grandma frosty, and life within death


Me, Lindsey, Grandma Frosty and Grandpa Jack

Lindsey’s grandma Faustena passed away last Saturday, and we subsequently had the funeral on Tuesday.  It’s been a whirlwind last week, especially when you consider we’re in the throes of buying a house and trying to pack up our apartment.  Turns out these things do not go to any particular plan, and so we’ve put together things as best we could.  If you all could have been an intimate part of my last year, you’d see that these kind of things are just part of Lindsey’s and my life – everything happens all at once, and it’s always big, heavy stuff.  Frosty was in the hospital at Ohio State right when we began dating, and we moved our wedding up in large part because we wanted to be sure her grandparents could attend.  In fact, had we waited, we would have been two weeks too late.  That would have been devastating.

Death is something I’ve always had a hard time with.  Its permanence; its finality; and perhaps most difficult for me, its inertia.  I could be working on something today, and suddenly die.  My work and efforts to this point will suddenly cease, and I won’t necessarily be able to come back after a brief vacation to come back and start again – no “surprise!  Back to business!”  I struggle with the thought that every last thing I’ve done could potentially be affixed with ellipses, never to be brought to final declaration.  It hastens my steps at times, even before I’ve clicked over to begin my fourth decade on the planet.

However, Jesus died, was buried, and three days later returned to fulfill Scripture.  In Frosty’s funeral mass, we were reminded of this, and many shared in the Eucharistic celebration of a Jesus that could conquer death.  The priest reminded us that Frosty’s cancer was her crucifixion, and that by sharing in death, she will celebrate the resurrection with Christ at her side.  While that thought simply rocks the logical and scientific parts of me into disbelief, I know that these things are true.  The completeness of my worldview helps me believe that there is a reunion, however it happens.  The ellipses of this life merely move to a new paragraph of eternal life.

Henri Nouwen, in his book Life of The Beloved, mentions in one of his final chapters (“Given”) that while we give in life, we also give in death.  Our legacy, our life, and what we’ve done have lasting impact on those we knew.  Our penultimate gift is ourselves in death.  As I write now, I think about what impact Grandma Frosty had on her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of the spouses that entered into the family.  I am the newest one of those spouses, and her heart and humor had an impact on me.  How much more when months instead span years and decades for all the other members of her family?

So death’s inertia is not inertia at all, but rather resting on the accomplishments of a life lived as best as possible.  Whenever I pass, I will put the final touches on my work here, and join a multitude cheering on the rest behind me to grow, learn, and leave behind something better.  That’s something to fear and anticipate with excitement, but not hasten more than necessary.  There’s so much to do here.

When Lindsey and I visited in the afternoon on Saturday, just a few hours before she passed, her sentences were broken and not easy to understand.  One thing that came through clearly, however, was her asking Linds “Are you going to be okay?”.  Linds said yes, I’ll be okay, will you?  Grandma Frosty replied “oh, yes, I’ll be fine.”  That interaction shook me.  Am I the type of person who even now asks folks “are you going to be okay?”

God, please help me be that man.


something of an update

So yeah.  Sorry about my extended absence.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about blogging or anything.  It’s that this hasn’t been a priority of late.  Which it should be, mostly because it helps me think in a more stripped down sort of way.

And if what I’ve seen in culture is any example, people for some reason love hearing other people’s thoughts.

So, the 10 of you who still read my blog, let me “drop some knowledge” if you will.

  1. I am going to Ohio State in the fall to pursue Urban Planning: I was accepted to Penn and OSU, and chose OSU on account it’s $40,000 cheaper and encourages internships (theoretical knowledge + pragmatic experience = best learning in my opinion), but it’s for some reason this move is more daunting than any other.  I think because I’ve been in Columbus a grand total of, oh, 48 hours, and to commit to being someplace for 2 years seems daunting.  But it isn’t much different than Erie, three years ago.  It just all feels different.  There’s something about not being thrusted out of something that makes it harder to go.   I didn’t have to leave Gannon.  No one else is.  It’s just me.  But I know, to the best of my knowledge, that this is what I’m supposed to do, what God wants.  And I have to do what I’ve done before – take a few steps in faithful service every day, and I will be fine.
  2. Phil Kondas is married.  Wow.
  3. I have a Master’s Degree in Higher Education (almost): I’ve completed all the requirements save about 12 pages of work.  I’ve never struggled with something more in my life.  A few pages on my thesis and a paper about worldview.  How about that.  I’ve already written better than 500 words of junk on my blog, which would easily fill a page two pages in an essay.  Which leads me to believe that I’m being lame, and should be writing my thesis.  Instead I’m writing here.
  4. I still think about subjects.  I’ll start writing about those again soon.
  5. Head, heart, hands was one of the most enjoyable things I did at Gannon.

Anyway, I think that’s it for now.  I’ll write my Methodology and some of my Findings tonight.  Let’s say I won’t wait multiple months before putting something on here again, ok?

head, heart, hands: the answers to love

For the past two weeks I’ve been forcing down your throat a steady diet of everything I’ve ever thought about relationships, and so far no one’s complained (or maybe you have complained a lot, but I haven’t heard it yet).

But I realized there’s no resolution.  There’s nothing that leaves you something worth writing anyone home to.  In fact, when I read back to my last two editorials, the summaries could be “our relationships are lousy” and “I dated some bullet-points last semester”.

Let me try to assuage your concerns.  I do have some resolution this week.

At the same time I debuted my Love List, I also tried to figure out what made a good relationship work.  To that end, I came down with three characteristics.

First, I think personalities play a lot into things.  Two people need to have personalities that are similar enough to agree on foundations, and different enough to be interesting.  I couldn’t deal with dating another Adam Anderson.  I’m enough for myself.  I don’t think I could deal with the “Anti-Adam Anderson”, either.  A 25-75% Adam Anderson would be nice.

Secondly, chemistry is important, too.  I’d like to enjoy the person I’m with for some reason that’s beyond explanation.  People have a sense we’re together regardless of the personal displays of affection.  You all know what I’m talking about.  It’s the mysterious “X-Factor”.

Finally, I think timing matters.  Dating someone while they’re dating someone else?  Cheating.  Dating right after they broke up with someone?  Rebound.  Try dating someone you’ve known for while?  Oh, dear friend, chances are you will be banished into the Friend Zone, never to return.  There is a window that makes relationships blossom.

So that’s it right?  Personality, Chemistry, Timing.

Ready, Set, Go.

Well, no.  Otherwise we’d all be married by now.

Over the last two weeks, as I’ve been writing this, I’ve been reminded of my lack of ability to control life.  I don’t have any control over the cars speeding down Peach Street, the cranes working on Beyer, the Police next door and a wild shootout that could happen, global warming, or Iran’s nuclear stockpile.  I could die the second I walk out of the door.

How did I ever think I could control relationships, then?  As much as I’d like to from time to time, I can’t make you into someone I want you to be.  I’m stuck with you as you are.  As evidenced by the whole death trap outside my apartment, I can’t control timing, and I can’t even explain chemistry well, let alone control it.

You and I, dear people of Gannon University, will never be able to control a relationship.  The best we can do is put ourselves in places that will allow the right thing to happen at the right time.  I can only be myself and figure everything will get worked out, because I really don’t have the time to stress over things I can’t do anything about.

I feel like you don’t have the time either.  So stop worrying.  You’re great right now.  We all have to walk out of our rooms and face potential doom.  In two years, I’ve made it wherever I’ve needed to go. 

You will, too.

head, heart, hands: the unfulfilled love list

In June of 2006, I debuted “The List”. What’s “The List”?

I don’t mean to be stereotypical, but I’ve noticed girls will have about 15-20 things (I think my girlfriend in college had 20 or so) that they need in a guy, and guys will basically say “human and female”.

That being said, I really tried to come up with a decent list. I had five things that had to do with faith, a little something about NPR, and probably something about at least liking how they looked a little bit.

Then about six months later I met Jean. She was a sweetheart, and laughed when I told a joke, even when I knew it was bad. We went to church together, and I can remember at least one good debate about Darfur, and another about the long term implications of the war in Iraq on the economy. Hot, I know. She owned an exercise bike and used it periodically. She also owned her own duplex in Cleveland, and had a good paying job as a Hospice Nurse. She was five-for-five on “The List” for those of you keeping score at home.

The past tense of the previous paragraphs is a clear foreshadow, however. Six months after meeting Jean, we broke up. The girl who batted a perfect 1.000 eventually struck out. She blamed it on stress, on not being ready for a relationship.

The worse part was it was a good relationship. We didn’t fight, we didn’t have sex, and I made her parents laugh.

I even made mixtapes for her brother. Yeah. Mixtapes.

You have a Jean too. You also have your list. Maybe he has to be at least 6’1”. Maybe she needs to run a mile under 7:30. Maybe you’ve got to be able to read Russian Orthodox theology in its native tongue. And then someone comes and its as if he or she already had your list memorized.

Then before you know it, somehow you’re talking about lack of trust, some stupid thing you said that you know you didn’t mean and it still somehow came out of your mouth, and probably forgetting some semi-important date like her mom’s birthday, and it’s over.

But it was “The List”. The perfect-10 list.

In the couple months after the breakup, if there’s something I’ve learned is that the worst thing I could have done is have that list. What good person has ever been reduced to five qualities? What good relationship has ever been built around five paltry characteristics?

In my more honest moments, I wonder whether I wanted my 5-for-5 Jean so badly that I might not have even met the real Jean. Maybe the real Jean did compliment me well. Maybe she was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I’ll never know.

I think I’ve got one more week of relationship talk in me, but in the meantime, you know that notebook that you have? Yeah. That one. Tear out that page – the one in the front. I can’t help but think the person you’ve wanted is going to be much bigger than that page.

okay, i’m going to write again

Sorry it’s been quite awhile since updating. Here’s what’s happened since I lasted updated:

  • I spent two weeks in Beaver Falls, PA for Summer Institute. I took a class on Epistemology, Sociology, Research, and History. Once all of those are completed, I only have two classes and my Master’s Degree is complete.
  • I spent time with my family
  • I went to Chicago to see Nakis with Ian and we saw Buddy Guy and John Mayer play together. That was a show.
  • I came back to Erie and have been reading and writing papers, playing softball, and support raising.

why i love my life:

  1. I have a girlfriend named Erika
  2. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day
  3. We had plans
  4. The biggest snowfall of the years hits the 13th and the 14th, burying both Cleveland and Erie in multiple inches of snow.
  5. We’re still celebrating Valentine’s Day… just by distance
  6. I think this might be one of the most fun Valentine’s Day I’ve had.

The end.