Tuesday, December 30, 2008

starting fresh

All the blogs I read about this surgery always seem to stop after a couple of weeks, which is frustrating because that was exactly what I wanted to know about- how does the recovery go? What stages are there? Does the feeling-better happen incrementally, or all-at-once overnight? My guess is that the blogging stops because things start to get better quickly and there's less to kvetch about. So, good news!
I am feeling better, and happier, and more confident about being out in the world- I can drive again, and wear more regular clothing, and stuff like that. But there is still some soreness and this new experience that they call "zingers" which has something to do with the nerves reconnecting or firing off or something, ultimately it is a YOUCH kind of pain, gone in a second but leaving an impression!
So I'm edging back toward normalcy, and January looms large- lovely January where all things begin again, fresh starts and new opportunities, great promise ahead. This year's theme, "transformation in 2008-tion" will be done (and done well, thank you very much, and a new theme is needed. Hmmm. Scott and I have been toying with "yours and mine, lookin' fine in 2009" but I don't know yet. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We're home again, home again, jiggety-jig, after a satisfying and fun Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Mass at our parish was wonderful, and everyone was gracious with their quick glances at my new renovations and the weird backward hugs I offered. After Mass we headed to Maine where we finished up gift preparations and hung out with my sisters in their house, which is a sanctuary of comfort and, well, joy. And that's all year long- not just at Christmas.
This morning we were treated to a tooo-good breakfast and I got some VERY cool gifts! After great food and fun with family and friends, we are back in our living room eating the chocolates out of our stockings. I'm wiped out from being a post-op trooper all day and ready for bed.
Now that's what I call a Christmas. Hope yours was as good as ours!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back Atcha

Today was a big day for me! After the lounging of this morning, we got ourselves up and out- got most of our Christmas shopping done and bought a few treats for ourselves! I felt good, and outside of twitching like a domestic abuse victim whenever anyone made a sudden movement near my midsection, I was pretty smooth.
After Christmas shopping, we hit the grocery store and then I cooked a pretty darn good dinner. I did some good cleanup and was even a little productive. My back is a little achy and I know I'm going to sleep well tonight (in my bed!) so I'm feeling good about this day. Tomorrow I'm going back to work, and looking forward to that too. My brother recommends that I carry a cake around in my arms all day to fend off huggers- not a bad idea! Tomorrow is Mass, Youth Ministry swap party, and Lessons and Carols. Yer typical December Sunday at church. Can't wait!

comfort food

It is still snowing here! It started yesterday right on (amended) schedule, and the wind howled and the snow... snowed. We had everything we needed and snuggled in for a great snow day. There is a difference between sitting on the couch all day recuperating, and sitting on the couch all day with the snow howling outside. We had a fun day of not-much-ing, listing to the wind and the plows scraping by.
But today, even though the flurries continue, we have chores to do and errands to run. I'm afraid I've been a little lax on the Christmas shopping, what with being holed up here, and Scott's been busy too- so there's still some last-minute scrambling to do. You wouldn't think it, but in a way things get a little easier for faith formation staff around Christmas time- all the prep work is done, and corps of volunteers are in motion, and any faith formation programming is on hold till after New Year's- so for me, it's a matter of showing up and reveling in the great community of our parish... and then hitting the road to Maine.
I've got a craving for comfort food and warm pajamas. Maybe we'll just snuggle in juuuust a bit longer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

back to real life

I'm just back from the post-op appointment. They took out some stitches and removed and then reapplied some tape and dressings. The discomfort is so much psychological that it's almost hard to determine what is pain and what is panic. The doctors are so breezy and positive that it feels a little like I'm doing it wrong. But, all in all everything looks good and the healing is coming along fine and I'm glad. I'm cleared to go back to work Sunday, and cleared to do a bunch of other stuff too, as soon as I feel ready.
I can't believe it's been a week and how much has changed in that time. It feels impossible to me that I'll be driving again soon, and that everything will go back to normal in my life. I made an appointment with the surgeon for 4 months from now, which is APRIL, for the next follow-up. For some reason, April being four months away blows my mind.
While I was waiting for the doctor to come in today, I was remembering the 6th grade when I broke my nose (I was eating a twinkie, jumping from boulder to boulder in a rest area when I tripped and fell face-first into the next boulder). I was remembering, specifically, being back in school a couple of weeks later- still looking bruised and bumped but feeling just fine- I remember catching the eye of some other kid in class and mashing my nose with my finger- it looked like it should still be very painful but felt fine. The kid cringed and told me to quit it!! I thought about that moment today and thought that maybe soon everything will feel fine.
So, soon I'll be back in action, deterring hugs and sitting up straight!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

sevennnn

So I just got out of the shower, and I'm completely exhausted. Now I'm back in my familiar chair in front of the tv, trying to decide what to do next.
Tomorrow's my post-op appointment, and I imagine they'll be telling me I can go back out into the world, back to work, etc... in a lot of ways I feel really ready to leave this house, to help out around here, etc... but in some ways I'm not. But I'm trying to have a good attitude and feel optimistic. Today I got an edible arrangement from the staff at church, and a couple of cards, which seems so weird since I opted into this surgery... but so sweet. One of the cards is from a friend of my mother's, who I have met only once or twice. She wrote "your Mom told me you had an operation. You did something I wish I could have had courage to do years ago but never did. I congratulate you." How about that??
So I'm going to take it easy on myself today. No guilt at how messy the kitchen is, no wistful wishes to go out and play in the snow, just one more day of R&R, and a lot of fruit.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is this, day 6? Yes! Day 6...


Scott has very sweetly come down with a nasty cold, and that means I've had some company yesterday and today. He's very generous. Having him home makes the days go so much faster, and much more pleasant. I'm feeling like I want to get up and do more stuff, but there's not much I'm allowed to do, like lift anything. This seriously limits the kind of activity I can attempt. But also, today I feel weirdly lightheaded and super-super sensitive, at my surgical... locations. So I'm sidelined either way. I guess it'll give me time to do some of the psychological work of healing. I'm starting to feel lazy and wonder if I'm doing this recovery thing right, but I guess there's no real way to measure. Really, though, it seems like every day I'm kept from doing anything more than tv-watching by some quirkiness- blurry vision from a medicine, light-headedness, overwhelming sleepiness... I'm being very very un-productive, and starting to worry about how near Christmas is, suddenly... yikes.
Last night I found the perfect position for sleeping on the loveseat and it was snooza-heaven. I miss sleeping with Scott, though. I'm not sure how much longer this will have to happen- my post-op appointment is this Thursday so hopefully I'll have some solid answers by then.
Going back to work feels very scary for me, as does going out in public, riding in a car, going to Maine for Christmas, going to a wedding, going to New Year's Eve parties, going shopping. It's very frightening stuff for me right now. I hate having fear in my life, I hate to be afraid, it's not my style. I'm looking forward to a time coming where I can feel less afraid. I am thinking dreamily of January, when everything will be different; new classes, Scrubs and LOST back on tv, I'll be much more healed, tax returns coming... it seems like it'll be so nice. Oh, and new things to blog about, beside my body. January. Jannnnnnuarrrrryyyyyyyyy.....

Monday, December 15, 2008

day 5

Yesterday was a long day, and I was feeling very discouraged- friends called but I didn't pick up the phone because I couldn't think about what I could say to them outside of "this sucks!!!" I woke up feeling more swollen and sore than I had the day before, and had a long day of missing Scott and missing a great day at the parish. It's a great problem to be working at a parish where I'm sad to miss a Sunday, but still, yesterday it was added pain.
So I spent the day praying that time would pass quickly, and trying to sleep. The night before had been impossible, with my right leg going numb and waking me up every half hour or so. I finally moved to the love seat, despite the added danger of a pounce-upon by the cats, and had lovely naps throughout the day.
When Scott got home, he was sporting a sore throat, but he sweetly held onto me while I fell apart, feeling ugly and discouraged. We both slept on the couches in the living room, and I woke today praising God for a full night's sleep. Today Scott's staying home to fight off his own cold and I'm thrilled to have a whole day with him, sick or not. Today I'm going to be a brave soldier. Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

day 4 misery

Rough night last night- I'm still sleeping propped up, because I'm supposed to- but also because it's the best position from which to fend off affectionate advances from the cats. But my rear end is seriously suffering from this constant position, with numbness and discomfort constantly waking me up. It's frustrating because I'm sooooo tired, and know that if I could just get to sleep, I'd sleep a heavenly, refreshing sleep.
So I'm starting day four in a cranky, overtired state of mind. I need all this to happen much, much more quickly.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The hostess with the least-est

It's an odd sensation to have company when I'm in recovery mode. My hostess instincts scream "oh I'll get that for you" and "wouldn't you like something to drink?" but of course no one wants me to do anything for them, and in fact wants to get whatever I want, for me. So while I'm soaking up everyone's generosity I'm fighting an urge to feel like a lousy host.
I was sick to my stomach all morning, I think because I took medicine in the middle of the night on an empty stomach. It took me until early afternoon to get myself back on track with food and meds, and I was not a fun person to hang around with, alternately pasty and groggy. NOT my shiny, bubbly self. When they all sat down to eat lunch in the dining room, I stayed in the living room with my toast and tried to talk myself into feeling better while eavesdropping on the conversation.
But it was so nice to have people here, and I am getting into the flow of this spiritual exercise in humility. I couldn't bring myself to shower today, I completely chickened out, so Scott offered to wash my hair in the kitchen sink. It felt like pure, pure love. Afterward he combed it out gently and kissed me on the forehead, and I felt overwhelmingly lucky.
I'm trying to relax and not fret about how un-fun this process is, hoping that I feel better every day and that the days pass quickly. If I could blink my eyes and make it suddenly next Thursday, that would make me very happy. But, I'm feeling impressed with myself that I actually did this- and hopeful for the future, whenever it gets here. So, I'll try to sleep and rest as much as I can and be positive and see how things change day by day.

day 3

Today my parents are coming to visit, and Scott has to go back in to work, and most importantly in my head, today is the day I'm supposed to be able to take a shower. I'm irrationally scared about this. I've been searching the websites and blogs for some hint as to how awful this is going to feel, but no one really says anything about it, which should convince me that it's nothing to speak (or type) of. But still. I woke up trying to be all brave soldier-y but I didn't end up believing the act, so I'm just going to take it slow. I look pretty hideous, and any visitors will just have to deal with that for now.
Time for a nap.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Don't read if you don't want to know!

So here is my schedule for the next few days, if all goes as it did today: wake up, take pain medicine, have a bite to eat or watch some tv, fall asleep. Wake up four hours later, take more pain pills, repeat, repeat. It's not fun, not at all. Well, the sleep is good, but the pain- that stinks. It basically comes and goes, and varies between two painful types of pain- the achy pain, and the sore pain. The weirdest thing is when I get goosebumps or something like that, woooOOOooo. My sides and arms are sore, and all of me is a little wambly. I'm not allowed to bend over, or reach, or lift anything. I changed my dressings today and everything looks really hideous, but promising. :)
The hospital people were lovely and I had a comfy bed and everything I needed. They had a tough time getting my IV in but were very apologetic. I had "socks" on my lower legs that inflated and deflated over and over and over until I couldn't take it any more. The best part of my whole night in the hospital was when they took off those socks and the IV, and gave me some graham crackers and ginger ale, to boot.
I was nervous to come home, mostly about the cats and how I was going to sleep- but the cats have been pretty good, or at least easily averted, and Scott and my brother erected a big setup of pillows that kept me propped up for the evening.
Tonight I'm home alone doing my 4 hour routine and doing okay. I feel very prayed-for, and thankful, and also just... surprised that I did this! I've been talking about it for years, and I'm really amazed at myself for going ahead and getting it done. I can't wait for the time to tick by and let me be in less pain, and start to see the changes, and get back to the life I love. I've been thinking about how great January is going to be- Christmas will be over with, my pain should be much less, I'll be starting new classes, and not least- LOST and Scrubs will come back. Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

last-minute-ness

I'm at school, cramming and waiting for my last oral exam, which is not for another half hour. I have a tendency to run toward the things I most dread, and that means showing up early for things like exams and job interviews, etc. I guess it's an effort to get things over with but of course, showing up early does not do that- it only serves to prolong the agony. But hey, it's what I do. I had my other exam yesterday and the prof. said I did well, although it's a little hard to tell in the thick of things. I felt good going in, and felt good to have it done. Today's is a little different because it's only two questions, one of which I choose- and then I get back the monster paper that I fumbled through a few weeks back. I am really looking forward to this being done.
After this is all settled, I have to rush back to work and finish all the stuff that I would have done at a more leisurely pace over the next week or so, then home to pack and get ready for the hospital. Oddly, the surgery brings with it the promise of days and days of nothing but rest, and I find myself looking forward to that with happy thoughts of napping and not being allowed to lift anything. I'm missing a big and potentially great weekend at work but I think that is really highlighting how much of a rest I'm really going to be getting. Not just a rest after surgery but a rest from a crazy few days of running at full speed. I'll be jealous when Scott goes off to work on Friday, though, either way, because the craziness of this parish is happy craziness, and I love it.
So, if you've any spare prayer time, please slide me in there, and thanks to all who are already offering prayers. I'm praying especially for my surgeon! Hope she's having a GREAT day tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

'sbeen a while

FOR TODAY 12/03/08...
Outside My Window... it's dark dark dark- but there is still no snow here, just lots of wind and cold air.
I am thinking... about the big surgery- it's exactly one week away and I have some stuff to get in order before then, because I'll be out of work for a week or more afterward. I'm worried about various things at various times, but right now it's mainly how I'm going to keep Zarley off my chest while I'm healing.
I am thankful for... Scott who is the most generous, loving, patient and sweet person ever. Also, for my other cat, who prefers laps to chests.
From the kitchen... I had tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich tonight, wasn't feeling up to anything more exotic. Comfort food.
I am wearing... Jeans, the Colorado sweatshirt Scott bought me in Denver at the conference when I complained of being chilly. See what I mean about him?
I am creating... the large group opening and closings and home kits for next week's faith festivals, even though I won't be there. I'm so sad to miss this session, I think it will be a great one, very creative and good stuff! I also miss a REALLY cool eagle scout project based on StoryCorps and worship night. Sad!
I am going... to miss the NCCYM conference this year, because, technically, I'm not a YM this year. How sad!! Maybe by the next time it comes around I'll be back in the biz.
I am reading... nothing! I'm done with coursework, and now have to prepare for exams. Both classes are requiring ORAL exams, would you believe, and so next week will be Monday: exam, Tuesday: exam, Wednesday: surg.
I am hoping... that I will not get a cold or the flu before next Wed. and I think the worry is, itself, making me feel a little ooky.
I am hearing... the last "Samantha Who?" episode on my DVR.
Around the house... vestiges, still, of our Thanksgiving party from a week or two ago, plus lots of other looming chores that I will distract myself with while I'm supposed to be studying this weekend.
One of my favorite things... is crawling into bed every night, now that the flannel sheets are on!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: The afore-mentioned studying, of course, and the afore-mentioned chores, and lots of free time to fill. I'm looking forward to it, in a way...
Here is picture thought I am sharing... this just happened, when I wanted to take a quick pic to send to Steven, in response to one he sent me. Pip was on my lap and looked up at my phone camera, and gave a big yawn just in time.

Advent-ure

Every year when Advent comes around I remember that I have to carefully protect my heart. Advent and Christmas have been blue times for me in the past, times when alone-ness felt lonelier. It's easy to be frustrated by the commercialism that pervades every-every-everywhere, and the pressure of buying good gifts for the people who I want to treat, in a life of adopted less-than-richness, that does get to me every year. I want to buy great gifts, I want to be generous to my family and friends, but I'm just limited, is all. When the radio stations start playing Christmas music in early November, I start to feel a little doomy. So, I have to be careful- I don't listen to those stations, I don't generally decorate the house until the last minute, and I try not to get caught up in shoppers' frenzy.
But I don't want to deny Advent's existence- I want to live Advent the way I think it is meant to be lived- in quiet, thoughtful reflection and anticipation of Christ's return... so instead of turning my back to the world, I try to choose carefully what I'll watch and listen to.
Last night Scott and I went to Providence at the invitation of a young woman who is a senior at PC- she was a little freshman girl when I met her, so long and so many great conversations ago. We went to see her (hear her!) in their Lessons and Carols at the college chapel. Another wonderful young lady is in the choir, one I knew at my last parish, and it was so neat to see both of them, one behind the other in the choir, beautiful landmarks of my time in ministry.
The music was breathtaking. We sat near the choir and the organ and could swim in the sound, and sing along at full voice, where invited. Gorgeous, and a beautiful way to start Advent right.
I used to restrict myself to two CD's of Christmastime music, one being added last year: the CD our parish music groups put together. The other one and I go way back (you'll see how far if you watch this video... this is NOT the best song on Jon Anderson's 3 Ships,
but apparently the only video out there.


But this year, I'm adding yet another to the short list- Sixpence None the Richer's new album The Dawn Of Grace- just out last week, I think. It's beautiful, and I love their arrangements of traditional songs, like this one. Their Silent Night, with an echo by the guy from Jars Of Clay, is gorgeous, and makes me teary.

So, happy Advent to one and all- God bless us, every one.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

joy in the front rows

I was listening to NPR on my way to work, as usual, and heard a story about last year's Super Bowl- the author of a new book was saying that football tells an epic story of a leader (quarterback) leading his troops (team) to victory by conquering the field. The author mentioned Eli Manning, last year's victorious quarterback, as such a victorious leader and great character of the story.
I wondered about Mr. Manning- I wondered if he wakes up every day since last January saying "I am the victor!! My story is amazing! We won the freaking SUPERBOWL!!!" My guess is that the joy that struck him on that day has faded, and while he's still fond of the memory, he's probably moved on to other things, like working toward this year's victories.
It occurred to me that we live longer in our losses than in our wins. Losing someone we love seems to settle on us and stay- and it is much much longer before we can move on, start to focus on new things. Victories peak and then fade, while losses of love cling to us and color every day.
I don't have a remedy for this, it just occurs to me that it's true, and it makes me wonder why.
Whenever I get to the 4:00 Saturday Mass at my parish, I go early and visit with the Front Rowers. These are the people, older people, who sit in the first three pews every week. When these people aren't at Mass, you wonder if they're visiting family or if they are sick. I spoke with one of the women about how unbelievably fast Advent has come upon us, and she told me she had had a wonderful, blessed year. I said I hope that next year will be as good as this, and she said, without a pause, "oh it couldn't be! Every day I get out of bed amazed at my blessings, and thanking Jesus for my life."
I think what she's talking about is the difference between joy and happiness. Joy stays with us long-term, and if we allow it to, it will cling to us just as fast and sure as sadness does. Just like sadness and grief can withstand moments of happiness and return just like the tide when the moment has passed, joy can do that too. Joy can withstand heartache and sad times and loss, and come back, unbidden, if our joy is grounded.
It's for this reason that I am a Christian, for this reason that I am Catholic- because joy is here in my Church, even despite horrible heartache and loss. I am grounded here, kept ever connected to my source of joy. No matter how hard it gets (and it has gotten hard!) the joy- it just creeps back in and takes over. I hope someday I'll be a Front Rower, telling some young person about my joy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Come On Down!!!!!!!!!

I was in class a week or two ago and we were talking about salvation and the Cross Event. I had a pretty great (well I thought so) revelation and it's been fun chewing on it for the past couple of weeks. I was excited to talk to Scott about it, and shared it with my spiritual director, and have prayed about it some, too- pretty cool.
But here is the cool thing I realized about it, that I think is hopeful for us minister-types: when I was having a big A-HA moment in class, my professor, nor nobody around me, knew it was happening. They didn't notice a thing- to them I was just sitting there, participating in class, taking notes, and whatnot. My aha didn't look like anything out of the ordinary to them.
I realized that this is something we forget when we are leading youth groups or prayer groups or what have you, things may be happening that we are not aware of. The Holy Spirit may be doing amazing things in the hearts of people we are serving, and we mat never know it. Aha moments do not look like winning the showcase on The Price is Right. Often, I think, they don't look like anything at all.
So it's important to remember that even if it looks like a program or activity was less than mind-blowing, we can have faith that something great might have happened. Isn't that encouraging news?

Update

In class on Tuesday, I looked at the people in the seats around me and thought, "bah, I don't need this. I won't miss these people. HA that they have to keep going while next semester I will be reading David Sedaris books and watching tv instead.
But the night before class, I had sent an email to the financial aid person at BC for help and after class I checked my email to find word from her: they will cover the balance of this semester for me, and pay for my costs for next semester too. The concentration I'm in is made possible through the Luce Foundation's grant, so thank you Luces for helping me continue my education!
Thank you, too, readers and friends, for all the wonderful comments you left me here, very touching! I am a blessed girl.

Monday, November 17, 2008

early graduation

Augh I'm frustrated. I'm nearing the end of my first semester of grad school and wanting it to be my last. Mostly, the trouble is that we just can't afford this. It's a big chunk of money on top of all our already-bills, and let's face it, a bad investment. It won't lead to a higher income when I'm done, and I've pretty much hit the ceiling for advancement in the Archdiocese o'Boston. Basically, it's a very very expensive hobby. I've gotten great help from the college, and from my pastor, but our budget really doesn't have any wiggle room, at all.
So, maybe it would be worth the added time and stress that it undoubtedly has added to my life, if it were flat-out free. But it's so. Not.
It's not final, the final-ness, but we'll see what happens from here... in the meantime I've got a stupid paper to finish. Ugh- I'm paying to write papers!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

cry-oldie

I don't know if I'm in peri-menopause, or peri-peri-menopause, or maybe I'm just stressed (it's hell-week; GOF this Sunday and the big paper due next week, and tons to do before surgery in December...) but I have some serious hotness every once in a while, I am tired a lot, and I sleep much less soundly. And, darn it, I cry more!
Loyal readers (hello, all 6 of you) will know that I am not against crying. I believe it's a useful thing, and I feel the effects if I go too long without indulging my need to shed a few. But lately almost every week at Mass, some song will hit me, or the face of someone will touch me, or the sound of voices praying or singing in unity will send me swooning.
Tonight I'm crying over Grey's Anatomy. One thing that will, for sure, get me crying is a story where a spouse dies... it's the scariest thought ever, to me, the thought that kept me awake nights when we got engaged, the thought that makes me call him compulsively when I haven't heard from him in a while... with much love comes much risk. It's the best risk I've ever taken, and the scariest. Maybe it'd be easier to deal with if I didn't watch so many medical dramas!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Promises and promises!

As a parish employee with no real job description and an invented title, the thought of having to be re-elected to your job every now and again is intriguing to me. I don't have any set standards by which to measure my job performance- there aren't any other Parish Formation positions out there. As Youth Ministry Coordinator, it's easy to figure out the rules, and to know what a good YMC does there are even books about what one should strive for and accomplish in one's first two years.
So, I try to stay busy and productive, try to initiate new things as often as I can manage, and try to be as helpful to everyone else as I can. I try to be able to make a list of things I've accomplished or started or taken on- actual, visible things. I'm not sure what the expectations are for me, or if anyone's expectations of me match anyone else's. But as a YM guru said once (I forget which guru), hey- there's no history of failure to overcome. I guess, with no job description, maybe no one will notice if I fail. How would they know, right?
So when I was listening to the pundits and critics and talking heads on the radio and tv I wondered what they might say about me if I was trying to be re-elected to my job. There are definitely improvements I need to make, but I hope that my parishioners (the percentage who would vote, anyway) would vote me in.
Four More Years! Four More Years!!!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election night

Here we sit, waiting for the election results to roll in. I'm almost as interested to hear the numbers of people who voted as I am in hearing the results.
Just now, CNN "beamed in" Will.I.Am to be interviewed, as a hologram... he's all graphic-looking, and standing on a red dot. Now that's technology- the whole production is so Jetsons.
I was excited to vote this morning, and proudly wore my "I Voted Today" sticker, even though I didn't have a chance to get my free coffee or ice cream with it. It was a novel experience to feel pride in the voting booth. I hope this is the beginning of something very good, no matter who wins.
When I was a kid, I was taught that you shouldn't ask people how they voted, and you don't ever have to tell anyone how you vote. When I hear people ask each other nowadays I often jump in and say "you don't have to answer that!" This year it seemed that everyone was hot to tell everyone else how they voted, and how they should vote. The Catholic blogosphere has all weighed in on how Catholics should vote. I do believe that how we vote is a privileged, private bit of information, and I don't share my choices. Partly because I don't want to debate with anyone, and partly as a matter of principle. Ballots are private for a reason.
Anyway, that said, I'm very hopeful that as a country we can turn a new corner, no matter who is elected. Change, I believe, is coming.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

To the edge, but not over it.

I've been feeling kind of doomy all week, and that, coupled with the fact that I've been remarkably prescient lately (like when I knew the yoyo that PJ was playing with would shoot off the end of the string. I was wrong about it decapitating me, but still...) really did make today's call-back visit to the Mammogram center a real bummer.
My First Time was last week, and went quickly- the tech was sweet and I could tell she has a lot of experience working with nervous women- but I didn't need a lot of comforting, I knew what to expect and it was such a quick process.
But they called me back, like she warned me (everyone warned me) that they might- it being my first time, with nothing to compare the pictures to, etc. etc... and today I headed back to the Breast Health Center. Scott came with me because he is the sweetest, most loving, most supportive person, really, in the entire world. I'm not even exaggerating. He had to wait in the waiting room all by himself the whole time, and it took a while.
They re-did my mammo's, then asked me to stay for an ultrasound. I finally got to go tell Scott what was going on, but then had to leave him again and head in to the ultrasound. While I waited, though, the women in the inner waiting room swapped stories and "what are you in for?" tales. One woman came back from her ultrasound and told us that they were sending her for a biopsy as a result of the ultrasound. I remembered reading that 1 in 9 women get breast cancer (really, that can't be right, right?) and counted the women I'd shared the waiting room with.
Ultrasounds have not been good to me, overall, and it was a weird feeling to be stretching out on another bed like that, with the same sheets, next to that machine again, staring at the ceiling again. It was hard not to feel gloomy.
The punch line is, everything's fine. The lovely tech checked in with me as I was leaving and I told her everything was fine- she said "I thought so... I wanted to say so but I'm not allowed!" Scott was waiting for me and I think not breathing for the whole time I was in there (which was about an hour and a half) and I was happy to tell him that Everything Is Okay. We hugged and smiled all the way to the car, and now, everything is back to normal. All is well. Thank God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's the October of my 40th year

Remember transformation in two-thousand-eightion? It's going well. I got my hair did, got my teeth cleaned, went for a physical. I still need to get glasses, and in December I'm having some major-to-minor surgery (that's a hint!) in early December. I haven't lost any weight... but I did start grad school! And, hey, I turned 40. That's something.
Maybe it's the anti-mid-life crisis. So far, so good- I feel like I've accomplished a lot, or at least have begun to accomplish a lot. It feels good! I'm even getting some good grades! My Mom told me the other day that I'm turning out to be smarter than they thought I was. So, that's always good to hear.
I think I'll extend the transformation year into 2009... finer in two-thousand-niner? I think it's fair to go straight through till my 41st birthday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm so not Italian... but I'm a big fan of their food (and families)!

This weekend it was the circle of life, Italian style. I'm working on some good one-liners, like "more cleavage than an Italian wake" or, "how many black cows have to die for an Italian funeral?" They're still rough, I'm working on them.
We went to the funeral of a co-worker's father, and it was beautiful testament to the man and his family. He was a war hero, and a policeman in the town, then a restaurant owner- he built a royal family and was much respected- the line at 7:00 to enter the wake was a block long, and we waited an hour.
The funeral was impressive too, crowded. Scott leaned over at one point and said "not a lot of blondes here..." and I said "and NO natural blondes!" Sorry, I know, not nice... but Scott's half Italian so by marriage, I'm allowed. But anyway. There were 18 pall bearers, and so many people filed in with the family. The stories told about him were impressive- not just the stories of heroics on the job, but of his prayer life and deep faith.
Then, today, it was a Baptism- one baby (we usually have up to 6 at a time) and she was surrounded by a doting fan club- when the pastor asked the godparents if they were ready to support the parents in bringing the child up in the faith, they said "OH yeah!!" enthusiastically- and I believed them. There was a lot of love in that chapel.
The best part of working in a parish is being able to witness these moments in people's lives. Even the hardest times, in loving families, just brings focus to the one thing that bonds them together, keeps them strong, defines them as family- the love and devotion they have for one another.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sorry Sandi, I'm sure it's pretty in Alaska too!

I have been loving Fall this year- our big tree is absolutely gorgeous right now and every surface outside is covered with red and yellow and orange. Walking out of the house feels like walking into a Fall-themed snow globe. And we've been blessed with days warm enough that coats are... optional! Here are some pictures from our yard this past weekend-

Some birds take advantage of our garden furniture:




































the last of the neighbor's tomato crop

Monday, October 13, 2008

And another thing... (two new posts)

I met with another wonderful young woman today who I met many years ago (it's hard to believe I'm old enough to say that- she was in high school when we met and now is in grad school. Yikes. But anyway...). We are a lot alike, I think, and both talk fast so though we don't see each other a lot, we get in a lot of talking when we do.
One thing I asked her today was "isn't it strange when your life begins to diverge from your friends' lives?" and she said "YES!!!" I was happy to know that this strange realization wasn't just something that I noticed...
(Like tonight I notice that I am writing rambling, too-detailed intros before getting to my point.)
I have a group of girlfriends with whom I worked at a group home (for adolescent girls) when we were in our 20's. It was hard work, full of drama and crisis and fun times and touching moments. Some of our group worked at the boy's home across town. Some of us worked there for years, others were more temporary. But our time there brought us together as friends, and we've made it a point to stay in touch and get together every now and again- we always have a blast.
But my life is not like their lives. They have kids, they live in communities and their lives sort of revolve around their families and their kids' schools and activities. I'm so not maternal or aunt-y. I'm not a babysitter and am too busy to go watch their kids' games or concerts or shows. I'm the Churchy one, working in a parish and pursuing a Masters in Churchy Stuff. They are all Christians of one type or another, but I'm the minister. I guess if I were more aunty I'd be more in-touch with their lives, but it is a commonly-held understanding that even if I visit one of them in the hospital after they have kids, they won't pass the baby to me. I just don't really know how to hold 'em. Well, I can hold them, but passing is beyond me.
But my friend and I today were amazed at the realization that what bonds us with our friends isn't our common life-plans, but our memories and our relationships at their very heart.
Anyway, my life is full and fun and I am happy in it, even if I feel a bit out of pattern when I visit with my friends, I still love seeing them, laughing with them, and hearing about their lives, as foreign to me as mine is to them, I expect.

Catholic Identity

This week I met with a young woman who I met when she was a middle schooler in my first parish. I remember her a slight, sweet girl with a happy smile- at the time I was doing an A-Z model for middle school youth group, where each week we did a different letter of the alphabet for our theme: apathy, bummers, caring, etc. The nights topped off with "can you __________ this?" It was "can you throw this?" "can you eat this?" etc. She beamed through every game and seemed like she loved it. I remember her smiling up at me and telling me how much she liked youth group, saying "You have the best prizes!"
She's an adult now- has gone to and graduated from college, and is now married to a Navy man and living in Virginia! She told me that she and her husband have found a church that they love down there, and she's feeling strong in her faith life, with this new faith community.
I asked her a question that I also recently asked another of my former youth groupers. "Do you still consider yourself Catholic?"
Of the three young women that I keep in touch with from this era/parish, one went to a Catholic college and the other two went to secular schools and/or Gordon College. Both of the non-Catholic school girls said, when I asked them that, "Not really." Both still have some connection to the Catholic Church through family and attend Mass when they come home from school, but they seem to have a deeper identity with Christianity as a whole, than with Catholicism.
I don't necessarily believe that staying Catholic is the mark of a good/effective youth minister, but it does make me think that YM's must must must focus on Catholic identity- helping kids find and form their identity as Catholic.
I'm not sure how this can happen- the young woman who has remained Catholic (enough to seek out Mass to attend while living in NYC on her own over the summer) comes from a strongly Catholic family, a Mass-going family. I imagine there's nothing a YM can do to trump a Catholic family, but... there must be something we CAN do.
As soon as I figure it out, I'll let you know...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mt. 25:14-30

So when our parish went to knock down the old convent on our grounds we found a beautiful statue of Mary, tucked in between the bramble bushes in the cloister at the back of the building. But for one missing horn (under her feet) and a lot of dirt and grime and bird poop, she was remarkably pristine and we were overjoyed that she was in such good shape. It was resolved that she would be cleaned up and restored and put in the new park that was to replace the convent.
About a month ago, our priceless statue came back from where it had been restored, a glowing bright white and now smooth surface, it is absolutely beautiful. But what happened next is so interesting to me. The statue was installed, and with her, a sense of fear. What if it was vandalized? Someone would surely come along and spray paint her, break off her fingers, smash this beautiful and literally-priceless possession. So, soon, the talk started as to how to protect it.
Now there is an iron fence surrounding this statue, with a big steel padlock on it.
The whole thing reminded me, somehow, of all the toyshops I've been in where the owners of the store clearly hated kids. Maybe you too have been in toy shops where the person behind the counter eyes your child suspiciously or follows along behind you putting right everything a child has touched. That always blew my mind.
I guess owning something of value brings with it some pressure to keep it valuable, but a part of me wants to be generous and trusting of the people in our neighborhood. The statue could have easily been damaged in the many, many years it was hidden from view and now it is in plain sight, with heavy traffic going by it at all times of the day. But of course, I might be being naive. And maybe it's good enough for everyone to be able to admire this statue from a distance... but I dunno.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Day-trippers

Having two days off in a row, and a house that needs cleaning, and homework, and work to do for...work, we decided to spend Friday on a day trip (because hey, why not? We had a whole Saturday to get stuff done in). We headed toward Salem for coffee after lunch and I beat Scott at checkers, after phoning-a-friend (PJ, of course) to remind us how to play. It's been a while!
We went to Marblehead to find the Catholic Church there, called St. Mary Star of the Sea. Here's what she looks like:


















Then Scott took me to a cool nature conservancy in Salem, and led me along a path through tall grass and oak trees and over a swampy river. No mosquitos and not quite time for the sun to set, it was the perfect temperature, and not toooo muddy.


















Scott leads the way


















swamp corn












After that, we poked around in a Salem State College building that was formerly a Catholic school. One building led to another via bridge, then that building led to another by tunnel, and then came another tunnel. Scott loves checking out buildings like this, and while I get a little nervous about the trespassing end of it, he does make snooping fun.
























After our travels we went back to Salem for a dinner date and a walk around the Halloween-y section of town. It was a very romantic and fun day, and the work at home, well it waited patiently and was all there for us to do today.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

so, how'd you do on your paper?

So.... I got to class today after already being at school for a couple of hours- I went in for the noon Mass and then had lunch with the other TCC students. There are only 5 of us- an elite group. The discussion was about how to get more people to come and do this program, but all I could think was that I don't particularly want the grant money that is now only divided between us 5 to be doled out to anyone else.
Anyway, at class, our professor started by announcing that the papers were fine first papers. She told us that a C+ is a passing grade and getting that grade should not discourage anyone, that their comments (hers and the Teaching Assistant's) were meant to help us develop the writing skills we'd need. She said they'd be giving feedback even if we got an A- (which would be an outstanding grade for a paper in this class).
Then, two hours and fifteen minutes of class.
Then, she handed out the papers. I grabbed mine and ran, it had no marks on the front page really but I could see the word "good" written twice on the second page- encouraging! I flipped over to page three for the grade...
A-!!! How about that?? I'm pretty excited. Now I have another paper to write, for tomorrow's class. I hope it goes as well. But in the meantime, Woo! A Minus!!! WOOOO!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

studious

I'm happy to report that my study habits have indeed improved since my undergrad days. I actually do the reading now, and even take notes on what I read. I'm not sure which books I'll be keeping and which I'll be selling back to the bookstore for a serious loss (although it is becoming clearer as time goes by. Systematic Theology Vol. 1 is TOTALLY going back, because it is almost completely incomprehensible. And miserable. The authors start everything by backpedaling and parsing thoughts and such. Something like: Before we begin to talk about the existence of God, we must first explore the concept of existence. A, B, and C (theologians) all think existence is this, and we talk about it for four pages, each... but they are wrong. Existence is this... it's just excruciating, and I want to scribble in the pages JUST GET TO THE POINT BUSTER because it could, ultimately, be written in one sentence. So that book... GONE. ASAP.) so I have been taking notes rather than underlining and highlighting, mostly, which helps me process what I'm reading a bit better.
I promise a paragraph like that will never go in any of my papers. Promise.
As for assignments, I must confess though, not much has changed- I still can't seem to get a word in print until the day before it's due. Someone told me once that this is called "pre-writing," not "procrastinating," which I totally, totally agree with.
Tomorrow I may be getting my first paper back, which I may mention here tomorrow, depending on how I do. It might be time to get much more private about my studies.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tag!

I spent the day (while lounging around watching old movies) tagging many of my blog entries. Not because I think you (dear reader) will ever want to go looking for any mind-blowing entries in the throes of nostalgia for my reading, but because nowadays, when I go to write about something, I often feel like I've written it before. With tags, I can see if I've already written a scathing comment on the Archdiocese of Boston's Office of Youth Ministry and Etc. or falling down my front steps and crying or my high school boyfriend. So, not much really has changed here for you (DR), but you can hereby assume that anything you read here is first-run.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Graduate level anxiety. In Georgia.

Oh gosh. My first two papers in... well, many years. They're little ones, three-pagers, and double-spaced (I forgot about double spacing, I probably would have gone back to school years ago if I'd remembered about double spacing... what a difference that makes in filling a page!) so the writing part isn't the hard part so much as the details of paper-writing. I can't remember the details.
Do I indent at every paragraph? Do I staple the pages? Number them? Am I plagiarizing and not even knowing that I'm doing it? What size font?
My first paper is for a professor who gave us two options of what to tackle. About a page on comprehension, about a page on analysis, and about a page on "good constructive thinking." She gave us a list of expectations and directions, really- a list- which we all furiously tried to scribble in our notes, then sent us off with these words "but don't stress about this!" We laughed.
I just spent a bit of time googling for help on these questions. I found an article by a grad student whose grades improved when she switched from Times New Roman to the Georgia font. Just to be sure I checked the Chronicle of Higher Education forums for a discussion there- they all mentioned both those fonts and I felt encouraged by their comments about Georgia, so I went ahead and changed mine over- which meant having to fiddle with the type size to fit it into three pages (exactly, as it turned out!), but they seemed pretty much equal, all things considered.
So, whether it's done right or wrong, one paper's done and one's still yet to be written. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

inform-form-transform

Tonight on my way home from work, I treated myself to an old time radio show. I listened to Lucille Ball's "My Favorite Husband" and the episode was called "Liz learns to swim." The basic premise was that Liz wanted to go to the beach for Summer vaca, while her husband wanted to go the the Weeping Willow Dude Ranch. (She explained that after one meal at the "chuck wagon", she knew why the willows were weeping_ good line!)
Her husband said he'd be willing to go to the beach if Liz would learn to swim. (We'll ignore the sexism that riddles these old radio shows and instead talk about the cool insight I got from the show. Hang on, here it comes!) Liz called her next door neighbor, who comes to her house, explains the physics of water displacement, has her try the swim strokes on the floor of their living room, and tells her proudly that she can swim.
It all made me think about the conversations we've been having at school about the primary goal of faith formation/catechesis/religious education. I read tonight that the goal of catechesis should be "spiritual maturity." However, for years our education programming has not been developed to reflect a goal anywhere near that. Today my professor described it as "pouring from a jug into a mug."
I'm thankful to be working at a parish which takes this idea seriously. I'm thinking particularly of education toward Confirmation. Work has been done in the past several years (by the brilliant youth minister) to broaden the scope of "sacramental prep" from just preparing for the sacramental moment of Confirmation day, to a lived way of life in faith that much more accurately describes the life that a Confirmed Catholic should be living. It makes a difference in the faith and development of young people and it makes a difference in the parish as a whole. It's a good difference.
The saying goes "sitting in Mass doesn't make you a Christian, any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car." You can't learn to swim by studying physics on a living room floor- it may help, but it is not the same as actually getting in the water and giving it a go.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Waaaaah!

I fell down the front steps at our house today, on my way out to work. I dropped everything I had in my hands (lunch, bag, keys, etc...) and ended up splayed across the steps with what I know will turn into a fantastic bruise.
I stood up, hoping no one had seen, and went in the house, and started to cry. And then I couldn't stop crying. I wasn't in pain, really, and I was glad to have been able to get up in one piece, but I just started crying and couldn't stop. Scott was indisposed but was yelling encouragement from where he was, but I didn't need help, really- I knew I just needed to keep crying until I was done.
Once I told a young girl in my youth group that crying is like sneezing. Sneezing, as I understand it, is designed to expel whatever irritant you have in your system. I think for me, and maybe for women in general (although I have not tested that theory) crying serves the same purpose- it gets out something that is irritating our emotional system. All during that crazy week when I felt so stressed out and overwhelmed, I didn't cry at all- so I guess I had some buildup.
I'm not an easy crier. I don't generally fall to tears at slight provocation, and although I may tear up at sad movies and such, that's about where it ends. But a few years ago, for my New Year's resolution, I decided that when I felt like laughing, I would laugh- and when I felt like crying, I would cry. So this morning, when I felt like crying, I just let it flow- even though I wasn't exactly sure what I was crying about. (I guess you don't have to worry over what I'm sneezing about when I sneeze, so maybe I don't have to worry so much about what I'm crying about, when I cry...)
The only drawback to this vow is that when I do cry, my upper lip swells. I end up looking... well, pretty scary, and it takes a while for it to come back down. Note: trust me, do NOT google-image "swollen upper lip."
Anyway, on with my day. Watch your step out there, ladies and gentlemen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

simple woman's day book for this week

FOR TODAY 09/12/08...
Outside My Window... the rain threatens, like it's done all day- the Sox are rained out but here it's just sprinkles.
I am thinking... about the delicious dinner we just finished. YUM, comfort food: meatloaf, mashed potatoes (with cream cheese and our own garden's chives and cheeeeeese on top) and brussels sprouts. I know, I know, but we like 'em, and we toss them (that is, slather them) with butter and parmesan cheese.
I am thankful for... the lazy day today- I keep reminding myself of the giddy fact that we have tomorrow off too- so nice!
From the kitchen... Oh, I guess I jumped the gun there... but later from my kitchen, brownies.
I am wearing... yoga pants! And a Life Is Good T-shirt. So, basically (and more fancifully named) Loungewear.
I am creating... next year's garden! I planted some bulbs today, and trimmed back the poor hydrangea that was slowly dying in the corner of the yard. I harvested some seeds from whatever that yellow flower is in my window box, and spread some forget-me-not seeds in the garden. I'm going to try bringing in several of my plants for the winter and see how we do. I'm going to let my ignorance of the wisdom of this plan be my guide.
I am going... to try to spread this rainy-day goodness well into tomorrow.
I am reading... I'm not, but I should be! I've got homework to do! Systematic Theology and Horizons & Hopes, and some articles.
I am hoping... that Scott will leap up from his seat and put the leftovers away and clean the kitchen.
I am hearing...the wind in the leaves outside my window. It's the perfect combination of Summer and Fall today.
Around the house... some laundry piled here and there, dirty dishes, books to be read, a bed to be made... you know, stuff that shouldn't be done on a lazy day like this.
One of my favorite things... is hot brownies and cold milk! Yeah! Coming right up!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: dinner with the in-laws tomorrow night, a busy Sunday, and then back in the throes of things. This week we really hit the ground running at work, with all the fun (and I do mean fun!) that entails.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... oh gosh, let me see...
Here's a picture I took on the day of my birthday party, as the sky was starting to clear:

Monday, September 08, 2008

40 and free (two new posts)

I've been making a list in my newly-forty-year-old head of the things that I don't have to ever do again, if I don't want to. It's 'cause I'm 40, dammit, and I don't have to. Here are the ones I've come up with so far.
- be a bridesmaid
- wear really high shoes.
- go to a pool party
- try skiing again
- take a math class

This is not the definitive list, I'm sure I'll come up with more... I used to wonder how it felt for my parents, as they aged, to realize that there were things that they would never do again. My dad used to ski, and I remember wondering if, the last time he skied, he knew it was his last time. I have decided that as I age, I'm going to look at it differently, appreciating the things that I will never have to be burdened with again, instead of losing opportunities and experiences. Maybe someday, at a later age, the other list will start to lengthen, but for now, my growing list is of freedoms. This is fun stuff to think about.

An oasis in the desert of Boston

This week's was the first really ramped up Sunday of a hundred or so more to come before Easter and Spring come again. I am already swamped with work and lists of stuff to achieve and finish and deadlines, oh my.
But Sunday afternoon, after an already busy day, as people started to pour into the church for the 5PM Mass, I had to take a minute to look around. I saw people smiling, greeting each other, looking happy to be at the church. I saw a mother and daughter come in, ready to serve, and walk to the Sacristy together, smiling. I saw teenagers dip quickly and cross themselves as they passed by the Tabernacle, unembarrassed to do so. I saw adults greet teenagers, and teenagers waving at little kids. The music group was smiling and energetic and ready to roll.
I thought to myself how happy I am to be part of this parish. It feels like such a reward to be in a place so full of joy, with genuinely great leadership, amazing people, support at every turn, and no games being played.
I don't know how long this will last, but I hope it's for a long, long time.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

items on map are more vertical than they appear (two new posts, read the next one first)

So, I had to do this quick little task at the bookstore- I had bought the wrong volume of Systematic Theology, which just so happens to be the book from which I am supposed to be reading this week. It was a simple, two minute transaction and I just needed to get in and out. In a jiffy.
I asked my classmates what would be the best place to park in order to do this, and they said "pretty much here" which is on another campus altogether. They said that my parking pass would only allow me to park in another garage on campus that was just about as far away from the bookstore as we were. They recommended I take the bus.
I decided to risk it and drove over to the main campus, and parked in the church parking lot on the edge of campus. I didn't have my map with me but I could see the giant crane over the building that was next to the building I was looking for, so I thought proudly that I had really done a clever thing by getting this close.
I headed out toward that crane, and turned the corner to see that from where I was, I would have to climb up 6 flights of stairs. I'm not even kidding! I soldiered on, climbing at a steady pace and didn't stop for a break like I wanted to, because there were young people coming up behind me. I did fine but at the top I had to wait until all the coeds dissipated so that I could pant and sweat in peace. A hundred yards more or so and I was met with a few more sets of steps. I harumphed my way to the bookstore, thinking only of how good this book had better be, and how we'd better be using it a LOT this semester and in future classes too, and how nice it was going to be to go DOWN all those stairs on the way back to my stupid car.
Anyway.
I was surprised to see the lawn littered with people trying to give me things. I got a couple of drinks (tea and juice) from some guy with a cooler, wearing a t-shirt with the drink brand on it. I got a coupon book that is basically only useful if you live near campus, and I got a whole box of stuff from the campus Hillel group- popcorn, another juice drink, deodorant and toothpaste! It's good to be a college student!

what did you learn today?

Today went better, except for a marathon trek across campus to the bookstore, but I'll get to that in a bit.
I am learning a lot about being back in school again, trying to gauge just how hard this is going to be to do and to manage. A whole new world has opened to me and it's a very nice but very uncomfortable place to be teetering. How much do I want to venture into this new world? I'm not in the market for a whole new passel of friends but I want to be friendly and I'm sure I'll need to be working with these people in the future. I'm sure friendships will happen, but I'm willing for it to take a while. I think I'll end up really liking my seminar class and my advisor, and I already know a couple of fellow students by sight and by name, so there you go. Am I being friendly enough though?
I forgot, again, how much it sucks to be new at something. I guess it's like they say childbirth is- awful and difficult and painful, but once you're past it you forget- at least enough to go ahead and make changes when you have to again, and be new again. I walked through the main campus today and saw all the undergrads pretending to feel so confident, and I'm glad to be old enough to NOT have to be that guarded. I know that next week it'll be easier, and the week after that... so, I'm not as worried as I may read here.
One thing that is going to have to change is that I need a new route to school, especially for the 10 am class. I know there are great back sneaky around-the-city routes, but I haven't gotten the word yet. Today I spent more time in the car getting to and from class than I did IN the actual class. Yeauggh. I learned that people lean on their horns in Boston, just like they do on New York tv-shows. I learned that when you're dead-stopped in Kenmore Square, you can get a good bit of reading done. I learned today that I already do know how to take notes (I was afraid it was a skill I had lost, or never really had- I remember a lot of doodling in college notebooks), and I learned that campus distances are often farther than they appear on the map. So, I'm learning all right!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

smooth

Well it's my first day as a grad student and I already learned something! Today when I arrived at BC for my first class at 10:00, I learned that my first class is actually at 2:00. So, that's good.
When I was 18 and going away to college for the first time, I arrived at my dorm door a full day early, with a full van and sweaty palms, my parents at my side. My confused RA said "oh. No, tomorrow!" and we turned the van around and headed for home. The next day I arrived to a much livelier-looking campus and tried to pretend the whole thing had never happened.
This afternoon I reckon I'll do the same thing. At least I know which room my class is in- I will look so calm and cool that people will assume I'm a third-year student. And at least when I left my non-class this morning, I got a laugh- only one other student was in there when I went back to retrieve my book bag. He said, "leaving already?" and I said, "yeah, I've had enough..." Always leave 'em laughing.
So this afternoon I'm heading back to my first real class, and I hope it's as least as educational as my first non-class was!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Simple Woman's day book

FOR TODAY 09/01/08...
Outside My Window... it is GORGEOUS, but we are spending the day on our couches, napping and watching the Scrubs marathon. I know, we should be somewhere hiking or something! But the laziness of today has been delicious.
I am thinking... about dinner. The lazy day continues with a trip to the Outback, where you can get takeout without even leaving your car. No standing up!
I am thankful for... the $50.00 gift certificate to the Outback that I got for my birthday!
From the kitchen... yeah... today for lunch I had peanuts and lemonade. I've got to stop doing these things on the days that I don't cook, and instead, do them on the days that I make delicious, several-course meals. You know, about every-other-day.
I am wearing... I just erased "my pajamas" from the last time I did this, so I can write in... my pajamas.
I am creating... a plan to start getting healthy. No, seriously. I'm going to start walking again (but I should probably buy some new shoes, first. And I can't start this week until at least Wednesday, what with class tomorrow morning- oops, no, I have a morning meeting Wednesday. Thursday it is!!)
I am going... back to school tomorrow! My first first day of school since 1987. Tomorrow's class is Theological Foundations in Practical Perspective, and Wednesday's is the Total Community Catechesis Seminar. Woo! Go Eagles!
I am reading... the last secular book I'll probably get to read for the next four years. It's still When You Are Engulfed In Flames, by David Sedaris. It's so freakin' funny.
I am hoping... that I can do grad school work.
I am hearing... Scrubs. It's the Carla and Turk's wedding episode. Don't judge me.
Around the house... sleeping cats. I love living with cats, they are really just perfect. Or maybe that's just my cats. But they really are perfect.
One of my favorite things... to do on a day off is lounge around, I guess you've already figured that out. It's the beauty of more-than-one day off at a time, that one of the days I can spend doing chores, getting things done, errand-ing, and then I can do some hard-core slugging the next day. It's hard-earned sluggdom!!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: classes, and work. It's crunch time at work, with Faith formation starting up, OH and PMS. I'm tearing up at the wedding on TV right now, Turk and Carla in a hospital room. Well, it's just so sweet! Bless their hearts...
Here is picture thought I am sharing... it's the suncatcher craft that I mentioned in my last daybook entry. It's flat marbles, glued one to another with fishing wire between. I think it looks pretty nifty!

And now, an update from Facebook.

Eight friends have rated your trustworthiness:

* You scored 1.6 out of 5 (Not Very Trusted).
* Your political power index is 13 (PAWN).

Who are these 8 friends?? Show yourself!!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

dear old golden rule days (two new posts)

And now, 21 years later, I'm about to have yet another first day of school! I went to the orientation day at BC last week. It was inspiring and optimistic, this day, and I left feeling pretty ready for the new challenge. I still had to pepper my friend (a recent BC grad...grad) with the questions I didn't dare ask at the orientation, but I did feel like I had a fairly good grip on things when I was done that day.
I sat through the pleasantries; welcome speeches, introductions of the staff and faculty, the pomp and excitement about this brand-new school (it's a combination of Weston Jesuit and BC's IREPM). Then they grouped us up and let us meet with a seasoned student, to give us tips and tricks about the grad student experience, I guess. After another round of welcomes and introductions, we met in small groups with our advisors. I'm excited about mine, she's been really helpful so far, and seems to give me credit for being a grown-up professional-type person.
After all that, I went to the main campus to pick up my parking pass ($230!!!) and ID, and bought my books ($115!). I watched the tour groups snake around the beautiful campus and thought how overwhelming this place must be for a first-year undergrad upon first arrival. So much going on, so much to take care of, and all that at an age where you still care so much about looking cool.
School starts Tuesday and I have all my notebooks and sharp pencils ready. I'll let you know as soon as I start to feel smarter!

drama geeks, coat people, stoners, mathletes

Quiz time! When you were in high school, what clique were you in?
Last night we caught a little bit of Definitely Not The Opera on the radio and heard a pretty interesting story. A woman reporting from her own 20th high school reunion was exploring the myths about high school, and interviewing her former classmates. It was a great show overall, but what struck me was this bit:
She was talking about cliques (which in Canada, apparently, they pronounce like "cleeks")- she said that as she remembered herself in high school, she wasn't part of a clique. I nodded as I listened, because I don't think I was in any particular clique, either- I remember being part of a bunch of different groups- the drama crowd, the cheerleaders, the music people, the ultra-popular (just kidding about that last one).
The interesting thing was, she interviewed her classmates and found that none of them thought they had been in a clique. None of them! They all considered themselves "floaters" with friends of all kinds. Get that? ALL of them! But when she asked them to tell her what clique they remembered her being in, they all could tell her.
So, what's the reality? Are there no actual cliques in high school? Did we all just label each other and each other's groups of friends?
I think I missed some good opportunities at this last reunion, what with being pregnant and self-conscious the whole night. I wasn't as bold as I wish I'd been, to seek out the people who I should have connected with, to find out who my old friends had become. I hope at my 30th, I can get a better look at my past.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Take and Eat

I just stopped by the chapel in a doomed attempt to visit with the Lawd. Adoration and/or prayer before the Tabernacle have never been my Spiritual Thing. I am too antsy and fidgety and too easily distracted. But that's not the real reason that I have never taken to Adoration.
Every time I sit in front of a tabernacle, my eyes settle on the flame in the candle that is always nearby. I know the flame is not meant to be a representation of Jesus, and the object of my adoration is meant to be the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist within the tabernacle. But to me, the messages that both items send are so contrary. Jesus is better personified to me through the light-giving, ever-burning, warmth-emitting, living flame. To have the True Presence locked into a strong, heavy, dark box on a platform. The flame says, to me, GO! DO SOMETHING! Where the message I hear about Jesus from the tabernacle is "Sit and stare at the box I'm in." I've said that for me, adoration is like a starving person to sit and stare at a sandwich to receive nourishment. Eucharist, the way I understand it, is a verb- food for the journey, for the mission at hand. Every Sunday, we become tabernacles, and there's no reason for one tabernacle to sit and meditate in front of another one.
I do know that for some people, Adoration is inspiring and wonderful and life-changing. I don't believe that everyone should stop adoring Jesus in the tabernacle or the monstrance. We all have our special devotions that we are called to. Mine is not seated position.. well, not for long!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who do I say that I am? (two new posts)

Tonight before Mass a woman came over and took me by the arm and asked to talk to me. She said she reads my columns in the bulletin and said "and I think you have a heart for God." I said "oh thank you!" but she stopped and said "well, do you? Do you have a heart for God Margo?"
I was kind of taken aback by this questioning. I mean, I do love God, and am a Christian, and a Catholic, and all that... but to say "Oh yeah! I have a heart for God!" Well, it felt sort of like bragging.
Soon after graduating from college, I moved here to MA and soon after that, I moved into a house with some musicians. Whenever I would meet their friends, they'd ask "are you a musician?" I never knew how to answer. I loved music, love to sing, had studied and performed music in college, (hey I was lead singer in a rock and roll band!) but it just seemed to impressive to be considered A Musician.
And it felt very much the same when I was confronted with today's question. "Do you have a heart for God?" I guess, if she's asking what I think she's asking, then the answer is a proud "yes." I guess the challenge is more to my decision to commit to this title. Yes, I have a heart for God and that will effect the choices I make tomorrow, and every day. Just like in the Gospel today, I am asked not to report on my state of being, but to decide who I am, and how I will respond to the fact that I know that Jesus is the Christ.

I almost wrote, "synchronized swilling" but I DID get to see some of that this weekend.

Awww, the Olympics are over. I loved just about every minute. I soaked up as much gymnastics/swimming/volleyball/diving that I could, skipped the soccer pretty much and ignored the basketball. I tried watching water polo but I couldn't stop worrying about the poor horses.
(Sorry, my last chance to use that joke for another 4 years!)
I won't miss the sound of a whistle, which interrupted water polo every 2 seconds or so, and I won't miss that gymnastics commentator who said that everything was "big." (This is a BIG routine for her. BIG move there! Ohh that's a BIG mistake. Big Big BIG!) I won't miss the way they make you so nervous, watching... and I won't miss the McCain ads that peppered the broadcasts. But other than that I am awfully sad it's over. I will miss getting to know about the athletes, and will miss learning about new sports. I feel like I didn't get to see many of the non-mainstream sports- I saw table tennis and badminton, but didn't see any synchronized swimming or... what are they called, rhythmic gymnastics? That's kind of a bummer. Next time, I guess.
Now we move on to the spectacle of the political conventions. I hope they're peaceful.
But first... the closing ceremonies... a little weird, no? I'm all for creativity but it felt kind of Willy Wonka-ish for the first part. I loved watching the athletes have fun and smile smile smile, and was pleased to know that Jimmy Paige is still kicking it old school. (still kicking, really. Good to know.) The climbing tower of red and silver people was very cool. My sister had just given up on the ceremonies being neat-o and signed off AIM to go to bed when that part of the festivities began, so I hope she didn't miss it.
Ah, the olympics. Thanks for a good 17 days of distraction from reality! See you in four!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

off to school

So my nephews are going off to college this week and next, and I can feel their worries and nerves and excitement through the air all the way from Maine to Massachusetts. I remember how I felt, leaving home to go off to college, the biggest life- change I had experienced up till then. But more than that, I remember walking with young people through this time in their lives as a Youth Minister. The waiting and anxiety of waiting for that envelope to come, tears and disappointment of being rejected or wait-listed by a college, the joy and relief of having been accepted, the fears that their choice of schools would turn out to be a wrong choice... and then, the time coming to actually GO to college.
I don't know how many young people I've seen off to college in my career, but there have been a lot, and one thing that always strikes me is how, like coins dropping only into the slot meant for them, kids end up in the Right Place. So many kids' second choice, "safety" schools, have ended up being just where they should have been all along. If there is ever a time in a young person's life when I've seen the Holy Spirit at work, it's been in choosing colleges. It isn't necessarily an easy transition, or a an instant joy, but somehow it always ends up that kids land where they're meant to.
So I feel confident and excited for the boys even as their confidence may be starting to waver. I know that God has plans for them and knows where they should be. I hope they love college from the moment they step on campus- and I hope they grow closer to God while they're farther away from home.

It's all good.


Is this saying making a comeback?


I went to Staples last week to buy a memory card for my new camera (did I mention how AWESOME my new camera is?), and the young girl who waited on me at the checkout counter bagged the card for me. I said "Oh, I don't need a bag, sorry, I should have said that" and she smiled warmly at me and said "It's all good!"
I have to admit that her response did cheer me, not that I was blue to begin with but her smile and laid back reply made me smile. She was right, it was all good!
Since then I think three people have said the same expression to me. Is it a cool quip these days? If it is, or if it isn't, I guess, either way, it's all... right with me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

itchy itchy itchy, scratch scratch scratch...

I've decided that itching is the worst feeling. I used to think it was having to go to the bathroom desperately but the thing with that is, you can go to the bathroom and alleviate the problem (and feel the BEST feeling in the world... well, it's right up there).
I guess I've done pretty well over the past few years to avoid mosquito bites but this year I'm riddled with them. Add to that other itches of other types, including the nasty itchy eyes that have been plaguing me all day (and making me look weird), and I have been a very uncomfortable girl as of late. (By the way we deduced that the Yoda eyes and the blotchy red face I now have are a result of a sample size of lotion I tried this week.)
You know, the thing about many itches is that you mustn't scratch them, because that just makes them itch more! That is just evil, and proof that the devil exists. I recently decided that instead of a last meal, the night before I die, I will spend it rubbing my eyes because that just feels so good, but if you have to look okay the next day then you can't indulge yourself. You must just let it itch. Agony. I can't imagine how people with psoriasis get out of bed in the morning. God bless Benadryl and all the other itch-fighters out there.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thank you for my new camera!!

It is AWESOME!!!!!
(click on the image to see the freckles on the whiskers of the bee! It's got THAT much detail!!)

Now We Are Four-ty

Today I woke up looking like Yoda. Is this what it's like to be 40?
My eyes are completely swollen and puffy. And on new license picture day!





Oh well. Other than that, 40's pretty good so far. The party was a sure blast, and I felt so proud and lucky (blessed) to have such an amazing assortment of friends and family. The guests ranged from parents in-laws and siblings and nephews to Youth Ministry friends to some of my oldest (meaning long-time) friends to two of my "kids" (now 21) from my first parish. To me it felt like a great resume, a list of proud achievements to brag about. Look at all these wonderful people in my life! And there are even more than this- not all the people I love could be there.
PJ made us all Margo-ritas, and I heard him and Kristen saying "why haven't we always called them that?" which made me laugh. I gave tours of our sweet home and felt proud, and watched my husband shine and felt proud of that too.
Oh did I mention that at 4:00, the exact start time of the party, a very very dark cloud loomed over us, and fat raindrops fell, and seriously the loudest clap of thunder ever recorded rang out above our house? I was inside giving a tour but my family was out under the metal-frame tent in the driveway, under the giant tree. It didn't look good for us but soon after, it cleared and the guests started to turn up. It reminded me of our very rainy (read: monsoon) wedding day, another day that makes me so happy to remember.
So thank you dear friends for being here, for being there! If my life has been this good for 39 years, I can't wait to see what 40+ brings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's my birthday!

Well not really, actually. But today is my birthday party! I am not the kid who had a big birthday event party every year as a kid. Birthdays were family events; dinner, cake, presents. My brother Chris' birthday is 2 days before mine (that is, TODAY). One year my Mom and sister Nancy worked to throw us a big birthday party to which we could invite 2 or 3 friends each. It was a BLAST, with a really cool scavenger hunt that had us running all over our neighborhood from the cemetery to the library to the memorial building. I remember that Chris' team beat ours because we just could not find what turned out to be the largest tombstone in the cemetery... Looked everywhere. Oh well, it was a really fun day.
So today is the big 4-0 party, and Scott's been working his patoot off to clean up the yard. There's a little tent out there and lights and tiki torches and all. I'm really excited (despite the calls for HAIL) because so many of my friends and family members will be here. For a humble/lovable character like myself (and Underdog) it's a weird sensation being the subject of a big party. I keep saying "is it too greedy? will people think I'm a self-centered jerk?" Silly, I know- I never went to someone's birthday party thinking "How DARE THEY???"
So, it's just a matter of getting myself spit-shined, excited (no prob. there) and ready to go. Happy Birthday to me! (and Chris!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

kinda fluey

I bravely dressed and went in to work today briefly, just long enough to get everything set for Baptisms, and then hit the road and ultimately, the couch, again. I am not sick to my stomach, but I don't feel like eating, which is HIGHLY unusual for me. I feel, just... kinda... wonky. Sluggish, tired, energy-free. I looked up Tetanus shot reaction and this, I think, is what they mean when they say "mild flu-like symptoms." I also read that you can expect possible "fussiness" and "Crying nonstop for 3 hours or more." Luckily neither of those have happened... yet.
My shooter (the woman who gave me the shot, that is, who I, weirdly, THANKED afterward) said that if my injection site got hot or red, I should call the on-call, they would probably prescribe me some antibiotics. And, you know, my site is indeed hot and red... but overall I just don't see calling the doc. about it- any doctors or nurses out there reeling in horror at this picture? Do advise.
PS, it looks worse if you sit back from the screen a bit. There, see?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

40,000 mile checkup (two new posts)

So, yeah, I'm turning 40. I had my physical yesterday (and got the aforementioned Tetanus shot) and for the first time, brought a list of things I wanted to remember to chat with my doctor about. A LIST!! Yikes. There were only 5-6 things on there, so maybe that's not so bad.
But the good news is, I'm in good shape. Well, no- I'm in terrible shape, but I'm healthy overall.
I was pretty excited because our PCP just retired, and transferred us to another practice in the building, and so my physical was supposed to be with a young pip of a thing who treated me for a breathing thang I had back in the Spring. Her name was Dr. Ally, I kid you not. She was, I think, about 13 years old and had a terrificly chic outfit on the day I met her, accented with a pink stethoscope. I know the maxim is to choose a lawyer who's older than you and a doctor who's younger, but really, this was too much.
Anyway, apparently Dr. Ally has moved on and I got to go back to one of the Nurse Practitioners from my old doc's office, and I was quite glad. She's wonderful and didn't make me feel too old or too fat. Now I've got a bunch of follow-up stuff to do- blood test, a trip to see this kind of doc, a trip to see that kind of doc. The older I get, the more doctors I get to visit. And I'm healthy!

It's time again... simple woman's daybook

FOR TODAY 08/09/08...
Outside My Window... what may be a couple hundred crows are cawing and yelling in the high treetops. Crows give me the creeps, and we try to discourage them in our own yard (by the vicious clapping of our hands... tough, we are) but they live somewhere nearby, and every night around 6 they start flocking back and forth and yelling like middle schoolers at a dance.
I am thinking... about the Olympics. I love the Olympics, and although I am not generally a major sports fan, I drink up every bit of whatever is shown on the Olympics. I love the patriotism and spirit and emotion and the thrill of victory, and yes, the agony of defeat. I lounged in front of the tv all day feeling wonky from a tetanus shot, and saw fencing, volleyball, team handball, beach volleyball, swimming, crew, cycling, and badminton. Badminton! Everything is interesting in the Olympics.
I am thankful for... my health, on this day of minor misery- I had to get the tetanus for grad school, and didn't know it would sideline me for (hopefully only) a day. Fortunately it's a good day to stay inside and... yep, watch the Olympics!
From the kitchen... not much! My energy level is near zero. Sorry husband! Last night we got Chinese food to eat while watching the Opening Ceremonies and talked to a real Chinese guy about China!
I am wearing... yeah, my pajamas.
I am creating... a deep divot in my chair cushion. But last week I did a really cool craft project! I made a nifty suncatcher for our porch. I'll try to get a good pic. of it for you to see.
I am going... back to work tomorrow, with a Baptism at 1:00 (well, three Baptisms). But until then, I'm going nowhere fast!
I am reading... Today wasn't a total waste of time, I caught up on Dot's Diary and then read a lot about Bikini Atoll, the site of A-bomb tests by the US after WWII.
I am hoping... to feel better soon, and that it will be sunny and dry next weekend.
I am hearing... those damned crows and Scott hosing something down in the driveway.
Around the house... the gloaming is setting in. Time to turn on the lights inside.
One of my favorite things... Did I mention I love the Olympics?
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Ahhhhh this is my last week before vacation, and that means I'll get a ton of work done. Next Saturday we celebrate my big 4-0... so that means we will have a lot to do around the manse, getting everything set to go.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...




Our cat Pip waiting patiently for someone to turn on the faucet so she can take a drink.



~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*