baby, it's cold inside.

We woke up this morning, and it was cold and rainy. We are used to cold by now. If you asked me this week how I was finding married life, I would say, "Cold." Since we got back home, we haven't had heat. There are worse times of the year to not have a working HVAC, but that doesn't mean we're enjoying our chilly house.

But the rain presented a different problem. Because that meant that our woodpile was all wet. Besides the copious layers of wool clothing and the snuggling, our source of heat has been the fireplace. Before this week, the fireplace was something we used on cold nights to add a bit of atmosphere. I would ask Josh to build us a fire, he would do it, it was great, and then I'd get irritated because he spent more time poking at the fire than snuggling in the light of it. I don't like to make generalizations, but in my experience, men like to poke at fires.

But now, the fireplace has become crucial to my existence. After a shivery afternoon spent trying and failing to get a fire going, I had Josh show me how to properly set up the logs, kindling, and newspaper to start one. And then he taught me how to poke it so that it kept going. I learned that it's not just about some caveman desire to mess with the fire; poking is necessary.

We had some store-bought logs and kindling, which is the kind of nonsense that happens in the suburbs. A plastic-wrapped armful of logs had lasted all winter, yet suddenly they were gone in a day. The kindling lasted two days. Luckily, we happened to look outside and realize that kindling does in fact grow on trees. Sometimes it even falls right to the ground where it can be collected in your own back yard. The process of collection is only complicated by the presence of a pitbull who has been trained to think of sticks as toys.

I already told you that we have a woodpile. It's made up of logs from the tree that died and killed our car. If we are talking about the bright side of the loss of our heat pump, I will say that it is very satisfying to burn that particular tree. After discovering that the suburban grocery stores do not sell firewood and kindling in March, we dug deep in the woodpile to get the logs that were only a little wet. I created a makeshift tarp out of trash bags to sortof protect any dryness that remained in the woodpile. The pile of kindling I collected yesterday was completely soaked, so we had to resort to things around the house. After eyeing the pile of books to be taken to the used book store, we made do with an empty beer box instead. We'd rather not burn books, and I promise that if it comes to that, we will only burn the really terrible ones.

I guess we're learning appreciation. I appreciate that it's only the heat pump, so we are still able to take hot showers and cook a pot of chicken soup and complain on the internet. At the end of the month, I will appreciate our greatly reduced electrical bill. And I have appreciated my husband, who knows how to build fires and is very snuggly.


church things.

Thing 1: Field trip.
We had a good time on Pancake Shrove Tuesday at church. We ate pancakes and gumbo and talked to nice church people. People have been very friendly and inviting without being terrifyingly outgoing. Someone took our picture, and our smiling faces later showed up in the monthly newsletter (Glad Tidings, not to be confused with the weekly newsletter, Sunday Tidings). A lady came by and asked if I was interested in going to Drag Bingo. DRAG BINGO. You know, where men wear dresses and lip-sync, and we all play bingo for a good cause. She pointed out several little old ladies that went with her last time. You know, usually I'm a little bashful about signing up for stuff, but I was all about the church field trip to see drag queens.

Man, I love the Episcopalians.

Thing 2: The elements.
One Sunday morning, we were sitting in the pews waiting for the service to start when the parish coordinator came and talked to us. She asked if we'd be interested in taking the elements up to the altar. We said sure, she said great, and after she left, I asked Josh what the elements were. Not only did he not know, he wasn't even sure if that was what she had said. Maybe this was the Sunday when they have the traditional walk of the elephants.

As it turns out, the elements are the wafers and wine. We found this out when we were being instructed as to how and when to take them to the altar. Our hearing and comprehension were clearly off that day, because we managed to flub our first assignment in the Episcopal church. We were supposed to follow right behind the ushers, but instead we did a slow stutter-step up the aisle as we held a whispered argument about whether we were supposed to go now or not (we were). We were so late that we messed up one of the acolytes who was supposed to take the elements from us. And then we giggled all the way back down the aisle, while sympathetic church-goers smiled at us. That'll teach them to ever ask us to do anything again.

Thing 3: Special service.
But I guess those people must be hard up for members, even ones that can't hear or follow simple instructions. Josh got a long and thoughtful email from the priest the next day, asking us to consider joining up. They were having a special service that next Sunday, where all the new members would stand up and make promises and have hands laid on them (or whatever they do). Josh was gung-ho, ready to sign up. I was reluctant for no particular reason other than a general fear of commitment. But since I didn't have an actual reason, I said okay, too.

As it happened, we were already signed up for a special service full of standing and promising and hand-laying, but that was two weeks away. However, the Sunday with the special service was the morning after Josh was going to a special men-only service with lots of beer and grilled ribs, though he explicitly stated no strippers.

So Josh had to write back to the priest and say we were interested in joining, but he couldn't do it that Sunday, because he would be sleeping off his bachelor party. The priest cheekily responded that he wasn't supposed to confess until after the sinning.

Bonus Church-Related Thing!
A gift from one of my new grandmothers. Open to birds of all faiths.


what went down.

And we're back!

Except, now instead of my brain being full of paper scraps, my brain is just overloaded with all these memories that I want to pour all over a sheet of paper so I can remember it forever. Right now, I am still only at the point where I'm making itemized list notes in my journal. Someday, that'll turn into actual essays or whatever I do here.

I bought dinner for 50 people Friday night. When in doubt, go for pizza and beer. Afterwards, we walked over to someone's hotel room and drank a little more. Someone stood on a rolling chair and gave us a very nice toast. Then when I was heading out to Josh's mom's, where I was staying for the night, Josh came with me. He asked if it bothered me that we were breaking the tradition of not seeing each other the day of the wedding. I shrugged. Whenever Josh asks if he can go somewhere with me, I always say yes.

We slept in the same room on separate twin beds. I woke up early to get my hair done. He slept in, then hemmed his pants at the kitchen table.

We got married. The day was so beautiful and perfect that I wondered what we had done to deserve it. I wonder the same thing about Josh.

Then came the party. The decorations were a big hit, even though they were not nearly what I could have done if I had started working on them earlier. No one was any the wiser. Throughout the day, as people complimented me on the crafty creations, I encouraged everyone to please please please take anything they wanted. And they did! We brought in boxes and boxes of stuff, and we left with only 2 boxes of stuff. The end of the reception was like a fire sale. That made me happy, because it was like giving presents to everyone. Plus, I was kinda tired of looking at all that crap. One of the attendees is going to put my paper flowers up at the library where she works, which makes me feel like a real artiste.

There was too much beer and too much wine and too much food. The groomsmen took the kegs to an afterparty - my wedding had an afterparty! - but the next morning, there was still a lot left. Either we bought too much or all our friends are getting too old to party like they used to. My mom took home fifty bottles of wine. Depending on how soon I see her again, I may get some of it. She also took home a lot of finger sandwiches, but she gave the leftover shrimp and grits to a groomsman. At the afterparty, they picked out the shrimp.

We left with the very last guests, pushing decorations on them on their way out. We went to Trader Joe's for wine and beer and bread and cheese, then to a cabin in Pilot Mountain State Park. The next day, we went to Asheville, where we spent most of the time in our downtown hotel room, eating more beer and bread and cheese.

Then we came home and the heat pump was broken. Married life begins.


register the deed.

There was no parking on Fayetteville Street, so we parked a block over. The meter said it had another half hour to go. A lucky break, if we could finish our business at the county office in time. As we speed-walked back up to Fayetteville Street, we passed a meter man. We giggled, feeling like we were getting away with something. Or maybe we were just feeling a little giddy.

The Register of Deeds is located in some tall building named after a bank, right on the square where they have summer concerts. We took a revolving door to get in. They always make me nervous, but we got in without incident.

On the third floor, we walked up to a man behind a desk and announced that we would like to get married. He asked if we had filled out the forms yet. I responded with a blank look. We had our photo IDs, proof of social security number, and $60 cash, but I hadn't filled out any forms. He pointed to the wall behind us, where a row of computers waited. We filled in the web form in record time, conscious of the meter counting down.

When we finished, another man waved us forward. He looked at his monitor and correctly identified us as Joshua and Sandra, who would like to get married. He probably doles out dozens of marriage licenses every week, and he's got the process memorized. We told him about our time limit, and he promised to hurry. This guy, who probably never imagined himself working at a county office for a living, at least peppered what he had to say with jokes and quips. I don't remember his name, but That Guy At the Wake County Register of Deeds makes visiting local government offices almost fun.

After ten minutes of rapid-fire information and jokes, he asked for our $60 cash and then handed me an envelope, saying "Congratulations, you are now licensed to marry." We have to have the papers inside signed by a officiant and two witnesses within 60 days, good for anywhere in the state of North Carolina. Government is weird. You have to get a license to marry someone, like you need a permit to transport six cases of wine or burn a bunch of crap in your yard. Or at least, you have to get a license to enjoy the government benefits of marriage, like automatic inheritance, hospital visitation, tax benefits, more that I don't even know about. That's a lot of perks for less than a half hour of time and $60. We could've saved our money and our afternoon by just having the ceremony and to heck with whether the government thinks we're married. But this way, Josh can have health insurance for the first time in eight years. If we had been a same-sex couple, this would've been the step where we would have been thwarted, no matter how many photo IDs or proof of social security. But we sailed on through.

We giggled all the way back downstairs and made out a little bit in the elevator. We successfully navigated the revolving doors again; maybe that's the actual test you have to pass to get your license to marry. We got back to the car with time to spare.


paper scraps.

I want to just dump everything out of my brain right now. I am certain that the result with be a pile of paper scraps.

Constant low-level stress has been the mood for a month. This week, it's gone up to mid-level, with occasional spikes. People keep telling me to enjoy my last few days of singletude and this time of preparation, and I am trying, but I can't. Being told to enjoy it only stresses me out more because I can't seem to do it. The stress is entirely because I committed to making all the decorations, and then I didn't start doing that until very late. I think everything else will be okay, because the checks have been written and the professionals are in charge. And if it's not okay, at least there will be beer.

I worry that there won't be enough flowers. There are already things that I would've liked to do that I've just scrapped because it's not worth the time I'd need to devote to it. So the paper flower boutineers won't have leaves on them. They still look pretty sweet, and I'm the only person who will know that they look just a little bit better with the green burlap leaves.

I'm committed to stay up very late every night this week to work on crafts. I bring in supplies to the office and fold paper fans in the conference room during my lunch hour. Housework, never a high priority for me, just isn't getting done at all. Instead of sweeping up the dog hair, I add tiny slips of paper and hot glue trails. I told Josh that I wasn't making dinner at all this week, so either he could, or I would buy some lunch meat and cheese and bread. I had to add laundry to my list of daily tasks, in between making bouquets and folding paper butterflies, just so I would have something clean to wear to the rehearsal dinner. I added "shave legs" to the list, too, because I'm afraid that if it isn't on the list, it will get lost in the folding and gluing.

The only time I really feel calm is when I'm working on something. Otherwise, I just feel like I should be.

I have destroyed five atlases, a book of aerial photographs of San Francisco, one hymnal, one book of violin music, a Babar book with beautiful pictures and some unfortunate depictions of cannibals, a Snoopy book full of goofy puns, a COBOL programming manual, and a book of Celtic history that I turned out not to need. I almost ripped up a book of sheet music, but then I noticed it was from 1925 and decided not to. If I wrote poetry, I could write long odes to my paper-cutter and my exacto knife. I have a v-shaped cut where my left pointer finger got in the way of my scissors.

I have arguments in my head with people. Completely made-up arguments that they start with me, not knowing that I am a burning ball of barely suppressed tension. No one has said anything mean to me, rather everyone has been very helpful and excited. I have to make up the provocation before I can make up my completely obliterating retort. This is not the mind of a woman enjoying this time of preparation. Someone told me that weddings make people crazy, but I took it as a warning about demanding relatives or flaky caterers. I didn't think it would mean me.

I think the decorations might turn out to be amazing. I think people will be impressed, and I will be proud. I just want to get to Friday night, because I've decided that there will be no more stressing out once the rehearsal starts. I want to be in that stress-free place. But I also don't want to, because it's too soon and I have too much left to do.

I have let the wedding, the party, take over my brain. I feel shallow because I can't think of anything but centerpieces, when I should be considering the lifetime commitment that I'm about to make. The most I have thought about that is to wonder whether Josh will still want to marry me after I am mean to him for messing up a paper lily.

I don't have an upbeat way to end this. I just needed to get that out. I'll be okay. Everything will be lovely. I won't have to make any more flowers, and I'll be married to the most excellent man.


made up.

My maid of honor, Ashley, suggested that I wear makeup at my wedding. I reacted violently.

I remember one night watching an episode of Cheers, where Frasier and Lilith are getting married. Lilith, like me, never wears makeup. The specific clip I remember is of her all gussied up and feeling uncomfortable and fake. Frasier comes in and tells her how beautiful she looks, how she ought to get dolled up like that more often. He walks out, convinced he has given her a great compliment, but she is heartbroken. Because the made-up version of her is not her at all, but it's apparently what her husband would prefer.

I thought about that clip and I told Ashley that she could bring some makeup with her when she came to see me the weekend before the wedding. We could play beauty parlor, and if I hated it, I didn't have to wear it. Sensing weakness, she suggested I could get contacts, too.

I told Josh that Ashley wanted me to wear makeup. He reacted violently.

Thursday evening, I went to the Dollar Tree to find a flower girl basket, some hot glue sticks, and cheap serving utensils. I wandered through their beauty aisle, where they had boxes and boxes of knockoff perfumes. I don't own any perfume. I have a bottle of fruity body spray that someone gave me four years ago. I've used about half of it, usually on special occasions when I want to smell a little like a fancy margarita. I thought it might be nice to smell more womanly on my wedding day, although really, I always smell womanly, if by womanly you mean the actual smell of a woman rather than the artificial odors sold commercially to cover up actual woman smell. I opened up boxes of perfumes, sprayed the boxes and then sniffed them. After half a dozen bottles, I got tired of furtively spritzing, so I picked the Halle Berry knockoff. It smelled like flowers, which was much better than Jennifer Aniston, who smelled like laundry. Clean laundry, but laundry nonetheless. I was indecisive. Sure, it's a nice smell, but do I want that smell to waft about in my wake?

Later that night, I tried it out on Josh. He complained about the women that work in his restaurant who come in smelling like overripe fruit. But he said the Halle Berry was good. So at least we agree that I should smell like flowers and not fruit.

Saturday night, Carney read from a book of wedding tips that I should make sure and not wear sunscreen. I laughed. No, she said, really. It'll make your face look shiny. Why would I be wearing sunscreen when I'm going to be inside all day?, I asked. She said that a lot of lotions have sunscreen in them. I never put lotion on my face, I told her. She and Ashley said they both put lotion on their faces every day. Where did they learn to do this? Did I miss a class? Carney said that I had really nice skin, and Ashely said it was probably because I never put crap on it. I realized that I had never before considered whether or not my skin was nice.

They made fun of my dollar store perfume. The joke will be on them when Halle Berry shows up and they can't tell the difference between us in a blind sniff test.

Sunday afternoon, I sat on my bathroom counter while Ashley put crap on it. She showed me a palette of colors and asked what I liked, but I had no idea, so she just picked what she thought would work. It was like when I give Josh a haircut and he looks at it every two seconds and complains. I haven't worn makeup in more than a decade. It's lighter than I remember; I couldn't feel it at all. I couldn't really tell I was even wearing it, which made me wonder what I looked like before. She did powder and eyeliner and mascara, but we both agreed that the latter was right out. She didn't feel confident putting it on me, and I definitely do not feel confident applying it myself. Also, I looked too made-up, like not me. We talked about lip gloss, because even though you apparently don't want a shiny face on your wedding day, shiny lips are a must. She had clear lip gloss and tinted lip gloss, but I said that my lips already had a nice color. I'd never considered the color of my lips before, but she didn't disagree, so I guess it's okay. She offered to pluck my eyebrows, but I said I'd do that myself.

Josh came up and couldn't tell that I was wearing makeup, so that's good, I guess. Or bad. At least he's not telling me it should be my new look.

I'm still wearing my glasses. I'll smell nice and have shiny lips, but I'll still look like me.


the stratocasters.

Let's talk about names.

I have a fairly unusual last name. I've seen other people with my last name in the phone book, or perhaps on a billboard for a personal injury lawyer, but I've never met one outside my immediate family. The name is more common in eastern North Carolina, where my dad is from, but where I grew up, we were the only ones. I like having an unusual name, because I like being unusual.

Josh's last name is more usual. I used a website to compare the frequency of my current first and last name with the name I would have with his surname. It was more frequent by a factor of 3. Distributed across the whole world, it's still unlikely I'll ever meet another one, but I can't say the idea of being more common made me happy.

Names are significant, like Shakespeare said. I heard someone complain about how the government doesn't know you by name, but by a number. I pointed out that a social security number is actually unique, whereas there can be unlimited people with the same name. But our names are what others call us, how we introduce ourselves, and how we think of ourselves. It is not our actual identity, but more like a symbol. I tried on a variety of names and nicknames when I was little. I dreamed of being old enough to change my name, but really I was trying to change my identity, or rather, I was trying to create one. Now that I have a better idea of who I am and who I want to be, what I call it is less important to me.

Now I have to face the decision of what to do with my last name. Do I chuck it aside? Move it to the middle and discard my middle name, Lynn? I've never had strong feelings about Lynn. It's a bland, place-holder kind of middle name, like Lee or Ann. Or do I keep the old surname, figuring if it was good for the last 30 years, it'll be fine for another.

Nowadays, sometimes men take their wife's last name. I don't think Josh would be willing to do that, nor do I feel like I could ask him. Taking someone's name is a loaded concept for a man, cue the whip crack sound effect. Men have to deal with arbitrary societal standards, too.

Another option is to pick a brand new name for the both of us. I told Josh that I wanted to be Josh and Sandra Stratocaster. He considered it very seriously for a minute, then said no. Too bad. I could've been the first and only Sandra Stratocaster in the whole world.

The only thing that I feel strongly about in this decision is that I want our new family to have one last name. I want to be a unit. Then people passing by our house can go "Who lives there?" "The Stratocasters!" "Who is bringing the cookies for church next week?" "The Stratocasters, which means they'll be chocolate." "Do you know any weirdos?" "Dude, let me tell you about the Stratocasters."

I don't think there is one right answer for every couple. There are women who have built careers using their maiden name, and it makes sense for them to keep them. There are other women who are all too glad to shed the nominal assocation with rotten childhoods. The wonderful thing about womens' rights is that we can decide on an individual basis what is the best option for ourselves. There is still a stigma attached to not taking your husband's name, and that's lame. My inner contrarian wants to defy that by keeping my name. But there is also the idea that taking your husband's last name means you means you've subsumed your identity into his. Now it is the woman who is whipped. Josh could take my last name and be made to feel like less of a man. I could take his last name and be made to feel like less of a feminist.

Or we could be the Stratocasters. No one calls them whipped. People, males and females, would be lining up to marry our children in order to take that last name.

I realize the practice of taking a husband's name is historically about ownership of the woman. Guess what? Marriage itself at that point was sorta about that. The last name did not make the woman property, it was the society and the actual laws that did that. And I get that language can be subversive in the way it reinforces norms. But we're not talking about calling grown women "girls" or using the word "bitch" as interchangeable with "female." We are talking about my last name. Just mine.

Josh has no illusions about owning me. I am his and he is mine, which is about commitment, not ownership. As time goes on, the stigma of keeping your name will fade, more couples will pick brand new names, more husbands will take the wife's name. Eventually, people will stop trying to assign a greater significance to an individual practical decision, and we will all finally get to do whatever the heck we want.


mad libs.

Months and months ago, a friend of mine emailed me a wedding idea: mad lib RSVPs. It is surely the most brilliant idea in the history of telling someone whether or not you are coming to their party. So that's what we did. I printed out little mad libs on cardstock, then put my address on the back, along with a postcard stamp. We plan to create a big display of the cards for the reception (at least the ones with no dirty words). We don't even need a guestbook, because we have these instead.
We've been getting one or two postcards back every day, and it makes checking the mail a real treat. I always knew that the key to getting mail was sending it, but apparently if you send people a pre-stamped postcard with a fill-in-the-blank message, they're even more likely to respond.

More likely, but still not definitely. Now, I am certain that there were RSVPs in the past that I left unsent. Not because of any particular malice or spite, but just because I didn't. And so I understand all those people who did not send theirs back. That doesn't mean that I don't want to strangle them a little bit. The whole point of them is so we can know how many people we're going to have to feed. It just makes my life easier, and frankly, I'm a little crazy right now.

To all the past brides whose weddings I did not send back the card: I'm sorry. I didn't understand.

Complaints aside - no, really - these little cards have been wonderful to get back, a little daily dose of mail-order fun. Every day, I approach the mailbox in hopes of finding one of those homemade cards among the catalogs and junk mail. It's funny to see how different people approach the task. Some people do it traditional mad lib style by asking someone else for the part of speech and then filling in whatever they said. Other people just write the word they think fits. Depending on the person, these can be very sweet or rather bizarre. One person put in a fake name (we have our suspicions). I'm honestly suprised it was only one.

I didn't realize how much of a personality can show through a few filled-in nouns and adjectives and verbs. While the invitations themselves were a sort of celebration of the individuality of Josh and me, these mad libs reveal the individuality of our guests (a bunch of weirdos, let me tell you).

A couple of people were stressing out over it, worrying that they weren't creative enough. But there's no wrong way to do it. Anything you put is a reflection of you, so whatever you put is exactly right. We're more interested in everyone's contributions than any particular ideal. It's not a test. After all, we already invited you to our wedding.


february 2013 books.

Here's what I read last month. Ideally, I would've posted it last Thursday. Obviously, ours is not an ideal world.

The Stranger in Big Sur
Lillian Bos Ross
The Stranger sounds really ominous, doesn't it? It took me a good fifty pages of reading about this rancher and his new mail-order wife to realize that the wife was the stranger. She is, in fact, strange to these people who have been living hardscrabble lives in the sparsely populated part of the California coast. The book, told from the point of view of the rancher, is about the two of them figuring out how to live together. Mostly it's about him being forced to adjust his ideas about what a husband is and what a wife is. His only real experience with people is in the home where he grew up under a tyrant of a father. So even though he hates his old man, he still has the impression that being a man is following your own whims all the time, never listening to anyone, nor admitting you were ever wrong.

The rancher is our narrator, and so the book is written is very colloquial language. The characters are painted vividly. I have no idea what they talked or acted like in Big Sur back then, but I feel like I do.

Fall of Giants
Ken Follett
This month's book club selection was this massive piece of historical fiction set during the first World War. The nice thing about reading a 1000-page book is that it's really easy to figure out what percentage you've read.

Lots of people are into Follett, and I can see why. He does a heck of a lot of research into a historical period, then makes up some characters living through it. These characters interact some with actual historical figures, but mostly they represent the regular sorts of people who live in the world. There was a whole lot of war and political maneuvering, but he convinced us to care because we were invested in the characters. It's a good trick. WWI gets less press than its later cousin, so it was nice to learn a little bit about it. For instance, it seemed to have been started over very little.

There were characters on all sides of the conflict, preventing the reader for rooting for any one side. I knew who was going to win, but I felt bad for the specific Germans we were following. Meanwhile, there was a British guy that I really hoped would die. The next book in the series covers World War II, so I am curious as to how he will portray the German citizenry - what they know about what is going on in their name, and what they think and do about it.

More interesting to me than the international battle were the class battles going on within each country, as the men in charge start wars and the peasants die in them. We follow a Russian peasant as he goes to war, then comes back and helps start the Revolution. There is also a Welsh coal-mining family and a pair of suffragettes. Who doesn't like suffragettes?

I'm not going to read the next book or probably any more Follett. While I enjoyed it, the time investment was a little much for me. I'd rather just watch the mini-series.

Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes
Robert McAfee Brown

So the Bible has a lot of stuff in it about revolution. And I guess I knew that. But I have a fairly comfortable life here in the first world. In the third world, those passages about God casting down the mighty and lifting up the lowly resonate much more. Brown's specific expertise appears to be with Latin and South America. The book was written in 1984, so there were lots of conflicts fresh in his mind. He starts of by saying that thinking about what you're going to do is a First World luxury. People who are starving or being killed really don't have time for that, so thought and action occur simultaneously in the midst of struggle.

Brown starts with Exodus, where God takes the side of the oppressed and then liberates them with their help. For current oppressed peoples, they read this story as both a sign of hope and a call to action. He further says that this theme is repeated over and over. I knew all the stories he covered in depth, but I don't think I ever realized what a revolutionary book the Bible is. He gives the particular example of a group of people emerging from a church, singing The Magnificat. They are talking about a reversal of the poor and rich, the weak and the strong, but what can the authorities, also good little Catholics, do? That Mary, she's a subversive one.

To have oppressed peoples, you need oppressors. Unfortunately, in the case of the third world, those of us in the first world often fill that role. The final chapter in the book is sort of an explanation for those who might feel a little accused. Not that you or I specifically go down to Argentina and shoot people, but not only does our government play in the domestic affairs of other countries with seemingly little regard for the actual people that have to live there, but we are able to afford such a high standard of living because other, unseen peoples live with so little. He notes that he himself is living very comfortably here.

Last year, I read One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta. It was written right before the Salvadoran Civil War, and there is friction between the government, who wants to keep killing people, and the church, which decided that was no good. The soldiers are told to beware when anyone starts talking about doing anything for "the people," because that meant they were just socialists. It struck me at the time how language can be twisted, and how a concept that most everyone would agree with can be corrupted by slapping a bad word on it. Both books are advocating liberation theology.