Church, bras, and tangled hair

I was discussing with a co-worker this evening a church that my family attended when I was a baby, and it brought to mind the last time I attended Mass there.  We had moved elsewhere for church when I was still quite little, but occasionally still went to Mass there for a while.  Eventually, though, we had stopped altogether going there, and always went to one of two other nearby churches.  Therefore, it is easy for me to remember the last time I attended Mass at this particular church, because it was a singular event, with no other occurrences within years of its happening.

My youngest brother and I were tasked with going to church together on our own.  He was probably 16 or so, making me 12 at the time.  I remember how we were hanging out at home, and how he was playing games on the still-new PS2.  And I eventually finished getting dressed at the last minute, and we rushed off to Mass.

We ended up having the Mass time incorrect, so we weren’t just a little bit late to Mass.  But we stayed, anyway, and attended what little was left of it once we arrived.  When we arrived back home, a very unique experience happened, and one which I feel shows how loving we are, my brothers and I.  I had worn this top that went on like a tube top – yes, there were sleeves of some sort, or else a sweater that I wore over it, but it went on like a tube top.  However, it wasn’t the usual stretchy material of tube tops, but rather a somewhat set-size material with elastic around the top piece to help it stay in place.  (I’m almost certain that it had wide-ish straps, but nothing like actual sleeves to it.  I remember specifically that I had to wear a strapless bra with it, because of the strap situation, but that is all of which I am certain about the straps – strapless bra required.)

When I went to remove my top, changing out of the nicer clothes and into comfy, regular clothes, I got myself stuck.  You know the feeling… pulling it upward first, and, at the pivotal point, feeling the fabric stop sliding and suddenly hold tightly to the width of your currently-expanded shoulder blades… and being incapable of pulling the top back down, because your arms are now stuck up in the air, because the fabric really just doesn’t give almost at all.

So, what could I do but get help?  I remember having the slight concern of going to my brother for help, because he would see my bra! my thoughts shouted in whispered tones.  It took almost no time to accept the social standard as just that, and then to let it go.  I was beginning to panic at being stuck, when I was walking back out into the living room for help from my brother.  He easily stopped immediately what he was doing, and came to the rescue.  I think it might have actually taken us a good bit of effort to free me, but we eventually succeeded, and I was grateful for his help.

And, what is amazing about this, really, is that neither of us was uncomfortable with the situation.  Sure, it was an odd situation – I was already at the point of having been able to dress myself alone successfully for years.  But it was still easy for us both, because of our love and care for one another.

 

As another brief anecdote, I remember a time my oldest brother was babysitting me, and I went to use my mom’s rounded brush, typically used for curling hair while blowdrying, to brush my hair.  I did it in a sort of hurry, and somehow twisted the brush while it still had my hair running through it (I had long hair at the time), and began brushing a new spot on my head… ultimately knotting a big chunk of my hair into the brush.

My brother was able to reach my mom on the phone, and she said to check with the neighbors, because the mother there might be able to help unknot my hair.  A good, long while later, the neighbor was convinced that my hair had to be cut, in order to remove the brush.  I remember my mom’s voice on the phone declaring, “Do not cut her hair,” to my brother.  I think it took over an hour, possibly longer, and I don’t remember who finally did it (though my brother, the neighbor, and I all worked on it at times, and my mom might even have had to finish it up when she got home later), but my hair eventually was freed.  And I was concerned about ever using that kind of brush in my hair again.

Obviously.

You know, I think those were the worst that ever really happened when my brothers were in charge of babysitting… not bad, I think.  🙂

Post-a-day 2017

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Mass, Cats, and Weimaraners

Do you remember Wegman’s Weimaraners, the beautiful pictures and skits of the Weimaraner dogs with human arms?  (William Wegman started all of that.  Here’s an example.)  And we hopefully all know the musical Cats.  (Look up some photos quickly, if you need a frame of reference for the picture to have in your head of the style.)

Now, today at Mass, both of these things were relevant.  My mom and I have had a somewhat silly time in Mass together the past several years, mostly due to a little book we found at, I believe, a dollar store.  (It was a book of comic-type frames, based on The Bible and Christianity, and was entitled According to the Good Book.  I can tell more about that another time, though.)  We do not actively seek out distractions, of course, but we do inform the other if ever there is something truly worth noticing.  This morning, after the priest had pointed out some facts relating to the scene choices of the stained glass windows, my mom leans over to me, and whispers that, “Baby Jesus has adult hands,” and “Saint Joseph is a lion… He was in Cats.”

Momentarily unable to comprehend, I noticed that she was looking at one of the windows.  Sure enough, she was right.  I let her know that I agreed with her, and that the baby Jesus reminded me of the Weimaraners with human arms.  We said nothing more, but both struggled to calm ourselves from the our silent, trembling laughter.

A while later, the little girl in front of us, did something wonderful.  She had already tickled us to silent chuckles earlier with an adorable, “Let us praaay,” mimicking even the tones of the priest, immediately after he had said it, as well as her unreal timing with leaning backward in her mother’s arms.  During the singing of the Amens after the whole bread and wine changing to body and bread deal, the music powerful and faith being declared strongly through song, we look up to see this little girl facing her mother, held around the waist in her mother’s arms, leaning back as far as possible, arms draped down, hanging limply behind her, and her head dropped back… at the last “Amen”, she raised her arms straight up in the air, as though praying to and praising the great Lord above.  It was truly beautiful, despite the comedy of the timing of her actions.

So now, this little girl, just as Mass is almost finished, finds the little envelopes at the end of the pew.  The envelopes are for collection (donations) to the Church for a specific cause, and the cause was labeled with a golden starburst-shaped seal on the front of each envelope.  When she finds the envelopes, she grabs them, and scoots back toward her older brother, and declares quietly, “I got invites!”  The priest says another line or two, and then we hear her say, “Should we go?”  I think my mom and I instantly began crying with laughter.

Another few moments later, we hear the brother say, “Your party lipstick,” and we see him doing her lipstick for her with a fake lipstick.  I comment to my mother that ‘I bet Cats is playing at the party.’  And we continued crying with laughter.

Now, I am aware that this is not ideal Mass behavior, as we are well taught as children.  We are nonetheless human, and so we have our little tidbits of fun at Mass here and there.  Besides, it is a beautiful art to find unsuspecting joys in unsuspecting places.  And come on, who wouldn’t agree that Saint Joseph must have been in Cats, based on that window?
The Nativity, as portrayed by today’s lovely stained glass window

The “Party Invitation”


Post-a-day 2017

Mass: exercise for the brain(?)

I critique the priests’ sermons at Mass.  I don’t mean to do it.  It just happens automatically for me.  Just like how I automatically correct anything I read, people with whom I talk, and even the conversations I overhear, I critique the sermons at church.

Grammar is one thing, of course, and it is always being tracked in my mind.  I regularly use a certain phrasing or structure that I know to be incorrect, but that I know is, essentially, necessary for understanding for the listener or reader.  (I also know that errors show up on here all the time, but that’s mostly due to either the previously mentioned reason or the simple fact that I am writing on my phone, as I lie in bed, ready to go to sleep… Not the best time or means for correct writing, I know, but I’m lazy, so it’s often the situation I have.)  For the sermons, however, my brain decided years ago to treat them like essays.  I analyze their quality in terms of how they connect with the readings, how they connect with the audience (congregation), and how they create an inspiring message and clear means for doing good in the world.

It takes a true writer to come up with a sermon that would earn an A from me.  Most of the time, unfortunately, sermons earn somewhere around a low C.  Occasionally, there are bonus points awarded for specific tidbits within the sermon, but the sermons as a whole are not so great right now.  (This was actually one of my main reasons a decade ago for why women ought to be allowed to give sermons at Mass, even if they couldn’t be priests – not everyone is good at writing and giving speeches.)

This isn’t to say that I actually award points as I am sitting in Mass.  Certainly, I do not do that.  My brain is just in a sort of passive automatic critique mode, coming up with ideas for betterment in the sermon each time it hits a rough bit.  I do take care to focus on the actual sermon, especially since I know myself to do this critiquing so automatically.  It’s kind of like background noice, really, and so I only end up fully focusing on it when the sermon is really terrible.  (Fortunately, that isn’t too often.)

Post-a-day 2017

Boys’ Choirs

This afternoon, as part of an Oktoberfest celebration, my mom and I listened to and watched the Houston Saengerbund.  They are an organization all about promoting German language singing and culture, and they seem quite kind and fun as a whole.  However, hearing their name instantly called to mind the name of Wiener Sängerknaben, which is the German name for the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

One of my brothers was in a boys’ choir when I was little.  I remember going to their performances and concerts.  I loved it.  The music was always absolutely beautiful.  I suppose it was one of the many reasons I have always looked up to him, thought him awesome.  I think it was because of this that I was perhaps a bit more aware of boys’ choirs than the average kid.  I grew up knowing about the Vienna Boys’ Choir, and dreaming of how amazing they must be.  They were seen almost as gods, when compared to my brother’s boys’ choir, but how could I even imagine such a thing, when, to me, this boys’ choir, the one with my brother, was already singing music of the gods?  I  imagined the Vienna Boys’ Choir as perfection, and left it at that.

I never even considered hearing them perform.  It was that far out of the realm of possibility.

But, of course, since my life is so dearly blessed, this unacknowledged dream was fulfilled.  While I was living in Vienna, my mom and I went together to hear them sing.  It was the only time I have paid to attend Mass.  

When we did some research about it, it seemed all too easy.  I could hardly believe that we merely had to buy incredibly affordable tickets to attend Mass at the Wiener Hofburgkapelle (Wowzer, that place is gorgeous, by the way!) in order to hear the boys sing.  But we did it, and it was absolutely amazing.  I think I could’ve cried during the Mass at almost any given moment, and I might have actually cried when the boys came down in front to sing a couple other songs after the Mass.  I don’t actually remember.  That wasn’t exactly my focus at the time. 

There’s no way to describe the experience appropriately, so I won’t bother.  It was a dream that I had hardly even dreamed, and it was being fulfilled.  Perhaps you know what that’s like.  It was magic being real in two ways: First, in their music, and second, in my being there to hear it firsthand.  It was perfection (in the cold, since it was the middle of winter).

Post-a-day 2017

Songs for Friends and Self

First off,

😀   Merry Christmas!   😀


Via the natural flow of thoughts in my head, I found myself singing a song that a friend and I wrote (to the tune of another song) as a goodbye present to another friend of ours a few years back.  This other friend was heading to the US for a semester abroad, and so we set up a sort of going away surprise in which everyone could participate.

It was Sylvia’s idea, the song.  She picked one of Gunnar’s favorite songs, and decided to write new words to it.  About an hour-ish before we were supposed to head out to meet up with other friends to practice the song, she had gotten only a few sentences into it, and so I ended up taking over and putting the bulk of it together.

We threw a thumbs up on it, and rushed off to rehearse with other friends.  At rehearsal, we changed a word or two to make things easier for folks, and organized our plan of action to get out the lyrics to everyone after Mass that evening (the going away party was taking place right after the young-ish adults Mass where we all went together).  The song ended up going beautifully and being a total hit – it was just as we’d hoped, and all was well as we sent our good friend on his way.

Now, I completely meant the words when I wrote them for our friend Gunnar.  However, a few weeks later, as I, myself, was leaving the country to go back to the US, the song suddenly sounded like something I had actually written for myself.  To this day, the song gets stuck in my head (although I have no recording of it, and have not since that month looked at the lyrics), and it, somehow, is always comforting – I miss living in Vienna terribly, but this song somehow makes everything okay how it is right now.  I guess God’s just good at making things work out that way.  🙂  I have this dual feeling that 1) if I move back to Vienna, I’ll never want to leave again, and 2) if I even visit Vienna, I’ll be utterly disappointed with how it compares to having lived there before and loving it so much then.  I think that, no matter what, I have to go back, though.  I’ll try a visit first – maybe next year for Christmas – and see how that goes, huh?  Sounds good to me.  🙂  Anyway…

Enjoy.       (To the tune of “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling)

P.S.  BeFree is the name of the Mass we all attended, and which had brought most of us together as friends in Vienna


6. Jan 2013

VERSE 1

So lately, been wondering
Who will be there to take your place.
When you’re gone, we’ll need one
To play that music filled with grace.
If it really is God’s will,
Then we guess that you can go.
Just remember us back here
While you’re off in USA

CHORUS
If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien.
But God sends you elsewhere,
So take care, have fun, and BeFree!

VERSE 2

Hopefully, you’ll find out
The way to make it back someday.
Until then, God bless you
And help you all throughout your days.
If it really is God’s will,
Then, Columbia, here he is!
And we hope that, while you’re out there,
The Lord’s grace still flows from you.

CHORUS

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien.
But God sends you elsewhere,
So take care, have fun, and BeFree!

BRIDGE

God give Gunnar your blessing.
Give him helping hands and friends.
Give him everything he needs!

CHORUS

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien.
But God sends you elsewhere,
So take care, have fun, and BeFree

VERSE 3

You’re leaving.  We’ll miss you,
but all our lives will still go on.
In your heart, in your mind,
May God be with you all the time.
If it really is God’s will,
Then we guess that you can go.
Just remember us back here
While you’re off in USA

CHORUS

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien
But God sends you elsewhere
So take care, have fun, and BeFree

If we could, then we would
Keep you  with us here in Wien
But God sends you elsewhere
So take care, have fun, and BeeeeFreeeeee

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