Wholehearted Dancing

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written more based on these funny little things called memories than just thoughts pulled out of my head, so this is a bit of a novelty.

Two things this past week (and when I say past, I mean when I started this):
– An ordination
– A swing dance

Looking at that, you might wonder to yourself how these things are connected, but to my mad mind, they are.  Or, perhaps life is just that way, with its multiple, varied, seemingly random connections.

However, to start is going to require a bit of backstory.  Gotta love backstories, they usually detail how villains came to be or how your favorite hero got that new name they have now, or all sorts of other things.

Some weeks ago, I was invited to go to the ordination by our vocations director, Father Schmitmeyer (gee, I hope I spelled his name right).  Not only that, but I was invited to sit with the current seminarians.  How could I possibly turn such an offer down?

Cut to the event on the 20th of May 2017 Anno Domini, and I find myself walking through the great exterior doors of the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains in downtown Cincinnati.  I had been there many times before, but that day, there was an extra… awesomeness to it.  The cathedral was already full, the choir was practicing, and I was looking for those that I would sit with.

You must understand, I am a rather short fellow, so even when the majority of the congregation is sitting, I can’t easily crane my neck to find certain people or groups.  Now, Father Schmitmeyer, he’s a tall priest, and picking him out of a crowd is usually a piece of cake, but of course, he was nowhere to be seen.  Panicking slightly, like you do when time is ticking away before the Mass begins, I hurried up the right aisle, then back down, trying to be inconspicuous – which is hard to do when you’re the only one walking – and then up the left aisle after a brief pause for fresh air.

I saw my friend Nick, talked with him briefly, asked where Father was, and then suddenly I happened upon my fellow Aspirants.  No, not Aspirins, as I thought, but Aspirants, people who aspire to – you know what, you get it.  If not, Google it.

I took the second row, being keen to see the procession up close.  My friends Ian and Jeff, fellow Aspirants (and one of them already a confirmed future seminarian), arrived, and well, there went my aisle seat temporarily.  They’re both pretty tall compared to me, just like the majority of the population, so I asked whether I could switch seats, and lo and behold, I got the aisle seat again.  My thanks, Jeff.

Casting my gaze around, I noticed several people who got me smiling (well, more widely than one can smile on such a momentous day):  St. Gertrude friends and the seminarians!  I’ll detail them later, seeing as I saw the majority following Communion.

Ah, but the Mass.  One of my all-time favorites, up there with the Chrism Mass, the Easter Vigil, you get the picture.  The thing is, comparing them can’t really be done.  They’re all brilliant, all in their own different ways.  Each displays a different facet of the Church, a uniquely beautiful part as varied as the people that make up the Church.

I was blessed to receive the Eucharist from one of the new priests, Father Alex, and when I returned to my seat, I saw old friends.  Molly, Mr. Bursa, Mr. Dorsey, Father Paul, Father Tom, Father Muhlenkamp, Maria, Abigail, and others.

How to describe it?  The priests smiling widely at the applause from the congregation, lying prostrate before the altar, the first blessing received from each later on in the undercroft, it was all magnificent.  I felt so proud, and also rather… I don’t know, wistful?  Nostalgic?  Those aren’t the right words.  But something was happening that afternoon, and it’s going to take more processing to find out what it was.  Perhaps a number of returns for future ordinations will explain.

Still, while I won’t forget what took place for the priests, there was one thing for me.  Mr. Dorsey happened upon me during the reception, and we talked briefly.  In that talk however, I told him what I intended to do with my future, where I thought I was called to go.  Has anyone ever told you that they’d pray for you?  It might sound silly at times, I know I think so on occasion, because I just feel weird afterward, but this instance was different.  It just… helps to know one isn’t forgotten, and this was only further heightened when the newly ordained Father Alexander said he remembered me from Saint Gertrude!  I confess I felt rather stunned, and was obviously very pleased about it.

Now, I’m going to leave that for a bit, and fast forward five days later.

It was nighttime, a little past 8:30, and my brother, friend, and I were walking into a small, quaint little structure.  We climbed the three flights of stairs, trying to be as quiet as possible.  Above, voices could be heard, and we emerged into a dance lesson already underway.

We joined in with some alacrity, and found ourselves setting foot into the semi-madness known as the Shim Sham.  While I managed to see and imitate about 80% of the dance, making those steps my own left much to be desired.  Ah well, I shall return to it with a good will.  It was in those moments where my mind was focused and serious about it that I was able to keep up best.  You might say that that goes against the whole point of dancing.  I would reply, “My good sir/madam, dancing is a very serious thing!”

Which brings me to the next part of the night.  After the lesson, the actual dance started, and wow, I actually recognized people outside of my group.  An old Chick-Fil-A coworker, a seminarian, another parishioner, etc.  I danced with many of my friends that night, and I will say it went… interestingly.  Look, I don’t usually mean to do this, but I analyze how my partner and I dance together.  Not just the basic, “oh, are we compatible at this sort of thing?” but the style presented by the duo formed.

I danced with a total of… *mentally counts* five different girls?  That sounds about right, seeing as I danced with our entire crew.  Yes.  Five.  Each one had their own unique quality of dancing, and I found myself doing different moves or conversing differently with each one.

Now, you must understand, when I dance, I have a bad habit of constantly apologizing for not really having a repertoire of moves.  The only time I won’t apologize is when I’m too busy spinning the girl through a series which requires my absolute focus.  No room for messing up, no room for regrets.

That is my wholehearted dancing, when I am fully integrated into the moves, too busy to notice or be distracted by other factors.  When I really enter into something, I don’t do it by halves.  I have an all or nothing head, and this sort of thing has translated across all aspects of my life.

But… of the actual dancing, it was rather… amusing to note how my friends held themselves during their dances, or reacted.  Some were more forceful in their spins, others anticipated my next motion (correctly, for the majority), others were more tentative in the way they gripped my hand and spun, and still others nervously placed their hand on my shoulder like I might burn them at any moment!  Five friends, five styles, each one uniquely brilliant, and then of course, my usual preoccupation with my state in life came to the fore.

As your typical young human fellow, I wonder how it’s all supposed to go.  Dancing started becoming one of those lenses through which I beheld life (I find new ones every so quite often), and so my mind began to beg the question, “How’ll I find that right partner?  That one who will take my hand without hesitation, realize and accept that I’m not the best dancer, and just sort of go for it, wholeheartedly?  How am I going to dance and act such that they look and are the best, at least given my level of capability?”
Odd terms on which to think, but I remain a tiny bit hopeful that I’ll find that right partner if they’re out there.

So I called this wholehearted dancing, talking about the actual dancing, kinda sorta the wholehearted part, and I also had an ordination part.  That last one seems misplaced, possibly, unless you’ve already seen the thread I’m going with.

Wholehearted.  There’s that word.  This utter devotion to something.  Given unto it.  When we speak of the heart in most classical terms, it’s in the context of love or death (though, in a lot of cases, the two go hand in hand).  So these men, these brave young people, they have chosen a life of service to the Church.  At the ordination, they promised to die to themselves and live for others, for their flock.  A beautiful vow, an undoubtedly difficult commitment.  Their test is one of both death and love, a love modeled after Christ’s, by which He chose the Cross.

I can only hope to exemplify something so profound, for I am a little soul, as Saint Therese says we should view ourselves; for we are in truth, quite small compared to the infinite that is God.  So my small view of this world of mine, this little gift I can make of myself must thus be an entirety.  While it cannot measure up in any way, if we seek to be one with Christ, then we must do as He did, and give freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully.  Such love is difficult to attain, and man has not the ability to do it alone.  Thus I seek companionship, of a sort that will be of mutual benefit.  After all, one of my fears is that I will tear others down on their way to Him, and sometimes the opposite.

And so I find it difficult to find that balance, between the risk of closeness and vulnerability, and a distancing of self, to avoid being that trial.  Still the question returns again and again, how can I be wholehearted if I am always holding myself back from one path or another?  My older sister might say that I am what I’m supposed to be here and now, and not to live for some future version of myself, but I confess that it’s rather difficult to do that.  I am very much future oriented, perhaps so much so that more often than not I forget to appreciate what is happening now.

Oh the eternal struggle, jumping from one blurring moment to the next, waiting for some sort of fulfillment that will only come with the end of days.  I must say, it’s rather frustrating that emotion has had more of a part in my life in recent days than reason.  I wish to temper myself, and break free of the childish impulses to which I am prone.  They tell me to grow up, and I would like to, but I’d also like to do it properly.  I seek some measure of purpose, some measure of what I must become.  I am man, both body and soul, the head and the heart, and I seek full unity between them.

So right here and now I’ll dance, perhaps you’ll do the same, and if life is to be compared, we must do more than just the motions, putting all that we are into each step, if it is to become that masterpiece that God desires for us.


Edict And The Eye – Abide Pt. 8

If you’ve ever been to Washington Park, just be aware that in the summertime, there are these lovely fountains that you can run through and get drenched by.  I managed to avoid getting soaked, despite walking through the midst of it, but many of my fellow retreat…ants… retreatants?  Retreatees?  Retreat family, failed to do so.  It was an interesting bus ride back.

Upon arrival, these soaked individuals moved faster than anyone could have expected in order to get changed before heading for the cold chapel.  While already chilly, I’m sure being drenched would have made for an extraordinarily uncomfortable time.  Once in the chapel, we had a chance to hear some of the things that others experienced, and I realized… I didn’t quite fit.  Speaking to our human nature, I know we’re all completely unique and as such, the way we experience the world will be as well, but that didn’t stop me feeling momentarily discouraged.
My friends prayed with strangers who touched their hearts, experienced and saw healing both internally and externally, and shared joy with the beautifully innocent.  I… well, I was more an observer, a quick movement in one’s field of vision, trying to help in those small, brief instants of time.

A simple man.  Lost again in my own mind, I confess, I stopped really hearing those testimonies.  My eyes were wandering, and… well, here’s one of those moments that clicks again.  The tabernacle was where my gaze fell, as it should have much earlier.  Was I distracted or simply refocusing?  As I looked at the tabernacle, I remembered standing in the gazebo and looking out over everyone from my elevated view.  I recall turning in a circle so that I could see everything about me.  I saw my peers playing ultimate, children jumping about on the playground, those running through the fountains, and those simply enjoying the air, the simple wonder.  All truly living.

Here’s where conjecture comes into play, but we had fallen into a silent moment between teens going up to give their testimonies, and it was in that time that I was sure I could hear someone speaking to me in conjunction with the image.  “These are my children, guard them well.  Your footsteps are mine.  I have chosen greatness for you.”
I don’t know if that sounds silly, maybe it was me being completely fanciful, or exhaustion setting in, but I was so sure that it was a movement.  It touched me at my core, because that was my dream, to guard, unite, and… hmm.  The point is, I couldn’t shake the surety that He was speaking to me, and that was just… empowering.  An unexpected gift in the midst of my distraction.

After that time, a small group adventure took place as all six of us searched for the rooftop garden.  We were quite the adventuring type, but in order for a discussion to start, we had to stop and sit down together.  Now, while the discussion didn’t last long (we were too eager and hyper to stay still), we basically continued what we’d heard in the chapel, sharing our own experiences before moving all over again.  Across the road we trekked, the sun sinking lower and lower with each minute that passed.  We ended up near the sports fields at MSJU, and found a table to sit around.  Somehow, our talk turned to charismatic experiences, and how each of us had our own unique way that we’d been touched by God, both on the retreat and outside its bounds.  I shared what had happened, and we prayed together, united.

And now… swing dancing.  Teaching just isn’t my thing, clearly.  I had fun, but I think I failed the many people trying to learn properly.  A few brave souls clung onto the little they knew and even stayed past the point where the majority departed for other activities.  Shortly however, it was then down to just those who had some form of experience.

My best friend tried to convince me to ask one of the Sisters to dance, but fortunately (because it probably wouldn’t have been right), they declined, so I ended up dancing with her (per their prodding).  At least six or more different songs, and with each one, I found myself lacking conversation topics.  I think I might have weirded her out by staring at her or silently raising my eyebrows at her queries, but that’s kinda… me.  Always awkward.  Towards the end of the activity, before praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and me “chasing” her up the stairs (depends on your perspective), we had a bit of a dancing couple circle thing, taking turns to swing dance in the center.  In all honesty, I felt pretty good about how she and I did.

Pro-tip when it comes to dancing with someone you like, but also wanting to maintain some sort of… I don’t want to say distance, but a sort of…  Your desire to uphold her proper dignity, because you’re not in any form of commitment, there we go.  Not just because people observe and talk, but for your souls’ sake, because it’s surprisingly easy to get too attached.  There, I said it.
So actually talk, and… try to keep conversation relatively light and carefree, but obviously not devoid of any depth.  And maybe don’t dance with her too much, but ah, I’m guilty of stealing the opportunity, so I’m not the best example there.  Last chances, last dances.

I won’t say it was a mistake, because it was good, mostly innocent fun, and I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did, but I won’t say it was the best way to keep my mind clear of worry.  “Worry about what?” you might ask.  The future, and whether those small things that I did, such as dancing, were what was best for our paths.
There I go again, ever the doubtful fellow.  Young and full of regret for the things I can’t change.  The eyes have it.


A Day for Dancing… – Eagle Eye Teen Summer Institute Pt. 11

Choir was definitely what happened next. I distinctly remember waving at my group leader, Mitchum, to let him know that I was heading out for yet another practice session.  My bit of joy and nervousness in life those sessions were. Father Francis and Sister Francesca did their utmost to help us, but ultimately, when times came around, it was up (or down possibly, I ain’t picky) to us! And good heavens was it nerve-wracking for me. It was some consolation whenever Alex turned to me with that look in his eye, nodding like we had something to confirm, as if to say “Yeah, that’s right, we sounded good during that song.”

I digress however. We sang for Mass, I did the reading, with some (painful and painfully obvious) mispronunciations, and then just like that it was lunchtime.  I could go on about the extravagance of the meal and the awesome cooks, because seriously, each day was something awesomely tasty.  Curse my head for forgetting, but I think… Luke’s birthday was that day, and if it was, I remember there being CAKE. Brilliant stuff, best quality, couldn’t argue with it, but rich enough that I only dared have one piece.

A quick cleaning followed, and then suddenly Brother Philip was asking me if I was ready to talk. I hadn’t forgotten the slip of paper, and yet in that instant, I found myself rather unprepared, the way nervousness does to you when you’ve rehearsed something in your head for a bit. So as we took a walk over to the Shrine Park near the basilica, I expressed what had been happening recently, in adoration, at home, with my vocation search.
A rather tall fellow, he listened intently with his usual calmness – something I deeply appreciated – before carefully constructing questions to make sure he fully understood what was happening. It made it somewhat easier when he agreed with my decision to hold off on pursuing a relationship with my best friend, considering both the distance and everything in between; I had to get it off my chest somehow, choices like that, whether or not I have a say in it, are hardly simple for me.

Somehow, we ended up sitting on the basilica steps overlooking the Shrine shop and cafeteria, the latter of which all my fellow participants were flocking to.  I concluded my talk with Brother Philip rather awkwardly on those steps, because I’m never sure how to transition on from deep discussion to RUN.  Yet that’s exactly what I did: I thanked him, basically leaped to my feet, and raced across the street at the drop of a hat, only stopping to pull open the cafe doors and fling myself inside with the force of a slightly small boy. Oh wait…

I promised dancing, didn’t I?
Sadly, I have no pictures of it for I was living in the moment, doing my thing without regard for capturing it this time around.  We began with a traditional Hebrew dance, I believe, led by Sister Kareen, which involved circles and fancy footwork, and then a rather interesting couple dance with bits of toe-tapping, hooking arms and spinning, and clapping on either side of each partner’s heads interspersed? I’m sure if I tried entering my (rather simplistic) “mind palace”, I could recall most of the steps for both.
I might suggest recreating it at the Eagle Eye reunion…

And then we went into another dance, maybe Irish? There was Do-si-do…ing, at least. No, perhaps I’ve truly forgotten this time.
Steps as they came to my head: Bow to your partner, one hand spin your partner, then both hands, then do-si-do (?), then the lead couple holds hands and basically gallop between the lines of guys and girls, then back up. After reaching position 1, the lead couple does this thing where they hook arms with all the partners and spin down the line until they reach the end. Then they form this arch under which all the couples dance or gallop, with the next couple becoming lead. Maybe I’ll draw up a diagram… good heavens.
If anyone knows what dance I’m talking about, please let me know.  It’s all confuzzled in my old head.

Now, picture this: we had all or basically all 45 participants, some religious, and chaperones doing this as one dance in a small cafeteria. We got everyone through as lead couple. And yeah okay, we split into two groups, but it still took quite a long time all through until To The Heights.

This last session I remember quite a bit, as men and women were split for our respective discussions. As men, we discussed good and bad role models from real life and movies/tv shows. I remember Captain America coming up quite a bit, especially in light of the recently released Civil War.  Integrity, strength, authenticity, were key terms that came up in terms of true manliness. Especially as future fathers, whether literal or figurative, we had to be sure that we were seeing and setting the right examples for our children.


The Moon, The Strobe, and The Dancers

Prom took place.  Dancing with people occurred.  It was… interesting.

How about those super fast dances?  I’m moderately okay with partner dancing, but when it comes to just messin’ around in that huge circle people do, where humans get in the center?
I’d rather walk the plank than (not then) go for an extended period of time in the center, like some of my more confident companions whose skills are unmatched (think backflips and the like).  Hail to those peeps.  I ain’t one, so I get to applaud them without it being weird.

So people seemed to appreciate my music selections that night.  Back To You – Twin Forks; Mais La – Royal Teeth
They got into it.  I was surprised.  Pity those songs aren’t more popular.  Then I wouldn’t have felt lonely singing them.
What format shall I follow for this post?  Stream of consciousness.  Now, g-g-go.

Pictures at 3:45, following the standard format of weird oddities that us homeschoolers are.  My group was comprised of several humans.  So while we roasted in the sun, waiting for the adults to take our pictures, we messed around.  Relaxing banter is relaxing.  Also, Airman.

A short drive later, we ended up at Saint Max in time for 4:30 Mass.  We managed to fit into a single pew, and us guys were nodding silently, in a very satisfied way.  The girls were amused.  And then JESUS.  Yesh, Communion.  After Mass, we headed over to the Conference Room to take stock of the food that we were blessed with, thanks to the efforts of MaryClare and the adults.  There was chocolate, pizza, chocolate, pasta, chocolate, breadsticks, and last but not least, chocolate.  Oh, and some other stuff like vegetables *makes face*.

Despite having a “rejects” table (according to Rob and others) because the main table was filled, the arrival of other cool people soon led to there not being awkward unfilled spots.  Everybody dug into the food, and enjoyed it wholeheartedly, I imagine.
Several topics came up, namely Marvel vs. DC and fork flinging.  More pictures ensued just outside of church, then we were riding up to the Holy Spirit Center in Ryan’s family car.

Enter narrative format.

I stepped out of the car, thanked Ryan’s mother, and joined the flock of human teenagers spiriting their way down the long hallway, lined with windows and doors that went on and on and on.  Upon reaching the registration table, manned by the great adults, I happened upon Mr. Courtney Brown, leader of a thousand happenings such as CREDO and Encounter.  Needless to say, I was surprised, and shook his hand briefly before heading into the courtyard of the Holy Spirit Center.  I spotted Annie, Leo, Danny, Anna, Clare, and a few others I knew more by sight than name (as usual).  Not ten minutes into traipsing the grounds, the doors to the dance floor opened, and people started to flood in, myself and crew among them.

I set my suit jacket and hat down on a chair, and breathed in the air.  Suddenly, multicolored lights started flashing, and A Sky Full Of Stars was playing… except it was oddly distorted.  Oh well.  It was still a good song.  The first swing song turned out to be an excellent one, requested by Nathan.  Dance With Me Tonight – Olly Murs.  I immediately sought out a partner, and asked Lydia to dance.  We had just gotten into the motions when tragedy struck.  The song turned out to be a mix of the first song and… Dear Future Husband, by Meghan Trainor.  Being the humans that we were trained to be, we powered through the mix, wincing at parts, but staying committed to the task at hand.  *insert face of disgrace*

A lot of line dances followed, and it was quite the party as people kept filing in.  I greeted Jarod and Anna Grace among others, and found myself partaking of the fresh air outside with fellow teenagers who had been deafened by the loud music.  In short, success was had.

Anyway…  we had a whole ton of fun, and despite my earlier misgivings, I did manage to dance with quite a few of my group members and others.  Let’s see… out of the group, I danced with Lydia, Annika, Abby, Claire, Mary Clare, and Olivia.  Hopefully they enjoyed the… rather meager skills displayed by my person.  Oh well.  Out of those outside my group, I managed to secure dances with… Anna, Marissa, Annie, Natalie, and Emily.  Now I realize that maybe I didn’t dance that much… huh… well, I guess you could count those other dances.  Walking in the moonlight was peaceful though.  I wouldn’t give that up.

Seniors got called up about halfway through the dancing, and Annie nearly deafened my already debilitated ear (am I using that word correctly?) by shouting out Maria’s name to get her to the front with the other seniors.
Then more dances, during which swing songs happened.  Those were the ones where I took the opportunity to dance with the aforementioned partners.  One of those dances ended up being a waltz to “Don’t Stop Believing” with Natalie.  That was rather excellent.  I remembered who she was, and she remembered me, and it wasn’t weird!  Yay!  I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, when music sped up once more.  With legs already tired from Cotton Eyed Joe and the Cupid Shuffle and all the other bits and pieces, I walked out.  My friends joined me shortly thereafter, and together we sat on the steps, livin’ the dream… of sitting on steps and relaxing.
We did go back in for the last 30 minutes of dancing.

Eventually, things wrapped up, and the usual process of clean-up and farewells took place.
After-prom was… interesting… for me.  I was already dead.  So I just staggered about, and it was weird, and I was weird.  But I played chess, and ate food, so it was successful.  Right? Right?  OBLIVIATE!

– M

A Thousand Shiny – Formally Dressed – Krenkos

So there’s that title.

Four – no, three, topics:

Shiny Krenkos/RPG (Almost Complete) Reunion
St. Gertrude
A (no, The) Formal

To begin with the blessings of a thousand shiny Krenkos… Saturday was the epic day of Magic, bonfires, and jokes born of exhaustion.
In other words, absolutely fantastic stuff.
It all started with an impromptu get together plan at Jacob and Sam’s house.  Turns out, those bros (and our sort of adopted/extended ones) were both home for the weekend.  College in other places does tend to keep people busy.
The epitome of epic involved Ale-8 bottles, toasts, the occasional groveling to whoever the mighty king of the moment was.  Yes, Jacob, Sam, Rich, Cam, Paco, and myself… but not forever!  Nathan joined in with gusto, and soon we had a nasty game of Usurper going, zapping people left and right with mad skillz.  Alas, I did not survive my entire reign as king.  Sam, the assassin, did his job well.  I was as dead as a doornail.
But to soften the blow, we had hotdogs of excellence, meat, moar meat, chocolate, and some discussion and campfire songs.  Let me tell ya, when singing happens, it gets pretty crazy.
A Thousand Shiny Krenkos, and all that.  Saturday.  End.

St. Gertrude, was as awesome as ever.  I’ll be brief on the topic though.  It’s quite a bit to understand and keep processing.  First off, we started with a huge game of Bingo, involving tables… round tables.  Knights of the round table.  Because it was a table of all guys, but never mind.  We played with Skittles, and while nobody at our table won any of the fabulous prizes that they presented, it was still a lot of fun.  Lots of fake complaining about rigged games, and a bunch of random clapping from all around.
Mr. Courtney Brown (the guy, not a girl) from Ruah Woods showed up, and gave an awesome talk on the human person.  The dude was pretty hilarious.  I think he had the right balance between funny and serious.  Of course, it helped that us teens were… attentive enough…
Post-talk, we had small groups, in which we discussed… reasonably personal topics, but that was okay, because people were loud enough that we couldn’t hear the others unless we tried really hard.  After ending in prayer, we mingled about, talking with friends.  Matt, Braden, Claire, Clare, Natalie, Michael, Jarod, and Annie were the main people I… met or just talked to.  Others were also present, but being an introvert… awkward turtle self reasserted itself, and thus, I just did my own thing.
Somebody “stole” Annie’s shoes.  I think we should all take note of that.  Never trust middle schoolers who look like the pranking type.  I think.  Maybe it was a high-schooler.  Maybe Annie was practicing to be a hobbit (yes, I personally asked her that beforehand).  Whatever.  The point is, be wary of pranky people.  Especially when it’s pouring rain from the heavens that day.  I ran through pouring rains to reach the sanctuary of my family car.  Good times.
Sunday, finished.

And last but not least, and certainly not the shortest of the three… this Friday’s formal.
This one required breaking-out-of-shell tactics that I totally failed at… to say the least.
3:30 was pictures of fantastic proportions.  We had so many people I would definitely miss somebody if I tried listing them.  Okay, maybe not, but I won’t attempt it.  Suffice it to say, I’ll include a photo with most (not all, because there were several dudes who showed up shortly afterward) of the humans.
At 1600 hours, we moved out, and started the… almost hour long drive to our destination.
Now here was where the girls diverged from the guys in terms of discussions.  Sitting in the back were myself and three other dudes.  We started talking about schisms and different heresies, and a bunch of other theological topics, including the Crusades.
Some of the girls joined in at certain points, but for the most part, they talked about their stuff, and we talked about our stuff.  It was quite engaging.  We prayed the Rosary, and upon our arrival, people went and joined the dance class that was taking place.
So for an hour, I explored the Sacred Heart Church – which was a very pretty location, might I add – and talked and sang with my brothers in arms.  I confess, I was especially proud of my Doctor Who tie when it came up as a short topic.  Yes, vanity of vanities.  Shut up, me.
When the dance class ended around 5:45, we all stalked briskly into the main hall room, and immediately – as one friend of mine noted – the “segregation began”, with girls and guys taking mainly separate tables.  Fortunately, that was solved, because people inter-mingled eventually.  Heh, well, almost everyone.  Again, awkward turtle.

So social hour happened, I ate food, chewed peppermint-flavored mints, and hung out near the window.  Behold, my introversion.  Mrs. Luke, the coordinator, soon called everyone together into a big, open circle.  She gave some messages, then had us all give our name and a symbol that we would put on a surfboard to distinguish it as ours (the theme for the formal was Hawaiian).
IMMEDIATELY following, people just went straight into the Cha Cha Slide… I think.   Either that, or we had dinner first.  Whatever.  The dance happened pretty quickly.  Then BAM!  I found myself at the mercy of the innovative dance card.
Now for those of you that aren’t used to it, don’t worry.  I was like: “!!!!” in response to dance cards.  Scary stuff.  Basically, you get a card with all the names of the girls you must dance with at an appointed time.  Later that night, it wasn’t so bad, but getting into the flow at the beginning had my head spinning.
That, or the trying to find the assigned female in the gaggles of young ladies.  It all worked out, and I danced with both awesome people, people more awkward than me (I know, I thought that wasn’t possible), and people who fell in the middle with traits from both extremes.  Some laughed at my terrible puns, others appreciated the fact that I didn’t slam them into people every two seconds (it was a very crowded homeschooler dance floor).  All in all, the only dances I didn’t really make an attempt to do were most of the line dances, and quite a few of the open dances (because Tango, Mambo, and Rumba, are dances that I just can’t successfully do for the life of me).
So, following my dance card, I danced with *looks at dance card and counts* about 26 girls, all told.  Short songs were played, but that opened up opportunities to dance with everyone.  I could do Triple and Single Step Swing, Waltz, and Cha Cha.  I only missed one dance with a girl who went AWOL for the song we were scheduled for.  Which was a crying shame, in my opinion.
I was glad of the breaks.  They were the only way that I survived anything.  After the first break, we had the Cinderella dance, where girls toss shoes into the center, and then guys go and grab a shoe and find the lady.  Simple, yes?  Not quite.  In a profusion of confusion, guys went around looking for the owner of the shoe.
I picked a black, conservative, flat shoe that made me think of… sensibility.  There, I said it.  Shoes and sensibility.  Whatever.  I danced with… Molly, I believe her name was.  Being terrible with names… well, I could totally be wrong.  At least I tried, amirite?
Electric Slide occurred, and I joined a bunch of guys in doing the… arm link + knee + kick thing.  No idea what the technical term is.  More partner dances, and then… bam!  Another break.  Praise the Lord!  I was able to finish my sandwich, and sit back for a bit longer, pondering the mysteries of life… just kidding, I was trying to figure out who my next 10 partners were.  Sam gave me sage advice.  He said to ask the girl that I wanted to dance with sooner rather than later because:
A. She might get asked by some other bloke.
B. She might be tired, and straight up reject me.
C. I honestly don’t think there was a C… maybe something about it being good for me?

That slate was wiped clean as they called for… the Reverse Cinderella (as I call it)!  Reverse Flash sounds better, maybe.  Us guys popped off our black shoes, and smirked as the girls tried to find us owners.  It was a merry chase.  At last, my shoe was returned to me by Emma, from the co-op.  Blond hair, a highly amused expression, and an excellent dancer.  I was intimidated, but just decided to toss my instincts aside for once.  Well, most of them.  I had to keep my wits about me to do moves, obviously.
It was a good dance, and us guys basically got a mini-revenge on the girls for the Cinderella dance of painful levels.
I had managed to – sort of – pop off the turtle shell for a bit.  Then the Cupid Shuffle happened.  That skyrocketed my adrenaline rush.
Even more partner dances, and all of a sudden, I was at the semi-semi-final dance.  That kind of failed.  I only managed to ask my friend Justine near the end of the song.  I was ashamed of myself, because it ended like… a few several seconds after we attempted to start Swing.  Blah.  But there was another song after that one, so that was… okay-ish…  Turned out, the last dance was Cha Cha.  Err… second to last.  The last was Cotton-Eyed Joe.  That killed my legs, for sure.

To end the night, we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and then had cleanup.
No wait, that didn’t end the night.  I ended up being the Candy Man, and offered candy to people.  It sure started some conversations.  Especially the Fruit Roll-Ups.  Tasty things.
Post clean-up, those of us that were left had an invasion of Tim Horton’s.
Being slightly sick of sweet things, I got an excellent Ham & Swiss, plus a small frozen hot chocolate (maybe not totally sick), and I discussed TV shows and juggling with Frank and Nathan.
I think my reputation now includes being that kid with the candy.  Not in a creepy way.  Think more… 4th Doctor vibe.  “Would you like a jelly baby?” type deal.  Betsy got that reference during clean-up.  I was pleased.  Not many people understand my Doctor Who references.
So there we were, just hanging out sleepily.  We were exhausted, and it had been a good night.  It had been fantastic.  Just… absolutely fantastic.  More fun than I had expected due to my nerves being on edge.  Unknown territory.

Sometimes, the greatest things are the things that require confidence.  Those things that require you to fully step out of your comfort zone.  Thank you God for those moments.  I look forward to the thousands more that have the possibility of taking place.  So with that, onward, brethren!

– M

Dedicated Swing Dances & Occasions for Celebration

This is the random update before my break officially ends, because school returns tomorrow (*insert internal death*), and so I wanted to do an Easter post.

Now, given some previous writing things, y’all might have the wrong impression of me being some super serious, uber deadpan (well, other than the pictures) person.
There’s me assuming, but eh, this = a mostly fun post

But no hashtags.  I frown upon those most of the time.  Unless it’s April Fools.  In which case –

MARCH!  I had a US History test at the beginning of the month.  No biggie, although I was kinda going insane when I heard about it.  Turned out, I exaggerated it in my head, so I was like: Yay!  When it was done of course.  You try yelling during testing.  You’re liable to get kicked or receive a T grade (HP reference, huzzah!).

This Lent was not exactly my greatest, but room for improvement is always needed, I s’pose.
Every Sunday of March was awesome however.  I got to join my St. Gertrude friends for some much needed mini-Easter time and pretty much pray, party, and talk (alas, no more alliteration) until a little after 9:15 pm.

March 13, Friday, was RPG REUNION NITE!
Jacob, Sam, Rich, Cam, Connor, Paco, and I.  Boom.  We played Magic into the wee hours, and then did Connor’s epic campaign, which was awesome.  Then we slept.  I succeeded in not getting sugar throat from Ale-8 this time around!
Those guys are so old.  College people.  Unfortunately, I will eventually become one.

March 14, Saturday, was ENCOUNTER.  As ever, it was awesome.  I gotz meh self a red Encounter shirt and saw – *takes deep breath* – Ryan, Alan, Jessica, Rob, Lydia, Annie, Jarod, Mr. Bursa, Andrew, Sydney, Natalie (I believe), Rachel, Clare, Clare, Maggie, Jonny, Michael, Luke, and a few others who I know by sight rather than name. *exhales*

18th was (extended) family day, so we ate pandesal made by mom, drove Go-Karts, and bought sugary foodsez at Jungle Jims.  Le awesome candy store.  I really need to work on my racing skills.  I was utterly terrible at it.

27th, I accompanied my little sister Yena to this play, which was awesome.  I also saw a bunch of old friends who had returned from college, and was highly amused by the way humans acted in the separate parts of the play.  Darn, I’m trying to decide whether I should go to more of those.

28th, was main point of world fusion.  The day of reckoning, the day when dance skillz are truly put to the test, and either make or break your face.  Also, photo credit to Jessica!
Swing Dance at C.I. Beaver Hall.  I don’t know why they named it that, but always do a Beaver Call!  Yeah, sorry, that was lame.  Moving on.

Arrival by Josh, Ryan, and Alan.  The seven of us drive up to the Hall of Glory, and we begin with a quick lesson.  I, deciding to overcome my introversion for one brief moment, partnered up with Justine, someone I had previously met at some Encounter in the past.  Le worlds of homeschooling, swing dancing, and Roman Catholic events collide.

There are fast songs and slow songs, so I dance with a bunch of people, but quickly find myself out of my depth, and more than a little uncomfortable.  I go and patrol the snack area more than once that night.  It’s pretty bad.

Now, here I thank my friend Ryan, for his shoving.  The man dun did good.  He introduced me to this one person, and beforehand had told me that he would set up a dance between us.  For obvious reasons, I will not disclose names, because it was the epitome of awkies.
I was standing to the lady’s right, and Ryan in front of her.  He introduced us, and then struck up a conversation with her.  Suddenly, I feel a not-so-subtle nudge from his toe.  She notices too.  Then, Ryan is nodding his head at her.  Also very noticeable.
I end up dancing with her, and while it was as awkwardly painful as shame feels, I have to thank Ryan for doing that.
My awkward turtle self would never have asked her to dance without his shoves.
So once more, my thanks, Ryan, in case you ever read this, dude.

In other words, I thought the swing dancing was great!

EASTER!  Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Holy Thursday, which was solemn, and epic.

Good Friday, Paco and I served Mass.  Lights dimmed, little to no music.  Super solemn.

EASTER SUNDAY WAS A DIFFERENT STORY.  We all pretty much sang our heads off.  Also, ALLELUIA!!!!!!!!!!!!! To the max.  Crazy fun.  We served with this cool dude, named Jake.  It was a legit Mass.  Lots of candles, lots of epic.  Such awesome, much holy.
Afterwards, as a family, we had good food, and burned things in a backyard bonfire, as dad and I had done while Paco and Yena were at Easter Vigil the day before.

And now, Easter Monday.  Behold my nonsensical, randomness!  This has been monthly run-throughs with Migi.  Tune in next time to hear about coffee, homeschooler formals, and other things that crop up in life.  Except school.  Because while somewhat necessary, it’s not something to go blogging about (usually).

Happy Easter everyone!  Enjoy the season!

– M

Riverboats & Rain… Oh, & Homeschoolers

There was a brisk wind blowing on Friday.  Not unexpected, but the 2nd deck of the boat experienced the cold feeling a lot more dramatically.  The river below was churning, probably due to our boat’s motions.  We were just beginning our little trip, with about a hundred homeschoolers, when the Cupid Shuffle started going.  Naturally when you have such a large group of enthusiastic, possibly caffeinated homeschoolers doing the Cupid Shuffle on a boat with most of the weight on the top, things tend to shift around.  So like that, the boat started drifting with the motions rather extremely.  Everybody would shift to the right, and the boat would follow, depending on the direction the line dancers were facing.  At this point during the event, I was standing at the rail along with a couple of strangers who had declined to join the shuffling, and we simply stood and were amused at the directional changes made.

Rewind to about an hour and a half earlier.  I arrived at my friend’s house, waited around for more people, then crammed friends and said people into the car.  Surprisingly, they fit.  We then spent 45 minutes in the car, loudly discussing whether we were going to make it to the boat on time, whether we would survive getting there, and a whole bunch of other topics that kept floating about.  Arriving at the boat, we sprinted down the bridge to the landing dock, our coats rippling in the breeze. Zooming through a line of homeschoolers, getting past that onto the boat, finding ourselves among a large number of people, and then, kaboom, time passing quickly, all led to the then current situation of boat movement.

Sort of fast forward through, back to the actual dancing.  So, in the aftermath of the Cupid Shuffle, we were cruising smoothly along the Ohio River, people laughing and waving at things off the starboard bow.  I had no idea how many knots we were going at, but we were moving fast enough for it to be satisfying.  So after leaving my post at the rail, I decided to do a swing dance.  Swing is very versatile, in that the moves are a bit more free-flowing, and it’s light and friendly even when dancing with people you don’t know (provided they know the steps).  So after this cool little swing dance with my friend Jessica – in which I retested moves from months ago – I found myself sticking with the other guys, and being amused by their *cough* antics.

A bunch of line dances – that I joined my pals Ryan and Nathan in – later, the DJs and requests of people decided slower music.  Some good things to dance to, but unfortunately, finding a willing partner and space was easier said than done.  Naturally, I waded through the spinning masses, and eventually found a lady friend to dance with about halfway through a slower song.  It worked out, and after that dance, I decided it high time to traipse down the steps to rest on the first floor.  Unfortunately, Ninja called me.  Not an actual ninja of course, but the game, Ninja.  I rapidly found myself letting everyone else dispatch one another, and thus simply stepped in like a shadowy assassin to strike the hand of my lone opponent with vigor and zeal.  With those formal words, and my rather terribly wimpy battle plan, I conquered the battlefield, and then vanished into the chaotic happenings upstairs.

Regaining my equilibrium after battling friend and foe alike, I confess I sought out a particular partner to dance with next, but alas, this plan did not come to fulfillment.  So I danced with other people, who actually turned out to be just as cool, and thus I was satisfied.  Forgive the sort of formal tone, but I drank coffee earlier, and thus feel energized with strange things.  My friend Jarod and his friend who I later met had a competition to see how many people they could dance with.  Under the impression that they were my elders, I joined in.  So I danced with people.  1, 2, 3, in quick succession.  Later, I realized that far from being older than me, the two were youngsters in comparison.  Giant youngsters clearly, but younger by almost a full year.  I must look and act terribly juvenile then.

The dance continued on into the night, and the gusts of wind grew stronger.  Up above, the heavens opened and torrents of water streamed forth, dousing those unlucky enough to stand near the edges of the boat.  Those who feared for their lives raced down the steps and into the shelter of a fully roofed room, and those who loved the wild water-filled wind stayed upstairs, singing crazy songs with a gusto that rivaled the howling air.  Of course, I was among them, as it was a beautiful night.  This guy called Chris started singing “Hooked on a Feeling”, and I decided to join in, because Guardians of the Galaxy.  Singing in the rain continued (hehe, movie reference), and before long, we were all departing the boat.  Moving across the sodden ground with a spring in our step, my posse and I (claimed it) reached the haven of the van.  From there, we drove and talked like crazy once more, discussing Marvel heroes, Catholic pick-up lines, Steampunk, books, and movies.  And it was cool, because we were all insane.

– M

End transcript.