Sunday, September 19, 2010


This weekend has me pining for England...some dear girls from the University are off studying abroad this semester and definitely living the life of adventure...they've been posting tons of pictures and I can hardly wait to go to England myself. Their blog's are here and check them out! The new goal is Oxford in 2012. All those feeling the need to support a young girl's dream...feel free to help keep the dream alive. :)

I finished GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy finally and thorougly enjoyed it. It's won it's place on my list of repeats, and hopefully I'll be reading through it again.
If you're looking for more recommendations, do check out Lewis' The Problem of Pain (or anything by him really). For me, it's thrown a new hue on Christianity...I'm finding that so much of life should be doing this: throwing new hues and tones on this thing we call Christianity, so that by the time we've lived our lives maybe we'll actually see Christianity--see Christ--in His full splendor, not as we want to see Him, but how He really is; how life really is; what reality really is.
I've also picked up Romeo and Juliet, and have been enjoying it while listening to this.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years--
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotions. And what there is to
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot
To emulate--but there is no competition--
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
-T. S. Eliot

WELL. That above is my living room. I love the hardwood flooring and the high ceilings. The constant creaking of the floors is my only continual company and quite welcomed. The large windows let in a lot of natural light, which I am slowly saying goodbye to as Fall descends upon the Great North and signs of winter are on the way. I'm beginning to feel settled here in the studio-apartment and have begun having visitors, which is nice. I've tried my hand at a few meals and (so far) no disasters. (Aunt Barb, feel free to visit anytime--I've got room for you and I will cook for you as well!)

Work is going well and busy. I'm finding myself more and more familiar, and happily meeting many new people. This week is the first week of Religious Education classes and so we're in for a busy week, and then before we know it, I'm sure the year will be gone.

On the bookshelf as of late:

O.E. Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth. Story behind the book: The date was 14 February 2010...celebrated by some as Singles Awareness Day and by others as a day of engagement...and yet by others a day of break ups (I've heard numerous stories about break ups on Valentine's Day...kinda crazy). After the 8am Mass at the lovely Ave Maria University I made my way over to the Bean and happily found myself in line behind Mr. Michael Novak. For those of you who do not know, wikipedia defines him as an "American Catholic philosopher, journalist, novelist and diplomat...served as the US chief ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights..." etc. He took up residence at Ave Maria University and taught a 2-credit class which rumors said was great. I found myself, with my lack of training in speaking eloquently and absence of the mind-file that has all those smart big words, behind Mr. Michael Novak at the coffeeshop on Valentine's Day. Small talk led to his offer to pay for my breakfast and an invite to seat with him. The next hour went along, minute by minute as it would, and we talked from my studies to his wife to his history to my future plans to books...--the books being the which for this post. M. Novak's wife, whose name eludes me, loved Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag. I quickly wrote down the name of this book, and her reason for loving it--she was straight Norwegian, and the book tells the story of Norwegian settlers in the Dakotas. On my most recent travels to the West Coast, and while perusing the expansive rows of Portland's Powell's Books--among the few books that I did see (and many were missed), I found Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag and quickly grabbed it for purchase. I was immediately reminded of my lovely Valentine date, and M. Novak's comments that his wife was blonde like me--and when my nervous-ness to speak with such an educated man dissolved into a genuine appreciation for the man who simply wanted to be a man, and wasn't worried about too much. I have also started reading it in the past week, and tears were brought to my eyes by the end of the first chapter.

T.S. Eliot's Collected Poems: Especially "Four Quartets." I was delighted to be reading East Coker in the park today and found the phrase "And so each venture/Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate/With shabby equipment always deteriorating/In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,/Undisciplined squads of emotion." The phrase "a raid on the inarticulate" is part of the name of a friend's blog. And all along I knew it was from somewhere. I hoped I would upon it naturally, and was happy to finally find it...Check out Sophie's Blog.

C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves: This one I read rather quickly, in two days, and plucking out a few themes in the chapter on friendship, I followed these closely through the rest of the book and left all the other ideas to be found in the next reading. I'd like to re-read it again soon.

And finally, G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy: So far I am loving this. I'm not quite sure how many chapters I have left in this one, but I'm reading it with a friend and it's a marvelous little book. Again, like with Lewis, I have been plucking out themes that capture my attention now and hope to re-read it again soon.

This, my friends, is the bookcase I built. Yes--I built. Space-cadette and un-handy-woman that I am, my grandfather found a way to smooth out my mistakes behind me as I forged on in building this bookcase with him :). It turned out great.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm back...

I'm back after a bit of summer absence...sometimes you just have to be out in the sun, traveling across the country and dreaming dreams. I'm back in North Dakota and already Fall is in the air--I can feel it--for the first time in 4 years I am not moving 2000 miles across the nation to a place where seasons do not exist.
I've finally been to the West Coast and yes, I saw that sign, at we walked and drove in circles (right, Rose! ;).
I am almost all settled into my new apartment...
I think I've found a book club here...
And I'm also working a grown up job!
Among the resdiscovery of A Severe Mercy ( Aunt Barb--you definately have to read) to the discovery of TS Eliot to the discovery of pilates, here is just one of my summer discoveries and more are to come!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First Corinthians Project

"And of course beauty: the beauty that was for him the link between the ships and the woods and the poems. He remembered as though it were but a few days ago that winter night, himself too young to even know the meaning of beauty, when he had looked up at a delicate tracery of bare black branches against the icy glittering stars: suddenly something that was, all at once, pain and longing and adoring had welled up in him, almost choking him. ...That nameless something that had stopped his heart was Beauty."
-Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy
Most recent on my list of book recommendations is Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy. Telling the "story of a love and not of lovers," Van allows the reader to see into the beautiful relationship and marriage between himself and his wife, Davy. Beginning as pagans, and lovers of beauty, it also reveals the deep conversion that wrought their hearts as they sought the Truth, eventually meeting Truth Himself in Christ. It's a beautiful story and very inspiring.
I've decided to join my fellow blogger and alumni friend Miriel in her First Corinthians Project. Go to her blog, and check out her posts, her blog is worth looking over! More to come on that note.

Friday, July 2, 2010

For the past 4 years of my life, every 2-4 months I have had to pack up and move. Because I went to a small University 2000 miles away, I was usually travelling to 2000 miles away. I spent all my summers at home between the Spring and Fall semesters of schooling; I spent the month long break for Christmas in snowy ND and then moved back to sunny FL; and finally, after 4 years of schooling I have moved all of my belongings (except parts of my heart that have gone with my dear friends all over the nation) back to beautiful North Dakota for the last time from Southwest Florida. For the past year or so I have had a growing itch to settle in somewhere--to have all my belongings in one place (as opposed to the three places they are at right now). It's not that I have much, but for the sake of sanity, I think it would help in keeping things together.
I'm happy to say that I have found something. The next 2 months of my life will be absolutely crazy, but I have found something! Sometime, months ago (probably April!?), I put my last day down on the calendar as July 15th and I did not know how things were going to work out, but somehow they worked out perfectly! My last day at St. Gianna's (sadly) is July 15th and my first day on the job as Assistant DRE at St. Michael's parish in Grand Forks is July 16th. I begin two weeks from today. And in a month and 2 weeks from today I will be able to move into my new apartment--a gorgeous apartment with hardwood flooring and high ceilings with large windows for natural lighting. It's an old schoolhouse building that has been rennovated and here's the kicker: it's right across the street from St. Michael's parish. Someone besides me must be planning my life and letting me know it.
I sign on for a year, both for the job and for the apartment, but will probably last longer at both (if all goes well of course). But the next two months will be busy and probably crazy and I'll probably learn a lot. I'm really excited and it'll be nice to be in the area for 4 seasons again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Nails

Round One of Summer Toes:
yellow sunshine and 2 happy birds, for all the sun we haven't been getting!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Taste of Home

entrance to neverland.

just leaving town

Cat's wedding invitation

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Even if you're a born loser you're still called to be holy." --Mother Angelica

**The Becca Barclay Story of the Day**
(these are increasingly beginning to happen quite often)
Conversation from last week:
Hayley (bff of Becca): will you be able to come visit me in the
hospital after I have my baby girl?!
Becca: yes! I'm off all day on Friday, and I think I'll be able to
switch shifts around it, and should be able to make it. :)
Hayley: Oh good. I have to stay in the hospital 48 hours after delivery.
Or something to that effect.
I was leisurely looking through the Mall with my youngest sister
for a dress for this wedding in August. And as we are strolling through Gap, I get a text
message from Hayley's mom Joan: "FWD: Jami had her baby! last night 11pm! A baby boy: 9lbs 5 oz. Gabriel!" And so I text her back and let her know of my appreciation for informing me.
I had just met Jami, the day before. Once. Keep that in mind: I only met Jami once.
And awhile later I receive another text from Hayley's mom Joan: "Tell everyone! 2 hours in labor!" And, naturally, my train of thought commenses: This can't be about Jami. I just met Jami--who would I tell? ... I thought Dan was going to text me if Hayley went into labor. But I really don't know how it would really go down--being their first baby and all ... maybe Joan is JUST on her way to Fargo now and Hayley and Dan are there. That must be it. And now, Hayley and Dan have said to "Tell everyone!" so that everyone can pray--no false alarms, real active labor. ... Oh my gosh--my best friend is in labor?!? With her first baby!!! ... I text Joan back: "How is she?!" Response: "Gd." Yep. Must be Hayley--short response, Joan's frantic too.
And I frantically and rather scatter-brain-ed-ly walk around the Mall trying to figure out what I'm doing--okay, I wonder how long this is going to take?! hm. I have to go to Fargo tonight, she should be done by then. Oh heavens, I hope so for her sake. Hm. Same birthday as her sister Laura--that's cool. And so continues my lovely thought process, which I am coming to find more and more amusing. Mom, Hayley's in labor for 2 hours! And then I think to text all my girlfriends from AMU, who also know Hayley. And from then on out--random texts "oh i'm praying!" "oh my gosh!!!" "I cant believe it!!" etc. And every text I get, I'm waiting for the text from Dan, the proud father of the newly named baby _____. And I'm trying to guess baby names--and dying to know the name they've chosen. .. hm..
So goes my day. We finally, after what seems like forever, leave the mall. And we start to quicken. Okay, I have to get flowers. Hm. I need to fill my car with gas before I go as well... okay..Hm. I'll go right when I get back from town. Shucks, I knew I should have brought my own car just in case...Hm. And so it goes, my day, continuing as it does. Then I call Sam, as I walk around Target, freaking out, "SAM, my BEST FRIEND from 9TH GRADE is having a BABY!? I can't even really focus right now. MAN." And thoughts of labor, delivery, childbirth go through my mind, and the image of my best friend in 10th grade. ... So it goes, so it goes.
Finally I pick out a little present for them. And I'm just dying to get back so I can go to Fargo. I call my sister and make sure I can stay overnight with back to work tomorrow... okay, everything is working out.
And, I look up, and I see a blond haired man, wearing a red shirt and khaki pants who looks strikingly similar to Dan Kaffar, father of the baby and husband of my bff who is in labor right now, has been for 2hours+ now... I follow him across the way, staring at him, and finally call out, "DAN KAFFAR?!" Dan looks over, "Hey, Becca! How are you?!" And I question him, unremittingly, "DAN!? What are you doing?! How's Hayley!?" and continue to explain the whole story to him.
After hearing the story, Dan then led me over to Checkout 18 and proceeded to check me out. I stare in amazement at him, unable to believe that I, for 2 hours, believed Hayley had been in labor and was on my way, literally, to drive 110 miles to see them.
The rest of my afternoon I spent explaining why Hayley was NOT in labor and receiving texts from Dan that said, "Becca! I'm still laughing! That made my day!"
So, I went home and I wrapped their gift and I do feel a bit more prepared after this false alarm.
I have yet to speak with Joan ... I'm sure she'll get a kick out of it.
But, as Mother Angelica says, "Even if you're a loser, you are still called to be holy." Hahah. I know I'm not a loser...but I'm sure we could substitute "crazy" in there too.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

An eternal eating of chocolates frappes...

"Herbie carried the tin dish with care to the dusty little table with two wire-backed chairs that stood in a corner by the magazine shelves, and sat down to feast like a mighty man. He had bought the privilege with the frappe. (Nobody ever sat at the table except a rare "big guy" who, too lazy to walk his sweetheart around the corner to Hesse's, would regale her amid Borowsky's dinginess.) All that was needed now to fill the boy's cup of joy was some other boy to come into the store and envy him. But it was a quiet time; he waited until the treat was half melted, and was forced at last to eat it alone and unadmired. Every pleasure in life seems to come equipped with such a shadow.
"Still, it was an event to be treasured. Come what might, he had eaten a frappe on a weekday. Herbie was ignorant of the French origin and pronunciation of the word, but the dish was not hte less lovely for that. Some adults, who have nothing better to do, like to argue about what the most beautiful word in the English language is. The leading contenders are usually dawn, violet, starlight, golden, moonbeam, and the like--which proves nothing except what kind of people the arguers are. For the boys on Homer Avenue there would hardly have been a rival for that glorious sound, Frap.
"Licking his lips, and wondering why life was not an eternal eating of chocolate frappes, Herbie left the candy store and went home..."
I finally finished City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder. It was a delightful read and I thorougly enjoyed it for its comic relief effect--the inner workings of the mind of an 11-year-old boy carry an air of seriousness, acknowledging the serious things in life, while coming up with the most ridiculous 11 year old answers. It's a great balance, to be an 11 year old, and at the same time my heart pities poor and chubby Herbie Bookbinder as he learns the lessons of life. haha. I've now moved on to Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow and 50 pages in I am only able to declare it "interesting"--I won't speak definitively until I have finished it. But it is different than anything I've read before, I will say that.
It's been a busy week--and quite a packed week in many ways. I'm still waiting to hear anything about any job at all. In the meanwhile this job suits quite well. I think you can say a job is good for you when you realize on a daily basis the levels of your stupidity. The quite unconventional position of housemother at Saint Gianna's Maternity Home is a challenging and 'rewarding' position. While helping unwed mothers through an often scary and unexpected pregnancy I'm also put in the role of discipliner, pseudo-parental, friend and counselor. For myself, to be put in such a position amidst girls nearly my age has always been odd to me. I lack much...regardless I am daily *allowed* to share the burdens and the joys these women face in their lives. I'm never surprised with the frustration I feel, and am always surprised when the frustration dissolves. I can spend countless amounts of time being frustrated with the problems of how people think, or the low expectations people have for themselves, or the inability to see situations clearly--but in that one moment where I am 'addressing' it, my heart breaks over and over again and I am always amazed at how these women who come from such broken homes endure and persist. They have a strength I'll never know.
It's also a very convicting experience to address homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, chastity, the rosary, Mass, priests and 'priestesses', explaining the beauties and truths of the Church in a way that can be understood by the non-oriented (and dis-oriented) mind.
...On a lighter note, I have decided to fly out to Seattle in August for a good friend's wedding. I can hardly wait. This also means that I must find the perfect dress for the occasion. Let the search begin...any fun ideas, let me know. I'm looking for bright colors and belts as well. :-)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

When I get old...

Man's Life
"You ask, What is the life of man on earth?
Take two opposing things as your response:
The body, see, is just a moment fused
With the eternal; but the soul, an age
Unifinished, or instead: man's life is but
A moment fixed in time on which depend
Ages' eternities; a narrow path
From womb to grave, from soul and body's link
Till both do part; at each step, should man fall,
'Tis life or death eternal which awaits.
Rare is the man who runs the measured span,
Wherefor all things must ever be on guard.
Who wants to live with God, not burn in hell,
Should think of every single hour his span."
Waclaw Potocki (1621-96)

What I was going to that when I get old, I am definately taking the liberty of wearing hot red lipstick that so many old women find necessary for the daily ins and outs of living.

I looked over at Irene, busy with the address labels, and examined her outfit. A shiny red sweater, sequins or beads of some sort. A small brooch, also shiny, was pinned on to her sweater. And decorating the thin and worn lips beneath this woman's aged skin and antique glasses was bright red lipstick. The kind where you can see where she didn't reach full lip-coverage. I laughed to myself as I thought of Irene Durray--perhaps the nosiest person in the world, but I am unable to call her to mind without the slight sinking of my heart for her poor and lonesome heart! Little old ladies sure are sweet on their own, even the crabby ones. I'm definately going to wear bright lipstick of some sort.

We finished the mailing here at the Maternity Home and, like always, the newsletters have been taken to the Post Office, to travel far and wide--reaching the far corners of choice persons across the United States. The work of the maternity home here truly is a gift of God and an amazing witness to the love of life that drives many people despite various, and often majority, reports in the media. On the pro-life note, check out this website: LifeSite News. And those North Dakotans of you, sign the petition.

Having completed the mailing which was the main project for today, we traveled to the Meditteranean as we immersed ourselves in a true Mezza meal. We (meaning my co-worker) made 5 homemade Mezza dishes upon which we feasted with much delight. Home made hummus and flat bread. Falafels (my favorite for the night). A juicy cucumber salad and one other dish I can't quite recall. It was all fabulous. And for dessert we had mangos, cherries and french vanilla yogurt. It was time consuming and refreshing to sit down and eat a meal over such an amount of time..something wholesome about it.

For those curious: my unofficial* interview this week went very well! The interviewing board was put together Tuesday night (after I met with the pastor of the parish), and he said he would get back to me the first or second week of June. I'm very excited about it and I do hope it all works out. The pastor was super welcoming and impressed with the speed of my application--I had heard about the job before it was advertised, and the day I went in to meet with him was the day it was posted. He said he chose the deadline for June 21st, but that he might now move it up to June 14th. :-) Sounds hopeful. Great experience. We will see.

I finished a novella by Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom, and was not too impressed. The character development was in want, but there were a few choice phrases and sentences, a couple great descriptions, which are now tucked away somewhere inside me; for these it was worth it. I won't even bother with summary...On ther other hand, I'm also 100 pages into Herman Wouk's City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder. This, on the other hand, is quite fun to read and written from the perspective of an 11 year old boy, thus having many funny insights into the mind of such an age. It's delightful :).

Sorry for all the hyperlinks this post, but here's another one: The Pornography Plague. I found it off of some facebook link that was posted. It's interesting and I would like to study more on the ethos of the body and why nudity is permitted in some works of art and that other "works of art'"of nudity simply are not. ...
"What do you see, what do you feel?
Do you discover clearly waht the artist
has tried to say? Does your heart respond to its beauty?
Does the great theme which it concerns
itself with shine down on you from the canvaswith a
new significance, transfigured by the insight, the skill,
the emotional coloring this creative personality?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another day in the life of Rebecca Barclay...

Question of the day: How are naturally awkward people who get nervous supposed to get hired?!

This is meeee. haha. For the longest time I told myself that I would be arriving in Minneapolis/St. Paul area, job etched in stone and apartment with good roommate at hand, in August. It is now May 24th and I have only struggled to keep calm and carry on as I frantically try to figure out this thing called growing up. All this worrying began when I started actually applying for positions and realized "wow, they could not want me." And they have right now to want me. I don't know the number of schools I've applied to in Minneapolis/St. Paul--but all of a sudden I have a firm grasp on the lack of leeway I have as far as picking and choosing right now, and have expanded my desired circumference of interest.

That being said: today I left the maternity home for Grand Forks. Looking great in my new green sweater, I was determined to take all the professional advice my dear political science major friend had given me about public speaking, presentation, etc. and sell myself. There is a Director of Religious Education position open at a parish in Grand Forks, and I have decided to apply. I walked into the parish office, requested the appropriate person, and when informed that he was out of the office asked for his hours for the rest of the week--I was determined to make contact with him in person and leave an impression. This is where it all came tumbling down: she then informed me he was out of the office on Monday to which my response was "today's Monday?" *MORTIFICATION*

Her wide eyed expression and quickly covered look of confusion said it all: you look like you are 16 and you MUST have just gotten out of bed, I can't imagine what business you have to speak with that man about. Haha. I think I'm going crazy at a young age. After informing the secretary that I had nothing to drop with her, I left in a state of confusion and mortification at how I could miss that small detail of the day. *AH*.

Anyway. UGH. I'm sure she's forgotten by now, and I blame how Ave ages you 10 years more than other schools, and the craziness of working at a Maternity Home, which has aged me 15 years--so all in all, I'm really the soul of a 40-something year old woman, with x amount of kids who is always a bit frazzled. I also blame my love for the Classics and my tendency to forget practical things, like the day of the week, because I'm lost in some other era.

WELL, that being set aside. I did call later in the day, not the secretary, the contact, and have scheduled an interview for tomorrow at 2pm. And all inside of me is freaking out "is it at 2pm?! Did I hear him right?!?!"...There's only one way to know: go tomorrow at 2pm. ... This whole growing up thing is quite stressful.

On the upside--I am drinking a nice glass of wine right now, and am halfway through a Eudora Welty novel, and I DO have an interview tomorrow. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a coffee shop, and wandered around cutesy shops and spent more money than I should have. C'est la vie! It's still raining and storming now and I'm hoping to finish this novel tonight. I still haven't gotten my I.S.B.N. book for May: Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen.

I guess that's all for today...despite minor mishaps of a work-world minor, it was a great day.

P.S. This is my awesome green sweater from New York and Company. It was on sale for $20. It looks a lot better on me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"...who I am, what I do, and how I live..."

Upon leaving Ave Maria last week by car, I knew I would need something to read for the 30 hours+ car drive and my choice ended up being The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. If the name sounds familiar to anyone from Ave, it's because we read The Republic in his translation at school. At the beginning of the semester I had a conversation with Dr. Dinan about beauty and music, and he brought up this book and told me to look into its chapter on music, that it was worth it. So, after ordering the book about halfway through the semester, I finally picked it up while leaving and I must say that I couldn't have made a better choice for reading after finishing school. I'm only halfway through and it's one of the best books I've read on the state of students in the US today. Allan Bloom takes his many years of experience and writes in a reflective style on what he's found and what has changed over the years.

I also am quite pleased to say that his words give me justification for my book fetish, which has increased (I can tell because I just stored away 3 boxes of books, with plenty un-read, and yet just ordered 3 more tonight online: 2 by Wendell Berry and 1 by Ron Hansen). Bloom writes, "The loss of the books has made them (students now) narrower and flatter. Narrower because they lack what is most necessary, a real basis for discontent with the present and awareness that there are alternatives to it. They are both more contented with what is and despairing of ever escaping from it. The longing for the beyond has been attenuated. The very models of admiration and contempt have vanished. Flatter, because without interpretation of things, without the poetry or the imagination's activity, their souls are like mirrors, not of nature, but of what is around. The refinement of the mind's eye that permits it to see the delicate distinctions among men, among their deeds and their motives, and constitutes real taste, is impossible without the assistance of literature in the grand style."...
So, for those who were closing Amazon, or walked out of Barnes and Noble empty handed, feel free! ;-).

I spent the day working and then showing my old* college friend, Jessica Wasko, around my farm! We grilled burgers and had bud light for the full northland experience. It was great, I wish all my friends from school could come visit and just be in the wide open spaces of the beautiful country here. Our conversation ran from tumblr to GracieLoo to robin's nests to the country. Somehow when I got back here I found my way to La Boheme...see the translation for Che Gelida Manina! I think this part is so moving--and this is how I feel: the life of a poet, poor in money--rich in dreams. Scraping for some kind of job...hmm.. but I'd rather be rich in "dreams and visions," squandering rhymes and love songs. ... Sounds like the life to me! :-)
"Chi son? Sono un poeta.
Che cosa faccio? Scrivo.
E come vivo? Vivo."
Who am I? I am a poet.
What do I do? I write.
How do I live? I live.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I a French Press!!

One week ago, I was filling up my car and on the road, I-75, in Southwest Florida. Now, I'm sitting (with my fuzzy socks on--okay, even though it is 75 degrees out) on my bed at home--in the country, a good drive from the nearest Interstate.

I am now a college grad! It's hard to believe how fast the past four years went by, and how hard it was to say goodbye to such dear friends! I imagine you don't make friends like college friends anywhere else: the crazy lifestyle, living hour by hour, from caffiene in the middle of the night to 4 hour naps in the middle of the day. The intellectual pressure (maybe just at Ave?)--of the academic life, and taking four different subjects, each demanding all of one's attention and efforts. The 'freedom'--to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want: i.e. Rosie Posie, wanna go to Immokalee?...and 10 min. later we are in the car..why? because we felt like it. And so many of our friendships are bonded by random moments like these that do not turn out to be so random in the end. ...And now, I'm entering (or at least attempting to enter) the working world. Making money to pay bills and make a living, something I've never seriously had to do before.

Anyway. It's been great to be home. I noticed something as I made the last 30 mile stretch by my lonesome driving home from Florida: the country here, the farmland I grew up on, has been a staple to my worldview. As I drove home I looked around, and amidst the absence of traffic, I saw how familiar I am with the land here...that patch of trees, this random turn in the road, that old run-down building that has been there for a hundred years...stakes of life having been lived here, a hard life for many and easy for me. I am the fruit, or benefit from the fruit of so many people's hard work here in the middle of no(h)where No(h)rth Dako(h)tah. And the life that people live here is very much intertwined with the changing and passing of the seasons, the uncontrollable weather, the hands of Someone else.

Amidst all this, I also decided just this morning that I graduated to a french press and will begin my search to buy the perfect one. I have always had a fanciful view of French Presses--they seem so refined, requiring skillful coffee making skills, patience and time;; and an apartment or house which would hold the French Press (rather than a dorm room, which was my reason for not buying one for years: it wouldn't go well with a dorm room). But today I decided that while the next few months will probably be stressful (finding a job..moving yet again), I will be enjoying a French Press. Then, in searching online for french press images and info, I found this cool link-- check it out if you want.

Have a great Feast of the Ascension. Words from Father John's homily: Christ rose from the dead and brought humanity to the right hand of God in Heaven. The only thing that stops you from being there is sin.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Graduates Week & Art

"I'm on a boat!"...This week marked the beginning of Graduates Week--a tradition we have been and still are attempting to instill in the life of Ave Maria University. The completion of a degree at any University is arguably honorable, but at Ave Maria--a small, private university in the Catholic Tradition-- the liberal arts degree is especially honorable. The "rigorous academic life" has done great damage to my contemporary and modern way of thinking, drawn me out of myself and allowed me to see the truth through a new light. To honor those who have bravely and persistently made their ways to receiving a Bachelors degree, the Student Government Association deems it fitting to organize and pay for a series of events, "Graduates Week."

Our week kicked off with a boat cruise out of Marco Island's cruise ship the Princess. About 60 of our 87 graduating seniors made the trip, and while fears of awkwardness at being limited to such small confinements with my class were at my door, it proved to be super relaxing and very enjoyable.

I can't seem to kick this state of relaxation I've been in the last few weeks since I finished my thesis! Suddenly nothing else really carries weight enough to bring me to study and my time has been ticking away filled with random and seemingly insignificant affairs (such as naps, random letters, and what not). Recently a friend of mine has told me numerous times that this time is just going to fly by and that before I know it, I'll be where he is, "willing to give my back teeth to go back and do it again." Throughout the past month, my feelings have gone from one to the other, from excitement to be finally finishing this (the goal at the end of the dark tunnel since freshman year), to sadness and wonder about what life will be like after this. I've spent and invested so much time in the friendships I've had here, and now after 4 years--we will all be going our separate ways. I feel torn--between a call to better-ness and a carefree denial. "Now's the time," so to speak. What do I want? How will I be happy? What are my desires? ...And this brings me to Art.

All that I've read about much-loved authors lately is how lonely, sad and depressing their lives were! They enter my mind as horror stories, as I try to fathom the loneliness of the life of the writer and wonder if its true, across the board, that writers simply lead lives like these. If I commit to something so daring as writing, am I destined to that horribly lonely life, accompanied by many misfortunes and difficulties that deepend and actualize the writing of those people?! Ugh.

Mark Jarman, in his address The Voice of this Calling: Art as Vocation, writes, "Rather, the voice we have heard simply confirms our gift. If anything the voice of our calling urges us to take our God-given talent seriously. It is the happy confirmation of our dearest desires...We have the luck to follow our impulses to create, to live lives which, while we are making art, can be as a sculptor friend of mine has said, "like living in a dream." Art as a vocation, then, has everything to do with how we live our lives. For if that daily reverie we experience when absorbed in writing or painting or composing, that "living in a dream," tends to cut us off from the rest of the world--and it does, as we all know--nevertheless, it cannot be sustained. The world will be waiting, just as surely as it will when we all return to our homes at the end of this week. All of us, I am sure, have organized our lives in a way that allows for successful passage between the dream of our vocation and the world. I wont' say "the real world" because I think the phrase tends implicitly to privilege a realm where life is nasty, brutish, and short. Instead I am thinking of the world that needs our attention and our love. That's the world we must always return to, and if we think because of some privilege as artists that we hvae risen above it, we are mistaken. Our souls are connected to the world as surely as they are connected to God." (I apologize for the length).

Perhaps the lives of writers aren't that different from everyone else's lives--it's just we hear about the lives of writers, and we not only hear about them, but we read it in between the lines of thier works. And there is something that resonates, because we are a suffering humanity. I don't know yet...but before this note turns horribly too meloncholic and ruins what is the apropos mood for the last month of college life, I'm going to stop (writer that I am?!).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Terminal

I stepped out of the plane and into the airport...and it was too late.

...Moments later, just walking by, and he asked me "Come on, you over 18?" said the black man in a red-collared shirt. And I smiled sweetly, "Yes, but no thanks." And slowly I pulled away--I had nowhere to hurr to and I knew he'd ask me again when I turned around at the end of the tunnel. I smiled to myself, "Free flight, yah right. I know how you work, and nothing is free--try as you may though, I shall not yield to you, tempter." I kept walking in a daze. What else could I do? Time stood still, I knew the seconds were passing just like they were yesterday. But everthing seems funny today. I muse through the shops and wonder where I am...Is Cincinnati in Ohio or Kentucky!? Is this Heaven or Hell?! Everything inside me says Ohio, but everything outside me is labeled Kentucky--shirts, hats, it's on the wall: "Kentucky" in fancy cursive writing. Where am I?! Ah, yes! Contact from the outside world--a text, something I dread and dislike at any other time but now it comes as a comfort to know that life is moving on outside of this place--and I check my watch again--times keeps passing, but I don't feel it.

It seems as if no one new has come here since I entered, and I wonder if I'll make it out--fears of missing my flight, after having had a 4 1/2 hour layover and no people around at all--and it's all so funny. Where am I?! And I walk the corridors--Coffee and McDonals are taking over and the old man driving the cart comes around again, and everyone else is in a daze too. "River's Edge Gallery"..."Bath and Body"..."Borders"..."Jewelers"...Where am I!? This place--it's just a port--a place to pass through, but hte little lady runs her cutesy shop here and lives the days of her life here. The man gone on business too often buys his jewelery of appeasement here. The little old lady sits in the massage chair--reading, not getting a massage. Where is everyone else? Does anyone fly on Wednesdays?! Where am I?!

There's nothing human here--and the man ont he TV keeps talking about Obama and off shore drilling--I do not trust that man, Obama now speaking. We're all turning into machinistic humans...And people look oddly at me as I write, instead of type.

When will I ever leave this place?! It's outside my control--and even when I think I'm to leave, it could still change. I sit at a cubby to write and the sign says "RECHARGE"--and it has a plug in for a computre. What about me? ...lies...everywhere...lies on all sides--we take better care of our products than we do of ourselves. All conversation I had this morning seems like dreams...Did Sam really drive me to the airport? Did Jake really call? Did I really talk to Amanda?

The lenght of the tunnel and the fiber glass windows everhwere--it's keeping the life out. And a woman walks around in all black with a red hat--and she got in here. I think they only let the dead in--only the dead can pass security. Maybe I died?...they checked my ID and bid me good day...and I'm getting no texts anymore...and the black man will ask me again, and wants to give me gifts. Can you get gifts when you're dead? It's a slow day in purgatory today--I was new...and I'm supposed to be leaving soon, but will I get out?!

That song is playing on the radio again and nothing else is moving--Maybe this is what it's like...everything around me inside is artificial, not human, and the voice over plays again warning me of "the humans"--those who place things in my bags, and they are going to search and take care of my bags if anything human comes near it. But there's still something in me human--and I can see it outside too--where am I?! Ohio or Kentucky?! Well--either way, it's too late. I already bought my ticket.

Friday, April 2, 2010

One Friday afternoon...

One Friday afternoon, years and years ago, an event took place that changes every second of the present even now. I found myself thinking during the Good Friday service this afternoon (the one day of the year where Mass does not happen), "So this is it--." All of a sudden, I realized again what it means to be a Christian and that this is it: no one is saying yes for me, either it's my yes or it's my no. And to say yes means to say YES, this life is not all there is--and so I better quit complaining while I'm behind and whenever something uncomfortable or inconvenient comes up...also, all those petty things I worry about, yep--those too, not as big as I thought. ...Harkening back to a conversation at a coffee shop on the Feast of the Annunciation, I recalled again that it's necessary to be united in word, thought and action, and so my next task is to incarnate what it is I think and allow my words and actions be true fruits of the realizations of prayer and life...

My senior thesis came and went, and I did indeed find my way home to the North for Easter. I had forgotten how beautiful spring is, in its stark grayness and slowness. As I look around and see the grass still dead, the black dirt that was hidden for so long under the snow, the bare trees, I think this is life--patience, waiting, we know what's coming and we look forward to it, but Spring itself still speaks of the triumph over winter. I feel like I'm in that scene in the new pride and prejudice, where Elizabeth is on the swing, spinning and spinning and the seasons change and it's raining--and it's always raining. I think to myself, "this is what I wanted?" and my self answers back "yes--this has meaning."

I will be enjoying here for the next few days. In the dramatic filter that somehow finds its way to filter all that comes into me (even blah boring spring), I feel that this break at home was indeed exactly as its meant to be, and that I've learned lessons that will change my course of life for the next few months. Had I not come home I would not have seen. And for coming home I am already seeing differently. Regardless if I remember this consciously anytime soon after going back to school, it will remain in my unconscious, and I really do enjoy very much living life dramatically vs. not. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"2,000 miles but that's still alright..."

"I'll see you in the morning if that's alright..."
In the midst of a very exciting and frantic crazy 12 hours of planning--I found the perfect way to find my way 2000 miles home for Easter...the stage was set: my senior thesis would be finally-drafted and handed in and my presentation will have come and gone, and by Wednesday night I would be enjoying the pride of finishing the capstone of 4 years of work at HOME, amidst my surprised and happy family.
Like I said, the stage was set...and happen chance has led to a series of troubles of which I still don't know the final outcome. We will see how the curtain falls. But, at first my thesis due date was pushed back, and therefore discouraging my 2000 mile flight the weekend before...The stars were aligning though, and as I magically got switched with someone else, my due date was moved back to March 30th allowing for my departure promptly on March 31st. ...My rides were arranged and I was looking forward to a cross-country drive of my beautiful Mid-West homeland, having much more natural beauty than anything I've seen in Southwest Florida.
FINALLY, after all was arranged I went back to purchase the tickets and was highly discouraged to see the prices practically triple in ways that are beyond my sense--I don't understand in any way how the airline SERVICES work in this country and how I wish we could be like Europe and use the train system in a cheaper and more practical fashion. ...I still am awaiting a sudden drop in prices as all watching me from their stars up there tell me to hold on to hope...Patience is not a virtue for the weak, and sadly, I find that I am only weak.
However, all of this is a happy distraction from the weight of my actual senior thesis: 4 years of work in intellectual endeavors compacted into one 25-30 page/20min. presentation--pass or fail. I comfort myself with the thought that there is no way I'm going to fail college, but at the same time the perfectionist in me is dying, and the stressed-out side is stressing out, and the vain/insecure/prideful part is mortified to speak declaratively and forcefully, defending MY argument to people with far greater depths of knowledge than yours truly.
Presently I await some kind of change in my great fate in the local coffee shop. I put on my music and watch everyone around me move to it as a small voice reminds me that "all will be well." I believe it. Life is good...and a friend stops by and gives me this prayer, which surely I will have memorized with 2 weeks: "Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in Thee. Let Thy might calmness reign in me. Rule me, O Thou King of gentleness, King of peace."
Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day. I definately celebrated with a Guinness after class and wore the according amount of green to my 4% Irish background, hah.
Song of the Day: Tomorrow Morning by Jack Johnson.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lilacs in a mason jar...

Thought for the day: All I want is lilacs in spring.
A picnic under the oak tree.
A bottle of wine.
Probably chocolate.
Yesterday, to end spring break, I finished My Antonia--one of my all time favorite books. Even though I've read it 4 or 5 times now, I still cry on and off through the last 40 pages. It brings tears to my eyes just to think about it; and afterward I sit a daze and contemplate the differences between Antonia and Jim's culture and ours, how Antonia raised her family, the struggles and hardships that made this country and allowed our families to be where they are at today. I wonder with Jim Burden if the dreams of one person can really be fitting for two? And my heart breaks over all that Antonia and Jim never had: why didn't they just stay together? why didn't they get married, I wonder?! Cuzak did not want what Antonia wanted, but he still got her...and Jim, oh how Jim's romantic heart treasured and kept Antonia, loved her and allowed her to become a part of himself. Yet apart they remain, and my heart cries out from the depths of my being "WHY!?"...
I can see Antonia, and her children and their's all so present to me. And how Antonia teaches her children--she, as uneducated as she is formally speaking, imparts to her children everything that she has learned and all that she went through and grew up in truly became a part of her children...she passed on her very self and oh my heart, the beauty of her her children cherish her and know her.
Such a beautiful story.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I'm Back!

WELL, after a very long stretch of 'looking for a muse'...I feel like I am now able to blog again! Maybe it's the encouragement of ONE follower! haha, thanks, Rose.

Like I said in my last post, I was searching for a muse and it's almost like it was yesterday when I think about it...I can still feel how it was last semester when I remember it: such a desire and longing for HOME and the weight of studies bearing me down. I finally made it home and now, thinking about it for the first time since then, I have already finished the rough draft of my senior thesis (a full 25 pages). All of a sudden, it seems like I can handle anything else this semester throws!--granted there is not even 2 months left! I feel the pressing need to figure out my next step, and find that I keep praying for passion--I need passion to be able to move anywhere and find what I want to do...We are raised into a culture that cultivates apathy at all corners: everyone is equal and too much passion makes one look like a fanatic. Well, bring it on. I was at a fancy dinner recently as the evening pursued (can I even use that word like that?) the older man sitting next to me, a retired Pediatrician, told me no matter what I do to have passion--people need passion, we need conviction, to live a good life and a fulfilling life. And we, as people, need examples of other people with passion to encourage us on our paths...

As of right now my path is a bit unclear as far as the details, but the general direction could not be clearer. As I make plans for my family to come down for graduation in May, and get the car ready for another 2000 mile road trip, I can't help feel myself being drawn back to the North and it's as if it's already present even while I'm here...I can feel it in me, I'm already there. I have a few ideas for books that I'd like to start researching for and I have a job set up for the summer. After the summer I'm going to move to the big cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and hopefully fall on the St. Paul side rather than "Murder-opolis" (something I was recently informed of). I'm looking into teaching licenses and teaching in one of the elementary Catholic schools there...The Catholic community there, especially for young adults, seems to be thriving and I am eargerly looking forward to transitioning into a city with more cultural opportunities and the busyness that seems to envelope the ripe age of the early 20s.

I also am longing for a true spring, opposed to the bastardized verson we get in southwest Florida. There is something about the pattern of life up there that's hard to do without after having had it...

Well I'm off to pick up a friend from the airport, so until next time..