#2 It turns out I was wrong yesterday. A week and some ago I wrote “5 Ways to Stay Sane During Lent” now up the Register. Which includes the lines the Internet is not your spiritual director. But when I quoted it yesterday, I’d forgotten I’d written it, but remembered I saw it on Twitter spoken by someone else. So that’s interesting. Apparently I am not the only person getting tired of the annual scolding about how everybody’s doing Lent wrong.
#3 Advance praise for the book! From a reader who shall remain anonymous, but FYI this a person who was forced to read the book, did not choose to read the book, and who admits to being rather worn out on the whole topic of evangelization:
This left me going “Hey, that thing over there – I could maybe do that.” So, kudos. You got me to actually like a book on evangelization.
Didn’t see that coming. Woohoo! It really is a good book, and in very good news, I’m done with major edits, unless on my final read-through this weekend I find something I desperately want to change. So prayers, please, that if there is something that needs to be fixed I find it? Yes? Because this is a very broad-audience book, and y’all know just how ornery I can be, when I’m let loose with my words and things.
#4 I’ll just get ornery right now. Read today about an American bishop who’s mandated communion in the hand. He’d like people to maybe quit holding and shaking hands during Mass, but he’s not going to insist, so I guess its up to people in the pews to withstand the glares if they decline to shake hands right before, you know, eating with their hands. Yikes.
So anyway, here’s what happened to me this week: I popped into daily Mass Thursday, and the Mass I attended draws a fairly traditionalist crowd. Majority in attendance receive on the tongue habitually. Father announced that he was going to distribute the sacred host only, no chalice, on account of infection risk. No announcement about how one may or may not receive.
When I went up to receive, sure enough, Father’s perfectly capable of giving communion on the tongue without any contact between his hand and the recipient’s body.
It’s a skill, it’s a skill that can be learned, and sadly it’s not a skill I’ve ever observed practiced among people distributing hand-to-hand.
Thus for the moment, if you have significant reasons to be concerned about catching something, your only safe bet is to only visit ministers of the Eucharist who don’t touch people’s hands or mouths (or other body parts) when they distribute communion, and who also are particular about washing their hands thoroughly before Mass and not touching germy surfaces from there on out.
I’d like to see some parishes get serious about making that happen.
I’d very like to see some dioceses get serious about putting together a plan to protect our priests from highly contagious viruses that disproportionately kill older men and especially older men with various underlying health conditions that are extremely common in the USA, while still allowing those men to carry out their God-given vocations.
#5 Back to gratitude. Earlier this month I was one of the moderators for the Catholic Quiz Bowl of South Carolina. It was a ton of fun and I was thrilled to be able to do it, and considered the free lunch that came with to be all the more thanks required. Still, the organizers not only arranged to have a Mass said in honor of each individual volunteer moderator’s intentions, they also had gift bags for us!
Which was what I’ve needed, though I didn’t realize it until I got home.
#6 The reason I need it is because ever since the death of my previous prayer partner,Rosary Dog, I’ve been struggling with getting my rosary prayed, or too often and too consistently just neglecting to pray it. So a shiny new beautiful thing half-enticed and half-guilted me into getting my act together.
It’s sorta working?
So tonight the sun was getting low in the sky and I had a chance to get out for a quick walk after supper, and grabbed that rosary and hit the road, but I woke up with a bit of a cough today and was ready to give up halfway through the Crowning with Thorns. I know!
But then I got back to the yard and decided I’d just wander a little and maybe persevere. I picked at a few weeds coming up in the mint, and before I knew it I’d prayed all the things and also gotten a nice fistful of greens for a rabbit I know.
Photo: Me and Miffy, my new prayer-assistant. Once you have a rabbit, your yard never looks the same again.
And that’s why I can write books on evangelization for people who hate evangelization, and I can write diatribes on shut up already and leave people alone to enjoy their Lent in peace, because I am a person whose prayer life depends largely on the presence of pets.
#7 All you holy men and women? Pray for us.
Guys, I’m thrilled to be back on Seven Quick Takes, however inconsistently, because joining in reminds me to go look, and when I go look I find all kinds of good reading. There are some super links posted this week. Check them out.
ConspiracyPress – COLUMBUS – When Kaden Zimmer received the Vatican-promoted “Smart Rosary” from his confirmation sponsor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, he wrote a polite thank you note and promised to use it every evening when his parents lead a family Rosary. “I figured it would announce the mysteries and help you keep from slipping into the Nicene Creed instead of the Apostles Creed by accident. I had no idea what we were in for.”
Heather Zimmer, Kaden’s mother adds, “Father Scott, our parish priest, is always trying to reach out to young people. So Kade’s uncle was excited to get a coupon code for a parish discount on this new product that was supposed to help liven up our prayer life. We all downloaded the app for our phones. Little did we know.”
The family was enjoying the meditations on world peace and concern for the poor. “Basically it was just like being in religion class,” Kade says. “I’m pretty good at writing short-essay answers for that. I figured I was set.”
Then one evening Kade begged out of the evening family Rosary. As Joel Zimmer, Kaden’s father recounts, “It was a Thursday night, and Kade had been at practice until seven, and he told us, ‘I’ve got all this homework to do, and also we had the school Mass today, and Father always leads a Rosary while the choir is practicing.'”
“That’s when my phone began buzzing,” Heather recounts.
“Giant PANTS ON FIRE icon lit up,” Joel says, shaking his head sadly.
“We were horrified. Needless to say, Kaden was grounded,” his mother says. “We told him that behavior was unacceptable, and he’d be marching straight to confession Saturday afternoon.”
Mr. and Mrs. Zimmer report that while they were disappointed in their son, they were pleased that the Smart Rosary’s honesty-detector had prevented spiritual disaster. The family privately shared with close friends how the accountability functions were bringing about renewal in their spiritual life. “We were excited. We encouraged other families to purchase the Smart Rosary and download the app.”
Then came what the couple now refers to as their spiritual u-turn.
“We’d all gathered in the living room,” Joel says, “and I remember Heather had such a peaceful, prayerful expression on her face. But we began to pray, and the Smart Rosary kept re-starting us at the Second Joyful Mystery.”
“We thought it was a glitch,” Kaden explains. “I told my parents to restart their phones. But when they did . . . it updated.”
“We were just launching into the second ‘Hail Mary’ when the notifications started,” Heather recounts.
Mr. Zimmer shows screen shots of the messages the Smart Rosary app began displaying:
RESTART PRAYER: Stop making grocery list.
RESTART PRAYER: Quit replaying final three minutes of yesterday’s game.
“It was a little too smart for them,” Kaden says, recounting the feeling of victory he experienced at his parents’ comeuppance. “I asked them, ‘Do I need to ground you, too?’ And that’s when my phone buzzed. CONFESSION ALERT: Violation of 4th Commandment.”
With no way to go back to the older version of the app, the Zimmer family quickly uninstalled the Smart Rosary features, and turned off Alexa and Siri just to be safe. Unfortunately the damage was already done: Father Scott at Our Lady of Good Counsel had already been copied on the notifications.
An exhausted Father Scott describes how the scheduling feature of the Smart Rosary quickly overwhelmed parish life. “In the early versions, there was just an option for the Legion of Mary to get their weekly meeting announcements sent out. Perfect. With the second update, we were able to share parish prayer requests, and with the third update, Smart Rosary would make suggestions on, say, remembering to pray for Joyce Hirschel’s cancer surgery during the Sorrowful Mysteries. It was great.”
Unfortunately, the CONFESSION ALERT feature was designed to coordinate with the pastor’s schedule. “Next thing I know, my calendar’s showing six hours of Confession on Saturday afternoon. Six hours!”
Father Scott admits he fibbed to parish staff. “I told them I’d just go ahead and make myself available in the confessional, and use the downtime for prayer and Bible reading.” What he failed to mention: “It’s possible I took breaks between prayer sessions to check a few headlines on my phone. Next thing I know, the bishop’s calling, because Smart Rosary is blowing up his phone with notifications.”
By Sunday morning, Our Lady of Good Counsel parish had officially banned Smart Rosary. “Sure, it’s fine if the Vatican wants to promote this thing,” Heather Zimmer says. “But from now on, we’re using those cheap plastic rosaries you get from the table by the brochure rack.”
Something we are doing this Lent is cutting out extraneous sugar from the family diet. (Why? Not to lose weight. I’m the only chubby member of the family, and I don’t eat all that much junk food. But we’ve noticed that some of the castle residents tend to be more emotionally volatile when they are living from snack to snack, and thought that peace in the home was worth attempting.)
There’s not a hard-and-fast rule to that resolution, but there are some obvious changes. Don’t stop for donuts as a way of rewarding the kids for meritorious behavior, for example. One of the chief challenges is that the children are all enthusiastic chefs, and several of them specialize in variations on pastry chef.
Therefore I had to confiscate the sugar.
If I didn’t, they’d go on quietly creating delectable baked goods whenever the parents weren’t looking. They might not even do it out of defiance — it’s just a habit. So I took the sugar canisters from the open shelves in the kitchen and stowed them in a laundry basket in the parents’ bedroom (double Lent: that room is already cluttered enough without adding “pantry” to its list of responsibilities).
Next I had to take the chocolate chips. Mid-morning Ash Wednesday I find a child happily creating chocolate candies. “They aren’t for today!” she chided me solemnly. How dare I question her penitence, sheesh? So I added the canister of open chocolate chips to the laundry basket, and later found the resupply of chocolate chips* in the laundry room cabinets and put those in the basket too, because otherwise children would take the initiative to fix the Lenten inventory problem in the kitchen.
So now in my bedroom I’ve got a basket full of sugar and chocolate chips — really good chocolate chips, not those sorry ones that are mostly corn syrup. Really, really, good chocolate chips. In my bedroom. Staring at me as I walk in after dropping a child off for an internship, on a Friday morning when I’m pretty hungry and trying to be virtuous but have not had breakfast, and did I mention they are really, really, good chocolate chips?
So thank goodness not-my-truck needed an oil change and so I had to switch vehicles with the spouse so I could take care of that this afternoon, and therefore I had to empty my junk out of the truck before he went to work, and that meant, as I was being reined in by the siren song of especially, wondrously, notoriously good chocolate chips, that I had a raincoat slung over my arm. I was going to hang up the raincoat in the closet, since it’s a sunny day and I thought I wouldn’t be needing it.
But you know what needs a raincoat on it? A basket full of chocolate chips. And then I don’t have to look at temptation, glowing in the rays of springtime — Lenten — sunshine every time I go to my room.
*The reason I have an inventory of chocolate chips is because we prefer, when possible, to acquire them from Equal Exchange or some similarly reputable source. Since we live in the South, we can only mail-order chocolate during the cold months. It’s practically pioneer living, you know.
It looks as if FSSP is offering a pretty good price on this Missal. This Missal is indispensable in helping us follow the priest and truly assist at the Traditional Latin Mass. It has the English on one side of the page, and the Latin on the other so you can follow along in English if you don’t know Latin yet.
It’s very practical as an aide during the TLM itself. On every page there are simple side illustrations with explanations and margin notes on what the priest is doing. I never assist at a TLM without this Missal; I follow along with the prayers of the priest as he offers them to God, and this is how I join myself to the Sacrifice with the priest.
Even more, this is the true meaning of full & active participation; it is an interior disposition which is facilitated by the prayers of the Mass, which of course are meant to draw you more fully into the Great Mystery which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI called: “the source and summit of the entire Christian life” –Redemptionis Sacramentum
The Missal is usually between $6 to 8$ plus shipping. On Amazon it’s almost $10; so these prices @ FSSP are pretty good:
I hope everyone had a blessed Sexigesima Sunday, as we prepare ourselves for Lent.
I took a look at the site, and shipping is about $5 for the first book, with a steep curve in your favor if you order in quantity. So if you’re planning an order, get together with your friends and order as a group.
FYI, I’m not much of a traditionalist. The liturgy passes my test if (a) it’s both valid and licit, (b) it isn’t hideous, and (c) it’s unequivocally oriented towards the worship of God. This is me:
I like traditional Catholic stuff so much that when I hear “Tridentine Rite,” my first thought is, “But it’s so new! Barely tested!” Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort to learn Latin, because it’s such an innovation in the life of the Church. As much as 13th century Paris is, aesthetically, about my speed, I can’t help but think St. Thomas Aquinas is a bit of an upstart compared to the Church Fathers. And Gothic manuscript . . . shudder . . . Carolingian for me, thank you.
To be deep in history is to be very, very strange. I’m good with that.
Latin happens to be one of the languages I enjoy. If we had Greek or Aramaic Masses around town, I’d probably take an interest, but I’m not sniffing them out. I get to an EF Mass about once a decade or so, and otherwise I live in a pretty happy corner of NovusOrdoville.
Image originally uploaded by Dsmdgold at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
I rarely blog about it, but a few readers know that I sometimes take on private writing or editing projects. Most recently I got to work with Sean O’Halloran from SO’ Creative on a film project for a small parish group. We were both working pro-bono — he did the filming, I was the primary author on the script.
Lesson learned: This is a guy you want on your short list.
He doesn’t monkey around. Even though he was working purely as a volunteer on this one, he was 100% professional. I’m not sure Sean even knows how to do something halfway.
He’s good at bringing your idea to life. Sean took everything the group brought to the project, and then he worked with the team to help them achieve their goals.
Some examples of how perfectly he did this:
I had a basic script, but no clue how to turn that into a screenplay — so Sean took my draft and converted it into a set of working documents that could be used on the set.
The parish group had a good director on the project, Carol Pelster from Catholic Playscripts; Sean had no trouble working with her on the set, understanding the vision she had for the film and what sorts of extra shots to propose to capture that vision.
As the group was filming, when the actors would improvise bits of characterization, Sean knew how to direct the all-amateur cast so that their ideas read well on film.
It never ever felt like The Professionals Have Arrived, Get Out Of The Way. The entire process was more like, “We know what we want, but how do we get there?” and Sean helped the group get there.
You won’t meet more gracious people. I run in some of the same circles as the O’Hallorans, and I’m continually impressed by how down-to-the-bones courteous this family is. When I go to an O’Halloran event, I’m in awe at how seriously Sean and his wife Tracy take their work of hospitality. On the film set, Sean was disciplined and professional, but always completely calm, patient, and polite.
Sean donated an enormous amount of time to this parish project, and when I spoke to his wife about how the group could thank him, she said, “As many referrals you can send his way as possible!”
To see if the kind of work you need is the kind that he does, scroll down on the SO’ Creative website and click through on each project-type to view the corresponding portfolio. Edited to add: You can also view some of Sean’s graphic design work at the SO’ Creative Facebook page. Tracy gave me her quick list of the kinds of projects he does most:
Sean takes on projects of all kinds. In addition, Catholic readers should know that the O’Hallorans are faithful, committed Catholics — so if you are working on a project that involves the faith, Sean is in a position to make sure your message comes across clearly and accurately. Give him a look, and please recommend him to your friends. Thanks!
Continuing with Book Week. Box #2 raises a question that doesn’t get asked often enough: What part do chastity-education programs play in teaching teens (and grown-ups) about the right use of their bodies?
My thoughts follow, but first you should show know what was in the box:
YOU from Ascension Press. I reviewed AP’s Theology of the Body for Teens: Middle School Edition some years ago, and liked it immensely. A first glance at YOU is similarly positive. It’s a much bigger and deeper program, and from everything I’m seeing among teens in the circles I run in (church-school-sports), YOU looks like a solid answer to a very serious need.
As I flipped through the books the other night, several things caught my eye:
The advice for how to teach teens is dead-on.
The parent booklet gets right to first things first. It’s like they know they only have a paragraph to win us parents over.
The curriculum, as will the best Theology of the Body presentations, starts with the bigger picture, lays the essential groundwork on the dignity of the human person, and leads from there into a positive message about the goodness and appeal of chastity.
YOU is working off ideas that have been tested with teens over and again and found to work. (Not surprising, given who the authors are.)
It’ll be a while before I get a chance to read the leader’s guide and parent guide (leader’s guide contains the full text of the student book) cover to cover, as well as watch the whole DVD series. Thus I wanted to flag this series now, because I’ve got a very positive impression at first glance, and if you’re planning programs for your parish you might want to request your own review set rather than waiting on someone else’s opinion.
Where do ready-made chastity programs fit into the big picture?
If you phoned me this afternoon (please don’t) and asked me what I recommended for taking your generic typical-American-parish from zero to full-steam-ahead on teaching teens chastity, here’s what I’d recommend:
1. Start with a good parent-centered introduction to chastity, such as Family Honor’sLeading and Loving program. There are lots of options for meeting formats, but (using L&L as an example) I strongly recommend investing the time and energy into spreading the program out over six weekly sessions rather than doing a single big-weekend event. This gives you time for parents to get to know each other, to have time to talk with the leaders in detail, and to begin to form a small group atmosphere. It lets parish leadership begin to identify the parents who are in the best position to help other parents. It also gives lots of time for listening, and thus for learning where parents in your parish are coming from and what questions or difficulties they are having.
–> Make sure you’ve got the depth of back-up resources to assist parents with their concerns. At a minimum: NFP instruction, good pastoral help with thorny marital irregularities, some resources for dealing with pornography, and access to support for parishioners grappling with same-sex attraction (personally or via a friend or family member’s situation) such as Courage. It’s no fair telling people they need to radically change their lives, then wishing them good luck and washing your hands.
2. When parents are ready to start sharing the message of chastity with their teens, do a parent-teen joint program. There are any number of options, and many of them (Family Honor is an exception) assume parents won’t be present. Don’t go there. You need the parents totally involved and on board. Your six hours in front of an eighth grader are nothing compared to the influence of the parents. Even if the program you select doesn’t call for parental presence, adapt it to make it a parent-teen program.
3. Keep working discipleship on all the parts of the Catholic faith. Salvation isn’t about sex-ed alone.
4. Programs like YOU will have the most impact if you roll them out after you have a critical mass of parents who are actively seeking to foster chastity in the home, and a critical mass of parishioners and parish leaders who are disciples.
I’m not saying there is no fruit that comes from grabbing a random teenager who’s fully immersed in the wider culture and subjecting the child to a few weeks of Catholic teaching. Good things can happen. But the reality is that an hour of your life in alien country rarely makes you want to join the aliens, if you were heretofore perfectly happy back home in Depravityville. More likely, you’ll go home thinking you met a bunch of crazy people and thank goodness you’ve escaped.
Making disciples is work. YOU looks like it’s got loads of potential as a help in that work, which is why I mention it now. But making disciples is long, slow, constant work. There are no short cuts.
What’s with the radio silence? Let me just tell you.
But first, the reason I’m breaking it: My friend Sarah Reinhard asked me to blog on Theology of the Body stuff in the lead-up to this fall’sTheology of the Body Congress, which you should attend if you have the opportunity. The line-up of speakers is stellar, and yes I would go myself if I possibly could. So put that on your calendar.
The expression Theology of the Body among Catholics is a bit of a code word for, “Let’s talk about sex now.” I usually stick to code on these things. But there’s more to your body than just the parts and processes that make you a boy or a girl, as Susan Windley-Daoust will remind you periodically. I’m going to write not-about-sex today, and come back to racier topics here and over at Patheos in the next few weeks.
Now back on topic. A little Applied Theology and the answer to the question, “Why on earth has Jen Fitz completely dropped off the internet?”
Short answer is: I’m not doing as well, physically, as I would need to be doing in order to both take care of my primary vocation (marriage, parenthood) and this secondary vocation as a writer. So first things get to be first, and the rest has to wait.
The very, very, long answer:
But here is something completely cool, because God is like this: Just in time for me to have something someone really wants me to write about (instead of just me running my mouth off, which is my usual niche), I can totally sit at the computer and not be light-headed! Isn’t that cool?! I keep forgetting this new fact, and thus my e-mail is way behind. June was a pretty long month, computing-wise.
I theorize in part it was positional, which means I probably need to rearrange the workstation. Here’s an interesting link about cartoid sinus hypersensitivity, which might cause you to suspect I’m really an old man just posing as a pleasantly-plump middle-aged housewife, but you’ve seen the photos, so whom do you believe? Sports Illustrated or my cartoid sinus barocepter? Anyway, my parlor-trick for June was that I could drop my pulse twenty points just by, um, taking my pulse. No true cartoid sinus massage needed, just touch the thing.
It quit doing that, though, as far as I can tell.
Some other interesting body-things for this summer:
Dang it I can’t talk anymore again. The speaking-part works fine, don’t panic, it’s the getting light-headed while I do it that is at about 80% of the time. This is pretty common in tachycardia-themed autonomic dysfunction. (POTS people talk about this all the time in conversation, even though it never seems to make any list of medical descriptions, not sure why there’s that disconnect in the medical literature.) 80% isn’t 100%. On a good day I’m completely normal, on a lousy day I’ve given up even lip-syncing at Mass.
–> Autonomic dysfunction creates these weird eddies of backward expectations. Mass is pretty much my least pleasant activity, because it involves sitting still then standing still, with positional head changes (bad — I keep being reminded not to bow the head, just don’t do it), combined with talking. So on a miserable Sunday I can feel extremely overwhelmingly bad by the end of the hour. But because the problem is not at all with my heart’s ability to pump blood or my blood’s ability to hold oxygen, I’m the person who’s desperate to lay down while standing still, but will then escape without difficulty at full speed to the car and feel better as a result of the vigorous activity.
Basically I have this cardiovascular problem that makes being still feel worse and being active feel better.
Patients might be able to muster adequate energy for periods of time but it is usually short-lived and they tire quickly, not unlike a battery that discharges too rapidly. . . . A period of rest or sleep is generally required before energy levels are restored. Following rest a patient may demonstrate apparently normal stamina and a clinician will not detect weakness on examination . . . .
This is me completely: Do something, then flop on the floor utterly exhausted, and then in a bit I’m fine again. Happens hour-by-hour, and then also from day-to-day. More on that below.
I don’t know whether or not I have a mitochondrial disorder (very difficult to diagnose) but I get this, too:
Impaired oxidative phosphorylation [don’t know my cause] not only causes muscle fatigue but also muscle cramping with or without tenderness, or a feeling of extreme heaviness in the muscles. These symptoms are especially severe in those muscle groups being used, and patients often complain of discomfort in the legs or even muscle spasms.The discomfort may be felt immediately following the activity or later on, waking up the patient from sleep.
Funny story: I mentioned to a relatively new acquaintance that I’m prone to decrepitude, and the question she asked was, “So are you basically in pain all the time?”
The answer is that at this writing, no I am not. But I have picked up what is turning out to be mild-but-intractable intermittent pain (in my legs, if you’re curious), and yes it keeps me from sleeping well, and yes, I’ve tried all the things, and the things help quite a lot. (Other than deep breathing to relax, like the kind that works so well for childbirth — used to be my go-to, but now it just gives me a headache. Which stinks, because it’s a good method if your autonomic nervous system functions properly.) But I think it’s very funny because the words “every day” and “intractable” do apply even if the pain itself is not very bad. So if you use those adjectives, it sounds way worse than it is. I think most other people can also use those adjectives.
[By “intractable” I mean “intractable using means that don’t require a prescription.” I haven’t gotten around to being bothered enough to plead for the good drugs. So no, nothing to worry about at this time.]
And this cracked me up, because every receptionist I’ve ever met knows this about me now:
Exercise intolerance is not restricted to the large muscle groups in the body but can also involve the small muscles. Writing can be a challenge; too much writing leads to fatigue and/or cramping or spasms. The quality of penmanship can be observed to deteriorate over the course of a writing assignment with letter formation becoming more erratic and messy.
This is why you don’t want to receive handwritten correspondence from me. Nothing new, story of my life. Interestingly, I always take handwritten notes in classes, and if I don’t have a computer I’ll do my other writing longhand — but the writing degenerates fast into this baseline scrawl that’s just barely legible to me, and only because I already know what’s written there. Once it gets down to worst-level, I can sustain it for a long time.
And one last one which caught my attention, from the same source:
. . . Debilitating fatigue can occur with infectious illnesses, may outlast the other symptoms of the infection, and the recovery time can be very prolonged.
This thing I hate. I never know whether a cold is going to cost me a few days or six weeks. Weirdly, I used to go into nasty bronchitis every few years following a cold, and knock on wood that hasn’t been a problem lately. I just get all the fatigue. (Um, and I always have a cough. So, gosh, I don’t know. Don’t make me laugh and we’re good.)
Exercise does help. The supreme challenge is in figuring out how much to do. Too little, and you sleep poorly and lose conditioning. Too much, unfortunately, is not evident during the exercise. I can work out and feel great and be sure I’ve figured out a great balance between rest and exercise, and then at the end of the week completely collapse and require days and days of recovery before I’m functional again.
–> The convenient thing here is that I can in fact borrow time. If I know I want to be up for something, I can plan ahead, build up reserves, stretch them during the event through the clever use of pharmaceuticals, and plan to pay back afterwards. Difficulty being that the mortgage interest is steep. There’s no getting more out of the body than it has to give.
The inconvenience is that all the things I do are exercise, but some exercises are more valuable than others. So if I want to work on my core muscle strength, which is key to preventing the injuries to which I am prone, then I have to not work on helping you out with that thing you wanted me to do. Your thing is also exercise, but it’s a lower priority exercises, so out it goes.
Yes, I tried that thing you suggested.Not being snarky there. I’ve had a number of good friends recommend possible ways to improve the situation, and some of the ideas have been very helpful. (Even if the idea came after I’d already come across that suggestion and tried it, and thus could immediately report, “Yes! Thanks! That does help! Excellent idea, glad you mentioned it!”) Some things people have suggested and that I tried did not help for the reason proposed (I am not, for example, allergic to wheat) but do help for a different reason (minimizing wheat products makes more room in the diet for intensely potassium-rich foods, which help a ton).
So a thing that’s got me occupied this summer is obsessively managing all the micro-factors that can make the situation as better as possible. I think (but can’t be certain) that I’ve got the diet tuned to a spot where I can happily live off the things I seem to do best with, but also get away with deviating from the Ideal Thing at food-themed social events and no disaster ensues. If all that proves to be true, I’ll chat about it later. It might be just lucky coincidence.
Meanwhile, here’s the surprise of the summer:
It took me a long, long time to figure this out. Here’s the difficulty: The heat doesn’t bother me.
I live in a warm climate. I don’t mind being sweaty. I know how to dress for the heat, how to acclimatize as the hot season arrives, and how to get the most use out of a hot day. Since I cultivated these skills, I’ve never had any difficulty with the heat whatsoever, other than some mild irritation about the truly obnoxious portion of sauna-season, which you just have to deal with and move on. I even know the trick about watching for Seasonal Affective Disorder when the heat starts getting so annoying you hide indoors despite yourself. (Same solution as per winter – bright light & vitamin D).
The problem I had in figuring out this one is that (a) I’m still functional above the temperatures when people from up north start whining profusely, (b) I still don’t mind the heat or being hot, and (c) since I have any number of other things that also make me feel terrible, it’s not like I was able to say to myself, “Gee, I feel wonderful all the time except if I’m someplace hot.”
It’s a perfectly manageable problem, it just came as a bit of a surprise. Amusingly, my cold intolerance is getting worse, too.
The hardest thing: Not being able to concentrate. Since I’m a master-complainer, I don’t know that we’d call this my “chief complaint.” But it’s certainly my loudest. As in: If I told you I NEEDED the house to be QUIET so I could do this thing, that’s what I meant so please go OUTSIDE. This is the #1 reason I haven’t been writing. I’m home all day with four kids. There’s noise. There are interruptions. Note that my entire career as a writer has been carried out under these exact same conditions.
What happens therefore is that I drift through the day doing tasks that are super-easy, and then if I find myself in some unexpected situation like trying to cook while other people are in the room, it’s alarming to everyone just how badly things go (until I communicate my distress so emphatically that everyone goes and hides). And then I go back to easy things, and wonder why things that take my full attention just never get done.
So that’s the answer to the perennial, “How’s it going, Jen?” topic on this blog. I’ll emphasize here that as much I just used my crotchety trans-old lady powers to moan about the ailment for very many words, it’s not as bad as all that. But here’s a story that sort of sums up the situation:
Yesterday I was halfway through this post when I had to leave and get ready to go to a social thing at the lake. Sunday had been horrible, Monday was not that great, and Tuesday wasn’t impressing me. I was only going to this thing because (a) I wanted to go to it, and (b) my kids really, really, really wanted to go to it, and they’d done all the things I told them they had to do if they wanted to go.
So we went. And I was fine. Dreamy fine. No problems. Felt completely normal for the full three hours I was there, conversing, walking around, standing around, watching kids, etc. Some of the time, I’m completely, totally fine.
Moments like that can make you think you’re crazy. Maybe I just need to relax at the lake more often? Two reality checks:
Part of being fine was that I aggressively managed as many factors (fluid intake, electrolytes, staying out of the direct sun) as I could.
If it comes as a surprise to you that you went to an enjoyable, relaxing, time-limited social event and had no experience of illness during all three hours, probably the fact that this was an unexpected occurrence tells you something.
So we can add this to my list of signs something is not normal: If you get to where it’s a surprising occurrence when you feel well, we can infer that there’s a problem.
And dang my legs were like lead when I dropped a kid off at VBS this morning. So yeah, CAWOG. I’m rolling with it.
I figured since this was the All About Me post, if you made it this far you’re the type of person who wants to see my new haircut. (Hi Mom!) The third one is me posing in front of the dog’s blanket, which is still hanging up to dry on the screen porch a week after I told a kid to put it there. I guess it’s dry now. But I needed the contrast because I kept getting photos where the new haircut looked exactly like the SI photo shoot.
A kitten found us, which means we can finally use the internet properly.
I persist, of course, in my incorrigible habit of crowding perfectly good bandwidth with religion, public policy, and other punditry. My hope is that by wielding the cat as a feline shield, the internet police will be stymied in their efforts to purify the web of non-cat bloggers.
Like the Internet Except in 3-D
1. My screen porch. YouTube viewing has plummeted now that we have our hyperactive dancing cat.
2. Midlands Homeschool Convention. Of interest to southeasterners. Huge regional event, piles of top notch speakers, and also me. Catholic writers guild will have a table, and there’ll be a rocking “Look at the Book” display of Catholic textbooks & materials from all the major players, hosted by Catholic homeschoolers in SC. Also free stuff and some drawings for prizes. The teepee in the corner, dear parents, is for your children. You sit on the chairs. July 24-26.
3. Catholic Writers Conference. Following week up in Chicago, smart people will be turning out at the writers’ wonderland that is the combination Catholic Writers Conference & Catholic Marketing Network’s trade show. This is the place where all the publishers and vendors of Catholic trinkets (games, art, music, etc) turn out so the Catholic book & gift shops can stock up for the season. Most interesting bit is seeing what famous internet Catholics look like when rendered in 3-D.
(I will be rendered in 2D for that one. Visit the Liguori booth if you go, and you can see my book. The me-traveling-to-Chicago part is not quite back on the program.)
Seriously. The Equal Exchange folks put out good stuff. You can set up an individual or a wholesale account (different pricing, but a higher threshold for free shipping if you order wholesale), and yes your private buying co-op of just you and your friends / family qualifies for the wholesale rate, if you do in fact eat that much chocolate among yourselves. Feel free to link to other fair-trade suppliers in the combox.
Speaking of chocolate, for those who are following the vexing situation, here’s today’s FB update:
Details from yesterday, per Jon — not a lot to add, but some good spin. TEE was looking (in particular) for evidence of shunt in my atrial septum, which it did not find, nor anything else suspicious. Let us pause right now to observe that Dr. W *came in on a vacation day* to do that. Serious point-accumulation there.
–> Afterwards, he said that he sometimes runs into this — patients with definite symptoms but no obvious explanation for them. Sometimes it clears up on its own. (ER Doc pointed out last weekend that sometimes the tests don’t come back positive for a while after the symptoms show, too.)
And since we’ve ruled out everything imminently life-threatening, he proposes we take 10 days to attempt “rehab”, that is, Jen-directed gradual increase in activity level, and see how things go.
If symptoms persist, the next thing to do is refer me out to someone who investigates really nutso inexplicable stuff.
Day 1 Rehab report: Um, yeah. Anyway. It’s nice to be allowed to do stuff. We’re a long, long ways from walking and talking on the phone at the same time, kids. But I’m allowed to clean my desk, not a moment too soon. You who are waiting on paper-based correspondence from me, there’s a light at the back of that cave.
1. My book as available for sale! That is, you can’t actually *have* the book, but you can pay for it. So I guess it’s not so much a sale, yet, as a series of financial transactions straight out of 2nd 3rd year financial accounting, which is the year when nothing is ever just bought and sold, but always, always, passes through a whole series of special accounts that make perfect sense, I promise, if you can just keep ’em lined up right.
I think sometime this summer it graduates to an Accounting 101 exercise, where you can just pay money and have a book, done.
2. My favorite review-book supplier, MTF, seems to feel I need to get into the Year of Faith thing in a serious way. I broke down when I realized that there was no way I could ever remember on page 962 of Introduction to Catholicism for Adults exactly how I’d felt about Chapter 1, no matter how many little notes I penciled into the back inside cover. So I’m reviewing it a chapter (or so) at a time, over at the Happy Catholic Bookshelf. Chapter 1 is up. Hint: So far, so good.
4. The post you really want to read at AC this week is this one.
5. I’m trying to improve my Spanish, which is more difficult if you don’t have cable TV. So I’ve resorted to mining the Spanish-language section of my local Catholic bookstore. I think you could make a sort of Catechist Spanish Language Evaluation test that grades you by which sections of El Youcat you can read, and which ones leave you absolutely puzzled. To give you an idea of my junior-linguist credentials, the bold print on Youcat #374 is no trouble at all. In contrast, that Blaise Pascal quote on the sidebar of p. 191? No comprendo. (I’m okay with that. I don’t think I much understand Pascal in English, either.)
6. I wish all catechisms came with flip-book animation on the bottom right corner. Sometimes I just watch the guy doing cartwheels in Spanish.
7. What I want to do is phone my Spanish-speaking catechist friend and arrange a play date for tomorrow. What I should do is start on my taxes. I think?