Sunday Sermon

This past Sunday was the third of the month; in my parish, that means the deacon, rather than the priest, speaks the Homily. For anyone who doesn’t know, in a Catholic mass the Homily occurs after the three Bible readings. In the Homily, the priest or deacon tries to explain or add insight to what we had just heard. Usually, I don’t particularly like when the deacon at our church does the Homily. He’s not terrible, he just utilizes the same writing technique every time, which, as a writer, tends to get on my nerves.

However, this Sunday was different. Saturday night I randomly woke up and felt empty inside. “There is no God,” I thought to myself, not sure where this sentiment came from but believing it nonetheless. The next morning I didn’t feel as faithless, but could not fully trust in my religion, even though I still prayed and sung throughout the Mass.

As the deacon performed the Homily, my mind drifted between listening intently to what he had to say and wondering whether I should apply for that campus job. Fortunately, I tuned in to hear a beautiful comment  from our deacon.

“We seem to focus so much on who we think should be saved. Instead, let’s focus on strengthening our own faith.”

This is a really important idea for Catholics and other Christians to hear in a world where people march against gays and abortion or condemn the use of birth control. Sometimes we spend so much energy, resources and time attempting to persuade others to do “the right thing” when we could be improving our own religious dedication through prayer, service and love. I literally smiled in church, relieved to hear this statement after hearing our priests discuss the evils within our modern society every so often and how we must be the metaphorical light of the world.

Furthermore, this is an attitude someone of any race, gender, nationality, age, and yes, even religion, could adopt. Changing others is difficult, especially when dealing with a) those who do not wish to change, or b) opinions rather than fact. This does not mean abandoning our own beliefs and submitting to someone else’s views. Rather, we should concentrate on enhancing our way of life instead of attempting to change others, because no one can claim they live a perfect lifestyle.

This wasn’t the end of #quotableChurchmoments. During another part of the mass, a lector reads a list of intentions, or things we want to pray for. After each intention, we all say “Lord, hear our prayer”. This was one of the best intentions I have ever heard:

“We pray for all those who are searching for God, that they may be enlightened so that their natural goodness will shine through”. 

Anyone who has studied Classicalism and Romanticism knows most religious institutions, especially the Catholic church, follow many classical beliefs, including the idea people are born evil and must be taught to be good. Contrariwise, this prayer recognizes people are children of God and therefore naturally good creatures. Beautiful.

Though these experiences have not reinstated my faith to its full health, this Sunday sermon made me hopeful for alterations in the attitude of the world and hopeful for my own future. As I look forward to college with excitement, anxiety, and some fear, I know this will be a time of change and self evaluation, of figuring out who I am and what I want. Through my own natural goodness, I can strengthen my faith and achieve my full potential in whatever I’m supposed to do on this earth.

*Note-all comments are paraphrased.

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I’m a high school graduate!

Last night was my high school graduation. While I was at the actual ceremony, I had a headache, nerves about making my salutatorian speech, and the sun in my eyes for most of the evening. I was also hot and sweaty from sitting in the sun, and therefore did not feel the reality of graduating sink in. I felt like I took everything in, as well as I could; I watched closely as all of my classmates graduate, hugged a bunch of teachers, and danced to “Happy”, which they played after the formal ceremony was over and we were all set loose to roam around the football field.

This morning the realization hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I’m panicing about nothing in particular, so I’m starting to get there. I’m really stressed this morning because there is so much I have to do today. The fact high school is finally over also makes me feel a little depressed…there’s a lot I wish I had done better. My salutatorian speech was okay, but not exceptional or personal at all. Most people did not laugh where I expected them to, and that discouraged me. I did not feel bad about it last night (I was too in the moment of graduation I guess), but now looking back I feel a lot worse about it.

Even though I spent the night with my two best friends in the world, I feel very lonely. Or maybe that’s why I feel lonely? I had the option to go to Project Graduation, essentially a party the school hosted at the Funplex after graduation, but because my two best friends were not going, I chose not to. Either way, not many people reached out to me before, during, or after graduation to talk or share congratulations. I did not anticipate this post becoming miserable, but that’s sort of what happened.

Though I sort of feel like a wreck now, last night was pretty beautiful, even though I had not been hit with the full force of graduating. I feel it’s going to be coming on very soon though…it’s so scary being an adult now. I think once I start making my to-do lists, organizing everything in my life, and completing tasks, I will feel much more at peace.

I’d like to close by sharing the quote I used in my graduation speech.

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all…grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger. It’s so much madder. And so much better”

-Elton Pope, Doctor Who

P.S. I know that’s not the whole quote, I cut out the “so much darker” part because I did not want to be more verbose than I already was, and because talking about a “dark world” during graduation seemed a little too weird for me. If you wanna read my whole graduation speech, I’m going to make a page for it.

8 Reasons I Fell In Love With “The Fault in Our Stars”

(Sort-of spoilers ahead, specifically in #3, 5 and 7. If you haven’t read the book yet, you should be able to read the other numbers or at least the bolded sections. Maybe writing this in depth list isn’t so helpful to people looking for a good book to read if it spoils parts of the novel…oh well.)

Yesterday I finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which has got to be one of the greatest modern novels composed, for the following reasons (in a somewhat but not really particular order).

1) Allusions and Symbolism. Lots and lots of allusions. Being a former AP English Lit student, I was able to identify them many of them as the meaning each work brought to the novel. Allusions include “The Red Wheelbarrow”, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, and of course, Shakespeare. The title of the novel comes from a line in Julius Caesar, in which Caesar says, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves” (Shakespeare 1.2.140-141). Furthermore, there is a smorgasbord of symbols, particularly representations through the characters. There is a ton of water (rebirth, cleansing) symbolism (for example,  Augustus’s last name is Waters and they (Hazel and Gus) travel to Amsterdam, a city famous for its canals).

2) Writing Style. I’m usually a fan of the classical, lots-of-fancy-language-and-run-on-sentences style of writing, but the ideas surrounding the novel are so strong John Green does not need to be “fancy”. Moreover, it just makes more sense the writing style is more relaxed, considering a teenager is the narrator. It includes some script-like conversation between characters (Example: Me: Hi Mom. Mom: Hi there), which I really enjoyed for some inexplicable reason.

3) Themes. There are a multitude of important concepts covered in the novel, the most important being the struggle for immorality and two ultimate life questions: Will I be loved? Will I be remembered?

The novel emphasizes the way even a novel cannot immortalize an individual. For example, John Green states, “Nothing (at least that can be done by humans) immortalizes anyone. The Fault in Our Stars will hopefully have a long and wonderful life, but it will eventually go out of print, and eventually the last person ever to read it will die, and then the characters will no longer live in any consciousness” (The Fault in Our Stars Q and A 5-6).

So that might seem depressing, especially to someone like myself who adores the possibility of immortality promised in writing. However, Green goes on to explain, “Also, that is okay…What Gus in particular must reconcile himself to is that being temporary does not mean being unimportant or meaningless” (TFIOS Q and A 6). Even though one is mortal, the here-and-now of life is just as important as it would be if our lives were remembered forever. Essentially, the novel suggests the meaning of life is to continue to lead significant lives notwithstanding our own mortality.

The novel also describes the struggle of those like Hazel who attempt to refrain from becoming a “grenade”, harming their loved ones with their departure (specifically death). John Green demonstrates through Hazel and Gus’s relationship hurting one’s loved ones, simply by being loved, is okay. As Gus writes, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you” (TFIOS 313).

4) Characters who also love literature, metaphors, and using big words. These are people I can relate to! Not only do these characters make reading more personable (to me at least), it allows John Green to include important literary allusions flawlessly (see #1) in the novel.

5) “Okay”. Isaac and his girlfriend say “Always” to each other as a sugary, romantic way of saying “I will love you forever”. “Okay” becomes Hazel and Gus’s “Always”, which is not a promise of a forever but of real, substantial love. Sort of the kind of thing I find attractive in a relationship (not overly romantic).

6) Realism. Many of the other components of this list could fit into this category, such as writing style and theme, but I wanted to point out just how real this book feels. Its characters and the interactions between them seem pretty legitimate to me. The novel addresses realistic ideals, including the impossibility of human immortality.

7) The novel does not portray cancer patients as overly cheerful, strong, wonderful people, or the dead as virtuous and venerable. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mommom, who passed away this year. But she had many, many flaws. Cancer patients, stereotypically depicted as heroic survives, can be these astounding, angelic individuals. But they are still real people, who experience anger, misjudgments, and, well, all of the normal human emotions. All of the cancer patients in this novel-Hazel, Gus, Isaac and Caroline Mathers-are complex characters with good and bad qualities.  Additionally, when Isaac and Hazel write their eulogies for Gus’s funeral, though they opt for a more sentimental speech at his actual funeral, they poke fun at his life and his shortcomings. Green does not “sentimentalize or romanticize anything in the book” and combats the oversimplification that “suffering is heroic, and that cancer suffering in particular strengthens you and makes you better” (TFIOS Q and A, pg 23).

8) I read this novel at a perfect time in my life. The past year, more specifically the last month, of my life has been encompassed by the question of the meaning of life. More importantly, what is it that I want from my own life? While I was reading the novel, especially in the beginning, I was shocked by the reality of my own mortality, and, in short, would not accept it. As I began to realize I was “temporary”, I spiraled into more depression. I would channel my inner Augustus Waters and ask myself, what is the point if no one will remember us?  After finishing the novel, I have been satisfied with a somewhat answer. Indeed, there is a point in living fully even though we are only mortal. I have yet to discern the specifics of the meaning of my own life, but will and must continue to hope living is truly worthwhile.

I am so excited to see the movie when it is released in theaters, and am very pleased to have enjoyed the “small infinity” contained in this novel.

This Quote is Gonna Be Famous One Day

I was working on my AP English homework (for once, not procrastinating) and I was reading  Perrine’s Literature Structure, Sound, and Sense, 8th Edition. It essentially states poetry does more than communicate information; it communicates a variety of experiences and caters to more than the intellectual dimension.

At the same time, I was texting my boyfriend, talking about how my therapist had asked what my boyfriend and I had in common….which isn’t a lot. It’s sort of crazy how little we have in common. My therapist kept asking if we liked the same music or movies, or had the same sense of style, and I answered with either a  “no” or an “eh sort of”.

Anyway, as my boyfriend and I discussed how we had very little in common, I thought about why I like him so much. A large part of it is that he exposes me to experiences, or dimensions, I would never have encountered had I not befriended him. In fact, looking at my relationships with my other friends and even my sister, all of the people close to me add so much more to my life than I could attain as an single person.

That was when I had a moment of unintentional brilliance, and came up with the following quote.

“The best relationships are those which add another dimension to one’s life” 

-wiggygirl3 (unless someone else has already come up with it and I don’t know about it)

Ha, no stalkers getting my name today!

My boyfriend exposes me to really interesting (albeit unnecessary) facts and an amazing sense of selflessness. My one best friend exposes me to Broadway and taught me the concept of always being there for those you love at any given moment. My other best friend exposes  me to awesome books and taught me  it’s totally possible to enjoy silence with loved ones without any awkwardness. My little sister exposes me to new music and taught me how to love someone without crowding their personal space.

All of them have exposed me to and (hopefully) made me more accepting of divergent ways of thinking and living. I am eternally grateful for their impact on my life.

I’m not certain no one else has come up with this quote or a saying similar to “mine” (I’m using quotations because I don’t know if I actually have the right to call it my original idea). I did a quick Google search (of course) and I can’t find any quote exactly similar…so I hope it’ll be okay.

If this is indeed my own, original thought…it’s gonna be famous one day.

Maybe.

Favorite Con Air (1997) Quote

“What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?”

-Garland Greene (played by Steve Buscemi)

What is insanity? What is normal?

Pretty Eh 24 Hours

Usually when I do my blog posts, it’s because I have something positive or “interesting” (because I know what I find interesting others may not) to share, but today was a pretty eh day. Last night was pretty bad too.

I don’t want to say that it’s like a roller coaster, because that is very cliche and roller coasters are supposed to be fun. (Let me take a moment to point out that I thought “roller coaster” was one word. Silly Engrish. Don’t be offended; I have many Asian friends and we always joke about “Engrish”. Deal with it).

What is another simile/metaphor I can use?

I guess it’s like a nagging sports injury or cold. You have those lows where you’re just like “blech I’m just going to sit here and do nothing because my life sucks and I’m incapable of doing anything”. During this time period, side effects include becoming depressed because you feel like you’re wasting time or stressing because you know the work you are expected to complete is piling up and you can’t do anything about it.

You wait a few days, and then you feel perfectly fine.

And you get really excited and pumped up because you feel fantastic and are ready to accomplish everything you couldn’t while you were injured or sick. For a few days you’re doing great, and living your life to your fullest potential. Then out of nowhere the injury or cold returns, apparating out of nowhere and you’re back where you started.

This has pretty much summed up my life this summer.

A few days ago (or it could have been yesterday, my mind loses track of time quite easily), another fantastic blog shared a motivating post with the following image:

do-it-now

This is really what I need to do. When I’m active and keeping my mind, body and spirit busy, I’m usually much happier. Today consisted of me staying in my pajamas until about 1:30pm when I had to get ready for our soccer scrimmage. This lapse of willpower is something I personally need to overcome.

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading. Here is the link to the Everyday Power Blog which is simply fantastic, whenever I make it to this blog it helps me a lot.

http://everydaypowerblog.com/

And just a reminder….DO IT NOW! (Right now I should probably shower. I stink).

 

Goals For September

I suppose making a list of goals for September will help me accomplish them? I think that’s the general consensus. I don’t know if I have more than one goal, I actually only have one in mind at the moment haha.

One of my major goals is to just be happy. I’ve apparently been having a lot of issues with this lately. These issues have become so serious that my mom and I made a doctor’s appointment to see if I should be referred to a specialist or something. This will be occurring on September 10th, but until then I’ve got to try to rely on my own will and the help of my friends and family.

Sometimes I get that feeling where I’m like “should I even be doing this? Are my issues really that bad?”. But if the issues aren’t bad but they are making me feel this terrible, I think that means more than if the issues were serious.

I just hate that now I’ve told my mom about my issues with everything, that I essentially think I’m depressed and want help, she’s treating me differently. Of course, that’s expected, but there are two major changes in her behavior that are irking me.

First, she’s been watching me more carefully and checking up on me. When I feel fine, this just gets annoying. But even when I’m sad and (at least I think) I’m obviously not in an okay mood, she just asks if I’m okay and if I say I am, she goes away without any further concern. And I’m just like “….uh….okay….”.

Second, she’s been nicer to me. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about it, but I feel like she’s giving me special treatment that I do not deserve, need or want.

So yeah, I can’t wait to go to the doctor. I bet if I told myself before today I’d be happy to go to a doctor I’d have laughed.

Other than that…pretty much if I’m happy, everything else falls into place. It sounds weird to say, but it’s true. As long as I’m in an average or better mood, I can focus on what I need to do to accomplish everything else. What’s been happening lately is that I’ve gotten into these moods and just bummed around. When I come out of these moods, I get angry and stressed and sometimes get sad again because I realize how I’m wasting my life being sad and procrastinating so issues that were tiny become big problems that I now need to tackle.

I do need to start eating healthy. That’s goal number 2. I’m in this state of mind where, because I suck so much at soccer compared to the other Varsity girls, I’ve started to let myself slip. I think that because I’m not good, I’m not going to get better and win a spot so why should I try to eat healthy and make that extra effort?

That’s something I need to change too. Here’s to a great month and an even better start to the school year. I have said it before, but I’ll say it again, because I’m excited for school to start: I’m going to be a senior!

And wow I just found this quote, which is great because it’s Albert Camus, you existentialist you.

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door” (Albert Camus).