Confirmation


I actually wrote this on February 12, 2010. I was going through old drafts that I never finished or posted. This is one of them.

February 12, 2010

My son Adam was confirmed today. And I recalled many things past and present about being Roman Catholic.

The holy sacrament of Confirmation is usually the fourth sacrament that a Roman Catholic receives. A Christian baby is baptized soon after birth and then around the age of eight makes his or her Confession and receives his or her First Holy Communion. Then around age twelve or thirteen, usually, he or she makes a conscious decision to denounce Satan and become a Christian, unlike Baptism where an innocent baby has no choice but to be baptized a Catholic.

I am a Roman Catholic (or just plain Catholic). There were times in the past when I told people that I was an ex-Catholic or a lapsed Catholic. I was once hospitalized at St. Anthony’s Hospital and when I was asked my religion I said, “Catholic” just out of guilt. A Catholic priest then came to visit me everyday. I told him that I wasn’t sure if I was still Catholic and he told me that it was normal to doubt. Now, whenever someone asks me my religion, I say I’m Catholic. If I think about Catholicism very objectively, I realize that, once you go through all of my religious training, I will always be a Catholic and never an ex- or lapsed Catholic. That would be the equivalent of saying, “I used to be Mexican.”

Today, I tried to compare Adam’s confirmation to mine. But I couldn’t remember my confirmation because I was baptized in México when I was about two months old. When it came time for my class to get confirmed at Holy Cross, my mother told me that I was already confirmed. That was news to me! Whenever we had confirmation classes, Sister Cecilia would just look at me with disdain and shake her head. She couldn’t understand how Mexicans could confirm babies. That was so contradictory to the whole concept of confirming that one voluntarily and willingly wanted to be a Catholic. Well, I was an outsider during the whole confirmation process. I had to go to the Confirmation, but I couldn’t sit with the class because I wasn’t getting confirmed. I didn’t feel very Catholic that day. Or today when I tried to compare my confirmation with my son’s.

I was happy for my son, but this was an awkward day for me. Since the divorce, we no longer celebrate anything as a family. But such is life.

Secrets


“A secret is something you tell one person at a time.'”
“Three can keep a secret if two are dead.”

I know how to keep a secret! A while back, my brother told me he was getting divorced after thirty-five years of marriage. He prefaced his announcement by asking me not to tell anyone. I promised not to tell anyone.

A few months later, my brother posted his plans to get divorced on Facebook. I saw the post and thought he phrased it in such away that blamed neither party for the divorce. My wife was surprised by his announcement. She asked me, “Did you see that your brother is getting divorced?” “Yes, I knew about his divorce. He told me a few months ago that he was getting divorced.” My wife was surprised I knew and then asked me, “Why didn’t you tell me?” “Because I promised him not to tell anyone. So I didn’t tell anyone.” She insisted that I could have told her because she was my wife, and she should have been privy to such information. Well, I did not–and would not in the future–tell her or anyone a secret someone shared with me in strict confidentiality.

I know how to keep a secret!

Haircuts


“Did you get a haircut?
“No, I got them all cut!”

I have been getting haircuts my entire life. For as long as I can remember. I’m sure I even got haircuts before I was capable of remembering them. My mom was my first barber. I am reminded of my haircuts now because I just got a haircut.

Most of my barbers have been Italian, except for my mom, of course. I had two Italian barbers who were both named Aldo of Italy. I patronized both for about ten years each. My next Italian barber was at UIC, but I cannot recall his name right now. My present barber is Vincenzo who has a great sense of humor. My mother’s name is Carmen, and although she’s not an Italian barber, she does have an Italian name–except in Italian, it’s a man’s name.

I found my barber Vincenzo because of my present wife Beata, who also is not an Italian barber, nor does she have an Italian name. I was complaining to Beata about the long wait at the UIC barber shop because the two older barbers had retired and the youngest barber, but not so young anymore, told me after he hired a couple of twenty-something barbers, “I remember when I was the kid of the barbershop!” Tempus fugit!

Anyway, my wife has a half-Yorkie, half-Shi-Tzu dog named Pluto that needs regular haircuts at the dog groomer. So, one day, she comes home after dropping Pluto at the grooomer and tells me, “I found a new barber for you!” The barbershop was right next door to the dog groomer. Since I didn’t like the wait at the barbershop at UIC, I went longer intervals without haircuts, which annoyed my wife because she liked me better when my hair was short.

The next time Pluto needed to be groomed, Beata took Pluto and I for a ride. We dropped Pluto off a the groomer and then she walked me next door to the barbershop. This was a real barbershop, a man’s barbershop for the macho he-man. Vincenzo didn’t introduce himself to me, nor did I. He swept his ope palm to the barber chair where I sat down. My wife sat right across from me, as if I would try to bolt out before getting my unwanted haircut. Vincenzo asked me, “How do you want your haircut?” I pointed to my wife and said, “You have to please my wife.” Without missing a beat, Vincenzo said, “No! You have to please your wife!”

My wife laughed, I laughed. Vincenzo laughed. Vincenzo has been my barber every since.

Warming up


The first step is always the hardest. That applies to just about everything in life. Some days, starting a run is extremely difficult. Some days, I have trouble putting on my running clothes and getting out the door. But once I’m outside and I start running, I know I will complete my run. Once I warm up, that is.

Warming up is very important to me. I never stretch before a run like I once did. I reached an age when the warm up alone seemed so tedious that I didn’t want to run afterwards. So, now I never stretch before a run, but rather start out running slowly and gradually settle into my normal running pace. I usually warm up after a mile or two, depending on many factors. But once I’m warmed up, my run is very enjoyable.

When I was younger and I was running a weekly twenty-miler for marathon training, I didn’t always have the motivation to go out and run that long run. Some days, I would feel like quitting at six miles, but I would tell myself that I had to finish my long run if I wanted to improve my marathon time. Amazingly, I could will myself to keep running and then a few miles later I would pick up the pace. Honestly, before I even began some of those long runs, I didn’t think i would finish them. On a few occasions, I felt so good that I ran twenty-six miles. And I could have kept running on those days, but I didn’t want to overtrain.

Over this past winter, I had a few days when it was extremely cold and snowy that I wanted to quit even before I ran the first mile. But, I recalled my youthful determination and willed myself to keep running, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, until i ran nine miles. All I had to do was warm up. Once I was warmed up, running was easy. Well, maybe not easy, but easier.

Warming up also applies to other things I do. For example, I didn’t feel like writing a blog post this morning, but I would not have felt good about it. So, I started putting one word in front of the other until I reached the end. Once I was warmed up, I finished this post.

And now it’s time for me to go running. I hope I warm up quickly.

Sightseeing


Yesterday, I had a good run. It was the easiest run, but I was sightseeing while running. I always sees new things when I run and that’s why I enjoying running without the distraction of listening to music. Running through Glen Ellyn is very interesting because of the old buildings from the 1800s. I enjoy looking at the expansive mansions and fantasize about what it would have been like living there. Or what it would have been like living in that era.

Yesterday, when I had to wait for red light at Main Street and St. Charles, I decided to check out Stacy’s Tavern. I always run past it, but I never really saw it until yesterday. Just by chance, I saw that the museum for Stacy’s tavern would be open that day from 1:30 to 4:30. So I returned later that afternoon for a visit. I really enjoyed the guided tour. I also felt grateful to live in our present age with all the modern conveniences.

Well, I’m off to run and see what new sights are in store for me today.

Treadmill


One thing I hate more than running laps is running on a treadmill. I had always been curious about treadmills and stationary bicycles. For the longest time, I thought I would be interested in riding stationary bike during the winter when I didn’t feel like running in the snow and ice. It would be nice, I thought, to get an aerobic workout without braving extreme winter weather. I often thought about buying stationary bicycle until I heard about treadmills. Then, I often wondered what it would be like to run on a treadmill indoors instead of running through the snow, slush, and ice on a wintry day. I suppose I could have joined a health club instead of buying a stationary bicycle or a treadmill, but somehow, I thought I would actually use the stationary bicycle or treadmill if I actually owned them.

The more I ran outdoors, the less I thought about buying either apparatus. I hate the repetitiveness of running laps because I keep seeing the same scenery repetitively. However, running and cycling in one place would be even worse because of the lack of change of scenery. But I never actually ran or cycled in one place.

A few years back when I was in México, my cousin suggested that I go to the health club with her. I have never been a fan of health clubs, but I was curious to see what a health club in México was like, so I went with her. Well, it didn’t look much different than a health club in Illinois or California. Anyway, I decided to run on the treadmill just to finally see what it’s like to run a treadmill. I had not run for about a month prior because of constant pain in my right foot, so I wasn’t sure how fast or how long I could run, but I was running alongside my cousin Jaqueline. She was happy that she didn’t have to miss her workout on account of my visit. I told her I could handle running even though I had not run recently.

So, I felt a little pressure to show her that I was real runner. I set a goal of running for thirty minutes, which I was fairly sure I could complete. We were able to watch TV while we ran. It had never occurred to me before to watch TV while I ran. I don’t even listen to music when I run.

Well, running on a treadmill did not seem like real running to me. Basically, I jumped in the air and the belt beneath me moved my foot back. So I was running without actually going anywhere. It seemed absurd to me. I sped up the belt slowly, but it still didn’t feel like real running. My cousin seemed to be enjoying her workout. She kept asking me how I liked it and I would just say it was great and smile back at her. Then I thought of increasing the incline that is supposed to simulate hills. Well, running on a steeply inclined treadmill is nothing like running hills. All I had to do was raise my foot a little higher and the belt would move it backwards. When I run up a hill, I can feel my legs carrying my entire body weight up the hill, not so with the treadmill.

Well, I managed to run for thirty minutes comfortably, but I didn’t feel like I really exerted myself very much. The pain in my right foot didn’t bother me at all. After that, I lost all desire to buy a treadmill. I’ll just stick to running on the road and running hills without watching TV or listening to music. Well, I have to run now.