Thursday, February 26, 2009

Words Can't Express What You Mean to Me

Even though it’s a weekday, Daughter is in my house. It’s an In-Service Day at school, which also can be pronounced “We’ve seen enough of your children, thank you.” She’s watching “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” which is exactly as you remember it, except MUCH LOUDER. I swear, I’ve gone in there and turned it down to the lowest volume setting and it’s still like living behind the amps at a Motley Crue concert in the office.

But that’s not what I’ve come to talk about. I have come to talk about self-denial. Last night, my neighbor Marina and I were chatting when, seemingly out of nowhere, she announced that she had given up sugar. I winced sympathetically, assuming this was some desire for self-improvement or self-abuse, but no. I had forgotten that yesterday was Lent and Marina has given up sugar for many, many days. Crud, Lent; I racked my brain for something to shun. It was nearly evening, so I had already eaten plenty of carbohydrates, sugar and caffeine.

[Yes, I went back to caffeine. Turns out the city frowns on people taking little naps at stoplights.]

I could have started late and given up one of those, but it seemed as if I would be cheating. And there was the part where if I don’t eat sugar, carbohydrates and caffeine, I might starve to death. Yes, I didn’t actually have to pick anything to give up, but yesterday I had used my slow-cooker and started pulling together tax paperwork. Giving up something for Lent seemed as if I would be pulling off the maturity hat-trick. I needed something I truly loved but, candidly, wasn’t half of my caloric intake. After a minute, I decided I was giving up doughnuts and caramel. The caramel would also mean no Dulce de Leche ice cream, no cajeta, no fleur de sel, nothing that gave me pleasure or can loosen a filling. The doughnut thing won’t bother me until I take Consort to the airport, because there’s a Krispy Kreme store right near the airport, but he’s been travelling a lot. Both seemed mildly uncomfortable, together forming a Lentian degree of denial.

Lulabelle -- Lupac as her rap fans know her-- has been living with another form of deprivation and unlike me she had no say in it. Thanks to her near-miss with dying in a blaze of glory, she’s now an indoor cat, and as far as she’s concerned this is like giving up caffeine, sugar and breathing. She stalks around the house, testing the integrity of windows and doors, resentment coming off her in waves. Mostly, she takes it out on the dog who, she’s irritated to notice, is always around. Pleased with her new omnipresence, the dog is constantly smiling at her, barking playfully at her, throwing his butt in the air and genially offering to play tag with her. Sure, slapping him brings a little light to her day, but not as much as getting outside, checking her trap lines and hanging with her homie.

As Puff Daddy had Biggie Smalls, Lupac has her second-in-command. A few months ago, I noticed that a tabby cat had taken to hanging around my front yard. Being as the tabby looked like Sydney Greenstreet in a fur jumpsuit, I knew that it belonged to someone so I didn’t automatically start trying to catch it and save it. This is good because this cat has spent every single day in my front yard for months and not only won’t let me get closer than eight feet, it sneers at me, which I didn’t think cat’s facial muscles could do. But, its upper lip curls a little bit, its eyes narrow in disgust; it can’t believe I’m still offending it by existing. Because it’s a constant presence in our lives, I decided to give it a name. Because we can’t get anywhere near it to determine things like gender, I’ve named it Victor/Victoria. As much as Victor/Victoria disdains me, Victor/Victoria and Lulabelle seem to truly like each other. The affection is feline, of course, which means it’s invisible to the naked eye. But when two cats cat sunbathe within a foot of each other and ignore one another for a whole afternoon, that’s friendship. Victor/Victoria would open for Lupac on tour and Lupac would produce Victor/Victoria’s debut CD.

And now Lupac is inside, and Victor/Victoria is sneering, but also whining. Even now, over the sound of Boris and Natasha plotting some dastardly deed, I can hear Victor/Victoria outside in the yard, complaining. I’ve thought about going out and indicating that some of us are living without caramel and doughnuts and don’t see us rolling around in the front yard shouting, but it’s only day one of Lent. By next week, Victor/Victoria and I will get over our West Coast/East Coast, Cat/Human rivalry and will be doing a duet of “I’ll Be Missing You” to our lost loves.

12 Comments:

Blogger Leta said...

As a teen-ager, I gave up bread for Lent, which was sort of prophetic. One year I gave up tea but that was banned thereafter by my housemates. After that I gave up meat for many Lents running. But after the Celiac diagnosis, it's pretty much like a permanent Lent in my life, so I don't give up anything any more.

Good luck with the caramel!

10:50 AM  
Blogger karen.arenson said...

Being Jewish has its privledges. Yea, we have to fast for one full day, but we don't have to pick our favorite thing and give it up for days on end. I LOVE your blog by the way.

11:03 AM  
Blogger bethany actually said...

You know, instead of giving up something for Lent, you could always choose to do extra of something good, like giving more money to charity or spending time volunteering at the library or your church or your daughter's school! Or you can just fast for one meal a week and give an equivalent amount of food to a food bank...there are many ways to partake in Lenten discipline.

Good luck with the caramel & doughnuts, though! I like how specific that is. ;-)

12:54 PM  
Blogger Char said...

I like the specificity rather than a broad category. I've given up sodas. The ongoing saga of Lupac is a song in my heart as I laugh.

1:59 PM  
Blogger OHN said...

One year I asked my mother if I could give up peas. I hated peas. She shocked me by saying sure..then followed up with the "fact" that chocolate was made from peas.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Quinn. Love the blog. This is tiny, but I thought you were homeschooling Daughter? When did she rejoin the ranks?

4:06 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

I keep telling my catholic friends to give up peanut butter for lent. I mean nobody is brave enough to eat it anyhow, and most people (not me) love the stuff so it LOOKS like a really big sacrifice. heh. But then I'm Jewish. What do I know?

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still haven't decided what I'm giving up. I should give up my chai lattes, but no one in my life would want that. I'm thinking of giving up candy, cakes, cookies, etc. Even though I'm a long-time practicing Catholic, I just found out that Sundays are not included (otherwise, it's more than 40 days). Also, a lot of bishops give dispensation for St. Patrick's Day; I guess that's for people who give up beer for Lent.

6:38 AM  
Blogger priscilla said...

Just hearing you say you are giving up caramel and donuts makes me want caramel and donuts.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I gave up soda for Lent. I'm only addicted to the fizz anyway but it's still difficult. For years I gave up chocolate which was hard because my birthday is in the third week of March. It's a little difficult to not eat your birthday cake but it's a small sacrifice for what Jesus did for us.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One year my husband gave up coffee for Lent. He likes very strong coffee and has several cups a day. I was amazed he didn't have withdrawal symptoms like bad headaches. One year I gave up meat for Lent and that started me on a vegetarian lifestyle for several years. I'd find it hard now to give up chocolate. Good luck with resisting caramel and donuts!

8:53 PM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

Quinn, can you make an outdoor run for Lula? A porch extension, or even a large wired area outside so she can at least feel the grass under her feet (eat it, and then throw it up) and curse at the birds over head?

8:24 AM  

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