Monday, September 28, 2009

They call it HoFo for short.

So, I'm about a third of my way through Grad School, and so far it's good, although for the life of me I can't justify even the fraction of it that we're funding. But anyhoo. This semester I'm taking the 1-credit class that is required for all the people in my major (do they call it that in grad school?) called Holistic Formation.
I'm not exactly sure what it is. Last week was our first session, and our leader told us a lot of things that it isn't, but never really got around to telling us what it is. All I know is, there are about 8 of us, and we sit in a circle, and last week (seriously) they had us draw a "faith map" on big paper with... crayons.
I have a bad attitude about this.
Part of the requirements for this class is to come up with a spiritual something plan, which includes finding a spiritual director and going on a retreat. I have a wonderful SD whom I've been seeing for over two years now, and have been on more retreats than you can shake a stick at. I'm feeling kind of in pretty good shape spiritually (as in, I'm addressing my spiritual needs currently- not that I'm spiritually perfect). The crayon drawing I dutifully drew last week was one I've done lots of times, with my middle school students. I saw my advisor in the hall after class and complained about it, and she told me to be a "good role model" for the others in the group. Sigh.
It reminded me of the battle I had with a former pastor over requiring the Catholic school students in our parish to attend high school faith formation classes with the "publics." In my opinion, youth ministries MUST have something- something for the kids who attend Catholic school, who take religion class every day. But, at least in that program, sitting through classes for the public school students was no the something. The pastor thought that the CS kids should be in those classes because they would build community, but I suspected that they'd be so resentful about having to be there after studying theology in school each day that they wouldn't be very open to building community. The pastor suggested that maybe the CS kids could be great role models in the classes, serving as mini-teachers. I doubted that they would be happy with this conscripted service, especially after paying a registration fee.
I thought that the Catholic School kids deserved programming that was designed to suit their particular needs and stage, and I would have gotten around to that if I'd been able to stay at that parish longer than I was. But in the meantime, I thought it was better not to force them through a program that would only build resentment of the Church.
Now I'm feeling like one of those Catholic school kids. But I guess I have no choice, I will muddle through and earn my one measly credit and wear down every crayon they give me. But I'm not gonna like it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I came down with it Tuesday night, and woke up to a fully-engaged sore throat, stuffy nose and (well, you remember) head that itched from the inside. Thursday I soldiered through my day, yearning for my bed all day but making it through nonetheless. Friday we went to Maine to infect... I mean, visit my parents and then headed back home. Scott started to feel it last night, so we had some ice cream to soothe ourselves, and went to bed. Mine has migrated into my chest, which ALWAYS happens when I get a cold. Scott slept in this morning, until the afternoon. At one point I tried to get him to get up and have some breakfast and he said "No." It's never really easy to get him out of bed but he never has flat-out refused.
Tonight we're supposed to attend a banquet, and I have a fabulous dress to wear- but it's not looking good. Maybe a nap will help...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


This morning I woke up with a sore throat- was it just from sleeping with my mouth open? No, it's looking like the real deal. Now my head itches, from the inside. Dammit, I'm getting a cold.
This year one of my resolutions was not to suffer. If there's a medicine that will stop whatever nasty problem I'm having, I'll take two of it, please. My house is loaded up with anti-itch cream so that no bug bite would bother me, and pain-killers (nothing with street value, just Aleve, Tylenol, Excedrin) for whatever cricks and aches might crop up. Now I'm dosed with Motrin cold and allergy but it doesn't seem to have kicked in yet, despite the fact that I took it over 45 minutes ago. Ah well.
Outside the sun is just breaking through the gray of this morning. It looks like Fall out there- our big beloved Maple tree is dropping just a few starter red leaves, but soon I know it will start to look like a real party with confetti. At work, the tree I park under drops acorns on my car, and when I head for home, they rolllllllll off. We're already planning our usual Fall activities, and panicking about the Summer stuff we never did get to. Suddenly it's almost October.
Ah well, what can be done? We can't help but go along with it. When October comes, I can't still be in August. I guess if we can't slow down the time we can at least ride it like a roller coaster. Hands up everyone! Here we goooooo!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm no mermaid, either.

I am no mystic. I bring a boulder-sized grain of salt when I hear about miracle sightings of what-have-you. There was a moment in time when the YM community was in a tizzy about rosary links turning gold, and I've heard lots of stories by people I don't know who have seen the sun "spin" or who have witnessed other kinds of phenomena like that. I guess my attitude isn't so much a "that is bunk" kind of attitude- it's more "okay, cool for you if that's what does it for you."
To me, though, the idea of rosary links turning gold or Jesus appearing in a kit-kat seems like a miss. What good does it do the world? I mean, if anyone can make their visage appear in a kit-kat, it's Jesus. But whyyyy? If we could trade those golden links for food for the poor, then I'd be on board. I just don't know if (or why) the Mother of Jesus or the Savior of the World would bother with appearing like this. Maybe it's just me but I think miracles should do something big for the world. How about a nice cure for poverty now and again, huh?
When I was in high school, at a particularly prayerful time in my life, I was alone in my church, staring at the figure of the risen Christ on the wall. I stared at his face for so long that his lips began to appear to move. But I couldn't understand what he was saying! I couldn't read his lips and he wouldn't speak up. It looked like words, but... ah well. Of course it was an apt symbol of my relationship with God, even now- He, speaking mystery to me. Me, not getting his message at all.
I'm not a complete disbeliever in miracles... and I guess ultimately, it's none of my business. If a newly-gold rosary brings you to a new level in faith, then good! And Mary-sightings in windows certainly get people talking and praying, and remind us of her presence. So that's something. But I'm no mystic. God doesn't speak to me in gold flakes or fillings. He doesn't speak to me at all. But I know he's around.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


So, I may have mentioned that this is a stressful week for me. I have three big events at work this weekend, bang-bang-bang... and I have big roles in all of them, especially Saturday's ministry day. My Dad had knee replacement surgery this week, which meant a lot of organizing of my siblings and me, to take turns being up there in Maine with my Mom. With most of us on an educational schedule, this would already have been a tough time to fit everything in. I'm jealous of my sisters and brother who live close enough to run up there in between things.
My Dad has had some complications, including a particularly scary one today. I've been worrying in between all the amazing amount of stuff I had to do today, from a 3 hour New Testament class (that last hour's a KILLER) and getting everything done for this weekend. On my way to class, I knew I needed some music to crowd out the thoughts in my head. I wanted something I could sing to, LOUD, with lots of words and no deep meaning.
I grabbed "Katy Lied" by Steely Dan out of my CD case and knew right away that it was the perfect choice. It's lyrics are mostly nonsense, something really hard to make any meaning out of. Whatever story they put together is so odd that it's hard to apply to one's life. And this particular album doesn't spend a lot of time on instrumental breaks.
I first got this album when I was leaving Washington to head back home from a serious folly, on a train trip that would take 4 days. It was a new album to me so it had the added distraction value of giving me lyrics to learn. It kept me going all the way across the country. I feel like I owe a lot to this album!
So Steely Dan it is, until I can get through a trip leg without fear and worry creeping in. Hopefully this won't contaminate the album for the future.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY 09/11/09...
Outside My Window... It's a regular Fall day- the wind is whipping, it's prematurely dark, the sky is cloudy and the rain comes and goes. It's a perfect day for cooking up some comfort food and watching old movies.
I am thinking... about the movie we're watching (old), from 1938, You Can't Take it With You. It is making me so happy, really, inordinately happy. It's about a crazy family bent on staying happy. It's making me laugh out loud. The dance teacher just said "I feel so good life is dancing around inside of my like a squirrel!"
I am thankful for... this fleeting chance at relaxation- this week will be a crazy whirlwind of activity, from our first weekend of GOF to my father's knee operation in Maine, to a banquet, and of course classes. It's exhausting to think about it, so I think I won't. Truth is, I love pretty much all of it, so that helps the stress stay at bay, a bit.
From the kitchen... Tonight I baked a chicken, and made spaghetti squash alfredo. Oh it was so good!
I am wearing... jeans that I bought today, two sizes smaller than my old jeans!
I am creating... well, nothing right this instant. I'll be creating all week- there's stuff I should be creating right now, by rights, but... tomorrow.
I am going... to Maine on Tuesday to visit my parents- Dad's operation is Monday, and we all are taking turns visiting. I think I'll bring the fixings for a good breakfast, including real cream and bacon and good coffee. Stick up for breakfast!
I am reading... all fun reading is off the docket now, and it's on to lots of Freud this week- and the Gospel of Mark.
I am hoping... that I can get it all done. Oh, I had decided not to think about that, right?
I am hearing... this lovely movie.
Around the house... mess! But also, a husband with a full belly and two sleeping cats.
One of my favorite things... is watching old movies. James Stewart and Jean Arthur are just adorable in this one. Last week we watched "The Man Who Came to Dinner." It was wonderful.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Oh seriously, let's not talk about that now.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... here's my view out the window in our kitchen, I have this beautiful view every time I do dishes or wash my hands. How fortunate am I?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'm not starving

Today was a long day, starting early with the funeral of one of our favorite parishioners, a 91 year old pip who we will sorely miss around the church. That meant, on top of the sadness, that we were at work earlier than usual, and dressed up.
It was a fairly productive day, but when I was ready to leave, Scott wasn't, and so I waited him out until it looked like i could make a break for it (both our cars were there).
On the way home, despite the fact that I was starving, I stopped at Target, and wandered around there for a while. Then I went to Trader Joe's for dinner fixins, and finally got my growling stomach home at around 9:00. I put dinner on to cook, and tuned into the prez's speech.
Just as dinner was juuuuuuust about ready, my phone rang. It was Scott, back at the church, calling to tell me that I had his car key in my bag. I checked, and he was right. I fell to my knees, shook my fist and wailed "WHYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!?!"
No, I didn't, but I could have. Instead I changed out of that darn skirt, turned off the burner under my dinner, and got my empty belly back on the road. Soon, I hit a construction area which detoured me onto the very road I needed to travel, in the opposite direction. I will admit that here is where I started to pout.
I flipped on Canadian public radio, and As It Happens was doing a story about kids from some Canadian high school who sponsored a Hunger Banquet for their peers (they called it and "awareness lunch" I think. Those crazy Canucks!). One of the students said "it's not really much of a sacrifice to go for two school periods without food, but it did make me think."
I immediately apologized to God for using the word "starving" while driving in my nice car, soon to be back in my cozy home, with enough food to feed a lot of starving people quite nicely.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Starting today, life gets faster. We were up and running from an early (for us) hour, and just now are sitting down for the first time today. Tomorrow looks a lot like today, and then, every other day, forever, or at least until Easter. It's overwhelming to look at my calendar, which I've now started color-coding so that I can keep track of the different departments. I started class today, and the professor handed out a 55-page list of "recommended readings." FIFTY-FIVE PAGES!! I thought he must have been joking. He wasn't, though. Fortunately, the "required readings" were only about 3-4 pages long. Ha.
This morning as we both rushed about, I pulled out my brown shirt to iron. Weirdly, I saw that it had a letter N on it. Then, a letter S. They were TINY, but perfect. I went on to find O, R, and C. Here's a picture:
I wish I'd put a dime or something in the picture so you can see how tiny they are. They are about the size of a pencil lead. Really small. It was so strange to find them there, on my shirt. No idea where they came from.
As you can see, they spell SCORN. Or, I guess, CORNS. Either way, it seemed like a warning.
I got in my car and noticed that my trip meter was it 666.8.
But on I went, and made it through the day fairly unscathed. So far.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Brokey McBrokerton

This has been a sobering week. Yesterday my office mate's husband lost her job, out of the blue, after 40 years with the same company. Effective Yesterday. It was surreal how fast it happened, and painful to watch my coworker realize that her health coverage was suddenly gone- she stood, dazed, in front of my desk alternatively telling me what happened and taking long pauses where she gazed off into the air, doing math and looking into the future. It was not expected, not even feared, and now they have no time to plan for "what if?"
This morning I sat down to write the rent check and realized with that old familiar feeling that we are ALREADY broke for this pay period. How does this keep happening? We have no kids, no home improvement/maintenance bills. As I glowed about yesterday, we own very little. I took pen to paper and added everything up. It turns out, we don't make much money. I had fooled myself into considering my salary as my income- but in fact, with the two of us together making what we make, minus taxes, we end up with what would be a fairly good (for a youth minister anyway... ha!) salary for one person. If we were one person on that salary, we could get ahead. But after taxes come bills, debts we are working hard to pay off, and the car payments- well, you know the drill.
It's embarrassing to have to tell people that we can't afford to go to dinner with them (and sad, because going out to dinner is one of my very most favorite activities!) but the fact is, we sometimes can't. We just have to keep on keeping on until the cars are paid off and the debt is paid down, and hope that people still like restaurants when we are solvent again. And we keep reminding ourselves that we chose this lot, we earned this situation (and to be honest, no high-paying job where I could not be doing what I'm doing now would ever pull me away... for long. Ha!) and we are making progress- and we are thankful thankful thankful that we have jobs at all.