Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ducklings and Big Apples

This weekend was my first weekend actually in Hillsdale and I loved it! Half the house was gone too, for some reason, but lots of good people were around. Amanda, Heather and I watched sisters play in a futsal tournament on Saturday, which was excellent. (Sarah played so well, Rach! Definitely feeling it, though.) I played in that same tournament my sophomore year; we also went to the championships, but lost. (They had a similar schedule to my team's in which they played the last slot and then had to play back-to-back without a rest against a team they already beat. No score comparison or anything, just a final death routine.) Still, it was good soccer.

Not a particularly social weekend, but I did have reading to finish (although reading is never final, more postponed) and a thesis to work on. I had a great Thursday, though: I hung out with a few close friends at the Sandlot Thursday night, including beer tasting with the boys and having a jolly time with the whole group.

I also babysat my adviser's kids Thursday night (most of whom can be seen above; the picture is from Halloween junior year). Of everyone I've met in this little town, I think I am going to miss them the most. Prof. S was my teacher before he was my adviser. I've know his family since the end of my freshman year, so I've watched the kids grow up and get personalities. I call them my little ducklings, the name coming from a game we played my sophomore year. I think we only played it once, but it certainly left an impression. I think it was one of the few non-contact games we've played while babysitting too, now that I come to think of it! :)

Gretchen asked me where I was going to be after graduation, and I said Chicago or Washington, D.C. most likely. Then they all shouted they wanted me in Chicago and Mrs. S said they were going to pray me there (I suppose instead of willing me there), because it's closer and they can come visit. I got really excited at the prospect of them visiting me after college and then remembered I still have a little over three (three?!) months left of college. I go to NYC this weekend for CN fellowship stuff, so I will pray God makes my future according to His will a little more clearer. At the very least, I shall get to see a few old CN friends and go to a city I've never been to before.

Song of the week, introduced to me by Heather, my rooms:

Another reason why Rich Mullins is awesome:
"A lot of the stuff which I thought was so different between Protestants and Catholics [was] not, but at the end of going through an RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults] course, I also realized that there are some real and significant differences. I'm not sure which side of the issues I come down on. My openness to Catholicism was very scary to me because, when you grow up in a church where they don't even put up a cross, many things were foreign to me. I went to an older Protestant gentleman that I've respected for years and years, and I asked him, "When does faithfulness to Jesus call us to lay aside our biases and when does it call us to stand beside them?" His answer to me was that it is not about being Catholic or Protestant. It is about being faithful to Jesus. The issue is not about which church you go to, it is about following Jesus where He leads you."

Going to NYC will tally into my third weekend not being in Hillsdale in the past 5 weeks. I'll be excited to spend more time in this little snowbank post-New York. At the very least, my thesis demands as such.
HF articles are due tomorrow.

I remember running through the wet grass

I'd like to share two of my favorite passages from the short story "Blackberry Winter" by Robert Penn Warren.

This first one comes after the narrator's mother tries to make him wear shoes outside:

"Nobody had ever tried to stop me in June as long as I could remember, and when you are nine years old, what you remember seems forever; for you remember everything and everything is important and stands bigs and full and fills up Time and is so solid that you can walk around and around it like a tree and look at it. You are aware that times passes, that there is a movement in time, but that is not what Time is. Time is not a movement, a flowing, a wind then, but is, rather, a kind of climate in which things are, and when a thing happens it begins to live and keeps on living and stands solid in Time like the tree that you can walk around. And if there is a movement, the movement is not Time itself, any more than a breeze is climate, and all the breeze does is shake a little the leaves on the tree which is alive and solid. When you are nine, you know that there are things you don't know, but you know that when you know something you know it. You know how a thing has been and you know that you can go barefoot in June."

This one makes me think of playing in the woods behind the house I grew up in, but there's more to it than that, which is what makes it so good.

"When you are a boy and stand in the stillness of woods, which can be so still that your heart almost stops beating and makes you want to stand there in the green twilight until you feel your very feet sinking into and clutching the earth like roots and your body breathing slow through its pores like the leaves--when you stand there and wait for the next drop to drop with its small, flat sound to a lower lead, that sound seems to measure out something, to put an end to something, to begin something, and you cannot wait for it to happen and are afraid it will not happen, and then when it has happened, you are waiting again, almost afraid."

More reading, writing and research today. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stationary Saturday

Today will be mostly writing letters and working on my thesis. Let me know if you want one (a letter, not a thesis) and I shall certainly oblige you.

Song of the day:

Also, two more favorites, compliments of The Killers:

Heather calls this "the cowboy video":

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Poem that was Thursday

Today is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas! I read parts of the Summa Theologica for the first time a few days ago for my Conservatism/ Libertarianism Debate class and absolutely loved it. I'll be posting more on the natural law sections in a few days.

Here's a taste of Thomas:

"We can't have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves."

"Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do."

"Wonder is the desire for knowledge."

"Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures. "

Prof. Siegel gave this to us at the beginning of the semester:

"A Student's Prayer" by St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Today's poem! Hilarious, if not a little morbid:

"Matilda Who Told Lies, and Was Burned to Death" by Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London's Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
'Matilda's House is Burning Down!'
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away!
It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out –
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street –
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence) – but all in vain!
For every time She shouted 'Fire!'
They only answered 'Little Liar'!
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Be witness to the most important issues: life, family, conscience."

If you don't know who Robbie George is, you've been missing out. He's phenomenal:

From the website:

The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Oh, and he's pretty awesome on the banjo too:

Monday, January 25, 2010

“We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take time to enjoy where we are.” -C&H

Rachel, I thought you would like to see this snap of Bid Night, when Vivy had the flag and I was at a pause in leading cheers up the hill. I was absolutely hoarse the next day, but that didn't stop me from teaching the new members "Rah Rah for Kappa Kappa Gamma" later that night, of course. Kappa toughens you up. :)

Today, my friends, is full: thesis meeting-dinner crew with Vivy-chapter meeting-reading till bed (and try to sleep since I have an 8 a.m. on Tuesday-Thursdays). I've already gone to class, written 3 letters and talked to a source for my thesis. I have to go meet Dr. Carlson soon and will attempt to re-establish order (i.e. clean) in KKG 11. My sister called me before her 1 o'clock and told me a story, the funniest part being “I paid four bucks for a shot and it was gone in like, a minute. What a rip-off!”

Things I like: watching ducks, Calvin & Hobbes comics, dance parties with Heather in our room

Things I dislike: people who play with their gum, rudeness, when my coffee tastes like coffee

Things I love: walking Heidi while the neighbors sleep, saying "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed" during mass, phone calls from my far-away family

Things I abhor: the word "hate," smallish minds, lima beans

Happy Monday! Don't catch a case of it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"love is a deeper season/ than reason"

I was at the March for Life this past Friday. There's nothing I like more than a good protest for something I believe in. When I was little, all I wanted was to be a part of a cause, to fight for something. I didn't know what that something was until I realized the bubble I lived in growing up doesn't exist everywhere. Babies show the tangible love between a man and woman, and yet people want to destroy them for being inconvenient. I see now that there are people who don't love God or each other, let along respect the dignity of being human. Death stares at us, cold and empty. Evil invites us, yet is uninviting and ungracious. People welcome Hate if it fits their agenda.

If there's one thing to fight for in this world, it's to protect Love the way God created it, not its many perversions. It's a tough love too, not easy to comprehend. It's an innocent love, an encompassing love, and one that pervades society and its changing trends. I saw it especially in the religious, like Fr. Greg, who not only let people he'd never met before stay at GWU's Newman Center for night, but bought food for us, so that we would have lunch during the March. Love truly is an act, not just a feeling. Feelings are too fickle.

An issue that I've been thinking about a lot lately is same-sex marriage, most likely because it is vaguely connected to my thesis topic. (I was asked to give a talk to Fairfield Society in March, so if you were at all wondering what I'll be speaking on, here's a clue.) The cover of Newsweek a week or so ago said "The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage," which bothers me because A) this is not a partisan issue, B) the government should not be involved/ regulating it, because C) marriage is a church issue not to be connected with the state and D) gay marriage is a non sequitur.

I understand that marriage and divorce rates are almost equalizing, and therefore, logically, homosexuals should be able to marry in order to strengthen the institution marriage in America. But one does not build a house upon sand, or throw seeds upon barren soil. I do not believe homosexuals can ever truly be married because marriage is not just a social construct; it is a vocation, a constant giving of self, which includes an openness to the possibility of having children. No one is saying homosexuals cannot be together, or would discredit the reality or "realness" of their relationship, but, in my opinion, the very idea of same-sex marriage violates a separation of church and state. Heterosexuals should have the right to fight for traditional marriage in society as homosexuals have the right to attempt to legally re-define it.

In the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament. If this country can be respectful of the Amish and Native Americans (they don't have to buy into public health care, for example) and other minority religions in this country, they should respect the Catholics, the largest single denomination in the country. I single Catholicism out for the sake of argument because it is my religion and therefore the one I know best. Protestants technically have the majority in the country, but are not as a single denomination (and, ergo, do not have a single teaching on gay marriage).

Not letting gay people be married is not a violation of human rights, nor does it mean Catholics hate or is afraid of gays. Quite the opposite. If anything, the Catholic Church has the utmost respect for them as people, but teaches that, like the lust of a heterosexual, acting on their homosexuality is a sin. It is the act, not the inclination, which makes it wrong, and allowing homosexuals to be married would sacramentalize a sin in the eyes of the Church. (For more on the Church's teachings, here's the section in the CCC on the sixth commandment, where the dignity of marriage and homosexuals is best explained.)

Bonus points if you can quote this hilarious "mawwige" scene from The Princess Bride by heart. Shame on you if you've never seen this movie:

As aforementioned in a previous post, I've been re-reading Cummings's poetry (while simultaneously reading Faulkner prose for my 20th century Southern Lit class; quite an interesting combination!) and wanted to share these favorite selections:

yours is the light by which my spirit's born:
yours is the darkness of my souls' return
—you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars
--from [silently if,out of not knowable]

—do lovers love?why then to heaven with hell.
Whatever sages say and fools,all's well.
--from [being to timeless as it's no time]

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
--from [love is more thicker than forget]


since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

--more E.E. Cummings greatness

And just because I think Faulkner is the cat's meow, here's a bit from the second chapter of 'Go Down, Moses':
"But it was all right. It didn't matter. He could ask her forgiveness as loudly thus as if he had shouted, express his pity and grief; husband and wife did not need to speak words to one another, not just from the old habit of living together but because in that one long-ago instant at least out of the long and shabby stretch of their human lives, even though they knew at the time it wouldn't and couldn't last, they had touched and become as God when they voluntarily and in advance forgave one another for all that they knew the other could never be."
--William Faulkner, "The Fire and the Hearth"

Finally, an overheard in KKG 11:
Heather to Lizzy: "Julie has selective hearing. Then again, so do I. That's the key to a good marriage!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Marching on the old Stomping Grounds of Summer

This picture of Heidi and I was technically taken during Christmas break of my sophomore year of college. I came home and crashed in the guest room because Mom had taken over my room in order to organize clothes stored in the attic (and I was exhausted from the semester to move them). I love when Heidi comes up to my room over breaks (on the third floor, not the guest room). It's the best way to sleep!

Leaving for the March For Life in D.C. in less 3 hours and have not packed. Heather has her bio comps tomorrow and will most likely roll into bed when I am rolling out.

I made a map for Sarah and Biz so that they can find their way A) from the red line to the yellow line to King's Street and B) from King's Street to Rach's apartment and C) from Rach's apartment to St. Mary's. I miss D.C. so much and am now ecstatic to go back! It's going to feel like going back to a secondary home, a familiar place with many good memories.

Poem(s) of the Thursday, then packing, then bed. I am simply exhausted from the day. Lots of meetings and switching up my schedule (lost a class and an audit, picked up a class and an audit). Lots of Faulkner reading too. I am liking Go Down, Moses immensely. Dr. Somerville called on me today in class to explain the significance of the first chapter title ("Was"), which I (fortunately) think is interesting, because it conveys the passive sense in which the action of the story takes place though the being verb. Faulkner is brilliant in cultural observation.

This first one is dedicated to Margaret, because she recommended Hopkins to me.

"Summa" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Best ideal is the true
And other truth is none.
All glory be ascribed to
The holy Three in One.

The second is by T.E. Hulme, a humanist I've come to admire very much indeed, although he did not write many poems.

The Embankment by T. E. Hulme

(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.)

Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.

And finally, the third poem: I bought my own copy of E.E. Cummings' poetry when I was a junior in high school, took it on vacation with me to Michigan and could not find it again for years. I was despondent; losing books is always personal since I usually spend so much time reading and writing in them. I found it, however, in the back pocket of one of my suitcases my sophomore year of college and was very happily reunited. He's a favorite, so I'll have to share him more.

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

Happy Thursday! Be well and have good conversations.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If you've ever wondered about the title of this blog...

Here is a short essay (compared the the 10+ pagers I'll be writing for most of my other classes this semester) I wrote for my honors seminar.

What’s in a book?

Polonius: “What do you read, my Lord?”
Hamlet: “Words, words, words.”
Hamlet (II.ii.193-194)

My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Haines, called my mother. I was surprised when I found out. I racked my brain for any shenanigans I had been involved with in the last week.

“No, you’re not in trouble,” said my mother with a smirk. I peered up at her.

“Then what is it?” I asked, skeptic.

“Julie, I’m going to write something and I want you to read it.”

I sighed. I hated these games. She wrote. I read. Only, I couldn’t really. It was fuzzy. That’s why Mrs. Haines had called. I needed glasses at the tender age of ten. Blame it on reading under the covers, but if my parents had allowed me to read with the lights on as long as I wanted, I would not have had to resort to flashlights and, ergo, I would not have needed glasses. Now, fully looking the part of a bookworm, I read more, not less. My parents—both of whom wear glasses—began to relent. The light started to stay on later.

The mind is a terrible thing to surrender. Once captured, it is hard to regain, the grooves of constant wear difficult to embed again. James V. Schall, S.J., in his book The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking, implores his readers to read intelligently. When I was younger, I would not have understood what that meant. Reading was my favorite thing to do as a child. I played with my siblings, usually soccer or House, but reading was the best. I read the Anne of Green Gables series, Nancy Drew Mysteries, all ten Little House on the Prairie books, The Chronicles of Narnia, fairy tales and anything else I found around the house: 'Cricket,' a youth literary magazine; my parents’ eclectic collection of medical texts and history books from their undergraduate and graduate days; the lives of the saints and other religious writing; encyclopedias and novels. There is nothing more alluring to a small child than books she thinks she should not read. I strove to read prolifically and not discriminately, to conquer the library. Little did I know, those books were the beginning of my education.

Books have always been a constant in my life, much like eating popsicles in the summer, making lopsided snowmen in the winter, Mass every Sunday, and my loud family. It helped that my parents encourage reading and pushed for a higher intellectual capacity normally expected of children. I couldn’t tell you the first book I ever read by myself, but I remember the thrill I felt, the goose bumps from anticipation, eagerly turning the pages. My overactive imagination fed on words, as well as exploring the neighborhood; my barefoot feet unafraid of grass or gravel, chasing fireflies, pretending I could fly if I swung high enough. My favorite inside spot was in the front room, where I would draw the curtains, sit on the window ledge and read in solitude, a place where no one thought to look for me. It was my corner spot with a view, seeing a world beyond my own.

As I grew older, I began to consider intellect and what books I was reading very carefully. What did it mean to be an intellectual? Intellect could be genetic; after all, there are naturally smart people. People can also be intellectual sloths, which lead me to believe that the mind has to be pushed into being through a habit of reading well, just as athletes train their bodies to perform and chefs improve upon practice of the culinary arts. Thus I began my consumptions of the classics, with the help of advanced English courses and the local half-priced bookstore. The act of reading still came easy, but not full comprehension of the material. I was missing something; I could sense it. What is the point of the intellectual life, I thought, if I do not even get it? Persevero, said the Ancients. I read on.

Last semester, I met a young man who, upon meeting me, lambasted my decision to go to a college like Hillsdale. “You pay too much,” he said, “to have someone tell you what to read. You can read the classics on your own! Self-education—that is how you improve your soul. You don’t need professors. You just need books.”

In theory, I agree with him—no one needs college, unless pursuing a profession that requires higher education. School usually falls into three sections: primary provides the common academic base for learning; secondary prepares the mind for the entertainment of ideas and analytical thinking, as well as continuing to lay the foundation; and college, consequently, is a testing of the mind’s endurance and liberality, as well as strengthening and reinforcing systems of beliefs. College also provides instruction on the further precision of the intellect, a skill not immediately translatable into a non-academic job, but is rather a breadth of mind that can be continually renewed within a person for their entire life if they so choose.

I know my own education has allowed for great growth, but, more importantly, it has fostered a life-long love of books, a withering virtue in modern society. Too many people leave school and hardly crack a book again, let alone read. Isn’t that a failure of education? Traditionally, emphasis is put on the type of job one acquires as the ultimate end, not on the resulting type of person one has become. I have a friend dating a person not in college, and this bothers her. He is a decent human being, works at a steady job and, moreover, he reads good literature in his free time. Schall would see this person as capux ominum, capable of knowing all things, because he learns for the sake of knowledge, not a grade.

Reading contributes to a betterment of the mind and the soul. While reading, your person is changed, for the better or worse. One of my sisters and I disagree on what constitutes a good book. Her choices entertain her; they bore me. Fine—at least she’s reading, some say. Yes, but if reading really is like praying, as Schall says, then it matters what people read. Cultivation of the mind, like a horticulturist working with soil, is not easy. It takes years and is work; to appreciate, one needs to read and re-read so as to allow for the full effect. My favorite author, for example, is Evelyn Waugh. One never reads Waugh the same way twice. Good writing does not need to only appeal to the upper intellect; it should be understood on a base level, but have the ability to transcend regular observation. Each time read, I find a new play on words or understand a deeper meaning I missed on previous readings. Books without depth are like chewing gum for the brain: you read, you take out the flavor, and then you spit it out. No lasting effects, except perhaps a lingering taste.

Schall says he can know who a person is by the type of books they read. The preference to read the easy book can override inclinations to indulge in the Great Books, because that type of reading forces readers step back and face their own lives. If reading good literature does not make the reader contemplate himself, is it truly good? The end of a book is never an actual end, if you’ve really read the book. The profound affect a book has on a person shapes them, even if it was only a line or two out of the entire novel. The connection between the reader and the act of being: that is the point of the intellectual life. The author touches the reader and, in return, the reader touches others. It is not enough to think big, intellectual thoughts if one does not act accordingly on them, and reading is one step closer to that.

The prompt was a reflection on one of the chapters in the book aforementioned. I chose Chapter 2, "Books and the Intellectual Life." I almost feel like I copped out by writing an essay on my love of books, but the paper was due today and I started the book last night. I talked to Stacy (my roommate's big) briefly on gchat, and she provided insight into my work habits [edited for clarity]:

Stacy: haha, yea. I would love to chat more, but I'm at work right now, and should probably do work. But I will definitely talk to you later!
me: totally fine--I'm writing a paper due in a few hours anyways
Stacy: hahaha [...] true to heather and julie style, love it

In other news, today is the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien!

Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.” -The Return of the King

and a nice little ditty poem by Bilbo Baggins:
"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Finally, if you ever need a reason to mobilize, I love this quote, said by Gimli: "Certainty of death, small chance of success. What are we waiting for?"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Culture: from the Latin cultura; stemming from colere, meaning "to cultivate"

Off to Chicago tonight, but first a quick note: I've had all of my classes now, minus meeting with my thesis adviser and may I just say? This is going to be an amazing semester, even if the reading will be immense and slightly overwhelming in terms of volume. I started reading 'Go Down, Moses' by Faulkner; Southern literature is so dark and gothic. Thomas More is quickly being idealized in my mind as the best of men, and I half-wish I had majored in chemistry (the science I like best) and was more interested in pursuing a masters in history of science like Kalthoff. Siegel was my American Heritage teacher freshman year and the first teacher I actually liked at Hillsdale (which is funny because he oftentimes petrifies people with his sarcastic and challenging academic demands), so it will be wonderful ending my college career by taking another course with him, even if it is an honors seminar. I also saw a copy of 'The Loved One' in Prof. Siegel's office today and was happy to hear he lends it to students, because it is one of my favoritest books.

Today's poem is an early one by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I remember last semester, I was reading Emerson while studying with three friends. One of the guys asked if he could play a song out-loud in the room for us, and it was a beautiful, Christian song. I had just been reading about how Emerson saw God in everything around him, particularly in nature, but when I shared that with the gang, a different friend got indignant that I even liked Emerson, especially because I am a Catholic (which apparently she meant because Catholics are so orthodox and Emerson was certainly not).

I don't see it that way though. I do like Emerson, although perhaps Thoreau a little less. I don't compare him to me and then decide what is true, because we both know the ultimate Truth. I've definitely been influenced by reading Salt of the Earth by German journalist and fallen-away Catholic Peter Seewald (published October 1997). The book is an interview with Pope Benedict XVI when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. Seewald asked Ratzinger how many ways there are to God--imagining, I suppose, he would say The Church. Rather, Ratzinger delivered, in my opinion, one of the best replies. He said:

As many as there are people. Even within the same faith each man's way is an entirely personal one. We have Christ's word: I am the way. In that respect, there is ultimately one way, and everyone who is on the way to God is therefore in some sense also on the way of Jesus Christ. But this does not mean that all ways are identical in terms of consciousness and will, but, on the contrary, the one way is so big that it becomes a personal way for each man.

It should not be surprising to hear then, following the publication of that book, Seewald returned to the faith. Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict XVI sees God as an active force in the world. We are all reflections of Him and yet we are so individual, something He embraces and wants, with each of us reflecting a different facet of God and all potentially being in communion with Him. It's the same with Emerson. There is something to be said about recognizing God in this world, especially as His presence is being sabotaged in society today. RWE may not approach God the same way I do, but he still acknowledged and followed Him, which means we are united in the same faith even if we do not share the same denomination. I would never push aside the importance of dogma in theology, nor do I follow Emerson's Unitarianism, but in the face of secularism, Christ needs to be a culture, not just a character.

I'm also reminded of Jack Kerouac, whom I wrote one of my favorite papers of my collegiate career on at the end of my second semester junior year. People love claiming him and the beat generation as grounds for their own depravity. Kerouac, however, called it the "beat generation" because of the Italian word "beatific" (happiness, blessed); he wanted it to be a religious revival movement. He was a lapsed Catholic who dabbled in Buddhism, and yet very much a believing man whose Catholicism influenced everything in his life--especially his writings. Kerouac was a man who found God in the sky, in the bums he met, and on the road, as a modernist, pseduo-Wandering Jew.
We're all on a road in this life. It's not surprising the Western canon is filled with images of roads, and not at all ironic that in a few hours I'll be on a road to Chicago with Julia, towards an interview that will lead somewhere, whether or not I get the job.

Anyways, enjoy! I don't think the above has relevance to the poem below, but I do think the poem is best when heard and read aloud, so that the tongue can catch the rhythm and tone. The last two lines are my favorite.

Give All To Love By Ralph Waldo Emerson

Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit, and the muse;
Nothing refuse.

'Tis a brave master,
Let it have scope,
Follow it utterly,
Hope beyond hope;
High and more high,
It dives into noon,
With wing unspent,
Untold intent;
But 'tis a god,
Knows its own path,
And the outlets of the sky.
'Tis not for the mean,
It requireth courage stout,
Souls above doubt,
Valor unbending;
Such 'twill reward,
They shall return
More than they were,
And ever ascending.

Leave all for love;—
Yet, hear me, yet,
One word more thy heart behoved,
One pulse more of firm endeavor,
Keep thee to-day,
To-morrow, for ever,
Free as an Arab
Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid;
But when the surprise,
Vague shadow of surmise,
Flits across her bosom young
Of a joy apart from thee,
Free be she, fancy-free,
Do not thou detain a hem,
Nor the palest rose she flung
From her summer diadem.

Though thou loved her as thyself,
As a self of purer clay,
Tho' her parting dims the day,
Stealing grace from all alive,
Heartily know,
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.

In other first-week-of-school news, my friend Matt N. gave me a lovely bicycle bell as a belated Christmas present last night, as he promised/ threatened he would, because of an incident last semester that involved me riding my bike to the library one night and Matt's allegations that I almost ran over him.

Monday, January 11, 2010

K to the A to the P-P-A

For those of you who have never been in a sorority, recruitment is the few day period in which mostly freshmen girls go through the sorority houses on campus, getting to know the girls if they do not already know, before the mutual process of elimination starts. It can be stressful, but this one is going extremely well and efficient, with the house in relative tandem.

Saturday was the first day of formal rush, which means it is Open House. Yesterday was Skit Day; tonight was Formal Desserts and tomorrow will be the Preference Party, followed by Bid Day. Yep, in less than 24 hours, we will have new members. It's a good thing I like to smile and talk, but it's always an active love for the girls to stand in the cold snow to sing goodbye to the rushees while still smiling (and in heels).

I read a
great article which contained an equally wonderful and encouraging quote by Blessed Mother Teresa: "Smile," she replied, "for the smile is the beginning of love."

Today I registered for classes, finally paid off my library fine (and the rest of my tuition), bought the remainder of my books, and killed off a section of the rain forest with the amount of printing I did for my poli sci class' extra reading posted on BlackBoard (which is slightly ridiculous, since we already had to buy 12 books). I'm not complaining too much though, because it is going to be an amazing class. Lots of Hayek reading! Tres bon.

I have lots of pre-school meetings, too. I forgot how busy I get with meetings alone. One meeting I am quite excited is for The Tower Light, the literary publication on campus. I was asked to be one of the assistant editors for the Spring edition, which is going to be fantastic. My advisor sent me an e-mail, inviting me to attend his honors seminar, which I'm sure sounds like unnecessary extra reading, but I'm excited and it'll be solid.

My last semester's class schedule: Faulkner and 20th century Southern Literature, Western Heritage: Revisited (seminar), The Conservative-Libertarian Debate, The History of Science and Christianity, Thomas More and thesis.

I got edits back from my AQ article tonight and am trying not to be irked over it. I knew going into writing the piece that they wanted something very specific, and since my first final copy was sent to them before I went to Florida, I've since had to partially re-write the article again because the editor said she liked it, but she wanted more information. So I gave it to her. When I got it back tonight, I saw that she pulled a Faulkner and cut my darlings. My roomie says I need to get over it and give them what they want. I had a feeling that was going to happen, but I also feel like the article loses an essence.

Writing reflects on the writer as well, and without certain parts, I feel blah about it. I talked to a few of my sisters about it tonight, and they just teased me, the conversation ending with Betsy telling me I shouldn't be a journalist because I care too much about my words and I replied that is exactly why I should be one, and how that kind of attitude leads towards sloppy writing. Then they laughed at me and I smiled and let it go, sort of.

If there is one thing Kappa teaches you, it is to be a servant leader. Sometimes, even if it's not your job, you just need to step up and take care of it. I read this and though it was beautiful.

"We are unprofitable servants" by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (from her book 'A Simple Path')

Do not worry about why problems exist in the world – just respond to people's needs. Some say to me that if we give charity to others it'll diminish the responsibility of government towards the needy and the poor. I don't concern myself with this, because governments do not usually offer love. I just do what I can do: the rest is not my business.

God has been so good to us: works of love are always a means of becoming closer to God. Look at what Jesus did in His life on earth! He spent it just doing good (Acts 10,38). I remind the sisters that three years of Jesus's life were spent healing the sick and the lepers, children and other people; and that's exactly what we're doing, preaching the Gospel through our actions.

It is a privilege for us to serve, and it's a real, wholehearted service that we try and give. We feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but that ocean would be less without that drop.

Off to see friends; even if it is late, and cold, and I'm exhausted, it's always good to see people dear to me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Today was a snow day for Pacelli, Walnut and St. X. Cincinnatians freak out about snow. They called it "Snow Death" on the news, which really ticked Dad off because he grew up on a farm in NE Ohio near PA and he experienced serious snow. Hillsdale would not give this snow a second thought, but people here in town go to the store and buy enough food to last them the winter. It's a little funny.

Need to get back to packing. Dad and I just got home from visiting my aunt at the hospital. Back to school tomorrow. I can't believe it! I feel like I just got home, only more rested. Heidi is sitting on everything clean. Supposed to see Beslini again tonight, but she lives a little far to drive in this weather. I have a Waugh short story I want to finish reading too, and some more edits to more finish. Let's not immanentize the eschaton, here! Kate and I are leaving at 8 am-ish (too early). My last formal Rush starts Saturday. I'm officially a second semester senior once I pay off my library fines from last semester. Yeah!

I'm thinking about dubbing Thursday as poetry sharing day. (Lame title, I know. I'll think of a better one soon, promises.) Not that other days won't necessarily have it, but Thursday will be set aside and dedicated mostly to iambic pentameter and otherwise this semester. To kick it off, I'll share two I read recently:

"Guinea Pig" by Julie Cadwallader-Staub

As if your cancer weren't enough,
the guinea pig is dying.
The kids brought him to me
wrapped in a bath towel
‘Do something, Mom.
Save his life.'

I'm a good mom.
I took time from work,
drove him to the vet,
paid $77.00 for his antibiotics.

Now, after the kids rush off to school,
you and I sit on the bed.
I hold the guinea pig, since he bites.
You fill the syringe.
We administer the foul smelling medicine,
hoping the little fellow will live.

admitting to each other:
if he doesn't,
it'll be good practice.


"Looking at Pictures to Be Put Away" by Gary Snyder

Who was this girl
In her white night gown
Clutching a pair of jeans

On a foggy redwood deck.
She looks up at me tender,
Calm, surprised,

What will we remember
Bodied thick with food and lovers
After twenty years.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Apple Cores and Notes in the Margins

Bianca is my oldest friend, the one I still sign my letters "your BFF," like we started doing when we were 8 or 9. She's the farthest right one in the blue shorts, black and white socks. I'm the farthest left in the number 10 jersey, black shorts and white socks. We met at Cardinal Pacelli grade school in kindergarten. (Cardinal Pacelli was later Pope Pius X, the pope during WWII, for those interested.)

Her family ended up moving to Kentucky after first grade because of her dad's work. We kept in touch throughout grade school by writing letters and summers spent between our houses and camps in South Carolina. Technological additions (cell phones, cars) helped enhance our communication throughout high school and college as well.

We talked on the phone today for the first time since before Christmas. It was not on my to-do list (the odious reminder of things I have yet to accomplish), but I am glad we chatted. She helps me focus my priorities and if we have bona fortuna, we might room together after college! I don't know why that minute detail of my future plans has been bothering me the past few days (I have to get a job first, apartment second); I even started heckling the twins last night.

Home is snowy and comfortable. I hung out with Heidi for most of the day, or she with me, as I did work. The editor at AQ really liked my article, but she wants me to add more to it. I am mentally done with it, so I'm finding it cumbersome. Therefore, I've been working more on my thesis.

I'm trying to get a survey of current black inmates who did not grow up in a two-parent home. They do not collect that information on a local level (I've been in contact with the Cincinnati jails, not exceedingly nice people), but my cousin said there should on a state or federal level, so there's more information to track down. My sister-friend Vivian is finishing college with an easy semester and said she would help me if I needed it. I am seriously considering using her research and clerical skills. I would normally bake her cookies or something to say thank you, but she wants to go to culinary school and is a tad better at cooking than I am, so I'll have to think outside my traditional baked good offering.

I found two books to review for the coming semester: "Intellectuals and Society" by Thomas Sowell and "Twitterature" by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin. I've contacted the publishers; the books might beat me back to school!

The best part of being home is hanging out with the siblings, only today it was mainly the little kids. I helped Katie move into Theta on Sunday and we saw The Young Victoria with our cousin Sarah yesterday (very good!). Mike runs his own show, but he ate the dinner I made tonight (salmon, mac and cheese, green beans), so I was quite pleased with that.

A lot can be learned from having younger siblings. For example, John came home tonight from sledding with his leg banged up from getting swiped at by a dog and it's a roll with the punches kind of situation (once a phone call to Mom confirmed he is up-to-date on all his shots), with me cleaning of the wounds and an applying the band-aids and neosporn. Or when Marianne asked me who my favorite Enlightenment figure is, it's interesting to hear her tell me her teacher does not like
Montesquieu but rather favors Rousseau. The key is to tell her my reasons for liking him while allowing and wanting her to make up her own mind, so as to not mimic my thoughts. (Muff likes Voltaire's wit.)

I am impatiently a-waiting books in the mail for this coming semester. This has been a book-buying intensive semester and I hope they get here before Friday. I bought half my books on-line and the other half will be bought at school. My parents are very slow about mail, though, which worries me if they do not arrive in a timely fashion, i.e. before Friday morning, when I am heading back to school. I might have to see if Sam or Jim can bring any late books, since they won't have to be on campus early for sorority rush.

I think it's still early enough in 2010 to post "This Year":

My sentiment exactly, compliments of The Mountain Goats.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

If I had wings like Noah's dove, I'd fly the river to the one I love

A few words of wisdom I like for the new year:

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering."

-St. Augustine (patron saint of brewers!)

"You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds….What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can."

-St. Thomas More

(I'll be auditing a class on him this coming semester with Dr. Smith. Also, this quote made me think of "When the Ship Comes in," an excellent early Dylan song, which is always worth a listen.)

"Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself. Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly."
-St. Francis de Sales (patron saint of journalists and writers, as well as a particular favorite saint of mine)

"I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned. For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another."
-Romans 12:1-5

H/T Intentional Disciples

Friday, January 1, 2010

I started writing a self-reflective blog post and then thought, screw it. Fare thee well, 2009!

To recap: 2009 started out pretty out baller, with a trip to Washington, D.C. for the annual March For Life. (Okay, fine, it actually started at an epic New Year's Eve party at Ohio State and then formal Rush, but that's another story.) Julia and I became inseparable after this trip, if Civil War first semester with Dr. Birzer had not already made us besties. Mass that morning at the Verizon Center with 30,000 fellow Catholics was especially amazing. The homily was beautiful too, with an interesting comparison between eating a hotdog to eating the Eucharist: when you eat a hotdog, it becomes part of you. When you eat the Eucharist, you become part of Jesus. I think it's a great analogy, but it did make Julia and I craved hotdogs for the rest of the trip. We're a bit bleary-eyed and completely sleep-deprived in this picture, but the pilgrimage was unforgettable.

CPAC 2009! I stayed with my friend Hunter (he goes to GWU) and got to meet a few of his friends. His friend Pat introduced us to Ron Paul, which was absolutely awesome. My dad and siblings were uber-jealous. My only regret about the trip was that I never made it to the zoo.

This past summer, I worked for The Washington Times in the Books section. It was the best job I ever held, ranked on the factors that 1) I loved my work, 2) I loved my boss and 3) I loved most of the people I worked with (I'm still in contact with a few of them). The other great thing about being in D.C. was that you couldn't turn a corner and not run into a fellow Hillsdalian. I was blessed to live with two Kappa sisters, Rachel and Katie, as well as a few streets away from my grandbig Geneva and her husband Neal, and was two metro stops away from Amanda. Matt and Will, two of my really close friends from school, worked close enough to meet up for drinks after work occasionally as well as hang out--I also got to know Zach and Dakota better, which continues wonderful. There were always a number of classmates to catch up with at Hillsdale events, including this one, where we had the opportunity to meet Justice Thomas. He is a phenomenal speaker and his worthiness to be on the Supreme Court is not lost on anyone who interacts with him.

Betsy and Amanda live across the hall from Heather and I. They are also from Cincinnati, as well as being Kappas. We like to prank and tease them, but they are two dear friends of ours. I can't imagine living in Kappa or 2009 without either of them. They help me represent the 5-1-3 well, and are womanly and true, not to mention hilarious.

Okay, so the fair comes to Hillsdale every fall. But not just any fair. The Most Popular Fair on Earth. I kid you not, this is what Hillsdale, MI natives call it. Out a complete lack of interest, I had never gone to the Hillsdale fair before this fall. I had been to the fair two summers ago when I worked for the Wilmington News Journal and covered the fair. (At the end of that very long week of my life, I wrote a op-ed called "Confessions of a City Slicker.") Kate (the girl in the middle) was flabbergasted when she heard this. I don't know why she was; Kate and I went to high school together. Nonetheless, she demanded I come with her and Marisa (girl on left) and I did, with a smile on my face and a promise that I would not be forced to eat any fair food. (See my "Confessions" if you wonder why.) It was a fun experience overall: we ran into my friend Will taking pictures for the school paper; rode the ferris wheel even though I am petrified of heights; ran into other friends from the college; got hit on by the European men working the fair; looked at the animals and exhibits. It's definitely a culture I am not well-versed it, but I enjoyed the experience.

Here's more of the best of 2009:
-American Order and Disorder with Dr. Birzer was hands down the best class I ever took, forever changing my perception of humanity and its relationship to the world. Also, sitting in the back row next to Kathryn and slipping into class with a minute to spare every M-W-F was a hoot. (Then, of course, I stayed in that same classroom for the next two hours--History of the American Identity and Colonial America--only moving to hop forward a row.)
-turning 21 and dancing to Jaimie Cullum's “Twenty-Something” with Heather and Lizzy at midnight while drinking mini-bottles of wine
-picking up my Little, Danielle
-being invited to debate on the future of conservatism for Fairfield Society and owning half the table in arguments (the other half agreed with me!).
-roadtripping to Laurel’s wedding with Kate and Heather (and, of course, the actual wedding and reception was lovely as well. Note to all: photobooths are always a great idea.)
-late night walks with Vivian around campus
-continuing to ride my bike through all seasons and weather throughout the semester (snow and ice not excluded)
-Fall Break in Cincinnati and the scavenger hunt downtown with the Betsy, Zach, Will, Ben and other Hillsdalians, etc.

2009 was a great year. I have not even touched on all the wonderful things that have happened throughout the past year in this blog post, mostly because most of them can't be fully explained. How does one explain friendships? Why would one tell of talk of ends? What can be said of inner change? I couldn't even begin to list everything I've read. Or of walking on the beach, which I did many, many times while in Florida: my feet on the sand, the salt water splashing around my ankles and calves, the sun on my face. I love taking walks, but on the beach is particular favorite. It is always in nature that I see tangible evidence of God’s goodness, which reassures me and my human ways. I like watching the sailboats and speedboats, the white caps and waves, and always the birds. The birds as they stand, as they fly and swoop, as they race up to the water’s edge and then back when the wave comes pouring in over the sand. I like how the sandpipers’ legs move so fast, the lone pelican dive bombing into the water, and how seagulls will stand on one foot, looking like a peg leg, but they really just have the other leg tucked up underneath.

It always seems like one appreciates things best at the end of an epoch. I feel old at 21 (less than 3 months to 22!), but I know life is just on the cusp of really happening. What I’m feeling is my childhood ending, if it hasn’t already. I pay for my own schooling, I’m researching and applying for jobs outside Cincinnati and in a few months, I won’t be living with or around the people I’ve spent my most formative years with.

2010 will bring many things and I am excited at its potential. I feel a drive in me and know it may be time to finally try something a little more risky than going to college, like proving myself worth employing. This next week-ish till I go back to school, I’ll continue looking into grad schools, missionary opportunities, internships, fellowships and jobs. I’m starting to write my thesis. I’ll hang out with the siblings, talk to my parents and walk my dog. I’ve given up trying to sleep well, so I’ll do it when I can.

Happy Year of our Lord 2010! I hope you rang in the new year loudly and with joy in your heart :) I wish for all of you to be more content in 2010, and to realize how much you already have.

January 1st, by the way, is also the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, and J.D. Salinger’s birthday. If you’ve never read Nine Stories, a collection of nine fantastic Salinger short stories (mostly about the Glass family), I recommend you do so in this next coming year, especially “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” “For Esme, with Love and Squalor” and “Down at the Dinghy.”Oh, and tonight is the Sugar Bowl: GO UC BEARCATS!!