I don’t *quite* take it all back

As most of you have noticed in the past two weeks, I have returned to Facebook. I know–momentous, especially given my strong reaction against that social networking site in the past two and a half years. (Yeah, in a classic case of eating my words, I even wrote a blog post on the topic.) And I still stand behind my issues with Facebook and everything I wrote in that blog post. My return to Facebook happened after lots and lots and lots of thought, and was precipitated by three events, two of which I’ll list here.

1) My family just moved to Hawaii. The portion of it that hasn’t moved to Texas or Illinois, that is. We are notoriously dreadful at keeping in touch by phone and worse by email. Forget letters. So if I want to know what the heck is going on with them, and SEE as well as hear them, for the next year, Facebook is the only venue that makes any sense, especially since they’re all active users. Even my parents.

2) I stood looking over a friend’s shoulder at photographs of myself on a day trip I’d taken with a few people about a month ago. The friend who let me look at the photos on her Facebook page hadn’t even gone on the trip. I only knew about the photos because she told me she’d seen them. And I realized, not only is that incredibly creepy, it’s a bit upsetting, too. There are hosts of photographed events I’ve attended over the past two and a half years, and presumably quite a few photos of me, that I simply have no access to outside of Facebook, despite my best efforts to get friends and family to email me or post items to Shutterfly. And really, it’s not fair for me to scream and wave my arms at people for not going out of their way to accommodate my prejudice against Facebook.

Anyway, that’s some of the story. But please be aware that I’m using Facebook in a very limited and private way. I’m only accepting friend requests from relatives and “actual” friends. My litmus test is simple: if your phone number isn’t in my phone, I will not accept a friend request on Facebook. It’s my stab at emotional modesty even on the Great Expose that is Facebook.

And I’ll be honest, it’s been good and humbling for me to renege on everything I’ve said for the past two years and create a new profile. Maybe it’ll teach me a thing or two about standing up on that old soapbox…

 

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Moving on

We moved all the furniture (except the piano–a long, long story) to the new house on Saturday.

My roommate’s father, uncle, mother, and old family friend from Boston are amazing, wonderful people who all deserve week-long vacations in the Caribbean, and when I’m a millionaire and can afford to send them, I have every intention of doing so. Along with the one male friend who a) remembered we were moving and b) called up on Friday to say, “I’m trying to schedule my weekend. Do you two need help?” This guy has been added to my (highly exclusive) list of Most Favorite People Ever. And a home-cooked dinner is in his future…

A coworker who learned about my new housing situation said–in response to my hopeful, “It’ll be an adventure”–“It sounds like a bad sitcom.”

I’ve had that prophecy running around in my brain for the past three days. Bad sitcom? Maybe just really funny. Really, really funny. Five women in one house.* Granted, I grew up with six women in one house, and we all managed it. In fact, it was usually a lot of fun. A lot of stray earrings and bobby pins lying around, a lot of laughter, a lot of good cooking, and a lot of hair in the bathtub drain.

In all seriousness, I look back on this past year with one wonderful roommate, and I see all sorts of lessons–at times tough, but always good–I’ve learned about myself and about life and about loving other people. Seeing how much good has come out of this one year, I’m excited to dive in to our new situation. There will be new facets of my own personality to discover, new demons to face down, and (I hope!) three new good friends to share some of my life with.

For the sake of protecting the innocent, I don’t name names on this blog. From here on out, the roommate of the past year will be referred to as “Roommate #1.” Both for convenience sake, and because she is No. 1 in my book, across the board. I’d say you should all take her as your own roommate, except that I don’t intend to give her up. So you can just envy me.

*Wait, there are a couple classics based on that starting point.

What you can feel tomorrow

I’m an emotional procrastinator.

Why feel today what you can feel tomorrow? So I put off emotional activities, like saying good-bye, confrontation, reading troubling news, and falling in love. I set them in a neat pile and tell myself, “I’ll come back to these when I can handle them.”

Which means, really, “I’ll come back to these when circumstances force them on me and I have to deal with them whether I like it or not.”

Well, those circumstances are about to descend with a vengeance. I’m moving Saturday. My family leaves for Hawaii on Monday. And Thursday may very well be my last evening spent with an old friend who’s about to enter a cloistered convent in New York. Not to mention the other old friend whose wedding is in two weeks. So if you happen to encounter me at any point in the next week, and if I seem distracted, confused, tearful, or even manic, I ask you to excuse me. I’m clearly undergoing the effects of weeks and weeks of emotional procrastination. Because, unfortunately, if you DON’T feel today what you can feel tomorrow, what you feel tomorrow is bound to be all the more…explosive.

*Roommate and soon-to-be-roommates: consider yourselves duly warned. I will be requiring higher than usual dosages of chocolate, red wine, and girl time in the weeks ahead.

 

Breathe in…and out. In…and out.

I’ve started dreaming about starving African children. Okay, that’s a lie, I haven’t, but my guilty sub-conscious should really be leading me along that path. I have thrown away enough moldy vegetables in the past month to feed an entire family. Or at least to make a whole family one mediocre meal. I guess I have to chalk it up to busy-ness, but really…remind me, people: when I’m this busy, I have no business buying produce.

The wilted lettuce was one thing–once. But then the moldy broccoli happened; the wizened lemons; the slimy asparagus; the brown onions; and last night, the squishy kiwi. The entire produce section at Giant has a “MOST WANTED” memo out with my face on it. I’ve become a threat to healthy society.

The only solution, apparently, is to give up on health altogether and succumb to MacDonald’s. Or take out stock in canned peas. Or stop eating.

That is, until two weeks from now when (I think…) my life will slow down dramatically and I can start pulling all the pieces back together again. And eating vegetables.

Some Great Blogs

I found myself recently listed in a fellow blogger’s post, awarding honorable mentions to bloggers with 200 or fewer followers. It seems only right to return the favor. So without further ado, a list of a few of my favorite Catholic blogs:

Sometimes Things Happen to Me, a blog by a young woman I don’t know actually, but who seems to be a kindred spirit in every sense of the term. She manages to write everything with this perfect mix of serious and funny that leaves you chuckling and thinking.

How to Survive Online Dating, a blog my sister started about the ins and outs of dating online, especially as a Catholic. I don’t date online (see my post on this topic), but I get a kick out of hearing about her adventures.

No One Else Is Singing!, a friend’s blog on all sorts of things.

Qui Cum Que Vult, my brother’s blog on apologetics. There’s a reason I’ve taken to calling him “the professor” when I mention him to my friends. (He’s not a professor…yet. Maybe once he gets out of high school…)

Sacred Monkeys of the Vatican, and this is probably a huge insult, because I’m sure she has like a million a followers. Still, it’s one of my favorites, and the friend who keeps it is also one of my favorites, so I had to mention her here.

Beyond Pearls, a dear friend’s mother’s blog, which deals with all sorts of topics–religious, cultural, political, familial–from a very wise perspective.

I could add so many more, but I’m assuming there’s a limit. Definitely check these out, if you haven’t done so already. (I’ve had them listed in my blogroll for a while.)

Moving Time

It’s almost moving time again. How many times do you have to repeat an action before it hardens into habit? This will be my fourth springtime move in as many years. And that’s not counting the yearly move out of the dorm for summer break during college…also four years. That means technically eight moves in eight years. Sometimes I worry: Will I ever be able to sit still? Or will the siren call of March and April force me to pack up all my belongings and move on to new places every year for the rest of my life?

Of course I’m half kidding. Still, this nomadic pattern seems to be endemic to the single life. I’m not alone in my yearly moves. I’m not the only single young adult who never gets around to unpacking the few remaining boxes, who never invests in nicer furniture or pieces of bedroom decor that actually go together, because–really–what’s the point? This spot where I happen to pay rent, to sleep at night, to hang my photographs isn’t home. It’s just another space.

Granted, those who have seen my various spaces over the years know that I take pride in a clean living environment, that I even decorate decently well. I like the aesthetics, regardless of how long I’ll be in a place. But no amount of picture-hanging or furniture-arranging can shake the pervading sense of temporariness that surrounds every living situation in this phase.

Some of my young adult friends still refer to their parents’ houses as “home.” I admit, I don’t, mostly because my parents moved to their current house after my freshman year of college, and I never really lived there. (I stayed with them during one summer during college and for six weeks after I graduated, while I waited for a job to materialize.) But regardless of your view of the place where you grew up (or where your family happens to live now), most of us don’t view that as the place where we rest.  Vacation spot? Sure. Visiting the folks is always a nice break from the busy schedule, the social scene, work, etc. But by rest I mean “repose,” a place to quiet our restless hearts–a place to remain.

The single young adult doesn’t have a home, in that sense.

And every spring comes the poignant reminder, as I pack my boxes and bribe my friends with pizza and beer to come out for a Saturday and help me cart my belongings to a new spot.

Now I have to admit, I like the excitement of learning a new house, of arranging my belongings in a new room, of developing new habits to fit my new surroundings. Change can be exciting, refreshing, invigorating, all that good stuff. And not being rooted has its advantages, too. It allows for mobility and that most Catholic of Catholic virtues: detachment. Nothing wears away at the soul like misplaced attachments, whether to people, to things, or to places. This nomadic life is also a great reminder of the fact that we’re pilgrims. While we all naturally seek rest, we have to remember that our ultimate rest won’t be on this side of the grave. God made us to keep marching forward.

But (you knew the “but” was coming, didn’t you?) the chronic disengagement of the single person is not natural. We’re made for belonging, even as we have to struggle to maintain a healthy, spiritual detachment. This yearly bouncing from one place to another (or from one job to another; from one city to another; from one social scene to another; from one relationship to another…) is just one of the stronger visible manifestations of the incompleteness of the single life. Yes, you read that right. Even as I defend this phase in life, even as I talk and write about the importance of focusing on the “now” and living this time to the fullest, I have to pause and admit–to myself and to you–that this is not it. That we’re here only as a holding spot before something else. That we can’t get around that fact, but we have to live–and live well–in spite of it, while seeking to learn where God has created us to rest our hearts in this life, while we journey to rest them with him in the next.

For now, if you stumble upon extra boxes that you’re willing to spare, think of me. I need to start thinking about packing, at least.

Another bus story

The bus almost blew right past me this morning. I had to wave her down, and when I got on board I bit back any cutting remarks and just said, “Thank you!” I mean, I’m willing to give any hard working person the benefit of the doubt, especially first thing in the morning. Mistakes happen. No big.

To my surprise, the driver wasn’t the slightest bit apologetic. She responded to my thanks with a look that said, “You’re the dumbest white girl I’ve seen this year.” She scolded: “You were standing away from the stop.”

Confused, I dropped my SmarTrip card into my bag and said, “Yes…that’s the stop right there.” I’d been standing about a foot away from the bus stop sign, as I do every morning. I see lots of different bus drivers, and so far they’ve all always been able to tell that I wanted to get on their buses, though the bus stop sign is planted in the grass about six inches from the roadside, and I prefer to stand 7 inches farther than that, on the sidewalk.

Her face made it clear I’d just fallen from dumbest white girl of the year to dumbest white girl…ever. She repeated, “Yes, and you were standing away from it.”

I only said, “Oh, okay,” and smiled and walked back to take a seat.

But you should know that I was stewing. I wanted to say, “Thanks for letting me know. Next time I’ll just wrap my arms around the sign and hold on tight till you get here, so there’s no confusion whatsoever.” Because I know lots of people who just hang out randomly in the middle of the sidewalk a foot or two away from bus stop signs. Just because. Move along, bus driver, I’m not looking to go anywhere, just want to stand here and think about things.

Funny the things that make us so angry. The way a little bit of pride can tinge the most mundane moments and make incidents that just don’t matter seem all-important. Who does it hurt if that bus driver thinks I’m a dumb white chick? (And honestly, how wrong is she?) On the flip side, of course, would it have hurt her at all to apologize for nearly missing me? Obviously it was her fault, and it would have been gracious of her to admit it and move on. But when all is said and done, I made it onto the bus, the transit system got paid, and I made it to work on time.

All’s well that ends well.

And now I know, hopeful bus passengers better climb up onto the bus stop sign and wave a red flag, just so there’s no possibility of doubt about where they’re trying to go.

An open letter to all my friends

“If you really loved me, you’d make time for me,” a friend scolded me last weekend, sitting on my couch at the tail end of a low-key party the roommate and I decided to host in honor of the last evening cool enough for a fire out back. It was close to 1:00 in the morning, my clothes and hair smelled like smoke from being out near the fire for hours, and I admit up to this point I’d been half asleep and only half paying attention to what was going on around me. This statement kind of jolted me. Mostly because while I feel guilty, there’s not really anything I can do about it for the next several weeks.

Here’s a little message for any and all friends who may share those sentiments. Know that I’m dying to make time for you, I really am. Sometimes even really great things have to be cut when prioritizing has to happen.



Meanwhile, thanks for bearing with me…for keeping faith in me. I’m still here! And until we’re able to really hang out again, I always love a quick email, a text message, even a postcard. And of course, prayers. Lots of them. Count on mine for you.