Friday, December 27, 2013

Farewell to Legs

I'm constantly reinventing myself, which is why therapy is such a treat. The therapist asks me what kind of person I think I am, and I just sort of drool in response. I have no clue who I am. But that's neither here nor there--one day, several months ago, at anywhere between 2:00-4:00 AM (when I'm at my finest), I decided I was going to stop wearing skirts to church. So I got online and ordered four pairs of dress pants for a fairly reasonable price, considering.

Fast forward to yesterday morning when I planned to make a rare appearance at church (which, by the way, was cancelled, unbeknownst to me): I'm stumbling around in faint light, trying not to wake my husband (no success there either), and trying on said pants which have been languishing because I go to church so rarely. All four pairs didn't fit in diverse ways, and all were too stinking long for my stumpy legs. So now I'm fumbling around for a maxi skirt and making a bold decision:


Fear not, the pants will go to a thrift store where they will find new life not fitting someone else. I'll also keep my pair of ill-fitting jeans around for when I finally get around to painting the living room. But in the meantime, it'll be skirts and dresses. I even sleep in maxi skirts. Maybe I should get some pajamas, huh?

I feel overly formal in skirts, but that's the result of a lifetime of tomboyishness. For Jones Family Christmas this weekend, I'll be sporting the popular combination of black leggings and a below-the-knee black skirt. That seems less formal in my mind. But I do love to wear skirts: When we stand to pray, I tend to sway slightly so I feel the sensation of the fabric hitting the fronts of my shins and then the backs. I also found a blob of beeswax on the skirt I'm wearing now--if that's not an Orthodox skirt, I don't know what is!

This isn't really a post about the importance of femininity: Far from it. Yesterday's post on veiling was much more interesting. Mostly it's a gripe about how hard it is to find a pair of pants that fit, especially when you're fat. And perhaps it's about how I love to punish myself by reinventing. I used to not take any steps without some philosophical reason behind what I was doing, but being a grown-up (and 30 instead of 20 or 15) means that you just sometimes have to make practical decisions. In this case, the practical decision is to deal with one thing (waist size) instead of a billion (waist size, hip size, inseam, pockets or no, leg fit ... the list goes on).

Plus, my mom will be happy that I won't be lounging in sweatpants all day anymore.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Ah, an item of Orthodox intrigue!

I don't even know when I became an inquirer in the Orthodox Church, but I do know that I wore a headscarf for the first time on Christmas Day after landing in October. It was a scarf I'd had forever: A little white, plain kerchief with red rickrack. And that was the beginning of what has been a frustrating path for me.

I liked covering my hair in church so much that, when in Marfa, I really kicked it up. I discovered the headcovering techniques of Orthodox Jewish women and embraced covering all the time. It worked in Marfa, but when we went back to Denton, it just got weird.

Covering became a substitute for doing anything with my hair. Where I had once perceived this as holy (I don't do my hair, therefore I am not vain), it eventually turned into vanity (I don't want to do my hair, and this particular way of tying a scarf is cool-looking, therefore I am vain). I wore headscarves as a reminder that I should always be praying, but suddenly it took on the form of me feeling like I should pray with my head uncovered because wearing a scarf was now mundane. Like I said, it got weird. And bass-ackwards.

Recently I read with great interest the Catholic way of veiling. Veiling during Mass is seen as a sign of adoration towards the Blessed Sacrament. That, of course, is not how the Orthodox do things or even why they cover. The Orthodox believe that Communion is to be eaten, not venerated in special reliquaries (to quote a priest who put it quite bluntly--oh, I'm going to offend so many Catholics saying this--"We don't do cookie worship"). Headcovering has more to do with what St. Paul said about covering while praying (and prophesying, but I'm not doing much of that ... or any of that), but to me the Catholic reason added new depth.

I've constantly told myself, "Taking pride in yourself is bad! Vanity is bad!" but I'm starting to realize what's really bad. Staying in the house all day is bad. Wearing my pajamas all day and not even brushing my hair is bad. Letting my roots grow out so I have half-brown, half-black hair is bad. The laziness and lack of self-care that depression brings into my life is bad. Time to fight back. The wacky hours my body seems to naturally prefer makes being a normal person difficult (I am writing this at 4:30 in the morning, after all), but that's a small thing.

What's this got to do with headcovering?

I have decided to embrace Catholic veiling. This means thin, wispy, lacy veils instead of the sturdy headscarves I've grown accustomed to. But that means actually fussing with my hair in the morning and, in the end, not having it smooshed down and in bad need of repair. It also means bobby pins so I can bow and prostrate without losing my veil. I have several on order (one is positively magnificent) and a few in my possession already (eternity veils--they stay on good). And I won't cover my hair all the time--just during prayer and services. I applaud those who can wear headcoverings all the time, but I'm not one of those people.

This is probably more about the fight against mental illness than about the spiritual struggle, but considering how often mental illness gets in the way of my churchgoing, it seems worth it.

By the way, does anyone know how to turn the autocorrect off on a Mac? It keeps wanting to make "headcoverings" two words instead of one, and I'm ready to punch my computer.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 2013 Humbug Rant

I'm ready now.

Salvation Army Bell Ringer Attacked by 'Christian' for Saying 'Happy Holidays'

This is why I hate this time of year.

But this is why I love it:

Are we really thinking about God becoming man for our sake when we're punching Salvation Army bell ringers for saying the wrong thing. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that we've probably lost some serious focus. But don't worry, this will make you happy again. (And notice the piano has the very Christmas-oriented greeting of "Hello".)

If I had the bravery, I'd say, "Blessed Nativity." But then again, I tend not to leave the house, so it doesn't really matter. Sometimes I wish I were an Old Calendarist so I could celebrate the Nativity in January and pretty much ignore the heaving masses ... and the punch-throwing few. Still, it's the Nativity to me now and has been for some time. Maybe I can't, but I desperately want to separate myself from the people who get touchy about greetings (Christian and non-Christian alike), from the Black Friday mobs, and especially from the Lexus commercials.

Blessed Nativity, everyone.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Anti-Religious Experience

I almost became an atheist last night. Almost. I was reading the Mental Floss article on John Green, noted YA author and star of innumerable Mental Floss videos, and it started with a bang. Green said that he doesn't accept that things happen for a reason, and it occurred to me that there's comfort in randomness. He had experience: He'd worked briefly as a student chaplain in a children's hospital and watched children die after being in pain their whole lives. That's why Chris didn't want to work in pediatrics--you have to be willing to accept that children die all the time. It is, to put it mildly, messy business.

But now I'm awake and thinking, But if suffering has no meaning, doesn't life have no meaning? I have depression and anxiety that are often debilitating--does that have no meaning? Yet there is comfort in randomness ... the comfort of not having to figure out why terrible things happen. Why do terrible things happen? I have no fucking clue. I can't even pretend to have an answer anymore, and the answers that usually get trotted out seem trite. God has a wonderful plan for your life. (Tell that to martyrs having molten lead poured into their eyes. You think I made that up? The Ottomans were particularly clever at devising tortures.) We don't want God in our lives. (Tell that to the Christian family desperately praying for healing for their child with cancer.) We kicked God out of our schools/government/whatever. (Yeah, this is really relevant when I want to go to sleep and not wake up.)

Why do bad things happen?


This sucks.

There are times when I don't want to believe in God or at the very least not be Orthodox. That's when the things I'm thoroughly convinced of shine through: the lives of the saints, the goodness of the Theotokos, the words of Jesus. For some reason, I can't let go of those things. I can be unconvinced of God's existence while being fully convinced that the same miracles that occurred in Acts are occurring among the living saints of Mount Athos. Sometimes that's all I have to go with, so I go with it. I learned in my John Milton class that he thought faith untested was heretical. I disagree with Milton's definition of heresy, but there's something to the sentiment. Maybe I'll come out of this okay--or better.

My apologies for the profanity.

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's Coming ...

... The annual "I Hate Christmas" rant.

At least, I think it's coming.

I have to get more vitriol flowing before I can properly do this, but it's in the works. 

So stay tuned if you enjoy this kind of thing.