Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Never Been Unloved

Sometimes, God looks at us, wrestling with the latest problem or worry, and knows that we are too stressed to listen for His small voice. Rather than abandoning or simply being silent, He can also speak through those people and things around us. Riding home from work today, God choose to speak through my mp3 player. As soon as the song started, I knew it was what I needed to hear, but listening to the lyrics, it was even more meaningful than I could have guessed. Hearing the song didn't fix anything. It didn't make things any easier or change situations. But, along with being a message by itself, it reminded me of the verse below. No matter what, there is nothing that can happen or I can do which will make God love me less. That is a beautiful thing.

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, not present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor an other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Never Been Unloved: Michael W. Smith

I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful

I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I have been undesirable

And sometimes I have unwise
I've been undone by what I'm unsure of
But because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I've been unapproachable

I've been unemotional
I've been unexceptional
I've been undecided
And I have been unqualified

I have been unfair
I've been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

It's because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Been a while... whoops

Lots going on in my life at the I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks. Sorry :(

CB2 came to visit last weekend. It was really wonderful to see some friends from school. I hadn't realized just how much I missed spending time with people from SHU until I had the chance. So many inside jokes and memories. It was also great showing them around "my" city. Their enthusiasm helped me appreciate many of the things I take for granted about living here. Every time they stopped to take a picture of some building or another I was struck with the thought "yes, that is a beautiful building." Because I live here, it can be hard to see the beauty around me because I hurry past these same buildings every day on my way to work, the store, Mass, etc. We also had the chance to see I Vespri Siciliani by Verdi at the Hungarian State Opera. I realized how spoiled I've gotten working at GGO because I found the production to be uninspired. It wasn't bad, just nothing spectacular, especially in terms of staging and costumes. Also, one of the leads was having a bad day... I can't call those sounds "cracks" they were more like earthquakes.

Work has been interesting - some issues with a co-teacher not taking the time to tell me what she was teaching, or that she wouldn't be in class. Thankfully, these seem to be working out. I've also started working at the foundation's first kindergarten. It's such a treat to be there. The children are so well-behaved and everything is very organized... but then, compared to the other, this has been open for many years so it's no surprise. Additionally, I've been working on writing the music curricula for Years 5-7. So far, that consists of translating the Hungarian curricula so that I know what they are supposed to be learning there before I decide what to teach in the English half. One thing I want to do for certain is add more creativity to the lessons. In their current form (which isn't the teacher's choice.. it's the national curriculum) the lessons aren't particularly engaging and I can't blame the kids for not being interested. Hopefully, I can help change that even if just a little.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth."
--William W. Purkey

I am realizing how much I enjoy blogging. The chance to think things through while putting them into words can be very cathartic. Because of that, I tend to just write without caring much about what my readers may think. Those that know me well know how much I wear my heart on my sleeve. It's rarely hard to tell what my opinion of something is. This blog is no different. Maybe I share too much. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Before I post, I often wonder "will this be the post that goes overboard? Is the one that goes too far into the realm of TMI? Will people think differently of me after reading this one?" In the end, I rarely change things though. So many times I don't do or say things because I'm scared. Of looking different, of sounding different, of saying the wrong thing, of doing something stupid. This blog is one place where I refuse to be ruled by that fear.

No one is forced to read this. If I say something that offends, makes one uncomfortable, is awkward, or convinces someone I'm nuts, that's not my intention. This is just who I am. Recently, there was an incident on Facebook where someone defriended me after I defended some of my most cherished beliefs from their ridicule. In a case like that, I have to think that I won't be missing much without them. If anyone reads this blog and does something similar, that's sad, but it won't change who I am. And, how I write is simply part of who I am.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Romeo es Julia

What is it about some stories that makes us return to them over and over, the ones that we never tire of and always come away with some new insight? Are they just well written, engaging? Is because of the depth of characters or plot? Or because we can relate - see ourselves in the characters? I expect it's a mixture of those things. Everyone has different stories that they connect to like this, but mine are Jane Eyre and Romeo and Juliet. These are my "go-to" books: if something is bothering me they are one of the most common places I turn. In fact, I had an issue this fall because, unthinkably, I moved to Europe without a single copy of Jane Eyre. Even though I don't read it all the time, I almost felt like I was suffering from a sort of withdraw. I needed that book and it wasn't there for me.

It's not just the books either. I love the music from Jane Eyre: The Musical (even with the awkward memories associated with it). Although I've never found a movie that I felt really captured the book well, I've seen multiple attempts. When it comes to Romeo and Juliet, my range is even broader. At least two operas, numerous films (both made for screen and filmed plays), and 3+ versions of the French rock opera by Gerard Presgurvic. Tonight, I finally saw one of those rock opera versions (the Hungarian) live. It was as if I had never heard/seen the story before.

This show has been running just shy of 7 years and some of the performers (Romeo, Lady Capulet, Lady Montague, The Prince, Tybalt, Lord Capulet) are still from the original cast. Even so, the show was fresh, the acting almost raw in places. That's the mark of a great performer: to give a performance for the ?00th time and make it seem like it's brand new. New insights for me: Romeo's smile when his friends berate him saying he had "no right" to act like he did at the ball - it was a boyish sure-maybe-you-have-a-point-but-it-doesn't-matter-because-I-love-her-way-too-much-to-care-what-you-think type of smile. Another insight was about the character of Tybalt. Although created for this show, giving Tybalt a back story actually made me feel bad for him. He loved Juliet and wanted to kill Romeo for destroying what he saw as his only chance for happiness. One of his songs also discussed the childhood he never really had and how his parents had raised him for violence. Even being familiar with the music, I hadn't realized this part of the story - and probably wouldn't have if there weren't super-titles in English!

One of the differences in this production - even from other versions of Presgurvic's show - is the tomb scene with the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare's play, Romeo drinks poison and dies just as Juliet is waking up from her sleeping drug. In response to his death, she stabs herself with his dagger and dies. Contrastingly, in this version, Romeo straps Juliet to himself and then hangs himself. The jolt wakes her and, on realizing that Romeo is dead, she slits her wrists and bleeds to death. I couldn't help but wonder what it's like for the performers to do this scene. Of course there are safety measures taken - harnesses and the like - but I imagine it's still unnerving to step off the platform.

So, what is it about this story? Why do I love it so much? I suppose part of it is the same that draws me to any substantial love story. Curiosity. Is that anything like it really is? Will that happen for me someday? (Minus the dying right after my wedding bit) Is there a "Romeo" out there somewhere for me? What is it like to have someone say "Even if they kill me, I'm staying with you" and mean it?

Another part of why I love this story is the impossibility of it. There are so many things that could have changed it if they had only happened moments earlier or later. Had Benvolio left with the letter before hearing of the "death" of Juliet, Romeo would have arrived knowing she was only asleep. Why didn't Juliet just go with him to Mantua? What would have happened if Juliet refused to marry Paris and told her parents she was already married? Why didn't Romeo wait just a few more minutes before killing himself? That's the one that always gets me. Even though I know the story so well, every time I read/watch/listen to it, I am silently begging him to wait a minute or for Juliet to wake up a minute sooner. One of the best/worst (I can't decide which it is.. haha) things I've seen, is when Juliet wakes up just as Romeo takes the poison and they have that endless moment, both realizing exactly what is/will happen.

Favorite moments/lines in the show:
Balcony scene - Julia sings the first verse while Romeo listens, hidden. As she finishes, he shows himself. Embarrassed, she asks if he heard her. He responds, a little cheekily, "only a little" and proceeds to repeat the entire verse changing their names. After the song ends, they are talking:
Romeo - Give me your hand.
Julia - How many girls' hands have you already stolen?
Romeo - One. Here.
Julia - I want to be your wife.
Romeo - (nodding) My wife.
I just love how direct she is.

Romeo's Leaving - this scene is not rated PG, but then they DID just get married. One question.. why does Julia have animal furs on her floor rather than a bed? This is after the whole lark/nightingale bit, just as Romeo is climbing out the window
Julia - I became your wife.
Romeo - I'm glad.
It sounds better in Hungarian, the English looks/sounds a little silly... but that's the way things go. Guess I just need to find a Hungarian "Romeo" LOL

Ending - The song "Guilty" where the company gathers around the bodies of Romeo and Julia and sings about their guilt and that of the world ends with, and therefore ends the show with, a beautiful Picardy Third on the word "love."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I don't have to imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus, or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine!

This has been done before, but it just hit me so strongly this evening that I had to restate it. I was walking home, listening to some of my "new" music (realplayer download is amazing - youtube videos get changed to mp3 and then onto my ipod they go) when this song by MercyMe started to play. The lyrics tell of the singer's wonderings about heaven and how they would react to seeing God face to face. The thing is, I, and all other Catholics, don't have to imagine.

I love Tuesday afternoon/evenings. First of all, I end my work day in music with Year 5 and then sometimes choir practice. Then, I get to leave work by 3, at the latest. I have the rest of the afternoon free and then, get to go to Adoration before daily Mass - with the Gregorian Chant group because it's Tuesday.

Getting back to imagining. I don't have to imagine what I will do when I am in God's presence or what I will do when I see His glory - because I've already been there. That's what Adoration is: beholding the face of God. Spending time with Him, in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. And then, that is followed by Mass which goes so much further than anything the singer is imagining. In the words of St. Maximilian Kolbe: "If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion." So, not only do we have no need to imagine, we also have a privilege far greater than being surrounded by His glory.

On the other hand, kneeling in adoration a few hours later, another thought came to me. No, I don't have to imagine what it will be like to behold the Face of God. However, what I cannot begin to fathom is how He - the God of the universe - could humble Himself to take the form of a piece of bread. That's what I can only imagine.

(3 points if you can identify the Catholic speaker I quoted in the last paragraph... it's a simple statement but one of his favorites)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming...

For this brief walk down memory lane.

April 1, 2009 - the Menace in the Cafeteria -- and it wasn't an April Fool's joke (although it certainly involved a fool)
The Elections of 2008 -- Don't forget to vote Huls/Highberger!

The door to Narnia/wrecking ball/groundbreaking for the new performing arts building.

The "Christmas Delicacy" aka... Fruitcake.

Dani vomiting after riding in my trunk.
Dani vomiting neon pink.
Dani vomiting in the bathtub in Maura.
Dani vomiting.

Party at the end of sophomore year "Campus PO!"

Beethoven's Last Movement or the epic toilet disaster.

Hello Keys, meet the Tree.

"If I had a Fat Pig ..."
"Do I meet your criteria?" (For the record: NO)

SKYG and grandma.
SKYG and giving directions attractively.

"St. Peter said 'I am an ass'"
"If you don't look like Brittany Spears you probably feel unloved"
"I have loose bowels"
"God doesn't want us to use spiritual deodorant"

"Going to church should not make me want to kill someone"
"Liturgically hilarious"

Prank phone calls on Valentine's Day.

"I am confident that I will get pizza today"

Late night conversations over cheese sticks.

Sam watching Amadeus. (Note, picture does not show this event but is appropriate nonetheless)

"I think about you ... is that ok?"

The Trifecta of Desperation

"He's a professor? I thought he was retarded"

Dani's relationship with her keys.

The day Brittany and I locked Dani out of the dorm for half an hour and then stole her CD player and put it in her bed three weeks later... and she thought it had been there the whole time.


The thievery of Kermit.

Tro-lo-lo video.

Talking to Dr. S. "Wait, you mean an IMPROVISATION organ, because we know how much he practices"

The Russian Paper.

Meeting Randy, courtesy of Dani.

"Yea, but you don't have to hang out with Alan Rickman"

The Pants Ghost

The random midnight trip to Mingo Junction.

Various birthday kidnappings.
"We're so uncouth, I'm sleeping in a booth, we drink vermouth in our youth."

The igloo at the 426.

Midnight Breakfasts, scheduled and spontaneous.

"Talkie" The Shuttle Driver

Why I believe in the curse of Macbeth.

"What are you making?" "Wolves" "What color are they?" "Wolf color" "How many are you making?" " Enough"


The demise of the costume tech vest.

My shoe in the bush. >:-O

The mysterious diary printout in the music department.

The morning after Christmas on the Hill 2007.

Shaving in church. And near death experience.

Figaro. Bravo! C'est Magnifique! Encore! Marylin Monre moment.

Helen Keller and the Fall of the House of Usher.

Drunken proposal at Everyman cast party.

The Pillsbury Doughboy cup in The Bake-Off.

Various Moses experiences
The doll.
The song that doesn't end.
"Mooosssseeeessssss. I am the Lord."

The awkward waiter at Aladdin's and my car blowing up.

Guinevere, Prudy, Gramps, Buzzy, Jezebel, Sushi, Gretchen, Rustball, The Count of Monte CARlo"

Big Chief Ghetto Car Lord

Dryer contortionism.

Problems with dumb people in the mall parking lot.

Midnight trips to Wal-Mart, Denny's, etc.

The handbell festival with Dick Pinkerton.

Choral Festivals with Craig Jessup, Dr. Christopher Cock, and Paul Salamunovich.
The hotel comments... awkward turtle.

When the salt, pepper, and desserts were taken away from the dining hall.

Microwave heroism.

The hamster hiding in the hamper.

"You stole my sham-poo-oo-oo-ooo and all the toilet pa-aa-aa-aaper." (Queen of the Night)

Pittsburgh trip with cheesecake and scary shimmying.

Evening Rosaries and Hymnfests.

Many trips to Steak 'n Shake.

Fan into Flame.

And Sooo many more. I miss you all!!