How Lent And Me Roll

Lent begins in a week. You may think that this isn’t a big deal for me, but it kinda is. I actually make an attempt to observe it every year. And every year, I do it wrong.

Most of us know Lent as that time where we give up something we like ( usually food). In Sunday School, I vaguely recall someone saying something about self-reflection, prayer and sacrifice but I wouldn’t really bet money on it. I spent most of my time there being ticked off that my mom and uncle were having breakfast and I was stuck in a classroom.

So, this is roughly my (highly likely wrong) understanding of Lent: I physically give something up to help me gain spiritual strength. For this spiritual strength, I must be patient, have willpower and discipline and all that other good stuff. That way, not only do I get to know how hard it must have been for good ol’ JC to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, I get all this good stuff for my soul and I end up being a better person. (Unrelated: doesn’t ‘spiritual strength’ sound like something out of Slothmud?)

I usually do okay with the physical bit. I pick something to not eat, maintain low expectations of myself and somehow make it through the forty days. This usually results in me acquiring a taste for something that I ate to compensate for whatever I was abstaining from, something that I will like so much that I’ll probably have to abstain from for the following Lent. But that’s a different story.

It’s the spiritual part that’s a bummer to me. Even though I manage to stay away from meat and chocolates or whatever, I’m not quiet about it. By Day 30, I’m a rabid mess; I start dreaming about all the food I can’t have, then I tell my roommates about it. I make insane declarations like, “farm animals will fear Easter, for I shall slaughter and devour them all!”

I basically do everything the Bible says not to do when fasting or praying.

Don’t even get me started on the whole impure thoughts thing. I swear, every annoying person that has ever been in my life will choose to come in contact with me during Lent and show me precisely how painful it is to know them. I know that the right thing to do is consider it a temptation from the devil and take it all in stride. I even think this when these people are sticking metaphorical needles in my eye, but instead of taking a deep breath and asking God to grant me patience, I start making lists of diseases I want them to suffer and die from. My favourites are gonorrhea, gangrenous testicles and strokes. Some days, I don’t even TRY to be nice. You can see how this is a damper on the whole gaining spiritual strength thing.

However, I’m nothing if not optimistic. I’m counting on the physical abstinence to score me a few points at the Pearly Gates. It’s gotta count for something, right?

Which is why this year, I asked my friends to suggest something for me to abstain from. You know, maybe they’ve seen me obsess about something and I’m in denial so I’d never think to abstain from it. I need something epic this year, because I foresee myself being a spiritual ass and I need to counter that with some serious sacrificing. Yes, I also know that what a person does during Lent is supposed to be deep, meaningful and personal. Somehow I’ve managed to make such a big deal out of it publicly that I’m just waiting for someone to offer me a reality-TV show contract.Strike three, maybe?

Back to my story. One suggested I become vegetarian for this period of time and another suggested I give up Twitter for 40 days. While I seriously am considering the first friend’s idea, to the latter friend I immediately responded with, “fuck off and die.”

Something tells me this year’s Lent will be  completely wasted.

 

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.

The Heart Is Pierced, But The Tongue Bleeds

Between 20th December 2007 and 16th June 2008, three people who were very dear to me passed away. I don’t think that I showed much grief, not more than the average person anyway. Without me realizing at first, these deaths, especially the last two, left a significant mark on me.

Prior to this, I looked at death in a very detached manner. I understood that the pain that comes from the death of a person is simply because we will miss the deceased. I believed that they were headed to a better place, and they were no longer subjected to the nonsense that happens here on Earth.

I still believe those things, but now I know exactly how much I can miss a person and I know exactly how much it can hurt and how long it takes for the pain to go away. I don’t want to feel that for a long, long time.

During those dark six months, a few things happened:

1. The one person I really wanted to comfort me was nowhere to be found. The person’s absence cemented my secret fear: they didn’t care and didn’t want to have anything to do with me at all.

2. The people I had just gotten to know a little better were more comforting than they could have ever known, even though their methods were slightly unconventional to me.

3. I found out that work and anime are excellent distractions.

4. I much rather someone quietly hug me than say something like, “you’re still upset? But he died yesterday!”

All in all, this whole death business changed a very big part of me. I try not to say hurtful things when I’m angry. It’s not easy, since being hurtful is a talent of mine, right up there with hair trimming and making bad jokes. I consciously make an effort to not make something worse than it already is. I worry about those who are dear to me every single day. Most of all, I do everything within my power to make sure that I don’t have many regrets if I do lose any of them.

Why am I bringing this up suddenly? Because there are some people out there who are making me choose between being quiet and keeping the peace with them while others suffer, and saying hurtful things that will make me look like a hypocrite but may force their eyes open.

Sometimes

I just wonder

  1. Will I ever be as important to you as you are to me?
  2. Is it possible to live with yourself when you’re with one, but want to be with another?
  3. Why are there some mistakes that we do not allow ourselves to forget, even when thinking about them is so destructive?
  4. It’s one thing to unintentionally hurt someone, but how do you bring yourself to knowingly rip a person up?
  5. Why do I let myself obsess over every act of your hand and your tongue?

Point Yet To Be Determined

Honest to God, I really want to write a proper post. I really want to blog. Unfortunately, I feel like a has-been pop-star trying to churn out anything possible just to get noticed. I have ideas for posts, but all my material is in Moscow, or the timing isn’t right for whatever I want to write. With that said, all I’m left with are randoms.

  1. My doctor has a brilliant way of saying I put on weight. Brace yourself for this one. “It’s gotten harder to find your vein, eh?”
  2. My facial wasn’t as embarrassing as it was last year. At least, this year my face was “quite okay”. Last year, the beautician was stuttering when she wanted to tell me that my face was ” actually..uh..well..um..quite..aah…not so good lah”. I’m sure what she meant to say was, ” You ogress, I’d rather exfoliate the rear end of a Sumatran rhinoceros than touch your skin.”
  3. My hair. It’s official: I need hair loss shampoo and hair friggin’ tonic. I have the hairstyling regime of a middle-aged man. Seriously, if you’re observant enough, you’ll realize that my bangs are actually a comb-over. This is called karma kicking me in the follicles for laughing at my Pure Math teacher in college and teasing Abilash.
  4. Isn’t it kinda funny how people rate one’s worth and level of integrity with the activity of their genitals? I mean, think about it. Just because some chick likes to be physical, she’s automatically not respectable? What if she helps out  charitable associations without bragging about it, or works hard to earn an honest living to support her family? That doesn’t count for anything? All that matters is that she likes to put out?
  5. How do we decide who is worth impressing and to what extent do we go to impress them? How much has to go wrong before we cut our losses and move on? Should we even bother with impressing people? How do we tell whether we are being ourselves or subconsciously trying to impress others?

Feel free to answer anything that ends with a question mark. I like answers.

Gems From The Baggy Jeans

My friend Cheryl said I should blog more often. My brain normally dispenses one-liners at its own discretion, and not many can be used to build a whole blog post. Which is why I rarely blog.

After much thought (i.e. a breakfast of store-bought Viennese waffles and Kinder Bueno), I’ve decided that maybe it’s not a bad idea to put up the kernels my mind spits out. Bear in mind, this so-called not a bad idea came about somewhere between sugar consumption and insulin release from my pancreas.

1. Have you ever been in a situation where you know you’re part of a raw deal, and as time goes by, it doesn’t get any better? How long before you just stop, turn, flip the bird and say, ” I don’t need this” ?

2. Why do people see the need to talk about others? Quite frankly, if the story doesn’t have your name in it at ANY point, by default it’s none of your damned business.

3. Sometimes we know a person well, we know how they tick. We know how they will react to various situations. And yet, we say and do things that don’t reflect this knowledge at all. Why?

4. Would it kill to pick a decision and stick to it? Wait, don’t answer that one.

5. Is it more amusing or annoying when someone is blatantly lying to your face, and they think you’re lapping this all up like a cat with a bowl of cold cream?

Surprisingly enough, this is not a bitchfit. This just may be a sign that I need a new diary. 🙂