Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rising while it is still dark

Last night my household inducted 4 new sisters, and it put me in mind of my own induction, almost 2 years ago now.

My household has a tradition of members choosing a patron saint for their household life and having something making reference to that saint on the back of their household shirt.

Accordingly, two years ago the assistant coordinator found me one day and told me that I had to come up with what name I wanted on the back of my shirt by x day. (I think x was about 2 days in the future.)

Now, the Cobbler and I had been dating for about a week at that point, but we had already established that he is an incorrigible night owl and I am an incorrigible early bird. And he'd already noted my habit of blaming my early-rising tendencies on my dairy farmer ancestors. So when I asked him who my household saint should be, he quipped, "Look for the patron saint of dairy farmers."

So I looked, and I found St. Brigid of Ireland, and after reading about her, said to the Cobbler, "I think you just named me." I chose her for a lot of reasons; the foremost one in my mind at the time was that she was closely associated with St. Patrick and I had intented on March 17.

As for why I chose her nickname, "Mary of the Gael," as the name on the back of my shirt...well, there were a lot of reasons for that. One was to honor the Blessed Mother, because you can't go wrong doing that. Another reason was to give a nod to Mary Magdalene, who was a close runner-up for my household saint, and who was tied in my mind with Brigid, the early-rising dairymaid, because of the passage in the Gospel of John that says she rose while it was still dark and went to Jesus' tomb.

I want to follow in the footsteps of all of those women, and not just in the sense of getting up for 6:30 a.m. Mass every day. I want to be able to follow God's will for me even when I can't see the way. I want to hear my Beloved calling me and rise despite the darkness and go to Him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random Memory

Almost exactly two years ago, I sent Scott a Facebook bumper sticker that said something like, "Don't worry; I promise not to stab you 23 times on the Ides of March."

That's what geeky flirtation looks like right there.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Another one from the Drafts folder, originally written April 3, 2009. It's still true.

May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness.
That you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

I was looking for the text of this prayer and actually stumbled upon the original source--this post published by the Anchoress in 2006. I read it back when she first published it, and it struck me. Perhaps five or six months later I remember being in the throes of terrible disappointment and repeating to myself, May all my expectations be frustrated, may all my expectations be frustrated, may all my expectations...

That one line (the only one I remembered) became a sort of mantra in the ensuing months. Whenever anything happened that sent me into the depths of despair, I would just repeat it over and over, as if it were the password that would make everything make sense.

Well, I still have to repeat it to myself from time to time, but I am also starting to get a glimmer of sense.

When I pray for my expectations to be frustrated, I generally mean it as a way of accepting something I don't like. My expectations being frustrated means in this situation that I'm resigning myself to some kind of suffering.

But that isn't always true. If you'd asked me three years ago what kind of guy I saw myself dating eventually, the first words out of my mouth would have been, "No geeks." Now I'm dating a geek, and I am so, so happy that God didn't give me what I asked for. The Cobbler is someone I never could have imagined or wished for, but he is perfect.

Sometimes God frustrates my expectations because what He wants for me is so much better than what I want for myself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I am an incorrigible morning person

This semester, Tuesdays are my most open days, schedule-wise, which means I basically do half my homework for the week on Tuesdays.

Yesterday, as you might have noticed, was a Tuesday. I went to Mass and breakfast with my household sisters, and then sat down to do homework. And worked steadily for about 3 hours straight. Then I talked to Scott, because he was lonely. Then I ate lunch. Then the clock struck noon, and I immediately melted into a lazy blob.

I did manage to finish my homework for the day, thanks in part to a study date with several household sisters, but the afternoon and evening were an uphill battle against lying down in my bed and taking a nap. (I have my only class of the day at 2:15, and let me tell you that's the only reason I didn't go nap the afternoon away.)

And no, I wasn't just generally sleep-deprived. (Well, I kinda was, but that's not the reason for my sloth attack.) Last week I was also generally sleep-deprived so I napped for 2 hours Tuesday morning. You'd think I would have leapt out of bed ready to tackle the homework, but noooo. I had to force myself to do schoolwork all afternoon and evening.

The moral of this story is that if you are me, do not take morning naps.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Repost: How a blue hoodie changed my life

Originally posted as "A Year Ago Today..." on February 8, 2008. Mildly edited.

A year ago today, I bought my blue Franciscan hoodie.

Why does that matter? Well, it was the first thing I ever bought myself that had "Franciscan" on it. Maybe it's just a weird hangup of mine, but I don't wear clothing that advertises other colleges. The only exception would be if anybody ever got me an Ohio State hoodie--I'm a Buckeyes fan, you see,, because I'm from Ohio. So when they do that thing with the pointy brown ball (what's that called again?) I get all passionate about Ohio State winning. I have to have somebody explain to me how the points work and who actually won, but once I've got that figured out I like it when Ohio State wins.

But I digress. A year ago today was the day of the Father Michael Scanlan Scholarship Competition. Don't ask me to narrate exactly the events of the day, I don't remember. What I do remember is buying my Franciscan hoodie and wearing it home even though it was about negative five degrees out.

I didn't figure anybody else would know the significance of me buying the hoodie, but I was talking to my dad a few months later and he said that he knew the minute I walked in the door that I had decided.

It's funny the way God had been closing doors during the few weeks before that. By the end of February it had come down to two schools: A state school with one of the best journalism programs in the country at which I could have gotten a full-ride scholarship simply by being a National Merit Finalist, and Franciscan.

If you don't know which one I chose, read the "About Me" on the sidebar.

I'm smart, but I never said I could do math. :) Yeah, I'm paying the equivalent of a couple of nice cars or the down payment on a house to come here, when I could have been at that state school happily hoarding my money. I can't explain why that is except to say that sometimes you just know. I had told myself, going in, that I would know after the sholarship competition. What I meant was that if I won I could go to Franciscan, if I didn't I couldn't.

I didn't win. Here I am just the same. I knew. I knew the moment I went into the bookstore and bought that blue hoodie, so that every day for weeks afterwards (I took the hoodie off pretty much to sleep and go to church) I was advertising in my own quiet way that I had already decided, and nothing else mattered but that God had called me here.

Oddly enough, in the end it was the people who decided me. People like the Cobbler and Rebekah. I could give a dozen other examples but let's stick to those two.

If memory serves (and I make no guarantees about anything that happened during my senior year) I met the Cobbler the night before. To be quite honest, I think my mental monologue went something like this:

"Oh, look, another strange guy in a suit. Okay, Megan, you know the drill. Shake his hand, say hello, make small talk...great, now that's over."

It's not that I'm antisocial or anything, it's just that my poor little brain goes into stack overflow if it has to process more than 4 or 5 new people in a day, and there were about 80 new people there (40 scholars, with an average of 1 parent accompanying).

Fortunately my mental dialogue was wrong, and a year later I'm still in the midst of the sometimes crazy but always interesting adventure that is knowing the Cobbler. The reason I probably remembered him afterwards happened the next day. He and I happened to be in the same small group, and while we were waiting to be interviewed he entertained the rest of us by reciting the "Brutus is an honorable man, yes precious," passage. So he actually has his creative younger brother to blame (or credit?) for the fact that I now consider him one of my friends. (If you've never heard of "Brutus is an honorable man, yes precious," go nag the Cobbler and he can make it his first post post-Lent.)

(EDIT: I note, with great amusement, that the Cobbler and I started dating less than 2 months later. In hindsight I realize why no one believed me when I said I wasn't in love with him.)

I also met Rebekah at that competition, and I remember her even less (sorry, Rebekah). The only conversation we had was actually initiated by my mother, who asked how to pronounce Rebekah's last name. From there it quickly became a conversation between me and Rebekah about the stupid things people do to mangle other people's names. Then we got to the end of the line. The end. Or not...Rebekah remembered me more than I remembered her and a few weeks later, after my brain has had a chance to reset itself, sends me a "Hi, remember me?" email.

I'm not sure where this rambling post is going, except perhaps to give you a glimpse of why I came here. As I've said before, it didn't feel like I was in a competition. It felt like I got to meet the people who were going to be my best friends. Now they are (not just Scott and Rebekah, but half a dozen other people too). They're the kind of people I want to stay friends with long after this insane thing called college is over. They're the kind of people I want to be sitting next to in Heaven, saying, "Hey, you remember when God brought us together?" Having people like when I get out of college is way better than being able to buy a house when I get out of college.

A year ago today I bought a blue hoodie. Life hasn't been the same since.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Three years forward, three years back

I got invited to apply to Franciscan's accelerated MA theology program today. If I applied and got in, I'd take 2 Master's courses my senior year and then gain automatic acceptance to the MA program proper.

It scared the living daylights out of me, that fat little envelope sitting in my mailbox. It represents the question everybody seems to be asking me lately: What are you going to do when you graduate?

I'm not even graduating for another 15 months, people. Gimme a break.

Most of these well-meaning interrogators were parents at the Father Michael Scanlan Scholar Competition. I've been helping out these past few days, and they all seem intensely interested in my plans for my life. (Ask me about the Honors program, people. Ask me about the cafeteria food. You know, something that's relevant to your child.)

Being there takes me right back to three years ago, to being a scared and shy little 17-year-old who had only the faintest inkling that her life would never be the same after those intense 24 hours. The FMSSC brought me to Franciscan; it also brought me to Scott.

I envy that kid a bit. She knew what she wanted and she stubbornly plowed along until she got it.

The 20-year-old kid knows what she wants, too, but you know what? Sometimes wanting something doesn't mean a thing. Sometimes you plow along until you smash hard up against a brick wall and not even your hard German head can break through that.

I didn't mean this post to get so forlorn, but...well, there 'tis. I know where I'm going to be and what I'm going to be doing about 3 years from now, and I envy my 23-year-old self so much at this moment. What I don't know is what I'm going to be doing a year and a half from now.

This post is all over the place, but I'm throwing it out there at least for now. Maybe I'll delete it tomorrow when I've had some sleep and things don't look so desolate, here on the wrong side of the brick wall.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

For the depths of what use is language?

Words are hard things. I say this as a writer, as someone who has been playing with words for as long as I can remember. You'd think I'd feel like I knew how to use the English language by now.

The thing is, I don't think in words. I think in pictures, and in order to get into your mind some semblance of what's in mine I have to interpret the picture. Sometimes that's easy. Sometimes it feels like playing this game I've usually heard called "Telephone pictionary" where you draw a picture and the next person gives it words and the person after that tries to draw it again. It never looks quite the same when it has to go through the medium of words.

So sometimes, I just describe the pictures rather than interpret. I tell the Cobbler that I feel like a baby unicorn, because the picture that my mind is giving me to describe the emotion I am experiencing is a scene from A Swiftly Tilting Planet, because "I'm happy" doesn't do it justice.

He gets it, most of the time. Would you get it, dear readers, if I gave you pictures straight out instead of words? I feel like I spend too much time on this blog worrying about things being exactly right. I feel like I worry because I am, essentially, translating into a second language, and sometimes there isn't a word for what I want; sometimes it takes too many words to get out what I could say in a few if I spoke metaphorically.

I suppose this is a long way of warning you that this blog might get a bit poetical for a while.

The title of this post is derived from the poem Silence.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Scatterbrained Chef: Special Hot Cocoa Mix

Today on The Scatterbrained Chef, we will show you how to ensure that your winter will not be bleak and miserable, devoid of delicious hot drinks. We will also enlighten you as to the composition of certain essential components in other recipes.

Without further ado, The Scatterbrained Chef's Special Hot Cocoa Mix:

Step 1: Buy a gallon bucket of ice cream. The Scatterbrained Chef always purchases hers at Aldi. If you do not have this elite establishment in your area, any gallon bucket of ice cream will do.

Step 2: Eat it all. I know, it is difficult, but this life is a vale of tears and we all must have our share of suffering. Offer it up for the holy souls in Purgatory.

Step 3: Wash the bucket.

Step 4: Dry the bucket. (No, really, dry it. This is important, my dear scatterbrained sous chefs.)

Step 5: Begin measuring 9 cups of powdered milk.

Step 6: Because the biggest measuring implement you have is an 8-cup pitcher type thing, decide that it is good enough to measure 8 cups and then throw on a few more shakes.

Step 7: Pour the powdered milk into the bucket.

Step 8: Attempt to measure 1 cup cocoa powder.

Step 9: Take the drifts of cocoa powder that spilled onto the counter and brush them into the half-full cup.

Step 10: Don't worry about germs, you're going to boil this all later anyway.

Step 11: Dump cup of cocoa powder into the bucket.

Step 12: Attempt to measure 2 cups white sugar. Realize that you are leaving brown streaks in the sugar because the cup measure has cocoa detritus on it.

Step 13: Strategically scoop out sugar such that the brown streaky bits go into your 2 cups' worth.

Step 14: Pour sugar into bucket.

Step 15: Secure lid of bucket FIRMLY. Like, with masking tape.

Step 16: Shake bucket vigorously.

Step 17: Shake it some more. Yes, I know your arms are getting tired. Offer it up for the holy souls in Purgatory.

[The remaining steps are optional]

Step 18: Put a mugfull of water in the microwave for approximately 90 seconds.

Step 19: Get lid off bucket. (Removing masking tape if necessary.)

Step 20: Measure approximately 1/2 cup of The Scatterbrained Chef's Special Hot Cocoa Mix into your cup.

Step 21: Leave 1/2 cup measure in bucket. Leave mess all over kitchen. Drink cocoa.