Friday, December 31, 2004

2005 almost here. Hmm.

I only actually remember one New Years. It was 1980. My parent, seizing the opportunity to pursue their newest hobby of turning everything possible into a math exercise for me (annoying but necessary - I was always close to failing math in elementary school and actually did in 4th grade...but that's a story for another time), challenged me to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. After many calculations and way too much effort, I finally figured out that I would turn 29 in 2000. To my eight year old self in 1980, not only did 2000 seem impossibly far away, 29 sounded like the oldest a human being could possibly be (even though my mom and dad were 44 and 53 respectively).

In 2005 I will be turning 34, five years older than that impossible 29. I find myself troubled by that. Oh, not because I am getting older - I can deal with that. It's more because I haven't accomplished anything I thought I would have by this point in time. By now I was supposed to be married with children (to a baseball player, according to my inner time line), a published author, and generally well-known and respected.

Instead, I am toiling away in anonymity in a job I really don't like and don't have much aptitude for (except for the research and application end of it). My one potentially publishable work remains stuck at just over 10000 words. And I don't remember my last date, it's been so long (and no, he wasn't a baseball player - he was an accountant).

As I reflect on that, I feel more than a little inadequate. I'm still fundamentally the same person who was predicted to go so far by just about every teacher I had (except for my math teachers, but they were minions of Satan anyway, so...). Yet I have accomplished nothing. Why?

I'd like to blame it on everything else: the fact that we were rather financially bad off when I was growing up, the fact that my parents died while I was relatively young, the fact that I couldn't leave Pittsburgh after graduation because I was taking care of Mum, global warming, etc. But I can't. Oh, those and other bad things played a part, but they aren solely responsible for me not living up to my potential.

I am.

I've made my share of bad choices in life. Sometimes I was forced into making a bad choice by circumstances, but more often I simply made a poor decsion. I chose to be an ed. major even though even then I liked writing more than I liked teaching writing. I chose to take the crappy financial aid job instead of subbing after graduation. I chose not to move to North Carolina when my friend found me a job in her school the summer after Mum died. Heck, I even chose to pass notes in Algebra II instead of actually paying attention. Change any one of those things, or the thousand other things that hindsight tells me were bad ideas, and who knows what my life would be like now.

So, as 2005 creeps ever closer, I pray for just one thing for myself in the coming year: Clarity. I ask God to help me to see the path He has laid out before me, and to help me walk it to the best of my ability. I know that many other choices loom in front of me in the coming year, and I ask that God grant me the wisdom to make the right decisions.

I just hope that I am listening.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

What Are You Doing New Year's

New Year's Eve?

My answer is...laundry. Does life get more exciting than that?

Really, though, I'm hoping to get some writing in. I just wish I had a more comfortable place to write than I do. But alas, I don't. Still, I haven't gotten any quality writing done in weeks. If I'm going to commit myself to the writing thing, it helps to actually put words on paper. Makes it much easier to shop to agents and then publishers.

Job situation still pretty much stinks. I stayed up until 1 a.m. fixing a spreadsheet last night, and sent it to my boss. She didn't look at it before sending it to her boss. There were errors. They were minor, but they were there. Kicking myself over that, even though no one knows it was me who did the spreadsheet - they think it was her. I feel bad though. Really, the blame lies with my boss's boss's boss. She didn't mention that she wanted that part of the market share report done this week. She said she wanted the market share report by the 15th of January. Then she calls yesterday looking for this part. And the beauty of it is that it looks like the numbers in it aren't even accurate (not our fault - blame the provider).

Nevertheless, let this be a lesson, kiddies. Proofread, proofread, proofread. And if you aren't confident, get someone else to proofread.

My boss's new boss comes back to work Monday. Don't know how that's going to go. She's worried about changes that might happen. And I'm worried about...well, everything. According to my boss, this person says that she wants to hire me soon, but needs to work out a job description. I want to be optimistic, but I've heard this song and dance before. The fact of the matter is I've been temping there for nine and a half months now. I'm really, really tired of it. Have I mentioned that?

The tsunami. Wow. The scope of that disaster is almost too much for me to comprehend. They said on the news tonight that the death count is at 125,000 right now. I think I saw on MSN that something like 30,000 of those were in Sri Lanka. That's a small city.

It's good to see that so many people are stepping forward to help, though. It kind of restores your faith in humanity a little bit.

Guess I'm going to go now. Yeah, it's a weak conclusion, but oh well. Cest la vie. (look at me speaking French. Woo hoo.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Two links

Go. Read. Giggle.

Giggle at this, too, if you're sports minded. Meant to post it Sunday, but I forgot.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Had Lots to Say...

...but can't remember any of it.

Cried at work again today. Almost got in trouble with the agency I work for. They didn't tell us we got holiday hours for last Friday (and I assume this Friday) and my supervisor let me fudge my hours as long as I make them up this week. Well, the agency called and asked if I did in fact work Friday, because I get holiday hours for that day. Well, I got flustered because I wasn't expecting that, and I stuttered through an answer (damn my introversion), and I got the impression that I could end up in trouble with them after that phone call. Fortunately my supervisor at the company overheard, I told her the situation, and she called them and set everything to right. She's a good person, even if she drives me crazy sometimes.

I just hate temping. It's so hard sometimes because you are neither here nor there, especially with long term assignments. I've been at this same company for nine and a half months now, but I don't feel a part of it. I never know what I can do and what I can't, and I just hate it.

The problem is that the job market here in South Louisiana really stinks at the moment, unless you know someone (this is easily the most political state in the union). I know people, unfortuantely they are all members of the CCC. So even though I know congresspeople, lawyers, physicians, Nick Saban (wait - that's not such a good thing right now), and other movers and shakers, they can't (or won't) help me since I've been ostracized. It's like I'm Amish and have been shunned. In short, it stinks.


Watched Spiderman 2 twice this weekend. Loved it! I've always liked Spiderman, from the first time I saw him on The Electric Company. I read the comics, I've seen every episode of every cartoon series (except the one currently on MTV, since I gave up cable), and seen both movies. I've even read a couple of the novels.

I think I like Spiderman so much because he isn't the typical superhero. There's always something larger than life about superheros: Batman/Bruce Wayne is a millionaire playboy, Superman/Clark Kent is an alien, etc. But Spiderman is just a typical guy searching for his place in the world. He has a tremendous gift thrust upon him through no action or desire of his own, and he as to decide what to do with it, and how to function with it/despite it. It really is kind of profound.

This movie had some pretty deep themes stuck in there amongst all the action. Perhaps the most profound is the idea of masks. Peter Parker wears the mask as Spiderman and essentially becomes a different person. But he isn't sure he likes who that person is. Yet that person is a part of him, just as much as the sweet little science geek is. He struggles with his powers in this movie, and even rejects them for a time. But circumstances compel him to use them again. And the viewer knows instantly when he realizes that Spiderman is as much a part of who he is as the science geek, Aunt Mae's nephew, and the guy with a huge, unrequited crush on Mary Jane Watson. He removes his mask, and he's just Peter.

If that movie doesn't receive Oscar nominatins at least for cinematography and screenplay, then it is a travesty of justice.

Just my $0.02.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

So This is Christmas

Woo Hoo.

It's funny. The keep putting radar images in the corner of the TV screen because apparently it's snowing in the bayous. They actually closed I-10 between Prairieville and New Orleans for a little bit of snow and freezing rain. I drove from Erie to Buffalo in a blizzard that layed down a foot and a half of snow and they never considered closing 90. Wimps

I enjoyed services last night. The church was decorated simply but beautifully. The service wasn't complicated or dynamic or full of bells and whistles (well, whistles, anyway - there were handbells) but it was...peaceful. I think that was part of what was starting to get to me about Catholic worship - for all the bells and whistles and rules and just...stuff, I was losing site of why I was there. Lutheran worship is a scaled back version of Catholic worship, and I find I like it's simplicty and peacefulness.

I also found the sermon very significant. On the way to church, God and I were having a little conversation that went something like this:

"Big Guy, to be blunt, this year sucked."

"I know. Sorry about that."

"Not your fault. But I need 2004 to be better. I need You to help me make it better. You lead, I'll follow, but I need to know what to do."


So I listened. And the pastor preached last night about how we focus so much on celebrating Jesus' birth that we forget the other part of the equation - the gift he gave us with His life and death. He said that Christmas, we need to remember that Love has in fact come, and has left us His grace. He said we need to remember to live in the moment, and trust that the path that God has laid out for us, difficult as it sometimes is, is filled with graced moments and to revel in that Gift Jesus gave us.

Yeah. God and I are communicating again. Contrast above to what I wrote on July 4th (again, I'd link but I'm feeling too lazy. Just go to the July archive page).

I also made the decsion last night to write to two of my Catholic friends and tell them what's going on. I've been going to this church since August, but I'm scared to death to tell my Catholic friends. I'm scared of one of two things happening. The easiest to explain is rejection, especially from those down here in Louisiana. Catholic-Protestant relations here are kind of...non-existant. I'm not used to that at all. In Pittsburgh, the Catholic bishop and the Lutheran bishop issue at least on joint statement of faith every year. In fact, the leaders of all the mainline Christian denominations meet on a regular basis to pray and talk. Here, Catholics seem to be threatened by Protestants. So I'm afraid that if I admit to the fact that I'm thinking of becoming one of the, they'll just shove me completely out of their lives.

The second fear, and if a way, the worse fear for me, is that they'll be persistant in trying to "bring me back home." A lot of Catholics view anyone who leaves the church for whatever reason as a lost sheep who needs to be shephered back to the flock. They are persistent in wanting to drag you back, whether you want to go or not. I don't know if I could face that. It was not a snap decision that led me to St. Paul's. It was months of agonizing and praying and contemplating and studying before I even considered it, then it took three weeks of driving there, sitting in the parking lot until services began, and leaving before I finally got up the guts to go inside. I just don't know how I'd react if I was accused of experimenting or making a snap, spontaneous decision. I'm a rational, intelligent person, even when it comes to religion (I intentionally didn't say faith - faith isn't reasonable in and of itself, but it can't exist without reason as far as I am concerned.). I knew what I was doing when I made the choices I did, I don't regret them, and at this point in time I don't want to go back to the Catholic Church. I can't say that that will be a permanent thing, but for now, I like the community where I am worshipping. I like what I have read about Lutheran theology and spirituality. I can hear God again. It's a good thing.

So I'm writing two letters. I don't know what will happen, but I know I have to do it.

Oh. I made pancakes on my new griddle today. It was exciting. I also made bacon in a frying pan and filled my apartment with smoke. I find it funny that turning on the heat for the first time in winter can make my smoke alarm go off, but an apartment full of bacon smoke doesn't. Not a comforting thought.

Friday, December 24, 2004


I posted this as a response to a comment on my last entry, but I feel the need to post it on the main page as well. Take it how you will.

Well, you know I appreciate you comments. And even though I don't write about it every day, the fact of the matter is that I do know how fortunate I am. I thank God every day that:

  • I had both of my parents around for the 22 and 24 years that I did have them, and that they loved me enough to make incredible sacrifices for my happiness.
  • I have a roof over my head and a warm place to sleep tonight, unlike the people they showed at the St. Vincent DePaul shelter on the news last night, as BR had it's first hard freeze of the season.
  • I had an opportunity for a good education as a child despite growing up in the inner city, unlike so many children out there.
  • I have a job - even if it pays a pittance - unlike so many who have lost their jobs in the past month.
  • My job requires me to do the extremely boring task of manipulating data all day long, unlike the men and women serving in the military who wak up in the morning not knowing if they will see the night.
  • That the student loan people allowed me to attend and complete college, even if I can't find a job that will allow me to pay them back.
  • That I have been able to find a faith community in a different denominationthat has shown me kindness when my own did not.
  • For all the little things God has blessed me with in my life, and there have been a lot of them.
  • For the fact that God allowed Himself to become incarnate in Jesus and allowed Himself to be sacrificed as payment for my sins.
  • That God loves me despite my faults and imperfections.

But the fact remains that I'm frustrated that I've been dealt a pretty lousy hand the past several of years including:

  • Unjustly losing my job in January because the church I worked for wanted to hire the son of a founding (and very wealthy) parishioner for political reasons.
  • Being treated no better than the gum on the bottom of the shoes of the people in the parish I worked for for 18 months before that because I committed the unforgivable sin of growing up in a working class family in the north.
  • Being offered two good jobs this past summer, one of which I really wanted, but being unable to take them because I couldn't afford to move.
  • Temping at the same company for nine months, been told that I'm a real asset, and then having the department fail to put hiring me in the budget. Meanwhile, it would probably cost them less to hire me than what they are paying the temp agency every week.
  • Worrying every time I get a sniffle that it is something more and panicking over what I will do if it comes down to that, considering my PCP charges $80 for an office visit if you don't have insurance and that that is almost 1/3 of my weekly pay, and knowing that I can't receive primary care at the charity hospital because my pay comes to $18700 a year, and to qualify for primary care you can't make over $18000 as a single person.
  • Panicking every time my car makes a funny noise because I don't have any spare money to fix it and public transportation in BR sucks, to be blunt. If I don't have a car, I can't work.
  • Losing both of my parents within two years of each other before I turned 25, and having my remaining relatives reject me utterly after the died for reasons known only to them.
  • Spending most holidays alone, and feeling like an interloper when I'm invited to spend them with someone else.

Yes, I do have internet access, and a DVD player (bought for $30 when I had a job that paid almost twice what my current one does. My ISP fees and my Netflix membership constitute my entire entertainment budget for the month. I don't ever eat out. I don't ever go to the movies. I don't buy CD's or DVD's or books. I don't buy new clothing. I get my haircut at the local beauty school for cheap.

I do give money to my church and to charity. I do do volunteer work through the company I temp for and on my own. I do buy fast food gift certificates to give to the folks panhandling by the interstate.

The fact of the matter is that I whine in my blog so that I don't whine in real life. If I can put my frustrations down in writing for myself and whatever anonymous people wander in here to see, I can get through the day without sniping at my co-workers, whose continual talks about the frivoulous way they spend money drives me crazy. I can get through the day without crying because my job is so incredibly boring and doesn't allow me to use the skills I have. I can put on a happy face for all the world to seedespite the fact that I'm in pain on the inside, and no one is the wiser.

Oh, and I couldn't care less about the commercialism of Christmas. My best Christmas ever was the year when money was really tight for my family and all I got was a sweater, a package of Snack Pack pudding, and a deck of cards. What made it wonderful was the fact that it was just me and my parents and it was incredibly peaceful and just...right.

I know I'm not the only one suffering this holiday season. There are a lot of other people out there who are lonely, or sick, or otherwise unhappy. And I grieve for them just as much as I grieve for myself. I hate injustice in all it's forms. I may gripe about not having health insurance myself and not being able to seek medical care, but I know that there are millions of other people out there in the same boat. I know that I am not the only person in America who is underemployed; with the economy the way it is, there are millions. And I know that despite the fact that I've been dealt a pretty lousy hand, there are a whole lot of people a whole lot worse off than I am.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. But the fact of the matter is that it is impossible to know someone from meager words on a page or on a computer screen. I don't think that it's fair that you seemed to have judged me on just a few blog entries. I wouldn't presume to do the same to you.


Well, it's Christmas Eve, and it looks like I may be spending at least part of the day in the emergency room at the charity hospital. I think I'm officially sick, and without insurance, I don't have much of a choice. I've had a low-grade fever all week, and I had cyst-type things on my side and my chin this week, just like I did in February when I had a staph infection. Those two are pretty well healed and show no signs of spread, but what I thought on Wednesday was a zit on my nostril (sorry - I know it's gross, but I haven't slept all night. I have the right to be indelicate) has gotten progressively larger and now my whole upper lip area is swollen, and I think my cheek and jaw may be as well. It hurts so bad that I haven't slept at all tonight. I don't want to go to Earl K Long, because the waits there are notorious, but I don't have much of a choice. Plus, I think they give you any medicine that is prescribed there, so you don't have to get the prescription filled.

The worst think about my current situation is the lack of benefits. I hate not having insurance. Yeah, the insurance I had at the CCC was ridiculously expensive ($70 a month for the basic plan) with horrible co-pays ($25 PCP, $40 specialist, $50 urgent care) but at least it was there.

Oh, and something is wrong with my car.

Will it get better? I sometimes wonder.

I wish my parents were still around. I want my mommy!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Little Things

You know, it really is a wonder how small things can either ruin or improve you mood by great measures.

My friend Amy read my blog on the 16th, the "All I Want for Christmas" entry (sorry - I'm too lazy to link. Besides, the link is still right over there <===). Last night, at 9 p.m., the UPS guy knocked on my door. He had a box from Amazon that he said was for me. Since I haven't ordered anything from them in a year (unless you count the pre-order for Harry Potter 6 I placed a few days ago - can't wait for July 16th!), I questioned him, but it was for me. Amy got me the Spiderman 2 DVD. I couldn't believe it, and couldn't believe how touched I was that she thought of me. I'm still upset that the company I've been working at didn't budget to hire me (although my supervisor doesn't believe it), and I still hate the fuss over Christmas, but that small gesture was enough to bring a little bit of brightness into the darkness in my mood.

I'm off to get my paycheck and to try to bring some brightness to someone else in turn.

Monday, December 20, 2004

It's a Wonder...

...that there aren't even more suicides than there are this time of year.

I'm a little depressed, can you tell? I hate Christmas. I try really hard every year to not hate it, but I never succeed. I know I'm supposed to feel happy, but when you have no family, your friends don't even bother to send cards, and the only gifts you get are pity gifts from your bosses(some awful smelling Mary Kay crap, a cheap wreath, and a votive candle) and an electric griddle from the company you work for to thank you for your nine months of indentured servitude, it's hard to feel jolly.

Oh, and then of course you hear that despite your nine months of temping, and knowing that the amount of work your department has to get done couldn't get done without you, your department head didn't put it in the budget for this year for you to be hired. Nevertheless, they value you and your skills and want you to stay for crappy pay and no benefits.

I've cried the past two days at work. I never cry at work. I don't know that I have ever felt quite as hopeless as I do right now.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

All I Want for Christmas

Saw this meme in someone's blog and decided to put it in mine.

Assuming reality and money are no object, all I want for Christmas is:

  • Peace on Earth
  • An end to poverty
  • An end to disease
  • Respect and tolerance for all people
  • A really, really good haircut
  • An alarm clock that works consistently
  • Spiderman 2 DVD
  • A Chia Pet turtle.

Profound, no?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Water in the Desert

I had an interesting experience at church this weekend. I've been meaning to write about it since, but never quite got around to it.

First, there was a baptism this weekend. I don't know if the rite they used is the "official" Lutheran rite (is there an official Lutheran rite? I would think so since they consider baptism a sacrament), but it was really beautiful. I loved the prayers that were used, and at the end, the pastor took the baby and literally presented him to the whole congregation. I mean, he walked around the whole church with him. I thought that was the coolest thing I have ever seen.

The second thing was that I had a revelation about desert imagery in Scripture. The pastor mentioned in his sermon that the desert wasteland was frequently used in the Old Testament, and even by modern writers, to symbolize separation from God. As I thought about that, I realized that in the New Testament, as well as in the very early church (the desert fathers, for example), the desert was where people went to find God. I thought about why the difference, and I realized that the difference was Jesus. Jesus bridged that separation between God and humanity by becoming incarnate. He is the water in the desert that enables a seeker to endure the sometimes long and difficult search for God.

I feel like I should have known that all along, but it was an "ah ha" moment, nonetheless.

The final thing is that I didn't leave the church like I was a conflict fleeing captivity this week. I didn't linger, either, but I wasn't on the verge of a panic attack.

Progress, I suppose. I don't know what it all means, but there you go.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Please Save Me!

I need music that isn't Christmas music. Or at least Christmas music that isn't sung by a choir that sounds like they are being tortured into singing the least upbeat rendition possible of these songs. If I have to listen to this junk for the next three weeks I am going to completely lose my mind. I think we should pass a law that Christmas music can't be played prior to December 18th. I can deal with one week, but over a month? No way.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Long Awaited "More to Come"

Yeah, I have time now since I can't do any real work because our files are being moved to a different server. Just a few notes, though, as I'm choosing to keep some other things close to the vest until I process them all together. Yeah, I know no one (except that one person who pops up in my stats a couple times a week - Hi!) actually reads this, but still, I am an introvert.

I had lunch on Tuesday with the pastor of the church I've going to. It was a real step out of my comfort zone, as I sorta kinda initiated the contact (sorta kinda because I responded to an e-mail he sent me, even though I was scared to do so). He was really very nice, not condemnation of my Catholicism or anything (as a side note - while I'm in parenthetical mode - I have no idea where or when I developed the attitude that Protestants are so unwelcoming of Catholics. I don't think I ever had it before I moved down here). In fact, he was very affirming of how slowly I've been moving, and of the fact that I've been trying to separate my feelings of hurt caused by the St. Al's CCC with my...misgivings? about the larger Catholic Church. He told me that he'd get some things together for me to read and for us to talk about, and he said that regardless of how active or how much on the periphery I chose to be, St. Paul's would always welcome me.

That was cool. I feel a little bit better about everything now, though I still think I need closure with the CCC...maybe this weekend I'll finally write that letter I've been meaning to write.

If I was still at the CCC, I'd be in Pittsburgh at a conference right now. I miss home. Even though we came close to our first freeze here the other day, highs have been in the 60's, and this weekend it's supposed to hit 70. That just isn't December.

I'll write more tonight, but it's almost time to leave - finally!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

TS Eliot. Youre the man!

Which dead celebrity are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Yeah. Cool. Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock rocks!

I'm so bored!

The name of the rose
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose. You are a
mystery novel dealing with theology, especially
with catholic vs liberal issues. You search
wisdom and knowledge endlessly, feeling that
learning is essential in life.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

You know, I've started this book about 20 times and I still haven't finished it? Hmm...maybe I should hit the library after work...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh By Gosh, By Golly

I'm sick of Christmas music's folly (just needed something to rhyme).

In my new building, there are two offices and three cubes in our little area. I'm in a cube, as is my boss, along with one of the telemedicine nurses. She has been playing Christmas music non-stop since Monday. I don't like Christmas music to begin with, and I'm certainly not ready for it yet. Anybody want to get me the new U2 CD and save me from this insanity? I've heard it's good, but I don't have the money to get it right now.

I really do have other stuff I want to write about, especially my lunch yesterday, but I just don't have time. Maybe tonight.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I've Discovered...

That there actually are a lot of songs about rainbows. Who knew?

More to follow later...

Monday, November 29, 2004


Like the corner of my mind. I don't think my mind has a corner. I've seen a human brain outside of a skull before, and there are no corners in one. Although, I found out that if you remove a brain and don't put it into a bag to keep it's shape before it is put in preservative, then it just becomes a pile of mush. Hope no one is eating.

Anyhow, in my boredom (things are slow again), I went and reread my friend Amy's columns in her archives. This article in particular caught my mind today, and started me down the path to reminiscence.

My four years in the KH overlapped Amy's in three of them (she was there a year before I moved in, and I was there a year after she left). Those four years in the house were probably the most interesting, challenging, and wonderful ones of my life.

My first year in the house was kind of blah for me personally. There was a lot of tension in the house, though, over things that had happened in the past. As I was the only new resident that year, I was the only one not directly involved in the situations, though I knew about them. The tension was sometimes difficult to take, as both "sides" tried to get me to support them, though given the nature of the problems, there was really only one choice I could make in that regard.

That year I supported my roommate as she became Catholic, broke my foot walking down the men's wing stairs after going up to look at some quasi-pornographic pictures left by one of my housemates on a chalkboard after Thanksgiving break, learned that it is possible to hang a softball glove from a hanger in the closet, discovered that I'm horrible at golf, and found that it is in fact possible to spend literally an entire weekend sitting on the couch and watching TV.

My second year in the house was probably the worst year for me (well, except for the last year, but that's another story). I just never found a niche that year. There were a lot of "cool" people in the house that year - the artsy type, but not in a good way (read: elitist). They had alcohol in the house, which broke one of the cardinal rules (I don't know if Amy knew that or not, so if you read this, it may be a surprise), and they broke other rules left and right. Now, I'm not little miss law and order (though that is a good TV show), but having respect for your housemates when you live in community is important.

That was also the year my dad got sick, and I decided to keep it from everyone but Amy and Ty (and Renee, but she didn't live in the house). In retrospect, that was probably a big mistake. I probably would have been a lot more sane if people knew what I was struggling with. But I hated people feeling sorry for me, and I hated when people were kind out of sypathy more than out of genuine feeling. Plus, I've had too many experiences in my life where I've been told, explicitly or implicitly, that people don't want to be burdened with my problems. It was easier to keep it inside.

That year, I met Joe (who I will write about next year) - which was an experience in and of itself - and became a fairly liberal apologist for the Catholic Church (to balance out Jim and Stefan's Mother Angelica like opinions - they are both priests now {shudder}). I learned that one should never take three lit classes in one semester while also taking Spanish comp. and doing a practicum. I found out (the hard way) how important it is to check the oil in your car before going on a trip and not to ignore the oil light on the dashboard. I discovered that working retail is not for me.

I cooked a meal for 60 people all by myself on College Student Sunday at the church because my cook group mates decided to go see Wayne's World instead of doing any prep work the night before. Do you have any idea how much cheese you need to shred to make pizza for 60 people?

My roommate got pregnant that spring. I vomited the morning after she told me with sympathy morning sickness (and as a bonus, it delayed a Shakespeare test I wasn't prepared for by one day - didn't help much).

My first senior year was probably the best year in the house. It wasn't without tension - the presidential election of 1992 saw to that. But we really came together as a community right from the start.

That year, I overcame one of my most major fears and jumped off a cliff on our opening retreat (I was attached to a zip line, of course), despite the fact that I was still recovering from when I ran myself over with a van at camp (have I written about that? If not, I must sometime.). I never could have done that if I hadn't been comfortable with those people.

Despite the arguments over dishes left laying (or lying) in the kitchen, we really did help each other with chores and the like. We were a diverse group, but it worked.

That year, we pulled a classic practical joke on my roommate, B. B was a really lovely person, but she was tremendously gullible and naive. She believed just about everything anyone told her, a fact that we were all sensitive to when it mattered. She was also the worst driver known to man. It took her 10 minutes to park her car when all she had to do was pull into a parking space. Picturing her parallel parking still makes me cringe.

Anyway, one afternoon, Todd and I were watching TV in the living room. There was really nothing interesting on, so we mostly stared out the picture window instead. We saw B coming home from student teaching, and watched her try to parallel park in front of a building across the street. It literally took her 20 minutes (yes, we timed her). As she was crossing the street, Todd asked me, "Want to have some fun?" and when I agreed, he said to follow his lead. When B came in the house, he gave her an incredulous look and said, "B! I can't believe you did that!"

She looked confused (not an uncommon sight), and asked, "Did what?"

"Parked there! It's illegal!"

"No it's not. There's no yellow line."

"Yeah, it is. Tell her, Sheryl."

Thinking fast, I said, "Don't you know that it's illegal to park in front of law firms?"

"What?" was her reply.

"Yeah," I said. "It's illegal to park in front of law firms in case the police have to bring accused criminals to meet with their attorneys." Now first of all, the firm across the street handled civil law cases. Secondly, anyone with an ounce of common sense would never belive that crock of...well. But this was B we're talking about, and I could see on her face she was starting to believe me.

We went back and forth for a couple more minutes, telling her she had to go out and move her car, when Joe came in. Thinking quickly, Todd said, "Joe, tell B that it's illegal to park in front of a law firm."

Joe, always one to pick up on teasing and practical jokes immediately agreed and insisted that Brenda go out and move her car for her own sake.

Well, that must have been enough to sway her doubts, because she started to head out the door. I, of course, softie that I am, let her off the hook before she actually moved the car. Still, it was good for a laugh.

That was also the year my dad died. He passed away in April, four days after Easter. I don't know how I would have survived without my housemates. The supported me when I had no one else to do so (other than my mom, of course). They offered to type my senior thesis so I could get in turned in on time since I was missing time for the funeral (they couldn't because I was editing as I typed, but it was a generous offer). They took care of all my house and chapel obligations that weekend. When I came back, the distracted me when I needed it, left me alone when I wanted to be left alone, and were just generally there for me. That's what community was all about.

My last year in the house was a nightmare to put it lightly. We got a new female director that year, M, who rubbed me the wrong way right from the start. She said some hurtful things to Ty about me on our retreat the first day of the year. She didn't know I heard. I don't feel like going into detail about that right now, though I will at some point. Suffice it to say, that year, the motto of the KH was "dysfuctions R us."

I really became who I am today during my Gannon years, and I can thank the Kirk House for a big part of that. God was truly good in leading me to that place at that point in time.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I Was Wondering...

Can anyone think of any songs about rainbows other than Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Rainbow Connection? Why am I asking such an inane question?

Well, I began an e-mail to a friend with the question, "So why are there so many songs about rainbows, anyway?" Then I realized that I couldn't think of any songs about rainbows except for those two. Which meant that Kermit was given to wild hyperbole. That would be a shame if it's true. I'd hate to see a childhood icon reduced to the status of a drama queen.

So, now back to real life.

Well, I had Thanksgiving dinner with the couple from the church who was orginally from Pittsburgh. It was a little awkward because I didn't know any of their family, and I'm shy (plus all their kids and grandson were talking about was Halo 2, and I know nothing about video games. Another product of my deprived childhood. ;)). But despite that, it was...familiar. There was no weird food like there was the one time I went to someone's house down here, they turkey tasted bland and slightly dry like it's supposed to, and the stuffing was plain old bread stuffing. It was kind of nice.

I don't remember (and don't feel like looking to see) if I mentioned it, but the pastor from that church e-mailed me. It was nice that he acknowledged me. I e-mailed him back asking him if I could meet with him sometime and talk about everything I have been thinking and reflecting, and praying about. He hasn't gotten back yet, but that's OK.

Talking to someone doesn't mean I'm making a committment, does it? I just think I have taken my contemplations as far as God and I alone can. I need another person to help me to guide

Tomorrow my department (all two of us) is moving to the other building. Don't know how I feel about that. I really wish they would just hire me, already. I'm tired of not having benefits (especially since I skipped my period for the past two months - no fear of pregnancy, but who knows what else?), and a few more dollars an hour would be nice. Heck, even a dollar more an hour would be nice (Access people should make more than what I am. They only asked for Excel when they contacted the agency. It was a bonus that I knew Access.).

My NaNo novel kind of hit stagnation. But I'm ok with that. I surpassed 10000 and 20 pages single spaced. I won't be ignoring it now.

I watched Pollyanna on Masterpiece Theatre tonight. My mom wouldn't let me read that when I was a kid. I never really knew why, and I still don't. I mean, she even let me read Judy Blume at an age when I was a little too young for it (in terms of subject matter, not reading level). She let me read pretty much anything I wanted, in fact, as long as she read it too and we talked about it. But I wasn't allowed to read Pollyanna. Hmm.

I'm going to go have English muffins now. Are they the same as crumpets? If so, I think I'm going to start saying that instead. Just because it's a fun word.


Monday, November 22, 2004


Well, yesterday I said that the pastor at the church I've been going to was going to introduce me to a couple who was originally from Pittsburgh next weekend. He went one better. I called home this morning to check my messages and there was one from the wife inviting me to Thansgiving dinner.

Can I just tell you how blown away that leaves me? I've never met these people, they have never met me, and they are inviting me into their home on a day that is traditionally all about family. I don't know how to respond to that, on a lot of levels.

I'm excited and scared and confused and...I need to get home to do laundry.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Stepping Out of the Closet (so to speak)

OK. Get your minds out of the gutter, perverts among you. This has nothing to do with sex.

However, I was reflecting this week that being a Catholic by baptism and exploring a Protestant church is very much like being a gay person and being in the closet, at least here in Louisiana. And that is made even worse when you have worked for the Catholic church in a previous life. I'm afraid of the Catholic people I know rejecting me if they found out I've been going to a Lutheran Church and liking it. I think my manager would just about have a heart attack.

What I really need, what would make all of this easier, would be validation from someone I know who is Catholic. But that isn't forthcoming, I guess.

But this afternoon, I took a big chance and did something out of character for me. I went to lunch with the young adult group at the church I've been going to. The pastor (who remembered my name despite the fact that I have only ever told it to him once) handed me an invitation as I was leaving. I was tempted to ignore it because I was scared, but I don't know anyone close to my age around here and decided to step out of my comfort zone. There were about 10 people there, including the pastor (who is not a young adult, but a good guy). The interesting thing is that no one there was originally from Louisiana. Everyone was from the midwest. I didn't talk much because I didn't know anyone (yeah, I'm an introvert) but I was really comfortable. Culturally, it was a good fit for me. The pastor said he would introduce me to a couple at the church who was originally from Pittsburgh next week.

I have to say, I really, really like it there. People are never welcomed like that in the Catholic Church. I'm just really scared to go any further with this exploration. Maybe I'll take a chance and sit down and talk with the pastor sometime. Maybe Advent - they are doing weekly Wednesday night services then. Maybe the new liturgical year can be a new start.

Friday, November 19, 2004

I'm Still Alive

I just haven't been able to get here to write very much. Still working on NaNo - finally broke 10,000, which was my personal goal. Anything else Imanage to produce is gravy now as far as I'm concerned. What I have completed is 21 single spaced pages. Other than my senior thesis in college, I have never written that much on one thing. Two more pages and I will surpass that, too. I'm really excited and kind of proud of myself.

Work has been a little less awful. I don't much enjoy what I am doing, but at least I'm doing something productive. There is a position open here that I really want to apply for, but I'm not allowed as I am a temp. If the company gave me permission I could, though, but I can't figure out who to ask.

I wanted to share this little piece with y'all (Hi again to my regular reader! Surprised you're still with me given the paucity of updates.). This was in the order of worship for the church I've been going to. They were finishing up their stewardship campaign this past weekend. It started with a story that I chose not to include here because the message is still relevant without it and I don't feel like typing it.

Good stewards care for all that God has entrusted to them, including themselves, and their own faith lives. We've encouraged you over the last few weeks to seriously examine your own stewardship and to consider what more you can give. We have called your attention to several important questions God asks of us: Where are you? What have you done? Where is your brother/sister/neighbor? Who do you say that I am? In those questions is the element of accountability. God does ask certain things of us. God does want to hear us say "Yes!" Surrounding those questions, too, however, are the gifts of grace and forgiveness from a "Yes-saying" God, a God who loves and cares for us, a God who knows we cannot continually give without also receiving. When we feel empty, our lives cannot speak Jesus. In those moments when we feel like we wander through the wilderness, we can come to worship. Here we will know that God is always saying "Yes" to us.

This little piece just really spoke to me. It was a reminder that despite dark days, frustrations, and everything else, God loves me enough to say "Yes" to my creation and my continued existence. And that is a pretty cool thing.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Unrequited Love

No, I haven't been thinking of Charlie Brown and the little red haired girl.

My main character in my NaNoWriMo story (which has a title now: Wall of Windows - go me!) has met up with her secret high school crush (he's a priest now, so at the moment no romance there - though in the rewrite he might become an Episcopal priest...possibilities...) and it made me start to think about my own unrequited high school love.

His name was Mike. He was a CAS student, too, so we had quite a few classes together. He was a quiet guy, even if he was a headbanger. Wasn't the best looking guy, but he wasn't painful to look at either. And he had a wicked sense of humor.

I met him my freshman year, but I didn't really get to know him until one of my best friends started to get interested in one of his best friends (turns out they only dated because they were both tall - gotta love high school reasoning). But the fact of the matter was that I had a crush on him from the beginning. He was a little bit dangerous (to this Catholic school girl who had never even seen a PG rated movie up to this point) and that was cool. Plus, he was a writer, which I loved, since most guys had no interest in that.

Even if he had shown any interest in me whatsoever, I couldn't do anything about it because I wasn't allowed to date until my senior year. But, starting in junior year, there was a little something between us - a connection if you will. I'm sure it was completely platonic on his part, but it gave me a little thrill nonetheless.

Senior year we became closer friends. One of my best memories from that year was having lunch at Pizza Hut with Mike, Chris, Monn and Dave (he of He-Dave fame, though he doesn't know that) after taking the SATs. We all had so much fun that day, and Mike and I really clicked. I just loved his sense of humor. It was biting, and sarcastic, and dark. Just like mine.

A couple weeks after that, he was giving an oral report on the Illiad in English. Our teacher, Mr. McB. kept delaying and talking, and he was just standing in the front of the room waiting to start his report. He was getting impatient, and he gave me a look, which I returned with a grin. Monn noticed and from that day on, any time he walked by or was anywhere near Monn nudged me and said, "Ooh. Electricity, Sheryl. I see sparks!" or various other comments along those lines.

The problem with all this is that he was dating someone by that time. All we knew for sure about her was that she was out of school and didn't go to Langley. Rumor had it that she was 23 and in a metal band. Geeky ol' me couldn't compete with that.

I never really met up with Mike after high school, though I saw him from afar downtown a few times. I think someone told me that he became an accountant or something like that, but I don't know for sure. If he did, that makes me sad. I could see him collaborating with someone on an underground comic or something like that. Preparing tax reports and financial statements just doesn't compare.

Mike H., Langley High School class of 1989, if you happen across this site someday, drop me a line. You are one of the few people from our class I miss.

Alas, my love remains unrequited.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Brk Brk!

I'm sick and tired of labeling and filling pill bottles with candy, which I've been doing for the past two and half days. I'm also feeling decidedly uninspired to write. So instead...

chef jpeg
You are the the Swedish Chef.
You are a talented individual, nobody understands
you. Perhaps it's because you talk funny.

"Brk! Brk! Brk!"
Kokin' der yummee-yummers

"Wild Strawberries...and Creme"

"Der Swedish Chef Kokin' Bokin'"

"Vergoofin der flicke stoobin mit der brk-brk

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Just Checking In

Well, I did end up voting last night. I won't say who I voted for (the wonders of the secret ballot), but I will say I wasn't happy about it. I didn't like either of the major party candidates, and I wouldn't have been happy either way.

Someone once asked me who I could vote for with a clear conscience. Two names came to mind: John McCain and Joe Lieberman. They are both moderate, and I think they are both honorable and ethical. I could deal with seeing either of them in the White House.


Well, I spent the whole day at work today filling pill bottles with candy and packing them in boxes. Yeah. $75,000 for that BA to be a shipping clerk. Is it any wonder I get down sometimes?


My NaNoWriMo story is going pretty well. I got hung up on transitions yesterday, though, so I'm a little bit behind. But honestly, I'm not stressing about word counts. I'm just hoping to break 10,000. I'm over 2,000 so I may actually do it.

Gee. That's pretty much all I have to say. Hmm. Hi again to my regular reader, whomever you may be. It makes me happy to see your ISP pop up in my stats a few times a week. Drop me a line or leave me a comment and introduce yourself, if you like. Or stay anonymous - I do that a lot. Either way, hope you're having a good week.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I've always liked Emily Dickenson. She's on my list of favorite poets (which also includes Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Mark Strand). She writes with such an innocent, childlike tone, but her topics and themes are so deep and serious.

The above is one of my favorites. The persona in this poem is someone who revels in melting into the background. Yet she seems to feel a certain excitement when she finds someone else lurking back there with her. But she doesn't want to be outed (so to speak). She and her companion seem to be content existing in anonymity.

I was taught that Dickenson was never published within her life time because she was a recluse who bucked the trend of what was considered to be acceptable in the world of poetry at that time - strict meter and rhyme scheme. But maybe she was happy in her anonymity. Maybe she was content with writing for herself, and no one else mattered. Perhaps she found validation in simply seeing her own words in her own hand on paper and didn't need the validation of critics or scholars.

Dickenson is always painted as being somewhat depressed and, well, a bit of an odd duck. Some scholars believed she was insecure and suffered with a low self esteem. But maybe, just maybe, the opposite was true. Maybe she was so secure that she didn't need the approval of anyone else. Maybe she was able to write about death and isolation with a lighthearted tone because she was happy and didn't despair in those things. Maybe she was happy just the way she was.

Or maybe I'm really bored at work again and needed a way to stay awake. But it's something to think about.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Look At My Artistic Talent!

I really need to go home or something. You know it's bad when you spend your time at work drawing purple sheep. But hey, at least it killed a half hour.

A quiz to alleviate the boredom

My angst tastes like...
black licorice
Black Licorice
Unique and difficult to place, your angst finds its source in something you keep hidden. You have something serious and possibly traumatic, but you try to hide it from everyone and just tell them to ignore you when you seem troubled, that everything's really OK. You might think that you have good reasons for not telling people, and some of them may in fact be true, but most likely a lifetime of keeping your secrets has led to a resolution fortified by rationalization that nobody else can shake simply because you never give them a chance. Ask yourself if it would really be that horrible to open up to others; nobody says you have to do it all at once, even. But you should at least try getting out of your shell a little. It's not healthy to internalize everything and conceal it. Anyway, if people really care for you, and they probably do, then they'll be loving and supportive regardless of any reason to the contrary.
Hmm...I hate licorice, but this actually fits me. Scary, isn't it?

It's Amazing What Boredom Can Do

It can even lead to me blogging two days in a row.

I have nothing to do. Again. I hate that. Next week is going to be pure hell, with my boss on vacation (she's taking another 2 hour lunch today it seems - I've been back for an hour and a half and she hasn't been here in all that time).

Last night I stayed up until 2 a.m. working on our stupid box for the stupid scavenger hunt. Then I got up at 5:30 and worked on it until 9. I felt guilty because I wasn't able to help the team much since everyone I know lives 1200 miles away (well, except for the CCC folks, and that's a whole 'nother story). Sure, someone I know might have a glass Tab bottle, but I'm not driving to Pittsburgh to pick it up. A friend in Pittsburgh did send me the Partridge Family Album, but it didn't arrive in time, and no everyone is ticked off with me and I feel bad. Although I shouldn't. The prize for the winning team is lunch in the Admin. Conference room. It's not like it's money or something. But nonetheless, I'll blame myself if we lose.

In a way, it's like being in high school all over again. There was this girl, who I called a friend but was really a friend of a friend. J wasn't overly popular or anything like that, but she was the leader of our little group. I was so desperate to fit in and have friends that I did everything she told me to. I joined the clubs she wanted me to, wore the clothes she liked, you name it I did it. I know now that she was using me. I realized that my freshman year of college when she barely acknowledged me, despite the fact that I wrote to her on a regular basis. Since we were at different schools, it no longer served her purpose to have her own personal charity case. Her rejection really hurt.

To this day, I have no idea why her approval was so important to me, but it was.

Did I ever tell you about my sheep theory? No? Well, you know how the one who doesn't fit in with the family or the crowd is always called the black sheep? That doesn't make any sense to me. Black is still a perfectly normal color as far as sheep go. Just a little genetic twist here or there and bam! You've got a black sheep.

Now, if say, a purple sheep suddenly turned up, well, then we have an abnormality. A sheep that doesn't fit in with the herd, and in fact stands out from it. That's why I think we should call the rebels, the ne'er-do-wells, the obvious oddballs purple sheep.

However, what about the person who blends in with the background? The person who doesn't fit in with the herd, but doesn't stand out either. The person who's geometry teacher fails to notice she is in class despite the fact that she sits right in front of her desk, so the teacher turns in cut slips every day for a week before the vice-principal yells at her? That person is a green sheep. Indistinguishable from the pasture, but distinct from the herd.

Guess which one I am.

I'll write more in a bit. I'm going to go feign work now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Are They Crazy?

I just went and looked at the on-line store for my alma mater. My Gannon Stuff disappeared a long time ago, and I thought that I needed something to show my Knightly pride.

Well, they are selling diploma frames for $115 dollars. For real. I got the frame my diploma is in at Target for about $10. It's a perfectly nice wood frame. It may not be cherry wood with a fancy maroon mat with Gannon University written on it in gold script letters, but it does the job.

I (and my parents, the taxpayers and the kind benefactors that support Gannon's scholarship funds) spent around $75,000 on my college education, not counting the interest on my loan. Why would I spend $115 more to display a piece of paper that really, no one cares about but me?


The Obligatory (and ONLY) Political Post

OK. I have to get this out of my system, since election day is less than a week away.

The sad fact of the matter is that that I can't in good conscience support either one of the major party candidates. I'm annoyed that John Kerry has made such a big deal about being Catholic, yet openly and enthusiasically supports positions that are contrary to Catholic teaching. Now, that doesn't mean that I think he's wrong; it just means that I think you can't have it both ways. You want to support abortion rights? Fine. Just leave your religion out of your campaign. And this is coming from someone who isn't so enamored with the Catholic church right now. I would say the same thing about a Jewish, Baptist, or Muslim candidate. If you are going to make a big deal about your religion, then you best be a good representative.

George Bush...I just can't find respect for the man. Sure, he's surrounded himself with highly qualified advisors, but the fact of the matter is he isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I watched him in the debates, especially the last one, and I had to wonder if any of his synapses were firing correctly. Then there is the whole Iraq thing. I could support the invasion of Afganistan - that was just, according to just war theory. But Iraq just reeks of retaliation, of him wanting to finish what his father started in Desert Storm. I can't support that, and I can't support the continued presence of US troops and personnel in Iraq.

And then there is the misrepresentation and misuse of statistics on the part of both candidates. Now as a writer, I've been taught the fine art of persuasion. I know how to manipulate statistics and quotes to support my opinion. But the amount of that, and of outright lying, that has been occurring in this campaign is just a travesty.

So what am I going to do next Tuesday? I still don't know. For the first time in my life, however, I am considering skipping a general election. That's really sad.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


No reason the title is TBC. Just had to fill in that space with something.

I'm here at work with nothing to do - again. It's feast or famine around here. My supervisor isn't in yet - she supposedly wasn't feeling well last night and said she'd be in later today. Don't know if I buy it, though. She seems to take an awful lot of time off for personal things. But hey, if she can get away with it, more power to her, I guess.

I finished all her work last night. I'm honestly not sure what she does with her days while I do the market plans, research, and spreadsheets she should be doing. But I'm not going to complain about it. If I do, I could end up without a job - even one that only pays $9/hr with no benefits. So I'm perfectly content to let her put her name on my work for as long as she wants to. Still, it would be nice to make a living wage.

There's something wrong with my car. I replaced both headlights in June, but noticed a couple weeks ago that the passenger side headlight was out again. So when I got the oil changed on Sunday (which took almost THREE HOURS at Wal-Mart) I asked them to replace the headlight. Well, the guy said he took it out and tested it and it was fine, so he put it back in. And it was fine on Sunday. But then when I turned my lights on on the way home last night, I saw that it was out again. So at lunch time I'm goint to go see if the mechanics down the street can look at it. I really don't need an electrical system problem right now.

Actually, I don't need any problems right now. Now that I have insurance again, I was planning on getting the car inspected this week and praying that it will pass despite the not-so-great brakes and nick in the windshield. But it won't pass if the headlight is bad, either. It's always something.

And now for the big news. I've been trying to find a way to keep myself sane while working at a job I'm overqualified for. So I've decided to write a novel. In a month.

Sane, you ask? Don't you mean insane? Really, isn't all relative? Is it possible to write a paragraph with nothing but questions? Should I find out?

But really, I need a little help and support in breaking the 10,000 word plateau. I know I can write, but I need something like this to actually motivate me to do so. So, that story that was partially posted here way back when will finally be continued and developed.

In honor of that effort, I've started a new blog just for that novel. (I can't believe I actually wrote that word!) There is nothing much there now, but starting on Nov. 1 there will be.

Well, its 11:45 now. No sign of the boss and I've accomplished nothing. Just another Tuesday here in Red Stick.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

So Where Was I?

Yeah, I've been away for a while. I wish I could say that it was because I had some interesting things going on, but alas, it would be a lie.

But before I go any further, I just want to say hello to my one regular reader. I don't have a clue who you are, or where you are, or why you are; all I know is your ISP. But it's nice to know that someone is finding some entertainment in reading about my boring, boring life.

My efforts to fix myself have...well...not been successful. That eating three times a day thing is kind of not working out for me. And I've tried taking a multi-vitamin, but it made me vomit the three times I've taken it. So either my body is rejecting needed nutrients, or something else isn't right I suppose. But without health insurance, we may never know until I drop dead on the floor somewhere. Gee, when that happens, I have no next of kin to notify. Isn't that a cheery thought.

OK. I think I've spent too much time researching causes of death in the southeastern states. The company that has yet to tender me a job offer is expanding into hospice care and I've been working on market plans for Florida and Louisiana. You'll be glad to know that one person over the age of 65 in Florida died from a prenatal condition in 2002. If you make it 65+ years, doesn't the condition cease to be prenatal?

Anyhow, I had a job interview last week with a consulting firm about to start a major project for the state government. It's a job I'm way overqualified for, but it pays over $12,000 a year more than I'm currently making. On the off chance that I get it (they said I'd know one way or another today, but I didn't hear anything), I don't know if I want to take it. I think it will make me miserable, but I won't have to scrape together money for rent every month, either.

Speaking of money, the cable company and I severed relations a couple weeks ago. It's sad that everything I watch now has squiggles in it. But I'm saving half of $50 a month. It's only half because I joined Netflix instead. The video stores around here leave a lot to be desired, except for Blockbuster, and I won't do business with them any more. That's a long story I don't care to go into now.

Oh, and the student loan people are getting rabid again. They don't quite get that I would dearly love to pay them back for the fine education I received at Gannon U. However that fine education has yet to yield a job where my compensation allows me to pay the $350 a month they want me to pay. And stupid me, I consolidated my loans way back when I first graduated, when interest rates were 10% so now that rate is locked in. There is something horribly unjust about that. Especially since I didn't understand what consolidation meant at that point. The way the loan people made it sound back then was that I would have to make multiple payments every month unless I consolidated. I didn't understand that it was essentially a refinancing thing.

So what else? In the church bulletin from St. Al's CCC, the new ADYM wrote that a particular event was taking place in "da gym." Now, maybe I'm being picky for no reason, but that annoyed me. I mean, I know the kid wants to be cool, but is it necessary to sacrifice proper English to achieve coolness? I know, it's the English teacher in me coming out, but if you've read student writing lately, you know that they need all the role models they can get. Also, I got chewed out over smaller things than that. Why does he get away with it?

No, I haven't moved on. I still am angry and hurt and I just can't put it out of my mind. Yeah, I'm obsessing. I wish I could break that pattern.

What else? Manager driving me crazy. She started to do the market plan for north Florida hospice, but she downloaded the hospital information and appended it to the master table incorrectly. I caught her mistake at 5 p.m. on Friday and stayed past 7 to finish it. In her defense though, she has been stressed about being called for jury duty. They have a weird system here (like everything else in this state), and they have been stringing her along for two weeks. She's worried she's going to have to miss a cruise she is scheduled to go on at the end of the month. Still, I hated having to fix all that. I didn't say anything though - why burden her further?

I have more I want to say, but alas, it will have to wait. (Notice how I used alas at the very beginning and the very end. Clever, no?) So until next time (and I promise it will be less than 16 days), happy trails to you.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Stuff, Stuff and More Stuff

So, I've decided I need to fix my metabolism, which is really, really, screwed up. See, I got into the habit of eating only once a day when I worked at St Al's CCC. I never got up in time for breakfast, I usually skipped lunch, and I often got home after 9 p.m. and ate dinner then. Or, if I ate lunch that day, I'd skip dinner all together. Then I'd snack on junk during the day (sometimes). Actually, I was in the habit of skipping breakfast and lunch for a lot longer than that.

But regardless of when that started, the fact of the matter is that it really messed up my metabolism. A friend of mine who is a doctor thinks that that is why I've been feeling icky for so long. So this week, I ate three meals a day all week long (well, except for the day I had to skip lunch to fold the damn brochures). I had yogurt for breakfast (just discovered that if I buy the mild kind, it isn't that horrible), various things for lunch (a couple days that was just yogurt and an orange, too) and something for dinner (noodles, mostly, but it was food). I even tried to have snacks (fruit) a couple times a day.

As of right now, I don't feel better. Actually, I feel kind of crappy, in a different way than before. But it's probably just because my body isn't used to dealing with food. We'll see how I feel at the end of this week.


I wrote to a friend of mine about the whole spiritual crisis thing. She's kind of been advising me all along. I trust her because she was my house director in college and I came to respect her as a woman of faith. Plus I know she won't deride me, no matter what choices I end up making (well, providing I don't suddenly decide to become a neo-pagan or something weird like that...of course, I hope she's slap me upside the head if I ever ended going in that direction), unlike some other people I know.

So anyhow, when I told her I was wondering what I should do, and she wrote this:

"Ultimately (and I know this is a very Protestant thing to say, but bear with me--I yam what I yam, in the immortal words, or paraphrase, of Popeye), I believe that it's more important that you are trying to follow/walk with/commune with God through Jesus Christ than that you tow the (forgive me) human-and-thus-fallible dictums of The Church."

That got me thinking today, about the difference in how Protestants view faithful living and how Catholics view it. Actually, I've been thinking about it more than today - needless to say - but that transition sounded better.

Anyway, what I came up with was this. For Catholics, being faithful is following the rules. If you believe this doctrine, or this dogma, or this bit of moral teaching, you are faithful. Now, officially, we are obliged to follow our consciences. That's in the Catechism (the other CCC). But when you actually do that, and someone finds out about it, they accuse you of not being a good Catholic. Politicians run into this in the public eye, but trust me it happens outside the spotlight, too.

Also, for Catholics, there is a perception that you have to do things in the "right" way for them to be valid. I'll give you an example. Remember how I wrote about the witch with a capital B at St Al's CCC who accused me of praying wrong? Well, here's the story.

We were meeting with a small group of young people and talking about prayer. This wasn't a formal teaching time, just a discussion. A couple of the adults said how they believed that praying the rosary was just so important and that everyone should try to do so every day. Now, I had to jump in there. When I was younger, I was told that over and over, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't find any meaning in repeating the same prayers over and over, or meditating on the mysteries, and no one told me that was OK, that everyone has their own prayer style. I didn't hear that message until I was in college. So I said something along the lines of, "Yes, the rosary is important, but you know, it never much worked for me. I personally prefer more informal prayer, like, 'God, I'm still here. Thanks for getting me through the day,' or, 'Big Guy, I could really use some help here. I'm frustrated and I don't know what to do.' It's a matter of finding what works for you."

I got some dirty looks from some of the adults on that, but I could deal. Then the subject of adoration came up. The witch (I'll call her P) went on and on about how wonderful it was to pray in the presence of Jesus, and how Abbeyfest had the best adoration ever, and blah, blah, blah. The other adults were all nodding and stuff, because no one ever dared to challenge her. Well, I opened my mouth again and said, "Yes, if adoration is done well, it can be a good and very moving experience. But personally, I've usually found it kind of limiting. I can appreciate the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but I've found that, personally, adoration can sometimes be limiting in that regard. I need to experience God in the Scriptures and in the assembly as well, and sometimes adoration doesn't allow for that. There are other forms of meditative prayer I can appreciate, like Taize prayer."

Well, P jumped on me immediately. She basically said that because I didn't engage in these traditional prayers of the church, I wasn't praying right. I told her that there was nothing in any of the church documents that said that faithful Catholics have to pray the rosary or go to adoration. She still insisted that I was teaching these kids the wrong information. Well, I didn't want to get into a pissing contest with her in front of the young people, so I told her that I would be happy to discuss it with her later on in another forum. From that point on, though, she contradicted everything I said. I could have said the pope was Polish, and she would have told me I was wrong.

So my point. I think that sometimes following doctrines and dogmas, and all that stuff can actually be an impediment to belief. This isn't a new thought for me, but it's one that is stepping into prominance in my mind in light of my recent struggles.

I have more to say on this subject, but it's almost midnight, and as part of my "fix my body" plan, I've vowed to be in bed by midnight every night, come heck or high water. So far, I think I've succeeded one night out of six.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

I'm Calmer Now

See, no giant letters, no exclamation points. Nice and calm.

But seriously, that woman has been driving me crazy this week. It honestly didn't dawn on her until Tuesday that we had another expo next Wednesday, and that we would need to ship materials. Then she went into panic mode. She dragged me to Sam's so she could buy candy for the pill bottles. She didn't need to take me to do that. While she was gone, I could have been putting lables on the bottles we had, then we wouldn't have had to rush to finish them yesterday.

Then yesterday we all of a sudden had to get these brochures done. I think they are stupid anyhow (despite the brilliance of their design), and I thought that they had decided not to use them for the future expos because no one was picking them up. But no, we had to rush to get them copied yesterday, and when the copier started jamming she was getting worried that we wouldn't get them done and I was just plain frustrated (I actually used the f word under my breath).

But her boss's AA is just as bad. She insisted that she could get them folded, but then she had a ton of stuff dumped on her. Did she say something this morning? No, she waited until 1 p.m. My boss did about 100 of them, then she said she had to go buy "supplies." Like I didn't hear her say on the phone to her daughter that she was going to Michael's and Hobby Lobby to look for artificial flowers for the bouquets. Meanwhile, the folder, which will only take one sheet at a time, jammed really, really badly. I followed the directions for unjamming it, but they didn't work. So I had to take the thing apart. It took me an hour to figure out how to get the paper out of it. While I was fighting with it, one of the other managers told me that payroll has a folder that will do a whole ream automatically. When my boss came back from her shopping expidition, I mentioned that to her and she said that it was better to do it this way. Yeah. She's not the one who's ending up with repetitive motion injuries. My right arm is killing me right now.

But the story gets better. In the middle of doing this, she slaps a request for hospital info down on my desk. Now, typically we download the information, stick it in a spreadsheet, and e-mail it. Since she didn't tell me who it went to, I pulled it, saved the spreadsheet, and e-mailed it to her to forward it. When she came back downstairs, she asked me if I printed it. I looked at her like she was from another planet, and asked her what she meant. She said that the requestor wanted it faxed - didn't I see the phone number on the note she gave me? Now, without her telling me, how am I supposed to know that that means it needs to be faxed? For that matter, how am I supposed to know who to fax it to if she didn't tell me?

And then, just as I think I'm finally done with the damn brochures, she dumps another 200 on me. That was just the capper to a crappy, crappy day.

Now I will grant you, I've been in a pissy mood. I would swear I had PMS, if it weren't the wrong time of the month for that. But I still don't think I'm being unreasonable.

Then again, maybe I am a little bit. It just gets to me that I am a well-educated, experienced woman, and I'm doing work that a second grader with a good attention span could do easily.

I. Hate. That.

What is wrong with me that I can't seem to find a decent job that challenges me, allows me to be creative, and lets me use my skills? It just makes me more and more depressed.

I give up.


I hate office machines. I hate using them, I hate fixing them, I hate them, hate them...



Between today and yesterday, I have been covered in toner, lubricant (and not the fun kind...not that I've ever been near the fun kind), dust, and dirt. I have photocopied over 2000 fliers and fed them one by one through a letter folder. I have taken said copier apart about 25 times when it jammed, and said folder apart more times than I can count when it jammed. I have labeled and filled over 300 bottles with candy. And why, you may ask, have I done all this?

I have no freaking idea.

Remember when I wrote that I was bored? I could have been doing some of this stuff then. I could have been making copies or filling and labeling bottles all along. But no, my supervisor said she didn't have anything that needed doing so I had to invent busy work for myself. Then, all of a sudden, she realizes that hey, we have another expo less than a week away and we have to ship the materials. So now it's a mad rush to get everything done. And of course, when you rush, things are done incorrrectly or they break down. And then you have to panic even more because you are running late.

I'm a procrastinator by nature. I admit it. But if I know I have seven expos for over 3000 employees and I have to prepare materials for all of them, I'm going to pace myself. That way, there's no crisis when a piece of equipment breaks, or when you run out of something, or whatever.

And where is she in all of this? Laughing, smiling, making jokes about everything being at the last minute. And as I'm feeding the damn fliers through the damn machine, she's out shopping for her daughter's wedding under the guise of getting "supplies" for the expo. Did I get to take a lunch? Did I get to leave my desk? No.

Grr!!! I know Gannon was a liberal arts school, and that it was supposed to provide me with a well-rounded education. But I'm sorry. I did not spend $75,000 of my, my parents', the taxpayers' and the generous benefactors who support the scholarship funds' money to take apart and fix office equipment. I am not an engineer!

I wanna go home!!!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Well, I Did It.

After two weeks of sitting in my car in the parking lot, I actually made it inside the Lutheran church. The sky didn't fall, no one laughed at me, no one saw my invisible, "I'm Catholic!" sign, and no one chased me out of the church.

Quite the opposite, in fact. I was greeted warmly by what had to be half the congregation before I even made it into the nave. I sat in almost the very back (and remembered not to genuflect). It was a small congregation, probably around 100 people at the service, and they seemed to really be a community. People were talking with each other before the service began (something that threw me a little at first - I'm used to the quiet before mass...though conversation is good). And people got out of the pews and walked around the church during the sign of peace.

The pastor, like most Lutheran pastors I have known (all four of them) was not a flamboyant or dynamic preacher, but he spoke with a gentle sincerity that gave what he said a certain authority. After the service, he recognized immediately that I was visiting and he went out of his way to greet and welcome me, even though I tried to escape without being noticed.

So why was I crying in my car after the service (the reason I tried to leave without being noticed)? I liked it there. I don't know a soul, but I liked it there. And the implication of that terrify me.

I felt more connected in that church than I have in the Catholic church in a long time, even before January. And I'm trying to figure out why that is. I mean, the service is basically the same structure as a mass, just without the creed and without some of the transitions (actually, it's very much like daily mass). The sermon was longer and was well-preached, but you can find that anywhere. The congregation was small, but most non-Catholic, non-Baptist congregations in the south are. The music was traditional, and vaguely familiar (must be some kind of buried memories of attending services with my mom). But all of this shouldn't be enough to make me feel tune.

So what was it? And what does it mean? And why do I feel guilty?

Ironically enough, my mom was the one who kept me in the Catholic church when I was in high school. She was my confidant in all things spiritual. My dad and I may have been the same religion, but she understood the emotional aspects of faith better. I confided in her all those times the assistant pastor of my church made me cry (which was often - I realize now that his treatment of me verged on emotional abuse), or when the old ladies told me that I didn't have the right to attend mass without my father on the days when he had to work. I told her how fed up I was about feeling that way, and that I planned to leave when I was in college. My mom begged me not to.

See, my dad and I had a close, but fragile relationship. It was obvious that he loved me, and I loved him, but we really had nothing in common beyond a love of baseball and our religion. I mean nothing. If one of those things were taken away, especially the most important one, I don't know what would have happened to our relationship.

And I realized when I was in college that his greatest fear was that I would drift away from the Catholic church. He nearly lost it when I decided to live in a house owned by a Presbyterian church, attend a conference sponsored by a Protestant campus ministry organization, or used words like, "fellowship." Heck, he could barely handle it when I asked him to buy me a Bible so I could better prepare to read at mass. He never forbid me to do any of those things, but, it made him nervous. I know it would have broken his heart if I ever left.

The ironic thing is that I was never more in touch with and more...enamored with my Catholicsm than I was during that period in my life. In time before and time since, though I had my doubts. Still, I stuck with it.

But the question is why I stuck with it. Was it out of conviction, or was it out of obligation? I don't know the answer to that.

The thing is, I don't know if I have any second chances left. I gave the church a second chance when that associate pastor put me through hell in elementary school. I gave them a second chance when the old ladies told me I wasn't worthy to worship in their presence. I did it again when no one would visit my dad and bring him communion when I couldn't make it home to take him to church during college. I did it when the priest in our church wouldn't administer anointing to my dad in the days before he died because "he hadn't been active in the parish in recent months." (Yeah, probably because even with me at home he was too weak to leave bed long enough to go to mass.) And again when they abandoned me when my mom died. And now the St Al's CCC debacle.

Isn't that patience enough? Isn't that enough to endure?

I just don't know.

I think I may call the church tomorrow and see if I can speak with the pastor. Maybe an objective voice is what I need right now.

Nothing's ever easy, is it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bored, Bored, and More Bored

Sitting here at work. Absolutely nothing to do. Making busy work. Writing in fragments. Going insane.

While it isn't my favorite thing to do, I can deal with doing office work when it is actually something productive. But right now, all I am doing is downloading statistical information on hospitals in areas where we don't have authorization to operate in states where we do. What is the purpose behind that? Just something to do.

Today is a bad day. I seem to have good ones and bad ones. It could be the financial stress I'm under right now (HUGE!!), or the boredom, or something else. But right now, I feel like I have absolutely no purpose in being alive - (or staying that way).

But alas, don't worry about me. Cowardliness always wins out over depression.

In other news, I think I might have an ulcer. I have a pain in my stomach right below my breastbone, acid reflux to beat the band, and a general "I feel crappy" feeling. I've been eating antacids like they are candy for the past week and a half, with only minimal effect. And I have a family history, if that matters. I suppose I should do something about it, but I don't have insurance and I make too much to go to the charity hospital (apparently, $18,000 a year should be more than enough to cover living expenses and pay medical bills). I guess I'll live, unless I don't.

OK. This is getting ridiculous. I'm going to go now. Be on the lookout for a little piece of fiction I'll post later today or tomorrow - I think. It's...interesting, in a slightly morbid way.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sweetiepie, Ivan, Richard III, Conway Twitty, and Me, Sheryl

If you get the book the title of this entry is referring to, then five points to you (yeah, too much Harry Potter). If you don't, then you must immediately get yourself to your local library and read everything you can get your hands on by E. L. Konigsburg. She rocks.

Let's take each of the things in my title one by one, shall we?


Sweetiepie is the alias I've decided to use for the pastoral associate at the church where I was formally employed. As I engaged in a bit of metacognition, I realized that part of the reason I haven't been able to move on is that I haven't reached resolution with everyone at St Al's CCC. So last night I wrote her a letter. I was up until after 3 a.m. doing it, but it was worth it. Now I just have to get up the nerve to send it. Oh, I suppose that just writing it should be good enough, but I can't help but feel like I will never be able to reach resolution unless she knows how I feel.

Why did I pick her to write to first? Well, I think that my feelings were most conflicted about her. When I began at the CCC, I had more respect for her than for almost any other lay person in the Church. I thought she was the very modle of what a 21st century lay minister should be. But as time went on, I realized that she was controlling, manipulative, and easily influenced by money and power. When she had me in her office, she'd say things to make me feel like she was supportive of me, but her actions didn't bear that out. In short, she was two-faced. And to be honest, she has been in that entrenched in that parish for so long, and has the respect of so many people in the parish and in the diocese, that I don't think she even realizes it.

So, I wrote her a letter, which I may post sometime, and I think I will mail it. The only thing holding me back is that I'm afraid of burning bridges. I have a tendency to do that, and I'm not sure I can ever cross back if I do. We'll see.


Also known around Baton Rouge as the hurricane that wasn't - at least not here. Everybody was all worked up about how bad it was going to hit us here, and we didn't even get a drop of rain. Weather alarmists. Nice to know they are everywhere.

I feel horrible for the people in Alabama and the Florida panhandle, though. The destruction it wrought there was something to behold. And there's going to be incredible flooding all up and down the east coast.

I have two friends who live in Pensacola. I hope they are OK.


I just stuck that here because in the title of Konigsburg's book, that space is taken by MacBeth. I guess I was in an "I feel inferior so I'm going to overcompensate by becoming a tyrant" mood.

But while I'm in jolly old England - figuratively speaking - I'm watching the UK version of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy right now. I'm a little insulted when they put subtitles up when they guys speak; none of them have a strong cockney or other accent - subtitles aren't necessary. I'm also offended when they put "translations" up on the screen. British English and American English aren't all that different, and I'm not stupid. Don't insult my intelligence like that.

Scholastic finally got the point. The last Harry Potter book had far fewer differences between the British and American versions than the previous four. Bravo could take a lesson.


I heard on the car radio that Conway Twitty had been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Had I been consuming a beverage, I would have done a spit take. Conway Twitty? Rock and roll? Huh??

I went to one of the lyrics sites on the net, just to make sure I was thinking of the right person, and I was. "Hello Darlin" was his big hit. Although, looking at the lyrics for "You've Never Been This Far Before," I have to say that he was enough of a pervert to fit with some of the metal guys in the rock genre.

OK. Here's my Conway Twitty story (you knew there had to be one). One night during my senior year of high school, my friend Monn invited me over to her house. Her parents had guests who she didn't know and she was horribly bored. So anyway, we were in her room, being bored and goofy and listening to an old record of Grover (of Sesame Street fame) singing songs and talking about the body in way that was really total innocent but could be interpreted as slightly naughty by two teenaged girls who were really bored and hopped up on caffiene and chocolate.

At some point, we decided to write the script for a porn movie that involved the people in our class at school. Really, all that made it a porn movie is that one guy (the least likely guy in the world) spent the entire movie hopping between two beds and, well, enjoying the company of the young ladies occupying them. He was actually only on the screen for like, thirty seconds at a time between scene changes, and they were completely under the covers the whole time (yeah, we were rather innocent). Oh, and there was a metal band named, "Tacky A** and F***" in the movie as well. The lead singer (a head banger to end all head bangers - minus the scary mullet) wore Spiderman Underoos everywhere and got his name when he went to see a dentist (a girl with the biggest hair in the yearbook - smart, but really, really blonde - with all that entails), and she missed is mouth and hit his back side with the novacaine. He then lost all feeling in his butt, for the rest of eternity. That's how he got the name Tacky A**. The rest of the band got there name, well, just because it seemed to go with Tacky A** somehow.

Anyway - Conway Twitty. Monn's parents had - eclectic - taste in music, and we were laughing over the fact that they had several Conway Twitty albums in their collection. So of course that had to find it's way into the story. It seems that TAF became known for their metal covers of Conway Twitty songs, and that the bed hopper guy liked to ...perform... to their music.

That was probably more than you ever wanted to know about the terrifying workings of my mind. In a minor defense of myself, I was never quite without having a partner in crime - usually Monn. Someday I'll have to write about He-Dave, and you'll see what I mean.


Not much new here in Sheryl Land. Forgot to turn my time card in, so I didn't get paid this week (stupid, stupid, stupid). Fortunately I have enough food to get me through the week, and I have a few dollars in my checking acct. so I can buy gas if I need it.

Put together a bunch of brochures at work this week, for this expo human resources is doing for all their employees. It's supposed to be a fun thing. I, of course, don't get to go since I am only a temp. I've been temping there for six months now. I wish they would just put me on full time already. It's a good company. Even though I don't like what I am currently doing, I could learn to live with it because of their continued expansion and the way they encourage employees in their advancement efforts.

Didn't make it to the Lutheran church last weekend. I was running late, and I got to the church about five minutes before the services began. I pulled into the parking lot, which appeared fairly full (just proof that I wasn't in Catholic land any more), and proceeded to have a minor panic attack. I couldn't bring myself to go inside the church. I felt so guilty. I just had visions of upsetting my dad, and, oddly, my boss. She thinks for some reason that I am the paragon of Catholicism just because I worked for the church, and no matter how much I try to disabuse her of the notion, she expects me to toe the company line, as it were.

And then there was the fact that I imagined that I was wearing some sign visible to everyone that said, "Hey! I'm Catholic! I don't belong here!" and that people in the church would look at me funny. Nothing is further from the truth, most likely, but there you go.

Still, this week I'm going to try again. I'll get up earlier and get there earlier, and maybe I can just blend in with the crowd.

So now that I have bored you enough, I guess I'm going to go. It's Friday night, and I...well...I have absolutely nothing to do.