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.