Then I realized it was Ash Wednesday. Today being, what, Freshly Scrubbed Thursday?, I’m a little late to the Lent game, but I’m going to play anyway. Here’s what I’m giving up.
1. Changing the subject to myself. This is an extension of my “listen and lurk” New Year’s resolution, which I’ve been plugging away at with mixed results. Did I ever tell you about the time my favorite college roommate Amber told me I had a habit of interrupting people to tell stories about myself? (I realize I just told you a story about myself, but you clicked something to get here—I’m not interrupting anything except whatever you should be doing instead of fucking around online.)
Like most insults, it stung because it was sort of true. In my mind, stories are beautiful vehicles of empathy. I’ve had amazing conversations that consisted entirely of trading stories back and forth. “X happened to me” + “Really? Let me tell you about Y!” = “We understand the shared, fragile human experience.”
But it turns out that not everyone feels that way all the time. A few weeks ago, our couples therapist more or less told me the same thing that Amber did, but in a much nicer, more therapist-y way. Apparently I need to give AK space to figure out how she feels before I jump in with an articulate and self-aware, yet utterly smothering, one-person show about How This All Makes Me Feel.
So far it’s been working pretty well. So I’m going to take it one step further for Lent: I’m going to find ways to relate to all the people in my life that don’t begin with, “That sounds like the time I…” or “What I think about that is….” I might end up being very quiet. And if I’m at a party and desperate to make small talk, you can be sure I’ll grasp the nearest Cheryl anecdote as a life preserver. But if it weren’t a tough goal, it wouldn’t be Lent-worthy, right?
2. Cereal. Sort of. In her blog about this hardcore health challenge she’s doing at her gym, Keely wrote about trying to eat eggs for breakfast instead of cereal. I am such a lifelong cereal addict that I have long refused to believe it’s not the healthiest way to start the day. Part of a complete breakfast? Add a banana and it is my complete breakfast. I’m like a smoker who says, Well, more studies are necessary before we can really conclude anything about that whole lung cancer thing.
Okay, cereal is not cigarettes. It’s not even donuts. But it’s also really carby and usually includes “a touch of honey.” At least the kind I like does.
The problem is that, in the morning, I’m sleepy and vulnerable. Cereal gets me out of bed in a way I’m not sure eggs and fruit can. I want to eat an egg-white-and-spinach omelet and read the interview with Sherman Alexie in The Believer. But what I’m able to do is eat Honey Nut Chex and read about Soleil Moon Frye’s workout secrets (spoiler alert: it’s some sit-ups and leg-lifts) in Self.
So I’m going to be realistic and say that I’ll try to cut my cereal intake down to four days a week. Let’s see, since the beginning of Lent yesterday, I’ve eaten, um, two bowls of cereal. Not small bowls either. Tomorrow: eggs, dammit! But maybe I’ll let myself read about the Best Jeans For My Body Type as a consolation.