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Whole Day of No Obligation

In the Catholic Church, the calendar is full of Holy Days of Obligation – special occasion days on which the faithful are required to attend church.

I decided that the Firepants Family – or, at the very least, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants – needed a Whole Day of No Obligation.  Our summer has been a daily deluge of mandatory tasks, and I wanted one day before I return to work next Monday that requires nothing of me.

Yesterday was my day.  Our daughter, Dimples, was a willing participant – perfectly happy to lounge around all day reading two books I bought yesterday and playing on her iPad.  I slept late, finished off one of my library books, made hotdogs for lunch, read Oprah magazine, and took a nap.

I did write this blog post.  But I didn’t publish it.  Lately, I’ve been feeling obligated to post every day.  So, I had to liberate myself by not posting.  Which was very hard – because I’ve posted every single day since last August 2nd.  This means my day of No Obligation was not without some sacrifice – giving it a somewhat Catholic twist despite my attempts to the contrary.

I’m thinking of publishing a calendar with mandatory Whole Days of No Obligation embedded into each month.  But, I guess that being Obligated to spend a day of Not Being Obligated kind of defeats the purpose.

It would be a really cool calendar, though, with pictures of our dog, Wonderbutt, showing complete disregard for any kind of obligations with absolutely no sign of guilt whatsoever.

I’m pretty sure this dog is not Catholic.

I defy you, Obligations!

How the Heck Does Trapper Keeper Stay in Business?

So, what was on your school supply list when you were a kid?  Pencils, notebooks, the usual, right?  Yeah, me too.

I went to Catholic school, so getting clothes was a minor stage of the whole Back-to-School Shopping Blitz.  Because we had uniforms, the school supplies were where we could really show our personalities off.  But, the nuns got wise to this pretty quickly.  Our list of things we could NOT buy for school soon surpassed the quantity of things we were required to buy.

Erasermate Pens were one such item.  We weren’t allowed to write in pen.  But that was because you couldn’t erase it.  So, what was the rationale, I wonder, for banning the brand new invention of pens with erasable ink?  I’m pretty sure the Sistahs are the reason that remarkable innovation isn’t in the drawers of every office desk today.

Another way to get yourself detention at my school was to walk in with a Trapper Keeper.  Those amazing organizational tools were the bane of every teaching nun’s existence.  The Party Line was that the bulk of the darn things pretty much made it impossible for them to co-exist in the same desk as our massive textbooks.  But I think that Sister Mary Quite Contrary was more fearful of the far too many sinfully secular designs that appeared on the covers and each interchangeable piece.

It killed me not to get a Trapper Keeper.  Every year, I would wistfully pull one out of the display case, showing my mother The Dukes of Hazzard or the less controversial horse racing through a green field, and begging her to buy me one – pretending to be completely oblivious to the Trapper Keeper Commandment.

No sale.

Now, it’s 2012.  My daughter is 9.  She goes to public school.  We have spent 3 exhausting days looking for clothes and mandatory school supplies.  And even though she has a lot more freedom to make a statement with both her fashion and her various notebooks and writing utensils, she does not feel that is enough.

We have gone to three different stores looking for the perfect nail polish color for the first day of school.  Yesterday, I spent an hour in Sephora as she painted each nail on her hands a different color.  Oh, she knew which one she wanted by the fourth, but she needed to finish up the job once started, apparently.

Erasermate should invent some erasable nail polish pens.  Now, there’s a bestseller.

God, I wish there had been a Sephora around when I was a kid.  Those nuns would have had a lot less time to worry about Trapper Keepers…

Anyway, why, you may ask, did I allow my child to spend an hour decorating her digits, and to buy a $10 bottle of nail polish when that is not on any school supply list and she is not starring on a reality show?

Because, even now, 35 years later, I still have a little bit of Catholic School rebel in me.

And, even now, 35 years later, you still can’t bring Trapper Keepers to school.

2012-2013 School Supply List (PUBLIC SCHOOL!)

Holy Sith!

I am in deep Bantha Fodder.  Take a look at this photo of my recent referrers and tell me what you see.

O.K.  Besides the Edward Hotspur kitchen sex thing.  I have no idea what that’s about.  But thanks for the reference, Hotspur.  I think.

Anyway, notice anything related to, uh, potentially powerful people who, I don’t know – Control the FORCE?

Yep.  The Temple of the Jedi Order.

Dwang!

Notice that the link says, “Have you seen this?”  If you click on the link because you are somewhat curious and big-time paranoid, like I am, then you will find this:

Oh, Bantha Fodder!  I’m not even allowed to see it!  Kunena AND THE FORCE  do not give me access to this page.  I knew I should have actually joined the order instead of just casually entertaining the idea and BLOGGING ABOUT IT!  Now, they are talking about me in a secret forum.  What are they saying?  Are they laughing at my pitiful attempt at humor?  Or are they discussing how to dispose of me?

O.K.  Allow me to explain myself, Oh Mighty Wise Jedi Temple People.  I was not making fun of you.  I actually think that your Order makes a heckuva lot more sense than the “order” into which I was baptized – the Catholic Church.  I was, if you really read my post carefully, making fun of them, not you.*

Also, I want you to know that, really, only about 5 people read my blog per day.  So, I obviously have very little impact on the world, meaning that there is no need to be concerned about the effect of my measly musings.

I think you might be better served by taking a look at Edward Hotspur’s blog,  I mean, kitchen sex must violate one of the tenets of your order.  You should really talk to that guy about his attempts to weaken the force.

I guess it could be worse.  If Voldemort finds out about my Harry Potter Nativity scene, I don’t think my wand from Ollivander’s Wand Shop in Univeral Studios is going to do me a whole lot of good.

*Illuminati, if you are reading this, please move on.  This is not the blog you are looking for.

Gee, Mother Superior, I Wanna Go Home

A bunch of us moms (what is a bunch of moms called, anyway – a gaggle, a murder, a herd?) were talking about summer camp one night while the girls were at swim practice.  Because it’s never too early to plan for summer camp.  One of the moms, who has a daughter a year older than Dimples, 10, mentioned that her daughter is going to sleep-away camp for the first time this summer.  For 3 weeks.

I immediately flashed back to my first experience at sleep-away camp around that age.

My mother had convinced me to go with my best friend, who had been going for years.  For one week, I would have the best time of my life, she assured me, swimming in the lake, canoeing, and watching movies.

I was pumped.  I really couldn’t wait.  I eagerly labelled every item I owned, even if it wasn’t going with me for the week, and told all of my friends what I great time I would have.

The ride to camp seemed even longer due to my excited anticipation.  When we arrived at the camp, a facility run by Catholic nuns, I nearly threw myself out of the car.

My mother got me settled in to my cabin, signed all of the appropriate papers which, I’m sure, included one that promised me to a nunnery when I turned 18, and left.

As soon as my mother got in the car, a huge lump rose in my throat.

I turned to my best friend, so she could take my mind off of this sudden rush of homesickness.  She was gone.  After several years of attending camp, she had a circle of camp friends who were much more fun than I was.  She really wasn’t my best friend, anyway; our moms were best friends, and we were always stuck together.  Of course, I did not realize this until that moment.

I began to cry.  And cry.  I couldn’t stop crying.  Even when the very nice cabin nun tried to comfort me.  Even when we sat in the auditorium watching Ben Hur that night.

This is What Our Cabin Looked Like - Kind Of

Even when the girls told me about the man with the hook that had been seen the night before trying to break in to one of the cabins.

I cried for three days straight.  Finally the Head Mother Superior Nun Lady sat me down for a talk.

“Why do you keep crying?” she demanded.

“Because I want to go home!” I sobbed.

This flummoxed her.  She could not understand why the engaging activities at her camp would not instantly cure me of wanting to go home.

“How about if I promise to call your parents and ask them to pick you up on Friday instead of Saturday?”

I perked up.  This was the first sign anyone had shown of giving in to my hysterics.

“O.K.” I whined.  I stopped crying.

For two days, I refrained from crying.  Except in my cot at night.

On Friday, I woke up early, dressed, and packed my duffle bag.  I sat on my cot after breakfast, waiting for my parents.

Who never came.

The next day, when they finally arrived, I threw myself at them.  “Why didn’t you come yesterday?”

“What do you mean?”

Yes, you Smart Readers.  You anticipated what I surely should have realized myself.  According to my parents, no one had ever called them from the camp.

Now, I ask you – who would you believe, your own parents or Sister Mary Quite Contrary?

I never got to the bottom of this, but the long-term effect was that I now view both Catholics and parents with a critical eye.

And I will not be sending Dimples to summer camp.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/emiliano-iko/5460822061/”>i k o</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Just Don’t Bury MY Head in the Sand

courtesy of Aggie Catholics website

My brief mention of St. Francis of Assisi the other day reminded me of a funny story regarding saints, real estate, and MILlie.

A few years ago, we were trying to sell our house, and MILlie, an elderly friend of ours, mentioned to us that there was a saint who could help us with this.  She claimed that, if we buried the saint upside down in our yard, we would quickly get an offer on our house.

Even after it was clarified that we should probably bury a STATUE of the saint, instead of the actual saint, I was still skeptical.  I had grown up in the Catholic Church, and had never heard of this practice.  I can be a little irreverent sometimes, but this sounded downright sacrilegious.  Weren’t the saints treated badly enough when they were alive?

I consulted a few other upstanding Catholics, and some members of the real estate field, and they all confirmed MILlie’s claims.

A couple of weeks later, MILlie presented us with a statue of our very own to bury in the yard.  As luck would have it, we did not even have the chance to bury the statue before we got a bid on the house.

A couple of weeks later, a good friend of mine was desperate to sell her house.  Her husband had been transferred unexpectedly, and they had a short turnaround time before they needed to move.  I gave her the statue, and told her the story.

The next weekend, MILlie visited.  In her hand was a new statue, different saint.

“I gave you the wrong saint,” she said.  “You’re supposed to bury St. Joseph.”

“What saint did you give us?” I asked.

“Saint Anthony.”

“Well, what does he do?”

“I don’t know, but it’s St. Joseph you’re supposed to bury in the yard for an offer on your house.”

After we explained to MILlie that we already had a good offer on the house, she still convinced us to keep St. Joseph – “just in case.”

As soon as she left, I did a little research on the internet about Saint Anthony.  Then I called my friend.

“Uh, remember that statue I gave you to bury in the front yard?  Did you, uh, do that?”

“Yeah, why?  I figured we could use all the help we can get.”

“Hmm.  Well, uh, it’s the wrong saint.  Apparently, you’re supposed to bury St. Joseph, not St. Anthony.”

“O.K.  So, you gave me St. Anthony?  What does he do?”

I mumbled my response.

“What?  I don’t think I heard you right.”

“Well, it’s an honest mistake.  People also bury him in the front yard.  But you probably don’t need to do that.  He’s the ‘matchmaking saint’.”

“Huh?”

“O.K.  Well.  You bury him in the front yard if you’re trying to find a husband.”

Silence.  Did I mention my friend wasn’t exactly thrilled about this sudden transfer her husband had gotten?

“I think I might just leave St. Anthony there for awhile,” she finally said.

I hung up, hoping that I wasn’t going to be held responsible for any unintended consequences of a case of mistaken saint identity.

I’m pretty sure that’s not at the top of my List of Transgressions, though.

They are Having More Fun

“Oh Tigger, where are your manners?”

“I don’t know, but I bet they’re having more fun than I am.” 

A.A. Milne

In my daily quest to increase my chances of being struck by lightning by doing things like replacing our nativity scene with Harry Potter’s Hogwarts castle, I have worked diligently on eroding the “good points” I may have obtained from years of attending Catholic school.  As part of this on-going program, I have become a little lax in the church attending department.

I won’t give you all of the standard excuses because I used to be pretty critical of the twice-a-year church attendees – and now I have become one of them.  I must say, though, that my world got a little rocked when I attended a Catholic funeral yesterday.  While I was gone – since April- they went and changed the words on me.

What’s truly embarrassing is that I can sing the words to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” but I was fumbling through a recitation I’ve done hundreds of times before I even got five minutes into it.

If you are Catholic, and have been attending Mass regularly, then you obviously know what I’m talking about.  If you are Catholic and haven’t been since Easter, let me tell what to expect on Christmas day so you don’t make a fool out of yourself like I did.  And, if you are not Catholic, allow me to explain by saying, up until now (and I am 43 years old), the Mass has been something one could, conceivably, attend on auto-pilot.  Now, apparently, everyone needs to be in the cock-pit.

At least until we learn where the new buttons are for flying this thing.

If they had changed the whole darn thing, it probably would have been easier.  But they lull you into that sense of security, the predictable responses that we’ve always chanted back to the priest for all of our lives – and then they throw in what appears to be an unnecessary change.

For example, the priest used to say, “The Lord be with you,” and we would respond, quite logically, “and also with you.”  Now we are supposed to say, “and with your spirit.”

I’m trying not to be all cranky about it, like the lady in the Huffington Post, who said, “It’s ridiculous. I’ve been a Catholic for 50 years, and why would they make such stupid changes? They’re word changes. They’re semantics,” she said.

I almost could agree with her, now that I have spent an entire funeral mass loudly saying the wrong words as I stood next to a staunch every-Sunday Catholic.  But the Huffington Post lady lost me when she went on to say, “It’s confusion. All it’s doing is causing confusion,” she said. “You want to go to church and be confused?”

Lady, that’s all I’ve ever been in church – confused.  It started when I was a kid and thought God rang the bells right before the Communion, only to disappointingly observe one of the altar boys doing it one day, continued all of the way through my mother marrying a priest to the present day when I am trying to figure out how I can explain to my daughter that God will only forgive us if we regretfully confess, but we are supposed to forgive everyone – whether they are sorry or not – essentially implying that we must be more forgiving than God.  So I don’t think confusion has ever stopped the Catholic church from doing something.  That argument isn’t going to take you very far.

Plus, I kind of don’t want to go to church anyway.  And it’s not because I feel like an idiot  when I say the wrong thing.

What I would like to do – some day when I have nothing else to do and I’m feeling brazen – is to go to Mass and start chanting something completely different the whole entire time.  Like the text of Winnie-the-Pooh.  It would be even better if I could plant several co-conspirators throughout the congregation to do it all together.  Before I do that, though, I need to get my funeral all planned.  Because I’m pretty sure deliberately sabotaging the words to a Catholic mass is lightning strike-worthy even if nothing else I’ve done qualifies.

thanks to coconut wireless on Flickr

Mafia Nuns Could Totally Rule the World

I am convinced that the power of suggestion has much more strength than actual demonstrations of brute force.

When I was a kid, I could not understand terrorism.  It made absolutely no sense to me.  Why would someone do something considered to be particularly heinous by the majority of humankind, and then send a letter actually claiming responsibility?  And, secondly, if they had admitted to it, why weren’t these people thrown in prison immediately?  No one explained to me that terrorists like the Symbionese Liberation Army didn’t sit around at registered addresses watching The Love Boat and waiting for the police to politely escort them to a cell in the local jail.

In elementary school, you learn that it’s wise to stay out of trouble.  Especially when you go to a Catholic school with nuns wielding rulers that never seem to be used for measuring.  You do your best to walk the straight and narrow, and if, for some inexplicable reason, you commit one of the Deadly Sins (which was a much longer list according to the nuns than the Vatican version), then you make darn sure that you never admit to it.

Mind you, I never once saw a nun use one of those rulers, and none of my troublemaking friends ever actually reported getting paddled when sent to the Principal’s Office.   But the rumors were prevalent.

However, every time I happened to overhear a news report about a plane being hijacked or hostages being taken, my understanding of human behavior based on my observations at school seemed to become less reliable.

“No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing.”

“Well, of course they haven’t,” I would think to myself.  Geez.  Is that all you need to do to be a news anchor – state the obvious?  Let’s think about this.  If Mother Superior could paddle you for cheating on a spelling test, what horrible consequences would be inflicted on someone who admitted to planting a bomb in a marketplace?

Then the next day, someone would “claim responsibility,” and I would be completely perplexed.  Why would they do that?  Especially if they weren’t Catholic and didn’t believe in confession?  What was the point?  You don’t brag about committing crimes (unless it was to a priest), because then you get caught.  Not that I ever committed crimes – or broke any rules for that matter.  But I did, according to my mother, have some Mafia relatives dangling off of a distant branch of the family tree.  And the Mafia has a whole different approach to advertising its misconduct, if you know what I mean.

Now that terrorism seems even more prevalent – or I just listen to more news – I get the point of the responsibility claims, but I understand human behavior even less.  Why do terrorists think they are going to get what they want by making people hate them even more?

Comedian Jeff Dunham’s puppet, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, pretty much sums up the effectiveness of this strategy:

“I can’t wait to see Santa Claus. I sit on his knee, I tell him what I want, then I blow him up!”

And so, I submit to you that a group of women dressed like penguins and about as brutal as Oprah, might have known a little bit more about getting people to behave the way you want.  Of course, you might argue that they were merely dealing with 5-10 year olds.  And my response would then be, “Have you tried to teach a class of 22 5-year olds lately?”  I think you’d rather negotiate with terrorists.

thanks to paddymccann on Flickr

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