Friday, July 13, 2012

Catholic Girl in a Public World: Part VI

Don't forget who you are.

We can all take a little lesson from a certain young lady named Katie Holmes.  Her Catholic girl problem? Tom Cruise.

Seriously though, Katie, he's shorter than you!
Now there are things that she did right: followed her heart, married the hot actor that she always dreamed of marrying, gave things up in the name of love.

Things she did wrong: Tom Cruise. Homie is off his rocker. Scientology...I really try to be more accepting of other religions...but an alien populating the planet? And he so staunchly attacks other religions and other people's beliefs.  How is that even ok with her? Poor Katie.

I think the first breakthrough she had was wanting to send our little Suri to Catholic School.  TTL! (thank the Lord). I think a lot of us are totally looking forward to seeing Miss Suri in a little uniform.  And has anyone else read Suri's Burnbook? I died.  For hours. And her post yesterday (7/12) lauded school uniforms. Hey girl, we got your back!
Suri, Always better dressed than I am

But there are a few things we can learn from Katie Holmes: stick to your roots and follow your heart. Unless it's Tom Cruise. He's Crazy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Catholic Girl in a Public World: Part V

Dating non-Catholics seems to be a running joke in our twitterverse. However, for me it was a way for me to accept the world outside Catholicism. I will start with this- my boyfriend is Baptist.

I was very scared to date outside the faith at first, especially the kind of guys who sit there and ridicule the Church. I find those guys to be deal breakers. They don't even try to learn what goes on beyond their own understanding. I can't imagine getting married outside of the Church, and I have always wanted to raise my children Catholic.

Don't be afraid to date someone who isn't Catholic. If it is serious enough, you all will have the talk. Until then, just go with it. If thing are going down the marriage route, if he doesn't understand how much it means to you, maybe you should re assess where you two stand. I'm actually really bad at relationship advice, so please take this with a grain of salt.

Within the first few weeks of our relationship, Kev asked me if he has to convert if we got married. This is good in a few ways, 1) he already thought about getting married and 2) he was open to the thought of converting. We have gone back on forth several times, and he resolved that his being Catholic was that big of a deal to me and he just wanted to make me happy (read: I win).

As many of you may have seen earlier, I have recently stepped into hard times, and I am very thankful to have him in my life, Catholic or not.

Found a birthday card I got from him while I was moving. Never fails to make me smile:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Catholic Girl in a Public World: Part IV

It was hard to believe that a lot of my classmates in school were so close-minded.  Many of them did not know that there were other religions out there besides Catholicism.  I believe the most important thing about going off into public education for college is to be open-minded.

Part of my requirements for my graduate program was that I had to take an ethics class.  Culture. Shock.  While I was still in a rather conservative part of the state, there were always those rebels who hated their upbringing and wanted complete thoughts different from their parents.  Political views often alternate generations; children always want to differ from their parents. 

The only advice I can offer is to be open-minded when someone else's opinion differs from yours.  Listen to their opinion; give yours.  There is no reason, EVER, to tell someone their opinion is wrong.  Opinions are opinions.  Given the opportunity to defend your faith, do so justfully.  Remind them that you were raised Catholic, so you probably have a better understanding of what the Church teaches. 

Many of you may have seen the #SomethingIGetAlot tweets about stupid questions we get from non-Catholics.  BE PREPARED for them.  Not everyone understands Catholicism, be prepared to inform, not preach. 

The best way to sum it up is that you are entitled to your opinion, and they are entitled to theirs.  If you thing it is wrong for them to attack your beliefs, then it is probably wrong for you to attack theirs.  That only adds fuel to their fires, allowing them to think that Catholics are close-minded and backwards. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Catholic Girl in a Public World: Part III

Catholic girls know how to put the ass in Mass.  Now that you're in college, also in Class.

Another problem I had when first going off to college was making up my own schedule.  Without school-wide mandatory Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, it was really hard for me to balance my classes and my own religious commitments.  It took a lot of organizing, but boy did it pay off in the long run. 

Tip #1: Find your Catholic campus ministry for Chapel mass times, or the local parish and their times for Sunday Mass.  With google, this shouldn't be too hard.  Find out how to get there and how long it takes.  For my first college Mass, we all decided to walk, and someone said "it's really close to campus".  It wasn't.  It took about 30 minutes to walk, and we came in during the homily, drenched with sweat (Blacksburg summer...don't miss it)

Tip #2: Find friends to go with.  Luckily, over 40 students from my high school class ended up at the same college as me.  I had no trouble finding mass-mates.  If you are not as fortunate, go to CCM mass and join! There are plenty of social and service activities that CCM offers, so it wouldn't hurt to go and make new friends!
CCM at Virginia Tech
Tip #3: While this may not apply to your first semester, try to schedule your classes so that the time where your local parish offers Holy Days mass is open (usually around noon at most parishes).  If this is not possible, there is probably an evening mass, like at 5pm and make your schedule around whichever time is most comfortable for you (remember to include travel time!).  If this is absolutely not an option, just remember to e-mail your professors ahead of time and arrange for someone to take notes for you.  You never know when there is going to be a pop quiz or something that is going to be on the test! Be discrete about it and thank them beforehand.  Of course, follow university policies for excused absences if there is an assignment in class--they are usually pretty fair about religious obligations (legal matters, you know). 

Tip #4: College life can be pretty fast-paced if you allow yourself to get lost in it! Remember the 1-hour rule of eating before Mass--I know that Sunday brunch is incredibly tempting, but if you feel strongly about the rule, just ask your friends to join you a little earlier. 

Tip #5: Ash Wednesday.  Someone will always stare at you or tell you there's something on your face.  Either act natural and say that you know, or mess with them and scream and start swatting at your cheeks.  I get bored easily and messing with people is a fine hobby of mine. 

A lot of people get lost along the way when they are in college.  It's hard not to: wild parties, horrendous hangovers, and just more concerned with other things.  Just remember that if you stop going to Mass, you can always come back.  Your burning Catholic guilt will get you--major #catholicgirlproblem

Monday, July 9, 2012

Catholic Girl in a Public World: Part II

One of the biggest concerns I had when I went off to college was realizing what I was going to wear every day.  For 12 solid years, I had the privilege of being told what to wear.  When we had dress down days, it sure was amazing to have such a wide selection of clothing.

Fast forward to your first day of class: what to wear! What is too dressy for a college class? I swore never to wear sweat pants, so that is out of the picture.  Finally, you find the perfect outfit.  Your first day of class was fantastic!

Second day of class..oh man, what do I wear today that is of the same caliber as yesterday? Thank god for college classes, you only see the same people every OTHER day.

The third day rolls around though, and you are seeing the same people and your selection of clean clothing that is acceptable to society is dwindling. 

By Friday, I had very few clothes left.  I actually managed to round up a couple of girls who had also attended private schools and we had a small shopping trip to get clothes that would at least last us until the next week.  To avoid a mass expenditure on your dime, might I suggest shopping with mom a few weeks before school starts? These are the basics to pick up:

shopping list
Tops: Basic tees go a long way and they go with everything. Pretty and embellished tanks add a kick to blah outfits and look cute when you go to parties.  Blouses will come in handy once you start looking at interviews or if you just want to look more put together

Sweaters and Cardigans: These are a must-have for me.  Adding a cardigan basically gives you a whole new outfit! They are greater for layering in frigid classrooms or on windy days.  Try different cuts and patterns to mix it up every once and a while.

Coats: Coats are nothing to joke about.  Going to school in the mountains, I learned the hard way that it can get VERY cold.  A blazer for a more clean look, a rain coat for, well, the rain, and you wouldn't be a college girl without a North Face jacket!

Dresses: While Lilly and Vineyard Vines may be very cute for special occasions, they don't really translate well to everyday wear.  Think of something flowy and casual and easy to walk around in, but won't blow around in the wind.  Try some rather modest fits (for mass of course!) and a more professional looking one (never know when an interview for an internship is around the corner!).

Pants: Jeans are a no-brainer, just make sure you have enough, and in different styles.  Dress pants again are for mass or nicer events.  Khakis just to mix it up.

Skirts: We have been freed of the "fingertip rule"! But just because we can go as short as we want, doesn't mean that we can.  Problems: bending over, tripping and falling, windy days.  Again, modest and comfortable fits.  Thinner cotton for sweltering summer and something thick and wooly for the fall and winter, if you dare.

Shorts: Shorts have a very fine line between Cute and Trailer Trash.  If I can see your pockets coming out of the bottom, it is TRASHY.  I have loved tailored shorts since they came back a few years ago.  Just make sure there is no cheek hanging out.

When you get on to campus, it is all on you, sister! Check the forecast before you get ready. Using your basic pieces, put together simple outfits (duh!).  Accessories will come later, with the making of new friends and TONS more shopping trips and the ever-so-evil online shopping!

Dressing for college

Beware of a nickel allergy! This is just a personal horror story of mine, but I had no idea I was allergic to nickel until I got to college.  This is how it panned out.  Wearing a uniform for 13 years, I very rarely wore jeans.  Coming to college, I wore jeans almost every day! The button of most pairs of jeans are made of nickel, and they rubbed against my skin.  Eventually I developed this embarrassing rash right where it was in contact with my skin.  It took going to the dermatologist to tell me what was going on!  So girls, if you are having ANY type of skin condition, I highly suggest you paint some clear nail polish onto the inside of the button where it touches your skin, and get some moisturizing lotion like Cerave (around $14 at most drug stores).  If it is REALLY bad, please go to student health or your dermatologist.  I eventually grew out of it, but man that was a rough start to college. 

Here are some tips for dressing yourself for college:
  1. Always check the weather and dress in layers.  The weather can change and the temperature in the classroom may be freezing or way too hot
  2. Wear comfortable shoes.  Walking to class takes a while to get used to and comfy shoes will help!
  3. Plan your outfits for the week if you have to.  Take a look at your class and social schedule at the beginning of the week to see what you have to dress for (save that cute new skirt when you get to see the hot guy in your English class).  
  4. When spring rolls around, don't kid yourself.  You gained weight, no matter how much you want to deny it.  Please please please try on clothes before you go out. Nothing is more repulsive than muffin top and an unintentional mid drift. 
  5. You can NEVER EVER go wrong with wearing YOUR college's gear.  T-shirts, Sweatshirts, even collegiate apparel shorts are all fair game!

Now if you are REALLY that attached to your school uniform, why not bring it along? Halloween is just around the corner, and you never know when there is going to be a School Girl Party!
Having to pick out your own clothes...that is a definite #catholicgirlproblem

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Catholic Girl in a Public World Part I

First, I'd like to apologize for my long hiatus from the blogosphere.  I had many unfortunate events that wore me down and left me no time for blogging.  I don't know how often I'll be blogging this time around.  I am not blessed with a summer vacation (holy grown up, batman!) and my daily schedule is pretty bleak.  I'll try a whole lot better than last time though!

Second, I'd like to congratulate all the Catholic girls of the Class of 2012! I was in your shoes some undisclosed time ago (I feel really old, believe me).  I was leaving my nicely sheltered world of Catholic education and going off into (GASP!) public education.  I left my incredibly small bubble of the Northern Virginia-DC-Southern Maryland Catholics and went slightly South to the Baptist-loving country of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies).  Uniformed life was no more--and I had to wear something different.  EVERY DAY! Mom and dad were no longer there to wake me up for Mass every morning.  And a lot of people... A LOT of people, did not get my Catholic jokes.  The world outside of Catholicism can be very cruel--and very unamused. 

I had my own High School Graduation at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.  It is by far the nicest place I've had for ANY of my graduations.

This week, time permitting, I would like to introduce a series of tips for our young, blossoming Catholic Girls as they prepare to go off to college.  I will try to include: Clothes (no uniforms is VERY stressful), going to Mass (holy days of obligation and classes!), Socializing (beware of atheists out to dispute you!), and whatever else you all want to hear.  I would really appreciate your input, so please comment on posts or tweet at me!

Going to college after 13 years of Catholic school...a VERY BIG #catholicgirlproblem

Monday, April 16, 2012

Forever in our Hearts, Always on our Minds, neVer forgeT

It is with a heavy heart that I write today's post.  5 years ago, we were struck with an unimaginable tragedy. I send not a message of sorrow, but a message of hope.  It was a day where I was forced to grow up, much sooner than expected.  My 19 year-old self, along with many others, was given an incalculable task of bearing the burden of pain and loss.  Now at 24, it's still amazing to see where I am now, having seen where I have been, and how we have all grown and developed.

We all woke up on the morning of Monday April 16, 2007 doing our normal thing--I was doing laundry and checking my email, and catching up on my classes.  Mondays were a personal day for me, as I did not have any classes.  I read facebook statuses (which was a new feature way back when and I'm pretty sure twitter didn't exist) about how cold it was--snow and heavy winds in April? That's just Blacksburg.

Scrolling through my e-mail, I read one about a shooting incident in a dorm not far from mine.  I said a prayer, hoping those involved were ok.  I had to make a call to a doctor's office for an appointment and I was wondering why I had been put on hold for so long.  I checked my e-mail again while I was on hold, and read of another shooting incident across campus.  That was when I started to worry.  I called my mom to let her know I was ok, a long time before the lines got tied up.  I turned on my TV to see if there were any more news on the situation.  Nearby construction made me jump--what does a gun going off even sound like? My roommate came back from class early saying that everyone was told to go back to their dorms.  The SWAT team ran up and down our hallway, banging on our doors, making sure we were safe, as there had been reports of gunshots in my dorm.  Still, I was stone cold, with no emotion, not able to grasp what was going on.

I called in my hall mates to watch TV together.  If I were going to break down, I was not going to do it alone.  Local news soon turned to Special Reports on national news, and there I saw my beloved campus swarming with ambulances and police cars.  What could have happened that was so bad? Did we really need 50 ambulances all over campus? Then they said that there were 10 casualties. Casualties? Don't they mean people injured? The newscasters didn't believe it either and quickly corrected it to 10 people injured.  It climbed to 19...25...30...32. We soon learned that they did mean casualties...we lost 32 people, classmates, teachers, friends.  Many more were injured, having to live with the memory of that day with the scars left on their bodies.

My phone didn't ring all day.  No one could get a call through.  I e-mailed my sister to let her know everything was alright.  I had messages from people in high school and grade school asking me if my friends and I were safe--we were.  Everyone had the sound of panic in urgency in their voices.  I didn't get it--I guess it's easier to take a hold of the situation when you're not sitting in the middle of it, far away, and safe.  I then had the messages from people asking me if I had heard from certain people, as they had not been able to contact them.  Real lives have been lost and slowly those who knew and loved them started reeling in agony and loss.

Our school, place of learning, our home was struck with grief.  How could you ask some kids, who have left home only a few months ago, to deal with this kind of pain? How could we comprehend something that occurs in a place that we go to every day? We just wanted to go to school. 

It was hard to imagine how the day unfolded and how I woke up thinking it was just another ordinary day.  For students, alumni, friends, and family, it was a day that changed our lives.  I learned that minute details of every day life would be tied together.  Because of the cold and heavy winds, helicopters were not able to transport victims to nearby hospitals--could their lives have been spared if it were a normal April morning?  I was on hold with the doctor's office so long because all medical resources were called in to help and treat victims.

I went out to dinner at the dining hall that evening with some friends--sadness and silence filled the room.  What would we really say on a night like that? Were we even allowed to be happy in the slightest? I went to bed that night...but could not fall asleep.  I had no idea what today had meant.  How am I to go on living the rest of my life with this horrific event being apart of who I am?  For what seemed like an eternity, I laid in bed in silence, in shock, in a mess of confusion. 

I turned on the TV the next morning--or actually when an adequate number of hours have passed.  I tuned into the Today show (still a favorite morning ritual).  There they were, Matt Lauer was standing in front of my Chemistry building.  I changed the channel...I see our iconic Hokie Stone in the background again.  Every major news source was on our campus.  Had this really been THAT big of a deal? Who would ever want to spend time in Blacksburg, when they are from New York City? 

What started as an incredibly cruel reminder of our pain became a blessing to show what an amazing community Virginia Tech truly is.  As a nation, we were all moved by Nikki Giovanni's poem at the convocation the following day.  That evening, we were moved so much as to gather at a candlelight vigil, iconic of the Virginia Tech community.  We did not wear black in sorrow, but rather we proudly wore our school colors.  We no longer sat in silence and cried, but cheered each other on.  We stood proudly, side by side, and let the rest of the country know that we cannot fall easily, will not allow a tragedy to define us, and that we will not let those 32 lives be lost in vain.

What we received in return, from countless universities around the country, and around the world, was an incredible outpouring of love and support.  Words of encouragement sustained us minute by minute.  Everyone around the country, from our biggest rivals to elementary schools wore our colors with us, standing by us.  I was at an airport a few days after, where a stranger saw my VT hoodie and hugged me, said, "Go Hokies!" and went on to catch his flight.  It was moving to see people we have never met before support us so strongly.  Please know that your efforts and gestures did not go unnoticed.  Myself and others on campus took the time to look at everything that was sent to our school--proudly displayed in our student center.  It was with your love and support that held us up that we were able to stand strongly.  It was the random acts of kindness in the aftermath that gives me lasting faith and hope in humanity.

It's been 5 years since that day which has been painfully engrained in my memory.  In 2012, Monday April 16 is bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm.  I'm rushing around my apartment studying for an exam, with laundry that hasn't been done for several weeks.  I'm on a different campus, walking past sounds of heavy construction without flinching.  No doctor calls are to be made, perfect cell phone reception. 

Do I lay in bed at night thinking about that day? Of course I do, it is part of who I am.  Have I had outbursts where I cannot contain my feelings? Yes, embarrassingly enough, that happened during one of my grad school interviews and I am convinced that he looked at my alma mater and provoked me! Have I let it impair me in what I want to do and where I want to go? Absolutely not. Not one person who lost their lives would want that day to be a handicap.  If anything, I have learned to accept challenges in life and to overcome any fear I have.  I learned not to underestimate myself and my abilities--right now I am scrambling for rotations and applying for residencies.

Though this may sound like melodramatic ramblings of someone stuck in the past, I am a firm believer that, in order to know where you are going, you must know where you've been.  Our university has had a tremendous number of achievements since then--a surge in applications and admissions, success with our athletic teams, alma mater to US Olympians, Masters' golfers, decorated researches and military heroes.  So today, I proudly wear my Orange and Maroon, a better person than I was then, and forever living and loving for 32.