Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here at AMDA

Hello all.  I have arrived in the lovely city of New York, and I am finally completely settled into my dorm!  I am sharing my room with three other girls, and though it's a nice room, it's not quite large enough for the four of us, so I forsee spending a lot of time in the studios to rehearse and in the rec room chilling out.  There is a lovely basement area with a kitchen and an internet cafe-type thing, where I am currently updating, because the wifi isn't up and working yet down here.  There is no internet access in the rooms, but honestly I think this will be a good thing; because it's so small I plan to only sleep and get ready for the day there. 
Also, I don't think I'll really have time to be browsing the internet endlessly or anything, because, as one of the admissions counselors told us in our "welcome" talk, "the next four semesters are going to be a beat-down.  I'm just getting that out there right now."  Whenever I described AMDA's curriculum, the most common response was "Oh, that sounds like so much fun!"  But in reality, the drop-out rate here is pretty high because people just can't take the intensity of this program.  I'm ready for it.
Well, I've gotta wrap it up.  Some orientation thing...  I'll blog again soon to let you in the loop about orientation/initial evaluation things. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I wrote this last night, but, thanks to the lack of internet connection at my house, I am only posting it now, from the Downtown branch of the Carnegie Library.  :p


People move all the time, especially in this in-between phase in which I now find myself, too old to live with my parents, too poor and unsettled to have a permanent place of residence.  I sincerely doubt, however, that many people experience moves like the one I am now setting myself up for, which, if all goes according to plan, will go something like this:

Wednesday, June 15
I work 9-5 at Joseph A. Bank, my last day.  Sad.  But not too sad.  There are bigger, better things ahead!
In the evening, I move from Greenfield to my parents' house in the South Hills. .

Thursday, June 16
I put the majority of my things in the attic, pack a duffel bag with the bare essentials, and mail one box to my new address at AMDA (still unknown, btw).
I have a doctor's appointment where my physician will (hopefully) fill out a form that says I am fit for the physical, emotional, and psychological rigors of an education at AMDA.
My family has its portrait taken at St. Thomas More Parish.  Cute.
We celebrate my beloved Dad's birthday!  Not sure if this is actually his birthday or not... but we are partying nonetheless!  And I know, I am a horrible daughter and terrible at remembering people's birthdays, among other things.

Friday, June 17
This day is a grace period.  I have no plans (other than to try to sell a few of my things on Craigslist) but I'm sure I'll have plenty to do.

Saturday, June 18
I hop a Megabus for Philly!  I take only the duffel bag and perhaps a tote bag.  We'll cross this bridge when we get there.
I go to Mass in Narberth at 5:15.
I attend a sure-to-be-fantastic pre-Comic Con party!!  Complete with superhero movies and realms of awesomeness not yet fathomed.

Sunday, June 19
I attend Philly's Comic Con 2011 dressed as my favorite Neil Gaiman character.  Or, one of them, anyway.  (hint: I have read all the Sandman novels up to volume 8 in preparation for this.)  Pictures to come, most likely, cuz this costume is gonna kick ass.

Monday, June 20
I take a bus up to NY.  Not sure what I'm gonna do for the day once I get up there.  Maybe picnic in Central Park?  I've been dying to do this for a long long time.  :)
I am staying with a friend's sibling on this night because I'm not allowed to move into my dorm until the 21st.

Tuesday, June 21
I move into my dorm at AMDA!!  Finally!!  And hopefully the box I shipped will be there, waiting for me, in the mail room.
Grocery shopping will happen on this day, most likely, in addition to a variety of other settling-in things.

Wednesday, June 22
Everyone else moves into the dorms, registration and orientation begin.

Monday, June 27
First day of classes!!!

Gaaahh it is all so exciting!  I can't think of it anymore, or may go crazy with anticipation!  Plus, right now, I have a whole bunch of sorting and packing up to do.  Talk about a buzz kill.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Life = Sucky Mess

Here is the low-down:
a) there is no internet at my house right now, for reasons unbeknownst to me, so I am sneaking off to the library and Crazy Mocha during my 1/2-hour lunch breaks from working at Jos. A. Bank so I can check my email.
b) I have NO money in my bank account because of two overdraft fees which my lovely bank, PNC, charged me because they hadn't processed my paycheck yet when my landlord cashed my rent check.  So much for "next business day."  I WILL be calling customer service about this.  But as it is, I am out $72 and have no buying power except for my credit card...  hello, Discover, old friend.
c) I am leaving for my week-long move-to-NY-a-palooza on Thursday of next week.  That is 5 days from now, in case you were wondering.  Between now and then, I have to pack the bare essentials in my old black duffel bag and mail myself what doesn't fit.  The rest I have to put up in my parents' attic.  Or sell.  All in all, quite a hassle.  Did I mention that I work EVERY DAY until then?  Which I guess is good, because I obviously need the money. x__x
d) I am SICK.  Is there even a God up there??  (I'm just kidding; I know You're up there.  Please don't hurt me.)  How could this happen?!?!?!?!  As if my life wasn't stressful enough, now I have to worry about sinus infections and muscle aches.  Balls.  Just... balls.

lol, yes, sometimes i just post things on my blog bitching about how shitty everything is.  it's MY fucking blog.  i'm ALLOWED to do that.

here is the only thing pulling me through:  in exactly one week, i will be arriving in Philadelphia for Comic Con 2011, at which I get to dress up as my favorite Neil Gaiman character AND spend copious amounts of time with one of my best friends ever.  true story.  siiiiighhhhh.... why can't it be next week now?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Medjugorje: Home at Last!

I am home, I am home!!!  I am SO thrilled to be back in the States, yes, even in the little city of Pittsburgh.  Last night I was supposed to go home to my house in Greenfield, but I am still at my parents' house because by the time my dad got home to take me home, I had slipped into an I-have-been-awake-for-24-hours coma.  And there's just no waking up from that, I found out.  But I am getting ahead of myself.
On Sunday, as I mentioned before, I attended the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Zagreb.  There were about 400,000 people there!  His homily was phenomenal, and he preached in Italian (with a translator translating into Croatian) so I could even understand about 60% of what he was saying without a translator!  Father also translated from Italian to English for us, since he studied in Italy and took many of his classes in Italian.  Here is a link to the full homily in English:
We had great seats, too.  The Mass was said at the Hipodrom, which is just a wide open field, and the sun was very hot, but we had lovely seats on our picnic blankets (actually, they were just plastic ponchos haha) under some trees in the back of the field, with a clear view straight to the altar under the white canopy at the front.  We were even close to the path where the Pope-mobile drove by before Mass, with Papa blessing the crowds!  I got a couple of really good pictures of our Holy Father; I was only about 10 feet from him at the closest.
When we got home, I took a nap straight away, since we had to wake up super early to get to the Hipodrom by 8am for Mass at 10am.  Then after dinner our guide took us on a walking tour of part of Zagreb, which is truly an astonishingly beautiful city.  I think I took more pictures that night than on the rest of the trip put together!!  It was a lovely way to end the trip, because even earlier Monday morning we left our hotel for the airport, after which I spent roughly 18 hours traveling from Zagreb to Frankfurt to Detroit to Pittsburgh.  Blech.  I've officially decided that I dislike flying.  Super uncomfortable.  I'll take a road trip any day.  Though I guess it's not really possible to road trip across the Atlantic.  And driving takes longer.  But at least in a car or a train you can see the sights as you drive by and there's none of that swoopy feeling in your stomach when you take off or land.  And in a car you can listen to your own music and, if someone else is driving, take a nap, or talk (ok, or sing) as loud as you want without disturbing the other passengers.  And then there's yummy car food to be considered, and the possibility of stopping to run off the excess energy that builds up from sitting still and eating for hours on end.  And picnics!  Road trips usually mean picnics, too!  Except when you take a bus.  I HATE tour buses.  They smell funny and you can't open the windows and why in Jehovah's name is there itchy carpet on all the seats???
Ok, so I'm not entirely sure how I got on this topic...
What matters is that I am home, and in 14 days I will be moving into my new little NY dorm at AMDA.  eep!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Medugorje: So Busy!!

Ok, a lot has happened, so I'll just give you the low-down:
On Friday morning I woke up at 5am to climb Mount Krucevac at 6am in my bare feet with Father and my roommate. When we got to the top, we prayed a rosary, I sang Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Pie Jesu," put my sandals back on, and we climbed down again. Then we walked back to the village and went to 10am Mass. I sat in the choir section, as the director had invited me to do after my performances during Thursday's Mass. About halfway through Mass, she leaned back and asked if I could sing a Communion meditation, and I said of course I could. So I sang the "Pie Jesu" again! The congregation was completely capitivated, hanging on every note, and at the end there was a general stir of contentment and much wiping of eyes. Score! 10 points for the Holy Spirit!
Well, after all the climbing, walking, and singing, I was completely drained, so I went back to my room and slept for two hours. I felt much refreshed after my nap and a shower, so I headed out into the village for a bit of shopping. I ended up ducking into an internet cafe to escape some rain, though, and by the time my hour was up it was time to head back for dinner.
After dinner I climbed Apparition Hill by myself, arriving around 7pm. I found a little perch on the steep rock face where I could see everything that was going on below and settled down, for the apparition there wasn't until 10pm. It was a lovely time for watching the sun set over the village, praying rosaries, and writing in my journal, and before I knew it, Our Lady was there, appearing to Ivan. She stayed for about 20 minutes and then it was done. I climbed down the now-dark mountain with my little flashlight, walked back to my hotel, and went straight to bed.

This morning after breakfast I packed my bag and headed to 10am Mass, my last in Medjugorje! I went over to sit with the choir again, and told the director that it was my last day, but she said that she couldn't squeeze me into the program because there was some youth group coming in and taking over the music. So no singing in Mass today.
Afterward, though, I continued to receive compliments from Friday's "Pie Jesu," and I got to talking to a couple of Canadian pilgrims, who invited me to coffee, where we met a friend of theirs from Scotland. They were really lovely people, asking me all kinds of questions, and we laughed a lot together, which I love. At noon we prayed the Angelus, I gave them my info, and then I headed over to the Risen Christ for one last visit.
Upon my return to the hotel, I picked up my bags and climbed on the bus for our trip to the airport. Checking luggage and going through security and waiting at the gate took foreeeeveerrrrrrr and ironically enough the plane ride was only half an hour long. Then we got on another bus and another and finally arrived here, at our hotel. We had a bit of difficulty getting in, because the streets are all blocked off for the pope or something so our van couldn't pull straight up and we had to cause a scene on the sidewalks of Zagreb, click-clacking our rolling luggage up and down the sidewalks and speaking a language that was quite obviously not Croatian. Our hotel is super nice, and the dinner they fed us was sublime, including several glasses of wine and some whiskey for me, which was also of exceptionally high caliber.
So, that is all. I may or may not be blogging again before my return home; it all depends on how the schedule works out tomorrow and if there is internet available in the airports on Monday. Now: beauty sleep!! Or not...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Medjugorje: Just for Her

Oh God, where to begin??  After several days of feeling like nothing is happening, we've had a very busy day and a half since I last wrote. 
Yesterday afternoon, we met our guide to hear Mirjana's talk, which was in Italian.  We were there an hour early, but the Italians were already pushing and crowding, like they do, around the doors of the yellow hall where the talk was to be.  Our guide is fluent in Croatian, English, and Italian, so she said she would translate for us outside while listening to the Italian radio broadcast of the talk.  But just as the talk was beginning, it started to POUR down rain.  We hustled into a large green tent to get out of the rain; though many of us had umbrellas and ponchos, they were no match for the torrential downpour.  The tent was obviously not meant for anyone but workmen; there were dismantled benches, doors with broken glass in them, wood shavings, piles of wood that had been cleared from paths, and other such mildly dangerous things.  We picked our way through the refuse to the back of the tent, which, by the way, was made of a metal frame with water-resistant material draped over it.  It was about as big as the yellow hall right next to it, and apparently before the hall was built they used to have talks and Mass and things in there, in the middle of the fields.  But I digress.
We hoped that the rain would let up soon, since rain that intense usually comes and goes pretty quickly, but instead it got worse.  Counting between lightning flashes and thunder crashes, it was getting closer and closer until we could hear the snapping sound as the lightning hit the metal frame of the tent and the deafening crash of thunder that was RIGHT THERE.  There was no counting going on anymore, because thunder and lighting were coming at the same time.  It was mildly terrifying, but also pretty exciting.  Now I can check near-death-lightning-storm-experience off my life's to-do list.
We wasted no time in whipping out our rosaries to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, and as we rounded the second decade to begin the third, our guide came to get us. (She had been out in the rain looking for a member of the group who had been seperated from us.)  She led us the five or six steps from the tent to the hall, and in those few steps I got completely soaked.  The main hall was, of course, completely packed, but there was a back room where they were broadcasting the talk on speakers, and our guide translated as best she could.  I wish I could say I remember something profound that she said so I could tell you, but alas I cannot.  I was so distracted by the excitement of the storm.  By the time the talk finished the rain had let up, praise God, though it continued to drizzle throughout the evening.  Then we had dinner and I went to bed!
This morning Mirjana had her monthly apparition at 9am at the Blue Cross which, I have since learned, is a large blue cross at the base of Apparition Hill, where the original three apparitions were, the same hill we climbed a few days ago.  Our guide had told us that prayers at the Blue Cross started at 5am, and if we wanted to get a good spot there we'd have to get there at 4am at the very latest.  None of us were really up for that, so instead we left our hotel at 8am and climbed Apparition Hill, then snuck through a path in the brush to a spot on the mountain above the Blue Cross.  We couldn't actually see the cross or Mirjana, but we could hear what was going on over the loudspeaker.   Plus, that side of the hill overlooks the village, and it was so beautiful and peaceful in the morning sunlight, away from the crowds and the pushing (those Italians!!).  There was singing and rosary-praying leading up to the apparition, then silence while Our Lady spoke to Mirjana, and then the crowd started up with ˝Ave Maria˝ again so we knew it was over.  We climbed back down the mountain and walked back to our hotel.  I should probably add that we got gloriously muddy on our climb, cuz everything was still wet and slippery from the tempest yesterday.  I wore a little dress up the mountain, which kept getting caught in thorn bushes as I climbed.  I felt like Snow White, running through the big scary forest with things grabbing at her.  Except I was laughing, not crying.  Somehow, despite all of this, I only got mud on my feet and ankles, nothing above the calves, so my dress remained spotless.  My feet... were another story.  Lol. But I loved it.  I actually took a picture of my muddy feet when we got back down the mountain.  Maybe I'll post it on twitpics sometime. 
At noon Father was the main celebrant at the English-speaking Mass, and he specifically requested that I sing at the Offertory and after Communion!!  I was so honored, especially because today is the Feast of the Ascension!  So, in a church packed to standing-room only, I sang Franck's ˝Panis Angelicus˝ during the preparation of the altar and Bach's ˝Ave Maria˝ after the communion hymn.  Afterward there were hordes of people who wanted to tell me how I had ˝touched their hearts,˝ even in the restaurant where I went out to lunch with a few of my group after Mass, and the talk Father and I went to after lunch!  I was giving hugs and squeezing people's hands all day.  This must be what stardom feels like!! Except maybe with less hugging?  lol
But as I said, after lunch Father and I went to hear a talk at Cenacolo, which is a community of men who are recovered drug addicts.  They gave beautiful testimonies, of course, and great examples of discipline and humility.  Then Father and I walked back to the hotel for dinner, and he popped right back out again to attend Ivan's apparition this evening.  He gets to be in the room with Ivan during the apparition because he is a priest!  So lovely. He brought some of our religious articles to be blessed by Our Lady herself!!!  Let me tell you, we are hitting the jackpot with blessings lately.  The priests here bless all the religious articles in the church after every Mass, and on Sunday we will have the opportunity to have things blessed by our Holy Father the Pope himself at his Mass in Zagreb!
So, that's all I have to say.  Phew!!  As I said before, we have been quite busy!  I must get to bed and get some sleep, for tomorrow morning we start the climb up Mount Krisevac at 6am!  We are meeting a group of Irish pilgrims.  :D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Medjugorje: Another Day

Yesterday afternoon, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went to hear a talk by Ivan, the visionary.  He has been seeing the Blessed Mother every day for over 30 years now!  Unfortunately, I don't remember much of the talk because, well, I have ADHD and all the talks we're attending are starting to run together a bit since they all say roughly the same thing: "Pray with the heart."  "Fast."  "If you knew how much I love you, you would cry for joy."  You know.  The usual Medjugorje message stuff.  ;)  Ivan pointed out that Our Lady is just like a real mother in that she doesn't mind repeating herself for the sake of her children.  What earthly mother, he said, expects to only correct her children once and be done with it?  None.  So it is with Our Lady, repeating her messages to us over and over, always gently, with love and encouragement.
After that, I finally bought those scarves I've had my eye on since we arrived, three of them, each more beautiful than the next.  Super cheap, too.  I used to see them every day as I walked to and from my hotel room, because the shop where they used to hang on a little spinning rack, flying in the wind, is right along the way.  And now I see them every day, hanging in my room.  :D  They are also filling the place with the most wonderful scent of roses, because the shopkeeper, when I bought them, took out a handkerchief, shook a bottle of rose essential oil over it multiple times, and tossed it in the bag with my scarves.  Free gift.  They sometimes do that here, apparently.
Then, at 9pm, we attended a David Parkes concert.  It was mostly in the style of 90s old people worship music (so my companions completely ate it up lol) but he also did a stunning rendition of "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables that pretty much stopped my heart.  In between songs he told a bit of his story, which you can read more about here: 
This morning we woke up at 5:30am (and I didn't get to bed until 12am because the concert finished at 11!) to be breakfasted and ready to go by 7, when we headed over to Vicka's house to hear her speak to the crowds (and I do mean CROWDS) of Italians.  And us, of course.  haha there was a translator there translating from Italian to English, though I tried to follow as much of the Italian as I could. She said the usual things, like Ivan, but she also told us about the time Mary took her and one of the other visionaries to Purgatory, Heaven, and Hell.  Fascinating stuff. 
Later today we will hear Mirjana talk and then I am going to bed early, because I am turning into an old lady on this trip.  Oh, who am I kidding; I was an old lady well before this trip.