Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Once A Month

          One thing I truly wasn't counting on, was the hope that I would have, once a month, that maybe this time we might be expecting.  My husband and I are neither seeking children out nor avoiding them, but even either were the case, the possibility (no matter how slim) would still remain that we might be expecting each month.  
          I never was one of those girls who would go ga-ga over any new or not-so-new baby in sight.  It's not that I don't like children in their baby form, because I do, but the thought of holding them was never very appealing to me.  Mostly, I was afraid of either breaking them, or them freaking out and bawling the instant they hit my arms.  I don't know why, that was just the fear I had, and still have to some extent.  I don't really remember what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I can assure you that I wasn't one of those girls who dreamt of growing up to be a mom with 8 kids....  I guess I was too busy living in the present.
          So, now I am married, and I decided (as if it were up to me) that 7 kids would be nice.  Not that we're in any rush, as I mentioned.  At least, not really - until I hear all the reports of other couples married this summer that already expecting, and see all the young mothers at church, who look barely any older than myself, with 4 little kids clinging to their skirts.  Then I feel as though I am old and barren, though I know it isn't true.  It doesn't help, either, to be asked if we were expecting yet, and when I mentioned we had only been married for about 2 months, the reply I got was "That doesn't mean anything", as though something was wrong somewhere because we weren't already with child. 
          So, once a month now, my hopes pick up.  Thus far they have all been met with what has turned out to be quite bitter disappointment (especially since I've discovered most of my pre-menstrual symptoms are the same as early pregnancy symptoms), and a little bit of relief at the same time.  These past 5 months have been quite the emotional roller-coaster for me, and the disappointments only made it worse.  God knows what He is doing; I certainly don't think I was in a place emotionally that I could have been able to handle being with child.  But, I think I've managed to work through my troubles well enough and have them somewhat firmly in hand once again.  I'm trying to keep my hopes low this time, so that perhaps the disappointment might be mitigated a little bit.  
          *sigh*  Here's to hopin'.
And, a few weeks after this post, we found out Jose was on the way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Too Much Quiet!

One of our "Mac-Todd"s.
The standard turtle name in our house.
I want a dog.  Or a cat.  Or a turtle.  Or a bird.  Or snake, maybe.  Heck, there are times that I would settle for a hermit crab, or even fish.  ANYTHING to talk to, other than my two plants.  Most of the time being a housewife isn't so bad.  I enjoy not working outside of the home, seeing my husband for lunch every day, and generally picking and choosing things for my amusement.  But it can be incredibly lonely sometimes.  Projects around the house don't usually last very long, when one's living space is only about 600 sq. ft., but even on the busy days, it's just so incredibly quiet.  

I forgot about the ducks....
so you get to see  him instead of turkeys....

Emma, 2 Reds, Speckles,
Patricia, & Skunk
My vast collection of music has become old and repetitive, and my heart greatly desires a companion while my husband is away at his work.  A job I have contemplated, searched for, and found not.  Some of my time I do giveth for volunteer work, and shall increase that in a time close hence, but alone still I shall remain at home.  (Sorry, was finishing The Hobbit at the same time, and was carried away by the style.)

Pigs.......and then there will be bacon!

Growing up, I was never really alone, unless I wanted to be.  Mom and my siblings were usually around, and when they were not there was always a dog (or two), the cats (of varying numbers), chickens, and for a brief wonderful while, my horse, along with the animals we raised briefly for dinner:  pigs for a few years, and turkeys for a couple.  Even when I did seek solitude, very rarely was it without the companionship of another animate being, most notably Thyme, my dog; and after her untimely death, Auto, my horse.  Such companions brought a sense of security and freedom.  Their presence enabled me to spend many, many wonderful hours out in the neighbor's vast woods, because Mom knew neither Thyme nor Auto would allow anyone to do me harm.  (For the record, I only ever saw two people in all of my wanderings, one of whom was a neighbor.) 

On The Autobahn

 Suffice it to say, after such a life, this solitude is stifling.  Practically speaking, the apartment is no place for a dog (even if our pet allowance wasn't restricted to things living in tanks), the landlord is allergic to cats so Orion must stay in N.H, my husband says he doesn't want a chicken even if it does live in a tank...darn practicality!  *sigh*  But we must be practical.  So my vote is currently going towards song-ish bird of some sort, if we can determine that "cage" is included in the word "tank".  I guess we shall see...
Unfortunately, I have no digital photos of Thyme.....   :'(

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tastes of Marriage

          Mayonnaise.  It's hard to believe that I "had" to give that up.  Especially considering I do not like salad dressing fake mayo in the least.  But I did, and somehow I am managing to survive with that salad dressing fake stuff.  Mostly by avoiding the making of foods which call for it.  ;)  
          A lot of things in life change when one gets married.  The biggest and most notable is the customary leaving of family and home to begin a new life with someone who may very well turn out to be more of a stranger than one might realize.  There are quite a few little differences which exhibit themselves after marriage, many of which are quite unforeseen in the hustle and bustle activity of the "Big Picture".  Like differences in the sense of taste.  My husband likes that fake mayo and despises the real, and also preferred margarine over butter.  I, on the other hand, held the opposite view, though I despised margarine more than fake mayo.  Neither one of us being the extravagant type who might just get all four and let each do as he pleased, there were compromises which had to be made.  Thus, in our fridge may be found that fake mayo stuff, and real butter.  We also found out that I really like pork and don't care so much for chicken, while he doesn't care for pork and much prefers chicken.  In the interests of us both, I strive my hardest to make meals which are flavorful and juicy, the lack of which is our main compliant against the respective meats, thanks to memories of our respective upbringings.  
           Such is it with many aspects which are involved with living with a person.  He is more of a second shifter, I am a first; he is content with the indoors and his PC, I prefer the outdoors and activity; I grew up with pets and desperately want some, he didn't and does not like the idea of hair all over the place; he likes it cooler, I like it warmer; I consider exercise/working out something people do because they think they are fat, he considers it a good way to stay in shape and keep himself at peak performance physically...  The list could go on, and on, and on.  Such are the little things which are not often thought of during dating, most likely because they are rarely encountered.  Dating is doing things which are common to both parties, and in doing so getting to know one another.  Yes, differences are made known in this process, but they have little to no practical bearing on the relationship at this stage.  In marriage, boy, do they come out like fireworks!  
          What to do?  When these little unforeseen differences seem to be all that is apparent, relationships can rip themselves apart.  To go from seeing each other primarily out doing fun stuff, to seeing each other in the hum-drum of everyday life can be quite a shock.  Add to that the differences seemingly boldly staring one in the face, and things can get nasty rather quickly.  But do not despair!  There is hope, and it lies in Compromise.  Now, compromising is not easy - it takes great humility and extreme amounts of selflessness.  It means letting go of things one really wants for the sake of the other, and is then reciprocated.  People may think it harder to compromise on big things, but I have found it to be the case that the little things are more dear to us, and thus prove to be more difficult to compromise on.  One gives up many aspirations when one enters the married state quite happily enough, but imagine having to go without half one's wardrobe (though most of it isn't worn anyway) and things can get testy!
          Mayo; I do miss it, but I got the butter in return so it isn't all that bad.  And that fake mayo stuff is kinda growing on me a bit...but not by much.  By now, I hope it is obvious that I didn't "have" to give anything up at all, but that I chose to for the sake of a better relationship with my husband.  And, though my burgers may be drier, and my tuna taste funny, it was totally worth it.  :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Parasite & Pregnancy Evil? Opposing Opinions, The Search For Truth #1

A letter reply to the thoughtful comment of American, on the post Fetus Actually Beneficial to Mother?

My Dear American,
         Thank you so much for your comment, and I do ask your pardon in the matter of my tardiness.  I would also like to beg your patience in regards to my reply, especially where technical information is concerned, as "Just Google It" does not work too well for me and I have no clue as to what sources are particularly believable and which are not.  Research, particularly internet-based, is in no way my strong suit.  
          Neither my post nor the original article were meant to be very technical and detailed.  Rather, they were meant as a general source of information, with the hopes that interested or ambitious people would then proceed to follow links and research the topic themselves.  The term "microchimerism" was used in the original article; I decided to leave it out in an attempt to keep my post simple and understandable.  Also, the article had two links, one to the 1979 study of microchimerism in humans which sparked studies in human fetomaternal microchimerism; and a link to a 2006 interview on NPR with genetics specialist Dr. Kirby Johnson of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and Prof. Carol Artlett, a researcher at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University on how their findings are congruent with the theory put forth in the article.      
          I did what I could to try and research this subject more in-depth, and found that most of the articles I came across required memberships to the websites they were on.  I found three which seemed to explain what microchimerism is:  Microchimerism.org; JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) on microchimerism; and The Lancet with an article which I believe just explains what fetomaternal microchmerism in general.  (I know with The Lancet one must be a member in order to read full articles.)  It is true, that many studies into human michrochimerism has to do with the possible harmful effects thereof, mostly having to do with possible connections to scleroderma.  See The Lancet; JCI (Journal of Clinical Investigation; Blood (I think that is the name of the site.); also, The Lancet has an article on the possible connection of microchimerism and thyroid disease.  I do not find studies into harmful effects something to be seen as a threat to my argument - there is usually more interest in trying to discover the answer to disease, than trying to find healthy side-effects.  From what I gathered, the study of microchimerism in humans has been actually been around for about 30 years, and somewhat extensively as well.  
          American, you are somewhat correct, on a completely scientific and materialistic level at least, in your terminology of "parasitic".  There seems to be much debate out there as to whether such a relationship as the mother and fetus have is actually truly parasitic or not, but under the definition you have laid out, I would agree with the terminology.  Though it seems to me that a fetus can not be both a parasite and just a lump of the mother's tissue, as per the "It's my body, I can do what I want with it" argument.  I also would like to throw out there that the "parasitic" relation between mother and child continues for quite a while after the child is born...at what age are children really able to survive without "leeching" off of others?  And if they become unwanted during this time of "parasitic leeching", causing possibly even worse psychological damage to the mother than they did in utero, what makes it wrong to terminate them at this point?  Something to consider - at what point does a person actually begin to have "rights"?  If not at conception, when even its DNA says "human", then when?
          I don't know if you are an evolutionist of any sort or not, and please correct me if you are and my understandings are wrong, but I was under the impression that evolution was for the perpetuation of the species, and species perpetuate themselves through reproduction, in the case of humans, pregnancy.  Pregnancy may be terribly uncomfortable and potentially hazardous, but it does not necessarily follow that pregnancy itself is bad.  The death of the mother would almost guarantee the death of the offspring, thus defeating the evolutionary purpose of reproduction.  Until another means of reproduction evolves, pregnancy will be the only way humans perpetuate the species naturally and it therefore does not make sense to me that pregnancy is as bad as many make it out to be.  I know you did not say it, American, and I don't intend to put words in your mouth, but I have seen elsewhere the argument made that the way humans have evolved is no longer compatible to the way they reproduce, and was wondering if you may have any thoughts on this.            
          American, you are correct in saying that pregnancy is still a dangerous thing, though much less so in developed countries than in the underdeveloped ones thanks to advancements in science and medicine.  Unfortunately for both of us, maternal morbidity is as lacking in a universal definition as parasite is.  The WHO (World Health Organization) and Women's Health USA 2011 seem to define maternal morbidity as complications which a woman could/should have died from but didn't, where others define it to mean any sort of complication whatsoever during pregnancy.  This report from 2009 on maternal morbidity (broad definition) says the rate is around 50% (see pg. 10); whereas this study for the Population Research Center from 2001 says 42% of women experience complications, while only 15% develop potentially life-threatening complications (cited from a WHO study); the numbers (if I did the math correctly, though these studies are not whole population studies) from the Women's Health USA 2011 and WHO from 2004 (results section) are closer to the 15% claim:  9.69% and 12.31%, respectively.  I do not wish to dismiss your valid statement that pregnancy is often dangerous, but I do wish to show that your figures may be a bit misleading.  
          As for the offensiveness of the article, I fail to see it.  Perhaps that is because I am pro-life, and therefore do not view it as an attack upon myself and my "cause".  Though I am not sure how saying that cells from the fetus may remain in the mother even after birth erases the experience of pregnancy; rather, it seems to me that it emphasizes how much of a total experience it really is, in addition to the gestation, labor, and childbirth.  Unless one wishes to eliminate the experience of pregnancy all together, in which case I can see how the article may be offensive.  If it is not human, then it has no human rights; but I encourage you to re-consider the question of "When does one become 'human'?"  If one is not human right off the bat, then when does such a change occur?  Further, the fetus did nothing to put itself in such a situation, it has no intent on "hijacking" anything.  A fetus does not spontaneously develop inside a woman -  man's sperm must meet up with egg.  Why, then, don't we ask instead what gives a man the right to ejaculate his sperm into a woman?  For if we break it down to the beginning, it is his sperm that starts this whole "hijacking" in the first place.  I have often wondered why it must be that a woman must be the one to alter her fertility/body with birth control, while men don't have to do anything.  And birth control was meant to be a liberator for women!  I see it as being more enslaved to men and their sexual appetites divorced from responsibility.  
Though I kind of see what you are getting at, organ donation is not parasitic, and a better argument would be "Until the anti-choice movement attempts to make all killing illegal, they don't have a leg to stand on."
          This has probably been way more than you expected, and I do apologize for any boredom and inconvenience I may have caused.  Oh, not to mention I find it very difficult to do short and concise well.  My apologies once again, and thank you ever so much for commenting in the first place!  I really do appreciate it!

<3  Jenn~Henn

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fetus Actually Beneficial to Mother?

     An article on LifeSiteNews makes the claim that a fetus is not only not a parasite, but is actually helping to contribute to the health of the mother by exchanging cells with her.  Yes, you read that correctly - that unformed mass of tissue is actually providing the mother with beneficial cells which may stay with her for the rest of her life!  According to studies which have been going on for more than 30 years, there is a give-and-take process that happens in the placenta, where the mother shares her cells with the fetus, and the fetus shares its cells with the mother.  These fetal cells have been observed aiding the mother's immune system by increasing her autoimmune defenses.  Further, the child's stem cells also enter the mother's bloodstream, helping to regenerate many things, not the least of which are her heart, liver, and brain.  One study goes on to posit that that at the end of a pregnancy, 6% of the DNA in the mother's blood comes from her baby!
     This is just a brief synopsis of the article - the whole thing is worth reading.  Further, so are the comments; I usually look for the dissenting ones, so I know what the opposition is saying.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Re-Defining Words....

Can lead to great misunderstandings.  
     There has been a great effort out there on the part of those who despise religions of any kind, though particularly institutionalized religion, to re-define what religion means, and make it into something which is to be despised and avoided at all costs.  "Religion" started wars; "religion" condones great inhumanity; "religious" people are nothing more than hypocrites; "religious" people are really the worst sinners for not practicing what they preach.  
     Much of what these people claim seems, at first glance, to make much sense.  History quite clearly shows the atrocities committed in the name of religion, and a weak reasoner quite easily comes to the conclusion that religion is the reason such things were done, and therefore religion must be done away with.  What is overlooked in such reasoning is the fact that it is people, terribly, terribly misguided people, beings with free will who do not clearly understand the teachings of their religion who commit such horrible sins.  Yes, some religions do teach violence and hatred, but Christianity has never taught hatred and violence.     It is not the fault of religion that the people who purport to believe and follow do not actually internalize and live what they say they believe - it is the fault of those individuals who have acted hypocritically of their own free will.  
     Redefining religion to mean a thing made up by man for the sake of furthering man's agenda, rather than being man's attempt to respond to his Creator, something higher than himself, is a clever and detrimental attack on not only the Church and religions everywhere, but on humanity as a whole.  There is such an effort out there to separate man from everything else, even his fellow man, leaving him nothing but an island unto himself, an effort to destroy everything that man essentially is.  Man needs other men to flourish, remove him from that and he will die.  The fictitious pure state of nature proposed by Hobbes will eventually become a reality, and man will be worse off for it.  
     The war of the words is one that is worth fighting.  Kingdoms have fallen because of what people have said, and how words are understood.  Ours will be a losing battle if we are not able to maintain a proper definition of words.  We all know how it works:  Pro-choice has such pleasant connotations, where as anti-choice does not.  We all remember a certain president questioning the definition of "is".  Words have meaning, and if we lose them, we have lost the battle.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Catholic Fairy-Tale

Published on Facebook 06/23/2011.

The Catholic Marriage Fairy-tale is not at all like the ones Disney and other Chick-Flick people would like you to think it is. There is no room for a damsel in distress, nor a woman who must be as strong as or stronger than her knight. Like all of life, it is a war against the devil and sin, with the ultimate and mutual reward of heaven waiting to be won. This battle cannot be won by the man fighting alone, nor by the woman fighting alone, but by both, in unison. Each has their own roles, duties, style of fighting, but it must all be for the one end, the salvation of the soul of the other. The man must be the leader, but that does not mean that the woman ought to sit around and wait to be saved. Rather, she must learn to do all that the man does, for even leaders get wounded sometimes, and then it must be the woman who takes the lead, lest, leaderless, the skirmish be lost to the enemy. There must be balance among the ranks, for not all can nor should be good at the same things. For if all are good at the bow, but not at the sword, and vice-versa, then, though the battle go well for a while, it will ultimately be lost in the end, for lack of versatility. So, women, find your Prince Charming, but be prepared to battle alongside of him. Men, search for that Warrior Princess, and together may you see the Promised Land.

From the Celtic Warrior Princess who found her Germanic Warlord.

Progressive Love

Published on Facebook 03/17/2010.  I took this from Fulton J. Sheen's book Three To Get Married.  I thought it something people really ought to know in regards to love.  

The only really progressive thing in all the universe is love. And yet that which God made to bloom and blossom and flower through time and into eternity is that which is most often nipped in the bud. Perhaps that is the reason why artists always picture love as a little cupid who never grows up. Armed with only a bow and arrow in an atomic universe, the poor little angel has hardly a chance. St. Paul speaks of faith and hope disappearing in heaven, but love remaining forever. Yet that one thing that mortals want to be eternal is that which they most quickly choke before it has begun to walk. If a man came from Mars and had never heard of the greatest event in history, which was the birth of the Divine Love in the person of Christ, he probably could guess the rest of the story and predict His Crucifixion. All he would need to do would be to look at the way even the best of human loves are divorced, denied, mutilated, bartered, and stunted.
But if love be what the heart wants above all things else, why does it not grow in love? It is because most hearts want to love like a serpent, not like a bird. They want love on the same plane as the flesh, and not a love which wings its way from earth to mountain peak and then is lost in the sky. They want a love that, like Cupid, does not grow; not a love which dies in order to ascend, like the Risen Christ, Who accepts defeat and conquers it by Love. They want the impossible: repetition without satiety, which no human body can give. The refusal to surrender the horizontal for the vertical, because it demands sacrifice, condemns the heart to mediocrity and staleness. Love is no bargain. It appears so attractive, like a precious violin advertised at a low price, but one discovers that after one has it without much effort it is useless unless one disciplines himself to its use. The cross is a far better picture of what love really is than Cupid. The latter’s darts are shot in the dark in a moment when the heart least expects it; but the cross is something one sees on the roadway of life a long time ahead, and the invitation to carry it to a resurrection of love is frightening, indeed. That is why the Sacred Heart has so few lovers. They want that cross streamlined, without Him, Who said: “If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The ascension of love in marriage proceeds through three stages, each of which has its transfiguration. These three loves are Eros, or sex love; personal love; and Christian love.

Fulton J. Sheen, Three to Get Married, pg. 103-104

The Nature Of True Love

Published on Facebook 03/03/2010.  My thoughts on the nature of true love. 

True Love is not found in story books or fairy-tales. True Love is the willing of the Ultimate Good of another, desiring to do all that one can to enable the Beloved to reach that goal, which is Union with God. Such a desire is most perfectly exhibited in a complete denial of self and the taking on of the Beloved's good as one's own. Anything less than death of self for the Ultimate Good of another is not True Love, and ought not be revered as such. Unless this is understood and acted upon both by the Lover and the Beloved, neither will be satisfied and will remain restless and in search of that Ultimate Love.
Because this is what True Love looks like.

The Prohibition of Romantic Displays of Affection is Harmful to the Christendom Community

Published on Facebook 02/16/2010.  I had spoken (rather poorly I thought) at a debate about the RDA Rule at Christendom College, as it stood in 2010.  This was intended to be a better argument than my speech, but I'm not sure it worked.

Debates are not for solving problems, but rather for developing strong thinking and speaking skills. (Feel free to elaborate if you wish, Mr. J-ski.)

The debate was about the Christendom community as such, not people after or before being in the Christendom community. Therefore the argument that people may or may not have been scarred for life really does not apply. The argument which states that the prohibition forces people off campus and into possibly near occasions of sin does apply, for the students are still currently a part of the Christendom community, and the Church herself teaches that every sin is harmful to the community as well as the individual. Though there is a valid point for the pro side, that the people here at Christendom have enough prudence to determine what is appropriate and in what circumstances as well, which leads one to believe that the rule is unnecessary. Further, though this may be a bit of a digression, we as the community are called to restore all things in Christ, and this cannot be truly done if we are coerced to do so from the outside. Also, there can be great virtue and graces found in fraternal correction for the sake of the other person, and not just because some rule must be upheld. Plus, there is an inherent difference in the values which the secular world holds, and those which we as a student body at Christendom hold, even without the rule, so a comparison between Christendom society and secular society appears to me to be an unimportant one. But that may just be me. *shrug*
Anyway, the rule as it stands, either as stated in the book or as enforced, does harm the community. It is a total and complete ban of all physical manifestations of affection between a man and a woman who are in a "romantic" relationship, both in public and in private. Even the manifestations of affection which are proper to friendship are prohibited, and subject to punishment, lest such actions cause division among the community of the student body. Such a prohibition in itself naturally causes division, for it causes couples to seek out places where the rest of the community is not, even to the point of being driven off campus, so that they may participate in the physical aspect of their relationship. The Christendom institution does do a good job at assisting the mental and spiritual growth of its students, but quite often the physical health of the student is overlooked. We are physical as well as spiritual, and the prohibition of romantic displays of affection, at least as it is currently interpreted, indirectly but strongly impresses the student body with the idea that all physical signs of affection are somehow wrong, whether they be manifested in public or in private. A couple feels as though they are doing something wrong when they are participating in acts which are proper and good for their state in life. Such a mindset is unhealthy, and breeds suspicion and secretiveness, both of which are detrimental to community.
Furthermore, the existence of the rule prevents people from learning what physical manifestations of affection are and are not acceptable in public. If Christendom is really to restore all things in Christ, we must not forget the physical part of man's nature, and teach ourselves and the world what proper courtship and dating behaviour is, but we cannot do that if we are not allowed to practice anything but complete and utter abstinence from all physical touch in public.
Now if I can just find my points to try and wrap up, I think we'll be all set. Sorry it is so scattered...kinda like my speech was...
Sin is always harmful to the community. The rule in itself forces people to separate themselves off from the community, breeds suspicion and secretiveness among peers, and inculcates in students a faulty conception of things which are right and proper and acceptable as being sinful. The rule reduces the opportunity for people to grow as a community and is actually a hindrance to our mission to restore all things in Christ. Therefore, the prohibition of romantic displays of affection is harmful the Christendom community.


Published on Facebook 02/14/2010.  I wrote it while meditating upon my engagement ring, which was my Gigi's.

“Diamonds,” she thought as she glanced down at her finger, “who could have come up with the idea that they represent a pure love and the promise of a life together?” The ring, the only thing adorning her left hand, was rather simple. A single brilliant-cut diamond was fixed in a delicate golden setting. Not as fancy s many of the engagement rings which she had seen of late, it was beautiful in its simplicity, like the love with which it was given. She allowed her gaze to descend once again as she pondered the question of diamonds. “Diamonds are strong and lasting, so I guess it would make sense for them to symbolize the characteristics of a true love,” she concluded. She smiled, with both pleasure at her successful musing and fondness for the person to whom she had promised herself.

Slowly her smile became wistful, as her thoughts turned to the previous owner of her ring. It had originally been her great-grandmother’s, given to her by her husband for their thirtieth anniversary. Though they had not been close, time and distance the main impediments to this, the girl had been told stories about what a wonderful woman her great-grandmother had been – a loving and compassionate wife, a kind and understanding mother. Fingering the ring, she sighed. “Please God,” she prayed, “that I may live up to the legacy of Gigi, and be half the woman that she was.”

Things I Wish I Had Known About Rome

This was first published on Facebook 11/02/2009.  I wrote it to hopefully help reduce the culture shock for the Spring Junior Semester Romies.  

This is just a kind of list of things that I really wish I had known about Rome beforehand, and which caused me to have a bit of a difficult time adjusting to being over here.

1. There is graffiti everywhere. I got to Candia and my first thought was, "Wow. I didn't think it would look like the trashy side of town." Of course, this is coming from an uber-country girl with little experience with the nature of the city. Anyway, it really isn't the trashy side at all, there's just a lot of graffiti everywhere. And Candia is actually in a very desirable part of town, with a lot of very nice and pricey stores all up and down it.

2. Things are not as big as all the pictures make them out to be. Or maybe my perspective is just off. Either way, many of the things which are here gave a rather anti-climactic meeting when I finally got to see them. Just something to possibly be aware of.

So this is actually a little atypical, since it is some sort of cycling race. 
3. People are everywhere! Always! It is not the Rome of the movies, which you may have begun to guess after my first thing. Anyway, there are people in St. Peter's Square, on the Spanish steps, at the Trevi Fountain. Yes, I know that is what happens in tourist towns, but it is good to be reminded. Plus, they keep really odd hours here, too. There was literally a crowd at the Trevi Fountain at 11 o'clock at night........

4. You will miss the Chapel. Yes, you are going to be in Rome, the seat of the Church, with nearly 900 churches in/around the city, but good luck finding one like the Chapel of Christendom. Most have odd hours and all of them close early, so there will probably be no visits right before retiring for the night. Plus, a good majority of them are popular for tourists to breeze through, and the general atmosphere is not conducive for prayer. The chapel at the Institute is nice, but we have rather limited access to it. I really like the mosaic there, by the way.

5. Lack of common areas! This isn't as much of a problem now that we have new winter hours, but not having a common area was quite an irritation, especially once it started to get cold. Patios are great places to congregate, but only the lower levels have them, and unless you are really good at inviting yourself over to someone else's room, patios won't do you all that much good. I personally am not good at that, but y'all are more outgoing than I am.

6. The internet really isn't that consistent. Just don't expect it to be all that great. As such, Skype may not be such a reliable way of keeping in touch with your family. It seems to do fine computer to computer, but can be really moody when connecting to landlines or cells.

7. Bring an extra copy of your passport and other important things of that nature for yourself. They will come in handy if you happen to lose them, either by your misplacing them or they get stolen from you. You only need to have your passport with you if you are leaving Italy, so keep it somewhere safe in your room otherwise. I say the same for your ATM card and driver's license - keep them in your room unless you are going to be using them directly. They will be a pain to worry about if your bag does happen to get stolen.

8. They wear jeans here. All the time. You will not stick out in the least if you wear them. Actually, in general, you will probably be among the nicer, neater dressed people around. Which is good, because Italian shop owners respond better to well-dressed people. Also, polos and patch pockets are allowed for class. FYI.

9. Not actually something I wish I had known, but that I think y'all might like to know anyway. There are people here who are constantly trying to get you to buy stuff. Many restaurants have people standing outside them to wave in passers-by; there are guys trying desperately to get you to buy roses for the girls you may be with, and they can be really pushy, too; they try to get you to buy umbrellas when it is raining and you don't have one, and you will run into them every 10-20 feet. Also, do not by from the blacks. They are not legal street vendors, and will try to pawn imitation brand name stuff off on you. The best way to get rid of them is to present a wonderfully cold shoulder and practice your aloofness.

10. Just because you really can't stop a list on 9. Anyway, the people who are begging money may seem like they really need it, but don't fall for it. Almost all of the ones I see everyday coming back from class have cell phones, and the ones on the trains are dressed really nicely for beggars. One lady was wearing more jewelry than I was!

There, now that list is properly rounded out, I'll start signing off with more useful info. First off, this trip will change you, and I think it is what makes juniors into seniors. Believe you me. I've had what seems like more than my fair share of bad luck on this trip, but I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. Rome is an amazing city and an awesome place to be. You will all probably really miss the States about a third of the way in, but it will get better, I promise. The good times are many, but you will have to make them yourselves. And they will be different for each of you - it is impossible for me to try to describe them to you. But this trip does have the potential to be one of the greatest times of your lives.

You will probably find classes sickeningly easy, which will give you more than enough time to go out and explore. Just bear in mind that many places such as the Mouth of Truth have daytime hours and are not open at night. The metro/bus passes which you will be getting are the greatest things in the world, and really open up your options. Use them as much as you can!

Santa Maria della Gratia is right down the street from Candia and has a ton of Mass times. I really like the 11:15 on Sunday. Just be aware that there are no orderly Communion lines, and holy water seems to be a rather foreign concept in a lot of churches. They also have a rosary every night at 6.

For those of you who would like to escape the city occasionally, I suggest the Borgese Gardens. Take the red line metro to Flaminio/Piazza del Popolo, turn left and go up through the arch. You'll know you are there when you see tons of trees and other green stuffs. Definitely my favorite place to escape to. Visit the "duck pond" in memory of me!

Finally, what ever you do, DO NOT LOSE YOUR KEY!!! You will have to pay anywhere from 100-300 Euro from your own pocket to replace it. And there won't be a fine, because it is already such a hefty punishment as it is. Just don't lose it or get it stolen. Life will be so much better for you that way.

I hope this is all rather helpful to you!!

Btw, I couldn't remember who all is coming in the spring, so feel free to inform those I forgot if you think it pertinent. Plus, I'm not friends with everyone in our class, either. 


     So a few months ago I "deleted" my Facebook account, in an attempt to gain more control over my online time-wasting. It worked for a little while, then I filled up my FB time with the blogs I am now following, and a little bit of posting on my own. Didn't really cut down on my time online, but I would definitely say that I am putting it to much better use. Well, I decided the other day that I am now strong enough to again face the potential for time-wasting that Facebook presents, and, to my surprise, found that my account was there just the same as if I had never left, but only taken a months-long vacation from activity. "Deletion" never took place, even though I was greatly assured by the site that it would be. Just a head's up to anyone who might be considering leaving. I don't know what happens to one's account, but it does not disappear. Anyway, I'm back on now, and only the people who interest me are my "friends"; which is good, because I have felt rather out of the loop, so to speak, since I have been off and I very much need to become reconnected to life outside my apartment again. Upon re-starting my account, I found numerous "notes" that I had posted, and have decided to bring them over here. I think I'm just going to copy and paste them, rather than type them all out again, so I beg pardon for the decline of visual pleasure as a result.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012


     Why is it that all my good thoughts occur when I am nowhere near the computer? Walking, doing dishes, folding laundry, and my mind is flowing from one musing to the next; but plop myself down in front of the computer and *POOF!* nothing, just a wondering what in the world to write.  

     I have pretty much determined that I am a worker-thinker:  When I have some menial labor to do, I pass the time by thinking. I honestly enjoy being alone with my thoughts, most of the time. Thinking used to be the main way to pass time working in solitude (I'm including prayer in thinking); before the advent of television and portable music players, all a person had available was thought.  
     Nowadays there seems to be an unfortunate lack of deep thinking done by the general populace. People are afraid, unwilling, unable to be alone with their thoughts. Being able to have music or some other form of distraction during times of solitude is almost a right to many of the youths of today. To go without one's mp3 player or other media device would be considered tantamount to torture! 
     It truly is a pity that thinking and contemplation is no longer something seen as worthy and desirable in our society. While there is potential for great philosophical errors to spring up from improperly formed thinkers such damage would certainly be less than the damage done by masses who simply follow and do not desire to know or understand why.  

     I'm beginning to think that it might be better to be part of a nation of goats who think for themselves than to be a nation of sheep that simply follow one another to the slaughter.