Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Yeah!

Here we are, at the brink of a new year, and I'm not sure whether it's a happier thing to look forward, or to look back. As best I can remember, 2011 was a fairly good year- although I'll admit my memory isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. Right, right, I remember now- some bad and sad, but also some glad. And 2012 looks pretty promising. NPR is asking on Facebook what word you'd use to describe 2011, and all I can come up with is "adult." I did some grown-up things this year; played a lot of games of scrabble, made some progress toward paying off our debt, weathered some scary times with loved ones, hosted parties, lost our pensions, worried about our parents, grad school, drank unsweetened iced tea, gained weight, lost weight.
But now all is reasonably well, my kitchen smells like chocolate, my dear sweet husband is at the other end of our dear sweet home, the cats are good (for now) and I'm feeling all deep and philosophical. I just made Marble Gooey Butter Cupcakes- the recipe is for a 9x13 pan but I'm bringing them to a party so I thought I'd give cup-caking them a try, and it seems to have been successful, so far. They look scrumptious but are a stitch to get out of the pan.
One of them came out in pieces, so I'm eating it. Whenever I bake, I always keep the lousiest looking one for myself.
It makes me think that in every batch of life-choices we make, there are bound to be some that come out a little rough, and it's a good rule of thumb to remember that those mistakes, well, they're for me. Not everyone has to see them, and they usually still taste good (better if you eat them right away). My mistakes are for me- to gobble up and learn from, to perfect my skills on. It's not a bad rule for life. Maybe this year I'll look for mistakes I chew on and learn a little something. I was going to say "grow from them" as I am currently doing from this delicious cupcake, but that's the opposite of one of my resolutions. Must stop growing wider.
I called my parents to wish them a Happy New Year, and asked if they had resolutions- my Dad told me he's going to keep working out this year, and my Mom said "If I had any, I wouldn't tell anyone." I said "sure, and a year from now you'll be telling us how successful you were at all your resolutions, and no one will be able to doubt you." Not a bad idea...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eeyore's New Year's Message

What a year 2011 was. A roller-coaster of emotion. Some friends who were in dire danger have turned back toward health, while we lost a dear friend and colleague. Here on the hill all has been well- we've started to see what it means to be aging, and to have aging parents, but so far so good. But I am always a little bit dreading, having had such a charmed life, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I imagine it can't just go on being smooth sailing forever, especially when people I know are hit hard by tragedy. How can we expect to be happy and good like this in the long run? Our turn is coming, I just know it.

I don't know if being constantly wary is good for me, or bad- I suppose bad, because it makes me a little bit unable to enjoy the present fortunes. But for some reason, I am loath to just relax and live in the now. New Year's is a time when I feel this particularly acutely. What horrors will the new year bring? Will this be the year when I finally get what's coming to me?
I know, I know! Gloomy! And living with a low grade fear-fever doesn't insulate me against bad things that may or may not come, they come whether I am ready or not. My mom told me once, when I was young, that it was better to have low expectations because that way, I'd never be disappointed. Sound advice! And it's served me, well...
But here we are, days before the new year and dealing with the news that our lovey cat Zarley is in (has?) chronic renal failure. We're between diagnosis and plan, but we are not those people who mortgage their family to pay to keep their pets alive. We want to get the timing right and honor her sweet self, and be good pet-owners and make it as good for everyone as possible. She's such a sweet kitty, a crazy old lady, and outside of my family and a few friends, one of my longest-standing relationships. I want to be as good to her as she's been to me.
And our Archdiocese is slowly eking out plans that may totally change our lives, professionally and personally. Our parishes are being re-configured, and while it was always something that would need to be done, there is a lot to this plan that is scary. I spent more than a few minutes at Christmas Mass thinking "is this the last Christmas we'll have this? Where will we be a year from now? Who will be our pastor? Will we still be a staff?" They won't tell us anything real until they're darned good and ready and so all there is to do is stew and worry and spiff up our resumes. I'll be glad to have a Masters' Degree in my pocket.
You know me, I can deal with bad news but I do hate suspense. I don't exactly want to fast-forward through time, but if I could only get the ending of the story emailed to me, I think I'd do better in the midst.
So happy, cheery new year everyone!! I promise this year of blogging (which should be more often than last year, since I have no homework to do!) will not be totally gloomy. There are good things coming, too, this I know.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Merry Me Edition

1) I am starting to feel super Christmas-y. Even though it's over 50 degrees out, and there are moths banging themselves against our storm door, we have the tree up and decorated and lit up, and somehow suddenly I can stand the sound of Christmas music. We have some shopping done, and rumor has it we will be allowed to sleep in on Christmas day, and all is pretty much right with the world so far. (I am just enough of a cynic to have to add "so far.") Tomorrow is my first day off with nowhere to be in SO long. I can hardly stand the excitement. I'm going to make cookie dough for my coworkers, do the grocery shopping, and make cinnamon ornaments. With glitter!! I'm giddy.
2) This week I attended my last class of my grad school career. I can hardly believe it. I ended the whole thing with Fundamental Moral Theology, the course I was the very least interested in. It was hard, and not my bag, but I stuck with it and even did all the required reading, mostly. Today I handed in a 20 page paper that I am so glad to be done with that I only proof-read it once- so reckless. I hope he likes it. Please God let me not have to take this class over again!
All that's left to do now is my Synthesis Project, which consists of two ten-page papers and a 5 page pastoral plan. I feel like I have warmed up with a heavy bat by doing this 20 pager, and the synthesis should be light-weight in comparison. I will submit my first draft in January and then do any revisions needed, and defend it by April 2 to graduate in May.
3) Once I'm done with the project, I'm going to do so many things that I couldn't do while in grad school. Not because the classes took up all that much time, but for three years now I have been in "I should be reading" mode. This last class has required an ave. of 250 pages of horrible reading a week. But right now, I pretty much have nothing I should be reading. It feels kind of wicked. So once I'm done, I'm going to read things that aren't about God, and I'm going to watch documentaries, and I'm going to do crafts, and I'm going to visit my parents more. I'm going to... well I don't even know. But I will have unburdened time to figure it out. (Oh I'm going to blog more!!)
4) I'm back to seeing my spiritual director after a long break, and I know I've said this before here but she is amazing. She basically hugs my spirit for an hour and reassures me that I'm not horrible, not Wrong, and that God is still walking with me. I wish everyone could have a person like Mary to go to, and I hope I can be a person like Mary for people who come to me.
5) I'm way off my diet. I'm enjoying the binge eating and all, but I'm looking forward to getting back on the wagon at some point after the holidays. I love ice cream and croissants and cookies and cider and... all that stuff... but I love feeling better, and I feel infinitely better when I've cut sugar and flour out. But for now, on goes the bender.
6) We are about to go through some significant changes in the diocese, which may put my job at jeopardy or at the very least will put me in competition to keep my job. You can imagine a diocesan-wide Survivor reality show, where everyone tries to be Christian while not getting their tiki torch snuffed out. I am trying not to be nervous about it, but also feel a little like we're waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am in a wonderful, beautiful, holy parish with fantastic people and am loathe to leave there. I can't really envision my future right now and that is an uncomfortable position for someone like me, who hates suspense.
7) My brother asked me recently how school had changed my personal theology (well that's probably not exactly how he phrased it but that's what he was asking) and it is an interesting thing to think about. I think I sounded a little groovy to him when I said "it all comes down to LOVE" but there you go. It turns out that those 1970's catechists were right on, and super-radical, and in touch with Jesus' super-radical message, when they focused on the message of Love. I am sure now that we can tell what's of God and what's not, by asking simply "is it of love?" I mean... that's big. If something's not of love, it's not of God. If I'm not being loving, I'm not being what God calls me to be. It sounds simple but it's just the opposite. Following commandments? Now that's simple. Love? Hard.

I'm heading to bed early so I can have a full day of not having reading to do tomorrow. Merry, merry merry!