Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not what it should be.

This post should be about the beauty of the first day of Lent. It should be about how my day began in the glory of a Mass so wonderful I felt home in veins for the first time in a over a year. Rather, it will be about the horror, gore, and frailty of the human life.

I wore my stepdads slippers outside tonight. I needed to feel some sort of male stability. Because today we decided that it is time for my Uncle Ian to die.

The decision is made. Tomorrow we say goodbye. I've shed my tears, and more are coming even now as I type. I feel melodramatic, like crying now is not what I should be doing, because a strong, providing, caring, woman, does not cry at times like these.

A month ago I was ready to let him die. But I looked death in the eye and said, "NO! we are ready for this fight, come what may!" We were not ready.

I feel that my whole body h as become one big heart. I cannot feel my hands, my feet, or any other limb of action. I feel only my heart. Every part of me longs for love. Every part of me is consumed by my fears, my hopes, my dreams... and most of all, my sorrows.

At his death I will write his great Eulogy. Until then, I will breathe smoke and cry pain. I know his death is looming. He does not. Life is fragile. This is not what is should be.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lenten Eve (AKA Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday)

It's it almost here. ALMOST HERE! Tomorrow it begins. i. am. so. excited.

I'm not sure I am explaining this quite correctly, because hyper-pre-Disneyland excitement is NOT what I am trying to relay. But there is a settled feeling of coming home after a trip too long. When the plane is landing you know that in just a few minutes you will be back in the place most right for your soul. So maybe not like coming home, but you get the point.

I feel fluttering in my veins, almost like will see a good friend, or a super crush after months of separation.

Tomorrow, after too long a wait, lent will begin. I will wake early, and go straight to mass. With Ash on my forehead and Jesus in my belly I will go to work. Hopefully the day will end so rightly, with a wonderful episode of LOST, after a productive presentation full of several sales. I feel a restful time coming on, a time for giving up on my worries and focusing on my heart's desire for Jesus and me. Tea and Sympathy. Sunshine and Cedar.

Today I had my final Lunch out with ladies at work. I am giving up eating out for Lent. I have bought my groceries, I am prepared. I am so ready that it almost hurts. In addition to giving up eating out, I will take 30 minutes of my normal lunch hour to pray the rosary, something I've never given much thought to before. Admittedly I do not have certain parts of it memorized, as I should. But I figure after 40 days of it, I probably will. Not everyday will be dedicated to the rosary. Some days will be Hebrew instead, Vocabulary and Translation.

Lent is always a time of cleanliness, so I plan to take this Saturday (after I get off work) to organize, rearrange, and beautiful my living space... The space in which I will live this restfulness. The space in which my heart will wait for Christ. mmm... may I just say now it's time to take a break from my ever present Christmas miracles... Lenten Miracles here we come.

Monday, February 23, 2009

No Virgin, No Virgil

There is this horrifying something I have realized over the last few days: I am not willing to marry without exactly everything I want (love). I have always thought that I could and even would marry without love, that I would give up everything about myself (my hopes, dreams, desires) to marry. However, I am just not that girl. Could I be that girl? I could have, but times, they change.

There is a man in my world who is good to me. He would forever do right by me. He will forever do right by my family. He is loyal to a fault. No man has ever been as dedicated to my family as he is, without actually being family. I should marry him. I should take him home and take care of him, the way he has taken care of us, of me. I should give up my life for him, because then we would owe him nothing. But I won’t.

I really thought I would do this. Find that man who would be there for my family and marry him no matter how much I didn’t want him. For that reason, I sometimes think that this man is for me. For that reason, I sometimes think I want to be with him forever. For that reason, I sometimes think that do love him. But sometimes is most certainly not always. And sometimes just isn’t going to cut it.

“Meh” is all I can say about the men I’ve met. Meh. I’m not impressed. I’m not excited. I’m not willing to expend energy. Meh. I heard once that “Love is just love”. Is that really true? Am I expecting too much of men? Am I expecting something that just isn’t? Really people, I know I am picky, but I am just not that impressed. I want to shake most men I’ve met and say “Really? Is that the best you can do?”

And so, I’ve also discovered that I believe I would be more “lovable” if I were not so picky. And so, I am happy to be picky. And so, I am delighted to be single. And so, I am glad that I am the only person letting me down. And so, I am thrilled to say, that I went grocery shopping, will clean, and take care of this little me. And so, I should know that I am capable of taking care of this little me, all by myself. Thank you very much.

But sometimes (I admit in my small voice) even though I know I am capable, I just don’t want to anymore.

I think this could be (tell me if I am wrong) because after taking care of all of the others, there just isn’t energy (or time?) to care for this little me. And this, my friends, makes me very very angry. I want to know something. I want to know: Could I be extremely happy taking care of this little me if I was not taking care of everyone else? Then comes the question: Do I have the wherewithal to be selfish (I know that not all of you will think that this is selfish, but don't touch that part... it's the way I see it and I think I have to experience it before I can see it differently...) for just two weeks, just two, to test out this theory? To only take care of me for two weeks? Opinions? Can I do this and not offend?

Thoughts please.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Academy

I watched the Oscars tonight. And I have a few things to say so I've written an outline to help you follow my very wandering train of thought.
  • Uncle Tim, who is on the academy.
  • My tears, regarding Heath, Mickey, Queen, Hugh, and all other fabulousness.
  • My sister.
  • My head.
  • The end and how I missed it.
  • The fresh and very raw pain, and Andrew.
So first. Uncle Tim. My uncle, Tim O'Connor, who played "Doc" on Buck Rodgers and the 21st Century, is a part of the Academy. He votes. I always wonder for whom he votes, but I never ask. He is wonderful, and I was thinking, during the Oscars, how lovely it would be to vacation at his home all alone for once and sequester myself in his "movie room" and just watch all of the Oscar magic from years gone by (they have all those nominated films). It would be fabulous to get away so beautifully, and realistically, from my real life.

I wept. WEPT at the very moment Heath won his Oscar. WEPT. Mickey should have won. Mickey who, more than anyone has ever, made me realize what a glutton I am for pain in relationships. I wanted to save him so badly, and for that reason alone he was sexy. As soon as I realized the reason, his sexiness was lost on me, and suddenly I was hit with immensity of the face that I am drawn to those who need me, and that above all, that very amazing love I am looking for will come not from the man who needs me to live, but the man who doesn't, but chooses me anyway. Ha! if he exists. If not, I am and always will be the most comfortable and happy of singleness I've seen and experienced.

I love watching the Oscars with my sister.

My head ached all the way through the Oscars. I was at my mothers for the show, but didn't go anywhere else today, for the pain that trapped me. Yesterday a very large piece of drywall hit me on the head and I passed out. Today I am dealing with the pain of that reality in a way I didn't expect. It hurts and I am worried that something may really be wrong. If there is one pain in this world I don't deal well with it is pain in my head, because I can't explain it.

I was watching the Oscars a few minutes behind the actual recording. The recording died at the very spot that Sophia Loren is about to introduce Meryl Streep. I don't know how the show ended. I could kill something.

Everywhere at the Oscars there seemed to be this very real pain. Pain of loss over Heath, the pain of reality in Mickey. the gorgeous pain that is Adrienne Brody. All of this brought to me the beauty that was Andrew for me. And how he is not, was not, the beauty for me. Don't get me wrong, Andrew is by far one of the most beautiful men I have ever met. Regardless, he is not the man for me. I say this a year after his marriage to another woman, but it is of utmost importance that we all know that I am ecstatic that I am not that woman, and that there is indeed a woman in his arms tonight. I am happy to realize that when I give up my beautiful life, it will be only for a life so beautiful, I could not create it on my own. I will give up my dreams only for the greatest reality. Even if that greatest reality never materializes.

My next post will be titled "No virgin, No Virgil." Yes I already have it planned.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My first Etsy purchase. Little rays of sunshine.

By: The Noisy Plume


Emergency rooms are not friendly.
not like the daffodils selling at the grocery store
They are terrifying
even when I know this isn't the end
This time, though, I'm not sure it's not the end.
this time it very well may be.

My heart is exhausted, horrified. It physically hurts.

Death, the philosophical idea, can be beautiful.
Death, the physical reality, is just grotesque.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Frustration with Death

Dear Death,

You must cease to play games with my heart. I am really not sure how much longer I can bear this back and forth. First one I love is about to embrace you, and then before I know it, you are playing the same game with the life of someone else. STOP! You are making feel as if I am here in this city only to watch you create folly in my bones and weakness in the pit of my stomach.

I am tired of you Death. I am tired of the way you have come too often while I have been home. I am tired of waiting for you to come for the ones I know shouldn't be here any longer.

It is nice, I will admit, to not fear you so. I have watched you hold the hands of ones I love, and I am comfortable with you, though you bring that fresh pain every time I see your hands reach out and touch ones I love. Personally, I have not seen your face, but I don't suspect that I will for many a year. My life is still too firmly in this world for me to know the expressions that play across your brow and lips.

I will ask this, Please Death, do not make their passing long and rough. Be a gentle sly fox, who sneaks in at night and steals away in love and charity. Do not startle us with blood and fear the way the angry terrors of dawn have done. Creep slowly, assuredly, after we have held and cried with those we carry so close, linger only faintly and then take them away to wherever you go.

But please, after all of this, please stop this game you play with my heart. I am willing to love you. I am willing to let you in. But you must stop taking advantage of my willingness. You must guard my heart. You must be a gentleman... or I will wage a war on you so fierce you won't know what hit you. If you force me to fight, as you are now, I will fight fight fight, the dying of the night. I do not fear you, and you are not unwelcome. But come rightly death, and not with games and tricks. Come with Dances, Death, for then I will know you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lex Vivendi

I dreamt last night that I spoke with Life. He (yes, Life was male, which seems somehow nontraditional to me...) told me I was not for Life, but for Peace. I asked him if this meant I would die for Peace. He told me there would be no other way to die. I asked him if I could live for Peace. He said a life would be lived, yes.

The vagueness of this dream startled me. It also startled me that Life took the form of a good friend, Ryan. I think this may have been for two reasons. 1) I saw Ryan yesterday, 2) Because if there is one thing in the world that Ryan seeks to give it is unending life to all who seek it (not salvifically, but physically).

This dream was similar to one I had before I went to Simpson in which I dreamt that I was in class there, being challenged by a tall dark haired professor. He was asking any of us to challenge his thesis on women in the church, in which he argued that women should not speak or pray in front of men. We were all certain that he didn't believe his own thesis, but we knew he wanted us to prove his seeming infallible theology wrong. After the many failed attempts of my classmates, I raised my hand. I quoted Job to him, "Do you have an arm like God's? Can your voice thunder like His?" Another professor, small and white haired, had entered the room as I said this. The tall professor asked, "Are you prophecy?" I replied, "I am discernment, but I will prophecy." The small professor rejoiced, "Praise God, the spirit of Jessica Koltun has returned."
For clarification, Jessica Koltun is my sister-in-law (

To this day I do not know clearly the significance of that dream, though I remember it well, and it was the event that propelled me to Simpson, rather than back to Multnomah. I have a feeling I will never know what is that I am "for peace" and not "for life" either. After all, it was just a dream.

Regardless, this got me to thinking. The axiom I have branded into my arm, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi has been added to in recent years. Lex Vivendi now follows, making the phrase say something like "As we pray is as we believe is as we live". This seems obvious: What we pray is what we believe and both of these are how we live. We all know that this should be true. We all know that for most of us it is not. What I know, is that for me it is so true, in such an odd way, that I get myself in trouble all too often. Doubt pervades me, but this I find is what brings me true faith. I doubt often the power of prayer, the purpose, the reason, the necessity... and as such, I do not believe in the necessity of certain outward actions for faith (for religion most certainly, but for faith, no). However, if we add the idea of Life to this dialogue about prayer and belief, suddenly the outward becomes necessary, and religion steps in to dance with faith. This is where I fall in love again with it all, for obedience begins again to woo me. Faith in Christ, apart from all of the extra and superfluous issues, is where I sit and drink tea my Lord. The extra and superfluous is where I join the community of the Church (broad, beautiful, varying, divided, and broken Church(es)). I will practice your theology with you, smiling and loving how you strive to see God, because in your searching I see God. In you I find Peace... and therefore Life.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Portugi in me part 2

There is more to this Portugi thing than just religion (just religion, as if it isn’t about the only thing I talk about it…) This Portugi in me has some strange ideas about the way the world is and should be; ideas that don’t fit with this world and therefore remove me from it.

This morning I watched Spanglish. Yes, again. My morning movie watching ritual has become a bit redundant as of late, mainly because I have not spent time or money investing in finding something new to watch (a problem I plan to fix by subscribing to netflix).

So this is the quote that got me thinking, "American women, I believe, actually the feel the same as Hispanic women about weight: a desire for the comfort of fullness. And when that desire is suppressed for style and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous: such as wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood; all that is best in life. "

The most odd thing for me is that while I find this quote to be true in the general sense, it is not true as my life. Weight is of utmost concern to my entirely Portuguese Grandfather. He wants us all to be trim, attractive, and fiercely beautiful. He claims that he is concerned for our health, and while I believe that he believes this, I also know that he is at least a little concerned that we won’t be beautiful enough to look at. Although he finds curves to be necessary for childbirth, he wants “thin curves”. I will admit that he has valid reason for the health concerns. PCOD is eating all of us alive. And every one of us has had an eating disorder, or at least an unhealthy weight problem.

Weight on my mother’s side is not a main concern. These women are more concerned with control and strength. The men could care less as long as the women are sassy, sarcastic, and tough. These men never like their women too thin. However, their lack of concern about weight means that eating disorders have never been a problem on this side of the family. These hardworking women are either naturally thin from physical labor, or willing to put in the hard work to lose what they don’t want/what the doctors tell them to lose. Or they will just put up with the weight because life is more important.

Where do I fall on the issue? Well I have PCOD. It is eating me alive. Or rather eating my unborn children… I didn’t eat in 8th or 9th grade, until my mother stepped in and made me. However, I am willing to work hard. I love physical labor. I am all about strength and control. I am unnaturally unconcerned about my size, because my brothers made very sure that I knew at a very young age just exactly how gorgeous I am. However, I do worry that when I walk into my grandfather’s house, the only reason I am his favorite is because obedience is my forte. I want him to know that I am beautiful. I want him to recognize that I have got this disease well on the way to under control. I want him to say to me, “You are looking thinner.” Because I am… but I still need his recognition. Just like every other woman in our family. I am, I think, a Portugi through and through. I want to be like my mother’s family. I want to be like those women… but I am not so much.
I am proud of my Portuguese culture. I cling to it. I define myself by it. But today, I am thinking maybe it’s okay to be a Scot-Irish/Norwegian Portugi instead.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Portugi in me

If I ever write a book, this will be it's title.

Speaking with my mother (my boldly Norwegian/Scot-Irish mother) last week, I admitted that if I ever discovered that she had lied to me, that I was not my father's daughter, not in fact Portuguese, I would be strangely stripped of everything I had ever allowed myself to be.

A few years ago, for a Cross Cultural Comm. course at Simpson, I wrote a paper on Iberian Catholicism as different from Scottish Presbyterianism. Basically I wrote a paper on the differences between my father and my mother, respectively.

Today I am worried that the only reason I want to bring peace between the Protestant and Catholic churches, the only reason I wish to teach Protestants that Catholics are not idol-worshippers, and Catholics that Protestants are capable of intellectual faith, is that I want to bring peace to my own soul. Born in me is this fight, this separation, this unnatural state of religion.

I dreamt once that by bringing peace this way, I was bringing a great offering to God, and that for it He would grant me absolution for being born as something unnatural. I wish I had someone to model this journey after... someone who committed to two churches, two lives, two backgrounds, and yet one Faith... so that I would have an example of how to bring people together, to love, and even just to answer the question, "How can you be a Catholic Protestant? or a Protestant Catholic?"... I'm tired of saying, "I'm sorry, I don't know yet. I just know that this is what Jesus has asked of me."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Waiting for Lent

I am an impatient person.

I listen to Christmas music every year from October 15th -31st, just because I can't actually wait 12 months for Christmas to come again. I can wait 10. Some years I cheat and also have a tiny Christmas in July.

I always want Spring to come in March. I live in Washington. Spring comes in May.

I always want Autumn to start in August. I live in Washington. August is the beginning (and end) of summer.

I typically am ready for dawn around 5:30. I live in Washington. For only 2 months of the year does dawn come at or before 5:30.

I don't care for red lights. This has nothing to do with living in Washington.

However, the most pertinent and reoccurring example is this: I am always ready for LENT.

I know this may sound weird, but Lent is my favorite. Always has been. Even before I was confirmed, I loved Lent. I think all year about what I will give up. I ponder what I will ponder, what new revelations of Christ I will understand. I hope and pray every year that Lent will be fabulous. Jesus has yet to let me down.

Some Lenten memories from years past:
1996 - My first year celebrating lent (that I remember). I gave up candy with my cousin Sara. I was 11.

2000- I gave up all media. This was also the year I began my tradition of fasting the three days before Easter. I love this tradition. This was the year Jesus taught me that obedience was better than emotion.

2001- Don't remember what I gave up. I do remember learning that my father loved the Lord. This was the first year I had a sin that I thought might actually send me to Hell if I didn't do something about it. This was the year I learned the pain of grace and the peace of forgiveness.

2002- This lent was a joyful lent, which is unusual for me. I love the grey of lent, but this lent was filled with joy in the knowledge of my Saviour's love.

2003- This lent I gave up negative thoughts and words. It was awful. :) I learned to shut my mouth a lot more. and I learned the power of thoughts and how possible it is to control them. This is also the year that I first considered a life of celibacy.

2004- This was a year of complete and utter brokenness. I didn't give anything up this year. I didn't have anything to give. I was dead inside. This was the year Jesus taught me life of soul. Life of community. This was the year I first learned that Jesus is powerful in the living arms of those around me. I learned that I could find His words in the mouths of those who loved Him.

2005- I gave up sugar. I learned the power of failure. This was the first year I attended an Ash Wednesday Service.

2006- This was the year I gave up vanity. No make up, no straightening my hair, no cute clothes... and I wore tennis shoes. I saw that I often loved people from a place of condescension. I loved them because I pitied them, not because they should be loved, not because I needed to love them... or they needed to be loved. I saw ugliness in my soul that I didn't know existed. I also found out that the gorgeous Christ still loved me.

2007- Probably my favorite Lent. The lent that I learned so so so so much. I gave away my TV and lived 40 days in silence in my apartment. Oh wonder of wonders. I had so much time with Jesus it was absolutely insane. I came to a day when I wept because I did not want Him to die for me. He could gladly die for the rest of the world, just not for me. A sweet whisper in my heart said this, "It is done." Oh how those words rent my soul. Those words are still my sweet love song from God. This is also the Lent I decided to join the Catholic Church all of the way through confirmation.

2008- This is the lent I spent going through the final steps of RCIA (rite of christian initiation for adults). This is the lent I gave my first confession. This is the lent where I anticipated the Body of Christ through the Eucharist. This was the lent where my heart finally came home.

Now I am waiting for the Lent of 2009. I don't know what I will give up. I don't know what I will learn. But February 25th could not come soon enough. I'm telling you, it is a beautiful time. I always want to live a monastic life whenever Lent is here.

Lent is a Christmas Miracle.