Semester CRASH

As indicated by the title of this post, expect complete randomness.

2012 has been, in a word, incredible.

I was looking at my high school yearbook the other day. I’ve started on my college blurb, so that it will be ready by the time I graduate next year. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only got three semesters left, and even harder to believe that because I’m in a five year program, 98% of my batch-mates either just graduated, or will graduate this coming summer.

The season where life is pervaded by friends’ college graduations and weddings has begun for me. Off the top of my head, I count seven weddings within the past 12 months, and five more engagements which will lead to weddings within the next 9 months. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few.

God is so good. I’ve been reflecting recently on where I was four years ago, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Sometime within the past two months, I found this post. I read it, breathed, bookmarked it, and promptly forgot about it. A couple of weeks ago, I started reading How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, which Mum and Dad had the sound parental foresight to give me shortly after I started college, and which I did not have the sense to immediately dive into. But then, I wasn’t really in a good position to digest it, anyway. (Logic Behind Love, Part VI post coming up, probably focused on the concept of Pinoy courtship.)

Like gracefortheroad, I used to wear a ring that read, “true love waits.” Also like her, I don’t wear it anymore. Not quite for the same reasons, though.

I took that ring off for work reasons and promptly lost it in the tall metal laundry hamper where all of our lab coats and work uniforms went at the end of the day. Oops. I can’t recall now if I was particularly bothered. I know I did search fruitlessly for it shortly afterwards, with no luck. That was sometime in 2010.

I wear a new ring now. Couldn’t tell you exactly when I got this one, but it reads, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to give you a future and a hope, plans for prosperity and not calamity.” Jer 29:11.

Four years ago, I could never have foreseen the countless blessings with which I have been showered. I cannot say that I am particularly proud of my 18-year old self, but I am grateful to have also been graced with the acceptance which enables me not to cringe anymore at those recollections, but only to smile a little sadly and shake my head. My life is beautiful, and He has been nothing short of completely faithful, in spite of my unfaithfulness.

Between the re-election of the most anti-Life, anti-American president history has ever seen, the passing of the RH Bill in our homeland, all this talk of the end of the world courtesy of the Mayan calendar… I feel – and I think many who are close to me do also – the world, groaning, and aching from the evil that presses in on every side.

SPOILER ALERT #1

My favorite lines from Snow White and the Huntsman: Iron will melt, but it will writhe inside of itself. All of these years, all I’ve known is darkness, but I have never seen a brighter light than when my eyes just opened, and I know that light burns in all of you. Those embers must turn to flame; iron into sword. I will become your weapon, forged by the fierce fire that I know is in your hearts… I’d rather die today than live another day of this death. Who will ride with me? Who will be my brother?

The spiritual battle rages. Those who choose to be blind to the horror of the reality that is abortion cannot be blind to the horror of other incidents which we have grieved for, as a country, this year. No one can ignore the senseless taking of lives at an elementary school, a movie theater, among other places.

None of us have time to be wasting, waiting, waiting for better circumstances or ‘right times’, to live.

SPOILER ALERT #2

I went to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit on Thursday with some of our closest friends. Galadriel asks Gandalf, “Why the hobbit?” In his reply, Gandalf muses aloud that he believes that it is not merely the great and the powerful that can make differences in the world, but that it is the little people and the little quiet acts of kindness that really keep evil at bay.

This year has been a year for adventures. Between Michigan, swing dancing, three awesome series[es…es] of Theology on Tap, losing friends, making friends, recognizing and building the really important friendships, losing jobs, getting new jobs, weddings, graduations, being blown, being disillusioned, HomeLIFE and Fresh and the Young Adult groups of St. Max and St. John’s, all the beautiful food and alcohol that I’ve appreciated, movie outings, shopping trips, coffee and dinner dates, future mommy circle building, present mommy circle invading, and watching my siblings grow and grow and grow… I feel like my faith life went through some sort of growth spurt this year.

Yeah, I know, how did all that add up?

Legit, though.

If there is one thing that I dare to claim I’ve done better in the course of this past year, than I’ve done in any other of my 21 years previous, its having lived this year to the fullest. I cannot honestly recall any great personal [perceived] tragedy this year. History has been made, the world endures great evil, I’ve had my bad days and my down days, but this year has been a year of hope for me, a year of trust, and a year of great love. I dare to claim that I have the most awesome family in the world, and the most awesome friends possible [while sincerely praying that every other person in the world manages to reach a point in their life when they can say the same of their own respective circles].

I have been surrounded by kindness and love this year. I cannot even begin to articulate how overwhelming it has been, all of the time. We all have our chosen moments of loneliness, and I have certainly had mine, but He has not allowed me to truly believe that I have ever been alone.

KK used to speak and sing of that Blessed Assurance.

More recently, we – my family – have been talking a lot about The Four Last Things.

We’ve been discussing persecution and martyrdom and homeschooling and whatnot.

All this evil happening in the world – it’s all connected. [Duh.] We cannot afford to be weary and worn for too long; we need our grieving time, but we have to rise again and keep on fighting. We cannot be weighed down by what we might be tempted or even forced to perceive as the devil’s victories. I have hope because I have seen how the Church has woken up and responded to these attacks. There may have been instances of too little, too late, but my focus is on the fact that there has been a response, and the magnitude of the response from the faithful is nothing to sneeze at. Would you believe, even the non-Catholics have noticed (although they do a terrible job of trying to explain it).

It hurts me so much that the greatest sickness that I see in some of the circles I move in more regularly, is a lack of understanding of, quite simply, the essence of humanity.

I’ve been meditating on this a lot of late. Mostly while listening to the radio.

So much of modern pop culture is sickeningly fake and whiny. Quintessential examples would be Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night and Cher Lloyd’s Want U Back. Among a million other things I could complain about, they completely miss, undermine, and ultimately very thoroughly decimate the true essence of what it is to be a woman, strong and steady and genuine.

And yet, it is hardly surprising. Modern feminism continues to degrade further into not only an anti-woman mindset/stance/lifestyle, but also anti-man and ultimately anti-human one. Too many males are sadly, disgustingly content to sit back and watch the females in their lives destroy themselves, and somehow even manage to derive a detestable amount of entertainment from it.

No, this post is not digressing into a declaration that everyone should listen to nothing but “contemporary Christian alternative.” That, too, would be a mistake.

Just as the shadow proves the sunshine, maybe it is that the true value of pure joy is revealed in light of our sorrow.

So much of humanity is characteristically sorrowful. How can we not be?? We have instincts and longings for infinite measures of Truth, of Goodness, and of Beauty. And we cannot be satisfied by anything on this earth! How can we not experience great sorrow at the lack of satisfaction in this lifetime?

One of the greatest mistakes we can make in our attempts to live out the Gospel and in our attempts to evangelize is to completely bypass that first step of recognizing that longing, that need, that desperation for the infinite, and that resulting utter sorrow in the deep emptiness that comes of craving more Truth and Beauty and Goodness than this world can possibly hold. How can Christ offer us peace and joy and happiness if we refuse to acknowledge that we have not peace, that we have not joy, that we have not happiness in the things of this world? Can you appreciate a sunset enough? Can you watch the sun set and say it is too much and you do not wish for more of its magnificence?

And frankly, that’s how we’ve got to reach people. They’re so closed to the whole Jesus loves you mantra. One of the most important and best things that we can work on during this Year of Faith is learning about ourselves, because salvation is all about us, in that He already is Everything; we are the ones who gain heaven, or lose it.

There was a reason why Apologize was named the song of the year when I was nearing the end of high school. It was when I was just beginning to study the Theology of the Body. It speaks of the sorrow and the brokenness of the world, that all of humanity, regardless of specifics of circumstance, could relate to this one song as if its story were all their own. Because it is.

The world is miserable. It is miserable, it longs, and does not know where to look. The worst part is that all the answers are written on our hearts. The sickness is that the world looks to separate us from the real depth that our heart actually has the capacity for – a capacity for emptiness, and a capacity to be filled, and to be overflowing with love, truth, beauty, and goodness.

Katy Perry and Cher Lloyd – Are they actually trying to fill the emptiness that pervades our being? All I see in their music is a stubborn denial of the emptiness.

So go listen to some OneRepublic, The Script, Mat Kearney, Audrey Assad, Sarah McLachlan. Go enjoy a gloomy day! Seriously. Go get in touch with the characteristic misery of humanity. And in doing so, discover that you were made for, pure, eternal, unadulterated joy. That’s what I’ve been discovering this year, in a million different ways and through a million different people. God be praised.

Ok, so this blog post is one of my crazier brain dumps, and it also happens to be a winter cleaning of the drafts folder.

Did I ever blog about my 21st birthday? I don’t think so… because I had a draft entitled “How our dreams do change…” and began so:

Depending on my template at the time of your reading this, there ought to be an About the Author column somewhere on the page. Four years ago, it read thus:

Bound for Cinci State + UC, dual major in Culinary Arts & Science and Voice, followed by an MA in Theology at Steubie, after which, she intends to give a year entirely to the Lord as a Full-Time Mission Worker for the Singles & Youth for Christ FFL, and she trusts that at the end of that year, He will lead her to where she should be.

Yesterday, I turned 21. I haven’t any particularly profound revelations or pretty words for the event. I had plans to stay safe and out of trouble at the end of the shift, but otherwise my Spring Break was going to be spent working. Whether I caught it from Dad or Sami or Matt is beside the point, but I ended up in bed on Wednesday with influenza A and was subsequently ordered to sleep and stay away from people until tomorrow. So God gave me my Spring Break, loaded with medications, but now that I’m past feeling like someone deliberately dislocated each of my joints and snapped them back into place just to highlight every injury and potential injury I’ve ever gotten or could have in either of the two dangerous sports I chose to pursue with my life and see how I would deal with it… I’m fine.

It was nice to catch up on sleep, punctuated as it was with headaches and perspiration and alarms going off for one of the twelve pills I needed to take within a 24 hour period.

Aaaaannndddd… that was as far as I got. I suppose I should include here that the sidebar currently reads:

Conservative; Roman Catholic; Pinay; the oldest of five children; having attended public school and Catholic school as well as having had the privilege of being an early homeschool graduate; a graduate of the Culinary Arts Technology program at The Midwest Culinary Institute; currently in her Senior year in the University of Cincinnati’s Culinary Arts & Science Program; her greatest ambition is to be a wife and a mother and raise Saints for God – though whether that dream is to be realized in the convent or in marriage is still being discerned.

Whew.

What really makes me laugh is that my blog header [and twitter tagline] both state very clearly that I do not live life by birthdays or new years, and that’s a really good thing, because New Year’s Eve and my birthday were literally the two of the suckiest days of this year. Both were my own fault, and the sort of fault that you can’t help. Like, you know, I didn’t ask for influenza, but if I preferred to lie in bed and feel terrible, there was nothing anyone else could really do about it, and therefore, my fault. I guess ‘fault’ isn’t really the right word.

Anyway.

What a cliffhanger, but I really should finish that post about how my dreams have changed.

I feel like I’ve talked about it a lot already, though, without having specifically dedicated a blog post to the subject…

Oh, yeah, the semester is over. I made it. I don’t like semesters – I still miss 9-week terms – but I pulled through with two A’s, two B+’s, and two B’s. Not incredible. And definitely no chance of me graduating with something remotely near a 4.0. Oh well. Try for better next year.

CRASH is in the title of this blog post, because it really did go CRASH at the end. Three classes ended up being two-part finals, half being written and half being a presentation. Two finals were online and they were no joke. And the last and most fun final was split up into three concerts over the course of 48 hours, and included my first [and probably last] solo part as a member of the UC Choruses. Little personal victory for me – I was told by a number of people that I should join Cabaret. Tempting, but the rehearsal hours don’t agree with my love for getting home relatively earlier on weeknights, and getting to work and have late night adventures on weekends. Still, it’s nice to know people think I’d be good enough to get in. Along those same lines, someone at Mass actually said I should drop culinary arts and focus on my voice. I really hope he wasn’t offended that I sort of just… laughed. Uhmmm…. other little personal victory for me was my wine presentation. Not that I was particularly happy about what I managed to cover within a very short fifteen minutes, but Prof T wanted to know what program I had used (Prezi – The Science of Wine Flavor), Kayla commented that I’d barely looked at the screen and said I’d done a really good job giving the presentation, Svetlana said I’d “spoken like a true sommelier,” and Seth appreciated that I got the cork out of the Merlot without popping it. Win.

Speaking of wine, that would be a big factor in a how-my-dreams-have-changed post, if I were to write it. Hm. And LOL, Sanders said something to the effect that we should count on our Discovering Wine class to be ridiculously hard, and not being able to make heads or tails of it or remember anything we learned after the class. I took that quietly as a personal challenge and have resolved to pass that class with flying colors, “like a true sommelier.” Besides, I’ve got to study for Level II, so let’s kill two birds with one stone, shall we?

Oooooops, killing’s bad. And we like birds. So… you know…

It is so strange having a winter break without homework. This has never happened in my entire life-since-I-started-school. I guess it’s one nice thing about semesters. God is good.

It means that I have time to be writing ridiculously long and random blog posts, but it also means that my room is cleaner than it ever has been since before I left for Michigan, that I’m sewing and not feeling guilty about it, that I have time to write Christmas cards and try to think of more meaningful Christmas gifts, that I’m planning to catch up with a number of extremely important people – namely Steffy and Marybeth and Cory and Anthony and Michelle and Nate and Ben and Aaron and Anna Marie and Cat and Natalie and Gabe and… you get the idea, and I’m sorry if I didn’t mention you, but you know that I love you – and finally, that I’ve responded to a number of sub requests for psalmists which means that I’m cantoring on 12/30, 01/06, 01/20, and 2/17, which is the most I’ve cantored in a two-month period since ever joining any parish-based music ministry.

DID I MENTION MY NEW GUITAR CAME???

The Ibanez officially died, and has been unplayable since I got home from Michigan. I haven’t played guitar for Mass since May. And I won’t again until… Oh, look at that, 01/12. Wow. The point is, with us investing in a new transmission for the Subaru instead of buying a car for me (a decision which I have since remained absolutely THRILLED about – the Subaru’s running like new and I love it even more than I did before), I decided to invest in a guitar that would last me the rest of my life with the money I would otherwise have spent on a new car. Yeah… Don’t ask me how much I did spend. Just know that it’s a Taylor.

FIREWORKS.

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