Friday, December 23, 2011

What I feel like when I run, 7QT, Volume 52

I am SO PROUD to announce that my brilliant beau is now a certified Professional Engineer! He is now known as Prince Charming, PE.

After a long, long, long two month stint of 200 pounds of engineering books, hours in a review classroom, and an eight-hour, butt-numbing test... not to mention the two month wait, he received his scores!

What a champion. I knew it!

His view from the stage
You know when you walk out of a great movie, hear a mind-blowing homily, or go to a comedy show and you can't remember ANYTHING said? I know how you feel.

But I have to assume Jerry Seinfeld was hilarious last week when I saw him in Richmond because I woke up with sore abs and a tight jaw. My dimples were aching.

He doesn't go to very many places when he tours for his comedy show, but he always seems to stop in Richmond at our Landmark Theatre (the Mosque, as we call it). Thank you, Jerry, for keeping it clean, for pointing out the nuances we all think about but can never articulate, and for entertaining me in my very own city!


About 5 minutes before their flirty snowball fight
My sister and I agreed, independently, that Beauty and the Beast is in great want of a five minute scene of Belle and the Beast falling in Love.

Brief synopsis covering about 15 minutes of the movie:
  • Belle finds her father in a dungeon
  • Beast takes Belle prisoner instead of father
  • Belle escapes, Beast finds her and fends off wolves
  • Belle and Beast are in love
Maybe I'm doing this wrong, but it doesn't work that way for me.

Speaking of Disney movies that don't portray Love accurately, I created a new pinboard and I think the ladies out there might enjoy it.
*4* Nuff said.

I just learned about this incredibly efficient use of the Internet and other people's time to save your bladder and prevent you from wasting your $46 on a movie ticket. Brilliant.


Speaking of running... Kayla of The Alluring World and Emily of A Day in the Life and I are on a team. We're virtual running buddies, motivating each other from afar to run and get into shape for our respective races.

I have a 10K run to look forward to on March 31, so if you could file away your prayers a little prematurely, me and my poor muscles would greatly appreciate it.

I ran this race last year, but I'm going to run it without stopping this year. I'm promising myself, and I never back down on a self-promise. The first line in my post from last year's race is:

"Oh man, y'all. I rediscovered something about myself: I am not a runner."

That will change, my friends. Care to join Kayla, Emily, and me?


After my accidental weeks-long break from blogging due to busyness, I think I made up for it this week with perhaps too many posts!

Our Deepest Fear - A short one that includes a quote that has been a necessary reminder for several years.

Chastity Carnal-val - I enjoy puns about chastity.

Carrying Baby Jesus into Christmas Mass - A call to action for all of us!

Lime spelled backwards - On the anniversary of my Emil Daddy's death


The Bright Maidens came back strong this week! I hope you didn't notice me skip out on the last one... if you didn't, I'm telling you now.

This week we "reviewed" TLC's new "reality" The Virgin Diaries. I enjoyed the responses, I hope you do too:

Mine, "Chastity Carnal-val"
Julie, "Kiss the Girl!"
Trista, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Virgin"

Katie, "Virgin 'Diaries'" - The woman behind the topic idea.
Alicia, "Virgin is the New Mermaid"
Beth Anne, "Virgin Diaries Review"
Sarah, "Unicorns in Our Midst: 21st Century Virgins"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lime spelled backwards

One year ago today, the only grandfather I got to meet passed away in his home, after more than a year battling to get back to normal life, post-stroke. One of the things everyone often teased him about was his chronic tardiness. I think of him now, finally reunited with the grandmother I never met, who died when my mother was a toddler: "Good ol' Emil. Always keeping me waiting!" I can hear her say.

In re-tribute, I'm reposting my tribute to him from last year:

My only grandfather passed away on Wednesday, early morning and we laid him to rest today. About two weeks ago, we checked him into the ER for pneumonia symptoms and found out he had lung cancer that had metastasized to his liver on the side that was paralyzed from his stroke a year ago.

My theory is that the paralyzed side hid a lot of the pain that he would have felt in what turned out to be late stages of cancer. PLUS he was a stubborn man who spoke of no pain, emotional or physical. You might think Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer are tough, but that's because you never met Emil Daddy.

We called him Emil Daddy because he was a strapping, young 54-year-old when his eldest grandchild (ME!) was born -- he didn't want to feel old and he liked doing things his own way, so it was "Emil Daddy."

If you're as impeccably observant as my grandfather was, you've already noticed that his name is the backwards version of a tart, green citrus fruit. He came to EVERY Grandparents' Day at each of his five grandchildren's schools, bringing with him a bag of limes as a visual teaching tool.

"You'll always remember how to spell it because it's lime, L-I-M-E, spelled backwards," he said to a crowd of open mouthed elementary school kids sitting Indian style on the rug.

He was always a big hit and my sister says she has a friend who asked her last year, "You're the one with the grandfather with the limes, right?"

My Emil Daddy lost his young wife when my mom and her sister were 2 and 3-years-old. I was talking to a friend and cousin the day he died and she exclaimed about how she didn't know any man who is ready to get married at the age he was on his wedding day, let alone who is able to raise two girls. Those girls grew into extremely successful women with college degrees, a nursing degree for one and an engineering masters degree for the other, and kicking families, if I do say so myself.

Throughout all of Emil Daddy's own book of Job, he remained steadfast in the Lord. It was really something to admire. His faith was consistent and strong, even when it would have been easier to get mad and give up.

In his daily life, Emil Daddy was extremely organized. I cannot begin to explain just what I mean by "extremely" because you have never met someone so efficient and particular. He saved every used peanut butter jar to store something, he separated black pens, blue pens, and red pens, he rewrote the user manuals for his computer in notebooks, cross-referencing them in other notebooks (using color coordination), so he would absolutely know where to go when he had a question.
I'm on the left. Chubby little hand, huh?
I could write for hours about the little quirks and memories I have of this stoic yet sacrificing and giving man. In fact, I'm working on a novel that will explain the love story between Emil Daddy and his wife, Thelma. Sneak preview: we have a few pages of 12-year-old Emil handwriting explaining how he was in love with a girl in his class, Thelma, and how he wanted to marry her. It only took ten years, I guess.

Thank you, Lord, for bringing me into the world under the care of my grandfather, Emil. I will continue to learn from the imprint he left on my life.

Thank you for your prayers and your time in reading this. God bless you all and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carrying Baby Jesus into Christmas Mass

Dust off the cameras and projectors, pull out the forgotten chairs, and unpack several dozen more sleeves of wafers: Christmas is almost here! With Christmas comes the perhaps temporary, reverse diaspora of many of God’s people.

Time to shake off the dust to let the Light shine through ourselves. We’ve been preparing for this, friends!

Sometimes Advent feels more like a rat race through increased traffic and higher credit card bills than a time of preparation for the coming of our Savior. I have filled too many of my adulthood Advents with inconsequential priorities that stomp out the importance of the season until Christmas Eve arrives.

Even on Christmas Eve I have found myself frustrated that my family must be dressed and in the car almost two hours before Mass begins in order to secure a seat. These “fair weather” attendees make me feel crowded, I’m ashamed to say I have thought.

This is the opposite attitude I should have when celebrating the birth of the Christ who came to save all of us.

This year, in an effort to pump up my prayer life, I will welcome the claustrophobia as the opportunity it is! There I will be, facing a packed room of new people to speak to! Consider taking this twice-a-year chance to meet these new people. They might consider coming to Mass more often if they found a sense of community at church and it’s our job to introduce them to it.

Imagine what it must be like to walk into church for the first time in nine months, picking a seat surrounded by silence on a day signified by joy. It would be hard to muster the courage to reach out at your premiere Mass — and sometimes the second opportunity doesn’t come. Let’s talk to them now.

Read more at IGNITUM TODAY!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chastity Carnal-val

Review: The Virgin Diaries on TLC
"Chastity Carnal-val" by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

The greatest on-screen defense of chastity I've seen was in episode 12, season 4 of House, MD. The episode featured a Hasidic Jewish bride who collapsed at her wedding. The Hasidic duo were unable to consummate the marriage due to medical tests and certainly had not touched prior to their wedding day.

At one point, the bride was in shorts and a tank top for a medical test and her new husband said he needed to respect her and look away while she was in such a state. He said he imagines his wife thought the first time he would see her "bare" would be in the bedroom, "celebrating their marriage."

A doctor politely said, "Given the circumstances, I'm sure Roz would sacrifice her modesty to have you with her." To which the new groom replied:

"Please, don't do that...You think it's sweet that I care for her modesty, but that it's archaic and ultimately irrelevant. Our traditions aren't just blind rituals. They mean something, they have purpose. I respect my wife. And I respect her body."

I'd much rather see more bows in respect for those values in secular television shows than the spectacle of "Virgin Diaries," which looks like a carnival for unsexed folks.

Let's be honest, because I'm a virgin who hopes more people might find fulfillment in chastity, I'm going to be defensive about a "reality show" on a cable network showcasing virgins.
Another showcase: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding show

I admit, as I've never been all of the way on the other side of the "aisle" on this topic, my opinion is tainted. However, if we can rely on statistics as a guide, the opinions of the producers, feature reporters and much of the laughing audience are also tainted.

To clarify: I'm not condemning those who don't choose a chaste lifestyle. Believe me, I don't always get it right, and it would be wrong to think I could ever know anyone else's mindset or situation.

How easy it is to get fired up over this television show. Watching the commentary and talk show hosts banter on about it makes it obvious that this country, and probably the world, seems to think the people in this show are to be giggled at.

"If it's half as good as the promo, I think they have a very big hit on their hands," said Jimmy Kimmel.

Bingo. It's a hit. The unbearably uncomfortable few seconds of first kiss footage were a producer’s dream!

Just like the iPad solved the chunky laptop problem for a moment and Blueray raises the standard for home movies, someone came along with an idea for a new television show to attract audiences.

Why do people like to watch the Jersey Shore? Because they are outliers to the rest of us who don't know what that world is like. The concept of choosing (or not successfully pursuing) a premarital sex life is as bizarre to most Americans as the frosted-tip-orange-skin-rude-behavior lifestyle is to me.
We could be the virgin version of these fine people

Being a virgin after the first semester of college is a mythical lifestyle.

I have not seen an episode of the show all the way through, but I've watched the TLC-made promotional videos and the episode teasers. In one, we see the couple walking hand-in-hand, discussing the process of their wedding night, from wedding attire, step-by-step until they consummate their marriage, intermittently cut between scenes of them on a see-saw.

Please, TLC. I know you've hit network gold with this foreign concept, but handle it with a little professionalism and intelligence. See-saw?

If I put myself in the shoes of those who find the concept laughable, I can understand their grinning quips about how the newlyweds “can't keep their hands off each other” after the exchange of vows. However, if I may put my cynicism hat on, this reaction shows that it is hard to believe this show can ever be a helpful tool for those who want to share about the benefits of chastity.

We virgins who choose to abstain before marriage aren’t simply “keeping our hands off each other” -- it’s just too hard to do so blindly, especially in the twenty-first century. I know I'm trying to make a gift of myself in the most intimate way possible, to one man. Alice von Hildebrand calls it the "intimate sphere," because the terms "sex" and "making Love" have lost impact.

When I think about how supremely personal the "intimate sphere" will be, I can't imagine why these two virgins would volunteer a camera to document the final weeks and moments leading up to it, leaving the interpretation of an innocent jaunt on a see-saw to the editors.

I guess it's still up to those in the trenches to spread the message, via grassroots.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our deepest fear

Stop what you're doing and read this quote:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' 
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. 
Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." (Williamson, Marianne, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles," Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3] -- Sometimes attributed to Nelson Mandela, but he borrowed it from Ms. Williamson)

I know several friends and family members who are looking for a career change, looking for a job, trying to make a big life decision, and learning how to discern. Listen here, y'all.

God don't make junk. He created you with a unique set of talents and strengths. Remember this, read aloud the above quote, and go forth!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sneak preview

Sister, dad, mom, sister, me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Half an idiom is wanting

I'm in a British mood. I'm currently obsessed with a new television show, and no, it's not Canadian. It's British and brilliant. As I seem to have a struggle finding time for poignant posts that fit the original intent for this blog, I will share with you a fun one.

Maggie Smith is quite British.
There is much to be thankful for with the English language. We are so blessed with synonyms that we could potentially create 78,990 versions of one ten-word-long sentence, without repeating key vocables. Or locutions, or morphemes, if you prefer.

However, I often weep for the English language, at the same time I torture it. We're losing the ability to exchange intelligent thoughts, I fear. In looking for shorter, newer ways of speaking, we've lost a more eloquent tongue. One of the casualties of this slow murder has been the loss of significance in our idioms.

Here are several idioms that the show "Downton Abbey" uses in their entirety. You will probably recognize them, but you might not know they were longer than the version we throw around each day. Enjoy!
  • There are more fish in the sea than ever came out of it. - When one of the characters used this in the TV show, it was the first time I realized the phrase didn't stop with "there are more fish in the sea." With the tail (pun) at the end of the idiom, it's more specific, as it refers to the fisher (usually someone looking for a love) who might catch two or three fish (love-ees). This serves as a reminder that not only are there more fish out there to "catch" but that you haven't done a relative amount of fishing to find them. I won't comment on how that agrees or disagrees with TOB...
  • Shipshape and ready in Bristol fashion. - How FUN IS THIS IDIOM!? Try saying it with a British accent. Fun, right?! Bristol has been a prominent seaport town in the UK for centuries, though it is on a estuary river instead of at the coast. Therefore, the ships that came to Bristol had to be prepared to sit on dry land sturdily -- with carefully stowed goods-- as low tide went out (or came in, depending on if you're an English professor) each day. This phrase is a merge of two: ship-shape, which means just what it sounds like and has been used since the 17th century, and "in Bristol fashion" from the early 19th century.
  • You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. - You cannot make a good quality product using bad quality materials. Because I never really paid attention to this and just made my own guess for what it meant, I absentmindedly took this phrase to mean something similar to "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Funny how I had that backwards.... When life hands you lemons, go shopping for better quality fruit, so they say.
  • A drowning man will clutch at a straw. - I'm sure you know this idiom, or "grasping at straws," is used to describe the actions of someone in desperate situations. Its meaning comes from the former inference of "a straw" as it was once an accepted example to refer to anything flimsy or worthless, just as straw seems flimsy or worthless. So the language already had the word "straw" referring to anything worthless and we add the image of a drowning man clutch (derived from Wycliffe's 14th century English translation of 1 Timothy 6:12) at whatever might be able to prevent him from falling below the water, mix in several centuries and POOF we have "grasping at straws." Now you know what you're saying when you use that phrase!
  • Three sheets to the wind. - I was so excited to learn that this idiom, used when someone is very drunk, is derived from the "sheets" or the ropes that hold the sails in place on a ship. If these are too loose, they are blown by strong wind, making the boat unsteady and resembling a drunkard. Jolly ho!
  • One swallow doesn't make a summer. - One example or bit of proof doesn't make a pattern or truth. From Richard Taverner's transcription of the [Latin] proverbs of Erasmus - Prouerbes or adagies with newe addicions, gathered out of the Chiliades of Erasmus, 1539: "It is not one swalowe that bryngeth in somer. It is not one good qualitie that maketh a man good." And we thought we invented symbolism and imagery!
  • The best-laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry. - Tickle me pink to learn this is the whole phrase that we lopped off into two! It's directly from the Scotsman Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse:" "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." Gang aft agley, as you will have to trust me, means "go oft awry," or "often go awry." Just as we shorten idioms to "When in Rome," here we see that people can quickly use "best-laid plans!" as a quip to bring our fellow men and women to the trough for a taste of sweet, sweet humility. Other times, people tend to throw around "of mice and men," methinks carelessly and in a way that doesn't seem to fit with the origin. However, "the best-laid schemes!"
  • The darkest hour is just before the dawn. - A character from Downton Abbey used this phrase and followed it with, "But the dawn always comes." I've more often heard the intro to this phrase, "darkest hour," used as if it stands alone. I prefer knowing the entirety, because it packs in optimism while leaving it to the negative half of the equation suspends negativity indefinitely. That's the last thing our world needs.
  • The proof of the pudding is in the eating. - "The proof is in the pudding."  What?! "The proof is in the pudding" made me think of some piece of key evidence -- a credit card receipt, a murder weapon, or my little sister's neglected green beans -- swimming around at the bottom of the pudding bowl. I chalked it up (probably another misused idiom) to the goofy English language and moved on. Now I know that "proof" means "test," in this example (as we know we only get proof as a result of a test). This proverb can be traced back to the 14th century and basically means what it seems after we replace proof with test: until you have experienced something and done everything to learn as much as possible about it, you can't know its value.
  • The exception that proves the rule. - This never made any sense. Here again we need to remember that "proof" is the result of a test, so replace "proves" in the phrase. The phrase was intended to convey, "The exception demonstrates that the rule exists." It comes from latin legalese, circa 17th century: "Exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis," or "exception confirms the rule in the cases not excepted."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Socialis Saturday

IgnitumToday has begun hosting a "Socialis Saturday" to bring the writers and commenters together in one forum. We want to hear from you! Today's topic is

What is the brightest new idea
that you had this year that
you would give as advice
to someone else?

Join us!

IgnitumToday is the new name for Virtuous Planet. For those who do not know, VP faced legal problems if the name was not changed. No one likes a lawsuit (well, most don't), so we changed it! Please follow us (again!) on Facebook and Twitter!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Souls in a storm

I'll hang on to my excuses over my missing Bright Maidens post and my absence for now.... several months ago Michelle from Catholic Unveiled asked me to help her fill some space on her blog while she served others with her big heart in Mexico. Here is my contribution that she published today:

On December 22, 2010, I woke up to one of the worst phone calls that I have ever received.On April 10 of this year I woke up feeling like someone was tugging on my throat and swinging from it like it tolled the bell in a tower. I knew she had left us.

I’ve become very familiar with funerals, the abundance of food, and handshakes over the last nine months. My great aunt died unexpectedly in November (four days before Thanksgiving), my maternal grandfather died a month later (three days before Christmas), and my paternal grandmother died a week before Palm Sunday.

An additional handful of friends and family have died since last November, placing me and my family in nine funeral Masses during the last nine months.

Someone who has to repeat outfits at the funeral home cannot easily avoid the big questions about what he or she believes about souls and life after Earth. Our logical, rational mind can get bogged down for the quest for answers to this question.

Logic and rationale are beautiful gifts of the mind; they are often helpful and the means by which we discover Truth. However, we can’t forget to think about where the rubber meets the road, especially when this vehicle is carrying a full load of grief and fear.

We are the Church, members of the Communion of Saints. When Christ conquered death and resurrected, He unified the Church beyond the weakened lines of Earthly death.

The readings for August 7 highlighted this bond and exemplifies the attendance of God in every part of our lives.

In moments of weakness, I catch myself assuming that God was only truly present with the prophets, among the Apostles, and the first disciples. Elijah had a direct telephone line to God, Moses saw Him several times, the Twelve followed Him around for three years, and then saw Him in the Upper Room after His death.

Of course they believed, I rant, their faith grew daily in His strong, factual presence.

We don’t get that luxury, I think in my self-pitying mindset. We just have to believe God cares enough to pull us out of the storm when we fall below the water’s surface.

“A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD— but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake— but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire— but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” -1 Kings 19:11-13

God came to Elijah in the calm.

Read more....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Like Pulling Snowman Teeth - 7QT, Volume 51

Visit Conversion Diary for more!
I didn't post for Thanksgiving A) because I was enjoying time with my family and B) I prayed all of you were enjoying your Thanksgiving instead of reading blogs!

So......... I enjoyed time with my cousins, the Twinsies, and the rest of my family. They are almost a year old! I can't believe it. I have a sliver of the feeling that I would feel if I was their mother, I'm sure.

Cyber Monday came and went without a penny spent by me. *Pats self on back*

I hear the best deals come later anyway. Plus, do I really need anything else?

(Check out if you're considering buying some electronics or gadgets.)

Though I constantly resist the sales, I'm still enticed by some really delicious feeling of spending money, even though I HATE SPENDING MONEY.

I wrote this quick take on Wednesday... and Thursday I went on a spree... sigh.

How do you feel about the Victoria's Secret show? I never had a very strong opinion about it, but it occurred to me that I probably should...

My short opinion: yes, they are objectifying women. Absolutely, though the women choose to and even DREAM of walking down that catwalk. They also dress it up with the fanciful, costume atmosphere that the fashion world is famous for.

Therefore, no, it's not as bad as porn, but the subtlety allows more of the negative messages that discredit TOB to sneak by, under the guise of a carnival show.

Victorian Secret fashion show
Liesl introduced me to 1000 Awesome Things, such as when the first person starts the standing ovation. That person, if you look around next time you're at a performance, is usually my father or my sister. I admire them for that because, unfortunately, I don't think that will ever be me.

Check out their books for a dose of positivity in your Christmas shopping:

The Book of (Holiday) Awesome
The Book of Awesome

One thing I really love about my beau is also something that attracts a lot of playful teasing from my family and friends.

A cruel little game my family (and I) play is to name a movie, any movie, hoping to nail one of the 14 movies he's seen (I'm kidding, my love :) ). He's seen more than 14, but probably less than 80.

Again, I love this about him. He spent his childhood DOING things instead of watching movies. He is an expert on almost everything handy or crafty (seriously, everything). I learn something new every single day and without the time to learn all of that, he wouldn't be able to teach me the quirky, genius ways to fix things.

Plus, now we have the chance to watch some of my favorite movies together, should he wish to watch them.

He's putting in surround sound in his living room so we can enjoy some movies together. :)

I still prefer our hiking and travel outing most of all.

I just watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and .... the first thing I thought of when the Dentist took out the teeth of the Abominable Snowman was, "Eugenics!"

As we know, the delightful founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was a strong voice in the eugenics movement. She advocated for birth control and sterilization to clean up the human race (taking out the "mentally inferior" and black), treating fertility like a disease.

Now here we have this gigantic, fearsome (misunderstood?) monster whose unappealing feature is his man-and-reindeer appetite and accompanying teeth. Pop, pop, pop. Get those things out of there. Presto-chango, he's tame and puts stars on your 15 ft. Christmas trees at the end of a leash.

Are you picking up what I'm putting down? To clarify: I'm not accusing the writer of Rudolph of supporting eugenics, nor am I belittling serializing to removing a monster's teeth.

Do you think Santa picked up a Canadian accent up there?

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