Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I take a deep breath--the smell of tea, cookies and perfume mingle in the air. I wander into the back meeting room, furnished more like a living room. Collapsing onto the couch, I close my eyes and the room comes alive--the laughter of friends, the chanting of prayer, the joy of surprise parties and celebrations, afternoons and evenings spent in tears...all of it lives in this room. The red couch in the corner taunts me with the old game--how many butts can fit? The record is 7.
After pausing in the kitchen for a moment, to grab tea in one of the blue and white mugs that simply screams belonging, I slowly climb the stairs. The offices are cozy, decorated with photos, books and candles. Each one reflects the personality of the occupant, each unique but warm and inviting. The building is more like a home than a bunch of offices--there is a peace and a deep sense of sprituality and grace. I step softly through the doorway, covered in kid art. There are collages of photos on the wall--familiar faces smile back at me. There is such happiness reflected there. I turn back to the hallway, but I don't move quickly. The last part of this goodbye is not a step I want to take. Slowly, I descend the stairs on the far side of the house and enter the room I dread--the room that is hardest to let go of...the toughest goodbye.
With my eyes closed, I could find my way around this room...the desk, the couch, the bookcases--even the placement of certain pictures are burned into my mind. I tip the rocking chair back and forth as I examine photos of both unfamiliar faces and faces that know me better than I know myself. The couch beckons me, but I know that if I give in, if I sink into the couch and pull a pillow on to my lap like I had done so many times before, I would never get up. I'd want to take root right there and remain in my safe cocoon. It was easier...there was no risk involved in staying right here in this house. But it was time to say goodbye. I treasure the roots I've been given here and I'll always have a place to come home to, but it is time to take wing and fly.
pants pants pants If you put those pants on me (the enemy called pants, n&k)
Monday, January 30, 2006
I don't have much to write about this evening. This is Ballybunion, Ireland (County Kerry) and the beach where my great-grandmother played as a child. In this picture, the water looks a LOT bluer than it did on that cold day when I decided to brave the waves. I just love the ruin overlooking the sand and water.
Ireland felt so much like home, it was eerie. The countryside is so incredibly beautiful and the people are kind, generous and damn funny. I loved the pace--though much slower than the States. I felt a connection with the land, the people and the culture...plus, seafood, meat and potatoes?! Who doesn't love that diet? ;)
If I could spend an afternoon having tea with my great-grandmother, I'd do it in a heartbeat. What a fascinating life. She lost her mother, then her father--an orphan at 12. Her step-mother then chose to protect her own children's inheritance, shipping my great-grandmother and her siblings to New York by boat. What did she hope to find here? What did she dream her life would be like? Did she dream of the family she created? The legacy she left?
Several years later, she met John Ferris, himself an immigrant from the shores of Kerry. Together, they raised four daughters who went on to marry handsome, strong and kind men. Between them, fourteen grandchildren ran amok. My mother and her cousins were raised more as siblings than cousins. They adored their grandparents and relished stories of their childhood land of Eire. The fourteen cousins grew up in New York, sometimes going to the same schools, even in the same classrooms. Though some traveled far and wide, in the end, most settled back here on the East Coast, staring over the Atlantic towards Ireland. There are 24 of us now...two generations removed from Anna and John Ferris. We've heard the stories of our great-grandparents--their childhoods in Ireland, their journeys to the States and the family and life they created here. To this day, they remain the type of couple with the type of marriage that we all want. The newest generation has begun...Yasmin, Minty, Ned and William are the first. I wonder what their great-great-grandparents would think of the world they live in...
All I know is that Nana and Gaga (as my mom and her cousins called them) must have done something right. They raised four daughters who raised 14 children who raised 24 children who are raising 4 more...and we're all close--we know each other. We all celebrate together...and cry and grieve together. When we're in trouble, we don't have to look very far for help. I'm in awe of our family sometimes...there are more differences than similarities and yet, when we're together, there is no where else I'd rather be. We're proud of the family Anna and John Ferris created--and though I detested it as a child, I couldn't be more honored to carry the name Ferris in the middle of my own.
have turned their hands to labor, sound out the trumpet (hey ho, tracy grammer)
Sunday, January 29, 2006
However, I did go to the office today and accomplish something. I'd had writer's block all week on these notes to be mailed with photos from my scholarship event in December. Today, they all got written--I feel so much better...I listened to my iPod on the "FRFF '05" playlist. My mind has been on the hillsides of Hillsdale the last few days. Never a bad place to be.
OK, I must finish my book club book. The Sex Lives of Cannibals...oh joy. At least I successfully made pasta salad for our get-together tomorrow night.
My new tradition is to end each entry with the first 10 words of a song I hear when I stop typing...does that make sense? Anyway, tonight it is:
of safe people, and at night we walk into our (iowa, dar)
Saturday, January 28, 2006
This is for ~J~ I *believe* that it's Tracy and Jim on stage in this pic. 172 days from now, we'll be basking in the sun, the music, the friendship and the fun. It's my favorite weekend of the year. It's a feeling I can conjure up by popping in a simple CD...songs like The Sweetness, I Go Like the Raven, The Work that We Do, Eddie's Concubine, Shady Grove and City of New Orleans quickly bring me back to the big hill. I see friends I don't see during the rest of the year....
For those of you who've never been (A, I'm looking at you), FRFF is like Big Yellow times a gazillion. My first FRFF was in 2003...I'd just graduated with my masters and was facing yet another year of loneliness in LA. I came to Falcon Ridge with no expectations and being familiar with only the lovely songs of one Dar Williams. I spent over 72 hours in the company of some of my closest college friends...and friends of friends. I experienced music I'd never heard before...music that has changed my life in some ways and certainly music that has brought me joy--and friends--over the past 3 years. I was reminded of what happiness felt like--I'd almost forgotten.
Every year, when I return to Hillsdale, I'm filled with the same sense of awe and joy. I spend my days baking in front of the workshop stage, stealing some shade watching contra-line dancing...I spend my nights on a dark hillside with glo-sticks, headlamps, flashlights and cell phones as the lights on the hill. It takes my breath away each time. I don't even mind the portapotties and I smile at the cry of "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE!!" I climb into my tent at the end of each day, surrounded by the laughter and drunken debauchery of friends, lulled to sleep by far-away guitars and drum beats. Even the rain is cause for celebration.
I have 50 cents in FRFF funny money. I'm ready for July 20...now hurry up and get here.
Friday, January 27, 2006
1) It's time to trust my instincts; Close my eyes: and leap! (defying gravity, wicked soundtrack)
**Not sure I'll ever get that far...a little scary to me. I'm not quite sure why it's so scary, because the few times I have trusted my gut, it has worked out splendidly. I just have this huge fear of choosing the *wrong* thing--probably b/c I suck at admitting I'm unhappy with my choice. Though The Road Not Taken is my favorite poem, I stand at that juncture in the woods for a long long time, and see the good and bad in every choice, then panic.
2) First it was question, then it was a mission; How to be American, how to be a Christian (i had no right, dar williams)
**To an extent, something I've struggled with for 10 years. Particularly the last 5 or 6...my own life and comfort and ease up against my responsibility to the poor and oppressed. How do I continue to find a way to live and work in solidarity with those who have less than I do materially, yet teach me so much? I love this song so much though...I had the good fortune to hear Fr. Dan Berrigan speak earlier this year at HC. This song is a powerful testament to the man.
3) If you're not with us, we have to hate you; but that's ok because hatred makes us strong! (we are the true americans, christine lavin)
**I love this song, and this line. As hopeless as I can feel about the state of our country and our world these days, this song makes it all hilariously funny. And the really interesting part--the song is from like 1991-1992! It still applies.
4) Yesterday's girl, please look around you, you are right where you belong! (yesterday's girl, nerissa & katryna nields)
**This song has recently become an absolute favorite. For the first time in a long time, I feel like this line is so true for me. This is the right job, living situation, location for me at this point in my life. It feels so rich--to be surrounded by friends, able to go home for a weekend or even a day if I wanted, to have a job where I laugh on a daily basis and find the work interesting...I am a lucky girl, and the girl that I was for 3 years in LA has faded away, yet I know that she's a part of this too--she is what makes this all so much better.
5) She tries to coax us out; She cups her hands and shouts, "Oh but think of the stories you will tell!" (mercy house, the nields)
**I don't think I need to even comment on that one. It's simply perfect.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
"Rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, CLC’s are small faith-sharing groups that meet every week or every other week and can be found at most Jesuit colleges and universities across the country.CLC’s integrate spirituality, community, and service. Each CLC consists of 6-10 students as well as an 'adult companion.' Members of CLC's gather on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for an hour and have a structured time of community building, faith sharing, and prayer. The goal is to integrate one's spirituality into one's everyday life and to grow in knowledge and love of God. Members of CLC's will also try to build community with the members of their CLC. Most CLC's end up working to put their faith into action through service within the community."
I guess this makes me an "adult companion." Do I strike any of you as resembling an adult? On second thought, don't answer that. However, because I'm a sucker (which I'm sure is the real reason the Chaplains' Office asked me--in 8 years, I've never been able to say no to them), I said yes. In truth, the concept fascinates me. Also, I've wanted a way to connect with some students on campus, since the D office doesn't have much direct contact.
However, facilitating community, faith sharing and prayer...putting faith in action through service?! Oy vey. I mean, this is who I am, it's what I do, it's what I LOVE...but sitting in a room with 6-10 college kids as the facilitator sounds a little intimidating. I've done it with 7 year olds, I've done it with high schoolers, but something tells me some of these kids will be smarter than me.
The religion geek side of me is excited. I love religion, theology, faith and service. I love to sit in a room with like-minded people and discuss service and justice...and then try to do something about it. It's who HC shaped me to be. So, I get to create a space for students to journey together, to explore their faith and see where it takes them. I'll probably learn a lot too.
1) How old do you wish you were?
**21 was a good year
2) Where were you when 9/11 happened?
**Los Angeles...my second full day of teaching...I heard as I was leaving my apartment...spent the next few hours terrified for my dad and rest of my family...God, that sucked
3) What do you do when vending machines steal your money?
**If it's a soda machine, I hit it and walk away. If my candy or chips are dangling, I heave my substantial weight into the machine to try and get it to fall.
4) What one thing would you love to see (not a person)?
5) When you see a homeless person on the street?
**Depends...but I grew up in the NYC area, so that should answer it
6) If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be?
**the small of my back I guess
7) If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be?
8) Do you know your neighbours?
**Here in MA? Not really
9) What do you consider a vacation?
**More than 3 days away from work
10) Do you check your horoscope?
11) Would you move for the person you loved?
12) Are you touchy feely?
**Some would probably call me that...
13) Do you believe that opposites attract?
**I don't know
14) Dream job?
15) Dream car?
**I'm liking my new Subaru Forester
16) Favourite channel?
17) Favourite place to go on weekends?
**Anywhere with my friends...and if music's involved, all the better.
18) Showers or baths?
**Showers--baths squick me out
19) Do you paint your nails?
20) What do you like the most about yourself?
**I'm fiercely loyal
21) What do you like the least?
22) Do you trust people easily?
23) Do you live alone?
24) What truly frightens you?
25) What are your phobias?
**Not a spider fan...
26) Do you want kids?
**yes yes and...yes
27) What makes you smile?
**my cousins...and my friends...and babies
28) Where would you rather be right now?
**Big Yellow House, filled with my WIUITG friends
29) Who would you like to be more honest with?
**Not sure...maybe this guy...
30) Who makes you feel guilty?
31) Are you a heavy or light sleeper?
32) Are you a good dancer?
33) What are you paranoid of?
**I'm with A...it's a whole 'nother blog
34) Are you impatient?
**Yup, unless you are under 10
35) Who are you related to?
**About 1/2 of Ireland, apparently
36) Would you ever have plastic surgery?
**Does the plastic surgeon who sewed up my arm count?
37) Would you ever break the law?
**I speed (like 5 mph) regularly
38) Do you believe in the afterlife?
**I'm Catholic...I think it's like a mortal sin not to believe in it. But I want to anyway...I firmly believe I'll be with those I've lost again. Not sure I would be a happy person if I didn't.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I know I ruminated on being "home" in MA just a few days ago...but the spectacularness that is being home just keeps coming this week. Today, at about lunch time, my coworker swung by to see if I wanted to run to Old Navy with her, just to get out of the office. Since I'd eaten lunch at my desk, I said sure. J is about 13 years older than I am, but we've gotten to know each other better these last few months. She has 2 boys (8 and 5) who I adore. Anyway, after 3 years of feeling isolated and disconnected with my coworkers, it's so refreshing to have people I like to hang out with at work.
Then, my dear friend Anne had a meeting at HC tonight, so we went out to dinner. Anne is one of the most exquisite people I've ever known. She is one of those people who just "gets" me. We had a spectacular dinner, where we laughed, caught up, talked about families, work, her job search and upcoming wedding. I think I appreciate that kind of friendship and connection so much more now, after being away from it for so long. How lucky I am to be in a place where those dearest to me are within a day's drive!!
Hmmm...anyone want to suggest something profound for me to ruminate on in my next blog?
Monday, January 23, 2006
This girl was rather excited about the snow herself! I wore the big snowboots I got for Christmas today--tucked my pants inside as I cleared my car off this morning, giggling and singing the whole time. At the end of the day, I took great joy in making tracks in the fresh snow--why walk where it had been shoveled/plowed? That's no fun! The roads were clear for the drive home (not like this morning--thank goodness for AWD!)...kids were building snow people in their front yards and the plows had created snow piles taller than me. I think I turn into a bit of a 5 year old myself in this weather. There's something magical in the air...
Was there anything better as a kid than having the phone ring at 5 or 6 in the morning? SNOW DAY! Groggily call the next person on the phone chain, then go back to sleep. Wake up and go build snow forts with the neighborhood kids...make your parents drive you over to the high school where 90% of the town was sledding. Hot chocolate with whipped cream was the perfect end to the day. Being an adult is overrated...
Oh, and welcome to the world, Stevie Lynn. Congrats to Sam and JP! Hmmm, now I need to find a time to go out to LA and visit. Maybe early March--I want to cuddle this baby girl.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
After Ali left, I decided, spur of the moment, to drive down to Hartford (just an hour) to see Nerissa and Katryna sing at the Sounding Board. My plans for the evening included reading my book for book club and doing a little work...boring! I've learned in the last year that given the choice between doing something by yourself and not doing anything, always do something by yourself. So, I motored down to Hartford, bought a ticket and settled into the church auditorium. I read a little of my book, did a little work, then listened to 2 fabulous Nields sets.
Came home and chatted with Ashley for a while before heading to bed. Today has been low key--football, church, grocery shopping--but I'm revelling in New England. 4-7 inches of snow tomorrow! Bring it on. It's good to be home.