At one point she was stressing, and eating some of the all-natural white cheddar tortilla chips she'd brought, and I started rubbing her shoulders (because that's what I do when people I care about are stressed -- provided I'm physically proximate, of course). She said "Doritos and a backrub. This is what heaven must be like. Oh, and beer." (I thought of antheia at that last bit :) )
I forget what I said... maybe something like "You're cooking dinner; yay you"... and she said "And I'm doing it in a miniskirt." (She was in fact wearing a short denim skirt.) I replied to this: "And isn't everything better when done in a a mini-skirt?" (Yes Ari, I was totally thinking of you and "Everything's funnier when seminarians do it.") She said that Bill (her husband) says everything's better naked.
Seth was back, which was nice. He asked me what I was studying this semester and I said I was taking a James Joyce course because I had somehow made it through a full undergraduate education as an English major without reading any of his work. (Btw, the prof sent us study questions Saturday morning, but of course I don't check my work e-mail on weekends... so that totally hasn't happened.) We also talked about Ernest Hemingway -- he's a big fan, and while I suspect I would appreciate The Old Man and the Sea more if I reread it now (I read it on my own when I was in I think 9th grade) I don't imagine liking The Sun Also Rises (my summary: "Lo, we are The Lost Generation; we wander around Europe getting drunk and laid, a lot") much more upon reread.
At Affirmations he said I'm more well-read than he had realized (which I thought was ironic since half our literature conversation was about how I haven't read a particular major author; but I didn't say that)
Somehow it came up in conversation that Bach wrote a cantata a week for a long while (the themes coming from the liturgy) and there's a Boston church that does a Bach cantata. Neither Seth nor Andrew could think of the name of the church, though. A quick Google at home, though, gives me Emmanuel Church on 15 Newbury St.
The actual study portion, we opened with Robert Browning's "Meeting at Night" (read aloud, three times; though it only took me until the fifth line at the first read through to go to a "metaphor for sex!" place) and then a selection from The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi (read silently). Then we read all of Solomon's Song of Songs aloud, with each person reading a chapter. Originally there was thought of people doing roles, but there was only one full married couple present and the husband didn't want to do it. (I totally would have done it with Michelle, but the way we did it was fine.) Points to us for not being twelve when we read, btw; everyone was very chill doing their reading parts (though I couldn't help laughing at 2:4 'cause... children's song! Wee Sing Bible Songs... "Jesus is the rock of my salvation; His banner over me is love...." Oh, and the repetition of "Daughters of Jerusalem"... I had only read random verses from SoS before, so reading it this time that kept making me think of that fic.)
We talked about what the book might mean and why it was included in the Bible. Marcy&John left partway through, and we all hoped we hadn't upset them too much, but I think we were being good and respectful and not twelve. We talked about it validating romantic/erotic love (and off a comment from Seth I noticed that the text isn't clear as to whether they are in fact married) and we talked about it as an allegory for God&Israel (or Jesus&theChurch) and I mentioned how marital imagery is use a lot by the OT prophets for God&Israel, but Andrew pointed out that it's never as sexually explicit as it is here and what does it mean to have a sexual relationship with God. We talked about the mystics and I talked about the idea of physicality (human bodies and also the physical world) being a blessing. As always, it would have been a stronger discussion if we all had more background in the topic, but we touched on interesting stuff and it got people thinking, which is maybe the most important part.
Both before and after, there was brief conversation with Andrew about the idea of doing some sort of discussion about the church's stance on sexuality (which is problematic since the church's stance is mostly to not talk about it). I would really really like to have conversation about Christian-rooted sexual ethics (since as I've said, I'm unclear as to what my sexual ethics are but I know they're tied to Christianity). I was thinking later, that I've gotta give Lauren Winner credit for coming up with some sort of sexual ethics (incomplete and problematic though it is) in Real Sex.
Oh, and besides the book database I Affirmed Andrew for doing SoS as the text tonight (he had mentioned it last week, but we did it tonight 'cause I'd pushed him on it) and for doing it better than I would have since he has actual Scriptural background and I basically would have said: "Look, sex and allegory! Isn't it cool?"
Doing my Affirmation, Andrew said, "How do I phrase this?" and Michelle helpfully offered: "You know a lot about sex; you're very smart." (Which you all know is so ironic since my sexual experience is so minimal; and other than Seth I was the only non-married person in the room.)
He ultimately said that I was very "candid." He said that he often tells people what he thinks they want to hear, so he really appreciated that I'm so candid -- and we all agreed that removing that guesswork makes relationships easier and healthier.
Michelle was next and said that I try to make people feel better -- which was interesting paired with Andrew's :) -- but that it's very genuine, so she's not only glad to know where she stands with me, but also to know that she stands in a positive light with me. I imagine the part about my trying to make people feel better in a conscientious manner (her phrase) came from the dinner prep (and her Affirmation did start with a mention of the backrub, of course :) ).
One thing I find myself liking about Affirmations is wanting to live up to the good other people see in me.
Michelle asked if I have PS2 so she could show me Guitar Hero. I don't, so she's gonna have a Game Night at her house sometime soon (probably after she gets back from Japan). She is coming to my apartment-warming, though (as is Seth; Andrew and Megan may... they live out in Allston, plus they spent 12 hours this past Saturday putting all their books into a database -- which is made of awesome, but took more time than they had expected, and they're both students).
I had told her about how I wanted to take a chair massage course in December and how I'd taken a real massage class last summer but didn't have a big enough close-off-able space in my current apartment so the table lives at my parents' house. I made an offhand comment about how I would need to get Japanese screens or something to cordon it off, and after I said it I realized that that might actually work. I'm not sure it would be worth it, but it's an interesting thought to keep in mind.
I'm really tired now. (During the writing of this post, I actually got to the point where the thinking/writing started going slowly because I was tired; that hasn't happened in a while.)