Friday, December 29, 2006

I've been in Germany staying at Enkida's house with her husband and Chimera for about a week now. They live in Oerlingshause, which is a little town near Bielefeld. Other than that, I have no clue where I am. (I think somewhere south-southwest of Hanover...) I'm hanging out here until 12\31 and then I'm heading back to the States. I should be back in time to ring in the New Year - though I'll be pretty tired after the flying. Remind me to tell you about my first experience with France when I get the chance. For now, let's just say I'm happy that my return to the U.S. will take me through Amsterdam instead of Paris.

At this moment, I've begun drinking for the evening and can't wait till Enkida finishes cooking up the venison. I wish I had pictures to send you, but I'll have to get a little help first before I can upload them. I can't seem to find the right USB cable anywhere!

Happy Birthday!

Just in case you were counting, my bulldog is 6 zears old today. Just thought I'd let everyone know.

Happy Birthday Roscoe!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

No - that's a lie. I know exactly how I feel about this. What is "this?" "This" is the fact that both of the women I work with are moms of teenagers I am supposed to be ministering to. I know exactly how I feel about this: I don't like it one bit.
  1. They are less interested in the program as a whole and more interested in what I can do for their kids.
  2. They keep telling me stuff like, "We know these kids." And "once you get to know them, you'll understand where we're coming from." Frankly, they only know their kids, and maybe their kids' friends.
  3. Heaven forbid that I inadvertently deride some parenting practice in which they are firm believers. It is always followed by the line: "When you're a parent, you'll understand."
  4. As insiders, that is, long-time residents (both of them were in the community loooong befor they were staff here) they are steeped in the same sense of entitlement that characterizes this rich, white, Connecticut community. In other words, they want it their way, and they expect to get it their way.

I kinda liked it better in my previous situation. All of us on staff were basically transplants from other places. Or we commuted from other communities. Other than me, the people on staff brought experience from work in many different communities under many different circumstances. There was a healthy objectivity that resulted and we attempted to do what was right for the community without taking it too personally. The staff could take the long view, while volunteers and council members could deal with the day-to-day angst. In other words, Alan could tell me that I should be working with the 6th graders hardest, because they'd be 11th graders in 5 years and no one on staff would then say, "Well, what about my daughter now?" [I should probably point out that I never took Alan's advice about anything and it probably cost me my job.]

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wish I could do my job with people somewhat less encumbered with all the baggage associated with living for decades in this community. Someday I hope I can work again with people who bring a wealth of variety and experience to the table. The cool thing is, these ladies I am working with are really just beginning their careers in the field. With any luck, given 25 years or so, they'll be as excellent as some I've worked with before.

In the meantime, I'm 29 years old, and I have more experience in the field than both of them put together. Oh well. They're smart people. They'll come around soon enough.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I shouldn't be surprised

I guess when you don't post for months and months at a time, people stop reading. Heh. That'll learn me.

Sometimes I wish I wasn't so darn good!

I mean really! I have to pull back a little or I'll end up doing here what happened back in Virginia. Namely - "We don't have to worry about anything, 'cause Zuke is so darn good!" Let's look at the facts:
  • Going in to last nights event, everyone here on staff was freaking out about it, myself included. And frankly, if I was not on staff here there would have been moments last night that would have been painful and awkward. I am an EmCee by nature. Put me in front of a large group of people (it does not matter how old they are) and I'll charm the socks off them and give them an enjoyable experience.
  • I had previously predicted a number of the challenges that arose last night. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that 30 minutes is not enough time for dinner (fer crying out loud!).
  • Please take note: I have been in this position for a month and a half and feel like I have my stuff together better than people who have been here for years.

GAH! If I'm not careful, I'll end up being "indispensible" to the success of anything we do here. I don't want that (though it offers substantial job security). I don't want to have to be physically present at every event - I'll end up working 60 hours a week if I do. That might be fine for people who have a problem setting boundaries and letting go. That might be fine for people who come to work to escape their home life. But neither of those statements describe me. I love my job, but I love my life away from my job too. Frankly, no one at work is half as important to me as my darlin'. Heck - I almost rate my dog above my job (almost, but not quite).

Anyway - I think I need to bring other people into active roles at our events. I'll start tonight. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Summer Movie Reviews - the Short Version

The DaVinci Code: Not bad - I enjoyed it and found it entertaining. Don't get started on me with the whole Mary Magdalene thing either! Dan Brown is no historian, and the ones who thought up that little "Jesus & Mary were married and had kids" theory are not historians either no matter what they call themselves. On the other hand... the movie had some pretty good theology in it in a couple places.

X:3 - The Final (or was it Last) Stand: Not bad - it was more reminiscent of the first one than the second. It threw things like character development out the window and went full throttle with the action. At least Wolvie kicked a lot of butt in this one. It always bugged me how Mystique and Fingernails Girl in the first two movies were able to go toe-to-toe with the Clawed One. These are two characters upon which Logan routinely opens up a can in the comics. I don't mind that the Juggernaut kicked Wolvie's butt in X:3. That makes sence. They did a great job on Pheonix, though. It's a pretty good flick, but ranks third in the series with X:2 being the best by far.

Superman Returns: thie was the highpoint of the movie season for me. I loved this film front to back and bottom to top. I am a die-hard Superman fan and love the way this movie was basically an homage to the origninal 1977 classic. I could go on and on, but I won't. Except to say that I still get chills remembering certain moments in this movie and I felt like I was a little kid all over again. I can't wait for the DVD (which I will purchase along with the Donner cut of Superman II - coming out this November I believe).

Lady in the Water: I liked this movie. I can't really describe it, but I love the way ol' M. Night can work a fairy tale fantasy story right into the midst of the strangeness of today's world. The characters were the best part. My personal favorite was the film critic who thinks he knows so much about film conventions - conventions which the director thrills to break at every turn.

The Descent: This movie was more than a little bit disturbing. It is a horror film that pulls no punches. Basically, six women go spelunking and end up fighting for their lives against some sort of mutated humanoid lifeform that likes to eat - well - anything and anyone. I don't want to poke holes in the plot - which is not hard - and I found the experience of the movie satisfying on the whole. In the end, the "descent" we are talking about is not dropping oneself down into a hole, but the descent into madness which could await anyone if they are confronted with the wrong thing at the wrong time.

The Illusionist: This was another fun one. Go see it. I liked it. Did I mention it was fun? Ed Norton was great. So was... whatshisface - he always plays medieval type bad guys - whatever. It had a good story and good characters, a great plot and old timey magic tricks. Good stuff.

Hollywoodland: Ben Afleck playing George Reeves playing Superman in the 1950's series The Adventures of Superman. For those of you who don't know the history, I'll ellaborate. George Reeves probably could have been a true Hollywood movie star, but the first role of any note he picked up was that of Superman/Clark Kent in the series. Apparently, something like 91% of American families watched the show every week. And George was amazing. He was real and likable, dashing and noble. A real hero. But George never got another job after that. He couldn't shake the cape off his back. He eventually committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. This film tries to tackle the mystery. Adrien Brody plays a PI hired to investigate, but he's all PI cliches. Diane Lane plays the wife of a studio executive who has an affiar with Reeves, but she's all cliches too! Afleck plays Reeves. And at first you think he's all cliches too. But he's not. His portrayal is dead on. Ben Afleck is not my favorite actor. But I think he did a good job. In this case (and in this case only) I will allow him to wear the red and blue. But don't get any ideas, Ben. You are no Brandon Routh.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's too early to be disillusioned

I began my new job here in Connecticut with high hopes and a lot of excitement. This place is doing something new and exciting in my field and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
This place is not all that much different after all...
Yeah, the programs we're working on are innovative and cutting edge, but the mentality of some of the people running things is still the same.
I guess all church work is basically the same. The pastor feels like he has to do everything or it doesn't get done right. The Coordinator of Faith Formation is really the same as a DRE who also thinks she has to do everything or it won't get done right. The Assistant Coordinator of Faith Formation (me) is really just a "youth minister" who is expected to do everything himself so it gets done right.
I don't work that way. I never have. Ask Joe, Pat, Alan, Julia, and Marilyn. They know. I generally only do those aspects of church work that genuinely interest me and try to get other people to do the rest. I'm not all that interested in "doing" youth ministry. I like kids - I like hanging out with them on occasion. But, if I do it all, then what happens to those kids when I move away, or get an infection? Nothing. This place has almost no youth ministry to speak of right now and I think its because it was focussed on a "youth minister" doing all the "youth ministry." Feh. BAH! HRMPF!
Oh - here's another thing. Right now, this church is offering four Faith Formation "sessions" every month. They are all full. There are still people that want to enroll. Why are we not doing another session to accomodate them? There are two reasons I have been given. 1. It would mean that the pastor, the Faith Formation lady, and I would all have to be there for another night and no one wants that. The main problem being that the pastor (who is not a young man) can't physically handle it.
There is a problem here (and I think you know where I am going with this) - why does the pastor feel like he has to do everything? Why is it that I get brushed aside when I make the suggestion that the pastor shouldn't be doing everything. Why is it that when I mention we might consider mentoring people along the way who can fill some of our shoes so we don't have to be there every night I get ignored! Phooey!
I don't know what model of Church these people are working out of, but I know which model of church they talk about: they talk about collaboration. They talk about whole community involvment. They talk about doing something different and new. But as far as I can tell, they are hindered by old patterns of thought and activity from which they simply refuse to fre themselves. And I am stuck in their world too.
So. I've decided to ignore them. For the most part, I can get away with it. I am going to build this program so well that it runs like a well-oiled machine whether or not I am at the helm. I can't force anyone to see the big picture when they all seem so focussed on what's right in front of them. I can just do my best to show them a different possibility. A new way of doing things that will build a better community, parish, and world by extension. Disillusioned? With the job maybe. But not with the work.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Continuing on as though I had never stopped...

One might think that it would be easy for a dashing, charming, "good Catholic boy" to get a gig in New England. One might be wrong. I am woefully unprepared for how difficult it can be for a man with no network to get five minutes of time with local directors of liturgy and music to hit them up for the occasional cantoring gig. I should have known better than to try on a Monday. Everyone knows that church musicians are all sleeping off the weekend every Monday. Some of these gals and guys play three or four services every Sunday! Of course they deserve Monday off. Except when I need to hit them up for jobs!!! I'll try again some more tomorrow. In the meantime... I'ma walk the streets of New Haven looking for work.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yes. I am competent

For those of you who do not know, I passed my German exam! I did this by translating about three sentences from a journal. Three sentences which took me an hour. Apparently, that qualifies me as “competent,” and I believe I am. Give me a German-English dictionary and as much time as I need and I can translate anything you want. In the interest of intellectual improvement, however, I still intend to buy a book and actually learn how to read German as best I can. One sentence every 20 minutes might qualify me as “competent,” but it certainly does not mean I can read the language in any meaningful way. At that rate, I could never use a book published in German as a footnote or in a bibliography. And that’s the point. Currently I am limited in my studies to those relatively few authors who write or have been translated into English. Most of the best work in my field over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries has been done in Germany and France. So, I hope to move from competent to proficient in German. Once I do that, I’ll do it again in French.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Quick Update - in bullet point form of course...

  • I am alive.
  • The groundwork has been laid, and things seem to be coming together nicely.
  • My reading list for my general comprehensive exam is outrageous!
  • Someone took my choir book after Mass this past Sunday (it's probably in a bin with the rest of the "Assembly" hymnals).
  • Rashid at the "Hang Time Barber Shop" is possibly the best barber I've ever had. He uses "a variety of different techniques" to give me a haircut that is even all over!
  • I have to do laundry today and I'm all out of quarters!
  • Next week the Apostolic Inquis - er ah... Visitation begins. Got anything you want the Bishops to know? I'll tell em at lunch for ya. Waitasec - I'm not on the "ordaination" track. They won't talk to me...
  • Taxes... yay.
  • How's this sound for a Thesis topic: "The Ecclesiology of the Church as Sacrament in the thought of [insert name of prominent 20th century theologian here]."
  • I'm getting my groove on the Alanis' version of "Crazy" (originally by Seal) and "Tribute" by Tenacious D.