Tag Archives: Life

Systems Normal

Two days into the new semester, I am actually feeling okay. I can’t say I feel more experienced or wiser. The kids are still their rambunctious, impossible selves. I’m still making mistakes all the time. I’m fairly sure I had days like this last quarter. Two things have changed, though. First and most significant is that I don’t have a solid wall of weeks full of days like these (or worse–often worse). It was hard to go so long without a good break.

Second is that I’m doing my best to have a new attitude. I go in knowing that some things will be unbelievably bad, but if I don’t let it get to me, I will be okay. The kids make fun of me, and I let it roll off my back. I make a big mistake, and I just keep on doing what I can. I know I’m not a good teacher yet; I’m still trying to maintain adequacy. I haven’t given up, though, and that is grace.

I also know that I need to record this so that when (not if) the bad days return, I have something to remind me that it genuinely isn’t always so bad.

Home Again

I leave home tomorrow afternoon. In some ways, I am absolutely ready to go home–to my new home, my ACE home. I needed a break, but I’m ready to go back.

I’ve really appreciated the time to work (which I will resume for a little while after I post this) while not having to go to work. I managed to get my lessons planned for tenth grade for the next two weeks! This is a substantial accomplishment, especially after the semester I had. I set up my grade book for next quarter and my attendance record for next semester. In the process, I accidentally deleted some important files, but that just means I’ll have to cart home some papers to scan. I ran across a couple of PDF-to-text converters that might come in handy. I read almost all the stories I want to teach my ninth-graders for the next month or so, including the ones for my ACE-required unit. I still have plenty to work on (like managing the paper load), but I think I have hope again.

I have had fabulous times with my friends over break. The day after I flew in, I went to Guy and Becca’s Christmas party, where I got to see Scott for the first time since…last year’s Secret Santa! I left there and went straight (and technically late) to Kaitlyn’s graduation party to see all my CSC friends. I told Chris S. about my difficulties, admitting that community became more important than anything else. He, in his new seminary-informed wisdom, suggested that God might have been teaching me the importance of community through those very experiences.

Last Saturday, I went out to see the National Christmas Tree with Guy and Becca (Picasa-patched photos forthcoming). I commented on the Metro ride in that I was finally feeling like a normal person again. It wasn’t just swiping my Metro SmarTrip card that did it. It was chatting with old friends, doing something fun, and not feeling strangled by my teaching life. I didn’t have to be Miss W. anymore. I could be just Lindsay, and that was good enough.

On Monday, I met Jim at the Shrine for daily Mass. I make it a point to go to one daily Mass when I’m home over Christmas break, usually on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, but that was suppressed for the Holy Family this year. So, when he suggested meeting for Mass, it fit quite nicely into my plans. I got there just in time for benediction. I hadn’t expected it at all; I always thought they did exposition after Mass on Friday, but it’s before on Mondays. And I had just been thinking about the Divine Praises that morning. I skipped a line while reciting it during benediction (“Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother”), but I remembered “Tantum Ergo” quite well. Mass was fabulous, as always. We went back to CP for lunch and much-anticipated conversation.

After I left Jim, I picked up Maura and wound up back at the Shrine. I showed her the rosary windows in the apses of the Upper Church, and I got a closer look at some of the shrines on that level. There’s so much majesty to the Shrine that it’s impossible to take it all in at once, and difficult even over time. It’s the Catholic Smithsonian.

New Year’s Eve in College Park was lovely. Jim hosted the party on behalf of his current and former housemates. I got to see even more old friends, meet his new girlfriend, play Catchphrase and Apples to Apples, and ring in 2009 feeling like a real twenty-two-year-old.

Family time has been a little difficult, as it always is. I’ve become such a different person than I was when I lived here full-time, but my family’s the same. Even if that means I should come back more, that’s not possible right now. I know family is essential. I do love them. I think I’m only beginning to understand now that you can never go home again.

Making Up for the Past

My Catholic past is rather checkered. I was baptized Catholic as a baby in the church where my parents were married. My dad’s family is not Christian; my mom’s has been Catholic for generations. I went to a (non-Catholic) Bible preschool, then on to public elementary school. I attended Sunday School until my mom got tired of dragging me out of bed to catch the bus every week. I went to all the CCD classes I needed before my First Communion without ever setting foot in the church until First Penance and the rehearsal.

When we moved to Germany and it was time for my sister’s First Communion, my mom discovered that I had to attend 7th grade CCD before I could join the 8th grade Confirmation class. Luckily, I was in the 7th grade at the time. We started to attend Mass again (always the Saturday Vigil, because we’ve never been morning people). On my Confirmation retreat, I went to confession for the second time–ever–and fell in love with God again.

When we moved back to the U.S., we stopped attending Mass. I missed going to church, but not enough to do much about it. In the year before Ryan’s First Communion, I started college. I did a lot of stupid things during that time, including wholly unworthily receiving the Eucharist at the Mass where Ryan (whose name means “little king”) played a king during the Gospel pageant. That same year, my dad joined RCIA.

Being in church again reminded me of the peace I’d felt there before. Jesus started calling me out of my relationship with my boyfriend and back to him. It took months, but on Ash Wednesday during my freshman year of college, I recommitted myself to chastity, received an absolution that was four years overdue, and returned to Holy Mother Church.

When I hear about people who’ve been to Mass every Sunday of their lives except the one where they had chicken pox, dads who left seminary to marry moms, and families who celebrate name days with special dinners, my heart aches. I wish so much that I could have had that kind of spiritual upbringing. I don’t blame my parents, per se. It really was an ordeal to wake me up on Sunday mornings before I started sacrificing that for the Lord. So now, I have to make up for lost time. I have to learn prayers for the first time that my peers have known since grade school. I have to wonder whether my family even bothers going to church when I’m not home to make them feel obligated (which, of course, they are).

There are signs, though, that my catch-up efforts aren’t in vain. I don’t know much about the saints at all, for example. I love St. Cecilia, my Confirmation saint and the first whose story I really got to know. St. Frances of Rome, my first annual patron saint, is buried in the Church of St. Cecilia in Rome. My middle name is Nicole; I used to live in Germany, where St. Nicholas is widely venerated. My birthday is August 30, the old-calendar feast day of St. Rose of Lima, my second annual patron saint. And finally, next year’s annual patron, St. Wolfgang, is another beloved German saint who was a noted teacher. Even after all this time, God’s sense of humor still amazes me.

Ready for Kindergarten

August 13, 2007, was my fifth blogiversary. I have had this blog on and off for FIVE YEARS. My blog would be old enough to start kindergarten if it were a person. I rarely remember my blogiversary on the actual day, but I’ve never been two weeks late.

Last year, I commemorated the day by posting a retrospective about my previous blogiversaries. I had just switched to WordPress then. Have I really been out of Blog*Spot for a whole year?

This year, I commemorated the day by thinking, “I really should blog.” Two days later, I actually managed it. I started blogging as an extension of my love of journaling into my love of the Internet. I did return to paper for my spiritual journal, but my day-to-day (or semester-to-semester) writings are still online for the world to see. It’s a little scary. I’ll have to have another plan once I start teaching. I don’t want my students Googling me.

On to year six, in which I will graduate from college and move on not to the real world, or even to the real world of teaching. If college is like day care for new adults, grad school is kindergarten.

Rewind

It figures that right after I had the biggest moment of my blogging life, I got so busy that I couldn’t even post. Now isn’t really an exception. There are so many things I could and should be doing that I have to be quick. I’ll go with one-sentence updates on the past two weeks.

Independence Day: I was productive in the morning, then tried to go see the fireworks on the National Mall with my roommates and friends, but we bailed when the storm warning came in and wound up missing everything.

Last week, my car refused to shift out of park, so I was humbled by taking the bus.

Matt W. and I have started planning our section of HONR 100 for the fall, which makes me very excited about getting to teach again.

Some people think the story behind The Wave is a hoax, which is unsettling because Matt and I are teaching it this fall regardless.

Fr. Bill’s last Masses at the CSC are this weekend, and I’m going to miss him so much!

I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at midnight on Tuesday with Sara, Guy, and Guy’s roommate James, and though it could have been a little better (even considering the chasm between books and film adaptations), I was pleased.

Archbishop O’Brien, formerly of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, who confirmed me, is coming to Baltimore.

I am crazy busy, but I feel right with God again, and I’m keeping things under control.

More extensive posting later, I promise.

Church, and Other Less Important Parts of My Life

Time for another catch-all update.

Last Monday, I started a 54-day rosary novena. I prayed that particular devotion for the first time last summer, and the fruits were amazing. Our Lady handed my prayers on to God to use in his unique ways. This summer, I’m praying it for my three guy friends who are starting seminary this fall: Alex and Pat Y., who graduated last year and are becoming Dominicans, and Tim, who graduated last month and will be studying for the Archdiocese of Washington. I think the first time I see them in the habit or seminarian garb, I will burst into tears of joy. Mary and her boyfriend Matt are throwing a party for them at the CSC later this month. It’s got a black and white dress code, and I know just what to wear.

I went to daily Mass all last week. On Thursday, Fr. Bill celebrated at 8:30am for the MOEs. I didn’t even try to get up early enough for that and just went to St. Mark’s. I may have only been the youngest person there by 20 years instead of 40 like at home. It was the Feast of the Visitation of Mary. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Magnificat read as the psalm in the style of the LOTH. Cases like those make me wonder why the lectionary is still based on the NAB, or why the NAB isn’t up for revision again. (Maybe it is; I don’t know.) If the NAB translation of the Magnificat and Psalm 23 aren’t good enough to be proclaimed at every Mass, what makes the rest of that translation good enough? I don’t mean that as a wide criticism of the USCCB; I still love Msgr. Malloy and Fishers of Men. The Bible, though, is too important to our faith to let it carry on without being the best.

Speaking of the Bible, Continue Reading

I Survived Another One

Finals week is over, and grades are up. I managed to get all A’s again, praise God. This semester, I had something of a scholastic revolution. I usually end the semester tired, depressed, and desperate. This semester, I was just tired. I’m starting to understand that finishing the reading isn’t as vital as I thought it had to be. I discovered a procrastination hack, the 30-10 Rule, that was unbelievably helpful. Finishing classes by the early afternoon gave me a new approach to every day. Even when I used the afternoon to get chores done instead of study, I had my evenings a lot freer for hitting the books.

The “student” aspect of my identity has always ranked very high. In the past, I’ve even dabbed in letting it surpass “Catholic.” That has changed so much. Now, I am definitely Catholic before I am a student. I managed to get even more involved at the CSC than I was before. Martino organized a small group of us to pray Vespers after 5:30pm Mass, which we both attended every day due to mid-day classes. The LOTH is meant to be prayed in community, so it was the perfect setting. I even got better at chanting it.

There were some evenings during Vespers when my inappropriate laughter got the best of me. I have a habit of laughing at the most awkward times. During sharing of graces on Spring Retreat, I shared an image that popped into my head during the sharing time. When I lived overseas, my grandparents would always have to mail our Christmas presents to us. Anything shipped overseas takes at least five days. Packages take even longer, especially at Christmastime. We’d often get the packages a week before Christmas, so my mom would unpack the wrapped gifts and stack them under the tree. I would do my best to walk past them until Christmas morning came and I finally got to open them up. The gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit worked like that for me. I received them at Confirmation, but I didn’t open the box. I tucked it away. It was only years later, when I finally truly claimed my faith for myself, that I opened the box. There must have been an excess of joy in my box.

My Bible study group went to dinner at Noodles & Co. to celebrate the end of the semester and say goodbye to Liz (she’s being transferred to the new FOCUS at Vanderbilt). After we dug in, she asked us to share some way we’d grown spiritually this year. I shared first. As I mentioned, I usually have to drag myself through every semester, and I start slipping away from the Lord, and I wind up a complete mess after finals. I used to need a good week to deprogram. This semester was not like that. I had a slightly better handle on schoolwork than before, and I managed my classes instead of letting them control me. And while all that was happening, I managed to get closer to God. I went back to my daily rosary, I consistently prayed three Hours of the Divine Office every day, I went to Mass six days a week, I was a retreat leader for the last time, I never missed a Bible study…. I did good. It feels good, too.

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