Mass, Cats, and Weimaraners

Do you remember Wegman’s Weimaraners, the beautiful pictures and skits of the Weimaraner dogs with human arms?  (William Wegman started all of that.  Here’s an example.)  And we hopefully all know the musical Cats.  (Look up some photos quickly, if you need a frame of reference for the picture to have in your head of the style.)

Now, today at Mass, both of these things were relevant.  My mom and I have had a somewhat silly time in Mass together the past several years, mostly due to a little book we found at, I believe, a dollar store.  (It was a book of comic-type frames, based on The Bible and Christianity, and was entitled According to the Good Book.  I can tell more about that another time, though.)  We do not actively seek out distractions, of course, but we do inform the other if ever there is something truly worth noticing.  This morning, after the priest had pointed out some facts relating to the scene choices of the stained glass windows, my mom leans over to me, and whispers that, “Baby Jesus has adult hands,” and “Saint Joseph is a lion… He was in Cats.”

Momentarily unable to comprehend, I noticed that she was looking at one of the windows.  Sure enough, she was right.  I let her know that I agreed with her, and that the baby Jesus reminded me of the Weimaraners with human arms.  We said nothing more, but both struggled to calm ourselves from the our silent, trembling laughter.

A while later, the little girl in front of us, did something wonderful.  She had already tickled us to silent chuckles earlier with an adorable, “Let us praaay,” mimicking even the tones of the priest, immediately after he had said it, as well as her unreal timing with leaning backward in her mother’s arms.  During the singing of the Amens after the whole bread and wine changing to body and bread deal, the music powerful and faith being declared strongly through song, we look up to see this little girl facing her mother, held around the waist in her mother’s arms, leaning back as far as possible, arms draped down, hanging limply behind her, and her head dropped back… at the last “Amen”, she raised her arms straight up in the air, as though praying to and praising the great Lord above.  It was truly beautiful, despite the comedy of the timing of her actions.

So now, this little girl, just as Mass is almost finished, finds the little envelopes at the end of the pew.  The envelopes are for collection (donations) to the Church for a specific cause, and the cause was labeled with a golden starburst-shaped seal on the front of each envelope.  When she finds the envelopes, she grabs them, and scoots back toward her older brother, and declares quietly, “I got invites!”  The priest says another line or two, and then we hear her say, “Should we go?”  I think my mom and I instantly began crying with laughter.

Another few moments later, we hear the brother say, “Your party lipstick,” and we see him doing her lipstick for her with a fake lipstick.  I comment to my mother that ‘I bet Cats is playing at the party.’  And we continued crying with laughter.

Now, I am aware that this is not ideal Mass behavior, as we are well taught as children.  We are nonetheless human, and so we have our little tidbits of fun at Mass here and there.  Besides, it is a beautiful art to find unsuspecting joys in unsuspecting places.  And come on, who wouldn’t agree that Saint Joseph must have been in Cats, based on that window?
The Nativity, as portrayed by today’s lovely stained glass window

The “Party Invitation”


Post-a-day 2017

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Weddings and Children

A few years ago, I became aware of something new in terms of weddings, parties, and events: the effects of the presence of young children.  At my cousin’s wedding reception, some of my family and I were near a couple with a baby.  I had been strongly working to tune out he baby’s cries, when my aunt commented to another cousin of mine, ‘This is why we didn’t allow kids at your wedding.’ (Although, now that I write that, I feel like it might have been the cousin to say it about her own wedding.)  It wasn’t that the baby was a problem.  That was not at all the case.  It was simply that the baby altered the atmosphere significantly for all of those around it.

This weekend, I experienced one of the strongest respects for the ‘No Children’ policy.  Children are great, and I need not be convinced of this.  I love children on their own turf, in their own environments.  However, my former belief that excluding children from events was just because people wanted to get stupid drunk is now history.  Without children, the atmosphere is at ease.  Period.  With children, almost every single time, at least one person is always a little stressed (watching the kids), and likely several people end up stressed and annoyed, as well.  When a child is constantly running around, an unidentifiable parent allowing the child to be roaming free, things are at their worst for the other guests, because there is a sense of obligation felt to watch out for the young, solo child.  Even when a child is attached to its parent, seeing parenting skills that are less than extraordinary is stressful just to see.

As I watched yet another person take away an incredibly breakable object from a kid tonight, – I even got to take away calmly a ceramic dish from this child earlier in the evening – my annoyance was raised just that much more.  The kids were all really sweet and nice.  But kids are incapable of being fully respnsile for themselves and their behavior, and these were kids.  As I noticed with my stress levels last night, one rogue child can ruin a party’s mood.  And much more so than an annoying adult.  When an event is designed for children, then kids can be themselves, through and through.  Weddings and most events of a similar setup are not designed for children, but for adults.  And so the presence of children really just doesn’t work.

Post-a-day 2017

The stairs attacked me

I fell on the stairs tonight.  More specifically, I fell up the stairs.

You see, I was carrying up my laundry, for which I had no basket.  There were bunches of socks in the pile, and I had strategically hugged myself to the pile, in order to keep the many socks from falling to the ground.  Unfortunately, as I was stepping up to the top of the stairwell, I found myself suddenly stemmed to the ground with a loud s-smack!

I knew that I was on the ground and that I had somehow tripped, but had almost no brain capacity beyond knowing that.  I realized that I was about to cry terribly, and wanted my mom got help, in case I were injured.  I managed to call my mom with a very calm voice before I broke into an almost hysterical blurriness of tears.

For some reason, I was filled with a warm feeling of something truly special and loving at my mom’s response.  She was on the phone with family, and I heard her say, “Let me call you back in just a few minutes,” immediately after I called her.  There was little panic in my voice, but she had heard the splat.

When she arrived, I was crying on the cat-pee-infused floor, – she ripped up the carpet a while back, but still hasn’t gotten the particle board part replaced – on top of my laundry, half-sprawled on my forearms and knee, with my left leg lifted slightly in the air.  She asked me what had happened, but I couldn’t speak at first, and couldn’t move almost at all for the pain.  She said that she didn’t know how to help me until I could at least show her where I was hurt.  After a good set of seconds, I finally forced myself to sit in my right side, and pull my left leg around for her to see in the narrow landing of the top of the stairs.

She instantly could tell that my knee was swelling already.  I finally could speak a little, and pointed out that my toe was bleeding.  It was slow to begin, but then blood just seemed to be pouring out of it.  By the time I was able to stand myself up, and attempt walking, – it hurt – my sandal was getting covered in bright red.

Half an hour later, I am lying here on my bed, occasionally shivering/shuddering in pain as another throb goes through my toe.  The ice is helpful, but the weight of it seems to make things hurt more (as is so often the case with an ice pack).  I’ve already felt around, and, though it was painful, it seemed like my toe is all in one piece.  But that is not so much the point of my sharing this – that I had a big fall, but I am okay.

You see, it reminded me of this other occasion, when I had a similarly odd experience, and it was here, too, at my mom’s house.

Several years ago, – I think it was in high school – my mom had made some soup for dinner.  The soup was ready in a pot on the stovetop, and she had told me to go serve myself.  I grabbed one of the black ceramic bowls we use, and ladled some soup into it.  The next instant, there was soup and shattered ceramic all over the place around me.  It covered the floor.  I was still holding the ladle, I think, even, but the bowl was gone, in pieces on the floor.
I was paralyzed with shock and fright.  I couldn’t immediately comprehend how things had happened, but I knew that the bowl I had been holding was now all over the floor, and that it was dangerous to move.  I likely was barefoot or in sandals, making it that much more dangerous to move.  I couldn’t comprehend the full situation, and that was an additional scary factor to the shattered ceramic around me.

I began to cry.  My mom was already walking over to me from the living room.  She told me that it was okay, and she held me while I cried and said that I didn’t know what had happened.

She cleaned up everything, and then brought me soup on the sofa, where I had settled physically to help me settle emotionally.  And she wasn’t even the slightest bit upset or annoyed at any of it.  She was just there for me, and she took care of me.  She loved and cared for me, with no contingencies.  I felt like a five-year-old in what I had done and how I had responded, and was initially almost ashamed that I was actually around 17.  But my mom didn’t seem even to consider that.  Age wasn’t on her mind, even.  I needed help, and she gave it.  I needed love and care, and she provided.  And without hesitation.

Tonight was the same.  Usually, her phone calls are not cut short, but she tells the person to ‘hang on just a second’ or just whispers a, ‘What?(!)’ to me as she holds the receiver away from her face a bit.  In tonight’s situation, even though it turned out to be my grandma on the phone, my mom instantly responded to my need, ending the phone call immediately – she didn’t even wait for my grandma to finish what she was in the middle of saying at the time -, and coming to help me.  Again, I had made what felt like a childish error, and again did she seem not to care less about that fact.  I was in need, and she took care of me, without hesitation.  

That experience of love is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever known.  Talk about being ashamed or at one’s worst, and being loved anyway…

Post-a-day 2017

In the raw… not

Sometimes I wonder if my OCD isn’t the only thing I have.  I had a sort of episode today, which is what called to mind this idea (though I have had it regularly for years).

I had just showered, and was using the bathroom briefly before dressing.  My mom had just shown me a dress she was considering for my cousin’s upcoming wedding, while I had been wrapped in my towel.  When she came back toward my bathroom a minute or so later, telling me to look at another outfit, I told her to wait a minute, because I was peeing.  She, in good humor, and not thinking much into it, said, ‘No, look at it now.  I have it on already,’ and began to open my bathroom door, to show me the outfit.

Without having my chance to think anything through, I had thrown my arms around me protectively, and was almost yelling – not actual yelling, but much louder and more panicky than regular speech – to tell her to shut the door, and saying that she doesn’t ‘get it’; I was serious about waiting a minute.

I was almost in tears.  My mind was able to view the situation with sanity – What on Earth, girl?  It really is okay that your mother see you naked and/or on the pot.  What just happened in here, darling?  My reaction, however, had been instantaneous and automatic, leaving no attempt to consult with my brain on the matter before responding to the situation.

I went to talk to my mom about it afterward, and my eyes teared while we hugged.  It had taken me a while to go see her outfit, because something had me feel a need to be fully dressed before going to see her, as opposed to my usual comfort level of a bra and underwear being just fine.  It was like an odd means of making up for having felt exposed – compensating by over-dressing.

Growing up, I never was very comfortable with nudity of my own body.  My female family members were all incredibly comfortable with being nude around the house.  I’m not sure I went a week at any given point in my childhood without seeing at least one of them walking around naked.  And it never disturbed me.  I even marveled at how comfortable they were with being nude, and respected it.  I think I even thought that I would be so comfortable by the time I was around their then-ages (college-aged).

It never happened, though. College came and went, and here I stand totally uncomfortable with my own nudity around others.  In college, I was surprised that more girls in the dorm didn’t walk around more often in their towels.  I had just learned so well from my sisters how to make a towel stay in place wrapped around my body, that I spent plenty of time down the hall with friends, their constantly wondering and asking how my towel stayed up.  I didn’t even have to consider if I were comfortable in a towel – I just was.  In the same way, I suppose, I never even considered the idea of being comfortable nude – I just wasn’t.

And I imagine that all of that is somewhat normal for a good chunk of my society.  Some girls strip down entirely in the locker rooms after water polo practice, and some just don’t.  I have actively pursued being comfortable with my own nudity, just in my own presence, over the years, in hopes of 1) learning to appreciate my own body, and 2) being comfortable with certain close family and friends being around when I’m changing or have to use the bathroom.  (There are just certain scenarios that are part of life, and I can’t seem to see myself possibly functioning in them.)

But, just to throw in a sort of curve ball, let’s talk about how I am fine with other cultures and my own nudity.  I specify: Bath houses in Japan and a topless beach in Spain all had my full participation.  I was slightly nervous initially, but the social acceptance of the behavior allowed me to accept mentally the task.  I even appreciated the ease and comfort of the accepted nudity.  For the topless beach, I wasn’t with friends, so that made it loads easier. But the bath houses in Japan were easy enough to do with multiple friends, after my initial exposure to how the whole thing worked.  So, social context makes a huge difference in my comfort levels, it seems.  In my apartment in Japan, with the same friend with whom I had hung out naked in an onsen, I would not be found nude… take away the bath house, and the comfort disappears with it.

So, sometimes I seem to be in good shape and totally normal.  I changed at the YMCA the other week after swimming, and I did it in a way that was much more exposed and easy-going than I ever would have done in the past.  Perhaps, despite the fact that the general social context has changed (not Japan anymore), since it is a changing area at the gym, I still can grasp the behavior mentally, and participate to a certain degree, after my experiences in Japan.  However, since it is not Japan, and the general social context has changed in terms of nudity acceptability, I am only okay with it, because no one I know is around to notice me.  Add a family member to the equation, and I’d bet that I would be wrapped up or in a bathroom stall while changing clothes.

And I think all of that is somewhat normal, too.  However, when something like today happens, where it is not just a matter of my being uncomfortable, but a matter of my having a panicked, immediate reaction to the situation, I wonder if there is something more to it.

Post-a-day 2017

Boys’ Choirs

This afternoon, as part of an Oktoberfest celebration, my mom and I listened to and watched the Houston Saengerbund.  They are an organization all about promoting German language singing and culture, and they seem quite kind and fun as a whole.  However, hearing their name instantly called to mind the name of Wiener Sängerknaben, which is the German name for the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

One of my brothers was in a boys’ choir when I was little.  I remember going to their performances and concerts.  I loved it.  The music was always absolutely beautiful.  I suppose it was one of the many reasons I have always looked up to him, thought him awesome.  I think it was because of this that I was perhaps a bit more aware of boys’ choirs than the average kid.  I grew up knowing about the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and dreaming of how amazing they must be.  They were seen almost as gods, when compared to my brother’s boys’ choir, but how could I even imagine such a thing, when, to me, this boys’ choir, the one with my brother, was already singing music of the gods?  I  imagined the Vienna Boys’ Choir as perfection, and left it at that.

I never even considered hearing them perform.  It was that far out of the realm of possibility.

But, of course, since my life is so dearly blessed, this unacknowledged dream was fulfilled.  While I was living in Vienna, my mom and I went together to hear them sing.  It was the only time I have paid to attend Mass.  

When we did some research about it, it seemed all too easy.  I could hardly believe that we merely had to buy incredibly affordable tickets to attend Mass at the Wiener Hofburgkapelle (Wowzer, that place is gorgeous, by the way!) in order to hear the boys sing.  But we did it, and it was absolutely amazing.  I think I could’ve cried during the Mass at almost any given moment, and I might have actually cried when the boys came down in front to sing a couple other songs after the Mass.  I don’t actually remember.  That wasn’t exactly my focus at the time. 

There’s no way to describe the experience appropriately, so I won’t bother.  It was a dream that I had hardly even dreamed, and it was being fulfilled.  Perhaps you know what that’s like.  It was magic being real in two ways: First, in their music, and second, in my being there to hear it firsthand.  It was perfection (in the cold, since it was the middle of winter).

Post-a-day 2017

Malts

Today, I did what one would call volunteering while my mom was at work, and then she and I went to a shake place, so we could get a malt.  I even called ahead to verify that they had malts.  We didn’t want a shake.  We wanted a malt.  My mom briefly suggested that we just make our own at home, but I pointed out that half the purpose of going to get a malt was to be out of the house.

So, we went to the Galleria, the huge, high-fashion shopping complex in Houston, so we could try out this shake place.  We got a chocolate malt to share, and then walked around the complex a bit, drinking simultaneously from straws in the same cup, as though we were little kids who could wait to have their malt.  As we first walked out and saw various store names, we discovered that neither of us was even interested in window shopping.  So, we finished our malt, watching the kids ice skate below, which was far more interesting than shopping.

It was a good time.

As a whole, today was on a completely different level from yesterday, and in a very wonderful way.

Post-a-day 2017

…holding out for a (anger) management position…

“The thing about giving yourself a pep talk is that secretly you know it’s all bullshit.”
That’s a quote from a Sophie Kinsella book (Remember Me?, I think).  Today has kind of been a day where I got to live it.  Though, since I already knew this, any effort to give myself a pep talk was dropped almost before I started.  It’s not that I actually think life as I know or want it is coming to an end – indeed, the good stuff has only just begun.  But knowing that has almost no effect on the feelings of total misery and hopelessness that arise when I hit places like my current one.  Sure, I accept then, thank the feelings for sharing, and then move on to what’s next, but they really do suck when they’re busy hanging around.

I have been experiencing another one of these odd feelings of waiting lately.  It is as though there is a set amount of time I must go before I find a job again, and then, after that time period, everything will fall into place perfectly, and the waiting will have been totally worth the misery.

However, when I get these feelings, I always have to take a first step, be proactive somehow, in order for things to fall into place.  As I see myself growing more angry and on-edge each day, I find it more and more difficult to do anything productive, anything that could help with that first step.  I even have some plans for that step, yet here I lie, miserable and without having taken any action for them today.  I guess I would have to give up the idea that this isn’t where I want to be right now, living at my mom’s.  I moved out years ago, intentionally, and had no intentions of returning for residency.  Not for desire to be independent or anything of the sort, but because I don’t want to live the lifestyle of this house… at all.  Nor do I want to be treated like a kid again, as my mother does automatically most of the time whenever I am here.  Any time she has visited me in my own home, or anywhere else when I’ve not been living with her, she has treated me differently.  Sure, she’s always still a mom, and fussed at me for this or that.  However, it is not like how a parent talks to a child, how it is now.

Anyway, I have some things to get started with doing.  I want to live elsewhere, and yet here I am – this is what is available to me currently.  I want a good job that I love, and here am I, without employment.  So, little by little, I guess I have some steps to take, including figuring out what they are.  I know I’ll be all right, I really do.  It has just been mentally rough lately, and I so want to be finished with this near-constant anger, annoyance, and sense of hopelessness.  Guess it’s well about time I chat with Jude, hmm?  (I’ll start there, and see what I can brainstorm in that mental conversation.)
P.S. Bonus points to you, if you know what movie helped to inspire the title of this post.  It’s a family favorite of ours.  My cat even watched it with me after I first got him.  And he really did watch it.  It was kind of weird that he did, really, but also totally cute.

Post-a-day 2017