Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cereal with soy milk

Much has happened.

Primarily, I had a curious "meet the parents" experience last Sunday. I say curious because it might have been classified as the most encouraging "meet the parents" experience I've had yet. This is saying a lot, since I've never had a bad experience in this regard. In fact, every time I've had the opportunity to make the acquaintence of a significant other's family, I've looked forward to it, and have subsequently stored it in my treasury of pleasant memories. So the "curious" part is this: This Is Not A Significant Other. I capitalize for emphasis, and in order to forgo repetition, especially for all those friends and family members who might still be unconvinced. Contact me personally if you need to hear the specific reasons why not; I've come up with several reasons. ...
So hopes are high that the overly-positive encounter with "the parents" is merely a cultural norm. Or if not, at least it is merely an indication of over-enthusiastic parents in the presence of a "nice girl." I probably won't know for a while if there is an essential misunderstanding between my friend-who-is-not-a-significant-other and myself--because I'll never ask. And given his low average rate of vocal utterances--partly due to shyness, partly just who he is--it'll be a while before he arrives at that topic.
Funny how what might have been the best experience I could have hoped for, turned out to be a source of analytical agony, slightly abated by Mom's wisdom, "Don't worry about something that hasn't happened yet."

Next thing on my mind these days is the Maria Goretti Society, which Sharon and I are to lead this year. It's a group dedicated to the spiritual formation of girls, from the Confirmation class -age up through high school. Our first meeting is next Wednesday, so we've been trying to get organized. Basically, neither of us know what we are doing. We only know it should be prayer-centered, and that it has to be put in God's hands. Because we don't know what we're doing, especially with this age group. Funny, since we used to be high school girls--together!--and a saintly woman somehow related to us in order to provide spiritual formation.
"How did she do it?" we wondered out loud about a month and a half ago, both agreeing that either of us in her position would have gotten highly annoyed. We decided that we shared the mentality that junior high and high school girls were not our preferred bracket.
And then we accepted the leadership of the Maria Goretti Society. Go figure.
But as St. Paul says: in our weakness He is strong.

And finally, this program that I'm in tends to have exams pretty often. So studying for those is an underlying theme of the soundtrack of my life.

By the way, James Taylor is great background for most New England autumn drives.

I figured out that in order to regularly enjoy my cereal and my lattes, I have to keep 2 cartons of Soy milk in my refrigerator. Problem is that my refrigerator in this bedroom is the size of a cracker box. So I don't eat so much cereal; after all, priorities define coffee as ruling way high over cereal. As a result, I'm starting to build up quite a collection of different kinds and flavors of breakfast cereal. It's good. Someday, when I'm out of espresso, I'll have a bowl of cereal. It's great comfort food. Especially with soy milk. But I digress. The point is, I need a bigger refrigerator.

(p.s. Mom, don't send any more cold cereal...)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Be Careful What You Pray For

They always used to tell me that.
It's true, though. Speaking of the Great Designer...
I prayed for humility. Then I got my most recent test score back.
I think I'll wait until the end of this first semester until I resume my prayers for humility!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Great Designer

I find myself cringing at the off-handed joke, "Everything's relative."
"But it's not," I always say.
Then I get the look I used to give my Dad when he would ask us about the sanctity of beasts after any of us said, "holy cow." The look that says, "Why is she responding as if I was at all thinking about what I was saying?"

I can give some credit to the fact that Catholicism--or at least monotheism, which is a good start--finds easy acceptance in PT. I don't think it's only at this school which happens to have a Catholic name; the name seems accidental at best, as in many cases, to the affiliation of the school itself.
But it struck me yesterday when our class was discussing the muscles in the area of the hip. This concept in particular came up:
There are no muscles whose primary purpose is to internally rotate the thigh because functionally, we don't really need to do that very much.
Nobody flinched. But look at the assumptions there!
1.) Muscles have primary, and secondary actions, and they are classified as such. Why, you ask? Because of the orientation of their fibers, of course! Nature acts for an end....
2.) A muscle will only perform an action to the extent that we need to function with that action. Again....
I don't know if anyone besides myself is consciously aware that this is what we're basing our discussions on. As far as I can tell, it's taken for granted.
Another discussion began when the teacher asked, "If you were the Great Designer, and you wanted this muscle's only action to be to flex the knee, where would you attach it? ...And yet, where is it actually attached?"

I don't know if "Great Designer" was capitalized in his mind as he was asking the question, but the assumption that muscles are there because somebody put them there for a reason is about as solid an assumption of a Creator as you're going to get. Let me assure the world, this branch of science can't be confused to contradict the Church!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Where your STUDIES are, there will your heart be

Funny how during my undergraduate years, I found myself thinking about essence and attributes and miracles and Divine Will when I was alone (ie, in the shower!).
Now, I find myself thinking about muscle forces and moment arms and therapeutic exercises in my "down-time."
I think there's something to be said for studying Theology, because whatever you're studying is what your mind is used to contemplating.
Another reason to keep up on my spiritual reading... .

Monday, October 18, 2004

'Twas the Season

for hot cider and football games.

I woke up on Saturday and thought, "This is the perfect day for a football game."

So I drove down to Hofstra University, in case their oft-injured quarterback, my cousin, was playing. A lot of my relatives were at the game. Turns out he was still injured, but he was going to start, anyway. It was Homecoming; he had to play. With a broken rib (which the opposing team didn't know about, thank God) and a re-injured knee (which the other team did know about, 'cause everyone does), he couldn't run. But his passing has always been strong, and he's one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation because of it. Saturday, though, he couldn't plant his leg to throw. What I saw was not the best he's been--not even close, according to the family. And when I felt his mother clinging to me after a play, and following her frowning eyes, saw him on the ground, I knew he'd been tackled. And during the tackle, his knee had given out.

And that's probably the end of the season. For him, the end period.

Poor guy, I feel so bad for him. In a primarily baseball-driven family, he's been the brightly shining football star.

My uncle, his father, turned to me and said, "I think this is the day of Bobby's retirement."

I'm glad I got to see him play.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Critical thinking and BIG words

One aspect of my tutorial class in graduate school that didn't happen in undergraduate school is the peer evaluation.
Each session we have, we verbally evaluate a member of the group. Since there are only 5 students per tutorial, and we meet twice a week, we evaluate each other several times throughout the semester. In our group, we made it a general rule that we each have to make one complimentary statement and one constructive statement, and then beyond that as needed. The person being evaluated also has to verbalize a self-evaluation. I actually look forward to the days when I get evaluated--it's good to get continuous feedback, plus it helps all of us find ways to challenge one another.
It was funny today, though, when one of my classmates was trying to come up with a constructive criticism for me. "I guess, maybe you could try to put things into your own words on your hand-outs," he suggested.
I laughed. Then I apologized. Then he looked at me, incredulous, and interpretted my face: "These are your own words. Aren't they. Oh. Ok." (he proceeded to re-read my entire handout while the rest of the group did their evaluations.)

Over the next few evaluations, an encouraging discussion developed that made me realize the difference between an Exercise Science major in a PT program and a Liberal Arts major in a PT program. There are advantages! I think I needed that lift. Truly, the comments that were made can only be credited to the intellectual formation I received at TAC. "Critical thinker," excellent questions," "makes me re-examine my research with her points," as well as the old mantra from Don Rags, "try to speak up when you do understand, not just when you don't," etc.

But my first classmate's comment reminded me of an experience I had when I was at the community college last year, preparing for grad school. I was required to take a Psych elective, so I chose Child Development. As part of the course, I had to write a research paper. For the amount of work I put into it, I was relatively pleased with the outcome. When I got it back, I flipped through to read the red markings. On one page, in the margin, was scrawled, "use your own words." The word in my paper that was circled in red pen next to the comment was "posit." I was speaking about a child development theorist, and explaining what his principles were for how children learn. "He posits...etc." Not only was I shocked at the mark for what it actually said, but I was also indignant at the implication that I would plagiarize! Talk about a test of humility. I think I must have failed. My ego is generally too selfish to allow for grace in moments such as these. I approached my teacher, and explained as politely as I could muster that I was not a childcare provider, taking her class in order to get certification to run a daycare. I had a prior degree, and in the philosophical setting where my intellect was trained, "posit" was no less common than "challenge" as a descriptive verb. "It's my word; it's been one of my words for the past 6 years!"
Her response was, "Well, I didn't know what it meant. I had to look it up."
Well, that's hardly my fault now, is it.

So now I've been officially named "Vocabulary" in my tutorial. Compared to most of my friends, I don't think my vocabulary is that impressive, actually. But I'll take the compliment.

Meanwhile, I'll work on using short words for my hand-outs!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The difference between John Kerry and me

John Kerry, despite what he claims about Faith and Works, obviously has a difficult time incorporating his "Catholic" Faith into his everyday life of political action. According to him, it is not paradoxical to have an interior spiritual life, expression of which displays oppositely when brought to the exterior political and social life. He may very well understand the "go to your room and pray to your Father in private" part of things, but he's leaving out, "go out to all nations...baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Whatever you do, don't impose your Faith on others--or let it influence anything you do that might affect others. (p.s., the immorality of abortion is not, as he refers to it, an "article of Faith;" you don't need Faith to arrive at the conclusion that the principle of human life is something sacred and worthy of protection.)

Anyway, the contrast I wanted to make is this: my exam on Friday is what I should really be worried about. But I've been letting my Faith-based activities come first this week. Not only come first, but get in the way of what I'm primarily called to do at this point. I didn't study last night because I spent the evening in NYC with a friend, watching the film Therese. I didn't study tonight because I went to a special Mass in honor of the 87th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima's last apparition. Tomorrow is Theology on Tap, which I'd hate to miss.... Friday will soon be here, and I will pray to my guradian angel that he gives me a little extra help on this one.

I think I need to re-group and re-assess my priorities list here pretty soon.

That might be a healthy exercise for Senator Kerry at this point, as well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Chilly trees

I peek out my window
and let my eyes linger
on the dancing shadows in the street.

Still bright the tall lamps standing guard along the sidewalk's edge.

Quiet and still the motors of a busy day, ready to rev
when the sun reveals the colors of the shadows.

But for now the shadow are black, and dancing

And I watch the rhythym of their dancing
and know after one moment, ...maybe two, ...wait for the third,

yes, the day is one of autumn--
of breezes and dreams of hot cider.
Of crunchy carpets and smoky smells.

And I should wear a sweater.

Monday, October 11, 2004

On a lighter note, a little

comic relief.... I tend to relate to Satchel.

Wrong analogy

I had the pleasure of speaking to an old high school friend on the phone last night. He was just like I remembered him--funny and witty, albeit a bit more serious now that he's married with a baby girl.

This friend left the Church shortly after I left for college--due to the tragic state of the diocese where I grew up, I'm sure. Many families in the area have left, and even my former youth group leader doesn't attend Mass anymore. My friend is now a youth pastor at a church in Maine, doing all sorts of good for the high school kids there, and loving all of it.

I figured I'd ask: "Do you ever miss the Eucharist? The sacraments?"

It took him a while to answer. He said it was a fair question, he just had to think about it. He said that the reason he left the Faith was that he never really "got" it, so it's kind of hard to miss it. Finally he gave me this analogy: "It's like asking an unbeliever if he misses God. Well, of course he doesn't, because he's never known God."

As I thought about it later, I started wondering about the analogy. There was something seriously lacking in it--something truly sad about my friend's situation that isn't so sad within the analogy of the unbeliever. The breakdown is here: the unbeliever has yet to encounter God, yet can still be given that opportunity. But my friend has already had the opportunity to live a sacramental life, and has turned away from it, looking elsewhere for holiness.

Because of this, I find another analogy much more suitable: it is like asking a starving man, "Do you miss food?"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

October 7th

Another beautiful Feast Day. What a great month: St. Therese, then the Archangels, then the guardian angels, and now Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary! The power of Our Lady is so great; I recommend this beautiful entry for a short meditation. And feel good stories are favorites of mine, as well.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

In my loaded up arms

The real story here was that I found rambutan in the produce section of the store today. That and pomegranate juice (I was reading today that it contains lots and lots and lots of anti-oxidants, so I picked some up). These were my two special finds. And both prompted discussion at the register. The bagger-lady wanted to know whether pomegranate juice should be drunk straight--to which I replied that I think it's better if it's a little bit diluted. But awhen it came to the rambutan, everyone was involved--the cashier, the bagger, the woman behind me, the man behind her,.... So I gave General Instructions on how to eat rambutan, then how it tastes, then where it comes from, then why I know that, and finally where I found it this evening. (It's a FRUIT. So it'll be next to the other FRUIT. It's UNUSUAL. So it'll be next to the UNUSUALS. Look for the starfruit and the papaya: UNUSUAL FRUIT.)
I had to dig through my groceries when I got home, to find where the bagger-lady hid it all. I was so excited to try one! The first little guy I opened was bad--brown gunk instead of white juicy sponginess. But the next two were good....

Good? Amazing. Brought me back to days of loitering on the stone balcony off of the overcrowded classroom in Alaminos; made me want to hail a tricycle and ride past the hayfields in Dampay.

I gotta save a few for Sharon....

Second Floor Rule

The rule is this:
If I live alone on the second floor, I can only make one trip, whether coming or going.

Although I just "discovered" this rule today, I've actually been abiding by it for the past month and a half. Usually, I'm completely loaded up with stuff (why do we always say "loaded down"? I refuse...): backpack, purse, water bottle, oversized binder that doesn't fit in the backpack, leaky travel mug with coffee, keys. Add to that image the burden the occasional mornings that I need to take out the trash, and you get a picture of my hardcore fundamentalism. But I have not wavered!

I have adjusted, however. My Weekday Missal and October issue of Magnificat have their own shelf--the passenger seat of my car! One of my sweatshirts "belongs" in the back seat--I always need more layers, now that October is here and they've turned on the A/C at school.... =b Two six-packs of coke sit in my natural refrigerator--the trunk. My laundry detergent is there, too, since I'll have driven to Sharon's house when I next need it. I also keep my sleeping bag in there (just in cases!) and my bike rack (because it doesn't fit anywhere else!)
So yes, part of my life remains in my car. But that's just a necessary corollary to the Second Floor Rule.

Of course, this rule does not limit the number of times a person can set something down. I tend to set things down several times before the final "drop," especially coming home.

Get out of the car with and grab all my junk.
1 Set something down to lock the car doors and close them.
Walk to the outside stairs.
2 Set something down to check the mailbox.
Climb the stairs.
3 Set something down to unlock the door.
Enter the apartment.
4 Set something down to twist-pull-wrench keys out of the door, close it, and lock it again.
Kick off shoes and walk up the hallway.
5 Set something down to unlock the bedroom door.
Enter the room, and ...DROP

(Yes, I do pick everything up again as I go. Except that later, I usually have to look for my keys for about ten minutes before finding them in the bedroom door.)

Someday, this rule will reveal itself as a useful discipline. Since it's not exactly time-efficient, though, I cannot imagine what the utility will be.

I just keep on following the directions shouted at me by the obsessive murmurings of my brain:

Testing, 1--2--3

I just had my first OSCE today (pronounced AH-skee). It stands for Objective Structured Clinical Examination. The 2nd and 3rd -year students pretend to be patients, while we, the lowly 1st-years, come and do tests on them. Each of us reads an outline of a case, makes a hypothesis as to what's wrong, does some tests on the "patient" who pretends to "test" a certain way, then writes whether or not we're changing our hypothesis, based on the tests.
I think mine went well. I had to take someone's blood pressure three times because I couldn't hear her heartbeat on the first two tries! I didn't know I was nervous until I started doing the tests and realized my hands were shaking! (ever try to wrap a blood pressure sleeve around someone while your hands are shaking?)

Then my classmate, Michael, and I got together and learned how to test ankle strength--we have to teach the class tomorrow. I always wondered how I would react to touching somebody's foot in therapy. But context is amazing--I had my hands all over his foot, feeling around for the different tendons. Great stuff. It's amazing how, with practice, I'm starting to map out what's going on beneath the skin, using my sense of touch! And I love it that each of my classmates gets so excited about it, too. "I found it! I found it!" is a common exclamation in the lab. Or, "Here, feel hers--it's really prominent..."

The natural high that accompanies discovery, the brisk autumn breeze flipping through the changing leaves around campus, the awesome care-package that just arrived from home... I'm definitely in full-on student mode!

Oh, the irony

I have been trying to get my hands on student loan money for over a month now. Finally, I am told that next Tuesday, my refund will be ready (so I can pay all my bills!!).
Yesterday, I received an email from my lender. They informed me that, to date, I have accrued $5.25 in interest on my loan. If I would like to pay that now, I could save myself money later.

Can you identify my frustration? I don't even have the money yet, and I'm already paying interest on it!

Meanwhile, the bills are piling up, and I can't even look at them until next Tuesday.... Yeah, I wanna start paying interest!

Monday, October 04, 2004

Darkness holds less valuable minutes

I hold the satisfaction of a particularly good weekend, the perfect mix between visiting relatives on Long Island and spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon meal with new friends in Connecticut.

The price I pay is the same as every week before this: Monday night is a long night. I remain "awake" for the greater number of dark hours, staring at my computer screen and wishing I had eye-glasses with which to replace my burning contact lenses. I've been able to finish by dawn every week up to this point. The question that sits immediately behind the frontal bone of my weary skull is this:

Is it impossible for me to use daylight hours to finish my tutorial presentations?

Obj. 1: It seems as though it is not impossible to use daylight hours to finish schoolwork, for there are more daylight hours than night hours in the waking span of a weekend. And the hour measures a constant time; therefore, it seems not impossible to use one daylight hour for activities heretofore reserved for one night hour.

Obj 2: It is not impossible to use daylight hours to finish schoolwork, for doing schoolwork is a part of learning. But learning has been proven to be accomplished during daylight hours, that is, in the classroom every day of the week. Therefore, as a part of learning, it is not impossible to finish schoolwork with daylight hours.

Obj 3: It is not impossible to use daylight hours to finish schoolwork, for as The Classmate said, "I finished my tutorial on Sunday afternoon."

Sed Contra: "Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man." Psalms 112:4

Time spent in my little hole of a bedroom is time spent in isolation from the outside world. When I am there, the hours do not seem to have daylight in them. So when I know that daylight hours exist outside my hole, I exit, in order to enjoy their brightness. But my computer is in my hole. And all my references. Therefore, given the circumstances of my living arrangement, it is impossible for me to finish schoolwork during daylight hours.

Reply to Obj 1: I never spend the weekends in my room. And I never finish schoolwork outside of my room. Therefore this argument is meaningless.

Repy to Obj 2: My classroom exists outside of my room, and is also a necessary prison, even when the sun shines brightly outdoors. It actually heightens the desire for time spent outside during daylight hours, since it offers reprieve from my hole, but without the daylight.

Reply to Obj 3: Some people don't need to see daylight so much, I guess.

In Conclusion, the coffee pot is full, and I'm in for a long night.
...haven't invested in gingko, yet; stand by for updates.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The edges

of these New England arbors are starting to show some color.
The days are crisp and cool--the kind of days where I like to open the sun-roof and blow the heat on my feet while I drive.
I sit here in my bedroom, looking out over the dimming street, watching the sun settle behind the rooftops of my residential neighborhood.
And I think.

Love, real love, uncontaminated love, does not require emotions. It is an act of the will.
So angels, since they have will--which is directed toward the ultimate good--can love.
Real love from the will is the desire for someone else's good.
My guardian angel desires my salvation, which is the highest good that someone can desire me to obtain.
So my guardian angel truly loves me.

It's comforting to know that I have a special spiritual friend dedicated to helping me obtain my salvation. And that, in carrying out the will of the Father, by dedicating himself to this task, he is assuming special responsibility for my soul. He loves me because the Father loves me, and his will is united to the Father's, yes. But it's amazing to think that, because his will is still other than the Father's, this created spirit loves me individually--not just generally as a part of mankind, but me myself, as one individual person in the history of the world.

If nothing else inspires me, I don't want to let my guardian angel down!

Friday, October 01, 2004

October 1st

Today is a beautiful feast day. And it happens to be the special feast day of my youngest, week-and-a-half-old neice!
I never quite understood why she was called the "Little Flower" until I saw the following quotation:

"Jesus set the book of nature before me and I saw that all the flowers he has created are lovely. The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. I realized that if every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness and there would be no wildflowers to make the meadows gay.

It is just the same in the world of souls - which is the garden of Jesus. He has created the great saints who are like the lilies and the roses, but he has also created much lesser saints and they must be content to be the daisies or the violets which rejoice his eyes whenever he glances down. Perfection consists in doing his will, in being that which he wants us to be.

Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be - and becoming that person." ~Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul