Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reading Rainbow

Apparently, I can write more words than any one person should about favorite movies and television shows (if that one person is not a movie or television critic, anyway), but then the words dry up, and I forget to post again.

NOT THIS WEEK!! This week, I'm linking up with Ginger's Bring Back the Words prompt around what my favorite toys were as a child, which is actually a surprisingly short list, given how many toys were in my house at any given moment when I was growing up. In fact, there's really only one item on that list...


Now, before I could read, I had a few toys that I liked. When I was three, I wanted a barn and a farm and a horse for Christmas. This was the first Christmas my mom and I shared with my soon-to-be-step-dad, and when I unwrapped the Fisher Price farm set he'd put under the tree for me, I think I knew right then and there that he was a keeper.

(I was right, by the way. He's still a keeper, 30 years later. I am an excellent judge of character, obviously.)

Then there was the American Girl doll I got when I was...10? 11, maybe? I'd wanted a Samantha doll more than ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD, and there she was on Christmas morning. The pictures from that day are a great testament to my joy that morning, but they're also a testament to pre-teen braces, frizzy hair, and remarkably pasty complexion, so...yeah. I think those pictures are in a box at my parents' house somewhere, maybe (hopefully?) never to see the light of day, again.

(Along with the video of my Jr. Miss competition (IT WAS A SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION!) when I was a senior in high school. I think I've safely hidden that away somewhere, because it was awful. Picture a group of high school girls dancing a horrific dance to Jailhouse Rock by Elvis, in white sweatsuits with black electrical tape lines on them, made to look like jailhouse uniforms. Then imagine the ridiculous answers given to terrible pageant questions, and that is maybe the most cringe-worthy tape of my life. So. Bad.)

But books. Well, books were my life when I was growing up. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I'd read every book in the young adult section at the library that earned me extra points in the Summer Reading Club. I'd read all of the children's books my little sister brought home to read, to her if that was an option, but even to myself, if it wasn't. I'd read really age-inappropriate books, now that I think about it, that I found on my grandpa's bookshelf. I'd read cereal boxes at the kitchen table, just to have something to do.

My mom loves to tell the story about how I got lost driving home from my piano teacher's house, even though she lived five minutes and one turn away from me, because I'd turned the wrong way. Turns out, when you start reading the minute you get into the car, you're not going to know how to get yourself around the small town you've lived in all of your freaking life.

Go figure.

My mom actually had to ground me from reading from time to time, because I wouldn't get anything else done. My room would be a mess, my homework would be incomplete, my chores would be unfinished. Seriously. My mother. Would ground me. From reading.

Who does that?

I hope beyond anything else that I am able to pass this love of reading on to my girls, because I don't know what I'll do if they don't enjoy it like I do. Brigid gets two books read to her every night before bed, and I'm trying to get back into the habit of it with Caitlin, as well. I am SO DAMN EXCITED for the day when I think Brigid is finally old enough to read the Harry Potter books with me, and I have a box full of old Nancy Drew books in the basement with her name on it. Lord of the Rings, Madeleine L'Engle, Narnia, The Babysitters Club, whatever new series they have out for kids now. I want them to want to read it all.

Just as soon as they learn how to read.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reliving Notre Dame

I try to make it a point to always wear green on the Friday before a Notre Dame game, because I am just that much of an ND homer. I may or may not have bought this skirt from the J Crew outlet with just such an event in mind...
Of course, this week, I had to move my pre-gameday ritual up a few days, because Steve and I took Thursday and Friday off to actually go to Notre Dame for the game, but still...I think I got my point across.

We went back to South Bend for a game in 2011, but we'd left Brigid with my mom for the day (my parents live about two hours away from SB), and we'd just driven up and back that same day. We didn't leave the tailgate lot, except to go to the stadium and walk to the bookstore on the edge of campus when the game was over, so it had been awhile since I'd been on the actual campus. It's changed so much, but hasn't.

When I was in high school, I applied to Notre Dame to give my parents bragging rights. I thought I could get in to the university, and I wanted them to be able to tell their friends that I had, in fact, done so, because, I don't know. I was a snotty high schooler who wanted to show off, maybe? But I had absolutely no intention of going there for four years, because I wanted to move to the city. Sure, that city happened to be Indianapolis, which is maybe no great shakes to most people, but it was a big deal to me, since my closest neighbor when I was in high school was the cow that lived in the pasture across the road from us. I was going to Butler, and that was that.

But there was no point in letting my official college visits go to waste, even if I'd already made my decision, so when my best guy friend and the guy I happened to have a crush on at the time asked if I wanted to take a day to go visit Notre Dame with them, of course I went. Spend the day in school or take a four hour roadtrip with a cute guy? Please.

I was 18. I think we all know where my priorities lie.

It was cold and rainy when we got there, so we decided to skip the official tour. After all, none of us were planning to go there, anyway. My friend was moving to Boston. My crush wanted to go to Duke. Why did we need to learn about the campus?

Then we stepped inside the Basilica to look around.

Look, I am Catholic. I was baptized Catholic. I attended Catholic school through seventh grade. I taught kindergarten Sunday school when I was in high school. I've spent my life at church. But I struggle with it sometimes, and I am not as active as I should be. And I definitely wasn't as full of faith as a teenager as some people I knew at the time. And yet, the minute I walked into that church, I knew.

This was where I would spend the next four years of my life, and I have never once regretted that decision.

Six years later, I would get married in that church. Nine years after that, I would take the daughters I share with the man I met just across the quad from that church to Mass there. And I would feel the very same feelings of coming home each and every time I walked into that building.

Notre Dame is my happy place, and I think it always will be. I've been telling Steve for years that I think I'd be happy working on a college campus for the rest of my life, but I think I've been wrong. I don't think I'd want to work on a college campus, I think I'd want to work on this college campus...

...if working meant sitting outside, under a tree, with a book, in the spring and fall, of course. I may end up being the first person in history to retire to South Bend, Indiana, I think.