Thursday, February 18, 2010

And so it begins....

Lent. 47 days. First, let's get a handle on what we're dealing with...

If you couldn't guess from the title of this little online offering, I grew up and currently live in Baltimore, Maryland - Salty Balty. Maryland was the original catholic colony - apparently, the other immigrants from the mainland (read: Europe) weren't too keen on the whole papacy thing and as a result, weren't really picking Catholics first for their dodgeball teams if you catch my drift. Ahh, Henry. Thanks for that - you just had to go and marry Annie B, eh? So, as a result of this lovely land being the original safe-haven for those Catholics among us and considering that this is arguably the best state ever, many of us never left. There are sooo many Catholics in Baltimore! It's really overwhelming - to the point that when I was growing up, I didn't really realize that some people weren't. Seriously! It could have been the fact that I went to a parochial school but it also could have been that everyone around me really was catholic! There was even a board game that somehow surfaced around my house when I was about 7 years old called "Is the Pope Catholic?" and I couldn't wrap my head around the phrase or what it might mean. I thought the Pope was in charge of everything. Not just a religious head but that somehow the president answered to him and by definition so did everyone else in the world. So, like, was he Catholic? Did you have to be catholic to be in charge? What a shock, I'll tell you, last week when I found out the truth ;) Just kidding. But it did take me a while to get the irony of that phrase - and come to think of it, I wonder where that game went! What was the object? I should try and find that sometime... we'll see.

So, growing up, everyone seemed to be catholic. We all went to catholic schools and were taught the same consistent story about Lent - it was the "40 days" leading up to Easter Sunday. In actuality, it's more like 47 days. Why? They don't count SUNDAY! How ridiculous is that? The crazy thing is that I didn't figure it out until a few years ago. They also teach you in school that you make a sacrifice during Lent - something that you really love - to stop focusing on all the external things in life and concentrate on getting ready (spiritually) for Easter Sunday. So, many use this opportunity to give up something they shouldn't be partaking in anyway - excessive desserts, smoking, binge drinking, cursing in public - whatever. You get the point. So a few years ago, my grandmother told me that I really ought to give up something that isn't self-serving (translation: Don't use Lent as an excuse to eat/behave the way you should - that's not really a sacrifice. You should be doing that anyway.) That year, I gave up Diet Coke (ahhhhhh!) and twizzlers. If the combination sounds weird to you, you've obviously never used your twizzler as a straw in said Diet Coke. It's glorious. It's probably my favorite treat... like any given day, no matter if I'm not in the mood for something sweet (I'm more of a salty person), I'm in the mood for that!

This particular Lent - coming down the home stretch - I was in serious agony. Diet Coke was everywhere I went. All my friend wanted to go to the movies like every weekend and what was waiting for me there, TWIZZLERS! So I thought to myself that Easter was taking it's sweet ass time getting to Baltimore. I whipped out the calendar and counted 15 days. WHAT!? So I went to Easter Sunday, counted backwards, and .... what the f? 47 days. I presented this revelation to my grandmother - "Well, they don't count Sunday."

WHAT?! You knew?!!! Why not just tell the school children about the hidden week? So... 47 days it is.

This year, the trial is desserts (no, I know what you're thinking - "weren't you just pistol whipping everyone who gave up stuff they should eat less of anyway?" And yes, I was. But in this case, I mean Skinny Cow ice cream bars. If you haven't tried them, do! They're like 100 calories of deliciousness... the ice cream cones are lovely too... so you see, these things are more than workable into a reasonable diet. This is a sacrifice. I'm just including the other desserts so I don't abandon my beloved Skinny Cows for say... banana bread. Or chocolate chips. Or hell, chocolate milk!) and fast food. I happen to ADORE Chick-Fil-A's grilled chicken sandwich. I think I could eat it every day of the week for lunch (with a different sauce of course) and literally never get sick of it. Alright, the spicy chicken sammie is good, too. No Fast Food (which includes Dunkin Donuts delicious (and right on the way to my office) breakfast sandwiches...) and No Sweets. Hopefully, this will force me to be a little more conscious and prepared each day so I don't get tempted. We'll see.

But as Wednesday was Ash Wednesday (start of Lent) and as this is technically Friday early morning, I'm basically standing at the beginning of a long, long road. Things will look better in 30 days... or so I think. We'll see. Luckily - there are no weddings, not many birthdays, and no sports-centered parties in the next 45 days... or at least, none that I can remember right now. For the record, and for full disclosure, I'm not counting mixed drinks sweets. Jillian Michaels may but we're not at the Ranch. That said, I'm not going to down pina coladas to get my sugar fix - really, if what you want is just a handful of chocolate chips, we all know it's just not the same. No amount of grenadine or coconut milk will do it. And for the record, I count coconut as a sweet - despite the fact that it's a fruit or whatever. Basically, I'm establishing my own boundaries as I go. You know when you're cheating so I'm just not going to. There's a good saying in construction that applies to jobsite safety that I think is also pretty applicable to this situation: if it looks unsafe or you get a feeling it's not safe - it isn't. If it seems or looks like contraband or I get that feeling that it is, I'm going to run, not walk in the other direction. For now, it's 1 a.m. and at least it's time to go to bed. No more temptation for today!