Serious and silly

“So I think I’m gonna give up soda for Lent,” Doug said today.

I think this is just about the best idea I’ve ever heard.  First, because Doug’s dental work officially started last week, which makes cutting out soda more than appropriate.  (I may be more excited about finally seeing him with perfect teeth than I am about the prospect of him proposing to me soon, but don’t tell him I said that.  Oh shit, he reads this, huh?) 

And second, because, ridiculous as it sounds, I love the Lenten season.  I love things that are rooted in tradition, and the next 40 days hold some of the most beautiful traditions I can remember from my Catholic upbringing.  The giving up of a vice – or taking on of a virtue, which has been more and more recognized and encouraged in the Church lately – is only the beginning. 

For a while, I called myself a twice-a-year Catholic; but it wasn’t Christmas and Easter on which I was attending Mass; it was Christmas and Ash Wednesday.  I love that physical marking of faith, or history, or even just perspective: “To dust you shall return,” the priest would say, and I would think, “Fuck.  This is about so much more than just me.”  One year in college, I had to give an oral report in my French class, debating the wearing of burkas, and I purposefully scheduled my report for Ash Wednesday, just so I could deliver my whole speech with a religious symbol on my own head.

I loved fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, which, in my family, meant we ate about one meal’s worth of food during the day, and then we ate a normal dinner.  (Nevermind that, as an adult, that’s pretty much how I eat every day.)  I loved feeling hungry and knowing it was on purpose, for a purpose.  And fish-on-Fridays was even better.  My parents’ Church puts on the best fish dinners – seriously, they’re gourmet.  Schedule allowing, I’m going to every single one of them this year.

Then there was Good Friday itself, when at exactly 3 p.m., we would turn off the TV (or put on whatever movie about Jesus’s life existed before The Passion of the Christ – and I know there was one) and reflect on the magnitude of what it meant to have such a perfectly imperfect Savior withstand torture and death at the hands of the very people He was trying to save.  And every year, I could swear that the sky went dark at exactly that hour.  Some years, it even rained: God using His most obvious sign, the weather, to pour the reminder of His sacrifice directly onto our heads.  (I’ve mentioned before that I was an incredibly perfect little Sunday School student, right?  In high school, I had a history teacher who called me Miss Theologen after I’d corrected him on what the Immaculate Conception was…  My parents probably wonder what the hell went wrong later in my life, as my moments of true faith are now few and far between.)

But, ever since I outgrew giving up candy – and after one disastrous Lent when I tried to give up cussing – I have never been able to come up with a good Lenten sacrifice of my own.  Soda is perfect for Doug.  Nothing ever seems perfect for me – or if it does (cough cough facebook cough), it’s too perfect: impossible or impractical.

One year in college, I wrote a poem,* based on a conversation I was having with Carrie one day, about this exact debate.  It’s kind of silly, and I feel like I need some silliness in my life and my blog right now, so I’m sharing it:

“What should I give up for Lent?”*

“Sex.
Coffee or chocolate, not both.
Pleasure reading,
then watch more TV.
Wearing a color of your choice.
Meat.
Soda.
IM before a certain time.
Sleep.
Food.”

“School.
Organized religion.
Birth control.
English.
Swearing.
Swearing in English.
Saying ‘like.’
Forks.
Clay Aiken.
Makeup.”

“American Idol.
Clothes.
Shopping.
Rollerskating
(but you don’t really do that anymore).
Glasses.
Homework.
Surfing,
or taking up surfing.
Staring at the ceiling.
Masturbation,
like in that film.”

“Gossiping.
Shoes.
Pants.
Livejournal.
Shaving.
Reality television.
Flirting.
Joey taxi.**
Disneyland.”

“We’ve found a winner: Joey taxi.”

Joey, later that night: “You should give up Carrie for Lent.”

*a conversation with Carrie Murphy
**The act of driving my little brother to and from the train station so he can go home every single weekend.

*The book of my college poetry, which I had to dig up to find this, is full of some amazing teen-angsty poems, some pretty intense sex poems, some more silly poems, some poems so cryptic that even I no longer understand them, and a few poems in French.  It’s like this incredible window into my history: I want, in equal parts, to post all those old poems here so they can have readers again, and to write new ones, so I can call myself a poet again.

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12 Responses to Serious and silly

  1. Elphaba says:

    Your description of Lent almost makes me want to reconsider my position on religion… almost.

    I’ve given stuff up before even though I’m not remotely Catholic. It all started the year I went to Mardi Gras and thought that if I get to participate in the debauchery, then I should have to participate in depriving myself after.

    Maybe I’ll do it this year… you think it’s good for fertility?

    • Marie says:

      It must be good for fertility. What will you give up? I am, true to form, still undecided. (My easy way out is to give up soda with Doug, but I don’t really drink that much soda….)

      I love religion for it’s traditions, not for it’s crazies. The Catholics and the Jews have the richest histories and therefore the best traditions (and yes, I’ve considered going Jewish so that I could get in on the REALLY OLD stuff). My parents have been great examples of how to be spiritual and observant, and still sane, open-minded, and accepting. I’ll probably go back to church once I have a family, because I’d like to raise my kids the way my parents raised me.

  2. Julia says:

    Post! Post! And more importantly, write, write!

    Poem! Poem!

    • Marie says:

      Oh my goodness! Should I post them separately, like my high school columns? Or maybe I’ll do a series for a week or so, to give me a break from writing about real stuff? Maybe I should give up “not writing poetry” for Lent? (But I’d need some parameters… a poem a day for 40 days seems a bit much…)

      • Dad says:

        I have them all. When you used my computer to move them, they remained on my drive. I have them secluded, all 196 of them, and after reading many of them them I keep thinking these could be organized into major themes or categories – and of course, each category of poems would be a chapter – and package it up and you have a book. I believe I mentioned that some years back but got some negative feedback.

      • Marie says:

        Haha. Was the negative feedback coming from a place of embarrassment at the self that was? Because that’s why I’d be cringing at your idea now 🙂

  3. Natalie says:

    You can definitely never give up rollerskating no matter what you do 😛

    My favorite is the “surfing or taking up surfing”. Classic

  4. bodegabliss says:

    Yay! I love posts from the past…and poems from the past are even better! 🙂

  5. AnnaEsperanza says:

    I’ve heard about giving up vices for Lent but never taking on virtues. What kinds of virtues do people usually take on? Encouraging words? Charity work? Writing poetry?

    Your Lent poem is great! You should definitely post more college poetry when you’re ready to take a few days off from blogging.

  6. PS Ann of Holy Experience also wrote a beautiful post about Lent and how failing might actually be the whole point: “Why Do Lent? Why A Failing Lent Actually Succeeds.”

  7. Pingback: Quitting cold-turkey (TMI warning) | Bakery Closed Until Further Notice

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