Jesus Is My Driver

While cleaning out files on the computer the other day, I stumbled across an image that made me laugh and laugh.

Background: I attended Catholic school for seven years. The thing about attending Catholic schools is you get assigned some pretty weird projects. In 8th grade, I had to make a “Love Book”: a fancy scrapbook filled with pictures, inspirational quotes, and letters from people I loved (and presumably loved me back). We were required to include a section on God. To spruce up those pages, I went to the card-making program on my parents’ home computer and printed up all the pictures that came up when you entered “God” in the search field.

My sister attended the same Catholic high school, four years behind me, so I assumed I would know all the projects she was expected to complete. She would have to find a poem that had a good message about love (I used “The Owl and the Pussy Cat”); she would have to write a song based on a Bible passage; she would have to interview a Mormon.

There was one project, though, that I hadn’t encountered. Ms. Gripp—the new Ecclesiology teacher whose name clearly told me her previous employment had been as Villainess in a children’s chapter book—told the class to make a timeline of the Church’s history as their final project. Points, Ms. Gripp said, would be awarded for creativity.

Apparently, my sister wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by the project. She turned to my mom and me for input. I suggested she make a mobile; Carrie informed me that Ms. Gripp specified the project must be in poster form.

“Draw a map of the world and pinpoint where major events happened,” I said one afternoon, as deadline time for my sister quickly approached.

“It has to be linear.”

Apparently creativity has its limits in Catholic school.

“Why don’t you draw a road as your line,” Mom suggested.

“Yeah…yeah!” I said. “And along the way can be pitstops in the Church’s history. Like Rome, and Constantinople…it can be Jesus’s road trip! And up near the title you can have a picture of Jesus driving! I’ll even make the picture for you.”

Carrie didn’t seem to entirely trust me with this undertaking, but after some cajoling, she conceded that I could create the picture of Jesus’s road-trip vehicle.

This was the result:

jesusvan

To my credit, I spent a good deal of time on this. Photoshop did not exist in the universe of my parents’ home computer—all my work had to be done using Microsoft Paint. I spent a long time ensuring Jesus’s elbow rested just-so on the windowsill of his Volkswagen van, that he was accurately positioned behind the driving wheel and windshield wiper. I wanted it to look like he really was driving this bright orange savior-mobile, meandering along the path of Church history, opening the back doors at rest stops to let it hitchhikers and like-minded travelers.

I presented the finished copy to my sister along with a proposed title for the project: “Jesus Is My Driver.” She rejected both picture and title, saying she preferred not to be expelled during finals week.

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Obsessive Organizers Aren’t Made, They’re Born

I recalled a childhood memory the other day. This in itself is somewhat unusual — my memory is tepid at best and very selective at what it chooses to retain (song lyrics? Random flower names? Check and check! People I’ve met? Things I’ve done? Er…)

When I was in elementary school I had a portable file folder, the accordion kind with a flap that closes with an elastic cord. The folders inside had alphabetical tabs, A through Z. I used this folder — exclusively — for organizing animal photos that I’d cut out from magazines.

There were… a lot of them. I had a habit of going through my dad’s National Geographics and cutting out any interesting animals I found. Add to that the random country magazines my grandma used to give us, and there were a LOT of animals to choose from. Otters — filed under O. Zebras, under Z. Baby horses — well, H, clearly. There were a few empty letters, of course (X isn’t common in the animal kingdom), but most of the others were pretty well filled in.

And you know? I never did anything with these. Every once in a while I’d pull them out, look through them, and then neatly file them away again. I think the “thrill” of it was just having them there, organized, exactly where I could find them.

The animal file folder wasn’t the culmination of my organizational frenzy. When I was in…fifth grade? Sixth grade? My dad taught me how to use Excel. Rather than acting like a normal kid who’d say, “DEAR GOD WHY?”, I proceeded to make a spreadsheet that kept track of all the household’s stuffed animals.

Yup.

My sister and I, we were somewhat avid in our stuffed animal collection. Between the two of us, there were 50 or 60 stuffed animals, ranging from your typical bears and dogs and cats, ranging to more exotic elephants and alligators and parrots. And I listed them all in this Excel sheet. Their names (they all had proper names), their species, when we received them, who gave them to us, any special characteristics they had. I went through the entire house, found all the stuffed animals, and categorized them all. All neatly organized in Excel.

I think Byron is often amused/bemused by my OCD organizing. But really, when I go on a drawer-cleaning spree, or organize the bookshelf alphabetically (by author), or get gleefully excited about the prospect of color-coordinated file folders… really, he shouldn’t be surprised. Clearly, I was born this way.