Category Archives: Colleen

A Phone Call From Rome

by Colleen

Rome

On Monday morning, I was woken from my slumber by a call from Rome.  I confusedly stared at my caller ID while my phone jingled and jangled.  “Rome!”, it said.  As my mind slowly unclouded on the 3rd or 4th ring, I realized that my best friend, Killian, was calling me from Rome, and immediately flipped open my phone, attempting to make my “Hello” sound less than groggy and tired.  Killian and many of my closest friends are studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus this semester, and I hastily programmed the campus telephone number into my phone as “Rome!” just last week.

Killian was calling to tell me the latest news, news which is by now old: that Pope Benedict is retiring.  Due to the early hour, I refused to take him seriously the first few times he told me the news.  “Ha ha, very funny, Killian.  You’re not fooling me, even if  I did just wake up,” I replied to his assertions.  Soon, though, I realized that he was not fooling around.  The gravity of the situation hit me, and I sat up in bed.

“It hasn’t been done in 800 or so years!” Killian exclaimed.  It struck me that this truly is a momentous event in church history  and it is amazing that all of us are alive to witness it, especially all of my friends who will  be there to watch and wait in the courtyard outside of the Vatican at the end of this month, searching the sky for traces of white smoke.  The future is uncertain, but the church is not.  It will always be here.  And, from Killian’s phone call, I was reminded of those I miss in Rome, They may not be  physically be near me, but I know they are with me in spirit, and I with them.  Apparently, I can’t get away from them making me miss out on sleep, even a continent away!

 

Italian Dreams and Dallas Streets

by Colleen

On Saturday, I called home for an update.  I miss the goings-on of our big family in our big, rambling farmhouse while down here in Dallas, and calling and skyping home is one of my favorite things to do on a lazy Saturday morning.  To my surprise, I found out that it is still winter back home, complete with 16 degree high temperatures and a foot of snow.  The sunny, 65 degree weather outside my window had fooled me into thinking it was March or even April, and classes already seem to be interminable.

Despite the glorious weather, this semester has been off to an uncharacteristic start.  Many of my closest friends are away across the ocean this semester, studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus, and while seeing gorgeous pictures of them traipsing across Italy on Facebook is fun, I’d much rather they were still living down the hall from me.  In an attempt to become more cultured and not just sit in front of our computer screens, scrolling through pictures, a few of my friends from here (who are also never going to Rome) and I decided to get out into Dallas and attend a concert last Sunday night.

After a frantic day of studying, my friends Joe, Monica, and I headed out to the light rail station in the Dallas dusk, ready for some music and time away from campus.  We alighted at Mockingbird station, and wandered around looking for a place to eat that was nowhere even close to cafeteria food.  We found what we were looking for at Izmir’s Market and Deli.  The Iranian man behind the counter was charming  the falafal was fresh and flavorful, and for just a moment, we could pretend we weren’t in Dallas, TX.  Satisfied, we headed to the concert, and spent the night enveloped in the music of the Punch Brothers, a folksy, Mumford and Sons-esque band that filled the Granada Theater with glorious sound.

We headed back to campus that night content and tired, our minds, not lost in contemplation of the streets of Rome, but centered on the present here and now, which suddenly seemed a lot less lonely.

Punch Brothers

Leaving the Little Ones

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by Colleen

Every time I leave home, there are two things that I know I will miss: my family and the land.  Missing my family is the obvious one.  I especially miss my little siblings, Clare and James.  Growing up, we were “the little kids”, a trio of troublemakers, covered in mud and smiles most of the time (when we weren’t fighting over what show to watch on PBS or who got the front seat).  Raphael was the big brother who was fun, deigning to play with monopoly with us for hours or tag, but when he decided that he was too grown up for all that, we were left to our little group of three.  (Note: Raph really isn’t very grown up still, but he refuses to play Monopoly.)

Little Raphie

As I leave home, one of the worst things is to say good-bye to Clare and James.  I attempted to hug James before heading out the door, and he shouted. “No me tocas!”  And wriggled and elbowed his way out of my arms.  Typical.   Clare on the other hand, the professed hug hater, gave me a long and hard hug.  I hate the fact that they are left at home, growing up and doing all the things I used to do with them, without me.  One of my greatest joys over break was going to James’ basketball games. The ride to and from the game with Clare in our musty, rattling van is something I’ve always loved.  And watching my little brother charge up the court really makes me the proudest I’ve ever been.  James happened to get injured in one of the games I went to this break, and I was so mad.  I was just so angry that some bug loaf hurt him.  I was ready to charge out and kick him in the shins til he cried-and that is not a normal Colleen emotion.  James and I are tight, alright?

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Everything changes.  My little siblings are growing up, my older siblings’ families are expanding, and me?  Well, the love for my family is growing, even as the distance between us does, too.

Little Sister

Grocery Girl

by Colleen

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This past summer I was lucky enough to land a job at the People’s Food Co-op in nearby La Crosse, WI, due to the the fact that I am what they call there a “Co-op Baby”.  Sweet Ridge Farm has sold produce on and off to this organic food store for years, and apparently the management has watched me and my siblings grow from toddlers to teens, wending our way through aisles of dried fruit and organic cereals, eating their legendary malted milk balls straight from the bag, and taking more than our fair share of the many free samples of chips and dips they offer in the deli section.  If there is free food anywhere within 30 miles, the Slattery children will find it.

In any case, they noticed my last name on my application, and I was in.  I spent this past summer working part time as a grocery girl, stocking the shelves with an assortment of odd goods, such as seaweed snacks and hemp milk, and chatting with the only other girl in the department, Natalya, from Russia.  When I came back home for break, they immediately offered my job back to me.  Unfortunately, my days of gossip with Natalya are gone, as she has now returned to Russia, and I have now taken the role of Only Girl in the Grocery and Produce Department.  It’s not so bad, really.  Growing up with 5 brothers has made me quite comfortable with guys, and in most cases I actually prefer it.  So now I mostly spend my days talking about Russian literature to my boss, Ed, and directing people to the chia seeds (aisle 2, on the top right).

But what really lights up my day is a visit from the sisters.  Clare and Mary decided to pop in the other day and document my job.  Mary was particularly interested in our wine selection…

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Knowing absolutely nothing about our wine, I immediately suggested a French one.  You can’t go wrong with French wine, non?

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Needless to say, Mary did not take my suggestion   Some people just have no taste (or lack an obsession with French things).  But Mary and I do share some things in common.  While she dreams of bikinis, sunshine, and flowers, I dream of the green fields of France and baguettes and berets.  So, don’t be disturbed if you wander into the People’s Food Co-op to buy some dried aduki beans and hear the shelf stocker muttering to herself  in French-it’s just a harmless, dreaming grocery girl.

Christmas, Children, and Snow: Who could ask for more?

Christmas has come and gone now.  The snow lingers on and so do I.  Whether I am running out in the cold air or curled up on my bed reading, I’m enjoying every moment at home.   One of the greatest gifts of being at home this winter has been getting to know my nieces and nephews better.

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I’m known as “the baby-hater” (thanks for the nickname, Raph) in our family.  It’s not that I dislike children, really.  It’s that I think they tend to dislike me.  Besides, when it comes to being an aunt, I feel a bit inadequate in comparison.  Auntie Mary and Auntie Clare not only sounds better than Auntie Colleen, but those two really have a passion for children.  Clare and Mary can and do spend entire days with our nieces and nephews and come out beaming, with children clinging to them, laughing and begging for more time spent with them.  I’m the aunt who comes and visits and plays…for about 10 minutes,   I can run 10 miles and be chipper by the end, but playing tag with a group of small children makes me want to take a nap.

kids

I really do love my nieces and nephews, even though I don’t have the endurance to keep up with them for long.  Yesterday, Gabriel and Aurora and company visited for Christmas Day.  It was so easy for me to run up to my darling god-daughter, Antonia.  With her huge smile and indiscriminate love, she is so easy to love.  I sometimes struggle with the older ones, Claire, Adeline, and Thaddeus, who aren’t content to just sit in my lap and smile and laugh as I bump them up and down.  But yesterday, I found myself snuggled up on my bed with Claire and Thaddeus watching Downton Abbey.  The afternoon sunlight glinted off of Thaddeus’ eyelashes as hes lowly started to drift off into sleep and Claire was warm and solid next to me.  And I realized that I love these kids so very much.  I may not be the best aunt in the world, but I’m trying.

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That was one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received, just spending time with the little ones.  I’ll do my best to be there for you, little nieces and nephews, but please excuse me if I sneak off for a break every now and then.

 

Blizzards and Beef-I’m Back Home!

I’m back home!  Can you tell?

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And now when I wake up, the world is snowy and calm from my window.

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There is snow and wind and family and babies.

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And beef. Lots of beef.  Dad went over to my uncle’s to kill a cow, and as I returned from a run the other day with Mary, I met Dad in the driveway, bringing home the beef. Literally.

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And if any of you are squeamish, I’d advise you to not visit our house.  That bucket behind Dad in the van was very full of…

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Cow’s feet, of course!  Nothing says “Welcome home! It’s Christmas time!” like 3 cow feet.  I just wonder where the 4th one is…In any case, it’s wonderful to be back.  We’re currently all at home, due to a blizzard warning sweeping through the area.  That won’t stop me from going out for my run later, though.  The snow covered hills and trees are a stunning backdrop that I will be sure to enjoy.  Don’t let the gore fool you; it’s beautiful here in Western Wisconsin.

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When You Take Away a Girl’s Piano…

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by Colleen

Once again, ’tis the season!  No, not THAT season-Finals Season!  And oh how festive and joyful the University of Dallas campus is.  I see people out at all hours, cavorting on the mall, and laughing in the library.  Oh wait, make that crying from lack of sleep.

Luckily, I have a fairly easy finals schedule this semester, and so I’m not going to be complaining about school.  Nope, I’m complaining about something else.

I moseyed on down the lounge in my dorm last week for a spot of piano playing only to find this:

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What? What?!  I was incensed.  I was enraged.  I was very, VERY annoyed.  C’mon, people.  Throughout the two weeks I have now been suffering from piano withdrawals.  I’ll look up from studying French and think, “Hey, PIANO! Yeah, I’m gonna go play!” only to suffer the extreme disappointment of not being able to.  I feel like I’m missing a limb.

My thought and feeling progression goes a little  something like this:

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Really?

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REALLY?

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FINE THEN.  I’ll just go watch youtube videos and melt my brain into mush.

Finals, I can handle.  This indignity-no.