Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on Rain, Twitter, and Well-Balanced Reporting

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— 1 —

We had some rain here in Austin. This is not a town where it rains often (or even a regular amount), so people forget how to drive and how to dress. I emerged from HEB with my waterproof coat and umbrella on Saturday only to spot a miserable-looking middle-aged woman in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. That is not how we respond to rain. This is how:

(Yes, that’s me that he retweeted!)

— 2 —

In other exciting Twitter news comes this gem:

Back in college, some friends and I were inspired by Wendy Shalit‘s Girls Gone Mild (now in paperback as The Good Girl Revolution) to write an editorial about mdoesty for our campus newspaper. My name went into the byline, and Wendy herself found me and friended me on Facebook. These days, she found my review of her earlier book, A Return to Modesty, and tweeted my image!

So yes, Maura (my college roommate), I do feel famous!

— 3 —

Enough tweets. It’s been a while since I rounded up 7 quick takes. My luau birthday party was delightful. It appears that scheduling it before the start of football season last year was critical to attendance. Many people I thought would come either never showed or came after their game finished. I kind of liked the staggered arrivals, because it kept the party going at a nice manageable pace rather than our usual flood of people mid-party, but I also missed the house-filling throng. Lessons learned for the spring.

— 4 —

I promised more about my young adult group disbanding, and then I didn’t deliver. That’s partly because it’s disheartening to think about. The nutshell is that participation had been declining for a long time (months and months) before I was asked to join the leadership team, and it dropped sharply thereafter, despite my efforts to be all things to all. I burned out around Independence Day, and we (mostly I) made the decision to close up shop and move on.

I have chosen to see the end of the group as an occasion for hope. Most of the new members that came to an event or two never really got involved beyond that, so there won’t be much for them to miss. We long-term members have formed actual friendships outside of the group, and many are involved in the other Catholic young adult groups in the area, so they’re not just out in the cold.

Being on the forefront of something new is not my thing. I don’t like seeing things end, either, but it was time, and I am at peace.

— 5 —

Tonight, I am at home on the couch, but last Friday, I went out for karaoke. A friend of mine hosted a large-but-private room party. I guessed that most of the people there would be people I didn’t already know, and I was right. I do like to sing, I’m decent at it (but nothing to write home about), and I had been looking for opportunities to stretch myself socially. There are no single men living in my house.

So I went, even though the aforementioned rain in Austin turned everyone into terrible drivers, and I had a really good time. I sang so much that I almost lost my voice, but it was so good to just be without worrying about what people would think. I might not ever see some of those people again. It was freeing, and it was fun.

— 6 —

Does anyone else have trouble staying on top of email newsletters and blog posts? I had some time recently to do a reading spree, and I feel so much better than I did looking at those growing numbers. The Inbox Zero part of my heart is happy. I did declare bankruptcy on selected sources, but I find myself going on these reading binges more often now, more often than I’d like. I have a technique beyond “try to read everything,” but there’s got to be a better way. (I sound like a kitchen gadget infomerical.) Any ideas?

— 7 —

The CatholicMatch Institute blog published an article on the issue of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving communion without an annulment. They can’t, but I think that is one of the few articles I’ve read on the subject that covers both sides without making anyone seem like a fool. It’s so easy to say “you’re heartless and unrealistic” or “you’re a heretic and a sinner” without taking time to think the issue through. I did not get that impression from CatholicMatch, though, and I’m grateful for that.

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p style=”text-align: center;”>For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on the Ice Bucket Challenge, My Birthday, and Dating

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— 1 —

It was my birthday on Saturday! I slept in, had my favorite breakfast (a bagel and orange juice), did not clean the house, painted my toenails, and made cupcakes to share with my trivia team. I got a special birthday shout-out at trivia and they played “Africa” even though I did not request it. It was a pretty good run.

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One of my roommates left me these pretties as a surprise. I coaxed them all open today!

The official party is on Saturday. There is much to do before then, but I think it’ll be a great night, too.

— 2 —

As I posted on Facebook, I have mixed feelings about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

It is awesome that awareness is being raised for ALS research and treatment. It’s a disease that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as others (say, for example, that one with all the pink stuff). I usually have a big problem with the concept of “raising awareness.” Those walks and races with pink-shirted participants are not “raising awareness” for breast cancer. There once was a time when women would rather die quietly than admit they had breast cancer. That is not true anymore. People are fully aware of breast cancer. Awareness has been raised, and that is fantastic. You can raise money, you can volunteer time, you can offer treatment to women (and men) who can’t afford it. Those are all noble causes. “Raising awareness” is not among them, so snaps to the Ice Bucket Challenge for actually raising awareness.

But if I hear one more person say “dump a bucket of ice water over your head or donate to ALS research,” I might scream. “And” is the word you’re looking for, not “or.” There’s no consensus on the dollar amount: I heard $100, I heard $25, and I heard no specific dollar amount. Several of the videos don’t mention any amount that will be donated. If the message that has gone viral is that dumping a bucket of ice water over your head is the way to get out of donating, then that’s ridiculous. I hope everyone I’ve seen posting those videos has donated, too, but there’s no video of that part. (Well, Charlie Sheen did. If he has become my standard, the world is now a very strange place.)

There’s also the concern that the ALS Foundation supports embryonic stem cell research, which has cured nothing. Adult stem cell research has been curing dozens of diseases for a decade.

The best response I’ve seen is a post by the wife of a man who actually has ALS. All of her suggested challenges (except maybe 5, 6, and 8) sound doable, video-recorable, and awful. When I see those on YouTube, I will feel better about this whole thing.

— 3 —

My friend and accidental office neighbor Michael Raia wrote a lovely post for his company blog about Catholic church architecture. He does a great job of describing the situation, from the importance of architecture that is beautiful and thereby leads us to think of the source of all beauty (i.e. God) to the challenge of balancing the vertical and horizontal dimensions of worship. It’s the kind of writing that sets itself up well for Part II. He’s laid out the problems. Now we need a solution.

— 4 —

I am not currently dating anyone but I would like to be. And I do call it “dating.” I like the idea of not dating the way most of the world does, but I feel as though the evangelical version of courtship is very different than anything I would suggest Catholics do or actually do myself.

I came across “Why Courtship Is Fundamentally Flawed” on Facebook a few weeks ago. My friend Marie posted it as an article that made her think about what she wants for her children in the future. I thought about using it for my Austin CNM column, but I try not to get too personal there, so I decided against it.

That original post and the follow-up Q&A still have me thinking, though. A model of courtship where parents are in charge of their adult children really does sound foolish. Why is it that none of these articles are ever written by Catholics?

— 5 —

Then there is this post from Verily about transforming the dating scene by returning to person-to-person introductions. The author suggests that married couples introduce single friends to one another by hosting gatherings in their home. Well, that would be great, except that many of my married friends have moved on, many to having kids! When there are children underfoot, it becomes much more difficult to have adults-only time, let alone host it (at least as far as I understand). I feel bad about bothering my married friends to find a man for me. They’re so busy already. They’re moving on into their lives as married people and parents, and I am so happy for them, but there’s clearly no room left for me.

— 6 —

For the last two weeks, I continued doing my regular job as well as filling in for our accounts payable admin. He was in Alaska on vacation. He couldn’t have known that, on the very first day of my fill-in, we would suddenly have two staff members leave the company, and I would be simultaneously be slammed with work for two of my three main projects. It was the perfect storm.

From this experience, I learned that (a) I have demonstrated how capable I am to all my coworkers, (b) although I can basically do accounting, I definitely dislike it, and (c) that particular admin can never leave for that long again.

— 7 —

My idea for being a better (read: more frequent) blogger is to flesh out some of these quick takes into posts of their own. This is a blog about my life, so why do I always feel like I must have something profound to say before I can post? So that’s my goal: more posts, shorter posts, better posts.

Don’t worry, I’ll make it into a SMART goal later.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Hydration, Solidarity, and Accidental Mustaches

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— 1 —

Oh, hello there! I was pretty good about getting this post ready to roll on Thursday evenings, and then I was not so good. I hope to improve on that, though.

Although I have not improved at blogging, I have improved at staying hydrated. I have just been drinking more water. It’s part of a long-term plan to sleep better and feel better. I think I read somewhere last week that staying hydrated is a good way to sleep better, so I’ve been trying it. My sleep hasn’t improved greatly. Yet.

I’m not trying any particular method, although I like the idea of marking a water bottle to time your water intake. My routine goes like this:

  • half a glass before my breakfast beverage (orange juice or milk)
  • a cup of tea at work, between 8:30 and 10 a.m.
  • 3/4 of a glass after tea, but before lunch (I’m slowly increasing this using the lines on my striped bottle!)
  • about one and a half glasses after lunch
  • two glasses before/during dinner
  • a glass between dinner and bed
  • sometimes an extra glass before bed

For me, the important part is to drink more rather than a set amount. I’m noticing that I respond more quickly when I’m thirsty, I feel better, and the, uh, biological results are showing up. So far, so good!

— 2 —

I went on a really fantastic retreat last Saturday hosted by Austin CNM. It was just a day-long retreat, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed. One of the co-founders, Cris Almanza, was the main and only presenter. He posted the schedule in advance for people who couldn’t stay the whole day. I didn’t preview it and had already planned to stay until the end, and that turned out to be the best method.

I was expecting the retreat to focus more on new media (that’s in the group’s name, after all), but it didn’t really. I haven’t reviewed my notes yet, but I don’t remember there being a whole lot of blog, Facebook, and Twitter talk. There was a lot of Holy Spirit talk, and some spiritual engagement talk, and some Austin traffic talk over lunch. I also learned how to sing yet a third melody for the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

My main takeaway, honestly, was that I can still be surprised by God. As much as I wallow in spirituality, I don’t really know it all, and I love when the reminders are sweet (not the kind of reminder that sends me, moping, to Confession).

— 3 —

I wound up at an accidental mustache party a few weeks ago. Well, the theme was intentional, but I had forgotten there would be a birthday celebration with my trivia team, and I only wore my mustache t-shirt because it went well with the skirt I wanted to wear. Does that make me an accidental hipster?

— 4 —

I’m pretty horrified about what’s happening to Christians under the oppression of ISIS. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be told to convert, pay a bribe, or leave my home (maybe forever). I do know one thing: to stick to what you believe in when your life is on the line is a true test of faith. It’s the definition of martyrdom. It’s one of the reasons St. Maria Goretti is my favorite.

I have a policy of not letting my profile photos be anything besides actual photos of me, but I have no such policy for my blog.

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— 5 —

On a lighter note, two of my roommates from undergrad are coming into town next weekend. I’m excited to see them; one I haven’t seen in five years! I am glad to have a house to invite them to, enough cooking skills that we can have dinner here, and a reliable hangout to visit for trivia. Something about old friends is just so comforting. I don’t have to explain myself to them; I can just be. There’s grace in that.

— 6 —

I suffered serious burnout this month. I refused to plan an Independence Day outing for my church group, I put off birthday party planning so long that the party probably won’t be during my actual birth month, and I almost gave up on organizing an outing to the Zilker musical.

The last straw was when I hosted happy hour for the aforementioned church group. I zipped uptown from work, got to the chosen location early, and proceeded to take up a very large table, by myself, for forty-five minutes before a single other person showed up. I was lonely, embarrassed, and frustrated. I felt so awful that I apologized to our server on my receipt for tying up the equivalent of two tables for so long. She was nice and attentive, but I will not have a good reputation there.

— 7 —

I missed the beginning of the novena to St. Anne. I did the last five days on schedule, and I have started over on day one as of yesterday, her feast with St. Joachim. You can guess why I prayed and am praying it. Today was actually promising in terms of the fruit of my prayers. That is all.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Harry Potter, To-Do Lists, and What I’m Doing With My Life

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— 1 —

Well, I managed to have an entire day off from work in which to write my 7QT post and during which I did no such thing. My talents are not all good.

I didn’t see any particularly hilarious images on Buzzfeed this week, but there is a new Harry Potter story, so that was the best thing I saw on the Internet, hands down. It was the first thing that made me log in to Pottermore in ages. I’m not linking to any of the news reports on it because they’re all biased and totally misreading things. That is a part of the fandom I do not miss.

But as for the story? I loved it. It seemed like the perfect way to write new material: it doesn’t change anything, but it fleshes out the snippets we’ve heard since The End. It is just like all the other new material JKR has been posting on Pottermore the whole time. I guess that since this is a new story about a new time, it drew a bigger audience. Hey, it worked on me!

— 2 —

The Year of Many Weddings has become the Year of Many First Anniversaries in addition to the Year of Many Babies. The first of those anniversaries was in May, but now the summer clump has begun. Since their weddings were on Saturdays, their first anniversaries are on Sundays. What a lovely day to pray in thanksgiving for making it through that first year!

Today is also the anniversary of the couple whose wedding was the first I attended as an adult. I was invited to be in my friend Lyzii’s wedding, but I had to miss it entirely due to graduate school commitments. That is among my greatest regrets, so I was especially gung-ho about going to Nick and Mary’s.

Since those days, I have had to decline invitations to a few out-of-town weddings due to finances. I know this wedding-heavy phase in my life will end soon, and that it came later for me than for many others, but do those pangs of regret for missing out ever go away? Or is it just FOMO and my love of dance parties?

— 3 —

Last week was very quiet. I stayed in for Independence Day. I missed seeing fireworks, but I needed a day to just rest and be lazy. So I watched four episodes of Joan of Arcadia in a row, and it was glorious.

Subsequently, my Saturday was unusually busy. I managed to meet with a new young adult at my parish, get groceries, go to Confession, clean most of the house, and go out for trivia all in one day. It was a lot of stimulation for this homebody. I had to finish cleaning after I got home on Sunday evening, but I’m calling that a win.

— 4 —

I’ve started using Wunderlist as a to-do application. I’m still getting used to the kinks, but it seems okay so far. I tried Todoist for a few days, but paying for annual access just to add notes was not okay. Wunderlist doesn’t have email-to-task the way I want it, but I can live without that if I have to, since I have the app on my phone.

The mobile app is kind of lame, though. They didn’t update for iOS 7, so it’s still using the old keyboard. That makes it feel so ancient and out of touch! I was delighted to see the announcement just yesterday that they’re rolling out an update soon, but if it takes a year to get such a crucial update, maybe I should have stuck with Google Tasks.

After having Google Reader killed on me, though, I probably shouldn’t get attached to anything besides Gmail. I think Google forgot about Tasks, so they forgot to kill it.

— 5 —

This week was also pretty quiet. I made a last-minute decision (okay, it was the night before) to go to Theology on Tap. I don’t always have the best experience with that, but this one turned out quite well. I had some solid “I have no idea what I’m doing with my life” panic this week, and the topic was vocations and discernment, so that meshed well. I haven’t had a good Holy Spirit moment like that in a while.

— 6 —

Speaking of vocations, my post at Austin CNM this week was a video review again. This time it was Light of Love, produced by Imagine Sisters. One of my former coworkers at the UCC is part of one of the sponsoring organizations, so I heard about the film a year ago when it premiered. I forgot to watch then, though, and I just got around to watching it last weekend. Oops. It was better late than never, though, as my review indicates.

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— 7 —

One of the things I didn’t write in my review was that I found the film to be missing a spirit of confidence. Thoughtful, wise, confident, committed: I wanted to see those qualities in the featured sisters in huge doses, but I didn’t. That observation comes more from my frame of mind than the film, though. As I said in Take #5, I have been feeling directionless lately. I don’t know what to do with my life. Sisters do.

When I meet new people and tell them what I do (contract administration), I also have to tell them what I used to do (campus ministry), and what I did before that (teaching high school English). As Jen wrote once, when people ask what you “do,” they’re trying to figure out what kind of person you are.

What kind of person does my history make me sound like? I haven’t been able to figure out yet what will give me a sense of lasting peace. Am I ever going to be able to figure out my life? I’m hoping that, as I continue in prayer and growing in holiness, I’ll figure it out, but any direction you can point me in would be much appreciated.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Skipping Bible Study, More Friends Who Are Priests, and Taboo

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— 1 —

Once again, I begin with the funniest thing I saw on Buzzfeed this week.

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I listen to a lot of radio-friendly (if not entirely morally sound) music, and I like Shakespeare, so this made me laugh so hard. It is also a reminder that Snapchats can be saved. And then shared. And then cause the hilarity of thousands of Buzzfeed readers. I don’t use Snapchat, but that’s a good PSA anyway.

Also, pun-not-intended snaps to Buzzfeed for linking back to what appears to be the original tumblr user to receive (or send) that snap. It’s a win for giving proper credit, even on the Internet.

— 2 —

In case you thought that was my only morally gray choice this week (although I use the term “morally gray” very loosely), as I mentioned in last week’s 7QT, I skipped Bible study for happy hour. Not only was it the parish young adult group happy hour, but I am in charge of that event, so I had to go. We even had a new member to meet this time. He is fresh out of college, which made the rest of us feel like dinosaurs, but our chosen restaurant had delicious food and excellent service, so I call that a win.

We’ll see if my skipping-Bible-study-for-happy-hour adventure turns out as well next month.

— 3 —

I am settling into my new job and my new desk. I have slowly been organizing supplies, developing workflow systems, and bringing in personal touches. I’m still a little rough around the edges in terms of following all the procedures (nothing scandalous in this take, though!), and I haven’t sat down with my new supervisor yet, but things seem to still be going well.

Overall, I am much happier about meeting new people than I have been for the last year (because I can say what I do with pride), and that is grace in itself.

— 4 —

Last Saturday, two more of my friends were ordained priests, this time for my home diocese, the Archdiocese of Washington (D.C.) I was sad to not be able to attend, but I am overjoyed that they are now priests of Jesus Christ. They are great men, and the Church is richer for having them.

— 5 —

A little more on those men, whom I knew better than my other two college friends who were ordained Dominican priests last month.

Fr. Tim Daniel was not at the Catholic Student Center when I first sought refuge there on my journey back to the Church. He was in Japan. When he returned, though, he co-led my small group on my first-ever peer retreat. He continued as the co-leader of my first-ever Bible study the next semester. My college roommate, Maura, was also in that Bible study. We had some interesting conversations working our way through the Gospel of Luke, including whether Jesus ever went on a date (we decided not).

Tim had a slightly longer than usual journey toward the priesthood, but I always knew he would do exactly what God wanted of him. And now he has.

— 6 —

Fr. Chris Seith first appeared in my life as the younger brother of a Catholic Student Center friend of mine, his only sister, Kaitlyn. He quickly became a popular CSC-er in his own right. I served as leaders with him on two retreats, and I saw him star in the youth musical Honk! as Ugly (the ugly duckling). He was fantastic at both.

The thing about Fr. Chris that stands out most, though, is a comment he made during my first winter home while I was in grad school. I was struggling significantly, perhaps more than all first-year teachers do, and I told him how the one bright spot in my life was my community of roommates. I said, “I’m still trying to figure out why God sent me to Alabama.” He said, “Maybe God sent you there to learn how to live in community.” It blew me away. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and he was exactly right. That one comment still encourages me to this day.

If only I could figure out why God sent me to Texas.

— 7 —

I hosted a game night last weekend that was not as well-attended as I’d hoped but still a lot of fun. Some of my friends like to play “tabletop games,” which are just too nerdy for me. I’m not into Settlers of Catan; I’m not into Dominion; I’m not into Risk. I do love Uno and Taboo, though, both of which we played. I managed to win three hands of Uno very quickly, which is a testament to my parents’ love of the game. If only I could bowl like that!

The fourth hand of Uno took so long that the people waiting to join rapidly became bored, so we switched to a brand-new, updated version of Taboo. I must have gotten used to the late-90’s edition, because I have never played one that had Twitter among the clues to guess and “muffin top” as a taboo word for “love handles.” We played boys versus girls, and the girls owned it. All was well.

Until next week!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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