Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Then he said to me, "Welcome to the Jungle"

I am currently at the Budget Planning and Management Committee meeting in one of the Senate Chambers. I'm sitting in the back, on a straight back wood bench, close to a plug so my little-white-Mac-that-can will function properly as I take notes and tweet on what's happening today in this meeting at the Statehouse.

The room is full of people in suits. I am wearing a salmon-colored oxford with my blue dress, so I feel properly attired. I am on the floor of the chamber; I wonder if I should be in the gallery, but I don't really care. I'm curious who the people next to me are. They keep taking notes too, but less formally and have a copy of the slides. I'm going to need to obtain one of those. I'll probably call Sen. Jones office after this.

This is a good little nook for me. Laura is in Dublin, doing interviews for her big story on Bri-High, a new shopping complex in Dublin that is way over-budget and over-due. Also, it has no parking. It does have a lovely fountain, though. Next meeting, though, she should come with our new camera and film this. Technically, I am sure I could watch it on the Ohio Statehouse website, but being here is much better.

Brief update from the federal Senate: "Senate Armed Services Committee has approved Petraeus nomination by Voice Vote."

The amount of money being dealt with boggles me. Our current budget is $50.5 billion dollars, but that's not enough. We have a deficit of $8 billion. To date, Ohio has received $2.14 billion dollars from the federal government. The first interest payment is due September 30, 2010 and is estimated at $110.5 million dollars. The state-funded pensions are seriously underfunded, upwards of $40 million. Is this fascinating? I feel like the famous line from Animal House would be a good slogan for the next budget year and election cycle, with an add-on: "Don't Get Mad, Get Even--Balance the Budget!"

Being a reporter is an interesting profession. I know I'm a cub reporter in the real world, but I've got 8 years of experience behind me. I started writing for a paper when I was a freshman in high school. I've got the look down:
--casual with an attempt to be dressed up (hence the oxford shirt)
--comfortable shoes/ ballet flats (I wore heels to an interview once and it was the one time the person wanted to be interviewed standing up: never, ever again.)
--ink stain on my right hand from where my pen exploded on me during a phone interview
--smirk while listening to the proceedings as I type away.

One reason I say it's interesting is because there are some dualistic qualities a person has to have: you have to listen to what people say, but not always believe them. You have to accept their love as much as you accept their hatred. Remain impartial while keeping convictions. Always curious without being nosy. Write fast, concise, succinct without getting sloppy and keeping your facts straight. Look people in the eye and shake their hand firmly. Show no fear even when you're terrified. And while so many journalists cannot say this: Don't lose the optimism. I know way too many cynical journalists and I think it springs from a disbelief that their work is making a difference. I think that changing or enlightening even one mind is worth the work, and I am sure more than one mind is touched in this social media environment.

Finally the transcript of Rep. Sessions' opening statement today during the Kagan hearings. My friend Andrew and I threw a party when Roberts and Alito got confirmed. I would throw a party for Kagan not to get elected. As Sessions says, no individual nominated by any party of her background should be elected to the Supreme Court.

Meeting adjourned. Gavel pounded. People leaving and drifting and talking.

Keep it real, folks. I'm going to go pop by offices now and write a follow-up story now before hopping on my bike back home. Ah, the good life!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Shun the Hipsters

From The Paris Review:

You seem to shun literary society. Why?

I don’t, do I? Here I am, talking to you. In leaving New York in 1957, I did leave without regret the literary demimonde of agents and would-be's and with-it nonparticipants; this world seemed unnutritious and interfering. Hemingway described literary New York as a bottle full of tapeworms trying to feed on each other. When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teenaged boy finding them, and having them speak to him.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Like painted kites, those days and nights/ They went flying by

Julie's Top 5 favorite things about work this week:

5. The
Batcave, obviously.
--It has a big windows and I share my office with the only other reporter in the office, Laura, who takes care of the technology aspects of the job and likes to makes fun of me. Then again, everyone in the office mocks each other, so rest assure that I dish it out just as much as I take it. Pictures of our funny little office to come.

4. When Laura and I "borrowed" Tim the intern and had him help us, i.e. served as a practice prop
before our interviews with members of the legislature (which is pretty awesome meeting and talking to them; I'll post my favorites when we start to get the videos up). Also, the nickname MB and Emmy came up with for him: Tim-tern!

Making friends, specifically with
-- the homeless man whom I buy "Street Speech: The Voice from the Streets of Columbus" from every week. The paper is hopelessly Left and the writing is okay, but it supports a good, capitalistic cause and chatting with him gives me perspective and ideas.
--the House Minority Leader! I passed him on the street on Tuesday walking back from mass and when he saw me, he smiled big and waved at me. I, of course, happily returned the sentiment. He loves Hillsdale and Russell Kirk too.

2. Calling sources and milking information and pull quotes out of them
. The result is freakin' sweet articles.

1. the black 5.0 Bic ballpoint
pen I write/ jot/ fiddle with while thinking and/ or reading.
--I used to not care about the kind of pen I used since my mom gets tons of pens, etc. from drug reps and pharmaceutical companies (she's a cancer nurse specialist), but since writing with this pen... I've been ruined.

Dislikes: incompetent people (in the public and private sector), sources who take their dandy time to get back to me and having to be in the office early in the morning after working late into the night.

Such is the life of a journalist! Currently working on an article about 3 million dollars the Stark County Treasurer embezzled, as revealed today by the state auditor's office. Today at mass a couple got blessed for being married for 55 years and they held hands going up to the alter. It was so cute. My parents will celebrate their 25th at the end of the month; I can't wait for them to double that. Going home tonight for my little sister's Shakespeare production and big party on Saturday for my brother, parents and me.

Oh, and where did June go?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

These Little Wonders

"My Symphony" by William Henry Channing

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
To be worthy , not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly,
Talk gently,
Act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart;
To bear all cheerfully,
Do all bravely,
Await occasions,
Hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.

This is to be my symphony.

Today: finish article, mass, submit a different article, write another letter, pack for home.

"The typical intellectual need not possess special knowledge of anything in particular, nor need he even be particularly intelligent, to perform his role as intermediary in the spreading of ideas." - F.A. Hayek, Road to Serfdom

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Are You a Non-Suicide or Ex-Suicide?

Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos, pages 75-79:

A new cure for depression:

The only cure for depression is suicide.

This is not meant as a bad joke but as the serious proposal of suicide as a valid option. Unless the option is entertained seriously, its therapeutic value is lost. No threat is credible unless the threatener means it.

This treatment of depression requires a reversal of the usual therapeutic rationale. The therapeutic rationale, which has never been questioned, is that depression is a symptom. A symptom implies an illness; there is something wrong with you. An illness should be treated.

Suppose you are depressed. You may be mildly or seriously depressed, clinically depressed, or suicidal. What do you usually do? Or what does one do with you? Do nothing or something. If something, what is done is always based on the premise that something is wrong with you and therefore should be remedied. You are treated. You apply to a friend, counselor, physician, minister, group. You take a trip, take anti-depressant drugs, change jobs, change wife or husband or “sexual partner.”

Now, call into question the unspoken assumption: something is wrong with you. Like Copernicus and Einstein, turn the universe upside down and begin with a new assumption.

Assume that you are quite right. You are depressed because you have every reason to be depressed. No member of the other two million species which inhabit the earth—and who are luckily exempt from depression—would fail to be depressed if it lived the life you lead. You live in a deranged age—more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.

Begin with the reverse hypothesis, like Copernicus and Einstein. You are depressed because you should be. You are entitled to your depression. In fact, you’d be deranged if you were not depressed. Consider the only adults who are never depressed: chuckleheads, California surfers, and fundamentalist Christians who believe they have had a personal encounter with Jesus and are saved for once and all. Would you trade your depression to become any of these?

Now consider, not the usual therapeutic approach, but a more ancient and honorable alternative, the Roman option. I do not care for life in this deranged world, it is not an honorable way to live; therefore, like Cato, I take my leave. Or, as Ivan said to God in The Brothers Karamazov: If you exist, I respectfully return my ticket.

Now notice that as soon as suicide is taken as a serious alternative, a curious thing happens. To be or not to be becomes a true choice, where before you were stuck with to be. Your only choice was how to be least painfully, either by counseling, narcotizing, boozing, groupizing, womanizing, man-hopping, or changing your sexual preference.

If you are serious about the choice, certain consequences follow. Consider the alternatives. Suppose you elect suicide. Very well. You exit. Then what? What happens after you exit? Nothing much. Very little, indeed. After a ripple or two, the water closes over your head as if you had never existed. You are not indispensable, after all. You are not even a black hole in the Cosmos. All that stress and anxiety was for nothing. Your fellow townsmen will have something to talk about for a few days. Your neighbors will profess shock and enjoy it. One or two might miss you, perhaps your family, who will also resent the disgrace. Your creditors will resent the inconvenience. Your lawyers will be pleased. Your psychiatrist will be displeased. The priest or minister or rabbi will say a few words over you and down you will go on the green tapes and that’s the end of you. In a surprisingly short time, everyone is back in the rut of his own self as if you had never existed.

Now, in the light of this alternative, consider the other alternative. You can elect suicide, but you decide not to. What happens? All at once, you are dispensed. Why not live, instead of dying? You are free to do so. You are like a prisoner released from the cell of his life. You notice that the door to the cell is ajar and that the sun is shining outside. Why not take a walk down the street? Where you might have been dead, you are alive. The sun is shining.

Suddenly you feel like a castaway on an island. You can’t believe your good fortune. You feel for broken bones. You are in one piece, sole survivor of a foundered ship whose captain and crew had worried themselves into a fatal funk.

And here you are, cast up on a beach and taken in by islanders who, it turns out, are themselves worried sick—over what? Over status, saving face, self-esteem, national rivalries, boredom, anxiety, depression from which they seek relief mainly in wars and the natural catastrophes which regularly overtake their neighbors.

And you, an ex-suicide, lying on the beach? In what way have you been freed by the serious entertainment of your hypothetical suicide? Are you not free for the first time in your life to consider the folly of man, the most absurd of all the species, and to contemplate the comic mystery of your own existence? And even to consider which is the more absurd state of affairs, the manifest absurdity of your predicament: lost in the Cosmos and no news of how you got into such a fix or how to get out—or the even more preposterous eventuality that news did come from the God of the Cosmos, who took pity on your ridiculous plight and entered the space and time of your insignificant planet to tell you something.

The consequences of entertainable suicide? Lying on the beach, you are free for the first time in your life to pick up the coquina and look at it. You are even free to go home and, like the man from Chicago, dance with your wife.

The difference between a non-suicide and an ex-suicide leaving the house for work, at eight o’clock on an ordinary morning:

The non-suicide is a little traveling suck of care, sucking care with him from the past and being sucked toward care in the future. His breath is high in his chest.

The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn’t have to.

Monday, June 21, 2010

You Stay Classy, Catholics

Today, I took a break from writing my article/ calling sources to peruse through various news websites, reading articles and keeping myself up-to-date when I stumbled upon National Catholic Reporter's website. I should have been more weary, considering the endorsements by the New York Times and the Huffington Post, but I impulsively clicked through a couple articles before finding a section called “Young Voices.” It always intrigues me to read and talk to fellow young people about our shared Catholic faith and how it permeates our lives (as the post-Vatican II babies), but it did not take me long to realize this particular writer and I did not share more than our cradle Catholicism.

Within a couple grafs, she came out as gay and her bio below the article says she is on the leadership teams for a Call to Action Next Generation and the Women’s Ordination Council, which offended my Catholic sensibilities more than her homosexual inclinations, because people are going to be gay, just like people are going to be liars and lushes and lechers, but not all are going to fight the very system they voluntarily subscribe to. Another complementing article entitled “Compromised hierarchy needs relational wisdom of women” lamented the Church’s refusal to even discuss women becoming priests. Pardon my colloquialism, but DUH—no surprise there. That’s basic Church teaching. That will never change, nor should it.

Then an article on the “Catholic Club” and people judging others’ Catholicity and how it doesn’t matter if a person is a liberal, moderate or conservative Catholic. I was becoming the train wreck I had begun to read, with absolute disbelief at the way the Church was being used and abused in the articles. Perhaps I do it to myself. I read too much. Moreover, I read parts of the comments sections, home of the sometimes insightful but oftentimes ignorant comments which oftentimes do nothing to edify or expand upon the conversation prompted by the above article.

Can one be a liberal or moderate or conservative Catholic? I think the same question could extend to all Christians in general. I do not think one can. Either one lives by the Gospel teachings or one does not. People are fallen, so of course they are going to trip along the way, but do they forsake the map for their shortcut or do they continue to struggle upwards on the steep path? If you’re a Catholic, though, that means you follow God, whose vehicle is Rome. It doesn’t mean you pick and choose the parts of the Catechism or Bible to follow. Catholicism encompasses and permeates one’s whole life and will, even against resistance. As a girl I went to high school with, who told me she left the Church in college, “It’s harder to quit than smoking.”

Even in this egalitarian world, there are still people whose opinion we value higher than our own. There are still rights and wrongs, which cannot to be confused with preferences or opinions. This is the point of the Church, to lead the flock. The Church is incredibly beautiful and intellectual, appealing to simplistic minds as much as analytical ones. The Church makes decisions to help lead towards the happiness of another, better life. The Church is not as outmoded, either. Time is on the Church’s side: Truth is not another passing fancy, like pogs or wearing leggings as pants.

In other words, it’s a classic. And similar to other classics, like penny loafers and big bows on little girls, it’s the understated elegance of the Church that draws people in: the humbling of self before the alter, the moving of fingers along the rosary beads, making the sign of the cross before meals, the declaration of the Gospel and regular readings of Scripture, standing in line with other admitted sinners to confess your worst moments and the chorus of voices participating in the mass.

When you think about that-- about what the Church really stands for-- it should be easier to forgo the fad. The Catholic Church (and really Christendom, if we’re going to get down to it) can be encompassed in a favorite family maxim: “This isn’t about you.” Or perhaps more elegantly put, by Pope Benedict XVI: "The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness." I shan't be returning to that "independent news source" soon, but it makes me more sure of what I think one of my callings shall be in this life. See? Even bad things can be used for the glory of God!

Today is also the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzoga, a Jesuit priest who gave up world wealth and comfort to serve and catechize the poor. Here’s a fact about him too: he died at age 23. That cut a little close to home for me, seeing as I too shall be 23 in 9 months (or so). It certainly makes a person think about the type of life they’re living.

This song came on Pandora today and it made me smile because Bear and I used to dance around the room to it:

Happy Summer Solstice! New favorite thing: video gchat. Yay for talking to Vivian in Georgia!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

LIVE from the Batcave

"Poem" by Frank O'Hara

Lana Turner has collapsed!
I was trotting along and suddenly
it started raining and snowing
and you said it was hailing
but hailing hits you on the head
hard so it was really snowing and
raining and I was in such a hurry
to meet you but the traffic
was acting exactly like the sky
and suddenly I see a headline
there is no snow in Hollywood
there is no rain in California
I have been to lots of parties
and acted perfectly disgraceful
but I never actually collapsed
oh Lana Turner we love you get up

This has certainly been a week in the Batcave! (That's what Laura and I call our little office where we do most of our work; one word, not two.) Next week we have four interviews with three reps and a senator and the other half of our office will return from vacation.

This past week I caught a firefly, finished a book, felt the rain, watched the lightning, mailed two letters, had dinner with college friends and talked to Bear. Tonight I am going to Shakespeare in the Park with Laura (fellow reporter), her roommate Emily (who works at Kappa; she took my big's job) and a few other Kappas who work at Headquarters. Tomorrow I drive to Hillsdale to see the Siegels, so I am already grinning like a fool. The wedding on Saturday should be great too; lots of good people from college will be there.

Another vibrant day of
reporting in my little corner office! President Obama is supposed to be in Columbus tomorrow, so we'll see if I can finagle my way close for a picture or comment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Holy Austrian economics, Batman!

Isn't this so great? Batman saved Ludgwig von Mises! As he should. Dr. Birzer showed this to us in the Classical Liberalism section of his American Order and Disorder class junior year. I was reminded of it with the new American Studies page made by Katherine.

I'm finishing up Lewis right now ("Mere Christianity" is great; I want to read "Screwtape Letters" next) but am considering holding off on a book of interviews with Flannery O'Connor so I can delve into "Interventionism: An Economic Analysis" by Mises. I could probably knock it out this week. Or I'll read the two simultaneously. :) Betsy arrives today. My excitement is bliss.

Hayek on Keynes:

Happy Flag Day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Jake and Elwood Blues ain't got nothin' on Julie and Laura

Today is the birthday of William Butler Yeats! Here's my ode to the great Irish poet and dramatist:

"To a Child Dancing in the Wind"

Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or water's roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not known
The fool's triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of wind?


"To Ireland in the Coming Times"

Now, that I would accounted be
True brother of a company
That sang, to sweeten Ireland's wrong,
Ballad and story, rann and song;
Nor be I any less of them,
Because the red-rose-bordered hem
Of her, whose history began
Before God made the angelic clan,
Trails all about the written page.
When Time began to rant and rage
The measure of her flying feet
Made Ireland's heart begin to beat;
And Time bade all his candles flare
To light a measure here and there;
And may the thoughts of Ireland brood
Upon a measured quietude.

Nor may I less be counted one
With Davis, Mangan, Ferguson,
Because, to him who ponders well,
My rhymes more than their rhyming tell
Of things discovered in the deep,
Where only body's laid asleep.
For the elemental creatures go
About my table to and fro,
That hurry from unmeasured mind
To rant and rage in flood and wind;
Yet he who treads in measured ways
May surely barter gaze for gaze.
Man ever journeys on with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.
Ah, faeries, dancing under the moon,
A Druid land, a Druid tune!

While still I may, I write for you
The love I lived, the dream I knew.
From our birthday, until we die,
Is but the winking of an eye;
And we, our singing and our love,
What measurer Time has lit above,
And all benighted things that go
About my table to and fro,
Are passing on to where may be,
In truth's consuming ecstasy,
No place for love and dream at all;
For God goes by with white footfall.
I cast my heart into my rhymes,
That you, in the dim coming times,
May know how my heart went with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.

and, per recommendation of the statehouse reporter from West Virginia sitting behind me,

"The Secret Rose"

Far-off, most secret, and inviolate Rose,
Enfold me in my hour of hours; where those
Who sought thee in the Holy Sepulchre,
Or in the wine-vat, dwell beyond the stir
And tumult of defeated dreams; and deep
Among pale eyelids, heavy with the sleep
Men have named beauty. Thy great leaves enfold
The ancient beards, the helms of ruby and gold
Of the crowned Magi; and the king whose eyes
Saw the pierced Hands and Rood of elder rise
In Druid vapour and make the torches dim;
Till vain frenzy awoke and he died; and him
Who met Fand walking among flaming dew
By a grey shore where the wind never blew,
And lost the world and Emer for a kiss;
And him who drove the gods out of their liss,
And till a hundred morns had flowered red
Feasted, and wept the barrows of his dead;
And the proud dreaming king who flung the crown
And sorrow away, and calling bard and clown
Dwelt among wine-stained wanderers in deep woods:
And him who sold tillage, and house, and goods,
And sought through lands and islands numberless years,
Until he found, with laughter and with tears,
A woman of so shining loveliness
That men threshed corn at midnight by a tress,
A little stolen tress. I, too, await
The hour of thy great wind of love and hate.
When shall the stars be blown about the sky,
Like the sparks blown out of a smithy, and die?
Surely thine hour has come, thy great wind blows,
Far-off, most secret, and inviolate Rose?

Yeats is really great, but I wonder how many people read him beyond "The Second Coming." Do you know what isn't done enough today? Making kids memorize poems. They memorize lots of things; why not good poetry? Then perhaps they'd appreciate better literary quality when they're older. No one would read books like the Twilight series after devouring Tennyson.

Today is also the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua! He's a Doctor of the Church and was canonized only a year after his death. He died at age 36, only 10 years after joining the Franciscans, and was known as the Malleus hereticorum, or "Hammer of Heretics." He is a personal favorite and friend of mine, especially as I am constantly calling upon his intervention to find lost items. My parents say I have a personal connection to him because I usually find what I had been looking for within moments of asking for help, but that seems to be the typical response of anyone who asks for his help. I think the difference is between people who ask and people who don't.

For example-- Rach, you'll enjoy this-- it was dinnertime at Kappa two semesters ago and Cervini came in being dramatic about having lost something and getting into a tizzy and Sarah (Rachel's awesome little, for all the non-KKG readers) shouts from the kitchen to pray to St. Anthony (to a mainly Protestant audience, I should add). Well, dubious side-looks aside, Cervini found what she was looking for and for at least the next week, it was hilarious to hear Kappas going around saying things like, "You can't find ____? Go ask Sarah to pray about it!" :)

Laura and I are currently hanging out at the Corner Bakery until we leave for our flight out of Chicago. Our waiter pretended to have a heart attack while bringing over my panini. He's hilarious and is chatting up his entire section/ impromptu dancing. We certainly have met a lot of characters this trip. We've also spent time with friends and I had the blessed chance to be in Chicago the same weekend part of my family was in town for my aunt's graduation from her masters' program. I have had a splendid time, to say the least. It was wonderful to see and spend time with so many good, dear people. Columbus is fun, but it's currently missing a few crucial pieces to my life puzzle.

The conference was really great and informative and it gave me the reassurance that I'm going about my job in the right way. My current goal for the next year is establish a presence at the Statehouse, recruit lots of college journalists and make BI another venue to publish them (i.e. more clips! a win-win for both parties), create a syndication system with the small Ohio newspapers (eventually moving into the larger papers) and generally create the base of a small news bureau with a large reach. If I can get the news bureau to function without me (hypothetically speaking) in the next year or less, I will be a very happy reporter. I'll also bring more attention to Buckeye, which is also needed, so I am excited to get back to Columbus and start tapping into the potential more.

Something I discovered this weekend: Mercatus, George Mason's economic research center, which is too fantastic for words. First article on the page: "The Roaring Twenties and the Austrian Business Cycle" (which is a working paper that I am currently reading- tres bien!) My favorite is "The Death of Fiscal Federalism," a concept that I hold very dear to my limited government-loving heart. This is a really great organization and I am excited to read and delve deeper into what they do and pursue.

Also, here's a great lede in a recent article by George Will:
"WASHINGTON - Under the current imperfect administration of the Universe, most new ideas are false, so most ideas for improvements make matters worse. Given California’s parlous condition, making matters worse there requires ingenuity, but voters managed to do so last Tuesday."

I think Laura and I might leave our bags at the hotel and wander down to the Chicago Blues Festival for a bit. Our flight isn't till 5 and I adore live music. Betsy is coming to stay with me for the next 3 days since she'll be student teaching in Columbus for 3 days. So much happiness to see my dear friend. Happy Sunday, y'all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Feeling Glad I bought the Yeats book in Mecosta

"Adam's Curse" by William Butler Yeats

We sat together at one summer's end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, "A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world."

And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake
There's many a one shall find out all heartache
On finding that her voice is sweet and low
Replied, "To be born woman is to know --
Although they do not talk of it at school --
That we must labour to be beautiful."
I said, "It's certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam's fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be
So much compounded of high courtesy
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks
precedents out of beautiful old books;
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough."

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;
We saw the last embers of daylight die,
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell
Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell
About the stars and broke in days and years.
I had a thought for no one's but your ears:
That you were beautiful, and that I strove
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we'd grown
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.

Going to Chicago today for training; be back Sunday! :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm becoming so domestic, they're going to start calling me Julia Childs!

Happy Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ!

"Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." (John 6:53-56)

The priest gave a great homily today, but this excerpt from a 1955 letter by Flannery O'Connor to "A" (her best friend Betty Hester) I think says it all:

I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. (She just wrote that book, "A Charmed Life.") She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went at eight and at one, I hadn't opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say. . . . Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them.

Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the most portable person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.

That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.

Today was Sunday, so it started with mass. I've been going to daily mass at St. Joseph's Cathedral downtown, so that's where I went today. Today is my first Sunday spent entirely in Columbus. Afterwards I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the sights while saying the rosary. I found another church, St. Mary's, so I'll have to check it out too.

This next year, for me, is purely discernment. I'm enjoying Columbus, really like my new apartment and have already had so many opportunities present themselves, so I know this is going to be a busy year. Maybe it will turn into two years, but I can't think that far in advance. I can't remember if I wrote about it on the blog or not, but I turned down a fellowship in Washington, D.C. in April, even though that is where I thought, before getting it, that I wanted to go. Before that, there was an opportunity in Chicago and before that Boston and before that Ireland; and now I'm in Columbus, where I am certainly happy to be for the time being, but no longer than that. That's the sense I'm getting at this point; perhaps His will shall change, but that remains to be seen.

Today was my first day of actually cooking. I forced myself to do so because I was hungry after two yogurts and I knew that meant I was going to have to bring out the meat. I browned meat, cooked peas and pasta and put it all together as a meal for the next week. It's rather delicious and I am glad I caved and cooked. I also made a few hard boiled eggs. Based on my attitude towards the morning, I know I will not be getting up to make scrambled eggs (and my lack of toaster for toast dissuades that as well), so I look forward to having eggs for breakfast. :)

Besides wearing the apron my cousin gave me around all day while I cooked and cleaned and danced to music, I went to see a showing of "Rear Window" down at the Ohio Theater, which is probably one of the coolest places I've been to in Columbus. It is an old restored theater that is gold and ornate, with red carpet and plush seats. The ticket prices are $4 too, which is such a deal. I went with Laura, the other reporter in the news bureau, and we had a great time.

This week will be a lot of work, but I'll only have three days of it since Laura and I are going to Chicago for training on Thursday. I'm having dinner with a friend from high school tomorrow and have a to-do list a mile long, but I'd be busy than wonder what to do with myself. Actually, that would never happen. I have too many books to read, letters to write and essay ideas forming-- what a blessing!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Nothing like having Window Washers wave hello when you're on the 11th floor

"Peonies" by Jeanne Lohmann

Grandma called them pineys, and I didn't know why.
They smelled so good, the full lush petals
crowded thick, the whole flower heavy on its stem,
the leaves dark and rich and green as shade in Chatauqua Woods
where each spring I hunted for violets. What could there be
to pine for on this earth? Now I think maybe it was Missouri
she missed, and maybe that was what somebody she knew
called peonies there, before she traveled to Ohio,
a sixteen-year-old bride whose children came on as fast
as field crops and housework. Her flowers saved her,
the way they came up year after year and with only a bit of care
lived tender and pretty, each kind surprising,
keeping its own sweet secret: lily-of-the-valley, iris,
the feathery-leaved cosmos, lilacs in their white and purple curls,
flamboyant sweet peas and zinnias, the bright four o'clocks
and delphinium, blue as her eyes, and the soft peony flowers
edged deep pink. In her next life I want my grandmother
to walk slowly through the gardens in England and Kyoto.
I want to be there when she recognizes the flowers
and smiles, when she kneels and takes the pineys in her hands.

My first article went up today on Buckeye's site. I went to mass at noon and got there late because I saw a car accident and then, on the way back, I saw a man being taken away on a stretcher from a business. Remember to pray for everyone around you. I bought a copy of Street Speech, which is the newspaper put out by the homeless of Columbus. It's very Lefty, but it's insight into another part of Ohio. I've read so many good articles today, I should have thought ahead and linked to them all for people to peruse at their pleasure, but c'est la vie. Nothing terribly surprising in the news recently; human nature never changes, just the people involved.

I'm having dinner with Kristen, the Editor of The Key, tonight. I'm going to start writing for them as well. Also considering getting my library card to get this reading/reviewing party started!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just Another Day at the Office

So begins Week 2:

"Journalism is a vocation, not a job. Pursued properly, journalism should enjoy the same dignity as the law or medicine because the service that journalists perform is equally important to a healthy society. I really believe that. You form people; you form the way they think and the way they live their lives. So journalists have a duty to serve the truth and the common good – not just the crowd, not just the shareholders they work for and not just their personal convictions. In other words, your core business as journalists is to explain in an honest way, with honest context, the forces and characters shaping our lives – our common life – together."

--Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, at a Pew Forum: The Political Obligation of Catholics (transcript here, definitely worth a read).