Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on Real Books, Tears, and Ankles Like Oranges

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— 1 —

I am so glad that it is the weekend! I’ve been waiting all week for it to get here.

— 2 —

This week, I powered through finishing the last Alice book. It was okay. One very positive thing I did discover, though, was that I greatly enjoyed reading while I ate lunch. I used to eat my lunch at work outside. When it got too cold to eat outside, I had to stay inside, so I took advantage of some unused office space (and wi-fi) to catch up on Facebook, email, and eventually Twitter. It felt like a very productive use of my designated downtime.

When I was reading this week, though, lunch felt so different. The time didn’t pass as quickly as it always seems to when I endlessly scroll through Facebook. I’ve read e-books while I ate lunch, and now that I think about it, that was a much more leisurely time, too. Now I’ll Tell You Everything happened to be a physical book that I checked out from the library, and it was even more relaxing than using my Kindle app! Reading made my break feel like a real break.

I’m not anti-social media or anti-e-book, but my experience has reminded me that there’s just something about a real book that makes all the difference.

— 3 —

Yesterday was my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary! I texted my congratulations to my mom, who replied that they still like each other after all these years. Good job, guys. Good job.

— 4 —

My still-sort-of-new roommate invited me to go for a walk around the neighborhood last Saturday evening. I had just finished cleaning the house, so I laid on the couch reading on my phone for a while (and waiting for the heat off the day to burn off), but I went. Combined with the cleaning, I’m pretty sure our long walk counted as my exercise for at least a month. It was also a good nice, and I enjoyed talking with her. She works in ministry, so her schedule is almost as crazy as mine used to be. Face time is so important for relationship-building.

— 5 —

I went to confession the week before last, and I found myself laughing a little bit. Not at the priest, of course; mostly at myself, but I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me.

On the flip side, at my weekly group holy hour, I found myself instantly crying when the priest led us in a guided reflection. I hope that it will be the push I need to bring about some real reform in my life.

— 6 —

I mention my knee trouble here occasionally, although I don’t talk about it often even offline. It might have had something to do with my long walk, but my ankle has been swelling up like an orange in the evenings. I usually wear a knee brace during the day and take it off when I get home, but the swelling in unusual. Wearing the brace looser today helped. Any other ideas?

— 7 —

This weekend should be quite relaxing. I don’t have much to do besides laundry. This is good because next weekend is looking hectic, and then it’s Holy Week. At least I don’t have to work it this year! It will be a refreshing challenge to enter into Holy Week as an ordinary layperson again. Maybe I should have a plan. We’ll see.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Seeking Balance, Seraphic Singles, and Pretty Ribbon

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— 1 —

It has been two weeks of Lent now. For the first week and a half, I failed spectacularly on my secret Lenten resolution. Well, I wound up receiving the gift of light traffic due to spring break, so I now know that I face exactly fifteen minutes of purely school-related traffic delay every day. I guess that’s good to know. I like learning.

I am going to rejoice in keeping my other resolutions, and keep working hard on the secret one. Praying Compline every single day for so long that I can’t remember when I started: that is something to take joy in, too.

— 2 —

I’m having a lot of trouble balancing my time. Even though I have arguably more time on my hands than I have since college (excluding my bouts of unemployment), I can’t seem to figure out how to spend it properly. I can go out for an event, but then I’m so sick of wearing work clothes and being social all day that I just want to be a Facebook hermit until it’s so late that I should have gone to bed an hour ago.

Alternatively, I can come straight home from work, cook dinner, and watch some TV online, and feel relaxed but antisocial. Perhaps the biggest point that stayed with me from my reading of The Thrill of the Chaste was that there are no single men in my house.

Finally, I come home after work and maybe a quick weeknight shopping trip (sometimes groceries, sometimes a good sale at Old Navy), eat kind of badly, read blogs and write here, but feel unaccomplished because I still haven’t called my mother.

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*You* try passing that up! With my coupon I only paid $9 a pair, and I replaced some that fell apart. Shopping win!

Any tips on balance? I’m starting to realize that no one ever truly “has it all,” but how do I have some of it?

— 3 —

One of my favorite relationship blogs, Seraphic Singles, is now welcoming men as open readers and all-the-time commenters. I hope this will mainly result in a better grasp on what men think about women in general, not necessarily what they think about what we think. I mentioned to a female friend that men, in general, don’t like to talk about their feelings. A mutual male friend of ours at the same table denied this, saying, “That’s not true; I have feelings.”

“Oh, no,” I replied. “That’s not what I said. I’m sure you have feelings. You just don’t really want to talk about them, do you?”

“No, not really.” Point made.

— 4 —

Along similar lines, the author of Seraphic Singles had a great post at her current fiction publisher about how to write a good story. Her example is delightful and very true to her blogging voice. It reminded me of how much I used to enjoy writing fiction. That, in turn, reminded me of how much I enjoy blogging here about my actual life and opinions, and then I remembered that this post began as last week’s 7QT and I should probably just finish it for this week. Everyone’s a winner.

— 5 —

Red bell peppers have been on sale at HEB for the past six weeks. I think I have purchased, sliced, and eaten at least two per week since then. This is a glorious season.

— 6 —

I was very productive this week. I made a to-do list on Saturday midmorning, and I set out to accomplish it. I almost did. The one leftover was cleaning the house, which I rescheduled to my otherwise vacant Tuesday evening.

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I had to start with a few things I absolutely knew I was going to do. That makes me feel even *more* accomplished.

Getting in all that cleaning after going to work all day was difficult, but I managed it. I was less successful in my attempt to attend two big events on Sunday (one being Mass), but I got so much done on Saturday that I’m calling it a win.

— 7 —

The other big event was my now-former-roommate’s bridal shower. I had a delightful (although heartbreakingly brief) time there. I didn’t get to see her open my gift, but I was joyful when I managed to quickly and efficiently wrap it up pretty.

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The ribbon was reused from Christmastime!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on My Shipping, Techie, and Lenten Skills

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— 1 —

I am so glad that today is Friday! The week blew by, and I had an unusually busy day at work, so I am very appreciative of the two days of no working ahead.

On a related note, I am absolutely adding “skilled at packing and shipping” to my résumé in the future.

— 2 —

I survived the Weekend Without Wi-fi, although it was a close call. If I hadn’t had 4G LTE on my iPhone, I probably would have fallen apart completely. I used it sparingly, though, because I have never gone over my data allowance and I am not about to start just when I’m crawling out of the broke hole I was in for most of last year.

I used my time helping my now-old roommate move out, cleaning the house like I do every other Saturday, cooking dinner, and watching A Series of Unfortunate Events. I also managed to finally unpack my last box from my own move in July. Hooray! The walls in my room are still mostly bare, but I have my framed photos up now, so it looks like I actually live here now.

Sunday was a much easier day to be without wi-fi. Reading a real book while eating breakfast (instead of getting sucked into BuzzFeed) was the best motivator for getting my hair and grocery shopping done before Mass. I lectored, we counted the collection unusually quickly, we ate at Jason’s Deli, and I survived the ridiculously blustery night to swing by Target on the way home.

— 3 —

By the time I got home from work on Monday, we had wi-fi again! Well, almost. My new roommate, Samantha, had come home to let in the Internet guy, and he had hooked up the modem to my laptop with an actual Ethernet cable. That was the first time since I moved to Austin that I’d been hard-wired to the Internet.

You see, I discovered when I signed up for service that we could save about $12 a month by switching to a modem-only setup, as opposed to our previous “wireless modem.” I had not known such a thing existed before I moved in here. It was handy to have just one box, but we have plenty of tech space since we’re not gamers or big media people.

So when I got home, I completed the setup on my wired-up laptop, then immediately set up the wireless router I’d purchased when I had this same provider during my first year in Austin. I had to do a factory reset (with a paperclip and everything) since I have no clue what the old password was, but it worked. I gave the router a nice, holy name and a strong password, and I even remembered to change the router login credentials.

And I did all of that in about 40 minutes while reheating and eating a bowl of leftover homemade turkey chili. My stealth techie card is still valid!

— 4 —

I celebrated Fat Tuesday excellently this year. Some friends and I met at a local restaurant for dinner. I ate so much that I actually had a mild stomachache, but it paid off in my ability to skip breakfast and wait until lunch to eat on Ash Wednesday.

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I should have taken a photo of my king cake before I ate it. The remnants should attest to its deliciousness regardless.

I have been remarkably social for the last few weeks, and although it is taking a lot of energy, it feels good to be out having fun. The world through my computer screen is only so big.

— 5 —

This was one of the better Ash Wednesdays I’ve had in a while. It was so strange to not have to work extra hard. I did miss seeing the Ash Wednesday Clown Car, but I enjoyed being able to just be a regular parishioner.

I decided to go to Mass well after work. I’ve been making an attempt to go to my actual parish for events, even though there are two other closer parishes. Even with Austin traffic, I was able to get into the neighborhood early enough to make a stop at the nearest library branch for a few books and bit of Facebooking via library wi-fi on my phone.

When I got to Mass, I was on time and so relaxed. It was the best decision. It was also an act of humility, because I didn’t wear my ashes all day. I got to sit among friends, and the homily was actually pretty good. Fr. Pastor focused on forgiveness and invited everyone to come back on Sunday, especially people who don’t usually go to church.

— 6 —

Wednesday also marked nine years since I returned to the Catholic Church. I’d made the decision before then, but I hadn’t actually gone to church until that day during my freshman year of college. And look at me now!

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Benefit of social media: evangelization through #ashtag.

That first Ash Wednesday, I heard a homily about forgiveness. This year, I heard the same. There are no coincidences.

— 7 —

So far, I haven’t told anyone what I’m giving up for Lent. I always read a reflection booklet my best friend Sarah’s mom gave me years ago. I’m not generally a fan of Henri Nouwen, but even after flirting with the Little Black Book, I’m happy that Christ Our Hope has been my constant companion. I also give up alcohol every year, even though I don’t drink much anyway.

My main Lenten discipline is a doozy, and I know I will be holier if I can accomplish my goal by Easter. These first few days are like Lent training wheels: if you got wobbly or fell already, just brush yourself off, get a lollipop and a sticker (unless you gave those up), and get to riding again. Lent is a marathon, not a sprint! Holiness takes time.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Being Black, Recapping February, and Austinception

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— 1 —

I already wrote a follow-up to my post on my opinions about black identity, but just in case you’re here through 7QT instead of Facebook and you missed it, there’s some links for you. It’s one of the most personal posts I’ve ever written, and I’m really proud of it. Thanks for sharing my heart.

— 2 —

One of my roommates is moving out today. It’s bittersweet, because I’ve enjoyed living with her, but I find even more joy that she has found her vocation: she’s getting married in May. Our new roommate moves in later in the day, so it will be a day full of people traipsing in and out, trying not to let in bugs or take anything that belongs to those of us who still live here, and schlepping furniture into trucks. Good times. At least it won’t be sweltering like all the summer moves I did last year!

Texas moving season should be spring. Those two weeks a year are just perfect.

— 3 —

I enabled Markdown for my blog, and I already love it. It’s so much easier to just throw in some asterisks rather than having to remember to open and close the tags. It’s even easier than going back later to select, then click the italics button. I found this cheat sheet when I checked out the WordPress.com article. It should be quite handy for the near future. I’m still doing links the long, mouse-laden way, though. Does anyone have tips on learning a new typeflow?

— 4 —

I checked my archives and realized that I did not update on my life (via 7QT or any other method) for the entire month of February. Yikes.

Let’s start with a recap of that last week of January. I finally went out to see my friends from church play volleyball. They would let me play—they would welcome it, because the rules require at least two girls on the court at all times—but I never do. I am the best team mom/cheerleader/line judge there is. Those bleachers need me.

I went on a friend date to Amy’s and had some incredible gingerbread pancake ice cream. It was like Kerbey Lane came to Amy’s. Is that Austinception?

I also went downtown on a Friday night for the first time in ages. One of my trivia teammates was throwing a bar birthday party with her friends in a cover band. The band was actually quite good. Maybe there’s a second candidate after the Spazmatics for my future wedding reception music…although they would have to pick cleaner songs and dance moves, so maybe not.

— 5 —

February! I ordered some new clothes from Old Navy, greatly discounted thanks to a coupon and giftcard from Christmas. (My mom gave me the coupon with the giftcard so I could get more mileage out of the card amount. How awesome is she?) I have been experimenting with button-downs, cardigans, and boat-neck tops, following the advice of Audrey from Putting Me Together. It’s going well so far, but the approaching warmer weather will be a challenge.

I went to a pastoral focus group of sorts with some friends (they were coincidentally there; I would have gone anyway). It was so helpful to be able to express where I think the diocese needs to focus its resources. It was even better to know that they are actually listening and will use our feedback to shape the next five or ten years. Who says it’s all about hierarchy and just doing what you’re told?

— 6 —

In slightly less wholesome news, I went to see The Notebook ripped to shreds by the jovial crew of Master Pancake [warning: it's definitely for grown-ups]. It’s as if the silhouettes from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were like and cut down non-sci-fi movies. I already loathe The Notebook. The jokes much improved my experience watching it again.

My roommates and I spent Valentine’s Day together, with no boys but with much talk. I have determined that Valentine’s Day is only fun when you are a child. It’s all about candy and cookies, class parties and those little cartoon-character cards. After adolescence, there is always pressure to rejoice or vehemently object, to give obligatory gifts or wallow in single-state sadness. Ugh. At least it means the winter holidays (the worst time to be single) are over.

— 7 —

Highlights of this week included crashing an RCIA class (well, I was invited, but I like to feel like a rebel sometimes) and signing our lease for the next year.

Now I am embarking on a weekend without Internet at home. I already feel cut off from the world! On the other hand, this is a great excuse to read a real book and to watch my five-hour Pride and Prejudice DVDs. Maybe that’s not so bad after all.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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

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— 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!

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