Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pizza, abortion, slavery, and lessons learned: Seven quick takes for, well, Wednesday

By Mary C. Tillotson

I've seen the "7QT Friday" on blogs here and there. These aren’t as quick as I was hoping, but here are seven quick takes for – Wednesday!

A couple weeks ago, on a Thursday, I took our car into the shop because it was squealing, clunking, and shining a light on the dashboard. Our mechanic (who I’d highly recommend to anyone in the area) gave me three or four diagnoses, so I planned to drop off the car Monday for a marathon of fixing and replacing.

On Friday at about 4:45 p.m., I got stranded in the Staples parking lot because – what do you know? – the car didn’t start. I did not want to call my husband – it was the second day in a row he’d stayed home sick and he was gearing up for a Sunday flight to Vermont for a five-day conference, so he didn’t need one more thing on his plate. But what else was I going to do?

A couple friends picked him up, and they met us at Staples. Fortunately, our car is a stick-shift (I never thought I would say that) so we were able to bump-start it, which involves pushing it till it’s rolling at a walking speed and letting the clutch out quickly.

We thanked our friends, drove home, and parked on a hill so we could bump-start it ourselves and drop it off the mechanic on Saturday, adding “replace starter” to our already expensive litany. We walked from the mechanic to our church for Saturday evening Mass, bummed a ride home from some neighbors, and found a friend to drive my husband to the airport at about 7:30 Sunday morning.

It was stressful and frustrating, but nothing extraordinary. This sort of thing happens to everyone. As I started catching my breath after it all, I wondered: what if I had been sick, too? What if we’d had two kids under the age of three? What if we were new to the area and didn’t have local friends we were comfortable asking for help? None of that would be out of the ordinary, either. Then I thought: How on earth do other adults handle situations like this?!?

Then I found my answer: imperfectly. That’s how other adults handle situations like this. That’s how we handled ours, and how we’re likely to handle similar situations in the future.

It was an oddly freeing discovery.

Julie suggested I give some space to The Mirror and why we started it. I can tell my part of the story. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and pondering what it means to be a woman since I was about 14. Finally I settled on starting a magazine for women, but I couldn’t get it off the ground by myself. (I work better in teams.)

Sometime when I was chatting with Joy, we found out we both had been considering starting a magazine about womanhood. After a few how-do-we-want-to-do-this conversations, we started emailing friends to see if they were interested. Most were too busy to feel comfortable committing, but Julie was super enthusiastic and jumped right on board! We knew each other from Hillsdale; I don't think any of us were super close in college, but we knew each other through journalism classes and our campus paper(s). And we're all nice people, so we get along well!

The three of us had an ok-now-how-do-we-want-to-do-this conversation and launched our blog. So here we are! We have big plans for down the road; just you wait. (In case you’re interested, we do take guest posts. Email me at if you'd like to write for us!)

We’ve found there are plenty of DIY magazines for women, plenty of mothering magazines, plenty of empowered-by-career-over-family magazines, but basically nothing for women who value their faith, family, and careers (in that order), who value the contributions women can make to the professional world but make faith and family their top priority.

We aren’t against children, motherhood, men, feminists, or professional women. It’s an odd combination, we’re finding, and people seem to like it.

PS Like us on Facebook!

A few months ago, I called my credit card company to let them know about my name change. (The wedding was more than a year ago, but the paperwork is slow going.) Coincidentally, the expiration date was coming due, so I thought they could save themselves some time by sending me a new card with a new name and new expiration date.

Of course it couldn’t be that simple. They sent me a new card with my new name, but same expiration date. Shortly before the card expired, they sent me a new card with an updated expiration date, but my maiden name. I called them again and got it all sorted out – now I’ve got a third new card with my married name that won’t expire for a while.

I’ve heard it said that women’s lives are more complicated than they need to be. True!

Dr. Gregory Popcak posted something insightful on his blog, and I wanted to share. I would like to copy the entire thing over here, but I’ll just tell you to go read it. Turns out the American Psychological Association has been trying really hard to insist that there’s no connection between abortion and mental health problems, but the cat might be out of the bag. Popcak writes: 
Now, the July issue of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences describes a review of all abortion and mental health literature between 1995 and 2011.  Their findings?  Out of 36 studies reviewed, 13 found post-abortive women at higher risk of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. ...  The researchers conclude by saying that more research needs to be done.  That’s true.  It would just be nice if the professional organizations would stop issuing politically motivated statements until all the data is in.
If abortion really is about women’s health, why aren’t people up in arms about this? Here’s something that has some serious potential to be damaging to women, so, let’s pretend it’s not damaging and tell women it’s healthy and in fact necessary. Ridiculous.


If you or anyone you know has had an abortion and is hurting because of it, contact Project Rachel or Rachel’s Vineyard. Both organizations are designed to help women (and men!) find forgiveness and healing after abortion.

I (successfully!) made pizza-chiladas the other day. It was pretty easy to do and used up the rest of the tomato sauce I had mixed up for my pizza-dilla the previous day.
Find some recipe for enchiladas – they’re pretty easy to make; basically you want to put meat, cheese, and sauce inside a tortilla, roll it up, then put sauce and cheese on the top, then bake it till it’s warm and melty.

For the pizza version, I opened a can of plain tomato sauce (the one where the ingredients list just says “tomato sauce”) and loaded it down with Italian seasoning, garlic, and onion powder. I had pre-baked a chicken breast with olive oil and Italian seasoning, so I chopped that into bite-sized pieces, and mixed it with pepperoni. And, of course, mozzarella cheese. Our oven seems to run hotter than I’m used to, so the cheese ended up golden – not exactly photogenic, so I don't have any "final product" photos for you. But they were delicious!

My parents visited last weekend, and we took a day trip to Harpers Ferry, where John Brown held his famous uprising in 1859 (which arguably sparked the Civil War, or brought the issue of slavery to the forefront). I got a $3 book at the book shop – Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, an autobiographical account of Harriet Jacobs’s life as a slave.

It’s incredible and eye-opening. A few months ago I tried to read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, but it was too gruesome and I had to quit. Jacobs doesn’t pull any punches telling about the horrific lives slaves experienced (although she is very discreet in her discussion of her sexual abuse), but I’m actually able to read it.

I want to share bit of it with you. This is from chapter 3, “The Slaves’ New Year’s Day,” where she describes the annual hiring-day, when slaves are bought and sold.

But to the slave mother New Year’s day comes laden with peculiar sorrows. She sits on her cold cabin floor, watching the children who may all be torn from her the next morning; and often does she wish that she and they might die before the day dawns. She may be an ignorant creature, degraded by the system that has brutalized her from her childhood; but she has a mother’s instincts, and is capable of feeling a mother’s agonies. 
On one of these sale days, I saw a mother lead seven children to the auction-block. ... The children were sold to a slave trader, and their mother was bought by a man in her own town. Before night her children were all far away. She begged the trader to tell her where he intended to take them; this he refused to do. How could he, when he knew he would sell them, one by one, wherever he could command the highest price? I met that mother in the street, and her wild, haggard face lives to-day in my mind. She wrung her hands in anguish, and exclaimed, “Gone! All gone! Why don’t God kill me?” I had no words wherewith to comfort her. Instances of this kind are of daily, yea, of hourly occurrence.


  1. OK, so when I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself because MY kids are all so far away, I'll try instead to be grateful for cars, interstate highways, telephones, and Skype. (I'll still miss my kids.)

    1. We miss you too, Mom! Thanks for visiting; it was great to see you guys.


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