Friday, December 30, 2005

'Tis the Season... receive emails and cards from people I never hear from otherwise.

Thank God! I'm grateful we feel that special obligation during the Christmas season to "reconnect" with old friends who have fallen off our individually constructed glory trains.

The last I heard from one of my friends, she was married and expecting a child. This Christmas, after mouse-clicking on the most probable-looking Hungarian by-lines, I reached her holiday greeting, written in English:
"Marcel is one and a half year old, and I am expecting again."
This leads me to conclude that
1. Her first child was a little boy
2. She still knows how to communicate in English
3. It's been way too long since I was in touch with her

The other day, I settled into an antique chair with a pot of tea at my favorite coffee shop (after clocking out, of course!). I pulled out my address book to write some of my own Christmas cards. Wow--I couldn't get past "B" without a self-conscious feeling of guilt. When did it happen? I used to be the one to keep in touch with people. Letters were my main source of contact for several of my friends.

As I started writing one particular card, I wracked my brain, trying to remember when my last contact with this person was. I really had no idea where to start. And then I didn't know where to finish! I ended up digging in my purse for extra paper--the index card I found there was soon packed with extra verbage.

Sighing, I quickly scribbled holiday well-wishes on the next 4 cards, resistant to the idea of composing novels for each of my faraway friends. But it was sobering, realizing how much I could write... how remisce I have been in my correspondence with people in my life who have given me so much.

Which thoughts led me to the drafting of a New Years resolution. I have not yet perfected the actual statement, but it will have something to do with letter-writing and old friends.

Meanwhile, I have a few more Christmas cards to go....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Counting Pennies

Yep, it's that time of the semester again: the END of it.

...where inevitably, I end up sitting on my bed the night before my last exam, counting up all my loose change; then I go digging through every pocket of every article of clothing that I own in order to find more. This way, after my exam the following day, I can proceed to the bank with my Ziploc bag of checks, bills, and coins before I leave for home, plop it on the teller's counter, and declare with confidence, "I have [so many] dollars and [this much] cents to deposit today!"

I've figured out how many bills will be subtracted from my account without me here to replenish it.

I've exhausted every possibility of rebate and refund that I can think of.

Now it's time to take my test, and start my Christmas vacation!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

"Life is too short...

...not to celebrate birthdays."
That's what the napkins said at our large family birthday party last night.

Friday was Grandpa's 85th birthday. I called him on Thursday and got my birthday greetings in early.
"Oh, thank you , but you know," he told me, "we stopped counting birthdays after 55."

It didn't seem like it, though, at my Uncle Kevin and Aunt Kathleen's house last night! There were helium balloons wherever a flat surface stood empty. Food filled the kitchen table, drinks and snacks filled the breakfast bar, and everywhere, there were relatives: squeezing past one another in doorways, sidestepping around the affectionate golden retriever, carrying plates to and fro from the kitchen, chatting and laughing and teasing. Interestingly enough, while planning the desserts and setting out food, everyone kept saying that we were "not a big group." It was true. In comparison to most family gatherings, there were not too many present. Several people were not able to make it, for one reason or another. However, those who were there filled the house with conversation and laughter.
I met one cousin's fiance whom I've been waiting to meet for about a year, and two other cousins' girlfriends that I've heard about for what seems like forever.

Grandma and Grandpa sat on the sofa, happy to include in their conversations anyone who ventured into the living room. After dessert, Grandpa opened all of his cards and gifts. One family gave him (updated) framed pictures of each grandchild for their photo collection. As each one was displayed and passed around the room, Grandma got newly excited that the pictures were "theirs to keep."
"This is for us? We get to take this home? Oh, how nice!" she kept saying.
To which Grandpa replied at one point, "Well, that's the whole point of all this--to collect the loot!"
As she admired her granddaughter's picture, Grandma asked, "Now, did Grandma Tallon get one of these?"
After her Laura assured her--on a few separate occasions--that yes, her other grandmother had received one, Grandma asked yet again.
The eldest in that family, Michael, spoke up. "Now, now, Grandma. It's not a competition!"

Soon everything was opened and set aside. Aunt Kathleen told her eldest son to sign the card on the counter before Grandma and Grandpa left. Apparently, he had missed the opportunity beforehand. He's a recent college graduate, more recently real estate certified--complete with the business suit and briefcase--the kind of kid who looks like he's got it all together. He obediently grabbed the card he saw on the indicated counter and added his name to the bottom. His mother's sister was close to tears from laughing so hard as she returned to the living room and told the story. Of course, then we had to pass around the card, at the expense of the poor guy, who just looked on, grinning and shaking his head. For at the bottom of this particular card was scripted, "Love, Rich & Jim," and below that in a different pen, "Bobby."
I guess he didn't stop to wonder why it would make sense for him to sign this card instead of the one from his family--complete with all of his siblings' names on it.
"I just do what I'm told," he said, "Mom said 'sign the card,' so I signed the card!"
"At least you didn't write your name on top!" Uncle Richard ragged.

While we were having cake, Grandpa quieted everyone with his paternal declaration:
"Well, you can have all the food, you can have all the gifts, you can have all the decorations and all that ... but what means the most to me is looking around and seeing this beautiful gathering of all my people. Thank you. ...And there will be no further speeches."

A good time was had by all; everyone left between 10:30 and 11pm, and I went up to bed. I coughed, tossed, turned, repositioned, and popped cough drops for about an hour. Then Aunt Kathleen brought in a vaporizer. It had a miraculous effect: almost as soon as she plugged it in, I stopped coughing and got a good night's sleep!

When I awoke and looked out the window, I did a double-take: 3 inches of snow covered the ground, and more was falling. Although it was beautiful, I was worried about my drive home.

A firm grip on the wheel, a good deal of prayer, and some windshield washer fluid found me safe in Stamford for the 10am Mass.

What's that?

Finals this week?

...Oh, yeah!

But it was worth it.

"Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles in the cold."
~ Andre Maurois

Sunday, November 27, 2005

If you cook it ...

My personal continuation of the weekend so adroitly coordinated by Nutmeg and her DH....

As it turns out, I gradually became aware of a large and larger gathering of friends and friends of friends from That--College's Beloved Class of '02. Where? Well, ...where else? Washington D.C.--the capitol of reunions, the bastion of traditions, the city of national pride, where the free and brave congregate.

Even if they're from Canada.


In their cars and on the planes, they came to celebrate a Saturday Thanksgiving together. So I was not going to be absent.

I landed in Newark around 3:30pm (this particular airport is in the state of New Joy-zeh) and promptly rented a car to transport my body a few states away, to Virginia. the home of a beautiful little Irish lady, who happened to be spending her Thanksgiving with the rest of her daughter's family in Ojai, California. (Two of her grandchildren hosted the rest of us in this, her Virginia home).

By the time I sorted my way through traffic and road-signs hidden by the darkness, it was after 9pm. But I was received with open arms by dear friends both seen and unseen these past 3 years. Represented: Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Kansas, Washington, California, South Dakota, Alabama, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Connecticut, Washington D.C., British Columbia and Ontario ... ex-couples having beers together, meeting new significant others ... students and professionals rehashing old arguments surrounding life and its meaning ... the undistinguishable mix of alumni with honorary class members ... current friends of old friends ... definitely an evening worthy of attendance.

After a mandatory farewell breakfast at the local "Pete's" substitute of Vienna, Virginia, it was on the road again! We dropped my car off at Baltimore's airport and I joined the Stamford sisters to continue the journey up to Connecticut. We chose to drive the round-about 6-hour route through Pennsylvania, rather than spend 8 hours on the 4-hour route through NYC. It worked out splendidly. I arrived home to my apartment shortly after 6:30pm, ready for the 2 and 1/2 weeks of school ahead!

Sore from the soccer game, sick from aireborne pathogens on the airplane, attacking my helpless Echinacea-Goldenseal deprived self.

Shower ...

tea ...

goldenseal ...


Monday, November 21, 2005

"Family" Holidays

"Have you decided yet where you'll be for Thanksgiving?" my mother asks, three days before the holiday. Ah, yes; she's learning my style. One advantage (disadvantage?) of being single is that plans can shift an infinite number of times, depending on which direction the traffic is moving, or who I meet at Mass that morning, or what line I'm in at the grocery store. I don't really need to decide what I'm doing, since no one will be disappointed with wherever I end up. :)

I know for sure I'll be spending the night in Stamford tomorrow night, with "the girls." We'll actually be able to hang out, instead of spending hours sitting silently at their kitchen table, each of us typing away on a computer or reading a book or grading papers.
"So I'm thinking maybe I'll just pack for the whole week and weekend," I tell Mom. "They have an air mattress. I might as well take advantage of several days' vacation."
Why come back to my lonely apartment when I have these great friends just 30 miles away?

However, a unique family longing comes with every holiday season. As a college freshman, I only started feeling homesick when I was helping to set the tables for our campus-wide Thanksgiving dinner. There's something attractive about the prospect of living close to my family again. Something very exciting about the possibility of actually helping to plan the holiday schedule ... maybe someday hosting everyone in my own home.

It's interesting how we "create" some sort of family wherever we go. It's as automatic as squinting when it's bright outside. That's why there's this choosiness when it comes to deciding what to do for the holidays. First choice is the familiar, second choice is the next most familiar. Indecision comes when two different second choice-types of "familiar" are both available.

At least Christmas break is only 3 weeks away... :)

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I've been needing a hair trim since July. That means my last trim was not in July. My last trim was in May, right before the Remstads' wedding.

Finally, I set aside some time this past Saturday. Thaisa sits me in her kitchen, turns on Seldom Scene, and asks me the million-dollar question:
"How much to you want taken off?"

"Ummm," I run my fingers slowly down its impressive length. I haven't had it this long since sophomore year of college. "As much as necessary to make it not-yucky again. See how it frays down here?"

"Ok, 2 inches? 3 inches?"

"Let's make it 3!" I say it enthusiastically, with mock courage.

She arranges the top layer of extra hair on top of my head, and soon I feel strips of my lower layer being separated out, followed by the crisp: shwick! of the scissors.

"Ummm ...?" I whine.

"Don't hate me...!" she cries back in a whisper.

"I don't hate you. I trust you," I assure her, reminding myself of all the haircuts this woman was responsible for at That Anonymous College. "Thank you so much for doing this. ...How's it looking?"

"Well, ..." she pauses. "Um. It really needed to be trimmed."

"Yeah. Ok. It's pretty bad, huh? How embarrassing."

"Oh, don't worry. Do you remember when the 'bob' was in? ...just kidding!!"

I chuckle with relief.

Then it's all finished. I can tell by Thaisa's face that it looks really different. She is anxiously waiting for my reaction.
I put my hand up to my head, and thread my fingers from my forehead to my neck.Good sign: I can still fit my hair behind my ears. I go look in the bathroom mirror. The layers are clean and defined. I take a shower; it takes me less than 10 minutes. I dry my hair; less than 5. I tell Thaisa that maybe I want to keep it this length. She breathes a sigh of relief.

I go out with classmates.

"Did you donate it?" one asks.

It's a trim, people. It's still a trim.

Andrew - Gems

Me: Andrew, what would you like to do now? We can read part of one of your chapter books, listen to music, go outside and play, or work on math homework.
Andrew: Let's do some stretches.
Me: Really? You want to do your stretches with me?
Andrew: Yes. I would like to do some stretches.
Me: Wow. I didn't even give that as an option. Let's do it! Would you like to put on some music? Stretches on the bed or on the floor?
Andrew: [pressing 'Play' on his CD player] On my bed.
Me: Great. [lifting his 60lbs out of his power chair]
Andrew: [looking up at me as I carry him the few feet to his bed] Because you're learning how to be a physical therapist. That's why we have to do my stretches. Because ... that's why you're going to be a physical therapist.

- . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . -

The scene is the bathroom, with Andrew laughing hysterically, lying on his back while I dry him off after a shower and get him into his pajamas.

Me: What is so funny?
Andrew: [laughs even harder]
Me: Ok, Andrew. You're really being silly tonight. Hang on, don't move. Let me grab your toothbrush.
Andrew: [still laughing, stops to listen to the Disney CD playing in his bedroom next door. Starts giggling again as I bend over him with his toothbrush]
Me: Ok, no choking allowed. Got it?
Andrew: [attempts to calm down, then laughs a few short bursts] That's what Mrs. P always used to say. No choking allowed.
Me: You ready? [inserting the toothbrush into his mouth] Well, she's right. Choking would be ugly. ...
Andrew: [words muffled by the toothbrush being maneuvered around his mouth] You...are...suh....a swee-hah.
Me: Excuse me? Where did you hear that one?
Andrew just smiles sweetly ...

- . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . - . -

Andrew: What are you doing this weekend?
Me: This weekend, I will be doing what I do every weekend: STUDYING. Sound like fun?
Andrew: Are you going to study how to be a physical therapist?
Me: Yes, I am!
Andrew: That's good.


Found this in a "break" between projects this evening:

You know you're a grad student when...

you can identify universities by their internet domains.
you are constantly looking for a thesis in novels.
you have difficulty reading anything that doesn't have footnotes.
the concept of free time scares you.
you consider caffeine to be a major food group.
you've ever brought books with you on vacation and actually studied.
Saturday nights spent studying no longer seem weird.
you've ever travelled across two state lines specifically to go to a library.
you appreciate the fact that you get to choose which twenty hours out of the day you have to work.
you can read course books and cook at the same time.
you schedule events for academic vacations so your friends can come.
you hope it snows during spring break so you can get more studying in.
you find taking notes in a park relaxing.
you find yourself citing sources in conversation.
you've ever sent a personal letter with footnotes.
you can analyze the significance of appliances you cannot operate.
your office is better decorated than your apartment.
you are startled to meet people who neither need nor want to read.
you have ever brought a scholarly article to a bar.
you rate coffee shops by the availability of outlets for your laptop.
everything reminds you of something in your discipline.
you have ever discussed academic matters at a sporting event.
you have ever spent more than $50 on photocopying while researching a single paper.
there is a study booth in the library that you consider "yours."
you can tell the time of day by looking at the traffic flow at the library.
you look forward to summers because you're more productive without the distraction of classes.
you regard ibuprofen as a vitamin.
you consider all papers to be works in progress.
professors don't really care when you turn in work anymore.
you find the bibliographies of books more interesting than the actual text.
you have given up trying to keep your books organized and are now just trying to keep them all in the same general area.
you have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.
you find yourself explaining to children that you are in "20th grade".
you start refering to stories like "Snow White et al."
you often wonder how long you can live on pasta without getting scurvy.
you look forward to taking some time off to do laundry.
you have more photocopy cards than credit cards.
you wonder if APA style allows you to cite talking to yourself as "personal communication".

plus one of my own ...
you find yourself looking for a space in your planner to scribble in "get the oil changed"

Friday, November 18, 2005

Juice, anyone?

Andrew (9 year-old): Have you ever been to Lucky's?

Me: No, I haven't.

Ellen (5 year-old): It's a restaurant. He's talking about a restaurant.

Andrew: It's soooo great. They have juice-boxes.

Me: Really.

Ellen: Yeah, you put in money, and they play music.

... {smile} ...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


My friend Janel is giving me a ride home.

We're stopped at a red light, chatting away. It's 10:15pm, and we've commenced studying for the evening before a big exam. There's a bit of mist in the air, and water on the pavement.

Silence on the road. No cross-traffic, even though the green light seems to be looking for something to pass underneath it. Finally, I see the light begin to change from green -- yellow -- red. We should get our green light here in a few seconds. ... I'll be home in bed soon ...


Rear-ended. What the...?

"No way," Janel says.

I immediately get out of the car.

"I'm so sorry, I slid. Because of the wet. It's slippery. I slid."

I just kind of look at the woman. Slid? I ride my bike on this road and I know for a fact that we are standing on an incline. An uphill incline, that is. Because I know that it really stinks to ride up to a red light at this point in the journey.

But whatever. I let Janel handle things,'s her car, right?

I get home and range my neck through all possible motions, do a few chin tucks and rotational stretches, and pray that I can last until Christmas break when Dr. Kania can make sure I'm not mal-aligned. So far, minimal to no pain.

I tell my roommate this evening that if she needs to practice her Upper Quarter Screen technique, I'll be happy to act as "patient." Maybe she can see if anything's busted out of line. She gets all excited about it. Well, of course; I still get excited when people offer to have me look at them. In fact, this Saturday I will be getting my hair trimmed by Thaisa* in return for a Lower Quarter Screen--she wants me to check out her leg. (my hair is out of control...)

Unfortunately, I'm not good with the phone-consults. Someday, maybe.

*Name has been modified from its original version to fit your screen

Sunday, November 13, 2005

surfing ... random finds

hmmm ...

Recollection of a story told me by my clinical advisor: a colleague of hers who did "Doctors without Borders" and was stationed by himself somewhere in Africa.

...walked outside his hut on the first morning, and stared for a full minute at the line of people extending from his "doorstep" to the horizon, as far as he could see.

"They had nothing. Nothing like the equipment we have in our labs. But they made do. They figured it out. 'We're so stupid in this country,' he told me. They don't depend on what we depend on." day, as he was working, looked up and gazed down the line--and saw the face of Christ, about a half a mile away. Jumped up and started running ... and kept running for a while, down the line.

Finally returned to his hut to continue the day's work.

Now a PT at a VA hospital down in Florida, he does a lot of great work, including prosthetic rehab; she wants me to consider doing a clinical rotation under him....

And counting...

Only two more major written exams,
one more clinical exam,
one more major classroom presentation,
one more independent online presentation,
one more group online presentation,
one more research proposal due-date,

...and only four weeks left to get in shape for skiing in Colorado! Aaaack!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Not a big deal, ...

Tony and I have had several conversations about "those over-analytical TAC girls." Kinda like this.

I think maybe it just applies to girls in general.

Or maybe it's just me.

Gotta go write an email.
Thanks, Mom.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


It's that time of the year again. I'm getting a cold. But I'm not the only one. Ruth is getting one, as well. It's part of what's keeping her from going with me to Boston this weekend. But nothing will keep me from Boston-in-the-Fall this year! Even Greg is getting a cold. (Greg is the one I'm going to see in Boston...)

On the phone last night with Mom...

Mom: Are you taking Goldenseal?

Me: Um, no. I only have Echinacea-Goldenseal.
(last year we established the fact that this was a bad thing for an already-present cold)

Mom: I gave you a whole bottle of Goldenseal when you left last time!

Me: Oh, it must be in my purse in the car, ...

Mom: Well, get it.

Me: I'm in my pajamas!
(note that it is 7:30pm--which means 5:30pm in Colorado, making my attire seem even more incongruent)

Mom: Well, put your jacket on and some sneakers on and go out to the car. You have to take care of the cold now, while it's still early. Don't wait.

Me: I'm drinking orange juice ... (as I pull on my poncho and slide into my clogs)

Mom: Just go out there and get it!

Me: ok, ok. ...

...Oops, not here. Wrong purse. Must be in my other purse, back in the house. ...

Mom: Oh, geez.

Me: It's fine. I'll get it now.

...Oh. No, this is another bottle of Echinacea-Goldenseal.

Mom: But I know I gave it to you!

Me: Maybe you gave me Echinacea-Goldenseal.

Mom: No, it was Goldenseal. ...That's ok, I'll just send you another bottle.

Me: No! Don't do that! I'll just buy a bottle here.

Mom: But it's expensive.

Me: That's fine. I can buy it.

Mom: How about I just send it to you?

Me: Mom, by the time you send it, I'll be either all better, or dead. Let me just go to the store and get some.

Mom: Ok, but buy a little bottle, and then I'll send you out a big bottle.

Me: GoodNESS.

Mom: Ok, please, just let me do this. Ok, please?

Me: Ok, that's fine. But I can just buy it here, you know.

Mom: Go ahead; buy a little bottle. That will get you through until the big bottle I'm sending arrives. I'll send it in the morning. Ok?

Me: Ok. Thanks.


Marisa (classmate): Good morning! I brought you something.
...rummaging in backpack ... here.
(Proceeds to pull out a Goldenseal bottle, which sounds like it has about 5 capsules left.)

Me: For me?

Marisa: Yeah, I thought you might want to take it so you aren't miserable this weekend.
(Marisa is going with me to Boston)

Me: Wow, thanks! (I then relate my conversation from the previous evening)

Marisa: Great! Well, here's your little bottle.


Me: Hi! Thanks so much for meeting this late to work on the project. I just got done with work.

Hope: No problem! Can I get you anything? Tea? Food?

Me: No, thanks. Maybe just some water.

Hope: Ok. ...Oh, and here's something else for you. (she hands me a sandwich baggy full of greenish-brown capsules.) It's Goldenseal, in case you don't have any. I just bought a huge bottle, so I thought I'd share the wealth.

Me: Wow ...thanks a lot, Hope. ...


I think I'm set as far as Goldenseal goes.

Friday, October 28, 2005


1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

"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."

This is an excerpt from the writings of St. Therese of Liseaux, which I actually ran across again last weekend. ...and again now. Ok, God, thanks for the reminder!!

Tag! You're all "it":

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Inspiration

One of the sisters this past weekend told the following story, which I have remembered several times since (and it's only been a few days!). It has really been a source of comfort and hope for me.

A legend is told of the period when St. Albert the Great was entered the Dominican Order and was completing his studies. The story serves to bring out both the greatness of Albert's science and his love for Our Lady. Albert, it is related, had not worn the white habit for long when it became plain to him that he was no match for the mental wizards with whom he was studying. Anything concrete, which he could take apart and study, he could understand, but the abstract sciences were too much for him.

He was too embarrassed to go to the abbot to tell him of his difficulties. He decided to run away from it all; planning a quiet departure, he carefully laid a ladder against the wall and climbed up. At the top of the wall, Our Lady appeared to him.
"Albert, where are you going?" she asked.
He explained the situation, telling her that he could never succeed in the Order of Preachers, and that he had to leave.
She reproached him gently for his forgetfulness of her: "I am your mother. Why didn't you ask me for help?"

Then she gave him the gift of science he so much desired, and disappeared. Whatever the truth behind the legend--and it has survived, almost unchanged, through the many years--it is equally certain that Albert was a devout client of Our Lady and a master scientist.

I asked Our Lady for help today.

Monday, October 24, 2005


This coming weekend: D.C. - bound!

Following weekend: Boston in the "fall"!

Have laptop.*
Will travel.

*(and books, and binders, and journal articles, and research data, ...)

Retreat ...

Thank you for the prayers, those who knew.

This weekend was a good opportunity to "leave town" to collect myself and re-present myself to Christ. Adoration, confession, the rosary, sharing meals with religious sisters, ... those parts were good. Parts of it were a little strange. Going with a sensible, like-minded friend somehow made the slightly irritating aspects of the weekend more tolerable.

After the retreat, Thaisa* and I hung out with alumni and friends in the area; I actually got some schoolwork done, since I was conscientiously grabbing every little segment of time that I could on either side of the retreat. But there was also time for relaxing comradery and for catching up on everyone's lives.

Today, Monday, we travelled from 5am until 1:30pm to get home. As we flew, so did the time. We had never talked in great depth before, but there has always been (as far as I know) a mutual positive regard and friendliness between us. Even though we went to the same small college, graduated in the same class, and shared most of the same friends, we still did not really know one another. From the waiting line at the check-in counter at Detroit, all the way to the last train connection in Connecticut, it was as though we caught each other up on our personal stories. That sounds kind of heavy; in a way it was. I talked about some things that I have not thought about (intentionally!) for a long time. So did she. We each knew bits and pieces of each other's stories--it was fun to fill in some blanks and laugh at some misconceptions! We shared separate memories of people that we've both known, and momentous experiences that helped form who we are. The conversations themselves were not heavy. I laughed so much. I was completely unaware of anyone else around us throughout our entire trip. Periodically, one or the other of us would apologize for talking so much. I looked forward to each leg of our trip as the day went on, because it meant more story-telling and laughter.

It's as though I acquired another sister today.

*Name has been modified from its original version to fit your screen

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wait. Doesn't that mean ... ?

One of my classmates IM'd me this evening about a meeting we scheduled with one of our professors tomorrow. Of course, the chatting continued in the typical disconnected way of IM-ing into other subject areas, such as our research topics for Thursday, the lab coats we need for our clinical rotations tomorrow morning, and chicken dinners needing the neighbors' freezer. (ok, what?)

Then she told me she ran 3 miles today (it was a gorgeous day for it, I noticed, as I was driving down to work this afternoon), ending with, "I knew you would be proud of me."

Naturally, I expressed how glad I was for her, with a twinge of jealousy and a firm resolution not to press snooze in the morning when my "early run" alarm sounds.

"You're such a great running buddy," she continued. "I wish the weather was getting warmer and not colder, though."

Wait a minute. To be a great running buddy, first one has to run in a semi-consistent way. Sad to say, it has been about 2 weeks since my last run, and I don't know when I last ran consistently, nevermind semi-consistently!
The next requirement (I thought) for being a great running buddy was running with a buddy - particularly, the buddy who is making comment on my greatness. Hmmm. Janel and I ran together last in April. And yes, it was great. Spring fever time in New England, you know... But still, we've only been able to coordinate our schedules like that about 3 times.
Lastly, greatness. Well, we won't even go there.

Inspiration to live up to my apparent reputation of "great running buddy."

Yikes. bedtime, anyone?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


The weather looked a little iffy, so instead of going to the big Columbus Day parade on 5th Avenue, we took the kids to the Museum of Modern Art.

We parked about 5 blocks away (The MoMA is between 5th and 6th avenue, on 53rd, so we wanted to avoid the parade crowds). Kris (mom) confidently led the way, clutching the hand of 5 year-old Ellen jumping up and down beside her, while carrying on a conversation about NYC architecture with her 10 year-old, Henry. I followed with 9 year-old Andrew, pushing his manual wheelchair. What a challenge! Kris laughed as I discovered the "joys" of getting that vehicle around. Even with the "ramped" sidewalks on the far ends of the crosswalks, I had to tip the chair back to clear the 1-inch edges. I even had to tip it back for some of the sidewalk cracks, they were so big! Then we hit construction, where the walkway was carefully detoured off a curb into the street. At this point, Kris took over driving, and I grabbed Ellen's hand. Kris was a sight to behold--quite the expert with maneuvering (she's been doing it for 9 years!)--while chatting away with her children, pointing out all the interesting things to notice on the streets of the city.

The museum itself was not my favorite experience. There were the proverbial "modern art" circles and triangles "depicting origin and creation." But there was also Van Gogh's Starry Night, and it was fun to see some pointalism. Kris, Henry, and Ellen found Water Lilies, but Andrew and I never got there; we were very busy finding the works that displayed a headphone symbol next to them, so that Andrew could key it into his handheld listening device and hear the explanations. We saw several Picasso's, since they had the most entertaining kids' explanations, making him "find" things hidden in the paintings.

After lunch, Henry and I wandered around on the Architecture and Design floor, then rested in the sculpture garden, where he turned to me and said, "I think everything has art in it." That made for an interesting exchange. I couldn't help but wonder if that is what a child of 10 is forced to conclude when he is shown circles and triangles on canvas, blocks of stone with obscure titles, and stick figurines inside frames of buildings, and told that they are "art."

My worries about his plastic young mind were eased when we went inside. His favorite thing in the museum turned out to be an old airport schedule on the wall that "flipped" successive tiles to change the information display. He was fascinated when I taught him how to read the military time, and wanted to guess the country of each destination (Milan, Innsbruck, Bordeaux,...). We watched it flip once, then waited another 10 minutes to see if it would do it again, before meeting up with the rest of the family! (it didn't)

No traffic on the way home; the whole day went smoothly. It was a fun time to just be with Kris and the kids, without having to make sure everyone's homework was done or that all the schedules were coordinated.

And the best part is, I don't have school again until Wednesday!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why I get out of bed

Every morning I wake up and think:

"This day, two years from now, I will have my doctorate in physical therapy."

Sometimes I add,
"...and I will be living in Colorado."

That last thought is generally reserved for the really tough mornings!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cutting Edge

We're studying rehabilitation of patients immediately after amputation....including prosthetic prescription and fitting, and gait training. Amazing stuff. I found this article which talks about the number of military needing amputation due to our current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Interesting how the article downplays the statistical shift of fewer deaths and increased amputations. It likes to focus on the "increased amputations" part alone, as if the government is conspiring to chop up her servicemen and then hide them from the public. Hello!!! Why do you think there's a lower mortality rate, people? Instead of dying, injured people are surviving--but they still need specialized care from their injuries. Amputation is traumatic, yes, but it's not death!

Anyway, apparently the Dept. of VA is paying for research, and coming up with tons of new prosthetic techonology. It's an exciting time to be working in that area.

Instead of looking at outpatient clinics for my orthopedics rotation next summer, I'm starting to look at VA hospital affiliations. I think I'd learn so much more; I would not get bored! Unfortunately, even with my cross-country networking, the "best ones" are in places where I know no one!

For example:
"You would love the PT down at the VA hospital in Florida," Sal tells me. "He's been practicing for over 35 years, and he's seen everything. He participated in Doctors without Boundaries, ...." and then she proceeded to tell me about one of his particular experiences in the backcountry of Africa.

Florida, though. I don't know anyone in Florida.

(Don't worry, Mom. I'm meeting with Mike next week to discuss the Centennial State preference.)

Ahhh, at least I know already where I want to live....

Thursday, September 29, 2005


No, I still haven't found my camera. But this was one of the last photos I downloaded from it.
A friend of mine, Greg, told me that since this child's birth, "Grace" has become his favorite name.
This child's parents have told me how difficult it is for them to find a physical therapist who has experience with children with Down Syndrome; these days, not many of them survive the womb.
She's a handful when she decides to be, but she gives the best hugs, and her smiles are genuine and joyful.
I have had the privilege of babysitting her and her 3 siblings almost every Saturday night now for about a year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


A few of my classmates informed me today of my erroneous opinion that we are taking 17 credits this semester.

Oh, no. Not 17. For if the number was 17, it might be reasonable--although still challenging, still difficult when trying to maintain a "life."

No, we are taking 21 credits this semester. 21!! Yes, I double-checked, even after each credit was counted out loud to me this afternoon. I needed to see for myself.

It's actually kind of a relief. I was starting to get concerned by the fact that I was already stressing out during the third week of class. I was wondering if I was becoming a wimp, if I was having an honest-to-goodnes nervous breakdown, or if I was perhaps just getting too old for school.

Oh, no. Well, perhaps. But it might actually be because I'm taking 21 course credits this semester, with no one class being any "cushier" than the rest.

Combine that with a Type A perfectionist neurosis, and it's still worse than some.

Heck, some of my classmates were complaining that because of our exam today, they were forced to miss watching "House" last night.
My response: "You watch TV?"

...maybe I'm still a spaz.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Content with Imperfection?

The weekend was great, as Katie and Elizabeth surprised us by coming up to visit with Vic. We all cooked out at Frank and Sharon's house Saturday night--probably the last cook-out of the season for all of us! It was good times, great company. And I think Sharon especially enjoyed meeting all the people behind all the names she knew so well!

In other news, my new discovery is that I will be much more functional if I can just accept that I cannot put my "all" into everything I do this semester. For example, I am not expecting an "A" on my first exam Wednesday. As usual, I will aim for it, but because of my inability to appropriate sufficient study time, I will not expect it.

Meanwhile, my re-vamped schedule allows me a certain amount of prayer, sleep, exercise and recreation aside from academics and work. The idea is that in this schedule of moderation, I will find peace. Hopefully my prefectionist nature won't disturb the schedule (or the peace!).

My new personal motto, credit St. Augustine:
"Tranquillitas ordinis."

Friday, September 23, 2005



Walking down the highschool-turned-university hallway, I expired it slowly and labriously after my last class of the week.

"Wow. What's wrong?" my friend Hope asked. I'm typically hyper, upbeat, even borderline abnoxious in my excitement for the weekend.

"Oh, you know," I answered. "Just the feeling that it's Friday, but there's so much I have to get done this weekend."

So much to do...but great things are happening this weekend:
Vic's coming up, and Nick's coming down!
I hope to see them sometime tomorrow; meanwhile, Ruth and Becky will be the primary hostesses for our out-of-town visitors. It will be so good to hang out with some of the old gang again, so spontaneously.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Every day you may make progress.
Every step may be fruitful.
Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.
You know you will never get to the end of the journey.
But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.

~Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, September 17, 2005


This is my new nick-name.

I used to not know what it was. Now I hear it all too often.

LoJack is a one of those technological wonders by which law enforcement can locate a stolen car just by pressing a button.

Providentially, I always make the sort of friends that look out for me when I forget to look out for myself. Particularly, I forget to look out for things that belong to myself. Incidentally--and not unrelated to the subject--Saint Anthony has become my favorite saint. He's one of the friends I have looking out for me. Everywhere I am--at home in Colorado, at school in Connecticut, with friends anywhere else, even when I was in Kentucky this summer--God sends me people to compensate for my airheaded tendencies.

I used to leave my college books in random places; because of where I went to college, I would always find them in the exact same random places, even if it was a few weeks later.

While backpacking in Europe, a quick decision was made that Alissa would be the keeper of all important documents--after I lost two strips of 10 subway tickets in Paris!

At least once a day, I walk into a classroom and have a moment of confusion, followed by slight apprehension. Then I turn around and see one of my friends swinging my [insert here: Nalgene bottle/power cord/lunch sack/planner/car keys] out in front of her: "LoJack!"

Or after our last class, I'll pack up my things, start walking down the hallway, and suddenly stop to ask out loud, "Where are my car keys?" I then proceed to shake and listen to each pocket attached to my person, be it my purse, backpack, jeans, or what have you. And I hear it again from my chuckling friends: "LoJack!"

Sharon has run out of her house before with a bag of my belongings that I passed on my way out the door.

Yesterday, I called my friend Hope (she was in the phone book) from my workplace's phone, in order to get Janel's number. When I finally got Janel on the phone, she asked, "How... are you calling me?"
"Oh, good!" I replied. "I was hoping I left it in your car and not at the auto shop."
"Yeah, I saw it under the passenger seat, and immediately knew whose it was. Who else leaves her cell phone behind?"

After meetings with Fr. Check, he usually has to remind me to grab my purse from under my chair.
This afternoon, I arrived a half-hour late to meet with him--because even though I keep a calendar, I didn't look at it today. Then I left my car keys in his office. He had to leave the confessional to let me back into the rectory!

The other day, Tony was musing on the difference between men and women, and one reason they were made for each other. His theory had to do with men generally seeing the big picture, while women notice the important details. (I had just reminded him that he had to make a lefthand turn "here" to get back to his house.) Ahh, he will also come to know me...!

People who know me are not surprised when I say I lost something. I don't expect sympathy anymore. All I expect now is some version of eye-rolling or head-shaking in mock disbelief.

And then I wait for it: "LoJack!"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


This article is an assignment for class on Thursday, when we start talking about cultural issues in PT practice.
It's light reading.
Do you get the message?
Give me a short reaction, if you have a moment.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sunshine on the Sound

The Maria Goretti Society Family picnic was a hit on Sunday. Everyone had a marvelous time. I had plenty of help getting all the supplies to the convent's boathouse before the first family arrived; then the beautiful weather, the boats, foot paths, and large supply of food took care of entertainment!

Becky and Tony both left early to prepare for school this coming week, but Tony took Teresa's and my car keys with him by mistake. Since Tony had also been in an overturned canoe that afternoon, his waterlogged cell phone was unresponsive. None of us knew Becky's by heart, and Ruth was out of town. My phone was with my car keys, so we tried calling that a few times, but they must not have heard it.
Teresa and I both made use of some extra prayer time in the convent's chapel long after everyone left, before Tony was located and directed back to rescue us!

Fr. Check joked that we could just stay and be the next two "automatic" vocations. The idea was not too unappealing, actually!

But it was back to school Monday, for the first full week of class!

Happy Birthday to my younger brother-in-law, Bean's LH! =]
Blessings on his endeavors, and the future of his family.

And while we're on the subject, let me just say that my family has been so blest with the brothers-in-law I've acquired thus far. I've come to appreciate the closeness of my family; it's beautiful, but bizarre to many an "outsider." The personalities that have emerged among my siblings are entertaining, as well as exasperating. But our whole family is bound together by Faith and love. Both of my brothers-in-law settled into our crazy family dynamic without so much as a ripple. From what I have seen, there has not been any hesitancy to make our family their own. Even with all of the family's quirkiness, they readily accepted everyone with love, as part of their new extended family.

May we be so blest with the rest of our -in-laws in the years to come!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fog's rollin' in off the East River bank

Like a shroud it covers Bleeker Street

I always hear people mention "The Village" as if it is an upscale kind of place--the place to go, the place to be. In the real estate ads, apartments in "The Village" are outrageously expensive. Anyone who lives there has to have quite a bit of money.

Last night, I went there with some friends. Three friends from my class, to be precise: last year, the four of us gradually solidified into a unified study group; we all happen to be a few years older than the other girls in our class. Our common attitude and point in life is a bit less "social/party," and a little more "professional/time to settle down." One of these girls is the first person I met from my class; she's actually been dating one of my college friends' brothers for about 4 years now!
We had a fantastic dinner at a place called Agave, which I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in gourmet Mexican food.

The girls dutifully showed me the point of the Empire State Building against the night sky. Then we walked aroung "The Village."

Fills the alleys where men sleep
Hides the shepherd from the sheep

I followed them up and down sidewalks, passing every kind of bar, restaurant, and cafe you can imagine. There were homeless men sitting in many doorways. Piles of trash lined the curbs. Apartment windows above were open and uncurtained. Dirt from the sidewalk cracks found its way onto my sandaled feet. I discreetly held my breath for every cigarette I passed, and soon found myself gasping for air that tasted only slightly cleaner.

Voices leaking from a sad cafe

Cars squeezed down narrow alleyways; taxis and buses never stopped honking. There was outdoor seating at many of the eating establishments; what view were these people enjoying?

"This certainly doesn't look anything like luxurious living to me!" I commented, only slightly concerned that I was talking to New Yorkers.
"Oh, but there's a park up here, and it's really nice. NYU is a few blocks that way, " came the reply.
"In the park there are chess boards, and people get possessive about the chess board that they use all the time--it becomes their chessboard," came the next explanation.

Smiling faces try to understand
I saw a shadow touch a shadow's hand
We finally entered a small, comfortable restaurant for some champagne. At this point I was completely disillusioned--and I realized fully that I am not a "city person." My innards turned over and I felt a little of what Meg felt in Little Women at Annie Moffat's coming out party. I glanced at my smiling friends' little black outfits, perfect make-up and styled hair. My white-and-pink sundress suddenly felt like "country linen," but I smiled as I tossed my head back and felt my soft, unstyled mane slide back down over my shoulders. I knew I did not understand how people could so carelessly enjoy themselves in such a crowded, polluted, trendy neighborhood--a neighborhood that also "houses" people suffering from extreme poverty in its doorways. But unlike Meg from Little Women, I did not want to understand. And I started to feel a dangerous pride in my country-like simplicity.

A poet reads his crooked rhyme
Holy, holy is his sacrament
Thirty dollars pays your rent
The rest of the evening, I watched people, determined to give them the benefit of the doubt. They must have some humanity. There's a smile. A genuine smile? Anyway, it's a smile.
While we waited on a corner for my friend's husband to pick us up, a man came over and with a lovely English accent, asked if we could tell him where The Village was.
"You're in it, dude," was my friend's answer.
"Am I really?" he said, in a tone of disbelief. I knew how he felt.
"Yeah. This is it," she said. "Where do you need to go?"
"Um, I'm not sure. A bar of some sort. I guess I assumed I would know when I got there," he said, a little absently.
"So, you don't know. [pause] You don't know anything?" my friend couldn't believe it. I started to feel bad for the guy. She was being a little harsh; the poor man was lost, for goodness' sake!
"I suppose you're right to put it like that," he laughed a little nervously. "Um, ...Greenwich Street?"
"Greenwich Street or Greenwich Avenue?" she asked.
"Greenwich Street, I think."
"I don't know of a Greenwich Street, only Greenwich Avenue." Gee whiz, girl! You grew up here! Couldn't you have handled it without the "Street" detail?
"Ok, where is Greenwich Avenue?"
"Well, where do you need to be on Greenwich Ave?" she said.
He thought for a few seconds, then pulled a street name from the back porch of his memory.
She directed him 5 blocks east of our corner.
"Five blocks in that direction?" he asked.
"Yes!" she answered, just a tad too impatiently.
As he walked away, I wondered out loud where he was from.
"He's from somewhere," she said. I pointed out to her then that she was rather abrupt with the gentleman, and was contributing to the reason why people think New Yorkers are nasty.
"You're right," she admitted. "I was a bit rough on him, I guess. But how can you not even know where you're going?"
I heard a church bell softly chime
In a melody sustainin'
On our way out of The Village, we passed Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, tightly wedged into a row of apartments and shops. I crossed myself and said a prayer.
It's a long road to Caanan

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What a Day and Ahhh

Premise: I could have sworn that today was a holy day of obligation.

Mass is at 7:30 instead of the usual 8am down the street on holy days. I have class at 8:30am, so I usually can't make that Mass in the mornings. But this morning I arrived at 7:25, and immediately became skeptical of my assumption, as there were only 2 older men in the church. Sure enough, five minutes later, they started the rosary.
I stayed, deciding to honor Our Lady on her birthday with these gentle local parishioners. Then I jetted out before the First Reading in order to get to class--quick stop at home to pick up my forgotten folder-full-of-every-important-piece-of-paper and thermos of coffee!

In my twenty minute break conveniently wedged into a full day of class, I managed to get my TB skin test read, and the final line of my medical forms signed. Phew: I'm legal to work in the clinic again this year!

After class, I met with our graphic design representative to begin a brochure announcing a continuing education course given by one of my professors. Then a quick change of clothes, and I was off to work!
The 40-minute drive to Stamford actually gives me a break from thought--and today it was a chance to make a few phone calls for the Maria Goretti Society family picnic this Sunday!

I actually relaxed a bit when I got to work: today, Henry and Ellen were out in the driveway giving their parents' vehicle a car wash--with a very small sponge and a very big hose!
After haggling with Henry about the extent of service needed, I was able to secure a full-service wash for my own vehicle, while I wandered inside to find Andrew.
Andrew and I listened to music, read stories, did a few Math problems, and talked about Disney movies.
Putting dinner on the table, washing the dishes, giving showers, and disciplining sibling spats all flowed within the relaxed atmosphere of being in a home for the afternoon / evening. I really think this job is going to be the biggest blessing in my hectic semester!
When John (their dad) got home, Andrew and I were struggling through the last of his Math problems. He offered to take over, so I asked where Ellen and Henry were.
"Have they been angelic all afternoon?" he asked. "Because they're curled up in Ellen's bed, and Henry is reading to her--from the Bible!"
Wow! I told him he could have T.V. time if he helped her with her 30 minutes of reading, but ... (!!)

After giving them kisses on their "angelic" heads, I was able to catch the second half of Theology on Tap, invite a few more people to the picnic, discuss picnic logistics with Fr. Check, and touch base with my Italian "foster-family!"

On my 40-minute drive back home, I spoke to one sister, and during my latte-preparation at home, I spoke to another sister.
I then emailed my "continuing education" professor person to update her on brochure-layout status, emailed the graphic design people with the stuff they asked for, and am now about to start my class preparation work for tomorrow. (It's around 1:15am).

And yes, thanks to the aforementioned latte, even more will be accomplished before "bedtime!"

So begins the semester....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Much has happened...

First off, there's no place like HOME!!
...where I was able to spend about ten days, hiking and running on mountain trails, hanging out with family and friends, watching scenery rise up before me without effort, no matter where I was.

Shortly after I returned to Connecticut, the latest Marchetti family member was born!

Little Maria Philippa is a beautiful baby--even the nurses say how perfectly formed she is. Frank and Sharon were smiling when I arrived at the hospital, and haven't stopped yet! Praise God for the happy, healthy baby and mother.

Later on that same day, September 4th, I learned that yet another member of my own family is engaged. Best wishes to cousin Maria and her intended, Rich:

And now, of course, life moves on. Classes started today, without waiting for me to completely "gear up" for the challenge. So it's going to be full-speed ahead here pretty soon.

But my resolution remains to see "Boston in the Fall" this year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Recent Conversation

over the phone, with one of my "almost-sisters," Sharon:

Me: That's it! I'm giving up. I can't look in someone's direction without cursing the situation. This is the last time. The end. I've given up. There it is. Give up. Gone. I'll just let God take care of it from now on.

Sharon: {gasp} And live in peace and happiness that only He can give?!

Me: I know. Pretty scary. I don't know if I'll be able to handle it.

Sharon: It could get kind of rough, all that peace.

Me: I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for it. Maybe I'll succeed in ducking again!

Sharon: Be strong; you can handle it!

Me: Yeah, maybe for about three weeks, until I decide to mess it all up again.

Filed under "more light-hearted talks" regarding Vocational Discernment.

Language Speaks

I recently received an email from an old friend from the Philippines (who's been working in Saudi Arabia):

How are you doing?
In less than 2 months time, I’m going home. I’m so excited. Bye the way, Gemma (his wife) and I would be having a baby boy. We named him Elijah Jo Ameer.
How’s life going on? Your studies? Keep do in touch..
Regards and GOD Bless.

There are a few grammatical errors. Translating verb tenses can sometimes be tricky. I remember Filipino classmates having some difficulty distinguishing "will" from "would"--nevermind the combinations of "If it were to rain, I would wear a hat" versus "If it rains, I will wear a hat."

We named him Elijah Jo Ameer. This sentence is not an error. Gemma has not yet given birth to the child. But they named him.

It has an unassuming tone, but what it says is not a common assumption. Yes, of course, the child is alive. We know the gender. Why not give him a name now? It hit me as I read the email how we use our language. Maybe it's innocent. Maybe because knowledge of the baby's gender is still a relatively new thing, it's taken for granted that names are given at birth.

But it's something to think about.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A Tribute to Sisters

I have plenty of sisters. Four, to be exact. And I can call on any of them, at any time. They're available. Generally, though, I say different things to each.

I call my older sister when I want to chat, share or hear the latest news, enjoy the funniest "out of the mouths of babes" stories ever, or bounce off what I think about what she thinks about what Mom thinks about what Erin thinks about this or that going on. Although we're both past college days, both "adults," she'll always be my big sister. Her wisdom is beyond mine, but still fresh enough to reach my understanding. Somehow she manages to span the gap between husband-and-five-kids and single-going-through-grad-school with an ease and grace that makes it unremarkable. And her children are the most beautiful creatures on the planet.

I call my younger sister when I want to chat, hear what she's doing, hear what mutual friends are doing, hear her latest theory on [insert any fascinating topic here, ranging from deck spiders to fashion trends]. Or I call her when I need to vent and complain. This last reason has something to do with the 3-hour time difference, coupled with my frequent need for emotional support after dark. It has more to do, though, with my darling sister's talent for wholly and completely commiserating, while throwing any situation into blunt perspective with a wild toss of analogies and one-liners! When telling her my woes, I can count on my feelings being understood and upheld. I can also count on a clear frame of reference in which to insert my particular grumblings, just in case I want to see the whole picture.

My youngest sisters are not usually targets of my phonecalls, but they nevertheless will answer the phone at home. The older of the two would chat forever--she's full of hope and excitement and wide-eyed daydreams about everything. Her enthusiasm spans all that life has to offer, while still filtering through the details of existence to embrace the latest Nora Jones album. She trusts that the world will give her bouquets of roses, and at the same time, fears that the world will betray her trust. Her carefree matter-of-fact attitude masks her fragile sensitivity. I want to get lost in her smiling eyes and clapping hands; at the same time, I want to comb down her excitement and hide it from anyone who would see, in order to save her from any disappointment.

The youngest does not find her fulfillment in small talk. We attempt to exchange niceties, but we can't get far enough to float beyond them before her impatience bursts, "Um, do you want to talk to Mom?" However, when I come home, this one will join me in a run on our mountain trail, or stay up late and watch a "chick flick." She'll regard my petty frustrations with an aloof disinterest, but her out-of-context hugs are always free and warm. She makes outsiders compete for her regard, but she asks me wake her in the wee hours of the morning to say goodbye. Her family is the source of bossy orders directed at her as the youngest. But she misses anyone who's gone, and has suffered no loss of spinal column.

There must be so many unspoken memories we unknowingly share--memories that belong to us alone, because we're sisters. The Lord gave us all to the same family, and that family backdrop supported such different characters. But there's something that still holds us close to one another, no matter how different we are individually.

A mutual friend said once of Erin and me, "People who see both of you can tell that you're sisters. People who know both of you don't see how you can be sisters. People who really see inside each of you understand that you must be sisters."

I wonder if that's true for all five of us.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Forgot to Mention...

One of the highlights of my time here in Lexington:

I was able to see Fr. Francis Mary at the local Theology on Tap. It was great; there were a lot of people there, but I got to speak to him. We have a common acquaintence in a TAC grad who will be starting formation to join the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word this fall. "Very bright guy," Fr. Francis Mary commented when I mentioned his name. "I look forward to his coming down to Alabama."

Now I just need to get the necessary equipment to get the picture on my camera onto my computer!

Last Hurrah

My Final Week in Kentucky approaches.

I am at once eager to see old familiar faces--especially family--and sad to leave the dynamic of energetic, creative physical therapy that I've been exposed to here.

I'm interviewing with the director of PT at the hospital before I go. It's only a "mock interview," but there was something about the way the program manager asked me to set it up. And something about the director rearranging her schedule to accommodate the "learning experience." I have 2 more years until I graduate. But I guess it's good to get my name "on file!"
Makes me wonder.... Could I live here?

Not sure about that one, she murmured sceptically.

Have you ever...

...seen a movie that had good parts to it, but enough *insert objectionable material here* in it that you couldn't really recommend it in good conscience?

I'm sure everyone has.

Let me just express my frustration.

Thank you.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Nothing hurts. I barely know what is happening. All of a sudden I'm sitting up in the bed, cuddling a warm bundle of white blanket, squinting eyes, and puckered lips. She's beautiful. I don't want to agitate her, but my heart is beating so fast. I am so happy, "stuck" in this moment, but not looking for escape.

I am at home, carefully giving her a bath--slowly, thoughtfully, watching her every move. I feel her fragile head resting on my forearm, and notice how tiny her neck is. The water moves in circles, gently licking her cotton-soft skin. Her eyes are watching me, and then my heart stops in wonder as she lets out a soft coo and wrinkles her eyes; her hands come to her cheeks, and as they pull back, I see her smile.
As I wrap her in the towel, I feel her, warm against my chest. I gather her arms and legs together and snuggle her in a protective embrace.

"What have you named her?" my father asks at the kitchen table.

I forget for a moment. I have been planning her name for so long, in order to match her perfect prettiness. She has already assumed her name in my heart, but what that is, I cannot remember.

"Starts with an M," I whisper.

"Maraiah?" Dad suggests.

"No, that's not it."
I'm thinking hard...there is an A...

I finally answer: "Moira."
Followed by a moment of doubt, "Or Maura?"

"No," Dad answers. "Moira is better."

I agree. That is her name. I look at her. She is looking at me. I immediately decide not to go back to school in the fall. How could I leave? I need to stay home to protect and care for this fragile human being. Who cares that I have come this many years plus a clinical rotation? What does that matter against this tiny life that needs me? I wonder how I will mention my decision to Dad.

I am temporarily wrenched from my warm cuddling closeness to turn - off - my - alarm - clock - oh - no - ! - I - can't - go - back - and - she's - not - real --

It's the most vivid dream I've had in a while.
This entire day, I kept thinking about the feeling of holding her, warm and close next to my heart.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Views of Lexington...

Lexington has quite a distinct "feel" to it. The city is old, but it's not overwhelmingly large. The downtown is modern, complete with Starbucks and Subway, but it retains some architectural majesty, perhaps because it is saturated with history.

This sign marks the childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's wife. Behind is one of the several downtown Catholic Churches in Lexington: St. Paul's.

Besides the obvious tribute to Hyatt in the background, this is a shot of a prominent downtown area. Behind this fountain (where children freely wade and splash) is the Lexington Center, which hosts all kinds of community events.

This sign is located in Cheapside Park in Lexington--the site of one of the oldest slavery auction blocks. This courthouse in the background is a central landmark in the downtown area.
I am on one of the many streets that run perpendicular to Main Street--the center ribbon running through town. You can see the courthouse from the picture above in line with my right shoulder. I think we were using me to cover the unsightly view of a water tower. Imagine--I block it completely!

This is the view from my back door. Yes, there is a sort of pond in my backyard, with a few run-down barns to make it look extra quaint. I have an even wider panorama from my bedroom window, on the second floor directly above this.

Friday, July 29, 2005


I received an email that made my day today! It was from one of my favorite professors of all time, who just returned from vacation, and read all the emails he'd received about my adventures. One excerpt in particular was encouraging:

"I rather expect that you are going to end up being an outstanding physical therapist."

Although his forte is philosophy and not medicine, this is high praise from this man. He never says anything except with sincerity. As he himself would say, "...and I don't think I'm wrong."

Monday, July 25, 2005

Don't be Queasy!

WARNING: the following post is not for those who, in the midst of conversation about bodily fluids, decide they must either leave hacking, or squint viciously to prevent detailed visions from entering their brains.

In other words, I will never reread this post.

I went for a run today.
Ok, wait. Let me set the stage. I did not go for a run early this morning, when the temperature outside was a mere mild 75 degrees. I went this evening, after 98-degree heat, plus who-knows-how-much humidity, had already baked the air surrounding Lexington for at least 12 hours. That's right. I went at 7:30pm. The sun was still shining brightly, albeit at eye-level.

When I returned to my car in the park 3 miles later, I could see my neck glistening in the window's reflection. The hair caught up in clips on either side of my head was drenched. My ponytail was even hot and heavy against my back. As soon as I stopped to cool down, the cooling breeze effected by my movement stopped, and I could feel the heat in my red face rush into the space behind my eyes. I started to close my eyes, but immediately had to open them wide again, because the perspiration on my eyelids was started to seep into the corners and sting my eyeballs. I went to wipe it away with the back of my hand. But my hand merely slid along the side of my forehead, because it, too, was wet with shiny salt-water. I franticly grabbed my shirt hem (in a most unladylike fashion) and pressed it to my eyes to relieve the burning that was now moving inward toward my corneas.

Then, the shiny, glistening dew that seemed to be squeezing my head together started to drip. A few seconds later, it started to pour. Down my temples from the frizzy curls escaping from my ponytail.... Down my forehead and nose to collect on my upper lip, which now tasted like salty grime.... Down my jaw from my rosy cheeks, and continuing down my neck. I pressed my tank top into my clavicle, to catch the streams before they started to collect in my sports bra. The shirt stuck to my chest. It turned a darker color blue.

I ducked halfway into my (black!) car, turned on the engine, and switched the A/C on full-blast, backing out just before my head reached boiling point, in order to do my stretches.

When I left the park 10 minutes later, I couldn't decide whether or not to shut my sweaty body into the air-conditioned car, thereby recirculating stale, stinky air, which I would then be greeted by in the morning. I ended up leaving the windows cracked, and reclined my seat so that my back wouldn't touch it--for fear of permanently soaking the upholstery.
Thank goodness I always carry tissues in my car. I felt a wave of chills as I wiped my face; ahhh... cool air can reach my skin! The tissue was gliding so easily now...down my neck...eeeewwww! It's soaking wet!!
I should keep paper towels in my car.
Or beach towels.

So if this wasn't motivation to get my butt out of bed and run before the sun gets hot (I love that stupid phrase!), I don't know what is.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


With many of my friends, our phonecalls in which we "catch up" on each others' lives always include this question:

"What are you reading now?"

This generally opens floodgates of further conversation:
"oh, I just read that last year; where are you? what do you think?"
or, possibly,
"how is it? I've thought about starting that..."
or even,
"I've never heard of that; what is it?"

About two years ago, one of my dear friends asked me what I was reading. At the time, I was very busy with work and school, so my reading list was limited to menu descriptions, baking recipes, and anatomy charts, with the daily Readings in between. When I told her that I was not reading anything extra, she became very firm.
"You have to make time for it. Promise me--fifteen minutes every night, before you go to sleep."
I promised her, and quickly began to look forward to this obligated luxury of curling up with my latest choice.

Since then, I take for granted that people read regularly. Members of my family and my close friends are always in the middle of something. Exchanging recent favorites or recommending titles from the past is part of regular conversation. It mystifies me now when I hear acquaintences laugh, "I haven't read any fiction since English class in high school!"

"What?" I think. "No literature?"

Good books, great stories, provide so much perspective. To see the world through another character's eyes, to live their joys and tragedies side by side with my own, to experience their redemption, gives me either hope or gratitude.

These stories also mark the seasons of my life. The time of year is recalled simultaneously with the reading of Anna Karenina: a Connecticut winter. When she met Count Vronksy and selfishly isolated Kitty, I was looking forward to my Christmas break.
A Right to be Merry brought in springtime, at the same time heightening my awareness of the real reasons for living this life on earth.
Katherine Lavransdatter was a lot of airplane travel, as well as relaxation. She made me appreciate the unique role and responsibility of the parish priest at that time in Norway. It deepened my appreciation for the fatherly love and counsel I have received from my own parish priest. Her story also affected my outlook on the timelessness of the virtues of purity and chastity--even as I was preparing for my high school girls' retreat!
Come Rack, Come Rope was an easy two-day read recommended by one of my "Italian brothers" Alex. It was a love story of the noblest kind, encouraging me to pray for a deeper piety and a truer love for all that is good and holy.
Now I am finishing Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, which has fit in nicely with this season of aloneness accompanied by intense learning.

This discovery of the seasonal influence of different novels gives new motivation for continuing my promise to my friend. It is almost as though, if I'm not reading something, those weeks in my life are somewhat empty in my memory. This also leads to the realization that reading time should be spent with good books which will inspire imitation of virtue. A "waste of time" novel might end up being a danger to the fragile disposition of my soul.

I know I am just discovering for myself what most people already know. This is why Fr. Check gave me reading list during our first meeting for spiritual direction. St. Augustine was very aware, he told me, of the imagination's affect on the soul. Spiritual reading is very important for cultivating the romance between yourself and Christ.
I understand the reality of his words a little better now.

I Believe in Love is next on the list--not a novel, it's a more serious read. But I'm hoping it will prepare me for the marathon of this coming semester, as I'm getting ready to return to full-time craziness!

So, fellow bloggers, what are you reading?

Any recommendations?

Friday, July 22, 2005

For example

How ironic that as I'm becoming an eyewitness to the capabilities of someone with a spinal cord injury, ...

...out comes this.

Check it out.

Watch the trailer.

I'm going to go see the it (yes, by myself, if necessary) when it hits Lexington!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Things that make me squeak

You watch the beginnings of attraction form between a best friend and an upstanding man of God. You encourage your friend to explore the possibility--that he's more than a "nice guy" to her--that deep down, there's something miraculous there.

You listen with excitement as she carefully details the story of their first date, confident that this is the one for her.

You watch them together, amazed at the simplicity with which God brings two people together--so much alike, it's like they were always waiting to meet.

You sit shocked with awe and joy when they announce their engagement--then get up and run around your apartment, eager to tell the rest of your roommates the happy news.

You drive cross-country, away from your friend, away from your family (yet again) with tears in your eyes...but a smile on your face as your friend's voice comes through the patchy reception: "We want you in the bridal party."

You stay up half the night before her wedding, not sleeping even though she is, nervous even though she isn't--praying that nothing ruins their perfect day.

You watch her holy eyes and his holy smile at the altar before God, as they receive the Most Blessed Sacrament together as man and wife.

Nothing could be better.

Then, the phone call today.

"We have some news to tell you..."

Things just got better! You jump all over the house, even though she's miles away, across many state lines, trying to laugh but only being able to squeak.

... Squeeeaak! ... squeeeaak! ... squeeeaak! ...

Things that make me grrrr-owl

You try your best to accommodate the various and sundry needs of 4 people plus yourself. It comes to a point where you don't care what happens, as long as everyone is happy.
Frustration swells, as those causing conflict are unwilling to compromise, and you begin to feel a sense of betrayal because all your work to make things happen smoothly has been patronizingly recognized, but finally, completely ignored.
When urged To cOnfide iN a partiallY-involved friend, you hear the admonition, "As a friend, you should want what is best for THEM..."

Ggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - - oooooooowwwwwwwwwwll.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I have learned many things in the past three weeks on my clinical rotation--not only book knowledge, but also clinical truths. The clinical realizations that I have had are perhaps more powerfully remembered than the techniques I've practiced.

One thing that has struck me is a sense of gratitude. Being around many people everyday who, for one reason or another, are not able to make their bodies move like me, has really affected my perspective.

I take so much for granted--even the action of crawling out the side of the parallel bars in the PT gym to get on the other side of my patient, while he stands there, holding on for safety, trying with all of his concentration to hold the position I placed him in.

There are people that come to physical therapy who used to have very active lives. After dealing with many of them, I am now truly inspired by the ones who haven't fallen into depression. I wonder if I would be able to embrace my new, slower-paced life if I were to wake up one day, unable to move.

Because of prolonged immobility, people lose muscle strength, sometimes even muscle itself, and weight gain can occur. If they cannot move, they cannot get very much exercise.
Some people with heart conditions or respiratory problems cannot take more than 2 minutes of exercise at a time. Their bodies won't let them.
What are my excuses, again, for not getting up earlier to run?
I want to sleep??!!
I "can't stand" the humidity??!!

I think to myself,
"You already have a wonderful life, because you can move. Now, ...get a grip!!"

Friday, July 15, 2005

"She don't know she's beautiful..."

"...though time and time I've told her so."

I recently received some nice shots from a (new!) friend who actually had a camera at the wedding.
Alissa was a stunning bride; her grace and charm were magnified that day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


planned several treatment sessions of current patients

visited Cincinnatti

went grocery shopping after 2 weeks

responded to all email in my Inbox

acquired 4 roommates for the upcoming year, including Ruth!! (yay, Ruth!) And her sister Becky!! (yay, Becky!)

found an apartment to hold 5 women in the upcoming year, and organized application plan for all involved.

wrote a case study and posted it for classmates and professors

applied for another student loan

found a safe, pretty place in Lexington to run

emailed my latest update to all on my "update" list

...that's why I haven't been blogging.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

From the Latin...

I had been confused about why Physical Therapy on horseback was called Hippotherapy. It was sort of a reverse-confusion. "Hippo" means "horse" in Latin. Ok, so why is a "horse" a "horse" and a "hippo" a "hippo?"

Tony's response: "A horse is a horse, of course, of course."
Tony's dweebish-ness sometimes gets to me....

Someone--let's give her the credit: Belita--gave me a valuable piece of information: "hippopotamus" really means "water horse." Ok, I get it. Why some genius thought the hippopotamus in any way resembled a horse, I have no idea. But that clears up the translation problem. At least the first part.

The second half of the word puzzles me. "Potamus" has something to do with water. We call good drinking water "potable." So there's a connection, but I doubt "potable" really means "able to be water."

So my question, for all of you who have access to an OED or some other relevant piece of reference material, is this: what exactly is the translation for the root word, "pot-"?

New experiences...

...are usually good. Today, I will have the new experience of bringing my laundry to a laundromat!

(ooh, yay.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

=) =) =) =)

He emailed! (...finally)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Road Trip Music

After traveling between Washington, D.C. and Lexington, KY twice in two weeks, I feel like quite an expert on road trip music. Not only does it have to be up-beat, it has to be within the range of the driver's voice, particularly if the driver is traveling alone.
Country music is a great staple, Johnny Cash and Phil Vasser being among the top contenders, but as a metzo-soprano, a lot more fits into the "Ideal Road Trip Music" category. (Thanks, Mom, for the lovely Celtic CD, which gives me the opportunity for me to practice the higher end of my range!)
Sister Hazel is a nice break from the Country category, as can be Blues Traveler. It's better when you know the words, so you can sing along loudly:

You were the one who taught me what I don't need
And I thank you, I thank you for that.
You were the one who brought me to my senses
And I thank you, now just leave me alone...

Tony and I mentioned the possibility of him coming out to drive back to Connecticut with me at the end of 8 weeks, but I'm having second thoughts.

I'm kind of getting used to this "driving alone" thing. I'm kind of liking it. I might even prefer it, given a choice.

I don't know how much I would "sing out loud dramatically" with Tony as a passenger!

Happy 4th!

I spent the weekend with friends in D.C. I spent the actual 4th of July driving back to Kentucky.

No fireworks for me this year--I have to plan a few treatment sessions for tomorrow, because I used up all my time in D.C. relaxing, talking to old friends, hanging out with new friends, ....

We also had our share of adventures, keeping a quasi-European schedule of staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning, eating breakfast for lunch, and lounging about during the afternoons.

Actually, the evenings were the most adventurous part of the weekend. Friday night when I arrived, one roommate didn't come home as planned, prompting other-roommate and I to file a "missing person" report with the police! (She came home later...)
The second night I was there, Tony called to say that, although he was driving down from Connecticut, somehow he had ended up in central Pennsylvania (when in doubt, blame Mapquest!). So we waited up for him, and then stayed awake for a while after his arrival!
The third and final night I was there, Ruth, Tony, and I stayed up watching a very good, classic film which I had never seen (!!!), then telling jokes and singing songs.

So glad I went and spent time with friends this weekend! On the way back to Kentucky, I was in such a good mood. I kept my speed up and made it in 7 hours instead of 8. When I hit Kentucky, I put my car radio on "scan" and listened to all the patriotic country songs being played, praying for everyone I know in the military.

God bless America, and God bless these next 7 weeks. May they fly by... =]

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Same Page, Different State

Isn't it funny how my blog entries look quite the same, even though I'm writing from Kentucky?

Let's see.... This state is very beautiful and green and muggy. The tops of the trees look like fingers sticking up out of the hilly foliage, which is different from other hilly places I've seen. There are fireflies, which is a big highlight that almost compensates for the humidity. From what I saw today, it looks like there are a bunch of rolling green hills and white picket fences extending out beyond the road where I'll be doing my clinical rotation. I mean to explore that a bit tomorrow after work.

My apartment would be beautiful--2-story, 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, huge kitchen, huge living room, small back deck looking out over a pond--if only it were cleaner. But I'm working diligently to fix that! So, in fact, my apartment will be beautiful.

My roommates are "nice" (from the Latin, ... etc.) Oh, well. It's only 8 weeks.

Kentucky has country stations!! Southwestern Connecticut doesn't do that so much.

My blogging will decrease somewhat over the next few weeks, as I will not only be posting "relevant clinical experiences" on my course discussion board for school, but I will also be sending mass emails to those who have asked for regular updates. If you are not currently receiving those emails , but would like to, email me your address and I will add you to my list. (check your Inbox to find out if you're receiving them; I already sent one)

It seems like I should give a money-back guarentee at this point in the advertisement, but I won't. If you send me money, I'm going to keep it!

Since my known regular readers do receive my emails, I will be using this blog to post other little tidbits and small pieces of information, when I post at all. Like my Europe trip updates, I feel certain that the email updates are something only my mother could read in their entirety. They tend to be rather complete--almost minute-by-minute accounts. Actually, Mike Austin assured me recently that he himself read every single "documentary" I emailed while I was in Europe... Maybe he needed a break from Lady Philosophy's ramblings at the time!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Homesick already

Took a walk by the sea
I'd forgotten what it meant to me
Yesterday was a long long time ago...

~Sister Hazel, Look to the Children

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


This evening I tried to get Tony interested in the NYC Marathon idea. He laughed and told me that Fr. C. had already warned him about me trying to talk people into training with me. "I'm a sprinter," he said. And then later, "I only like running after a soccer ball." I guess that won't work.

Then the tables turned.
It started out with innocent questions.
Tony: "Do you do any other sports besides running?"
Me: "No."

Then it turned to flattery.
Tony: "I hear you're very athletic."
Me: "Hah! Whoever told you that is either delusional, or greatly exaggerating."
Belita: "What do you mean? You're amazing in Knock-Out."
Me: "What??"
Belita: "Weren't you always winning when we played Knock-Out?"
Me: "No, my friend. I was the designated loser. I could run fine, back and forth; the problem was getting the ball through the hoop."

Later, the questions were more pointed.
Tony: "What is your class schedule next year."
Me: "Ahh... um..."
Tony: "Don't worry, I'm not trying to recruit you."

Finally, the whole truth.
Tony: "Ok, I am trying to recruit you. I want you to teach Phys.Ed."
Me: "What??!! umm...Why don't you teach Phys.Ed?"
Tony: "Well, I am--to the boys. I need someone to do Phys.Ed. for the girls."
Me: "Tony. I have not only school, but also a GA position, a part-time job, and the Maria Goretti Society."
Tony: "Wow. Ok..."

But, hey. I'm already getting a few ideas that are prompting second thoughts...

There's always something to pray about!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Parade of Cities

Ruth and Belita will arrive at 4am from D.C.

8am Mass is in Stamford--south of here (ie, on the morning commute-route to the City)--which means that we'll have to leave the house around 7:15am to make it in time.

Good thing Fr. Check makes strong coffee at this rectory, because the meeting with him and Tony at 8:30am will find 3 of us with drooping eyelids, no doubt!

Since I work at 10am, Tony will be the NYC tour guide for the rest of the day. =)

Frank and Tony have a meeting at 7pm, so it'll just be "the girls" for dinner at Sharon's house Tuesday evening.

Ruth leaves on Wednesday, but Belita's staying longer!

Wednesday evening is my last dinner in Connecticut for a while; John Paul, Angela, Tony, and Belita (and Frank and Sharon, of course!) will be here for that.

Thursday Belita and I will visit my grandparents and relatives on Long Island.

Friday we leave from Long Island to drive to D.C. where Belita lives.

Friday night will be spent either in D.C. with the D.C. girls, or in West Virginia at Camille's house.

Saturday I'll be driving to and arriving in Lexington, Kentucky!

yikes. getting nervous....

what was that?

I took the two younger children to the pool today while Henry, the eldest, stayed home with mom to greet the cousins when they arrived. We had a fantastic time, and came home later than expected because the time just flew by!

Kris told me when we got back that it was a good thing I had taken both of the younger ones. "It gave Henry and I the chance to have quite a serious talk," she told me. "He came up to me and said, 'Hey, Mom! What's abortion?' I said, 'Oh, you saw the back of Shannon's car?' ....I'm glad the other kids weren't around, because I would have had to ignore them completely in order to concentrate on this talk with Henry. It was very good... Thank you."

I have two bumper stickers on the back of my car: a quotation from Mother Teresa, and a quotation from John Paul II. Then my license frame says "Choose Life" across the top and "Pray to end Abortion" across the bottom.

I understand the aversion that some people have to bumper stickers. I personally don't like them when they are making a statement about who the driver is, or their political gripes. But I've read a few stories where pro-life bumper stickers have touched mothers of unborn babies, and saved lives. When I first bought my little (2001 black SC2 Saturn 3-door) coupe and put the bumper stickers on, I remember someone I worked with at the time saying, "Well, no one will ever wonder what your views are on abortion!" I was somewhat annoyed that anyone would assume I wanted to parade my "views," just for the rest of the world to see what I thought.
Because that's not why I have the bumper stickers.
I have them with the hope that they might facilitate some good.

Maybe today they did.