Monthly Archives: January, 2014

Booking Through Thursday: Multi-tasking

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Do you do other things while you read? Watch TV? Cook? Brush your teeth? Knit? Or is it a quicker question to ask when you don’t read?

The thing I do most while reading is eat!

I have to read a lot for my Austin CNM column, but I also have to work in some personal/non-column appropriate reading, too. (Friending or following me on Goodreads is a good way to keep up with everything I read.) All that reading takes time, so I have to squeeze it in whenever possible. Eating is a great accompaniment to reading, especially when I’m working on a physical book. I can hold the book in one hand and the fork (or spoon) in the other: easy-peasy.

Reading while I eat also helps me stave off boredom because I usually eat alone. It is so nice to take a break from being “on” and just be with a book.

During Lent and Advent, I used to read while brushing my teeth! I have a reflection book for each of those seasons, and since I know I’ll remember to brush my teeth at night, I would use that as my trigger to read the day’s reflection. Since I share a bathroom now, I tied reflection-reading to my before-bed prayer time instead.

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

Top Ten Tuesday

It has been a good long while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday. I tend to always write about the same books, though, because they stick with me so much that I can’t stop talking about them.

My first two books were mentioned by the second original poster:

1. Bumped: I would like to think that, since I’m religious, I would probably be one of the super-religious women like Harmony who keep their fertility well into their twenties. (That is surprising in the Bumped world). I’m not 100% sure, though. As I get older, my friends have babies, and unmarried pregnancy becomes more common (especially among celebrities), it’s on my mind for sure.

2. The Hunger Games: Speaking of feeling old, I’m old enough that I wouldn’t have to “participate,” but I can’t imagine living in a country with a government that cruel. When I discuss The Hunger Games, I always identify the government as the real problem. It’s not so much that Katniss has to leave her mom and sister behind to fight to the death. It’s not even that she is technically fighting against a friend (or at least a classmate). It’s not that the government will kill dissenters. It’s that they will force the children of non-dissenters to kill one another. (Slight spoiler alert: That was a hint to the end of Mockingjay.)

The rest of my list are originals from me.

3. Unwind: Fresh from the Texas Rally for Life, I am accutely aware of the issues of resolving unplanned pregnancies. I still have some lingering confusion about how to reconcile storking (abandoning an unwanted infant to a new family who must take it in) with unwinding (donating all your child’s organs to be transplanted into others), but I should probably finish the series before I declare that to be a flaw. I’m definitely glad that technology doesn’t really exist!

4. Gathering Blue: The Giver has a sequel. (It has three now, but that’s the first.) In this book, the same world has another community where, rather than living in the future, everyone lives a primitive life. (Imagine the premise for Opposite Worlds on Syfy, but with two books, and much better than that show even sounds.) Because the main character, Kira, has a physical disability, she has to fight every day to keep existing. I would be crushed under the pressure.

5. Brave New World: I shouldn’t even have to explain this one. If I do, you’re like I was and you haven’t read it. Hopefully, you will be like me even further and read it.

6. A Canticle for Leibowitz: I like learning. I would only want to live in this post-apocalyptic future if there were also a convent of nuns (so I could join) who knew how to read and write like the monks. I could live like that.

7. Uglies: I could stand to feel pretty, but the secret of why people get their “pretty” surgery? That would do me in. I could be okay ignorant of the truth, though. Most people are.

I do read a lot of dystopias, don’t I? Are there any answers to this list that wouldn’t be dystopias?

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 67

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If What I Wore Sunday ever took after Jen and stopped numbering in favor of using subtitles, I would call this outfit “I Can’t Believe This Is Two Days Post-Icepocalypse.”

Yes, just two days ago, it was so terrible that over 100 crashes were reported in the city limits alone, I drove 20 mph to work, and many companies found their VPNs near capacity because everyone was working from home. (Personally, I would have taken an overloaded VPN as an excuse not to work as hard. I work less; everyone benefits!)

Now, with our wi-fi back in action, I was able to wear this decidedly summery outfit to church today. It meant I got to wear one of my favorite got-it-as-a-gift necklaces, too.

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I’ll work on getting less blurry full-lengths.

This is a summer maxi dress from Target! It has a white lining, and I wore white shoes and no sweater! For those of you having mini-heart attacks because I wore white shoes between Labor Day and Memorial Day, (a) you clearly do not live in Austin, Texas right now, and (b) that rule is outdated. Besides, I tried it with black shoes and they looked terrible. This was the best choice, trust me. Fergie may not make earth-shattering music, but she designs nice lacy flats. Maybe she didn’t intend them to be worn in January, but that’s what happened today.

I took the opportunity to read for Mass instead of Instagramming today, so I was much more prepared than usual and had a much better experience at Mass. The Psalm stuck out to me. I only learned about a year ago that the Psalm is not only selected to relate to the first reading but also to be our response to it (not just proclaimed responsorially, verse + response). My worries and doubts should be assuaged by my faith in the Lord. I need to honestly admit when they are not. There’s another imperfection to work on! And I was doing so well after going to confession yesterday evening.

At Mass, Msgr. Pastor (his office, not his name) touched on all three readings, which was delightful. He gave us some biblical geography to understand why Zebulun and Naphtali were in darkness, elaborated on the divisions St. Paul lambasted, and called us to be patient like the fishermen who heard the voice of the Lord and left everything behind.

I learned in a Bible study in undergrad that many of the great Old Testament men are shephers (Moses, Abraham, David) because herding sheep is boring. There’s a lot of downtime, which leaves a lot of time and space to hear God speaking to you. Maybe, in the New Testament, the shepherds are fishermen. It makes me wonder what I do that leaves room to listen. Where can I find space for contemplation?

Where do you?

7 Quick Takes on the Icepocalypse, the Internet, and My Social Life

— 1 —

So, Austin. You don’t do winter weather well. Whether it’s strikingly warm one day to freezing temperatures (by which you mean 32 degrees, even if it’s not one degree lower) or the possibility of snow, you panic.

I get a lot of questions when these things happen, since I have been in Texas for a few years but am from the mid-Atlantic. I usually explain by saying that I do not freak out about bad weather. When you’ve lived through an electricity-stopping typhoon in 100+ degree heat, the Blizzard of ’03, and Southern drivers when it rains, you can handle pretty much anything.

— 2 —

As Jen alluded to in her 7th take this week, the Icepocalypse was real! I was all but on record that it was not going to snow, but I was wrong. It did snow—ever so briefly. The rest was about a quarter of an inch of ice, and in Austin, that is legitimate cause for concern. The city apparently spraying “de-icing agent” (which I’ve never heard of before), put down sand, and closed particularly rough patches. That helped a lot.

What helped more was being a safe driver. I got in my car a bit later than usual (there’s no point in rushing when you know everyone will be late) and thawed it for 20 minutes. I forgot to lift my wipers, so they didn’t work at first. Texas is converting me to a snow rookie! At the time I would normally be at work, my windows were clear enough that I ventured onto the road.

I saw a pickup truck in an awkward position before I made it to the nearby highway. Come, now. “Big truck” does not equal “can’t slide on ice.” I drove 20 mph until the second highway, avoided the big hill I usually take entirely, and kept under 40 the whole way to work. I was startled by a car behind me on my last leg that was whipping by despite the visible ice and sand/ice slush, but all was well.

— 3 —

I park in a nice shady garage at work, which is usually good. The downside is that, since I hadn’t cleared off my car completely in the morning, I still had ice on top for the drive home. The lot parkers’ ice had melted off by the evening rush hour, along with what was on the ground. Sorry, drivers behind me! If it’s any consolation, the flying chunks of ice startled me, too!

— 4 —

Our Internet is on the blink, so this post is being written in some of my very precious time. Only one device can access the wi-fi in our house at a time, which is super lame. How am I supposed to work on my phone and my laptop while watching Hulu through one of my roommates’ laptops and having a conversation at the same time? That is quintessential 21st century life! Does Time Warner Cable expect me to live like it’s 1999? Ha!

I have not tried a regular Ethernet cable, though. That might work, at least for my laptop. I will report back.

— 5 —

I have some Old Navy Super Cash to spend this weekend. I can’t decide whether to get a skirt or some fun colored cardigans as I adapt my style in Putting Me Together fashion. I don’t have many skirts since I lost a few to laundry accidents recently, but I am loving my fashion experiments lately, and more cardigans will give me more to mix and match. Decisions, decisions.

— 6 —

I will be participating in the Texas Rally for Life tomorrow. I used to do the entirety of Texas Catholic Pro-Life Day, but that was when it was work and I had a great, free parking space downtown for it. This year, I shall be carpooling and coming right home afterwards.

— 7 —

This was a light posting week but a nice social one. I even made it to a young adult leadership group meeting on Sunday afternoon since I didn’t have hair-washing to make my drag my feet all day. Next week will be even busier. Will I be able to handle it? We’ll see next Friday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: Hated

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If there was one book you could make sure nobody ever read again … what would it be? And why?

Ugh. I knew my answer to this one immediately: The Da Vinci Code. I don’t like to use the word “hate” lightly, but that book upsets me more than infidelity does (or rather, did).

I have not read the book, so I try not to jump too quickly into my judgey pants, but I still don’t like it. I hear it’s badly written, first of all. I once read an excerpt of actual sentences online. It was almost as bad as when I read a passage from Twilight and nearly fell out of my chair laughing.

My real problem is that it claims to be true. IT IS NOT TRUE. I don’t have nearly as much anger toward fiction that at least admits it’s embellished (such as movies that are “based on a true story” or filmed as fake “found footage”). When you make up stories and claim they’re true, you are a liar.

It is even worse when you’re a liar about Jesus and the Catholic Church. You see anyone trying to get away with making up lies about Judaism or Islam? No. Why are Catholics fair game?

Okay, enough time on my soapbox for now. But the question was asked, and so I have answered.

For more responses, visit Booking Through Thursday.

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 66

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This was a very busy weekend, but I could never neglect joining in the fun with What I Wore Sunday. I’ve even got extra pictures today!

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This isn’t even as blurry as my full-lengths usually are!

The dress is from Target. I’ve worn it to Mass before, but never with this green Old Navy t-shirt underneath. The dress converts to a roll-top maxi skirt, but I’ve never worn it that way. I like my maxi dresses, but maxi skirts will take some time.

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A closer detail shot.

I added the white skinny belt to accentuate the empire waist, but I think this outfit would have looked better with a black belt or nothing. I was also trying to draw out the white colors in my infinity scarf. The scarf is a Christmas gift from my little brother. We’re pretty far apart in age, so what he knows about me is mostly that I like church. As my friend Warren pointed out at dinner, he may not know me well, but I do like church, so he’s got that down at least.

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And a different angle. This is not my good side, but it’s harder to take selfies with my left hand.

I’ve had these cross earrings for ages. They were an Easter present from my mom, back when my family still celebrated Easter. I don’t think they do anymore. My aforementioned brother (my only brother) will be 18 next Sunday (whaaaaaaat?), so even through we used to do the Easter Bunny, no one has believed for years.

I celebrate Easter, of course, but the idea of going home for it has never even crossed my mind. It wasn’t until I started going to church in college (also, at all) that knew “going home for Easter” was a thing. Not needing to travel has freed me up for many a vigil, though. Not working it this year will be quite unusual.

You may have also noticed my extra-curly hair. I had to have it trimmed yesterday. My stylist offered to curl the ends, so I went for it. The curls were much better defined yesterday, but they mostly made it through church this evening. That’s as much as I could have hoped for. It’s too late to just straighten tonight, but the curls will be gone by Tuesday for sure.

From my point of pew, I was a little lost during the homily. Msgr. Pastor tends to tell a lot of stories during his homilies, and since I don’t like stories, it’s hard for me not to put up a wall when he starts preaching. It’s terrible, but it’s how my brain is operating these days. I know that he told a story about a blind man regaining his sight and being nearly overwhelmed by the brightness, but I don’t remember how that was related to the readings.

What I was really pondering during the homily, though, was the power of callings. If memory serves, Isaiah was pretty young for a prophet. The gospel focuses on John’s recognition of his calling to be the last prophet, the psalm is our response to God’s calling, and the second reading’s intense greeting acknowledges our call to holiness along with the Corinthians. Discerning God’s call can be quite difficult. I’ll be pondering that this week, I think: what is God calling me to, how can I recognize it, and what am I going to do about it?

7 Quick Takes on Blogging, Prayer, and My Hair

— 1 —

I think I’ve been doing okay about blogging more. My vanity has been appeased by the increased traffic flow from simply posting more often, so that’s nice. I even got back to my roots last week in “The Rough Patch,” just writing about what’s been on my mind and heart. It feels good.

I initially started blogging because I’ve been a journaler since middle school, and this remains my primary outlet for writing. I’m glad that I’ve been able to write more. The additional readers is just a nice bonus.

— 2 —

My baptism anniversary was on January 10th. I only became aware of the actual date two years ago, when, after recommending that the previous year’s neophytes bring back their baptismal candles for the Easter Vigil, I realized that I had no idea where my own was. Even after three overseas moves (Japan, Germany, and back to Maryland), my mom still had my candle!

On the candle box (which is in good shape almost thirty years later), I found my baptism date as well as my godparents’ names. The priest who baptized me died a few years back. I remember being at my original parish the Sunday morning they announced his death. May he rest in peace. My aunt (and her husband) are listed as two of my godparents, which can’t quite be right, because they’ve never been Catholic. I’m not sure I’ve ever met the third (technically second) godparent.

Even though that day didn’t exactly start years of faithfulness for me, it was the beginning of my relationship with God. I don’t know if I ever would have found my way to him without it.

— 3 —

The previous Sunday was my second godson’s baptism anniversary. He is just over a year old now and growing very fast, if his parents’ Christmas card is any indication. I prayed for him extra that day and this past Sunday. He still lives far away, but the family has moved closer. Maybe I can dash up for a weekend this summer.

— 4 —

If you’re a godparent looking for ways to reach out to your long-distance godchildren, I recommend a very specific moment of prayer. At Sunday Mass at every parish I’ve ever been to, the lector or deacon leads a moment of silence for our own prayers. I jump on this moment as a memory trigger (the best way to make a habit).

I always pray for a very specific group of people:

  • my future husband,
  • the aforementioned godson and his parents,
  • my brother (my first godson),
  • my sister (my confirmation candidate… my confirmed?… you know what I mean),
  • and my parents (who are my siblings’ parents, too, of course).

The reminder to pray for them is built right into Mass, so I know I log it in at least once a week, easy peasy. Try it yourself!

— 5 —

Speaking of prayer triggers, that is also how I remember to pray for the holy souls in purgatory, to whom I have a devotion. If you’re not familiar with Grace After Meals, it is often said with the prayer for eternal rest. I rarely remember to pray after meals, so I connect Eternal Rest with Grace Before Meals. It only takes a few extra seconds, and then I’ve logged in that prayer, too! #winning

— 6 —

I took the Jeopardy! online test again a week before last Wednesday. I think I did okay, but, as when I’ve taken it in the past, there were a few questions I blanked on. There were a few others I was surprised that I knew, though. We’ll see how this round goes. Maybe 2014 will be my year!

— 7 —

I woke up at the crack of dawn (the 8 a.m. dawn) to get my hair trimmed this morning. On a whim, I decided to have it curled instead of straightened. Since I am currently not wearing any makeup, there will not be any photos now.

I have a birthday party to go to tonight, though. One of my friends with naturally curly hair has planned to straighten hers—role reversal! If the curls can last through dinner, a shower, cleaning the house, a church leadership meeting, and Mass, I’ll see if I can Instagram a photo tomorrow.

Have a good week!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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