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


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


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


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


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.
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


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!!!