There was an error in this gadget

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oprah, Catholicism, Austria, Canned Tuna, Expiration Dates and Pee-Wee Herman

Oprah, Catholicism, Austria, Canned Tuna, Expiration Dates and Pee-Wee Herman.
Day 2 of Lent 2011! Woohoo!
These elements and how they fit together, at least in my mind.

Part of my resistance to Lent is that well, it's a total downer. Really. In addition to not wanting to be pushed to do something I should be doing like writing, I also kind of don't like the overall oeuvre of Lent. Yes, it signals the return of the filet o' fish and its like-reconstituted seafood fast food brethren, which in turn means there's a shamrock shake somewhere in there too, just by way of fast food calendar, but other than marking the passage of such "for a limited time" times, Lent is also when church gets real moany-like musically. You lose all the upbeat joy to the world of the Christmas season, and you've just settled into the good vibrations tunes of ordinary time when BANG!, the pre-dirges, the dirges, the reminders of just how sinful you are come out in every minor key known to man (and, if sung reverently, one presumes higher powers).

Lent. It's when you decide to give up cookies and the Girl Scouts are friggin' EVERYWHERE reminding you you've made the dumbest decision ever in self-denial. It's when every time you congratulate yourself for being able to abstain from a box of Thin Mints and instead eat an entire tub of ice cream as a reward for your asceticism you end up hanging out with someone who has given up swearing or caffeine or alcohol or dairy products or television or naps or all of the above. Something that just seems really above and beyond the call of duty. I mean, several of my family members gave up cheese one year. CHEESE. Come on. I do not believe God wants that. I just don't. Not the God I'm familiar with, a God who had the omnipotence to make a moldy cheese like bleu superior to so many other cheeses! I mean, that's a no-nonsense, no waste kind of God if even the funky stuff is good eatin'!

There are people in the world who think climbing K2 would be a really great challenge and SO worth the experience just to say they'd done it. Then there are those of us who think that just sounds like a terrible idea and about one of the least exciting ways to end up short of breath. The extreme self-denial inspired by Lent in some cases puts me in mind of the mountain climbers. And don't even get me started on people who use Lent as a diet plan.

So, speaking of climb every mountain, that's where Austria and Oprah come in. The Sound of Music made "My Favorite Things" a household tune, universally known for sharing a message of can-do optimism and comfort that puts everyone in mind of the Austrian pajama party we all wanted to be a part of. And if you actually think of the words, they are lovely images and favorite things. Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudel. Yes! Those are nice thoughts! Pleasing for the mind to conjure. And lyrically pleasant as all hell! Poetry. All that "C" and "P" and then ending with "llll" on "apple" and "strudel." Yes. I like it. And when Julie Andrews sings it, YES. I love it.

Oprah took "favorite things" and consistently produced episodes of television with crowd shots of Americans losing their minds over material goods in a manner akin to evangelical healing. Yes, I too would be excited if Oprah gave me an iPad. But more so if Julie Andrews told me how to look as great in a signature haircut all my own. Though I'm no Oprah, I do think that maybe co-opting my favorite things for use during Lent might be a good idea for the moments when the dog bites, but inspiration does not. Also, in thinking about my favorite things and reflecting on the things that make me very happy (see yesterday: FRIENDS), maybe I'll be less inclined to ramble on about my own life and the imperfections and neuroses that dance across my mind like a traditional Austrian folkdance. (Please be aware that is not a promise. Just a mild goal. The hills are alive. The mountains are still pretty steep).

SO! The Sound of Music is one of my favorite things. Fact. Hard.
And while Lent is not, and well, it's not really designed to be a happy time as I understand it, but more one for super reflection and maybe some self-sacrifice, I think I can make it a bit more useful if I embrace it as a time of contemplative appreciation. Like that which I experience while eating cheese.

Let's see, is that everything? No.
Canned Tuna and Expiration Dates - the Lenten forced meat denial brings out the carnivore in me like Lymon brings out the Sprite in me. It was day ONE yesterday of being a day you're not supposed to go to Shorty's Rib Shack, and suddenly nothing was of culinary interest to me that did not involve meat. Never mind the canned tuna just sitting patiently on the shelf, ready for duty. And the expiration date on the eggs in the fridge seemed to be a bit too close to Groundhog Day for my comfort, so I felt myself hating on Lent and all its restrictions approximately 8.75 hours into Lent. So yeah, I still have some room for personal growth with the self-discipline/self-denial thing.

And finally, Pee Wee Herman was on Conan O'Brien's show last night, which was a strange pairing of someone I loved watching when i was 10 with someone I love watching now. The two together somehow merged my childhood t.v. with my adult t.v. in a way that was both amazing and vaguely off-putting. A show combo fit for the enterprising mind of Uncle Max.
Next year's folk festival? Maybe.
Or at least an appearance on Oprah.

So here's to climbing every mountain! Well, maybe not every mountain...

No comments:

Post a Comment