The Four O’Clock Mass Debacle

Merry Christmas Eve, everybody! Tonight’s the night we’ve all been waiting for, with family togetherness, traditions, and the jolly old man from way up north.

No, not Canada.

Speaking of family togetherness and traditions, one of my family’s traditions has become an annual argument about the celebration of the birth of Christ. I use the word “argument” lightly, and I mean it in the most amiable terms imaginable, but it’s a disagreement all the same.

We’ve held the long-standing tradition of going to 4:00pm mass at our parish on Christmas Eve. This started because it’s the Children’s Mass, and when we were little it was a big treat when the priest invited all the children up to the alter to hear the story of Christmas.

Many years later, Alex and I are a little old for the whole “children’s” aspect of the mass, but we continue to go to that service, because we always have. My parents have been trying to talk us into going to the 6:00pm service for years, but despite having to get to church around 3:00pm in order to ensure seating, we’ve held our ground about 4:00pm.

While this is the most crowded mass I've ever attended, Christmas Eve is a very close second.

Because we’re a family of great debaters, I’ve come up with solid reasons to match our stance.

  1. 4:00pm mass is one of the only Christmas traditions that’s survived from childhood.
  2. The hour spent at church before mass is quality family time.
  3. It’s something to occupy us in the afternoon.
  4. The “children’s” aspect gives us a youthful vigor for the holidays.
  5. The proximity spent with so many of our fellow church-goers reminds us to have goodwill to the community.
  6. The earlier time provides ample time in the evening for holiday festivities.
  7. The earlier we get home, the earlier it’s acceptable to put on fuzzy pajamas and slippers.
  8. It stretches out the time we spend together, before the child-like wonder of Christmas begs to open presents.
  9. Speaking of child-like wonder, the children’s mass does remind us of our younger years. Maybe I do believe in Santa!
  10. Alex and I always end up going early to save seats anyway, so our parents don’t have to go an hour in advance.

There you have it, ten great reasons to continue our long-standing tradition!

Then again…

Our other Christmas Eve traditions aren’t at all time sensitive, and we’re old enough now that we don’t need to get rushed off to bed really early. Two hours isn’t really that big of a deal, I guess.

And I always feel bad for all the young families with little kids who end up in standing room only, or watching the live feed from the rec center in the basement.

Nothing like some good old-fashioned Catholic guilt at Christmas!

Maybe we could go to 6:00pm mass this year. Sure, it’s not a tradition, but turducken was never a tradition, and I don’t think I could deal with Christmas without turducken now. Sometimes change is good. 6:00pm mass really doesn’t sound all that bad.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad.

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If I have a car accident, I’m blaming the receptionist

As further proof that God has a sense of humor, in addition to gracing me with inability to walk over flat surfaces without tripping and skin that bursts into flame upon contact with sunlight, I was also given eyes that decided many years ago that “seeing” wasn’t really their thing.

Seeing is so conformist...we're going to Hollywood!

This aversion to sight led to glasses and the inevitable playground teasing (which I never really understood…you’re making fun of me because I can see? Is this like an Nihilist thing?), but despite my optometrist’s transparent promise that glasses would improve my eyesight (honestly, that’s like telling someone with a sprained ankle that using a wheelchair for a year will make them a faster runner), I was declared legally blind at age 10 after I got hit in the eye with a lacrosse stick. The lacrosse stick was actually completely unrelated to the blindness thing, the doctor just happened to tell me I was blind whilst diagnosing my scratched cornea. Dramatic as it may seem, basically the only real restrictions of being blind is that I’m not licensed to drive a car without corrective lenses, and without corrective lenses, anything that’s farther than six inches from my face is reduced to a blur of colors and rudimentary shapes.

Loved ones or sworn enemies? Approach with caution.

Clearly I don’t go wandering around without contacts or glasses, which brings me to my current issue. Returning to school in the fall I had to stretch my vision across classrooms to see the board, and realized that my contact prescription was woefully outdated. That’s right, my eyes are still getting worse. I knew I would be going home for a long weekend in October for Loras’ fall break, so I acted like the responsible adult I think I’m supposed to become, and called the eye clinic to make an appointment. It didn’t go well.

Receptionist: How may I help you, Lindsay?
Me: I’d like to make an appointment to update my contact prescription please.
Receptionist: Well, we have it in our records that you haven’t been in since 2009.
Me: Really? Well…that explains why my prescription is so bad, I guess.
Receptionist: We need you to come in for a full examination as well as your contact appointment which will include getting your eyes dilated, so you won’t be able to drive. Will that be a problem?
Me: I…I don’t think so, um it will probably depend on when–
Receptionist: Alright, I have an opening for both appointments on the morning of November 8th. Will that work?
Me: Uh no, I won’t be home then. I go to school in Iowa, but I’ll be home in two weeks for a long weekend…do you have any openings on the 13th or 14th of October?
Receptionist: No, I’m sorry. How about November 7th?
Me: No, I’ll be in a different state. What about near Thanksgiving? I’ll be home for the 23rd.
Receptionist: I’m sorry, there aren’t any double appointments available that day.
Me: OK, what if I came in on separate dates? Like, could I get a contact appointment in October and have the full check-up at Thanksgiving?
Receptionist: I’m sorry?
Me: Could I break up the appointments?
Receptionist: We typically schedule them together.
Me: Right, but I really need to get my prescription updated as soon as possible.
Receptionist: Are your contacts affecting your driving?
Me: Um, I don’t know. I don’t drive at school.
Receptionist: You don’t drive?
Me: At school. I don’t have a car at school.
Receptionist: So it’s not affecting your driving?
Me: I don’t know. If I had to guess, I’d say I wouldn’t be able to read street signs very well.
Receptionist: Alright. Well I can schedule both appointments in December. It’s much easier for us to do them together.
Me: I mean, if that’s really the best you can do I’ll make it work. I’ll be home in December from–
Receptionist: There’s an opening December 13th in the afternoon.
Me: –the 16th until January 2nd.
Receptionist: How about January 9th?
Me: …You know what, I will be home the entire last week of January. How does that look for you?
Receptionist: I can get you in January 24th at 9am.
Me: That’s perfect. I’ll take it. Thank you.
Receptionist: Have a nice day!

After I hung up and was ten minutes late to choir because the entire phone call took over twenty minutes, it registered that I had made an appointment for the 24th of January on the 29th of September. Because I was trying to be a responsible adult and call two weeks in advance of my break.

So much time...wasted...

I don’t know why eye appointments have become as elusive as dermatology appointments or DMV appointments, but if you’re planning on making one last minute, try telling the receptionist that you’re pretty sure the people you just hit were actually a grizzly bear, or possibly several chipmunks, which makes sense since you’re driving through a heavily wooded section of Minneapolis. That might get your appointment moved up a good month or two.

Happy Trails!

Oh yeah, I have a blog.

I swear I’m not dead. This funny thing happened when I went back to Iowa though, this strange thing called school. And with this school there was also an expectation that I read books and write papers and code in assembly and other such schooly things. That’s not to say I didn’t have any free time, but I found that best spent as human interaction. Or sleeping.

This photo is completely inaccurate. I would never have a Mac.

I also found myself constantly getting distracted. I would sit down to write something clever about my truly mundane life, and instead find myself Christmas shopping on Amazon, or making grocery lists, or thinking of choreography ideas. Even now I’m struggling to get words down because there’s a Star Wars marathon on TV. The problem is, the more I didn’t blog, the more I had to write about, and then I got overwhelmed thinking about it, so I never wrote anything. All semester. It’s an infinite loop if I’ve ever seen one.

Help!

I had actually considered just giving up on this altogether, but I enjoy it; furthermore, apparently people have been asking various family members if I’m ever going to write again, and I’d hate to make them dirty liars. Better late than never, right?

Spoiler alert, this is by far my longest post ever. You might need to take some time out of your day to fully enjoy my self-indulgent comeback.

Please to enjoy, an abridged account of notable events from my 7th collegiate semester, aside from recurring trends like $3 pitchers of long island iced tea from Houlihan’s on the weekend and screaming my head off at the TV when the Hawkeyes played. Or when they didn’t play.

This is the reason I discovered $3 long island pitchers.

September

Back to School:
Back to school! Senior year and all that. As everyone has been telling me, yes it’s flying by, and yes I’m making the most of it, which you’ll hear more about very shortly. As for the scholarly part of school, I took a relatively light semester which was still kind of an adjustment after last semester in Ireland. I had my cluster courses (which is part of Loras’ “Advanced General Education” requirements that is supposed to make us better rounded students, but mostly succeeds in screwing up people’s schedules enough that they end up having to stay extra semesters. The cluster is two AGEs that somehow relate to each other and must be taken simultaneously) of Social Psychology and The Equality of Race and Gender Reformation, which required endless reading and a paper written every night. I don’t mind doing homework, it’s just difficult to get excited about topics that have absolutely no bearing on my major and/or future, though I clearly learned something since I can identify my attitude on the subjects as out-group homogeneity. Did I mention I hate psychology?

Speaking of my major, I also took Computer Organization and Architecture, a frustratingly difficult hardware and engineering class (the Organic Chemistry of Computer Science) that came equipped with an irately neurotic lab partner with agonizingly low programming self-esteem. Labs became a trial of patience, and for the sake of preventing any nervous breakdowns I wrote all of our lab reports.
I also took Project Management, which was actually interesting and useful considering I’m a Management of Computer Information Technology, meaning I will deal with the business end of the IT department someday. This made approximately 25% of my course load applicable after the end of the semester. Well done, Loras.

Welcome to the Neighborhood:
Having spent both the spring semester and summer out of Dubuque, I was a late inductee to the neighborhood. The neighbors are a group of my friends and close acquaintances at Loras who hold the tradition of Tuesday Neighbor Nights: that is, we play cards at Zack’s house and then go to Fat Tuesday’s, our favorite neighborhood bar.

Where everybody knows your name.

Yes, we also hang out on weekends, and (occasionally) do things other than drink, but Neighbor Nights are an important part of  Senior Year.

Homecoming:
And speaking of important senior year rituals, there’s Homecoming. At Loras, we have Miracle Mile, a tradition that involves wearing matching shirts, traveling around to different senior houses, and starting to drink at 7am. Miracle Mile is followed by the official Loras tailgate, and the football game (which we lost miserably). Other than that, I think Homecoming is best described in pictures.

The best part of all of this was getting up at 7:30am the next morning to sing at 10am Homecoming mass for choir.

October

Histio Heroes:
I traveled to my Aunt Jacque’s house Batavia, IL with my Aunt Maggie, Uncle Tom, and various cousins to run a 5K for the Histiocytosis Foundation for my cousin Liam, who was diagnosed with Histiocytosis last year.

This guy.

The little guy’s a fighter, and the doctors are extremely optimistic with his progress, but it was really nice to be able to do something to help out.

Iowa Homecoming:
Since I clearly didn’t get enough Homecoming festivities at Loras, I went in for round two at Iowa. Kelsey’s mom scored two tickets to the game, making it my first ever visit to Kinnick. I also got to hang out with my very favorite Iowa student while we were there.

Iowa girls! Hot Iowa girls!

Halloween:
This year marked the first time I’ve celebrated Halloween since I was a freshman at Loras. I’m guessing this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m now 21. I went out with my roommates and some other neighbors where we encountered many costumes that defied late October weather in Iowa, and a heavy police presence downtown.

But we looked good, so that’s all that really matters.

Army Chick, Loras Cheerleader, Blackmail, Cruella DeVil, Ninja Turtle, Olive Penderghast (Easy A), Mail Carrier, and the Sun Drop girl

November

Haircut:
I got a haircut! Look!

So did Mo.


Sister’s Weekend:
As is typical for the first weekend in November, all of my mom’s sisters and their daughters (and daughters-in-law) get together for a weekend of shopping and eating and gossiping at one of my aunt’s house. This year we went back to Jacque’s in Batavia. Shopping and eating ensued.

Alex and Karen come to visit:
Alex and Karen came to visit me! Alex ran some crazy over-the-river-and-through-the-woods race in Des Moines that actually took him through the river in the course of about 20 miles, because it’s Alex, and a race isn’t worth running unless it’s longer than a marathon, or against the elements, or he’s being chased by a rancor.

They stopped to visit me on Saturday afternoon, and were able to enjoy some of the best Dubuque had to offer in quality dining and entertainment. Namely, Paul’s and Fat’s.

They also had the misfortune of experiencing the Walnut.

Thanksgiving:
I ran another 5K! I actually ended up dropping a little over a minute from my time of the one in October, which I’m sure I more than made up for with the amounts of turkey and stuffing I put in my face later that day. Other highlights from being home include decorating the house for Christmas, seeing high school friends, and taking our Christmas Card picture.

It's funny because we're both 21 now. GET IT??!?

December

870 Christmas:
Following a three-hour choir rehearsal scheduled on a Friday night (in Christ the King Chapel so we couldn’t shout profanities at our director for scheduling a three hour choir rehearsal on a Friday night), my roommates and close friends had a small holiday gathering at our house. There was tons of food (compliments of me and mostly Steve, who makes ridiculously good dips and spreads), drink, presents, and Christmas Cheer (despite my Fireplace DVD calling it quits at the last second). As our last Loras Christmas, I think it went really well. Plus I got a set of Hawkeye cutting boards and a wine glass that holds an entire bottle of wine, so I consider myself very blessed in this holiday season.

Zack Attack Neighbor Night:
As our last official Neighbor Night of the semester, a few of us came up with the idea to dress up like Zack, who for lack of a better word, is more or less the leader of the neighbors. Zack works in downtown Dubuque, and has a habit of always wearing khakis and a light blue button-up dress shirt. By “always” I mean I think I’ve seen him in other clothes about five times all semester. We got a fairly good response to the plan, and managed to surprise Zack, as well as confuse a lot of people at Fat’s.

Will the real Zack please stand up?

Finals:
This was my seventh round of finals at Loras. Incidentally, there were seven layers of Hell described in Dante’s Inferno. I’m not pointing fingers of course, mostly because I’m still pretty sleep deprived and might end up jabbing someone in the eye; however, I think it’s a little strange that it’s one hundred percent socially acceptable to live on a diet of coffee and refined sugar and only sleep for six hours every forty-eight hours, all in the name of glorious education (and classes I will never think of again once I get my final grades back).

But I suppose that’s all part of the college experience, too.

So ends my glorious 7th semester. It’s weird to think that I only have one left, but in lieu of babbling on in a semi-philosophical state for a few more paragraphs about how everything so far this year has taught me a valuable lesson for my future, I’m going to drink several glasses of wine, bake some cookies, and think of more blogging material.

If that doesn’t keep adulthood at bay, I’m not sure what will.

Cheers!