Saturday, December 29, 2007
Yes, at nearly 23, I still love this movie obsessively, and I still can't think of a better movie (movies as good in their own way, absolutely, but none better). It is a wonderful, simple story, artfully rendered, carefully crafted, and populated by fantastic characters. The music is killer, and is not simply integrated into the story, it tells the story. The pacing is perfect, the colors are rich, the writing is simple and elegant at the same time, and the story, like its protagonist, has a lot more to it than may appear at first glance.
This blogger, who I stumbled across while obsessing about how good Disney's Beauty and the Beast is, suggests that this story sets a bad expectation because Belle and the Beast have one of those "I can save him!" kind of relationships that pretty much never work out well. I disagree about the nature of their relationship: the Beast changes himself, first to try to make Belle love him, and then because he has come to truly love her. Belle never intends to save the Beast (on the contrary, she always retains the desire to go back home), she merely treats him with unconditional kindness (occasionally called Christian love or charity), looks for the best in him, and subsequently comes to love the person the Beast makes himself into. Hence, this really is a movie about the transforming power of love -- both of loving and being loved, romantically or otherwise.
Besides, Belle is kind of a bad ass. She's an independent thinker, she doesn't take no crap from nobody, she's compassionate, and can ride a horse through a castle door. I always wanted to be her. When I'm feeling extra delusional, I like to think she's the Disney princess me. She does have my coloring. This song has been my quasi-official anthem for a long time. I think it's totally fitting... minus the masses of French people singing in harmony about how weird but pretty I am.
I just get the "weird".
Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
I do, however, get quite nostalgic for the people in Delaware. Them, I miss. Lots. Tomorrow, I venture back to Newark for the first time since (I think) early August, which is the longest I've been away from Delaware since I moved there five and a half years ago. I'm excited, and anticipating weirdness.
Conveniently, Dad forwarded me this clever clip today. I got a hearty laugh from it, since I'm familiar with almost all of the things mentioned within. Then I got a little depressed that I lived in Delaware long enough for that to happen. Then I did the glass half full thing and was glad about that, since that's how I met all those awesome people.
Delaware deserves more credit than I give it. Well... no, it doesn't, but the people who live in Delaware deserve more credit than I can begin to get across. Those people are the living, breathing reason I'm all churchy and stuff now.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Oh my. Why, God, why?
The possibility of these creatures from one of my favorite mindless summer movies actually existing doesn't seem purely Hollywood anymore.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
To say "I believe in God" is not equivalent to saying "I believe in democracy", "I believe in goodness", or "I believe in love".
God is too complex. He is too big. Too layered. Too intricate.
He is infinite.
He is the highest of highs, the deepest of depths, the source of anything good. He is above and beyond all things even as He is within all things, within our hearts, going through to our finger tips. The creator of all, not the way Ford created the assembly line or the way a sculptor creates arts. God willed all things into being, and they remain because He wills it so. Unlike the magician, He doesn't rely on tricks, illusions, outside works. He relies on Himself. King of Kings, Endless, Limitless, Eternal.
Consider that. Just for a minute. For my meager part, I can't think too hard about it; my brain just can't handle it. But try for a minute.
Then think: He came down.
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
God Himself took on a mortal nature. He gave up His incomprehensible glory and took up instead the sensation of cold, the ability to hurt, to catch fever and feel hungry. He who never knew weakness or tiredness, who could speak from the Heavens, became man, risked never being heard, and faced death.
The Being who has no limits became a baby.
He became one of us because He loves us. He came to us because his love could not be expressed otherwise, except by one who walked with us. He came because we need Him. By His death we were saved, but also by a life that began in a stable when the Lord of Lords left his seamless robe, and came to us.
So we sing Alleluia!, we sing Glory!, we sing Rejoice, rejoice! with all the angels, with all of Heaven. We fall to our knees and give thanks that our God has come to us, and has lifted up our race by his presence. Our hearts fill (if we're lucky, they expand). With or without our understanding, we are showered with purest, truest Love. For a moment, we grasp the awesomeness of our God, and so are humbled by his becoming one of us.
Christmas matters, not for the warm-fuzzy goodwill it inspires (which is just fine), but for the cold the Son of God felt, and for the life that followed. It matters because it was the beginning of the greatest expression of Love, ever.
Cherished family, beloved friends, and all my brothers and sisters in Christ, I wish you the happiest and most blessed Christmas.
Nothing, that's what for.
We hit 300 visitors for the month of December today, which is a good chunk over the previous all time high. Whoever you are... get out of here, go do something worthwhile! I guess I'm to blame. December also boasts the all-time high for number of posts (this is #33), and if you fling that much paint at a wall, someone will stop and grimace at it. Alright, I'm sorry. I'll stop. Or slow down, anyway. For a little while.
If anything really brilliant, or just not utterly stupid, comes to me, you'll hear about it. Trust me.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
The end product, 500 lights later, a glowing tree to be proud of. I retain my title as Light Putter-Upper
Today was one of the days that gives you a giddy little high, that sense that “Hey, maybe teaching actually IS fun.” This is a deceptive feeling, not because teaching is not fun, but because there was absolutely no teaching of any variety occurring anywhere on our campus today. We played all day. It was a half day, during which we had mass, a 7th grade vs. 8th grade basketball game, and our Christmas parties, and that was it, except for the manic scurrying about of middle schoolers bringing gifts to their friends and preferred teachers.
Speaking of which, my students seem to be of the general opinion that I need to gain some weight. I have never received so much candy and baked paraphernalia in my life. The combined count between candy canes alone, other varieties and packages of candy, and stuff born of an oven was thirteen, far and away the leader over the second-most received gift, winter-themed ceramics (a mug, a bell, an apple-shaped candle holder, and a few hollow penguin and snowman shaped things that I assume are meant to hold something), which totaled up at six. Also, I will need neither to look at nor purchase any bath products until next Christmas, which is about when the four sets of shower gels, lotions, and scented satchels I got today will run out (I’m guessing I’ll get another year’s supply next Christmas). Besides thinking I’m too thin, my kids must also think I’m smelly. Or ashy.
I also got two pairs of slippers, one pair of gloves (all of a fuzziness that would shame Jim Henson), two candles, two ornaments, one hand-made big-plastic-bead bracelet, a stuffed moose, and two packets of Swiss Miss with marshmallows. Santa better bring his A-game, because the bar has been set to Olympian heights. See:
As corny as I know this will sound, I loved every cheesy little trinket I got, because every one of them was delivered with a smile, most with a hug, and a couple with comments implying these children were glad to have me around. It would make me look good if I said this was really where the warm-fuzzy came from, rather than the hours of eating, playing, and rocking out to Fall Out Boy with my homeroom kids. That would suggest that I have some depth, or that my priorities are all in the right place, or something noble-ish like that.
But we all know better. Besides, how could I not be excited when I got one of these for Christmas:
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Which is where the thing about my sister making me cry comes in. In front of my students no less. Alright, I shouldn't have been reading blogs during tutoring. Fine. But I was, and I read the new batch of letters to friends the kids at Melissa and Charlie's school occasionally post on their school blog (to which I deliberately will not link). The little punk posted this and made me go all watery:
Hi! We don't know each other too well, but Christmastime is the best time for a new friendship to bloom. Do you play an instrument? I play the violin. It is very fun.
I have 2 brothers. A big one and a little one. I also have 1 big sister. I call her sissie and look up to her. I love her very much. She is a teacher in Texas for a Catholic school. When I grow up, I want to be just like her. Do you have brothers or sisters? Do tell.
Well, I'm running out of room to write. Have a happy holiday, a good vacation, and a happy new year.
Omigosh. No comment on the utter sweetness of that, except that she's a punk for making me cry in front of my students. Even better, she's brilliant. She's a better writer than some of my 7th graders, frankly. There was only one fragment in that whole thing! She used commas and compound subjects correctly. She said "Do tell"!
That's why I was crying. Really.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I now have a YouTube account, to which I have posted a video*, which I will now embed here.
May God have mercy on me.
*Yes, I also had time to make the video, but that was a couple weeks ago and does not figure into my current semi-apathy.
"How are you, Sister?"
She stood up and made a face such as I have never seen her make, a curious mix of disgust and resolve, the kind of face only holy people can make and still look pleasant.
"We have a creature."
This little creature has been on the premises for a few days, probably looking for a Christmas posada, but evidently he's started really getting into our stuff. This is the point at which we are no longer okay with him being around. Actually, Sr. Ngan (pronounced "nun". How awesome is that?) has been not okay with him from the beginning. "It's so ugly! It's face is just so ugly. Ahh!" She is not very Franciscan, at least in that respect.
So Sr. Thuy, Sr. Ngan, Sr. Jane, and I spent about half an hour after dinner going through every box and bag of cookies, ice cream cones, cereal, crackers, and chips on the bottom half of the pantry, checking for holes and other evidence of our visitor. In a plastic tub, Sr. Ngan spotted some teensy little things that might have looked like seeds, had we not known better.
"Donations!" she cried. Then she handed the tub to Sr. Thuy. "Here."
"It has to be cleaned, right?"
"Ngan!" Sr. Thuy picked up a sleeve of chocolate shortbread cookies. They rained crumbs from a hole in the corner. "Aw, we have to throw it away. What a waste. Sorry, God!" Chunk, in the trashcan with the crisp rustle of a new trash bag.
Sr. Jane, the perpetual font of optimistic wisdom, chuckled. "It's not a waste. Our visitor is God's creature. It's God's creature," she said, in her understated way. Sr. Ngan was not convinced.
"It's ugly." She's made up her mind, and she's laughing.
Monday, December 17, 2007
I've been slim on the heavy deep stuff lately. I know that's what you really come here for, my post-collegiate musings, insights, and quips about life, the universe, and everything, and I am terribly sorry to have been letting you down in the last week or so. The thing is, it's "that time of year", when everyone's brain starts to shut down and motivation plummets. I'm not just talking about the students here, I include the teachers. Frankly, I think it's the teachers especially who are eying that break that's only three days away. The kids have been coasting since last week. Many since Thanksgiving. Or September.
Being quite near the end of my first semester of teaching, I'm getting a little retrospective and self-evaluative, and I'm comfortable with how I've done so far. It has not been a Hollywood-inspirational-life-altering kind of first year, but I wasn't expecting it to be. I'm also okay with my current indifference to... everything, because it took me this whole time to get to hit that "wall", whereas some of my peers from my graduating class hit it a while ago. Some of my coworkers, talented and devoted educators though they are, are visibly smacking their heads right along with me, and many more are doing so covertly.
I'm literally in the home-stretch, just four days from being home for more than a week, and I'm eying noon on Thursday (when we shove the kids out the door) like a suburban mom eying a sale on breakfast cereal. My students can expect me to be a little punchy, and you, Dear Readers, can do the same.
For the record, though, I love my job, and I love you.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
So, without further gilding the lily, the funniest commercial I've ever seen.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
And this is an awesome site that makes me laugh really hard. Hat tip to Jeromey for reminding me of it. My mother will just roll her eyes and wave her hand over her head, indicating "this is just going right over my perfectly indifferent head", or else point at me and go "Nerd! Nerd!".
Me: It's FRIDAY!
Sister 2: Yes! Now we get drunk.
I debated the merits of posting this, but it was so classic, I had to. I just had to.
I promise to consider attempting the composition of something more substantial in the next couple of days. I swear. I'll try.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
After about three weeks of battling heart problems, Evie Marie went to her heavenly home yesterday. While I've never met her parents, I feel compelled to ask you, Dear Readers, to pray for them. We are, after all, one Church, one body.
Not insignificantly, I find myself suddenly missing "the Screamer", as she is sometimes called, even if she doesn't like me.
Monday, December 10, 2007
'Spider-Man' Saves Baby Girl From Burning House in Brazil
A five-year-old boy dressed as Spider-Man became a real life hero when he saved a baby girl from a burning house in Brazil.
Pint-sized superhero Riquelme Maciel stepped into the house to pull the 1-year-old to safety after he saw her mother crying.
The boy had been playing with a friend in his back yard when they spotted smoke coming from the window of a wooden house.
Using his Spidey senses, he ran to tell the baby's mother, Lucilene dos Santos, but she was too afraid to enter the blazing house.
Without hesitating, the tiny masked crusader decided he would brave the flames to save baby Andrieli from her cradle.
Santos told reporters: "He said, 'don't cry, don't scream because I'm going to save Andrielle.'
"Then I began shouting for him not to go because I was scared he would die in the fire."
But Riquelme did not think twice. After the rescue the Spider-Boy simply said: "I decided to go inside the house and save her."
Fire department's chief Jose de Macedo praised the boy's bravery, but warned parents and children about copying his actions.
He said: "It is very dangerous. This requires a trained crew and proper gear. So we pass on this warning that it is not recommended."
After his heroic act, Riquelme became the talk of the town, making it on to the front pages of local newspapers.
He says he wants to become a firefighter and save more lives - although whether he will be allowed to wear his Spider-Man costume while he does it remains to be seen.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Happy birthday to this kid, who is stinkin' 19 today.
In my short but eventful life, there is only a handful of people who have "been there" for all of it. Alex and I share the same roots and the same history, and as much as we're at each other's throats (which is hardly ever anymore! Except where we're actually in the same state. Then it's a little worse, but still it's... not constant. Well... we do sleep sometimes. We don't fight then.), that bond runs deep and strong. I can't picture my life without my brother in it (so really, all those times I tried to kill him aren't that bad, because I didn't mean it).
Besides, he is one of two people who can quote movies as well as I can. Which is pretty impressive, trust me.
Happy birthday, Light Bright!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Me: Hm. I see where your priorities are.
Sr. Rosann: (Really, really, really, sharp, scalding look that causes my insides to shrivel and die a little.)
Me: Ha, I'm just teasing you, Sister. (Run away)
Friday, December 7, 2007
1. Holy crap.
2. I should be embarrassed about every little complaint I've ever had.
3. I should be as grateful as those high school seniors.
4. Dad should see this. Alex should. Everyone should.
5. This proves my family should move to Texas.
Hat tip to Deacon Greg
...Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. 2,388 Americans were killed. I won't go into the rest, you know it, but I would not be my father's daughter if I didn't make some small mention of the day, and in my teensy little manner honor those who fought and died that day, and in all the days the have followed. It's especially important as the number of veteran who were there dwindles each year. This is not an event that should be forgotten.
In my dad's tier on the family tree, there's a long-running inside joke involving mangoes. As I understand it (do correct me, dear Dad), my Tia Irma's family would offer guests things to eat and drink, ending the litany of options with, "...o mango" ("or, mango"). The mango was extended to other things, like activities, so a conversation might go (imagine this is all in Spanish):
Persona A: What ever shall we do this evening, old chum?
Persona B: I say, I don't know. We could take in a show, have a promenade on the beach, visit the old boys at the club, o mango.
Aside from being a teeny little family tradition that warms my heart, it cracks me up. Mangos are funny, dagnabbit. It also perfectly fits a new category of post, which I am initiating now. For all those random, pointless posts that just don't fit under any label, I hereby instate the "o mango" label as a catch all. Think of it as a miscellaneous, or a lagniappe.
Me: I just heard a duet between Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, which sounded like a terrible idea at first but I actually really like it.
Be-- er, Friend: I love Allison Krauss! ...Who's Robert Plant?
Oh. My. Gracious.
Can't find an embedable video of said song, which is fine because I find the video to be rather odd, awkward, and lame compared to the really awesome song. Here's some glorified audio:
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Born somewhere between AD 260 and 280 (yup, he's a real guy), St. Nicholas is largely legendary, meaning what started in fact has grown and been elaborated over time. This site has an abundance of information about St. Nick, from the legends surrounding his life to the historical evidence supporting the legends. I was previously unaware of this legend, and am quite impressed by it:
Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens. A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper. As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher. St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.St. Nicholas is patron to a lengthy list of persons and causes, including unmarried women. I made a new friend!
anti-semitism is a *racist* vilification, the jew is hated because of what they are *born* as, not because of what they choose to beleive.
a catholic could easily leave the dark ages and follow a more enlightened philosophy (one that does not hate women, regarding them as so inferior they are not even allowed to be initiated into the 'secrets', to become members of the priesthood, or one that does not beleive that absolute power should be given to someone chosen by a small and select group, ie is not profoundly anti-democratic, one that believes not that Man is here to abuse and rape the Earth as we see fit but are guardians of Her for future generations and other species, one that is not so insane as to beleive in armageddon and all the other apocalyptic BS the catholic Empire and all (most) of the other so-called 'christian' stand for.)
why do people vilify the Church? Because it deserves it. Simple as that. And NOTHING comparable to anti-semitism.
- Seriously? I'm really asking, is this for real? I could swear it's a parody of what McDonagh is talking about. It's hyperbolic, caustic, and utterly free of any facts of history or church teaching -- we shall leave alone the weak writing and shaky mechanics.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
For those of you, Dear Readers, who don't know, in a meme a blogger assigns another blogger a task designed to reveal information about the latter that probably wouldn't come out in the normal course of things, but is none the less amusing or gratifying. For example, in reading Paul's meme I discovered several things he and I have in common, especially a fondness for brews and a view of bagels as mere vessels for cream cheese. Here's how this one works:
Each tagged person must post 8 random facts or habits about themselves on their blog. At the end of the post, choose 8 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment telling them that they are tagged and to read your blog. Have fun!
- I love cheese. This is the same as Paul's first fact, but my quesophilia is of such great magnitude and is so central to my very being that I couldn't take it off, not even for originality's sake.
- I simply cannot tolerate the sound of electric pencil sharpeners. I teach a class in my neighbor's room, and she has one such sharpener. When my kids ask to sharpen a pencil, I make them take it out into the hallway. Most just find another pencil.
- The song "Awesome God" infuriates me. I find it so theologically banal, it's offensive. The first line, "When he rolls up his sleeves, he ain't just puttin' on the ritz", is enough to send me into raving fits. God is not limited by a corporeal nature! God does not have arms! He doesn't have sleeves! If he did he wouldn't need to roll them up, because he is omnipotent and never gets tired and never exerts effort. No! It's just WRONG!!
- I have never once, in the almost ten years I've been playing the game, lost a single match in Diddy Kong Racing on the N64. Sadly, this is probably the closest I will ever come to some kind of athletic accomplishment.
- My students don't know how old I am, or that this is my first year teaching. I promised to tell them my age on my birthday -- they don't know when that is, either. That I'm a rookie will remain secret as long as I can keep it that way.
- To this day, if I had the chops and the self-discipline to pull it off, I would drop everything and be a writer. Since high school, that could also include "or a photographer". In very recent times, that's been amended to include "or a theologian". All three will probably remain lifetime hobbies.
- The one thing about my rearing I wish had been different was my utter lack of involvement in after-school activity kind of things. I would love to be able to play the violin now as a result of being forced into it at eight. Consequently, I'm very glad my baby siblings are getting into that stuff now, at seven and nine.
- My favorite number was 42 long before I heard of Douglas Adams and his assorted brilliance. Which makes me think somewhere in this muddled head I posses the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
Jeromey at Romey's Ramblings
The Wanderer at Only a Glimpse
Mr. Bramblefoot at Gnome Bandits
Jon at Posses Yourself
Mark at his mind-spew receptacle
Marcel and/or Sarah at St. Mary's Aggies
The Saginaw Seminarians (er, maybe they can decide which one...)
An unnamed quasi-blogger, who some of my readers also read. The rest of you will just have to live with the knowledge you're missing out.
See, I have a lot to say. I have a sea of things to let out, to set forth unto the universe, and it doesn't seem right that it should all remain settled down in the heart of mine. I feel a multitude of incredible things that, at some point, someone saw fit to plant in me. I hear strains of such indescribable melodies, sounds of such unearthly, authentic beauty as I have never heard before. I see charity and grace walking, living, breathing, acting and moving, to the complete oblivion of the people they touch.
It's too much for me to keep in, frankly, but words have gone off and left me. Whatever I did, I'm terribly sorry, words, and I'll do whatever you like, just come back and help me out.
But then the thought occurs to me that maybe there aren't supposed to be words for all this. Or maybe there aren't words for me for this. I would probably botch it if I tried to get into it too much, and God forbid I misrepresented the glory of the things I have glimpsed. Even if I could put it into words, would it make much difference? I've read parts of The Interior Castle over and over for years, and I thought I had a clue what St. Teresa was talking about. In the last few months, as I've re-read those parts, it's suddenly clear to me that I had no idea what she was hinting at until I saw it myself.
When I did Young Apostles, one of the other kids told us about this quasi-vision someone he knew had: that when we adore the Blessed Sacrament, all of Heaven -- all the blessed souls, all our saints, our patrons, the angels, the divine beings -- joins us, and the sound of creation praising its God is thundering, deafening. That image struck me and stayed with me, and it remains one of the defining moments of my faith journey. Living in this house of prayer, that image keeps coming to me when I do mundane things like wash dishes and sit with the sisters. The Kingdom of Heaven, I see, isn't confined to Heaven. The oneness of the Church militant and triumphant is not limited to intention. Those saints walk with us whenever we are doing God's work, whether we realize it or not.
Most of these thoughts existed in my head in some fashion, be it a solid idea or a wisp of a notion, long before I came here, but now it seems so obvious. How the hell did I miss this? How did I not notice that I was living in the midst of such a huge thing? It's like living your whole life in the Amazon and only years into it hearing the racket, looking up to see the trees, the leaves, the flowers, the creatures, the birds, the sun – my God, the sun!
I realized tonight that I am afraid to leave this place, where I have a chapel at my disposal 24/7, where prayer is assumed and is part of the routine, where Mary walks so tangibly, where the best is assumed and expected of everyone all the time. I also realized I damn well better own this and make it stick, because leaving here and leaving the sun behind is just not an option. Perhaps this is why I’m so eager to put all of this into words, so I can refer back to it, and quite possibly that’s why I can’t, so I have to actually absorb it and make it my heart. Words might help with that, but only The Word can really do it.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Studnt: You gonna let me have a pepperoni, Miss C.?
Student: What about sharing and being nice?!
Me: I'm teaching you for free, isn't that nice enough?
Student: That's just a bad deal, is what that is.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
A nice little classroom, but it's as merry as Scrooge's socks. This weekend, my big plan is to jingle-bell my way onto the bus to Target and Walreens to load up on decorative items. My chief emphasis in "decorative items" is lights. With some scrounging and some ingenuity, I plan to transform the above into something more like this:
You may laugh, but I'm not kidding. My design concept is "fire hazard". Don't tell my administration. Only due to constraints of time, talent, and treasure do I stop short of this:
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Well, let's remember that all law establishes morality. That's what law does. The law of speeding is saying that it's immoral to go at 85 miles an hour. The morality is that we have established a 65-mile-an-hour limit. So that's what all law does: It establishes that it is wrong for me to murder you. We've determined that that's not a good idea.That is so obviously false -- like "I swear those are real" factually wrong -- I don't think I really need to point out what's wrong with it for you, my Dear Intelligent Reader, but just for clarity's sake: the law establishes morality? Really, Mike Huckabee? I wasn't aware that going 70 in a 55 was immoral. I'm in a heap of moral trouble, man.
No, it doesn't work that way. in fact it's quite the opposite. Well, it should be anyway. If law established morality, then we could say man establishes morality. By extension we could say "Do whatever you darn well please, it don't make a lick of moral difference!"
Oh... right. We have said that.
To be fair, Mr. Huckabbe said this earlier in that same article:
If you believe it's a moral issue, then you really have to believe that morality does not change at the state line. That idea that morality is different in Massachusetts than it is in Texas is the rationale of the Civil War.That seems like a more or less reasonable, solid-ish statement. Actually, come to think of it, isn't he sort of contradicting himself here?
My point, and why this goes under the heading of I Hate Politics, is that the man is trying so hard to establish himself as a person of strong moral principals, who could be relied on to "establish" good morals, that he's talking nonsense. This is what the political beast does to normal, rational people. I think I get what Huckabee is trying to say, and it's possible I actually agree with him in some measure, but the way he's verbally blubbering around punches gaping holes in his own card house. Possibly more troubling is the mess of people out there who will read/hear that, or some similar base-covering balderdash, and buy it for reasons of the He's-my-party's-best-shot, I-like-this-guy-already, Well-it's-better-than-the-alternative, variety.
Besides, I'm offended by his implication that I am somehow less awesome because I tend to edge the speedometer a wee tiny bit over where it's supposed to be. Seriously, who is more immoral: me, speeding to get to mass (I am speedier than thou), or the guy driving five under in the fast lane, inciting everyone around him to road rage? C'mon, Mike. Think about it.
Well, it’s back to the convent. Dear Reader, you may well have guessed that I go with thoroughly mixed feelings, as I love my sisters but find myself quite attached to my family (silly, right?). I believe I have also been hit with the “almost Christmas” school blues, in which my excitement and joy in teaching suddenly seem less relative to my eagerness to get to and enjoy the break. Don’t worry, I have no intention of slacking off and being a lame teacher for the next four-ish weeks. Actually, quite the contrary: I’ve been kind of coasting after the beginning of the year madness, enjoying the fact that I actually sort of adjusted to my job. First thing tomorrow, it’s time to kick it up a gear.
Being home was sort of surreal in that “it feels like I never left” sort of way, and also in a “where the heck is dad?” sort of way. His current deployment has been significantly less weird for me than my family, I’m sure, since I don’t really see the difference between him being at home and not being at home – I’m not there, either. With regard to the former surrealness, it seems to me to be a particularly good thing. It means I haven’t missed too much and it means my niche in the family, while altered, has not been diminished (I’m sure both my parents will laugh at me for even thinking that was a possibility, but cut me some slack. One assumes when she vacates her spot in the nest that the rest of the nest’s inhabitants will spread out a little).
It was also wonderful to see some of my nearest and dearest partners in lunacy from my long-gone college days. Sadly, I spent the last half of their visit and the day following struck down by a weird illness, the after effects of which I’m still feeling, but in their typical fashion they had me laughing through most of it. My sense of humor’s full depth of tastelessness wasn’t clear to me until I moved in with the sisters, and it was quite the relief to be able to make a few ridiculous comments with these people.
Departure wasn’t too painful this time. This is the third time I’ve left BWI for San Antonio. When Mark dropped me off in June, I almost lost it. When Daddy dropped me off in August, I did loose it. This time when Mama and the babies dropped me off, I kept it together by telling myself “Four weeks, four weeks, four weeks…”, which is a very bearable time after I just went three months. Still, I miss said babies, Mama, Daddy, friends, and assorted other “home” persons plenty.
Tomorrow I’ll teach like it’s my job (sorry, that was really lame), and I will continue to do so until May. In between, I’ll keep missing my friends and family, enjoying them when I can see them. And really, that’s how it oughta be, right?
Monday, November 26, 2007
Folks, I don't know what your feelings on liturgical music are, if you even have feelings on liturgical music, but no matter what "school" you belong to, this is just ridiculous. This sounds like its supposed to be a joke.
I hear that and I think of this(do yourself a favor and skip to the 1:55 mark):
...which is a decent tribute to an SNL skit I couldn't find video of, so here's another musically comical SNL skit.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Please think of songs that go with the Victorian Era, preferably somewhere in the heavy metal ballpark. Speaking of which, I’ll be reading Beowulf in my Lit. class next weekJ.I’ll need to find a barbarian costume somewhere for the occasion.
Wow. I'm outdone.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
...and assorted other family persons of whom I sadly don't seem to have pictures. I would be bummed, except I'll see them in roughly 16 hours and 58 minutes and can take lots of pictures of them.
I'm also, like, way totally uber excited to eat my Mama's cooking. Like... man. Our vice principal is from about 50 miles east of Lake Charles, and I mentioned to her today I like hearing her talk because she sounds kind of like my Mama. She went off an an evil tangent about rice dressing and sea food gumbo, which made me get choked up about missing said Mama. She then promised to make these things for me, which I said I would gladly accept. I didn't mention there was no way her rice dressing and gumbo were as good as my Mama's. No need to point out the obvious.
Related tangent: At our Veterans' Day assembly, out vets wore their dress uniforms, including our coach who was in the Air Force for 20+ years. First of all, I love blues. They just make me happy. I grew up around flight suits and then blues. Second, I kinda miss my Daddy. I got all chocked up, which got worse when one of my girls noticed my eyes watering and yelled out, "Are you CRYING, Miss C.?!" drawing the attention of the entire 7th grade to my little reverie. I forgive her, though, because that resulted in half of the 7th grade coming down on me in one giant hug.
By the way, it's 10:30, I leave the convent at 5:30, and I haven't started packing yet. I'm just that confident in my ability to scramble like a rat... lemer... seagull? Something quick and not embarrassing.
Lots of the doors around here are locked, this being a school and all, and students are obliged to wait for a teacher with a key to key to get into those doors. I am one such teacher, so I daily find myself shoving between a middle schooler and a door and unlocking said door. Here's what I don't get:
A) That I am consistently required to shove between the child and the door. Not only do they not seem to realize the physical impossibility of two objects simultaneously occupying a given space, but my saying "Excuse me" or "Hey, back up" does not recall this fact to their minds.
B) That as soon as the door peeks open, while my hand is still on the key and the key is still in the door, effectively tethering me to the door, 9 out of 10 children will take over and pull the door open, yanking my arm almost out of its socket, and then attempt to walk through my arm to get inside. Again, they don't seem to be aware of the solid material status of our respective corporal natures. That, or they want to play red rover against my humerus and radius/ulna.
Monday, November 19, 2007
...You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.-Colossians 3:9-11
First, thanks to the Wanderer for making me think. This is about the third time she's sent me into a good pondering session since I started reading her blog, which wasn't long ago. Second, I'd like to note that the results of my pondering are in no way a critique of her statement. It was of such brevity that I couldn't even grasp at what depth she intended when she wrote it. It was long and good enough to get me thinking.
When the tsunami hit southeast Asia in 2004, Americans reacted with their emotions and their pocket books. By the disaster's second anniversary, the U.S. federal government had given $841 million in aid, and U.S. private donors had given $1.8 BILLION, cash and in-kind. That's a LOT of money. By comparison, the American Red Cross has a budget of about $4.1 billion -- also a lot of money. Consider, Dear Reader, these statistics on U.S. poverty: The U.S. poverty rate in 2005 was 12.6%. Out of 300 million, that would be 36 million, mostly children. An estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, including about 14,000 in the nation's capitol.
Admittedly, this pales in comparison to the problems facing the other two-thirds of the world, including the one-third who live on less than $2 a day, but c'mon, this is the richest country in the world and we can't do something about all our issues? I'm not out to be downer here, but I would suggest that the problem is not that we American's don't care enough about non-Americans. The problem is that a lot of us don't give a blessed flip about anybody, American, Sudanese, Venezuelan, or otherwise. Moreover, I see a willful ignorance of our own poor and forgotten. In my feeble observation, people react strongly to tragedy abroad because it's easy to sign a check and heave a sigh without actually getting involved. We ignore the woman on the bench who converses with herself because to acknowledge her existence so very close to us is the first step to admitting we are obligated to do something about her situation, and we are either unwilling or totally lost as to how to do that (and is there a difference?).
Please note, Dear Reader, I pass no judgment here. I look at material poverty around me and I'm at a loss as to how to do a thing about it. Spiritual poverty is more prevalent, and more destructive still, and I freeze at the sight of it.
But this is where God comes in. He doesn't simply fill our hearts with warm fuzzies, He expands them and leaves them just empty enough that we are driven out of ourselves and into the world to do something about it. We realize, slowly and sometimes painfully, that it's not about feeling good or being nice or being liked or an of the adjectives connected to "success". We realize that we are not disconnected from the starving child in Africa, or the woman enslaved. Our bond with the guy who doesn't appear to have worked or showered for a while becomes apparent. People of faith must admit God wasn't being poetic about that "love your neighbor" bit, even if your neighbor is a jerk.
And my point, at the end of all this drivel, is that the problem goes much deeper than national borders. The problem goes to our own instinct to self preservation, which becomes the drive for comfort, which puts up blinders to the plight of "the least of these". God calls every last one of us to our particular mission, be it foreign or domestic. The irony of Augustine's well-put truth that "Our hearts are restless until the rest in thee" is that once we really rest in Him, God kicks us right back out to work our tails off, wherever we are, to build up His kingdom.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I love the sisters (I've taken to calling them "my sisters", distinct from "my sister", but I don't know how they feel about that so I don't do it in public), but I miss my siblings and the rest of my family like crazy.
By the way, as of this posting it is 2 days, 17 hours, 42 minutes and 45 seconds until Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 4:20:00 PM (Washington DC time), which is when my flight is scheduled to land at BWI.
The set-up: One of the sisters' parents and brother are in town. The brother has offered to take the whole community out to dinner. Said sister asks for a head count, and I sit quietly in my seat.
Sister, staring me down: Well, are you coming?
Me, hesitant: ...Is that okay?
Sister, with a look that implies I'm some kind of dummy: Of course it's okay.
Sister 2, as she locks eyes with me, says firmly: You are part of the family.
Community life bears a lot of resemblance to family life: the individual does not pick who she will be with, but she had better figure out how to work with those people because their daily lives are intimately linked with hers. The big difference is, where in families blood-bound affection covers a multitude of sins, communities must be very intentional, created by its members and carefully maintained.
Part of the deal in VIDES is participation in certain community activities, especially meals and prayer. The sisters here are anything but carbon copies (a whole series of posts unto itself) and they fly off in all directions after breakfast. But, part of their discipline is daily mass, recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Rosary as a community. They take their meals together, especially dinner, and all of these practices together help create a rhythm and a unity among the women of the community.
I noticed this first right when I arrived. I had started saying the Liturgy of the Hours about a year before I came here, so when I arrived I fell right into that part of the rhythm -- it was a familiar song I could join in, like the Mass. Then a few weeks ago, one of the sisters commented how how "neat" it was to hear me saying the set of prayers they always say after dinner. Most recently, at the Chapter, I noticed that all of the sisters, though many had not seen each other in years, had that "pick up right where we left off" thing going on.
Now, allow me to presumptuously postulate as to why this is: they can "pick up" because they never actually "left off". Community practices create a community that goes beyond a particular house. This is true practically and abstractly. The sisters are all over the globe, but they share a common bond born of their Salesian charism. Their "practices of piety", done in Christ's name with the aid of Mary, forge a real and lasting link that goes beyond common sentimentality, bridges geographic distance, and even transcends friendship. Friendship, beautiful and precious thing it is, requires us to at least kind of like the people we are friends with. Community demands love without regard for fondness. In other words, community demands (gasp!) charity.
Four of the ten sisters were gone all week for the chapter, and then today was a nutty, no-schedule day at the convent. Sr. Rosann wrote the statement at the top of this post on the white board to let us all know the usual schedule of meals and prayer would be set aside. Nonetheless, as she points out, the community remains united because of its practices and intentionality every other day. It's true -- I didn't see most of the sisters all day today, but I find myself feeling no less a part of that rhythm (and I'm a lay person. I can only imagine how it is for the sisters). The shared spirit remains in all the moments of the day when it is carefully built up in all the intentional times, and perhaps it is what makes us a community.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It's an optional feast, so the sisters and I skipped it and read the regular Friday-in-the-32nd-week-of-ordinary-time readings, of which the first was this gem from Wisdom (ignore the implication that all of Wisdom isn't a gem). I was struck by how positively literary it is. Of course, the entire Bible has caves of meaning you could spelunk through forever, but the translations don't always sound pretty, if you know what I mean. These verses, on the other hand, sound like way cool. Copy/pasted from the USCCB.
Wis 18:14-16; 19:6-9
When peaceful stillness compassed everything
and the night in its swift course was half spent,
Your all-powerful word, from heaven’s royal throne
bounded, a fierce warrior, into the doomed land,
bearing the sharp sword of your inexorable decree.
And as he alighted, he filled every place with death;
he still reached to heaven, while he stood upon the earth.
For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew,
serving its natural laws,
that your children might be preserved unharmed.
The cloud overshadowed their camp;
and out of what had before been water, dry land was seen emerging:
Out of the Red Sea an unimpeded road,
and a grassy plain out of the mighty flood.
Over this crossed the whole nation sheltered by your hand,
after they beheld stupendous wonders.
For they ranged about like horses,
and bounded about like lambs,
praising you, O Lord! their deliverer.
Belle was my first computer, my big high school grad gift. She got me through four years of college, working a lot of late nights, spending (I admit) far too much time racing around the internet with me, and traveling cross country repeatedly. She's been dropped, has stuff dropped on her, and suffered a dirty-plant water bath in her early days that nearly did her in.
This is her infamous O-nub. Sometime in my first semester of college, I dropped my cordless phone on her keyboard and the O popped off. A few weeks latter it just gave up, and I got used to typing with that little nub. It's a miracle the keyboard didn't melt, as much time as I spent pounding away at it.
Check out the external wireless card. Like a pioneer's covered wagon, it's time has gone.
And dig this. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a P/S2 port. I don't think you can find P/S2 peripherals in Siberia anymore.
Her biggest problems were internal. Belle possesses a mere 128M of memory. Go ahead and laugh. I think a law has been passed against that in the years since her purchase. The point is, Belle hit her stride a while ago, and has since become more and more sluggish. Pitiful, the object of constant ridicule from myself and anyone who has ever been in the same room with her. It's time to retire.
Enter the new love of my life and center of everything I do, which arrived yesterday (well timed with my return from California, by the way). I know, it's not high end in any respect, but it functions.
Don't be sad, Belle. You did your work well for many years, and will now go on to be of service to my eldest younger brother, and you will live in my memory forever as my faithful workhorse. It's just, the new kid has 1G of memory, twice as many USB ports, a functioning CD drive...
...and an O key.
(By the way, I welcome suggestions for naming the new machine.)
Friday, November 16, 2007
Well put, madam.
No, alcohol isn't sinful, just like food isn't sinful, just like money isn't sinful.
But oppression of others with your love of money and your drive to get as much of it as possible... is sinful.
Ungratefulness and wastefulness of the overflowing food on your table... is sinful.
Being reckless with your friendships and words as a result of repetative intoxication... is sinful.
And I'm not asking for perfection. I'm asking for confession.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The sisters, lay delegates, and I get to work tomorrow. Pray for us.
Friday, November 9, 2007
There are roughly 2,000 Salesian sisters in the world. Every six years they have a big summit-like meeting in Rome with the Mother General, the provincials, and some other reps. The state of the congregation is discussed and prayed about, with the end goal of doing exactly what God wants them to do. In the year preceding that big meeting, each province (like a Salesian state) has its own chapter. The provincial chapters bring all the animators (heads of each community), one delegate from each community, and some other reps and delegates together to evaluate themselves, reflect, and get ready for the general chapter. Salesian schools usually send one lay teacher because the teachers are an important part of the sisters' community and mission.
VIDES, meanwhile, is the Salesian sisters' lay volunteer mission, so they want VIDES to have a presence. I have the double-whammy of being around the VIDES office and being a teacher at their school, so I got picked to go and be part of this process. The Western Province's chapter starts this Sunday, and S Gloria and I take off tomorrow. Sunday I meet about 30 more sisters and the other 12 lay delegates, and we get to business.
The chapter is being held at a retreat house in the mountains of southern California (go ahead, weep for me), so blogging and phone calls will be scarce. I ask your prayers for the sisters' and delegates' safe travel and for the Holy Spirit to impart some of his wisdom and understanding upon us all. Be good until I get back!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
When I was a college freshman (oh such long years ago), I had to drive from Dover to D.C. for something (what, I don't recall. Old age is gaining on me). This was before the Calvert County move, so the Eastern Shore and D.C. area were utterly foreign to me. As is my life-long habit, I ran to Daddy for aid and asked him to fix me up with some directions.
As is his habit, Daddy graciously granted my request, but with a twist -- as is also his habit. The directions were peppered with commentary about the scenery, placed I passed, and names of roads and towns. It's miraculous my hysterical laughter while driving didn't result in a wreck. Amidst the profusion of off-color and high-brow references, I recall, "SR X forks off to the left here. DO NOT TURN RIGHT, as this will have you crashing into Chesapeake Bob's Meats and Jerky." Sure enough, when I got to SR X, there was Chesapeake Bob's Meats and Jerky to the right.
Then there was the time I told Dad I was thinking of applying to Notre Dame, and he said replied with a crack about hunchbacks. If you wondered where I got it from, there it is.
Happy Birthday* to my Daddy, whose spawn I simply could not be happier or prouder to be.
*His birthday is the 9th, but it's been the 9th for a while where he is, so close enough!
Your The Best!I love my job.
Dear Ms. C.,
Your like my second mother. Your sooo nice and friendly. I just feel safe around you.
I just discovered McDonald's now offers wi-fi. It looks like McStarbucks is winning.
S Josie (the one who asks me if I've eaten every time she sees me): Have it.
Me: But it's got Sister Rosann's name on it.
S Josie (in Spanglish, translated for your benefit): Ay, S Rosann, what S Rosann, if it's here, it's everybody's. Eat it before it goes bad, don't worry about S Whose. Get to it before someone else does!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Pictures, yes. Here's a slide show for you, complete with what I hope is amusing caption commentary. Allow me, while we're on the subject, to explain my new-found affinity for these slide shows. On occasion, I have about a truck load of pictures you, my Dear Readers, would probably get at least a smirk out of and that I just want to share. Rather than wait for my archaic computer to upload just a few, I'm making use of this spiffy feature on Picasa's Web Albums. If you, whatever devoted readership I have, find this to be problematic in any way, PLEASE let me know and I will suffer through the process of picking five great pictures rather than spewing 50 pretty good ones at you. Deal? Awesome.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Ah, that's a lie. I can't make any promises there, but I can explain my absence and assure you I will continue to do my best to get on here regularly to remind you I am alive. This week, the excuse was two parts "I was really busy" and one part "I don't have the itch to write anything worth reading". The latter state comes and goes. The former is pretty much my natural state, so don't look for much improvement there, especially since I'm going to California with the sisters on Saturday for six days (more on that later).
Ok, so within the next few days (before I leave for California), I will update you on:
...funny things nuns do.
...what I'm going to California for.
...a funny story about a funny picture.
Deal? Swell. I'm going to run and watch this guy now (my priorities are totally in the right place).
Thursday, November 1, 2007
This is not a doctored photo. Read about it here. Via the good folks at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.