Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday, Fr. Leo and St. Teresa of Avila, and Old Friends.

Happy Good Friday to all! I hope everyone who wasn't stuck at home (like me) had a chance to attend Mass today or at least thought of what today symbolized. I, unfortunately, didn't get a chance to get out today but I did spend (and will spend more) time contemplating about what the meaning of Lent is and why Easter is a great day. It's actually one of my favorite "holidays". Because I am a bit out of it today (lack of sleep yesterday and part of today makes one a bit loopy), I won't write more on the subject but hopefully I will be able to write something worth reading for Easter. I am making no promises though.

One thing that isn't helping how "blah" I am feeling is the summer weather we've been having lately. Spring has just begun but it's already pretty hot. It reminds me of late May, it's so warm. It's expected to be around the mid-80s this weekend. Yeah, it's crazy. Hopefully, the weather we've been experiencing isn't wreaking havoc of people's allergies. It's not exactly causing me too much problems but it might be what's causing me so feel so out of it. I am blaming lack of sleep, first and foremost, but I think the high pollen or hot weather might be causing me some fatigue. Sunny California sometimes is too sunny. lol.

I don't really have much going on lately. I am, more than ever, ready to go back to school. I'm going to take a few days to soul search about things that are going on in my life... which all comes back to how strong my faith is and thinking of ways I can strengthen it. As I continue to read St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography, and especially after my chat with Fr. Leo, I came to a fork in the road. I thought that I could take the road I was taking before -- feeling like I really can't do anything because the anxiety has been debilitating me. Or, if I take Fr. Leo's advice and a cue from St. Teresa, I could quit thinking that I will never get better and do something about it. I've decided to take the second road -- the one which is harder but will be more worthwhile. And, I've actually started down the road.

For the first time in a very long time, I had friends over. Well, technically one friend that I hadn't seen in about 2 and a half years. She is the first friend I've had over to simply hang out (I'm not counting the friends I had over one evening last Spring but that was to do an English Lit project). It was absolutely wonderful to see her again. Whoever said that having a solid support system behind you, especially when you're sick, was absolutely right. I felt like my old self and for that, I was and am truly grateful. :) This single event has made me realize just how blessed I am to have the friends I have now and I feel like I have even more excuses to get better -- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I highly recommend surrounding yourself with friends, it's wonderful. :)

Alright, well, that's it for tonight. As I've said, I'm a bit out of it (darn the wacky sleep schedule), super tired and I have too much going on in my mind due to the big creative kick I am on (lots of writing for my novel) so I should get to it. As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

P.S. Have I ever recommended reading St. Teresa's autobiography? If I haven't, I do now! If you can, I encourage you to read it. It's an amazing book. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day, St. Teresa of Avila: Her Autobiography and a Dream, St. Benedict.

I hope everyone had a good St. Patrick's Day today (hey, it's technically still Monday here in California.) I know today wasn't exactly celebrated since it did fall during Lent but that didn't stop the t.v. stations from airing different St. Patrick's related things. I watched part of the parade that went on in New York City and the Ireland episodes of the shows "Trip of a Lifetime" and "Passport to Europe" on the Travel Channel. I watched part of the history of the holiday on the National Geographic channel. I watched Celtic Thunder perform on a rerun on station much like PBS. I have to say, I became a fan of Celtic Thunder after watching them performing. All have outstanding voices and the songs were awesome. I also caught them during the beginning of the St. Patrick's Day parade -- that's actually what made me tune into their concert. I am definitely getting their album and DVD of that particular performance. Whoo! :)

While watching all the festivities, I managed to read a good chunk of St. Teresa of Avila's autobiography. I have to admit, I struggled getting through it. Not because it was hard to understand -- I found it very well written and easy to follow. I think it was because I had promised a certain amount of pages to Our Lady of Guadalupe and I encountered A LOT of temptations to quit. The good thing is that, though it took me nearly all day to finish those pages, I did and stuck to my word. I have never felt so sleepy or tired reading a book (that wasn't for a class) before so I looked at it as a test that I had to complete to show that I was strong enough to keep my word. It was hard! I kept feeling like I was going to just fall fast asleep on the bed or go completely insane (seriously, I would get images of myself going nuts) but I stuck it out. I also got these really rude images in my head while reading so I asked St. Michael Archangel to please put those images out of my head. All that struggle was completely worth it, though! What a wonderful book to read. I can see why I was told it would be a great book to read during Lent. It's really changing a number of my habits for the better. And, I keep on finding more and more in common with her.

I actually had a dream that involved me falling to my knees and praying, asking St. Teresa and St. Benedict of Nursia to help me because the devil was trying to take me away with him. It was pretty intense. Maybe, and this is me just thinking/writing out loud here, it was a warning that I was going to struggle with the book today with a lot of temptations. I know we're not supposed to read into dreams (and I know I've said this before) but I can't help but make the connections. I've also been dreaming about asking St. Benedict to save me lately so I am going to actually look more into his life. I know he's the patron against witchcraft and temptations. Ah, temptations... okay... I see the connection more clearly now. :D I definitely want to get a Prayer/Holy Card of him (I have a thing about collecting Holy Cards of saints) to have with me.

Alright, well, sorry for such a short entry but I really am pretty tired. I want to get some sleep and get myself ready for my chat with Fr. Leo. I have a lot I want to talk to him about. I want to prepare because if I don't get my thoughts collected beforehand, I will forget. Boo for my forgetful mind, which I never had before. :D Okay, I am starting to ramble on. I will stop. lol. As always, thanks for reading and God Bless.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Birth Control, Palm Sunday Mass, St. Teresa of Avila and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I know, I know. It's been nearly 2 weeks since the last update. The big gaps between entries is completely unplanned. First I was hit with debilitating anxiety that kept me in bed for a few days, followed by my first cold since November 2005 (oh yeah, my immune system's pretty awesome) and topped off with stomach pain for a few days. As someone who my friends consider lucky, I really haven't had much luck in the health department lately.

Without getting into details, one of those things I was/am "suffering" from made me think about birth control. And, okay, a discussion on the Roman Catholic (Global) facebook group about abortion inspired me to write about this was well. I won't go into what I REALLY think about birth control and abortion because I sincerely have no time to go through hate messages from Pro-Choice people but I will make it known I'm very Pro-Life. One thing that always irritates me is when nurses and/or doctors assume I'm either on some sort of birth control and/or having sex. I vividly remember the last time I got really upset over this. A nurse was taking my vitals before I could see the doctor and she straight out asked me "What kind of birth control do you use?" I looked at her, blinked and said "I'm not on birth control." She looked at me shocked and said "Then what do use when you have sex? Nothing? That's dangerous! So many STDs." That's when I got upset (and, I'll admit, kinda overreacted) and said "I use it because I don't need birth control! I'm not having sex! Even then, I won't use it!" The rest of the conversation is a little fuzzy but I do remember saying that I was offended that she assumed I was having sex and even moreso because she knew the kind of person I was/am. I also mentioned that I was going to wait until I was married until I had that type of intimate relationship with someone. I understand she'd say something like that because, statistically, young "minority" women have high birth rates and are very likely to engage in intercourse at a very young age. Still, I would think it would've been more appropriate to ask me if I was sexually active before assuming I was and asking me what type of birth control I was on. I wrote this on the facebook group and I will write it again... if I had a penny for every time I was asked what kind of birth control I was on, or asked why I wasn't on birth control by doctors and/or nurses, I'd rich.

It's amazing how not many people know about Natural Family Planning (NFP). I personally am not an expert on the subject since I've never had a need to learn about it (as in, I've never been engaged or even thought about marriage with someone I was dating) but I know it's the only "birth control" officially accepted by the Catholic Church. And it's not actual birth control either, hence the quotation marks. If/when I get married, it'll be what I'll be using. I know it's going to probably get a frown from the family doctor but I don't care. There's far too much pressure from society (on women) to be on birth control and I have no desire to give into that, especially knowing it's a mortal sin. There's a good article I read on the topic at Catholic Online which can be found here. Okay, moving away from this subject...

Today (well, it's technically still Sunday here in California) is Palm Sunday! This is one of my favorite times of the year. I was so bummed out that I didn't make it to Mass... yet again. This time, it wasn't my fault. When I was ready and willing to go to Mass, my father didn't want to take me. When he was ready to take me, I felt too sick to go. See, in the morning I felt fine and I actually want to go early. My dad said he wanted to go fix the car and/or go shopping. I couldn't convince him otherwise so I went to my room and ended up falling asleep watching the Manchester City vs Tottenham game (by the way, whoo for Man City winning! I'm a fan of Nery Castillo's!). In that time that I took a little nap, dad managed to sneak away and he didn't end up getting home until after the last English Mass was over. Ugh. I planned on walking to a nearby parish (which, I hate to admit, I am not too comfortable attending Mass at) but then I remembered it was the 6 o'clock Mass and that lead to me falling into a "fit" of tears because I knew there was no way I would be able to make it through the mass. The 6 o'clock Mass at the nearby Parish is the most crowded and the parish is smaller than the parish I normally attend. Last time I tried to be at that Mass, I ended up leaving after only 2 minutes because of the claustrophobia that turns into panic. For those who've never experienced a panic attack, I will hopefully write an entry about it sometime this week (hopefully tomorrow) to help y'all understand a bit better. Anyway, because I began getting very lightheaded and everything, I ended up missing it... but not before I shed a few tears. Mom tried to console me by saying that I'd watched Pope Benedict XVI give the live Palm Sunday mass at 2 in the morning last night and therefore got his blessing but I still felt bad. My dislike of missing Mass makes me very prone to having the waterworks open. What can I say... I don't like being disrespectful by not attending Mass. I know it's not my fault, especially with my anxiety, but still... it's doesn't feel right.

Something else that doesn't feel right... not going to confessions every week. Even if it's for something like a curse word that came out without thinking (as in, I didn't consciously make the decision to curse), I don't feel right. I just start counting down the days until Saturday when I can go to confessions. The priest who I've confessed the most to lately, Fr. Hoang, knows me so well that he doesn't really give me much to do as penance. Sometimes I do a little more than asked because I feel like I am getting away too easily, even if I'm probably getting exactly what I deserve. Anyway, something I came across while reading the first couple of chapters of St. Teresa's autobiography... she was the exact same way. In fact, the more I read about her life, the more I find similarities between herself and I. I honestly had to stop a couple of times and think to myself "It's almost like she is reading my mind... over 400 years after she wrote it." I am starting to think she might be my patron saint because of the similarities. I've never had so much in common with a saint. Honestly. I've found a saint I can relate to on so many different things. And, speaking of her autobiography, I am about to wrap this blog because I promised Our Lady of Guadalupe to get through 75 pages before I fell asleep. (Oh, and St. Teresa is now on my Patron Saints list on the right hand column).

Our Lady of Guadalupe has really done miracles for me lately. I had trouble sleeping a few nights ago (a lot of those nights ended with my on the verge of panic attacks and other screwy feelings) but since I've asked for her intercession, I've been feeling better. I promised her I'd go to Mass but, unfortunately and completely out of my hands, you all know why I couldn't make that happen. Mom said Our Lady would understand because she knows just how sick I get. I also asked Our Lady for specific help yesterday night and we got a call this morning that is basically an answer to my prayer to her. I also feel like she gave Fr. Leo a little push to call me to set up a meeting because he called pretty late (after 8 p.m.) and I didn't think he would even set up a meeting with me. Ask Our Lady and she will do her best to help you!

Okay, I should really get going because I'm already half asleep and still have 75 pages to read. I should eat something to help keep me up longer. Hmm. Anyway, that is all for now. If I am able to write an entry tomorrow, hopefully I'll be able to write about a few things I want to write about... such as how my novel is coming along, how Jane Austen is trying to give me unrealistic expectations about love *cough*Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice*cough* (and how I am okay with that, lol), and how I've discovered cheese-less pizzas while dealing with a broken skylight. Oh yes. lol. Until next time, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D

Friday, March 7, 2008

Panic, California's Homeschooling Problem, and College.

I'm terribly sorry it's, once again, taken me days to write a blog. I should confess that most of the time when I say I'm sick and it takes me days to write it's because I'm usually physically drained and recovering from the aftermath of panic attacks.

I was doing VERY well up until Monday when I had one of the worst panic attacks I've had in a while. Basically, I was in a crammed bus (they pack people like sardines on buses here) and I started getting a panic attack. Then, some snot-nosed little kid wouldn't give me the seat a gentleman offered to me when he saw I was about to pass out. I mean, I was sobbing, holding onto the metal railing on the bus like my life depended on it, and the kid sat down on the seat the second the man stood up. My mom politely asked him if I could have the seat because I was about to pass out and the kid gave my mother major attitude (along with a couple of not so nice words) and I stood the entire ride home. Even the kid's mother gave me the most evil stare. If looks could kill... eesh. The entire time I was thinking "excuse me for wanting to sit when I feel like my legs are going to give in, under me." Anyway, from that day, I've been at home recovering from the residue the panic attack left. It's such a pain in my tush. Sometimes it feels like a cold is coming on so I can never tell if I'm actually getting a cold or am still physically drained from panicking. I'm hoping it's not a cold because it's the last thing I need right now.

I'm also thinking that it didn't help that I saw an old classmate of mine on Monday, prior to the incident. He and I used to be at odds my freshman (or was is sophomore?) year of high school. He was the popular, football (American football) guy who was just a little too cocky for his own good. We once had a bet, which he lost, when I wanted to show him that he goes a little too far assuming he can get anything he wants. That was so funny to watch too. lol. Anyway, when I left public school I left with an urge to kick him in the tush but I never did. When I saw him this past Monday, those feelings came back because he still looked at me like I was nothing and he was the almighty guy that is better than everyone else. I'm just glad I have self control and am a pacifist because I would've kicked him if I weren't. lol.

Another thing that ticks me off... the Californian government has taken away the parents' rights to have their children. That's right... homeschooling will become ILLEGAL in the state of California. ARE THEY FREAKING KIDDING ME?! That's complete bull. I feel like writing to whoever is responsible and giving them a piece of my mind. I seriously feel like I have to do something about this because I'm living proof that public education is incredibly flawed. I was in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 10 years... which was utter crap (pardon my language). We never learned anything because they repeated the same things every year. I tested into college level English when I was a 14 year-old but they wouldn't let me take anything besides Shakespeare (which was for only one semester) so I spent a long time not taking a proper English course because they didn't know where to place me. The college courses I did take at 14 (Shakespeare and a Criminal Law course) didn't transfer when I went into college because they withheld all the classes I'd done. Why did they do that? Because I left the school to an independent study/homeschooling charter. In fact, all the classes I did at the public school were basically erased and wouldn't give the charter program my grades so I had to do a lot of the courses twice. I was absolutely miserable my entire educational career at public schools.

I actually developed anxiety in high school, at 14-15, because of a former History teacher I had. He used to humiliate me on a daily basis and no matter what I did, he wouldn't let me get ahead or do well. I remember when I wrote a 17 page research paper on Susan B. Anthony and he just ripped it up and gave me a fail. He'd also done that once before, in front of a teacher who didn't even report him. He was also, by far, the most perverted man I've ever met. He had absolutely no right speaking about the things he used to talk about in class. That kind of material isn't even appropriate for college students, much less a bunch of 14 years-olds. He would also tell us not to tell anyone what he said in class because he knew he'd get into major trouble. I had a lot of problems with teachers from ages 5 to 15 (I left public school at 15) because the a good portion of the professors in the LAUSD suck. Plain in simple.

I've had teachers fail me (in junior high and freshman year of high school) simply because they didn't like me or because they were racist. Oh yes, I dealt with a teacher in 8th grade who was racist towards Hispanic students. I once said it, very passing and nowhere near her, how she was being racist against our little group and this one girl ratted me out and said out loud, "Mrs. *insert name*, *insert my name* just called you a racist." I didn't back down or deny I said it. I went to detention (my first and only time) but wasn't suspended because they later found out I was saying the truth. Either way, public school sucks and to deny parents the right to teach their children at home is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

How does the government know that the children aren't being home-schooled because they're sick and can't attend school like a normal child? How do they know that the parent is so ill they can't take their children to school? They don't! Where, in our Constitution, does it say that parents can't make the decisions on what their children learn? They teach sexual subjects as young as 4th grade (to 8-9 year olds). They teach about evolution and other things religions (not just the Catholic one) don't believe in. And, if you say you don't believe in it... teachers will fail you or mark your grade down (I'm taking from experience). I was lucky enough to find my ways around the sex ed because I sincerely see no point in learning about contraceptives, at age 12... or at any age, period.

Sorry, I went on a mini rant but this is something I'm passionate about. I will find a way to get involved in making sure they allow parents to home-school their children. It's not in my plans to stay here when I get married and have my kids, and I certainly don't want them raised here, but I still want to make sure other people have options. First, they took our (college students') funds and cut them significantly... now they want to bully parents into enrolling their children into schools that are horrible? Smart move, California! (and yes, I said it with sarcasm).

Okay, I will stop the ranting. lol. I will say, however, that all of this has made me rethink whether or not I will finish college. I mean, I absolutely want to get my degree in Religious Studies and English and use that to help other people but I no longer know if I have the drive to continue my studies. Maybe I'm burnt out. Maybe all the injustice is making me angry at the educational system in this state. I don't know. I will give the Fall semester a try and then I'll take it from there. I really hope that God will guide me into the right direction because I have absolutely no idea what I will do in regards to my future education. Maybe I'll ask St. Thomas Aquinas to intercede for me. Or I could ask St. Teresa of Avila. After all, she's the patron saint of writers and, I feel, my kindred.

Oh yeah, and speaking of writing, the novel is coming along now that I've overcome the writer's block. Whoo! :D

Alright, well, that's all for tonight. I feel really fatigued so I should try to get some sleep soon. As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Crazy Weather, Walking to Mass, and Films.

One thing you can always count on in Southern California: the weather being completely wacky. It was very warm most of this past week and now it's cold and windy. It's no wonder people get colds and whatnot easily out here. Hopefully it won't too bad tomorrow because I plan on walking all the way to the nearest parish and I don't want excess heat or coldness to make things harder than they will be.

Yes, I am walking to Mass tomorrow morning. Long story short, I won't have any way to get around (aka no car) for a week so I will be walking a lot and also taking public transportation when the place I am going to is over a mile. I still feel weak and whatnot so you can bet I will be asking God to give me the strength to make it to and from the parish in one piece. It will be a big accomplishment for me if I make it because I haven't been able to walk for long distances in a long time. I might be able to do it because when I put my mind to something and focus on it, my stubborn side comes out and I will not quit unless I honestly fail attempting to finish it. Fingers crossed.

I got to watch a really inspiring and sweet film called The Miracle of Marcelino. Well, technically it's called Marcelino Pan y Vino which, translated from Spanish to English, would be called Marcelino Bread and Wine but it doesn't have the same ring to it. Anyway, this film was made in 1955 but it didn't feel like it was dated. I usually watch a film at least twice before I put it in my top 10 but this went straight to top 3 of all time. Mom and I watched the film with the Spanish track and I will watch it again with the English track to see the differences. You'd be surprised how much gets lost in translation. I always try to translate things as closely as I can but I've noticed that others don't. Maybe it's too much work or something but I don't like when that happens. It's also always fun to see the differences in words and accents because Spaniards have a sort of accent that I'm not completely used to yet (my mother has no accent). Anyway, I would definitely recommend this film to anyone and everyone. It's funny, I remember singing a song about "Marcelino, Pan y Vino" when I was a little munchkin (about 6 years old) but never knew where it came from. Now I do. lol.

I just looked up some clips in youtube and I believe they have the entire film in pieces. I'll post one to give you a sneak peek of it. Some clips are in Italian, some are in Spanish (the Spanish ones were uploaded by the user "anira") and I haven't gone through all but there might be some English ones. If you want to search for it, it's under "Marcelino Pan y Vino". This is a clip in Spanish. Quick summary of the first couple of minutes: Marcelino is left on the steps of a monastery and the monks raise him. You can google more of the summary if you'd like. :D

Alright, well, I'm going to do a couple of things before I sleep so this is where this blog ends for tonight. As always, thanks for reading and God Bless. :D