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Elizabeth Desimone :
17 article(s)

Elizabeth Desimone has an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Oklahoma State University. In 2009 she graduated from Spring Hill College with bachelor's degrees in English and writing. She is a native of the New Orleans area. Check out Elizabeth's food blog for some delicious recipes.
April 11th, 2014

When I heard that Fred Phelps was gravely ill, my immediate visceral reaction was sinful in the extreme. My immediate visceral reaction was: good.
I am not proud of this.
If you don’t know, Fred Phelps was the founder of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, known for its protests of military funerals and its virulent homophobia. Church members, mostly Phelps’ own relatives, celebrated the deaths of American soldiers as acts of divine retribution. They touted signs proclaiming “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for 9/11.” The WBC has made hateful statements about not only homosexuals, but Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and various Protestant denominations.
So it isn’t surprising that Phelps’…

February 5th, 2014
The connection between faith, writing and waiting

I just read a really terrific short story, and now I feel myself bobbing like a cork toward a deep dark cataract of despair. On the one hand, part of me truly delights in this well-crafted, mysterious piece of prose by a writer of growing renown. At the same time, though, the marvelment I feel is coated in a very thick layer of, not envy exactly, but a sense of comparative professional inadequacy. I stare at the pages in my hands like I’m trying to decipher hieroglyphs, and I ask myself: How did he do that? How did he write something so subtle and memorable and complex? Why can’t I do that? When will I be able to do that? Will I ever?
I say that I’m floating toward a deep dark cataract of despair — deep and dark, yes,…

December 19th, 2013

While we’re on the subject of Christmas music, let me recommend two short musical dramas with Christmas themes.
Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors,… the first opera ever composed specifically for television, centers around Amahl, a handicapped shepherd boy with a tendency to make up stories. Amahl’s widowed mother, already driven to distraction by desperate poverty, doesn’t know how to cope with her son’s overactive imagination. One cold winter night, three kings arrive at their door, needing hospitality from the destitute shepherds. Amahl underlines this irony with some telling questions:
AMAHL: Are you a real king?
BALTHAZAR: Yes.
AMAHL: Have you regal blood?
BALTHAZAR: Yes.

November 20th, 2013

I freaking love Thanksgiving. I love that the holiday invites reflectiveness and gratitude as well as merriment. I love the relative absence of soul-sucking commercialism (oh Christmas, where art thou?). I love being together with friends and family. And, yes, I love the food. I really frigging love the food.
You might think that as a pescetarian I’d feel alienated from a holiday alternately known as Turkey Day. Nothing could be further from the truth. All an herbivore needs to do to have a cozy and delicious Thanksgiving is follow two simple rules.
#1 Come out of the vegetarian closet.… Possibly someone has invited you to Thanksgiving dinner at his house, and possibly that person doesn’t know you’re a vegetarian.

October 29th, 2013
How to avoid compassion fatigue and continue to help those affected by tragedy

It’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy killed 72 Americans and did $65 billion worth of damage to the East Coast, not to mention the lives and property lost in other countries. I’ve never been to the Northeast, where Sandy wrought the bulk (though not all) of her destruction, but I have a pretty good idea of what people up there have been going through for the past 12 months: an endless tug-of-war with insurance companies and contractors, crippling financial hardships, and a whole lot of emotional stress.
For those of us far from the affected areas, it’s easy to forget about natural disasters. Life gets busy, the news cycle moves on, and the stories and images that made us pull out our checkbooks and our rosaries…

September 27th, 2013

When we first met Walter White back in 2008 — and if you’re not already familiar with the AMC drama Breaking Bad, which commenced its final half-season August 11, consider this your official SPOILER ALERT… — he was a just-turned-50 high school chemistry teacher recently diagnosed with lung cancer. Wanting to provide for his pregnant wife and disabled son, Walt (Bryan Cranston) turned his scientific training to the production of the best, purest crystal meth on the drug market.
That’s a cute, quirky premise, one that sounds like a setup for a crime comedy in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven, Pulp Fiction or Weeds. True, Breaking Bad has its darkly comic moments, and, true, Walter does start out as sympathetic

August 27th, 2013

One day in my all-girls high school religion class, the conversation turned, as it often did, to abortion. Someone ventured that to carry an unwanted baby to term was a difficult thing, and another student retorted, “Well, if she didn’t want a baby, she should have kept her legs closed.”
Yikes, I thought, but before I or anyone else could say anything, another girl slammed one palm on her desk and shot the other one into the air.
“Why didn’t the woman close her legs,” the girl said when called upon. “Why don’t you ask why didn’t the man strap it down?”
The class erupted into laughter, but the moment stuck with me. I think of that memory now, nearly (oh…

August 7th, 2013

Nothing thrills quite like finding out that you’ve been acting like a crazy person. I had that experience two summers ago, when I spent eight days at the Manresa House of Retreats in Convent, Louisiana. Manresa is a cluster of old white buildings right beside the Mississippi River. I went there in June. White crepe myrtles snowed blossoms all over the winding garden pathways, and in every chapel doorway were spindly spiders I could consider fascinating from a distance. Most striking of all were the oak trees, mile-high and dripping with Spanish moss. But Manresa wasn’t remarkable for me just because of its beauty, just because it gave me the first hummingbird I had seen all summer and the first red velvet ants…

May 9th, 2013

One humid Sunday morning in May, I went with my parents and a dear family friend to church. Towards the end of the service, the priest asked for all women in the church to rise for the Mother’s Day blessing.
I figured he must have misspoken. He meant for all the mothers in the church to rise for the Mother’s Day blessing. But when some of us childless females stayed in our seats, he iterated: All women, please rise, mothers or no. I stood, feeling my eyebrows knit together, while the priest raised his hands over me and all the other women in the church, with and without children.
Let me be clear. I don’t doubt that priest’s good intentions. I think he was genuinely trying to do something nice for women. Nevertheless,…

March 25th, 2013
A Lenten reflection on "Roll Away Your Stone"

I don’t pretend to know what “Roll Away Your Stone” is about. Mumford & Sons, the writers and performers of the song, apparently don’t know what the song is about themselves. But when the tune rolled up on my Pandora station the other day, I found myself jerked out of my half-listening state to sudden alertness by this line: “Stars, hide your fires.” I had reason. I am currently teaching Macbeth to my college freshmen, and this line is lifted straight from Shakespeare’s tragedy.
The line occurs in Act 1, Scene 4, when Macbeth, his ambition roused by a prophecy that he will one day be king, reflects on the obstacles in his path. The Scotsman’s thoughts have already turned toward…

January 22nd, 2013

We knew we were in trouble when the shoes floated down the hallway. My brother was the first to notice water leaking through the floor of our garage. He and my parents managed to heft the really valuable furniture, my deceased grandmother’s china closet and buffet, on top of my mattress, where they would be saved from the ravages of the flood. Even so, my family wasn’t prepared for how fast the water spread throughout the house, rising to six inches, enough to make buoys out of the sandals I kept under my bed.

December 17th, 2012

Three-fourths of the way through Advent, I lived a parable. We were in the middle of finals week, and the only things standing between me and Christmas vacation were 1) a pile of research papers from my composition students, and 2) a corresponding pile of portfolios from my creative writing students — all waiting to be graded. About halfway through each pile, my computer stopped connecting to the internet.
Granted, the prospect of a day without checking my email 47 times is horrifying enough. Add to this the fact that grades have to be plugged in electronically, and you can imagine my consternation.
I lugged my decidedly not-lightweight laptop to a nearby coffee shop and tried using their Wi-Fi. Nope.
I trudged…

October 31st, 2012

Hello, Northeast. How are you?
It’s okay, you don’t have to answer that question. Can we buy you a drink? Let us buy you a drink.
We know. This sucks. And we wish we could tell you the nightmare will be over soon, but the fact is this is going to suck for a long time yet. Even after the waters recede, there’s still the matter of piecing your lives back together. There’s paperwork, lots and lots of paperwork. You’ll have to dig through all of your waterlogged belongings and make wrenching decisions about what’s salvageable, and you’ll have to make those decisions faster than you’d like. Some of you will lose what’s irreplaceable: your children’s baby pictures, your grandmother’s wedding dress.…

February 21st, 2012
A guide for the Gulf Coast native living away from home during Carnival

As the plane from New Orleans starts to descend into Tulsa, you glance out the window and notice dunes of powdery white stuff on the ground beneath you. “How did all this sugar sand wind up in Oklahoma?” you wonder. That’s not sugar sand, chère;… that’s snow, and snow is what will keep the first king cake you order from reaching your apartment in time for the party you’d planned. Don’t panic. Whip up a batch of bread pudding with the last loaf of Whole Wheat Nature’s Own on the grocery store shelf.
During your party, explain to your guests what a king cake is and why we aren’t having one after all. Say: “It’s like a giant cinnamon roll-slash-Danish-slash-donut

December 14th, 2011

In the back pew of the adoration chapel, I folded my arms and slouched before the God who wouldn’t talk to me. It was Advent, and I was wrenching in the throes of undergraduate existentialist angst. Prayer had once suffused my days with joy and meaning; the time I spent in the chapel had gone by quickly and pleasantly, and when I left I felt full to bursting with quiet elation. Now prayer was a process I dreaded: grueling, tedious, utterly devoid of consolation. I was in agony. I resented God’s silence and inactivity, and I told Him so. Repeatedly.
I glanced back at the clock on the wall. I’d been sitting in that chapel for three unproductive, spiritually arid quarters of an hour. I shifted in my seat,…

October 12th, 2011

Somehow — don’t ask me how — the conversation turned to Catholic iconography. Seven or eight of us denizens of graduate school were gathered around a long wooden table in the seminar room. I sat in tense silence next to the window while the others commented on what they considered grisly religious emblems: the Sacred Heart wound with thorns and dripping blood, the body of Jesus hanging limp and emaciated upon the crucifix. One person started to laugh.
“My mother wouldn’t let me in a Catholic church when I was little,” she said, “because she thought it was so primitive….”
I said nothing; I could think of nothing to say to this little crowd of non- or ex-Catholics. But small knots of discomfort

September 22nd, 2011

Let’s get one thing clear: I like the taste of meat. I like double bacon cheeseburgers. I like steak so rare it moos. On Thanksgiving I want turkey, on Christmas I want ham, and on my father’s birthday I want meatballs made from my family’s off-the-boat-from-Sicily recipe, so good they take five hours to make and five minutes to eat. So imagine my family’s reaction when I came home for Mardi Gras break my freshman year of college and announced that I was giving up meat for Lent and possibly forever.
“Oh, God,… Beth,” said my mom.
“More veal for me!” said my younger brother.
“[Expletive],” said my older brother.
“What are they teaching you at that school?” said my dad.
“That school” was a Jesuit

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