Saturday, August 28, 2010

Starting Over

My laptop is off to the hospital, or should I say hospice... it looks like it's the hard drive after all, but if not that, then the mother board. We have great friends who are willing to tinker with it and see if they can save it, but if it's not the hard drive then we will probably ditch the whole thing rather than buy a new mother board, since we'll also need memory because the dear old thing was running pretty pokily. So if that's what we need to do, we'll just go all in and buy a new one.
I'm remembering things that were on there, and am disappointed to not have access to them: my handy calendar that tracks my bill-paying, my itunes library, my photos, my stickies, some grad school papers... but then again there's a certain attraction to just letting it all go.
When I was in college I took copious notes and really loved my notebooks- all the doodles I did in there, all the journal entries I wrote during class... I thought I was creating a real jewel of a time capsule, one that I would pore over in my golden years, share with my children and whatnot.
But after my 8th or 9th move as an adult, I trashed the lot of them. It was a bold move and I still get a pang when I think about it... I should have gone through them, who knows what was in there? But overall I think it was an okay decision and I haven't hurt badly from the loss of them in my basement.
The last time my computer crashed, or I switched email accounts or whatever, all my old emails were gone in an instant, before I even had time to decide if there was anything worth saving in there. And I've been fine.
On the other hand, in my office an old file cabinet holds all my original Youth Ministry files, full of good stuff that I never even look at anymore. But the other day I pulled out program planning forms from 1986, copies of copies of ones that I got at my own CLI in Maine. Gosh darn it if those weren't amazingly helpful! How brilliant to go back to the basics, use a pen and the process again after so long of thinking I didn't need such crutches. I'm glad I kept them.
But I'm okay with letting the old stuff on my old computer go- I can rebuild what I need and find all the bookmarks that I loved, probably, and if I can't, well... I probably didn't love them enough. On to the next blank slate.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Black Widow Edition

1) I'm supposed to post the image for the 7QT here, but I am on a borrowed laptop... mine, my beloved (okay it's always been kind of a love-hate relationship) Macbook died this week. It died a dramatic and sudden death, and took many important things with it. I am in mourning, and it's making me think how often things and organizations and brands die in my wake. So.

2) Notre Dame College. My alma-mater, went out of business about ten years after I graduated from it. It wasn't my fault, I was long gone, and although I avoided the calls from students asking for donations, I totally paid back all my student loans. I was sorry to see it go, I got a TON out of that goofy little school.

3) Daewoo. I bought my first (and only) brand-new car from the Daewoo dealer (a Lanos- the website described it as "like a pet that's larger than life!" and it was) in Natick, and I should have noticed how quickly the transaction was completed and I was walked out the door. A week later we drove by and the doors were locked and the showroom empty and dark. I joked about owning a collector's item, but soon after that brand-new daewoos were showing up on Ebay from dealers offering to sell them for 3000.00. New. It was a pretty good car, though, and peppy, and ultimately we traded it in for the cost of the tax on my next car.

4) Baja Fresh. Oh I loved it there, always got the Baja Burrito and it came with tortilla chips and I would dip them both in the lovely black salsa and sour cream. MMmmmmm. I remember how delicious even the hours-later burps tasted. I suppose it still exists somewhere but the local stores are gone, gone, gone.

5) Better Off Ted, Arrested Development, etc... I dunno, maybe my sense of humor isn't mainstream... but all the best shows that I love are cancelled after only a season or two. Sorry Bonnie Hunt! I blame myself!!

6) and tonight, on my way home, I stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up my supply of Milk Chocolate almond clusters, which I exist on while low-carbing- I can have one a day and they're delicious and really lower carb than one would imagine. But the man there said they've been discontinued. I am unreasonably sad about this.

7) This whole 7QT meme is probably doomed, but I hope not, I really like doing it. No, I don't, it's awful! Yeah, I don't like it at all and wouldn't be sad if it went away... so, take that God of vengeance! It would be punishing me to keep it going!! Yeahh!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Too Stressed to Title This Post

I'm not prone to freak-outs. Someone once described me as "human prozac." But around this time of year I can get a little anxious. It all started several years back when I started at my last parish. I was hired mid-August, and shown my office in a giant old (disgusting) convent. Nothing had been left to me, including any list of kids/familes or volunteers. The office and the entire building were packed with garbage- my office was filled and dirty and dark. My first job would be to sort through and clean out this place and then get organized while planning a year of programming for 1000 kids and families.
I found myself having trouble sleeping- I know I've mentioned here that I always have music going in my head, but when this all hit, I heard it all even in my sleep- the same song, over and over and over and over...I had dreams of cleaning and cleaning that office and woke frustrated and exhausted. I still remember that it was a Christina Aguilera song... but blessedly I can't remember which one...
The spell was broken when I finally had a good night's sleep with the help of the help of a friend. But since then, at around this time of year, it comes back just for a while, until I give it the one-two punch of a great night's sleep. I have a sample sleeping aid that I have kept in a glass box with a little red hammer next to it. I don't want to use it until I have to.
The last couple of years, since being at my current parish, it hasn't been bad- but this year, I think, is going to be a doozy. I'm taking two classes and an internship, and this year my ministry seems to be exploding- it's all great stuff that I'm excited to do, but somehow the already-full calendar pages in my date book make my chest hurt a little. I listed all the BIG projects on my white board yesterday and stood back to behold the source of my new anxiety. I don't want to do any of them poorly. But you know, I like to be busy- I do my best work when I'm busy- and there's nothing on the board that I dread, so maybe the fluttering I feel is the wings of excited butterflies, not nervous ones. I have so much (as always) to look forward to.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Birthday Girl

It's my birthday! Well, technically yesterday was, but it's still my birthday season. Never do I feel so popular (or, now that I think of it, all that popular at all...) as on my birthday, both in person and on Facebook. I am blown away by the Facebook wishes, and as easy as it is to send them, I know it's just as easy not to. I love wishing people a HB on their walls and it's soooo neat to get them on mine.
We went to Maine for a Summer-Birthday-Fest and I hope I got gifts to everyone I owed them to, and I brought home an awesome haul. I love those family parties, and not for the presents... but for the presence... old stories and bad jokes and silliness and great food and great people.
We then spent a few days in Provincetown with our dear friends, and had such a wonderful time. They are laid-back and easy-going and the trip was so easy and fun, I loved every minute. We went to the beach one day, and I spent more time there than I've ever spent at a beach, and liked it too. All the elements were lined up perfectly- the weather, the company, the cheesy Pringles. I am so off my diet. But let's not talk about that. There's something about P-Town that makes one feel like they can say anything, un-censored, and that was kinda fun. Not that I have much salacious to say, but I'm usually at Church when something comes up, or in polite company, or in public. It felt nice to be free like that, even if I didn't come up with much naughty to say. I'll think of something for next time.
We went to a drive-in, too, and saw The Other Guys, which made me laugh out loud. It was very Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker, and that is my kinda movie. Last night, on my official birthday, the Pappanicos took me out for sushi and OH it was so good, and so good to be with them, followed by ice cream and then home to watch the Sox with my brother, keeping an eye out for Scott and his yoots, who were in the bleachers.
After a day of lounging hard (I finished my book, and unpacked my bags and took a nap and had grilled tomatoes...) Scott is out "doing errands" and then we'll go off to dinner. Tomorrow, more lounging, plus laundry. I love vacation, and I love birthdays, and I love my friends, and I am a blessed, blessed girl, whether I deserve it or not.

Friday, August 13, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Another Edition

One of my jobs when payday comes is to do the grocery shopping. I don't totally mind this job, as it feeds my thrill at having a full fridge... but if you've been reading this blog for long, you know that I have a love-hate kind of relationship to this task. Today as I made my 5th stop to complete the trip, I thought "if only there was ONE place I could go to get this all done!" Of course, there IS- the supermarket. But, the one I go to doesn't sell birthday cards or salt-and-vinegar almonds, or good-enough meat, or whole-bean coffee, or locally grown tomatoes. So, five stops it is. But here I sit in front of a plate that only very recently held a grilled swiss and tomato sandwich and it was allll worth it.

The other night I had a magical ministry moment. It was our last gathering of the Young-Adult Lectio group I have been leading through the summer, and the entire population of the group was bona-fide young adults! Out of college, even. They had real-world things to say, in response to the reading, and really thought hard about the whole thing. And when I told them it was over, they groaned. They groaned! They suggested we start back up again in September, but maybe at a local restaurant. That means beer! Beer! AND when I asked them if Tuesdays would be an okay night, they all said "sure!" SURE!!! Now, really, youth ministry is so awesome. It is. But moments like these are really miraculous for someone who is used to the vague hazy responses of high school students.

I'll be 42 this week. That is, my birthday's coming. 42 sounds so very adult. I've not had a real reaction to any of the numbers so far, outside of excitement... I love birthdays. But sheesh, 42?

I'm working on hospitality as a spiritual exercise. I am really still so moved by the hospitality of the SSND... and I want what they have. So I'm trying to remind myself to be hospitable whenever I get the chance, except at the grocery store. One thing I've noticed about true hospitality is that it's not about asking how one can help, it's just jumping right in and helping. Not asking "do you want to sit down?" but standing up and giving someone a seat. Not saying "want help with that?" but just jumping in and grabbing a suitcase to carry. Not saying "let me know how I can help" but making a dinner and bringing it by. I want to look for opportunities to help and welcome. Except at the grocery store.

New favorite podcasts!! This could be a 7QT episode all on its own, but never mind that. I recommend This is That, a new CBC fake news show that had me for 7 or 8 minutes before I figured out they were bluffing. So funny. The Dinner Party Download, which gives cool jokes, small talk topics, drink recipes, and whatnot guaranteed to help you "win" at your next dinner party. Wiretap is a freakin' riot. That's also CBC. And both CBC and NPR have podcasts that plumb the depths of their archives, good for odd and interesting shows: CBC's is Rewind, and it's weekly, and NPR's is Playback, which is monthly.

Check it out, my first sunflower's in bloom!

Here are the things that I am looking forward to: a trip to PTown, my birthday, the continuation of tomato season, school starting again, and working on my project. GOF starting up again, and all sortsa other new ministries. Real TV shows coming back!!! Seeing the LOST epilogue, although I'm not sure how I'll be able to do that... oh and of course Conan O'Brien coming back to TV. Wait, are a lot of my looking-forward-to's about tv? Is that bad?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back from the MOTHERHOUSE

Well we are back from the MOTHERHOUSE, and I have to tell you, re-entry into society has been tough. It was all so lovely there. We hung out with an elder sister who was so spunky and so full of great stories, and so warm, it made me want to hang out with her on a regular basis. She is on her final round of chemo and feeling good, and asked for prayers so that next summer she can go to Japan and teach English for a summer. Every time we entered a room, be it the dining room or the chapel, she was there waving us over to the table or pew that she'd saved for us, and she was hooking us up with dinner in the dining room or extra cookies for the road.
Scott and I agreed that any young woman who were to go and visit these women would want to make a life of it. The possibilities and options for a School Sister seem to be endless (outside of getting rich, or... married...) and each one gets to use her gifts, and did I mention the JOY? These women were so happy. It was infectious, and I left there inspired to do better at my own vocation, to do better at my job, to do all things well and to show my joy in being a Catholic Christian.
Back at home I caught wind of the underground blogs that are peeking deep into the workings of the Archdiocese of Boston, and reading through them made my chest hurt. It made the idea of living a life like the sisters, soooo much closer to that Acts 2:42-47 model, and able to do Christ's work without all the bureaucracy and politics and, well... crap. I will try to keep in touch with my inspirational sisters and rely that joy to keep me on mission. But someday, I'd like to go back there...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

From Inside the Wall

I am writing from the inside of the MOTHERHOUSE!! (I don't know why but I can't say "motherhouse" without thinking MOTHERHOUSE...) It's so lovely here. It's like staying in the best bed and breakfast, with the best hostesses in the world. I have learned more about hospitality in the 14 hours or so that I've been here than I can remember learning before. I can see why they call it the Mother-house, because it's like walking into a mother's warm kitchen, and being greeted with hugs and cookies.
We arrived later than we'd planned, after crawling through traffic. But there were sisters here to greet us as soon as we got out of the car. Each one that greeted us said "Welcome!!" and grabbed our bags and jumped at the chance to show us around or to get us a drink or to answer questions. We laughed as one of the sisters literally wrestled our pastor's bag out of his hands. There was no choice but to give up and be greeted and served and treated like Very Important Guests.
We settled into our cells, Scott and I in adjoining bedrooms with good hard single beds. Several sisters apologized for the single bed situation, to which we said "we can handle one night of adjoining rooms!" Our room has a private bath with a shower- I'm not sure why we merit such swanky accommodations, but I feel like this whole place is a living, breathing, warm embrace, so it almost feels natural that they'd give us their best.
We got here just as dinner was finished, and so they brought us to a smaller dining room and warmed us plates of food- I felt so grateful that I ate every bite. I have no idea what that meat was! One of the sisters said it was "some kind of beef." But it tasted like welcome. Later, at a receptions, the sisters practically hand-fed us snacks and treats and even at the water cooler a sister filled my cup for me. Everyone introduces themselves and welcomes us and chats with us about their connection to our parish, and smiles and tells us how lovely we are.
This place is HUGE. We took a walk around the buildings last night after Vespers, admiring the grounds. It's beautiful, and beautifully kept, and designed thoughtfully to be a good home and workplace for the sisters.
This morning, I crept down the hallway to iron our clothes and found Sister Pat, who said "here, go ahead and use the iron." I said "oh are you done?" and she said "Oh, these clothes aren't mine, I just saw them here..."
I keep thinking, if we greeted people at Mass and treated them this way every time they walked into the Church (like, I have to say, Scott does), what would our church look like? I bet it'd be fuller, and full of smiling faces.

Friday, August 06, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Random Edition

1) I have a policy about not making political comments online, if I can stop myself. It's hard, because so many people say such stupid things, and I could so easily come up with something great and sassy and smack-downish, but... I think it's probably better for my friendships and for all the world if I keep it to myself and the ballotbox. I was taught as a kid that it is rude to ask people who they vote for, that this is an extremely personal decision. Now, when I hear people ask others (like kids) who they voted or would vote for, I leap in (slow-mo, like someone jumping on a grenade in an old movie) and say "YOU DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER THAT!!!" I can see how tempting it is to bleed one's political views all over the internet, but it just feels wrong to do it. I did make one comment, once... a friend had a video of Barack Obama stumbling at the loss of his teleprompter, and they said something about how people made fun of Bush. I commented "this doesn't make Bush look any smarter." But that's all.

2) That said, I do believe in everyone's right to say what they want to say. I just don't see the kind of debate that might be carried out via Facebook status as changing anyone's mind. And, I have a visceral reaction to meanness, just about anywhere, unless it's me doing it and it's funny.

3) Well now I'm embarrassed about the truth of that last statement. It's true, but it's terrible. I have been working hard not to be so darned MEAN lately, even when it's funny. And also not to be so nervous around change. But that is neither here nor there.

4) Our fly invasion is over!! I don't know what happened, or why it stopped, but it's over. Now all that is to be done is to hang up our awesome flyswatter and wait for next year.

5) I've been reading a management guru's book, and looking at how easily it can be applied to ministry. This guru says that one should treat one's employees like customers. That makes me think that we should be as intentional about our volunteers' spiritual growth and learning as we are about that of our students. What would our ministries look like if we invested as much in the volunteers as we did to the "people"?

6) I've found my bacon. Have you noticed how hip bacon is these days?? Everyone is coming out of the closet and admitting how much we really, really love the stuff. I saw a kid with a t-shirt on the other day that just had a big heart and two strips of bacon. Anyway, my new brand is John Morrell. It's hard to describe the deliciousness of this bacon, But OH GOD it's good. Oh. God.

7) Tonight we're visiting the local St. Rocco festival, it's adorable. This saint-festival thing is soooo Massachusetts, I don't remember any saint festivals around when I was a kid in Maine, but I love them. They parade a statue of the titular saint and people attach money to it later, and then they buy vodka at the liquor store and pour it into the slushies that they buy at the booth on the corner. At the big one in Boston, St. Anthony's, you can go to Mass in the square, and while you're at it you can buy and eat a cannoli. But, don't talk too loud, because MASS IS GOING ON. Just be quiet and eat your cannoli. St. Rocco, the patron of knees, is celebrated over about three blocks, with a heavy Knights of Columbus presence. It's great. Last year when my Dad had a knee replaced, I asked St. Rocco to pray for him, so I'll be glad to see the ol' guy again (well, his statue) and say a prayer of thanks.

And that's 7! Have a great weekend!

PS: I just wish we could have Clinton back. There, I said it.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I leap over the wall!! (In)

Are you sitting down? Because I have exciting news. Well, probably not so exciting for you as for me, and also it's not news to me, because I've known about this for a while...
I'm going in the convent!!!
Just for one night, I'm totally planning to come back.
Scott and I are heading to Wilton CT with our pastor to cheer on our friend, who is taking her first profession as a School Sister of Notre Dame. I am thrilled for this amazingly beautiful woman, who spent some time with us during her novitiate, but also pretty psyched for myself, who will be staying in an honest-to-goodness frickin' convent. Well, they call it the MOTHERHOUSE, which I think is even cooler, because it sounds like a SPACESHIP, and this particular motherhouse looks like the PENTAGON. That's how cool it is.
So, what does one wear to a Motherhouse? What kind of gift does one bring to a new nun?
I'm thinking the polka-dotted brown with a pashmina to cover my shoulders modestly, and hoping open-toed shoes are okay, and bringing maybe something special from my nun collection.
Have I mentioned my nun collection here? It started innocently, when I announced to my fellow social worker friends that I was leaving that glamorous life for a job in the Church. They, naturally, assumed I was becoming a nun (because what other possible jobs could there be for a woman in the Church?) and started giving me nun-themed gifts. I have silly ones, like nun-shaped salt and pepper shakers, bottle openers, and toys, but also a pretty cool collection of world war I postcards of the Sisters of Mercy at work in the battlefields, and great books and pamphlets about nuns escaping convent horrors... oh and figures of bowling nuns, and nun music boxes (they ALL play dominique-a-nique-a-nique....). Anyway, through it all I've come to learn and appreciate much about the women-religious, as they're often called now, as underground workers for growth and truth and change in the Church. Oh gosh, don't quote me, that may be a secret. Shhhh!
Anyway I will try to take lots of pictures for you of my exciting time on the inside!! WOOOO!!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


I am having a fun summer. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not taking any classes that makes me feel so free and relaxed. But at the same time I'm excited and inspired, and instead of wasting the days at work I am Getting Stuff Done and that in itself is energizing. We changed our way of planning for GOF which I won't bore you with here, but will tell you that it's closer to the original way of planning, and that's brought us back on track and helps us accomplish so much more. It feels good. I get to work excited to work on my to-do list, and it is great to have a to-do list in the Summer! At the same time I'm getting a LOT of reading done that I couldn't do when I had all that theological homework on my list.
At home I'm getting reading done too. In tribute to my inner child-nerd I read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this Summer. I watched the old 1970's BBC series and LOVED it as a kid- so reading it was kind of like finding an old friend. Yesterday I watched a couple of the old episodes on youtube while I filled out Baptismal certificates, and it was fun to put the pictures back together with the words. I just hope I didn't send out a baptismal certificate to Ford Prefect by mistake.
I took a pilgrimage to Barnes and Noble, because I was in a book drought. I bought HHGTTG, and another book I'd never heard about, but caught my eye. An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. That night, I grabbed HHG and headed to bed, and Scott grabbed the other book. As I settled in to read, he read along beside me, LAUGHING OUT LOUD. I was so jealous! I felt like I do when he orders something for dinner that looks more delicious than what I got. But now I'm into it now and the snickers emanating from behind the book are mine.
I love Summer. Oh and it's my birthday season!!