Today is a lot of things. It's Mardi Gras and it's the beginnings of Olympic hockey that I can't access online without a forgotten e-mail log-in and it's Tuesday. I have a snow/Valentine's Day/Presidential hangover.
There is a lot going on in the world, it seems. The calendar is weighted down with commemorations and what have you.
Today is also Pancake Day. I grew up eating pancakes every year on the night before Ash Wednesday, on what we called Shrove Tuesday in my house. I didn't learn the Fat Tuesday term until I was old enough to go to bars called that where no one should ever go, seriously don't go to them because the floors are gross and the drinks are unnatural colors and all of the drink machines are swirling around and around in those colors so if you're a little "under the weather" as it were that can really get to you.
Anyway my grandparents typically hosted pancake night (which is part of Pancake Day, I guess. Like how I make this stuff up on the fly?) and my father and his brothers and assorted aunts and cousins would come over for the most epic breakfast-for-dinner you'd ever care to see.
It was one of my favorite things growing up.
In the past few years I've visited New Orleans several times as I've gone on about on this site and in the process have learned to love all things traditionally Mardi Gras from a place where it really happens. Today I brought a grocery store King Cake into my classroom for my students to try. They're from all over the world, literally, places like Moldova and Thailand and Cameroon and Gaithersburg. They tolerated my drivel about Mardi Gras and Carnival and a side dish of it being all about the storm before the supposedly self-flagellating calm of Lent, although I made sure to tell them that it wasn't a religious thing for me anymore because I didn't want them to feel like I was pushing it because I wasn't.
I also made sure that no one ate the baby, which Giant actually makes really easy because they freakishly tape the plastic baby to the box with its one-millimeter diameter arms reaching up at you while you're in the checkout line. HALP. HALP THE BABY.
That was the only weird part.
I wrote about how Lent is not the 40-Day Shred last year and my irritation with people who "give things up" although they have no connection with this as a meaningful time of year, and because I don't practice the faith of my mothers and fathers I absolutely don't either. I re-read the piece this morning and felt a little softer now (and not just because I've gained most of this stupid weight back), like people really are in most cases doing their best and don't set out to thwart God by shutting off Facebook for Lent but I do still stand by most of what I said in general. Lent is not a pop culture phenomenon. If I all of a sudden decided to go on a diet and blamed it on Ramadan I would expect one of my Muslim friends to call me out, that's all I'm saying.
What I miss is certain rituals that meant my family would be together. And I would really like a waffle tonight but I don't feel like making it. I think I'm just tired or snow-burnt-out. I know I am frustrated by all that I didn't accomplish while I was holed up for over a week because besides cooking and surveilling the skies for more frozen water and shoveling for hours my brain sort of shut down. The Super Bowl feels like it was a year ago. It has all been a gray, cold, snowy wrinkle in time, seriously.
And today I feel like I want this warm, wonderful tradition to recreate itself for me and I don't think it will and honestly, I don't feel like working on it. I also don't so much want to go to IHOP either but maybe I should or maybe I should just shut up.
I'm idealizing something that is a memory, that I need to put away and sometimes I wish I was better at doing that.
And I have to admit that today this is making me a little melancholy at the same time I am fully aware it is not a tremendous problem. I am so not usually alone but the traditions I carve out beyond the major holidays and birthdays that my extended family and friends still celebrate are small and many times I'm the only one who knows about them, which as much as I like to do it still makes me feel like a bit of a quirky, weird loner. On Valentine's Day, for example, I hacked my father's car out of three feet of snow and ice on all sides (not an exaggeration.) I had put my remaining wonderful bottle of Ruby Cuvee in the snow in the backyard and after I came in from the three-hour marathon I sat in the kitchen and drank it and wished for...I don't know what. Love? High-quality sparkling wine at all times? The snow to go away?
I don't like letting things pass me by even if sometimes I feel silly doing it alone, which feels a little weird sometimes, even if when I'm being honest I know that Valentine's Day itself sucked the most on a few occasions when I had a boyfriend.
I am talking in concentric circles to myself again. This is why I don't write. This is why I don't hit "publish." This is why everything stays in draft. Everything sounds selfish and unimportant in the context of others or a world in trouble but the thing is that when I spend a lot of time alone these things come to pass in my mind. Something is off-kilter. I can't really pretty that up too much and today I don't really care if you (whoever you are) judge me so much which is kind of freeing.
It's fine. I have lots of good fragments, sometimes I just wish they fit together better, which makes my life sound a little like an Ikea bookshelf but if the shoe fits, eh. Hopefully when I am next moved into my own place again I can feel the urge and the freedom to gather people in like I used to. I was good at it and I miss it.
It's just hard to live in the in-betweens sometimes. It may not kill me but sometimes it doesn't really make me that much stronger anymore, either. It just makes me wish and wonder and hope more than is good for a feeling sort of person. That's all.