Sunday, May 31, 2009

Where I've been

Posting has been slow lately, since I moved home, started working full time (though at two different jobs, only one of them paid), and began dedicating all of my spare time to genealogy. For anyone interested in genealogy, and either uninterested in paying for services like (though it's worth it, I promise) or interested in supplementing your paid online resources, make sure you're familiar with FamilySearch and especially the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot. I discovered that they've digitized the NYS census records for 1865 and 1892! They're not indexed, though, so now all my limited free time is spent paging through state census records to find relatives. Doesn't get much better than this!

Happy Birthday to Me!

For my birthday this year, I've received:

Bookshelves (from my parents)
A new phone (from Rhett)
A nightgown (from my sisters)
A Klean Kanteen (from my parents)

And what my mother referred to as the pièce de résistance. . .

[drum roll please]

A Ped Egg

I am *so* excited!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Teach Your Boys

From the January 2, 1879 of the Brooklyn Standard Union, via

Teach them that a true lady may be found in calico quite as frequently as in velvet or white silk.

Teach them that a common school education with commonsense is better than a college education without it.

Teach them that one good, honest trade well mastered is worth a dozen beggarly "professions."

Teach them that "honesty is the best policy," that 'tis better to be poor than to be rich on the profits of "crooked whiskey," etc., and point your precepts by examples of those who are now suffering the torments of the doomed.

Teach them to respect their elders and themselves. Teach them that, as they expect to be a man someday, they cannot too soon learn to respect the weak and helpless.

Teach them that smoking in moderation, though the least of vices to which men are heirs, is the most disgusting to others and hateful to themselves.

Teach them that to wear patched clothes is no disgrace, but to wear a "black eye" is.

Teach them that God is no respecter of sex, and that when He gave the Seventh Commandment He meant it for them as well as for their sisters.

Teach them that by indulging their depraved appetites in the worst forms of dissipation they are not fitting themselves to become husbands of pure girls.

Teach them that it is better to be an honest man seven days in the week than to be a Christian one day and a villain six days.

Teach them that "God helps those who help themselves."

Do all this, and you will have brought them up "in a way they should go."

Friday, May 22, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XVIII

Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

1. When the Duggars start a show with "Hey, come on, we're picking a baby name!" you know I'll be in TV Heaven. They're voting, and Jim Bob says, "Now there's twenty of us here, and just so you know, Mama's and my votes count for twenty each." I really like this show.
2. The hiccups I mentioned here: they lasted for 24 freakin' hours (on and off, but violently every time they were "on"). They were miserable and painful. Why do hiccups happen, anyway?
3. My most exciting project for this summer is finding and visiting the graves of ancestors at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn. I was going to go yesterday, but had to spend the day moving into my room. I was going to go today [I'm writing Tuesday], but felt awful all day, so I stayed home. I'm very much looking forward to this, but I don't know when I'll find the time. But who knows what I could learn? I'm so looking forward to this little trip!
4. Did anyone see Law&Order:SVU this Wednesday? It was about a family who didn't believe that HIV cause AIDS, so the mother and sister both died of AIDS. The thirteen-year-old boy, after his mother's death, refuses to be tested or treated for AIDS. The court upholds his right to make that decision. It's wasn't the SVU new episode time slot, I don't think. Hmmm. . . I wonder if the decision to show that episode this week was at all influenced by current events?
5. Okay, this CNN article about so-called "Important Kisses in History" is kind of banal. But I loved this part of it:

3. The kiss that proved no means no

Gentlemen, a word: When a lady rejects your advances, you'd do best to listen. Take, for example, the story of Thomas Saverland, an English gentleman who was at a party in 1837 and, as a joke, kissed Miss Caroline Newton by force. In response, she bit off a chunk of his nose.

Saverland took her to court, where the judge found his case more hilarious than harrowing. The judge ruled, "When a man kisses a woman against her will, she is fully entitled to bite off his nose, if she so pleases." A smart-mouthed barrister then added, "and eat it up, if she has a fancy that way."

6. I've been worrying a lot about money lately. My sister is way cheaper (we'll say "frugal") than I am, but she likes to save for things like fancy vacations, and nice apartments, whereas I feel like I have to be saving to repay student loans (okay, she doesn't have any loans), have a nice wedding, put a down payment on a house, buy a car, put kids through college, and retire comfortably. How do people ever do these things? Do you know how much a house costs?
Updated for accuracy: I've actually never seen my sister's apartment, and I don't know what she pays. I was extrapolating from the conversation we had about taking a nice vacation, where she said, "Well, we can save up for it," and I said, "But shouldn't we be saving up to be able to pay off our mortgages faster, instead?" and everyone looked at me like *I* was the crazy one. (Neither of us owns a home, and probably neither of us will for several years.)
7. How you know you're not a very good Catholic: with a tendency to search for a saint to ask the intercession of whenever you feel stressed, you find yourself rushing through the streets of Washington, DC wracking your brains to figure out who might, in a pinch, serve as a good patron of illegal parking. Wait, something's wrong here. . .

Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Really freakin' hard

A few weeks ago, I ordered Christopher West's Theology of the Body for Beginners. I haven't yet read it through. I'm afraid of what I'll read, afraid both that I'll believe it and that I won't. Both are scary propositions. It brings to mind this quote by Chesterton, highlighted by The Ironic Catholic this week:

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried."

Yup, that's me.

(Not that the Christian ideal is all about sexuality, of course. But it's illustrative.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My sister Carreen showed me today. I can't remember the last time I've laughed so hard. It is much funnier than (And also generally more family-friendly)

I laughed hysterically at items like:

Today, I held the door open for someone but they were a bit too far away. MLIA.

Today I was going to catch the bus. I thought I should run but I decided not to. I caught the bus. MLIA

Today I pushed on a door that said pull.

Today I heard a song I liked, so I decided to sing along. When it got to a part where I wasn't sure of the exact words, I made up words that sound like the ones they sing. MLIA.

Today, I forgot to lock the keys on my phone. It accidentally called my friend. I heard my friend in my pocket, and picked up and explained the situation. He understood. MLIA.

Today I used the carpool lane to pass a slow car on the left. There were no police around but it was a little exciting. MLIA.
Especially if you're familiar with FML, make sure you check this out!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

People say I live in a bad neighborhood. . .

Walking home from the nearest Metro, NY Ave:

I have the hiccups. The kind that make you think of that cartoon character who used to hiccup and see pink elephants in the living room. I only had two glasses of wine! And white wine, at that.
I walked home tonight, about a fifteen minute walk.

Every time I passed a person, I tried to control my hiccups. It never worked. There are a lot of bad influences in my neighborhood. Today it was me.

I took a bunch of side roads, when I could. I'm trying to get to know the neighborhood as well as I can before I move tomorrow morning.

Trucks with rolled down windows playing loud music got songs stuck in my head.

A little girl, 3 or 4, was sitting on a tricycle in her front yard. She looks at me and says, "Hi!" I say, "Hi!" She informs me, "I'm just going to ride my bike." I tell her, "That sounds fun!" Her mom laughs at us.

I pass an adult-sized bike parked in the middle of the sidewalk. Am I prejudiced if I assume that belongs to an African-American? The bike with the fluorescent safety stickers on it that is U-locked to a fence inside a yard? That, I assume, belongs to a white person. The neighbor is in the process of gentrifying.

I pass two people, a man and a woman, speaking in sign language. (I was about to say ASL, but I really have no way of determining what sign language someone is using. I still assume it's ASL.)

I pass Gallaudet's campus, which I've never visited.

I walk on Florida Ave., M St., L St., and K St., plus all the numbered streets in between.

A guy about my age is standing on the sidewalk outside a rowhouse. They're all rowhouses around here. A girl walks out the gate and puts her bag on the ground near him. Several other people exit the house, walk down the steps. They aren't speaking, not while I'm near them. I'm acutely aware of the sound of my heels clacking on the sidewalk, like those of a junior high school teacher in an empty hallway. I wonder any of them can hear my shoes.

I see a rose bush the size of a front yard. As I pass it, I realize it's only a quarter of the yard, but it's taller than I am. I want that rose bush.

A girl, 6 or 7, is riding a pink bike much too big for her. She's competent on it, though. She stops, dismounts, puts her foot up on it. Her brothers - brothers? - continue running down the sidewalk. An older boy, too young to be her father (I hope), an uncle maybe, a brother, a neighbor, ties her shoe before she gets back on.

I text my friend about going out tonight. One last night in the city, right?

I love this neighborhood.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why I blog the way I do

I have a sneaking suspicion that someone I know, or someone who knows someone I know, may have stumbled upon this blog. I quite wish that weren't the case - I would like for this to be a place where I don't have to worry about people I know "in real life" think of me - but what's done is done. I never tried particularly hard to conceal my identity, and so I know it could happen.

That said, I'm thinking it might be time to explain what this blog means to me, what I use it for. Things I can talk to my friends about in real life, I talk to them about. My blog is, generally though not exclusively, for the things I can't or don't want to talk to them about. I never expected such a high proportion of my posts to be about abortion, but, for better or for worse, they are. Why? Well, there are plenty of other things I feel strongly about, but I can express most of those strong feelings in the real world.

If I were to happen across a story about a mother killing her disabled daughter because she didn't want to take care of her or wanted to spare her the pain of her continued life, I would be horrified. I could express that horror. I could send the link to others, discuss it: "Did you hear this horrible story?" But when I come across an article, equally if not more horrifying, about the 90% abortion rate of children with Down Syndrome, I can't. Not without it turning into a debate about abortion, or the other person maintaining that a woman has a right to an abortion for any reason she can come up with, Down Syndrome included, or the opinion being floated that since they're not people anyway, it doesn't matter whether they're killed.

It's nice to be able to express opinions on those matters without having to defend myself for holding, without letting my grief for unborn children - which was what I'd wanted to express in the first place - be lost to the logistics of having the argument. That's not to say that I never make pro-life arguments here. Indeed I do. And I like having this blog as a place where I can make those arguments without being judged. That's why those are the arguments I make here more than any others; because this is the only place I can make them without being judged.

In addition, because I have tried, to some extent, to mask my identity, I don't post all that much about my life. I do some, but when I try to cut back on the personally identifiable information, it all gets kind of boring. The stuff I have been blogging about - which is often pro-life, for reasons identified above - is more interesting, which is another reason it figures so heavily.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What I wrote tonight on

President Obama,

I've just read the transcript of your speech at Notre Dame this afternoon. I know you're aware of the controversy surrounding your appearance there, given your your support for legal abortion in this country. There are several things you said this afternoon that give me pause, that make me wonder whether you truly support the legality of abortion or at least, whether you've given it much thought at all.

You said,

"For the major threats we face in the 21st century - whether it's global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease - do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups."

I wonder: do you see abortion as one of the major threat of the 21st century? It may not be extremism, not in our current political environment, but it is violent. It does not discriminate - except that it kills children of color at a rate much higher than white children. It does not see national boundaries - except that the United States funds this slaughter now, outside of our boundaries more so than it does within our national boundaries.

You said,

"The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice."

When a woman seeks an abortion, who is being served? Who is dominating? The strong woman, with all manner of social and material support, provided both privately and through the government, or the weak child, with no one to speak on his behalf? With no laws, no societal convention, no empathy on his behalf? Those in our country most likely to empathize with the weak are those most likely to declare that the unborn needs no support, no one speaking for him. Who stands up to ensure that the strong woman with legal abortion on her side does no dominate the weak embryo with nothing but a hope and a prayer protecting him? Is killing a young - the very youngest - child really preventing poverty and injustice? It seems to me that destroying the most weak and the most innocent is the most unjust action.

Please, President Obama, help us to stand up for your campaign promises. Help us to support your vision of the country. Help us to ensure that in America, the weak are not subject to the whims of the strong, the desire of the powerful. Speak on behalf of the helpless, the poor, those without a voice - the unborn. Help us to ensure that injustice does not strike at the most innocent of the innocent, the blameless unborn.

**For the record, looking over this, there are sentences I could have phrased better. I sent it without revision, and so revision now would be dishonest. This is how it was submitted to following Obama's speech.

Friday, May 15, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XVII

1. At Suellen's graduation, I wore "nice" shoes for three days in a row. I may never walk again.
2. I haven't dried my hair in a week (I've been putting it in a French braid) because I couldn't find my hair dryer. I couldn't find it when I was packing to be away most of the past week, so I didn't bring it with me, and I couldn't find it when I got back to my apartment yesterday. I happened to need something unrelated from the drawer where my hair dryer belongs, and when I opened it, I was shocked - shocked - to see my hair dryer in its drawer. Why would I have ever put it away? It may belong in that drawer, but it lives on the floor next to that drawer, plugged in to the wall. It never even occurred to me to look there.
3. Speaking of hair dryers, here's a funny story that reveals quite a lot about me:
I was home over some break at some point during college, and hadn't brought a hair dryer, so I used my mother's. I didn't ask her, just used it and put it back where it came from. Some time later in the day, she made mention of the fact that I'd used it. "How did you know it was me?" I asked. (After all, there are two other girls in the house.) "Because when you put it away, the cord was wrapped around it just so with no twists or kinks."

It continues to boggle my mind that people can stand to put away their small appliances with the cords all loose and twisty and messy. I can't do it. (This once got me a job, when I used the hair dryer anecdote in an interview to illustrate that I'm neat and attentive to detail.)
4. I'm about to put my last sheet of pumpkin leather in the oven. I started my concerted effort to use pumpkin a little over two months ago, with the goal of finishing all the pumpkin in my freezer before I moved out of this apartment, and, on the day before I move out, I've finally succeeded. I'm a little sad to have closed the "pumpkin" chapter of my life, since I don't see myself saving mass quantities of pumpkin at any point in the near future. I've come across a few good recipes, though.
5. Remember when I mentioned the paper I had to do? That I couldn't get an extension on? I pulled an all-nighter the night before it was due (at 5 pm). I still had a few pages left to write, which I finished in the car. We stopped at a friend's house to pick up some things before heading to the memorial service, and I plugged my computer into his internet to e-mail my paper. When I signed into my e-mail account, there was an e-mail from the professor, from only a couple hours earlier (about 6 hours before the paper was due) offering an extension to the whole class. I was furious. You can't give me an extension to go to a memorial service, but you can give the whole class one on a whim? And not tell us until right before it's due? Like it's any good to me; clearly I'd had to finish my paper by then. On top of everything else, one of the reasons he gave me for not allowing me an extension was that grades had to be submitted by Wednesday. If he was so conscientious about submitting grades by Wednesday, why haven't I gotten my grade yet?
6. I don't get a lot of hits from Google searches, but I've noticed that this week, a number of people have been directed to Frankly, My Dear after searching for some variation on "NYU graduation speaker." Funny what happens when you actually blog about relevant things as they're happening. Maybe I should have paid more attention so I could have actually written something substantive.
7. Investigating that last phenomenon, I came across this NYU student (Tisch, I think) who live-Twittered graduation. Probably funnier if you were there, but I find it very amusing and true-to-life.

Find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Monday Project

A fundraising idea from the Women's Health Center of Jacksonville, FL, to make the occasion of Obama's Commencement Speech at Notre Dame the biggest pro-life fundraiser ever. Will this be a positive or a negative moment in pro-life activism? The Monday Project asks, "Obama speaks at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday. What happens on Monday?"

If you donate through their website, they'll send a postcard to Notre Dame for you. If you take the opportunity to otherwise donate to pro-life causes to mark the occasion, I wouldn't hesitate to send your own announcement to Notre Dame. If you're an alum withholding donations from the university, consider donating your money to pro-life causes instead, and let the university - and how about the Obama administration? - know about it. Even if you're not all that worked up about Obama speaking at Notre Dame, consider it a reminder to donate to pro-life causes and help save lives.

Every little bit helps. I just donated. How about you?

H/T Amy Welborn

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh, the painful irony

Suellen's graduation today was beautiful, though my personal preference is for Georgetown's more intimate, more formal, more personal ceremony. Some of the speakers were great (Whoopi Goldberg at the Tisch graduation event yesterday was great, though I'm pretty sure there was a point where she implied that anyone who didn't get the interpretive dance number couldn't be human. Where does that leave me?)

Clinton was decent, although my sister remarked that she forgot she was at a graduation; she was right, it seemed a little like a press conference in both tone and content sometimes.

In the address, she actually said, "In the times that we face, we know we don't have a person to waste. . ."

Is it possible that someone as intelligent and well-educated and logical as she appears to be actually doesn't understand how many people, potentials, lives, and ideas abortion wastes, in this and any other time? Is it possible?

(As for yesterday's post, apparently I can't help thinking about the victims of abortion, graduation day or no graduation day.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heartfelt Conviction vs. Heartfelt Desire

I've spent the past two days at various NYU graduation events; my sister Suellen is graduating from the Tisch School of the Arts (and boy, let me tell you! Art school graduation is way different from any other graduation I've ever been a part of! But very nice, nonetheless). Today is the real graduation ceremony, at Yankee Stadium, with Hillary Clinton as speaker.

Because of Suellen's graduation, I've spent a lot of time lately thinking (fondly) of my own, from Georgetown, last year. And because of happenings in the news and the blogosphere, I've been thinking (worriedly) of the what-ifs and what-would-I-dos.

The fact that the graduation speaker tomorrow is Hillary Clinton does not perturb me in the least. She's not my number one choice, of course, but I have no particular objection, nor surprise, at her selection by NYU. Besides, today is about supporting my sister, not my own politics or even my own morals.

My graduation speaker last year at Georgetown was the founder of Teach for America. Nice speech about making a difference in the world because we're young and idealistic and assume we can do things the world says are impossible.

But I keep thinking about what I would do in a different situation.

What if I'd been at a different prestigious Catholic university? What if I'd been graduating a year later? What if my graduation speaker last year had been similar to Notre Dame's this year?

Would I have been outraged that my Catholic school was bestowing an honor on a pro-abortion politician? Yes.

Would I have been pissed that my graduation ceremony had been hijacked by hype over the speaker? Definitely.

Would I have boycotted the ceremony? Would I have attended the protest and the alternate ceremony in, say, Dahlgren Chapel or Copley Crypt? I'm really not sure.

In that situation, I should have, definitely. With my beliefs, and the beliefs of my church, my university's faith, being disregarded like last month's news, with the lives and deaths of millions of innocents being ignored in favor of prestige and "honor," I should have taken a stand. Made sure that my presence at graduation did not contribute to any news reports about how many students at the school were ambivalent, or glad to see him, or didn't care about abortion, anyway. Taken steps to ensure that my presence did not appear to bestow legitimacy on his presence the way ND's invite so improperly appeared to bestow legitimacy on his beliefs.

But we're talking about my graduation day. I want to be able to celebrate with my friends (all of whom, I assure you, will not be protesting or boycotting). I spent the past 4 years with them. We were there for each other through miserable finals, bad grades, sleepless nights, homesickness, new friends, break-ups, heartbreaks, new loves, new jobs, sick parents, the deaths of grandparents, the first flowers of each spring, the first snowfalls of each winter, terrible professors, wonderful professors, exciting insights, personal injury, bad decisions, 2-day hangovers, that time the cops broke up my party, the 2004 election, the 2006 election, the Red Sox winning the penant (freakin' Red Sox), the Hoyas getting to the Final Four; the point of college is the education you gain, but the most important parts of college are the friendships and the life experiences that make them up.

is what I want to be thinking about on my graduation day. Not Obama. Not politics. Not the victims of abortion. (I spend time thinking about and praying for them every day. Can't graduation be about me? (Self-centered? Yes. Appropriately so? Probably not. Understandable? I think so.))

It'd be an easy choice if all my friends felt the same way I did about Obama, the abortion debate, and the bishops' guidelines. I'm not saying, of course, that my friends' opinions take precedence over mine; what I'm saying is that I shouldn't have to choose, not on my graduation day, between my heartfelt convictions and celebrating graduation with the people with whom I'm graduating.

And I'm saying that if I were forced to choose, I don't know what I'd do. I know where I'd want to be. I know where I should be. And I know they're not the same place.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun Trivia About Deoderant

From CNN:

1. Be thankful for your foul body odor. According to anthropologist Louis Leakey, it might be responsible for early man's survival. Leakey's theory claims that most predators avoided feasting on humans because our body odor was "too repugnant."

2. Not only did the ancient Egyptians give us pyramids and flush toilets, they also pioneered the field of deodorants. Egyptians were the first to popularize the idea of applying scents to armpits, usually using cinnamon and other spices that wouldn't turn rancid in the heat.

3. The Roman poet Ovid preferred a more proactive solution. In Book III of the Art of Love, he cautions women against carrying goats under their arms.

Read the rest at CNN!

Just the other day, when I got on a bus next to someone who clearly hadn't showered in some time, it occurred to me that 1,000 years ago, everyone smelled like homeless people. Imagine what buses were like then!

Friday, May 8, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XVI

1. My mom is on facebook.

Let me say that again: My mom is on facebook.

Prepare for the apocalypse, kids. This is the first sign.
2. Her very first status message (I'm so proud!) is "I'm freaking my kids out."
3. As promised in number 7 here, I proceeded to leave my last paper until the night or two before it was due. At this writing, I've got 14 pages to write in 2 days. I'm writing a blog post instead. Wish me luck.
4. How come all of the sudden, in grad school, professors require Chicago style citations? All through undergrad - in the same fields, mind you - I was asked for MLA or APA. I'm 22. You can't teach an old dog new citation styles. Writing this paper will take me twice as long as it would if I could cite intuitively.
5. Things I hate: canker sores, apparently. I've never had a bad one until two days ago. Ouch.
6. Everyone in my life knows I have a 15-page paper to write before we leave for the funeral first thing Friday morning. They are all asking how it's going. It is no fun to continue telling each of them that I only have 1 page written, no matter how many hours have elapsed since the last time I told that person - or any other - that I had written one page. I've begun telling them that I'm "writing." I am conspicuously and intentionally neglecting to mention that I am "writing" on my blog that they know nothing about - not my paper.
7. This paper I keep bringing up is a hagiology (just learned that word today; it's the study of hagiography) of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I really enjoyed reading the various biographies of the Saint. But, my professor actually told us we didn't need to read all of the books we were writing about. He said we could get a decent appreciation for the books by reading the prefaces, introductions, and conclusions and skimming a little. Finals certainly haven't left time for any more than that. I really wish, though, that I had time to actually read about the books about the life of this fascinating and holy woman.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring Break Part II, much-belated

About a bazillion years ago, I promised a post about the low-lights of my Spring Break. That was a long time ago, but I'd like to relive my vacation instead of studying for my finals. They're not particularly terrible; most are about the weather. Here goes:

1) It started raining as we were loading the car Saturday morning. It rained for the next 4 days. Then it stopped. Then it started again.

1a) And when I say it "started again" I mean this: We had one morning to spend on the beach. We got there, it was cloudy, we laid on the beach anyway. The sun came out. Excited, but worried about sunburn (Rhett and I are both pasty white kids), I went across the street to CVS to get sunscreen. I got back to the beach and began applying sunscreen. The rain had started before I'd finished putting the sunscreen on.

1b) When I was in high school, there was a period of time where it rained for two weeks straight. Ever since then, I've thought of how a story about never-ending rain would make for a good horror story, but I can't think of a plot, except the ones that have already been done, like Ray Bradbury's All in a Summer Day. (Read it here, after clicking on the link under "Training Resources.") (That, for the record, is a story I can't even read. I find it too horrible.)

2) We had a lot of things planned for our first day, Sunday in Virginia Beach, so I got up to go to a 7 AM Mass. I don't think I've ever been to church that early before, and I don't think I will be again until I'm at least 65, like all the other people who were there that morning. The priest gave a rather long, complicated homily that had good points but was a little difficult to follow. He ended with talking about how you shouldn't do good deeds or pious practices so others would see how good you were. "Do them in secret," he said, "God will love you more if you do."

Really? 'Cause I'm pretty sure that how much God loves me doesn't depend on anything I do.

3a) I left a pair of pajamas in Savannah. I just plain forgot them. They must have been under the covers or a towel or something.

3b) I started to run short of underwear towards the end of the trip, so in Florida I took 3 worn pairs out of my suitcase, washed them in the sink, and hung them up to dry in the bathroom. I didn't miss them until I was most of the way through South Carolina. One of them was my favorite pair, too.

3c) The following Monday, as I was heading in to work, I couldn't find my badge. I got a provisional badge for the day, and looked through my suitcase and all over the house when I got home. No luck. I had to get a new one; my old one could be anywhere on the East Coast.

4) When I got back, I had a headache for 4 straight days. I'm pretty sure it was my eyes adjusting to the new glasses I got when I was in New York; I hadn't had an appropriate prescription for over a year.

5) We had an amazing trip, but my goodness, a 9-stop road trip over 9 days is not a relaxing vacation.

6) Our 30-minute trip over an incredibly long bridge in the cloudy, gray rain. There was nothing but gray for as far as the eye could see: gray bridge, gray clouds, gray rain, gray water. The bridge was so long we couldn't see where it ended, and I literally thought we'd be on it forever. It seemed like it was never going end. We called it "Purgatory."

Are people also wondering how many Lutherans play for the Capitals?

This evening I started a Google search. (No, it was not related to my paper. Stop asking.) It began "Catholics who. . ." and Google's drop down menu filled in possible searches:

Catholics who voted for obama
Catholics who use birth control
Catholics who have had abortions
Catholics who left the church
Catholics who support abortion
Catholics who have left the church
Catholics who have abortions
Catholics who have played for rangers

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong. . .

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yeah, what ARE they for?

While I was reading comments on posts on my family genealogy blog:

Rhett, looking over my shoulder: Wow, do people really read your blog?
Me: Apparently a couple actually do.
Rhett: I mean, I know I read it--
Me: You do?
Rhett: Of course. What are boyfriends for, if not to read your genealogy blog?

(Compare to Suellen's attitude here.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Prayer Request AND a Rant

First, I'd like to ask for prayers for a friend's family. His completely healthy father had a stroke, out of nowhere this weekend. He's on life support, with minimal brain function, and they're planning on disconnecting the machines as soon as they've arranged organ donation. So I'd like your prayers that they get through this time as best they can.

Second, they're Jewish. I'm not sure whether I'll be going to the services - depends on whether he wants us to make the trip, and if he does I'll go - but in case I do: Does anyone know anything about proper behavior at a Jewish funeral and/or when families are sitting shiva?

Third, coincidences.

-Morbidly ironic coincidence: This friend was the freshman year roommate of the friend whose mother had an aneurysm just two weeks ago (She is still facing serious problems, but continues to do better than she was expected to.) Bad week for the vascular health of the families of that dormroom, huh?

-More than coincidence: At church last night - not two hours before I heard the news - the priest (a priest whom I've noticed has a particular gift for saying exactly what I need to hear), in the course of his rather long but very good homily, used the phrase, "We're all just one phone call away from being brought to our knees." He was referring to that unexpected, unwelcome news that changes everything. "Too true right now," another friend said when I mentioned it.

And fourth, a rant. I have 1 final to take on Tuesday, and a paper due Friday. I e-mailed both professors explaining the situation and the fact that while I still very much don't know what's going on or what will happen when over the course of the next week, there's a strong possibility that I'll have to travel out of town for the funeral of a close friend's father, and if it's a conflict, would it be okay if I asked to make up the exam at another time/have an extension on the paper?

The professor whose class I have a test for said sure, we could reschedule the test as long as it was within a few days. This fits with the caring and human attitude of every professor I've ever approached with a situation like this.

(A friend's mother died during mid-terms last year, and we - 11 or 12 students - were able to drop everything and travel to her funeral. Every professor we approached understanding and flexible. My grandfather died during finals the next semester, and I handed in one of my last papers shorter than it should have been, unpolished, and with no conclusion. I wasn't going to say anything, because, as it happens, I found out my grandfather had died only two hours before the paper was due. I shouldn't have left it until that late, anyway. But a friend explained the situation without my knowledge, and the professor was very kind and accepted it as it was.)

The other professor responded that extensions are only applicable to students whose relatives have died, so no, I could not have an extension. Let's be clear. I wasn't asking for an extension because I was so grief-stricken about the death of this very nice man I've met half a dozen times. I was asking for an extension to allow me to travel up the East Coast so that I could support a friend who is grieving his father. Just to make the demands on me slightly less burdensome, because the 3 days that I had planned to spend writing papers were now likely to be spend making a round trip to New England. So that I could be a decent human being and fulfill the basic duties of friendship. Surely even a history professor must realize that comforting those in mourning is more important than a 15-20 page historiographic essay. We've even talked in this class about how the ideal profession is one which allows us to do some good and make the world a better place. How, pray tell, does a professor believe he is fulfilling that by insisting that students get no latitude to put human beings before graded papers?

Of course, my initial reaction to his response was a little less elegant, and a little more along the lines of "What an @$$!"

You've heard of the Flying Nun. . . ?

From Eilmer of Malmesbury, a medieval Benedictine monk, we get the "first known serious flight attempt."

Dr. Richard P. Hallion writes:

"The first known serious flight attempt in world history occurred about a thousand years before the Wright brothers, in western England. Then, a young Benedictine monk leapt with a crude pair of cloth wings from a watchtower of a church abbey at the beginning of the 11th century. This monk, known to history as Eilmer of Malmesbury, covered a furlong--a distance of approximately 600 feet--before landing heavily and breaking both legs. Afterwards, he remarked that the cause of his crash was that 'he had forgotten to provide himself with a tail.'"

Puts that trip to Kitty Hawk into a whole new perspective. (He went further on his first flight than the Wrights did on theirs; they started from the ground, though.)

Via Fr. Z

Friday, May 1, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XV

1. Watching House as I tried to write a 15-page research paper made me think that one of the perks of doing genealogy is that if I ever get sick, especially if I ever have some crazy disease that needs to be diagnosed by the country's leading diagnostician, is that I'll be able to give the doctors a familial medical history going back to my great-great-great-great-grandmother. (She died of old age, so she tells us nothing, but still.)

2. Speaking of medical histories, a few years ago, I broke my nose. After a week or two, I still seemed like I was congested and runny, for no good reason, and my mom made me see an ENT. The form asked for a family medical history, and I gave a brief one - Dad had sinus problems, sister has asthma, grandmother died of breast cancer. She asked for more details. And more details. And more details. I had skipped the part about what kind of health my "aunt" was in, because I have *9* aunts. She asked how old each one was, what exact health problems each had ever suffered from. But when it really started to get ridiculous was when she had to know whether my twin aunts were identical or fraternal. For a broken nose. Could someone with medical training please explain how the type of twins my mother's younger sisters are could possibly have any bearing on the depressed fracture I got from being being headbutted during Judo class?*

3. Irony: having been too busy last week to put together 7 Quick Takes, but realizing that I posted *9* quick short little 1-3 sentence posts in the days surrounding last Friday.

4. I opened up my Gmail account when I was studying abroad in Florence. Because of this, when it takes a moment for me to sign in or sign out, the screen reads, "Attendere prego" instead of "Wait please" (which I assume is what it would say if it were speaking to me in English). I have found this endlessly amusing every single time it's happened for the past 2 years.

5. Speaking of Italy, I am dying to go back. I didn't have the stereotypical "best three months of my life, I never wanted to leave" study abroad experience, and I couldn't wait to get home. For a long time afterwards, I thought I was done with Italy. As nice a place as it might be, I couldn't imagine going back without reliving the soul-crushing loneliness of that trip.

Last week, I saw the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where the family travels to Italy, and I've been pining for Italia ever since. I think I'm over my study abroad-induced phobia, and instead I'm missing the relatives I met while I was there, remembering how swimming in Mediterranean was so much more fun than any other swimming I've ever done, crying over commercials for Barilla pasta, contemplating taking a summer course to brush up on my Italian, and sending Rhett links that have pictures of beautiful places in Italy in an attempt to convince him that we need to start saving now, because our honeymoon is going to be a very long, very comprehensive, and very expensive Italian tour.

6. Just yesterday, I was thinking about how the pursuit of genealogy is chiefly involved in finding documentation to back up what you already know and disseminating information to other people. The "Ah-ha Moments" are few and far between. Then I happened upon an member tree which I'm almost positive records, though it spells her maiden name wrong, the descendants of my great-great-grandmother's older sister. I literally got up and danced around the living the room, a little butt-wiggling, arms-flailing move that never would have seen the light of day if my roommate had been home.

7. As you may be able to tell, I spent the past day doing genealogy. This is part of a vicious cycle, wherein immediately after I hand in an assignment, I feel that I both need and deserve a break. Then I take a break until a day or two my next assignment is due and am forced to work for constantly, to the extent of not sleeping and eating only Ritz crackers with nothing on them for days at a time. As soon as that is done, predictably, feel that I need a break until immediately before my next assignment is due. The next week is going to suck.

*FYI, headbutting is not a legitimate Judo technique.