Friday, June 29, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
My full reflections on the weekend that was will be coming tomorrow. I needed today to recover from the trip (which could have been just one day longer).
Instead, I will say that I think I'm planning on going back in October to do stuff I didn't have time to do this weekend.
Oh, and if any of you non-bloggers among us have a reflection on the weekend you would like to share, feel free to send it on and I will post it.
Finally, I leave you with something to ponder. Louisiana just sent all of its residents a booklet about avian flu. It says to watch your chickens for signs of infection. Among signs of infection in chickens are coughing, sneezing, and diarrhea. My question on all of those is: how can you tell?
Yes, I am a city girl. My dad (who lived on a chicken farm for a while) would be appalled.
Posted by Sheryl at 10:03 PM
Monday, June 25, 2007
- It was so good to see so many people I'd lost touch with. I'm hoping that doesn't happen again.
- It was also very weird to see all of them with kids. Even though I knew they had them, as most people my age do, it was still weird. I guess since I don't have any of my own, it doesn't dawn on my that other people do. They were all great kids, though.
- If I were forced to move back to Pennsylvania, I think I could live in Erie, but I'm not so sure about Pittsburgh. That's really weird, because if you had asked me when I was in college if I would ever leave Pittsburgh, the answer would have been a resounding no. And I was absolutely certain I would never leave Pennsylvania. Funny how life works out.
- When thinking about the above, I think the reason I could live in Erie and not in Pittsburgh is the fact that Erie holds almost all good memories for me, but Pittsburgh - not so much. I became my own person in Erie. I discovered facets of myself and things within myself that I never thought existed. Really, more than anything else other than my parents, Gannon formed me into who I am today. Mostly for the good.
- I wish I would have had more time today to walk around campus and see the changes. It looks a little more like a typical campus now.
- I was very serious about how much Erie reminds me of Baton Rouge. As I was driving along Peach Street yesterday, I kept calling it Airline Highway in my head. I need to ruminate more on this.
- I went to Eat'n Park for dinner last night. I had Potato Soup, which is still wonderful. I also had Rosemary Chicken which...not so much. It was bland, and the sauce had a kind of sweet flavor. The Grilled Stickies I had for dessert made up for it, though.
- Next time I do this trip, I'd kinda like to take a whole week, and I'd kinda like to drive the whole way. I like driving, and I like seeing the country.
- The one less-than-bright spot on this trip was the lunch I had with a friend on Friday. I'm not going to talk about it now, but suffice it to say, she was less than happy about where I am right now faith-wise, and she let me know it. That surprised me, because she is usually pretty open-minded and liberal. The other person who was with us was also unhappy, but I've known that for ages now. He stopped e-mailing me over my decision to become Lutheran, in fact. It shocked me that he even came to lunch (I didn't know he was going to until I got there), but I guess it was just to put in his two cents about how I was going to burn in Hell forever. I reminded him that his favorite liturgical composer (Marty Haugen) is on my team and asked him if he was going to stop using his music because he was a heretic (the guy is a liturgist). He didn't answer. I'll write more about this later.
- I have lots more to say about all this, and will probably have blog fodder for a while. In the mean time, here is some picture from this weekend - Probably Pittsburgh.
Posted by Sheryl at 12:46 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Posted by Sheryl at 9:36 AM
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Posted by Sheryl at 12:26 AM
Friday, June 22, 2007
If I can find a wireless connection in Erie, I'll provide you a bigger update on today. I didn't do much of anything today - I was sore. I did drive all over the city, and I took a few pictures.
I'm still processing the whole returning home thing. I think I needed this trip for closure more than anything else. I'm happy in Baton Rouge, happier than I can ever remember being, in fact (well, except maybe for my college days before my dad died). I'm financially stable, I have a job that I really like, and I'm generally speaking content.
I'll say more tomorrow. The connection I have right now is iffy at best. I've lost it about 5 times over the course of this post.
Posted by Sheryl at 10:24 PM
Sorry for not providing an update yesterday, buy by the end of the day, I had walked about...five miles, and I could barely move. I still feel like I was rode hard and put away wet.
And before I go any further, props to my company for offering domestic partner benefits.
Now, then, my trip.
My day started at 9:30 Wednesday morning. That was the last time before 11 last night that I slept. I left Baton Rouge around 4:30, which was about a half hour later than I wanted to. It was no big deal, though, because there was no traffic. I parked in a lot and waited by my car for the shuttle to pick me up. The plane was a little late in leaving, but nobody was sitting next to me - bonus. Sitting behind me however was a family on their way to Pittsburgh for vacation. They were having the most ridiculous coversation about nothing that I have ever heard.
The plane was few minutes late getting into Philadelphia, and I was in the back of the plane. I had less than 50 minutes to make my connection, and I had never been in the Philly airport before (it is a pit, by the way). So I sped through the airport, covering about a mile in 15 minutes, including two moving sidewalks (still hate those things).
On the way to Pittsburgh, who should I be sitting by but the inane conversation family. Conversation was still inane, but this time it was about airplane manufacturers. For an hour straight.
We got into Pittsburgh, and I went to baggage claim. It was taking a long time to get there, so I went to the rental car company. Who should be there by inane family. I got my keys, then got my bag, then went to the car. It is a yellow Chevy Cobalt. Strike that one from the list of cars I might buy when I buy a new one. It is really cramped, and the seat is too high and puts my foot in an awkward position when I have to step on the pedals. Plus, I don't know how to work all the bells and whistles. Do they even make cars any more that don't have power anything?
Anyway, by this time I was ravenous (I hadn't eaten all day) so I went to Panera and had chicken salad sandwich. I used to think they made the best chicken salad sandwhiches, and had romanticized it a bit. Now, though, they are down to number three in my mind behind La Madeleine and Bistro Byronz (Byronz would be first if they didn't put cranberries in it).
I had some time to kill before my hotel room was ready, so I drove around my old neighborhood. It was weird. Aside from being more run down, it is pretty much exactly the same. Even the potholes haven't changed. But it felt...small somehow. It never did when I was a kid. And I don't know if I mean that it felt physically small. In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't. I think I mean that...it felt like it represented a part of me that isn't so much there now. Let me see if I can explain.
I was the only one in my neighborhood to go away to college. Everybody else who went stayed local. The other people in my high school to go away mostly went to IUP, which might have been called "Langley East" (of the 50% of my class to go onto higher education (about 100), about 20 people went to IUP.). I went away, and it was good. Every time I came home, it seemed like I had changed and no one else did. It was unsettling.
Now that I have moved beyond the western corner of Pittsburgh on a permanent basis, it feels like that on a city-wide basis. Not that Baton Rouge is some cosmopolitan Mecca, but I've been exposed to a whole lot of other things down there, and I have fundamentally changed. I guess that is reflected in my perception of the city.
I have more thoughts on this, but I need time to formulate them.
Last night, I went to the exhibit at Phipps Conservatory. It was awesome. I took about 140 pictures. I would have taken more, but my batteries started to run out, and I had to wait about 2 minutes between pictures for the batteries to charge.
Today, I hurt, but I'm going sightseeing a little bit this afternoon. I leave you with one of the pictures I took last night. I'm planning to put up a Flickr slide show when I get home, so stay tuned.
Posted by Sheryl at 9:05 AM
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
All that's left to do is laundry, then sleep for a few hours. I'm leaving for New Orleans around 4 a.m. if things go according to plan. To those of you I'll be seeing this weeked, I'll see you this weekend.
Posted by Sheryl at 9:49 PM
Have to share. Not a Sopranos fan, but still funny. It's funnier if you know what Ritter's Diner is.
Posted by Sheryl at 4:04 PM
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
If I weren't too lazy to get up and get my USB cable, I'd post a picture of the kittens that live under the deck of the geese that live at the building where I work. But I am, so I won't.
In other news, the commercial with the Kotex maxipad with wings animated to look like it's driving down a road, and then stops and picks up a red dot which represents...well, I think you know what it represents? Yeah, I hate that commercial.
I've ranted about feminine protection commercials before. I don't remember which ones, but I know I've ranted about them. Basically, I don't believe that it necessary to advertise those products. Speaking as a woman, women are pretty gosh darned brand-loyal when it comes to those particular purchases. There aren't a lot of things that are going to entice a woman to switch types or brands, and a maxipad that is supposed to bring to mind a car isn't one of them. When a woman finds something she likes in that area, she sticks with it. Therefore, it is a waste of airtime and corporate money to advertise those products on TV.
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I'm a prude and just don't want to see that. Wrong. I just think that there isn't much an advertiser could say in a commercial that is going to make me want to change my preferred brand. That is a very personal choice, based on a whole lot of things (fear not, I am not going to share my very personal choice with you, except to say that it not Kotex, and never will be). I found what I liked years ago (like, when I was in college) and have used it ever since and have no intention of changing.
So, multinational conglomerates who happen to have a feminine hygiene division, spend your advertising dollars elsewhere. Like the snackfood division. Especially if you happen to sell something that is simultaneously salty, greasy, chocolatey, and low fat. Then you will really get the attention of women at "that time of the month."
Oh, and just so you don't think I'm picking on Kotex alone, I also hate Always' tag line "Have a happy period. Always." And I hate the the Pamprin commercials about how much better that makes you feel than Advil and your girlfriends won't even believe that you have your period until you announce that you are craving chocolate, and then they say knowingly to each other, "Oh yeah, she's menstrual." And I hate the tampon commercials that make it seem like by using tampons, all of your menstrual symptoms magically go away. Oh, and yeast infection commercials.
Wow. How did this post turn into this?
Posted by Sheryl at 11:48 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Posted by Sheryl at 5:44 PM
Posted by Sheryl at 1:02 PM
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The high today in Baton Rouge was 96, with a heat index of 107. WTF, weather?
I literallyhave salt on my face from dried sweat. And all I did was go to Target and the grocery store (Super Target has better prices, but the grocery store has better selection).
I found the Holy Grail of apartment dwellers today at Target. I found...a laundry basket with wheels and a pull-up handle. It is beautiful. Thank you Target, for stocking what your customers want.
And Dell, I have to tell you, your customer service sucks. Yes, dear readers, they still haven't refunded my account for the camera I had to cancel because the delayed shipping twice. Not only that, I discovered Friday that they had been lying to me all last week. They guy who told me that it would refund within a few hours on Monday? Lied. The guy on chat who told me it would refund within 24-48 hours? Lied. Apparently, when part of an order ship and the other part is cancelled because Dell (and/or its suppliers) is stupid and can't manage to keep up with demand, it takes longer to process the refund, and it might not credit until the next billing cycle. I feel a little guilty, but I read the customer service rep. I spoke with on Friday the riot act. It wasn't his fault, but I know those calls are recorded and reviewed, and I was going to speak my piece.
By the end of the call, they guy promised me that my account would be credited by Monday. If I don't see a credit by Tuesday morning (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their systems updating), there will be hell to pay. I was looking forward to having a camera to take on vacation with me, and now that might not happen. I am not a happy camper.
Posted by Sheryl at 6:13 PM
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Posted by Sheryl at 5:09 PM
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
This was an interesting article.
When I was starting to look at colleges in earnest, in the spring of my junior year of high school, my parents were totally confused. I was, for all intents and purposes, a first-generation college student (my dad went for two years on the GI Bill, but didn't earn a degree, and, really, didn't have a "normal" college experience. He was one of about 50 male GI's taking classes on the then all-female Carlow College campus.). When literature about various colleges started pouring in after I took the PSAT's, we were overwhelmed.
I knew theoretically that there were thousands of colleges and universities in the United States (thanks to my handy-dandy Reader's Digest Almanac and Book of Facts), but I didn't imagine that any of them would send me mail based only on the fact that I did pretty well on the PSAT's. I got stuff from teeny, tiny liberal arts schools in Minnesota, and from UCLA. Of course, I was interested in every single one of them for a long time. I wanted to visit schools in New England, Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, New Mexico...well, you get the point.
My parents, however, put the kaibosh on that. The said we could go to any college night programs that took place anywhere near Pittsburgh, and maybe visit a few nearby colleges in the summer. I had to narrow my choices on my own.
I have to admit, that my methods were pretty much as arbitrary as the ones in the article. I eliminated one school because they sent me too much junk (that would be Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. I hope that they either stopped that practice, or that one of their admission/marketing people happens to find this blog and learns just how irritating all that mail was). I eliminated others because the pictures in their viewbooks scared me. I was pretty sure I couldn't attend a school where students spontaneously formed human pyramids on the quad. I initially eliminated all the Catholic colleges (you'll learn why when I write about the high school phase of my journey sometime this week), but then I put a few back in. I did eliminate all the really conservative Christian colleges on a permanent basis, because they scared me, too.
Finally, at the beginning of the summer before my senior year, I had my list narrowed down to 10 schools. I don't remember all of them, but I do know that they included West Virgina Wesleyan, Dickinson, Mount Holyoke, and of course Gannon, which was really my fall-back school.
That summer, we visited West Virginia Wesleyan in person. I liked, it, but it was really rural, and a little too small. We also went to college nights for Dickinson, Mount Holyoke, and Gannon. The first two were in swank, downtown hotels. Gannon's was at the Green Tree Holiday Inn. That is a key factor later on, which is why I mention it now.
Now, there was no way in creation we could visit Mount Holyoke in person. We just didn't have the money for a trip to New England. But my dad did decide we could see Dickinson in person, and he wanted to go see Gannon (he used to babysit the guy who was the Dean of Enrollment Services back then).
So, the week before school started, we went on a day trip to see Gannon. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed. There was no campus. I wanted a school with green space and old buildings and ivy and stuff like that. I couldn't tell what buildings belonged to Gannon and which ones didn't. It was not an auspicious visit.
My visit to Dickinson in the fall, however, was. It had the old, stone buildings, the ivy, the clearly-defined campus. It had the changing leaves, and the village feel. It was exactly what I was looking for.
In the end, I only applied to Dickinson and Gannon. I knew there was a chance I wouldn't get accepted to Dickinson, so I wanted that fall-back school. I eliminated WVW because it was just too remote, and I eliminated Mt. Holyoke because I realized I could never fit in with the daughters of rich folk.
After I sent in my applications, I put it all out of my mind. I still had to pass Calculus if I wanted to get in anywhere, after all, and I still had to make sure that I finished ahead of SR in class rank (I wrote about her in the elementary school post). I did, by the way. She didn't even make the top ten. Take that, witch with a captial B!
Anyhow, the first acceptance letter I got was from Gannon. They offered me a really good financial aid package. I was happy that at least I knew I'd have some place to go in the fall.
While waiting to hear from Dickinson, I got to thinking, not about how prestegious the two colleges were, or how nice their campuses were, but how the felt. Dickinson felt a little uptight, a little pretentious to me. It felt like they were making too much of an effort to impress, both visitors and students alike.
Gannon, on the other hand, felt like an old friend. They were laid back in their college night. One of the professors even came and presented about his research. Where as Dickinson had fancy hors d'oevers (I think there is a "u" in there somewhere, but I'm too lazy too look it up) for refreshments, Gannon had pop, chips, and cookies. When they visited my school, I couldn't attend the presentation because it was during Calculus (couldn't miss that class for love or money). The admissions person stuck around and talked to me during my lunch period instead. In short, they impressed me by being genuine, and I had a good feel about that.
So, I made the decision to go to Gannon, and asked by dad to send in the deposit without waiting to hear from Dickinson. I'm convinced I made the best choice. I did get accepted at Dickinson, by the way (but couldn't afford to go because they didn't give scholarships to freshmen, and their maximum need-based award wouldn't have covered as much as I needed it to cover.).
So yeah, I guess the college-choosing process really is arbitrary on the part of the students. But sometimes you have to go with your instinct over cold, hard facts.
Posted by Sheryl at 12:10 PM
Monday, June 04, 2007
Leif Garrett has come up twice today. How weird is that?
I saw a kid downstairs who looked exactly like he did circa 1976. And as I'm working on resumes, I'm listening to the podcast of Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me, where they talked about his visit to rehab.
It's a psychedellic kind of day.
Posted by Sheryl at 4:18 PM
Posted by Sheryl at 3:30 PM
Saturday, June 02, 2007
First of all, thanks to TG for offering to goad her children into misbehavior so I can save face! Don't think it'll be necessary, though. I'll be over myself by then.
Let me explain why I am so weird about the religion stuff.
As regular readers know, my dad was Catholic, my mom was Lutheran, and they chose to raise me Catholic. Now, when I was little, I didn't really understand the differences, except that they went to different churches, and Daddy's church had the big cross behind the altar and Mummy's church had the big, fascinating, and creepy picture of the Agony in the Garden on one of the walls. Despite that, though, I could tell that my dad's family thought a little less of my mom because she wasn't "part of the fold." even if she was a good woman.
And, I could tell that, despite the fact that my dad loved my mother deeply, there was a little part of him that didn't like the fact that she wasn't willing to consider conversion to Catholicism. That was one of the few things that kep my family growing up from being just about perfect (well, that and my dad's drinking, and my mom's occassional depression, and...you get the picture).
I went to Catholic school for elementary school, so as far as I was concerned, everyone in the world was Catholic (except for Mum, of course). On some level, I believed that, even though I had evidence to the contrary in the form of the Methodist nursery school, the Presbyterian preschool and vacation bible school I attended, and the Baptist neighbors who always wrapped tracts around the candy bars they handed out at Halloween - no one cared because they gave full-sized Hershey Bars. Anyway, I was pretty content in my little Catholic world.
Until fourth grade. I've written before about how incredibly hurt I was that I wasn't allowed to be an altar server because I was a girl. I knew in my head that only boys were allowed to serve in my church, even though girls could serve in my mom's church, but in my heart, I really wanted to be a server. I was fascinated by the ritual of the Mass, and I wanted to know more. I wanted to really understand what was happening, which I wasn't getting out of my religion classes. When Fr. David Kriss (he's dead, and I hated him, so I will use his real name) pretty much told me I was a bad person because I questioned that inequality, I started to question other things too.
I quietly questioned and went on with my life for the next couple years, until 7th grade. That year changed my life in so many ways, some good, some bad. I started in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Middle School Gifted Program that year. I got pulled out of my school once a week to attend special classes with students from all over the city, from both private an public schools. I loved it. I was challenged academically and intellectually, which I wasn't getting at my home school. But more importantly, I discovered that the whole world was not white and Catholic. I went to school with African-American students for the first time, my closest friends and Banksville were a Hispanic Lutheran, and African-American Baptist, a Jewish girl and a Jewish guy. We bonded one day when we realized that the one that everyone at out table in our IEP class had in common was that the KKK hated us all. We talked about religion from an intellectual perspective - well, as intellectual as bunch of sheltered 12 year olds can be. It was awesome.
Back at my home school, I was on our Spelling Bee "team" (I can't think of a better word than that - there were three of us who represented the school in the Pittsburgh Press Spelling Bee, and one alternate). In addition to practicing at home, we were expected to give up recess two days a week to practice at school. Guess who our "coach" was? If you guessed Fr. David Kriss, you are right. At first, it wasn't that bad, but as the Bee got closer, he demanded more of our time. At first, he'd keep us 10 or 15 minutes into our lunch periods, leaving us with 15 or 10 minutes to eat. Then he insisted on more days, so that we were giving up recess all together (he actually was a little bit ticked with D and me for our one day a week at Banksville). He also became more and more harsh in practice. He insisted that we spell words in syllables, and even if we got them correct, we had to respell them.
Well, I had trouble spelling in syllables. My brain just didn't memorize words like that. Instead, I tended to see them in letter groups. It worked for me, but he didn't like that at all. He yelled at me all time. It got to be really, really stressful.
Everything came to a head one Thursday. He started giving us words we hadn't studied yet, and at one point, he gave me the word "leukemogen" which, if you are interested, is an agent that causes leukemia. I spelled it wrong the first time, and I didn't spell it in syllables. He completely lost it. He made me, for the rest of our study session, say each syllable and then spell it - of that same word. This went on for about 20 minutes. By the end, I was in tears, and I could tell that M, K, and D were uncomfortable on my behalf. He kept us all the way through lunch that day.
Now our principal, Sr. Paulita (don't mind giving her name either - she was wonderful), insisted that we take as much time as we needed to eat lunch when he kept us late. Unfortunately, I had pre-Algebra right after lunch, and my limited math skills didn't let me miss a minute of class, so I usually just bolted lunch. On that particular day, though, I first of all didn't feel like eating, and second, had no time as class was already starting. So I told Mrs. F (who worked in the lunchroom on Thursdays instead of my mom, who worked the rest of the week), that I was skipping lunch and went back to class.
Sr. Mary Agnes (she was pretty OK, too) had been alerted that we had been kept through lunch, and was surprised to see me in class. I couldn't lie to her and say that I had already eaten since I had my full lunchbag with me. I told her I just wasn't very hungry. It was obvious that I had been crying.
Somehow or another, Sr. Mary Agnes must have gotten word to Sr. Paulita using some special nun-ESP, because a few minutes later, she came and pulled me out of class. She took me into the gym (which was the closest unused room), and asked me what was wrong. I tried to keep it in, and tell her everything was fine, but she was pretty darned perceptive, and she didn't believe me. I finally broke down, and through tears told her what had happened, and about all the other times Fr. Kriss had yelled at me, and that I was sorry I couldn't do things his way. I told her that I'd try to fix things if I just knew why he hated me (this kind of thing had been going on since that day in 4th grade, to one degree or another). She told me it wasn't my fault, and told me she'd call my mom to come get me. I didn't want to miss math, though, so she sent me back to class, and called my mom anyway. I didn't have to have any more classes with Fr. Kriss (I even got to help out in the computer room when he taught our religion class), and he got transferred right after that school year.
I also had other issues at my home school that year. SR, my rival all through school, had gone from being merely a rival to being my arch-nemisis and bully. She was the de facto leader of the popular girls, so where she led, they followed. I got picked on a lot that year. I wasn't pretty, or athletic, or rich. I had "developed" earlier than the other girls who were just starting that. Then, I went to a different school one day a week , which, according to them, made me think I was better than everyone else. I thought nothing of the sort, of course. My self-esteem was low enough then that I pretty much thought that I was inferior to everyone. It made for a miserable year.
That year marked a seminal moment for me in my relationship with the Catholic Church. I didn't understand why this man, who was supposed to represent the Good Shepherd on Earth could be so mean to me, how these girls, who professed to believe what Jesus taught every week at Mass could pick on me to the point where I went home in tears, and the kids I knew at Banksville, who weren't Catholic, or even Christian in some cases, could be so nice. I didn't understand how I could stick out like a sore thumb with people who were supposedly just like me, an fit in perfectly with people who weren't. That was the year I started to question the institutional Church, and organized religion in general.
I'll write about my high school years later today. Right now, I need to go get my laundry out of the dryer and go get something for...whatever meal you eat at 3:30 p.m. when it's the first meal of the day.
Posted by Sheryl at 2:33 PM
Friday, June 01, 2007
- "I got tired of saying one thing publically in my teaching role within the church and believing something else privately"?
- "I was deeply hurt by politics and hierarchy, and it was enough to send me searching"?
- "I found that pretending to not mind the second-class status that lay women (especially single, lay women) are inflicted with to be very frustrating"?
- "I woke up one morning and realized that those subtle differences in theology really make a buttload of difference when you add them all up, and I wound up on the side of Luther"?
- "Life changed me. I grew, and prayed, and thought, and prayed, and worked, and prayed, and the Big Guy just lead me to where I am now"?
I may be playing the part of the cowardly lion, but I hope the issue doesn't come up. I'm not a different person. I never lost my faith (exactly), and I never lost touch with God. My understanding of the intellectual part of faith has changed, and I choose to practice in a slightly different way in a slightly different community. But I am still fundamentally the same person, if a little more damaged and a lot more spiritually fulfilled (that is, when I don't have to spend my whole blessed life at work),
Posted by Sheryl at 4:51 PM
Posted by Sheryl at 9:14 AM