Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I'm glad somebody finally said it out loud (dramatically!)
Exactly my sentiments--to which my younger siblings will attest. But I could never have said it better than this. In fact, I think the best I've ever done is mutter, "atheist commy" under my breath when I've heard that song--and promptly changed the station!
Read it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

First country music, then blogging

Country music, over the course of about ten years, took over my family.
There was no specific pattern--I started listening to the stuff while rooming with a lovely girl from South Dakota at That Anonymous College. South Dakota and country music somehow came in the same bundle. "The lyrics are generally pro-family, and the music is just fun!" she taught me. I got used to it, then started singing along to it, then started having favorites.

Then my family moved to Colorado. I think Dad was the first one who recognized the easy transfer from folk guitar to bluegrass banjo. I don't know how it started, but I noticed one summer that the pre-set radio buttons in his car led to our major country stations.

Mom, whose folk music taste had more of a Joan Baez, Judy Collins flavor, took a little longer. "It just sounds!" she tried to explain her aversion to the twang and the fiddle. Little by little, though, the smooth croonings of Alison Krauss teased her into the greater realm of country genre.

My younger sisters and brother were not to be moved. Portia, who was always our eclectic member, liked bands I never heard of and listened to music I never recognized. My brother, by some bizarre twist of nature, liked rap and hard rock--two of my least favorite sounds in general. And my youngest sisters were continually excited over pop rock and cheesy boy-bands.

My older sister, though, the big BNL fan, stopped me when I started singing along to a country song we overheard one day. "This is a great song isn't it? It's one of my favorites. See, this is country!" --as if I didn't know.... but I didn't know that she had country music favorites, and told her so. "Oh, wait, it's not you. It's Portia that doesn't like country music," she remembered, referring to our next-youngest sister.

But Portia came around by her junior year of college. She first admitted liking the Dixie Chicks, and has since broadened her country tastes. There were several country selections on her wedding reception music list, as a matter of fact.

Two summers ago, I heard my two high school -aged sisters playing country music in their room. They still played a lot of other music that made me cringe, but at least some small movement in tastes occurred, and it made me smile.
My youngest sister is still not completely converted, but she has her picks of country that she enjoys. And as for the older of the two, I hope her appreciation for these types of tunes remains, since I included plenty of them on a CD I burned for her when she left for That Anonymous College this year!

The final step, however, was when I overheard country music drifting out of my brother's room this past summer. I actually knocked and asked him what it was all about. He said that guys he played baseball with liked to listen to country music, and so he heard it all the time when they carpooled to games. "I kind of got used to it, and so I listen to it sometimes," he concluded. Noting that he was in his bedroom at the moment and not anywhere near a carpool or a baseball game, I nodded reflectively and backed out.



My "Favorite Family" blogroll is growing. Check out the latest addition, which I was only just made aware of: my brother's blog!

However, I must here include a Warning!! Do not read this when you are supposed to be doing something else (such as paying attention to a class discussion on the VA System of Healthcare in the United States). I almost cried reading one post, then almost burst out laughing a few different times while reading another post. He's a great storyteller.

So, when are Mom and Dad going to start blogging?

Monday, September 18, 2006

growing so fast

I was finally able to see my friend Sharon's little Maria in New Jersey yesterday, at Sharon's parents' house. We had a barbeque and celebrated Sharon's doctoral status!

This is Maria (with her mom) when I last saw her, at 8 months of age:

and this is Maria yesterday (with her oldest and youngest cousins), now one year old!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Like a River

Coming back to school after a summer away is not just about taking different classes. The entire environment has changed. Different roommates, a different neighborhood, and friends in different places. No, it's not bad--just ever-changing, and a continual adjustment. Like a river (hello, Garth).

Of course, this heightens appreciation for the things that do not change.

My best friend, although recently named a "Doctor" by the psychology department at St. John's University, is still the loving, supportive, fun, Irish-German-but-becoming-Italian girl that I can talk to about anything. Her extended family, who have welcomed me into their lives, have developed and ended relationships, acquired new jobs, given birth to more children. But their homes are still the loving havens that they were when I left.

The family I work for is growing; everyone is one year farther along in school, a bit taller, a little more mature around the eyes. Andrew has a walker now that allows him to really move around and use his leg muscles. But he still laughs hysterically at my feeble quips, and wants to talk about Disney movies well past bedtime.

The children I used to babysit on weekends are looking forward to seeing me tonight, after a 5-month hiatus. I emailed their mother this morning, assuring her that I would love to come, despite some head-cold issues the household is having. This is the email I got in reply:
"Oh, if you could have seen the two girls dancing with delight as I read your e-mail out loud to them. (Jason and the boys are out running errands or they would surely be dancing too)." I'm sure there will be plenty of vertical growth there, as well, accelerated by their sunshine-filled family vacations. But I take pleasure in the knowledge that we will likely have Uncle Joe's take-out pizza for dinner, and the two oldest will chat my ear off about their summer adventures, and eagerly soak up my stories from home. The little 6 year-old will resist going to bed, and the smallest son will capture my heart with his sweet smiles.

My wonderful spiritual director, although in a different parish, is the same priest with the same gentleness and loving guidance. Today he reminded me (again) that for me and for who I am, a true union of human hearts presupposes that the other's heart is sincerely in love with Christ through His Church. Fr. PNC was firm, but expressed his point in such a gentle, fatherly way that I found myself agreeing with him from beginning to end--including the necesary conclusion. Small ouch, but again, I'm moving on.

My roommates are friends of mine from the program. So we've been school buddies for two years now--going on three. I finally get to live with them, which inevitably reveals other sides of ourselves to one another. I laughed when one of them told me she didn't think of me as a morning person--she was under the impression that I'd like to sleep in all day, everyday, if I could. That's one impression that isn't going to take long to change! She also thinks of me whenever she sees this commercial, so wonders never cease... :)

I saw another old friend for breakfast this morning--the sole returning teacher for some families in the parish--along with a "new" friend, who is also teaching this year. Some of the children have gone on to high school, but most are still part of the Academy. And I look forward to hearing new stories with familiar names and circumstances.

Funny thing, how in a way it's the same, and in another way, completely new.

Like a river.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Making Friends"

My CI (clinical instructor) this summer would use this term a lot when he was "backing off" a particularly uncomfortable manual treatment, or when he was providing a soothing, or pain-relieving treatment.
For example, taking someone's shoulder movement through the maximum available range (to the point of pain) almost always elicited at least an "Argh" from the patient. After doing a series of mobilizations to effect the greatest range for the day, my CI would then immediately revert to gentle oscillations--which does relieve pain through stimulation of the joint's mechanoreceptors--and announce, "and now I'm making friends."

But in this case, I am using the term "making friends" in reference to my bed. Already, in barely the third week of September, I am returning to the school-year pattern of daily excited anticipation about my time spent sleeping in bed at night. How sad--looking so forward to rest. I don't want to wish my last semester away, really.

I have spent the greater part of the evening figuring out international adoption regulations, as well as healthcare insurance policy for adoptive children of such circumstances. This research has led me to 4 conclusions:
1. There are a lot of beautiful children all over the world that I would now like to adopt.
2. My bed is really soft and warm and inviting.
3. Children who are adopted from overseas are legally covered under their adoptive parents' health insurance.
4. My bed wants to make friends.

So now that I've figured out the solution to my tutorial groups "problems" for tomorrow, I'm going to bed!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Thoughts about Sundays

"Is it good to be home?"
My friend, Rosa, asked me this question yesterday after our Sunday dinner at her mother's house. She immediately caught her mistake and said, "Well, I guess this isn't really home for you...but you know what I mean."
"I loved being at home this summer," I explained to Rosa. "It was really difficult to leave. But now that I'm here, it's good to be back. And when it's time to go again, it will be difficult to leave."

But I did know what she meant. In fact, eating the traditional "Ragu" with Italian-speaking friends after a beautiful High Mass at St. John's was, in its own way, like coming home. I told her mother, Maria, that tasting her Sunday sauce was like "tasting" home--the home that's been made for me here in Connecticut.
"I knew that's how it would be," Maria nodded. "That's why, when I saw you at Mass, I thought, if you're not doing anything, you should come join us."
Her son Frank (who is married to my dear friend Sharon) says that even just the smell of the Ragu is a comforting thing for him. It carries with it both memories and promises of family time together on Sunday afternoons, time to take a break from work and enjoy one another's company.

Alex, still in high school, excused himself from the table immediately after the meal.
"Where are you going?" his father, Tony, asked.
"I have to finish my Chemistry," he explained.
"You're getting to be just like Shannon," said Maria, referring to my computer-toting, study-between-activities habits of last year's Sundays.
"No, no,"I shook my head. "I'm taking Sundays off this year. They are really going to be my days of rest."
"Yeah, right," Alex challenged.
"I'm serious!" I exclaimed, trying to convince him.
"How long is that going to last?" he retorted.
"All year," I said. "I promise. You can call me on it."
"Don't make promises you can't keep," he continued to tease me.
"I'll keep it. You wait."

I have been appropriately challenged by friends to honor the Lord's Day in all practicality, with all the sacrifices which that might entail.
"It's like tithing," my friend Erin explained to me a few weeks ago. "What makes people think, if they 'cannot' tithe when they're making a few dollars a week, that they're all of a sudden going to be able to tithe when they make a decent paycheck?"
What she was telling me is true. What makes me think that I'm ever going to wake up and say, "Now my life is not as busy; I can start honoring the Sabbath."?
There will always be responsibilities; there will always be more to accomplish. Even when the day comes that I work "normal" hours, I will have to find time to clean house, buy groceries, do laundry, shop for birthday presents, etc. But Sunday is an open day reserved by God for rest, in His honor. What a temptation!
People have done it. It takes time management and determination.

And, of course, plenty of prayer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Home - (sniff?) - Home...

I made it across the entire country! There were even fireworks in Indianapolis to celebrate my one-night stay there with my former clinical instructor and some of her family. (well, maybe that wasn't the only reason for the fireworks...)

Sunday morning at around 8:30am, after passing a sign in Ohio pronouncing "Columbus 25," I asked my mother at home in Colorado to go online and find me a 9am Mass there. Please realize that this was 6:30am her time! After some searching, she adeptly located a church and gave me precise directions from the highway. As we were saying goodbye, I was exiting I-70. I arrived in front of the church about three minutes later with plenty of time to spare! Definitely a recommended adventure. It turns out that this parish is the oldest one in Ohio, established in 1848, and it is still rather beautiful. Stained glass windows, a beautiful altar, murals behind the altar, and only 250 members in the parish! When I heard that (the priest was giving the annual "Sermon on the Amount" report, as he called it, after Mass!) I realized that everyone in attendance must be certain of my visitor status! They were all very welcoming and friendly later over in the church hall for (free!) coffee and donuts. =)

Saw friends in D.C.--some of whom I haven't seen for almost a year. That was great. I overslept on Labor Day, so I did not leave for Connecticut as early as I had planned. But it gave Katie, Erica, and me some "girl time" on the back porch of their house that morning--complete with cups of coffee and plenty of laughter!

Our new place is live-able. Three of my classmates and I have the upstairs 4 bedrooms of a 7-bedroom house, and then there are people living downstairs. It's not exactly two separate apartments, but we do have our own kitchen upstairs, and we will just hang out in each others' bedrooms for socializing! We each have at least a full-sized bed provided, and we've been settling in as quickly as possible, since classes have already started.

The living room downstairs pretty much belongs to the two guys living down there, and now also to the girl who just moved into the other bedroom down there. The downstairs contigent keeps to themselves for the most part, but their very rich-smelling living room "social smoke" drifts upstairs almost every evening. The first few nights I had what I now call a secondary grass headache, which I never before experienced. In fact, one of the first nights here, I started to smell it while I was on the phone. I asked my friend on the other line, "Hey, can you tell me what weed smells like?"
"Given my limited experience with the odor," he began, involuntarily reassuring me by his uncertainty, "and my dull sense of smell, ...I would describe it to be what burning crab-apples might smell like."
I thought it a thoughtful, perceptive analysis. But being that I have never even tried to imagine what burning crab-apples might smell like, I was still unsure.

So later, after my roommate Marisa had arrived home, and when I was walked through a cloud of nasal ambush at the top of the stairs, I asked her, "Is that what it smells like?" Her emphatic reply in the positive only served to increase my headache that had begun a few hours before. Yes, it is unpleasant, to say the least. If our housemates continue to pollute the entire house with it, despite our gentle protests, we'll have to get the landlord to intervene. Which might be interesting, considering he's about our age, if not a little younger. Who knows whether he cares that it's going on.

As you may guess, there are definite advantages to only living here for the next 3 and 1/2 months. On the other hand, it is also very exciting to be living with classmates again--and such clean, responsible, fun, and studious girls altogether! The "clean" characteristic, in particular, is good, since we do not have a dishwasher--everyone likes to keep the sink empty, so there's no foreseeable conflict there.

Classes are going to be fine this semester. No exams, just projects, which is great. And they are all relevant projects, as well: we'll be working with actual clinical sites to help install programs or solve problems. Class time this semester is really reduced, since we don't have labs, so that gives ample time for projects, career planning, and part-time work!

We also need a lot of money as a program and as a class to fund activities surrounding graduation next May--in particular, the annual Dinner Dance. So I'm going out (as in, on the town!) tonight--something I do more in graduate school than undergrad, as it turns out. As a fundraising tradition, the Student Physical Therapy Association is always bargaining with places to collect their cover charges! And guess who--just today--was semi-appointed, and actually semi-volunteered, as a result of being present at the semi-opportune moment, to spearhead the rest of the fundraising for the semester? Yep, yours truly, the one whom everyone is always surprised and excited to see out at a bar. I guess I don't quite fit the "type."

So, you ask, will I be negotiating with bars and other places of drinking and debauchery? No way; the revenue from such has not been very beneficial, as far as percentage. Not worth it, in my opinion--although it's a good excuse for the entire program to get together and hang out, so I'm sure someone will continue organizing those nights. But as for fundraisers, my first official idea for implementation is a class-wide yard sale, so we can get rid of all of our junk accumulated over the past 2 years. After all, we'll all be leaving in December for our last clinical internships--who wants to deal with all this stuff? Two weeks from tomorrow, then, our backyard will be converted into Tag Sale City--100% of the proceeds going to the SPTA fund. In this case, our junk will also be our treasure!

This weekend being the first in the final semester--not very busy yet, in other words--I am heading down to New York to see the relatives on Saturday.

Then next week, the projects start in full-swing, and although I will attempt to be semi-regular in blogging, I make no promises!

Prayers are appreciated, as always....