14 February 2018

Reflections on the Road: Two Birds, One Super Bowl

I drove over 225 miles round trip Super Bowl weekend to visit friends in Baltimore. I-95, I-695, York Road, MLK Jr Highway, I-395, and city streets in between; through neighborhoods like Rosebank, Federal Hill, Inner Harbor, and Mount Vernon. I drove by M&T Bank Stadium twice, unintentionally, misdirected by my co-pilot. At night, well-lit and deserted, the stadium is particularly impressive.

Just twenty-four hours later, I was home in Philadelphia watching a football game happening in a different stadium. By the end of the night, I had officially changed from a Ravens fan to an Eagles fan. While I don't pay attention to football - I've never even attended a game - I've hosted playoffs and Super Bowl parties; I've worn purple and claimed Baltimore pride. Yet, not until this Super Bowl, rooting for the Eagles on the road to victory, have I felt stressed about football, or even really, truly enjoyed watching football. I felt invested, which surprised me. For the first time, I felt more like a Philadelphian than a Marylander, and that scared me.

30 January 2018

Live a Life More Ordinary

Oh, Ordinary Time! My favorite liturgical season, full of memories, truly the most wonderful time of the year!

Said no one ever.

While we count down to Christmas, fast through Lent, proclaim Alleluia, He is risen! for fifty days of Easter, we often pass through Ordinary Time without care, without notice, losing track of what week we are even in. (We're in week four, by the way.) Ordinary Time does not celebrate big, shiny, theologically profound, earth-shattering events. No incarnation. No death on a cross. No resurrection. While the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines Ordinary Time with great enthusiasm, as the time of conversion... time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ, the title applied to this season doesn't quite translate that excitement and profundity. However, the problem is not that the Church picked the wrong word, but that we have distorted its meaning.

25 January 2018

Wake Up and Smell Your Arm Skin

Well friends, I did my homework this week. I paid attention and noticed things about myself. Do I love myself more now? I'm not sure, but I can honestly say I haven't quoted The Crown in the mirror once, which I think is a good start. I even threw in one extra observation. Since I was the one assigning the homework, I thought I should go the extra mile. You're welcome. So without further ado - cue bubble baths, Enya, and all that other self-care kind of stuff -

Things I Noticed about Myself:

19 January 2018

Permission to Notice

I have spent more time in front of the bathroom mirror quoting and imitating movies and television shows than I should publicly admit. I can do Mr. Knightley's confession of love from the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma by heart. I've mastered pouring water from a pitcher in just the same way Galadriel does in The Fellowship of the Ring. I can do a masterful rendition of Jack Black lambasting "the man" in School of Rock. 
My latest imitation obsession? Claire Foy in The Crown. 

12 January 2018

Reflections on the Road: Maryland, My Maryland

I drove over 375 miles over the course of my Christmas celebrations, from Philadelphia to Longwood Gardens then to Columbia, Frederick, and Hagerstown, MD, and back again to Philadelphia. I-95, I-476, US-1, I-70, Rt. 40, I-695, and local streets in between. I sat in traffic; almost missed one stop sign; cleared my car of snow and ice; struggled to stay awake in the face of the afternoon sun. I saw headlights and taillights and the Susquehanna River, but my favorite sight of all? My Maryland mountains.

Every time I drive between Frederick and Hagerstown on I-70 or I-40, I feel a swell of pride and joy as I look at the ridges and valleys dotted with homes and silos. I am from the most beautiful place in the world, I think to myself, but I did not always feel this way. Oh no, I clearly recall childhood conversations with friends about how lame our hometown was, how we couldn't wait to live anywhere but Western Maryland. Sometimes, one has to travel very far to realize the value of what is near, and sometimes, one just has to look very closely. I did both.

04 January 2018

Numbered: 2017

Ah, the New Year, when so many lists are being made. Lists of resolutions, lists of intentions, lists of foods not to be touched, lists of what was great about the previous year. If your Instagram feed was anything like mine, the last few weeks featured many "Best Nine" photo collages. If your Instagram feed was really anything like mine, most of those revolved around engagements and weddings. 2017 was a big year for all of my mid-twenties friends, and I have been blessed to share in some of their joy.

2017 was my favorite of recent years. It was the first year since college I truly felt like myself, felt valuable and valued, had work I loved, and made serious steps towards some personal goals. Yet, despite having such positive feelings, until this moment I couldn't compel myself to make a Best Nine collage. No, it didn't have anything to do with a lack of a diamond. It maybe had something to do with a lack of time; if I'm being hopeful, with too much of a focus on Advent (hm, maybe a stretch). Regardless, today I found myself four days into 2018, and I, a lover of lists, had yet to participate in putting my year into nine tight bullet points. So I did it; I made my Instagram account public for one hot minute to produce the collage you see here. These were wonderful memories of my past year, but 2017 was so much more than nine filtered and cropped images that received the most likes. It was a year of concepts and feelings and moments and more. Why should I limit myself to summarizing my year into the box Instagram designed for me? No, I choose words over pictures and popularity. So, in addition to these pictured moments, here we go, some Best Nines of 2017:

18 December 2017

For Acculturated: What 'Persuasion' Can Teach Millennials...

I remember the first time I read Persuasion. I was a Junior in high school, home for two back-to-back snow days. I spent both days curled up in various cozy spots throughout the house, reading feverishly. I read it faster than any other Jane Austen novel, devouring its insights on heartache and longing and forgiveness. In the throes of the last few chapters, my AP Gov teacher called inquiring about an assignment, telling me I should be doing schoolwork even though there was no school. "But, I'm reading Persuasion!" I said. And she sighed, longingly sighed, and we shared a moment talking about the greatness of Jane Austen's final piece of fiction. She knew her homework had no chance, the only thing winning my attention and heart that snowy night was Frederick Wentworth himself. And he still has it. Happy 200th anniversary, Persuasion! Read my latest Acculturated article that celebrates it here.