Monday, August 31, 2009

Like God was sitting on a cloud

As I was driving to DC to move some more things into my apartment last week, I saw the most amazing sunset. I had the privilege of watching the sun set from Delaware through Maryland. It was an incredible 2-3 hours of the setting sun. First, it sunk below this large cloud, and a little while later, as the road and the sun moved in conjunction with one another for my benefit, I got to watch it emerge from below that same cloud, and then see the entire process of the sun setting below the horizon.

Most amazing sunsets are about color, but this one wasn't. This one was all about light, about the light playing off of clouds, and illuminating certain areas of the sky and cloud formations but not others. I was entranced. I skipped dinner because I didn't want to miss more of the sunset by spending time inside a rest stop.

And there was a double rainbow! Soon after I took this picture, the higher, lighter one faded and the lower one got stronger, but I didn't get a picture of that one. As I drove down I-95 with my cell phone held out the driver's side window to try to capture it, a cop car drove past and I was scared straight.
The beauty of that drive was unmatchable. My mind turned to thoughts of God's covenant with Noah, and I had to turn off the radio and sing all the particularly joyous church songs I could think of, and then prayed a couple of Glorias. (Who am I?) I couldn't help but wonder how someone could possibly doubt the existence of God in the face of such beauty. I'd been a little depressed earlier in the week, due to a variety of recent tragedies in my community and circumstances that had turned my mind toward the tragedies that had befallen friends of mine over the past several years. The beauty last week was tangible enough to completely turn my earlier mood around. There is still beauty in the world - and such beauty!

It makes me sad to think of how many people on 95 with me that night didn't even look at the sky. (I, potentially, spent slightly too much time looking at the sky while driving.)

What was particularly incredible to me was how this incredible light transformed everything around it. Bridges? Gorgeous. Traffic? Glorious. Concrete overpasses? There is a God!

I know that it's impossible to convey in words, or in grainy cell-phone pictures, the unspeakable, all-pervading glorious light of last Sunday's sunset. I'll leave you with this reminder: Look up!

Friday, August 28, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXVII

1. I started to write a Quick Take here just a few minutes ago, but it turned into a full-length post. Check back Monday for the most beauty I've ever experienced.
2. For our 18-month anniversary, I gave Rhett a CD I'd made him of songs that make me think of him. I wrote on the CD "I made you a mix tape." This, apparently, is a highly amusing thing to write on a CD. I'm not sure I've ever seen him laugh so hard nor so long. I knew I was being funny, but I had no idea just how funny I actually am.
3. I've been having a tough time keeping up this blog lately. It just doesn't really hold my interest as much as it used to. When I started it, I had all these thoughts that I felt I just needed an outlet for. Apparently having the outlet makes the thoughts seem much less urgent. I've decided that while I'm definitely going to maintain this blog, I'm not going to put as much pressure on myself as I had been trying to. If I have things I want to post, I'll post them. If not, expect some dead air.
4. That said, expect some regular posts over the next week or two. Months ago, I bought one of those little wooden bracelets with pictures of saints on them, and I've been wearing it regularly. I am, however, highly embarrassed to not be able to identify a good 50% of the figures. (The fact that there are 2 images of Christ and 1 of the Blessed Virgin make my numbers even more pathetic, as those are gimmes.) I'm hoping that if I post these pictures, someone will be able to help me ID my mystery saints.
5. It occasionally occurs to me that I should be really hoping that the bloggers I read regularly pay no attention to their SiteMeters at all. I still don't use a Feed Reader to read my blogs, finding it more exciting to actually visit a site and see if there's been an update since the last time I checked. The problem is, with my summer work over and school not starting until next week, I have sometimes over the past several days found myself at home with hours to kill, sitting on the computer, "occasionally" (often) checking my favorite blogs for new posts. This is worst at sites that I know update more than once a day, and Fr. Z at WDTPRS may very well think he has either a huge fan following or a dedicated stalker in [Small Town, NY]. I'm so embarrassed.
6. I'm such a stereotypical poor grad student. Besides spending my unclaimed hours on the internet waiting for blogs to be updated (I'm not as pathetic as I sound, really), I just ordered my new bed to be delivered to my apartment. My new air bed, that is. Why buy a whole new bed that will just have to be sold or moved back to NY when I can sleep on an air mattress for a year? It's cheaper and easier - it's just not exactly classier.

7. I can't figure out how I feel about this Wall Street Journal article about an artist who buys deaccessioned museum pieces and transforms them into his own works of art. It's certainly art, but it's got a very anti-preservation attitude that rubs me the wrong way. If you'd like the artist's take on it, check out his own blog at

Photo credit Robert Fontenot
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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Overheard in New York

At the corner of Houston and Lafayette this evening, on my way to get drinks with some friends:

A guy selling something from his van: "Get your Barack Obama condoms here! Get your Obama condoms! You can't put a price on protection! Cheaper than an abortion!"

I was angered and disgusted. You?

Friday, August 14, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXVI

1. From now on, I always sign leases for apartments sight unseen. I let my new roommate pick out our new apartment while I was out of the city, and signed the lease and paid my first month's rent before I'd ever seen it. I finally moved some furniture in earlier this week - I won't move in for a couple of weeks yet - and I was thrilled. Any apartment I'd picked out would have probably been significantly worse, but as it is, we're in a good neighborhood, really close to a Metro, two floors, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, gorgeous kitchen, spacious living room, and, perhaps most exciting of all, the walls are painted! Such an improvement over "renters' white."
2. There are no country music stations in NY, where I'm living now, so I have to get my fix when I go down to DC. After I'd gotten in and we'd moved my furniture, I mentioned to Rhett that I was surprised I wasn't hoarse from screaming country music lyrics the entire ride down. I was not amused by his response. "You know, it's really not fair. I didn't know about this "country" thing when we started dating."
3. How did I go from having 20-something Tweets in my Twitter history to having 9? And is it weird that it's the middle ones that disappeared, not the oldest ones or the most recent?
4. My most recent genealogical success is still exciting me hugely. Months ago, I'd written away to the NYPD Department of Personnel to see if they could give me information on my great-grandfather, a cop. I didn't hear from them for ages, and figured no response was coming. Wrong! And what a response it was! Just the list of everything that was included was 3.5 pages long. I'm still excited. Let me know if you want to know where to write and what information to include, those of you who have NYPD ancestors.
5. I've been dog-sitting for the past 2 weeks (I had a friend take over for me for a couple days in the middle). I think it's supposed to be the easiest job in the world, but I'm totally ready for them to be home. Sleeping in someone else's bed, and eating my meals across town from where I sleep and dress is just plain old exhausting.
6. Besides, I'm not quite old enough yet to forget how I would have felt about having a house entirely to myself a few years ago, and so I can't help but think it's such a waste of an empty house to use it for sleeping, genealogy, and applying for internships, and not crazy parties that are the envy of the 11th grade.
7. (I never in my life had one of the above parties, nor would I have known where to get the beer or the phone numbers of the right guests that would have made one possible. But a girl can dream, right?)
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not everything is perfect on good old P.E.I.

Do you know who my least favorite character in the Anne of Green Gables canon is? The absolute most despicable person we encounter in all 8 books?

Not Josie and Gertie Pye.
Not the Pringle family.
Not Mrs. Gibson, who makes poor Pauline's life miserable.
Not Mrs. Campbell, who makes poor little Elizabeth's life miserable.
Not Jenny Penny or Dovie Johnson or Delilah Green.
Not the Kaiser, against whom all the young men in Canada risked - or gave - their lives.

It's the sympathetically-portrayed, but utterly awful Ellen West Douglas. How could someone treat another person so terribly? She flat-out refused to allow her sister Rosemary to marry John Meredith.

"He means to ask her, St. George--I'm perfectly sure of that. So he might as well have his chance to do it and find out he can't get her, George. She'd rather like to take him, Saint. I know that--but she promised, and she's got to keep her promise. I'm rather sorry in some ways, St. George. I don't know of a man I'd sooner have for a brother-in-law if a brother-in-law was convenient. I haven't a thing against him, Saint--not a thing except that he won't see and can't be made to see that the Kaiser is a menace to the peace of Europe. That's his blind spot. But he's good company and I like him. A woman can say anything she likes to a man with a mouth like John Meredith's and be sure of not being misunderstood. Such a man is more precious than rubies, Saint--and much rarer, George. But he can't have Rosemary--and I suppose when he finds out he can't have her he'll drop us both. And we'll miss him, Saint--we'll miss him something scandalous, George. But she promised, and I'll see that she keeps her promise!"

And then - what, a year later? less? - the good Ellen decides she wants to get married, she no longer has any use for their sacred promise of eternal singlehood, and she wants to be released from it. And - whereas Rosemary was so committed to their promise that she wouldn't even tell John Meredith why she was refusing his proposal - Ellen tells her beau Norman Douglas all about it so that he can go ask Rosemary for her permission.

"You know as well as I do, girl. Don't be putting on your tragedy airs. No wonder Ellen was scared to ask you. Look here, girl, Ellen and I want to marry each other. That's plain English, isn't it? Got that? And Ellen says she can't unless you give her back some tom-fool promise she made. Come now, will you do it? Will you do it?"

It took me years to view Ellen as an awful person, as Rosemary holds no grudge and L.M. Montgomery continues to paint her sympathetically through the rest of the series. But her actions are the most despicable I think I've encountered anywhere in Avonlea, Summerside, Four Winds, or the Glen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My HS principal died last weekend. I never thought I could be so sad about a man I hadn't seen in 5 years and had had exactly one conversation with, ever. Our one conversation was under these circumstances:

It was the morning of my HS graduation. I had bought a dress, but had no shoes to go with it, and, due to the schedule of the morning (graduation rehearsal, baccalaureate Mass, graduation), did not expect to have time to do my hair or put on make-up. I was stressed, emotional, and overwhelmed. By the time I got to rehearsal, I was in tears. Waiting for rehearsal to start, the graduating class of several hundred was milling around the auditorium. In our high school, the academic top 10% sit at the front and graduate first, so I was near the front, where the rest of the smart kids were milling, but I was in tears. Mr. F. came over to me. We'd never spoken before. He said, "Is everything okay? You're still going to graduate, right? You didn't fail phys. ed. or anything?" (It sounds bald on paper, but he said it very sympathetically.) I guess he assumed, since my position marked me as one of the smart kids, that only gym class could jeopardize my graduation. I told him I was fine, I hadn't failed anything, I was still graduating. He walked away, headed directly over to where a group of teachers stood, most of whom were male, with 1 female guidance counselor. I saw him approach the counselor and point in my direction. He probably said something along the lines of "There's a girl crying over there, and I don't know what to do. You should take care of it." He was probably correct, as only a woman's presence would allow me to act the way I did when she approached me, which was to break down still further and wail "My hair looks bad and I have no shoooooes!"

It was the briefest interaction, and - seeing as how I cried my way through it - you wouldn't think I'd walk away from it with a positive impression. But I suppose there's a perception that administrators don't particularly concern themselves with the happiness or emotional well-being of individual students. That's for the people on the ground, the teachers and counselors. But when Mr. F. saw someone with a problem, his first reaction was to approach me himself to try to help. He was sympathetic. And when he realized he was in over his head (a crying teenage girl!) he found the right person to take care of it. It didn't occur to me until I heard about his untimely death last week that, while I'd made a point of going back to the school some days later and thanking the guidance counselor for being so kind and sympathetic, I'd never thanked Mr. F.
for caring so much.


Friday, August 7, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Part XXV

1. I was just party to explaining the acronym MILF to my mom. My aunt (it was all her fault anyway) and I were laughing so hard she almost never knew.
2. I've been procrastinating my life away all week. I need to get an internship for this coming semester, and I simply can't get my act together to apply. I do genealogy, I blog, I chat. I don't update resumes or e-mail contact people or ask for references. I'm a little bit screwed.
3. Have I been completely oblivious, or did everyone else know that one of the (formerly) jailed American journalists in North Korea was Lisa Ling's sister?
4. I'm laying here in bed Thursday night, near tears because my high school principal, who I hadn't seen in 5 years and had spoken to only once, died earlier this week. I was planning on including our one interaction in this Quick Take, but it got too long. Next week, look for a post demonstrating how one of the smart kids, who never had any opportunity to interact with administrators because I was never in trouble, could learn first hand that the principal was a really good guy who will be missed.
5. That was Thursday night. I fell asleep while trying to finish this post, and now it's Friday afternoon and I can't remember whether I had any other Quick Takes to write about.
6. I've recently discovered I'm a country fan. It appears I like "pop" country - Montgomery Gentry, Lonestar, etc. Any more seasoned country fans out there have recommendations for good country music?
7. I'm heading up to RI for a weekend of vacation this afternoon, and then driving down to DC for an overnight of hard work (moving furniture into my new apartment). It'll be a marathon travel weekend. Wish me luck.
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Great Sockish Migration to the US

I've spent this week catching up on back episodes of the Genealogy Gems podcast. Here's a brilliant video by the creator of Genealogy Gems, Lisa Louise Cook:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Job is done happily and well, customer is put first!

When I griped last week about having having lost $35 on a returned-check fee even though I could have sworn that my checking account had sufficient funds, I was right! I re-paid it, and worried that the amount hadn't been credited to my account quickly enough - maybe there was actually some problem - so I called up Student Accounts to check. I was only calling about that. The lovely girl I spoke with on the phone said my most recent payment was still pending and should post soon, and she took it upon herself - without my asking - to check into the the prior payment. It hadn't bounced, she said, but had been an invalid account. I must have made a typo when trying to pay it online the first time. So she offered - I didn't even have to ask - to remove the $35 fee and clear my account so I wouldn't have the record of a bounced check besmirching my good name in the Student Accounts office. (They penalize you more if you bounce more than one check.)

It was an unexpectedly pleasant phone call.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sand Animation

Last week, on Faith and Family Live!, blogger Danielle Bean posted a video of the Sand Animation that won Ukraine's Got Talent. I was fascinated. I never knew such a thing existed, and if I had, I never could have imagined how incredible it could be - both aesthetically and emotionally moving.

I'd been talking to Rhett online, and he had to let someone else use the computer for a few minutes. I clicked on it absently, figuring I'd turn it off when he got back. I did no such thing. I couldn't tear myself away.

Here's another of Kseniya Simonova's Sand Animations:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Remember Noah?

The weatherman just said that we'd had "measurable rainfall" for 46 out of the past 94 days. I did some quick math (well, not as quick as an intelligent, grown person should be able to divide by 2, but I did some math) and discovered that this meant it had rained for half-minus-1 of the last 94 days.