Preparing for Lent

For the past few years, I’ve made a practice of giving up something for Lent.

I’m working towards a couple of financial goals this year, so when I started to think about what to give up for Lent, I strongly considered giving up spending money online. My rationale is this: there are few (anticipated) online purchases that are truly so essential that they can’t wait until we run errands the next weekend. I have already done my special occasion shopping for the next two months. We newly have to pay taxes on (some) Amazon purchases. And frankly, it’s just too easy to decide that we need something and then order it without stopping to justify why we need it.

However when I put this idea forth to the internet, a number of people wisely suggested that life with a new baby is hard enough without taking away conveniences, and that if I’m actually after a reduction in spending, I should look to those luxuries where I could reasonably cut back. Point taken.

So what I’ve decided to do is this:

  1. We’re going to give up ordering delivery/take-out. We order in about once/week, almost exclusively on days when I’m just too tired to think about food. This means we’ll both have to put more effort into cooking because if we’re too tired to think about food, the baby is almost certainly too tired to be dragged out for a meal.
  2. I’m going to give up buying coffee and sweets (or second breakfast) at work. I make coffee at home most mornings, but I often want a second cup. And I’m often hungry enough (or feel like it, anyway) to want something between breakfast and lunch. And so I spend $3 at Ex Libris for coffee and a donut, which is $3 I don’t need to be spending. So I’ll be making my second cup in the office suite kitchen, and bringing treats from home if I need them.
  3. If online purchases are really necessary, I’m going to document why. I was encouraged to think about this with regards to the hidden costs of NOT shopping online: gas, price differences, taxes, and my time. I’ll report back!

Bourbon and Pants

That’s what I’m giving up for Lent: bourbon and pants.

Bourbon should be pretty straight-forward. I like it. I like it a lot. Bourbon and I got back together in 2011 after several years of separation and brutal hangovers. In previous years, the bourbon hangover tended to hit me about 16 hours after the actual consumption of bourbon, and felt a bit like someone is performing trepanation on my head. This past year, however, bourbon has come back into my life, particularly in the form of manhattans, and it has been my welcome companion at many a happy hour or party, particularly in the last few months. When I posted on Facebook that I’d be giving bourbon up for Lent, I was accused of contributing to the mass of lies already on the internet. I was also told that I was SO BRAVE. Regardless of your stance on this matter, I will be deprived of bourbon for 40 long days and nights.*

Prescription Julep
Miss you, Prescription Julep

Pants, on the other hand, might be the tougher challenge. Let me clarify that this means pants in the American sense, not the British sense. My stance on those pants is none of your business. My desire to give up pants is twofold. First, I have an awful lot of vintage dresses and skirts and knee socks and tights that I really should wear even more often. Second, I have a hell of a time buying pants, and the ones I do own no longer fit. I possess a body made for 40s house dresses, not for 21st century pants. I’m tall, which means that most pants are too short. I have runners’ legs, which means I can’t buy skinny jeans. I have a butt and a proportionally small waist, which means that pants that fit the former don’t fit the latter, and pants that would fit the latter won’t pull up over the former. I’ve resorted to adding extra buttons to my jeans, but even then, my pants are all doing this:

Dire pants situation
I’m not pregnant, and I’ll punch anyone who suggests that I might be.

The pants pictured above are freshly washed in hot water and dried, and yet I still have 1-2 inches of space between my waist and the waistband. My jeans are even worse. So to some extent, giving up pants is a no-brainer. They don’t fit. I live in Michigan, though, and walk most places, including the 3/4 mile to work every day. This sacrifice may require some sartorial creativity. If nothing else, it will guarantee that I finish out my time in my current job without ever having worn jeans to work. And that in and of itself is a success.**

So: bourbon and pants. I’ll miss you, but that will just make April all the more sweet.

* I haven’t yet decided if I’ll also be giving up rye, scotch, or other forms of whiskey. It seems like I should.
** Exemptions will be granted to pants necessary for exercise, so yoga pants and running tights are still OK. But, like leggings, they aren’t really pants that should be work in public anyway.


I’m not Catholic, but I really like the idea of Lent. This is closely related to why the Camino resonates so intensely with me – the idea of sacrifice as meditative practice, a way of becoming more focused on a specific thing, whether it is your faith or your awareness of the world around you. In previous years, I’ve given up shopping for craft supplies, plastic bags, beer, and chocolate. This year, I’ve decided to give up ice cream, something I enjoy immensely and crave basically all the time. On Tuesday, even though it was cold, I grabbed a “plain sundae” on my way home from running errands.

Last Ice Cream for 40 Days

While it certainly was no Jeni’s, it was a delicious treat, and the days will be many and long until I can enjoy it again.

In lieu of giving something up, one year I decided to spend the 40 days of Lent taking better care of myself. I don’t recall that it actually had much measurable effect; however, I’ve decided that I’m going to try to do the same during Lent this year. There are a variety of personal care things that I’ve just, well, never been very good at remembering to do. These include, but are not limited to, washing my face and flossing. I tend to remember to take care of myself only when something goes wrong – I break out, I remember to wash my face for a week, my skin clears up, and I forget about it. In the next few weeks, I’m going to try to do better – in hopes of establishing healthy habits.

When did I get so high maintenance?

It’s been two days, and so far I have flossed every night, washed my face every morning (and after work outs!), used moisturizer, and drank more water than usual. Off to a good start.


For Lent this year, I’ve decided to not buy any craft supplies. I actually implemented this ban a couple of weeks ago, but it is intended as my Lenten sacrifice. This should serve a couple of purposes:

  1. Saving money
  2. Encouraging stash-down
  3. Knocking out projects I’ve been meaning to get to but somehow don’t because new ideas are more exciting

The only acceptable exceptions to this rule are supplies needed for wedding stuff.  We’re getting married two weeks after Easter, so for my sanity and Shane’s, if we decide to DIY anything for the wedding, those purchases are allowed.  My friend spark has signed on for this challenge as well, and she agreed this is an acceptable cheat.

In the spirit of stash down, my first project was eliminating my Sugar n Cream yarn by making burp cloths for two of my pregnant friendos.  There’s a freaking huge baby boom going on amongst our friends and relations, so there may be many of baby projects coming in the next six months.  These were super easy and went very quickly, and I’m generally quite pleased with the results!

Ravelympics project: 8 burp cloths

Up next?  Either much belated birthday x-stitch projects, a birthday hat or two, or baby sweaters.  Or maybe all of the above.

Collop Monday

I’m very disappointed that I didn’t manage to celebrate Shrove Monday or Collop Monday, as fine a holiday for eating bacon as any. Shane and I will attempt compensate tonight by eating lots of pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

On an unrelated note, if you are somewhere that allows you to vote in the primaries today, please do so! It’s very important and also your civic duty! If you want to investigate some of the claims before you go to the polls, one of my librarian colleagues recommends FactCheck, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Lenten Sacrifices

Two years ago I gave up chocolate for Lent. This year I’ve decided to give up beer.

In the last year, my body’s gone kind of crazy. I’ve been having lots of digestive problems, and my skin has decided to make up for a decade of clarity by breaking out as much as your average 15 year old’s. Is this what your late 20s are supposed to be about? Anyway. Giving up beer is partially about sacrifice, but partially also about figuring out what’s causing my persistent intestinal distress. Other candidates include spicy food, fats, dairy, and other assorted things that I can’t identify, but I figure that rather than going totally bland, I’ll do this one by one, and hope that a less sore tummy comes out of it.

thoughts on stuff

A handful of things I’ve been meaning to post about:

  • The HPV vaccine: I’m pissed that I can’t get it. I’m encouraging my sister to get it. Illinois, among other states, is considering making the vaccine mandatory for school-aged girls. If you’re under 26 and your insurance will cover it, get it. If you’re under 26 and you don’t have insurance, public aid will cover it in some places. HPV (a group of virii, not just one virus) is the leading cause of cervical cancer, but it can also cause all kinds of gross things, like warts and lesions that have to be frozen off. The only sure fire way to avoid HPV is by never having sex with anyone. Aside from that, well, the vaccine certainly can’t hurt.
  • Lent: Last year I gave up chocolate. This year I decided to use the 40 days to take better care of myself. That was the plan, anyway, but I got into another bike accident a few hours ago, and am pretty banged up. On the bright side, I already have an arm brace!
  • Food: On a somewhat related note, a woman in the UK is giving up supermarkets for Lent. I think it’s a really interesting idea. I just finished reading Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, which is full of information about the food industry, as well as recommendations (and meals) for things you can do to make your own habits more sustainable. This week we made mofongo with wild mushroom sauce, along with rosemary-chile mashed potatoes, using as many organic products as possible. It was good, but mainly made me long for the farmers’ market, where we’ll be able to get organic AND locally-grown things every week.
  • Plans: SB and I decided to renew our lease today. An online friend and her partner take each end-of-lease time as an opportunity to reevaluate their relationship, deciding whether to stay together while they decide whether to stay in their apartment in Brooklyn. (They renewed for two years, by the way.) I think that’s a reasonable, if not entirely romantic, way to approach relationships – as a work in process, an ongoing evaluation. It’s scary to think about what’s going to happen in the next few months – graduation, selling my/our car(s), new jobs and potential moves – but it’s good to know that we’re facing these challenges together!

Now, off to ice my arm. UHgain.


One of the best parts of last semester was studying with Sarah and Nicole at the diner – we’d drink too much terrible coffee, harass Mark the diner guy, and generally spend equal amounts of time giggling and reading. I’m loving all the time spent with Hot Librarians this semester, but it was great to spend time reading and giggling and eating cottage cheese with them again. One of the things I greatly enjoy about my friends – all of them, really – is the differing perspectives on very similar things – in this case, being able to talk about writing and teaching and pedagogy from three very different perspectives.

Last night, in an attempt to start/continue the literature review for my thesis, I was reading a book on distance education that was clearly written with the first time instructor in mind. I’m having a hard time finding literature that isn’t buzz-y (distance education is great! distance education is a way to make lots of money!) and/or overly program-specific. I suppose that’s to be expected in a somewhat emergent field – but it’s frustrating nonetheless. I’ve been working with this long enough that I don’t need to read: Just as it is said that our eyes are the windows to our soul, then maybe it is fair to suggest that our words are the windows to whom we are online.

It seems like there was something else I wanted to say, but it’s escaped me. Today’s been a grey day for a variety of people for a variety of reasons. After a challenging afternoon, S and I got coffee at Moonstruck and walked around the Quad for a while. I needed that.

Oh! I remember. I’m giving up chocolate for Lent. Just FYI.