Friday, October 31, 2008

I haven't used this many exclamation points in months...

Happy Halloween! I'm dressed up as Lois Lane this year since Mr. Wonderful is going as Superman/Clark Kent. Well, I should say that I'm wearing my own clothes, and the hair and make-up isn't exactly a stretch for me. It's a pretty boring costume. But it's a costume (complete with a hand-beaded green necklace that looks like kryptonite)!

Sadly, we did not go to OSUMBC this year. For those in-the-know, they'll remember how much marching band meant to me and how much I love going. This year just didn't work out. I wasn't really in the mood to sit in the stadium for hours upon hours freezing again, and I certainly don't want to pay $10 and only be there for six or seven band performances. *sigh* maybe next year.

Big posts in the works for the coming week including a momentous event regarding this blog and a third Blog Year Retrospective (I'm turning three!). Stay tuned, it's all coming soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Adventures of Rachel and Jaggy, Volume II

Rachel and I seem to have had several conversations about caffeine while instant messaging. Thus, I present four of these short transcripts (edited only for grammar):

Jaggy: I only had ONE can of pop yesterday.
Rachel: Wow!! I just heard you open one today.
Jaggy: Shhhh, it's invisible caffeine. If I sharpie over the ingredients, it doesn't exist.
Rachel: Wow, you have been watching too many cartoons. Jeff suggested we get you a keg of diet coke and put it on a podium by your desk.
Jaggy: What the heck?
Rachel: :D
Rachel: I got a dollar, I got a dollar... Oh, I spent my dollar... I got a soda, I got a soda!

Rachel: I want a Mountain Dew... or a Rock Star.
Jaggy: They have Mountain Dew upstairs. I'm going get my pop soon. I was up waaaay too late again.
Rachel: Silly, silly girl. I sense a trend starting. I’m studying for my trip over east.
Jaggy: Oh, fun.
Rache: In Australia, they have this thing where you can text message a soda machine, and it takes the money off of your pre-paid plan. It's pretty cool... because I don't have a dollar... :( only 20's... On the up side, I do have cash for once.
Jaggy: You need a dollar?
Rachel: Yes, please :D
Jaggy: Ok, just a second.
Rachel: Thank you, enabler.

Rachel: I eated your cookie
Jaggy: That's good you eated it. Do you have a dime?
Rachel: Um, probably. I do have a dollar to repay you though, for last time.
Jaggy: Oh. That's better! I need another pop.
Rachel: I also have two quarters, but no dime.
Jaggy: Oh.
Rachel: Would you like me to bring it to you?
Jaggy: I'll get it in a minute.
Rachel: I can go get you the soda too. It would be good exercise for me since I ate the cookie.

Rachel: I tried to go for a run this morning, but then it started lightening and thundering... and then I ran really fast back to the house. The weather definitely looks better
Jaggy: Is the pop machine still out of pop?
Rachel: It has soda, but none for you. You are quitting. Me, I'm ramping up production.
Jaggy: Not quitting: reducing.
Rachel: Ah, so now your story is changing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ignoring a Cold is a Bad Idea

Back to work today, but I'm drained tonight. From 7am today, I've been running non-stop. The one day I don't want to spend on the phone due to my cold, I end up talking on the phone for hours. I tried to transfer calls off as fast as I could, but people were chatty today. Ugh. And lunch wasn't so good either (company-wise, fine, but food-wise, not so much). When I got home this evening, I tidied up my apartment as fast as I could before a friend came over so I could help him build three costumes for Halloween. We worked extra-speedy and the sewing still took two hours. He'll look fantastic, though, as will two friends. I, on the other hand, don't really know how I'm going to pull off my Lois Lane costume this Friday. Mr. Wonderful wanted to go as Clark Kent/Superman, so my costume was easy to decide on. Picking out what to wear is still a problem... do you have any suggestions?

Oh, and I got my $40 check for filling out the American Institute of Consumer Studies loooooong report booklet. Guess what I'm going to do with the extra money: pay off my medical bill from last month! Sheesh. Stupid bills.

Time for a shower, some reading, and then rest. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day Four of The Cold from Hell

The good news is that I'm definitely feeling better. I have my appetite back (with a vengeance), and I'm looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

The bad news isn't so bad, really, considering what the last three days have been like. My nose aches, throbs even, and is painful to think about. I'm keeping it covered in Aquaphor when I can, but it seems like just as soon as I get my nose covered, I sneeze again and have to wipe everything off. Ugh. So I reapply the balm and start over.

I am suffering from cabin fever at this point. Tomorrow's work and maybe even a little dancing (maybe!) will be a welcome change to my four walls and quiet life of this too-long weekend.

As for tonight, well, The Boy said he'd cook for me. He's said that four times in a row now, but somehow I always end up taking over... and in exchange, I told him I'd clean part of his apartment for him. Nothing like cleaning fumes to clear my sinuses! Bring on the Pine-Sol.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

I used to hate memorized prayers. I thought they were awful, terrible things that separated our true feelings from God. Ad libbing each prayer was the only way I could tell God how I felt. And the whole rosary thing scared the bejeezus out of me! I mean, that's just a whole lot of idle prayin' goin' on, right?

Once I got past the whole "Mary, Mother of God" bit and actually looked into what those rehearsed prayers were all about, it made so much more sense to me: someone already said it better than I ever will. And saying those prayers doesn't take away my own thoughts or intentions: in fact, I can add my own words or even make my own prayers any time I want. I do. As beautiful as the Anima Christi and the Sanctus are, though, I've found more wisdom and solace in the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi than any other.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

I am now Two with the Box o' Kleenexes

I'm still sick, even sick enough to stay home from work today. My nose is raw. It's all a cold is cracked up to be, plus a little fever on the side for added drama. I haven't had much rest as I can't sleep with my nose plugged. Hopefully tonight will be easier and I'll attempt work tomorrow even if only for half the day.

Wish there was more to report, but I haven't done anything or gone anywhere. Rachel offered to buy me some Kleenex and toss it to my front door from a healthy distance, but that's all the well-wishing I've experienced (except from my mommy, of course). I've Lysol'd my kitchen, desk, and most hard surfaces at least twice today... if anyone wants to stop in and say hi, I'm here and bored. I will try not to sneeze on you!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Snot Cental, Jaggy speaking, how may I direct your cold?

My sore throat is gone, but it has been replaced by a mountain of unruly, well... let's just say I have become one with the box of Kleenex lately. Yesterday was long and not so fun. I didn't do much but hang out in bed until 3pm, and then I had to get up and ready to go to a get-together with some cousins in Albany. The Boy came with me, and I'm thankful he was able to experience a low-key evening after studying all day. We stopped at my parents' house briefly before heading back home. After sitting near the campfire all evening, I told my boyfriend I wanted a shower. He started a movie, and once I was clean and comfy with my head in his lap, I swear I was only awake about ten seconds. I don't even remember him leaving after his movie ended.

Speaking of movies, we went to see Pride and Glory on opening night. I'd give it two stars. The movie was okay, and it ends well, but the story seems pretty tired. The acting was fairly subdued, the action was a bit fake, and the drama was too intense for me.

Today, I'm mostly hanging out between my bed and my TV, sometimes resting, sometimes trying to be productive. I am chasing my cough drops with more cough drops, and I don't think any more soup or hot cider will fit in me. Even attempting to drink a Diet Coke last night was a relief to the hot stuff. The bubbles went up my nose--and let me tell you, fizzy snot is an experience I won't soon forget. Hey, you're just reading about it. I lived it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Throat on Fire

It started Thursday afternoon, just a little tickle. By Friday evening, it felt as if someone had used a rasp down the back of my throat. Eating hurts, swallowing is a nightmare, and breathing is even painful. I went to bed last night breathing fine. This morning, I was completely plugged up. My head hurts, I'm weak, I only want to curl up in bed with my top ramen and applesauce (together, but separate). If I try to drink any more tea or hot cider, I'm afraid I'll sprout leaves myself.

I hate colds.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Adventures of Rachel and Jaggy: Volume I

Sometimes Rachel and I have interesting conversations via instant messaging. What follows is a transcript (edited only for grammar--because we sorta forget that when typing so fast) of a chat we had long ago. The story doesn't take much set-up other than to say that Rachel was in forestry for a while and that I am not a fan of yogurt. If you don't think this is funny, don't worry. It's funny to me, and it's funny to Rachel, and I'm really posting this for our amusement, okay? Just go with it...

Rachel: Do you ever have problems when you open yogurt and it sprays yogurt all over you? or is it just me the yogurt hates?

Jaggy: Awww, it has happened to me, too.

Rachel: I am NOT having a good day.

Jaggy: I'm sorry. It will get better, I promise.

Rachel: I'm eating yogurt with a fork.

Jaggy: eew

Rachel: Very effective...

Jaggy: not so much

Rachel: more so than you would think, 'til you get to the bottom... but my only other choice was chopsticks. Do you think I could eat yogurt with chopsticks?

Jaggy: No, but I'd laugh if I watched you try!

Rachel: Yes, it could be very amusing. Perhaps someday I will be desperate enough to try it.

Jaggy: hehehe

Rachel: I have eaten yogurt with the foil lid bent in half... pudding, too. It works better with pudding: shorter cups.

Jaggy: yeah, wow

Rachel: I once saw a guy eat a cold casserole with a ruler. Hilarious!

Jaggy: What the heck?

Rachel: Foresters... dirty dirty people.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's better if you do it fast

Today was not a good day. I didn't sleep well last night due to a draft near my head. After not having enough time to make a lunch (and suffering through Panda Distress at noon), nicking my knee horribly in the shower while shaving, and dancing three times in an hour at the dance tonight, I'm just not up for posting something funny.

BUT! Today is my sister's 22nd birthday, and I'd like to extend (yet again) best wishes to her.

And thanks to one very awesome woman tonight for helping me remember that kind, welcoming, open-minded people do exist outside my imagination lately.

I'm starting to get stressed for a very important meeting I have tomorrow afternoon (and I don't really have a job that does "meetings" so you should know it's a very big deal). I am cold still. And I just want to curl up in a little ball and rock back and forth in the corner until the weekend comes. It's an "I need a hug" day for sure (which is my way of saying that I realize others are suffering so much more than me in unimaginable ways, but I still want to be held).

Now please excuse me... I'm going to go rip a bandaid off my leg. At least there isn't any hair there to take with it since I shaved it all off. Too bad the brand-new razor took skin with hair. Say it with me, "one, two, three... RIP!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can't get in, can't get out

On a long walk, I took a couple of interesting perspective pictures. Where and when isn't important... I just like this picture.

(Ok, Rachel, what is it?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why so serious?

It should come as no surprise that I have a wicked sense of humor. I am not fond of cruel humor, potty humor, or anything that picks on people who can't defend themselves. Everything else, though, is pretty much fair game. I especially love intelligent, witty humor that takes ordinary things and turns them upside down. George Carlin was awesome at that, and I am astounded at Eddie Izzard's commentary sometimes. I love comedy that makes me think.

This weekend, I started a new book, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore. From the back cover, I give you the synopsis:
The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years--except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in this divinely hilarious, yet heartfelt work. Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua (Jesus) from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more--except maybe "Maggie," Mary of Magdala--and Biff isn't about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without at fight.
I'm a couple chapters in already, and I can't put the book down. Seriously, this is good stuff. It's enlightened, witty, and makes me think about what life must have been like way back then. I can't believe someone actually thought this stuff up!

But when I try to explain the book to people, I'm met with disgust or horror. Somehow the 'Gospel According to Biff' is absolute blasphemy, should be burned or banned, and isn't worthy of a mere chuckle. The book was never meant to be read and believed literally. The author wasn't trying to narrate Jesus' life or change Christianity around the world. It's called humor. It doesn't demean Christ's life, work, death, or resurrection in any way. In fact, having the ability to laugh about Biff's narrative helps me to appreciate Christ even more.

I realize faith and religion mean different things to different people, and I respect that completely. I know people like to take these subjects very seriously, too. I do that as well. Heck, I have a 2nd blog dedicated to taking religion seriously, openly asking questions, being ready for harsh criticism. I know what serious is, and I'm working diligently to filter through all of the muck that is Christianity. You show me someone who takes it more seriously than I do, and I'll hand them a gold star. But being so invested in the seriousness gets me no where. Books like Lamb show the lighter side of creativity. Even though Lamb might not be divinely inspired, I bet God was laughing His holy ass off while Moore was writing the book. Two thumbs up from me!

Drama Free

I bet I've been sitting here staring at a blinking cursor for five minutes without a single key being pressed. It's not that I don't have anything to say today... I simply had a great day and nothing else seems to be coming out. Nothing particularly exciting happened in the course of my waking hours today, nothing out of the ordinary or crazy or even slightly weird. Work was typical, slow even. I made dinner for myself, ate some wonderful comfort food, and went about my usual business. Ordinary. Routine. Comfortable.

I'm not saying I missed out on special moments today or that I didn't laugh or learn... I did both several times. Rachel and I had a good, long talk. Mr. Wonderful and I were able to walk hand-in-hand for a while on campus tonight between his classes. I'm almost done with a project at home that keeps me way too busy every year for several weekends (yay for not procrastinating this time!). I started a new book last night. You know, little things that make me smile.

But there is no drama in my life right now. None. And I love it. Oh, how I love it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

So She Dances

There she is! My little sister got her Cha-Cha on with another dancer at OSU's last ballroom dance. She asked me to take some pictures of her, and since I was sitting this one out, I grabbed my camera and started clicking away.

I have a few more pictures of her dancing, but the lighting was very low. Some of my shots are blurry--it's a good blurry if you like that effect.

In any case, I think she looks great on the dance floor!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Be Not Afraid

I'm not easily frightened.  When people come up behind me and try to scare me, they're usually disappointed that I don't jump out of my skin (no, that's not a hint).  I'm just not that kind of person.  I have phobias, sure, but I'm not easily intimidated or put on edge.

When asked the question recently, "what intimidates you?" I had to wonder for quite some time before I came up with anything.  For once, I wasn't in the shower when it hit me.  I happened to be walking from lunch back to work, just ambling along by myself kicking rocks and twigs as one of the first autumn rains fell.  I am not afraid of people, places, or actions.  That's not to say I'm not disturbed by or dislike some individuals, large crowds, or loud places: I'm just not imitidated by them.

I am initimidated by answers.

I worry more about having an answer I don't like than by the problem at hand.  It's like when you're waiting at the doctor's office for what you can only assume is the worst news.  Or when you've just asked that really cute boy/girl out and don't know what they're going to say yet.  Or when you're waiting to find out if you got a job.  Anything like those situations...  I don't fear the job interview as much as having someone reject me.  It's not about the rejection (they could just as easily hire me or want to date me).  It's about the finality of a question or problem.  Sometimes I don't want a good book to end.  I don't want to find out "who-dun-it" because the store is too good to put down.  I'm intimidated by the answers that cause things to come to an end, a period, a closed case.

I'm not afraid, but I am initimidated by these answers.  I shouldn't be.  But I am.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

10 Things I Love About Him

Several people have told me to write down a list of the reasons I fell in love with Mr. Wonderful. I don't think that's a bad idea. Without trying to sound all mushy, this is why:

-He didn't judge me, and he doesn't allow his judgments of other people interfere with how he treats people. Even though he doesn't approve of someone or their actions, he is still respectful and kind (within reason, of course).

-He doesn't beat me over the head with his Bible. His faith is quiet and firm. He leads by example and gentle encouragement.

-He listens to me, asks questions, and tries to help without interfering.

-His giggle. His laugh. His "yes" and "no."

-He has a long fuse. I've only seen him get really riled up a couple times (two?), and they were absolutely justified.

-He eats what I cook for him without complaint (helps that we like the same foods!).

-He's protective without being overbearing or controlling.

-He dances. He's a great partner, a generous lead, and isn't afraid to try new steps even though he might not get them right.

-He is outgoing and includes people constantly in his life, in his joys, and in his passions.

-He doesn't become jealous or fret over petty things.

I'm sure the list could go on and on down to minute things I love about him, but these are some of the big things that attracted me to him from the very start. What attracted you to your special person?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who's on my side?

I find it odd that the people who support me most in my journey to learn are the people who are pressuring me the least to make decisions or define who I am. It's the people who don't support me that are telling me I need this or that.

Many of my friends want to label me. They want me to label myself even. "Pick something and be that," they say, as if deciding to become Methodist or Buddhist or Jewish is something I can just *poof* do. They want to be able to introduce me in their church clique as "X label" instead of having to explain that I'm a friend with questions instead of a label.

I'm not an indecisive person, nor am I afraid to select which group I want to be a part of. I do, however, want to understand what I might be getting myself into. I want to know what things mean to each church before jumping into them. Some have told me that I'm not "following Christ's example" by waiting and learning (versus blindly doing). Rubbish, all if it.

None of my family has been there for me lately, especially now that I've told them I *gasp* talked to a deacon. That's right, we talked. It's not like he performed an exorcism or gave me superpowers or anything... I'm not changing who I am or what I believe just because of that one conversation. It is frustrating, though, to realize that my family isn't cheering for me right now. They either don't understand or don't want to understand. I know they love me, but I'm not sure how to start the conversation about any of this. I mean, sheesh, it's not like I'm moving to Australia or anything... after ten months, I figure if any massive changes are going to happen in my life, they already would have.

It is nice to know that a few people really are on my side right now. The Boy has been a huge source of comfort, and one of my coworkers is super excited for me. He's just an old farmer-type guy with bounding energy and a great wit. Other than that, though, I'm feeling pretty lost.

Not complaining. I'm doing this for me, not for anyone else. I'm not going to label myself simply because others want to be able to refer to me as something. My faith isn't changing (growing, slowly perhaps). I'm still me. And sometimes I feel very alone.

Blog Action Day: Poverty

As you read this, you're likely sitting there eating or drinking something. You're wrapped up in a warm sweater (or in my case, a blanket). You might be procrastinating on homework or chores, or you might be killing some time. Either way, you're comfortable. And you are in the minority.

Millions (billions!) of people aren't going to read this blog today, not because they don't know about it, but because they're more concerned about finding any water, not just clean water, to drink. These people aren't necessarily in third-world countries either: starving people exist in every town in every state in this country.

You don't have to do something big to make a difference. It's not about mailing money to another country or state. Donate food and time to a local soup kitchen. Collect all of those outdated clothes and give them away. Heck, even sell them and make some spare change... it's about getting the supplies to people who need it most.

Please remember the homeless shelters or other organizations (like the Red Cross!) who take gifts like toothpaste and new socks. Especially remember outdoor and work clothing for men, linens and bedding, children's clothing, and appliances that you've recently replaced or no longer need.

Rarely will I promote something on this blog, especially something political. Be assured that by my participation in Blog Action Day, I'm publicly standing up for something I believe in. Help me end poverty here and abroad by giving a little bit today and every day. Please.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome Note

Welcome! We're up and running over here, and I am super excited to get things rolling! I'm not even sure what my content will be outside the realm of "religion," but I have some ideas. I do know that I probably won't update here more than once or twice a week (still have the other blog to keep active every day). And while I'm not ashamed or afraid to post here, it's considerably more difficult to open yourself up to people criticizing your faith than it is to have people criticize your favorite burger choices.

Bear with me, I have too much to do tonight on top of not feeling wonderful today. Oh, and I am designing a new blog header as we speak, so hopefully things will become "pretty" soon.

A list of rules for this site is upcoming. Suggestions?


It's alive! My second blog has officially been out and available all day, but I wanted to make sure it was working on multiple browsers and at different resolutions before turning it loose for good. The oh-so-important title and address:

"It's not about the answers..." at

So, now (ironically) I'm going to answer a few questions I'm sure you have:

1. What's it all about?
Religion. Christianity. Catholicism. Faith. Questions.

2. Why another blog?
I've always hesitated to post anything concerning religion on this blog. I know I've done it a few times, but I always add disclaimers and make sure people know that I'm not trying to force my beliefs on them. As I have been Bible-thumped way too many times, I work hard at not doing that to others. I'm neither ashamed nor afraid of sharing my faith, but I don't want to sound like a broken record or like I'm telling someone what to think. Having a second blog will (hopefully) allow me that outlet so that my readers here can stick around without having to deal with religious posts. I know loyal readers will stay no matter what I say, but I don't want to turn someone off when they see words like "ecumenical" or "rosary" or "I have no idea what to think about this whole thing." And I know that some very loyal readers will follow the other blog as well.

3. Will you continue to post on this blog?
Absolutely! Every day, just like always, I hope to write something fantastically insightful. And just like every day, I fall flat with some droll that won't mean anything tomorrow. I can't promise anything, but this blog is definitely still my home.

4. This is your blog. Why do you care if you offend people with religious themes?
Like I said, I have been verbally attacked far too much by people who insist that I'm approaching religion incorrectly or that I believe in the wrong things. Every time I write about religion, I feel like I have to be extra careful to make sure I'm not stepping on toes. It's hard. I am trying to be respectful by keeping religious discourse (which annoys many people) to another site.

5. Where did you come up with the blog title, "It's not about the answers..."?
In the shower, where all of my great ideas hit me. Seriously.

There you go. Come on over, say hi, or don't. Know that you are welcome any time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

School Pride

My hands hurt from beading today, and I am tired of having my hair in my face. I will admit, the one good thing about longer hair is the ability to pull it back.

In other news, I tweaked my blog code here, so now the text fills up more of the page. I also changed my picture at the top to a newer one that my boyfriend took of me.

Last night, I went to my boyfriend's old high school for a fundraising event. It is interesting to see how different and how similar his private school is compared to my public school. A few things were pretty cool (their gymnasiums were fantastic!), but I guess I'll always have a thing for walls that are too thin, mismatched floor tiles, and character that old buildings have. Like the old 100's wing of modular classrooms from the 1970's with sloping floors, funky smells, and broken overhead projectors... or the "elevator passes" that freshmen got with their welcome kits (the high school only has one floor). Two very different cultures both designed to do the same thing: prepare kids for the next step in life. I'm sure they each have their benefits and drawbacks. My boyfriend has a huge amount of pride over where he grew up, and rightly so: his high school is truly beautiful. I'm a public school brat, though, and I wouldn't trade my education for anything.

Still working on the 2nd blog. I'll have a link up as soon as I can. It's not that exciting, honestly... I just don't want to share until things are at least out of the construction zone.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I want a maple bar, gosh dangit

Saturday morning and there are no good cartoons on anymore. I am displeased. My breakfast included toast today, perfectly toasted buttermilk wheat bread covered in homemade strawberry jam. It's little things like that which make me miss home.

I feel crappy today. Nothing out of the ordinary, just blah. My mind is heavy with wandering thoughts, and my body wants to crawl back into bed where it's warm.

Speaking of warm, I'm forgetting what my fingers feel like. I know I have wall heaters in my apartment, but those are expensive to run. Thus begins my annual freeze. At least this year I have a boy to curl up next to during movies... maybe he'll hold my hands and keep them warm.

Lots to do this weekend, and several good posts to work on for this blog and the new one (plus major changes on both sites). I need to get movin' before Mr. Wonderful comes over and we head out to the bookstore and craft store.

Oh, and one more reason I dislike Corvallis: no Roth's maple bars. How I miss thee!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Meeting the Deacon

Today was interesting, certainly a different Friday than I've experienced... ever. About two weeks ago, I set up a meeting with a local Catholic deacon to ask him a few questions, hopefully gain the knowledge to be able to come up with more questions, and to get a couple answers. Today, at lunch, we met.

I didn't tell many people I was going to do this. I wasn't sure how people would react, but the few people I did tell instantly assumed I'm "converting to the dark side." The Boy knew, of course, and he came with me at my request. I wasn't scared to go alone, but I wanted him there to fill in the gaps where I knew I'd leave stuff out, and he helps me not have verbal diarrhea (as much) when I'm nervous.

We discussed my life growing up, how I've worked so hard at learning as much as I have, and covered my questions as best we could. I still have some--time is precious, though, and I also would like other opinions besides the ones I got today. I value the deacon's input and advice, and I am thrilled he was available if only for an hour.

Earlier this week, I, for some reason or another, decided to get crafty. I beaded a rosary. Don't ask me why, I don't know exactly, but that's what I felt like making. The beads are sharp, silver-lined glass, and they have to be forced onto the wire at times, so my fingers hurt the whole time I was making it. Then, after bending so many wires, my hands ached. Something stopped me as I finished connecting a few of the pieces: how could my infinitely small suffering be anything like that of others? Seriously. Maybe that's the lesson I was supposed to take away from the craft project... I don't know. But during our meeting today, I asked the deacon to bless the rosary for me. Now I can give it as a gift if I decide not to keep it. We shall see.

On that note, I have blog news: I will soon be starting a second blog! It might be a weekly blog, and I might not post to it more than once each month... this will still be my primary blog, and I hope to continue posting here daily (or so, sheesh, it's hard to write every day!). The address is ready and waiting, but I won't share details until I get the site sorted out properly and all customized. Details to come... soon...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Living in History

Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if I would have been born ten or fifty or a hundred years earlier.  Then I check my e-mail, start my dishwasher, and go sit at my digital piano.  Ha!

If I had to pick a different time period to live in other than now, I'd go with one of two times:
The Enlightenment or the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

The 1700's were a time of huge strides in American thought.  With an emphasis on scientific and logical reasoning, how could I not be persuaded to want to live during this time.  The ideas of popular sovereignty, liberty, and natural rights rose out of the great thinkers of the time: Jefferson, Adams, and Madison.  With the country in it's revolution, the declaring of independence, and statehood all on the line, how exciting would it have been?  I realize my life as a female of this time would be limited (I might only have a 5th or 8th grade education), and the majority of my roles would be confined to household tasks.  But the air was filled with philosophy and enlightenment.  That sounds wonderful.

About a hundred years later, the United States entered the Industrial Revolution.  Trade expanded, the country flourished, and cities grew.  Sure, I realize that child labor increased, housing was awful, and pollution was rampant.  But the Victorian Era seems downright fascinating.  The juxtaposition of modern ideas with extreme modesty has me enthralled.  I love to read about some of the customs and theories of the time, and I don't necessarily think they're antiquated even today.  Fashion and architecture of the day is incredible (still!).  These boom years leading up to the Civil War seem like an interesting time to live through.

Of course, I'm thankful for all of our current conveniences.  I would not do well riding a horse today, but I am adept with my four tires on asphalt.  I love my fancy-schmancy electric toothbrush (yay for clean teeth).  And I certainly would be lost without the Internet as a source of knowledge, entertainment, and communication.

Anyway, it takes me too long to write down all of these musings with paper and a fountain pen.  I type faster than I write, so I get these crazy ideas out of my head better when I'm typing.  You should be thankful for that!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Going places... or not

I have always wanted to travel, and I've traveled a bit already in my short life.  I've been all over Oregon--to just about every town with a population greater than 1000 people.  I have been to many states, especially those on the west side of the country.  I have been on road trips that spanned weeks (hellish weeks, let me tell you).  I've even made it to Canada once when I was nine years old.

Travel is expensive.  I don't fluently speak any foreign languages, so I definitely need to stay in the English-speaking parts of the world (which I realize is larger than North America and the United Kingdom).  I don't even have a passport.  These things can be remedied, sure, but the fact remains that travel outside the country is costly and difficult.

But a girl can dream, right?  

-  I'd love to visit Bavaria and experience life there for a few weeks.  I want to eat their amazing food and see the Alps up close on a long hiking trek.

-  I want to tour the Mediterranean, see the Greek Isles, visit France and Spain, and eat overpriced gelatto in Italy.  A cruise ship might be my transport... a nice base to jump off of as I hit the big ports of call.

-  I want to see Alaska, to find Denali in it's beauty, to see a real moose in the wild (not up close!), and to ride with sled dogs across the frozen ground.

-  I want to spend days upon days wandering The Mall in Washington DC: monuments, museums, and other architecture unique to the city and our country.  I especially want to see the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Natural and American History museums, the Air and Space Museum, the Library of Congress, Ford's Theater, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Travel isn't something important to me, or at least not as important as many, many other things in my life.  When the opportunity arises, sure, I'd love to go.  I'd love to get out of my little valley here and see something new and exciting.  It's just not a possibility right now.  Someday, though... I'll be going places.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Deep One about Success

When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and be a writer. From those early days penning simple poems, stories, and letters to my college years being published to blogging, I suppose I've always held to that aspiration in some way. I've wanted to be other things, too. On and off, I figured I'd end up in the medical field. My family always pushed for that, and I do enjoy studying biology and human systems, but as I realized how little of a bedside manner I possess, most medical jobs fell to the wayside quickly. I wanted to be a teacher for a while... and in some ways I suppose I always will. My passion for educating falls short, though, and I don't think it would be fair to my students if I wasn't thrilled to teach every day.

There are so many things I still want to do, to be. I'm out of college, on my own, not tied down by children or a husband, and yet I'm not pursuing that "dream job" I hear my friends talking about. I have a job; why do I want another one? Maybe I'm not career-driven like the generations before me. I don't have grand plans to climb the ladder to manage two or ten or fifty people.

When friends or my parents or even coworkers ask me why I'm not running some scientific lab or making my millions managing dozens of people, I can't give them a good reason for not pursuing those avenues. I just don't make that kind of plan. It's not that I don't worry about money enough or that I don't think into the future about the kind of life I want... I do!

It seems to me that every time I make some plan for my life, though, the plan falls through. So I have things I want to do, things that would make me very happy (like marrying Mr. Wonderful, having kids, having grandkids (oh, I can't wait!), having a job outside the house, earning my keep, making people laugh every day...). I don't know where I want to work, what job I'll do, or what I will produce in those eight-ish hours a day.

Success, to me, isn't about making it. It's more about being satisfied with who I am, finding fulfillment in what I do, and being able to go home at the end of the day to love someone more than myself. If I can do that, my life will be complete.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Now you, too, can reward all my (not so) hard work...

I love books. They're the one thing I never feel guilty about spending money on, and I must admit I buy them more than I should. I'll borrow them when I can, but I really like owning books. My apartment has several bookcases in it, and if I ever have my own house, I'll definitely have hallways or rooms lined in bookcases and books.

Seeing that I love books so much and haven't the money to spend on them, I've devised a not-so-clever way of obtaining them: you! Okay, that's not totally serious, but I do accept gifts. If you scroll down a bit on the left-hand menu, you'll see the logo and a link to my very own Amazon Wish List.

Of course, you are under no obligation to buy me books. This is not a hint. People have asked me what I might want for my birthday (a month from today), and this was the easiest way for me to inform everyone: I want books. Well, there are other things I want, too, but viewing my fleece needs for the next year aren't nearly as exciting.

Feel free to browse my list, send me comments or book suggestions here on the blog, or ignore me completely. I just thought I'd make a note about the link in case anyone wondered what it was. If you need an address to send me books, I will provide a shipping address, not my personal address, via e-mail only. Send me a comment with your e-mail, and I won't approve the comment. I will, then, e-mail you an appropriate shipping address.

Oh, how I love books!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

This is the Song that Never Ends

There I was, casually reading the nutrition facts on a can of cream of chicken, just minding my own business as I shopped. The music faded out. The store quieted for no apparent reason. I looked up, and then it started: "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone..." I stuffed the can back with its friends on the crowded shelf, tried to plug my ears, and walked out of the store. I can't stand that song.

My dislike began in 9th grade during the fall. The marching band incorporated the song into our field show, and we practiced it day-after-day for weeks. As a flute player, I got the melody. Since I'd never heard the song before, I didn't really know the words. About halfway through the season, though, I was informed that this "classic" song had lyrics and that I needed to know them. I maintain that I didn't, and unfortunately I still do.

If I hear the song in a store, I'll leave. I'll turn off the TV or radio. I'll clamp my hands over my ears to prevent it from becoming eternally lodged there between them. My gut hurts just hearing the melody. I can't stand that song!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Call me a Catholistant

Since January, I've been working on a mammoth project discovering the finer points and gentle nuances of Catholicism and Christianity at large. Major things have changed in my life in these nine months, some due to friendly encouragement and guidance, and some changes due to my own knowledge and understanding (and often lack thereof).

I used to think of religion as this concrete form that could be grasped like scientific facts, one item after another. Things were orderly, grouped, and easy to interpret. The reality is anything but solidified. Sure, some things are easier to explain than others, but even the most definite items of Christianity have some element of mystery or question at the core. Instead of black and white easy-to-understand knowledge, I've amassed an ever-growing pile of gray.

Nine months have seen different approaches to this journey, and I think I separated them out unintentionally. The first month was probably the easiest, and the second and third months were undoubtedly the most challenging.

January: I sent out feelers, exploring what kinds of questions I might want to look into. I made my first trip to church (a Catholic one no less) since high school.

February: The season of Lent arrived, and I dedicated myself to daily in-depth study. The vocabulary of Catholicism was daunting, and it took most of the month to even make heads and tails out of some of the words.

March/April: Through Lent and Easter, a larger period of discernment. I faced friends who questioned me both about my faith and about the quest for knowledge. I heaped up the pile of knowledge even more with a thorough reading of the Catechism and other church documents.

May: The Eucharist became a focus of my study as I tried to understand how Catholics and Protestants approach the topic differently. As a non-Catholic, I can't participate in the Church's sacraments. However, now that I understand why the Church holds to that tradition, I feel less concerned about it.

June: A breather of sorts as I wound through a new relationship, let material sink in, and developed more focused questions. This break truly helped me solidify some ideas and allowed me the opportunity to begin putting my own previous beliefs into words.

Summer months: I began to feel and see the beauty in Catholic tradition as a quasi-insider. I began looking at the Protestant denominations and the larger picture of Christianity in order to understand the fundamental differences that divide people. I was able to use my newly-learned religious lexicon to compare ideas with greater understanding. I also began studying the scripture and tradition behind the Rosary. Additionally, I attended Holy Hour a few times.

Looking toward October and the rest of the year: I'll be meeting with a local deacon and possibly a priest to answer a few questions I still have and hopefully find inspiration for a few more questions to go after. This quest of mine isn't about finishing. There might be a baptism at some point (another story for another day), or I might slowly wander off to another path. I don't know. But I cherish all that I've learned, have plans to keep learning, and hope that the journey will continue to fulfill me on the long road ahead.