I finally took the time to make back-up copies of all the music I had on my old computer (that freaking paperweight, ugh) and transfer it onto my new computer! So I've been rocking out (uh, by myself) in my apartment ALL NIGHT. Oh T.I., Ellis, Noah and the Whale, Adele, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL...how I have missed you all. Really, this situation is kind of pathetic for two reasons:
1. It took me how long to do this? Like, five months? That's roughly how long it's been since I got my new computer. Laaaaame, self. Ultra lame. 2. The amount of excitement in my heart is massive. Seriously, it's kind of ridiculous how much this made my day. Maybe even my weekend. I think I might even put it on the same level as the wonderful Thanksgiving I had, just in different categories.
Anyway, I have discovered a new obsession in the comedic and musical stylings of two guys called Rhett and Link. Here is a video they did of a song about Sudoku. Fantastic. I would also recommend the Fast Food Folk Song and the Profanity and Unicorns Song. (If I knew how to embed videos in this blog, I totally would...but I don't know how, despite the fact that I just used the term "embed videos" which would indicate even a slightly higher level of familiarity with the bloggin' thing than reality would reveal. Or not.)
I have Christmas lights in my living room. I love them. I just wish I had a tree. Or an Advent wreath. Maybe I could make one...hmm. I was also thinking it might be fun to color some pictures of a nativity set and stick it on my (incredibly bare) walls. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. The only problem is that I severely lack the drawing skillz, so perhaps I shall have to keep it simple: stick figures with clothes on and sheep that look like clouds. At least I know the straw will look sweet.
So here's the stereotypical "here's what I'm thankful for" blog...I mean, the "things for which I am thankful" blog.
-To the handful of lovely folks who sent me cards saying "Happy Thanksgiving." It really meant a lot to me, so...thank you.
-For Mary, Tod, Wayne, and Kathleen, and for Greg, Chris, Eric, Jeremy, and Gracie for opening their homes up to me today...one for breakfast (in this case, breakfast=PIE, what an awesome tradition!) and the other for dinner. I haven't yet been to the second yet, but I'll be leaving in a little while, and I just have this feeling that it's going to be spectacular.
-To all the families at St. T's (literally, dozens) who offered me a place at their Thanksgiving table. If I could eat dinner with all of them, I would...but alas, my stomach is not that big, and I'd really like to be alive for Christmas! Haha...
-For Skype. (Are you in my Skype contacts? E-mail or Facebook me and I'll give you my contact info!)
-For a warm place to sleep and clothes to wear and food to eat (even if it's not the best...it's more than I need).
-For grace and mercy from God in so many aspects of my life. I feel like the more I try to give (by living out my vocation as a lay ecclesial minister and in other ways too), the more God multiplies my loaves and fishes all OVER the place! God is just showering me with blessings, and I really take comfort in that. And there are so many times when I'm sitting in my office or falling asleep at night or eating macaroni and cheese or hanging out with teenagers when I think, "GOD! You want me to be here!"
-For a growing relationship with my Blessed Mother Mary...you're really throwing me for a loop! I've realized so much over the last few months the importance of a relationship with Mary, and in a very big way, too. I constantly get this sense that she's looking out for me...and that is a comforting thought! So I'm trying my hardest to place my life in her hands so she can carry me to her Son. (Okay, I know--random, and perhaps slightly overwhelming for a "things for which I am thankful" post. I just felt like I had to say it, because it's true! I might devote an entire post to this topic sometime in the near future if I can.)
-For my health, and the health of my family and friends (especially you, Mommio!).
-For my insanely comfortable bed.
-For all the gifts and talents God has given me, and for all the opportunities to use them!
-For the sad stuff--it just helps me appreciate the happy stuff even more.
-To all the teens and parents at St. T's for letting me be a part of their lives.
Okay, enough with the sappy stuff! Now...on to Thanksgiving Dinner! I really hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and please know that I'm thinking of you today with a great deal of love and fondness in my heart. I miss you and hope all is well!
OH! And if you haven't sent me your address yet, please do so! I want to send you a Christmas card!
I took two high schoolers from my youth group on retreat this weekend. The retreat was one that a team of youth ministers puts on every year, but being new to the area, I didn't really know what to expect. What I got was this: 250 (I think) high school students praising God, dancing around like fools, diving deeper into their faith, making new friends, eating TONS of food, and spending quality time with the Timeless One. All in all, it was an amazing weekend.
I had my own experience this weekend too, though, which resulted in one of those GOD JUST PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE moments. I'd like to share a bit about what happened.
Last night, we had Eucharistic Adoration for two hours while teens and adult leaders received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in separate side rooms. We ended the night with Benediction and then had some serious fun for a couple of hours. But I'd like to back up...before the fun started, before Benediction, before I even went to Confession. At one point, as I knelt in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, I really felt like God was putting a Scripture passage on my heart, so I found myself flipping to Colossians 1:15-20. This is a little passage talking about Christ's role in the creation of the universe. (Haha, it sounds so simple...) The second part of verse 16 really stuck out to me, though: "All things have been created through Him and for Him."
So I got to thinking. What if this isn't just a general thought? What if...what if God created wheat simply because God knew that it would be made into bread, so that one day, Jesus would use bread to reveal Himself to us in the Eucharist and sustain us in our love for God? What if all those good things like muffins and cookies and other bread were just an added bonus to the ultimate nourishment we receive in the Eucharist?
And what if we take that a step further: is it that hard to believe that God wold have created each of us specifically for one moment in our lives when we would reveal something about Christ to those around us, whether we realized it or not? That one seemingly insignificant moment of kindness or faith or compassion (or even just plain common courtesy) might set off a series of events which have a dramatic impact on the entire world? That the sorrows and joys, the pain and rejoicing, our feelings and experiences...that all of that might be an added bonus to the fact that we made a difference in that one moment when God worked through our humanity in an utterly unique, utterly world-shaking way? And then I started wondering...
What about my "one moment"? Has it already happened? Did it happen the moment I was born? Or will it happen just before I die? Was it sometime this weekend as I spent time with the youth from my parish? Could it be the next time I go grocery shopping?
Live as if this were your moment. Because really, who knows? Maybe this is the one moment you were created for. Blessings and peace to you all! I love you dearly!
The other day, I spent incredibly significant amounts of time writing a CRAZY LONG post, yo. And then, it disappeared. Ugh. I feel like Percy the dog on Pocahontas, when he's all muddy and he's blowing bubbles in the mud and growling with this look on his face that's like, "I am beyond irritated at the current situation." So...here's a brief recap of what that last post was SUPPOSED to be about. Ugh.
1. PA is more religiously traditional than MN. 2. I have had two visitors since moving here: Ashley, a friend and fellow YTM counselor; and Pasutti, my former roommate who lives in Virginia. Ashley came for a few days back in October over the Long Weekend at CSB/SJU, and Pasutti has come twice to go to concerts at a place called Mr. Smalls Theatre (the musicians were Mason Jennings and Ingrid Michaelson and both ROCKED MY FACE OFF in very different ways). 3. I am oficially a Pennsylvanian. I got my inspection today, and now I have a PA license plate on my car. Wahoo. 4. Write me letters. I'll write back, I promise.
And with that, I shall end this post, because I feel like it. So there.
Tonight for dinner, I had spaghetti squash. Yum...anyway.
So yesterday, I made a list of things to cover in this post. In no particular order, I present the following topics for your reading pleasure (or torture...whatever):
*General notes about Pittsburgh
There are a TON of hills here. I'm sure people get sick of me talking about them all the time, but it's amazing! I mean, we're talking mountains by Minnesota standards (okay, maybe not quite, but pretty much!), and driving around is sometimes like riding a roller coaster. In fact, I often go over the very top of a hill and put my hands in the air on the way down...but not for too long, because I remember that I'm driving, and to do so with any level of skill and not-death, one must usually have at least one hand on the steering wheel (though I'm pretty good at knee driving...) Autumn here rivals St. John's (I know, hard to believe--but true!), and I think it's simply because you can actually see all the trees as the leaves are changing...because, well, that's how hills work.
In addition to hills, there are an insane amount of bridges in this city. Like, 446 or something ridiculous like that. I mean, I guess it makes sense, since three rivers meet here...but still. That is a lot of bridges. And most of them are painted yellow. Someone I met here is of the opinion that there must have been a sale on yellow paint somewhere, and the city of Pittsburgh really wanted to take advantage of the deal. What a snatch! OH, and here's a picture of me with a statue downtown. Yes, it is, in fact, a transformer made out of yellow bridges.
The people here are very friendly. In fact, one of my first weekends here, I went wandering up to an area called Mt. Washington, and I stumbled across something called the Shiloh Street Art Marketplace...I got to talking with a vendor and was telling him about how I just moved here and whatnot, and he ended up giving me a free pair of earrings, "as a welcome to Pittsburgh." So right off the bat, I had (and still have, for the most part) a very positive outlook on the people of Pittsburgh, PA, thanks to a very nice old man and a very nice pair of homemade earrings.
Football is a big deal here. Like, if you are the type of person who hates grocery shopping when there are a bunch of people in the store, you should go during a Steelers game. The whole city and surrounding area is a freaking ghost town. It's kind of bizarre, actually...but I suppose when your team has won six Super Bowls, you don't have any choice but to be enthusiastic about it, otherwise you might get slapped in the face (I've gotten yelled at a few times by my coworkers for not watching games--I can't help that I don't have TV in my apartment...well, maybe I can, but I'm CHEAP). Anyhow, I have yet to buy a Steelers jersey, but I'm thinking about it.
This is something very strange, almost akin to Wisconsin folks saying 'bubbler' instead of 'drinking fountain.' Not everyone talks like this, but it's still common enough that it takes me by surprise often enough; thus, I feel it's worth mentioning here. I have taken it upon myself to outline a few key phrases you must know if you ever come here (which I hope you do!):
Yinz. This is the same as you folks or y'all. "How're yinz doin'?"
Sweeper/sweep. A vacuum cleaner. "I'm goin'a sweep the rugs."
N'at. Lots of sentences are ended this way. "I'm goin'a sweep the rugs n'at."
Stillers. The Pittsburgh Steelers. "You wanna come over and watch the Stiller game n'at?"
Dahn tahn. Downtown.
Cupboard. They could be talking about an actual cupboard, but most of the time, they're referring to a closet.
And there's more...so much more. Seriously, just Google "Pittsburghese"...it's nuts! Okay, moving on...
*Ways I am growing
When I made the decision to move here, I also decided that I was going to do some growing. So I've really been stepping outside my comfort zone and doing things I didn't think I would, or doing things that I never got around to doing, but that are good for me. I ate chili for the first time ever, and I loved it! I had spaghetti sauce on my noodles, and it was delicious! But it extends beyond food, surprisingly: I have been concentrating more on my prayer life and focusing on my relationship with God a lot more. I am trying so hard to buy what I need as opposed to what I want (for the most part...see "Starbucks" below), though that kind of works itself out anyway with my paycheck being what it is. I am being more intentional about keeping up relationships with friends back home and around the world. I'm making a conscious effort to be more positive about the people, things, and situations around me. And so...I grow.
Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I love Starbucks. Now, I can't have caffeinated beverages because caffeine gives me migraines (so that rules out coffee and most teas...err, I mean, almost every freaking thing in the place), so instead, I always get a grande double chocolatey chip frappuccino. Oh man. It is SO GOOD. I was going there pretty often for a while (a couple times a week), then I mentally slapped myself in the face and said, "JESSIE! What the HECK are you doing?! You are a walking waste of resources! The world is dying faster because you can't live without your stupid not-coffee! SNAP OUT OF IT, JOHNSON!" Thus, I decided that I will only allow myself to have Starbucks on payday. So, twice a month. That's reasonable, isn't it? Okay, don't answer that.
*My car and the awesomeness of all the stuff I have to do to make it legal in PA
Well! I took an exciting trip to the DMV about a month ago and got a Pennsylvania driver's license...and basically ever since then, I've been driving my car around illegally (AW YEAH, livin' on the edge!). Apparently, you're supposed to turn in the paperwork for title and registration within twenty days of establishing residency...zoopsies! So now every time I drive anywhere, I always have this horrible feeling that I'm going to get pulled over and get a ticket for not being legit.
I got car insurance earlier this week (DANG, yo! That stuff is expensive!), and now I'm just waiting for my mom to mail me the MN title for my car so I can exchange it for a PA one. And once that happens, then I get a super sweet (actually, really lame) PA license plate! There are these specialty plates that have animals on them, and I reeeeeeally want the one with the otter on it...but I'm CHEAP so I don't think that's going to happen. OH! Fun fact: in Pennsylvania, you only have a license plate in the back of your car, and not in the front. I've actually gotten several funny looks from people being like, "Where is she from?" while I'm driving around, evading the po-po.
Okay, I think that's all for this post. I'll try to finish up tomorrow night if I can. And then we can all get on with our lives! (Or I can get on with mine...)
Love you all! Hope you're doing well and that you haven't gotten pulled over recently!
Okay. So I've neglected this thing for quite a while, for a number of reasons (lack of internet in my place of residence being one)...but I'll do my best to give you a bit of an update now, since a couple of people from back home have been bugging me about it. You know who you are...KYM.
So. Here we go.
Back at the end of August, my mom and sister drove with me out to Pittsburgh. It was a wonderful trip, which included stops in the Twin Cities, Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago to see family and friends, almost getting lost and/or in numerous car accidents while driving through Chicago, eating at a place called Willie's, driving in very roundabout ways to avoid the toll road, and winding through eastern Ohio/western Pennsylvania on a very small road (surprising considering how big and important it looked in the atlas). Mom and Guppy hung around for a few days and explored the city with me, which was a super fantastic time all around and included eating at two restaurants that were on TV, visiting the Heinz History Center, doing other touristy things, and having a run-in with a pretty shady pull-out bed.
And then one day, after eating a delicious dinner of burritos at Chipotle, my mom and sister departed. Mom cried (of course) and I was surprised to find that I held it together fairly well. They had a good trip back to Minnesota, or so I've been told. Apparently the Longaberger Basket headquarters somewhere in Ohio is quite the building, and they saw it up close and personal. (Go here to see what I'm talking about.)
When Mom and Guppy left, I moved from an ultra-shady hotel pull-out bed to an ultra-sweetomatic real bed as a houseguest with a family from my parish. I stayed with them for about a month. They were absolutely fantastic, and always made sure I was happy and well-fed! :)
SO THEN. After the fam left, it was down to business. As in, starting my job. Let me preface all this by saying that I LOVE MY JOB and I feel so priveleged to be given this huge responsibility. It's been such a blessing for me in so many ways, and I'm excited to find out what God is up to with this ministry! I started in the very beginning of September and have been going going going ever since! We had our big kick-off event on October 25. In all reality, it was pretty low-key: tacos, a bonfire, a super sweet foursquare tournament, nothing too structured or intimidating. But we had almost 40 high schoolers show up...which was GREAT! We've also done a photo scavenger hunt and a movie night since then, both of which were also really lovely.
So a bit over a month ago, I signed a lease on an apartment which is conveniently located right up the hill and across the street from my church. It's basically a four-minute walk to work most days, unless I'm in a hurry and running late, or I have errands to run during the day, in which case it takes all of 30 seconds to drive. It's been fun trying to furnish the place with a budget of exactly zero dollars allotted to the project. (And YES, eventually I will post pictures, as soon as I get a couch.) So other than a couch, I've got all the essentials: I splurged on a reeeeeally nice bed and bought an ultra-classy antique dresser on Craigslist...and I got a night stand, desk, kitchen table, arm chair, coffee table, numerous lamps, and a bookshelf for free--either by the generosity of parishioners or by the generosity of strangers who had no idea that my "host mom" and I were picking through their trash. (Though there seems to be an unspoken understanding around these parts about trash-picking...like, people will put things like couches and dressers and stuff out on the street the day before the garbage truck comes, and sometimes they'll even put them out super early so that trash-pickers can spot them and still have enough time to recruit a friend with a truck to come and help them pick it up before it gets hauled away--and all this with no direct conversation, as far as I can tell. Fascinating.)
Speaking of which, people in Pittsburgh are weird. But I am tired, so I shall simply end this post here and (maybe/hopefully) continue tomorrow night. So! On the menu for my next post (or maybe my next few posts...sheesh!): 1. Pittsburghese 2. Ways that I am growing (this section will be particularly amazing to those who know me fairly well) 3. My letter-writing campaign 4. Fun with Miss Pasutti, Mason Jennings, Ingrid Michaelson, and apple-potato pancakes 5. My newfound obsession with Starbucks (I KNOW...ugh) 6. How PA is different than MN--politically, religiously, culturally... 7. The fun of getting my car legal in this lovely state, and switching license plates 8. Hills and tunnels...and bridges
Jeepers, that's kind of a lot of stuff. Ah well, best be off! Hope y'all are doing well. Also, if you want to write me a letter (HINT HINT) just e-mail or Facebook me and I'll shoot you my address. I've been much better about writing letters since being here, so you can almost guarantee that I'll respond in a fairly timely manner. (Maybe because at this point I don't really have anything else to do...)