Emily M. DeArdo

Celebrating Ordinary Joy

Seven Quick Takes No. 118: Aftermath

7 Quick Takes, JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment


OK, so if you missed the wrap up on Tuesday: 

here you go. 

If you want more Jeopardy things, then click the "Jeopardy " link under the title of this post, and you will see all the goodness!


I was at a party, graciously hosted by Tiff and Bill, on Monday, so I wasn't tending to my social media. However, that didn't mean that social media didn't have thoughts about me....

So, um, I don't know what that means. 

BUT it did give me a great title for my memoir: Absurdly Happy. What do you think? :) There is a subtitle coming. I just don't know what. 

And some Tweeters did do a nice job sticking up for me: 

Matt wins the prize! :) 

Should I change my ringtone to Hello, Dolly? :) 


What Alex said to me after the show: He was impressed that I wrote down my answer for Final Jeopardy so quickly. "That was the fastest writing I've ever seen!" So, that can be my claim to fame, beyond all other things. 

He also explained why that was the Final Jeopardy question--the Tour is going on right about now. So, it's pertinent. 

(I mean, somewhere. Maybe not here--in Columbus it's All Convention, All The Time....)


Someone did recognize me in the grocery store yesterday....

I had a craving for cereal, so I made a quick run to the store. In the cereal aisle, a woman stopped, looked at me, looked at the cereal, looked at me....

Her: Can I ask you a weird question?

Me: Yes.

Her: Were you just on Jeopardy? 

Me: Yes. 

Her: (Squeal--no, I didn't make that up) We watch that every night! We were so happy someone from here was on! 

She was very nice. But it was very surreal, being recognized in the cereal aisle. 


After my episode wrapped, Mary and I went to the Santa Monica Pier and had lunch. I could've stayed to watch the rest of the day's episodes, but I thought it was time to get out of there....and I really didn't want to see another show that would've had "better" questions air. I didn't need that sort of thing. So we decided to leave right after I signed all the forms. One of the lovely producers called me a taxi, and we headed off to explore.


I don't know if I get a tape of the episode. I sort of hope I do? It's currently on my parents' DVR. :) 


It was definitely an excellent experience--one I'm glad I got to do, and I'm so glad that you all got to watch it (or at least, most of you.) It was also nice to bring some positive coverage to the CF community! 



Summer Scribbles No. 7: What is Courage?

essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The SITS girls question of the week: 

How do I define courage? 

I actually think about this a lot. Does that make me weird? 

A lot of people tell me that I'm brave, and I don't think I am. 

To me, courage and bravery involve risking something when you don't, necessarily, have to. Firefights and policemen are inherently brave, as are soldiers. They are putting their lives on the line every day to protect and defend people, and they don't have to. (Well, OK, at least in the U.S., soldier wise.) 

People who save people from drowning, or rescue kids from burning buildings, or the people who ran into the buildings on 9/11--those people are brave. 

I don't consider myself brave. The things I do are the things I think anyone would do in my situation. The choices I've made, I've made to save my life. Choosing transplant wasn't brave. Without it, I'd be dead. Full stop. 

I know that not everyone with CF makes the choices that I've made. And I know that part of me decides to fight even when it might be easier not to. And I guess that's brave. 

Is it courageous to do those things that keep you alive, even when you don't want to do them? Were all those years of PT and nebulizers and giving myself IV treatments in the bathrooms at work brave or courageous? 

I don't know. To me, it was just life. The other option was death. And that's not an option I choose. 

I'm not afraid of death, by the by. I never have been. Maybe it's because I know that something better is awaiting me. (Or at least, Purgatory.) I trust that God's got this. He's going to take care of me. And I'm not really even afraid of dying--because I've done that process. I've gotten, really, as close as you can, I think, and done it twice. And both times,  I've been back. 

But does all this make me courageous? I don't know. I don't think so. Because to me, none of it was conscious choice

This, on the other hand. This works well for me: 

I have never, ever wanted to be defined as the girl with CF. Or the girl who had that transplant thing. I don't so much mind the latter, which pops up a lot. But I am so grateful to my parents for letting me have a normal life. Some CF parents don't send their kids to regular school because they're worried about all the germs floating around. Guys--we have an immune system. CFers can have totally normal lives. I don't want to live in a bubble. I don't want to have a live that's so protected from everything, tainted by fear of what might happen. My identity is as a daughter of God, and not as some weird genetic thing. 

Am I brave? I don't know. To me, all of this just is. And it always will be. 


The Jeopardy! experience

JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

So, assuming you all watched last night, you know what happened. :) 

I was actually really freaked out all day yesterday. Even though, obviously, I knew what was going to happen, no on else did--and I felt like I was going to let people down. Is that weird? It might be weird. 

I think everyone expects you to go out there and just smoke the competition. And that would've been nice....but, you know, that doesn't always happen. 

But I got money, and I had a great time. And I'm really glad I got the Final Jeopardy question right. At the end of the episode, when we were "chatting", Alex said he'd never seen anyone write so quickly. EVER! So that's my claim to fame. I knew what the answer was before he was done reading the question, so I was ready with my writing device! 

The website from Monday morning. 

The website from Monday morning. 

Both the people I played with were great people. Ellen and I had been in the Monday group together and we'd gotten to talk a bit, so I was glad that, if anyone was going to beat me, it was someone nice. Hans was a real gentleman, although, at over six feet, it was hard to get him, Ellen, and I in the same frame on the camera! There are squares you stand on that will go up to make you taller--but nothing to make you shorter! 

Alex was nice to us, which surprised some people. I mean, I've seen him be sort of snarky to people on TV, but he was nice to all the contestants I saw tape. And he was very patient when answering the audience questions, which he must have answered five bazillion times . 

In terms of questions-I'm mad I missed Franz Liszt. I'm pretty sure my grandma groaned when I missed that. But I was thinking of Hans, and.....yeah. I also new all the Dickens questions, but I only got in for one. And I knew that last one, but I didn't want to be wrong at that point in the game. I had to read Hard Times in college, and it's super didactic and very much not my favorite Dickens. Alas! 

It's easy to beat yourself up for the questions you missed. I'm trying too hard not to do that. :) Overall, it was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. Out of 100,000 people who take the online test annually (it's only offered once a year!), only about 400 make it on the show. So that, in and of itself, is something to be proud of, no matter how I did.

I will have more tidbits to share in the coming days! 


Catholic 101: The Works of Mercy

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

Since it is the Year of Mercy, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. 

The Corporal works of mercy are the ones I'd bet most people are familiar with, because it's things like feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and visiting the sick. These are the sort of things that, when people think about "charity", this is what they think about. Whether it's donating to drill a deep well in Sudan, running a food drive at work, or donating clothes to the local homeless shelter, the "corporal works of mercy" are generally well know. Their Biblical basis comes from Matthew 25. 

"Corporal" means the works of mercy that pertain to the body--meeting our physical needs. They are: 

Photo credit: World Vision 

Photo credit: World Vision 

  1. Feed the Hungry
  2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
  3. Clothe the Naked
  4. Shelter the Homeless
  5. Visit the Sick 
  6. Visit the Imprisoned 
  7. Bury the dead

Most of these are pretty straightforward, right? The last one might give you some pause. In most places, we don't actually have to bury the dead. That's what funeral homes and cemetery staff do. But we can be there for people was are experiencing a loss. We can go to the visiting hours, the funeral, bring food by the house for the grieving family--etc. And at the very least, we can always send a card or an email to say that we are praying for the deceased and the family that's been left behind. 

But the Church has also taught that it's not enough to just take care of the body. We have to take care of the soul, too. Thus, the seven spiritual works of mercy: 

  1. Counseling the Doubtful
  2. Instructing the Ignorant
  3. Admonishing the Sinner
  4. Comforting the Sorrowful 
  5. Forgive Injuries
  6. Bear Wrongs Patiently
  7. Pray for the Living and the Dead

These are a little more....opaque, shall we say? It's a bit harder to see how we can put these into direct action, unlike the corporal works for mercy. So let's break these down a bit. 

Some of them are pretty simple, like the last one. Pray for the living and the dead--pray for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory; pray for the church on earth. The pope, our leaders, our world...all of this is fodder for prayer. (And in these times, don't we need it?) 

Bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving injuries are a way to more closely imitate Jesus. Jesus bore lots of wrongs patiently, especially during His Passion. Even a quick, cursory reading of the Bible accounts of Jesus' death will give you plenty of examples. Forgiving injuries is similar. When someone snaps at you, or accuses you of doing something that you didn't do, shut up about it. Let it go. 

(Now, obviously, that probably doesn't mean to go to jail for something you didn't do. I mean, that's pretty extreme. But if your office mate says you ate her banana, and you didn't, and you've said that, but she still believes you did it--there's nothing you can really do at that point. Let it go.)

Comforting the sorrowful we discussed above; sometimes you see this as "comforting those who mourn." But it can also mean people who are depressed, anxious, etc. 

Now we get into the Unpopular Ones. 

No one wants to be told they're ignorant. But we shouldn't want people to be ignorant of Christ, or the legitimate teachings of His Church. We can instruct the ignorant by teaching CCD or being an RCIA sponsor, but we can also just explain what the Church believes when the chance comes to defend the church in public. (I like to think that this series instructs anyone who's ignorant. In a nice way!) 

Counseling the Doubtful means being able to help people who may be having doubts about the faith, or the existence of God (etc.), that what the Church teaches is really true. 

And finally, admonishing the sinner. 


No one really likes to do this. And it doesn't mean that you should go around like the woman at the end of Game of Thrones, yelling "shame!" and ringing a cowbell. That's probably not the best way to get your point across. 

We are always to do these things in a sprit of love and mercy

If a parent sees a child doing something wrong, then he's going to stop that child from doing something wrong. In the case of religion, we want people to go to Heaven! And if they are deep sin, they aren't going to get there. 

Now, we know that we are to remove the plank in our own eye first. That's important. But if you see someone who is in grave sin--adultery, procuring an abortion, sleeping around, etc.--then you need to, in charity and love and mercy--talk to said person. Suggest that maybe what they're doing isn't the right way to go, and you love them too much to let them keep doing it.  That doesn't mean nagging the person. ("Are you going to stop smoking? You need to stop smoking. We talked about this yesterday! STOP SMOKING!" Or whatever.) 

Jesus loves us too much to leave us alone. As C.S. Lewis said: 

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. 

Jesus didn't die for us, redeem us so we could be ordinary, decent eggs. He wants us to be birds soaring up to Him. The works of mercy are part of how we help ourselves, and others, become birds. 




Seven Quick Takes No. 118: Transplant Celebration and Jeopardy reminder!!

7 Quick Takes, JeopardyEmily DeArdoComment


OK , first of all--

Jeopardy on Monday. 

Check your local listings and all that. :-p 



I'll be on Jen Fulwiler's radio show on the Sirius XM Catholic Channel on Monday! 

If you have Sirius, tune in. If you don't, there might be an iTunes link. I will try to post. 


On Sunday, my parents took me out to celebrate The Anniversary. We wanted to go to Fado, the place where we had eaten dinner right before I got my call, but it's an Irish pub that shows European Soccer, and there was a huge game on. So we went to PF Chang's instead, which is just as delightful.  

After that, my parents surprised me with a super-duper treat. 

Chocolate fondue, people. 

Sadly, I have no pictures of the Gloriousness that was Chocolate Caramel Toffee fondue, with magical pieces of fruit, a blondie, rice krispy treats, pound cake, and a brownie. Yes, all of that, per person. You got a lovely little tray of items to dip in the bubbling, magical chocolate. 

Guys, I would've married that fondue. Or at least licked the bowl if it wasn't so crazy hot. I didn't feel like burning my tongue. 

But it was so delightful. Right now, writing about it, I'm salivating. I want more! MOREEEE! 


And if you're not an organ donor, and you have an iPhone, you can sign up RIGHT FROM THE PHONE, people! RIGHT FROM YOUR PHONE! You don't even have to go to a pesky website!

Do it. Really. Sign up. 

Oh, you want to know why? 

Well, if not knowing me isn't cool enough.....here's a list of some of the things I've done post transplant. 


Gone to California; gone to Boston; gone to NYC and Chicago; discovered the epic-ness that is the Outer Banks; been in a ton of theater; tried tofu; been on Jeopardy!; been to Disneyland; eaten in Beverly Hills; started pin collecting; gotten my own apartment; had several jobs; left the job to be a freelancer; written a few novels and a memoir (that eventually someone will want to publish....) 


Seen my godson graduate from high school; seen my sister graduate from high school and college; seen my brother graduate from college and become a Steeler sportswriter; Penguin Stanley Cups!; been my cousin Paige's confirmation sponsor; pinned my sister at her graduation from nursing school; seen multiple small children be born that I never would've seen other wise (and that would have made the guy below SAD)

No transplant, no meeting Justin. He's only seven. 

No transplant, no meeting Justin. He's only seven. 

Been in my other cousin Justin's wedding, and met his adorable kids....


Been in a million OTHER weddings, including this couple's....

These people rock my world. A lot. 

These people rock my world. A lot. 

Met hundreds of people I wouldn't have met otherwise; been to Edel with awesome, awesome people; become a Lay Dominican; read the Outlander books (this would've made my life so sad, people....to not know Jamie and Claire!).....and about a thousand others....seen the resurgence of the Pirates into a good baseball team!....


Organ donation doesn't just save one person. It saves families. It saves friends. It saves entire networks of people. I mean, not that I'm all that or anything, but I do have friends and family that would miss me (I hope!). I would've missed so much without these 11 extra years

Guys. Be an organ donor. Save lives. Give people joy and grace. 

Summer Scribbles No. 6: Tools of the Craft

essaysEmily DeArdoComment

Today's SITS girls prompt: 

What's your favorite writing tool? 

Well, it depends. 

I do love my MacBook Pro. I mean, for blogging and writing, it makes life so much easier. That being said, I love paper and pen for keeping details of my writing projects straight. I have a blog calendar in my bullet journal that I refer to, and I find that really helpful. Not only does it save me from "hmm, what to write about today", but it's easy to make notes of things I want to write about on certain days (saints' days, anniversaries, holidays, etc.). It also keeps me from writing about the same thing all the time.  I figure you guys want some variety in your reading, right? 

I'm a big pen and paper nut. I love using pretty pens and I am very picky about my notebooks, especially for my journals. I generally use Moleskines for those. They're durable and pretty, and even better if they're a special kind I can get when I travel (like the one I have now, from the Strand in NYC.) 

My fountain pens are all Lamys, but I also love Le Pens and Sharpies and...well, OK, I just love pens. Pens rule!

You can see this journal is pretty well loved. :) 

What about you? Do you have a favorite pen/paper/notebook/planner? 


Amazing Grace

essays, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

Amazing grace.

That's really all that can be said about eleven extra years on the planet. 

That's more than 4,000 extra days. 

That's sort of staggering, if you think about it. 4,000 days. 

Extravagant grace. 

Extravagant gift

Some people, post-transplant, talk about bucket lists. About climbing Machu Picchu or going around the world and seeing the great sights. And I've done some traveling, post-transplant. I've done some things that I never thought I'd do, and met people I never thought I'd meet. 

But the most delightful things are the small things. 

Getting to see my godson graduate from high school. 

Holding a four year old on my lap during a fireworks display. 

Sharing root beer floats with friends. 

Deeply diving into God's life in me, deepening His life within me and my relationship with Him. 

Feeling the ocean waves wash over my bare feet. 

Of course, all of this is only possible because Suzanne was an organ donor. When she died 11 years ago, her family decided to honor her wishes and donate her organs. And since she died due to a brain aneurysm, her organs were in great shape. She saved a lot of lives that day, including mine. 

If you're not an organ donor, please be one. 
If you are, tell your family that you are one. 

Some people, when faced with health issues or other problems, wonder "why God has done this to them." And I've never thought that way. I'm not a saint. But I've never wondered why all of this happened to me. 

God gives everyone their cross--and it's a cross that fits them. This is the one that fits me.  My salvation only comes this way. And if I can drag a few more people to heaven with me, then that suits me just fine. :) 

I'm writing this in a coffee shop on a sunny summer day. It's a totally ordinary day in July. But it's a day that I never would've had, without Suzanne's generosity, and without the incredible skill and dedication of a whole team of medical people. 

Eleven years later, their skill, and their work, still live on.

I am so thankful for them. I'm thankful for Suzanne, of course, and her family. And even on the bad days, I am so thankful for every moment of ordinary joy. 

Amazing grace. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 117

7 Quick Takes, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

Per usual....if you missed them (posts from the long weekend are here, too!)

My Country 'Tis of Thee

When In the Course of Human Events

Summer Reading: What I Read in June

I'd Like Your Vote


In the area of Catholic news this week, here is an article about Cardinal Sarah asking for ad orientem worship everywhere, starting in Advent. 

For those of you who aren't into technical liturgical details, "ad orientem" means "toward the east"--basically, in this style of worship, during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest is turned toward the east, or, with his back to the congregation. Everyone is facing the same way, as it were. 

Ad orientem does not mean "in Latin". You can offer ad orientem worship within the confines of the "normal" English Mass. The only difference would be the direction the priest is facing. 

I'm not a huge fan of the Mass in Latin, I gotta be honest. I feel like I'm just sitting around watching the priest do things. However, I realize it might take time to get acclimated to it. 

But ad orientem worship seems like something we should try. So many Catholic churches don't even look Catholic these days. Yes, some moving the altar work might be involved, if you don't have an older church, like mine, which still has the high altar. But I think making the Mass more reverent isn't a bad thing, and it's probably sorely needed. 


The 11 year transplant anniversary is on Monday. I will have my annual retrospective post up that day. Just some FYI. ;-) 


And also in the FYI category: Jeopardy! July 18th. Watch it. It'll be more fun than the convention that starts that day....eyeroll. 


I found this on the SITS girls facebook page this week, and I just adore it: 


I mean, right? Isn't that the way it works? 

Me and Tiffany--randomly doing stuff together since 1996. (holy cow, that's TWENTY YEARS.....) 

Me and Tiffany--randomly doing stuff together since 1996. (holy cow, that's TWENTY YEARS.....) 


What's the longest friendship you've ever had? I gotta say I'm impressed with twenty years. That's more than half our lives at this point. 

Tiffany and I met in a theater class in high school--alphabetical seating is our friend. Amilia and Sue I met in freshman choir. My friend Tom I met in Freshman French....and I've known my friend Branden since we were three years old. No kidding. 

That's sort of amazing, if you think about it. 


And since I have nothing else, I'll leave you with an Ann Voskamp image. :) 

Have a great weekend!

Summer Scribbles No. 5: I'd Like Your Vote

essaysEmily DeArdoComment

Or, actually, I wouldn't. 

Today's Summer Scribbles answers this question: 

Have you ever wanted to run for political office? 

To be brief: No. HELL no. 

I hated selling candy for my school fundraiser. I loathed running for student government in college (really, I did). I have done a lot of campaign work in my time, and I don't mind campaigning for other people, but I hate marketing myself. It's one of the reasons I hate asking people to subscribe to the blog-but hey, I'll ask you now!

Please subscribe, if you don't already! There's a big pink box in the corner! 

And that is all the campaigning Emily will do today. :) 

Campaigning is definitely an art. You have to really love it, because it's continuous. As soon as an election ends, you start gearing up for the next one. There is constant fund-raising, and the elected official has to keep name recognition up to make the next election cycle a little easier. You need a lot of people to run a good campaign, and you need a fair amount of money. Signs, flyers, banners, t-shirts, etc. are not cheap, and neither is throwing the fundraisers. It's definitely a spend money to make money (or get elected) proposition. 

I've worked on two presidential campaigns, a gubernatorial campaign, and a bunch of smaller campaigns. And it can be fun. It can also be really not fun, when you're standing in a wet, muddy baseball field in a downpour sans umbrella because the Secret Service does not allow umbrellas at said event. 

So, while I will campaign for others, I will never, ever run for political office. EVER. 

That's a promise I'll keep! 

Summer Reading: What I Read in June

booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

How's your summer reading going? Are you looking for some new titles? Never fear! Here's my list of books I read in June, and my notes on them. 

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera: Elizabeth recommended this one to me, and I'm shocked that I hadn't read it early. I'd actually never heard of it before. It's Cranford-like. Miss Prim takes up the post of librarian in a private house, owned by the "man in the wing chair" and run as a school for his nieces and nephews. Miss Prim finds him odd--but the whole town is odd, as well. Odd in the best way possible! 

El Deafo, by Cece Bell: A graphic novel/memoir that details the author's life as hearing-impaired child. After a bout of menningitis, she lost her hearing, and was fitted with hearing aids. At first, she attended a school that was for hard of hearing students, but after her family moved to Virginia, she had to adapt to a hearing school, and making new friends. 
I adored this. A lot of it spoke to my experience of hearing loss, and I loved the illustrated guide to reading lips: 

"Shouting is not good!" TRUTH. 

A Family of Saints by Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat O.F.M.: A biography of the Martin family (the family of St. Therese), with particular emphasis on her parents, Zelie and Louis. If you're a devotee of St. Therese, you need to read this. 

4 Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly: I received this book for free at Edel last year; it was part of our gift bag. And it started out pretty well. I was thinking, of, it's going to be one of those books that helps deepen the reader's spiritual life. Well, no. Not really. It started that way, but then it ended up like Forming Intentional Disciples; this whole idea that we need to "evangelize" by telling "Fallen-away Catholics" the Gospel because they haven't heard it (I call b/s on that one. I just do. I know plenty of fallen-away Catholics who "heard" the Gospel. The problem was, in their families, that didn't have much emphasis on anything); we need RENEW, and we need Small Groups, and and and......and somehow it misses the point that all the programs in the world, and all the flash-whizbang stuff, isn't going to help if people aren't catechized well. 
Basically, I get really annoyed at books like this that say we need to have flashier programs and more stuff like that--what people need is good catechesis and reverent Mass. For starters, anyway. But I digress. Onward!

Vinegar Girl: Anne Tyler's take on The Taming of the Shrew is excellently done. 

 Outlander Kitchen by Theresa Carle-Sanders: If you've followed the blog, you'll love the book; if you haven't followed the blog and love Outlander, then you NEED this book! 

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch: YA novel about a girl who is shipped off to Italy to live with her father after her mother dies of cancer. But why did her mother want her to live with a man she's never met? And is he really her father? You'll want to go to Italy after you read this. 


Finding True Happiness by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ: The first of Father Robert Spitzer's happiness quartet. Jen Fulwiler described this book as "meaty", and it is, but it's also definitely worth reading. I'm about to start the second volume in the series. 

Surrender!:The Life Changing Power of Doing God's Will, by Fr. Larry Richards: A book that does tell you how to deepen your spiritual life, and is funny as a bonus. 

Rocket Ships and God by Rocco Martino: If you like math and science, this is a good book for you. Otherwise the math details might be overwhelming! :) 

The Children Act, by Ian McEwan: This is the second McEwan book I've read, the first being On Chesil Beach. And I guess I just can't get into him. He writes well--some of his sentences are like music--but his characters seem so flat to me. The book revolves around Fiona, a family court judge, who has to decide whether or not to allow a hospital to give a blood transfusion to a pediatric patient, who is a Jehovah's Witness. I think one the disappointing things about this book is how lightly faith is handled--and how in the end, it has no power over its players. That bothered me a bit. 


What books did you read in June? What would you recommend? Tell me in the comments. 

Saturday bonus! Two fullproof recipes for the Fourth

recipesEmily DeArdoComment

My family is sort of low-key when it comes to the Fourth of July. But recently I've discovered two easy recipes that I always make for Fourth of July celebrations. They're delicious, easy, and everyone loves them! 

So if you need ideas for your Fourth celebration, try these out. Both of these are Pioneer Woman recipes. 

Fourth of July Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad

Raspberry Cream Pie (No baking!) 


Seven Quick Takes No. 116: My Country Tis of Thee

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

linking up with Kelly and the gang


Ok, first: What You Might Have Missed This Week

The Fight for Joy

Summer Scribbles No. 4: The Summer After High School


Since it's the Weekend of the Fourth, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about Our Peculiar Form of Government! So gather 'round for a Civics lesson, cats and kittens!



OK, the first thing y'all need to know: Things in the U.S. are done in threes. There are three branches of government. There are three levels of government. 

The three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial.

The three levels of government: local, state, federal. This is called Federalism. (More on that in a bit) 

Every level of government has the three branches of government. 

So, your town has a mayor (executive), a city council (legislative), and a mayor's court (judicial). Or something like a mayor's court.

A state has a state legislature, a governor, and a state supreme court. 

The nation--the United States-- has Congress (legislative), a president (executive), and the Supreme Court of the United States (Judicial). 


Each branch of government has its specific functions. 

The legislative branch makes the laws. (This is your local council, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress.)

(For how this works at the federal level....)

The executive enforces the law. This is the mayor, the governor, the President. (You hear the president say he will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America when he's sworn in on Inauguration Day. That's part of being an executive.) 

The judicial branch interprets the law. (It's not supposed to make law, but you know....) 

Each branch has powers over the other branches of government, so that one branch cannot become too powerful. This is called checks and balances. For example, a governor can veto a bill--but the state legislature can override the veto. A supreme court can declare a law unconstitutional, and so forth. 


Got that? 

Back to Federalism. 

The idea behind Federalism (or at least, American Federalism)  is that what can be decided by the states, should be. The Constitution gives us this in the 10th amendment. 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.[5]

Keep in mind that, before the Revolutionary War, the colonies were governed by the British King. As in, the King thousands of miles away. Who knew nothing about them or what they were doing or what they wanted. Hence, the idea that government that is closest to the people should make most of the day to day decisions for the people in that area. From the beginning, everyone agreed that there should be levels of government--but who does what? What should the Federal government do? What should the state governments do? Etc. 

You can still see that we have a divide in our country about what the Federal government should do and what it should not do.  But the general idea was that government closer to home is better at knowing what the people need in a particular area, and that the federal government is good for things that affect the nation as a whole. (i.e., the military, building roads, the mail service, etc.) 


Having said all that

People do not seem to understand these ideas. 

Here are two examples. 

1) When I worked in my congressman's office (Congress being the legislative branch on the Federal--national--level), people would call and complain about the local sewer service. Or trash pickup in the city where the district office was located.  

This is not something you call the federal government about. This is something you call the local city/township/village about. 

2) When I worked in the state senate, people used to call and ask for federal senators. As in, senators from other states. Note that I worked in the state senate. As in, all of our senators represented different parts of Ohio. Not different states in the nation. 

You may remember that the Democratic Nominee for President is 2004 was Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. That fall, I worked for State Senator Jon Carey, who represented part of the state of Ohio. 

Can you guess what happened in our office nearly every day? 

That's right. People called looking for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts

Yes, they were both senators. And yes, their names were pronounced the same way. 

But guys. One is a federal senator. As in, he works in Washington, D.C. and represents the people of an entire state--which was not Ohio.  

One is a state senator. He represents significantly fewer people.  And he's not running for president. 


If you learn nothing else in any civics class, ever, please learn the difference between the branches and levels of government. Don't say that a state representative is getting the same great paycheck/benefits as his federal counterpart. Don't call the mayor to complain about the president (and definitely not vice-versa). Don't expect the Supreme Court of the United States to care about broken city ordinances in Smalltown, U.S.A. (I mean, sometimes they do. But that's another kettle of fish.) 

And now I shall leave you with the Schuyler Sisters. 




Summer Scribbles No. 4: The Summer After High School

essaysEmily DeArdoComment

Using the SITS girls monthly prompt list

The summer after high school was a pretty nondescript one for me. I did some baby-sitting, I read Harry Potter and anxiously awaited the release of the fourth book. I spent a lot of time with my high school friends, swimming in their pools. There were a lot of sleepovers. 

(Side note: weren't sleepovers the best? I mean, really? I miss those. Although, sleepover pro tip: When your friend's parents are at a wedding out of state, leaving you and said friend alone in the house, with only the scaredy-cat dog, it might not be a good idea to watch Silence of the Lambs at 2 A.M. Just, you know, maybe not the best idea.)

Most of my friends were going to college sort of locally, meaning in the state of Ohio. A few were going out of state. This was before the advent of Facebook, so we knew it was going to be harder to keep in touch, but fortunately this newfangled thing called email had opened up wide possibilities. And AOL instant messenger! That was going to be super useful during our college years. 

There was some packing for college. And yeah, I started early. Like, August. Even though I was only going about fifteen minutes away. I had one summer orientation session, when I had to set my fall schedule, and then orientation orientation began August 25th. Of course it rained that day. It rained every single move in day of my college career. Again, glad we didn't have a lot of stuff to move. I was just really glad that my dorm had air conditioning, and that you couldn't smoke on our floor. Yes, you could smoke in the other dorms at this time. But you couldn't have lit candles. Crazy much? That got changed at the end of my freshman year. 

I was excited to go to college. I mean, I had liked high school, but I thought I would really like college, and I was right. I did really, really enjoy college. OK, the almost dying wasn't a fun thing, but that wasn't college's fault (and that's another story), but most of it was a great time.

It did feel odd, though, to not have work to do during the summer. The summer before my senior year, I'd had the Summer Reading List for AP English. I remember spending long hours at the neighborhood pool with my super cheap copy of Jane Eyre. But there was no summer reading--at least not yet--for incoming college freshman at my school. That changed a few years later, when every incoming student had to read an assigned book, with classes and events during the academic year surrounding said book. 

So it was just me, my friends, swimming pools, and sleepovers. It wasn't a bad way to spend a summer.  



The Fight for Joy

essays, health, transplantEmily DeArdo4 Comments

The tagline of this site is "Celebrating Ordinary Joy." And that's what I try to do on a daily basis--to remember that this life is so incredible, such a miracle, that everything is Joy. The brown bananas in the freezer awaiting their transformation into muffins; the roses and sunflowers in a vase on the counter; even the trash bags that need taken out. Everything is a gift. 

But that doesn't mean it's easy. I never wanted a Pollyanna tag line, where we play the glad game, and blithely ignore realities. Sometimes, reality is hard. 

Last week, I felt as low as I've ever been. I tried all my normal things--journaling, napping, bubble baths, talking to friends, a holy hour, a weekday Mass. When I go to Mass, no matter how crappy I might feel, usually the consecration floods me with peace. Not on Friday. On Friday I was totally just at Mass. I didn't feel a thing. It was like robot-me. 

I talked to my therapist (Most people, post-transplant, see a therapist. It's par for the course.) I basically didn't talk--I sort of fell apart. I was a mess. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating right, I was forgetting conversations I'd had two days ago--and I don't do that--and I had no idea why. 

Joy was really far away. Incredibly far away. I thought about the tagline and I laughed. Joy? Really? JOY right now? 

No Joy. 

On Saturday, I was very gentle with myself. I read a book suggested by Elizabeth--The Awakening of Miss Prim--and I re-read the Restore workshop pieces. I went to Mass. I made dinner. I slept when I could. 

Today, I had a doctor's appointment. It was my normal clinic visit, but I was anxious because I didn't know what was going on with me. I wanted to find out. So I spilled out all my symptoms in a flood of words. 

The doctor and the nurse listened, and we figured out what it is. It's nothing major--it's just my body adapting to different drugs, and readjusting hormone levels and all those delightful things that happen when you're taking very powerful medicine. 

So my body has to readjust--and this will happen both physically and mentally. As it readjusts, things will go back to baseline. But until then, it's measures to fix the symptoms--sleeping when I can, getting good food and exercise, having the A/C set just about arctic. :) 

I'm so happy that I'm not crazy. 

But during those foggish days, days when joy seemed so far....it was hard to remember to look for the ordinary joy. 

But it's there. It's always there, even when I couldn't see it, or couldn't feel it. 

When it's elusive, hang on. Keep looking. Find that one thing. It's there. And that one thing can be a crack of light that you need to keep looking, keep seeing....what keeps faith. 




Seven Quick Takes No. 115--Not to go all Boromir on you....

7 Quick Takes, health, JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment


linking up with Kelly and the gang. 

There is logic in that title. Really. :) 

So last week I was watching Army Wives on Netflix (Yes, sometimes I watch soap-ish TV. DO NOT JUDGE.) There was a kid with CF who was brought into the ER with a collapsed lung.

Now, to treat a collapsed lung, an interventional radiologist (so no, not just anyone) has to insert a chest tube, in order to reinflate the lung. It requires cutting. It requires stitches. It requires boxes. It basically sucks. It's my second-least favorite thing to have done, medically. 

(What's first? A pH probe. Seriously. Don't ask. 

Oh, you asked?  OK. 

A pH probe involves sticking a tube up your nose, down your throat, and into your stomach. And the tube sticks to your face and dangles outside of your body because it's attached to a stupid meter. It sucks. A lot. And it hurts. A lot. Basically, it's a tool left over from the Inquisition.)

So anyway, while watching the show--the kid had no tube left in. It was basically, we stick in a tube! The lung reinflates! Let's go home tomorrow! 

Um, no. 

Hence, the below photo, which I created to express my displeasure. 


One does not simply not keep a chest tube in. Sorry. And to remove it also requires an interventional radiologist. Yeah. Stitches, remember.


So, please make the above meme a thing. I think it's awesome and the Internet needs it! 


I have a clinic appointment on Monday, so I'll report back with the results when I get them. Oh what joy, oh what rapture. :) The nice thing about clinic visits in the summer is that the rush hour traffic is significantly better. 


The recap from this week, in case you missed it: 

Summer scribbles: A taste of summer (My strawberry salad recipe) 

Postcard: Chicago

Catholic 101: Apostolic Succession


Also, I got a picture with this guy:

You know, some random Canadian. ;-) 

The dress is from Shabby Apple. It looks a bit better on TV. I think. Since the photos are taken during one of the commercial breaks, you don't really have time to primp. 


The show airs on July 18th! 

I will also be on Jen Fulwiler's Radio Show that day, to tease the episode. :) If you have Sirius, be sure to tune in! I'll have more info as we get closer.


Another thing about that photo? The microphone pack is attached to my bra strap. Really. They have a guy who attaches all the microphones. He asks before he attaches it. And he's very professional about it. But that's where the microphone pack is. They remove it before they shoot the "let's all talk at the end of the show" thing, so you won't see it. :) 


Summer Scribbles No. 3: A Taste of Summer

food, essaysEmily DeArdoComment

Like most good things, this recipe was created sort of by accident.

My friends and I spent a weekend in Hocking Hills in July, in a lovely cabin that had a full kitchen, so we decided to do most of the cooking. We have a lot of culinary-minded friends, so I was planning on making a few things: my Irish soda bread (made ahead and brought down for breakfast), and a Caesar salad. I also decided to do balsamic strawberries as an ice cream topping or fun dessert, because I love balsamic strawberries and more people need to like them too.

I had asked a friend of mine to bring eggs for the Caesar salad, since I was going down right from work and didn’t want the eggs to be destroyed in my car. Sadly, friend forgot the eggs, but that led to this creation, so I guess that’s OK.

Anyway, this salad was quickly imagined, and everyone liked it–the guys even fought over the leftover strawberries. I have made it for another meal with friends and they liked it so much that one of them asked for the recipe so she could make it for her friends.

So here it is. 

Summer Strawberry Salad

This serves about six people, give or take.

2 heads romaine lettuce

2 pints strawberries

1-2 tbsp. brown sugar (light or dark. Or Splenda!  really like splenda brown sugar because it doesn’t get hard and gross in the bag)

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar


3 lemons

First, make the strawberry topping, because this need to sit for at least 20-30 minutes (If you can get an hour of sit time, that’s optimal)

Lop off the top of the berries and cut in half. Place in a bowl. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Let sit.

When you’ve got about five minutes to dinner (or you’re ready to eat), start the salad.

Starting at the frilly top end of the lettuce head, cut the lettuce into 1-2 inch pieces. Discard the stem end. Then cut down the middle of the lettuce, which will cut each piece in half, leaving you with smaller and easier pieces to eat. Continue with the second head and place the lettuce in a serving bowl.

In another small bowl, add 1/2 c. of EVOO, depending on how much dressing you like. Add the juice of two lemons, then whisk together. Remember, there’s balsamic going in here, too! Taste, and add more lemon juice if necessary. 

When ready to serve, add strawberries to salad. Add dressing. Toss. Eat a piece of lettuce to check seasoning. You may need some kosher salt or pepper added for seasoning. Totally up to you.


Postcard: Chicago

travelEmily DeArdoComment

I visited Chicago in 2006 to celebrate my first transplant anniversary with some of my friends. We spent a weekend there and I'd really love to go back soon! 

There were four of us on this trip-me, my friend Amilia, and our two other friends, Tom and Troy. During the day on Saturday we split up, but we all ate dinner together that night and saw Wicked at the Oriental Theater. 


Congress Plaza Hotel 520 South Michigan Avenue. Part of the movie Return to Me was filmed in one of the ballrooms here. It's centrally located, right across from Grant Park and near Shedd and the Field Museums. 


The Field Museum 1400 Lake Shore Drive. Amilia and I adored the Field Museum. They had an exhibit on King Tut running when we were there, but there's also Sue the Dinosaur, their "normal" Ancient Egypt exhibit (which is great), and a host of other things. There's also a McDonald's. (I do not, however, remember it being so expensive to visit....but it's worth it. There's also, like Houston, a City Pass, which also includes Shedd. ) 

Shedd Aquarium 1200 Lake Shore Drive. The guys went here, and had nothing but good things to say about it. The museum recommends buying tickets online

Art Institute of Chicago: See the famous lions outside and visit even more famous art inside. Ticket prices are here. This is also included in the City Pass. 


Giordano's : multiple locations. If you're coming to Chicago, you have to eat some deep-dish pizza. This is where we went, and the pizza did not disappoint. 

Rosebud Theater District: We had dinner here before Wicked, and it did not disappoint. A really lovely restaurant with a great staff and excellent food. (There are multiple locations throughout the city.) 


Grant Park: "Chicago's Front Yard", it includes the Shedd and Field Museums, as well as Buckingham Fountain, the "bean", and hosts other festivals throughout the year.  

Navy Pier : Since the Ferris Wheel was invented in Chicago (and named after its mayor at the time), ride the one at Navy Pier. This is a fantastic place to explore, eat, and generally hang out. 

The Miracle Mile: OK, really, you sort of have to at least visit this. We stopped in at the American Girl Store, but there's also a huge LEGO store, a Nike Store, etc. etc. 

Catholic 101: Apostolic Succession

Catholic 101Emily DeArdo2 Comments

Since we just talked about the apostles--let's talk about apostolic succession. 

This is something we cover pretty briefly with the kids. We don't get into papal infallibility and all that (quickly: papal infallibility does not mean what you think it means), but we do talk about how a pope is elected and what the pope does. 

Before we talk about that, though, we talk about basic hierarchy. From the bottom up: 

  • a pastor is in charge of a parish, which covers a territorial area. (a suburb, a city, part of a suburb or city, etc.)
  • A bishop is in charge of a diocese--a larger territorial area. 
  • An archbishop is in charge of an archdiocese--an even larger area. Here in Ohio, we have the archdiocese of Cincinnati. An archdiocese doesn't have to be bigger in area, but in population. New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles--these are all archdioceses.

Archdioceses often have a cardinal as the bishop. (You have to be a priest before you can be a bishop, a bishop before you can be a cardinal) A third or fourth cousin of mine is Cardinal Wuerl, who's the bishop of Washington, D.C. He was made a cardinal by Benedict XVI. Bishops and cardinals are made by the pope. 

All of the Cardinals make up the college of cardinals. Cardinals under the age of 80 elect the pope. (This is a rule created by Pope Paul VI, so it's a pretty new rule.). So, anyone who is a cardinal, under 80, can be elected pope. 

(Fun Catholic fact: technically, any Catholic man can become pope. As in, my dad could be elected Pope. But then he'd have to be ordained and all that jazz. But technically, it could happen.)

So what does this have to do with apostolic succession? Well, we call it apostolic succession because the first pope was the apostle Peter. 

From Matthew 16: 

h When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14i They replied, “Some say John the Baptist,* others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16* j Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,*and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”20* m Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.

This is the most common Scripture cited for Peter's primacy and the establishment of the Papacy. Every Pope since then has followed into the "Petrine office" (Petrine--Peter). 

Now, there have been some pretty awful popes. There have also been many saintly ones. The office doesn't automatically make you holy. But the Pope is in charge, spiritually, of all the 1 billion+ Catholics in the world. Pope Francis is Pope Number 266.  He's also the first pope named Francis--and you don't call him "Pope Francis I." We can't call him that until there's been a Francis II. 

The tradition of regnal names began with Pope John II, in 533. His given name was Mercurius, after the Roman god Mercury, and he didn't think that was an appropriate name for a Christian pope! So every pope since then has had the option of a regnal name. John Paul II's baptismal name was Karol; Benedict XVI's was Joseph, and Francis' was Jorge. 

The pope's role has changed over the centuries, but he has always been the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 114: My hockey team loves me!

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment


My hockey team loves me, guys. 


We were in Pittsburgh all weekend--my godson graduated from high school last weekend and the party was on Saturday. 

My godson is standing next to me--blue shirt. 

My godson is standing next to me--blue shirt. 

How in the world he's this old already is beyond me. I mean, at my high school graduation party, he was a toddler! 

Cue Sunrise, Sunset....


Anyway, on Sunday, I spent time with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Frank, and their son, Justin, and his wife and their two boys. I had never met their boys before so I was totally eating up the cuteness. 

I mean, seriously, look at those eyes! 

I mean, seriously, look at those eyes! 

Rex, the oldest, was a bit reluctant to talk to strangers. But he warmed up to us. 

Rex, the oldest, was a bit reluctant to talk to strangers. But he warmed up to us. 

And there was also...Primantis. Yeah. 

So, seeing my Dad's sister, her husband, and my cousin and his wife and kids, and eating delicious food, all made for a pretty great day. 

And the hockey game hadn't even started yet.


One of the nice things about having a big family is that you have people to eat the leftovers. So dinner was at Aunt Patty's, where we ate party leftovers, I swam with the kids (barring my inability to "properly" swim), and then we Waited for the Game. 

This child is my cousin Justin. He just finished first grade, and yet he was shockingly unaware of the Rules of Hockey--especially Stanley Cup Final Hockey. 

Rule No. 1: When the game starts, you pick a seat. And you stay in it the whole game. No exceptions. His seat was my lap. 

Rule No. 2: They are "periods" not quarters, and they are 20 minutes long. There are three of them. 

Rule No. 3: In the intermission, you can leave Said Seat, but you must return to Said Seat when the next period begins. 

Rule No. 4: You will yell at the TV. 

Me: mumbling things at the TV and the players.

Justin: Emily, they can't hear you! 

Rule No. 5: The only time you can leave your seat during play is when your seat is about to leap up and celebrate victory--she will be afraid of tossing you into the coffee table. We don't want to go to the ER. When victory occurs, she will then lift you up into the air and squeal a lot. 

After victory, the photo. 

After victory, the photo. 

My sister and my dad then went to Dick's, which opened after the game, and scored many Victory T-shirts and Other Things. 

Yes! Mel was here, too! She came up from Houston to party with us. :)

So we rejoiced in victory. 


And then we spent the next day at Kennywood, our favorite amusement park. I had time to do some sketching, had Rita's gelato, ate excellent food, and rode fun rides. 

Dad and I  on the log jammer, wearing our Victory Apparel. (Well, I am. Dad is wearing a shirt from the last Cup run.) 

Dad and I  on the log jammer, wearing our Victory Apparel. (Well, I am. Dad is wearing a shirt from the last Cup run.)