Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Family Work

The family I'm working with is so great; I love the children already.

#1: Henry is a 10 1/2 year-old, very obedient, very mature-for-his-age kid. At the Memorial Day pool-party on Monday, he got his little brother Andrew all set up at the karaoke microphone and told him how to announce that "the brothers" were going to sing a song. Then he proceeded to play air guitar while he and Andrew did a duet. At dinner this evening, he wanted to compare whether his or Ellen's feet were dirtier. A slight look from me in his direction prompted him to modify his plan to "when we're away from the dinner table."

#2: Andrew is a 9 year-old, very physically handicapped child with cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia. He is fully functioning cognitively, though, which is a great blessing for him and his family. He gets around in a power wheelchair that he controls with a joystick. He loves music, especially Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. His newest "kick," though, is the soundtrack from the SpongeBob Squarepants movie (which his mother does NOT love!). He is a sweetheart, always wanting to show me something or tell me a story or sing me a song.

#3: Ellen is a 5 year-old pistol; picture Shirley Temple without the curls. And twice the script! The things that come out of her mouth...are all hilarious. I love the fact that no matter what she's saying, though, her mother responds in all seriousness. I gave her a bath this evening. I had to lean pretty far over the edge of the tub to scrub her hair with shampoo.
"I can see your bra," she informed me.
"Oh, sorry!" I said, adjusting my shirt with wet hands, so that now I had wet shoulder seams and a wet spot on the back of my shirt.
Later on in the bath, she said, "I can see your bra again!" At this point, I was holding her under the shoulders with one hand as she lay on her back, and rinsing shampoo out of her hair with my other hand.
"Well, ...don't look, ok?!" I told her.
"I'm LOOOOK-inggg!" she sang.
"Huuuh!" I said, again getting my shirt wet with the adjusting technique, one hand at a time.
"That's good," she said.

These kids' parents are great. They're from Ohio, and John works both from the house and on the road for Cingular. Their mother, Kris, stays at home, and just adores her children. The house has had so much work put into it in the 3 years they've been in Connecticut, to accommodate Andrew. The discipline is straighforward and hardfast. "1--2---3! Ok, sorry, no dessert!" And love is expressed without bounds among all members: "Ellen! That is an awesome birthday card. You are the BEST. Poppy is going to love it when he gets it in the mail on Saturday." They don't let their kids watch the Simpsons, which says a lot for this day and age.
"Why not? Does it have bad words in it?" Ellen asked. "Do they say stupid ?"
I love it!!

They're a very "open family" to term it sociologically. I can't give a purely sociological explanation for that, though. Partly because they're from the mid-west, partly because they've had to explore so many resources for Andrew, partly because they're just like that?

"We don't have first impressions in this house," Henry told me matter-of-factly at dinner. "We'll just keep on surprising you."

"Can I just say 'poop'?" Kris asked me during our verbal run-through of Andrew's toilet routine, after she had used the word "defecate" with a look of mock propriety.

I was able to watch Andrew have his OT (Occupational Therapy) session today. Rob, his OT, came to the house when I did, and I just asked him to tell me what he was doing. I've already learned quite a bit from that one hour.

After only yesterday and today with this family, Andrew asked if I could lie in bed with him for a while before he fell asleep. I couldn't believe the innocent trust he gave me so immediately and completely, just because I'm the new care-giver that Mom brought into the house. Kris told him that since I have a cold, we'll wait on that. But I felt so accepted into the family, just by his asking her. I went in and gave him a kiss goodnight, though, and he asked me if I was coming again tomorrow.

And they're paying me to do this?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend of an Ex-Waitress

It's great, you know?

I actually get to go to backyard barbeques! So I'm getting my fill.

Saturday night, there was a barbeque in South Boston. My first time to Boston, even though I didn't actually see much of it. Mike Austin came up with me, so we enjoyed the big Irish-Catholic family gathering together. Lots of blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked kids (not to mention their blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked Guiness-drinking parents!)
As we were leaving, I thanked the host, but realized I hadn't actually talked to him all evening.
"Yeah, I haven't talked much to anyone here," he replied. "You'll have to come up when there aren't all these people here, so we can actually hang out."
So the gist is, I've now been to Boston, but I haven't really done Boston yet!

Sunday, after a beautiful Mass and Corpus Christi procession at St. John's, I received many "welcome back" greetings from people I hadn't seen in several weeks. Walking down the church steps, I suddenly felt the clenching sinews of thin muscles around my waist, and looking down, saw a blonde head framed by pink dress ruffles. The oldest child of the family for whom I am the Saturday babysitter was overjoyed to see me home! And frankly, I was overjoyed, simple that she was overjoyed! Her father nodded emphatically, "You have been very much missed at our house; will we see you this Saturday?" ...It's so nice to be able to feel at home, even away from home....

Mike caught the train back to the Big Apple, and I went to another barbeque! Sharon's sister-in-law hosted "the family" at her place today. Since Frank and Sharon are away, I found myself promising various extended family members to "give Sharon a kiss" for them! Somehow, that makes me feel officially adopted into the network! That and being the last one to leave the house after the dishes are finished....

Monday, Memorial Day itself, will be my first year in the past three that I won't be running the Bolder Boulder with my lovely Colorado ex-roommates. Sad. But I also won't be rushing back home to start my Memorial Day bartending shift at 4pm! Instead, I will be getting paid to hang out with a family in Stamford, on their boat, on Long Island Sound, all afternoon! One of their children has cerebral palsy, and I'll be helping them out a bit this summer and then next schoolyear, but Monday is a hang-out-with-the-family and let-us-get-to-know-each-other kind of day!

I'm liking this "normal person with a normal schedule" kind of thing....

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Alumni Gatherings and Greek Sweat

First, there was the wedding.
Then, there was Sunday morning breakfast after Mass.
Both of these gathered together the alumni in town as well as those visiting from out of town--even the token Denver extension: little Betsy Gerrity!
Then I came "home" to Connecticut. Next thing I know, I'm picking up Mike Austin from the train station two blocks from my parish. Later that afternoon, he and Kristen Coster and I are peering at little Greek vessels in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There are these little containers made out of shells that the Greek athletes would carry olive oil in to "wash themselves" with after exercise.
First of all, these containers are no bigger than my fist. Weren't the Greek athletes rather intimidatingly large fellows? By the looks of their drawings, the Greeks seemed to think they were big guys.
Second of all, olive oil? "Here, wash yourself off with this! It'll make you even shinier!
I wonder how the historians know all this stuff, or better yet, IF they know all this stuff.
Maybe their just making it all up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


And now they're enjoying one of our favorite cities from when Alissa and I went on our Europe tour: Prague! For two weeks!
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Remstad.

A well-matched pair; God bless them.

May 21st, 2005: The beautiful bride marches down the aisle of a gorgeous church in downtown Denver, to the melody of Ode to Joy played by bagpipes.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The week of Celebration, Part III

I think it's quite charming how, whenever a friend gets married, they are so happy, they think everyone else should get married, too. It's the same with those who answer the call to the priesthood or religious life. It is the fulfillment of their vocation--the way in which God is calling them to give their heartscompletely in love. I've had numerous experiences with friends who, once they are engaged, set about trying to find ways to "fix me up" with various people. After all, they're so happy, and so they should help me find the same happiness. I also have a friend in the seminary; he loves it so much, all his letters and enclosures are encouragements for me to look into different orders of the religious life.
I think it's a wonderful expression of love to one's friends that you want to see them as happy as yourself. After all, being single is not a vocation, unless it's the consecrated single life. Which I have not taken vows for. So let's all help this poor girl find her vocation. Oooh! There's this guy....
Sometimes I feel like the "set-ups" that come to people's minds contain no regard for personality or compatibility. It's the "warm body" technique. He's single; you're single; there you go!
I have large suspicions when names are mentioned because "he's Catholic." Hmmm. I went to college with a whole lot of Catholics, and I can tell you, although essential, there's more than that involved. In fact, I told Alissa this weekend about one of Andy's friends who rode in my car at one point: "[He]'s a really nice guy, but GOSH! He prays the rosary WAY too slow!"
Then there's my loving sister: "I think [So-and-So] would make a great addition to our family. What do you think about him?" Uh-huh. How about this: it doesn't work that way.
I remember something our dear former chaplain, Fr. Bart, once said: "Every loving relationship is a miracle." It's true; everyone is so different. How do people ever live with one another and grow in love for each other their entire lives, except by grace?
There is the possibility of human instrumentation, of course. These people met through mutual friends. This person introduced me to that one. But the course of events is then in the hands of Providence.

The week of Celebration, Part II

Funky jewelry-making Tuesday night turned out to be the most creative bridesmaids' gift I've ever experienced or heard of. One advantage to being a later marriage vocation is all the great ideas you accumulate from others.
The only other non-family member who was a bridesmaid was a really sweet co-worker of Alissa's from Lithuania. She reminded me so much of my former co-worker and friend from Hungary. And she informed me that I reminded her of one of her very best friends from high school: "Yoor eesty-eel, yoor mah-noor, ay-vrything." So it was a fun bridal party.

That made the whole week TONS of fun! Just imagine 5 Dalley sisters, 1 Dalley cousin, 2 Dalley adopted-friend-daughters, plus Mrs. Dalley herself, who happens to be a favorite among our graduating class from "that-anon." When Molly-O, C-Boyer, and E-Hurley showed up, the girl-fun only escalated! I haven't laughed so much for that many consecutive days since my senior year of college.

So the girl-time aspect of this week was unforgettable--a good way to leave off from one's life as a single woman, I should think. If I can have half the "last week" that Alissa had, I shall be a happy woman.

The week of Celebration, Part I

It started out Monday evening, when my wonderful (big) little brother drove me up to Erin's (roommater, not sister) apartment in Denver. It was late, we went to bed almost immediately, and she had to work Tuesday morning. But she told me to be ready with my book after 12 noon, because she wanted to go study at a coffee shop. Yay!
She picked me up and prefaced our afternoon with, "I think this might be the coffee shop you were telling me about...it's the only one that I know of in the Cherry Creek area. You can let me know..."
Yes, yes it was. Two years ago, the man I was dating drove by it with me and told me all his plans about how he was going to improve business there when he closed on it in a few weeks. I remember him visiting me one weekend and talking to my boss at the awesomest coffee shop ever, in order to get some advice. My very successful boss, Jeff, echoed my reservations when I expressed doubt about this business venture: "Yeah, I'm not sure he's fully aware of what he's getting into..." However, Jeff had more hope than I: "...but then again, neither did I!" I never knew what happened, though. We separated soon after that drive-by, and he has been the only person before or since that I have blocked email from. Needless to say, we haven't kept in touch!
So here we are, early Tuesday afternoon, ordering our lunch salad and iced chai tea, and I look around for any sign to tell me whether success has been his (or someone else's). Not knowing what exactly to look for, I finally ask the tall skinny barista with the peasant shirt: "Excuse me, who is the owner of this place?"
Barista: "[First name of ex-boyfriend]"
Myself: "What's his last name?"
Barista: "[Last name of ex-boyfriend]. Why do you ask?"
Myself: "Oh, you know. I haven't been here in a while..."
Erin (roommate, not sister) eyes me warily with a slight smirk. "We'll be out front," she tells the girl.

A flood of questions rush through my mind as we sit there.
Does he ever come by to check up on the place?
Is he even in the country?
Has he exchanged his black beret for a green one yet?
Does he still drive the silver Passat?
Will my sunglasses disguise me?

Erin starts laughing: "Calm down! Stop looking over your shoulder every 5 minutes. What does he look like again? ...ok, I've never seen anyone of that description here. Although I've only ever come here in the evening,.... Hey, relax. A little drama might be good for you. Did you hear me? Hello! Turn around and read your book!"
The most restless reading session of Katherine Lavransdatter I've experienced yet!

Not to be anti-climactic or anything, he never showed up. Later, while Erin was using the restroom, I recognized some of the beautiful photos he took in Afghanistan hanging on the wall. Unfortunately, my favorite photo of him standing in a hot spring in Greenland wasn't there. But then I saw the jar with the sign: "Help raise $2000 for Leukemia: [Ex-boyfriend's first name] getting ready for Leukemia triathlon" Yep. Definitely him. Must be in town. Can we go now?

And so began my week...

Sunday, May 15, 2005


This pretty much sums up the first part of my vacation. Then more of that: run...sleep...go out for breakfast with the soon-to-be-married A-team...enjoy Brazilian drinks and South American foods with Erin (roommate, not sister)...watch (big) little brother's baseball team get clobbered in the regionals by last year's national champions -- not so much fun, especially when he was pitching -- and etc! Restful, yes!
I feel kind of liberated, not having access to internet, not having cell-phone reception in these mountainous hills of home. Maybe this will be my last entry.... Oh, shoot. School will get me back into the technology of life soon enough.
But for now, maybe I'm signing off to the world for two weeks. Maybe. Of course, my phone will be on for the wedding festivities this week. So maybe not.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I Know I Said...

...I would never be caught dead doing office work again, but I was offered a GA position:

Administrative Research Assistant.

My interest both in what's happening behind the scenes and in being able to afford rent and food next year compel me to accept this offer with exceptional gratitude to God.

MGS Retreat a Success

The beautiful convent retreat house in Darien, CT, housed between 11 and 13 girls this past weekend. Plus 4 adults, 2 of whom spent the night--Angela and me. It went so well, it was unbelievable. Only the Holy Spirit could have run that smooth of a retreat.
Of course, the girls themselves are such good girls. Sharon and I both thought we would more than dislike leading a group of junior high to high school girls. But they're great.
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand's talk was definitely a highlight: The Privelege of Being a Woman. I've heard her before, but this was different. This was in a little room, with 13 girls scattered around her, either in chairs or on the floor, as she sat with her hands folded in her lap, without a microphone, sending a rhythmic trickling of wisdom forth from her lips.
The Missionaries of Charity who came in the afternoon were so beautiful. Their life is so amazing in its simplicity and poverty. A friend of mine in the seminary has mentioned the MC's to me time and again as something I should "look at;" I don't know what delusions he has of my capabilities to accept that kind of call to holiness. Wow. They completely blow my mind.
And then our own pastor, Father Paul Check, the best priest I've ever known, came Saturday evening to give a talk, Benediction, and confessions. His comfort and encouragement are things I don't deserve, but soak up like a child seeks her father's embrace.

"...I'm very proud of you," he says. "This is exactly what I had in mind when I asked you and Sharon to take this group. You're doing well. Do not let your heart be troubled. Be at peace. The confessions these girls made this evening were very good..."

I wish I could be at peace, Father. I don't know what is wrong. I wish I knew so I could straighten it out.

"...Go home. Rest. Come back in two weeks. See if you feel better. You have had a lot on your mind these past months. Go home to your family..."

Can he read my mind? Father, school is over. I should already be at peace.

"...It takes a little time to wind down. You've been tense and anxious for a while now; I've noticed. When you come back, we can dig that deep and see what it is. But for now, go home and rest. You've done a beautiful job with this retreat. Remember, you're not on retreat; you're giving the retreat..."

So I'm going home. Tomorrow. After Father Check's morning Mass at St. John's, Sharon will bring me to the airport. And I will feast my eyes on the huge, clear, blue sky and drink in the de-oxygenated air and rejoice in the friends I will see, both from home and elsewhere, coming together for Alissa's wedding.

All moved Away

I don't know anyone in Kentucky anymore.
Not that it would matter, anyway. I need to find housing close to where I'll be doing my clinical rotation.
I have a choice between two sublease agreements. The first is a 4-bedroom house shared with an 19 year-old "serious student" (according to who? her mother), her 20 year-old brother, and a 25 year-old woman from South Africa. I'm only excited about the safe neighborhood and the woman from South Africa. The last roommate I had from South Africa was my favorite part of working at Ojai Valley School summer camp for spoiled nitwits. I don't know if all women from South Africa read their Bible everyday and have a knack for disciplining junior high school girls, though. Anyway, I told "mother" that I don't know if I want to live with her son for the summer. This one's closer.

The other option is a 3-bedroom townhouse shared with Ashley, a recent college graduate who works 2 jobs to pay off her student loans and when she's not working is staying at her boyfriends' place, and Sarah, a pre-med student. Sarah's boyfriend only stays over about one night per week. This one's cheaper.

Any thoughts, folks?

Friday, May 06, 2005


Done with my first year!
Thanks for all the prayers.

...leading a retreat for some great high school girls from my parish, St. John the Evangelist.

The theme is "lifted" from Pilgrim's name (with permission!), adapted before that from Jn 17:14-16, Not of this World.

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand is coming tomorrow morning, a few Missionaries of Charity are coming in the afternoon, Fr. Check is coming in the evening, and not the least of all, Sharon's baking cookies!

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Can't - Work - Not - Motivated

I need



the table


Little Women.

and it's 9:11pm, folks...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Beginning to End

My final exam is a practical clinical exam.
Today I present (to one of my professors) how I would examine a 10 year-old boy with cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia (which means he has spasticity in both arms, both legs, and the muscles of his trunk).
Then I receive some "findings" from my pretend examination, and create a plan of care to treat him, which I present (to another professor) on Thursday.
Meanwhile, we have our last written exam on Wednesday.
Then on Friday the first professor chooses 2 pieces from the examination and 2 pieces from the treatment and watches me actually perform them on one of my classmates.
Then, ...I'M DONE with my first year of graduate school!!!!
And I proceed immediately to the Maria Goretti Society Retreat that I'm still planning for this weekend....

Monday, May 02, 2005

Not Coming Home Tonight

My roommate, Jess, and I have to tell one another when we won't be home at night. And when we will, eventually. And when we'll be home early in the morning. This is because we have a little gold chain that connects the front door to the adjacent wall. It's for security, but it's also so that when I come home at dawn on a Saturday morning, I can scare the beegies out of Jess by ringing the doorbell.
On Thursday, I said to Jess, "I won't be home tonight."
"Oh, ok. Staying with Frank and Sharon?"
"Yes. Actually, just Sharon. Frank's out of town until the end of the semester. Which is when I leave. Wow. Jess, I won't be spending the night in this house ever again!"
That's when we started waxing nastalgic about how little time has passed since I moved in, but what a full semester it's been. That's also when I decided that Saturday would be a good day to start packing up my room, and pulling my bed into its individual component parts. Jess walked into my bedroom Saturday afternoon and looked around. The bed frame was in different pieces around the room, the shelves in the closet were almost bare, and my mattress and boxspring stood propped against the wall.
"It feels like you just moved in," she started in again.
"I'm slowly bringing all my stuff over to Frank and Sharon's house, and the rest of this I'll just put in storage."

And so every day, I take a few more items out of my bedroom and deposit them in Frank and Sharon's guest room.

As it turns out, Sharon will be going to New Jersey tomorrow to visit her family for a few days. "Feel free to stay here, though," Sharon told me.

"I think that would be easiest, since it's finals week, and all my stuff is here now," I replied with gratitude. "I'd have to pack an overnight bag to stay up at my place! But I'm going to miss you."

I mentioned it to Jess this afternoon as I was leaving with some more of my books and a laundry basket full of shoes.
"Aww, you can stay here if you want," she said.
"I don't have anywhere to sleep!" I reminded her.
"The couch! Want me to pull out the couch?" she asked.

What will I mean each day this week when I say I'm going "home"?