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Apr. 18, 2014

Have I told you how much I hate CT?

There are oh so many reasons.

#1.  I had a “redetermination” meeting with the state last week.  I was told to fill out paperwork for food, and that insurance is now done online.  I did the online insurance garbage a month ago.  It literally took an hour.  It was ridiculously stupid: page after page of how is this kid related to that kid, over and over.  Today in the mail I get a letter telling me my insurance was dropped because I never filled out the paperwork.  WTH?!  And of course the office is closed today because this liberal pagan state celebrates religion when it suits them.

#2.  At school a couple of days ago, I got a random phone call from a higher-up at support enforcement.  She was most likely calling because at my meeting, I was told how I didn’t qualify for a 6-month assistance help, because I made over $900 a month.  Yeah.  $900 a month and you don’t qualify for help for a family of 9.  I make slightly more than that.  Anyway, this woman calls me and tells me she worked on my case in 2009, and that he’s a slick one.  Okay.  She said he owes over $88,000 – not counting what he owes the state when I was getting assistance.  21 lifetime months at $1000 a month.  And this was after the whole fake-check thing, which she brought up in our conversation, because she was the one he tried to pass off two years of fake checks on.  Another $80-odd thousand.  So she concurred that they couldn’t find him, that he most likely procured himself a new SSN, and that I should call Social Security and claim him dead.  Okay.

#3. We still have not heard the Nursing decisions.  These also come from the state.  Last year and the year before they heard by the 8th.  The teachers were predicting it would be yesterday afternoon – because the school would be closed for a long weekend and couldn’t receive calls or emails from the disgruntled.  Nothing.  It is frustrating and downright maddening not to know.  It’s been 6 months since we applied!  I am a major planner and this is killing me.  It will totally ruin my financial aid and schedule if it doesn’t happen.  Aaarrgh!

#4.  To live in CT one has to make at least 50K.  And that is for a normal sized family to live in a normal neighborhood.  I pretty much live in THE hood.  It’s terrible the amount of action we’ve seen lately.  Last week, across the street in the middle of the day, were 4 state cops with assault rifles.  It turns out the people living there were selling stolen weapons.  How nice.  Now my kids can’t even take the dog out to pee.

I could go on, but I hate to sound like such a downer.  It is Good Friday, though.  I’m at work, which is preferable to being at home on this day of all days – my 6 foot boys are pretty cranky on fasting days.

I am looking forward to Easter – even without knowing.  Ugh.  I was hoping to buy champagne.  But the oldest, who I haven’t seen in a while, will be sure to have good wine – it’s his specialty – and I managed to get a nitrite-free ham, and we will all be together.  And that’s the most important thing.

by Kristin | Leave a comment

Can’t wait

Everything necessary for the Nursing Program application has to be in by November 1.  Then sometime mid-April the decision committee will let you know.  That is almost 6 months of waiting!  I don’t do well with waiting.  The denial letters went out March 31.  Did not get one of those, thanks be to God.  However, the stress of it all doesn’t end there, oh no.  There is a fall date and a spring date.  So if one IS in, one could get the required first aid, titers, physical, books and uniforms, and have a nice relaxing summer (not that working two jobs is relaxing) waiting for the first day of class late August.

Or one can waste away while one’s brain atrophies because one has nothing else at all to take and start late January.

I am told that there is no rhyme or reason which start date you get.  Once, it was based on rank, now it’s 50/50.  That is so all of the lottery kids don’t get put in Spring and make the class average lower.  That is just not fair.

The stress of it all is killing me.

I wake up every morning and log on and check.  I need to be first in line to be on the waitlist for fall when I am given spring, because some people do switch.  Yes, I am expecting this.  What in my life has ever gone easy?

Meanwhile, I have been busting my butt and my brain and not been here.  Sorry.  I know some of you like to keep in touch :)  Two science classes with labs is a full time job.  And I have a job, which is getting busier, and I picked up a summer job, on top.  Of course that is after my classes end.  All of my studying has been paying off (hopefully it will where it really matters).  I actually got a 95 on my last Microbiology test.  The class average was 75.  My two girls who have been with me all semesters also got A’s.  Our Anatomy teacher calls us the “Awesome Trio” and she offered all three of us teaching assistant jobs in lab this summer.  It pays slightly less than the store where I work now, but will definitely look great on a resume.  As will getting inducted into the National Honor Society – all three of us got that invitation, too.

So school is going well, although it takes a lot out of me.  And there is a wedding coming up to look forward to in 3 weeks, and before that two birthdays and a Confirmation to celebrate.  Oh, and Easter.  I have been sorely slacking in the liturgical department.  Does stressing and worrying and freaking out about the Nursing decision count for my Lent?

If you can all find a minute, please pray for fall – for one thing to go smoothly in my life.  And pray that I survive the wait.

by Kristin | 6 comments

Series on Morality

Because I am at work, and have my homework with me, I am stealing my son’s series on Morality he has been writing.  I don’t think he’d mind me sharing.  He only posts every couple months because he works a lot and doesn’t have internet at home.

Here is the first installment:

What is Morality?  What Does It Matter?

Can anyone separate himself in an enterprise from his personal morality?  In every forum of human activity, there is a crucial but often subtle correspondence to morality, be it politics, work, celebration, education, the liturgy, etc.  In fact, everything one does is a reflection of his morality in some way.  Every human activity is therefore bound to be misunderstood and poorly undertaken if the moral framework on which it is built is misunderstood.
Morality, simply put, is belief put into action.  Everyone has desires for what he believes is good and so what he believes, be it by faith or reason, has implications for how he decides what is a preferable choice or course of action.  For example, if one believes that air conditioners are bad for one’s health and that person wants to preserve his health more than he wants to keep cool in the summer, that person will probably not buy and use an air conditioner, unless of course, some other thing leads him to believe that he should.  Though this may perhaps seem to be a trivial example, it is still morality.  What morality is not is an arbitrary set of rules.  Even commandments and moral absolutes can be shown to be reasonable and representative of a conviction on what is good and desirable.
It is easy to see how any of the above mentioned examples of human activity ties into morality in a very deep way.  From a Christian perspective, morality is much more deeply intertwined in every facet of human life; from waking up in the morning to burying the dead.  This is because, for Christians, morality is life itself.  If morality is the pursuit of good on behalf of our own desire, then morality is the pursuit of God.  The moral life springs from much deeper fonts than commandments and precepts.  It is more akin to a love affair, in which every soul experiences an unquenchable thirst for something beyond this world; for life itself.  This is God, and He is goodness itself.
The moral life is sometimes called a participation in goodness.  I am not speaking here of some ethereal neo-platonic concept of fragmented bodies tending back into union with the One (though it is worth looking into).  To participate in something is to act in unison with those who are part of it.  It does not help to understand morality by saying it is “acting in unison with others who are also acting for the good.”    This is obvious.  What is extraordinary in Christianity, in speaking of participation, is that God, who is goodness itself, acts.  He in fact acts only in goodness.  Thus, to say that one “participates in goodness” is to say that one “participates in God.”  That is, one acts in unison with Him.  St. Thomas Aquinas goes even further in saying that, because God is perfect, there is no potential good in Him that is not already realized.  God is therefore pure act (though let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
When one acts for the sake of goodness, we call this love.  This is why we say that God is love, because He is goodness in action.  To act for the sake of something is to love that thing.  This works in every analogous sense of the word:  I love ice cream – I will find some and eat it:  I love art – I will create it and preserve it:  I love my wife – I will protect and honor her.  Because God is the good, everything is good by virtue of Him.  He created it; he maintains it, and everything good leads ultimately to Him.  We thus see that every act of love, in whatever sense, is a real participation in the goodness of God.
To say that something ought to be such-and-such a way is to commit to a standard in which that thing is considered good.  We maintain this standard in our beliefs on what is good.  If one, for instance, believes that free-market economy is good because of so-and-so, then he would be likely to say that the economy ought to be a free-market.  If this same free-market proponent were a Christian, it would stand to reason that he would believe a free-market economy (in some small way at least) to be a reflection of the goodness of God and a means of leading oneself to Him.  A Christian cannot reasonably conceive of any sphere of human activity as being separable or unrelated to his morality, be it politics, education, joke-telling, fishing, drinking, love-making, eating, working, nose-picking, reading or writing, buying or selling, child-rearing, painting, pissing, or sleeping.  Everything he does ought to be done out of love of God.  To believe one thing and act contrary to that belief on account of some other belief amounts to a contradiction of beliefs:  Such a person is unreasonable and a liar to himself.  If a Christian cannot sincerely believe that he does something in order to participate in the goodness of God, he ought not to do that thing, no matter what that thing is.
And the second:

Rebuilding the Pantheon

     It is now quite obvious that a new age of paganism has dawned upon us.  No longer does Christian culture justly reign in the hearts and minds of the world.  This has been so, I think, for at least a century, but now it is easy enough to look around at the present state of things and deduce that the old pantheon has once again been enthroned on the principles of a false morality.

     Though many of the current generation might not conscientiously subscribe to any definite morality (I doubt if the average college student is even prepared to discuss what morality means), they live by a morality nonetheless.  We do not live in an amoral society.  Wherever there is approbation or affirmation, there is at least a sense of right and wrong and where there is a sense of right and wrong, there is a principle by which to judge something accordingly.
     Any and every different morality, complete or not, has an end; a perceived good to which that morality aspires.  For example, if one deems it right to care for personal hygiene, the good to which that norm aspires is the health of the individual.  Simple enough.  Christian morality has God as its end because God is goodness itself and all good things are good insofar as they come from God.  Furthermore, one can hope for happiness in apprehending good things because they ultimately lead one to happiness in God.  Hygiene, then, is a reasonable enough norm as someone who is clean and therefore healthy is more likely to be happier than someone who is not.
     But I am not writing to discuss hygiene.  What has become obvious to the Christian standing apart from modern culture is that God is no longer recognized as the end of morality.  He is no longer recognized at all.  And with the Source-and-Summit of goodness removed, the whole structure is dismantled.  We now see a scattered, fragmented collection of principles which have only sub-perfect goods as their ends, each set up as something worthy of worship in itself.
     I wish it were that society had only fallen under the demons of pagan Rome, where greedy traders and “honest workers” alike consecrate their lives to Vulcan and Mercury, where Venus bestows her blessing on the unbridled sexual escapades of youth, and where libations are offered to Bacchus in return for the destructive pleasure of drunken revelry.  Gaia has reformed her demands and now asks that you drive a Prius, eat only free-range eggs, and separate your recyclables.  Minerva, while still cherishing a few remaining rationalists, scolds those who are perhaps too “narrow-minded” to concede to the pedantry of her priests.

     These gods have indeed been resurrected, but a far more malicious and (thankfully still) controversial presence in our society is the resurgence of the older and much more sinister cults of Ba’al, to whom one was not a man until he sacrificed his virginity to the temple prostitutes, and of Moloch, to whom women sacrifice their children in the hope of being spared the hardships of a capricious life.
     The principles aforementioned are not (as of yet) personified as they were in pagan Rome and ancient Babylon, but they hold their false place of honor nonetheless.  What turns a veritable good into a vicious god?  It is that these ends of today’s morality are set up as the end; that there is nothing more to live up to.  The art of pagan worship is nothing more than the art of fooling oneself into believing that happiness will come when the gods are appeased, despite their quarrelling even among themselves.
     What is a Christian to do in a neo-pagan world?  The answer does not come easy, but it helps to know what it means to be Christian and who one’s gods are.
If you’d like to read more, click on the Searchlight link to the right.

by Kristin | 3 comments

Boston weekend

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Every other weekend Grandma Sally takes the girls to Boston for their music lessons.  It is such a blessing, I can’t even begin to tell you!  Anyway, this past weekend the five youngest and I had the privilege of spending the night at Sally’s Boston house.  Sally took those two (above enjoying a game of Battleship by the fire you can’t see) ahead of time while I was still at work, to have a lovely dinner of goat curry, salad, and pecan pie waiting for us when we arrived.

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The next picture is hard to see – I didn’t bring my camera, I was using my not-smart phone – but it’s an original drawing by one of my favorite artists of all time.  Anyone care to guess?  Amazing.  But then, everything about Sally is amazing.  For instance, the next morning after Mass at St. Paul’s – which was quite lovely, their choir is amazing, we were given a tour of Harvard Yard.  Sally is celebrating her 50th reunion as a Harvard Alumna this year!  Her father taught there, Microbiology, can you believe it?  Everyone knows that’s my favorite class ;)

It seems that every single time I venture up to Boston, it pours.  This time was no exception.  But we had a wonderful time, regardless.  The reason for our trip was The Magic Flute at Symphony Hall.  It was absolutely wonderful.  We all loved it!

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We had awesome seats, too.  We are so very thankful to have the incredible Sally in our lives – the Grandma my kids never had – she is so, so good to us!

 

 

by Kristin | Leave a comment

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