Monday, December 20, 2004

Retreat Information


So here's where I'll be from January 2nd - February 7th.

Gonzaga Eastern Point Retreat House
37 Niles Pond Road
Gloucester, MA 01930-4499


If you fancy sending something, please do - cards, letters, a file to saw through the bars on the windows.



Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yeah, so this is my spiritual guru. He makes me hold this sign because I have "self-esteem" issues or something. Actually, ask me where I got's a good story. I made Bill here hold it in order that he, too, feel beautiful. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 16, 2004

An Athlete?

Happy Holidays!

My friends, I have something most unnerving to share with you: I have what is known as "the athlete's foot."

While wholly dissimilar from "the diabetes" and having nothing to do at all with "the cancer" the athlete's foot is a common affliction among, well, athletes. True to its name, I have literally athlete's foot: it's on my left foot and not my right; were I to have it on both, I suppose I'd have to call it "the athelete's feet" which lacks entirely the nice ring of "the athlete's foot." This is such an amazing find, really, and just fitting with the end of my first semester as a Jesuit: I've discovered I have "feelingS," I like to cook, and I've gone to the gym where I seem to be on good footing in my quest to be an athlete.

Now, if my use of "the" preceeding the afflictions listed above is unnerving, you have Wilfred Brimley (Quaker Oats fellow) to blame for it. As I referenced several months ago, not only did he change the pronunciation of the word, I believe he added the definite article (the) to it. Damn you Wilfred Brimley!

Though some of you thought I was joking about teaching kindergarten, I am deadly serious. Last Friday I met Debbie, the teacher and we really hit it off. On Monday we went in to tour the school and I fell in "love" (New feeling!!) with the class. They certainly seem to be a receptive group, and I am already planning a curriculum and a syllabus to accompany my catechetical exploits.

Note: I walked into a classroom without knowing which one it was and, by scent alone, was able to identify the year. Spoiled food = 6th grade. You really ought to try the scent test. While I wouldn't recommend randomly approaching a child at the mall and taking a mighty whiff of him or her, I would suggest savoring the aroma of one of your children or their friends. A biologist could write a dissertation on the three levels of stank one can find in Junior High.

On an academic note: I'm reading Theresa of Avila's "Interior Castle." In an attempt to make it more contemporary, I've converted the "castle" into a "Condo" and replaced God, the fountain of all goodness and holiness, with Martha Stewart. God might make you feel good, but only Martha can roosh a lampshade, bake you a cookie, and shiv you with a homemade knife while your back is turned to her in the shower.

Ryan's childhood memory: When I was little, I remember reading about St Nicholas and his generosity. I also recall reading that good children could put out their shoe and that they'd find something in it in the morning. With great excitement and nervous anticipation (I was seven or so) did I put out my shoe. The next morning, after a fitful night of slumber, I arose and clambered to see what the jolly saint had left for me and I found...........lint. Ever since then, I have had no expectation for Christmas.

Now, since doing something nice for me helps to ensure you a free ticket to heaven (think indulgence) I'd like to offer my Christmas list here. I know my family will probably do something special for me this year, like burn my books instead of a yule log, or give me a cross or a holy card (yeah, like I don't get enough of that already) so I'll let EVERYONE know what I want. I can't have money (send small un-marked bills) but I can drink (yellow tail merlot is both delicious and inexpensive). I can't travel too freely (yet) but I can eat (pop-tarts are delicious). I can't use my cologne to be coquetish (but I can always use Axe deodorant, the gel, please) but I can dress nicely (yeah for the GAP).

I have little hope that anyone in my immediate family will hearken to my anguished cry for help...they will just continue ignoring me as they have done for 25 years. I still find it ironic that I had to join a religious order (in case you forgot, I'm at Jesuit camp) AND move to Michigan (looks better in the rear-view mirror) in order for them to FINALLY buy me a birthday cake.

I'm off to do something holy, like pray or meditate. I hope you're all doing well. Mike and Brian, I expect you at the party on the 26th with your whistles for our entertainment. Later this week, I'll post the address to the retreat house where I'll be living so that those of you who care (Meaning:everyone except my family) will be able to send me cards or baskets of fruit or Pez or a puzzle while I spend 30 days praying and retreating.



(AKA Raul el gato rojo. "Ryan the Red Cat")

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Fiesta at "La Casa Duns"

Hi all,

Since this blog was started in order to communicate with family and friends, I figure I should use it for that purpose. On December 26th, the Duns family will be hosting an After-Christmas party...intended to consume the alcohol left over from Christmas day, of course. So if you'll be in the Cleveland area, shoot me an email and I can provide more information or, if you so choose, just show up at the house sometime that evening.

Now, someone might say, isn't it rude to invite people over to your mother's house? My reply: Yes, and I don't care. Insofar as my family doesn't like me any more (they moved my books) and therefore are indicating that they don't want me in their house, I figure I'm an unwanted guest. Thus, I am within my rights as a rude interloper to invite OTHER people over, too. If hospitality were limited to only those that the host family desired to invite, then my brother would politic in such a way as to invite maybe three members of my mom's family...and I can't be sure that my grandmother would even be one of them. So, in short, ya'll are invited.

I'm going on four months at Jesuit camp. So I guess I must share with you some troubling news...I have recently learned that I have something called emotionS. I'm familiar with emotion - anger, bitterness, irritation, rage, etc. - and recently I have had the troubling and unsettling experience of something called "sympathy" and "peace." At first, I attributed such turbulence to gas, but as I sat with it and reflected upon the experience, I found that they are somewhat "natural" and that I should not be afraid of them. Nonetheless, I'm still new to all of this "feeling" stuff and can only vow to take it one day at a time.

For those of you who worry, I will NEVER exhaust the deep wells of rage that are so much a part of my rosy demeanor. John, KD and the KR at 108 will always bring on some fury.

Well, that's enough for today. At some point in the not-too-distant future I'll write about my family so that you might understand why I'm deranged.



Saturday, December 04, 2004

After Dinner Thoughts

Since I've been a derelict blogger these past few weeks, I thought it'd be nice to post TWICE in one day.


The routine of the novitiate is well established at this point, just in time for us to leave in four weeks for the 30-Day retreat. For those of you who don't know (and do care) this is the 30-day retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. It's a fun-filled month of prayer and reflection where you pretty well figure out how terrible a sinner you really are and that God still likes you. Oddly enough, that's a big revelation for a lot of people! For me, it's the opposite. I know God likes me, but I figure God'll need a full month to realize that I really do like him.

Next semester I will be returning to the classroom in order to instruct children in religion. When I was a young'n this involved making cards for everyone and his brother, singing practice for mass, and learning/saying that we love Jesus.


I will terrorize these children and mold them into my own image and likeness. There will be no rainbows, no "Jesus Loves Me" fingerpainting, no cutesy-wootsy songs about Noah's Ark. None of it, I tell you! We will learn conciliar history, the principles of exegesis, the philosophical underpinnings of transubstantiation, and most certainly we shall spend an ample amount of time on the transcendental Thomism of Karl Rahner. I'll be damned if my kindergarten students will leave my class without *some* modicum of knowledge. I'll whip them into shape for the first grade, so help me I will.

Apart from all of this, Jesuit camp is going well. As I told a lot of people at the Oireachtas, entering the Jesuits was sort of like pledging a fraternity (complete with the beer) though with more prayer. If we did arts and crafts, we'd be pretty well the Boy Scouts.

Here's an observation for everyone. Have you ever noticed that students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades smell funny? I noticed it a lot this weekend. NOt that I went about sniffing kids, but being around them for them for three days...well, it was hard not to notice. I suppose one could say that 6th graders smell rotten, like old brocoli or spoiled carrots. They are just getting to the point of needing to use deodorant (the dreaded D word) but they don't realize it/aren't cognizant of the fact that BUYING the stick/can of it does *NOT* accomplish the same thing as USING it. 7th graders smell sort of like puke - they know they are stinky, they do use deodorant, but they've foresaken the SH-word -- shower. By the time they get to the 8th grade, all bets are off and the kids smell like they just emerged from a morgue. Rotten, Puke, Death. The stages of Junior High odors.

And another thing. THis weekend, I had the most unfortunate experience of sitting at the side of the stage where the dancers congregated. Now, don't get me wrong: I love talking to the kids. But there is nothing worse than having to play the accordion for 8 hours and having Suzie-Q cut the cheese right before she ascends the stage, leaving you to inhale the toxic fumes from her taco salad eaten the night before. Really. I totally understand nervousness, but it was pretty gross sitting there all day. Not even the boys had such flatulence...I was mortified. Scandalized.

Some might think these last two paragraphs a bit odd. They are. Keep in mind, however, that I have a sister named Hagan (Hagan is like Ryan-lite for those of you who know me and don't know her; or, if Ryan is version 4.0, she's version 1.5) and have become very attentive to people of her age...usually to try to gauge whether she has any chance of emerging from our family as a "normal." My posts tonight will be certain to get a rise out of her, perhaps enough of a rise that she'll go to my transplated library and find a nice book to read.

Speaking of which.

My brother moved my books. ALL of them. Colin, who won't pick up a book to read it, actually moved an entire bookshelf/the books it contained in order that the room that he BARELY occupies be enlarged by about four square feet. I'm just shocked that he didn't burn them for fuel. My lovely categorical system for organizing my texts is now in a shambles and I just can't WAIT to get home on Christmas to see what hellishness he's wrecked upon the rest of the house.

Now that I'm in my Christmas cheer, I'll be home from December 25th-29th. If you'd like to take me out for a cup of coffee or a steak dinner, that'd be lovely. Since my family apparently doesn't like my books, and my books were an enormous part of my life, I take it they don't like my life, ergo they do not like me; thus, I am forced to find a new place to stay for the holiday. If I can't use my frequent flier miles to go to a Ramada inn (or, with my luck, the Flea-Bag Inn on Brookpark with the hourly rates) or some other high-class place, I'll stay at my grandmother's house. She still loves me....she has to, as I'm her ticket to heaven. There's an Irish custom that the mother of a priest gets to go to heaven for free (this Irish custom was the precursor to Monopoly and the "get out of jail free" card). I rescind this offer to my mother and extend it to my grandmother, because she would NEVER have let my books been moved. So there.

It feels good to write again - I've had sarcastic constipation and it seems the Oireachtas was the just the laxative I needed. I hope this is a sign for great regularity in the future.



**Oh, my dessert kind of sucked tonight. I made a "cookie pizza" and tried my damnedest to tint the white-chocolate fudge sauce a deep red in order to make it look like pizza sauce. I could only color it a deep pink, so the "cookie pizza" looked like I dumped a bottle of Pepto-Bismal on it and then sprinkled it with M&M's. Ah well, I did try. I think I get to make a bread pudding for a luncheon on Friday, so that'll be good, I hope.**

Missionary Experience

Hello Everyone!

I'm sorry that I've been away for a bit - the Oireachtas was a huge ordeal that really occupied a whole lot of my time and energy. Now that I'm back and things have settled down, I reckon I'll have more time to write.

So, let's have a quick re-cap of the weekend. It began with me waking up last Friday at 3:50 in the morning, leaving Loyola House at 4:15 in order to get to the airport by 5:00 am. Boarding the plane seemed a new and foreign experience...I sat in an area of the plane designated as "coach." It's a wild terrain, much different from the First-Class I'm used to flying on Continental. Surprisingly, I didn't find the savages back there to be too difficult to sit with; then again, the flight was only 35 minutes. Yes, I will have to fly with these people again very soon. It's nice to see how the "common folk" live.

Actually, the only benefit to sitting in the First Class section of any airline is that one gets on faster and gets a nice cup of coffee. Sometimes the snacks are better, too, though I suppose that honey roasted peanuts are the same whereever one goes.

Now for my report on the Oireachtas.

It was tough.

The first day wasn't too bad. I had rather large competitions and coupled with general fatigue and rustiness, I was wicked nervous. Recall that my day-to-day dealings are with facial hair, testosterone, and quibbling over why, in a house full of men, we ought to concern ourselves with lowering the toilet seat. From this milieu, you can imagine my discombobulation upon entering into the wilds of wigs, glitter, estrogen, and the lives of about 4,000 children/wannabe Barbie dolls. With some of these kids, it's like looking at mini-Chers.

Sadly, I've no real scandal to report about the weekend. I must admit that I was rather's hard to re-enter a wholly different world like Irish dancing without more time and, to be sure, three days IS NOT enough time to re-integrate oneself into the culture. Good thing, too. I don't know that I want to go back...I like my new life of peace and quiet and something called prayer.

Novice life is just oodles of fun. I'm sure I'll have more to report on it later this week.

Anyway, I'm sorry that I've been lax in updating this site. I'll try harder, really I will. Maybe I'll get some pics up, too.

Oh yeah, I'm going on TWO MONTHS of going to the gym. I'm getting buff. Maybe I'll be the first Jesuit-Chippendale's dancer....oh, if only I were called to such heights and glories.



*sorry to cut short - I have to go and make dessert for dinner tonight.

Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame