Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Beginning of My Summer

It's been a while since  have last blogged. Since then, the school year has ended, a number of my closest friends have graduated, two have married, I have moved into a new apartment (for the summer) and I have started a summer CPE placement. The apartment is great. I am able to have a fully functioning kitchen, unlike when I was living in the dorms. I also have air conditioning which s phenomenal most days, but when I have had a bad day at work coming home to an air conditioned apartment just makes it all so much better. My roommate is the same person I will be living with, in a different apartment, during my senior year. It is working out great thus far.

My home presbytery requires everyone under care to complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. The majority of people complete this in your average medical hospital. On average you end up having t pay about $750 for the CPE credit and then have to figure out how to live for the summer without an income. This was not a feasible endeavor for me. There are too many bills to be paid and a matter of eating during the summer. So I found one of the very few placements that pay you. I was one I had a little bit of experience with, and one that one of my roommates from last summer had done. So this summer, instead of serving as a chaplain intern at a medical hospital I am interning at a state psychiatric hospital.

Yesterday I finished up my second week at the hospital. My supervisors are amazing and my group of fellow interns are amazing. I drive a carpool of 4 interns and most afternoons our ride home is very quite because we are processing everything we have seen and heard and experienced that day.I particularly love learning about the clinical side of psychiatric care. I am able to read patient's charts and learn about their diagnoses and their past. I am becoming very familiar with the different forms of Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder. I work on the treatment mall where I am able to interact with a variety of different patients. Some a scary, and it is important not to show fear, some seem completely harmless, and some you would think are staff instead of a patient.

In the past two weeks I have lots of interesting conversations with patients about religious things, like purgatory and reincarnation, as well as about their life in the hospital, and a vast array of other topics I would not think we would talk about. I have helped a patient pray to Saint Michael and recited the Hail Mary. I have discussed Hindu practices with another patient. I have been hit on by patients and solicited for sex. And that was all just this week. Interesting things happen when you're a chaplain intern at a psychiatric hospital, but I am loving every minute of it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

So I Got a Tattoo...

A couple of years ago I got a tattoo in remembrance of my father. Since then I have been interested in getting more pieces done. I have been in interested getting a Boston related piece done for quite some time. I was born and raised in Boston, and it remains a huge part of who I am. This week's events essentially moved the timing of this particular tattoo up a bit. Friday I randomly decided that it was time. A friend and I drove to New Hope, PA and soon after my wrist looked very different.
I have many people express concern that I will regret this tattoo or that it will be impossible to cover. I do not think I will ever come to refer it. Boston is my city. Boston is my home. Boston is who I am. Now, wherever I travel I will always have a piece of Boston with me. And unlike many of my classmates and friends I do not anticipate working in a traditional church congregation setting and therefore do not envision having to cover my tattoo. I am very pleased with it and proud if my decision!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We Will Endure

I do not know if I have ever felt so useless or helpless or I am not even sure if the proper title to put upon the way I feel yesterday and today. I feel like I should be doing something and yet have no idea what I can possibly do. Yesterday explosions went off in downtown Boston. Thus far, three have died (including an eight year old little boy) and over 140 are injured, many of which have lost limbs. I feel like I should be there, helping in some way.

The Boston Marathon is supposed to be a joyous event. For many organizations it is a chance for fundraising. Millions of dollars are raised for diabetes, pediatric cancer, leukemia, and countless other diseases. It is also an event that attracts hundreds of thousands people to our city and some one or some group of people decided to sieze that opportunity. When I first heard the news my thought immediately went to members of my family who were running in and volunteering at the race. Initially, the reports I heard was simply that there was some sort of explosion, but it did not mention any injuries. And as news continued to come in, and as I realized how serious it truly was I felt unable to move. Things like this usually don't hit me that hard. With school shootings and other such violent and cowardice events, I am sadden and I pray for those affected. But as a resident of Massachusetts. As a girl born and raised in and by South Boston, this hit me hard. Boston is and always will be my home. The thought that someone could do this to my home is devastating.

But they forget that Boston is a strong city. We are a people rich in character and endurance. I generally try to avoid expletives in my Facebook and twitter posts but they has not held true in the past 24 hours. For one, the fact that there is a family that has lost their 8 year old son in addition to their daughter and mother being hospitalized and going through different surgeries for their injuries disgusts me. These children are close personal friends of members of the church that raised me. Our children should not be dying. We should not have to worry about losing limbs when we go to watch a footrace. This is not the only expletives I've used on social media in regards to this tragedy. Someone posted an image of the mascots of the 4 Boston based sports teams (Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins) with the subtitle "You Fucked with the Wrong City!" I reposted it. I think it is entirely true. We will endure. You, whoever you are, have hurt us greatly. You have injured many and murdered some. You have also pissed this city, this state, and many others who consider Boston a part of them, off. Remember, we are the city where when Chick-Fil-A came out as anti-gay, or mayor said they would never have a place in our city. We are a city that fights for our own. We are a city that bands together. We are a city that will mourn and overcome. We are called Massholes for a reason. Whoever did this should be scared now.

Cities across the country are praying for us. Athletes with Boston connections are writing "Pray for Boston" on their skates and gloves. Entire arenas are holding a moment of silence for our city. We will endure. The Presbyterian Church (USA) will have the disaster team in Boston in just over an hour. It makes me even prouder to be a Presbyterian. Fourth Presbyterian Church (340 Dorchester St South Boston) is having a prayer service at 7:00 First Pres Waltham has their sanctuary open all day for those who need it. Local law enforcement and the FBI are working together to track down the people who thought it was a good idea to fuck with Boston.

We are Strong. We are Family. We are Bostonians. We will Endure.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Queer is me.

The word queer is a difficult term. For some, it is a painful word. One filled with hatred and homophobia. A pejorative term. For others it is an all-encompassing term to describe anyone in the sexuality alphabet soup. And still for others, it is there self-assigned term of identification. As one who is not a huge fan of labels and yet exists within a world where labels are the norm and are expected, this is the term that I choose to use to identify myself.

I do not believe in the gender binary. I believe that gender is fluid. A person should not be defined by their parts, but rather their hearts. Personally, it is a person’s heart or rather their personality that attracts me and not their genitalia, or the gendered characteristics. Those that are fans of labels might label me as being pansexual or omnisexual. In the past I have dated those that are cis-female and cis-male. I have been attracted to people in transition, people that are androgynous, and people that identify as genderfluid.

I am in a relationship with a cis-man. I will be marrying him next year. So if I am going to be in what looks like your run of the mill heterosexual marriage, why does my sexuality or sexual orientation matter? Sexuality is part of what makes us us. It is an important part of who we are. My sexuality and my involvement with the greater queer community is a huge part of who I am. I am done hiding this part of myself.

When I was fourteen years old I sat my father down and explained to him that I liked boys and girls. This was not taken well. I honestly believe this greatly attributed to the sudden rapid escalation of his alcoholism and thereby his admittance to a detox facility and continuous bouts in rehabs. At the time, the only people aware of my sexuality were myself, the girl I was with, and a friend. Perhaps it was my tomboyish nature or something else that gave it away, but a walked into school one day to find DYKE carved into my locker. Until the end of my time in college I did not tell another person that my interest was in more than just boys.

I am called to ministry. I have no doubts about it. However, my call does not lie within the white walls and stained glass of a church. My call is a bit messier than that. My call is to work with homeless LGBTQ youth. I do not know if my governing body will support my call. But it is a call that I cannot deny for any reason. As one who identifies as a member of the community, one who has dealt in many ways with rejection, as one who was abandoned, as one who was neglected, as one who has dealt with the family courts system, and as one who is now in a place where I can help others, and it a place where God is working in my life to help youth, I must.

Queer is a difficult word. It holds so many meanings for different people. But it is a term that I place upon myself. It is my term. It is the term for the kids I work with and hope to continue working with. Queer is me. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Existential Crisis

Admittedly, the title of this post is a tad dramatic. However, some days I feel that it is entirely accurate. Seminary ahs led me to have regular existential crises.

Seminary has been a great experience thus fat. I have completed a little over a year and a half of a three-year program. I am more than half done. I have had ups and downs. I have failed and I have succeeded. I have had numerous health problems and have made great friends.

But one thing seminary has truly done is to make me question everything. I have never really questioned that there is a God but I have questioned so many other things. When I came to seminary, I thought I would be leaving ordained and ready to lead a small congregation. I know now that this is not the case. I no longer have an interest in pastoring a church or in being ordained.

I have been a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) since elementary school. I have been ordained as a deacon and as a ruling elder. I am currently an inquirer of the ordination track. But my classes and my experiences make me question whether or not this is the right denomination for me. For one thing, all of my Presbyterian comrades seem to love love love Karl Barth. I have not read much Barth and I have no interest in reading any more of his work. My Presbyterian friends and professors LOVE John Calvin. I cannot stand John Calvin! My hatred for him and his work began when a professor said to me, “If a baby gets a brain tumor and dies, John Calvin says that it is God’s will!” I that that that is messed up and that does NOT sound like the God I believe in! I do not really fall in line with predestination and the total depravity.

I believe in pacifism. I believe in a God who lets us make out own mistakes but is there to save us. I believe in unending grace. I believe that awful things happen but not that those awful things are God’s will. I believe in free will. I believe in a God who acceptance and loving embraces.
II do not know where I belong. Maybe the PUSA is the right lace for me, but maybe it is not. Is it possible to live within a denomination while totally excluding the works of the theologians that they build their beliefs off of?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Medical purgatory

I feel like I'm in some sort of Purgatory. And waiting for the other shoe to drop. And other metaphors and analogies for waiting for a result. Back in October, I blogged about some of the health issues that I've been facing. I wish it where as easy and as simple as I thought it was back in October. So it turns out that I was misdiagnosed with celiac disease. I do not have celiac disease, and in fact I am now able to eat dairy which I had been allergic to for almost a decade.
Day after Christmas I received a phone call from my doctors office asking me to call back immediately because it was very urgent that they speak to me instantly. I called them back to find out what the important thing was and it was just an appointment to follow up on my test results. I asked them if I was going to die if I didn't come instantly and of course the Answer was no. So I scheduled an appointment for when I returned to New Jersey. At my appointment we went over the test results from bloodwork that had previously been done. As suspected I am severely anemic and also severely vitamin D deficient. The doctor prescribed a heavy iron medication as well as a large vitamin D supplement. Not as expected was learning that it's my kidneys were dehydrated. I was advised to drink more water. However I already drank water and chew ice like it is going out of style. So this does not make much sense to me. We will look back on it at my next appointment.
The other thing they found had to do with my thyroid. As it turns out I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's disease. Essentially my thyroid is not producing any of the hormone that is supposed to produce. This is because my immune system thinks that this hormone is enemy bacteria and destroys it instantly. The doctor gave me for this as well and we will retest my blood in a few weeks. In addition to the medication my doctor ordered a thyroid ultrasound. This was a semi-painful procedure because the technician Used the ultrasound wand and repeatedly pressed down on my thyroid. At one point the technician flipped a switch which changed the ultrasound image into a multicolored image different colored shapes appeared on the image with sizes mark next to them, I knew that this was not a good sign. My doctors office called me later in the week to inform me, over the phone, that the ultrasound revealed a large number of nodules on my thyroid with a high probability of being cancerous. Following my blood work and in a few weeks we will discuss the options to further investigate the nodules which may include an air aspirated needle biopsy. This is a very frightening notion. I have never had any sort of procedure done. The most severe of medical procedures I've had is a cast one I broke my arm. I want answers and I hate feeling the way I'm feeling so if that is what it takes to get answers of course I will go through with it, however I hope that they knock me out for this. The medication of the doctors prescribed this is just me alleviating some of the symptoms of the Hashimoto's disease. I'm not entirely sure which symptoms it is supposed to take care of...Because I still feel exhausted I am able to sleep more than any person should be. It's a good thing that my first class on most days of the week is not until 1 PM because I am not awake before 11.
In other news I have joined a gym. I'm attempting to go at least three times a week. Ideally it would be more like every other day. And someone is I wish I had a friend to work out with so that I would be motivated to drive to the gym and work out and yet and other ways I don't want to work out with anyone I know because those body image issues. My goal, I am about sure of how realistic it may or may not be, is to lose 140 pounds in the next 16 months. This feels currently near impossible when eating on the school meal plan as I currently am forced to do. I hope and believe that this will become easier when the school year ends and I am able to cook for myself this summer.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I'm beginning to think that the longer I am in seminary the more clear my sense of call is. I suppose that this makes total sense. When else have I been so tested mentally, academically, spiritually, emotionally and physically? I've taken classes and my year and a half here that have challenged me in so many ways. I wanted to give up and quit seminary more times than I can count. But I stuck with it. I've cried myself to sleep. I've cried myself through studying. But still I persevere.

And in all of this growth and reflection and personal discernment one of the big things that I have been working on, especially with discernment, is figuring out where I feel called vocational. One point, years ago, I thought I felt called to parish ministry. And though I appreciate those who do feel called, and though I do enjoy preaching every once in a while, I know that I am not called to Parish ministry. This semester I have been doing a field education placement with the presbytery of West Jersey. I am been learning about the hunger issues in New Jersey and traveling from church to church through out the Presbytery teaching congregations about hunger and encouraging them to get involved with different missions related to hunger. It is been very rewarding and I have learned that I definitely enjoying this more then parish ministry or church placements. I cannot see some sort of educational or advocacy work being a part of what I am called to do.

After graduation I am moving to Louisville, Kentucky for the year to join my then-husband as he finishes up his final year of seminary. Following his graduation we hope to move back to Massachusetts. In Boston and the surrounding area there is a plethora of different nonprofits that would be amazing to work with and to work for. In particular I think the human rights campaign is very appealing as is the Waltham house, a home through the home for a little wanderers organization, that caters to young LGBTQ homeless teens. There are so many nonprofits that focus on education and advocacy and civil rights that would be amazing to become a part of. I think that the fields of that holds the most interest to me is civil rights and LGBTQ issues. Especially homeless LGBTQ young adults. I don't really have any doubts that I would be able to find a career where I would be able to both earn money as well as feel like I'm making a difference.

So at this point the thing that I'm having the most difficulty discerning is whether or not to continue on the ordination process. Working for some sort of nonprofit organization would not require me to be ordained. The ordination process for the Presbyterian Church has proven to this far be very stressful and I'm only on the beginning stage. Additionally, it is a very expensive process. At this point is difficult for me to be okay with forcing myself to go through so much stress and financial strain when ordination is not required. Things to think about and pray about and talk about and discern.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Save the Dates

So next summer I am marrying the man of my dreams. We're planning a relaxed wedding at the camp where we met, had our first date, and where he proposed. It only makes sense! We are paying for it ourselves, So we don't have a huge budget. A lot of it is DIY projects! As I complete projects I'll post them to my blog. The first project I'm working on is the save the dates. I've come up with forcing the dates as inspired by then some Internet but I can't decide which to go with. I really like one of them but most of my family hates it. What do You think?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I have a dress!

Christmas break is great because everyone is home and we can spend time together. It's the only time everyone is together. So during break we went dress shopping! I went to David's Bridal with Jenn (future mom-in-law), Shelby (future sister-in-law), Amanda, Katie, and Brittny (3 of the bridesmaids). I tried on so many dresses that were nice. Some I hated. And then finally tried on the one I fell in love with. It was so much fun shopping with my ladies!
When i realized that this was the dress i sent pictures to my brother-in-law and sister. I put a deposit down on the dress and was told that I had 60 days to pay it off. Once it was paid off they would order it for me. When I went to spend time with my brother-in-law (John) and sister (Kacie) before heading back to school they had a surprise for me. John paid off my dress! So now my dress has been ordered and it arrives at the end of February! So excited! My brother-in-law is the best!


It's January and I haven't posted since the end of October. There's just so many social media platforms to keep track of. So I'm addicted to Pinterest. I have a wedding board that I share with Jenn (my future mother-in-law) and Shelby (my future sister-in-law). There's well over 200 pins on the board. It's going to be difficult to narrow down all of the amazingness to things we can actually do for the wedding. Oh that lovely constraint of having a budget! Blah!
In other news I didn't fail Hebrew. That's kind of awesome because it was a huge possibility. Not looking forward to the second semester of Hebrew though.