At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Happy birthday to me!

I just got back from Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe. I figured that, with such a name, the church would have a large Hispanic constituency; but I didn't expect to be the only gringo in the place. Nor was I forewarned that the Mass would be entirely in Spanish. Reminds me of the time I walked into a Catholic church in Taiwan and saw hundreds of Filipino heads swivel and stare in my direction. Apparently there are more white folk in Texas than in Taiwan, though, so I didn't receive undue attention; and since I know more Spanish than Tagalog, I could get the gist of the liturgy and homily. The sanctuary was a bland Vatican II box with stained glass windows as abstract as those in a Presbyterian church and movable cushioned seats instead of pews. I did like the fact that the large room was packed, literally standing room only, with worshipers of all ages. A folk combo--guitar, bass, accordion--supplied ethnic music; it was interesting to hear the Te Deum done in norteña style. One thing I usually don't like about visiting Catholic masses is the feeling of self-consciousness I get sitting alone while everyone else is receiving Communion, but for whatever reason the people around me didn't partake either. I wonder if that is some stubborn residue of the Middle Ages when the laity only received once or twice a year.

That brings on another reminiscence. When I was teaching at a Catholic college in Minnesota I liked to attend campus Mass during the week. A very pious and conservative student who also attended finally asked why I never took the Eucharist. When I explained that I was Episcopalian, she apologized for harboring "uncharitable assumptions" about me. I didn't inquire further, but apparently she though I didn't receive because I couldn't make it even a day without falling into mortal sin.

Yesterday was kind of a bust. Instead of getting out of town to find something to do, I decided to stay here and go furniture shopping. The retail stores didn't have anything I liked; it was all too middle-class Southern, big overstuffed sofas with floral upholstery and that sort of thing. On the other hand, the antiques stores (which are surprisingly good) were too expensive: I saw one china cabinet from 19th century France going for $12,000.

That evening I watched The Last Picture Show, which came in the mail that afternoon. Can some smart person out there in cyberspace explain what is so great about that movie? Not that I didn't enjoy it, but I didn't think it had the stuff of a classic.

I wonder how long it will be before the novelty of blogs will wear off? I've been spending a lot of time writing in mine and reading others'. I did decide that I either need to get a life or get DSL.


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