Nowhere to sit

Remember that time in junior high when you were looking for a place to sit in the lunch room, and the people you normally sat with were all away at band camp or on a field trip or home sick or you just didn’t have any friends and you genuinely couldn’t find any place to sit because you just didn’t belong?

That actually happened to me at my Mom’s funeral.

I had just gotten my cake and coffee… (Which is truly weird that the local grocery store provided complimentary “refreshments” in the form of cake at a funeral. What is that? Cakes are usually congratulatory things. What is the take away from a cake at a funeral?

Congratulations on your achievement!

Way to go!

Best wishes!

You did it!

Weird, right?)

ANYWAY, I digress. I had just gotten my cake and coffee and I looked out over the church social hall and…

I had nowhere to sit.

I couldn’t sit with those people. They had their group.

I couldn’t sit with these people. They had a group too.

Those people… sure… but… that would just be uncomfortable.

In a sea of family members, friends and acquaintances, I genuinely had nowhere to sit.

Typically, I would have sat with my husband or my mom.

And one had taken off with a married mother of three and the other was lying in a casket upstairs so…

What now?

I remember I froze. And I almost dropped my cake and my coffee and took off running.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I awkwardly wandered over to where my eldest sister and her family were sitting. I awkwardly sat down. And I awkwardly said, “Can I sit with you guys? I don’t actually have any family here to sit with.”

And my sister grabbed my hand and said, “We’re your family and we will always be there for you.”

And as I tried to choke back the tears I remember thinking… “Sure. Until I you head back to California and I only see you once every three years.” But instead, I just said, “Thanks.”

But that cynical thought? Not so cynical anymore.

Since that funeral, I’ve seen my siblings maybe once if I’ve been lucky. Two live on opposite ends of the country. One wants to move to South America. And numbers five and six are so busy with their own families they hardly have time to feed their own children, let alone set up time to see their youngest sister.

It’s a miserable existence.

I saw no one for Easter.

I saw no one for my birthday.

Thanksgiving was a forced issue that turned into an awkward obligatory occasion that only happened because Mom had passed a mere matter of weeks prior.

A couple of people gave some half-hearted invitations for Christmas… except for the one good sister who I actually went to visit.

And now, another holiday rears its ugly head and I’m forced to answer questions from well-meaning friends and coworkers who ask, “What are you doing for the Fourth? Is your family getting together?”

And instead of being honest and telling them, “No. We don’t see each other anymore.” I just nod and smile and say, “Yep!” Because admitting the truth is just too pathetic.

How did I become the person with nowhere to sit? No one to visit? No one who cares?

I don’t mean to have a pity party, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I was thrilled when a coworker noticed a creepy stalker guy sniffing around and had a few words with him on my behalf. Seriously? I’m that overjoyed about someone caring enough about me to tell a guy to buggar off?

I need my family back. And if they’re not interested, I need a make-shift family. I need some people who actually care. I need more than my cat.

Because I genuinely have nowhere to sit.

 

 

 

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What if it’s not just a few bad apples?

Most of you know about my recent fascination with Catholicism. Very few people know that I’ve been seriously considering joining the church.

But it’s a delicate dance. One doesn’t simply “join” the Catholic Church. No, it’s much more complicated than that. In order to “join” the Catholic Church one must “convert”. And in order to “convert”, one must learn the ins and outs of church teachings, the doctrines, the creeds, the prayers, the sacraments, the whys behind the whats. And then, once all of this has been completed, one must publicly profess their belief in all church teachings.

Yeah. I just read what I wrote. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with all this…

But that’s another post for another time.

In any event, it’s required a lot of reading and researching, praying and soul-searching, questioning, investigating and discussing. It’s not something I take lightly. And as a life-long Pentacostal – it’s slightly earth-shattering and surreal.

There are so many things I LOVE about the Catholic Church. So many things that are so in line with Christ’s teachings. There’s so much meaning and depth – and you could go on forever taking it apart and looking it over and never get tired of mining its riches.

And yet…

There are some things that concern me. As there would be in any church that one decides to join. But the thing with the Catholic Church is… they claim to be THE church. The church Christ founded under Peter. In fact, the papal succession can be traced back to St. Peter himself, as the first pope, the first leader of the CHRISTIAN church.

That fact in and of itself should cause any Christian to pause.

And while I can see that this is a valid claim – it makes me question if this is the actual church Christ set up.

For most of my life I thought of “the Church” as the worldwide community of believers spread out across the globe. Anyone who believed and professed Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who was crucified, died and was buried, who rose again on the third day, as recompense for our sins, as the only way to salvation after life on earth – was a Christian and therefore, a member of “the Church”.

But that begged the question – why so MANY churches with so many varying view points?

And the more I dug, the more it seemed like, “Oh, maybe there is still just ONE true church. And maybe other churches are just as true, but maybe… just maybe… there’s one that has the TOTAL picture… instead of just bits and pieces of it. And maybe that’s the Catholic church.”

I mean…

  • When you can literally trace your history back to the apostles
  • When you can trace the rituals and practices back to the early church
  • When your Bible contains all the books initially intended for the holy scriptures
  • When so many of the teachings that have been pooh-poohed by Protestants for generations actually have their basis in scripture
  • When the leaders of the Reformation actually embraced and MAINTAINED the teachings of the Catholic church…

…it’s enough to give someone pause.

And then, right in the middle of this blissful, meditative pause… the *bleep!* hits the fan and you’re left wondering if maybe it’s all just a crock.

I got an e-mail the other day from a former coworker. He was irate. Upset. Outraged. Inconsolable. The city in which he teaches just finished up with a trial of a priest accused of sexually abusing some children at the parish. The parish he attends.

The priest was found not guilty.

This friend is a teacher. He works with kids. He went to church with those kids. He understands how difficult and scary and embarrassing and horrific it must have been for those kids to come forward.

And then to receive a verdict of “not guilty”?

His reaction was more than appropriate.

Maybe the guy didn’t do it – but my experience is, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And in this case, something smelled like it was burning.

This was just last week.

Tonight, I stumbled across a brilliant movie called “Spotlight”. It’s a drama based on the actual events of the Boston sexual abuse cases uncovered in 2002.

And it just made me sick.

The cover-up. The conspiracy. The lack of human decency. Coming from “the Church”.

Here’s what I struggle with the most:

IF the Catholic Church is the church Christ founded – Why the power, the prestige, and the money? Jesus Christ’s ministry here on earth had nothing to do with power, prestige, or money. In fact, he rebelled against all those things. And with the power and the prestige and the money – comes corruption, greed, and evil. And I’m pretty sure that’s not how Christ envisioned His church here on earth.

It’s like any other church – any other organization, business, group of like-minded people – except it’s not. It’s “THE Church” – and that’s what they brand themselves as – the ONLY, INFALLIBLE source of the FULL, TRUE truth.

Except like everything else here on earth – it’s run by men – infallible or not – it’s run by men. Good men, bad men, imperfect men who don’t always get everything right. So, maybe it is just a few bad apples.

But what if it’s not?

 

 

 

But, I don’t wanna be Jennifer Aniston!

You guys…

I just remembered why I hate the 23rd of June.

This was the day the ass hat left.

2 years ago.

2 FREAKIN’ YEARS AGO.

How is it possible that it’s been two years already?

I think this is where I’m supposed to take stock of my life and compare how much better off I am now than I was then.

But I can’t. Even if it is true, I can’t help feeling like a bit of a failure. If the *bleep!* (c’mon kids, let’s keep it clean) hadn’t hit the fan, I’d have a house, a dog, a KID, and some semblance of a happy marriage.

Or not.

Maybe if the *bleep!* hadn’t hit the fan, I’d still be living in the same apartment, tripping over Legos and dealing with harrible in-laws without a dog, OR a kid, just biding my time until sweet death took one or the other of us.

Who knows?

But I totally wish I knew.

I mean, if I’m being honest about comparing my life then and my life now? Well, there’s no comparison. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I have a job that I’m not only THRILLED with but thriving in. My faith is stronger and deeper than ever before. I’ve finally figured out who I am and what I like and what I stand for. I’m not afraid of things anymore. And I feel happy in my own skin.

And yet…

There are some days where I can’t seem to see beyond the things I don’t have anymore. I mean, I’m 32, you guys. I should have a husband. I should have a house. I should have kids. And I was totally on the fast track for those things when…

You know. The *bleep!* hit.

I’m sorry… give me a minute.

*Deep breath*

Okay. It’s all good.

I guess what I’m saying is…

I don’t wanna be Jennifer Aniston!

Why can’t I be Rita Wilson?

Or Sarah Michelle Gellar?

Or Faith Hill?

WHY JENNIFER ANISTON, DAMMIT?!

I DON’T WANNA BE JENNIFER ANISTON!

Even if Jennifer Aniston DOES get Justin Theroux in the end, that doesn’t make up for-

Oh.

Wait.

That totally makes up for everything.

Dammit! Where is my Justin Theroux?!?!

 

 

 

S’napping.

Seriously, you guys. Is there anything better than s’napping?

And by s’napping, I mean, “summertime napping”.

I’ve been s’napping nearly everyday.

Usually during that mid-afternoon lull where you’ve finished errands and daily chores, there’s no justification for starting a Netflix marathon this early in the day, and quite frankly, if you spend anymore time reading, trolling Pinterest or stalking people on Facebook, you’re going to flat-out off yourself. THAT, my friends, means it’s prime time for a s’nap. (For people who work during the summer, this is that drowsy point in the afternoon right after lunch, right before your 15th cup of coffee. Primetime for s’naps.)

The problem with s’naps is that once you get into the habit, it’s hopelessly hard to break. Because they feel SO GOOD. I never knew how much I could enjoy taking a nap WHENEVER THE HECK I WANT. And most of the time, after I wake up, I don’t even feel guilty. Because it’s SUMMER. And I’m a TEACHER. What else am I going to spend my time doing? I mean, besides…

  • Catching up on reading
  • Working a summer job for extra income instead of whining about how poor I am
  • People-watching at Starbucks
  • Reorganizing my life
  • Redecorating my apartment
  • Gardening
  • Golfing, hiking, playing tennis or getting any kind of exercise
  • Travelling
  • Learning a new skill
  • Mapping out my curriculum for next year
  • Planning and putting together my classroom for next year
  • DOING SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE

You know… all those things that pretentious over-achievers do. And I’m nothing if not an unpretentious under-achiever.

Now before you leave a whole slew of comments about how I SHOULD be spending my time instead of s’napping, let me clarify. This is my first summer off since starting my teaching career. All the prior summers off were spent taking graduate courses or relocating for new jobs. I’ve never had a summer where I could actually… HAVE A SUMMER. So, don’t be getting all up on your high horse with your, “Annie… you’re being slothful. You need to go to confession.”

OOH! Confession! That actually sounds like fun. I should try that out sometime. Play a little game of, “See which priest can recognize my voice the fastest.”

Oh, Annie. You irreverent, sacrilegious boob. Go take a s’nap.

And this is why I’m going to hell…

There have been some firings and hirings going on at work.

(No, not me, you idiots. I’m awesome.)

But it’s been happening to other people. People have been changing positions, leaving for more pay (translation: minimum wage), getting “let go” because they suck… You know, the usual.

I had the opportunity to meet one of the new hires yesterday.

At first I was pretty sure I was going to like him.

And then he said this:

“Oh, I hate when students get me gifts. I’d much rather they give that money to charity.”

As I’m standing there holding my condensating iced mocha from Starbucks purchased with the gift cards I received from my students at the end of the year.

Another teacher piped up with, “Oh, I know! I tell all my parents at the start of every year that I really don’t need gifts. I’d much rather see that money put towards classroom supplies.”

And while they’re being all…

“Aren’t I so holy? I’m such a good Catholic. No purgatory for me. I even get an indulgence and a ‘Pass Purgatory, Collect $200 (that I don’t need)’ Card. Isn’t that lovely?”

With their spouse’s income and money to put towards savings and emergency funds and “extra spending money”…

I’m all standing there like,

“What the hell?! Do you KNOW how much we get paid?!?! The only reason I could purchase this drink is because of CHARITY. Otherwise, Winston would be without food until my next paycheck. Whores.”

With my jeans from COLLEGE, my bra from 1993, and a pair of old prescription glasses which pretty much make me a danger behind the wheel.

Oh, and did I mention I JUST got a $1,000 bill from the clinic thanks to the AWESOME health coverage I get?

So, yeah, I’m gonna take the gift cards, AND the school supplies, AND any money they bring in for Mass offering. You alright with that?!

Step. Off.

Clearly, this was quite traumatic if I’m still worked up about it 6 DAYS LATER.

In other news, I just found out from a Catholic acquaintance that Catholics can actually EARN a PLENARY INDULGENCE for a HOLY SOUL if they…

  • Pray for the pope
  • Go to confession every 21 days
  • Attend daily Mass and receive daily communion
  • Stay in a state of grace

I don’t know if this acquaintance is accurate on this point, but if they are, isn’t that the equivalent of a “Get out of Purgatory Free” card? Isn’t that the equivalent of EARNING ONE’S WAY INTO HEAVEN?! Isn’t that EARNING SALVATION BY WAY OF WORKS?!?!

Isn’t that just a….

TO EVERY PROTESTANT EVERYWHERE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE?!?!

I MEAN, WHAT IS THAT?!?!

AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS THIS:

ABOUT THAT?!?!

And I found that out a WEEK AND A HALF AGO!

Clearly, I am not in a good place with this…

To top it off, I have to talk to one of the fathers this week about the religious education curriculum. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to address this if only to get some answers. And I’m kind of afraid of the answer they’re going to give me. Plus, I have a raging case of PMS, so let’s just hope I don’t burn the place down.

Don’t get me wrong… I love my job, I love my work peeps, I love the church peeps, I love the Catholics, I love everyone and everything… but… SERIOUSLY?! All of the above was just TOO. MUCH.

SO… if we’re keeping a tally of what sins are going to send me to hell in a single blog post (I figure I better keep a record for confession purposes in case I ever decide to take the leap and join the Catholic church..) here’s what the current total looks like:

  • Called you guys idiots (Slander, 5 demerits)
  • Called myself awesome (Pride, 2 demerits)
  • Used gift cards with too much relish (Greed, 10 demerits)
  • Recalled my story to others whom it did not concern (Gossip, 5 demerits)
  • Mocked people (Mockery, 35 demerits – because I did it repeatedly)
  • Insinuated violence (Wrath, 55 demerits – ’cause that’s like a mortal sin, right?)
  • Used church inappropriate words (Profanity, 10 demerits)

For a grand total of….

122 demerits

And this is why I’m going to hell…

Any Catholics out there with a “Get out of Purgatory Free” card? I’ll pay you for it.

(DANG IT! BRIBERY! Another 20 demerits! I gotta get this under control…)