I took courses specifically on 18th century novels, so as to read what Austen read. The first draft of Pride and Prejudice was, in fact, written in 1797.

My love for the work of Jane Austen took a bruise from a chap who had decided that in some mystical way I was Elizabeth Bennett, and he was Mr Darcy, and my mother was Mrs Bennett, and my father was Mr Bennett. There was very little evidence for his decision, but that's what he thought. He wrote me rather eighteenth century letters exhorting me to live up to the Elizabeth Bennett standard.

There was something rather flattering, when I was 22, to be assured that I was all Austenian perfection when "so many other girls are sluts." Had I known then what I know now, I would have taken a student loan and finished my degree abroad. But I did not.

The funny thing is that I now live in the ruins of Jane Austen's world. This is to say, I live in a 17th-18th century home once owned by a baronet. One of my professors discoursed on the "ha-ha" Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey might have fallen into. I can see our ha-ha (a trench that separates a cow pasture from one's manicured lawn) from the kitchen window.

Occasionally I even meet a baronet, although not often because there are not a lot of baronets in my social circle. One of life's little realities is that baronets tend to hang with other baronets, or at least with people as rich as, or richer than, they.

Austen was a realist who wrote with great wit and confidence about the society in which she lived. Her family was in--says wiki, and really this is the best way of putting it--"the lower ranks of the landed gentry."

It's always tricky being in the lower ranks of anything, if you ask me. You're perpetually worried about the easy slide down and longing for the tantalizing prizes just a rank up.

Not to be crass, but the family that owned this house was a rank or two up from Austen, and indeed I have checked with B.A. and by 1775 the heir was in the "Mr Darcy" class. A real-life Mrs Bennett would have indeed been pleased if her daughter could have married him, and a real-life Elizabeth Bennett, someone whose father was wealthy enough to run a country house with servants, would have felt comfortable here. (N.B. That heir's "Pemberley" is somewhere else; I write from one of the more minor properties.)

All this preamble is to impress upon you that I know what I am talking about when I tell you that I am not Elizabeth Bennett and neither are you.

And I think it important to say this because I have met both men and women who view life through the prism of Pride and Prejudice, and adjust their beliefs and behaviour accordingly. One woman misquoted to me one of Elizabeth Bennett's spirited remarks to Mr Darcy with such enthusiasm that I was seized by a fear that she had said it herself to some crush object or other.

Let's get this straight. We do not have much in common with Elizabeth Bennett. She did not have the vote. She could not get a job without losing her place in society (which means all of her friends). She automatically lost the right to own property when she married. She certainly did not go to university. She could not go for a morning jog. Her exercise was restricted to walking, dancing, horseback riding (sidesaddle) and, if the owner of the vehicle agreed, driving. She could not travel farther than the nearest town by herself.

If this sounds to you restful rather than restrictive, consider that if she had not married, upon her father's death Elizabeth would have had to become a governess or schoolteacher--from lady to upper servant or employee in one fell swoop. It is hard to express in contemporary terms how humiliating this would have been. Jane Eyre did not have Elizabeth's upbringing, and represents the horror of the third option: being completely dependent on wealthier relations.

Being female was a serious, serious handicap in 1800, and all that kept a woman from perpetual risk of sexual exploitation was her rank in the class system and the goodwill of the men around her.

(If you think the lovely manners the men of Austen's novels show the women were universal in Austen's day, you can think again. Working women were propositioned day and night, and prostitution was rife. Song-sellers stood in the city streets singing lewd songs. There were city guides to brothels. It was not considered a horrific scandal if a man of Austen's class had a child out of wedlock, as long as he paid something towards his/her support. The opposite, of course, was true of women of Austen's class. Dear heaven. And the politeness shown by "gentlemen" to "ladies" was as much about the ladies' gentlemen relations as about the ladies themselves.)

So when Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy confront each other, and when Elizabeth Bennett sends Mr Darcy packing, we have a situation in which an almost powerless person stands up to an almost omnipotent person and says, "Despite the vast disadvantages life has handed me, I know I am a human being worthy of your respect."

The social inequalities between the daughter of a rich man and a rich man have since been swept away. Look around and take note. It is true that some men still take sexual advantage of women and some are more ready to sexually insult women they think socially "beneath" them than of women they perceive to be "above" them. However, men simply do not have the social privileges over women they had in 1800.

I once witnessed a young Austen fan being coquettishly rude to a younger man. It was not pretty, and I suspect that she had picked up this technique from the works of Miss J.A.

To put the situation in context, the Austen fan had a university education, a career and a mortgage. The young man was still in university and, I'm guessing, dependent on his parents for food, etc. Physically he had the advantage as he could have, had he chosen, beaten her to death with a hardcover copy of Pride and Prejudice. But, otherwise, no.

And that is what Austen fans, and other fans of "spirited heroines" have got to get into their heads. Elizabeth Bennett cannot be our guide to life because she was not our equal. She was not our equal because she was not, in law, men's equal. She lived under social and legal restrictions few of us know anything about. And Mr Darcy had powers and privileges beyond most modern men's wildest fantasies.

Thus, if at parties we sound like spirited Elizabeth Bennetts, trying to get ordinary 21st century men to acknowledge an equality that they already know we possess, then we are only going to look and sound silly and rude. This will be especially true if we are richer and more glamorously employed than they.

The war for equality under the law and in polite society has been won. What we need now is a mop-up action against sexual assault, sexist rudeness and crudeness. And Elizabeth cannot be a guide to this either, for the crumb her society tossed her, as the daughter of landed gentry, was never having to deal with this stuff.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

It Never Grows Old

Girl 1: So what are you going to wear?

Girl 2: I don't know. Maybe my black gypsy dress again...

Girl 1: Oh, that's a beautiful dress. I really like it. It's beautiful.

Girl 2: So what are you going to wear?

Girl 1: Well, I don't know. Either my blue velvet dress or my long skirt.

Girl 2: Oh, you should wear your blue velvet. It's gorgeous.

Girl 1: Thank you! I really like it.

Girl 2: I'll tell you what! I'll wear my green velvet dress. I mean, it's cold, it's almost winter. So I can wear it. I'll wear my green velvet dress--

Girl 1: And I'll wear my blue velvet dress! That's great! Oh, that's great.

Girl 2: Yes, we can match.

Girl 2 giggles. She is on a mobile in a cafe in Edinburgh, 39+ if she's a day, and thoroughly conscious of what a high school conversation this is.

Girl talk. It never grows old.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Unseraphic but Amusing

A reader sent me this:

Warning: Liberal use of the F-word. But it's silent. And the site sums up what it can feel like when "all my friends are married."

It works better as a joke than as a guide to life!

For one thing, partying is (arguably) for Single Life, not Single Life for partying. And not to kill the buzz, but the protagonist's anti-marriage stance might soften a bit under the right circumstance, e.g.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Lest We Forget

From a reader: "Keep on blogging in the free world, Aunt S."

(Freedom isn't free.)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Truth Will Set You Free

Being sick for a week has left me really tired, so I'll try to keep this short.

This is a blog to provide conversation, advice and hopefully comfort to Single readers. Married readers are welcome, too. I try to keep it a welcoming place, where even very sensitive girls will feel comfortable. And so I prune the comments box all the time, and not just to keep the anger and the insults at bay. Even warmhearted descriptions by married ladies of healthy married sexuality fall to the pruning sheers. Even the comments of close friends are sometimes thwarted.

But this is also a blog about living in reality. Reality is sometimes worse than we want it to be, and sometimes it is better. Catastrophizing is as dangerous as wishful thinking. Hyperbole, if indulged often, can lead to catastrophizing.

I came across a Single woman's blog the other day, in which she declared that she was hit on by married men every day. Every day. I tried to get my mind around a situation in which a woman could be hit on by married men every day. Maybe if she were a hotel bartender who worked seven days a week. She also said she was pretty sure there were no good men, and yet she was dismayed to be approaching 30 without a man. If you can read very vulgar language and ideas without flinching, here is her post.

One thing about being unwillingly Single for a long time is that you experience a lot of disappointment. Serious disappointment leads to bitterness, and this is not surprising. The problem with bitterness, however, is that it doesn't heal the disappointment or correct whomever or whatever it was that disappointed you. It hurts you. It also hurts the innocent people upon whom you turn the shafts of your bitterness--like your mother, for example.

I find it interesting that "She's just bitter" has become an insult rather than an private revelation that should lead to compassion. Occasionally my online critics decide or tell me that I am bitter, which makes me feel indignant. (Seraphic to friends, with outrage: "I'm not bitter! I'm the opposite of bitter. I am SWEET!") "Bitter" should not be an epithet to dismiss people but a clue that they need help.

Helping the bitter--which means disappointed, often heartbroken people who can feel as much attacked as helped by advice--is a difficult and sometimes thankless task. I am sure we have all experienced the shock of being asked for advice and then having our words thrown in our faces. It's a bruising experience.

But if you can put up with the occasional bruise, it is a gift to help your friends remain rooted in reality. Yes, there are times when you should let your friends get away with such hyperbole as "All men are jerks" or "I can't tell you how many married men hit on me every day" (like, for example, when they are hysterical and in tears), but there are times when you really have to call them on it. At a certain point you have to say, "Sandra, to my knowledge you've been propositioned by three married men, and that was over a period of ten years. You've met dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of married men in the past ten years, and only three of them actually propositioned you. Sure, a few more have said flirty things, but don't you think they were just being lighthearted?"

It's the same thing with "stalking." Girls throw around the word "stalking" a lot. But stalking is a serious offence. It is not the same thing as a clumsy male attempt to contact you over Facebook or multiple attempts reach you on your mobile, especially if you said "Yes" to him being your Facebook friend or you gave him your mobile number.

I once came home to a post-split hideout and found a present from my ex on the radiator. It was a book of poetry. I had no idea he knew where I lived, and I was furious and scared that he did. "Stalking" I shrieked, and called a battered women's hotline.

"That's not stalking," said the annoyed-sounding counsellor. "Stalking is when they call you dozens and dozens of times or follow you everywhere."

I was expecting complete and unconditional acceptance of my feelings of being stalked, so I was seriously surprised. But I was also grateful because after I heard what other women went through, I stopped being alarmed by this one stupid book of poems.

When you exaggerate the wickedness of men, or the number of wicked men you have met, to yourself, you can psyche yourself out and make yourself unhappier, unhappier than you would be if you just looked banal reality in the face.

This is not to say that many men do not do many bad things. There are places in the world I simply will never go (like Tahrir Square, Cairo) because the men who are there have such a reputation for disgraceful behaviour towards women. But to my knowledge I have never met men like the men who rip off women's clothing in Tahrir Square, so I don't define men by the men of Tahrir Square.

Nor do I think that much about men who have disgusted me or hurt my feelings to such an extent that I would never speak to them again. Since I began this blog, I have always concentrated my thoughts on the great men I know, especially the men of my own family. And I suspect this is one reason why I found a great man, one that I knew at once would get along so well with the men of my family.

It may be a relief to one's feelings to announce that all men are jerks, and it may seem like a quick way to bond with female friends or get emotional support--and heaven knows, we all need emotional support in our lives--but I posit that this can be a dangerous mental rut, and can even become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Update: By the way, I have absolutely no interest in attacking any reader. I will attack thought processes and myths that I think hurt readers, and I will sometimes express myself robustly, but I am not interested in attacking readers. If you are a reader, and you think I am attacking you, please examine the evidence, e.g. the context, what I have actually written, six years of not attacking readers.

Friday, 7 September 2012

"Serial Monogamy" is Seriously Risky

Still sick, but conscious of my readership's reading habits so here I am.

I came across this article just now, and it made me sad and a little angry. The writer suggests in a light-hearted way that the perfect number of sexual partners is ten.

But there is nothing light-hearted about Human Papilloma Virus, sterility and cervical cancer, and as condoms are of limited use against HPV, and male carriers can't be tested for it, the most effective way to avoid it is lifelong virginity or to have just one sexual partner who has had no other sexual partner but you.

That's very bad news for women of my mother's generation and of my generation. My mother's generation was more or less told that they'd be okay if the men they were sleeping with looked clean. My generation was told we'd be okay if we used a condom every time. Your generation of women is (surprise!) now being inoculated with Gardasil at the age of 15, and only heaven as yet knows what the side effects of that will be.

My mother's generation and my generation were lied to about sex and sexual health. We really were. And when I was staying with a friend who was undergoing a horribly painful and damaging experimental treatment for cervical cancer, I felt very very angry at those who lied to us. Fifty years of sexual revolution have resulted in a need for mass inoculation of girls against social disease.

I am also angry at those who put the bad news about sex in small print, who told all sexually active women they had to have regular Pap smears but did not underscore why. We heard so much about AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. We saw so many pictures of bald, emaciated men dying of it. Why do we not see pictures of bald, emaciated women dying of cervical cancer?

Heath officials used to talk about "social hygiene" and warn women against sleeping around. They didn't suggest condoms as a way to make it safer; they told women to say "No" and came up with schemes to help prostitutes take up another line of work. In short, they offered the best solution to eliminate the risk, not condoms to "reduce" the risk.

And that is my rant. My condolences if in your youth you believed the "safe sex" lie and have lived (or will live) to regret it. I used to roll my eyes around at the "scare them witless" school of chastity education. I still don't think it's in keeping with adult dignity. But what we all deserve are the facts, all the facts, about sexual health so that, Christian, agnostic or Other, our choices will be rooted in reality.

Fact: the fewer people you and your future spouse sleep with, the less likely you are to contract HPV.

Fact: HPV is widespread among sexually active people, be they married or Single.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Jedziemy do Polski!

It is time to think about B.A.'s autumn holiday, and I have convinced him that we should go to Poland. So we will be in Krakow in late October, in time for the Krakow Book Fair.

I want to convince him that we should go also to other Polish towns, so if a Polish reader would like me to visit her group, please send me an email. A Polish email is fine.

Update: A heartwarming Polish reaction.

In other news, a Single reader in Chicago writes in that she has a fun group of Single Catholic friends in Chicago who are open to welcoming new Singles in Chicago. So if you are new in Chicago and want to meet other Single Catholics, please send me an email.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Two olives with GIN

Here's what I have to say about the late Cardinal Martini's last interview:

Catholic Register

Some of you may think I have gone easy on the late Cardinal. But I'll tell you this: as usual the British papers know squat about Catholicism, and after reading a couple of comment streams on the online Independent I was thinking I'll be up to my knees in Fenian blood--i.e. my own--one of these days. Scary, scary, scary.

Update: Girls, I've had a pile of "Auntie Seraphic" emails over the past two days, so if I haven't got back to you yet, I apologize. Try me again in a couple of days, when I should be over the worst of my cold.

Fake Rules Girls & Man Friends

Occasionally I get an email from a girl who says she is trying to be a good Rules girl and so tries to keep emailing and calling a guy first to a minimum.

Somewhere in this mass of bedding, tissue and cups of tea is my new copy of The Rules, and I am very sure The Rules says you are never allowed to contact a guy first. I don't think it mentions email or texts, as The Rules was written in the 1990s, but its principle is clear.

If you are the pursuer in a relationship with a man, you are NOT a Rules girl at all. And it is okay not to be a Rules girl. Some of my female readers, and probably 99% of my male readers, hate The Rules. I personally think many of the rules in The Rules perfectly sensible, especially as a way to keep women from flinging themselves at men who simply do not give a damn. But I am happy to discuss the book's flaws.

What does not make me happy is girls saying that they are Rules girls when they are obviously not Rules girls because saying so shows that they are not rooted in reality. And you can't stop chasing boys until you have admitted to yourself that you chase boys. I chased boys right up until 2008, even though from 2005 I tried really hard not to, and its a miracle I didn't chase B.A. There, I admit it.

Even though I am happily married, I certainly understand the appeal of chasing boys. Men are, after all, the caffeine in the cappuccino of life, and fun to have around. It is fun to hear their news and get their perspective and have them turn up at my dinner parties.

But sometimes men are not interested in being even just friends with women. And some of them are just lazy correspondents. Women are famously the busy little bee of relationships, keeping families together and sending their mother-in-law's birthday card and making the thoughtful phone call to find out if a missing fellow parishioner is dead or was just ill on Sunday morning. In general, men are not so good at this.

Through much trial and error, I have discovered that I write way more letters and emails to male relations and friends than they ever write back, and the only cure for this situation is to stop writing letters and emails.

Of course, this does not mean that the men friends do not appreciate the emails. Sometimes when I stop writing to male friends during their holidays, they return and reproachfully ask why.

"Because you didn't write back," I say and they look confused.

But I like writing letters regardless, so now I just write them with unconditional writerly love. I have learned to appreciate the few emails and letters I do get. Nagging, I feel, would spell the death of friendship.

But friends are just friends; nobody expects them to behave like like men-in-love. B.A. called every day when we were engaged, and also wrote me long emails, because that's how men-in-love behave. If they can get to phone, men-in-love call. That's just the way they are. There's no need to ask them; they just do it.

Husbands are not that frantic about it unless something is wrong. Husbands are a whole other category of men. They aren't male friends, exactly, although they are male and hopefully they are their wives' best male friends. They aren't men-in-love, exactly, although hopefully they are deeply attached to their wives. They're husbands. They're different.

And now I will fall back, exhausted, against the pillows because I'm still really sick. Poor me.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Unlike Any Other

I very much enjoyed reading about your plans for last Friday night and your dream jobs and how you have gone in pursuit of them and/or have learned skills that will be useful if you get married and have children.

What you do leads very much to who you are, and if like Kirstin, you plan and strive and sacrifice to become, say, a zookeeper, that is a real formation of character. I love Gerald Durrell's books although I could never be so brave as to hang out with elephants and lions, so through one eensy comment Kirstin has become a heroine of mine. I feel like grabbing the few British bachelors I know and saying, "How about a ZOOKEEPER!? Wouldn't you like to meet a ZOOKEEPER?"

I am so impressed that there is a zookeeper among my readers. This is not to neglect the doctors and poets and teachers and churchwomen and moms, but come on. ELEPHANTS!

B.A. found a British copy of The Rules & The Rules II together in one volume for 33 pence, and so I am rereading them. Fein & Schneider are marketing geniuses, for there is enough padding in that book to stuff a chair. But as I have said for six years now, they have a lot of solid advice, beginning with "Be a Creature Unlike Any Other."

I have been married for three of those six, and now that I am not searching myself, I am a lot more sharp-witted about other Searching Singles, especially Searching Single men. Searching Single men say stuff to me they would probably not say if I were still Single myself. And I find them interesting for whole new reasons, like a retired hunter who has become a biologist.

The kinds of guys who get chased by crowds of girls strike me as particularly interesting. Why they are being chased does not interest me as much as how they are ever going find Miss Right in a sea of clamouring Miss Wrongs. Will they bother, or will they just float on a sea of flattery until they are forty and panic about having kids?

"I concede that they find me interesting," said one such guy of the girls throwing themselves at him, "but what makes them think that I would find them interesting?"

I think he'd find a zookeeper pretty darn interesting. I hope so, or I will totally lose my faith in Young Men Today.

Admittedly, though, with men it's not primarily what you do but what you look like, so it is always a good idea to look your best in public. That way the sort of men who think your sort of looks are attractive will be attracted long enough to find out what you do. So make sure you do something.

Once you have revealed what it is you do, whether feeding lions or teaching children or studying the thought of Bernard Lonergan, SJ, make sure you don't bore your hearers about it. If your interlocutor seems genuinely interested in what you do, think of what aspect of it you think your listener will find most interesting. And then ask your listener about himself. When you can do so politely, wind up the conversation to talk to somebody else. Always leave 'em wanting more.

This reminds me that poor John Wayne has been the Swashbuckling Protector for weeks now, and I must find another one. Hmm...

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dream Jobs?

Yesterday's write-in didn't work so well, so I'll leave out any political stuff this time.

As it's Labour Day weekend in Canada, and Labor Day weekend in the USA, why don't we all write about our dream job and steps we have taken to get it?

If your dream job is Homemaker and Mother, that is fabulous, and please go ahead and write it in the combox, although instead of mentioning steps you have taken (since this is one profession that you can't WORK to get), tell us of any courses you may have taken to become an even better Homemaker and Mother.

My dream job is to be a bestselling fiction-writer. I realize that the "bestselling" part isn't entirely up to me, but the image I keep having is of a glorious writer's office, like Meryl Streep's in Romancing the Stone or Emma Thompson's in Stranger than Fiction. Okay, at least a proper desk. Offices and desks cost money.

I also have an image of putting down a phone and saying to B.A. "Oh, guess what, darling. My agent says I'm being offered [fabulous sum] for [projected bestseller]" and B.A. saying "Hooray! We should get a holiday flat in [Mediterranean town]."

Nobody should write primarily for money, but if you write all the time anyway, money for writing becomes kind of a thing.

The steps I have taken include reading, blogging, writing short stories; writing articles for newspapers and journals; writing five novels, one of which has been accepted for publication; writing one non-fiction book, which has been accepted for publication in three countries; joining a writers' group to get some feedback; writing to the Scottish Book Trust for advice; and submitting short stories for publication (so far big 0 on the short stories). I write almost every single day. I carry a notebook everywhere and write in it frequently. I pay careful attention to the way both Scots and Poles reinvent English.

Enough about me. Your dream jobs please.