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Category Archives: church

You have nothing in your hands; any power you have comes to you from far beyond. Everything is fixed, and you can’t change it.

I should probably write something about Easter today. But honestly, I didn’t even remember it was Easter until about mid-week, when you guys were all, “What, the cable guy’s going to come to your house on Easter?” because I don’t do Easter. I don’t go anywhere for Easter, I don’t celebrate Easter. Easter is happy, but only because it’s a Sunday and I love Sundays because I get to sleep in a little and have some extra cuddle-time with Dumbcat.

(ALSO, I kind of have a beef with Easter because when I worked at the shelter, the day after Easter was “people would turn in chicks and bunnies they’d bought foolishly for their kids” day. IT MADE ME SO EFFING STABBY. If anyone you know buys chicks or bunnies for their children for Easter and they DON’T live on a farm and have no means of taking care of such a pet? PUNCH THEM IN THE THROAT AREA.)

PUNCH YOU IN THE ESOPHAGUS. Animals are NOT TOYS.

I don’t go home for Easter, because a., it’d only be for one day, and that’s a long trip for one day, and b., it’s an uber-religious holiday in my parents’ household, and it just upsets them that I refuse to attend church with them. And why would you want to upset your parents on bunny-day? You wouldn’t.

Secret story, though – I kind of miss the Catholic church over Holy Week. Don’t tell my parents, it’ll just get their hopes up I’m going back, and I’m absolutely not. But this week, more so than any other, I miss it.

The rest of the year in church is a little blah. No offense, church. But there isn’t much story to the readings. This week, it’s all about story. You get Good Friday with the entire crucifixion, you get Easter Sunday with the resurrection. Plus on Good Friday, you get to act. The congregation gets to say things like “crucify him! Crucify him!” at certain points, and I always liked that, even though you had to say it in a boring boring monotone and couldn’t put any energy behind your words and that seemed like a total waste of a good acting opportunity to me but then everyone would have stared at you. Also, sometimes you start thinking about people like Jesus’s mom and it makes you very, very sad, but the readings don’t really concentrate on that. I think they should. There should be more readings concentrating on the fact that Mary had to deal with the fact that her SON was CRUCIFIED in FRONT of her.  Also more stories about Thomas, my favorite apostle, because I like the doubting. I do a lot of that. He’s the most realistic.

But there’s also a lot of up-and-down and kneeling and standing and that makes you almost pass out. No one likes that. Also, Good Friday mass is seventy million years long.

It's very hot and there's a lot of up-and-down and a person gets woozy. You can't blame that person. YOU CAN'T. STOP BLAMING.

(SIDE NOTE! At the answering service yesterday, an elderly woman called one of the churches we answer for, and asked when Easter masses were on Sunday. So I told her. Then she said, “and how long do those run?” THEY ARE NOT MOVIES. I said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, there’s really no way to know that, I’d say anywhere between an hour and two hours?” and she was all “SIGH SIGH SIGH” and said, “Thank you, I GUESS” and hung up. Well, I’m sorry MASS for one of the two holiest days of the YEAR in Catholicism doesn’t come with INTERMISSION and a RUN TIME. Bring a juice box and some goldfish crackers, that’s what The Nephew does. Oh, and some Matchbox cars, in case you get bored.)

So I’m kind of unqualified to talk about Easter, since I’m not celebrating. But I do have an Easter story. And it’s also a theater story. And we all like stories, right? And I’m qualified to tell theater stories. Even better: it’s the story of THE VERY FIRST TIME I ACTED. Are you all so excited? Yeah, wait and see.

So when I was in fifth grade or thereabouts, my favorite priest had just arrived at my church. I’ve mentioned him before. I just adored this man. You think I’m excited about life? This guy brought joy wherever he went. He walked in a room, and the whole room lit up. He was magical.

He decided that we were going to put on a passion play for Easter. A passion play, for those of you not brought up in the iron fist of Catholicism, is the story of Jesus’s crucifixion. It can start at any point – the Last Supper, right at the crucifixion, wherever. He wanted to tie in some of Jesus Christ Superstar, because he was awesomesauce. (He didn’t have us sing, or anything. We just played the music over the sound system. He was adorable, but not insane. A bunch of elementary school kids singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” might have caused a riot.) Yes, I realize the idea of elementary and a few junior-high kids putting on a play about the torture and death of a religious figure seems insane. It probably was. I think this is a thing, though. The internet seems to think this is a thing that happens, sometimes. And I’ve seen other passion plays in other places, since then.

(SIDE NOTE: I’m obsessed with both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. Also Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I love religious musicals. Like, more than what’s healthy. Jesus Christ Superstar especially. It always makes me cry. Especially the relationship between Jesus and Judas, and Pilate’s eventual realization that he’s just a pawn in a master plan, and that he’s condemning an innocent man to death. “Trial before Pilate” is one of the most moving scenes in musical theater for me almost ever. I watched a production years ago where, when Pilate says, at the end of the song, he washes his hands of Jesus’s self-destruction, he washed his hands in a clear glass bowl of water. As he did, the water turned to blood, and Jesus just closed his eyes and bowed his head, and Pilate’s face as he looked at his hands was a masterpiece. Such an affecting moment, probably for the cost of a Koolaid packet.)

So he got the churchschool kids together and handed out parts. Now, this is going to SHOCK and AWE some of you, but wee Amy was QUIET. So, so quiet. Didn’t say a word. Quiet and shy and meek as a little mouse and only wanted to read and read and daydream and wonder and read some more. I don’t know what happened to that kid, either. Maybe I ate her.

This priest decided, early on, that I needed to come out of my shell. So he gave bigger parts (apostles, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, etc.) to the older kids who talked a lot. Then the younger kids got smaller parts – soldiers, etc. I was a soldier. A MAN soldier. Which was funny, because I got to wear a BEARD. Stuck on with SPIRIT GUM. It was itchy and looked like a face-toupee made of dead roadkill.

I can't even describe the hilarity a Google search for "children's religious costumes" just resulted in. This beard is nice compared to the beard I wore. Also, look at this kid's FACE! Ha!

But the excited-about-life-priest, who saw something in me wanting to come out, I guess, said, “Wee baby Amy who will someday tell all her personal shit to the internet and also fall in love with theater, you are going to play the Centurion.”

“Um…what’s…”

“You get LINES,” he said.

I was PETRIFIED.

Now, it wasn’t LINES. It was ONE LINE. One. Just one line. “Truly this man was the son of God,” to be more clear. But it might as well have been the Mark Antony “friends, Romans, countrymen” speech, because I HAD TO SAY IT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE.

We rehearsed for what seemed like years but what probably was only a month or two. And every time I got up in front of everyone to say my line (oh, the line is said right as Jesus dies on the cross – the Centurion, one of the Roman soldiers says it, and it’s kind of a big deal, because the Roman soldiers are all mocking him, up until this point, you know? And then you have this one believer who dares say this huge thing in front of everyone) my whole stomach was in knots but the priest would be sitting there, right in the front row, with a huge grin on his face, and it seemed like it would be ok.

It got to the point where I could say it loud enough to be heard. And I was EXCITED. I was going to ACT! In FRONT of people! We had a cross that the kid playing Jesus could get up on, we had costumes, we had music, we had props – it was a total spectacle.

The night of the show arrived. I put on my scratchy robe and took up my wooden sword we had spray-painted silver and one of the moms stuck on my scratchy fake-fur beard and we tucked my ponytail down the pack of my shirt and I was totally the Centurion. This was GREAT.

Until I got out on stage (ok, fine, it wasn’t STAGE, it was the front of the church) and realized that my parents, who I’d known would be there, hadn’t told me that my ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY had come. Cousins. Grandmother. Aunts. Uncles. All sitting WHERE I COULD SEE THEM. Looking expectantly at me.

The church was PACKED. The church had never had PEOPLE in it before. Only the priest! And a few moms! HOLY HELL WHAT HAD I DONE.

I didn’t have to say my line until the end. I just kept my head down and soldiered on. Heh. Pun most definitely intended.

Then it was Centurion time. HOW DID THIS COME UP SO FAST.

I stood in my place in front of the crucified Jesus-kid. All of the other kids looked at me, waiting for me to say my line. The music ended. It was time.

And…

“mumblemumblesonofmumble” I said. And ran off the stage.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! My VERY AUSPICIOUS DEBUT AS A FANCY ACTRESS PERSON!

So I stood “backstage” (the hallway outside the church) kind of shaking and crying and SO EFFING EMBARRASSED and the priest came out and said, “Amy! You did GREAT!”

“I was too quiet, I screwed it up,” I said.

He laughed. “You got out there in front of everyone and talked. I couldn’t be more proud of you. Time for curtain call, superstar.”

He led me back to all of the kids and no one said a word about me being a total weirdo and when I bowed, my people cheered, and when I saw them afterward, not a single one of them even NOTICED I’d been a total embarrassment to the THEE-AY-TAH. The only negative feedback I got was from my older male cousin, who told me, “That beard looks like a dead squirrel.”

(In retrospect, I think the whole thing was very, very bad, and something as minor as me mumbling my one line wasn’t even on their radar. And they probably thought the Centurion was SUPPOSED to run off stage. He probably was told to by the Holy Ghost or something.)

I told my dad this story the other night and he said, “I don’t even remember that. You were in a church play? Was I there?”

Apparently this didn’t even register, to my dad. WHEW.

Years later, when I told the priest I’d started acting, he laughed, his big, warm-as-a-bubble-bath laugh, and said, “I saw this coming, Centurion. Knew you had it in you. Don’t forget us when your name’s in lights, ok?”

One of the best men I’ve ever known, sincerely. I mentioned this a while ago, but he passed away a few years back. I miss him. A lot. The world is a smaller, quieter, and less-joyful place without him in it.

(Dear Father: I am no longer afraid of talking in front of people. Well, I can’t say I LOVE it, but I pretend to be a brave person, and I can do it just fine. And also, I very seldom run off the stage in fear anymore. And there hasn’t been an incident of someone not being able to hear anything I’ve said in a VERY long time. You’ll be pleased to note all of these things. I turned out just fine. Thanks for the nudge. Love, Amy.)

Happy Easter, all you marshmallow Peeps! May your chocolate be non-melty and may you find all of your hidden eggs and may your jellybeans be yummy and all that jazz and also jazz hands.

And remember, if you biff your line and run offstage in a panic? Sometimes, NO ONE EVEN NOTICES.

(Also, happy birthday to my grandmother, who tells the best stories and also gets cussy and crotchety, and also says things like, “Well, love will go wherever it’s sent, even up a pig’s ass.” I LOVE YOU NANNY.)

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I’ll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me. My mental stability might be tenuous by then, but I’ll be there.

It’s getting down to the wire, people. Now in the past, I’ve been totally prepared for Christmas at this point. The gifts have been purchased, wrapped and neatly boxed; the cookies, if not completely baked, are almost done; the cards mailed have been a couple days after Thanksgiving, and I am kicking back with eggnog and a good book and watching the tree lights twinkle.

Don’t you totally hate past-me? I do. I want to punch her in the smug, overly-prepared neck.

This year, I am FLYING BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS. There are a few reasons for this. The main one being, I didn’t have the extra cash to buy the presents early. I got the rest of it today, so tonight I finish the shopping. Also start. Also START the shopping. No, wait, that’s not true. I bought some books and toys a few weeks ago. They’ve been sitting in their boxes waiting for wrapping. The cats like that, because that means BOXES WE CAN PLAY IN MOM MOM MOM! So, sorry people who are getting cat-fur-covered books. I’ll blow them off before I wrap them, how’s that suit you.

We’re having one of those White Elephant gift exchanges here at work tomorrow so I have to buy something for that. Last year, my gift was champagne flutes. Because you KNOW how often I’m sitting around sipping champers with my girls, getting our nails did and gabbing about the last time we were in the Hamptons. I should wrap those bitches back up and re-White-Elephant them.

Then there are the cookies. I have seven batches of cookies to make. I’d like to have them made by Tuesday so I can get them in the mail by Wednesday at latest. YES I know that means they’re going to be late getting to my Christmas people. My Christmas people haven’t gotten a gift on time for the holidays from me in a decade, I think they might keel over in shock if anything I sent arrived on time. I think they’ll be fine. SEVEN BATCHES SERIOUSLY. I know, you’re all, what the hell? Who makes seven batches of cookies? Me. I do. Why? Because I rock cookies. I am very, very good at cookies. People ASK for my cookies. My cookies are JOYFUL. How could I not make cookies every year? I can’t be the one who ruined Christmas because I didn’t make cookies. What kind of asshole would do that?

I also have handmade things to make for three people which I’m not going to talk about because two of the three read this regularly and the third I don’t think does but sometimes he pretends he does because he’s nice like that and doesn’t want to hurt my feelings and I appreciate the gesture and I don’t want to ruin Christmas by saying what I’m making. So I won’t. MAKE ALL THE THINGS.

I’m a little frazzled. Can you tell? Just a little. But, in better news, I got all but two of my Christmas cards in the mail today. So that’s something. Why not two? I don’t have two people’s addresses. I could put them in the mail without the addresses, I suppose. But I don’t think they’d go very far.

Anyway, so enough about what I have to do. It’s a lot, in summation. A lot, a lot. And it’s kind of giving me that little weird throbby hurty place right behind my right eye when I think about it too hard. It’s the pain I got pretty much all through Dubya’s presidency, when I thought about that too hard. So let’s talk about something more cheerful. THE END RESULT.

Christmas at Chez Amy!

Well, to be clear, it’s not Christmas at Chez Amy. Christmas at Chez Amy would be people standing around like sardines in a can because Chez Amy is, as mentioned, about the size of a storage shed.

So, next week, I will head to the Great White North for the holidays. Yes, that does mean that you will not see me round these parts for a few days. Because guess what? I get no phone coverage up there. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. My phone coverage area doesn’t reach where my parents live, because my parents live IN THE PAST. Dun dun dunnnnn. (No, seriously, they kind of do, there are a bunch of Mennonite families living on their road so you turn there and there are all kinds of horses and buggies and farms and women in bonnets and you think, “Huh, here I am, yep, yay, progress?”) Also, they do have internet, but it’s – and this hurts, so I’m just going to say it fast – DIALUP. I know. I KNOW. When I went home for a visit this summer, I tried to get onto Twitter, and it took half an hour to load the page, and an additional ten minutes to post the tweet. Which was, “My parents’ dialup sucks so hard right now” or something. So probably posting a blog entry would be the most painful, longest process ever. It also, as it’s dialup, ties up the phone line, and what if all the people are trying to call? (They aren’t, but my father always thinks they might be.)

Packing for said trip home involves many, many lists. One year, I forgot to take my medication with me. Which was totally the most awesome, because two of those pills, I kind of need to live and/or function. So I had to do some major Christmas Day finagling to get an emergency prescription that involved a trip to the emergency room. On Christmas Day. My parents still have not let me forget this ONE TIME I forgot a major thing. “So, you packed your pills, right?” they’ll ask. Then again. Then one last time as I’m about to get in the car. It’s not in the least bit annoying. And then I drive home, belting out showtunes the whole way because they keep me awake and they are awesome. (Alternately, choices that are acceptable are the Dr. Horrible soundtrack, Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes album, and a handful of mix CDs I’ve made for driving over the years. Mostly things I know all of the words to, and can sing along to. Badly. Because no one’s the car with me. I promise, if someone WAS in the car with me, there would be no singing. That would be cruel and unusual punishment.)

Here is how Christmas weekend 2011 will probably go in Amy-land.

Friday 

Get home at some point. Convince father to help unload the car. He complains about too many bags and boxes and gifts being purchased, until he sees that there are packages with his name on them. He also sees the cookies I baked and gets excited eyes. I tell him he can have some as soon as he gets the things in the house.

Look longingly at phone, then turn it off and bury it in the bottom of my purse because it’s kind of useless as anything but a paperweight at this point. And it’s not heavy enough to weigh down much paper. And who even uses paperweights in this day and age? We’re living in digital times, baby. GOODBYE MINIONS I MISS YOU ALREADY.

Family visit time! Some of the family I’m visiting are dead. Sorry to be a buzzkill. I’m putting in some cemetery time this year. I know, I’m the merriest right now, right?

Convince my father it’s a better move to change the channel from FOX News to something more festive, like Toddlers in Tiaras. Watch him go into FOX News withdrawal. Giggle. Enjoy this for hours.

If all goes well, see THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW. Not that I’m at all excited about that. Nope, nope.

Go to bed at like 10pm. Because seriously, what else is a person supposed to do, there’s no internet.

Saturday

Get up at 5am because I went to bed at 10pm like a farmer. Drink coffee even though I never do because it’s made for me. If someone makes something for you, you might as well drink it.

Finish last-minute things like bringing all the gifts to my grandmother’s house. Chat with my grandmother about people who died a really long time ago and I never met them but she thinks I know who they are so the conversation goes something like “and it was just like the time The Old Guy fell off the tractor after he had the shock, but he married That Floozy with the red dress and the hat” and I don’t know who The Old Guy OR The Floozy are, but it’s obviously the best soap opera ever so I’m hooked. By the way, my grandmother? BEST STORYTELLER EVER. You have never heard a story until you hear one from her. There are floozies and cusses and old sayings and scandals of days gone by and of people long since dead. It’s the best.

Play with my brother’s dog for a while. Because she loves life and all things and is possibly the most stupid, but also the most adorable.

THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW THE NEPHEW (ok, I have no idea what The Nephew’s plans are for the holiday weekend, but it’s pretty obvious I want him surgically attached to my hip like a Siamese twin for 3 days or so.)

Enjoy the fact that I don’t have to plan, prepare, or cook for myself the entire time I’m home. It’s like magic. Mom-magic. I am hungry! There is a three-course meal! On the table! And I am in my mid-thirties! Magic I tell you MAGIC.

Everyone leaves for church except for me and my brother. Because we are hell-bound. We watch It’s a Wonderful Life and bitch and moan about all the things and also drink. It is lovely.

Go to bed at 11pm. LIVING ON THE WILD SIDE BABY.

(Christmas Eve, years ago, used to be a wild rumpus of awesome. We used to go to my other grandmother’s house. No one loved Christmas like she did. The entire extended family would come and we would eat and party and open presents and it was, looking back, the epitome of Christmas for me. She passed away when I was in grad school and it hasn’t been the same since. Christmas Eve is very quiet now. I think that would make her sad. She loved how loud a houseful of excited family members would get. She was feisty and fun and wickedly intelligent and I miss her terribly.)

Sunday

Awake at 5am because there is a LOT OF BANGING happening downstairs. It is my father, who is like a child when Christmas is here, stomping around. “Oh, did I WAKE you?” he asks. Presents! He wants to get to the opening of them! And the tree has piles of presents under it, which have appeared like magic, and my mother and I have sleepy, sleepy eyes and want coffee now, please. Oh, also, the house is freezing because there’s no central heat, just a woodstove. And it’s winter. So, yeah, there’s no reliable internet, horse and buggies outside, and a woodstove. I’m Christmas-ing in 1807. Maybe I’ll get an orange in my stocking! Or a horehound sucking stick!

We call my brother and tell him it’s time to wake up. He is not pleased. He grumps that he will come soon. We sit and wait and wait and look at the presents with greedy eyes. I take this opportunity to try to do something with my hair because someone always thinks it’s a good idea to take a photo of present-unwrapping and I look like a homeless mental patient in pajamas.

My brother shows up. He is grumpy. “COFFEE,” he grumps.

We open presents! My father is Santa, because he is the best at it. Also he has a beard. All the presents from my parents say “From Santa Claus” on them. My brother and I are in our mid-to-late thirties. We are not fooled. We wait in-between every gift to watch each other open them, but we also keep things moving at a good clip because there is a very definite timetable to Christmas day.

Everyone then eats all the homemade cinnamon rolls. I eat cereal, because I can’t eat homemade cinnamon rolls without needing a trip to the emergency room. This only makes me want to stab someone a little, as it’s Christmas, and Christmas is about LOVE. Not STABBING.

We all dress up pretty and nice and go to my grandmother’s house and have ANOTHER Christmas. This is where I get to be insane, and that’s awesome. They are all very nice and very calm people and I’m the “crazy” one. You know, every family has one? Yep. I’m that one. I’m the character. That’s fine, I’m down with being charactery.

When it’s handing out the presents time, I get to be Santa. Because who better to be Santa than the person who is BEST at it, I ask you? No one. No one better. So I put on a Santa hat, and I pass out the gifts. And there are RULES. Like, you can’t give someone two gifts in row. That’s rude. You have to try to make sure everyone has a gift before you give someone another gift. Except my grandmother. She gets as many as she wants. She’s the matriarch. And she takes a long time to open them. So I load her up, because I want her to know how much she is loved. And she’s all, “Too much! Too much!” and Santa says “You’ve been a very good girl this year! Ho ho ho!” and everyone laughs because OH AMY WHAT A CUT UP but that wasn’t even that funny. I don’t even have to waste my best material on Christmas day. Everyone’s in a super-good mood. Also, the whole house smells like turkey and ham and baked beans and potatoes but NO NO NO EATING UNTIL AFTER GIFTS. And I pretend I’m not going to give any gifts to my cousins, because they are children and enjoy when I’m wacky, and then give them their gifts like “WHAT IS THIS I HAVE FOUND FOR YOU?” and that’s fun. Yeah, I’m totally the best Santa. You probably want me to be your Santa, but I won’t. I’m Santa for my grandmother’s house and that’s IT. Oh, and once when I worked at the Humane Society I had to be Santa for pet portraits. I had to have dogs sit on my lap and have my photo taken as part of a fundraiser we were doing. It was a little odd, because Santa had boobs, but whatever, I rocked it. I like dogs.

Then we eat all the food, and listen, those people can all cook, let me tell you. And THE NEPHEW will be there. And I pretty much can’t take my eyes off him because he is the best thing in a long line of best things. He is funny and lively and excited about life and amazing.

Then we clean up and go home and it’s The Nephew and his mom’s Christmas. Which will, no doubt, be the highlight of the entire day.

So, for those of you keeping track, that’s three Christmases for one person. Christmas day is kind of insane.

After all of those Christmases, we all kind of go into a Christmas coma and put on A Christmas Story and watch that while my dad snores like a buzzsaw and once in a while wakes up and says things like “that lamp is frag-eee-lay” or “that stupid kid’s going to put his tongue on that frozen pole again” and then falls back to sleep. While this happens, I consolidate all of my gifts into the smallest possible piles. I do this because I am Gollum and a hoarder. No, honestly, I have no idea why I do this, it’s this weird OCD trait I have, and I’ve always done it, but I am very, very good at taking a large pile of things and making it very, very small and cramming it all into other things so your huge pile of run-amuck ill-begotten booty is manageable. I know. It’s strange. If that’s the strangest thing about me, I guess I got off lucky.

Bedtime is probably 9pm or something. I plan on eating a LOT of ham. 

Monday

I’m probably coming back home on Monday, even though my mother wants us to go day-after-Christmas shopping. I have a lot of things to do, and I have Tuesday off, and it sounds SO NICE to have a day and a half off to do nothing, all alone. Also, without fail, a huge snowstorm hits home every year over the Christmas holiday, so I’m sure it will happen one of these days, making travel nigh-on impossible.

The drive home will be: driving driving driving NODDING OFF WHAT THE HELL driving driving driving I AM SO TIRED THIS IS STUPID driving driving driving PULL OFF AT THE REST STOP AND GET SOME AIR WEIRDO driving driving driving THANK GOODNESS I AM FINALLY HOME. Then I turn on the phone and it starts loading up all the tweets and emails I’ve missed and I smile and smile because this is ALSO Christmas. Fahoo Foray.

See, I totally have a plan! Christmas! The end is in sight! Now I just have to shop and bake and wrap and package and plot and scheme and list-make and fret and I WILL BE FINE I CAN DO THIS.

If any of you would like to COME HERE AND DO ALL OF THIS FOR ME I would be the most appreciative thanks. You can have some of the ham. Also cookies. You’re stellar! Smooches!


Patron Saint of Blindness and Mouthy, Obstinate Broads Everywhere

OK, so my fantastic Twitter friends (and amazing bloggers, seriously, you need to, right now, scoot on over, I’m telling you, and check out their blogs! Psst, they are INTELLIGENT and THOUGHTFUL. I know! It’s crazy! And they still talk to me! I think maybe I’m their super-enthusiastic, slightly touched-in-the-head sidekick. Or maybe their pet, like a really hyper bouncy-bounce-bounce Jack Russell terrier. I’m down with that) @heinakroon and @lahikmajoe informed me today it was St. Lucy’s Day. So, in other words, MY day. I mean, there’s no St. Amy’s day. Amy’s not a saint. Well, there’s a Saint Amata, also known as Saint Aimee of Assisi, but that barely counts, and also she’s only a saint because she was healed by her sister who was a saint and that’s about all that’s known about her. BORING, St. Not-Even-Really-An-Amy.

Now listen. I, as mentioned, grew up Catholic. I am not currently a practicing Catholic. I suppose, if you are very, very anal about it, I will always be a Catholic; at least, that’s what my mother tells me, usually when cajoling me to attend services with her when I come home for a visit. I was baptized Catholic, so I suppose, unless I were to do some sort of un-baptismal ritual, or maybe get re-baptized into another faith and/or cult, I’m TECHINICALLY, in NAME ONLY, still a Catholic. I haven’t been inside a church in quite some time, and I’m happy with that. Am I going to go into more detail than that with you? Nope. Why? Because it’s none of your business. I have nothing against Catholicism, Catholics, God, Jesus, etc., etc., etc., so please don’t hate-mail me up. It’s just not right for me. Personally. As a person. Who lives on this earth. I don’t care what you do. Just don’t make me do it, and don’t attempt to make me feel bad about not doing it. End of story.

However, I LOVE STORIES OF THE SAINTS.

I find the stories of the saints FASCINATING. I’m pretty sure it’s because the stories of the saints usually end with “and then they were bloodily murdered in a creative fashion” and you know I do love a good creative bloody murder.

For example, Saint Sebastian all pierced with his arrows. Saint Blaise, attacked with “iron carding combs” (what the hell? Ew. And, awesome!) Saint Agatha, who had her breasts chopped off. Oh, and St. Francis, not because of death, but because ANIMALS.

Yes, I’m totally dark, twisted, and macabre. I also like kittens, rainbows, and unicorns, people. Also, someone this weekend almost spit-took when they saw me crying over something. I’m really an enigma, right?

I actually took a day trip to Rouen when I was in Paris in college JUST TO SEE WHERE SAINT JOAN WAS BURNED TO DEATH. No, I’m not even kidding. On purpose. I made a pilgrimage to see where someone was burned to death. And it was kind of the most awesome. (Also, the townspeople in Rouen were lovely, friendly, and welcoming, and did not make fun of my rudimentary French, not even once. Also, the town looked like it was created by Epcot. It could NOT have been cuter, cleaner, or more picturesque. Except for the creepy wax museum, where everything was falling over and decrepit and looked like maybe it was going to come to life and eat me. That was unsettling. Also, one of the wax figures was wearing Hanes sweatsocks, which made me laugh so hard I almost choked on my croissant.) And, side note! There was a lovely little art museum there, and I was listening to my Walkman (shut up, it was the 90s) and looking at the art and feeling oh-so-bohemian and felt a tap on my shoulder and a guard was standing there and I took out my headphones and he started talking to me in VERY rapid French, which I could understand just about every third word of, and I asked him to slow down, and he was just asking what I was listening to. I said “Tori Amos?” and he laughed and shrugged adorably and then left me to wander around some more, and as I was leaving, said goodbye, and then KISSED MY HAND (I know, right? In any other setting, that’d be creepy? But he was this very nice middle-aged gentleman, and it was very courtly) and said something that I didn’t quite understand – soleil? Something about the sun? – but I smiled and left and then I wrote it down phonetically and when I got back on the train I looked it up and he’d told me, as far as I could tell, “I shone as bright as the sun.” Um. That might be the nicest compliment, in any language, anyone has ever given me ever. THANK YOU RANDOM ROUEN MUSEUM GUARD.

But somehow, St. Lucy escaped my notice. I know! That’s totally unlike me. Yes, I know the name of this blog isn’t based on St. Lucy. It’s based on Lucy Van Pelt from the Peanuts cartoons. (For further info on the twisted tale behind the naming of this blog, see my FAQ. Yep, I have a FAQ. You thought I wouldn’t? You really don’t trust me very far, do you? I promise I sort of kind of know what I’m doing, you guys. I also promise if you let me lead you into the woods, I will do my best not to let you get murdered by bears. Look out for the woodchucks, though, they’re totally bloodthirsty.) Anyway, so no, I wasn’t thinking of St. Lucy when I came up with the name for my blog. But I’m pretty sure, after finding out about this, it’s kind of kismet. Or destiny. Or whatever the hell. I AM IN LOVE WITH ST. LUCY IS WHAT I’M SAYING.

Look at this. LOOK AT THIS I’M TELLING YOU.

Nothing like an old painting to creep you the hell out. PLATE OF EYESSSSSS.

Is that not the worst? What’s that on the serving tray, you’re wondering? Oh, her eyes. THOSE ARE HER EYES. Dun dun dunnnnnnn.

So here’s the scoop. I mean, you could research this yourself, but why bother, my version will be so much more fun.

St. Lucy lived in Italy (hey, also, I love Italy, if I were given a choice of any place ever to live for the rest of my life? Italy. True! True story!) from 283-304. I know, people totally lived that long ago, it’s not even science fiction or anything. So that means she died when she was twenty-one. When I was twenty-one, I drank a lot and woke up in weird places, like on the bathroom floor or one time under someone’s bed all dust-bunny-covered.

Lucy was a rich girl with a rich mom. Rich mom arranged a marriage for her with a rich suitor. But rich suitor was…wait for it…wait for it…PAGAN ZOMGGGGG. Lucy was not down with this at all because she had chats with angels and such and was an illegal Christian. So she started giving her dowry away to the poor because she did not want to marry Pagan Pete. And listen, the main reason she didn’t want to marry Pagan Pete was not because of his paganism. It was because she didn’t want to give him her flower. No, I’m serious. Lucy’s big thing was she did NOT want to lose her virginity. It was VERY important to her. Well, that’s nice, Lucy, and I totally dig pretty much everything else you stand for, and you’re a totally righteous babe, but probably get over the whole flower issue. Give away your whole bouquet, honey. It’s not just for HIM, you know. YOU can ALSO derive pleasure from passing along the blooms. Just thought I’d toss that out there. ANYWAY. Pagan Pete got wind of this and was NOT AMUSED. “That’s MY MONEY BIATCH,” Pagan Pete hissed. “Also, give up your flower. Damn, girl.” Apparently, it was illegal to be Christian in Italy at this time (sorry, I’d research that more but at work, any website with too much religious content is BANNED and we get a BIG RED PAGE  that says BANNED BANNED BANNED due to RELIGION!!! and wouldn’t it be so ironic were I to get fired due to Catholicism searches, based on my own waffley stance on the Catholic church?) So Pagan Pete went to the magistrate and was all, “Lucy’s a secret Christian, yo.”

Get this! Lucy’s sentence was that she was to be DEFILED IN THE LOCAL BROTHEL. Is that not the most horrible, nefarious thing you’ve ever HEARD? This is so a telenovela. That magistrate totally twirled his moustache when he was sentencing her to that, you know he did.

Lucy, while this was going down, decided to start being all street-preachy. She had a LOT TO SAY. So she started talking. And she wouldn’t stop. God and purity and almsgiving and what have you. Stubborn and loud. My kind of chica.

So the guards came to take her away, but she was so filled with the Holy Spirit (SIDE NOTE: when I taught churchschool many moons ago one of my students was PETRIFIED by the Holy Spirit because sometimes you call the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost and the poor kiddo was convinced the Holy Ghost was like a creepy haunty-type ghost and was going to pop out of her closet when she was trying to sleep so when I had to talk about the one God/three persons thing, she would get SO SCARED and she’d jump up and put her hand over my mouth and say “No no no ghosts” and it was ADORABLE. Poor scared kiddo, I wanted to hug her and give her a cookie) that the guards could not move her. She was “immovable as a mountain.” Well, that’s exciting! Like a MOUNTAIN! Even a team of OXEN could not move her. All while they kept tugging and shoving and oxen-ing, she kept proselytizing about God and virginity and almsgiving. She was TALKY, you guys. I LOVE HER. Then they stabbed her in the neck, and – get this, are you ready? – SHE KEPT TALKING. Stabbed in the NECK and she kept talking.

Then they gouged her eyes out with a fork. Hence the painting above and her being the patron saint of blindness. I’m pretty blind without my glasses, Lucy! Thanks for keeping an eye out! Pun most definitely intended!

On St. Lucy’s Day in Sicily (today!), they celebrate with candles (as it’s commonly thought of as the shortest, and therefore darkest, day of the year) and a traditional dessert of “wheat in a bowl of hot chocolate milk.” That sounds DELICIOUS. Is it like hot cereal in chocolate milk? THAT IS GENIUS ITALY. Do you see why I want to live in Italy? Well, other than Italians, and the gorgeousness of it all? Those people KNOW THEIR DELICIOUS FOODSTUFFS.

In Scandinavian countries on St. Lucy’s Day, young girls wear a crown of candles in church. Well, that I’m not as down with, mostly because HAIR IS TOTALLY FLAMMABLE YOU GUYS. That is a stop, drop and roll waiting to happen. Those poor adorable Scandinavian children. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

So, to recap. St. Lucy was Italian (love it), mouthy (love it), would not be moved (love it), patron saint of people with eye issues (love it), died bloodily (love it), and was obsessed with keeping her virginity (um…sorry, Lucy. You lost me there.)

THIS IS MY DAY, PEOPLE!

So, in honor of St. Lucy’s Day, I’m going to be mouthy and obstinate, and also eat some chocolate and wear my glasses. Oh. Wait. Looking back, I pretty much live every day as if it’s St. Lucy’s Day. Go, me.

Except for the weird virginity fetish, of course.


Banished Forever to Hell; Today Have I Been Expelled

I promised I’d talk about this, and the time is now. Yes, it’s true. I got booted out of churchschool. And even more distressing: I’m still, almost two decades later, irrationally proud of how it went down.

In high school, our church got a new priest. Our old priest – who I mentioned in an earlier post – was beloved by all. Honestly, there wasn’t anyone who didn’t adore this man. However, if anyone’s aware of how the church works, they move priests around a lot. Our priest was very, very good. Very passionate, excellent at getting people involved who wouldn’t normally be, getting a community together where it had just been a group of disparate people before – he was a pro at this. So he was in high demand. The powers that be kept him in our area longer than they normally do, but after a while, he got his reassignment and they moved him to a town an hour away, and we got a new priest.

Google tells me this man is still a priest, (and has quite a wide Internet footprint) so I’ll be circumspect and give him an alias – because it’s going to be confusing if I don’t. I’m also going to try to be as nice as I can, here. Let’s call him…Voldemort.

I was heartbroken to lose the priest that I’d loved and who’d inspired me for years, but my parents tried to assure me that the church wouldn’t send us someone evil. I was predisposed to hate this replacement; as we’ve learned about me, I make snap decisions.

I was willing to let it go that Voldemort looked, talked, and acted like a used car salesman moving in on a country rube about to spend the year’s mortgage on a lemon. I was willing to let it go that his sermons were long, dry as dust, and completely uninspiring. I had a little harder time letting go how he talked down to me. I still have this problem – I don’t have a lot, but I am an intelligent woman. If you’ve gotten to know me and you find I’m mentally deficient, then fine, by all means, talk down to me (I can’t be held responsible for what I might do or say to you, but you gave it a chance, so I can’t fault you for that, I suppose.) Voldemort was one of those adults who assumed everyone under the age of twenty must be an automatic idiot. He used a baby voice. I was in high school. This didn’t go over well. He was also very, very patronizing. He’d say things like “Oh! Amy! I heard you like to study! Isn’t that nice?” in that singsongy voice people use toward children, the village idiot, and people who are about to lose their shit. I wasn’t the first two, but I was coming up on the third.

We had churchschool once a week, Sunday nights, I believe, in the basement of the church. My parents insisted I attend, at least until I graduated high school. I still didn’t enjoy going, but I was a fairly law-abiding kid. I went. I sat there, quietly, I didn’t answer many questions, and when the session was up, I went home, not having learned much other than there were very few things in the world less inspiring than being forced to study religion.

One night, we had a guest speaker. In his infinite wisdom, Voldemort had invited an employee from the local Planned Parenthood to show us a video about safe sex and talk to us. I’m still, all these years later, not sure what was going through his head. Again, I’m not sure what you know about the Catholic faith, but premarital sex is a no-no. Not a little no-no, either. A big fat one. So safe sex isn’t something you want talked about with your unmarried, high-school churchschool class. Because “no sex” really would have to be the topic. Did he think Planned Parenthood was going to talk about no sex? Because that’s not really what Planned Parenthood does.

The video was a basic safe-sex primer. It was brief. It’s not like it showed naughty bits, or anything. Then she talked to us, briefly. Voldemort was off in the corner somewhere. I remember the Planned Parenthood worker. She was young. Much younger than I am now. I’m thinking early twenties, maybe. You could tell she didn’t have a lot of experience giving these talks. She finished the talk with something along the lines of “And, so if any of you do decide to have sex, please practice safe sex. Thank you!”

Voldemort ERUPTED from his corner. He was a Mount Vesuvius of righteous anger. His face was so red I thought he was having a stroke.

These are Catholic children,” he spat at her. No, really, he spat. Like, spit FLEW from his lips and splattered all over the Planned Parenthood lady. “They don’t have sex.” Sex was said like the Church Lady used to say it on Saturday Night Live. Like it was sin wrapped in hookers and porno and then rolled in edible panties. “Get out. Now.” He then started cleaning up her things for her and shoving them at her.

Planned Parenthood lady was in tears. She was probably thinking what I’m thinking now – what exactly was he expecting to happen? Did he think Planned Parenthood was known for its abstinence talks? Or talks about becoming a nun? Planned Parenthood helps you with a lot of things, and I suppose would talk to you about abstinence, if you asked them to. But obviously he hadn’t, otherwise, wouldn’t that have been what she talked about?

I don’t like bullies. Not at all. I think I’ve made it pretty clear, to anyone that’s been reading this for any length of time, or anyone who knows me at all, that I was bullied for years. Bullies immediately put me on the defensive. When I was younger, they made me want to run and hide. As I got older (and I was right on the edge of younger and older, then) I want to protect the person that’s being bullied. Even if it isn’t my fight, or my business, or I don’t like the person being bullied all that much. It doesn’t matter. I want to protect that person. Because I know what being bullied can do to someone. I live with what being bullied can do to someone every single day of my life; odds are good I will for the rest of my life. Show me a bully, and you will see me go into full-on momma-bear protective mode.

I stood up. “I’m very glad she came. I’m not currently sexually active, but the information was helpful for when I will be. Thank you!” I said. The other kids in the class just gaped at me. The Planned Parenthood lady, on her way out, her things hastily gathered to her chest, gave me a teary, white-faced smile.

Voldemort came over to me, puffing like a bull in heat. “Excuse me?”

I just stared at him. He got very close. Right in my personal space. Which I was not comfortable with then and I am not comfortable with now. But I did not move.
One of the other girls in the class stood up. “I actually am sexually active, and I use Planned Parenthood, so I’m glad they’re around. They’re a good resource.”

Voldemort’s head snapped around to her.

Another girl stood. “I’m not sexually active, but my boyfriend and I are planning on becoming so, so I’m glad she was here. I’ll call you for more information, ok?” she said to the Planned Parenthood lady, who had a very small smile on her face at this point. Voldemort turned to her and she beat a hasty retreat up the stairs.

I felt like Amy Madigan at the PTA meeting in Field of Dreams.

“All of you, sit down,” he hissed. “I won’t stand for outbursts in my class. If you can’t control yourselves, you can leave.”

The other two girls sat. One had a mother who volunteered at the church, so I suppose she didn’t want to make waves. The other didn’t care much; I don’t think it mattered to her either way. Me? Stubborn. And I really, really hate bullies. Did I mention that? It bears repeating.

“You,” he said. The patronizing voice was gone. Voldemort was speaking parseltongue now. All hissing gliding vowel tones. This was the real Voldemort, I thought. Interesting it took this for him to show his face. “Get out. You’re not welcome here. This is your last churchschool class. And we’ll be calling your parents.”

I thought about it, for a minute. On one hand, someone was telling me to go, and I don’t like being told what to do. Part of me wanted to plop right back down and start singing “I Will Not Be Moved.” But on the other hand – I hated churchschool. I had just been kicked out of the place I hated going almost most of all. It was like I had pulled a long con that had finally paid off. How stupid would it be to go back into the lion’s den when you’d finally been freed?

Also, Voldemort was scaring me a little. Like, “I’m just about to take off my man-mask and show the monster-face that has been lurking just beneath the whole time” scary.

I walked out of there with my head held high. I waved at Planned Parenthood lady in the parking lot as I drove off. I felt like I had an early release from prison.

My parents were not pleased about this. Voldemort hadn’t even called them himself. He’d immediately called one of his church minion ladies – there were a bunch of them, who hung on his every word like he was a vending machine spitting out free little bags of M&Ms – call them, so that when I got home, they already had the news. My mother told me she’d talk to him, smooth things over, get me back in. Oh, also he lied, and told them I had stood in front of the entire class and said I was having sex. Well, unless I was sneaking men into my room after midnight, via ladder, into my second-floor window, men who were somehow attracted to the fact that I was so shy as to seem mute, burdened with a crippling case of adolescent acne, and had a fancy 80’s era perm – my parents knew that wasn’t true. I wasn’t dating. I never went out. I stayed home and read and wrote and studied and sometimes I had a play. Whoo, backfire, Voldemort. My complete and total lack of potential suitors defeats your lies!

I’d gone to churchschool for twelve years at this point. I went to mass whenever required; I behaved myself (well, except for my out-of-control mouth, of course); I made all As; I was a pretty decent kid, altogether.

I refused to go back to churchschool. My parents tried to convince me, via bribery, vague threats, punishments, cries of “duty.” I refused. I would not be moved.

I never trusted Voldemort again. I won’t go into detail – it will make it much too easy for people to identify him – but, years later, things came out (no, not those type of things; as far as I know, he didn’t become a stereotype) where I was proven right. He was not a good person. He did some really, really awful things. Not the kind of things that get you kicked out as a priest, but the kind of things where I would most certainly not want to be in his shoes come judgment day. I tried not to say “I told you so” too loudly when this happened. But I say everything loudly, once I found my voice, finally, so it probably came out as a roar.

I never got suspended from school, but I got officially kicked out of churchschool. Yep. Total and complete badass.


You Know I Like Snack Pack, Why Can’t You Just Give Me a Snack Pack?

I am an extremely stubborn person. I’ve mentioned this before. I tend to make snap judgments, which are usually  correct (in my humble estimation), and it takes a lot to change my mind. I’m not completely rigid – if I’m proven wrong, I admit, loudly and vociferously (as, let’s face it, I do most things in my life – “quiet” is not a word that will ever be used to describe me, unless we were somehow switched into bizarro world without my knowledge) but I do tend to stick to something, once my mind has been made up.

It’s not the most attractive trait. I realize that. It’s made me miss events because I refuse to be in the same room as someone who I believe has slighted me; it’s made me miss out on years of friendship with otherwise lovely people because I made a judgment about them and refused to change it (or accept their apology) until the evidence of their awesomeness slapped me upside the head; it’s made me pout for hours (or longer) over things that were, let’s face it, probably in my own head. However, it also makes me an awesome friend. I am loyal to a fault, once I accept you. The same mental issues that make me stubbornly refuse to forgive also make me stubbornly back my friends, no matter the situation. I am their staunchest supporter, even when the thing they’re doing might not be the smartest idea.

I also can’t keep quiet. As I’m sure anyone reading this on a regular basis has noted, I suffer from extreme loquaciousness. This isn’t just in writing, folks. I talk. A lot. And I’m really, really loud. I don’t have an inside voice. I remember getting in time out as far back as kindergarten for talking too much. I have all of these excellent thoughts! And they are in my head! And they want to come out and play with your thoughts! Right now! And loudly! (This is a family trait. At a family reunion, the decibel level is probably high enough that you’d want to bring your earplugs. We are not a quiet folk. Our family crest would be a man shouting and a bunch of other people covering their ears.) So when I have an opinion about something, even when I know it’s an unpopular one, I usually voice it. Loudly. This has not always made me the most popular girl at the party. Especially since I have the rare talent of always talking about someone just as they enter a room. Oh! Hi! Awkward!

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned how better to deal with this. I can stay quieter, if I know I absolutely need to (I don’t like to, though. I am a volcano! Of words and thoughts! Erupting!) I try very hard to weigh first impressions with the actual cold, hard facts about someone. I try to be a little more flexible, because I know, as an adult, you have to be. There’s not a lot of room in the world for people who run on nothing but first impressions and stick out their jaw and refuse to budge, no matter what. There’s a word for that, you know. It’s jackass.

When I was younger, though, I wasn’t as skilled at it. At all, actually. To an embarrassing extent.

My parents raised me Catholic, so I attended churchschool. Once a year, we had an all-day churchschool event, where we’d go to the community center and do religion-based activities. Our priest – one of the absolute best people I’ve ever met in my life, and I don’t really like anybody (sorry, anybody) – ran these days. He was young and full of ideals and believed in letting each of his students shine – which is where he and I butted heads a bit.

Before I begin, I just want to be very clear. I no longer attend church, but have nothing against the Catholic church, Catholicism, members of the clergy, the Catholic faith, or Christians as a whole. It wasn’t for me. I have my reasons; they aren’t anyone else’s reasons, and I do not hold them against the church. This is not meant, and should not be taken, as an indictment of Catholicism, and if you take it as such, you are taking it incorrectly and kind of being a dick (or dick-ette; I don’t mean to be sexist.) It is an event that happened in churchschool; it could just as easily have happened in a secular environment. I don’t need hate mail because I’m blasting the church, because I am not.

I hated churchschool. Somehow, all of the popular kids from my school – the ones who were bound and determined to make my life a living hell each and every weekday – were also members of my church. So not only did I have to spend the day with them, I had to spend the day with them away from my small support system of like-minded individuals, who were my protective smokescreen at school, as they did not attend my church. It was like being thrown to the wolves every time I had to attend. And the priest, who was the sweetest, kindest man alive, and only saw the good in people, just did not get this. He saw me retreating into myself and this made him even more intent on making me show how intelligent and funny he thought I was. He’d have me talk in front of them, lead groups, anything to bring me into the spotlight. I wanted nothing less than this.

One year, the entire day had been going badly. We had to do a trust fall, where the popular kids refused to touch me, so I would have fallen if I hadn’t gotten wise and caught myself at the last minute (hmm, wonder why I don’t want to do those at work retreats nowadays? Can’t imagine. Also? These are never a good idea, people who plan work retreats. Stop doing them!); there were a lot of muffled “geek!” and “nerd!” and what-have-you whenever I walked by; just the usual harassment, only in a much smaller space, with no escape route. Then, lunch.

We all sat and one of the priest’s assistants handed out folded pieces of paper. “We’re going to be playing a game with lunch,” the priest explained. His assistants started unpacking sub fixings – rolls, veggies, meat, cheese, condiments, chips, soda. It was later than my normal lunch and I was hungry and ready to get on with things; the quicker we got this over with, the quicker we could move on to the next fun activity (note: the next activity would not be fun) and the quicker I could get the hell home and go back to the relative obscurity of school the next day.

“On your paper is a color. You’ve each been randomly assigned a color: white, red, yellow, green and black. Please look at your paper now.” We did. I had black. Fine. I was feeling gothy anyway. (This was pre-goth, but in retrospect, if it had been in goth years, I would most definitely have been one.) “The colors represent the classes of people in the world. When I call your color, come up and get your envelopes.”

So it went like this: the people with the white papers got envelopes with “free passes” inside. Everyone else got toy money. The toy money diminished as you went down the line, color-wise. You had to “purchase” your lunch with the toy money. The white group could go first (they represented the privileged elite) and they could eat whatever they wanted. The red group went next – they had enough money to buy almost anything they wanted without having to sacrifice much. So on down the line, with each group having less and less play money, until you got to the black group – and we had about $10 total toy dollars to buy our lunch with. This was to teach us a lesson about injustice in life, the have and have-nots, race relations, what have you. It wasn’t a bad lesson, in theory.

At that point, there wasn’t much food left. Every other group had already eaten. And the prices were crazy. We put our heads together (well, they did – I wasn’t really part of the decision-making process), and decided that, with the $10, we could buy some lettuce, half a roll, and a cup of soda for the five of us.

OK, I mentioned above I am stubborn, right? I also hate injustice. Hate it. And I hate games, and I hate surprises, and I hate working as a team, and I hate being promised something and not getting it, and I hated that the goddamn popular kids, who had been tormenting me all day, were eating their frigging subs and laughing and having a gay old time, and I was starving and I was pissed. Righteously, royally pissed.

“Nope,” I said.

I left the food line and sat at an empty table, shaking with anger (and hunger, a little) at this stupid game. One of the team members came over (one of those nicey-nice “let’s all be friends, even with the unfortunates! Especially them! They are most deserving of our pity! That’s how we get to heaven!” people – save me from them, please) and asked if I was going to share in their delicious lunch.

“Your delicious lunch is lettuce, half a roll, and a cup of soda. For five people. No. You can have my share,” I said. I sat there, furious. We weren’t even allowed to bring books to read; we were supposed to socialize. I don’t socialize. I don’t do it now; I didn’t then. If I’d been old enough, I would have walked out and driven off.

The priest came over. “Amy, you’re not sitting with your group! They’ve got some lettuce, and bread, and soda, there’s plenty!” he said. Now listen, I loved this man. Being rude to him was painful. I was (and honestly? Kind of still am) sure he had a direct line to God himself. But I’d had it.

“I don’t beg,” I said. “I have food at home. My parents provide me with plenty to eat. I will eat when I get home. If you weren’t going to provide people with lunch, that should have been made clear.”

He stopped and looked at me, very seriously. “Amy, everyone’s participating in this.”

“No,” I said. “I won’t.”

The assistants, now that everyone was eating, suddenly brought out two more trays of food. The priest stood. “Good job on the lesson, everyone! Let’s all take more food – plenty for everyone – and talk about what we learned!” He looked at me, smiling, bright eyed, very eager to please. He really was just a good person. I don’t know, have you ever met someone like this? Who is just good? Someone who hasn’t got a bad bone in their entire body? It’s almost supernatural, in a way. He radiated goodness. I’m pretty sure, if he had started a cult, half of the town would have followed him. I still love him with every fiber of my being. But he hadn’t thought this through, not in my opinion, because IT WASN’T FAIR. “Amy? Come on. There’s plenty.”

Stubborn. I am one stubborn woman; I was even worse as a girl.

“No, thank you. I don’t want your food,” I said.

I refused to get up. I refused to participate. I refused to join in the discussion. I sat there, stewing in my righteous anger, and for the rest of the day, would not move. I was not having any part of this. Someone brought me a plate of secondary pity food; it sat there, untouched. The kids sat around another table and talked about teamwork and what a great lesson and how unfair injustice was and how much they’d learned and I was, for the moment, forgotten – the only positive thing to happen that day. I knew this would be trouble. I knew he would report my insubordination to my parents. I knew they would be furious; I’d made it clear, going into the day, that I didn’t want to come, and they’d forced me to, and now I was embarrassing them by not behaving. But I’d made my decision. I was not having it. None of it. I had reached my overflow point and would not be taking on any more of this bullshit, not today.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I was being kind of a twat. I was. I totally was. I can see that. Thing is, how my stubbornness works, is that I cannot physically make myself move. Even if I’d wanted to, I was sitting there until we were released. I was furious to the point of tears. I wasn’t going to cry in front of the kids that had been bullying me for years and all day besides, and I wasn’t able to join in, even if I wanted to, because that would be giving up. And I don’t give up. It’s to my detriment, as I’ve said, sometimes, but I dig in my heels like an ass and I won’t move.

I went home that night and although I wasn’t going to tell my parents what had happened, the good girl in me spilled it all. I don’t remember their reaction, so it couldn’t have been all that bad. I’m sure they weren’t pleased, but they knew me well enough not to be all that surprised, I think. This wasn’t the first time I’d done something like this. (It wouldn’t be the last, either. A few years later, I got myself permanently banned from churchschool. Different priest, completely different scenario, but I was kicked out and told I was not welcome to come back. I know. I’m the badass who was KICKED OUT OF CHURCHSCHOOL. I’ll tell you about it sometime.)

The following Sunday in church, the priest gave his sermon. He talked about this and that, then started talking about the all-day class he’d held that week. He explained the lesson he’d done with the food. “Oh, crap,” I thought. My mother started looking at me sternly.

“One student refused to participate. At first, I was angry with her. I had planned the lesson very thoroughly, and her refusal was hurtful and personal to me. Until I went home and thought about it and realized it was that student who taught me a lesson. She was participating – and following in the footsteps of some of our most famous protesters. She was practicing nonviolent resistance. She was refusing to participate. By refusing to participate, her share of food went to everyone else in her group. She was following in the footsteps of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Her refusal to participate in the injustice going on around her was just as valid a reaction to it as the reaction of the students who joined together to pool their money so everyone could eat. I’m very proud of her today.”

He didn’t say my name – thank you for that, Father – but I just sat there, face flaming, sure everyone around me knew there really was only one churchschool age student known for her outrageous, and sometimes downright rude, behavior.

So I not only had a temper tantrum, but the priest, the very, very nice priest, had thought it over and turned it into me doing him a favor. I felt about three inches high.

I spoke to my mother about this event today and told her I was blogging about it. She just laughed. “Oh, no,” she said. “I remember that. You were so angry.”

And stubborn. Stubborn beyond all that was rational. If you promise me a sandwich, dammit – there had better be a sandwich. I’m fairly sure this is how most revolutions were begun, right? So really, I was ahead of my time. (Or just a stubborn, cranky girl who loved subs. Either way.)

(On a sad note, and not to be the buzzkill in the room or anything, but this lovely priest passed away recently, at a fairly young age. My mom said she thought he’d enjoy reading this. I’d like to think that, wherever he is – and my beliefs on an afterlife really aren’t appropriate here, or anywhere but in my own heart, thank you – he’s read it. And he knows how much I admired him, the entire time I knew him. There are very few true heroes in the world. Sometimes, you hear about one; once in a great while, you’re lucky enough to meet one, and have that person in your life for a time. I was one of the lucky ones. Thank you, Father.)


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