Saturday, December 26, 2009

Switching exclusively to twitter. User name AndieETC.

This announcement is mostly for my mother.

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Thanks for dropping me off, Dad! Waiting to recheck in so they can check my documents.

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Great, great Christmas! Now I'm, you know, going to Tel Aviv. No big.

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Off to the holy land! I think i'll twitter/blog about it!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mermaid Zombie

I recently discovered I can send video here from my phone. I also recently rediscovered this gem from the summer.

I'll be home in just six days and I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Particularly beautiful tonight.


This week has been humbling me.

In the last eight days, I have experienced four significant "life FAIL" moments, as my peers and I commonly refer to it.  To those of you still intelligent enough to describe your feelings in full English sentences rather than LOLspeak, a "FAIL" is a moment when something you're attempting, often either a simple task or grand undertaking, fails utterly.  A "life FAIL" is when such a moment relates to something actually important, perhaps with lasting effects or repurcussions.

Yes.  This past week = life fail.  And boy howdy, has it brought me down a few pegs.  Not that I was particularly high before, but I was getting comfortable in my confidence on some things and it was leading to complacency.

Complacent no more, I heave a sigh and turn eyes upwards and wonder aloud, "Really??"

But then, who have I to blame?  You may have noticed I said earlier that I experienced four life fails this past week.  That's not true.  I brought those moments upon my own head.  None were intentional choices on my part.  It was all mostly bad calculation and poor allocation of scarce resources, not wanton slacking off, but the effect it the same.

This same week, this prayer has popped up over and over.  It came into my head last Tuesday afternoon and repeated like a refrain.  It came up in a conversation with one of my roommates.  It was in an article I read a few days ago.  This past Friday, our principal used it as the opening prayer to our faculty meeting.

I've been mulling it over.  I've been mulling my own falible nature and the shortcomings that make me subject to multiple life FAILs in a short time.  My incomplete self, my incomplete efforts, my incomplete life.  The fact that all those things are going to stay incomplete.  It's depressing at first, until you read the thing.  I know I will never come close to all the things I want to -- ought to -- be, and "there is a sense of liberation in that".

The funny thing about realizing we are incomplete and subsequently surrenduring ourselves to God's will is that we actually become more complere in that action.  In surrenduring, we gain the strength and ability to keep fighting.

To keep propheting that future we will not see.

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

-- Archbishop Oscar Romero

Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Honest Prayer

"M., would you lead us in prayer?"
She moves to the front of the room, half poise and grace, half shuffling mass, because she's an athlete and a remarkable girl but still entirely an 8th grader.
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Any special intentions?"
J. raises his hand and I hold my breath.  He is my brilliant, brilliant but very, very strange boy.  He wrote a review of Toy Story 3D for free writing one day in a tone similar to what an art film critic would use to laud an indie masterpiece.  In included the phrase, "Woody is a man for our times."
M. points.  "Yes?"
"For our test in science class today.  May God send us salvation."
Half the heads in the room turn to me for my reaction.  I manage to keep a straight face and respond with my students -- though with less gusto -- "Lord, hear our prayer," not because I'm unfazed, but because when a kid begs God for salvation, but only from his science test, you're not sure whether to laugh, cry, or pick your jaw up off the ground and join in.

My Twin

He's cute.

And I miss him very much.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm home free!

Deacon Greg points to this article in Notre Dame magazine, which tells us at last the order by which people are admitted to Heaven.  The first tier of saints (with my emphasis):
To be admitted without review by committee: children under the age of 12, sixth-grade teachers, the mothers of triplets, janitors, nuns (all religions), nurses, all other mothers, loggers, policemen with more than 10 years of service, Buddhists (see Appendix A), bass players in rock bands, librettists, gardeners, cartographers, eighth-grade teachers, cellists, farriers, veterinarians, magicians, compass-makers, firemen and firewomen, rare-book-room librarians, cobblers, anyone from the former Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific, breakfast cooks in diners, philologists, proofreaders, administrative assistants and secretaries, sauciers, mapmakers, cartwrights, cartoonists, essayists, people who manufacture thimbles, and Presbyterians (see Appendix B).
I knew this line of work would pay off somehow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's been a while...

...since i posted a sunset picture.

This sort of thing is why I love Mark Shea's writing.

Being reminded that Christmas is, theologically speaking, not a KODAK Moment but the spiritual equivalent of D-Day, when the Son stormed the beaches of Satanically-occupied earth under heavy fire and began the long struggle to free us from bondage that would culminate in his crucifixion? Not a bad thing, I think.
Nicely put, sir. as is his, "But on the other hand...":
it seems to me that the Church has real wisdom in setting aside certain moments for feasting and others for fasting and that jumbling them up is probably not wise.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My School!!

I'm little-kid-with-a-drawing-look-mom-look-mom proud of the school I work at.  Our development office put this together.  It's a fair snapshot of the remarkable place we have, though I don't think anything short of a documentary would really capture the wonder of it.

(For my fam: yeah, there's one shot of me in there, and I'd guess about a fourth of those photos are mine.)

Particles from the future prevent their own existence. Seriously.

In a nerdy sci-fi-come-to-life kind of way.  And in a God kind of way. And just generally.
H/T to Mark Shea.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Gym Floor Moment

[I wrote this a couple of weeks ago in my private journal (Yes, I type my journal.  I often misspeak at first, and I like being able to revise until I'm actually saying what I mean.  In fact, I often discover what I mean in that process.), and decided it was the sort of thing I could post here -- heck, maybe even should.]

Today's nugget from my "St. Teresa of Avila for Every Day" book:

"God so places himself in the interior of that soul that when it returns to itself, it can in no way doubt that it was in God and God was in it."

I don't think I've ever talked about the moment I met God, to anyone, ever, and I'm not really going to here, either.  When the subject comes up, I tend to say things like:
  • "I had one of those 'conversion experiences' people talk about."
  • "God just shook me and made me listen."
  • "Well, it involved adoration and lying face-down on a gym floor in Ohio."
  • "Something happened."

I leave it at that.  If people try to get more from me, I shrug and say I can't really explain it.  This is true, in two senses.  One, I'm not sure I'm ready, even over six years later, to talk about it.  It's far too intimate a thing to chat about over coffee.

Two, I've never found the words to describe what happened that night.  It was utterly out of the realm of all my experiences up to that point, as unprecedented to me as a daisy in the arctic -- imagine suddenly seeing the brilliance of the noon sun when before that you've only ever seen fireflies. 

But I can say this, simply and to the point: in the very early morning hours of June 22nd, 2003, I knew God in a way I had not on the afternoon of the 21st.  In fact, I had not really known Him at all before that.

Imagine breathing for the first time and only then discovering there was something other than the feeling of drowning.

Even now, more than six years and a lot of valleys later, I have not forgotten one particle of the experience, a moment so powerful it wiped out all my life before that; before I knew Him, before Love overcame me and I found myself with no alternative but to bumble my way desperately forward.  It was my defining moment.

I am agonizingly aware of how far I have to go.  Certainly I am no saint and my experience pales compared to Teresa's.  The Gym Floor Moment, though, has framed all the rest of my life, the meaning of my existence, my purpose for being.  And I -- a girl with no certainty about anyone or anything on this earth at all -- have never, not once, ever, doubted it at all.

I cannot deny the sun's existence even as I feel it pouring life into me.

Time's Quotes of the Day Often Amuse Me

I will be in Chicago this week, and I think I will have to find this Felony Franks place.  Be honest.  That's awesome.

Political pundit type: "Hey, SNL, quit picking on Obama!" You can't laud Tina Fey's Sarah Palin and get all pouty when Obama gets his turn.  Chill.

Not that I could have ever afforded it anyway, but this guy is never getting a dime of my shopping business: "No one wants to see a round woman".  To use the quasi vulgar vernacular of my generation, WTF, dude?  Has he seen classical art?  Of course, I don't think he's someone I would have taken seriously or shopped from to begin with -- fingerless leather gloves and a formal jacket over jeans with a tacky wash?  Pass.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harvard Ditches Cookies... oh, and a Library, Too

This article talks about some of the cuts being made at Harvard.  Between the litany of amenities lost, including cookies at faculty meetings and hot breakfasts in the dining hall, is this "by the way" line (emphasis mine):
“Everyone is worried,” said George Hayward, a junior who lives on a part of campus, the Quad, that lost its library to the cuts. “It could be anything next; nobody really knows.”

Perhaps this is the only substantive academic cut -- the article doesn't specify one way or the other -- but it seems to me that closing an entire library at an institute of high learning should merit more alarm than the potential loss of weekday shuttles that run until almost 4 a.m.

I am the last to belittle the difficulties hoisted upon so many Americans by this recession, but at the same time I am thoroughly convinced some people could learn a great deal about the meaning of sacrifice.  Actually, come to think of it, the legions of oblivious well-to-dos who find hardship in their inability to have whatever thy want the moment they want it are an affront to the determination and dignity of people who are working hard just to keep a roof over their families' heads.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Multimedia message

That's a crowd full of my former students, esteemed peers, and roommates at a high school football game. I love my life.

Multimedia message

I miss my tiny siblings.Who wouldn't miss these kids?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sweet Ol' Dog

Mitzi, who I've just called "Sweet Ol' Dog" for the last year or so, was my Aunt's dog, eventually moved in with my grandparents for a couple years, and then in with my family in Dallas over the summer.

She is by far my favorite dog ever, ever sweet and patient and happy to see you.

After weeks of visits to the pet ER and discomfort for her, we've let her go.  As my Dad put it, she's sleeping at God's feet tonight.

Miss you, Mitz.

If I Were This Guy's Wife, I'd KILL Him

...but since I'm not, it's awesome.

Explanation: At about 100 meters from the cargo bay of the space shuttle Challenger, Bruce McCandless II was farther out than anyone had ever been before. Guided by a Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU), astronaut McCandless, pictured above, was floating free in space. McCandless and fellow NASA astronaut Robert Stewart were the first to experience such an "untethered space walk" during Space Shuttle mission 41-B in 1984. The MMU works by shooting jets of nitrogen and has since been used to help deploy and retrieve satellites. With a mass over 140 kilograms, an MMU is heavy on Earth, but, like everything, is weightless when drifting in orbit. The MMU was replaced with the SAFER backpack propulsion unit. 

THAT'S What I've Been Trying to Say!

I just love when someone articulates something I've been thinking forever! 

It's so exciting.

I knew this much: those who say the Catholic Church makes women subjects and/or renders us irreleant are utterly wrong.  Women, not only by virtue of their status as human beings and God's children but by virtue of their particular status as women, have a critical, vital role in Christ's salvific work.

Sadly, while I have always intuitively understood that -- so much so that I am always somewhat baffled by such arguments -- I have never been able to explain well why.

Which is why I was excited about this article, which begins with three false premises:

  1. It is commonly believed, even among those who are not feminist, that power and authority is something intrinsically tied solely to formal public office.

  2. In order for women to have religious power and authority they somehow must be identified with divinity. It seems that men have more status because God is called "Father" and not "Mother."

  3. It is believed, again even among those who are not feminist, that authentic authority is a legal-juridical category. Here authority is confused with power -- essentially the power to set policies and order other people around.

And continues with all sorts of sound, logical, brilliance.  Read it.

Multimedia message

Rediscovering my love of libraries... And grading huge piles of essays.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Mini Rant at Pandora

(Because sometimes you just have to yell at the internet.)
I've had this station for about six months now.  Generally wonderful and great to work to.
Except, I must wonder...
Every.  Single.  One.
Take a hint, Pandora! 
Whew!  Feels good to get that off my chest!

A Teacher's Quasi-Rant on Poetry and a Glance Towards God

"Poetry without rhyme is like tennis without a net."
- Robert Frost

I have a confession to make, before God and all.  I, an English teacher and one deeply enamoured of her subject matter, hated poetry for much of my life and still feel a great deal of contempt for large swaths of the stuff.  It is often silly, banal, syrupy stuff by which mediocre writers find justification to puff themselves up and act superior, because they are poets, darnnit, and if you don't like it, you just don't get it.

Bollocks and hogwash, say I.  Be a man, fess up: you just don't know how to clearly and articulately make a point, so you are obscure and call it art.

(This, incidentally, is nearly identical to my argument against and condemnation of much modern art.)

In college, I finally found a poet I liked -- loved, even.  Then came the "click" that Shakespeare was in fact all poet and only partly playwright.  I had to give the genre another shot.  What I discovered was that I loved the play of words and how great poets, rather than string together random thoughts in whatever self-satisfied format they darn well please, work within the constraints of a class of poem and make it sound good.

I showed my 8th graders Willy's Sonnet #18 yesterday.  When I told them they'd be reading and understanding Shakespeare by the end of the period, I theatrically asked them, "Do you believe this?!"

In one resounding, monotone voice of utter disinterest, they replied, "No."

But understand it they did, and some of the girls were just beaming and squeeing at the unadulterated romance of it.  One boy asked, "Why doesn't he just tell her she's hot?", and before I even opened my mouth to respond, a girl called out, "He could have, but he has to work to make it all fit like that and sound so good, so she's obviously going to like it better."

Yes, exactly.  Forcing thoughts and words into specific parameters forces us to think, to find the best possible way to say aloud what lies in our hearts.  The results are downright magical sometimes, enough so that this formerly adamant opponent of the genre now gives some of it a respectful nod -- and even an occasional read.

It goes back to my fascination -- yes, perhaps even obsession -- with language and how it functions.  I like prose because it is utterly flexible, allowing everything from one word statements to sentences like the one I just read in One Hundred Years of Solitude that literally went on for two pages without an endmark, but poetry obliges deeper consideration.  And, like almost everything, it echoes how God gives us both limitless freedom and unmovable boundaries.

You had to know I would bring this back to the whole "theophany" thing, didn't you?

As a reader, I'm still not crazy about poetry, but as a teacher, I'm trying to give my students some appreciation of form's potential to reveal Truth, because that same potential lies in all writing. 

Apprently, it starts with getting my girls to go all mushy over a summer's day and my boys to envy Willy's abilitty to make the girls go all mushy. 

You take what you can get.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

God Made Laughter

...and while He was at it, He gave some of us the uncanny ability to point out the absurd and get us to laugh at ourselves.

That's a whole lotta funny right there.  Three of my favorite celebrity men, bear hugging in a mind-bending stew of satire and hilarity.

Let's just take a moment and drink it in.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Little Baby Ansels

To the shock and surprise of absolutely no one, I joyfully accepted my principals suggestion I teach a photography elective this year.  Equally shocking, I got all geeked up about it and made a photoblog for them.  I'll update it weekly with their newest work. 

My kids might get pretty geeked up if they get a few comments (hint, hint, nudge...)

Watch out, Lange.  Your legacy may soon be overshadowed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Multimedia message

Lying on the concrete at the high school waiting for one of my roommates. Not a bad view.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hubble Gets a Tune Up, We Get Glimpses of Infinity.

Pretty amazing, not only that these sorts of things exist -- which deserves a prolonged standing ovation by itself -- but that we teeny little things have figured out how to look at it.

The same God who made this:

...also made this:

...and, while we're at it, this:

While I don't think I could phrase it rationally if my life depended on it, I look at these things and can't help but think, how could you not believe?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nine Eleven

There isn't much for me to say about today.  Eight years after I wandered dazed through the halls of my high school wondering why no one else looked the way I felt, I think I have sort of integrated the event into my life.  I find in my heart a hollow spot, like a mausoleum or a memorial, where the sorrow is as deep as ever, but had to be scarred over to be able to get on with life.  My memories of those days will never fade, I think.  I remember, and I pray, and I always, always will.

What I am more concerned with how to handle today with my students.  They were 5 and 6 when it happened; it is an impression for them, a vivid dream they're not sure really happened.  And, more bizarre to me, as the years go on my students will of course have been even younger.  I a few years, they won't have even been alive.

Which, to me, underscores the importance of remembering it myself.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My New Year's Plans

A phone conversation between Brownsville and Dallas on a Monday afternoon.

Me: So, Mom, quick question.
Mama: Yeah?
Me: How do you feel about me missing the second half of Christmas break?  Like, from right after Christmas to right after New Year's?
Mama: (Her voice exhibits a quick and unmistakable shift from casual chatting to a mix of disappointment and disapproval) Well, it certainly would be a shame.  What do you need to do?
Me: Go to the Holy Land.
Mama: Oh!  Well, I think that would be understandable.

Talked to the priest in charge.  It's official.  I'm going to Jerusalem.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Is that what we're calling it now?

I've believed for years that words are vastly important and critically under-regarded.  The words we choose have meaning; ending a marriage is not as smooth and peaceful as dissolving a sugar cube in hot tea.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

God love you, Michelle Duggar.

Baby 19 is one the way.

She runs a household of 19 people, homeschools a more kids than I have in my 3rd period class, appears to be the most patient human ever to walk the American continent, found the time to do Weight Watchers after Baby 18, has a grandbaby on the way, and says she is "thrilled".  That, Dear Readers, is divine intervention.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"The only thing Thomas will ever know of this world is love."

This is both truly gut-wrenching and breathtakingly beautiful.  How much good did this little boy bring into the world in his brief time?  What would have been missed if his parents had taken the easy way out instead of standing firm on a Truth so often ignored?

"We didn't choose not to terminate based on some hope of a medical mistake or a medical miracle.  We did it because he's our son."

(H/T to CAEI)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Pope silent following Kennedy's Death"

My first thought on seeing this headline: This is ridiculous. He's the pope, for crying out loud, does anyone honestly think he has time to send a personal response to passing of every prominent Roman Catholic in the world?

After reading the whole article: Fr. James Martin comments that Ted Kennedy was a complicated man. Well, of course he was, I tend to think most people are complicated in some facet or another. And I don't believe that those Catholics who take a stance on some issue in opposition to that consistent with Church teaching automatically sever all their ties to Her, least of all the emotional ones. Is it inconsistent, usually intellectually dishonest? Yeah, usually. But we're fallen humans. We all do that.

I'm the last to defend some of Kennedy's actions in life, and I agree the choices of politicians have moral consequences (which for Catholic politicians can include receiving Communion or not), but I don't think it's odd that he apparently stayed connected to the faith of his youth (especially since, you know, it's True and all, and it's hard to remove yourself from that once you're in it, though you may turn a blind eye to it sometimes, as he did). Nor do I believe Pope Benedict's silence is some indication of his take on Kennedy's life.

I'm also the last to make any judgment as to the state of his soul -- that's strictly between him and God. I always hope the deceased make it home. If they do, then there's hope for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Caspian on Progress

But that would be putting the clock back," gasped the governor. "Have you no idea of progress, of development?"
"I have seen them both in an egg," said Caspian. "We call it 'Going Bad' in Narnia."

-C.S. Lewis in Voyage of the Dawn

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lions in the Meadows*

Every summer of my life (25 summers now), I've visited my family in California, and my siblings have joined in the pilgrimage as they have gotten old enough to do so.

The journey is always dictated by habit. We do something once, we do it every summer there after; we go to the same places following the same itinerary, eat at the same places, watch the same movies. Summer vacation in California is kind of like watching the same movie over and over, and that actually is what makes it so glorious.

Each summer of the last ten or so, a side trip to Las Vegas is included, much to the glee of my littlest siblings (alright, and me -- I'm a sucker for tacky gift shops, giant Coca Cola bottles, and glittering lights).

This year, though, we inadvertently added a stop to the cycle. This happens; the movie evolves now and again. We parked on the wrong side of the MGM Grand, and so had to walk through it to get to the giant Coke bottle. Along our bee-line to green-bottle bliss, we passed MGM Grand's lion habitat, a spot I hadn't known existed. It was open, bright, and lush; lots of things for the lions to climb, waterfalls crashing dramatically-yet-gently into a little pool, quite idyllic. Two lions, a male and a female, lounged just on the other side of the inch-thick, slightly green glass, drowsy and showered in sun from the massive skylight.

All around them, pressed to every inch of the perimeter, were tourists from God knows where -- everywhere, probably -- thee people deep holding up children and cameras, standing on tip toe to get a view of the lions. The sleepy felines, meanwhile, remained totally aloof.

The female lion perched at the top of one of the water falls, gazing about occasionally but mostly vegetating with her eyes closed; beautiful. The male lion was sprawled out on top of the frosted glass that covered a walkway through the middle of the habitat, presumably to another section. Dozens of people had crammed themselves into this space, a space meant for people to pass through not linger in, to see him and take vague silhouetted pictures.

I count myself in this number, of course.

And I was fascinated. Not so much by the lion, actually, though being a mere two inches and a flaw in glass-making craftsmanship away from those paws and jaws was pretty awe-inspiring. No, I was really interested in the people who came to Las Vegas, the middle of the dessert, presumably for some gaming, some food, some shows, and perhaps some less family friendly activity, and were now captured, in rapt attention, by this massive, powerful creature (who had absolutely no use for them, by the way).

I often lament how disconnected we've become from good ol' Mother Earth. Greening industry and saving the planet are all the rage, but I don't know how many of us spend much time actually appreciating the planet we live on (sorry, Planet Earth doesn't count) or the other creatures who inhabit it. We -- humans, that is -- are God's crowning jewel, but can you imagine Adam's reaction when God showed him the first lion?

God: Here, check this guy out! You might want to give him an especially good name, I don't think he'll be too happy with you otherwise.
Adam: (squeak)

It was both amusing and heartening to see all those people so enthralled by a pair of lions. I've started to think (realize might be the better word) that God meant for us to feel connected to every other living thing on the planet, not in an Earth mother crazy kind of way, but in an awareness that we come from the same place and those other things were made for our good. It's evident, especially when we meet those creations in such unexpected places -- like lions in a meadow.

*"Las Vegas" is Spanish for "the meadows".

Thank God for August 23rd!

This is Becca. She is my best friend, and today (well, yesterday now, I suppose) was her birthday.

Sometimes God puts people in your life and means them to stay there forever and ever no matter what either of you do. Becca is like that. You want to talk about the Almighty making Himself known in my life? This girl. All. The stinkin'. Time. Although "mighty" isn't the first word I'd use to describe her, unless it was "mighty darlin'". I love her very much.

Even though she's weird.

Okay, maybe because she's weird.

Happy Birthday, Donut!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Peru vs. Bolivia. Grand Prize: The Devil.

I am ethnically and quasi-culturally Peruvian, and vocally proud of that. At the same time, it seems most news stories on the Mother Land I come across make me sort of cock my head and go, "Huh?" At least in this one, Bolivia is weirder than we are (at least I think so; I might be biased).
"The devil has his house and that is in Oruro [Bolivia]," Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, said Wednesday at a regional diplomatic meeting, where the issue came up. "One has to take care not to run into trouble with the devil."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Round Three...

After many weeks of sky-high stress academia and life alteringly-awesome people and a couple weeks of utter relaxation with my family (who are equally as awesome), I'm back in Brownsville for year two at my school and year three in the teaching gig. I write from my bare classroom, being used today and tomorrow as the in-service room, after which I will begin plastering the room with butcher paper, border, clever posters, schedules, motivational sayings, Bible verses, and my own tangibly high expectations for my students.

Meanwhile, my community (minus four from last year, plus four newbies) is already having a ball. We spent yesterday evening plotting, over tacos and beer, which room of the house to convert to a chapel.

Frankly, I'm just giddy about the start of the new school year. I suspect it will be, to use the ubiquitous phrase, totally awesome.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Found in one of my class readings

"To be a believer today it so live a certain moral loneliness. To sustain faith today is not to vote with the majority, but rather to be what sociologist call a cognitive minority, that is, to stand outside the dominant consciousness”.
-Ronald Rolheiser

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

That's a giant picture of me on my dorm door that says "happy ace 15 day". I have the best ace 16 roommates, period.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A *Wonderful* Quote from Our Holy Father

Found at Happy Catholic:

When I abandon myself, let go of myself, then I see, yes, life is right at last, because otherwise I am far too narrow for myself. When I go outside, then it truly begins; then life attains its greatness.
Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teacher humor.

"i [heart] you. ...even though you have me an articulation disorder." maybe you had to be there.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Am My Father's Daughter

And I could not be prouder to be so.

Confession of Things Most of You Already Knew, or: "Gah! I'm overworked!!"

Several months ago, my substantial posts sort of faded out. Two months ago, I made a few mobile posts. A little after that, within one week, five people asked me if my blog was dead. This was right at the end of the school year, when I was flooded with finals to grade and end-of-year events to attend, and I didn't have a moment to put a decent post together. Now I'm back at Notre Dame for the summer and utterly overwhelmed with work.

I don't intend to let this blog die. I enjoy writing it and, I'm told, others occasionally enjoy reading it. At the moment, however, I barely have time to do the work I need to do and make phone calls to my family and best friends.

Thus, to answer the query posed to me many times recently, no, Theophany is not dead. It is officially on hiatus, probably until the middle of July. At that point, the deluge of paper, projects, meetings, and events will have settled. Until then, I need to focus on keeping my head over water (yeesh). There may be the occasional mobile post since those require about 30 seconds of my time. Also, I'm still reading my blogs (though not as thoroughly as I once did) and sharing fun and interesting items in the thingy in the side bar.

Otherwise, Dear Readers, trust I am well and happy despite the sensory overload, and keep me in your prayers as I keep you in mine.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Here Comes Everybody"

Blessed Easter, everyone.

One of my favorite things about Easter is the Vigil Mass, at which newcomers to the faith are baptized and confirmed. I've heard in several places that this year, that's about 150,000 people, among them my Uncle Richard. Pray for him and all our new Catholics.

Read Deacon Greg's homily. It moved me to tears -- not just welling up, which diaper comercials do, but actual rolling tears, which is not at all a common occurrence.

I hope to write more about Missions at some point, but you all know how I am.

And God bless you all.

Back Alive

...barely. And just a couple kids left to be picked up. It was... An experience.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Weather and a Smart Kid

One of my boys made the observation that it's been sunny all week, until today.

Good Friday Procession

Through downtown McAllen- cross and all. The kids have been, for the most part, incredibly well behaved all week. I'm so impressed and proud.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

See? Cats.

Setting up the meeting hall.

Mobile blogging Missions

I haven't worked with high schoolers in a while. It's like herding cats. So is teaching middle school, but at least i have recognized authority over them and they're not as clever as these kids. But, so far so good!


...i feel compelled to voice my profound gratatued for the life i have been blessed with. This palm sunday is one of those days.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Boy Matt Maher and a Great Example of Ecumanism

Matt Maher is a Catholic singer/songwriter whose music I've had a substantial crush on for years (the music, not the guy, I swear). Last year, he finally released an album (Empty and Beautiful, his 4th) on a "mainstream" Christian label, a pretty big deal when we're talking about a guy who wrote a song that starts with the word "transubstantiation".

I stumbled on this interview he did for The Christophers. The whole thing is great and I recommend it, but I was particularly impressed by his explanation of the difference between Catholicism and Protestant denominations, the truth of the Church, and what Catholics and Protestants can offer each other. It's right after the halfway point, if you'd like to skip ahead.

"We are ritual, habit oriented people [. . .] If we do that so much,
doesn't it make sense that God would make that sacred?"

"Words mean something, and the problem with pop culture is it keeps
devaluing that meaning."

I've seen and heard Matt "perform" five or six times. Actually, perform is totally the wrong word. I usually cringe at terms like "worship leader", but in the contexts I've seen him, he's been exactly that, and excellently so. It's never the Matt Maher Show, it's always a genuine expression of praise that pulls the attention of all present right where it's supposed to be. As the kids say, this guy is legit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stuff, Meet Fan.

I have barely posted lately, I know, and this is not exclusive news by any stretch. Most people who read this site probably already know about it, but just in case:

Notre Dame invited President Obama to speak at this year's commencement, and he accepted.

The president, Fr. John Jenkins, defended the choice.

And now the bishop has announced he will not attend the ceremonies. As my friend and ND alum Ginna said, "Bishop D'Arcy lays the SMACK DOWN."

Thursday, March 12, 2009


L., 8th grader leading prayer: Any intentions?
Me: For my friend Becca who found out yesterday she's moving to Africa next year.
D: That's hardcore!
L: We pray to the Lord.
Class: Lord, hear our prayer.
K: For Miss C.'s friend Becca to get to Africa safe.  And not be eaten by a lion.
L: We pray to the Lord.
Class: Lord, hear our prayer.
Me: (Head hanging)

Monday, March 2, 2009

This is absurd.

It's early march. i'm sitting in my car with the sunroof open. I went to the beach two days ago. I love south texas.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Following their "church wedding", November 2006

Today is my parents' 12th anniversary. It's pretty dizzying to think of everything that's happened to our family in that time: two more babies, eight houses and five or six states, depending on how you count, four graduations -- two high school, one college, one basic training -- and the innumerable trials and triumphs of everyday life.

Here's to the last 12, and to many more.

Friday, February 20, 2009

How Could I Compete?

An e-mail I sent to a couple of my far-away ACE friends. Jackie and Zeiser are my housemates.

Last night, Guadalupe Regional had a fund raiser at Mr. Gatti's (pizza and arcade; kinda like chuckie cheese), which Jackie, Zeiser, and I attended. The three of us sit down at a table some distance from the "cool kids". Five minutes go by before one of my 8th graders comes over, points at Zeiser, and says, "Is that your boyfriend?"

With as straight a face and as flat a voice as I could manage, I said no. So she looks at Jackie, points Zeiser again, and says, "Is he YOUR boyfriend?".

It gets better. As the three of us are leaving, a 7th grader stops us, asks me the same question and gets the same answer, and likewise with Jack.

"Then why did they say he was dating one of you?" She looks at Zeiser, and says in a tone of voice that suggests HE wouldn't lie to her, "Are you dating either of them?"

Straight face, Zeiser goes, "Them? No. You ever heard of Shakira?"

Happy Friday, y'all.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Perhaps the best valentine I've ever received

The note says, "to a hardcore teacher/friend. when i'm up on the red carpet I'll give you a shout out. Happy valentine's day." I keep telling them i'm not their friend, but i like it anyway. And yes, that's a skelebunny.

Awkward Fest 2009

Staring Joaquin Phoenix and emceed by David Letterman.

Wow. I've heard a theory floating about that he's faking this whole thing as performance art or some such nonsense. It's either that, or high doses of... something.

Best line: "I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

h/t to List of the Day (Explicit content. You have been warned).

Southern Australia Needs Prayers

I have seen surprisingly little in the blogs about the series of bush fires blazing away in Australia. Certainly, it deserves our attention and our prayers. 181 have lost their lives, and something like 7,000 are now homeless.

In other news, the sky is blue.

Louisiana's Education System Needs Help.

Whaaaaaat? Naaaaaaaaaaahhh.

Seriously: people like my aunts Missy, Tara, and Kathy, who probably have several decades experience teaching between them mostly in Louisiana, and the teachers I met in New Orleans in '07 are a big part of the reason I'm in this gig. They inspire me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Readers of this blog who know my distaste and distrust of Obamamania (see here, here, here, and here) will understand how freakin' refreshing it is to me to see a big fan of the guy come right out and call him human.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ripping off the bard

i once told my sister the sun was like God's eye. It might have been right after reading Shakespeare's sonnets, i'm not sure.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm Torn / I Lied

Just a couple days ago, I suggested Christ Be Beside Me was my favorite church song. I think I meant to say Morning Has Broken is my favorite. Of course, a little while ago, I said How Can I Keep from Singing was my favorite. Then yesterday, at mass, the communion song was How Can I Keep from Singing, which I have checked the missal for almost every week even though I know it's not in there. And, of course, I pretty well burst into tears the moment I heard the first strains.

What I'm saying is, I retract any previous statments that any of the above three songs are, apart from the others, my one favorite. I can't decide. I just can't.


Salesian Sisters' Provincial House
San Antonio
May 2008

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Neil Diamond and My Favorite Church Song

My dad is a huge dork. Always has been. He paid over $700 for a VCR when they first came out, and spent a good chunk of his life recording everything of even mild interest he saw on television. I think he once figured out he could watch his recorded VHSs 24 hours a day for more than a month before rewatching anything.

One of these low-fi gems is a Neil Diamond Christmas special (we also own the accompanying CD). That special, watched year after year... until he met and married my step mom, come to think of it... anyway, it included Mr. Diamond singing Morning Has Broken. Before I was quite old enough to listen to and "get" the words, I loved that song. It's melody struck me and stuck with me.

Incidently, I don't care at all for Cat Stevens's version of the song. I'm just not a folky girl.

Then, I got to Notre Dame this past summer, and one day in mass, what to my wondering ears should come wafting through the air but another song with that same tune.

Christ be beside me, Christ be before me
Christ be behind me, King of my heart
Christ be within me, Christ be below me
Christ be above me, never to part.

Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left hand
Christ all around me, shield in strife
Christ in my sleeping, Christ in my sitting
Christ in my rising, light of my life.

I now find myself humming it constantly, thinking half the time of Morning Has Broken and the other half of Christ Beside Me.

If you're thinking, "Hey, didn't you blog about another Notre Dame song you're now, like, totally in love with?" You are correct, sir. There's just a lot of reasons I love Notre Dame.

Ferris Wheel, Chicago

Navy Pier
July 4, 2008

Friday, February 6, 2009

Loo Hoo

December 2008

Brilliance (Mine) and Guardian Angels (God's)

I know I posted some of these pictures of my black eye before, and I know y'all probably don't want to see more. But, I can't stop thinking about how it happened.

It's not a big deal at all. I'm 100% fine and so is my eye, even if my pride still stings a little. That's exactly the thing, though: it's not a big deal, though it very easily could have been a huge deal.

(Morning after, quite swollen)

What happened was this: We have a weight lifting thingy in our house. I was taking the weights off the bench press bar, thinking that the bar itself was heavy enough to stay down when the disc weights were off one end. All three of my male housemates, who have weight lifted for real for years, say they've done exactly the same thing (which makes me feel better). They also said that works most of the time, "unless you're dealing with a cheap home set".

Which, evidently, is what we have.

The instant I slid the last weight off the right end of bar, the weighted left end plummeted to the floor, swinging the right end of this 50 pound solid steel bar up through the air. The left end slammed into the floor and the right side swung around and fell into the window. I stood stunned, thinking, "Wow, that could have really hurt me."

Two of my girl roommates were standing behind me. "Oh my God! Andie, did it hit you?"

"No." ...I don't think so, anyway.

"Did it break the window?"

I checked, then turned to them, laughing. "Nope! What a close--"

"You're bleeding!"

"What? No I--" I touched my forehead. Sure enough, they were right. They whisked me off to the kitchen, cleaned me up, and helped me find preemptive pain killers and an ice pack. We marveled that it didn't hurt at all -- I still barely felt it -- and how much worse the whole situation could have been. It was starting to sting, but I felt totally lucid and my eyeball istelf was (and remains) fine. I went to bed.

All the next day, as I deflected my students' questions about my shiner, my mind kept wandering back to what a nearly miraculous thing had happened, or perhaps not happened. I truly don't mean to make a big deal out of the whole thing or read too much into it, but had I been leaning even half an inch further forward -- which I had been a second earlier -- well, suffice it to say I don't think I would have gotten off with just a sweet shiner.

(Swelling down, colors becoming flashier.)

As I mulled all this over, I remembered the time my baby sister, at about two years old, escaped out the sliding door and was missing for about five minutes, until our mom found her in the middle of an intersection with cars coming at her from three or four sides.

(Tiny Baby Melissa, wearing everything in her dresser.)

And I remembered the time my best friend and I in my Grand Am were almost rammed by an SUV. And all the other times, as a kid, when I should have been seriously injured. And all the close-call stories my dad told me. And plenty of other stories in which, had one thing been a millimeter or a half second off, the ending would have been decidedly less happy.

I'm an odd sort of Catholic, probably because I wasn't really raised Catholic per say, and where some people have devotions rooted in childhood, I barely have an awareness. It's taken me years and conscious effort to get to know the Blessed Mother and make her a part of my life. Guardian angels, frankly, sat for a long time in the same place in my brain as fairies.

Like my faith in God itself, though, I am beginning to find the existence and presence of angels an undeniable reality.

See, I don't believe in luck or coincidences. That I and so many I know have skirted disaster so many times does not mesh with pure chance. Like so many other things, my rational brain forces me to look elsewhere for an explanation. It makes perfect sense that the same loving God who made us and redeemed us would keep us safe from our own brilliance, and would do so through whatever means He knows will serve us best.

I could easily have broken something not easily fixed, either on me or the window, or gashed myself wide open. I should have, in fact. If you look closely at those pictures, you can see several neat and parallel scrapes along my eyebrow from the threads of the bar brushing right by my eye. Could we explain this away with simple chance? Sure, this one event, but that leaves... well, pretty much the rest of my life to account for.

My nuns in the convent last year often prayed to their guardian angels, and often had the kids do so as well. A few weeks ago, in a situation where I was concerned about my safety, without thinking I called on my guardian angel and instantly felt assured and secure. My point (finally) is that I'm finally paying some attention to my angel and hoping to get better acquainted.
That, and giving him some public recognition for keeping my graceful tail out of trouble and my eyeballs intact for almost twenty-four years.