Thursday, January 30, 2014

Do You Like Me?

When I first started blogging from Rome, I checked how many page views I got per day obsessively. I would watch the hits go up on my Blogger page moments after tweeting a link to a new post or sharing the blog on Facebook and become frustrated if I had less than 50 views in an hour. Less than 20 views on a typical day, even without any new posts, was something to be annoyed by.

The way I was processing it in my mind was this:

No one likes/views/comments on the post --> No one liked it (translation: liked me) --> No one cares (translation: about me)

On Facebook it went like this-

1 like= It's out there. Time to check the Blogger page hits.

10+ likes= Sh*t, I better re-read it and makes sure nothing's wrong with it if people are actually going to read this

25+ likes= It's a good post. I'm heard.

Not healthy, you say? Yeah no sh*t. It's a big reason I stopped blogging for as long as I did after I came home from abroad. I needed a break from the ego meter.

So what's the power of a like? What was I seeking from those little notifications, from a 'retweet' sign or  a spike in page views?

It offered me instant gratification. I did it for the likes. It became a weird relationship with the blog where I wasn't sure if I posting to share or if I was ultimately posting solely for the feedback I would receive. The toughest thing about studying abroad was being away from the CUA community and knowing that my friends and the life I had back at school was going on without me. Sharing posts from my study abroad experience allowed me to feel like I was still keeping up with my life back there. It's not that I think I did bad writing while I was in Rome, I just know I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I still really treasure all those posts I wrote and love looking back on them. It just makes me sad to know that when I was writing them I didn't know they were good unless 20 people I knew on Facebook clicked the 'like' button.

When I started blogging again in 2014, I decided I was writing for myself. I rarely check the views I get on Blogger, though I do share some of the writing that I do on Facebook and Twitter. The difference this time around is that what I'm sharing is something I'm proud of- the writing itself. I'm not sharing to brag about the places I've been or experiences I had, which was oh so easy to do while studying abroad. I write for the sake of writing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

For her, in honor of him

Today is the one year anniversary of my grandfather's death. I knew I wanted to commemorate this somehow. I thought about just linking up to the post I wrote at this time last year. I thought about doing a "Year in Review" type post of the joys and blessings that the Fontaine family saw in this first year without him, with 2 additional grandchildren and a wedding.

But I think I want to do something else. In honor of the anniversary of Papa's death, I want to honor the person he loved the most- my grandmother.

I brag about Grandma Lu all the time. She is without question, the greatest lady I have ever known. She's also the last person who would ever say that about herself. She gives and gives to our family and we all love her so dearly. I'm so jealous of my cousins that live closer to her and got to spend so much more of their childhood with her.

Grandma Lu is strong and brave. She's funny and kind. She's unassuming and generous. I love her so much. I love that she has Facebook and an iPad which she knows full well how to use and now even an iPhone. I love how when you talk with her on the phone you'll hang up about 20 minutes after she's said goodbye for the first time. I love how she takes care of her grandkids.

I love that all this came from her and Papa.

5 kids, with 5 spouses, from whom came 14 grandchildren, and 2 of their spouses = 26 people who are all part of something that began over fifty years ago when a boy named Bob met a girl named Lu.

I am so proud to be your granddaughter. I miss Papa all the time, but I'm so looking forward to the years I still get to have with you.

Love, Chris

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why I go to Church

At my home parish, I always hear a familiar litany of intentions;

For Carol, Shauna, and Maria, for Kevin and Marie, who are battling cancer...
For those on hospice, and for those who care for them...
For those who suffer from chronic pain...
For those who cannot pray for themselves...

We pray to the Lord.

I know these by heart because I've heard them called out by the same people at 5:30 mass on Saturdays for as long as I can remember. It used to just be Carol, Shauna, and Maria. 

There also used to be Beth and Tricia.

When I was younger, and I heard the lector say, "Let us now pray for our personal intentions, whether aloud or in the silence of our heart," I used to rush to think of every single wish I had so I could frantically call them all to mind before she said a closing, "Let us pray to the Lord," and my intentions could be prayed for with the force of an entire church full of people. 

I still do that.

There's something sacred that happens in prayer, especially in the context of the Mass. I don't know Carol, Shauna, or Maria, but I've been praying for them by name for years because one parishioner offers them up each week. The Knight of Columbus that always prays for "those who cannot pray for themselves" challenges me weekly to think about who that means. Who can I pray for who cannot pray for himself? Who do you know in your life for whom yours might be their only prayer?

Lord, hear our prayer.

This is why I go to church. It's not because I'm jazzed about getting dressed on a Sunday only to get back in my sweats and do homework an hour later. It's not because I'm a Theology major and have some kind of requirement to love this stuff. It's not because I just go crazy for those hymns they sing, or the potential for hand holding with a nice Catholic guy during the Our Father.

I go for those on hospice, and those who care for them. I go for the people in my life who I want prayed for by a church full of people. I go because I like to visit Jesus at His house. I go because I'm Catholic.

I'm Catholic, and Jesus died for me, and my sins. And He listens, even if I don't get it all in before, "Let us pray to the Lord."

He's listening.

Love, Chris

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Time to Put on Some Pants

So here's the sad truth. The mea culpa. The confession:

If last semester you did not a) live in Mill South 207 or b) attend CAC meetings...

We probably did not hang out.

Which is terrible! I promise, I have more than like the 10 friends who I saw on any kind of regular basis last semester. See, you're reading this, and there's like a 60% you're not one of my roommates. But I got lazy last fall. It was just too easy to come home and not leave, cause when you live with your best friends you lose motivation to get out at all because that involves a) putting on pants and b) making plans. Whereas I was loved and happy right where I was on my couch with my pants off and my best friend making me brownies. Yum.

But anyway. I have resolved to make a concerted effort next semester to get out more and be social. Obviously I'll always have my friends to come home to, but I suspect these other friendships would be just as strong if I put in the effort and spent some time with them. 

It's time to put on some pants.

Love, Chris

PS plz hang out with me I can be fun when I'm not binge watching the West Wing

Friday, January 3, 2014

Looking Forward to '14

2 years ago at this time I was in Disney World, about to run my first (and so far only) half marathon.

One year ago today I was in Roma, at Epiphany Mass with Pope Benedict XVI at St Peter's, then finishing up orientation and moving into my dorm, beginning my semester abroad.

Today I'm hanging out in Massachusetts watching a pirate fight (babysitting my Jack Sparrow obsessed cousins for the weekend with my sister). Tonight I'll prepare for the GRE practice test I'm taking tomorrow and flip back and forth between the Jimmy Fallon special and the Bachelor. 

Wild and crazy, I know. But despite the lack of glamour, I'm looking forward to what 2014 holds for me. Last year at this time I was scared out of my mind. I had no idea what had possessed me to move to a country where I didn't speak the language and the people I went with were just as unknown. And look how well that turned out! 2013 was undoubtedly the best year of my life. My semester abroad changed me in the best ways, and then I had an awesome summer and a great start to junior year.

I'm not intimidated by 2013. I'm not trying to top it, nor do I feel like I've peaked. I'm in a really great place. I feel like I've made some solid gains in my plans for the future, narrowing down Masters programs and preparing for the GRE. I've been asked back to the summer job that I love and I'll have a new job this semester that I think will be fun. 

I'm kinda lovin life. 

Here's to '14.

Love, Chris