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.