So far, my Lenten “vow” to give up sugary desserts is going fine. When I long for them, which is probably every hour (I usually eat quite a bit of chocolate in the course of a normal day, a little square here, a pan au chocolat there, nutella with strawberries, etc.), I am reminded to come back to my breath, come back to prayer, and remember that this fast, like my life in this body, is temporal and will pass. And then I begin plotting what I will make on Sunday for my “feast day” break. I think I will make the nutella and carmelized banana tart that I have been dying to bake ever since seeing it on a food blog earlier this month.
I actually added another Lenten promise, after talking with friends of mine at church. They are a couple, and they both give up states of being that are troubling to them every year, rather than an external habit. One of them is giving up his moodiness, which his husband is rather excited about. The other gave up making quick judgments about people, which I think is excellent. Their way of thinking about Lent inspired me to ask Joel if in addition to our personal Lenten fasts, we could fast as a couple from the kind of backbiting comments that have crept in recently.
Having a toddler is a constant juggle of flexibility, joy, and utter frustration and madness. A dance friend of mine was laughing with me as I told her about how mad I got at Joel for taking 10 minutes to clip his toenails (I mean, how long could those mo’fos BE?!) while teething toddler tornado Olive was tasmanian devilling all over the house, and she, a mother of two, said, “Yeah, having children doesn’t actually bring a couple closer.” I have been noticing a mean-spiritedness in our interactions recently, a reluctance to give the other the benefit of the doubt, and a tendency to be short with each other when really we’re frustrated with the fact that Olive is on the floor screaming about having to have her diaper changed. We can’t very well yell at her, so we snipe at each other. So, as a couple, we are going to try to take a break from saying things like, “Why did it take you so long to get trash bags at the store! Didn’t you realize I was here dancing like a monkey for this little being for the past half hour?!” and just trust that the other person has good reasons for their actions, and truly understands just how annoying it is to be left alone with an unpredictable ball of love and terror, when you were expecting to have help.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and I was able to go get my ashes with Olive at the BART station, where our priest and several laity were gathered to give them to anyone who wanted a reminder that they are dust, and to dust they shall return. Which was a surprisingly great amount of people. There is so much to mourn in this life, and in the constant pursuit of happiness that our culture is obsessed with, we often don’t take the necessary time to be solemn and reflective. I think this leads us to break downs in which we can’t get off the couch, or, if you’re me in the teen years, laying on my bed listening to the same Smiths song over and over, letting Morrissey’s voice velvet its way around my sadness like a beloved animal. Lent is, like one priest friend of mine said, a Spring cleaning of the soul. He also told me at Mardi Gras that he gets more pious the drunker he gets, so who knows if we should take everything he says at face value!
My husband was unable to come to get his ashes or attend service, because he was trying to get our computer fixed, the one he needs to do all the freelance music work that has been saving our butt as my unemployment benefits are hung up in appeal-purgatory. We are currently still without it, so I need to wrap this up, as I’m working on the slowest laptop known to man and this blog post has taken forever to complete. I’ll leave you with a pic of Olive, ashes faintly shown right at her hairline. When Fr. Bertie said, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” she said, “No!” Yup, I’m not crazy about remembering my own impermanence, either, baby girl.