Sunday reading reflection #4

So we haven’t done one of these in ages. The readings for this Sunday (read them here) were especially poignant considering all the terrible things going on here in the United States concerning race, racial ideologies, and hatred. The pastor of my parish preached a fantastic homily about how hatred and pre-judgement of any kind alienates us from God’s kingdom because anything that comes from God does not divide, but unites.

One line that particularly struck me from the second reading is “For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.” There’s just something that’s so beautiful and yet terrifying about the gifts and call of God being irrevocable. Terrifying in that at times it feels like we can’t live out God’s call or are afraid to use the gifts he’s given us. But so beautiful in that despite all our fears, reluctance, and stubbornness, he isn’t going to take them back. And he isn’t going to leave us when we don’t follow his call how he might want us to, or if we stray a little too far, “…for he has said ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

His call and his gifts are for all. No qualifications or even willingness needed. His arms and his heart are always open, we need only reach out. And that is so important to remember, especially in such troubled times.

I hope the skies are sunny where ever you are today. God bless.

Check in #1

“Life piles up so fast that I have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections.”–Virginia Woolf. 

This quote has described many phases in my life, particularly in college, but seems especially salient right now. There’s been so much going on that I’ve barely been able to talk to my parents or think, let alone blog about things. I’ve also realized that I don’t do short posts about what’s going on with me. I do posts about bigger things such as questions or struggles that I’m having, but I don’t write about the day to day stuff. So here’s a little bit about the day to day stuff. A few of the things on this list aren’t small, but it’s been usually busy lately. Hopefully things will slow down now.

  • I got promoted at work! I’m going to be a full time reference clerk! It’s going to be incredibly different from my work in the children’s department. I was really unsure about it at first but as I’ve been trained, I’ve become less and less scared and more and more excited. I’ll get to build different skills and work with different people. I start the new job at the end of this month and we’ll see how this goes.
  • Two of my best friends got married to each other! Remember the wedding I told you I was going to be in? If you don’t, I don’t blame you, since I told you about it back in November. That was this past weekend! I’ve been so blessed to watch these two go from friends to good friends to being a couple to now being married. It’s been such a joy, so much so that I don’t think I’ll be able to process all my thoughts and feelings about it for quite some time. I’ve already warned the bride that I’ll probably call her up in October and be like “YOU GOT MARRIED???? WHAT THE HECK???” Congratulations, Miles and Abigail!
  • I got my first smart phone recently. I got my first cell phone in 2012 and I got a different phone last year and I’ve hated it ever since. I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a smart phone and this seemed like a good time to do it. It’s been an interesting experience so far. While it’s been an incredibly helpful communication tool, I can already tell that it can quickly become an obsession and a necessity, as so many people view their phones these days. I’m trying hard not to let that happen, but at the same time I’m curious as to what this technology has to offer.
  • I’ve been listening to musicals more recently and I forgot how much I love musical theater. Ever since the Tonys I’ve been on a musical kick. I’ve been listening to Hamilton more and I’ve lately gotten into Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Dear Evan Hansen is next, but I’m waiting until things have settled down with me before jumping into a soundtrack that has already made me cry and I’ve only listened to three songs. Definitely give all these shows a listen if you haven’t.
  • George Bernard Shaw is a fantastic playwright. I’ve been doing a lot of rereading lately and toward the middle/end of June, I really wanted to re-experience a play that I saw in college, called Arms and the Man.  Though I hadn’t read it, it was amazing to read the script for it and to remember how wonderful that production was. I was struck again just how witty and how precise he is in his use of language and development of character. I’m reading Saint Joan now and I love it.

So that’s a little about some of the many things going on in my life. I’m going to try to blog more often and to be a little more open and honest about what’s going on in my life on this blog. I hope you all are doing well. Bye for now.

The inevitable anniversary blog

It’s been a year. Since I graduated from college, that is. That fact is so hard to believe.

marci, catherine and me

From the right, my friend Marci, my roommate, Catherine, and me. We met at our pre-orientation and ended up being in a lot of classes together since we were all English students. This was taken before the big ceremony. No one looks good in academic livery, but we didn’t do too bad. 

In many ways, it still feels like I’ve been on an extended break, that I’m still waiting for the call from my university, wondering why I haven’t come back to finish up my studies. But I did finish and I do have the diploma, and now I have a year’s worth of work, interview, and writing experience I couldn’t have seen coming. And through all of that, I’ve learned a lot. The following list is not a list of things I’ve learned and then moved on, it’s more of a summing up of bits and pieces that have been reinforced to me over and over during this first year in the “real world”.

  1. There will be twists and turns you won’t expect. And things will not go your way.  Learn to be okay with that.
    I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that the dreams I had of getting the perfect job and moving away from home right after I returned from school did not happen. There have been so many days that I’ve beaten myself up because I feel like it’s my fault that I am not where I want to be in life right now. While I know that sounds stupid (and it kinda is), it’s also an understandable reaction. People’s dreams sometimes take a long time to come true, if they ever come true at all. And while that’s discouraging, being upset about it doesn’t help anything. So if you ever feel sad because you don’t feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be in life, it’s okay to be sad, but don’t let that sadness weigh you down. Use that sadness as fuel to keep going. You can do it, even if you don’t think you can.
  2. Celebrate your successes, even the little ones.
    It can be easy, especially when you’re just starting out, to ignore the successes you do have because they are not the kinds of successes you’re aiming for. Success involves a lot of plodding along on a path that will eventually take you where you want to go. It’s so dumb and demoralizing that (at least in the U.S.) we have this idea that success occurs in a shoot-to-the-moon kind of fashion and that once you are deemed “a success”, you better do all you can to hold on to that title and that validation. While those stories make for interesting fodder for Hollywood, I’d safely wager that if you ask any successful person, they’d tell you just how long and how difficult a journey it was. So celebrate your little successes, because that means you’re one step closer.
  3. The key to being thankful is being observant.
    Noticing the little things and taking the time to be thankful for them is almost, maybe even more important thank being grateful for the big things.
  4. Getting an interview doesn’t mean you have to take the job, if they even offer it to you.
    Since I started my job search late last May, I’ve had several in-person and phone interviews for different jobs. The one thing that has been consistent with all of those interviews was the fact that I got incredibly anxious about moving and how I would handle the job before the interview even happened. While it’s important to be well-informed about the job, what you’ll be doing, and where you will potentially be living, it’s also important to keep yourself calm and not to get ahead of yourself. While getting an interview is a good sign, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get the job or that you’re going to have to figure everything out at the drop of a hat. Take everything as it comes and don’t try to climb the mountain before you’ve even arrived at its base.
  5. There are some things school hasn’t and couldn’t prepare you for.
    School, like everything in life, is a mix of the mundane and the magnanimous. It’s only now that I’ve been out of school that I realize just how much of school I found boring, even though I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to attend school at all. I’ve also realized that, though school feels like it finishes your education, it really is only the beginning. I remember my Victorian lit professor telling us that when we were discussing the influence of England’s universities on the writers of that period. He said something like, “The end of our formal education is only the beginning, which is why they call graduation commencement.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little reflection of my time out of the education system. If you have any school/life stories you’d like to share, please do! Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, stepmothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be!

 

Years and raining blossoms

Hi, everyone. I’ve had two realizations this week and it’s only Tuesday. The first is that it’s April and April means it’s National Poetry Month and I haven’t put up a single poem yet. The second is that, as of tomorrow, I will have been keeping this blog for an entire year. That is bananas. This time last year, I was a college senior struggling to keep it together long enough to graduate. And now, well, I’m still struggling, but I’ve been able to write and do work that I am grateful to do. I just want to say thanks for reading and sticking around, everyone. Here’s to hopefully many more years of blogging! And now, without further ado, here is a poem to celebrate National Poetry Month.

They say that, when the blossoms rain early,

the sky is not too far behind,

that the days will stretch out

and then shrink back in on themselves

again, reaching

for the blackness

that, summer or winter,

is always there,

after the sun sets

and before the dawn.

I wonder about that night

before the dawn,

if it feels neglected since people

almost always want it gone.

Or if it doesn’t care

and shines forth regardless,

casting the sky in crowds of stars.

Some time,

I will stop wondering

and start wandering

and seek the answers

to the world,

to the darkness,

the light,

and the everything in between,

myself.

 

7 things I’ve learned so far in 2017

Hello and an incredibly belated Happy New Year to everyone. I’ve been meaning to post for a while, but if you’ve been following this blog for more than a little while, you’ve probably noticed that blogging is the first thing that gets thrown to the wayside when life gets crazy. I’m going to work on that, I promise. To bring everyone up to speed with what’s been going on in my life, here’s a list of 17 things I’ve learned so far in 2017.

  1. I really need to fix my sleep schedule.
    It’s kinda ridiculous how much this needs to happen and how long I’ve been putting it off.
  2. Being immersed in a writing project is one of the most amazing, forgiving things.
    I’m heading toward the finish line with my current manuscript. It’s been an exciting, difficult, but totally rewarding process and I’m eager to keep working on it and make it better.
  3. While I consider myself a good writer, I know I’ll never write anything as remotely cool as Hamilton.
    I finally finished listening to the whole soundtrack on Monday. I cried three times. Favorite songs right now are “Wait for it”, “Dear Theodosia”, and “History has its eyes on you.”
  4. In a time of quick action and loud protests, contemplative silence and calm listening can be subversive but necessary acts.
    I’m not going to say too much about this, but let’s just say I’m an American who doesn’t like joining in on flame wars on social media. That should tell you all you need to know. More importantly, listening and observing what’s going on can be just as crucial as reacting to current events, when direct action is not mandatory, of course.
  5.  Watching a dog learn to play with toys is fun.
    We bought Pongo a tug of war toy when we first got him. He’s shown no interest in it until now since I took it into my head to try to channel his biting habit into something that doesn’t end up with me covered in dog slime. It’s worked really well and he’s becoming really protective of it. It’s adorable.

6.Manga is amazing both as an art form and a method of storytelling.
I started reading Library Wars when I saw it on the “To be shelved” cart at work and I picked up the first three volumes and immediately loved them. It’s a story set in an alternate future in which censorship has become the norm under law except for libraries and the librarians who staff them. The fight for censorship has become so vehement that a library defense force was created, an organization that Iku Kasahara has wanted to join since she encountered one of the defense agents in high school. Though she’s much too opinionated and clumsy to be totally suited to military life,  her passion and verve see her through. It’s a funny, upbeat, and surprisingly deep series that makes me smile no matter what. Definitely check it out!

Image result for library wars

Photo credited to amazon.com.

7.Time doesn’t owe us anything.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Toward the new year, it seemed like everyone was so ready for 2016 to end. And I can understand why. It was a tough year on a number of levels. But for all the bad that happened, there was good that happened, as well. Despite all the bad things, now more than ever, we need to recognize good things when we see them because they are the things worth fighting for. Also, time doesn’t owe us anything, as I said earlier. The only thing time owes to humanity is to keep going. It’s the ultimate soldier, it just keeps marching on. And if it stops, that’s it, for Time and for us.

What have you learned this year so far? Feel free to let me know in the comments. As previously mentioned, I’m really into my current project right now (for more details, read this). I will try to maintain a somewhat normal cycle of blogging, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sticking with me, lovely people.

Thanksgiving (thanks for giving)

Hello, everyone. Once again, I must apologize for the lack of posts. If I thought October was a crazy month, November has snatched that award away and set it on its shelf.

A bunch of things have happened that I’m still sorting through. I’ve been really stressed about many things, to the point that sometimes the best I can do is just not think and just try to be as calm as possible (which is much more difficult than it sounds.) I had two job interviews and received my first job offer (which I ended up turning down for financial reasons.) The election happened and if we all thought it was interesting and anxiety-inducing before, it’s only gotten worse (at least for me, but I’m trying to stay as positive as I can.)

While that might not seem like much, it’s been difficult to deal with. But in all this darkness, there have been many patches of light to keep me moving forward. Like getting to cook all day and spend time with family yesterday (a belated Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.) My best friend asked me to be her bridesmaid (she’s getting married next summer.) I received a surprise visit from another best friend and we got to talk about a lot of things (love you, Jasmine.) I got to take a road trip with my Dad, got to see some new places, and got to admire God’s beautiful creation from the view of a car window (I have a habit of staring out windows whenever I travel.) I got to eat grapes with my brother at one in the morning (because when you don’t have to go to work the next morning and you and your sibling want fruit, why not?) I’ve made significant progress on my first draft thanks to NaNoWriMo (but not as much progress as I thought I would.) I’ve gotten to grow closer to my characters through working on their story and building their world (I love them so much, though I don’t think they’d love me if they met me because of what I’m putting them through.) I’ve received quite a bit of writing encouragement from people who have known me and who have supported me and it’s been humbling and beautiful (hello, lovely people. You know who you are.)

So yes, there have been many ups and downs of late. Forgive the rambling nature of this post. I felt so awful that I haven’t been writing here lately that I was desperate to post something. More is on the way, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for giving me your attention. The fact that people are reading my words baffles and humbles me and I hope you know that I am so thankful for you. You’re amazing. Bye for now.

Four poems in two sentences or less. Let’s go.

Poetry is when

the words don’t align themselves

into a sensical order

yet the feeling

they produce in the reader

is a light into a misty heart

and a homecoming

between two people

who have never met.

 

If I could be born

at any other point in the year,

it would be mid-October.

Though the trees would

be blazing colors

as they die to sleep

I would be

a new life,

blazing into the world.

 

They ask me why

I need to spend

at least a few minutes a day

with earbuds in my ears.

I answer,

as the mind needs sleep

so the soul needs music.

 

Everyone talks about

how the stars shine

yet no one mentions

how the dawn glows.

 

If I am correct, this should bring us back up to speed. I didn’t intend to be playing catch-up for a week, but things happen. It’s been an insane week but hopefully I can keep posting poems. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!

 

 

The Old Man/A promise for tomorrow

I met an old man once

and he’s been haunting me ever since.

His clothes are black, cut in sharp,

Puritanical lines that slice the skin.

His beard slavers down his mouth and his jaws,

like Walt Whitman with rabies.

His eyes, though, are the worst.

Two pieces of the dullest aquamarine

and as hard as the stones

he throws at me.

“Dance, you bitch!” He cries, pummeling me

left, right,

front and back.

He has an endless supply

of stones in his coat pockets,

as I have been quick to learn.

Nothing can halt his relentless rain,

so I do what he wants.

I waltz, swing my hips,

pirouette, and fox trot

until breath is a memory

my lungs are holding onto

even though they know

it’s never coming back.

He doesn’t stop until I think he wouldn’t

ever tire of my hideous dancing.

Even then he doesn’t quit.

Breath and my lungs could

reunite for a moment

and he’d be back.

I’d look away from his eyes

and be caught in his avalanche again.

He’s over my shoulder now,

in my gut, in my head,

pounding and scratching and kicking

over everything

I’ve tried to safety pin back together

since he last intruded.

He thinks he’s won

but he doesn’t realize

that my feeble arms

aren’t just made for dancing.

He knows me, this old man,

and I pray

he’ll never know you.

 

Someday I will see

the road I’ve traveled

falls, pit stops, U-turns,

tire marks, and lost fluids

all included

and not be ashamed

or unafraid.

Until then,

my grip will never loosen

on this steering wheel

though my shoulders ache

and my hands

are so very tired.

 

Yesterday was my highest percentage of likes in one day. Thanks to everyone who’s been on this poetic journey with me so far. Ya’ll rock and I hope you stick around for what’s to come.

 

Sunday reading reflection #3

The Gospel for this week was the entirety of Luke 15, though the shortened form is Luke 15:1-10. There are three parables told this week: the good shepard, the woman and the lost coin, and the prodigal son. All of these parables emphasize God’s unending goodness and mercy, no matter how far we go astray or how many times we wander off the path he has set us on.

Instead of me explaining and analyzing these readings, I just want to leave you with a quote from last night’s homily. We had a visiting priest and he did a tremendous job of explaining these stories. Toward the end of his homily he said: “The joy of God is not the death of the sinner, it is the life of the sinner.”

You could think about that for years and still find fresh food for thought. That’s all for today, lovelies. Don’t be afraid to ask for mercy. He will welcome you home, no matter how long you’ve been away.

Image result for the prodigal son

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Credited to wikipedia.

Sunday reading reflection #2

My reflection last week went over so well, I decided to keep doing them. I might not do them every week in the future and I might try to do some of these during the week at times if I want to. Do let me know what you think!

Today’s readings played off of each other really well. The first reading (Dt. 30:10-14) shows Moses exhorting the people to heed God’s voice and follow his commands. He explains that God hasn’t placed his commandments in places so far away or so high that they cannot be reached. They are “already in your mouths and in your hearts” and we have only “to carry it out.” Similarly, Jesus relates the story of the Good Samaritan and, after the scholar of the law guesses correctly that the dying man’s neighbor is the one who treats him with mercy, Jesus says “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37).

The Bible is a mix of both the highly mystical and spiritual and the common and practical. Today we fully see that mix on display in all three readings, as the second reading (Col 1:15-20) tells about the mystery that is Jesus. To me, the readings boil down to that fact that while love of God and neighbor is mysterious and difficult, we just need to live it as much as we can, which involves setting aside our own agendas at times. But in carrying it out, we make ourselves, our neighbors, and our world a much better place.

Photo credited to: bibleodyssey.org