Monthly Archives: May, 2013

Booking Through Thursday: Childhood vs. Adult, and Ideal


Wedding weekend was crazy times, so I never got down to blogging. It was fun times, though, and you know what I say when I’m “too busy to blog.”

May 23: Childhood vs. Adult

Have your reading habits changed since you were a child? (I mean, I’m assuming you have less time to read now, but …) Did you devour and absorb books when you were 10 and only just lightly read them now? Did you re-read frequently as a child but now only read new books? How about types of books? Do you find yourself still attracted to the kinds of books you read when you were a kid?

I read new books more frequently now, but I think that is more the result of my reviewing at Austin CNM than a shift from childhood reading to adult reading. I used to undertake a massive re-read every time a new Harry Potter book came out, but then they were all published, so that had to end out of necessity.

My pace and frequency have definitely shifted, though. My only downtime to read while I’m at work (when I have a job) is at lunchtime, so that limits how much I can read and how soon I can finish a book. Within books, I have always read slowly; that and missing symbolism are my most embarrassing “I swear I have an English degree!” moments.

I am delighted that I still like to read in the same genres. I don’t read as much realistic fiction anymore, but I still enjoy it, and I don’t think my love of fantasy will ever go away. I definitely didn’t read Catholic books when I was younger, but I loved my picture Bible (except the Revelation pages; too much fire).

May 30: Ideal

I want you to think about your ideal reading experience. Think about the location. (Your bed? Favorite chair? The beach? Indoors or outdoors?). Think about the sounds. (Is there music playing? Happy children playing in the background? Utter silence?) Is there a snack or beverage nearby? Are you alone or with friends/family (presumably being quiet enough for you to read in peace)? What kind of lighting is there? Are you dressed in something ultra-comfy? What’s your position? Curled up? Stretched out?

Now … describe it so that we can all feel exactly how perfect it is … and why.

I love sitting in an armchair while reading. I have never owned an armchair, but when I’ve lived with one, it has been my favorite reading spot. I have trouble with complete silence for everything but prayer, so I will sometimes play music without words. (The 99 Most Essential Wedding Classics is very good for this. Best $2 I ever spent on an Amazon MP3 sale.) I have a cup of English breakfast tea that stays at the perfect temperature, nice bright lighting, and I am sitting up against the back of the chair. Mmm. I wish I had that going on right now!

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 31

What I Wore Sunday

Hey, it’s the correct day and I remembered to take my photo! First time in a long time for that.


My dress is from Old Navy. It is layered with a Target undershirt, as usual. The white starbursts are positioned in just such a way that I was glad I double-checked all my layers from all angles before I left for church, if you catch my drift. I don’t think I’ve worn this dress since I started this meme, but it’s a summer favorite of mine. It was finally summer this weekend in Austin, Texas. Now I remember why I only cautiously wished that warm weather would arrive.

Once again, those are not the shoes I wore to Mass. They aren’t even the ones I wore home; I kept my driving flip-flops on during dinner at Rudy’s, so those came off as soon as I stepped in the door.

Of all possible convergences, I went to Mass at one of the churches near where I live only to have Mass celebrated by a priest from the church near where I used to work. I enjoyed his homily, during which he managed to mention Pentecost, the Tower of Babel, Klingon (the language), and the Internet. Good times. Happy birthday, Church!

7 Quick Takes Friday, Vol. 217

— 1 —

I’m starting with a video again! Here is “A Week in the Life of a Priest.” He’s Australian, and I think the funeral scene is staged, but otherwise, this is pretty legit. I can confirm the “drive-by signing” moment with the parish secretary is a real experience. It was mine for three years!

— 2 —

A few months ago, one place on the Internet linked me to a blog from Benedictine College in Kansas. The post about how to get more out of Mass had a really positive effect on my Massgoing experience. I haven’t yet applied the tips for praying a holy hour (mainly because I like to pray the Liturgy of the Hours during mine), but I’m excited for the possibilities.

— 3 —

No progress on the job front yet. I will be busy for the next week or so, so I’ve intentionally avoided doing a big push since I am not available for interviews yet. I am also still on vacation time, which I am using to do things like catch up on blogs, clear out my DVR, and (mostly) get my sleeping patterns back in order.

— 4 —

My air conditioning is out. This is horrible because (a) no A/C is always horrible, and (b) summer has finally arrived in Austin. I knew, during the last two months of unseasonable cool temperatures, that I was anxious for summer but that I would hate it when the heat finally turned up. I was right. I was so very right.

On the bright side, since I am having a staycation, I was able to sit around with the fan blowing to recirculate the too-warm air I have forced in by keeping the blinds closed all the time. I hope the carpet cleaners don’t think I’m a weird recluse, because that’s not entirely true.

— 5 —

Assuming I don’t mess it up tonight, I will have had an alarmingly successful run of extended prayers.

First, my friend Katie led (for the second time) a novena to St. Dymphna for her grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. I prayed for Katie’s grandmother and for a friend of mine from college who experiences anxiety. That ended Wednesday. The main triumph there was that I remembered to pray all nine days’ prayers on the correct days!

In the middle of that novena, I started the Pentecost novena (“the original novena,” as I like to say). I almost forgot, since it starts after the Ascension, and I, like most Catholics in the U.S. don’t live in a diocese that has Ascension Thursday. I considered signing up for the prayers through Pray More Novenas, but I didn’t like theirs as much as the ones EWTN posts (link to the text-only version). I don’t know if I realized it last year or the year before, but I re-realized this year that the italicized portions at the beginning of each day’s prayers translate the Pentecost sequence into one that can be sung to the tune of the Stabat Mater, which you know if you’ve ever been to a parish Stations of the Cross. How genius is that? I’m just hoping to hear the Pentecost Sequence at all tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Finally, I also realized around May 3 that I ought to be praying to find a new job. It is alarming how often I forget to pray about things, despite often giving people that very advice. I whipped out my TAN book of prayers to St. Joseph and started a 30-day one for myself. (I know, 30 days is not a novena, but it’s extended prayer.) Within days, I had three other job-seekers to pray for. One, my friend Brittany, just accepted a job offer! That St. Joseph works fast, and this bodes well for me.

— 6 —

I saw The Winter’s Tale put on by Austin Shakespeare. Longtime readers may remember my trip to see Twelfth Night last year and Love’s Labours Lost the year before. Summer shows at Zilker are literally the only thing I do outside on purpose all year, and I was rained out on Thursday, so I had to go on Saturday. Most of my companions couldn’t go, but it was a great opportunity to have a good chat with a friend, try P. Terry’s burgers (verdict: cheap, but not that great), and see a delightful show.

This year’s twist was a South American dance setting. The first half took place in a stark and emotionally bare Argentina, with a beautiful tango to spark the king’s jealousy. (Bonus: Queen Hermione is where the Harry Potter character gets her name!) The second half was set in Brazil, with two incredible samba performances to highlight the party scenes. I’ve never seen samba before, at least not when I knew what it was. It’s such a fun dance, and it doesn’t need a partner (the single girl’s dream)! I could have used a little more clothing on some of the dancers, though. I was especially amused by the “bear”: a giant costume worn by an actor on stilts. Good times.

— 7 —

Here’s another, shorter video to send you off. It’s no secret that I love clever advertising. This is pretty genius. It’s a shame that such a thing and such a tactic are needed, but it’s still brilliant.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Booking Through Thursday: 50 and Returns


I have been catching up on my RSS feeds so quickly lately! It’s been the most productive thing I’ve done during my vacation time, even though it involves a lot of sitting on a couch and staring at a screen. It’s a months-long backlog of sitting on a couch and staring at a screen, though. I recommend Feedly if you, like me, are sad about Google Reader going away. To keep up with me, you can just type into Feedly or another RSS aggregator like Bloglovin’, or you can subscribe via email in the sidebar.

In the meantime, I am also catching up on BTT.

May 9: 50

Pick up your nearest book or whatever book you’re currently reading, and turn to page 50 and then share the first 50 words with the rest of us.

I’m only in the middle of Of Mice and Men because I was between books for a while, and my copy of Strange Gods is an e-book, so you get the last book I finished, The World’s First Love: Mary, the Mother of God.

He has mercy upon those who fear Him, from generation to generation; He has done valiantly with the strength of his arm driving the proud astray in the conceit of their hearts; He has put down the mighty from their seat, and exalted the lowly; He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty handed.

Archbishop Sheen is quoting from the Magnificat, Mary’s song, Luke 1:50ff in the Bible. That’s pretty crucial for a book about Mary. It’s also one of the alarmingly few passages I have memorized.

May 15: Returns

What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit? (Because, doesn’t everybody have at least one book they would like to curl up with, even if they don’t make a habit of rereading books? Even if they maybe don’t even have the time to visit and just think back longingly?)

I love re-reading Harry Potter, of course. It’s sad now that there won’t be another book to inspire a marathon re-reading of all the previous books, but it was incredible journey, and I’m so glad to have been part of it. I don’t think there’s anything else that has had a significant enough effect for me to use some of my precious reading time on it. (Well, the Bible, but do you ever really finish reading that?)

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Surprised Me

Top Ten Tuesday

I’m back to longer reflections about books. It’s not Tuesday, and this was not the topic from a few days ago, but I started this post, so I’m going to finish it! I’ve read plenty since the last time I did a TTT. The original poster broke hers up into five and five, so I will, too.

Top Five Books I Liked Less Than I Thought I Would (a.k.a. Bad Surprises)

Scribbler of Dreams, by Mary E. Pearson: A modern take on Romeo and Juliet sounded like a good idea. It was pretty lame. I could barely finish reading it. I might still technically own it among the books that live with my parents, but I’m reasonably certain I’ll never pick it up again.

Both Sides of Time, by Caroline B. Cooney: In general, when I like one book by an author of many, I will like that author’s other books. The Face on the Milk Carton saga was the closest thing to a thriller I’d encountered at age 14, and I liked Twenty Pageants Later, so I gave this time-traveling historical romance a try. It was a mistake. I disliked this book so much that I didn’t finish it. I was not sad at all to abandon it, and it was the only book that messed up my ink-and-paper list of books I read. I’m still a little miffed about that.

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli: Don’t stone me! I heard good things about it from a fellow reading friend. I was skeptical, and I was right to feel that way. It just didn’t surprise me the way I hoped it would.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Fr*ntal Snogging, by Louise Rennison: I heard such good things about this series. I think one of my best friends from middle school had read and enjoyed all the books. I found it too strange to be good, though. British humor is always touch-and-go. With this one, I touched on it, but I had to let it go.

That Summer, by Sarah Dessen: I saw How to Deal because I love Mandy Moore’s acting, so when I had the opportunity to read the two books that inspired the movie, I jumped on it. Unfortunately, like many readers, I found Someone Like You much more interesting than That Summer. Someone Like You is one of the few romances I have read and enjoyed. This one, not so much.

Top Five Four Books I Liked More Than I Thought I Would (a.k.a. Good Surprises)

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride: I was hesitant at first because, you know, it’s about raising the dead. I was really pleased, though. It was funny (as the title indicates), and I found it especially original for YA fantasy. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok: You would think that, as a religious person, I wouldn’t be so surprised to enjoy a book about religious people, but I was. I learned so much about Hasidic Judaism, and I found the relationships between the two boys and their fathers so fascinating. I tend to read a lot of books with female protagonists, so I enjoyed reading about men for a change. I initially read this because I inherited it as my students’ summer reading, but I’m so glad I did.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: A friend from college blogged about how much she loved them. Borders (back when it was still in business) sent me emails about the midnight release of Mockingjay, but I ignored them the way I ignored Twilight midnight releases. I’m so ashamed that it took me so long to read even the first one! The second two I’m less ashamed about; at least I was properly anxious to read them. I usually hate politics (a stance that working in religion only solidified), but I loved them here.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling: Are you surprised? I had read books about witches at boarding school before, and I really liked them. Nothing could have prepared me for Harry Potter. I got on board shortly before Goblet of Fire was released, and I am still a little astonished at how completely I fell into the fandom. I have a framed poster of the cover of the last book! I wear a Marauder’s Map lanyard at work every day! What book does that?

So, it seems that fantasy and dystopias delight me, but romances tend to be disappointing. Also the story of my life.

The Year of Many Weddings

I have so many friends getting married this year! I have been invited to five weddings in 2013. Five! It is nice to feel popular, but I’m also a little overwhelmed. I’m using only one of the couple’s names here for less Google-ability.

Wedding #1

Memorial Day Weekend: Kat, one of my oldest friends, is marrying her fiancé in northern Indiana. I am delighted to be a bridesmaid. It will be my first time in a Catholic wedding party, my second time being a bridesmaid, and my third Catholic wedding ever. Unfortunately, the last time I reunited with this group of friends, I was also unemployed. I am looking forward to being able to meet or re-meet people when I can just say what I do.

Wedding #2

End of June: Robert, a friend of mine here in Austin, is marrying another friend in town. God bless them. It’s also at the church closest to where I live, the one where I do my weekly holy hour. Robert tried to call me his patron saint, but I pointed out that to be a saint, you have to be dead, and I don’t think he wishes death on me! Then he called me his spiritual director, but I protested because that’s a real thing you can be trained for and certified in. We settled on “holiness coach.” It’s like a life coach, except for eternity.

Wedding #3

End of July: Kristi, my playgoing friend, is marrying her fiancé just outside of town. That parish is a really solid and incredibly beautiful one. I’m excited to be able to go to Mass there. The wedding color is purple, so I even have an excuse to get a new dress in my favorite color!

Wedding #4

Early August: James, who also has DC-area connections, is marrying his fiancée, whose name is almost the same as mine. Their wedding will be at the local Maronite church and will probably be my first Maronite liturgy ever, so that’s exciting. I’ll be in a Catholic church, yet I will be relying heavily on the program to help me know what’s going on. It will be humbling, at the very least.

Wedding #5

November: Katharine and her fiancé, who are both brilliant and quirky, are getting married in Minnesota. I’m not sure yet if I will be able to attend, but I’m probably never going to have a reason to go to Minnesota ever again, so I’m going to try hard.

Bonus Wedding Fun

So many invitations has led to so many reply cards. The first time I had to fill one out, I Googled it. I did again recently, to make sure I’ve been getting it right all this time, and I stumbled across this gem:

I laughed so hard! There's a fine line between fancy-formal and direct, and then there's just getting down to business.

I laughed so hard! There’s a fine line between fancy-formal and direct, and then there’s just getting down to business.

If only!

What I Wore Sunday, Vol. 30

What I Wore Sunday

Well, it is not Sunday, but I did remember to take a photo of what I wore…mostly.

Top is my work polo. Skirt from Old Navy. Unintended flip-flops also from Old Navy.

Top is my work polo. Skirt from Old Navy. Unintended flip-flops also from Old Navy.

Since it was my unofficial last day at work, I decided to wear my work polo one last time. It fits really well, and it has a subtle shine to it, so it seemed fancy enough for Sunday.

I have been working on developing my personal style for several months, and part of it is combining casual tops with fancy bottoms. The skirt is one of my favorites. I bought it back in college. I was in Old Reliable/Navy, and it was a limited edition way above my usual budget, but I splurged. I’m so glad I did! It’s ankle-length, super comfortable, and fancy-looking without being too fancy-feeling.

And yes, those are flip-flops in the photo. I wore my white cork wedges with it at work, but I had to switch to flip-flops for the drive home. Fashion is not driving-friendly.

Regarding Mass, I kind of wish we had Ascension Thursday. Having it on Sunday only increases attendance artificially (because more people always come on Sundays), it makes people think it’s not a holy day of obligation (which isn’t true), and it ruins the nine-day period for the original novena. Oh, well, I’m not in charge of the Church. I’ll take everything else even if I have to start the Pentecost novena before I celebrate the Ascension. Le sigh.

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