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


Having two days off in a row, and a house that needs cleaning, and homework, and work to do, 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.