Changed by Two Weeks

Is it possible to enter into something as one person and to emerge two weeks later a different one? To undergo a metamorphosis as quickly as a monarch butterfly, huddling into a cocoon for fourteen days and emerging something brilliant and different (that eats slightly less)?

I would have said no two weeks ago. (Well, nearly three now.) But then, well…

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It’s hard to come somewhere that looks like this and stay the same. 😉

On July 21st I boarded a plane and flew to Los Angeles for the Thomas Aquinas College Summer Program; I picked up my suitcases (one was full of shoes, don’t judge me) and got on a bus for the college. I remember sitting next to a girl with brilliant red hair and driving through all these mountains and talking about Latin and other random intellectual stuff, and I finally I realized just how amazing it was all going to be. I said to her, “You know, the best part of being here is that everyone here has a passion for learning… Everyone here is different, but we’re united because we all care about knowledge and understanding and everyone here is looking for wisdom. You don’t get that at home; in a normal setting, nobody cares. Here people are going to care.

I wasn’t wrong.

At TAC people wanted to learn. I wasn’t the only one talking in class; with the exception of three or four people, almost everyone in class contributed to discussion. We realized really quickly that the simplest, most seemingly obvious questions were the most profound. Instead of just assuming something as fact, we learned to ask WHY we assumed it. This is most obvious in Euclid, when we didn’t just say, “Well, yeah, obviously two angles on a straight line will equal 180 degrees,” but instead proved this using basic postulates and common notions… but it also came up in Genesis and Macbeth and Oedipus Rex… We had to look inside the text itself to answer our questions; we couldn’t bring in outside theology or trivia. (This happened a lot in Crito. “Well, the Ancient Greeks thought x, y, z…” “I have an idea, why don’t we read what the Ancient Greeks wrote and find out if that’s true rather than just assuming it…”) I got really attached to this quote from Aristotle: “All men by nature desire to know.” It really is true; I frequently give the speech that knowledge is desirable for its own sake… While I was at TAC I realized that I don’t just want to be smart, I want to be wise. There’s such a difference.

Outside of the classroom was amazing too. I went to Mass nearly every day – the first day the Traditional Latin Mass was offered I went for the first time, and I was completely and utterly lost. I was really disappointed because I’d been so excited to finally go and then I didn’t understand any of it. But I determined that I would go every single day I until it clicked… a few days later, it did. I followed along in the missal, realized the priest said a lot of it silently, that it was up to me to stay on track and follow along – and in doing so, I became fully dissolved into the mass. I didn’t check my watch once, and as I was walking out of the chapel I realized that I hadn’t just prayed at Mass… I’d prayed the Mass, by reading all the prayers the priest was saying and so intently following along. It was incredible and beautiful and in that moment I just fell head over heels in love with the TLM. (I fell even MORE in love on Sunday at the High Mass… THE MOST gorgeous thing I’ve ever been to in my entire life.)

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The friendships I forged there were incredible, too. I will treasure these people for the rest of my life. My roommate was so wonderful; she would do my hair in the mornings because I’m completely inept, we’d make sure we were both in dress code, and we’d stay up late talking… She would yank me out of bed in the mornings so I wouldn’t be late for Mass even though she went to the later Mass and didn’t need to be up yet, and she would take a bunch of selfies with me and we’d die laughing over breakfast. I met up with two of my friends who I’d known before through school, and they were wonderful. Aspirer was one (check out her post about TAC; it’s much better than this one and was featured on the blog) and the other was Joe. We hadn’t been super close before the program, but when I met up I basically attacked him with a hug (he’d say it was an attack, pure and simple, but he’s mean to me) and from that point on he became one of my most solid friends. I met my friend Val there because he was with Joe, but he soon became part of our group… such a sweetheart (and so much better at Latin than everyone). The last few days we “forcibly adopted” Anna into our group, and I’m glad we did. She’s literally a character from an Austen novel and so kind.

I met Sepp (he didn’t go to the program, but he came up to campus for a day) and it was fantastic; I actually befriended his older brother, Patrick, who worked on campus and I was surprised at what a good friend he was. He showed up to breakfast every morning the second week to help us with Euclid and would stay and chat all the way until we had to go to class. I never expected to make friends with him, but I’m so glad I did.

I remember on the Thursday night before the last night I was furiously studying Euclid (literally furiously… I was in a terrible mood) in the commons while an impromptu dance practiced went on in the background. Patrick was trying to help me, but I was so cranky I couldn’t get anywhere… eventually Patrick just went, “Come dance, you’ll feel better.” Apparently dancing puts one in a more favorable disposition to do Euclid. Who knew?

There are so many stories that I couldn’t possibly get into them all, but the memories of my sword, jokes about seeing people’s knees, Milk Guy, freezing cold water, Santa-Barabara-but-really-Canada, losing all my lipstick to my coffee mug (and my having coffee at every meal), not getting cancer because of blueberries and dark chocolate (“Okay, THAT is a fiction made up by a WOMAN.”)… Gah. I miss it all so much. At the dance on the last day I basically sobbed my guts out all over my friends in front of everyone. They really are the best huggers and I miss them and their hugs and their voices and their laughter.

Val was the last one I left – our flights were at the same time in the same terminal, so he was the last one I saw before I had to fly away. I wish I could have stayed forever, but all good things must come to an end. I miss my mountains and the gorgeous weather and the Traditional Mass and not having to cook my own meals… 😛 But I still have the memories with me and that’s enough to hold onto.

A friend of mine remarked the other day that TAC changed me. And she did. TAC taught me to seek wisdom above knowledge; taught me to appreciate beauty, truth, friendships, love, time… made me realize what was important and worthwhile and what isn’t. When they told me on the 21st that these would be the best two weeks of my life, I laughed and went, “Sure.” I realized on the last night that they hadn’t been trying to sell me something, they’d been telling the truth.

I’m so glad I went. I’m so glad I had this experience. And I am so so glad to be this butterfly that TAC has turned me into; I’m sure as soon as I stop mourning my departure I’ll be a lot happier than I was before I went. 😉 Thank you, Thomas Aquinas. Thank you for everything.

“All men by nature desire to know.” ~Aristotle

Best wishes,
Hero

 

 

I Sorted My Cello into a Hogwarts House

For the record, I am aware that it’s Wednesday. If you’re worried that I’ve given up the interwebs for Lent again and will once again take a forty-five day hiatus, don’t be. This year I’m just banning tumblr – as well as a few other things I find myself entirely too dependent on (coffee, for one). I don’t really have any excuse for not blogging yesterday except that I hit an emotional speedbump and decided to moan about it instead. [cue rolling about on the floor and whining and being a general Richard II]

This post is sort of a general status update, seeing as I’ve been sort of scattered recently.

Books Challenge

I’m actually ahead of schedule – I’ve read 6 so far. Unfortunately Les Misérables is still on hold until I finish Richard III (the biography not the tragedy) and all these Shakespeare plays I’ve decided to undertake. I have been picking up one of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals every now & again over the past couple days… attempting to cope… failing…

Got this email from Tatiana:

WobblesSo that’s basically what we’ve been reduced to.

Orchestra

We got new music on Sunday. I hated it at first, but it’s growing on me. I’ll just tell you that sight-reading Colas Breugnon by Kabalevsky WITH A SUBSTITUTE CONDUCTOR when you’re already in a foul mood does not endear you to a piece. It really doesn’t.

[Let’s just go ahead and say flat out that I have been in a pretty terrible state over the past couple of days & it’s only getting worse. Gah.]

Anyway, on the subject of orchestra/cello/etc, I’ve decided that Evvy is a Gryffindor. (My last cello was Ravenclaw, and I’ll explain this in a moment…)

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So where the strings of a cello connect to the fine tuners, there’s a covering of thread, most likely so the tuners can grip well enough. My last cello had dark blue and copper-y/gold thread – but Evvy’s scarlet & gold. Gryffindor.

Which explains a lot, actually. Like why she’s so stubborn and temperamental. […okay, I’m… crazy… I know…]

Other Orchestra Stuff

Went to see a friend of mine perform in a Brahms concert with the senior group of my youth orchestra: she was only in a couple of them & I proceeded to feel guilty about enjoying the symphony much more than the chorus. 😛 (I can’t help it! They played Hungarian Dances – three of them!)

I was going to see another Brahms performance tomorrow night, but it fell through. C’est la vie. I’ll probably stay in and spend the evening watching movies instead.

Which reminds me…

Random Stuff I’m Getting Kind of Obsessed With (Running Out of Names for This)

Kaylee’s my favorite so far.

1. Firefly! The classic one-season space-western from Joss Whedon that my friends have been nagging me to watch since the dawn of time. I was originally put off from the show because the pilot episode is kind of… iffy… but I’ve given it another go and am definitely enjoying it so far.

The whole space-western thing confuses me, though: at this point the only things wester about it are the fact that sometimes Zoë says ‘ain’t’ and all the music is very Lone Ranger. I’ve been told it’ll make sense to me later (that and a lot of things), but the stuff I do understand outweighs the stuff I don’t, so I’m okay. (The reverse of that statement is true for Homestuck, by the way. I just… Confused. All the time.)

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Currently…

2. Sudoku. I’ve always liked sudoku – my aunt even gave me an electronic sudoku gizmo (that I have since lost, but it was a while ago) – but I recently found my old barely touched sudoku book and have been obsessively solving puzzles. On the day I found it I tore through eight puzzles in one afternoon. It’s gotten to the point where I can actually walk around the house/have conversations with people while working on a puzzle. (I thought I was so clever at Marian Group for holding it under the table during the meeting… turns out everybody could tell, but nobody cared enough to tell me off about it.)

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I’ve sticky-tabbed the life out of the blue book…

3. Prayer. 😛 (This is cheating, but I don’t care.) This is your Ash Wednesday reminder that Lent isn’t just about giving up chocolate and waiting for the Easter Bunny. This is one of the first few years that I’ve actually been mature enough to go deeper during Lent, and I’m actually excited to take advantage of this prayer-intensive time. I’ve bookmarked all my favorite prayers in With Mary in Prayer (blue for rough times/things going wrong, pink for prayers for the journey onward, yellow asking for help and guidance, and orange for the night prayer) and I’m going to try and keep it on me and take a few minutes every now and again throughout the day to ask for that guidance and that grace that I so desperately need. Also, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is my new best friend. I started saying it daily for Morgann because I offered it to her for her spiritual bouquet on her birthday – we said it together at the silent retreat we went on, so it holds special meaning in our heart. After the week of the chaplet I’d promised was over, I found myself gravitating back to it. It’s short enough that I always have time to fit it in somewhere and literally can’t make any excuses not to pray it, yet it’s still profound and deeply calming in its rhythm.

4. Shakespeare Uncovered on PBS.  As I mentioned a couple posts ago, some of the girls in my history class are reading the Henriad & Richard III to supplement our history texts this session. As much as I love Shakespeare, sometimes it can be hard for me to get into the plays – a lot of times I don’t understand who relates to who and it takes me ages to understand what the heck is going on. At the same time, I abjectly refuse to watch the movie before I read the play: that’s cheating. 😉 So the other day while searching around online for Ben Whishaw’s rendition of Richard II (very good, by the way, I’d put The Hollow Crown on my list of new obsessions, except it just ties into this), I found PBS’s Shakespeare Uncovered. What they do is go deeper into the plays, find the history and the meaning in it, and give you a broad understanding of the play. Watching this gave me ground to stand on when I went back to the play, and made the reading infinitely easier. If I finish my history work tonight, this is my reward. 🙂

5. Oh my goodness this post goes on forever… Okay… Last one: pictures! I spent a good chunk of time today picking out pictures of me and my friends to fill this plethora of picture frames I found. I’m hoping to hang them around my room so I can remind myself of the people who care about me and make me smile, even when I’m feeling grumpy. (Though usually they’re the ones who’re making me grumpy, so… *smacked*)

Okay, this is far enough – I need to wrap up and go back to my history work. If you read thus far, give yourself a pat on the back. You earned it.

Best wishes,
Hero

P.S. Remind me on Friday to tell you guys about the ‘things I’m freaking out about’ category that I decided to cut. 😛

BEDA Day 30: Shakespeare vs. Beowulf

[Disclaimer: I am very tired and very cranky because 90% of this post got deleted because WordPress randomly logged me out. Also, I feel ill. And I am tired. Did I mention how tired I am? I WANT COFFEE but I’ve already had two cups today and I won’t be able to sleep if I have more.]

YAYYYY MORE SHAKESPEARE POSTS!

Anyway. Second to last day of BEDA! (Ugh, thank heavens. I’m exhausted.)

Also, I’ve got the TV set to MTV for the first time in my entire life (MTV = trash) because for the first time in a long time THEY’RE ACTUALLY PLAYING A MUSIC VIDEO. Taylor Swift’s new one – in 7 minutes! 🙂

Today was a pretty good day! I had my first religion class of the year, and not only do I have my teacher from last year, but I also have some of the most awesome kids from last year’s class! It’s really exciting! Plus, the new Lizzie Bennet Diaries episode came out today and we’re getting somewhere, guys! We’re not far from Darcy’s proposal – or however it comes out in this adaptation.

(ALSO. The Taylor Swift video… Weird. I could have done without the woodland creatures. But whatever. I love her anyway. :P)

So onto the topic of this blog post. Well. Okay. There isn’t really a topic. But just roll with me here, okay?

For history/lit this week I’m reading Beowulf. I like it, but it’s sort of a harsh contrast compared to my usual Shakespeare. The rhythm of it is awkward and hard to find. There isn’t really a flow. It’s sort of like really bad, choppy free verse poetry. Of course it isn’t, it’s a different type of thing altogether. Point is, I’m struggling with it. I tried to read it aloud but it just sounded like one huge run-on sentence. I want to enjoy it. But I also want to find the flow.

For example: compare these two passages.

“Then was Beow of the Scyldings a beloved king
for a long time, in the town-forts of the people,
famed among the folk–his father had passed on,
that king gone from his home–till to Beow was born
Healfdene the High, who nobly ruled the Scyldings
as long as he lived, old and battle-fierce.”

Beowulf, lines 53-58

vs.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time;
and all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death.”

Macbeth, Act V, Scene V

There is a rhythm to the first passage, but it’s awkward and you have to read it over and over, stressing different words, looking inside the lines to find it. There’s an entire introduction on the poetry of the piece that I’m going to read over. I’m actually excited for the challenge of this – adjusting to this new format.

But let me just fangirl over the Shakespeare bit for a second. Read it aloud. Feel the push and the pull of the lines… The rhythm.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time;
and all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death.”

Just feel it. Say it. The words, the similes… The last syllable of recorded time… Mmm. I just love it. It rolls off the tongue, the lines, the words, the rhythm. Perfect.

Plus, it’s Macbeth. It’s flawless.

Macbeth and Beowulf do have something in common, though: the main characters are both quasi-idiots. Beowulf is sort of obnoxious and really full of it, and Macbeth is kind of like, “Oh, yeah, maybe I should kill the king *derp derp*.” But Macbeth is rather poetic, and that makes up for it.

Beowulf, on the other hand…

“Well, my friend Unferth, besotted with beer,
you have brought forth much about Breca,
told tales of his venture! Yet I tell the truth,
that I have proved greater in sea-strength,
more of a match for the waves, than any other man.”
(lines 530-534)

Good on you, mate. Way to sound like a total egomaniac.

I leave you with two of my favorite Shakespeare passages from one of my many favorite plays.

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men are at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II

“‘Brutus, thou sleep’st! Awake!’
Such instigations have been often dropp’d
Where I have took them up.
‘Shall Rome, etc.’ Thus must I piece it out:
Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe?
What, Rome?
My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive when he was called a king.
‘Speak, strike, redress!’ Am I entreated
To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise,
If the redress will follow, thou receivest
Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!”
Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I

Ah, poor Brutus. Poor, gullible, too-noble-for-his-own-good Brutus.

“So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!'”
(Act V, Scene V)

~Hero

BEDA Day 29: Throwing My Report Card Out the Window

So I basically threw my goals out the window mid-month and I am UNASHAMED.

However, I am setting new goals for this school year. Starting with my quote for the year:

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~Will Rogers

1. Be more on top of things.

Starting Monday, I’ve been getting up, showering, doing my hair, dressing nicely, making breakfast… Trying to be a little more organized, a little more put together. I’m viewing junior and senior year as my preparation for college, to sort of transition into maturity and adulthood and blah blah blah. With that said, I’m doing my best to be composed this year.

2. Get straight A’s.

This is my standard school goal, lol.

3. Stay on top of school.

I don’t tend to get super behind in school, but getting it done at a reasonable hour is sometimes another story. So I’d really like to not work until 10 PM every night because I’m such a loser.

4. Prep for SAT/PSAT.

Something I should be doing but am not. ‘Nough said.

Anyway, I’m exhausted and need to go to bed. Have a good night, guys!

~Hero

BEDA Day 27: Crawling Toward the Finish Line

I am so exhausted. I have nothing to blog about.

My English friends sent me a London 2012 t-shirt.

I have a picture but the uploader hates me. Oh dear.

I had my first classes today. My history teacher seems awesome. My Latin teacher seems cool, too, but it’s Latin. Latin is never that fun.

I actually wore my Teacher’s Pet outfit today rather than pajamas. And I made dinner. I am very proud of myself.

Then I went to adoration.

And now I am here. Very sleepy. And going to bed soon.

BEDA is almost over. I am very happy about this.

~Hero

BEDA Day 26: Beauty and the Brains

In the spirit of school starting tomorrow, I decided to do a post about something school related that I also really enjoy: fashion. I know I’m not really the kind of person who sticks out as a fashionista, and most of the time I’m too lazy to actually put together an outfit (sort of like how I love cooking but don’t do it a lot because I just want instant gratification). However, I really do enjoy making outfits and playing with clothes and styles – I consider it a challenge to make new outfits out of things I already own. I’ve put together four back-to-school outfits for y’all to maybe inspire you to put your best foot forward when you walk into class bright and early tomorrow.

Outfit #1: Teacher’s Pet

For this look, I paired cropped black slacks with a jewel purple tank top and teal ruffle cardigan. Cap-toed flats and a string of pearls complete the outfit, riding the line between teacher and student. 😉

(My pose is totally awkward, but that’s what I get for having my brother take pictures, eh?)

(Tank top, Eddie Bauer; cardigan, JCPenney; slacks, Eddie Bauer, flats, Target [but really Goodwill – they’re Target brand shoes that I got from Goodwill, haha].)

Outfit #2: Jealous of My PhD?

Obviously none of you have a PhD. But this outfit just looks so professor-y to me that I had to call it that.

A denim sleeveless blouse tucked into dark brown slacks (that were originally bought for Tanith – they fell off her tiny little hips, though, so I basically stole them… They’re even a little big for me, but I took the tags off just for you guys) and  a mouse brown blazer make up this outfit. A simple blue pendant and brown heeled boots make it look like you’re the one teaching the class. (Read as: these pants are too long for me to wear with flats. *headdesk*)

(Blouse, Eddie Bauer; slacks, SAM’S CLUB [serious fashion hotspot, I know]; blazer, Ann Taylor Loft; boots, Liz Claiborne.)

Outfit #3: Field Trip!

(Before I go on: these first two outfits were photographed by my brother and mom, respectively. Then my whole family quit on me and went to bed, so I had to take the rest of these pictures by myself. THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU. Anyway, excuse the awkward composition. I did my best.)

Since the first two outfits are very grown-up/professional looking, I drew inspiration for the next outfit from grade school.

JUST LOOK AT THOSE PIGTAILS. This outfit is school bus ready complete with a grey jumper, a pink collared button-up and striped knee socks. (Also, OWL CONVERSE & LUNCHBOX. I love owls.) I realized after the fact that a bow tie would be a nice touch, but I couldn’t be bothered to change back into the outfit and retake all the pictures. So, just imagine a black clip-on bow tie with this and you’re good to go.

(Jumper, Goodwill [I love Goodwill]; button-up shirt, Ralph Lauren; socks, Target [I think? I got them when I was eleven.]; Converse, converse.com [my aunt ordered them for a Christmas gift]; lunchbox, I have no idea it was a birthday gift but ISN’T IT AWESOME?)

Outfit #4: Art Class

Thank goodness this is the last one. I am starting to get REALLY TIRED of WordPress’s picture uploader. It hates me. Really, it does.

(Sorry about how out of focus this one is. I had the camera propped on my Hitchhiker’s Guide and my Jules Verne anthology and the self-timer was confusing. Like I said, I tried.)

The draping of this blouse has a really artsy vibe to it, and I like the aesthetic of it paired with the straight leg jeans and cowboy boots. (Another show of my love for you guys: those boots take me a good five minutes to put on because they are too dang small.) I layered a scalloped neck black tank under the turquoise blouse and finished things off with some beaded/charm bracelets.

(Blouse, [wait for itttttt] GOODWILL!; jeans, Old Navy; scallop-neck tank, Eddie Bauer; boots, mom’s closet [I seriously don’t know]; charm bracelet, James Avery; other bracelet, somewhere in England [Emma sent it to me].)

Okay, so I fully expect you all to look fabulous for your first week of school because of this post. Remember that the point of fashion isn’t having the most expensive clothes or looking better than everyone, but expressing yourself. And you don’t need to go out and buy new clothes to have be stylish. I made all of these outfits with things I already had in my closet. I challenge you to put together back-to-school outfits using things you already have. (And if you absolutely must go shopping, I’m not even kidding, go to Goodwill. Yes, it sometimes smells like dead people, and yes, it’s full of junk, but if you spend enough time really looking, you can find some cute, fun stuff for VERY LITTLE MONEY. It’s awesome.)

I really enjoyed making these outfits, and I probably would wear them if I went to school. As it is, my school has a slightly different uniform.

I don’t care that I’m reinforcing a stereotype. My pajamas are comfortable. I am unashamed.

Have a great first week of school, everyone! Tell me in the comments if you liked this post, and whether or not you’d like to see more fashion posts from me in the future! (And if you’re one of my guy readers: I already know your answers and am choosing to ignore them.)

~Hero