Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a gossamer glamour

Today I rediscovered why I love theatre.

One of my professors said something today that made me shiver with delight. We were speaking of Roman theatre, the early Christian Church, and in the appearance of women on the stage.
Our professor was speaking about why it was thought licentious for women to appear onstage. And to be perfectly candid, usually I disagree with most of what this professor says. Or he says something flippant I disagree with, but he truly agrees with me. Or he says something flippant that I agree with, and he doesn't. And then sometimes he says something flippant that I'm not sure if even he knows whether he agrees with himself or not. But this time he said something startlingly wonderful. He said, the power of theatre to seduce is unbelievable. People onstage look beautiful and dazzling, and we find ourselves in love with them in spite of ourselves.

And I was completely struck by how true that is. Human beings are so beautiful, and the wonder and magic of theatre is that we can't help but be fascinated by human beings acting out a story in front of us. Even if they aren't doing anything-- just sitting there being human beings. We still can't help but fall in love with them a little bit. And the incredible facet of theatre is its immediacy--you can physically reach out and touch an actor onstage. That is phenomenal and miraculous.

Someone once said that Shakespeare is not realism, but rather, greater than realism. Shakespeare's characters live the way we all truly live. The vibrant spiritual life of human beings isn't relegated to the interior of his characters, rather, their interior life becomes their exterior life. It's heightened, which is a word bandied about a lot concerning Shakespeare, but it truly is. Human beings are raised to the heights that they belong. There's something transcendent about his work. When you're onstage, performing Shakespeare, you feel transcendent. You feel alive, and beautiful, and then you can set about the actor's task of seducing your audience. You woo them with your words, convincing them that your character's story is worth listening to. It's all rather dazzling and exhilarating.

Today was one of those days when I re-discovered why I love theatre.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shalom, Ima!

This is adorable.
Then, I was looking up at the Golden Dome. And I was like: Oh. Mary is a Jewish Mother.
I've always wanted a Jewish Mother.
And there she is.
Looking over me.
Just like any good Jewish mother would.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

it pulls me from within

This is beautiful.

home away from home

Continuing the theme of counting one's blessings. Here are two reasons why my snug little room has been one of my favorite things every this year.

My roommates are bomb. Pillow talk, laughing, gossiping, snuggling, sharing life, deep talks, and eating lots of chocolate together. We have too much fun. Furthermore, my roomie just left her itunes on. The Lion King's "He Lives in You" came on, and then right after that Selena's classic: "Year Without Rain." Yes. YES. This is why we are perfect for each other.

My bed.
Sometimes, I crawl into my bed and it hits me how wonderful bed is. It's amazing how that bed has seen me through so many different troubles and happinesses, and each night I crawl back in, and wake up ready to start a new day. A bed is the one constant in the craziness of life. And I like that.

Our beautiful big windows. They look out onto the courtyard, which is lush and green in the warm weather, and covered with snow in the winter. It's so beautiful. It lets in so much light, and makes the room seem much less cramped than a typical college dorm room.

My little nook. Under my bunk is my nook, which is usually filled with lots of my belongings. And I love it. But this year-- this year, thanks to my New Year's Resolutions, I will keep it clean. I swear.

We'll see how long this lasts.

Friday, January 27, 2012

little plops of gladness

I have absolutely no right to be blogging about anything right now. None.

It's Friday. And I need to be productive. Like homework. Homework would be a good idea, right?


But, instead, we're going to do a quick run-through of the various blessings of the week.

Lucenarium last night at Moreau. The homily was incredible. Actually, all homilies recently have been telling me exactly what I needed to hear. (I see you, God. I see what you're doing. Well played.) Last night was just a beautiful reflection on love and humility. In the marriage counseling course the seminarian was running, a woman checked "YES" to the question: "Does your future spouse ever humiliate you?" on the pre-counseling questionnaire.
Can we say: red flag?
Naturally, he brought it up in the counseling session. He said the woman was surprised he thought to mention it. And he was surprised she was surprised. Then, after talking it out he realized that in this woman's native language (English was her second language), there was no differentiation between "to humiliate" and "to humble." The woman was not humiliated by her spouse; she was humbled. The fact that this incredible man loved her and cherished her so much humbled her. How beautiful.

Project 2012. Project 2012 aka Project Awkward Tension.
Project 2012's goal is to eliminate awkward tension (of the romantic or otherwise variety) in all relationships. There's just no reason for that. And I'm proud to say Project 2012 has performed admirably so far this year. Here's to a much less awkward-tension-filled year!

Well, speaking of awkward....That Awkward Moment When you have to ask someone in an e-mail: "please pardon my bluntness, but are you a gentleman or a lady?" Urgh. Struggles.

Writing is like butterfly catching. Kind of. It's like there are words floating in the wind, and when you reach out your hand, you catch one. You look at it, consider it, and then you pluck another one out of the atmosphere. You mix them together, roll them around, rearrange them, blend them, juxtapose them. You find another, and then all of a sudden, like magic, they smush together in a satisfying phrase that rolls around your mouth as smooth as silk. And you know you've found the perfect phrase. You just have to catch the right words, let them play, and then basically the words do the writing for you.

Words are living, breathing things with pictures and stories of their own. In The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis describes a subterranean country where the earth is so warm and vibrant that there are rivers of gold, and pools of diamonds. Rubies are fruits that grow on trees, and you can eat them. Jewels are warm and nurturing, not hard and cold. Words are something like that. Words run free, and you have to listen to what they have to tell you, and then capture them. Think of the word crimson. Crimson is like crushed silk. Crimson is less angry than scarlet, but more alive than burgundy. Or the word quotidian. You could just say: daily. But that wouldn't capture the delicious comfort of a daily ritual or occurrence. Each of the words have a different character, and in order to use them correctly, you have to learn their character.

Over this past weekend, we ate at some phenomenal restaurants. Saturday night, cold and tired and mentally exhausted from homework, we stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall, family-owned Mexican restaurant. It was the yummiest. I have never tasted food so good. Every single one of us received huge platters of food. And we ate every single crumb. And then we proceeded to groan with delight over how good food is. If I ever doubted the existence of God, I would just eat some food. Nothing that good can exist without a creator. Amen. Lawyered.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

source of hope & cause of our joy

Archbishop Rhoades gave an absolutely riveting homily at Mass this afternoon. I don't know what exactly struck me about his simple message, but I think it was the earnestness and the dead seriousness in his words.

He spoke of metanoia, which means a conversion--a complete change in the mind and heart, in the will and intellect--which spoke to my own feeble and wibbly-wobbly heart. It was a reminder that a life of Faith means a life of constant conversion. C.S. Lewis describes the Christian life as one that is made of choices. And each choice we make turns us closer or further away from God. I'm paraphrasing, but he describes evil as an entity that is constantly popping up, and our struggle for goodness is an effort to constantly strike down the evil that crops up. The entire life of a Christian is one of metanoia.

The Archbishop didn't say anything out-of-the-ordinary, or overly dramatic, but his speech began to ring with a palpable preparing-the-troops-for-battle feeling. Especially when he spoke of Friday's events. It sent chills up and down my spine. And got me so ready for the March tomorrow!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

there's a story in the sidewalks.

So I'm back in D.C.
And it's been phenom. Absolutely phenom.

There's something about this city that make me want to be First Lady.

One friend noted that what makes D.C. different than so many other big cities is that there are no sky-scrapers. The tallest buildings are the historical monuments: the Capitol, the Washington Monument, etc. All these buildings tell a story, all the tombstones in Arlington have a history, and every little old street-corner and shop have some sort of memory associated with them. And it's exciting. There are important people and foreign dignitaries and movers and shakers bustling about all over the place. You never know who you'll run into.

And the excitement in the air, the knowledge that Very Important Things are happening makes me want to be right in the middle of it. We made the annual pilgrimage to the First Lady Exhibit in the Smithsonian. And I started plotting and planning the Presidential china set, and drawing inspiration from Nancy Regan's inaugural ball gown. I'm positively itching to join those incredible women.

And then we walked out the Smithsonian, and saw a brilliant orange sunset over the Potomac.

I'm in love with this place.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the liturgical ascetic

"Already the new men are dotted here and there all over the earth. Some, as I have admitted, are still hardly recognizable: but others can be recognised. Every now and then one meets them. Their very voices and faces are different from ours: stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant. They begin where most of us leave off. They are, I say, recognisable; but you must know what to look for. They will not be very like the idea of 'religious people' which you have formed from your general reading. They do not draw attention to themselves. You tend to think you are being kind to them when they are really being kind to you. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less.....They will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from. When you have recognised one of them, you will recognise the next one much more easily. And I strongly suspect (but how should I know?) that they recognise one another immediately and infallibly, acrossevery barrier of colour, sex, class, age, and even of creeds. Inthat way, to become holy is rather like joining a secret society.To put it at its very lowest, it must be great fun."
--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

capacitated to understand

"You cannot peddle truth or happiness; what a though cost in the first instance, it will cost in the second,[Paul Holmer,] thus "Whatever it cost Augustine to understand grace, it will cost us to understand grace, if we would really understand it and not just repeat what the textbooks have said about it."--Professor Fagerberg

Fagerberg is teaching my C.S. Lewis course this semester. Yes, you heard that right. I am taking a course dedicated entirely to C.S. Lewis' works this semester. Holler.
Getting into the rhythm of a new semester is always a challenge. You try to figure out when you have classes and where and how much time it takes you from one to the other. You figure out how much homework time you have and how much free time and whose lunch break matches up with whose. It's all very frightfully delightful. Busy and insane, but delightful.
But it leaves no time for blogging. Except when you find beautiful quotes that beg to be shared.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

got a rock(et) in my pocket

Hola, peeps!
I just got back from a whirlwind 72 hour-ish Urban Plunge trip. It was amazing. And I'll talk more about that later. Suffice to say for now, four other ND students and I survived two semi- terrifying nights in an abandoned school building in the middle of the city, braving the cold, hunger, fatigue, and random scraping sounds in the hallway and screams outside the window.

But I have to pack, go to mass and play chess with my younger brother, who has been begging me ever since I walked in the door.
But I liked this article.
(Cred. to Auntie Seraphic.)
So I thought I'd share. :)

Oh and I also have a seven-page reflection paper to write.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

the dregs of the evening

Have you ever gone late-night grocery shopping?
It's a dangerous business.
Firstly, the grocery store is not a happy, bustling crowd of mothers and children. It's eerily quiet and the lights are creepily very very bright. It's super sketchy.
Secondly, everything looks good.
And I mean everything.
One time last summer I went late-night shopping after a show for an impromptu gathering of friends. I picked up hummus, chocolate covered sea-salt caramels, a salad (?), those big squishy, beautifully soft cookies with icing on them, and gluten-free brownie bites (I take care of my friends).
As I go through the aisles, my interior monologue sounds something like this:

ANIMATRONIC POLAR BEAR. (Oh hai Christmas display that hasn't been taken down yet)

So that's always an exciting Monday night.

Monday, January 9, 2012

the difference is the fruit

"Our lives must be woven with the Eucharist" --Mama T.

Kay, so the other night (translation: that'd be about a week ago. It's been a long week, so blogging's taken a back seat to life.[author's note:yeah, this post is getting written now, as opposed to when I started it in November. nbd.]) my friend took me to a praise and worship group that I've been attend for forever. And it was really enjoyable. I love singing Jesus songs as much as the next person, and it was wonderful fellowship, so it was a great evening. The next evening, I went to Mass.

And dude. The Eucharist is the heart of our faith for a reason. Because as wonderful as prayer and music is, that's not the point.
The point is that at each Mass, Christ re-enters the world. God, in the flesh, comes into our midst. And then we eat His body, like He told us to.
It's kind of intense.
Like really intense.
Everyday at Mass, we eat God.
Let that sink in a moment or two.

Scott Hann, in his book, The Lamb's Supper describes the Mass as heaven on earth.
Not in a figurative way, but in a literal way. The book of Revelation describes the heavenly hosts, and all the saints in constant worship of Christ, and in the Mass we join in their worship. It's heavy stuff.

But the Eucharist is called the Bread of Life for a reason. Because it's the stuff that truly nourishes. And while other forms of liturgy can be beautiful in their own way, they're like the dessert at this banquet. The substance of the wedding feast is the Mass--the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

sad heart of Ruth

Indulge me for a moment, por favor?
Can we talk about Baby-love?
Kay, great, here we go.

Baby Love is an interesting phenomenon. There's this magical, mystical love that encompasses all of the babies in the world and renders you completely susceptible to their baby-charms. My family was at a family friend's house the other night, and my sister and I spent a good amount of time playing with the baby of the family. This little nugget of joy was wooing the crowd with her coos and smiles and claps. As we sat laughing at a ridiculous face she pulled, her mom smiled at us and said: "You have this to look forward to." There's something exciting about the fact that somewhere in the distant future there are babies of our own waiting. I've read somewhere I think that all women are mothers. Or maybe I never read it, but it's simply collective female wisdom, which is that intuitive knowledge that sneaks into the consciousness of a young woman before she even realizes it.

Not all women are actually biologically mothers, obviously. But, that does not negate or deny the fact that all women are mother figures. When I saw the blonde little angelic child prancing down the church aisle, my heart flip-flopped. And I just wondered and gloried in the fact that she was so precious. And then an attack of baby-love struck me, but it wasn't necessarily the desire to have a baby. It was the response in my own heart to the beauty that that child has, and the realization that a life without babies is simply impossible.

I simply can't understand when people profess to dislike children. They are so feisty and sweet and adorable and willful and incredibly pure and innocent and inspiring. They naturally pull you outside of yourself, and force you to look beyond your own needs and comforts to care for the screaming bundle of joy that is delivered helpless and completely vulnerable into your arms.

idioms make confusion with me

I was introduced to these phenomenal videos by DJFlula, and they were definitely one of the the highlights of my night!
Phenomenal. This man is so right. Why do we even say these things?
I don't know why I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. I mean, it may not be a very pretty sight. But why single out gift horses--wouldn't this apply to horses in general?

He's got a really valid point, you know:

*Note: I'm sure you've noticed. But yes, I did waste large amounts of a very happy and lazy Saturday tweaking and revamping the lil' old blog. :) Hope ya'll love it as much as I do.

Friday, January 6, 2012

November Norways of the Year

I gotta go wash something
--Chicha, Emperor's New Groove

There is one thing I miss a lot at school, that I always look forward to doing when I arrive back home.

And that is washing dishes.

Washing dishes is basically free therapy. There is nothing more soothing than sticking your hands in a sink full of fluffy soap bubbles and scrubbing dishes. Our kitchen sink looks out over our back yard and the woods, so you can just gaze out at the woods and watch birds and squirrels bicker and play by the birdfeeder. You can let your mind wander and daydream to the rhythm of the dishwashing.

Lather. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.

And the hot water chases the chill out of your body. I'm going to have atrocious skin when I grow older, because I always resist using gloves when washing dishes. My mom has attempted to persuade me to use them from time immemorial. But there's nothing more dissatisfying. Nothing can beat the experience of immersing your arms up to the elbows in sudsy dishwater.

It's so meditative and peaceful. A lot of household chores involve a lot of running about and putting board games back where they belong and turning on noisy vacuums. Those aren't very relaxing. But sweeping, or polishing the stove, or washing dishes are such tranquil, measured activities. You can get some of your best thinking done when washing dishes.

Or you can have the best conversations when doing the dishes, if you have a dryer who is working with you. Some of the happiest moments are when all the siblings are in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner, and there's lots of laughing and teasing and yelling and roughhousing and bickering and water being splashed and brooms brushing by your feet. But once the hullabaloo dies down, the dish dryer and dish washer are left alone in the hush of the now quiet kitchen. And it's that wonderful time of night when people have finished their daily grind. They put the business of the day aside and begin to talk about whatever is in their heart. Secrets are shared, stories are told, and confessions are made over dishes. Those are the best times.
Or if you're right in the thick of a brilliant page-turner, you can prop up the book on the windowsill, and furiously read while getting some housework done. There are several books on my shelves that have the tell-tale water stains on the pages.

This is the contemplative life that is so particular to the domestic, that you miss out on at school. My friend and I visited her sister in Chicago one Saturday, and I was relegated to dj-ing the music during dinner preparations. But after dinner, I took dish-duty. And I ended up scrubbing that kitchen clean. Because, like retail therapy, cleaning therapy is also slightly addictive. You get on a roll, and you can't stop.

So if you'll excuse me, there's a pile of dishes in the sink that needs washing.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Today I realized several things.

Each day is made up of a series of successive moments, and if a lot of those little moments go well, then usually we're having a pretty good day. But if those little things go wrong, it can seriously harsh our mellows.

Foremost example: dental hygienists. Oh there is nothing more wonderfully awkward than the perfunctory small talk that dental hygienists attempt. Reality check: it is the most difficult to make small talk when there are small probes and mirrors and teeth-polishing mechanisms invading your mouth. Small talk--unless taking place between two connoisseurs of chit-chat--is, in general, a massive chore. But in this particular situation there is unique strain of awkward tension. What else can the poor hygienist do in this situation but make small talk; but seriously, there's really no way you can possibly make small talk with various dental instruments occupying your mouth.

However, my hygienist today and I had a marvelous conversation about dental veneers, and the usefulness of a European Studies minor. The small talk made the dreadful news about the cavities a little easier to take.

If you can't stand the way someone eats, it's a dealbreaker. Seriously. If they smack, eat with their mouth open, or just do that Thing with their food that you just can't stand, then it's a dealbreaker. A significant portion of meaningful human interactions take place at the family dinner table, while breaking bread together. If you don't like looking at someone while they're eating, then--well, I'm sorry, it's not you, it's me. (Or just hang out with them at non-meal times.)

Status-Ruiners. We all know who they are. They are that friend on Facebook that can't help and write some well-intentioned comment on a status that tries valiantly to be clever, but solely serves to ruin the mood of your status. If you post some weepy song lyrics from your favorite Disney ballad, the response you actively do not want is a comment-rant about the pernicious and persistent sexism in Disney Princess movies. If you post a clever status, filled with delicate tones and subtle insinuations, the Status-Ruiner will, without fail, obliviously respond with a comment that completely misinterprets all your innuendos. If you post an inside joke status, then you are exposing yourself to the workings of a status-ruiner. Heck, you're inviting them to set up camp and post their mood-ruining comment. Inside joke stati are a tricky sitch. Don't want to mess with those.

Hip waiters. Waiters who are too cool for school and ridiculously quirkster are the most fun. in any dining situations. Waiters are delightful people, whose jobs force them to pop up at your table and interrupt your conversation throughout the evening. When you have a cool waiter, you can actually look forward to the interruptions. Those are the best. Hip waiters make me happy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

this place is ragin', yo!

This post is going to be legen--wait for it---

True life: I'm in love with Barney Stinson.

I've been watching How I Met Your Mother like nobody's business. This show is crazy-awesome. I've been culling all the little gems of relationship wisdom that get dropped throughout the series, and I was holding off on making a blog post about the show until I finished that.

But I just had to write a post about Barney. I'm only on the fourth season, so I'm right in the thick of Barney's adorable crush on Robin. He melts my heart and makes my soul smile. I guess that's really all I have to say. Except there's nothing more endearing than the cavalier, charming bad-boy finding himself utterly speechless and helpless before the woman he loves in spite of himself.

“Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro—I'm Broda!”

--hope you're not lactose-intolerant because the last part is--

Monday, January 2, 2012

just medium brave

4th Book of Break:
The Road.
-Cormac McCarthy

Stunning. And shocking. And so beautiful.
At the beginning, it is difficult to be caught up in a story that, as Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal describes it, is like "a dogged exercise in finding different ways to express grim and gray." It's awfully bleak. And the fact that there are no quotation marks and very little structure in the dialogue makes throwing yourself into the book awfully difficult. But actually I grew to love the lack of quotation marks. After several chapters [(?) there's no chapter delineation either-that's a strugg] but, after a bit, the lack of quotation marks helps you fly through the story. I've never found myself running through a book so fast. It's a terrifying book. I almost didn't want to read each paragraph for fear something unspeakably horrific would occur. But it was incredibly moving. And the sparse dialogue cut you like a knife. The words were so specific--they were precious and few and chosen to make their sharp and bitter point as poignantly as possible. One of my favorite exchanges comes at the end of the book between the father and the son:

I want to be with you.
You cant.
You cant. You have to carry the fire.
I dont know how to.
Yes you do.
Is it real? The fire?
Yes it is.
Where is it? I don't know where it is.
Yes you do. It's inside you. It was always there. I can see it.