Monday, July 28, 2008


This is part of a larger project that I am working on. I'm not entirely happy with the octave...but it's a start.

His silence speaks the truth that in me grows,
the blessing given though the time had passed
for blessings. Years have travelled by so fast-
My heart stops hoping as my body slows.
He comes to me, his face with light now glows
and signs to me our son has come at last.
Elation blots out sorrow, no downcast
faces greet the news of late-blooming rose.

You've travelled long to meet this baby boy
a greeting from your lips, my dearest kin
the sweetest sound this heart has ever heard.
The babe within my body leaps for joy
God's work of man's salvation now begins
when son of silence meets the Living Word.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Home Stretch

Currently Reading: Lots of short stories for my first lit unit in the fall.

It's hard to believe that I'm almost done with my first summer in Portland. Classes end on Thursday, so I'm working like a mad woman to finish projects and readings by then. My work sample is coming along, albeit incredibly slowly. A work sample is collection of lots of things, but it's basically all the things you do to teach a unit. My work sample is going to be on the short story, so I've been looking through the text book and reading tons of stories to pick the ones that I would like to teach. The hardest part is actually writing all my goals and objectives and matching them to Washington State Standards. Objectives have to be written in specific and measureable language, and I'm struggling with this currently. My roommate Steve has been a big help with this.

Last night I went to see the Batman movie with Steve. It was a really good movie, but it's hard to believe that it was only PG-13. It was a very intense movie, psychologically speaking. My Rutgers roommates would have been proud of how well I handled it though. I didn't cry or anything, but I did gasp a lot. The movie theatre here was super cheap, and there were table-y things in the back rows and you could eat pizza and beer while you watched the movie. I had already eaten, so I just watched the movie. But the theatre had a lot of atmosphere, which was fun.

So after the 3rd I will be semi-homeless for a week or two. I'm staying with one of the girls in the Portland house for some of the time, and hopefully working out all the car stuff during the first week of August. I have to get a Washington license and register the car and get insurance and everything. It's more than a little overwhelming. I'm not really that good with stuff like this.

I've had a few chances to catch up with some Jersey folk this week, which has been lovely. I got to talk to Nicholas and Mike and Sara and Chris and Dave, and it was so good just to hear what's going on in everyone's lives. Dave is going to be out this way in the next few weeks, so I'm hoping to meet up with him when he's out here. It's seems like forever since I left, and at the same time, like it was just yesterday. But already so much has changed, and people are growing up, moving on and doing some pretty amazing things. I'm excited for a chance to go home and actually talk to people in person and see what's going on in their lives.

I miss you all, and I'll probably post again after classes are done. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers. Also keep Genna and Rosie in your prayers on Monday, because it's scan day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Live the Funk

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, When You Teach in a Catholic School, Esperanza Rising

Hello all. I'm realllllly tired, so please excuse any terrible spelling or grammar errors. We had Friday off from classes, which was a huge blessing, so on Thursday night I flew out to Reno to visit John, who was running an ultra-marathon on Saturday. It was really nice to see him as I don't think I have since he came back from Iraq almost two years ago, if not more. I spent a lot of time with Wendy, his girlfriend, on Saturday while he was running, and she's wonderful. I'm really glad that John found someone like her. The race was at Lake Tahoe, and it was 50 miles on trails with 10,000 feet of altitude gain throughout the course, so Wendy and I only really saw John at the halfway point and at the finish line. He was racing to raise money for NF research, and he's doing a 100 mile race in a month. It was great to be there for such an important thing.

So it was back into the grind today with schoolwork and classes, and it's crazy to me that I only have two more weeks of class before they turn me loose on Yakima to teach. I still have so much to do before I'll be even remotely ready! I have three preps next year, and I will be teaching six periods a day. It's so much work to get ready. Ack. Double ack. Ok, sorry for the minor moment of panic there. I'll move on.

Tomorrow is two of my three roommates birthdays. They both have the same name and the same birthday. It's a little creepy if you ask me. We're all so busy here that I baked a coffeecake for their birthday, thinking breakfast might be the best time to have some. Even then we won't all be together, because the one girl doesn't start classes until 9, lucky dog :)

Please continue to keep me in your prayers...I miss you all so much. I'm still getting to know the people out here, and I know that I'm making some wonderful friends, but it's so hard to find support for my spiritual side out here. It's ironic to me that my super secular university had a better support network than this Catholic one.

I know this is short and boring...I'll try to think of some incredibly intellectual and interesting things to say soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, Dicey's Song

I'm wrenching myself away from real work to take some time to write instead. I think my brain is officially fried at this point, and I still have so much to do this week. Sigh. At least I have a job that compels me to read young adult fiction. I'm trying to get a head start on some of the reading we'll be doing in the seventh grade at school this next year, so I'm reading like a madwoman. At least that's what I should be doing. In reality I'm reading lots of textbooks and falling asleep while I should be studying.

I have to confess, I'm more than a little worn down right now. We had an amazing time in Yakima this weekend, which was great. I think I'm really going to like living there next year. The house is nice, and each of us will have our own room. Two of the girls share a bathroom and the other girl and the boy will each have their own bathrooms. The city is kind of in the middle of nowhere in the desert of Eastern Washington. We drove for about three and half hours from Portland, and Seattle is also about three hours from there. I got to see my school and my classroom and get some books and I met the vice principal. It was really fantastic to see the school and get a feel for what I'll be doing next year. I'm really excited to set up my classroom! It's also getting scarily close to time to be a grown up...I met one of my future students at mass on Sunday. My first day of school is the 25th of August. Ack.

I'm struggling a little bit in the spiritual sense right now. I knew that I was leaving a really supportive environment and setting out into the unknown, but I'm struggling without the support now that I'm actually here. It hit me a little when I was on the phone with Chris the other day and I realized that I hadn't talked about spiritual accountability with anyone since I got here. I miss the people who called me on spiritually, encouraging me and giving the hard word when necessary. I miss the luxury of having a spiritual director. (That's something I'm going to try to remedy when I get to Yakima.) I talked to Sara a little bit about it the other night, which was definitely a blessing. I just really want to be able to talk to someone and have them ask me about my prayer life or where I've seen God acting in my life. I'm hoping this is somewhere we can get to in community, but we're not there yet.

That being said, I feel more stongly then ever that God is with me and that this is where He has called me to at this time. I've been consistently confirmed in this, whether through talking with teachers, reading scriptures, or even just hanging out with my community. And I know that if this is where He wants me, then He's going to provide for my spiritual needs while I'm here. It's just so hard not to give in to the lonliness and to trust that His plan is going to work out for my future full of hope. But I know that it will.

Sorry that this post is a bit of a downer...maybe I can put up a quote one tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A few thoughts

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, The Screwtape Letters

So this isn't quite as newsy as some of my posts, but I thought it might be interesting to write something else for a change. I'm not used to writing so much that other people can's a new experience for me. I guess it's a good thing for someone who wants to be a writer someday to begin sooner rather than later, and this is as good a forum as any, because I know that only a few of you are reading it anyways, and you're all good friends.

I've been thinking a lot about faith recently. Before I left home, Sara and I started a Beth Moore bible study that focuses on believing God and experiencing more faith, and as a result I have started thinking more about my own faith, and also seeing a lot more faith in action. Recently, when writing a reflection for the graduate program here, I found this quote in Benedict XVI's Spe Salvi:
"Faith gives life a new basis, a new foundation on which we can stand, one which relativizes the habitual foundation, the reliability of material income."

This may not seem to be a particularly significant quote to very many people, but maybe I can explain why it had such a huge impact on me. As part of the Beth Moore bible study, I am currently looking at my life up to this point and tracing the ways that God has been at work in my life since I was born or even before. And I came to the realization as I was writing that I barely ever do this. I seldom look back at my life through the lens of faith and see God at work in my very early childhood, but the truth is, He was setting me up for some pretty great things! This gets me to the quote. My father and mother made the decision to step out in faith long before I was even born, and they haved lived almost their whole lives on that foundation, not the foundation of material income. Of course this wasn't easy, and I'm certain that it wasn't always fun, but at the same time, what a blessing it has been for me to grow up with such godly parents. Their faith was always the most important thing in their lives, and as a result, I have gotten to see the fruits of having an active and living faith in God.

The quote also struck me when I started to look at some of the people closest to me and the decisions they are currently making with their lives. These decisions seem foolish to people who value material income as the only foundation for a life. Sara's decision to run a non-profit, Nicholas's decision to look into volunteerism, my decision to move to Yakima and teach in a Catholic school...these things make no sense. Except, that is, through the lens of faith. It also reminds me of the famous quote from Jim Elliot, a martyr: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Obviously I'm not being called to give my life for believing God in terms quite so physical, but I am called to give my life and service in faith to God, trusting that He'll take care of the rest. He hasn't let me down so far.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An A-maze-ing day in Portland

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, StengthsQuest:Discover and Develop Your Strengths in Academics, Career, and Beyond, The Wisdom of Father Brown

So it was a busy week and weekend, but ultimately a lot of fun too. We had off for the fourth, so a bunch of us from the program went up to one of the second year's (he's a Portland house guy) parents house in Olympia. I've never been to Olympia, but I really liked it. His house was right on a lake, so we went swimming (even though it was NOT warm enough to do so) and rowing in a rowboat, and they had a hot tub too. It was a pretty relaxing day, which was nice after two weeks of classes. We just kind of hung out, eating and drinking and chatting. We also played a card game that never ended, which wasn't my favorite card game ever. At night we sat down by the lake and watched everyone shoort off fireworks from their docks. As someone who grew up in a state where this is illegal, it was mesmerizing to see people shooting firework show quality stuff, right in their backyards. I also had my first ever sparkler, which we took pictures of. Then we slept over and drove home the next morning. It was just nice to relax and hang out with everyone, because we're normally all pretty busy and stressed out.

And then yesterday I met up with Ruthann in downtown Portland at the Saturday market. It was definitely an adventurous day. I took my first ever ride on Public Transportation in the city, and made friends with the busdriver, who walked me through the whole thing and where to get my connection and everything. Her nephew did AmeriCorps, so we quickly became friends over that. When Ruthann got to the Saturday market we just wandered around for a bit and she did some shopping while I just browsed. (I don't have any income currently, so I'm trying to be careful and only spend money on food.) Then we met up with various members of her family and walked a few blocks to Powells, which is the largest bookstore in the country, and they sell used and new books there. It's pretty amazing. It was really crowded there though, which was kind of a bummer. I think I'm going to go back on a weekday and see what it's like then. It's so big that they give you maps. Then we met up with all the rest of Ruthann's family in Powells, before splitting off again in separate directions because Ruthann and Andrew wanted to go to this chocolate stand and buy some really fancy chocolate. It was a lot of walking, but it was nice, because I got to see a good bit of downtown Portland.

After Ruthann left, I wandered down to the waterfront, where there was a blues festival. I was waiting for some friends from the program to come down, and it took a little longer than I expected for them to get there, so I just sat on a bench facing the river and made some new friends. The first was Jeremy, who teaches abroad and also helps teach yoga and breathing workshops as part of some mystic Indian religion. He invited me to one they're holding downtown, so I politely took a flyer and then listened to some of his stories, which were really interesting because he's pretty well traveled. His parents are from Paterson, so we bonded over the New Jersey thing. He invited me to a vegetarian dinner with him and some friends, but I declined, saying that I was going to the Blues Festival with friends. Eventually he had to go meet up with his Indian mystic friends, so I made a new friend.

His name was James, and he was sitting across from me selling hand drawn mazes, which really were pretty incredible. They were only 50 cents, which was nice, so I bought one to send home to Genna and Rosie. I didn't have enough cash to buy two. We talked for a while and he was telling me how he had also just moved to Portland from California, and he was selling mazes so that he could make enough money to eat, because he didn't want to pay taxes because all the money just goes to killing people. So we chatted about various things and he asked me if I wanted to go to a party later with him and I said no thank you because I was going to the blues festival. Then two kids came up on bikes, and while one was looking at the mazes, the other muttered to me, "hey would you be interested in mumble mumble mumble?" I couldn't tell what he was offering, but I got the gist, so I again politely declined. My new friend James made a purchase, and I thought perhaps it was time for me to move on from my spot by the river. This thought was confirmed when James offered to share with me. I thanked him for the conversation and told him I was going to meet up with my friends. So I walked away and wandered until everyone got there, and then we went to the festival, which was loads of fun. Perhaps if I have time I will write about that later.

I'm off to Portland adventures there I hope!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Birthday Season

Currently reading: Spirituality at Work, The Wisdom of Fr. Brown

Well, it's birthday season in New Jersey and I am missing it. Happy birthday to Anne and Elizabeth (yesterday) and to Steve (two days from now) and Miguel Jose Antonio (the 8th). I miss you all and I've been thinking of you and praying for you all lots and lots. For some reason or another, I've never actually been around for Mike's birthday, and this makes me very sad. I'll have to stop going so very far away from home.

I've decided to add a currently reading section to this, because I'm constantly reading interesting things here, and I think some of you might like them a lot. For example, Spirituality at Work would be a great book for all my friends with grown-up jobs, because it's not about bringing God into the workplace, but finding Him in the work itself, where he already was. I like this idea very much, especially because I can already see how this idea will affect my teaching in the fall. If I can see God in each and every one of my colleagues and in my students, of course I will be a very spiritual person. I've only read chapter one so far, but I will continue to spin out some thoughts on the matter here as I read along.

I just finished the book that Steve and Jess gave me for graduation, and now I feel very intellectual. It was that kind of novel, I think. I didn't like it at all until the very end. It had a throroughly unlikeable cast of characters, and throughout my reading I found myself wondering why on earth they had given it to me. But after I finished I think I understood a little more the humour of it. In case anyone is interested, it was A Confederacy of Dunces, and it actually is indeed well worth the read. It's not a quick read though.

I like it here more and more each day, especially as things with class and community really pick up. I'm going to be starting my work sample soon, which is the plan for an entire unit of teaching. I'm really excited about that, but a little intimidated by the process. It's going to be ten whole lesson plans and objectives and state standards etc. I think it should be incredibly valuable, but it's also looking pretty difficult. I think I'm going to do it on a short story unit, so that I can use it early in the year teaching wise. It's weird to think that this is where I am now...a professional teacher. It's something I've wanted for a long long time, and now it's actually beginning to happen and it's more than a little overwhelming.

Ruthann is in town this week, so I'm hopefully going to spend a good amount of time with her. I'm excited to see some New Jersey out here :)