Pudding And Pools

This summer held a lot of promise. While in Moscow, I was told that I would be living in a new place, and not only did this new place have an air-conditioned room for me, it even had a swimming pool. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to coming home.

You see, ┬ámy fifth year in med school was nothing less than a bitch in heat that no dog wants to fuck. It was so hectic, I don’t even want to talk about it. You would need to hypnotise me if you wanted to listen to my traumatic experiences. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad. It was stressful, which made me eat a lot. When I say, “a lot” what I mean is, “I only stopped short of raiding my guninea pig’s cage for snacks.” Eating a lot made me put on quite a bit of weight. In fact, it’s the weight gain that I find traumatising.

What does my weight have to do with summer, you ask? Everything. A summer in Malaysia usually ends only in one way: with people leaving as proud owners of a second chin. Food is good, cheap and available everywhere. In other words, the chances of the numbers on the scale going down were very, very low.

Now that I live in a condo which has a swimming pool and since I love swimming, you’d think that I’d make full use of the pool and lose all my exam weight. Yeah, sure. Not even my toe has seen the cool, chlorinated water that I had great plans of splashing around in.

Note How I'm Not In The Photo

To make matters worse, I have an uncle who doesn’t snack between meals; one meal just blends in with the next. He doesn’t want to eat alone, so I’m roped in to keep him company. My stomach has forgotten what it feels like to be empty. Poor bastard sure is gonna suffer when I’m back in Moscow.

If you’re wondering whether my uncle is overweight, let me assure you that he is not. He does enough exercise to keep 3 middle-aged women fit. What he fails to understand is that I barely do enough exercise to keep myself fit. In fact, I probably do just enough to not get a heart attack.

This awful combination of minimal exercise and obscene amounts of food has led to the fastest weight gain I have ever experienced in my life, and I am quite the expert when it comes to..ahem..excess baggage. I’ve only been home for 24 days. Shorts that fit me when I arrived can’t go past my bum anymore and the loose T-shirts that I bought last week show off a pretty revolting bulge where my hip bones used to be ( I prodded and poked, I can’t find them anymore.) There’s only so much shrinkage I can blame on my clothes’ dryer.

That said, I sadly admit defeat and accept that getting into a size-10 dress is a bit like riding a pink and turquoise talking unicorn to Narnia.

Will There Ever Be A Perfect Church?

I’m a Catholic. This means I’m either pious to a fault or I’m a tart. You’ll probably know which I am by the time you’re done reading this.

When I was a kid, I was told that I was expected to attend Sunday School until my Confirmation. I was six when I went for my first class and at the end of it, I asked my mom “So, is Confirmation a long time away?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the Jesus-died-on-a-cross-so-that-I-can-slurp-cloudy-milkshakes-in-the-sky. I believe in God and I’m very grateful for all the times my ass gets saved when I do something stupid. I’m just not a big fan of all the rules. And there are SO. MANY. RULES.

My family isn’t very conservative, but it’s just my luck that I got the mother who only misses Sunday Mass when she’s at death’s door or something. Naturally, she expects me to be the same. I don’t see the point of going for Mass if I’m going to be daydreaming or falling asleep throughout the whole thing. It’s not very polite and I feel like a hypocrite.

Have you ever tried that sort of excuse with a devout mother? I’m convinced that the only reason she hasn’t disowned me is because I’m her only child. Instead, she has resorted to lecturing me every Sunday morning when I refuse to wake up. To get her to stop, I drag my sorry ass out of bed and get ready to go to church.

When I’m in Moscow, my church attendance is paltry at best. No one notices me and I like it that way. The last thing I need is people expecting me to be there every Sunday. I generally show up before and after exams to ask God to help me pass and to thank God for letting me pass.

I’m home now and last Sunday morning was one of those rare days when I was bright-eyed for Mass. Even my mom was surprised, almost suspicious. If she knew what was going on in my head, she would have figured that it was a false alarm.

I was sitting there, picking holes in everything.

There was a poster of a stick man on a cross. Seriously, this is how we depict the person who died for us? I wouldn’t care if it was a doodle in a notebook (although I may be wondering why someone would doodle a man on a cross), but this is a church. It looked out of place. It looked like a joke.

The church choir seemed to only know one melody for all the hymns. To make matters worse, I felt like they were singing to a group of kindergartners; it all sounded playful and childish. I’m aware that hymns can be dull and they’re trying to liven things up, but the best way to describe my feeling would be to say that I felt patronised. As I was sitting there, listening to people sing as if they were doped up on Prozac, I realised that I bitch about the choir in the Moscow church as well. They’re too old-fashioned and dull.

Then there was the sermon. I’m sure that if I Google some of the keywords, I’ll find it as some excerpt from one of those religious self-help books. I felt a little sad. I don’t know how much priests have to do during the week, but I’d like to think they put in more effort into what should be the highlight of their work week. In Moscow, the priests are French and while their sermons sound more heartfelt, I can’t help but think that some of it gets lost in translation. I don’t know, am I being too demanding?

The clincher for me was when the congregation began reciting a prayer for St.Ignatius, the patron saint of the parish. I didn’t even know what he was the patron saint of, so I just kept quiet. Then I began wondering all sorts of rubbish, like whether anyone in the church considered him their patron saint. My grandma picked St.Jude for my family (She had excellent foresight; he’s the patron saint of hopeless cases) and I rarely even acknowledged his existence. Was everyone just reciting it because they wanted to be good Catholics? Did THEY know what St.Ignatius was the patron saint of? Did it matter? Yes, rubbish thoughts.

I came up with a conclusion. My perfect church would be one where the patron saint would be St. Jude (even though I don’t pay much attention to him), with a choir that is upbeat enough to make me want to sing along, a priest that means what he says and preferably conducts Mass a few solid hours after sunrise.

I may have better luck keeping a dodo as a pet.