28 February 2010

pick a card, any card

More snow? Really? Ugh.

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a big proponent of snow. But right now, I would really like for it to go away. I'm sure things will be fine by Monday...but I'm still really nervous, particularly for the part of the trip which involves Philadelphia. They've gotten positively slammed with snow these last few days (the good folks on the Weather Channel are calling it "February Fury," dun dun dunnnnnnn!), and the Philly airport has had to cancel hundreds of flights. So hopefully things will be back to normal soon...at least soon enough for me to leave the country, suckaz!!

I have uploaded my very first video to YouTube:

I know, I am officially a dork--not that I wasn't before...well, I DON'T CARE! So go ahead! Subscribe to my YouTube channel! See if I care! (Hint: I won't!)

The video above is sort of a test run so I could get an idea of how long it takes to process videos and all that...so keep on checking back for EXCLUSIVE NEW VIDZ from J. Johnz! And maybe I'll keep doing them when I get back...depends on how motivated I am, I guess. I just want to be a real live MULTIMEDIA EXTRAVAGANZAAAAAAAA!

I went to a local high school's production of Beauty and the Beast tonight. It was lovely--a handful of my youth group kids were in it, so I thought it would probably be a good idea to go. That and I really love Beauty and the Beast. In fact, I was planning on going last night with Erin and her BF, but the weather was TRECHEROUS and I didn't feel like dying in the snow...and they already had other plans for tonight, so I went by myself and sat in front of some annoying girls who snuck food in via the LOUD PLASTIC BAG OPENED FREQUENTLY DURING THE FIRST ACT method.

Anyhow, tonight was a great performance...except for one unfortunate part. As the second act was beginning--and this is after the little music thing (overture but not?) had already started--there was a little bit of an oopsie. What happened? Well...the curtain wouldn't open. They even tried to be cool and do the first scene in front of the curtain to stall so they could fix it, like it was on purpose or something...but finally they had to stop everything and this dude in a suit came out and was like, "Give us ten minutes." So we did. And a bunch of dudes from backstage got this huge ladder and fixed it and everyone cheered and the show went on! It was all around a great show...it made me want to do theater again.

Okay, that's all. Watch the video (or don't)...and send me your prayer requests before Monday!

Love you, miss you, blah blah blah!

24 February 2010

it's gobbledegook, i say! utter rubbish!

Ohhhhhhh goody goody gumdrops, it's bloggin' time!

First things first: the Family Potluck on Sunday was a TOTAL SUCCESS! We had about sixty people there (a handful more than I expected), and it was just wonderful to meet people's parents and siblings and whatnot. I invited Fr. Gary (our parochial vicar) to give a reflection on how to observe Lent as a family, then each family made a "Lenten Family Plan" of things to do together and ways to support each other throughout the rest of the season. After that, we had a short prayer service up in the chapel, and then everyone left. It was so awesome. I used a convection oven for the first time (lasagna, HOLLA!) and even though the edges were a bit overdone, it was pretty darn good. At least it wasn't a total disaster! And I really think people had a generally good time all around so...add this one to the list of events to look back on when I feel like quitting ministry and torching the church. (Hmm, that's the second time within a week that I have written about setting fire to a building...anyone have some matches I could borrow? I mean, uh...OH LOOK, something shiny!)

Ever watch a life-changing movie? Well...Food, Inc. is one of those life-changing movies for me, I think. As in, I'm seriously considering vegetarianism after seeing it. It's all about discovering where our food comes from and how it's affecting our culture, our health, our planet...basically every aspect of our lives. At the end, it talks about how every bite we take is a vote for what kind of world we want to live in (or something like that)...and after seeing that movie, I think I'm going to change my vote. Of course, I need to do some research so I can make sure that I get all the vitamins and everything that I need to be healthy, but I'm almost 99% sure that I'm going to stop eating meat...or at least eat significantly less of it, and commit to being more aware of where it comes from (so, being more intentional about finding local, healthy alternatives to the processed, preservative- and growth hormone-filled "food" at the grocery store). This is so funny...if my dad ever reads this, he'll probably make some comment about what a "damn hippie" I'm turning into or something like that. Good thing he's severely technologically impaired, haha...

In other news, here's another opportunity for you to send me your prayer intentions so I can pray for them when I go to Rome this upcoming week...really! I want to take you with me! Leave a comment or get a hold of me some other way, and I'll add you to my list. :)

Okay, I need to get to bed ASAP--this whole 7:15 thing is making me sleepy a lot earlier. I actually really like this little routine I've created for myself. My sleeping patterns were so random before (it just...happened that way), so it's kind of nice to have a set schedule in that respect. I have more energy, I'm more motivated, and I've found that I'm just generally happier throughout the day. But for what it's worth, I'm pretty sure it's a combo platter of a) consistent sleeping habits and b) regular conversation with the Notorious G.O.D.

Alright, hope you all are having a fabulous week...I know I am! Love you, miss you, blah blah blah!

21 February 2010

i wish that some fireflies would give ME dancing lessons

First, please watch this video...it's this dude named Sam Tsui doing a cover of the song "Fireflies" by Owl City. He recorded himself doing all the different parts and then made a video of it using the magic of technology. It's brilliant, and (in my humble opinion) way better than the original! So...just watch:

This morning, I woke up and sang at 7:00am Mass. Whew. Only by the grace of God was I able to perform that feat. Obviously I was tired, so as soon as I got back to my apartment I went back to bed for another hour...and I experienced the most realistic dream I've ever had in my entire life.

In this dream, I was leaving St. T's after Mass, and the parking lot was almost empty. This family in a big white SUV started circling around me, closer and closer, really slowly. Just as they were about to hit me, I rolled down my window and yelled at them, "What the heck [okay, I didn't say heck] are you doing?!" and they just looked at me and kept going. Then I thought (just as I would have in real life), "Oh no, now those parishioners are going to think I'm a mean person and won't let their kids come to youth group because this is the only contact I've had with them. CRAP!" So anyway, they pushed my car a little ways (not sure how, but...it was a dream, so it just happened.) Needless to say, I was SO MAD, so what did I do? I drove to a different part of the parking lot so I could watch them as they continued their circles, get their license plate information, and give it to Fr. Bob so he would kick them out of the parish, of course! But when I got out of my car, I stepped in a pothole...and I knew they were watching me, so I tried to make it seem like it was on purpose. And all of a sudden, I was in the kitchen of my really old house (the one in Ranier, MN from when I was very small--but it was in PA and doubled as the St. T's parish office). The secretary at St. T's was there, along with another random person and...my mom! I noticed that she was wearing a new wig and figured it was just because her hair was growing funny or something. I was just about to call Fr. Bob when my mom just started talking to him on the phone. I kept trying to interrupt and give her the info to give to him (like when I was little and would always bug my mom when she was on the phone), but she just ignored me and kept talking. I kept at it, though, and I was right next to her ear...so when she finally got too frustrated, she turned really fast and hit me in the nose with her head. I was like, "Mom. That really hurt." (And it DID!) And then I woke up to my alarm. It was weird.

Again, I have wasted your time on something uninteresting. But it was SO REAL! You have no idea how disoriented I was when I woke up. Yikes!

Okay, what else...last night, I went to this thing called Catholic Underground with Erin (she's one of my awesome Core Team members who volunteers with the youth group, and one of the only people I know here who is my age). The night was sweet. There's a Holy Hour and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and then there's music and food afterward. I've had a lot on my heart lately, so it was absolutely wonderful to go to Confession. What a perfect way to start the season of Lent! I feel so much more able to keep my Lenten resolution now that I have a clean slate...it's hard to explain. It's like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders or something. So for a couple of days, at least, I will have that invincible feeling of grace that says, "I'M NEVER GOING TO SIN AGAIN!" And then I'll punch a kitten and that feeling will go away. Just kidding, I would never punch a kitten...unless it clawed me in the face and set my apartment on fire. But I know that something ELSE will happen and I will be unpleasantly reminded of my humanity. I guess that's why we have Jesus!

Looks like I'm working backwards...so on to Saturday morning. I watched the movie WALL-E (yeah Netflix!) and it was so good! It's so amazing how they can have Wall-E and Eve express so much without really using any words. Easily one of the better movies I've seen lately--I would highly recommend it, if only for the BRILLIANT end credits. Seriously.

Friday night, I worked at my first St. T's Fish Fry. Now I don't want to brag or anything, but our fish fry is SO AWESOME. I got to run orders back and forth between the take-out area and the kitchen. Basically, it was rushing around for three straight hours...and I loved every minute! Plus I got some delicious fish, and the best macaroni and cheese in the world! Is there a better combination?! (Answer: NO!)

Okay, today we're having our First Annual Youth Ministry Family Potluck...so I have to go do stuff. Wahoo! I'm so excited! We have something like 50 people coming, and I need to go get some lasagna and put the finishing touches on a prayer service! I LOVE MY JOB!

Love you, miss you, blah blah blah!

18 February 2010

i made it myself!

Last night, there was freezing rain in the Burgh. Just thought I'd mention that because, well, it's some nasty stuff and doesn't happen too often here in my estimation. Then again, snow doesn't usually happen on fourteen of the first eighteen days of February in Pittsburgh either, but would you look at that--the snowiest month on record!

So I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but I'm going on vacation to Rome with my parents...in eleven days. I am beyond stoked at this point, and I just can't believe that it's already here! We've got some exciting stuff planned, including a day trip to Assisi, a Scavi tour, and a Wednesday general audience with none other than B16 himself!

That's right...THE POPE.

Back in my bedroom at my mom and dad's house, I have a list pinned to my wall: Ten Things To Do Before I Die. I made it several years ago, and I still think about it often. But what is first on the list, you might ask yourself? Why, See the Pope, of course! And as of two Wednesdays from now, I will officially be able to check that one off my list. And THAT is exciting!

But this trip is more than just a check-off for me. I've been thinking about Lent a lot lately (say that five times fast: Lent a lot lately, Lent a lot lately...), and how I can really enter into this beautiful season of preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus. So the more I think about this trip and the closer it gets, the more I see it as a sort of Lenten pilgrimage. It's hard to explain. I just feel like...I don't know...I guess if I'm going to be in a place that holds so much history and heritage and significance for my faith, I can't pass up the opportunity to give the trip some deeper meaning other than simply "vacation." I'll definitely keep a journal, and maybe I'll even post some of it here when I get back (or each night if I can find me some WiFi action).

In other Lenten news, I finally discerned last night what I'm "giving up" this year. I didn't want to pick something like chocolate or sweets. That works for some people, but it seems that every time I've done it in the past, I've started it with good intentions but always ended up doing it for me, not for God (and throwing daily pity parties as well). So this year, I'm doing something different. I've decided that I am going to wake up each morning no later than 7:15 (that's where the sacrifice comes in--I'm giving up my sleep...and I am not a morning person!), and start my day with a solid half hour of prayer. You might think, "Well gosh, Jessie, I just assumed that you already did that." And I'm embarrassed to say that when it comes to keeping a regular prayer schedule, I am the worst. It's not that I never pray, it's that I don't devote a chunk of time to structured prayer throughout my day--so I think this will be helpful in giving me structure for my personal prayer practice. And on top of that, it will be beneficial to my ministry, because it's impossible to have a good ministry if one's personal spirituality is lacking. As the saying goes, you can't give what you don't have!

For no good reason at all, I would like to tell you a funny story. Apparently, back in the day, the pope (JPII at the time, not that it matters, even in all his coolness) visited a Latin American country. Can't remember which, but for the purposes of this story, it isn't really relevant. Just know that wherever he went, the people there spoke Spanish. Well, there was this guy from the U.S. who thought to himself, "I'm going to make a profit out of the pope's visit! I shall make a thousand T-shirts to commemorate the occasion, and a thousand people will buy them, and I shall be rich! Brilliant!" So the guy printed off a thousand shirts that said "I saw the Pope" in Spanish. However, when the day came, he was standing on the side of the street selling the shirts...and no one was buying them. He was like, "Well this sucks...I thought people would be buying these things like crazy! I just lost a ton of money! What's the deal?!" Well, he later found out the importance of using correct articles when speaking (or in this case, printing shirts) in Spanish. For he discovered that there is a distinct difference between saying "Vi el Papa" (I saw the Pope) and "Vi la papa" (...I saw the potato).

Last thing: if you have any intentions/petitions/prayers that you would like me to offer up while I'm on my pilgrimage to the Vatican, I would be more than happy to do so. Leave a comment below, e-mail me, send me a message on Facebook, or send me a letter, and I will be sure to offer up your intentions!

Love you, miss you, blah blah blah!

15 February 2010

archie taking the gang for a ride

Okay. I need to talk about something really important. This may come as a shock to some of you, but it's something I've been thinking about and reflecting on a lot lately, and I feel that I really need to get this off my chest because I value our (mostly one-sided) correspondence and believe that, especially where this is concerned, I just need to be honest with you. Okay. So here goes.

I LOVE THE JONAS BROTHERS. I know. I know! They're so ridiculous! But have you SEEN their TV show? (Thank you, Netflix!) Honest to goodness, I challenge you to watch one episode of it and not tell me that it's super hilarious! Seriously! It might be one of my favorite shows ever! AND don't tell me you can't listen to one of their albums without tapping your foot to those unbelievably catchy beatz! And I think you should also know that talking about the Jonas Brothers makes me use exclamation points in excess! So YES! Hate me if you want! I DON'T CARE!

So now that THAT'S out of the way, I feel much better. Phew! On to other exciting things in my life.

Well. It's snowing. Again. Two weekends ago (February 5-8, because I'm counting Monday in there), we had something around two and a half feet of snow within the span of about four days...which, because of the hills and other factors I haven't quite figured out yet, resulted in a week where most school districts in the Burgh called off school for FOUR DAYS IN A ROW. What?!

We (me and five of my kids) were supposed to be going on a ski retreat with another parish on the weekend of the 5th to the 7th, but we had to cancel it because of snow. How funny is that?! Of course, the decision to cancel was made after driving two and a half hours...in the snow...in a coach bus...but apparently the place we were trying to get to already had over a foot of snow and we most definitely would have been spending the night in a snowbank. No gracias! But I ended up going skiing that weekend anyway with four of the five kids--after the roads had been cleared well enough to get up to the mountain. I messed my knee up pretty badly and broke my glasses on my last run, which was awesome...but a broken pair of glasses is nothing that some Gorilla Glue can't fix! Now if only Gorilla Glue could get rid of this wicked limp. Oh well! I'm sure that when I walk around in public, people just assume I got in a fight with a ninja...which kind of makes it worth it, when you really think about it.

I just found out that one of my favorite bands (other than the JONAS BROTHERS!) is coming out with a new album this year! That's right, The Weepies! Oh boy oh boy oh boy, I can't WAIT! It's like my soul is doing the "I'm-going-to-pee-my-pants" dance (you know the one)!

Yesterday was a fun day in Youth Ministry World. Several kids, adult chaperones, and I attended the Lovewalk for the Poor, which is basically an annual event sponsored by the Diocese of Pittsburgh that happens around Valentine's Day. It's a chance for youth to collect donations for a few local Pittsburgh outreach programs and gain a tiny bit of perspective about issues of hunger and homelessness. There were hundreds and hundreds of young people there, which is always exciting to see. We had Mass with the Bishop and then walked as a giant group for a little ways before dropping off our donations at a truck along the route and dispersing to return home. We came back to St. T's, had some pizza, and then the chaperones left and I played a few rounds of Deaf Karaoke* with the kids. Let me tell you, that game never gets old! I was only expecting to stick around the youth room until 6:00 at the latest...but then it was 7:45 and the last of the kids were trickling out. Oh, it was so fun!

*Deaf Karaoke is a game where you pick a song on an iPod (preferably one you know the majority of the words to), put the ears in, turn up the volume as loud as you possibly can, and ROCK OUT. The reason it's so awesome is that you can't hear yourself sing at all, but no one in your audience can really hear the music in your ears. Basically, it's a smashingly wonderful way to make a complete and utter FOOL of yourself. Perfect for parties or when randomly sitting around with a bunch of high schoolers, and the only supplies you really need are iPods and the ears for them! YEAH!

Okay, that's it for now. Sorry about the big gap between the last post and this one...not that it's a huge deal, I just forgot about the blog for a little while there. Love you, miss you, blah blah blah!

PS: I was just thinking about what would happen if I stuck my hand in the garbage disposal and it somehow turned on accidentally. Is that disturbing? Yes. Yes it is.

03 February 2010

where in the world is carmen sandiego?!

When I was leaving my apartment around noon today, I found a big, flat box perched in my doorway. Turns out my friend Ben is all about giving me art, because there was a beautiful photograph inside. Boy oh boy, do I love surprises! (Ben, if I could find a snowglobe and break it, I would totally send it to you--dangerous shards and all!--as a thank-you gift. Haha!)

I watched the first of the old Star Wars movies a couple of nights ago (for the first time EVER!), and I have to say, the Death Star is FREAKIN' HUGE! It's hard to fathom. Good thing they blew it up. Oops, I mean...spoiler alert for the three other people in the world who haven't seen it yet. My bad.

I went grocery shopping on Monday, and in addition to milk, I also stocked up on some SERIOUS frootz. We're talking a whole thinger of clementine oranges, some blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. The thing about those little clementines is that they're so delicious and small that you can eat like five of them in one sitting. It takes every ounce of self-control I have to keep from doing so. But they're very portable, which means I can stick a couple in my purse for a quick afternoon snack at the office. Hooray!

You know, I was just thinking...the other day, I was in my kitchen and I saw a stink bug on my curtain. At first I was like, "AHHH!" and then I said to myself, "I am going to calm down and come back later to deal with it." And then I forgot about it. AND THEN when I remembered it and went back to deal with it, it was gone...and I haven't seen it since. I'm afraid it's like that statistic that says how many spiders a person eats in a year while they're sleeping. Only stink bugs. UGH I freaking hate stink bugs. I bet that the devil's nightmares are full of stink bugs, that's how terrible they are.

Speaking of not knowing where things are, I have no idea where five of my Harry Potter books are. I thought I packed them, but I've unpacked everything and the only ones I have are Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. For fruitcake's sake! I really want to do an HP reading marathon, and now my dreams have been crushed. Oh well. I'm sure they're somewhere between here and Minnesota. I hope. Otherwise, someone's going DOWN! Not sure who to blame yet, exactly, but once I find them...they're going DOWN!

Did I mention I hate stink bugs?