Friday, January 16, 2015

Going all in

Have you read the Holy Father's message to the Filipinos?

I loved it because I love Saint Joseph. It reminded me of the homily I heard just before Christmastime. The priest was reflecting on the need for trust, and how trust is just another word for faith, and how important it is to have trust in relationships, particularly with your spouse and with your God. 

I think the reading was the story of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, when Herod threatened the baby Jesus. 

It was the first time I began to appreciate how courageous Mary and Joseph were, and how radical their trust was in each other. 

For yourself, imagine last night in all its normalcy. Now pretend your husband woke you up at 2:30am and said "Grab your things; we're leaving. It's not safe here."

Do you say "you're crazy and/or drunk," and roll over to fall back asleep?

Or, what the hell? Why?

Because of A DREAM? You want us to do what because of a shitty dream?

Maybe you think your spouse IS just a little crazy but you go out on a limb and  put your faith in his gut intuition. 

Imagine packing just what you could fit in the back of the car, hitting the interstate before sunrise, and driving across the border into Mexico's desert. Imagine taking refuge in that foreign country for an unspecified number of years. 

Wait, wait wait. But Mary wasn't married to your Average Joe. She married Saint Joseph, for Pete's sake. Of course if St. Joseph told you to do something, you'd trust him. He's not exactly your typical husband. 

True. But . . . 

Remember, between Mary and Joseph, Mary was the perfect one. Mary never made a moral error in her entire life. She, in a certain sense, was always right. 

Joseph was a really great guy, but he was still a sinner. He screwed up sometimes. 

Mary trusted him anyway. She was way outta his league, but she gave him her heart to lead their family. 

I'm still trying to process that. 
And I'm going to bed. Goodnight. 

PS. Read what Francis said about having a dream for your family. Maybe tomorrow I'll find the link to post. 

PS II. It's worth noting that Joseph also had to give some radical trust to Mary in a highly dubious predicament. They were engaged to be married, and she suddenly appears knocked up. Peer pressure and the norms of their culture would have had him react one way to a cheating fiancé, but we know the rest of that story. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year

I'm so hungry right now. Haven't had a real meal since my packed lunch last night. I could cook something, but the kid might wake up while the range is hot. And I don't feel like leaving something half cooked on the stove, so I'm distracting myself with yuletide rambling.

I rung (rang?) in 2015 at work, trying to chase down my patient's boyfriend so she didn't have to be alone when the clock struck twelve. I checked the waiting room twice while my coworkers counted down the last minute and toasted with sparkling apple juice in plastic flutes.

I didn't find him, but he showed up later and made her whole room reek of weed.

Around 4am I got another chance to pump upstairs in the lactation room. Sometimes it's so lonely up there, just me and the Medela. It's one aisle away from the hospital nursery and right around the corner from where I gave birth.

I hate pumping. It makes me feel like a milk cow and reminds me how far away I am from my little boy.

But on the other hand, it also reminds me I do have a little boy at home, how lucky I am to have him in my life, and how proud I am to feed him myself.

Ryan is out with his cousins right now. Bubba is actually sleeping in his own crib--wonder of wonders. It won't last long, and in about 30 minutes I'm sure he'll wake up and demand I join his slumber party. And bring the boobies, mom.

By the way, here we are last year, just beginning the third trimester.

And this year!

Selfies and babies just don't work sometimes. Not if you're trying to include a good shot of the tree.

Our tree topper is ridiculous. We didn't trim it though. It reminds me of the little dog with the lopsided antlers in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I'm grateful for my husband doing about 90% of the decorating this year, including hanging icicle lights which he hates. He even remembered to take baby Jesus out of the creche until Christmas day.

I worked Christmas night, which was okay. We had spent Christmas Eve with Ryan's family, and my son had a blast crumpling paper and chasing the dogs as fast as his fat little thighs could take him. That night Bubba had a little Christmas miracle for his momma and slept 6 hours straight.

Christmas morning we had to ourselves. It was lovely.

I just discovered "Hipster Holiday" on Pandora. I changed the name so as not to alarm the man of the house. I'm enjoying it. My three other Christmas stations were getting a bit overplayed, and it's not even Epiphany yet ; )

Looking forward to a few more days like these. Cheers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Big Three O

A friend of mine recently celebrated a milestone birthday and took the opportunity to recollect all the defining events of her past decade. Having recently turned thirty myself, it got me thinking. Where was I ten years ago? What did I do with my twenties? A lot happened to me; maybe more so than for my teens.

Ten years ago this fall I was returning to college--skinny, muscular, and tan, and with not a few internal parasites, I'm sure. I had spent part of the summer in Banica, Dominican Republic, where a sister-parish of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington hosted me and several other students. It was supposedly a "mission trip," and while we were eager workers, we were but skill-less college students. The experience certainly benefited ourselves more than any Dominicans, unless the general spreading of goodwill counts for something.  We lived with local families, learned Spanish, built horribly rickety church pews, and poured cement for a widower's new home. We developed dysentery and a taste for goat meat.  I am almost certain I have never had as much fun as I did in the D.R.

Deacon Joseph: one badass carpenter. At least somebody knew what he was doing.

wash day in the Rio Artibonito

also in the river . . .

the local wildlife kept even nighttime outhouse trips . . . exciting

with my host family, Arturo and Maria

The power was out again in Banica.
Hitch hiking to Las Matas for cold beer and ice cream.
Stopping at our driver's goat farm. 

In the dorms that year I was a resident assistant--a pretty bad one. My intentions were good, but you know you've got a problem when you earn a reputation for being the strictest dress code enforcer on campus (in the most conservative Catholic college in all the land no less.) Hemline Gestapo I was, though personally I found the dress code too severe. Forgive me, girls. I was young, stupid, and really wanted to make things fair. It didn't seem right that some should get away with breaking the rules while others were making hard effort to comply. Call me Javert.

Anyway, there are about four things in life that I regret to the point of pain. Being that kind of R.A. is one of them.

Over Christmas break I spent time with my sisters and our good friends, the Kane sisters. Ryan spent New Year's Eve with us at a family party. I couldn't quite figure out why he stuck around. I was pretty sure he was out of my league, and surely someone as cool as he would have more exciting places to ring in the new year? While on preciously short leave, no less. In retrospect, I can only liken it to Elizabeth's bewilderment when Mr. Darcy keeps calling on her and Charlotte while she stays with the Collinses. (Sorry. I just finished reading Pride & Prejudice.)

We split paths early 2005. Ryan was deployed to Iraq.  I joined about twenty classmates in Rome for a semester abroad. It was rich, rich, rich. I had been to Rome twice before as part of a youth group, but never for more than a week or so. Having three months to live in the city was simply unparalleled.

Somewhere along the Appian Way, I think

Some of the best parts of the city are underground

Ancient latrines in . . . Ostia Antica?

I can't remember who this commemorated woman was,
but she was cradling a baby, riding horseback, and firing a pistol. What a badass.

Joannie demonstrates the proper way to launder in a bidet

St Peter's in Chains.
I'm skeptical whenever I hear of relics from the Old Testament (it's the thought that counts, right?)
but they say there are remains of the Maccabee brothers here.

It's Hanukkah time. Read that book. Those fellas were hardcore m*f*'ers.

Big sis came to visit me and we made day trips to Perugia and Siena
Twilight in Perugia

Joan was one of the best roommates ever

Trip to Florence. Stayed in a convent school. View from our window.

Cara goes for the magnum canned beer

There is a tradition of saying mass in forty of the oldest Roman churches for every day of lent. We spent many cold, dark mornings following Dr. Flippen to all the ancient station churches for early mass before returning to our boarding house for lectures. I swear there is a church on every block in Rome. Quite a few are desolate. Many are baroque ad nauseam. Others are just absolute treasures, whether in quaintness, age, or majesty. And more numerous than the churches are the saints' relics. There are graves, tombs, bodies, limbs, and severed digits everywhere. I don't want to be anywhere near the place for the Second Coming. Anyhow, it was a great way to learn the city little by little, especially the places away from the usual tourist traps.

Was this when we went to Montecassino? It was frigid.


Spent the week before Easter in Assisi

This little alleyway had its own street name! Love that town.
We were gifted in a particular way by being in Rome for the last days of John Paul II. I spent Easter morning in Saint Peter's Square wearing a lime green windbreaker jacket and red rubber flip flops (it was pouring rain and I didn't want to soak my shoes), and, in high Christian fashion, fighting for elbow room. That rain simply had to go somewhere, and people were packed in more closely than the expansion of their umbrellas. Everyone was jostling to avoid being in someone else's watershed.

My best friends and I visited Paris later that week. As frail as JP2 had looked for Easter mass, we were still shocked to learn of his death the following Saturday. Rome had become home for us, but there we were in France, watching television, and seeing all these other kids keep vigil outside his window in Saint Peter's Square.

Sacré-Cœur basilica in Montmatre: There is such a tangible presence here

behind Notre Dame

Picnic and the best white wine I've ever tasted

We had a wonderful stay in Paris. Despite all the hyped-animosity between the Americans and the French at that time ("They're freedom fries, dammit!"), the Parisians were lovely and gracious to us.  It was also really nice to see young families again. Rome is full of old people.

Back in Rome, we were lucky enough to see John Paul II in state, attend his funeral, and witness the coronation mass of Benedict XVI. Then it was time to go home.

Line to get in St. Peters while JPII was lying in state

To make it inside the square for the funeral, got to the street the afternoon prior

Looks like a Chik-Fil-A was opening . . .

I graduated that spring and--recognising that an undergraduate degree in philosophy wouldn't pay the bills--immediately began working on prerequisites to nursing school. I moved home to Florida and cleaned kennels for my dad in between classes. Ryan came home. I was in love with him. I knew he felt for me. It was awkward and thrilling.

The next year we started dating, if you could call it that ; ) I began an intense, accelerated bachelor's program for nursing. He was deployed again to Iraq. My dad helped me keep a little apartment in downtown Mobile. I studied and sweated for nursing school (literally, I didn't run the a.c.), survived on daily mass and caffeine, and lived for Ryan's precious phone calls from his firm base in Ramadi. I can't begin to describe the frustration I felt when I missed one of his calls. Once I was actually out of clinicals, in my apartment, and within fifteen feet of my cell phone. But the windows were open, somebody was mowing the lawn, and I didn't hear the ringer. It was awful. I was furious.

In 2007 we got him back again, and I finished nursing school . . .

{Bubba is waking up from his nap. I'm going to pause this and come later.}