Losing It for Lent

I grew up Catholic. Decades later, I would find a new home in a Baptist church: being among more people of color, particularly younger ones, moved me in a different way. I had the bells, the sermons, the dance ministry, Communion…and Lent.

I have been trying to stick the landing for Lent since grade school. Give up something. Make a sacrifice that could never begin to match that of Jesus’s. Make it big, or make it small, but make it. I know two friends offhand who are scary good at making these commitments. They think on it, find something they freakin’ love—chocolate, liquor, sex, the Internet—and boom, it’s done. Gone till that fateful Sunday. They struggle, it’s not easy—it shouldn’t be—but every year they name something they’re celebrating with post-Lent.

pizzaThey’ve learned not to ask me about my sacrifice, even if I’ve loudly proclaimed it to keep myself honest. This is so, so kind of them, because as with New Year’s resolutions, I usually clock in about 72 hours before I bail out HARD, feasting on whatever will get me through. One year I “gave up” ice cream… I could hear Häagen-Dazs laughing at me within two days. Another year I gave up chocolate… because I don’t like chocolate. I’m pretty ridiculous.

With this in mind, I decided to try a different approach this year. Although not a sacrifice per se, believe me when I say I’m depriving myself of something that I’m used to getting daily, possibly hourly. Something that deeply feeds me. How I wish it were chocolate… Alas…

For Lent, I’ll be silencing my inner critic. All the way—help me, Lord—through Easter. It’s just the Friday after Ash Wednesday but so far, so good. Good, but hard. Harder than ice cream. Harder than Facebook (no really), harder than DVR. Harder than sex by a mile (shut up!).

Now, I know we all have moments of doubt, or have sh*tty days, are maybe having a quarter-life crisis where we’re contemplating saying eff it & joining the Peace Corps. My critic? Is a BEAST. A monster, in the most unchill sense of the word. Like last week: spur of the moment, I experimented and decided for one full day I would “think positively” (which my inner critic noted with supreme sarcasm; what kinda hippie was I trying to be?).

The result was pretty gruesome. I woke up and thought it was too early to be up & I needed a few more hours. Not a snooze button: I needed hours. Damn, did I have to go out? The weather was a mess (if I’m honest, I can find cracks in the weather index at the height of spring). My shower takes too long to heat up. I hate the painting on my wall; it’s cheap and looks cheaper. Was I hungry? Why wasn’t I hungry? I can never find my shoes and this is somehow symptomatic of my life to date. And on. I better not slip on these stairs; everyone knows how klutzy I am. Ugh, this dude on the corner is a disaster. Is his life as awful as mine? Let me do a visual inventory to compare. Nope, he’s talking to a girlfriend; points off for me, single on Valentine’s.

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I’m Talkin’ ‘Bout Dat Writin’

First, let me say: I am the worst.

Show me an honest, self-aware writer who’s never had that thought, and I will…be flabbergasted at their level of confidence and self-importance, actually.

But really, I’m the worst. I’m a writer, even when I didn’t say it. Even when I put my name to things, I didn’t really talk about it. When friends mentioned it, I assumed it was pity praise and a testament to our bond more than anything.

That assumption’s done. For better or for worse, this is my fate. I might as well embrace it, cause it’s not going away.

I delight in reading suggestions for writers. It’s cool, it’s romantic, it’s got that je ne sais quoi. Of course you want to write your personal opus. And you want it to be the best. Mediocrity isn’t in your vocabulary–which is superb. You know the person you are meant to be. Fill yourself up with that good good, those magic tips that’ll land you on the bestsellers’ list, get on college syllabi, earn yourself tenure. When people say your name they’ll say “You mean the writer?” Yasss, I love some good writing tip porn.

My biggest dream is to have that writer’s space they always talk about (a room of one’s own…sorry, I had to). Squeezing in a bit of typing on lunch breaks, after work on an uneven couch, or stomach side on a bed before a nap just doesn’t give the craft the respect I feel it deserves. I make do, but my Pinterests lean toward big oak desks facing huge windows with clutches of trees outside.

Oooh, another favorite is to set aside time every day to write. That right there is a fabulous life. I’m childless and unmarried, but finding time away from Star Trek reruns, Amazon surfing, last-minute brunch dates and darts to the corner store for last-minute tea? That’s gonna be a problem. But how colorful and quaint a concept: Muting all influences except your mind’s own, preferably staring out the window of your London pied-à-terre, a perfectly warm mug of tea to one side, a stack of completely legible notes to the other. Sixty. minutes. every. day.

Now lemme tell you how I get down.

blackhandwriting

 

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Little Bundles

You  know how even back in high school, there were those kids (usually girls) who were all “I looooove working with kids!” I learned to parrot them on tutoring and babysitting interviews, even though I didn’t get kids, didn’t think much about them, and certainly preferred not to be in their presence. They stayed dirty, their hygiene was disgusting, they were unpredictable and mostly, they disrupted my reading.

Fast forward many years later: I’ve seen my friends expecting and raising their children. I’ve seen babies now strutting through their first day of high school, I’ve conquered my (deep) fear of dropping newborns, and I gotta admit: they’re a hoot. Not *just* a hoot–those tantrums can shake one’s soul, and I’ve got insta-prayers ready for parents dragging young ones along, that look of “I’m thisclose” in their eyes. Hang on, I think. Haaaang on. Kids don’t stay clean. You’ve gotta keep them well. Your head’s constantly going 180 degrees to keep ’em safe, and if you’re sneaking in a chapter of a good book… you’re in the bathroom, I presume.

But children? Are a good thing. You can love ’em up with hugs and kisses, and they’re constantly looking for laps to climb onto. If you’re handed a picture book you better read it with gusto. No one wants a look of disappointment from a four year old, trust me. And with age comes patience: as a seasoned auntie, I can now listen to a kid chat (or drone, depending on my mood) about who said what and what they drew and where are my kids and do I swim and why is my hair so big and how they don’t like chicken.

Why this post? Eh, recent events, and a humorous bus ride with a small girl nodding off on my shoulder. Let’s enjoy our kids, and look out for them as a community, and ugh, keep sanitizer on hand. (Cause they’re still kinda gross. But awesome.)

Brothers Arm in Arm