Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nostalgic

For some random reason, I just now decided I wanted to see the pics Scott sent me once of the time Ambrose and Mari visited Steubenville. (I was there, a few buildings away from them the entire day and a few weeks away from becoming friends with Scott...it leaves me with a weird feeling of having brushed fate and not known it.)

First of all, I had a bit of nostalgic love for Scott's old sandals (there is one picture wherin you can see their feet). The poor things were falling apart, but oh how I loved them. I don't think I saw Scott in anything other than them until the first time we went to Mass together. Presumably he was wearing nice shoes at the Scanlan Scholarship, but everyone was wearing nice shoes there so I didn't notice to remember.

In the same obscure little folder (I really must relocate these to "My Pictures") there are a few pictures of me when I was younger. I suppose I showed them to Scott because I felt like I ought to give him something in exchange for all the photos he sent me. Also, because I wanted to hear him say he thought I was pretty when I was thirteen. He's blind, my dear little bat is, but what girl doesn't like to be told she was pretty when she was a gangly, poor-complexioned teenager? (In case you're curious, I'm beautiful now. Or so I've been told.)

There are a couple of pictures of me on my thirteenth birthday, one a candid shot in which I am looking happy (I got BOOKS) and one in which I am gazing seriously and composedly at the camera while wearing a ribbon on my head.

There are a couple other pictures of me at around the same age: one taken at the zoo (probably the Cincinnati zoo...we have previously discussed how interesting it was that we went to some of the same places and ran in some of the same circles when we were younger but didn't meet until Franciscan brought us together) in which my sister and I look mysterious and solemn, and one during my Confirmation (Feb. '03) in which I look fuzzy and prayerful. (The fuzzy was the camera's fault.)

Then there is another from April '04 in which I am wearing the same dress and grinning hugely because that was Dad's Confirmation. (I called that dress my Confirmation dress for a long time after. I think Emily has it now; I've gotten somewhat bigger since I was 14.)

One thing that Scott remarked on is that I don't really look that different than I did six years ago. When I was thirteen I was recognizably me--my hair was somewhat blonder and I was thinner (there was a brief period when I grew so fast that I got thin), but you can tell it's me. By the time I reached 14 1/2 my hair had gotten a bit darker and my face rounder, such that Scott wondered if he could say that I look not even fifteen. (I don't think I ever answered him, but I really don't look fourteen and didn't even when I was; a few months later when I was barely fifteen I had someone guess that I was twenty. So, I look like someone in her early twenties, I suppose, which is getting more accurate as the years go on...)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Restore Point

Ideas in this post were taken from class discussion, Honors 202

We Catholics have this concept of there being levels of sin. Some (which we call venial) only damage your relationship with God; others (mortal) destroy that relationship. (Though not beyond repair.)

Yet, as Anselm says in Cur Deus Homo, to take even the slightest glance which is contrary to God's will is an unspeakably grave sin.

An analogy I came up with is that of deleting files on your computer. You delete something once and it goes to the recycle bin. You delete it from the recycle bin and it's a lot harder to find, but my dad the Computer Genius of the World says that it still exists somewhere on your hard drive. Even after deleting it twice it's still not totally gone.

Sin is like that. You delete God from your life again and again and again and that relationship is still not gone forever. As one of my classmates said, redemption is God's version of the restore point.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thoughts on Meatloaf

Yesterday I went to a dinner party at a friend's house. We spent the first hour and a half toasting things like, "Long life to the Pope, and death to his enemies!" I had unfermented grape juice, in case you're curious. At one point the properest of the bachelors present stated that it was bad etiquette to serve your guests more than half an hour after they arrive. In response to that we got some...Rebekah, how do I spell that thing that's little bits of food you eat to tide you over until the real thing?

Finally we got our meatloaf and it was quite good meatloaf, far better than what the caf serves. I had only one objection: It was absolutely saturated in ketchup.

I have, in fact, discovered a new pet peeve in people who slather ketchup on the meatloaf while it's still in the pan and then serve it. Some of us find the flavor of ketchup rather overwhelming and would prefer to mildly season our own meatloaf rather than having it done for us.

To illustrate just how much I don't like excessive ketchup on my meatloaf, I will tell a little story: One day, when I was very young (young enough that I was still sharing a room with my sister, and apparently too young to handle the ketchup bottle by myself) we had meatloaf. Mom asked me if I would like some ketchup. I said yes. She proceeded to squirt the ketchup atop my slice of meatloaf. I proceeded to burst into tears.

I don't know about y'all's families, but in my house bursting into tears at the dinner table will get you sent to your room until you can compose yourself. So I spent the rest of dinner in the room shared by myself and my sister, drawing a picture. Eventually Mom came to fetch me and I showed her what I had produced: See, here are the mashed potatoes, and here is the meatloaf, and here is the little dollop of ketchup on the side.

I don't recall my artisitic efforts being very well received (now, this was very long ago so perhaps I am misremembering, but I think I was expected to have refrained from making a production and simply said, "I would like my ketchup on the side, please." The trouble was, I was too upset to articulate what it was that had so upset me.) but I also recall that for the rest of my childhood I got my ketchup on the side. Then I got old enough to use the ketchup myself and continued putting it on the side. Then I came to college, where it seems to be in vogue to assume that everyone wants half a cup of ketchup on each slice of meatloaf.

If you think I am making way too much of a production out of this, bear in mind that I no longer burst into tears at the dinner table when the food does not please me. It is progress.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Reverence

A long, long time ago, I read this post by Connie's Daughter. I hope Scott doesn't mind me revealing that CD is his mom; it is necessary to make the rest of this post make sense.

Some time after reading it I noticed that Scott does, indeed, almost always have his hands together with the fingers up when he is at Mass. And he never fidgets, that I notice. And I'd probably notice, because I have a very bad case of spiritual ADD and get distracted by basically everything happening in the pews around me. I think I spend about 5 minutes total actually thinking about Jesus at the average Mass, and that's in half-second increments. (Hey, it's 5 minutes more holiness than I'd have if I didn't go to Mass.)

About when I started dating Scott, and thus started sitting next to him at Mass, I decided that I was going to stop acting like a two-year-old and work on not fidgeting during Mass. Whether I can get my mind to stay put is a question for another day, but I can at least keep my body put.

So I folded my little hands (okay, I'm speaking poetically, I have big hands...) and tried really, really hard to not fidget.

10 months later...I am getting better. Slowly. Emphasis on slowly. During the standing-up parts I might actually look reverent.

The kneeling parts and the sitting-down parts are not quite as good. I must admit I don't feel as bad about fidgeting during the homily. It's down the list. Fidgeting during the consecration, though, is something that bothers me. Especially when my fidgeting involves spending most of it only half-kneeling. (You know the thing you do...well, I'm sure none of you do it..., when you've got your bottom on the pew behind you even though your knees are still on the kneeler?)

I didn't get the nudge I needed to start working on that, though, until I read this post over at Faith and Family Live.

I'm tired. Wah, wah, wah. So was Jesus. I have scoliosis. (I do. Mildly.) Wah, wah, wah. I bet Jesus' back hurt worse.

So, my new task for this--whenever--let's say Lent--my new task for Lent is to actually kneel, no cheating, during every part of the Mass that has the congregation kneeling. And, while I'm at it, keep my fingers to Heaven.

If I keep working on these bad habits, I might be able to die and go to Heaven when I'm 120 or so.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sometimes my crazy analogies are useful

Me: "The problem is, after midnight I start losing my ability to speak English."

Scott: "The times I've talked to you after midnight, your English seems fine, except you're always repeating this one sentence about needing to go to sleep."

Me: "So other than my odd fixation with that particular phrase, I'm perfectly coherent?"

Scott: "Yes."

Me: "Well, it doesn't feel coherent in my brain. It's like...you know when you have a glass of ice water, and you want the ice cube but you don't want to just reach in there with your hand and grab it and it takes forever to get it out...that's what it's like in my brain after midnight. The words are floating around in my brain but whenever I try to get one it floats over to the other side and it takes forever to catch enough to string together into a sentence."

Scott: "Oh. That's what it's like in my brain all the time."

Me: "Wow, no wonder you don't talk much. That's hard work."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Divine Love

Remember this post, dear readers? Well, I still have Honors with that professor and she is still compelling us to wrestle with the hard questions.

One of the major discussions during last week's class was about God's love for us. What I wanted to know was whether God feels anything when He loves us--or does He merely make a cool, impassive act of the will in choosing to love us? On one level, I understand the arguments given for the impassivity of God--but on the other hand, we humans are made in His image and likeness and we have emotions, sometimes very strong ones, and Christianity does not order us to discard them.

Of course, first you have to establish what love is even for mere mortals like ourselves. This is no easy task. Some say it's just a chemical reaction to something which gives us pleasure. I reject this idea, because I reject the idea that I am the sum of my chemical reactions. So, then, is love the response of the soul to something good? Perhaps. Let's work with that definition a bit. When your heart leaps at the sight of something beautiful, is that merely your bodily senses mediating your soul's reaction, or is there some sort of leap within your soul itself in response to the thing of beauty?

I guess the question I am asking (in all sincerity, because I do not know the answer) is this: Does God desire us? He sees what He made, and calls it good. He loves us for the goodness which He gave us. He loves us even when we destroy that good, because we are His. He came down to earth and died for us because of this love. Did He do all that because He thought it unfitting that we should perish and thus further mess up the good world He created, or did He do it because He wants us? Because He longs for us to be with Him always?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In Which I Talk About Hair

So if you are one of my male readers who doesn't happen to think my hair is the Most Awesome Stuff Ever, you might want to skip this and come back tomorrow.

On Friday, I was judging skits for the Father Michael Scanlan Scholarship Competition, and I was supposed to dress professionally. I won't even tell you about my little clothes crisis. (Let's just say suits you haven't worn in two years might not still fit...) Immediately after the clothes crisis I had a hair crisis. You see, I don't know how to put my hair up. Even if I did, I don't have any hairpins. Woe. So I went and knocked on the door of my household sister, "Terri", who is a girl. She was not in. So I just scraped my hair into a barrette and trotted off to the JC. (A side note on barrettes: I have really thick hair. Like, really thick. So I have to use monster barrettes just to get the front bits pulled back. I don't understand girls who can hold their hair back with itty-bitty little clips.)

When I got there, 3 of the 4 girls present just had their hair down. My barrette was half-slipping just from the trot down to the JC, so I decided, "Hair down==professional" and took the blasted thing out. I had a brief misgiving over the fact that the other girls all had nice little shoulder-length 'dos that looked like they actually did something with them, whereas I just have a wild-pony mane going halfway down my back. At that point, though, I figured I was going to just stop worrying about looking professional. (Nobody kicked me out or anything, so I couldn't have looked that bad in my nice sweater and wild-pony hair.)

Afterwards, I went to dinner, and one of my household sisters complemented me on my hair looking pretty.

Yesterday, I was feeling lazy for whatever reason and scraping my hair into a ponytail was just too much effort, so I ran a brush through it and called it done. At Lord's Day I had another household sister mention how pretty my hair looked.

Conclusion: My hair looks prettiest when I do absolutely nothing with it.

Life is full of little ironies.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Poem for Valentine's Day

When You Are Old
by William Butler Yeats (W. B. Yeats)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

(from The Poetry Foundation via Karen Edmisten.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Job Security

I have always been a geek, I'll admit that. However, in the last year or so my geekiness has gained depth and breadth. I blame Scott. Just talking to him makes me geekier.

I don't mind. In fact, I rather enjoy the fact that we can sit around chatting about things most other people wouldn't understand in the slightest. It just makes it kind of hard to talk to other people, since I've acquired all these obscure interests. I have told Scott on several occasions that after having dated him, I will never be able to date anyone else.

Whenever I say that, he assures me that there will never be a need.

And I tell him I would never want to anyway.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I've been saying this stuff for months...

...but it didn't occur to me to write to the Troub about it.

Check out this letter to the editor by my friend and coworker, Melanie. I agree wholeheartedly with her.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Better Part

I've been in my household, The Servants of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, for over 9 months now, and at times I still feel like a baby member. Our charisms have so much treasure, and I am very slowly working through them, savoring every new discovery.

One of the things that really attracted me to this household was the blending of contemplation and service. We adore Jesus in the Eucharist in order to be strengthened to go out and serve others. The two are complementary, not mutually exclusive.

On my private blog I recently posted on the Five Love Languages, and how acts of service is my lowest receptive love language. Yet it's probably my highest expressive love language. I'm all about doing things for people.

There is nothing wrong with doing things for people and helping them when they need it; indeed, I think that my ability to be levelheaded and efficient in a crisis is a gift God intends me to use. Yet in this, as in all else, balance is key. Service is good when we use it to love others; it is a problem when we allow it to get in the way of loving others.

The Cobbler is a good teacher of this virtue. The vast majority of the time, he'd be perfectly content to just have me be with him. He doesn't keep me around because I'm useful; he keeps me around because he just plain likes having me around. (Or perhaps for the entertainment value. I'm slightly loony, you see.)

I'm trying really hard to apply this to other relationships too. I don't think it's a good thing for anybody if I go around feeling like I have to prove myself to people in order to have them love me. It gets in the way of just letting them love me. I'm willing to bet that the people who have so generously welcomed me into their lives didn't do it thinking I'd be handy to have about. I don't have to demonstrate that I'm "good enough" before they'll accept me.

Sometimes just being is good enough.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Attachment

For the last month, she's wandered into the room at the top of the stairs and looked around.

"Megan? Megan?"

"She's at school."

The next day:

"Megan? Megan?"

"She's at school. For a long time."

Wednesday:

"We're going to go get Megan in two days!"

"Megan! Megan!"

Thursday:

The van is being cleaned out.

She puts her coat on. "Go?"

Friday:

They arrive on campus, and I walk out to the van. She grins hugely.

"Megan megan megan megan..."

I get in the van and put my hand over the edge of her carseat. She rubs my fingers. Then she strokes my arm. That is not enough to express the extent of her affection, so she takes my hand and presses it against her face, rubbing her cheek against my palm.

"Megan megan megan..."

We are home. She curls up on Mom and Dad's bed, snuggling into her blanket. I flop down next to her and drape my arm over her body. Dad sits down next to us.

"Go," she says, shooing with her hand.

"Go where?" he asks.

"She has Megan, she doesn't need us," Mom responds.

It's 4:30 in the morning. I hear her crying, and my feet are on the floor before my brain consciously registers the noise. I take the 3 or 4 strides across the hall to her bed.

"I'm here, baby."

She stops crying. "Megan."

All is well with the world.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Philosophy and Love

When I started this blog, I said that I wasn't going to post much personal stuff, and I maintain that resolve. I don't do posts here about the day-to-day things that happen in my family or in my relationship with the Cobbler. Some other, deeply personal things I don't post even on my private blog.

But that doesn't mean this blog is going to be all intellect, all the time. Nor does it mean that I'm going to act as if I'm not a young woman, and a young woman in love no less. I'm a Platonist in many, many ways, but I'm a Christian first. As such I believe that incarnation is an essential aspect of the human condition. God made us in the body and pronounced it good. I'm working out my holiness as a rational creature, yes, but also as an embodied creature.

I don't understand love; God knows I'm going blind here. A year and a half ago, probably even a year ago, I would have dismissed romantic love as silly and irrational. Now, though, I tend to agree with this bit of wisdom posted a little less than a year ago:

True love is madness but is not irrational. It is madness because it stands up
against every "reason" for despair in this world, because it defies every
apparent difficulty, because it gives a cheerfulness that doesn't depend on any
of the usual conditions for happiness, etc. Its very strength, however, lies in
the spiritual truth of it.


There is truth here, in love, no matter how irrational it may seem. And seeking truth is my business.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We're not random, you just can't think as fast as we can

Last night I talked to Scott for about twenty minutes before work, and then after he called me (because I got on Skype and told him I was done; he gets free long distance and I don't) and I ended up getting put on speakerphone and having an hourlong conversation with him and his 17-year-old brother.

The first half of the conversation was 17yo and I trading driver's ed horror stories. Some of them are about how silly the quizzes are, but most were the gruesome stories of death and carnage that your instructor tells you to scare you into driving safely. (Unfortunately, some of us are of an imaginative nature and after driver's ed really prefer not to drive at all because of the visions of death and carnage that dance through our heads.) That segued into organ donation which segued into a philosophical discussion of whether your soul resides in your organs which segued into...well, this weird conglomeration of videogames, chemistry homework, and more stories of death and carnage.

I'm going to be related to these people someday. *grin*