Thursday, April 29, 2010

The end may come, but it's never final

I really, truly love this poem, especially the third stanza.

"Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin,
let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Leaving for Columbus soon for another interview with the Buckeye Institute with Emilia. Also, I can't believe school is over. For now, at least, if I do end up going to grad school. Still--my undergrad years: done. My undergrad work? Not done. Here's to one more paper (Lib-Con Debate, 15-20 pages, nothing too skimpy) and one more exam (Somerville's 20th Century Southern Lit)! Mecosta this weekend with Delta Pi Nu and Betsy's wedding shower. Oh, the times, they are a-changing...! Good thing I don't actually believe in endings.

"Temptation of Adam" by Josh Ritter. (H/T Vivian)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's reading for pleasure again?

"In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do."
-C.S. Lewis, "Experiment in Criticism"

Also, good read from FPR on good literature and the glory of Graham Greene.

p.s. successfully defended my thesis today :) and people keep telling me they want to read it, fellow students and even one of the VPs at ISI. Sounds good to me! (After I do more edits; I got feedback from my defense panel today. Nothing too major, but there's a few more sources I'm going to look into, as well as clarifying a few points.

p.p.s. the newest Kappa members made cookies for all the seniors and signed it "Kappa Babies," which makes me so happy, because--when I joined--they just called them the new members and the next semester, I started calling them the "Kappa Babies" and now everyone does!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Favorite Spring 2010 KKG Formal Photographs

The gang.

Most of my favoritest people are in this picture. We're missing favorites, of course, but I'll say a bit about each favorite.
--I've known Jenny (in the pink) since freshman year;
--Heather (in the green) is my best friend and all-four-years roommate of mine;
--Matt (orange tie) is a fellow American Studies major and one of my two closest male friends at college;
--Will (next to me) is my other closest guy friend at Hillsdale;
--Hannah (in the blue dress) is one of our newest Kappa babies and--besides being the sweetest--is going to be an American Studies major(!!!);
--Dan (purple shirt and tie) is a freshman, freaking hilarious, and a great dancer and date (from what I witnessed on the dance floor);
--Betsy (in the black and white) is one of my best friends at school;
--Zach (Betsy's fiancee and Will's four-year roommate) is one of my dearest friends as well.

p.s. Rach, do you like my plum heels? I should have gotten a better picture of them with the dress, they looked tres bon!

I love this picture because Bear is laughing at something most likely not that funny, Betsy is suppressing a smile, and my dress is totally cupcaking out.

The Striped Tie Club! Will, Matt and Zach. I've been told this was not intentional.

The best picture of the night: Heather got a gin and tonic, but it was too strong, so she got another one and Matt took the first one, in addition to his coke and whiskey. Then we wanted to document it. Coercion? Unreasonable? I think not!

Last year at Formal, Will and I found this awesome golfer statue and wanted to take a picture with it. Unfortunately, I failed to bring my camera with me to Formal. This year, we not only succeeded, but Bear and Will had a staring contest. It also looks like Will is about to give her a noogie, but I have it on the highest authority that his hand was not actually close to her head. I also like how Zach is making friends with the golfer; how outstanding of him!

Three members of the Dogwood Society at KKG Formal: Brad, Julie and Matt. As Brad said, "This one's for Russell Kirk!"

My dear Little, Danielle. I am going to miss her a lot.

Will is a good friend: he not only puts up with my daily shenanigans, but the multiple Kappa events I've dragged him along to (I think the count is two formals, one informal and one date party...there might have been more). He's kindly reminded me not everyone will be as generous in the real world. Ain't that the truth, brother!

The Love Pumpkin Society of KKGs 10 and 11: Betsy, Heather, Julie and Amanda.
"Love covers a multitude of sins. Love pumpkins cover a multitude of scenarios." --Bets

It was a great last Kappa event, to say the least.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

W.H. Auden, eat your heart out!

Today is my Aunt Tracey's funeral. Obviously, I wrote a poem.

"The Rain"

It is raining the day of my Aunt’s funeral.
I am, of course, not there--
still North of the family and their grieving
incapable of holding hands and wiping tears
hugging my little siblings and supporting my Father
as he gives the eulogy of the woman who knew right
and wasn’t intimidated by wrong; a mother of two, aunt of too many,
who always made time for her family, especially when she wasn’t well,
and here I am, still at school, no time to think about leaving,
no more time to cry while my heart still mourns,
but instead relish in the rain: people are running
from building to building and all I think
is how she can no longer feel the rain hit her face
or get cold, or smile, or walk, or skip,
and so I do all of these as I move through the rain,
my funeral procession of one,
the still living.

Also, I like this song, especially today. And "Laughing With," but I think I already posted that once. And "What Wonderous Love is This?/ Oh my soul, oh my soul" but I've never found a version on YouTube that I really like.

Senior BBQ today! I need to figure out what I am going to will to the baby Kappas. Formal was really fun, I'll post pictures later. Dealing with the Forum and the thesis today, and taking a little time to go to a friend's show.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I hear you call my name, and it feels like home

Tonight is KKG spring formal! I'm excited, even with everything. We're going up to a country club in Ann Arbor, the same place we went to last year. Maybe a few fellow devious minds and myself will succeed in "borrowing" a golf cart...

This is the dress that I am wearing, and I'll be wearing plum heels. Will is going to wear a yellow tie. Matchy-matchy? More like complimentary-ary, which is much, much better.

For everyone in the chapter who was interested, I placed an order last week for these sweet plastic ray-bans with blue sides; on the left side, they say "Kappa Kappa Gamma." They arrived and are so sweet! The chapter is going to look so fly!

It'll be nice to have a night I'm not actively thinking about all the writing/ editing/ work I have to do. Ahhh... sigh of senior release! And I love dancing, and just being, with my favorite people.

Kappa chapter song, compliments of Glee:

Aunt Tracey's funeral is tomorrow. I talked to Aunt Nancy and Dad, and we've decided it's better if I don't go. I'm already completely exhausted and overworked, this would just add to it. Uncle Mark told Dad I shouldn't come either because it would be too much for me. Aunt Nancy says I'm so close to graduating and Tracey would be miffed if I didn't finish strong. My family is so wonderful, even in our grief. So the rest of this year is for you, Aunt Tracey.

Happy Friday friends, and many blessings on your day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I lack

I know this is odd to post but my Aunt Tracey died this morning and I would really appreciate prayers for her soul and for my family in their grief.

I'm going to go over to the Siegel's soon. My thesis seems so unimportant right now and yet it must be completed today.

The girl who loves Thursdays

--It's Centralhallapalooza this weekend! Will sent me this picture of myself from last year. Heather loves it. We're thinking the shades should make another appearance this weekend. Thoughts? [photo credit WPC]

This is a great poem, and food for thought:

"Tommy" by Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Not sleeping at all, but a little sacrifice to make on the big thesis alter. I published my last Collegian book review today. I'll link it later. Today shall be my last Thursday classes, last on-campus mass, last DPN lunch (Dr. Jordan talked about American Southern Lit) and tonight is my last Blue and Blue dinner! I'm excited to hear what Little has to say.

More job opportunities arising, but we'll see what happens. God has a plan. In the meantime, I need to finish/ start more papers. No, it never does end.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"I been leavened by the yeast he don't believe in," he said, "and I won't be burned."

Today in my Libertarian-Conservatism Debate class, we were discussing the Robby George reading and I couldn't help thinking of this passage from Flannery O'Connor's "You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead" in relation to relativism, moral and "otherwise." I'm not one to keep good things all to myself (especially good writing!), so I thought I should share. The stranger is talking to the main character, Tarwater, as he digs his great-uncle's grave (well, should be digging--he starts drinking right before this passage).

“It should be clear to you,” his kind friend said, “how all your life you been tricked by that old man. You could have been a city slicker for the past years. Instead, you been deprived of any company but his, you been living in a two-story barn in the middle of this earth’s bald patch, following behind a mile and plow since you were seven. And how do you know the education he give you is true to the fact? Maybe he taught you a system of figures nobody else uses? How do you know that two added to two makes four? Four added to four makes eight? Maybe other people don’t use that system. How do you know if there was an Adam or if Jesus eased your situation any when He redeemed you? Or how you know if He actually done it? Nothing but that old man’s word and it ought to be obvious to you by now that he was crazy. And as for Judgment Day,” the stranger said, “every day is Judgment Day.”

I highly recommend reading the entire short story if you have not already done so, which I would be happy to lend to you or make a copy of, if you are so interested. I turned in my Flannery O'Connor research paper yesterday (I finished it around 6:30 a.m.; I even heard the bird chirping outside!). My favorite criticism used in the paper was written by scholar John R. Mays: “Thus the story takes exception to the stranger’s slogan when it suggests that one can be poorer than dead: one can be alive without meaning, or, worse still, with perverted purpose.” Well said!

Today's my Little's birthday, so I made her signs, colored them with crayons, and posted them on her door. Last class at 9, Senior scavenger hunt at 10, thesis-ing all night long. Hello Kate A. Turabian, we meet again!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Planting another Dogwood

Delta Pi Nu planted their annual Dogwood tree in honor of Dr. Birzer, who was the program's leader from 2004 to December 2009. Matt asked me give a mini-speech about him, so here it is:

“Ballad of the Midwesterner”

Over Easter Break, I went home to discover my room had been taken over and looted by my five siblings. My book shelves were half-empty and little plastic soldiers were stationed around and on my furniture, with numerous forts made of wooden blocks barricading against the Legos advancing by the hundreds. My desk had even been taken by my littlest sister.

My walls were the only part of my room left untouched. They are painted yellow and are mostly decorated with Impressionists’ prints and photographs. On the wall closest to my door, next to a picture of my senior year lacrosse team, is a letter on Hillsdale stationary. The writer congratulated me on my admittance to the college and expressed excitement for my interest in the American Studies program, going on to explain the major and saying he looked forward to meeting me. It was signed Bradley J. Birzer.

I’m not delusional enough to think that letter was written specifically for me, but it still made an impression. It confirmed my prayers that Hillsdale College, a school I should have not even considered, let alone attended, was where God wanted me to go.

I did not meet Dr. Birzer until my sophomore year or get to know him until I was a junior, but as a senior, I am blessed to enjoy a fruitful fellowship with such a brilliant and godly man and teacher. My life has been changed by Dr. Birzer. I do not say this lightly, nor do I say it about many people. Most people impress something upon me, but few challenge and have thus shaped the way I understand the world and my place in it.

I belong to the last class of American Studies majors to have Dr. Birzer preside over the program. Most of my classes with Dr. Birzer have been upper-level history classes. His strength is his very person: his passion to explain history, not just tell it, with a true depth and continuity of the material resonating through his warm voice. His ability to connect history to the present day and teach his students about events, places and people always left a lasting impression. I have loved every research paper topic I’ve written for him and I find I enjoy writing long IDs in blue book exams, if only to prove my worthiness to be his student. But in true Dr. Birzer-fashion, my academic humbling comes in the form of Birzer trivia, the kind I know I will later be answering as penance for sins.

Dr. Birzer does not just teach through his words, as beautiful and well-phrased as they often are. Dr. and Mrs. Birzer’s willingness to have the Dogwood Society over to their house for various gatherings and to involve the majors with their children helped create camaraderie between students not formerly friends, as well as giving all of us an example of what it means to be a man and woman, a husband and a wife, parents, citizens, Christians and humans.

The definition of what it mean to be human was an open question my second-semester junior year in Dr. Birzer’s American Order and Disorder class, the class that ultimately tied all my learning together. To be human is to suffer, to love, to pray, to surrender and to fight, to laugh out loud, to protect and cherish, to learn, to die, to do good unto others, to comfort, to contribute and to carry one’s cross. Dr. Birzer defined self-sacrifice through Willa Cather, faith within A Canticle for Leibowitz, Christendom in Dawson, honor and duty by Chesterton, meaning from Voegelin and the Incarnation with the help of Eliot.

In my studies at Hillsdale, the Incarnation is the reason why we can “rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, [and] persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12). It is only through Christ that we can know what it means to be human, the acknowledgement of the Logos as a basis for human dignity, and the fullness and power of Christ in the history of man. I understand this because of Dr. Birzer, and it is because I understand this that I am a better person than when I got that letter four years ago.

Thus I will end my thank you to Dr. Birzer by reading the end of “Letter to My Children,” the forward of Whittaker Chamber’s book Witness. Dr. Birzer’s greatest contribution to me is his witness to God as a fallen human being. He helped lead this little platoon through our college experiences, and at the end of it, we are not sad because we know that “We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time” ("Little Gidding," Eliot).

If Dr. Birzer has taught us anything, it is that we Dogwoodians—indeed all at Hillsdale College—have a responsibility to our fellow Americans to stand as witnesses for the truth, whether in the public arena or within our own communities. The danger of ideologies, as shown in Chambers and Russell Kirk’s writings, is the replacement of faith in God with faith in Man. We still see this today. We are always at a turning point in history: the question is, which way will we turn?

"My children, when you were little, we used sometimes to go for walks in our pine woods. In the open fields, you would run along by yourselves. But you used instinctively to give me your hands as we entered those woods, where it was darker, lonelier, and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening. In this book I am again giving you my hands. I am leading you, not through cool pine woods, but up and up a narrow defile between bare and steep rocks from which in shadow things uncoil and slither away. It will be dark. But, in the end, if I have led you aright, you will make out three crosses, from two of which hang thieves. I will have brought you to Golgotha-the place of skulls. This is the meaning of the journey. Before you understand, I may not be there, my hands may have slipped from yours. It will not matter. For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wise."

This week is Senior Week for Kappa. I am so excited! Little was doing arts and crafts in Koon... I walked in on her and then was banished to go out the back door. Currently working on my Flannery O'Connor paper due tomorrow. I'm analyzing "You Can't Be Any Poorer Than Dead" and "Judgment Day." The Tower Light will be released Tuesday and the Forum will (hopefully!) go to press Tuesday or Wednesday. Formal is on Friday and thesis WILL be finalized by then. Defense next Wednesday, and two more papers due the Tuesday before... YAY COLLEGE!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The end is near

Greek Week this week. I passed my oral comps on Wednesday (they said they were impressed, so that's all that matters) and my thesis is due Friday (tomorrow). My last issue of the Forum is in lay-out right now and tomorrow is also an interview with the publisher of TAS. Last Friday I had an interview with the Managing Editor and then one with the Editorial Editor and now the publisher...fingers crossed and many prayers.

Senior dinner at the Arnn's tonight, which was great. Sat at a table with Mrs. Arnn and she is just the sweetest. Formal is next Friday, which is quite exciting. I organized and ordered cheap ray-bans with blue sides that say "Kappa Kappa Gamma" on the side. The chapter is stoked!

Poem of the day is a favorite, though sad:

"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.

This has also been my favoritest song for the past week:

I am so incredibly exhausted. Pax et amore.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nec Aspera Terrent

I have a phone interview with a publishing company in Chi-town today and one with The American Spectator tomorrow, so, with my thoughts have been preoccupied of late with the future, I thought this poem apt.

"I dwell in Possibility" by Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise--

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

Welcome to the Catholic Church Stacy E., Ian F., Jon B., T.J. C., Tommy O., et al.! What an exciting day! Christ is Risen!

Also, please pray for the soul of Matt James, a St. X footballer and ND recruit who died on Good Friday while on Spring Break. He was a good friend of two of my cousins and in my brother's class. I know his death has affected many in Cincinnati and in my own family, so please keep the James family and all those affected by Matt's death in your prayers as well.

Back to Hillsdale tomorrow; it has been so wonderful to be home, even for a short while.

Little Gidding [excerpt]

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

Started and finished reading 'The Moviegoer' by Walker Percy in one 24-hour period of time. Yes, it is that good. I absolutely and positively loved all 242 pages. If you ever read it or have read it, let me know, so that we can talk about it.

"Yet one thing I believe and I believe it with every fibre of my being. A man must live by his lights and do what little he can and do it as best he can. In this world goodness is destined to be defeated. But a man must go down fighting. That is victory. To do anything less is to be less than a man."

and a quote that should be caveated to every to-be humanities student: "Oh the crap that lies lurking in the English soul."

The Dry Salvages [excerpt] by T.S. Eliot

In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness. I have said before
That the past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations—not forgetting
Something that is probably quite ineffable:
The backward look behind the assurance
Of recorded history, the backward half-look
Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.
Now, we come to discover that the moments of agony
(Whether, or not, due to misunderstanding,
Having hoped for the wrong things or dreaded the wrong things,
Is not in question) are likewise permanent
With such permanence as time has. We appreciate this better
In the agony of others, nearly experienced,
Involving ourselves, than in our own.
For our own past is covered by the currents of action,
But the torment of others remains an experience
Unqualified, unworn by subsequent attrition.
People change, and smile: but the agony abides.
Time the destroyer is time the preserver,
Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops,
The bitter apple, and the bite in the apple.
And the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Today my family will go to the steps in Mount Adam around 12 and pray there with other Christians, all moving from step to step at different speeds and different modes, until after 3 p.m. The forecast is sunny but in my many years, I can tell you that there has not been one year that it has not rained or gotten overcast. Afterwards, we'll go to this Scottish restaurant downtown we go to every year to have our one meal of the day: fish and chips! I love today because, for my family, no one works or goes to school; all day, we as a family pray and fast and do things together. This is the day the Nicene Creed reminds us of: "He suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died, and was buried."

East Coker [excerpt] by T.S. Eliot

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Thursday

I couldn't decide on one, so I'm sharing a section of the Four Quartets on each of the four High Holy Days. Read the whole thing though (link in title), Eliot is amazing.

Burnt Norton [excerpt]

Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.