Recap: Six Word Summaries

Oh, hey.  How's your new year going so far?  Mine?  Oh, it's pretty good.

Seeing it's been over a month since my last post--sorry!--I thought I'd bring you up to speed, but in an easily readable format.  So I give you: the past month, six words at a time. . .

Christmas: Seven Fishes, Midnight Mass, and family.

Date #1 (12/26): Much talking; kicked out at closing. (Bonus 6: postponed date was worth the wait.)

New Year's Eve: Date Number Two and we're exclusive. (Bonus 6: Hug and kiss from his mom!)

Date #3 (01/04): He cooked me Chilean Sea Bass.  (Bonus 6: Then he said Three Little Words.)

Back to School (01/05): Eased back in with reading program.

Date #4 (01/08): I said Three Little Words back.

Date #5 (01/11): He made arrabiata properly for me.*

Date #6 (01/18): Soup, snuggling, and good talks.  (Bonus 6: Checking off my Big Love List.)

That oughta get you going but definitely feel free to ask any questions in the comment box and I will answer as much as I can!



Really Odd Odds'n'Ends

None of these items have much in common, except that they happened since last I posted:

  • Report cards: done.  Eight and a half hours (yes, practically another work day) and a horrible cold to work through.  But they are done, hallelujah.
  • There have been a lot of children absent this week--missing on average five students per class.  Part of it is illnesses that are going around, another part might be the start of Hanukkah (but not much if I understand our student body demographics), and one more part that made the national news.  I'm not going to link to it but something terrible happened over an apparent custody battle and one of the areas was around but not really near us.  But apparently near enough that all the regional school districts said the kids can't go out for recess.  Two days of that and I'm begging for mercy.  Even with all those kids out.
  • At least after a jam-packed day of holiday-crazed, formerly-sick kids who haven't been outside, we got to have kittens in the library after school!
  • One of our afterschool clubs had a guest speaker who brought foster kittens (and a dog who was overjoyed to be around 40 children!).  The B&W kitten is trying to make a break for it.
  • I might have run into someone I went to school with over Thanksgiving weekend while out to dinner with my parents, someone who in turn by trying to track me down, found Older Brother and asked him for my digits. (Which Older Bro kindly asked me about before giving them out.) A week of phone tag might have ensued and then I might have had a couple of phone conversations. . . and I might have been asked to dinner this weekend.
  • Not quite ready for Christmas.  Tree is assembled but not decorated.  Gifts are 99% purchased but 0% wrapped.  And I don't think Santa would be wanting to make a pit stop if he saw my bathroom so I'd better clean that up, too.  (Sometime when I am not working because of course I had to take one for the team and am working the weekend before Christmas.)

A week from now, I'll be on vacation! Yippee!!!


Report Card Purgatory

If I can just get six more levels of report card grades done in the next two days, then it'll be smooth sailing until Christmas- oops, I mean "Winter Break."

I can't explain it: I'm teaching a full schedule (that's 30 classes a week), I'm tired, my brain is overloaded from learning and having to keep track of so darn much new stuff--but I'm overall very content with my new job.

It probably didn't hurt that last week one of the 4th grade teachers hosted an ornament exchange and I had a really nice time driving with one of my co-workers who navigated (and also didn't have heat in her car).  I feel more in an Advent/preparing-for-Christmas mood.

It also didn't hurt that Thanksgiving wasn't too bad--just a minor incident with a broken glass from rammy kids whose parents didn't know when to take them home.  Oh, and the minor incident with the toilet that Older Brother should've known how not to clog, considering he spent half his life living at our parents' house.  (Sigh.)  But Younger Sister and YSF loved the house blessing.

Interesting times I've been living in lately.



Practicing Gratitude in All Things, Even the Annoying Ones

When my car decides two days before Thanksgiving it doesn't want to start, I feel grateful that my parents gave me a AAA membership and that my mom won't need the car while she is cooking up a storm.
(Also grateful that they were able to find a substitute for me. Eventually, thanks to the horrible timing and also the fact that I didn't know the proper protocol.  I know now!  My head still hurts from being stressed out and anxious to hear about the car.)

When darling Cat decides 3:10 AM is the perfect time to sing for breakast, I feel grateful she is still around. . . and that once she eats, she'll snuggle in bed with me until the alarm goes off.
Yesterday, she spent most of the evening in the kitchen towel cabinet.
Which probably explains waking up at 3 a.m.

When I can't find three lost things I really, really need and have been trying to find them for nearly a month now, I feel grateful a complete disaster hasn't happened without them. . . yet.  And I still am hopeful I am going to find them.  Yes, this will be the week.  Maybe.

When I'm reading yet another message from a way-too-old, way-too-far-away person from the online dating site. . . well, I just try to be grateful that at least someone noticed my photo and thinks I'm cute.  

Just like how the AAA guy said, "Have I mentioned you look beautiful today?" before he broke the bad news it wasn't a dead battery.  Hee.

I said, "Next you're gonna tell me I'm beautiful when I'm crying."

Oh, I am soooo grateful for humor right now. . .



Don't Want an Asychronous Relationship; Don't Want Your Crumbs

Back in the blogging saddle, having battled not only work overwhelmingness and birthday blues but also time-weather-change blues and general cat craziness.  (She's fine but not adjusting her internal clock at all.  Hello, 3 a.m. yowling.)

Perhaps one contributor to the blues was not hearing from Mr. Lehigh Valley since before Halloween, and not having any real prospects since.  I'd decided at the beginning of this past that I'd delete our texting from my phone, and then on the 15th (today, coincidentally) I'd delete his contact info.

Today I worked at my part-time job, and so I don't see my phone until lunchtime.  (Would rather not have it out on the library floor for the taking.)  And there on my phone was a "Hey how are things with u things ok here been busy with work" text from him!?

I don't want this random talk.  I don't even want an hour of rapid typing back and forth.  Do you realize how many more words you can say--ideas you can communicate--in the same amount of time?  He doesn't, apparently.  He either is really lazy or just really compartmentalized.  Like this guy who can give his high school girlfriend only "Eight Percent of My Love."  (You youngsters have no idea about the awesomeness that was Square One TV on PBS.)

"Hey how are things with u things ok here been busy with work"

Why say you really want to find love when you can't be bothered to put any effort into it?  Are you really going to get your best when you never give your best?

I mean, we're all "busy."  We thankfully have jobs, pets, friendships, chores, faith commitments, DVR'd television programs, etc. to take up our time.  

But if someone isn't willing to reframe and adjust his or her weekly routine to invest time in getting to know someone, how will a relationship ever find a way in?

I don't hear from you in more than a fortnight, and you're just gonna send me a barely coherent text with what I guess is an EXCUSE for not being able to TYPE ONE GARBLED SENTENCE sooner, just like you did last month on a Saturday morning while visiting your grandma?

Is it because seeing her, old and alone in a nursing home, being looked after by her children and grandchildren, reminds you that you should talk to a girl?  

"Hey how are things with u things ok here been busy with work"

What am I supposed to make of this?

. . .

I'm getting the sense I'm not worth very much to him.  Not beyond keeping me on the hook just to believe and tell others he's "talking to someone" from online dating.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here.  I'm probably a little more irritated than I thought I'd be, thanks to the PMS monster.  Or the increase in jewelry ads as the "holidays" approach.  And wondering how much the Thanksgiving dinner conversation will focus on Younger Sister's new house.

Maybe that'll just be a signal for me to get up from the table.

Nobody would notice, anyway!




Not Alone Series: Talking About Ess-Eee-Eks

Here is this week's prompt: Our culture is obsessed with sex. With anyone! At any time! If you want to, just do it! But, the Church teaches that sex was created for the context of marriage. Why do you choose to abstain? Why aren't you going around having sex with just anyone? How would you encourage others to do the same? How do you remain strong when everything in our culture is encouraging you to abandon your convictions?

This week's prompt was particularly appropriate, given the conversation with my mom this afternoon.

Although the dinner with Mr. Lehigh Valley seemed to go very well, not much communication has happened since.  And there wasn't much before that dinner, now that I think about it.  It appears we have gone from hour-long phone calls once or twice a week to a little bit of texting on Saturdays.  He texted me from visiting his grandmother in the nursing home, just like last Saturday. I asked him his plans for the rest of the day and he said they were to crash the sofa and catch up on all the sports games.  I'm just getting the sense he's working too hard/doing too much to have the energy and/or time to date.

Or, you know, I really didn't catch his fancy.  (So why he even bothers with texting, I'm not sure.)  I'm not trashing the whole thing but at this point in time things are going nowhere.

I called my mom, frustrated and a bit disappointed.  O.K., I cried a little.  There was definitely some nose-blowing.

Mom: Well, here, I'm looking at the website right now and there's a cute guy your age and he's from [a town in the same county as us, pretty close by].

Me: That's surprising he didn't come up in my searches.  Maybe it's a fake one to bring people in.

Mom: It's not fake!  I'm sending you his picture. *types email*  But it says I have to log in or register to see his profile. 

Me: O.K., well, maybe he's not coming up in my searches because something doesn't match. Like the questions.

Mom: What questions?

Me: The "Do you accept the Church's teaching about certain things" questions. It's probably the contraception one.

We figured out his member number and how to look him up.  And after Mom promised to uncheck the "Keep me logged in" box, I gave her my log-in (I know! I'm a hypocritical librarian! Don't do what I do; keep your passwords private!) and we both looked at his profile.

Sure enough, the question about accepting the Church's teaching about contraception was answered "No," as was the one about sex.

Other than that, his profile sounded nice and he was good-looking.  I'm not saying I wouldn't respond if he messaged me--because he will get a notification that I viewed his profile--but I'm not planning on reaching out.  Mom asked me why, and I told her how uncomfortable some of the dates were on the other dating site I used years ago, and how obvious it was the men had had sex before, and they wanted it again. One guy confessed to me he'd renewed his expired membership with that site because his friends had made fun of him for not "sealing the deal" with me.  (Yeah, he was a jerk and so were his so-called friends.)

I don't know how easy it is to change someone's mind about all of it, but at the very least I'll answer the prompt above, because maybe that will give me some clarity for what I would say if put on the spot during a conversation with a date.

Why do you choose to abstain? Why aren't you going around having sex with just anyone? Sex is a gift from God to spouses so that they can enjoy each other, be closer, and (at times) produce children.  I choose not to have sex because (1) as I am not married, it is serious sin which is something I try my hardest to avoid, (2) the emotional and physical consequences are too great, and (3) I have lived through the harrowing experience of being just one person removed from not one but two "surprise pregnancies" (in quotes because, really? surprised twice?) and the emotional rollercoaster of attachment/fear of commitment.

For those who are fairly new readers of the blog: I have a niece and a nephew who were born within about 17 months of each other and who both were conceived during break-up/make-up cycles between my brother and his then-girlfriend--who now is my SIL as the result of much prayer, grace, and pastoral counseling for both of them.  But it could have gone completely the other way and I'd have never seen those kids again, nor would I be enjoying my other two wonderful youngest nephews.  I shudder just typing that.
It was horrible while it was happening--my own boyfriend at the time judged me and was not much comfort--and the worst part was worrying about what was going to happen to those little babies because there was nothing anyone could say or do to help.  We were told how to feel and how to act, because they were in massive denial about the whole messed-up situation.
I shouldn't have been surprised, actually, because years before, I'd come across my brother's high school journal (oh yeah, they were encouraged by their teachers to put their thoughts in these things and apparently didn't get any kind of response or just weren't read. . . by their Catholic teachers, some of whom were priests!!!) and on one page he'd written something like, "Once you have sex all you can think about is having it again."  Mind you, he was a teenager then, but adults' engaging in sex without considering the consequences (or thinking you're invincible) sounds pretty immature to me, too.

How would you encourage others to do the same? I think I would encourage others to do the same by being open to learning what the Church teaches, and talking about it, both the positives and the negatives.  Sure, people make mistakes and have regrets, and I've had those conversations with dorm-mates and roommates.  I would not judge them and in fact would applaud them for having the courage to make the decision to be chaste.

One of the priests at my college gave this advisement to us students: "Men use love to get sex and women use sex to get love."  I'm not fond of generalizations like that, but maybe I would say that there are some people, both men and women, who would say, "I love you," to convince the other person that it's O.K. to sleep together--and on the other side, people who are willing to sleep with someone so they feel loved, so it keeps the other person around.  (Hence the whole point that sex bonds people in an emotional, not to mention biochemical, way.)  So maybe we need to make sure people feel loved in other ways, by giving them attention, listening to them, caring for them.

How do you remain strong when everything in our culture is encouraging you to abandon your convictions?  Are you kidding me?  I've been countercultural since I was a kid; why should I be any different now? It doesn't faze me anymore.  During my time in college, JPII coined the phrase "culture of death" and it involved abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and drugs/harming oneself.  I stood outside of it then--on the fringes, because I loved alternative music especially--and maybe it helped me evangelize somewhat, to reach out to people and say, I know how it feels but there's a better way.  It's not easy, but if you're lucky you get some grace to help you and find some friends, of either the IRL or invisible internet type, or both.
I hated being dumped by guys who didn't like being told, "No," but I'm glad to be free of the emotional complications, fear of STDs, and pregnancy scares.  (Not to mention being used by handsy pervs.)  I'm looking forward to enjoying being with my future husband and not have that "who I've been with" list looming over our bed.  

And on a lighter note, it's too bad our consciences can't sound like Broomhilde from Robin Hood: Men in Tights, as she protected Maid Marian:

"No ding-ding vithout ze vedding ring!
(photo from Aveleyman website)

Thanks to Jen for hosting this week's Not Alone Series link-up.  See more responses here.


Four Things About the Last Seven Days

One: I wrote up two students in two days for unacceptable behavior during class.  One was in Kindergarten (punching a classmate) and one was in Third grade (numerous problems but the last straw was spitting in a classmate's face!).  That was my first time dealing with any of that kind of stuff.  Stupid eclipse, Stupid day off for the kids tomorrow but not for us faculty.

Two: I didn't get a chance to participate in this week's Not Alone Series but if you like reading about prayer and/or the single life you might like to see what others had to say.  Very heartening.

Three: I arranged for a beautiful house blessing to be made by this artist for YS and YSF's new house.  It arrived yesterday and I can't wait to give it to them (which probably won't be before Thanksgiving, sigh).  They are hauling tail trying to get all the work on the house done so YS and her housemate (plus tiny cat) can move in at the end of the month.  At least somebody has tomorrow off to do something productive.

Four: I had dinner last night with Mr. Lehigh Valley.  He really does exist and looks like his photos.  Three-plus hours of talking.  Two hugs.  He is cute, smelled nice, and paid for dinner.  We had a good time.