Monthly Archives: March, 2006

Happy Catholic

In going through even more newsletters, I found “The Death of a Marriage,” by Cameron Conant. It was really beautiful and powerful. I liked the tone best, I think. It’s an excerpt from a book, so I give you an excerpt from the excerpt.

Lent is my favorite season of the church calendar because it reminds me of an important reality: Living the “Jesus Life” is not easy.

The Jesus Life is not the happy-go-lucky “Jesus is my homeboy” life that pop culture would have us believe. The Jesus Life is not the health, wealth, and prosperity life that television evangelists would have us believe. The Jesus Life is not the politically driven “us versus them” life that some Christian leaders would have us believe.

The Jesus Life was best expressed on a crude wooden cross: Nails. Blood. Death. Love. Forgiveness. Sacrifice. The Jesus Life is about going out into the world and taking up our cross as Jesus did and as He commanded us to do.

I generally prefer NAB and RSV for Bible reading (though I dislike some of the revised Psalms of the NAB), but I like this version of Romans 12:2 from the New Living Translation:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

I am all about the links lately. When I was searching for more info on Miraculous Medals, I stumbled across a wonderful old article about Jim Caviezel, back before he did The Count of Monte Cristo. For those that don’t know, he played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. It was so weird watching Frequency and seeing “Jesus” swear and be a police officer. But anyway, the article is wonderful because he seems like such a great guy in it, and so authentically, happily Catholic. I borrowed the term “happy Catholic” from Julie because it fits so perfectly with the way I want to be (and hopefully am becoming). I want to be open and honest and upbeat about my Catholicism, but not in an aggressive, exclusionary, or hugely evangelical way. I want to be the Catholic who’s always doing Catholic stuff, but won’t pressure you about it — but if you ask, I’m more than willing to talk about it. A happy Catholic.

Yesterday, my Af Am lit teacher cancelled class again. How?, you might ask. By sending a grad student to cover for her. The grad student was nice and all, but we were all completely fed up. We have a paper due Thursday, so she couldn’t have met with us even if we’d wanted to meet. She tried to give us another research thing on top of that, but this one guy decided we should just agree to turn it in Tuesday, since she will also be out on Thursday. We had a presentation and a half, which will be graded from the grad student’s notes. Then we started watched a video about “artists” of the Harlem Renaissance as our introduction to that time period. Mind you, this is the time period in the course title. It’s after our midterm and we’re just now getting to 1910. That video was about actual artists: painters and sculptors and such, so we stopped watching after about five minutes. Then we watched the beginning of a DVD, which mentioned absolutely nothing about the literature of the time. I despise that class. As it turns out, she’d left my name to be volunteered to return the videos to Hornbake. I never go anywhere near Hornbake, but I decided to take them anyway as an act of Christian charity — in both senses of the word. I used my downtime to edit my Keystone stories in Hornbake instead of the HH lounge. All I can do at this point is pray. That whole line about loving your enemies (Luke 7:27) just keeps running through my mind. Not that I think of her as an enemy, per se, but still. That class sucks.

On my way to Hornbake, there were a lot of young-looking black kids walking past Hornbake Mall. I think they were just straggling on a tour. Anyway, I crossed the street and went on my way, when suddenly I heard a lot of yelling, something about long hair. They were talking about me — not even just talking, but yelling. Yes, dear children with ineffectual home training in manners, I am black and I have very long hair. Yes, it is real. But I have, you know, feelings, too. I don’t like being yelled about like I’m a mannequin or livestock or something. It was so offensive, but I was already in a bad mood after Af Am lit, so I just let it roll off my back.

I was disappointed on Sunday when I went upstairs for church and only my mom was there. I thought she took the rugrats every other week, but apparently not. This makes me worry. If she doesn’t take them when I’m there, I can’t be sure she’s taking them when I’m not home. I don’t know if she goes when I’m not home, and I can’t think of how to check. I’m obviously not her keeper, but I care about my family. And, you know, their souls. I’d never been to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation before last All Saint’s Day (the Assumption was a Monday, my dad converted at Easter Vigil, and I wasn’t practicing last Feast of Mary, Mother of God). I’m pretty sure she’s never been… ever. Well, at least in the last 12 years. Courtney will be of Confirmation age for our parish soon. I want her to know about the Church beforehand, like I didn’t. (That is not a typo.) I haven’t been praying my daily rosary for any intention except Lent, but I plan to keep up the habit after Easter. I’m thinking of starting a 54-day rosary novena for my family. I’m afraid I’ll sound rude or like I’m “preaching” if I just come out and tell her we should all be going to Mass, so I might just have to leave it to God.

Techno-Smart

Friday Five: I’m Tired of Thinking Up Titles
1) Of the various cultures, ethnicities or nationalities you belong to, which most strongly do you consider yourself? Catholic, if that counts as a culture. (I think it does.) I felt very American this morning when I was singing along with “God Bless the U.S.A.” on the radio. It reminded me of Tops in Blue, and convinced me that I need to stop listening to such schmaltzy radio stations.
2) Is there a culture you cannot claim heritage from but which you feel quite close to? Not really.
3) What’s one language you wish you knew fluently? Any would have been handy to cover my language requirement for ARHU (the college, not the program). It wouldn’t do me any good to know Spanish now, and my oral comprehension is way up from learning it the old-fashioned way. I have no need for fluency in Spanish, though it’d be nice.
4) If you could move anywhere in the world and be guaranteed a job, etc., where would you go? I don’t know. And I’ve got three more years of school to go before that whole “finding a job” thing gets really pressing.
5) If you had a time machine, and could witness any one event without altering or disturbing it, what would you want to see? My first reaction was to say the Passion, but that’d be way too intense. But to go with something Biblical, perhaps that moment after the Resurrection when the risen Christ tells Mary Magdalene not to be afraid. Non-Biblically… how about the first item to come off Gutenberg’s printing press thingie? Pretty significant for a book lover.

I check up on my family’s computers when I happen to be home, to make sure McAfee is scanning and updating like it’s supposed to, and to see what spyware my sister has managed to download since my last check. The sparkly cursor is kind of cute, but it’s also annoying. My dad refitted our old computer with a new CD-RW/ROM thingy since winter break, so I went back to OIT to download McAfee for it. Yay for free stuff. Then I found this page on the OIT site, and discovered that we’re apparently all getting new IDs this semester. Did everyone else know about this and just fail to mention it to me? This makes me very happy, since I can’t read my barcode number anymore, and I just cracked the corner a few weeks ago.

Speaking of computer cleaning, today has been a productive day technology-wise, but not so much school-wise. I downloaded McAfee and scanned the refurbished HP and Windows-updated that and the Dell, then defragmented the Dell. It took forever, but look at the change:

defrag

I’m still defragging the HP. On the one hand, I hate cleaning up the computers because it takes forever. On the other hand, I love it because it makes me feel all techno-smart.

Ooh, ooh! As some of you may know, I write my blog entries in Semagic, a cute and wonderful LiveJournal client. I copy-and-paste in the meditations from The Word Among Us (my favorite daily devotional) every day, as well as posting an ocassional private or friends-only entry. (That’s why the sidebar link to my LJ says it’s locked. Become my LJ friend and you’ll have access. I do my main blogging here.) Anyway, earlier this week, since no classes left my mind with fewer worries than usual, I decided to see if there was a client that could work with Blogger. I downloaded and tested w.bloggar, but it wasn’t as good as Semagic for working with LJ, so I uninstalled. Then I remembered that I used to be able to change Semagic to work with uJournal (an LJ clone that folded about a year ago; some generous donors offered About My Life enough money to save everyone’s old entries, so I migrated everything to my LJ — can’t beat the original). So I went into Semagic’s settings and sure enough, there was already an option to set it up for Blogger. This makes me very, very happy… and could possibly mean more frequent updates here, since I can eliminate the step of signing in to use Blogger’s web interface.

EDIT: Okay, forget that. I just double-checked, and when Semagic posted this entry to Blogger, it made all the tags uppercase and just generally messed up the (X)HTML. Le sigh. Back to copy-paste it is.

Ooh again! When I was younger, I used to play computer games. Now I’m all about Solitaire and Minesweeper, but I used to play Oh No! More Lemmings all the time. It was such an ancient game. I’m pretty sure it ran on DOS, back when we still had to tell the computer to start Windows. Oh, man. How technology has changed. Anyway, when I was cleaning my family’s computers earlier, I spotted the Lemmings CD and got smacked with nostalgia. A little Googling and Wikipedia later led me to a gem: Lemmings online! Look at them float!

lemmings

It doesn’t have all the same levels as the original, but apparently there are some downloadable version on that site as well. I love nostalgia.

This week has been grossly unproductive. I never did get an assignment from OfficeTeam, so I’ve just been lying around the house. I refused to do any work until about Tuesday, but I haven’t done much since then. I finished King Lear and its accompanying quiz late last night, so I’m all prepared for Monday. I haven’t even read my own keystone stories, let alone the comments Greg gave me. I have a paper for Af Am lit and my makeup Spanish presentation on Thursday, neither of which I’ve started yet. I didn’t even write anything, except a ton of blog entries.

I finally went out and did the shopping I needed to do on Wednesday. I got almost everything I was looking for at Target. I had to switch lip glosses. I don’t like the kind I’m wearing as much as my old one. I am fiercely brand loyal. In giving up and going to Wal-Mart, however, I did find a new purse. I loved my Mickey Mouse one, but one of the handles was literally falling apart, so it was time to move on.

My mom, Ryan, and I went to Stations at St. Ignatius tonight. Ryan would rather have played basketball. We were running late, going to drop him off at the community center, but he isn’t old enough for Extreme Teen night, so he was stuck with us. I told my mom before we left that Jesus is way more important than basketball. The… I want to call it the chapel, but it’s called the church… the “church” at St. Ignatius is very small, so the three of us were rather cramped as we rotated to face the Stations crosses. I did an impromptu reading of the section for the Twelfth Station (Jesus Dies on the Cross). I know it was Ryan’s first time, so I wish I’d discussed it with him… perhaps I still can. I’m his godmother, but I feel like I’m not doing a very good job of it. I feel like just getting him to Mass every week would be a start, but since I’m not home, there’s no way I can ensure that.

Well, at least I got some sleep over break. I’ve got this annoying neck muscle pain right now, but I am not tired. Small victories, my friends. Small victories.

I Like Being a Sheep

One of my many newsletters comes from BustedHalo, which is a community for 20- and 30-something Catholics. It’s a nice change from all the articles about how to survive high school as a Catholic. In working my way through the old ones, I came across an interview with two Catholic authors. It made me interested in reading their books, for sure, but the last section was most interesting for me.

BustedHalo: Is it possible to be in the same religious community with people you can’t stand?

[…]

Ron Howard: I’ve always been struck by the fact that Catholicism looks worse from the outside than it does from the inside. People who have trouble even going to mass, I say, “Go to more masses.” Because once you get familiar with it, it’s really a life-giving thing. And from the outside it looks oppressive and women are put down. But that’s not actually the experience of the people in the pews.

BH: What keeps you in the church, Ron?

RH: I think it’s probably the Eucharist. I really believe that Jesus is really present in the communion wafer and it seems unlikely but I know that I’m changed for the better because of the Church. I know that I would be a lost soul without it. And I would certainly be more grim.

Jim Shepard: But you like the community of it as well. I mean if they gave you the Eucharist in your room every Sunday, you’d still go to mass.

RH: Well that’s part of the Catholic experience: it’s not enough to have your own religion. It’s something you have to share with others. And we were talking earlier about being spiritual but not religious, and it really makes no sense. Because the whole idea of having this infusion of grace is to share it with someone else. I think of my experience of retreats. You’re in the retreat for several days not speaking. And at the end of it you talk to people about what happened to you in that prayer and often it’s inspiring to see what God is doing in everybody’s lives. And it’s always somewhat different. He addresses each of us in a different way. And it’s great to have that shared. Even if you’re not speaking to someone when you go to a mass. You see them and there’s this communication of the eyes and it’s like, something is happening that brought me here and I want to share that experience with you, even if it’s only to say, “Peace of Christ be with you.” And when I’m a Eucharistic minister, when I’m sharing the body of Jesus with others, to see that kind of solemnity with which they come to you. And you see all of these different faces, all of these different histories, but they’re all coming for the same thing. So that sense of oneness despite our disparity is really what keeps me in the church.

Howard’s comment about critics of the Church who remain outside the Church makes me think. The best way to know why Catholics think as they do is to try it out. I didn’t know there was such a thing as daily Mass, but once I did, I wanted to try it. I don’t think I’ll ever become the sort that goes to Mass every day, but doing it as often as I do has clued me in. (I haven’t been at all this week. I love you, Jesus, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get up so early to come worship You on a weekday.) I didn’t understand how I could possibly do more than just pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and blessings for my family until I tried it. It is only by the grace of God that started practicing again last year, and I’ve found more peace and happiness within it than I ever had outside it.

I have a friend who’s a secular Jew; most of you who read this probably know him. He said he had a friend who was investigating different religions, so he asked me what I said (thought?) when I prayed. This was immediately after I said grace before dinner one night. I explained it to him, but since it’s a rote prayer, it wasn’t terribly interesting. Then we moved on to our usual random dinner conversations. Soon, I found out he’d gone to some Protestant groups, I think IV (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship). Excited that his interest was turning into action, I invited him to join me and Maura at Wednesday night dinner. An intro to Catholicism and free food: what could be more enticing? I forget what his exact words were, but he basically told me he was going to stick with Protestantism. Now, his choice is his choice. I’m not going to push Catholicism on him, because it’s rude and because it probably wouldn’t work. But I was (and still am) disappointed that he never gave it a try. He has class on Wednesday afternoons, so he’s not free for Wednesday dinner, but I’m still determined to get him to try Mass one of these days. Even if he totally hates it, at least he’d have tried it. It’s like my Green Vegetables for Lent mission, only in a much more spiritual sense.

In the last section, Howard tackles the spirituality vs. religion debate. I was talking about that with Greg one night ages ago, and he posted part of our conversation to his LiveJournal, only asking me afterward if it was okay. It would not have been okay. Anyway, I was caught off guard and it was late, so the argument drained me completely. I think Howard takes a good stab at it there. Even non-denominational Christians recognize that need for community. Religion is a very personal thing, but without someone with whom to share your beliefs, it’s too much of a personal thing. Jesus sent his disciples off in pairs to spread the faith. He didn’t walk into the temple and tell the moneychangers, “Well, I think this place should be reserved for worship, but if you don’t, that’s just your way of worshiping.” He kicked their butts out with a whip. Like I saw in… I think Ali’s away message, when someone asks “What would Jesus do?,” remember that at least one valid response is, “Freak out and knock over tables.” Religion informs spirituality, I think. My way of being spiritual is to worship according to Catholic forms.


Remember the Golden Rule of Commenting: Keep it short and polite. I’m more than willing to discuss these things, but I will not argue. You don’t have to agree with me, but you do have to be nice.

The One Where Lindsay Goes on Retreat

I’m slowly working my way through my old newsletters. I get quite a few email newsletters — three from Christianity Today alone (which is Protestant). In the one I just read, from March 3, there was a link to an article on evangelism, “Searching for the Gospel of Jesus,” by Donald Miller. The blurb was interesting, so I read it. Truth be told, I didn’t get much out of the article, except for one section.

On yet another occasion teaching that same class [on the Gospel and culture], I presented a form of the Gospel but left out a key element to see if they would notice. I told them in advance that I was going to leave out a critical element of the Gospel, and I asked them to listen carefully to figure out the missing piece.

I told them man was sinful, and this was obvious when we looked at the culture we lived in. I pointed out specific examples of depravity, including homosexuality, abortion, drug use, song lyrics on the radio, newspaper headlines and so on. Then I told the class that man must repent, and showed them Scriptures that spoke firmly to this idea.

Then I spoke of the beauty and rewards of living a moral life. I talked about heaven and told the students how their lives could be God-honoring and God-centered. Repenting, I said, would give them a sense of purity and a feeling of fulfillment on earth.

When I was done, I rested my case and asked the class if they could tell me what I had left out of this Gospel presentation. I waited as a class of Bible college students — who had all taken an evangelism class only weeks before in which they went door-to-door to hundreds of homes and shared their faith — sat there for several minutes in uncomfortable silence.

None of the 45 students realized I had presented a Gospel without once mentioning the name of Jesus.

I’m reminded of a Facebook group, one I know Greg belongs to, called “Jesus Was a Pretty Cool Guy, But I’m Not, Like, Totally Enamored with Him.” In contrast, I belong to the simply-titled “I Love Jesus!!!” and “Love,” which is also about Jesus but not as popular as the former. Perhaps it’s just easier to convince people to be good for the sake of goodness, than because of the whole eternal union with Jesus (and the rest of the Holy Trinity) in Heaven thing.

“Heaven thing” reminds me that I never wrote about retreat. Oh, man. Retreat was awesome. I had some incredibly high moments, and some low moments, and a few moments of panic, but it was still a great weekend.

I got to the CSC around 2:40pm. We didn’t have to be there until 4, but I finish class at noon MWF, so I just had to pack and get over there. I did the Stations of the Cross rather than start my daily rosary right away. (I’ve been praying the rosary every day for Lent, same as last year. It may stick this year.) That was my first time doing the Stations. It was really cool. We had some awkwardness trying to get into position as we moved around. There were chairs in our way, and I have long legs, and I didn’t know the tune of the “Stabat Mater” at first, so I just had to follow. If nothing else, the fourth Sorrowful Mystery is infinitely easier to meditate on. And I decided to do the Stations every Friday of Lent, which is why my mom and I went to St. Columba this past weekend. After Stations, I went back into the Chapel to pray my rosary.

The next couple of hours went by very quickly. We averted a small crisis with Jim, created a large cross from some boxes Gina and I scrounged up, prepped dinner, and started signing in the retreatants. I was all over the place. There are always two coordinators (or something like that) that are in charge of retreat (after Fr. Bill and Michelle, of course); they’d picked Mike and me. On First Timer’s, Mary was the female coordinator. All weekend, I had this sense of being Mary, which was made stronger by her presence as a retreatant. So, after dashing all over the place, I finally got to settle down to eat and mingle. Maura showed up late, distraught and panicking a little because she was running even later than she’d planned and I hadn’t been answering my phone (it was on quiet), but she cheered up. Michelle told me during dinner that the buses would be late, which almost sent me into panic mode, but Mike immediately decided we should just do our opening activity at the CSC instead of Blue Ridge Summit (PA, where the retreat houses are).

After some fun with hard-to-pronounce names, we broke up into small groups. We introduced ourselves and played Two Truths and a Lie. My small group was Tom, Mike C., Duy (read: “Dewey”), Katryn, and Sara. Tom, Mike C., and Katryn were all seniors, which was intimidating for sophomore, second-CSC-retreat me. I used liking basketball as my lie and my HP obsession as my truth. Tom actually didn’t believe the HP thing. I was like, “I can tell you don’t know me very well, ’cause you never would have doubted that one.” We also had to make up a group name and a cheer. We called ourselves Team Omega, with the very simple and liturgical chant, “Team Omega: The last shall be first.”

Then the buses showed up, so we gathered up our stuff and hauled it to the street. Fr. Bill had already driven up with Alex, Michelle drove her own car, and everyone else got on the two buses. Mike rode one, and I rode the other. Someone (I don’t mean that sarcastically; I honestly forget who) dropped a case of Pepsi outside, so we just handed out the slightly misshapen cans to anyone who’d take them. I was last on my bus, so I wound up sitting alone, but it gave me time to think… and I needed it. I led the bus in prayer when we finally got going. I’d been thinking about doing that for a while, so it was less ad-libbed than I imagine it sounded. And I worked St. Frances of Rome in there, since she was such an appropriate intercessor (see sidebar). I talked with Chris and Kaitlyn a little on the way up, but I spent a lot of it just staring out the window, musing away, and praying I’d do a good job.

We had enough girls on this retreat for two houses. I was in the old one, so I wound up on the topmost floor with Katie. It felt like a strange RA double, since she was on the retreat team, too. The group assembled again to perform our “cheers”… most of them were more like short skits. … (I left my retreat folder in the dorm, so I’m trying to recall all this from memory. It’s hard.) We had Mass, at which I read. While I was volunteering myself to Michelle, Fr. Bill commented, “It’s not Mass if Lindsay doesn’t read.” I replied, “It is so still Mass,” because it is. It’s not Mass if Jesus doesn’t show up; it’s still Mass if I’m just part of the congregation. Don’t make the whole pride thing any harder than it already is, Father. Everyone else went off for late-night pizza after we exposed the Blessed Sacrament, but I stuck around to adore for a bit. They left the monstrance up all night, but I knew I needed sleep to be able to function, so I did my time before bed instead of at like 2am. I was only partway through the Woman at the Well meditation (which turned out to be the wrong one, but whatever). Before I finished, though, Michelle kidnapped me for Stations practice. I got to bed around 1am, I think, which was not great.

I woke up at, like, 7am on Saturday, which is a travesty in itself. The top floor is basically the attic, so the ceilings were slanted. I felt like being in that bathroom for too long would crush my spine. With the way I put my hair up for bed, the ends kept brushing against the ceiling. I wasn’t quite sure how to wake up any of the girls without an alarm clock (read: cell phone), so I wound up just shouting from the staircase. Jim gave his witness after breakfast, which was absolutely applicable to my life. Stupid snooze button. I swear, tomorrow morning I am getting out of bed when my alarm goes off. It’s just harder when I don’t have to climb down from the top bunk so Maura won’t kill me. ;) After the witness, we had our first small group discussion. We had a lot of small group time over the course of the weekend. I’m not great at leading discussions, but somehow I was not half bad with my small group. I shared, but I made sure to keep it mostly about them. Mike C. never talked much, but he didn’t seem to be left out, either. Perhaps he’s just not a talker.

Saturday was a busy day. Gina, Laura (maybe hers was Friday…), Brendan, Chris, and Mike all gave witnesses later that day, so we had small group time after everyone’s except Mike’s. Gina mentioned Eric Erikson in her speech. Everyone had one of three reactions: “The psychologist?” “The Viking?” or “Who?” I was in the first group, mostly due to my Adolescent Dev. reading. Brendan mentioned a Gonzaga senior retreat tradition, where all the guys have secretly-written letters from their families read aloud. We got the same thing on my first retreat ever (and the only one I went on before First Timer’s), only they let us read ours to ourselves. I still have mine, one from each of my parents. I cried when I read them. Laura talked about making time for God in her life, which I could also identify with. My life seems to only get better when I let God farther into it. Sometime in the summer, I started reading the Bible every day. I follow along with the lectionary, so it’s a twofer because I’m prepared to read at any Mass I attend. I also do it with an actual Bible, not just the screen and my Word Among Us meditation, so I’ve started to learn how to navigate the book itself. Chris talked about his first trip with Habitat for Humanity. I think his was the witness on God’s love. Forgive me, all, for my wandering mind. Nothing can truly command my full attention lately.

In the afternoon, we did our skit. We parodied Lost… sort of. Some of us were based on Lost characters; I was part of the trio of random Catholics on the island who’d lost their faith, hope, and ability to love (the theme of our retreat: the theological virtues). I was Sara, i.e. love. Mike played the narrator, so he set up background music for us, which really sealed the skit’s position as Best Ever. No, I heard some of the retreatants actually said that. The plot started with some of the Lost characters being unloving and such, then Egbert (Brendan… he chose his own name…), Jill (Gina), and I did our bits with losing our virtues. I stumbled upon a hatch, which contained the Holy Spirit’s (Chris) secret lair. Then Egbert got his hope back and found a cell phone. “And it’s actually getting a signal! Who should we call?” Jill: “Ghostbusters!” Me:”Um, how about we call the Coast Guard instead?” Jill: “You know who’s even better than the Coast Guard? The Priest Guard!” So we called the Famous Father Bill (and Michelle), who arrived on the Holy Sea (pun pun pun) to the theme song from Austin Powers. He heard our fake confessions: Jill and Egbert each got two Hail Marys; I got 87,000. That was not in the script. Then the sin clouds kept Fr. Bill from reaching the others whom they’d captured, so the Holy Spirit came back and helped Fr. Bill give them the smackdown to appropriate fight music. I had no idea he was actually going to hit them with holy water, so I was dying of laughter over in the Holy Sea. With the sin clouds defeated, we all sailed away on the Holy Sea to much applause. It was great fun, and the first time anyone’s ever asked Fr. Bill to be in their skit.

We took a break in the afternoon, which Fr. Bill randomly decided to start with a rosary walk. I’ve never done that before, but I kinda liked it. I volunteered for either the first or second Joyful Mystery, so I didn’t have to worry about being out of breath as much as the later-decade leaders did. I had some trouble praying aloud while climbing over unexpected hills and not running into Maggie or Cleo (Fr. Bill took his dogs for the walk, too), but it was enjoyable. The team got together after the walk to rehearse Stations again, then I watched a ton of boys (and like two girls) play basketball while I talked, and then I don’t remember what I did. There was no naptime, though.

After dinner, we finally did the Stations. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Stations of the Cross are (traditionally) fourteen events in Christ’s Passion from his sentencing before Pontius Pilate to the Resurrection. Instead of just printing (or worse, drawing!) pictures of the Stations, we decided to shadowcast them as in years past. Jim played Jesus, Lacy played Mary, and everyone except Alex and I filled in the other necessary roles. We hung a white sheet in the middle of the basement, flanked by blankets, and “tested” the emergency light to create shadows as the actors portrayed those fourteen events. It was wonderful. Jim and Lacy’s Pieta was a bit too far to the right, and the nailing-to-the-cross sound effect was too quiet, but they did a really good job.

We went back upstairs in silence for Mike’s witness on moral balance. He turned it into a football metaphor, which was actually good. Then we had Confession with Fr. Bill, Fr. Gurnee, and Fr. Woods. My Confession experience was awesome, as usual. I’ll just say that there was something bothering me, a question I had for God, and he answered me. I started getting the answer before retreat, but I definitely got it while I was there, and made up for how I’d acted in the meantime. I suppose I am patient for a reason. I’m listening hard for that next message, though. Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. (1 Samuel 3:9)

We had a vigil Mass after Confession. Fr. Gurnee gave the homily, which consisted mostly of praising all of us on retreat for being so vibrant and enthusiastic about our faith. Then we had a small bonfire. We tried to start a sing-along thing, but we could never keep any song going for very long. We all wandered back up to the main retreat house after awkwardly putting out the fire, where I lurked for a while before joining a game of Cranium. I got to bed late again, but it was such a great day.

I woke up so late on Sunday. I managed to wake up to my alarm, turn it off, and fall back to sleep. (See previous comment about not snoozing.) I was late for breakfast. Since I’d been frantically keeping people on schedule all weekend, that was pretty embarrassing. Fr. Bill and Michelle had switched Stations and the skit midday Saturday, but I was totally on top of it. Toward the end of breakfast, a bunch of the boys performed the song they’d written late Saturday night, complete with bagpipe solo by Alex. No, seriously. It was about Michelle:

Oh, Michelle, you’re off to the nunnery
Well, I guess God called you back
A long white veil would suit you well
But now you’ll be wearing black

Oh, Michelle, you’re off to the nunnery
Won’t you take my heart along?
It won’t do me good to keep it here
‘Cause you are the only one

It made a nice complement to Fall Retreat’s “Xylophone Song,” written and performed by most of the same people. We “shared graces” after breakfast, which mostly meant telling what we’d liked about retreat, and then we took pictures, did final cleanup, and got back on the buses. I led us in another prayer for the way back, this time in thanksgiving for the great weekend. We did an impromptu North Campus dropoff, then unloaded at the CSC. Maura and I stuck around to help put things away, then we got a ride back to our form from Allen.

Retreat was just fabulous. I had a lot of time to just relax and think, to pray and worship, and to be in fellowship with all the other CSC people. Fr. Gurnee came with three or four students from GWU, which was cool, though I didn’t spend much time with them. I got some good leadership experience. Several people guessed my major just from the way I handled retreat. I was worried about coming off as too bossy, but apparently I didn’t. Alecia (the campus minister from GWU) said I did a good job of being nice, but not allowing any room for argument. When I said, “Please throw away your trash and start heading toward the main room,” I meant, “Go now.” Fr. Bill thinks I’d make a good principal.

So now, I just have to figure out how to keep that retreat spirit going. I came down off my post-retreat high far too soon, since I had so much work to do Sunday afternoon. I already spend a ton of time at the CSC. The people there are just so much fun. It’s nice to have friends that I pray with, talk with, and watch Pirates of the Caribbean with. So thank you to all my CSC friends, and my non-CSC friends, and everyone in between. I know God loves me, but it’s nice to have His love come through you all, too.

So what if it’s Saturday?

Friday Five for March 3: I’m Hot For Teacher
1. Who was your favorite all time teacher(s)? Mr. Adkins, Ms. Bond, Dean Hebert, and Leinwand.
2. What did they teach? Adkins taught AP US History my senior year of high school. Ms. Bond was my wonderful kindergarten teacher. Dean Hebert taught my first Honors seminar, the one on fiction. Leinwand is currently my Shakespeare professor.
3. What is your best memory from that class? I’ll stick with just one teacher, and a recent event so that I know I’m remembering it right. In our last lecture on Henry IV, Part I, Leinwand said, “As we all know, it’s hard to get from here to heaven, and I know you’re all working on it with me.” That made me smile, so I wrote it down in the margin of my notes. He’s a brilliant lecturer, even though with him, everything is about sex. Lots of things in life are about sex, but not everything. He says some real gems sometimes.
4. Did you ever have a crush on a teacher and if so who? No.
5. What is the craziest/wildest/weirdest thing you (or someone you know) ever did at school? Oh, the stories of a PG County grad. One morning, my AP Language class and I were in the library for a presentation or something. (I never used a single book from that library. Not ever.) We were at the tables, but there were a few people on the computers. All of a sudden, a piece of the ceiling tile fell loose right over the computer banks. The teacher underneath it jumped away just in time. Even though no one really did that, it’s still pretty crazy. And it explains why I am so pleased that the county finally got the land they need to rebuild the school, right behind the existing one. Maybe it’ll be ready by the time Ryan gets to high school.

Friday Five for March 9: Time In A Bottle
1) Ten years ago what did you think you would be doing now? I was nine. I’ve planned on going to college since about the third grade, so I think I imagined myself in college. I never really thought I’d want to be a teacher, though people consistently told me I should.
2) Where do you think you will be in 5 years from now? I’ll be 24. I’ll be out of school by then, hopefully teaching my own classes somewhere. I’m still discerning a vocation (patience, faith, and trust are all that keeps me going), so I don’t know if I’ll be dating, married, happily single, or in formation. Ooh, maybe I’ll be teaching CCD.
3) Do you live life one day at a time or look to the future? A little of both. My stress poster, which doesn’t hang over my desk by coincidence, reads, “I try to take one day at a time, but lately several days have attacked me at once.” Story of my life. As far as my spiritual life goes, it’s also a little of both. I thank God for every day (and I really do that, I’m not just saying I do it once in a while; it’s in my morning prayers), but I know that I have to be prepared for those future days, should they come.
4) Do you wish you could go back in time and undo something in your life? No. Everything that I’ve done and that has happened to me has made me into the person I am right at this moment. I have regrets, but I wouldn’t change anything.
5) If you could send a message back in time and give a younger version of yourself some advice, what would it be? Hold on. Things will get better. Sure, they’ll get worse again at times, but there’ll always be an end. … Forget my “younger self,” I could stand to have taken by own advice, like, this past week!

And finally, the most recent Friday Five: Lights, Camera, Action!
1) If you were to star in a movie, who would you want to be cast as your love interest? My scrapbook journal asked me that same question, only about my own biopic. I’m going to cheat and see what I wrote two years ago, right after I graduated high school. … “Shane West or Tobey Maguire.” Still sounds good.
2) What genre of movie would you most like to star in? Drama. I don’t think I’m funny enough for a comedy. Maybe a really sappy/dramatic comedy. I am all about the dramedy.
3) What song would you insist be on the soundtrack? “Iris,” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Possibly my favorite (secular) song of all time.
4) What would you wear to the premiere of your movie? Can I wear jeans? Might as well be real, right? If I had to wear a dress, it’d be purple and swishy and pretty. Comfortable or elegant; there is no middle ground.
5) Who would you thank in your Oscar acceptance speech? God, my family, my amazing friends, my fans (do I have fans in this universe?), and whoever did my hair.

With that said, I will conclude this short update with some links. I don’t link much, but I can’t have a whole entry of F5’s.

I found a priest on LJ! He hasn’t updated in a very long time, though. That’s to be expected; he’s busy shepherding. In addition to seeming really cool from the few entries I read, he revealed that the Penitent Thief (the one who was crucified with Christ) has a name, St. Dismas. I truly believe you learn something new every day.

My old friend Tanya has this poem listed as her personal site on the Facebook. Yay to the Facebook for reconnecting us, and many kudos to the author of that poem and the woman who tracked him down.

Ruth Marcus wrote an interesting article for the Washington Post a few weeks ago. I only read it online; I forget where the link came from. It reminds me of other articles I’ve read in (and ripped out of) magazines about how parents can, well, parent through the Internet. I think keystroke monitors are much too invasive. I take the same opinion on computer-activity monitors that I do with anti-Harry Potter parents and book banners. It’s a parent’s responsibility to teach his or her child right from wrong, good from evil, and safe from unsafe. Granted, the Internet opens up far more opportunities for wrong, evil, and unsafe things, but the world will always be dangerous in some respects.

Maura wrote an ode to me. I love my roommate. ♥

Warning: Immense Entry Ahead; Or, I’m Back

Friday Five: Love
1) When does liking someone a lot become loving that person? With time. I don’t believe in love at first sight. When you connect with someone when you’re at your worst, your best, and every moment in between, that’s love.
2) Is there a job you would do for free, and is it your current job? Editing. I do it all the time when people ask. My current “job” is teaching, which I wouldn’t do for free full-time. It’s too stressful.
3) What is one person/thing that inspired you to take action of some sort? Greg inspired me to go back to church. I don’t think I’ve ever told him that. It’s true irony, but that was the beginning of my return to being God’s.
4) Though you might not believe in it, would you like fate to exist? I don’t believe in fate, but I believe God plays many, if not all, of the roles commonly assigned to fate, chance, or coincidence. On First Timer’s retreat, Tim said in his witness that he saw the University Baptist Church’s marquee one day reading, “Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.”
5) What’s the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you? I’m blessed with having (and having had) so many awesome people in my life that I can’t possibly pinpoint one thing above all the others. Most recently, Maura bought me mittens to replace my gloves when I finally lost them for good. My hands are very grateful.

I really need to blog more often. It used to be several times a week, when I felt like I had something to say. Note how that applies regardless of whether anyone wants to read it, or reads it at all. Then I entered the Year from Hell (a.k.a. my senior year of high school), when I dropped to once a week. With the Friday Five as an opener, I blogged only on Fridays. I made a resolution at the beginning of the year (not a New Year’s resolution; I don’t make those anymore) to blog more often. That has actually become a backwards prophecy, as I’ve been so busy I can’t even manage Fridays anymore, as evidenced in the past few weeks. So, as much as I know you all love reading about what I do every single day… I don’t think I can manage that anymore. Besides, I usually use my assignment book to help me remember what I did each day. Even this paragraph you’re reading right now was originally written on February 28. I didn’t even get to finish writing it, let alone post it.

My AA lit class has taken a… well, not a whole 180. Maybe like 130 degrees. You get the point: big change. I spent many of my free moments (and some mind-wandering studying moments) being upset with my teacher and myself. I wasn’t keeping up with the reading, and the first exam was approaching. In desperation, I prayed to St. Thomas Aquinas to help me out and posted a similar petition in my away message. I gave up studying on my bed, though it’s quite comfortable there, and went back to the study lounge, which is only two doors down anyway. It is almost a miracle how much more efficient my study time became. Thanks, St. Thomas. Thus, I managed to almost catch up with my reading. I was still a few excerpts short, so I wasn’t in the best mood going to the test.

I’m not the only one who took issue with that professor’s syllabus and lecturing style, so the mood in the classroom wasn’t far from mine when I got there. She arrived not long after I did, handed out the syllabus, and said she had an announcement to make. “After careful consideration,” she’d decided to revise her entire syllabus so we could start reading works from the time period we’re supposed to be doing. That put me in such a good mood. I thanked God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, St. Thomas — basically anyone who could hear my joyous thoughts. I’d been praying about her, too, and wondering if I should just confront her about it. I’m not assertive at all, though, so that made me nervous. Now, it’s basically a non-issue. We had another class on historical context, but at least we’re in the right time period now. Honestly, the first contextual lecture was the best we’ve ever had in that class.

So my next AA lit hurdle was my presentation. She assigned us partners. My first impression of my partner, Malcom was that he was like most of the guys I went to high school with. I’m a hard worker; they were not. He came through, though. We had a class cancelled at some point, so our presentation date was moved. We met at the library the night before our Tuesday presentation. We had James Weldon Johnson, which was so lucky (or providential) because I read The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man in AP Lit senior year of high school. I knew I wanted to focus on the literature (it is a lit class), so I sent him off to do research for the fact sheet. I sat in a group study room with two other girls, making notes on Johnson’s poetry. I was in the library for far too long considering how little work I got done. I left early enough to finish reading the novella before I went to bed.

The night before the presentation, Malcom emailed me the fact sheet. I had to reformat it to fit onto two pages, then go down to the library to make copies before class. The actual presentation wasn’t horrible. Malcom hadn’t done the biographical research I’d assumed he would, so his part was noticeably shorter. I pointed out the parts of the novella to the class I’d wanted to, and Dr. Shannon’s comments seemed positive. Then again, on the essay section of my exam, she’d circled all my “and” symbols with her horrible red pen. I will never use red pens for grading. But seriously, who does that? It’s not as though she didn’t know what they meant. No other teacher has ever had a problem with it. It’s an in-class essay, speed and precision are key. Formal orthography is not.

I really hate that class, but I can deal. I get what I can out of it, and I do like most of the literature we’ve been reading. Going to my high school gave me really easy access to a lot of the writers we’re studying now, but it’s still vaguely interesting. If only my professor weren’t so disagreeable.

I also met with Tanya for ARHU back in February (again, I’m really going to work on this whole blogging frequency issue). She was late, but I had my Adolescent Dev. book with me, and Andrew came to chat in the HH lounge, so it was cool. I was surprised to see a huge print of the Virgin of Guadalupe on her wall, but Tanya has always been into Christian art, despite (or perhaps due to) being a lapsed Lutheran. The meeting went okay. She encouraged me to consider submitting my writing to Stylus, the campus literary magazine. I don’t think I’m ready to let my babies into the world like that, though. Now, if I can just get all that editing done, and write another story, and show improvement enough to get an A… ugh. I like my project, I like most of the stories I churned out last semester, and I loved Buffy class. And the other HH students are great. But the program itself is getting old.

So I plan to get down to editing this week. Working on my stories seems like wasting time. That’s one of the main reasons I chose a creative writing project for Keystone. It’s not wasting time if it’s an assignment. The problem is working that assignment in with the rest of my classes. ARHU class was only once a week, so I kept forgetting that I had to do work for it. Even with Buffy class, and I loved Buffy class. But the sole requirement for ARHU 206 is to improve our rough drafts from last semester. If we improve, we pass. If not, we fail. The workshop notes I got from HONR 258T were really helpful in improving “Image,” so I’m going to try that on a smaller scale for my Keystone project. I sent the stories to Seth, Guy, and Sara. I also sent them to Greg, against my better judgment. I haven’t looked at them in-depth yet, but I glanced over them. Everyone’s opinion is useful… but I’m still thinking that maybe that wasn’t the best of ideas.

The home scene is okay. I’ve been chatting with my mom again lately. I get along with her just fine; it’s that “out of sight, out of mind” concept. (That also applies a lot to long-term assignments, like, say, the papers and presentations I’ve had to do lately.) Winter means everyone’s birthday in my family, except for me. I sent my Dad a birthday card and called him. Our short conversation reminds me of how my relationship with him has never been fabulous, but is not bad, per se. It’s just not particularly strong. I want to work on that, but it’s more difficult since I don’t live at home for most of the year. I feel like that’s helped a lot in my identity formation, though. I’m still figuring out who I am and who I want to be (and who God knows I will be), and spending less time with my family makes that easier and harder.

Tonight, for example, I wanted to go to St. Columba for the Stations of the Cross. My Lenten resolutions include doing the Stations every Friday, but my dad picked me up at 2:45, so I couldn’t make it to the CSC. MassTimes and the sites of a few churches around my house showed that St. Columba had Stations at 7:30pm, which was perfect. I mentioned to my mom that I was going and invited her to join me. The awkward part was when I had to explain to her what the Stations are. I realize that I probably won’t keep practicing Catholicism the way I do now for the rest of my life. At some point, I imagine three Masses a week (Sunday included) might not be feasible. And I’m still learning so much about my faith and my religion. I just feel like she should know things like that. I try to keep from getting a “holier than thou” attitude, or “preaching”, but at the same time, I want her to get closer to God, too. I’m not sure why my dad converted. I should ask. Then there’s the rugrats. My mom only takes them to church every other Sunday, the last time I checked. I’m not entirely sure she knows that Sunday Mass attendance is mandatory, for them as well as for herself. Maybe I’m just being picky, but maybe not.

Shakespeare class is going okay. Leinwand is still all about the sex. We read Measure for Measure this past week, though, which is about sex. By now, I’m used to it. I could stand for a little less sex in his lectures, but they’re just so interesting! And I like Shakespeare anyway. We’ve had our first paper now. I went in some odd directions in mine, explaining how Shylock (of The Merchant of Venice) can be played as a diabolical archetype or as bipolar. I got an 85, which is also what I got on the first quiz. Considering that I was up late writing that paper the night before it was due, I’m pleased.

I had to give a presentation in Adolescent Dev. this week. My partner, Cory, presented on divorce and stepparenting; I did adoption, with a focus on transracial adoption, just because I find it really interesting. That required another night in the library, which wasn’t fun. I think her part of the presentation went better than mine. I had some serious info dump going on, but as I’d hoped, some of my classmates had questions and generated a discussion themselves. That doesn’t bode well for my future as a teacher, but I’m not passionate about adoption. I’m passionate about books. I also managed to get my conservative Catholic self through a discussion of adolescent sexuality. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d explain to my child why Heather Has Two Mommies.

Colonial literature is going fine. My professor is still very German. The weather this week has ranged from around 85 degrees all the way down to 55, so he was almost losing his mind. Weather doesn’t usually change like that here, but it pretty much never does that in Germany. I had to give a presentation in that class, too, the day after Af Am lit. That required a night in the library, staying up a bit late to organize my notes and prep the handout, and getting up early to go make copies. I don’t keep much money in Terrapin Express, since I only use it to make copies. I’d used up most of it the previous day, so I went down to the library intending to put more money on my account through the machines. But when I went over to the machines, they were all out of order. Distraught but calm, I went over to the copier and swiped my card, thinking maybe I’d have just enough left for the copies I needed. Imagine my surprise when it showed 100 copies. I could have sworn I only had 75 before I’d made the other copies. I don’t know if I was just losing my mind or if God opened a window, but I got my copies and got to class on time. The presentation went well. I don’t know what I got on it, but my grade was based partly on pity. I was supposed to have a partner, but either he dropped the class without telling anyone and ignored emails from me and Dr. Stievermann, or something horrible happened to him. Regardless, I’m the only one thus far who’s presented solo. But I’m still alive.

That leaves Spanish. I like Spanish. I like writing it, and reading it, and I can understand almost everything my teacher says, but I still don’t really like speaking it. It’s my first class of the day, so I have trouble getting there on time. I always eat breakfast, and it’s rough getting up so early, so I’m usually just barely on time. I have it down to a science: If I’m passing Dorchester when the carillons start, I’m only going to be a minute late. I feel bad because I like my teacher, but morning happens too early in the day! This morning, I had my oral exam/ interview. I stayed up so late working on my colonial literature paper, I was only able to practice for it this morning. I got to spend about fifteen minutes speaking Spanish to myself, which is a new experience. The interview went well. I let her choose the category, so we wound talking about music. She’s heard of Switchfoot, which made me happy.

So, you know I’m still alive. I’ve just been busy. And I didn’t even mention retreat yet. But in some way, my not updating is a good thing. Instead of sitting here writing about my life, I was busy living it.

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