Monthly Archives: May, 2014

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 84

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Well, today is not Sunday, but since I knew I had today off from work, I used last night for other business instead of writing this post. I did put this one on my to-do list, though, so done it shall be.

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Dress: Target
Undershirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift
Belt: Target

I really need to work on getting clearer full-lengths! Yikes! Look at how much clearer the close-ups are. Anyone have tips on getting better full-length mirror selfies? I realize non-selfies would be the best place to start, but my roommates aren’t always available when I get home after Mass and dinner. I guess I could ask my friends to take them outside the church. I’ll think about that for next week.

I didn’t fully plan on wearing this dress today. I had a very productive Saturday, but I miscalculated my time yesterday and had to rush through my getting-ready-for-church process. The undershirt was already ironed, the dress doesn’t need ironing, and I wear that same necklace with this dress almost every time. It’s falling apart a little bit, though, so I’m not sure how much longer it will last!

The belt is a new addition, to help make it feel like a new outfit. The loop-tie is my new favorite way to tie skinny belts, but I’m not sure there was a strong enough color match to the shoes. Chocolate brown might not be neutral enough.

Mass was interesting. Msgr. Pastor gave quite a nice homily. It was brief, and he made the point that the readings called us to love despite the circumstances and our comfort. If we knew that there were no mansions of gold or sparkling crowns in heaven, would we still want to go? Would we still be as glad that Jesus paid the price to let us in? Conversely, if we knew that hell was not a burning fire or neverending punishment, would we put in so much effort to avoid going there? If we wouldn’t, we have our motivations all wrong.

The “interesting” part was the baccalaureate section. The youth minister read the name, high school, and intended college of every student; about thirty of them were sitting in one section wearing their graduation attire. Then we applauded. Then the monsignor gave a long, long, long speech about how happy they should be, how grateful, how ready for the future. He asked their parents to stand. We applauded. He praised them. Somehow the congregation applauded again; I politely refrained. (I don’t like clapping in church anyway.) I listened carefully for any mention of God or Jesus for those fifteen minutes. Nope. It was all about human achievement. We’d been warned that the regular Mass was the baccalaureate, but weddings take less time than that did!

After Communion, instead of the usual prayer, Msgr. Bill asked all the students to leave their special section and find their parents. He talked while they moved. (Couldn’t he have thought of that sooner?) He had the students stand with their parents’ hands on their shoulders. Cool. Then he had the congregation “extend a hand in blessing.” Not cool.

I always fold my hands and bow my head to pray along with blessings. I’m a layperson; my hands have no special power. Besides, think about what that looks like: a crowd of people, sometimes standing, with one arm outstretched, palm down. They gave up on that form of salute for the Pledge of Alleigiance after WWII for good reason. There’s a number of reasons it feels awkward in church today.

So we got out of Mass fifteen minutes late, I had dinner with a few friends, and I made my weekly Target run. Good homily, bad baccalaureate. I guess that evens out.

Check out this week’s style show at Fine Linen and Purple!

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 83

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I have successfully recovered from wedding festivities and am ready to dig in for another week of work. At least I think I have (and am). Regardless, I made it to Mass on time. That’s easier when you go in the evening like I do, but it can be tricky when you’re finishing four loads of laundry like I was.

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Dress: Marshall’s
Bolero jacket: Target
Shoes: Payless
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

I always wear Ray-Bans. I’ve worn them as my regular glasses for probably seven years, and I got these classic Wayfarers a few summers ago. I was wearing them as I walked in the house, and I loved the look so much that it seemed like the best idea to keep them on while I took my photos.

The dress is one of my favorites. It works for every season: on its own in the summer, with a light sweater for church, and with tights in the fall. I bought a similar checkered dress thinking I could replace this one (it only fits on thin days), but I keep coming back to it. Old loves die hard.

We had three surprises at Mass today. First, a priest from my Monday night Eucharistic adoration group showed up to concelebrate and give the homily. He managed to speak about the readings as well as mission work in his native Nigeria, so I will never accept “it’s hard to talk about everything in one homily” as an excuse again.

The second surprise was that Msgr. Pastor (not his real name) is retiring. I knew he was getting along in years, but I hadn’t realized he was close enough to actually retiring. There were so many gradual reassignments after our Vicar General became a bishop [PDF link] that I forgot reassignment season hadn’t started yet. Now it has.

We only have one priest being ordained this year, but there are six or seven coming next year. (I pray for vocations every Thursday—how are you helping your diocese?) He said he’s been there for nine years, which is a long time. I’m glad he’ll have an opportunity to rest and to enjoy his priestly ministry without the challenge of running a parish. He’s been having a tough time since his health started to decline and he lost his associate. I wish him joy and peace!

The third surprise (and definitely the biggest) was the name of our new pastor. He has been at his current parish for over twenty years, which is an incredibly long time! I was shocked to hear his name. His current parish is bigger than ours (and ours is big), also has a school, and has a large professional staff and Spanish-speaking population. It will be very interesting to see whether people stay there or follow him to our parish (which is already full to bursting). Pray for us as the transition comes at the end of June!

7 Quick Takes on a Hair Horror Story, Zilker Shakespeare, and Charming Charlie

— 1 —

I managed to go the entire month of May without a 7QT, but I have remained just popular enough that I have some things to report, so I guess that evens out.

Furthermore, I want to toss a quick throwback to “The Busy Trap.” I read it (eventually…because I was busy…see what I did there?), and I’ve taken it to heart. We only get one life, and for the most part, we can choose how we spend it. Our choices determine much of how we live.

Over the past few months in particular, I have made a conscious effort not to say or even to think that I’m “busy.” I think, “That is not how I have chosen to spend my time,” or “I would rather do this other thing.” It’s having a slow but significant effect on how I see things like snoozing on my alarm, sitting in front of the computer for hours, or hanging out after events to socialize with friends.

Are you conscious of how you’re spending your time, or do you just always seem busy?

— 2 —

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It feels like I’ve done a million things these last few weeks. Slow down, life! I’ll try to recap.

I had my hair done last week. I needed it re-straightened before the wedding tomorrow, so I wanted to get in ASAP to get it back to (straighter) normal before the actual day. That meant taking the first appointment I could get, which was on a weeknight, right after I called.

That was my first mistake. What part of my brain thought it would be a good idea to take my hungry self to a salon for an appointment that always take at least an hour and a half?

My original stylist was with another customer when I arrived about an hour before the posted closing time. I’d made my appointment directly with her, so I was okay with that at first. I was less okay when I had to wait thirty minutes before I could get in her chair. I mentioned that my scalp has been dry lately due to the change in the weather (in the winter, it was dry skin), but she didn’t seem to be doing anything differently. Another mistake.

When I was ready for the blow-dry I needed but have yet to actually get at this salon, my stylist passed me off to another, who stuck me under the drying hood. At this point, I was just too tired, too hungry, too blind (because I can’t wear my glasses when they’re working on my hair), and too eager to just get the whole thing over with to argue. So I let my hair be styled in a totally new way for drying and sat under the hood to read blogs on my phone.

I got a lot of blog reading done while I was there. That might be the one plus. My roots are straight, too, so that’s good.

I knew I was in trouble when the dryer turned off, my second stylist declared my hair to still be wet, and I went back for round two with the hood. That much heat can’t be good for an unusually dry scalp! No one was listening to me. I wasn’t even listening to myself.

When I finally made it out of the salon three and a half hours later, tired, hungry, and with a hairstyle that was not what I wanted, I had resolved not to go back there again. I’m pretty sure I won’t. My old stylist moved to Houston, but after that experience, I’m pretty sure the day trip just to get my hair done will be worth the time and drive. It’s only four times a year.

Maybe there’s a hair horror story club I can join now.

— 3 —

I’m still mortified about almost running into a candle while carrying the Book of the Gospels two Sundays ago. I checked last Sunday, and the candles were, in fact, much closer to the altar. That’s where they belonged the whole time! I knew it wasn’t just me! I feel vindicated.

I also feel nervous about what might surprise me next time.

— 4 —

A friend of mine lives in Hutto, and he recently acquired his very own concrete household hippo. This is apparently a thing that you do it Hutto. He threw a party to celebrate the unveiling—it’s pretty cute—and tried to pose with it Heisman-style. Even foot-long concrete hippos are heavy, though.

— 5 —

I saw As You Like It last week at Zilker. Austin Shakespeare performs a free show in Zilker Park every year, and I always go. It rained on Thursday and Friday (a rarity for Austin), so I couldn’t gather any friends to go with me, but it was good to spend some time outside.

I’ve never seen that play performed before. I loved it! The language was rather saucier than some of the other comedies. I’m an expert, but I found it quite easy to understand. Towards the beginning, when the lead woman and her cousin are discussing her new crush, the women played so convincingly that I thought they’d sneaked in a microphone when my roommates and I talk about boys. I was a little embarrassed to have such deeply treasured secrets of femininity on display for all to see.

The show was played straight, with Renaissance costumes, which is unusual for Zilker Shakespeare. There’s usually a twist: Gigdet Love’s Labours Lost, Bollywood Twelfth Night, and Carnivale The Winter’s Tale since I’ve been here. I missed the twists, but I loved the live musicians and the natural feel of the setting and costumes. It felt like Shakespeare ought to.

I was astonished when intermission came, and then again at the curtain call. I couldn’t believe the play had gone by so quickly just when I was having so much fun watching! I hope Oklahoma in July and August is even half as good.

— 6 —

I don’t usually like shopping, but I had to this week. I am in a wedding tomorrow, so I needed a dress. I am a big fan of reworking and rewearing outfits, but I have worn everything to death already. I resolved to stick to my new philosophy of buying something that can be remixed…but I still needed a dress immediately.

I started at Charming Charlie. I’ve never been to that store before, but my mom gave me a cute cat watch for Christmas from there, so I decided to give it a try. Oh, man. If I were a little more flush and had a little more time, I could have spent all my money there. I went in for a dress, and I didn’t like the one I tried on, but I did get a cute clutch. I don’t have a real special occasion purse, so that felt like a reasonable purchase. In an ideal world, I could have dropped a ton on reasonably-priced accessories. How have I not known about that store before?

Also of note was the fantastic manager. She greeted me when I walked in (which was easy since the store was dead on Tuesday night) and even though she was insisting that I leave my wet umbrella by the door, she made it sound like a request. She showed me a few dresses and encouraged me not to buy one unless I was really happy with it. I pointed out my long legs problem and she genuinely suggested The Limited. I was so delighted that I decided to make a purchase (the clutch) even though I could have skipped it.

The Limited was also awesome, although they were steaming racks and dressing mannequins, so I didn’t quite feel free to browse. I wasn’t there to browse, though, and the staff there helped me find the dress I ultimately purchased. It was the right color (red), the right fit (which was shocking), and the right price (after the 40% discount put it within my budget).

If all shopping trips could be like that, I think I would like it more.

— 7 —

I get to be in a wedding tomorrow! I am the first lector. I was invited to lector in another friend’s wedding—the first I was ever asked to be in in my whole life—but I couldn’t go. It was right at the beginning of grad school, and I was too hesitant to spend the money to fly home and miss class. Missing that wedding is one of my biggest regrets, but the bride knows how much I love her.

Now I just have to make it through my reading without tripping (verbally or physically), giggling, or crying. Easy peasy, right?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: Time

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If you had all the time in the world, what would you read?

Harry Potter! With unlimited time, I could re-immerse myself in that world without worrying about falling behind on reading for my review column. That would be glorious.

I would also take the opportunity to re-read some books that definitely need a second go: The Story of a Soul, The Four Loves, The Problem of Pain, Strange Gods. The downside of wanting to read so many new books and being able to is that I almost never get to re-read any that I want to give another pass.

It would also be nice to finally finish the Bible. I think this is year eight, yikes! I promised I wouldn’t give up, though. I might not have all the time in the world, but I have my whole life. We’ll see if that’s enough.

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 82

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Happy Easter! There were so many things going on today that I think Easter got lost in the shuffle.

  • It’s Sunday, which is always cause for celebration.
  • It’s Easter, which gets a little more difficult to remember the longer it lasts. I’m still working on that plan for observing all of the season. We still have some pastel-wrapped Reese’s around the house, so that’s an idea.
  • It’s Mother’s Day, which for me is positive. I have three spiritual children even if they’re not my children.
  • It’s the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is a delight this year because I have so many to celebrate. My former roommate is getting married on Saturday, I have a number of other friends happily settling into new marriages, and four of my friends from undergrad will be ordained priests this month and next. If you’ve got any hints about my vocation, Lord, I am all ears.

I only wore one outfit for these many holidays, though.

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No idea what happened with the exposure and lighting here.

Dress (worn as a skirt): Old Navy
Top: The Limited (super old)
Bolero jacket: Target
Necklace: Gift
Shoes: Old Navy

I have worn this dress twice before and love that I have worn it a different way each time. The first time was with an infinity scarf as a shawl for my church group’s Christmas party. The second was with a checkered button-down, belted, to church. This time, I’ve worn it as a skirt (and a little bit as an undershirt; that’s the dress under the v-neck of the top). I always cover my shoulders for church, but since the top and dress are both sleeveless, it looks good uncovered, too.

I was pleased with my parish today. They replaced the psalm with “Shepherd Me, O God,” which is not an acceptable substitute for Psalm 23, but then our deacon gave a delightful homily elaborating on the role of the shepherd. He tied it to the service and sacrifice of mothers, though. I found that a little odd. Christ is the Good Shepherd. The Church (along with her members) is his bride. That’s the male-female representation there. I wonder if he would say the same thing on Father’s Day.

At almost every parish, they ask the mothers to stand for applause and perhaps a blessing. I was not looking forward to that part. Imagine my surprise when, instead, one of the cantors sang Ave Maria. I love music that is prayerful, and it was, even if the church did burst into applause afterwards. Then they offered Dove chocolate bars specifically to any woman, not just mothers. I didn’t take one (I’m not a fan of dark chocolate), but I appreciated not being singled out for being only a godmother.

Today was a good day. It was a good weekend, and it was even not half bad for a week. Next weekend will have a wedding, a.k.a. grown-up dance party, so good times are in store!

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 81

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Well, that was an adventure.

It all started when I chose this outfit to wear to Mass this evening.

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Polo: Aeropostale
Skirt: Mossimo for Target
Shoes: Old Navy

It’s basically summer now, but I had only worn this skirt to work before, so I decided to field test it for church.

That was a mistake. This is now a weekday and Saturday skirt only!

As you can see, the skirt is ankle-length. I actually have it rolled a few times at the waist, if you can believe it. I am 5’8″ and have very long legs, so it is rare that anything normal-sized that is supposed to be long really is long on me. My other “long” items tend to hit well above my ankles.

It’s an oddly designed skirt because, rather than A-line, it’s cut straight. I got this one after exchanging a similar striped maxi skirt that had a knee-high slit. I just don’t like slits in skirts. Then again, I like being able to walk easily, which I can’t really do in this skirt.

So on to the story.

I volunteered to lector tonight after a friend had to bail out. I had that in mind, but since I’ve worn the skirt before, I figured I should have an easier time walking in it today than I did then.

Ha. Our parish has a very beautiful, very heavy Book of the Gospels. Usually, the deacon carries it in the entrance procession. In the absence of a deacon, the second lector carries it.

Guess which lector I was?

In my struggle to hold the heavy book (it’s easily fifteen or twenty pounds) up high for the procession, I wound up holding it right in front of my face. According to my sometimes unreliable memory, that’s where I usually hold it, but I guess not, because I could barely see at all.

I almost walked right into the altar candle. It is only by the grace of God that I was moving slowly enough and could see enough that I didn’t just knock the whole thing over. I have no idea what I would have done! I hope one of the middle-school altar servers would have come to save me. My friend Becky is the only one I spoke to that noticed my near-miss, though, so that’s good.

It is a good thing I’d pre-read the readings, because I could barely pay attention during the first reading. I was too busy apologizing profusely to God and thanking him for not letting me cause such a ridiculous and enormous scene!

In the end, I think I made up for it by not causing any other scenes (although I did stumble a tiny bit going back up for the Universal Prayer) and by reading the heck out of St. Peter’s letter. (Yes, that is an odd way of saying that, and no, there is no better way to phrase it.)

Perhaps as a gift after what would have been my single most embarrassing church moment (and I have some whoppers), Msgr. Pastor’s homily was actually quite nice. He focused on the gospel, which is one of my favorites anyway. The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus when he was walking and talking and eating with them, but he didn’t exactly shout, “Here I am! I’m alive! I rose from the dead! What’s up?” Similarly, we often don’t recognize when God speaks to us, even when it ought to be obvious. I usually don’t like homily stories, but the one he told was about a couple of young men who had been away from church but came back and recognized Jesus in their lives and in the Eucharist. It was one of the few homily stories I’ve heard that didn’t end in an awful joke or platitude.

I really hope I don’t have to almost set something on fire again to get a homily that sits so well with me.

Booking Through Thursday: Favorite?

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Do you have a favorite book? What do you say when people ask you? (This question always flummoxes me because how can you pick just one, so I’m eager to hear what you folks have to say.)

When people ask for my favorite book, I can never narrow it down to just one. That would be like picking a favorite child!

I do have categories, though, and I have to have more than one book per category. Maybe that is why people don’t usually ask.

Religion

If You Really Loved Me: It’s for teenagers, so it doesn’t apply anymore in my twenty-something life, but it changed my life for good. It spoke to my aching heart. I’m glad that Jason Evert has been writing for an older audience since he has gotten older and had a bunch of kids. I still need his advice!

Mere Christianity: It’s not Catholic, but man, is it good! It is clear and methodical without being too preachy or intellectual. His image of the fleet of ships is such a great way to explain morality.

The Bible: You knew it would be here. I’ll finish it one of these days.

Children’s

Holes: I don’t think I had read such an imaginative mystery before I came across this book. I love a good story, especially one with lots of mysteries and secrets that are resolved by story’s end. This one delivers. The movie adaptation is quite faithful to the book.

Alice in Wonderland: I think this is the only classic I have ever read voluntarily. I was in the third grade. It was incredible. I know there are so many hidden meanings and whatnot, and although I don’t know any of them, I don’t care. My happy memories (and the awesome ABC spinoff from Once Upon a Time) are enough for me.

Harry Potter: Only one volume here, which is Goblet of Fire. It has the most information about the world outside Harry’s sphere up to that point, and it was the clear beginning of Ron & Hermione’s romance. Deathly Hallows was fantastic, but I’ll always hold a candle for that middle book.

Adult/Literature

Pride & Prejudice: I can’t even figure out what to say here! The language, the wit, the society, the outright humor, the surprising but not-surprising romance, the incredible adaptations: what’s not to love?

Hamlet: Plays are not technically books, especially when they’re not in that sub genre of plays meant to be read instead of performed, but this is an exception. It’s got a play within a play, it’s got unrequited love, and after 400 years, no one is sure whether Hamlet was faking it or not. That’s some good storytelling.

I think that showed some good restraint, don’t you?

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