Monday, July 27, 2009

I’m Blitzed!

Forgive me, friends, for I have spent a solid three-hours tonight gazing into the tempting, captivating, colorful eyes of my new love, Bejeweled Blitz – the facebook game that’s taking over the lives of innocent homebodies everywhere.

My intentions were good and I had a productive evening all planned out – I grabbed dinner with a friend after work and was headed home to toss in some laundry, stop by my church for a rosary, and dart to the gym for Monday night volleyball and a workout. But I got a bit side tracked; three hours later here I am, owning up to the wasted hours of my life.

There I sat, blitzing myself silly with the allure of sparkly jewels on my MacBook while I ignored my phone ringing in the other room, left my middle-aged volleyball buddies to fend without their star, and intentionally disregarded Bert (my car) on the street with his windows down while the rain soaked his innards. If that’s not blitzed, I don’t know what is.

You might be wondering if this embarrasses me; the answer is yes, absolutely. But it also makes me stop and realize how lucky of a kid I was to have a parents who made me go water the flowers, pull weeds in the driveway, and walk to Seaton’s Grocery (which to this day I promise you is uphill both ways) to pick up milk for dinner, instead of being glued to the Nintendo for my entire childhood.

I admit I had my share of failed attempts of trying to beat my oldest sister’s Tetris score and gathering berries to stave off Scurvy on the Oregon Trail, but I was never allowed to be blitzed, and years later, I am so grateful for that. Although I hated the orders at the time, I sometimes, like tonight, wish I was back at eight-years-old dragging my feet down the stairs as my dad lovingly barked orders for me to go clean up the dog’s kennel; the sweetness of those memories is far more precious than any bejeweled blitz.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Awkard Family Photos

In celebration of a successful recent family photo taken at our reunion bash in July...

I bring you snapshots from my favorite website:

And one that I'll be adding to the website soon, because no matter what the fashion magazines say about men's fall fashion, the 'stache will NEVER be not-awkward for women:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Camping in luxury thread-count sheets?

I’ve never really understood the appeal of camping. It seems to me we’ve moved well beyond the days leaf-stuffed pillows in caves and raccoon tail seared over a fire. And I’ve even been camping a few times, so I speak from experience – a week no-trace backpacking through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, a Girl Scout trip because it involved a boat, and a high school drum-line outing because my fellow drummers all treated me like a princess. So my favorite things – Colorado, boats, and princess-dom – can get me to sleep under the stars without hesitation. But when given a choice between my pillow-top mattress with luxury thread-count sheets, or a leaking tent across town, it’s really not a difficult choice.

This weekend, however, I’ll be giving it another go, because I have some friends coming through town and camping is on the agenda. I guess it turns out friends make the rank of my “favorite things.” So while I’m tempted to let my friends pitch their tent in my 20’ X 30’ backyard while I am all nestled in my cozy oasis of nightly comfort, I’m saying yes to nature’s call, and am going to “offer it up” while I suffer through the night doing my best to rejoice in my sufferings of a cold, damp, wet, raccoon-infested campground.

And please, let the record state I totally call “dibs” on the first shower.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Iowa City:

Dear Iowa City:

I write to inform you that in approximately 24 hours, the four-generation family of my late grandparents, D.C. and Margaret, will be returning to your proximity for a reunion. As all good Catholic families do, we come in massive droves, so take head and prepare for the invasion of the families of D.C. and Margaret’s eight children, their combined 31 children, their i-can't-keep-track children, and their i-really-can't-keep-track children. Read: there will be a lot of us. Additionally, we are Irish – I’m just sayin’.

Friday we will be enjoying a pizza and pool party at the Elk's club. Saturday we will be taking over the Hi-Point golf course before heading to a steak-fry at the Knights of Columbus. From there, the fun folk will head downtown for a tour of the unmatchable Iowa City night life. Sunday morning we’ll be celebrating Mass in memory of our beloved D.C. and Margaret and setting an official World Record by taking the largest family portrait ever before departing, taking away approximately 1/4th of your temporary weekend population.

We are big. We are loud. We are probably more fun than you have ever seen. We are “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” in real life, except Irish Catholic instead of Greek Orthodox. I hope you’re ready for us!

Stoked beyond words,
The youngest of the 31 second generation, Annie

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I want to date a hippie

Although I am far from one, I've always taken a liking toward hippies. Growing up in the People's Republic of Iowa City, a hippie commune of sorts, I've had more than a handful of hippie-ish friends in my day, so I've experiences firsthand how wonderful they are. Besides the fact that they sometimes smell, I tell ya, they are a great group of people! They are kind, generous, forgiving, loving, and best of all, they adore giving flowers... how romantic!

After a friend recently pointed out to me that I tend to be attracted to men who end up being little more than a great game of talk, she suggested I branch out from my typical sporty, all-American, "I talk a fantastic game" Ken doll.

So I'm going to give it a try. Hippies are not about impressing anyone. They don't try to talk a good game. They appreciate the beauty and value of things and people for what they are, and they don't earn their self-worth from their most recent athletic feats that will be a mere memory by the time the kids are old and moved away. With a hippie, what you see is what you get. And I think I could find that oddly attractive. If you know any cute hippies, please send them my way.

And until then, I'm getting one of these...

Love is a choice

I recently had a, shall we say, unique conversation with my friend Dan who commented that the “feelings” of being in love and being intoxicated have the same effects on a person (you can check it out here). I’ll be the first to admit he has a point about the idiotic things we do when we are blinded by the emotional, subjective, fleeting feelings of romantic love. But his statement got me thinking about how that type of love is subject to the changing tides we call life, and how the crux – that which upholds and sustains it – of real and lasting love, be it parental, romantic, brotherly, whatever, is not a feeling, but a choice.

Which brings me to a true confession: I probably should have been a Theo major. I do things like read Papal encyclicals the same day they are released, like today when I spent a good bit of time getting into Pope Benedict’s third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth). He writes….

“Love and truth ... are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of every human person… Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite."

Unless we understand the truth about love and charity – that they are choices we make, rooted in God’s creation for humans to seek and choose both truth and love – then we will only ever be trying to fill that shell in arbitrary, subjective, fleeting ways that ultimately result in emptiness.

Confused? Consider the greatest act of love ever conducted on this earth: Christ enduring a heinous crucifixion and descending into Hell so you and I might be forgiven and be granted eternal peace and joy. Do you think Jesus felt all warm, fuzzy, emotional feelings of love for us as he hung there dying? I hope to ask Him that someday, but for now, I sure don’t. Yet that act of will - that choice - shows more love than any other human could ever possibly give.

While political hacks try to spin the Holy Father’s latest formal message to push their agendas, I hope we can all take one simple concept away from his writing: Love is so much more than mere subjective and passing sentimentality; love is a choice. Please choose it with all you meet today.