...but no time to say them. we're en route to the airport for a four-day weekend in Chicago. one of my favorite cities and one Michael's always wanted to visit. it's a good time for a getaway... so that's all i've got right now but i'll have that much more to say when we're back...!
as we continue to grapple with where to move—a debate i suspect will go on for all eternity—i thought i'd document my pros/cons regarding city versus 'burbs here on sort of an ongoing basis. please note: these pros and cons are largely emotional and immaterial. but the information i should be using to determine my future living situation (price, location, school district, commuting time) is just too damn boring.
this morning at six-thirty as i walked to the gym—in the daylight; hello spring—i came upon two older gents who seemed to be en route for their morning coffee and newspapers. i overheard the following:
brooklyn guy one: "not lookin' good dis yeeh."
brooklyn guy two(disgusted): "ahh, i knew dat."
brooklyn guy one: "wha' happened tah beltran?"
brookyn guy two: "ahh, he's a lemon."
brooklyn guy one: "yeeh, he ain't wort nuttin'."
alas, i walked much faster than these two utterly beleaguered Mets fans so i missed the end of the conversation, though it was pretty clear the direction in which it was headed.
correct me if i'm wrong, suburbanites, but these kinds of conversations strike me as hard to come by that early in the morning just walking down the street near your house when you live outside the city. and, simple and small as these charms may be, i relish such moments. truth be told, they remind me of the flashbacks to Tony and Samantha's pre-Connecticut life in Brooklyn on Who's the Boss, which always struck me in my youth as awesome, weird and exotic at once. the fact that i'm sort of living that life now, well—the 12-year old me would've been thrilled.
also this morning, around eight-thirty as i rode the crowded F train to work, a giant middle-aged man reading The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde on his Kindle was standing next to me. the seat in front of him opened up at Jay Street and he didn't even look up before he plopped himself right down. most men on the train leave seats to the nearest female, a courtesy of which i'm always appreciative.
not this dude. i was already feeling irrationally angry when a mother got on at East Broadway, a baby son in her arms. she clearly needed a seat and who got up and offered one to her? the woman sitting next to the giant Oscar Wilde fan, who was so immersed in some witty play or another that he was utterly oblivious to all going on around him.
i seriously almost said something to him. in my head, i was completely berating him. (oddly, i was berating him mostly for using a Kindle, but that's another story.) and this kind of anger-toward-strangers is not healthy. but i also believe it's unavoidable when you're in such tight quarters with so many people on a daily basis.
last Sunday i went for a run around my old neighborhood in Pennsylvania. i couldn't get over how gorgeous everything was. the leaves on the trees and bushes were a vivid, mood-boosting green, pink and purple flowers were in bloom everywhere i looked, and the air was wonderfully fragrant.
yes, that kind of natural beauty can be found in city parks. but i don't live in one, or near one, and though trees do grow in Brooklyn (many even on my street), it's just not the same. my building's backyard (not that i have access to it) is concrete. so there's something to be said for living in a house with a real yard on a street with real landscaping and plants and stuff that bloom in the spring.
also last Sunday i went to the local humongous supermarket to buy ingredients for dinner. i swear to god, i feel like a freak when i'm in that store. people stare at me. i'm not sure why. do i push my cart too quickly? do i smell like the subway? is it illegal to wear non-local-sports-team hats and tee-shirts in public?
whatever the case, i don't enjoy being looked at funnily and it makes me wonder if i'm destined to be an outsider in the 'burbs, even though i spent half my life there. oh the irony.
so those are my latest debating points. to sum it up: the city has colorful characters, some of whom are charming, some who suck. the burbs have colorful plant-life—and people who don't like me wearing my Yankee hat in the grocery store.
if Roger Goodell was commissioner of the PGA, would Tiger Woods have been suspended from a few majors this year?
i don't disagree with Goodell's "sentence" for Ben Roethlisberger. but considering there were no formal charges filed against him, there are apparently no plans to prosecute him and basically all he's guilty of is being a serious idiot loser with tragically bad judgment, i'm wondering why he has to sit out six games while Tiger can play in Augusta or wherever he wants whenever he wishes?
these lines in Goodell's letter struck me: "In your six years in the NFL, you have first thrilled and now disappointed a great many people....You are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct...that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans."
since November, there's been much talk about Tiger's tarnished role model status—how terribly he let down his fans, especially the legions of little ones who idolized him. there are, i'm sure, legions of kids who look(ed) up to Roethlisberger, too. the difference? Tiger's devotees got to see him play in the first major tournament of the season, less than five months his years of transgressions and deception became public. Big Ben's fans, on the other hand, will be midway through the football season before they see their guy play—maybe longer if he gets the boot from Pittsburgh.
the other difference is, of course, that the PGA stands to gain tremendously every time Tiger's on the greens. the NFL has Brady, Favre, Romo, Brees, Brady, the brothers Manning, etc. the absence of Roethlisberger will be inconvenient, i'm sure, but at the end of the day, just a drop in the bucket for the league.
but if this is all really about how we perceive our superstar athletes—how they behave off the field when they know the world is watching—i'm thinking perhaps there should be some kind of standardized sports penalty system. because, in the end, do Tiger's young fans really grasp the concept of sexual addiction rehab? hell, do any of us grown-ups believe that he's really doing anything other than practicing good PR?
Roethlisberger, on the other hand, has been formally punished. not by the law (yet) but by his bosses. which is pretty close to being punished by your parents. which is a lot more tangible to a little kid in a pint-sized #7 Pittsburgh jersey. when that kid learns that even athletes he idolizes get in big trouble when they act dumb, isn't he more likely to avoid getting in trouble himself?
hi. i've touched on this briefly once or twice before, but after thinking about it some more, i've decided i want to talk for real about birth control pills. hope that's okay. i'm not promoting or endorsing anything here, or trying to start a movement. i'm mentioning this simply because i wish someone had said something to me sooner. and if i can enlighten a few people myself, all the better.
here's the back story: i spent basically my entire 20s on the pill. at first, it was because i thought that i should be on it, just in case. (in case of what, i'm not sure. even the remotest possibility of making a baby wasn't on my social agenda, if you catch my drift.) then i just stayed on it, because it seemed the most fool-proof way to avoid premature motherhood. my cycles seemed predictable, my periods were super-light, and i thought all was right with the world.
i did have a few issues—for example, i tried Ortho Tri-Cyclen for a while and that about drove me mad. in fact, i had to try a few different brands before i found something that didn't make me psycho. Yaz—with its low hormone dosage—seemed to be a godsend and i was happily and consistently on that for a few years.
except then my insurance changed and i was suddenly paying exorbitant amounts for tiny little pills and that wasn't cool with my budget. so i went the generic route. which was fine, until i started getting a different generic version every few months. i assume my insurance company thought they were doing me a favor by continually giving me the lowest-cost brand-X version of Yaz, but switching pills every few months was frustrating. i didn't detect any drastic emotional or physical issues, but changing medication so often with no warning wasn't sitting well with me.
finally, toward the end of last year, i called my gynecologist and asked to be put back on Yaz. i didn't care; i'd pay the extra cost. i just wanted to know what i was taking. i started it in early December and—whoa. ask my husband what that was like. his bubbly, blushing new bride disappeared and in her place? Godzilla.
i was down, i was crying, i was irritable. pretty much all the time. a month into the torture, i started investigating other, non-hormonal birth control options. the sponge was on the list for a while, but the concept terrified me, to be honest. i read the list of things that could possibly go wrong and—knowing myself quite well at this point—i was willing to bet at least two of the things on that list would happen to me. and, yeah: no thanks.
one day i was poking around on thenest.com (the website you graduate to once you're through with theknot.com) and they happened to have a whole article on birth control methods. it was actually in the comments section after the article that i finally found my answer. dozens of women had responded to the story, asking why the writer hadn't included FAM—the Fertility Awareness Method.
i knew very little about FAM at that point but quickly got myself immersed. and it was shocking to discover how much information is actually out there—and that my gynecologist had never once mentioned FAM to me. the only birth control we'd ever discussed was the pill. her only advice was to quit taking it a few months before i thought i wanted to get pregnant, so the hormones had time to clear out of my system. and she's a good doctor with a very good, busy and even homey practice—she's not some thoughtless, cold, pill-pusher type.
anyway, i went to the bookstore pretty immediately and bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility—basically considered the bible for fertility awareness—and learned an incredible amount of things i probably should have known since the day before my thirteenth birthday, when i got my first period. it was truly eye-opening. and i knew right then that i was done with the pill.
and this is what i really want to say: it's been three months since i took my last pill and i've never felt better. truly, truly, truly. it's like a gigantic weight has been lifted from me and i'll never go back. i'd been having side effects from those hormones i didn't even realize were caused by the hormones! side effects i discussed with my doc, who never suggested that maybe the pills were to blame. i'm starting to think maybe even she doesn't know...
in addition to being pill- and hormone-free, it's also pretty amazing now to be that much more educated about my operating system, if you will. the female body is pretty miraculous (i mean the inside, for any dudes who're still reading) and it's crazy to me that i knew only a fraction of its capabilities and mechanisms until i was thirty-three years old.
so here's my public service announcement: educate yourself, girls. i'm not saying go off the pill or the patch or whatever form of birth control you're on rightthisverysecond. or even at all! maybe you need the hormones—i know lots of gals are on the pill for valid medical reasons. but—especially if you're not feeling completely right or have even slight concerns about being on hormonal birth control—just be aware of your options. there's a lot going on 'down there' that you likely have no idea about. and knowing could make all the difference.
i'm such a neglectful blogger. but life's been a blur, guys. it's crazy: is it really this late in April already? i'm writing this from the 8:09 Trenton-to-NY Penn express because it'll likely be the last 75 minutes of peace i have for a while. i'm back to the gym-work-bed cycle. it's all i've had time for (with a little baseball thrown in to keep me sane).
it was a good weekend at least. Michael and i went to visit my parents on Saturday to celebrate, belatedly, my mom's birthday and to celebrate, early, my hubster's. the drive alone was lovely -- good music, lots of laughing and the sky was a gorgeous shade of blue-gray that made the blooming trees pop in a stunning manner. (it had me rethinking my previous assertion that autumn is a prettier season than spring... maybe they're just incomparable.)
anyway, we had a fun time in PA. we spent nearly six hours watching the ridiculous Mets-Cards game, which started off torturously but then became hilariously amusing. we laughed our behinds off pretty much the whole time.
yesterday morning Michael drove off to work and i spent the day loving life, basically. just had one of those days: the weather was cool but mostly sunny and everything just looked so lush and fresh; got to eat mom's French toast for breakfast, followed by a run around the neighborhood during which I listened to the Yanks on my iPhone; then later an hour in the hot tub chatting with my dad about a million things. for dinner i made fettucine with pancetta, asparagus and peas (my mom is the best sous chef ever) and by nine-thirty i was happily in bed.
i woke up this morning to a note from my mom -- she'd realized after I went up to bed that yesterday was the thirty-fourth anniversary of the day she and my dad told my grandparents that i was on the way. funny to think about: thirty-four years ago i was the bun in the oven...
anyway, the next three weekends will be hectic (one of which will be spent in Chicago with the hubster! yay for mini-breaks!) so i'm thankful that this one was restorative.
we'll see how long this inner-peace lasts... if i'm lucky, maybe 'til lunchtime?
my dad and i went to the Yankees home opener yesterday. i still can't believe i actually got tickets, because the game was a really big deal. as you may know, the Yanks won the World Series last November (which may forever rank as the best month of my entire life) and because this was their first home game of the 2010 season, it was their first opportunity to make a big to-do about capturing championship number 27. the trophy was on display, the 3.55 carat rings were given out to the players—Matsui included, who was the most awesome MVP in the World Series and who happened to be on the visiting team yesterday—and the championship flag was flying out in left field. Yogi and Whitey were there, Bernie Williams was there—hell, even George Steinbrenner was there (though i don't think he knew he was there).
it was a really magical, awesome, i'll-rememeber-this-forever kind of day. not that it started out so great...
i have to share what happened before the game started. everyone who reads this is pretty aware, i think, of the bond my dad and i share. yesterday morning sort of underlined that, reminded me for the zillionth time how alike we are. which, i swear, is a good thing.
the first crisis arose when the tickets from Ticketmaster never arrived in the mail. you can't call Ticketmaster in a panic until 48 hours before the event. so that's exactly what i did on Sunday. of course, no one was manning the customer service line so i sent an e-mail and was assured, via e-mail, that my tickets would be waiting at the will-call counter at the stadium. this was slightly nerve-wracking, but i chose to have faith in Ticketmaster.
yesterday morning i got up and went for a run because i wanted to dig in at the Stadium with no hesitation or guilt. i got home, hopped in the shower and it wasn't until 9 o'clock that i noticed i'd missed a call and a voicemail from my dad. he was taking the train into the city from Trenton and the plan was to meet at Penn Station at 10:30—we wanted to get to the Bronx extra-early because the ring ceremony was starting at 12:30 and the game was sold out so we knew it would be a mob scene.
as soon as i saw that my dad had called i had a feeling he was having issues. and i was right. he was stuck in traffic on the PA turnpike—miles away from the train station and with only minutes until the train's departure. i called him back and fully understood how on the verge of hysteria my father actually was. he'd left the house early, to specifically avoid a situation like the one in which he was currently stuck. nothing was moving, he said, the traffic was at a standstill. he railed against the idiots who decided that a Tuesday morning was the ideal time to do road work—in fact, he blamed it on the Phillies, accused them of revenge-tinged sabotage, as if they'd specially arranged for the construction to occur on the morning of the Yanks home opener. he told me i should just go to the Stadium and once he finally made it to Penn he'd take the subway by himself and meet me in the Bronx. that was the real red flag that my dad was losing his mind (every time he's in the city with me he spends a good amount of time marveling at my ability to get around underground—this from the same man who convinced me that reading road signs on the highway would always get me where i needed to be).
listening to him my own anxiety level started to climb and so i took a deep breath. "dad," i said. "it'll be OK. everything will work out. let's think positive. this can't ruin the whole day."
we hung up and i turned to Michael and said, "is that what i'm like to deal with?" i knew damn well what the answer was so before he could respond i said, "i'm so sorry."
speaking of Michael, since he was awake and with nothing pressing to do, he offered to drive me to the Stadium to fetch the tickets so that my dad and i wouldn't have to worry about it later, when we'd surely be in a rush. we hopped in his car and on the way to the Bronx got a call from my dad. he'd finally made it to Trenton and was on a train that would arrive at 11:44—more than an hour after he'd originally planned but technically still early enough for us to make it to the Stadium in time for the ceremony. we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Michael got me to the Bronx in about 20 minutes (he's the best) and within another 15 minutes, i had the tickets in my hand and was on the downtown D train heading into Manhattan.
i got to Penn Station with about 15 minutes to waste before my dad arrived. i got him a MetroCard and was going to visit the ATM machine and also grab myself a coffee, but first—i needed the ladies room. i went to the one upstairs near the Amtrak area, because it was closest. i went into a stall and shut the door—the latch didn't seem to click right away, so i turned the little knob harder. satisfied the door wouldn't swing open on me, i went about my business.
thirty seconds later, i went to exit the stall and could not get the latch to budge. the rest of this scene probably lasted less than a minute, but it felt like days. i tried the latch over and over and it wouldn't budge in either direction. panicked, i looked up and down at the stall walls—there were maybe four inches of space at the top and bottom, not nearly enough for me to crawl under or over.
ohmygod, i thought. i'm trapped in a bathroom at Penn Station. my father is actually going to finally arrive and i am going to be stuck in this stall and we're going to miss the game.
i didn't know what to do. i was practically hanging on the door trying to will it open and creating a ridiculous racket , though of course no one came by to see if i was okay. i was thisclose to screaming HELP! when the latch finally gave and i burst out of the stall like a zoo animal finally freed from its cage.
good god. was the entire day going to be a comedy of errors?
thankfully, no. i found my dad pretty much as soon as he emerged from the NJ Transit platform (i'd just gotten my coffee and went running when i saw him, stupidly spilling half of it in the process but oh well) and we hauled ass to the subway (i took him first to the local track, thinking that train might come sooner, but when i saw the express train approaching i dragged the poor guy down a few flights of stairs, under the overpass, and up a few more—it nearly killed him, but, hey, we got on the express!).
we arrived at 161st Street at 12:15 and made it inside the Stadium with five minutes to spare. we found a great spot from which to watch the ring ceremony and saw the entire thing—from the goosebump-inducing 2009 season montage broadcast on the jumbo screen to the current Yanks mobbing their former MVP Matsui on the field as he received his ring.
it was great.
and, aside from a mustard mishap (in the process of gobbling down a giant soft pretzel, we both wound up with mustard stains on our pants—in nearly the same spot on our respective left thighs) the rest of the day went perfectly: our seats were great, the sun came out, Jeter hit a homerun, Matsui went 0-5, we got to see both Andy and Mo pitch—and the Yankees won.
and even better, i got to hang out with my dad. i know i sound like a broken record, but man am i lucky. even though i get my flair for the dramatics from him ("the Phillies are behind this traffic!") and also my clumsiness (see mustard mess above) and some other perhaps questionable traits, i have him to thank for many, many good ones.
have a husband because at the end of a crazy day during which you were convinced your head would quietly implode from all the thinking and wondering and what-if-ing (not to mention the googling), he will make everything better just by saying, "hey!" when you walk in the door as if your coming home from work is the best thing that's happened to him all day. he will also have been thinking what you've been thinking for the last several hours—that it's not, by any stretch, a night to stay home and cook dinner. it's a night to go out for wings and beer and baseball. he will know the perfect place to go—hole-in-the-wall, good music playing, Yankees-Red Sox on the TVs. you'll smell the wing sauce before you even get in the door. you'll sit side-by-side at the bar and you'll swear it could be July—it's so warm outside and you're in flip-flops and drinking $3 drafts (who knew those still existed in these parts?) and you can't believe how good it feels to know that winter is really, truly over. your husband will make you laugh with stories about his nephew and he'll fist-bump you when the Yanks do something good. he doesn't even seem to mind that the Mets game isn't on and if that isn't a trait of a good man, you don't know what is. there'll be a point during the night when, as you're watching the game, you'll rest your hand on the back of his neck. almost an afterthought of a gesture, but you'll feel so glad just to be able to do that. because it lets you know he's there. he takes the "for better, for worse" as seriously as you do, and you know that when life feels like one big test—of your patience, your sanity, your goodwill, your inner-strength—he'll be there to pick you up. and that is a pretty amazing feeling. even better than watching the Yanks take two out of three from the Sox. which is saying a lot.
especially in warmer months, i look forward to getting out of the city and spending a few days in the "country" at my parents' place. it can only be considered the country in direct comparison to where i spend most of my waking hours—in reality, it's extremely suburban, replete with every major chain restaurant, a giant gleaming Target, grocery stores into which Giants Stadium could fit and enough traffic to make even the calmest person feel homicidal.
anyway, it was with a huge sigh of relief that i arrived in Pennsylvania Thursday night. the night was mild, the wine was flowing, the pizza was paid for. i went to bed around 11 o'clock, slept like a rock and came downstairs Friday morning feeling refreshed and ready for a run outside.
i halted a few steps from the kitchen when i spotted a slew of mouse trap boxes sitting on one of the stools at the counter. my head swiveled next to the floor in front of the stove, where one of these traps was set up.
no one—and by no one i mean neither of my parents—had alerted me to any mouse issue in the house. and that's the kind of thing a girl likes to know before she commits to a weekend anywhere.
i was the first one up (my parents are taking their retirement very seriously) and so i was stuck in the kitchen, just me and the mousetraps, left to wonder just what in sam's hell was going on. you may remember back in February of 2009, i had an unexpected furry little guest in my apartment and i responded by dissolving into irrational hysterics. my feeling on mice has basically not changed since then.
anyway, my mother meandered downstairs about 10 minutes later and she hadn't even greeted me before i hit her with a barrage of questions. she explained that she and my father had noticed an attack on the packages of pretzel sticks that were hanging out on the bottom shelf in the pantry—leftovers from the wedding hotel guest gift boxes. the corners were nibbled off and lots of pretzels were seemingly removed from the packages and, presumably, consumed by insatiable, carb-loading mice.
but it didn't stop at the pretzels. my mom told me they'd also attacked a Cadbury egg, which she'd mistakenly left behind after putting together Easter baskets for Michael and me (shut up, i know i'm 33—you're just jealous you didn't get one). the mouse—or mice—ate half the egg, which i think is a lot for a tiny field mouse.
so, anyway, my dad invested in several humane traps made of black plastic that look like little dead-end tunnels. peanut butter is swabbed on the closed end of the tunnel and the idea is that the mouse enters through the open end, on a mission to lick the PB clean, and his/her weight tips the tunnel forward and the open end snaps shut. the closed end actually pops off and the mouse can be let happily back into the wild, no harm, no foul.
no mouse had tripped the trap in front of the stove, to my relief, but when my dad finally came downstairs for breakfast, he found an occupied trap on the pantry floor. (i hadn't even looked in the pantry, good lord.) he calmly ate his breakfast while the trapped mouse hung out in the trap. his plan was to let him free, but he couldn't decide where: across the street on the neighborhood's resident cat lady's property? (too cruel) next door, on the neighborhood's resident Ted Kaczynski's patio? (too creepy). he finally decided on the back of our backyard—and i voluntarily went with him.
first of all, the traps were pretty tiny. which meant that the captured mouse was even tinier. and for some strange reason, the idea of a mouse in my parents' house was far less disgusting and disturbing than one in my city apartment. (i can't really explain this. the mouse in my apartment never, to my knowledge, ate anything in my kitchen; in fact, i'm fairly certain it was a million times more frightened of me than i was of him/her.)
so my dad grabbed the trap from the pantry and we trekked out to the back of the backyard. i was half-giggling, half-gagging at the prospect of actually seeing a rodent up close, however small. but then my dad took the end off the trap and put it in the grass and the most impossibly tiny nose poked out and i couldn't stop myself from saying, "awwww."
i said awwww. about a mouse.
it took him (yes, i believe he was a boy; i named him Fatty, for the Cadbury incident) a few minutes to fully emerge from the trap. after being stuck in pitch black for who knows how many hours, it probably took him a while to adjust to the sunshine. but eventually he scurried off and wow he was tiny. how could i be freaked out or grossed out by something so adorable?
i told my dad then that if he caught any mice that night, i would personally liberate one the next morning. (courage, thy name is Megan.)
fast-forward to Saturday morning. three traps indicated captive rodents. the sheer number was enough to send my stomach flopping over itself; my resolve was already crumbling. per his usual, my dad began to mock my fear in an attempt to get me to buck up.
i'm not kidding—i shuddered several times, i squealed, i rambled like an idiot. even though i knew the mice were cute and about the length of my thumb. i was embarrassed—enough that i actually went ahead and picked up one of the traps to bring outside. nothing happened—no creature jumped out at me, i heard no mouse cries from inside—and for about 20 seconds i thought everything would be okay.
but then, just as i was passing through the sunroom door and into the yard, i felt something move inside the trap. and i shrieked. i literally shrieked. it's a wonder i didn't drop the damn thing, i was so freaked out. my dad, of course, was amused by my spastic-ness.
and even more amused when—after i made it to the back of the backyard without further shrieking and worked up the courage to remove the end of the trap—it was discovered that there were absolutely zero mice inside.
the two traps my dad was holding were empty too. but... the peanut butter was licked clean. damn gluttonous Houdini mice! and damn me for being a world-class wuss.
we forgot to set the traps that night and woke up Easter morning to find more chaos and destruction—a package of pitas on the counter had been compromised and nibbled on; packages of Hollandaise sauce mix were ripped into; and, most horrifying of all, there were mouse turds in many different locations.
(to top it off, i was minding my own business later that afternoon, sitting on the deck reading my book when two scarily large squirrels scampered loudly up the steps within a foot of my chair. they looked at me and i looked at them and for a millisecond we were all frozen—wait. who rightfully belonged on the deck? me? them? before i could figure it out, they darted off and i was left with a pounding heart—and a newfound wariness of country life.)
as of this morning, my dad had caught and liberated one more mouse—or maybe it was Fatty, each night finding his way back into the Pantry of Paradise only to find himself once again in the tunnel of gloom. whatever the case, after the craziness of this weekend, you can be quite assured that before my next visit, i will require a certified report that my parents' house is rodent-free.
happy easter—hope all of you have as beautiful a day as we're having in the northeast.
i've been enjoying a long weekend at my parents' house and being at my parents' house always includes, among other things, meaningful and enlightening conversations with my dad. the other night we sat in the hot tub (first time this year!) for two hours and chatted about a variety of things. then earlier today i said i couldn't remember what we'd done last easter—when it was, what the weather was like, etc. "welcome to adulthood," he said. (one year blurs into the next, i guess.) anyway, that got me trying to remember why easter is when it is every year. i know it has something to do with full moons and when Ash Wednesday is but all that stuff i learned in Catholic school has gotten jumbled in my brain with everything else.
"it's funny, isn't it?" my dad said, "they know exactly when Jesus was born, but the day he rose from the dead changes every year."
and that launched us into a conversation about god and Jesus and religion. my dad is a firm believer in faith, but wary of—if not downright against—organized religion. and to hear him talk about it, it's hard to disagree. throughout the ages, organized religion has caused nothing but strife, frustration, even violence. people are threatened by what they do not understand—and, even more so, by people who believe differently than they do. which is completely counterintuitive if you believe in Jesus.
if i remember correctly from my thirteen years of Catholic education, Jesus preached love and acceptance and patience and doing-unto-others. religion has become the antithesis of that. religion is about exclusion and persecution, irrational fear and brutal judgment. just look at the Middle East.
but the fallout isn't always as severe as that. for example, the last two years i've gone to mass on Christmas Eve and both times listened to the priest announce just before communion that those present who had not attended mass throughout the year should not come up to receive the host. seriously? why? would Jesus have that attitude? i would think Jesus would say, "hey, so good to see you. come, join us." he'd be glad that i was there at all, i think. he wouldn't feel the need to ostracize me. (and it's not like the priest announced something similar before the collection baskets went around—he didn't say, "if you don't come all year, please don't make any donations.")
anyway, i guess adding fuel to the fire is the current scandal surrounding the Vatican and the seemingly endless cases of priests molesting young children. no one in Rome seems to care and that was a topic on This Week this morning (a show my parents watch—pardon the pun—religiously). there were two practicing Roman Catholics participating in the roundtable portion—who also happened to be political pundits—and once the economy and healthcare had been covered, the topic turned to easter and the current state of Catholicism. they both agreed (and one was a Republican and one a Democrat, so you know there's not much they can agree on) that the Vatican was concerned only about the Vatican and not about its flock.
again, completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus. more like a big corporation than a church of god.
heavy thoughts for one of the biggest holy days on the Catholic calendar, i know, and i have long considered myself a lapsed Catholic because of how strongly i disagree with so many of their "policies" (anti-gay, anti-abortion, etc.) so take my opinions with a grain of salt. but i do think these are ideas even the most ardent believers should examine. we're in a very self-absorbed, self-indulgent era right now, and thanks to technology isolation is on the rise. maybe it's time to get back to the basics—just because someone doesn't look, act, think or believe like you, reach out a hand anyway. don't judge, accept.
considering we're now officially done with the first quarter of 2010 (good god) i thought it was time to revisit the to-do list items i came up with in january. until i went back and re-read them, i couldn't remember what i'd intended to accomplish—clearly not a good sign—and i have to admit that i haven't been nearly as successful as i hoped. but who ever is? i'm thinking monthly or even weekly resolutions may be easier to handle. but for now, here's my first-quarter status report:
cultivate calm: so far, i've only used my yoga mat for doing crunches, but i did just come across a little blurb in this month's Women's Health that explains the five must-know yoga moves for every beginner. i'm going to do a little research on those, memorize them and get my butt to a class within the next week. pinky swear. i've cultivated calm in other ways, though—running five miles at a time on the treadmill (my go-to stress buster); listening to the relaxing/meditative music my dearest Geevith was kind of enough to send me; and repeating mantras like "it will all be okay" in my head when i can't sleep at night. B
make Suze proud: this i have been successful with! i've been saving change in a jar when i think of it and i've been diligent with consolidating and paying down my debt. i have not bought a single pair of shoes in the new year, nor a new handbag and all clothing purchases have been made with gift cards. i can't say i've been as good about books. they are, alas, my weakness. i never pay full price for them, however, and buy paperbacks (versus hard covers) whenever possible. (wow this paragraph makes me sound like a real nerd...) A
explore my interests: yeah, this one—not so much. i started a photography blog, stuck with it for over a month and then gave it up when i had an interruption of my internet service at home. i do feel badly about it, but then again—i didn't have the proper equipment or the proper time to take very good photos, so it's not much of a loss. i'm going to let myself off the hook for this one because I’ve been taking on a lot of new projects at work and it makes more sense to spend my energy there right now. B
practice acceptance: so far, so good. not that i haven't wanted to throttle random people on the subway from time to time, but in general i think i've been kinder to myself and to strangers. A
think green: this one depends on the day. i've had good stretches of eating really well and i've also had days where i ate half a pan of brownies, a whole bag of jelly beans, or, regrettably, an entire box of Cookie Crisp for breakfast (that was only two weeks ago). it was all from stress or anxiety, of course, and i've been thinking a lot about emotional eating. this started when i was a kid—i'd eat when i was lonely, which was often—and i think enough is enough. i'm planning to read Women, Food and God to see if i can't quit my emotional eating for good. B-
a page a day: this one makes me a little sad. i haven't written a lick of fiction since the new year. i've jotted down some notes and crafted whole stories in my head, but as for sitting down and actually writing—nada. my early mornings are usually reserved for the gym and at night after work i'm too spent. rather than stress and fret over it, i'm trying to read voraciously, jot down thoughts and observations when they strike me and trust that at some point i will get there. C-
other minor self-improvements: vitamins, check. write more letters, check. spend less time on facebook, no check. read the classics, check (two so far). netflix, check; crunches, half check. B-
all in all, not a terrible quarter. but just like every other report card i ever received in my life, there's definitely room for improvement...
i was born in december of 1976 via c-section. my father didn't know i'd been born until a few hours afterward. i asked him once what he was thinking all that time. "i was hoping your mother had had a healthy baby," he told me. "but if not, i was hoping she'd had an irish setter puppy." i have a good deal of his DNA. that says everything about me.