Friday, June 29, 2012

Let's Not Get Together

It's reunion time again. This year marks 25 years since I graduated from high school. I'm always a little iffy about reunioning, which would have come as such a shock to my 18 year old graduating self. I wailed at graduation, scanning the faces of my beloved friends, and swearing never to forget any of them.
Five years later, I went to our first reunion, and it was pretty fun, I guess. I saw people who I'd only just lost touch with, and they were pretty much the same as they'd been in high school. I got a little tipsy and went to a party at someone's house after the reunion. It was fun enough.
When the 10th year reunion came around, I didn't want to go at all. I was single and working at a job that I didn't like much (social work) and I remember thinking "I don't have a story to tell these people." I wasn't proud of my life, hadn't made anything impressive of myself, and didn't have a thing to brag about. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a derelict, and wasn't living a miserable or debauched life, I just wasn't living what I considered to be an impressive one.
At our 20th, things had changed. I was married, and pregnant, and so felt like I had an excuse for being as overweight as I was. The internet had come into play enough that I had been in touch with some of my old classmates, and had found pictures of most of the others online, so I knew that a lot of them had put on weight too, and lost hair, and started to sag, in spots. I was doing a job I loved (ministry) and had a husband I was proud to show off, so I went. I was nauseous the whole time from the pregnancy, and couldn't have a beer, either- there was a DJ who played music really loud, so we had to shout to each other. I saw some dear old friends and it was nice.
This year, 25, I'm not as overweight as I was 5 years ago, still in a wonderful job, still married to a wonderful husband, but... I just don't feel like I have much to talk about with my classmates. I don't want to go and dance or drink with them, and those whose stories I want to keep up on, I already do. I can see all their faces on Facebook anytime, and even chat with them. It suits my introverted self much better than dressing up and hollering at each other over the DJ's tunes. I'm going to skip it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Vacation Edition

1) I've got myself a new Ipad, and it's pretty awesome. My learning curve with it has been a little slow, but I'm figuring out why I wanted it, and why it will prob. become a big part of my everydays. I still have the rookie cover on it, and no keyboard, and I'm still figuring out which apps are helpful- but I'm coming to see that with it, I can do a whole heck of a lot of stuff that I love to do.
2) I downloaded my first book on the Ipad (I have the kindle app, but can't figure out how to get books into it... ) and it's Seven Storey Mountain, by Thos. Merton. It's one of those spiritual books that all the most holy people have read, and I never have. It's LONG! It's an autobiography, full of typos (is that an ipad books thing?) and I guess either Merton wrote it before honing his writing skills or it'll turn out to be awesome enough that the... (well, amateurish?) quality of his writing won't be a big deal, ultimately. He is a funny kind of guy, sort of curmudgeonly and at turns super-critical of anyone who disagrees with him philosophically, including his own younger self. And he includes weird tangential stories from his childhood that don't seem to have much to do with the greater narrative of the thing. But still, I'm hanging in there, despite the lovely and tempting books that keep popping up in my periphery.
3) Next, for instance, on my wish-list is... well, several books are tempting me. I still haven't read Bossypants, and want to- it seems like a much better suited-to-vacation kind of book than SSM. But also I'm wanting to read The Goal and Ideas. I think it's a new sense of liberation that my mind is feeling from being sprung from grad school. I love books and reading and hate being told what to do/read. Now that I can read whatever the heck I want, Amazon is my oyster.
4) But, shouldn't I be hiking? Or, walking, or something active? I've been thinking about the difference between being lazy and being sedentary. My Mom always called me lazy, and maybe I've had my lazy stretches, but I don't mind hard work or activity really. I work hard in my garden, and do my chores, and I used to love hiking when I lived by the woods and hills in my first apartment, and/or when I had a dog to hike with. But I also really love reading, I love watching tv, I love using the internet. My mind is, I reckon, much more active than my body is, by nature. I worry about time lost to sitting around, mostly because I see how my Mom's body seems to have withered from (in my estimation) lack of movement over the past several years. Like me, Mom prefers to sit. But I saw her struggle this weekend to get into a car, and worried about my own fate.
5) This week though, it's been raining and thundering every day, which means I'm stuck close to home, and as another convenient excuse, my foot hurts!  A few weeks back I was gardening and felt my big toe snap, and then a shooting stab of pain. I tried to take it easy on my right foot for the next couple of weeks, and was starting to feel good again, but now suddenly I feel like I have a bruise on the bottom of my foot- in the pad behind that big toe. What can you do but rest it, right? So maybe next week, I'll start that walking routine.
6) So here's the apps I have on my ipad, because I know you're dying to know: Slate, IMDB, Inkflow, NPR/WBUR/CBC apps, Pandora, Google Translate, a stunning Weather Channel app, Amazon, and Dropbox. Oh, and Bejeweled Blitz.
7) So in sum: I'm spending these few days off from work reading, sitting around, worrying about how much I'm sitting around, thinking about books I'd rather/should be reading, and trying not to eat carbs. I've got some other plans (something every day! I'm so active!)so my social skills won't completely whither away before I get back to work.

Friday, June 22, 2012

And Now We Are Catless

It's a strange feeling to take a cat to the vet, and then come home without her. Of course, we did bring her home, but not really her. Of course, she hadn't been herself for a while. But still, just like we did three months ago, we loved her and cried on her, loaded her into the crate, and took her, tearily, to the vet- the lovely vet who helped us help her. Since Pip's trip to the vet was so recent,  it was a familiar process- we knew what decisions we had to make, and how to make them. We pre-knew our preferences. Blessedly, it was smooth and peaceful, and we brought Zarley home and buried her next to Pip, under the rhododendron bush.
When we were finished, we ritually started to strip and clean the house. We threw away the litter box, gathered up all the random water bowls that were scattered around the house. We disassembled the steps that our old girls had needed to get up on the bed in their later years, and pulled out the scratching post and bed and various other things. It felt cathartic, to me- not because I wanted all traces of Zarley to be gone, but because it felt right to address the truth that the cats were here, and now things have changed- now they are not here.
But the weirdest thing of it all is not... I don't know. Considering? Taking care? Worrying? Scott vacuumed and I didn't have to worry about the cat being afraid of the machine. I mixed up some tuna and didn't have to worry about cats circling my feet and crying for the juice. We went in and out of the house without having to worry about Zarley slipping out. Zarley was a little "special" and was the neediest, loviest cat ever. She followed me constantly, would pace back and forth while I puttered in the kitchen, begging to be held like a baby. She would pounce onto me if I took too long to pick her up. Now I can walk and putter unfettered.
You know me and my heretical faith, refusing to see a divinely-intended point in suffering. But I do think that if we are paying attention, we can develop empathy from our relatively small suffering, for all those who are suffering greatly. Putting Zarley's things away and facing a catless future makes me ache for people who pack up a child's things, or a husband's. It pricks at my undercurrent of fear of the day when I come home without Scott, or he comes home without me. I can't can't can't imagine.
For now we clean up and carry on and feel this sorrow, and hope never to feel any sorrow worse.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prayers of the Faithful

When our office manager took sick last year, I took over the preparing of the Prayers of the Faithful for our parish's weekend Masses. I had been toying with the thought of taking it on for a while, anyway, so when she was getting sicker and couldn't keep up with her work, I volunteered to take them off her hands.
I don't really write them, for the most part- I use a couple of books from a publisher, but adapt them and borrow from other places if they don't sound right. I don't want to add my own agenda to the prayers, but I do always go by the rule that the prayers of the faithful should represent the prayers of all the faithful- they should be prayers that everyone can agree with. I also change things like this: "for all who teach about the love of Christ...may they something something..." I make that "they" a "we" because I want to remind everyone that WE are all supposed to be teaching the love of Christ. That kinda thing.
Every week as I listen to someone read the prayers I've put together, I worry that they'll sound ridiculous, or that the lector will stop and the middle and say "wait... no, um, that doesn't make sense. Whatttt?" or something like that. I want them to sound sincere, applicable, and personal for our community. This weekend it dawned on me- we should be praying for the babies who are baptized each month! Of course!!! So, long story long, the Prayers are always a work in progress.
Monday, my pastor said "Oh I need to talk to you about the Prayers of the Faithful after the meeting." I wondered,  had my almost-all Father-theme prayers that weekend pushed the limits? (There had been one for the fatherless, men who long to be fathers, and those who have lost children... I thought it was so beautiful and thoughtful- reaching out to the very people who might feel alienated by Father's Day.) But he didn't have a comment on the content, or even the writing- he wanted me to make a change to the closing prayer.
This is the prayer that the priest says after the lector has finished the other intercessions. It's something like "Oh Lord, Oooh you are so big, so absolutely huge..." and it brings the POTF's to a conclusion, whereupon we all say "amen." But my pastor said that people didn't seem to know, lately, when to say "amen" because the conclusions didn't end with the pavlovian Catholic cue, "forever and ever" or "through Christ our Lord..." so he asked me to be sure one of those phrases will be in there to end the closing prayer.
I find this interesting- we're so used to just saying our lines on cue that it's not enough to listen to the prayer to know when to say "amen." And there are people who would land on both sides of the argument: that A) we need to stretch people to listen more intently (prayerfully?) to the Prayers, or that B) we should encourage people to develop the reflex of saying "amen" whenever they hear the phrase "forever and ever." Maybe both. Either way, next week, I'll be making that change in the Prayers.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Oh Death

Today I attended a funeral for my first Hospice patient. I only saw her twice, but I was so impressed by her positive nature and great spirit that I really felt like I wanted to go and honor her at the funeral. (Not impressed like, hey, great work Champ, but impressed as in she made an impression on me. You got that.) I wasn't exactly sad when I heard she had died, and I guess that's because 1) I knew it was coming. I mean, Hospice. 2) I think she was tired and ready for relief from her body and 3) I have faith in an eternal life with God, and she did too. (Today the minister read these words: "For if we are united to Jesus in a death like his, then surely we are also united to him in a resurrection like his." And there is the hope, in a nutshell.)
But as I sat in the church (a tiny, but lovely, friendly but COLD Lutheran church that I'd never noticed before, even though it is in the same town where I work) I thought to myself "uh oh."
I realized with a bit of a start that I had invited death to be a reality in my life, by starting to volunteer with Hospice. This will be the repeating pattern from now on- meet someone new, journey with them briefly toward their death, and say goodbye. No pretending that death doesn't happen, or doesn't happen much, or doesn't happen to good people.
I've been in a pretty good place with death for a long time now. Recently a friend at church pulled me aside and told me that, that week, she'd realized that she is okay about dying. She had discovered that she was in a place where her faith made death less scary, and it was a real lightning-bolt kind of moment. Lightbulb moment? Well, you know what I mean. And I knew what she meant, because I had that revelation at some point- and I feel overall okay about death. You know, in theory, at least. But it seems I've marched into a situation where I'm bound to have that okay-ness tested.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Random rainy day thoughts

Here's some follow-up for ya. Rose wine? Gross. At least the one I bought. I wanted it to be like red wine, but lighter, and refreshing. But it was... I don't even know how to describe it. Blech.

Why do movie ads have to be so obnoxious? Take, for example, the recent ad for Promethius. That movie, it's targeted at a specific kind of viewer, right? The horror/sci fi kind of viewer? Then why are they advertising during Cougar Town? And why do they have to play that annoying sound over and over? I can't wait for that movie to come out, but not because I want to see it.

Speaking of ads, that John Malkovich one for the iphone... it does not make me want to get a phone with Siri. That joke's not funny, and I don't buy that he's entertained by it. And while we're at it, I hope Samuel L. Jackson knows that just removing a golf game from your calendar isn't the same as canceling it. Was it a game with no partners? Did he have a tee time?

Lastly, we had a party to celebrate my graduation. I had no idea how big a deal it seems to be, to graduate from grad school. I'm always glad for a reason to throw a party, but my overall attitude toward grad school is more that of bearing it, rather than... I don't know, triumphing. I certainly wasn't expecting gifts, but I got great ones! And I was really honored and touched that people would come and celebrate. As my parents were leaving, my Dad hugged me and said "you have really great friends" and he's right. I remember my parents having big groups of friends who would have pool parties and cookouts together, and I love having that big bunch of people to gather with. Did I mention a bagpiper played on our lawn, in the pouring rain? That's the kind of friends I have. I'm a fortunate, lucky, blessed girl, and very thankful.