Gone Till November?

Why does it seem that every other post on this blog is one of me saying, “HEY! I’m back dammit!” or “I promise I’m going to update more?”

Alas, I must do it again, loyal heapsters. It’s been a long few months. We’ve seen summer end, and the Florida version of “autumn” almost run its course! November is almost gone! But I have not forgotten The Heap! So here is my official (what seems to be) quarterly pledge to write more!

Anyway, as life updates go…

I went on a cruise to the Bahamas! It was for a friend’s bachelor party! As you can imagine, 14 dudes wreaked havoc.

Two weeks later, I finally made it back to Notre Dame for my first football game as an Alumnus! It was great to spend time with old friends and see how campus has changed! And as always, it’s always awesome to see the Dorwarts!

And lastly, at the end of October, my friend got married and I was in the wedding! Beautiful ceremony out at Fish Hawk Ranch, and an amazing time at the reception.

OH! I almost forgot about making it to Islands of Adventure for Flora’s Birthday Season Celebration and checking out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Let me just say that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is worth ANY wait you might have to make… and PLEASE get a butterbeer! And some every flavor jelly beans from Honeydukes!

Other than that, It’s been the daily grind for me. I am happy that Thanksgiving is coming up! Hopefully a little bit of time to relax!

Hope this post finds everyone in happiness and success. Good luck to all of you with finals! And if I haven’t see you in a while, I hope to see you soon!

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The Trashman Chronicles: Back in Time for the End of the Year!

My goodness. Has it really been almost 4 months since I’ve last written? I guess it really hasn’t hit me until recently how much I’ve missed writing for my (hopefully still) loyal readers and well, really, for myself. Alas, there is no Phoenix euphemism for what has occurred this time. (I already used my allotment of those on this blog the last time there was a lengthy break!)

I know that many rumors have been started about The Heapmaster’s whereabouts, especially with the blog’s last twitter update being “The Heap Master is really, really drunk.” No, I am not dead, lost at sea, or buried beneath pile and piles of trash. I was these things at some point in the last few months, but no longer.

One of the worst feelings in the world I believe is watching as the life gets sucked out of you, and knowing there really isn’t much you can do about it. Sure, part of it is your own fault, but for the most part, you’re at the hands of the will of the World’s governing force. It’s almost been 6 months since my last life update, so I guess it’s appropriate that it comes at the end of a rather tumultuous year.

I last left you in July with news of Wedding Bells, luxury sedans, Golden Domes, and relative happiness. I did make it up to PV’s wedding in July, and it was so wonderful to see everyone together getting absolutely obliterated on the dance floor. Heck we even made it to The Backer! The morning after wasn’t so glorious (apologies to the janitorial staff of Carroll Hall), but it was great to walk campus and see everything again. It made it all seem less like a dream.

In August, I started The Heap’s Recycling Project, as I dieted until the end of October. Since I didn’t update, my progress wasn’t logged. But, I lost 30 lbs! I made it down to 240! These days I’m hovering around 245. I was forced to stop the project thanks to the development of a “cevacious cyst” on my back! So after finally getting that removed, I was forced on a month or so respite from doing the trash! So obviously, with that went the hardcore exercise routine. I am back to it, and all efforts will be renewed come 2010 due to a friends bachelor party cruise in September. 3o more lbs and I would be set!

November was an awful, awful month. And to be honest with you, I couldn’t give you specific reasons. Sure, there was the infamous rear ending and ticket fiasco. Almost $200 later after ticket and driving school costs, now I await the jacking up of my insurance rates in June. Work was a little rough as well. And well things were just not going in the direction I wanted them to go. What ever was left of my relationship crumbled away. It will take a little bit of time to heal.

Things started turning around Thanksgiving break after the High School crew came in to town. So as you can imagine, nights of unfettered debauchery ensued. It was fun to see everyone again and meet new people as we went out.

So here we are, at the end of the year. This year, more than any other in recent memory, really flew by fast. A lot has changed in the latter half, and I’m ok with that. I just know that I am back, not only here to my writing duties, but to my commitments as a friend, brother, son, and employee. I feel my spirit returning, after months of seeming like I was a zombie going through the motions. God sends blessings at the most unexpected times. This year seems to be ending on a good note, and I am excited for what 2010 will bring.

-The Heap Master

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

Another Weekend Excursion

At long last, my long awaited return to campus will be tonight. Carroll Hall will be my home for a few days. So I’ll get to see how the likes of James Geyer made it around to campus. Unfortunately, I will not have my laptop with me, so we must once again go another weekend without posts. But don’t you worry, I’ve got a running list of upcoming content for when I return.

It will be nice to get away from here for a bit and celebrate a happy occasion and be somewhat free from obligations. I know I’m going to be teary eyed!

Lucky for you, I will have my cellphone, which means I will be able to Tweet what I am doing. Make sure to keep checking the Twitter widget up at the top left for the latest of my ND adventure!

I wish you all a safe and joyous weekend. We’ll be back full time on Monday.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Trashman Chronicles: “It’s Been a While”

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Oh, how it’s been a while- for many things! It’s been a while since I’ve had a TTMC entry, letting my readers know what I’ve been up to and how things are going since graduating from Notre Dame in 2008. It’s has definitely been a while since I had had a nice little vacation from working. And of course, it had been a very LONG while since I had seen Kitty.

I don’t remember when was the last time I even did a TTMC, it’s been that long. So we’ll do a brief summary of the first half of 2009.

Life’s still a bit uncertain for me, even looking at it today. It’s daunting, to say the least, but it’s nice to see I’m not alone at times. Some many friends in the middle of their own transitions, changes, and even reaching new stages in life. Whoever says they are certain about life is lying to themselves. We can only guess what tomorrow will bring. We can only hope that there is a tomorrow.

Rest assured, death is a guarantee… and if you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know that taxes are very guaranteed these days.

As for me, trash… mountains and mountains of trash… are guaranteed almost daily, not to mention a constant flow of patients with psychiatric, diabetic and/or blood pressure issues. It appears that I’ll be secure for now, and for that I must thank God.

February I went to Texas for Valentine’s Day. Aside from a dramatic breakdown by your’s truly, it was a fantastic trip… but it was the last time I saw Kitty until last weekend…

Since then, I have been working nonstop. I’ve gone out with friends when I could, but nothing too big. I did make it out to visit Tom and Bobby in Omaha for a weekend, where Mike met up with us too. ND hockey was also in town, so it was nice to see them in action. ND hockey would be the first sporting event I go to as an alumnus!

Since then, just work. I’ve met my sister’s boyfriend, we’ve celebrated Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day. We’ve celebrated birthdays and graduations. My grandparents from Puerto Rico came for a month. It was nice to see them!

I finally got my raise at work after my 6 month anniversary. Thanks to the trash I was able to put down a heft down payment for my new car, (post to come soon). I’ve watched someone I didn’t think would settle down this early find the love of his life, and move in together, starting life on his own. As a friend, it been a joy watching his success in work and a renewed motivation for school.

I’ve hit rough patches in my own relationships with family, friends, and Kitty. While the situation hasn’t been the most ideal lately, I’ve gotten a bit better at letting things go. I still have a ways to go in improving myself, but it’s a step in the right direction. Though my mind has wavered lately with everything that has happened in the last couple of months, I know that I couldn’t make it without her. We’ll get through this and we’ll get through anything. (There will be a more in depth entry for the vacation later!)

So that brings us to today.

Today is the night before I go up to Notre Dame. I’m going up for PV’s wedding. This will be the first wedding of a close friend I will go to, so it’s going to be pretty special to see someone take their relationship to the next step. It will be extra special with my date by my side!

It will be heartwrenching to see that Dome, and the quad, and the stadium, and Dillon, and Howard, and my friends, and going out… Oh how I miss everything.

So there you have it in a nutshell. I’m doing well, as I continue to grow and mature. Thank you all for reading, and may God bless you all!

Stay tuned for the next TTMC entries: Kitty/Moosie Vacation Time and A Notre Dame Summer Weekend!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

A Fellow Reflection

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Oh the Grotto… I can’t believe it’s been a year since I said my final goodbye at the candlelight ceremony.

In light of the events occurring on campus, fellow Dillonite Dan Tostado has written about tonight’s ceremony and how Fr. Jenkins was received by a majority of the student body.

And our hearts forever…
There’s a buzz in my room. This is true. Everyday, I hear through my closed window, the buzz of a plane flying overhead. This plane is flying low, and toting a huge banner of a graphic image of an aborted baby. I am aware, perhaps hyperactively, of the amount of social divide that this decision has been to invite Obama to speak at Notre Dame.

A re-cap for all those unaware (those who know can skip this paragraph.) On campus, there’s been the biggest amount of protesting and counter-protesting, discerning the subject of whether President Obama can or should come to speak at the ND commencement ceremony. On the corner of Notre Dame Ave, there’s the sign-holders protesting to the cars. There’s hundreds of passionate letters written to the ND newspaper. There’s alumni who denounce the school and have severed ties with Notre Dame because of this. There’s a crazy pro-life protester named Randall Terry who puts on a bloody Obama mask and chases children, who has given us such quotes as “This place will be a circus” and “Hate is good”. There’s been pressure on our University President, Father John Jenkins, to step down for inviting Obama to speak.

So, as I sang for the Senior week last visit to the Grotto, I got to see the reaction of the senior class towards our University President Jenkins. Every year the senior class gets to award some important figure with the “Fellows Award”, and this year they awarded it to Father Jenkins. When he got up to speak to the class, they applauded. The class of 2009 applauded Father Jenkins for a solid 60 seconds. That was one of the most significant things I’ve witnessed on campus. Here, crammed in the Basilica, are all the holy-rollers who attend Mass and are most likely to be anti-Jenkins and anti-Obama. Yet, they validate Jenkins in such a deeply meaningful way.

This night, though I am not a senior, was so powerful to witness. I can see why people love Notre Dame, why they bend over backwards as alumni to stick up for and support Notre Dame. Notre Dame is truly something greater than just a top 20 university, or any old Catholic university. What I saw tonight was integrity of the senior class to support both their Presidents, in a chaotic time of recession, unnecessary panic that gripped ND when (now) two students contracted swine flu, in a new era that ushers in a bright young President who happens to be black. The world is on fire right now, and the ND class of 2009 chose to stand up for what they believe.

The night ended in the grotto, with what’s probably become my favorite song, the Notre Dame alma mater.

And our hearts forever
Love thee Notre Dame

So now we know how the graduating seniors feel at least. Thanks for writing a wonderful reflection. And congrats and good luck this weekend!
smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

A Letter From Fr. Jenkins

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Here is a copy of the letter that Father Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, sent out to the Graduating Class of 2009 addressing the “controversial” invitation to Obama as Commencement speaker and the bestowing of an honorary degree.

May 11, 2009

 Dear Members of the Notre Dame Graduating Class of 2009:

 
This Sunday, as you receive your degrees at Commencement, your joy – and that of your families – will be shared by the faculty, staff, and administration of the University. We have had the privilege of laboring with each of you to inquire and discover, to teach and to learn, and we will send you off with affectionate and fond hopes for the future.
For those of you who are undergraduates, I feel a special kinship. You arrived in your dorm rooms as I arrived in the President’s Office. You have learned much; I may have learned more. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to learn with you, come to know you, and to serve you during our time together at Notre Dame.

 
During your years here we have endeavored to train you in the various disciplines and urged you to ask the larger questions – discussing not only the technical and practical but also the ethical and spiritual dimensions of pressing issues. I have been proud of you as you’ve grappled with intellectual, political, and spiritual questions. But I have never been more proud than I have been watching the way you’ve conducted yourselves over the past several weeks.

 
The decision to invite President Obama to Notre Dame to receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address has triggered debate. In many cases, the debate has grown heated, even between people who agree completely on Church teaching regarding the sanctity of human life, who agree completely that we should work for change – and differ only on how we should work for change.

 
Yet, there has been an extra dimension to your debate. You have discussed this issue with each other while being observed, interviewed, and evaluated by people who are interested in this story. You engaged each other with passion, intelligence and respect. And I saw no sign that your differences led to division. You inspire me. We need the wider society to be more like you; it is good that we are sending you into that world on Sunday.

 
I am saddened that many friends of Notre Dame have suggested that our invitation to President Obama indicates ambiguity in our position on matters of Catholic teaching. The University and I are unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural death.

 
Notre Dame has a long custom of conferring honorary degrees on the President of the United States. It has never been a political statement or an endorsement of policy. It is the University’s expression of respect for the leader of the nation and the Office of the President. In the Catholic tradition, our first allegiance is to God in Christ, yet we are called to respect, participate in, and contribute to the wider society. As St. Peter wrote (I Pt. 2:17), we should honor the leader who upholds the secular order.
At the same time, and born of the same duty, a Catholic university has a special obligation not just to honor the leader but to engage the culture. Carrying out this role of the Catholic university has never been easy or without controversy. When I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame, Fr. Hesburgh spoke of the Catholic university as being both a lighthouse and a crossroads. As a lighthouse, we strive to stand apart and be different, illuminating issues with the moral and spiritual wisdom of the Catholic tradition. Yet, we must also be a crossroads through which pass people of many different perspectives, backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. At this crossroads, we must be a place where people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue.

 
The President’s visit to Notre Dame can help lead to broader engagement on issues of importance to the country and of deep significance to Catholics. Ultimately, I hope that the conversations and the good will that come from this day will contribute to closer relations between Catholics and public officials who make decisions on matters of human life and human dignity.

 
There is much to admire and celebrate in the life and work of President Obama. His views and policies on immigration, expanding health care, alleviating poverty, and building peace through diplomacy have a deep resonance with Catholic social teaching. As the first African-American holder of this office, he has accelerated our country’s progress in overcoming the painful legacy of slavery and segregation. He is a remarkable figure in American history, and I look forward to welcoming him to Notre Dame.
As President Obama is our principal speaker, there will no doubt be much attention on your Commencement. Remember, though, that this day is your day. My fervent prayer is that May 17 will be a joyous day for you and your family. You are the ones we celebrate and applaud. Congratulations, and may God bless you.
In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President

Couldn’t have been stated any better. Well done. The letter appeals to the true meaning of our namesake, Catholic as “universal.”

I’m not going to get into any political/moral shenanigans here right now. I’m much too heavy for a soap box anyways. However, The Heap’s position is that regardless of political, religious or moral affiliation, it is an honor to have The President of the United States as speaker. As many media sources have already pointed out, there have been many past speakers that have not had beliefs 100% in line with those of the Catholic Church. Controversy is not new to Notre Dame Commencement. And perhaps the degree of protest and dismay isn’t either. I have a good feeling that media coverage has probably made this a bigger deal than it really is.

I know abortion is a big deal. I know the artificial development of human cells is an issue. It would be insensitive and even reckless to passively address the issue. But the topic is for another time and another place.

The time and place of May 17th  on the greatest of all campuses in the land will provide a national stage for accomplishment. THAT is what should be at the forefront. But I guess it is appropriate that demonstrations will be occuring. The real world is at hand. This is what has been handed to us. While I don’t agree with some of the extreme opinions that will probably be voiced, I would also be glad to see that we can live in a country where an opinion can be had, so long as it doesn’t violate personal space and regulations.

I recently read that 50 or so students are planning on boycotting the ceremony by instead having a prayer service. More power to you.

On the other hand, you bet I would be at Commencement after working my tail off for 4 years, and paying enough to by a house for my education, no matter who the speaker was. It’s a moment I worked for- for myself but most importantly, for my parents.

My advice to all in attendence is to listen. Perhaps you don’t agree with President Obama on ANYTHING. You might think his policies are only going to further debilitate our country. You may not like his manner, or uncanny humor, but his call to our generation for change is clear. What he has accomplished, as a devoted family man, and an outspoken social advocate for the improvement of quality of life alone is worth lauding.

I can only hope that he can top the address to Arizona State last night, because that was spectacular. Even if the speech echoes of the same themes, the message will be just as powerful, and perhaps even more meaningful to a university which has historically changed the world.

Just Listen.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

The Shirt 2009

The annual University of Notre Dame Blue/Gold game is today, marking the “beginning” of the countdown until kick off against Nevada next season. Alumni and fans alike all gather at ND this weekend to celebrate. This also means that “The Shirt” is released on the Friday before the game.

Now you would think that the release of simple shirt wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s just a charity fund raising object and the shirt which the entire student body (hopefully) wears on game day, right?

Oh no. Not at Notre Dame.

Like ANYTHING that goes on on campus, it is subject to harsh dramatic criticism. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people had a serious “Viewpoint” tying this year’s edition to the school’s invitation and bestowing of an honorary Law degree to President Barack Obama.

Though I must admit that The Shirt 2005 (pictured below) rightfully gives the student body, alumni, and fans a reason to be a bit on edge when it is officially unveiled. What an awful design and color. Yeesh.

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Brutal. No wonder everyone wanted to make their own version.

Well, here is The Shirt 2009, which is the 20th anniversary of the tradition. What do you think?

Product: TS09

I like it. I think it looks very sharp, and it is a creative color. It will definitely stick out on those blimp shots on NBC! I like the emblem on the side, incorporating 20th anniversary with 2009. Very nice touch. But mostly, I’m glad there aren’t lame quotes on it. “Rise and Strike” perpetuates a message of the “old school, mean, and nasty” football that the team has been lacking. And of course, “Defend Our Honor,” after the program has become a punchline across the nation, is quite appropriate for this season, perhaps one of the most important ones in recent memory.

But I’m sure someone will take it as a subliminal message against Obama speaking… I mean the shirt IS kind of fleshy looking, right?

Just Kidding of course. Enjoy the game, all who could make the trip! I’ll be buying one of these off of the internet!

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser