Unsurprisingly, I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school up until college. I was a candle bearer and an altar server, though not a particularly good one. I did all of the necessary sacraments. I remember Reconciliation and the awkwardness and fear of confessing childhood sins (fighting with my brother, stealing candy, fighting with my brother, talking back, fighting with my brother) to a priest for the first time, carefully picking and choosing what to admit because I was, as most Catholic eight-year-olds are, deathly afraid of going to Hell. I remember the Eucharist and feeling special when Sister Elizabeth pulled a few of us our of the classroom to try the bread for the first time — repeatedly emphasizing that it was not yet blessed, not yet Jesus' body — so we wouldn't recoil at the taste during the ceremony. (For some unknown reason, I love communion wafers even though I don't love bread; for reasons that would become clearer in college, I also loved the (long) sip of (boxed) wine that accompanied it.) Communion was great because I was finally doing something before my older brother (he later had a combined Communion/Confirmation ceremony during Easter Sunday Mass, which was approximately 18 hours long and is where that picture of me looking miserable on the home page came from) and I got to be part of the marching procession of adults. Once, I tried to sneak a wafer back to my seat to give to my brother, so he could try it as I had done, but Sister Yvette saw, hissed and angrily motioned at me from the front pew, forcing me to gobble it down quickly and making her my #1 enemy for the remainder of my Sunday School years. When I made my confirmation I, in a move I'm still proud of today, chose Joan of Arc for my Saint name. It was a no-brainer: Joan of Arc was strong, short-tempered, and a little bit crazy, as I liked to believe that I was; she was a soldier, like both of my parents and like I thought I would eventually become; she wore men's clothes, as I did, particularly military garb, as I also did, and was punished for it; she was born a peasant and her village burned down, an event I thought about as I stood on the sidewalk and watched my neighbors' houses burn down when I was a child; and she was dead by age nineteen, and I thought that I would be, too. Most importantly though, Joan of Arc: The Messenger was released that year and I've always been motivated entirely by film and television.
So, I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school up until college which means that I no longer consider myself Catholic. That's sort of how it goes for a lot of people. Religion classes and meticulously studying the bible expose you to the hypocrisy of religion, the unfairness and rash judgments, the not-so-secret classism and racism. Religion classes in Junior High/High School are doubly frustrating: You're taught that God will be angry — no, ahem, disappointed — at you for everything from handing in your homework late to kissing another girl. That's how a lot of Catholic teachers try to keep you in line. They instill the fear of God in you rather than the fear of detention (though I got plenty of both) in order to make you hand in book reports, get to class on time, and wear longer skirts. Murder is a terrible sin that will send you to hell but so is being late for gym class. Of course, there are a whole slew of reasons why I'm no longer on the God train (ranging from my wonderful Grandmother to discovering alcohol and The Hold Steady to loving Ouija boards) but most are long and convoluted and uncomfortably personal.
Still, still, I fall into Catholic routines and thoughts. I don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent (pizza days!). I give up something pleasurable for 40 days. I catch myself being a "just in case" Catholic when things are really rough, absently thinking "I don't buy this whole religion thing but hey God, if you are real, can you fix this please?" I will occasionally pull out an "Our Father" for no real reason, maybe just to cover my bases. I am moving in with my partner and still a little worried about living in sin. When I had my first (second?) surgery, I was asked for my religion and responded agnostic before going into a full internal guilty panic, convincing myself I was going to die on the table for denying God. I still keep a rosary and a Holy Bible in my bedroom. I couldn't really explain why. Maybe it's just lingering Catholic guilt, or Catholic PTSD — Vietnam-esque flashbacks to unflattering plaid skirts and the Stations of the Cross and getting pinched for squirming during Sunday Mass — the absolute worst place to take a child with severe ADHD, by the way. Or maybe it's just because I really, really love Jesus Christ Superstar.
The point is: I gave up caffeine for Lent this year and it's been fine except I crave sugar so much I've started drinking Gatorade and eating sugar packets. I've discovered that I can still write without Red Bull, I just have to finish it quickly before I crash out around 10 PM. I didn't write too much in February besides recaps for Vulture, NYT, and The A.V. Club, which is OK, because February is always a very tiring month and I deserve to lounge on my couch for a while, being sick and sleepy and lazy. I made my rent, I paid my bills, I put down a healthy amount of money on a new apartment around the corner from where I am now, and that's all I needed to do. Here are things, though:
- I watched all of Love in a weekend, a series that I found mostly frustrating with a few moments of promise, but I wrote about the attractiveness gap that exists on television AKA the "hot wife/ugly husband" trope that won't die
- Black-ish did an excellent episode about police brutality last week and I got to step in and review it for The A.V. Club
- Superstore is a really great new sitcom on NBC and I covered the season finale
- And, a little thing about one of my favorite It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes: "The Nightman Cometh"