Somehow I didn’t have J-Lo singing Woody Guthrie on my Inauguration Day bingo card.

If you sent a holiday package and you know it arrived at its destination, but the recipient doesn’t acknowledge it, should you ask the recipient about it?

Biden: The lesser of two "bad Catholic" evils?

Outside the pope and God himself, I don’t know if anybody really has the right to call anyone a “bad Catholic.” (That said, I am the first person to call myself one.) But Fr. Whitfield makes some very good points in his piece:

Biden, undoubtedly, represents a highly educated but poorly catechized, barely converted, cultural Catholicism, formed quite nobly but equally vaguely by a faint account of social justice but which is as substantially Catholic as having once gone to parochial school or Notre Dame. Which is to say, very little. Yet it is a bad Catholicism that differs from another bad Catholicism, a religion itself deformed, principally economically. These, of course, are the bad Catholics of the political right, but who didn’t win. …

… as we welcome this new president, we shouldn’t make much of his Catholicism. Biden shouldn’t make much of it himself; but instead, like me and his fellow bad Catholics, work out his own salvation in fear and trembling. It’s also why Catholics must resist the cheap identarian pride of having a co-religionist in the Oval Office. That, and because the religious veneration of politicians always deforms the venerators. Of this we have had enough.

I am definitely to the right of Biden on the abortion issue. (I’m not sure what Fr. Whitfield is talking about when he mentions Biden’s “willful refusal to embrace the integral moral vision Catholicism describes,” but I’m willing to find out and explore what that means.) I wish he didn’t feel the need to ditch what had once been a clearer-cut opposition to abortion for the sake of political viability.

That said, I appreciate the breath of fresh air that is Biden’s clearly deep and sincere faith, however “poorly catechized” it might be. (I cringed when he mused at tonight’s COVID-19 memorial about “if there are angels in heaven.” A lame, tossed-off line, probably, but still.)

If I agree with Fr. Whitfield on anything, it’s the point about resisting “cheap identarian pride” – something that I am guilty of in recent weeks – about having a fellow Catholic in office. It’s that kind of ideological and allegedly faith-based pride that fueled the Trump train for years. (”Baby Christian,” my ass.) If we’re looking for role models to emulate, best to look to the saints and not, say, politicians.

One thing that improves with age: the ability to say “whatever” when things get stressful or annoying.

The Washington Post (always worth the subscription!) has a great list of suggestions for decompressing without doomscrolling.

I’ve made a list for myself. Feel free to join me.

  • Watch the Fran Lebowitz/Martin Scorese collaboration “Pretend It’s a City” on Netflix. (So far, it feels like a one-woman old-school Woody Allen movie, without Woody Allen’s creepiness.)
  • Write a letter, note, or postcard to a friend or anybody else who could use encouragement or a bright spot in their day and drop it in the mail.
  • Do a quickie chair workout.
  • Read the Gospel reading from the day’s Mass.
  • Pray a Rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet.
  • Catch up on one of my several journals/datebooks.
  • Collect low-carb baking recipes and actually try one.
  • Breathe.

I’ve also been binging lately on “Big Bang Theory” clips on YouTube, but I’ve kind of hit a wall on those.

Until we find a decent slipcover, a blanket is draped over the new recliner to keep the large dog from disemboweling it the way he did the old sofa.

Fortunately, the blanket protected the chair from the detritus of a hard-boiled egg stolen from the kitchen table and subsequently vomited up by the aforementioned large dog.

I unfollow and mute on social media when following certain people makes me feel more like a terrible parent than I already know I am, especially lately.

Tucking away this article in hopes that I can undo some of my pandemic mistakes with my kid.

Dropped off two greeting cards and 8-10 postcards at the post office today.

I was up till 2 a.m. finishing up the outgoing mail. I’m a little groggy even as I write this at 5 p.m., but it was worth it.

My kid’s dog should not make me want to be more of a cat person.

At least I know where the hard-boiled egg I left on the kitchen table went. The yolk-yellow dog vomit confirmed it.

The losing battle is under way

It’s been a week since my first visit with the bariatric doctor: a week of carb limits, new meds, and scrambling to find bread and cracker recipes that won’t kill me.

I’ve lost 6 pounds. At least 74 more to go.

So, here’s the gist of my doctor’s weight loss prescription:

  • 100 grams of carbs per day
  • 15 to 30 minutes of activity a day (on top of ultimately 10,000 steps daily)
  • low doses of phentermine (appetite suppressant) and hydrochlorothiazide (diuretic)
  • 3 to 4 cups of fruits/vegetables daily
  • 64 ounces of water daily
  • Don’t drink your fruits” (or, presumably, vegetables)
  • MyFitnessPal to log food intake

I’m failing miserably at the activity part. I did discover chair workouts to do during work breaks late last week; the one I actually pulled off – a whopping 10-minute session – left me achy and winded the next couple of days. But I intend to keep trying.

Although I’m barely meeting the water and fruits/vegetables goals, I’m doing okay with the carbs thing. Limiting my carbs is more of an issue with Chris’ dinner planning than anything else, especially on my meatless Fridays. (He generally dislikes fish, except for sushi and some salmon.)

The doctor said it’s not the quantity of food I’ve been consuming that’s the main problem; it’s what I’ve been eating that’s the problem. I’ve been carb-heavy – lots of breads, chips, and sweets – and drinking juices rather than the healthier approach of eating fruits and vegetables. I confess I didn’t grasp a lot of what he said, but he talked a lot about blood sugar spiking and insulin and fast carbs. And he got into sleep quality and how my suspected apnea issues may be complicating my weight issues and ultimately my overall health.

It’s only been a week, and the road ahead remains overwhelming. I have an awful lot to learn about how all of this works. But I still think this is the right way to deal with what has been a lifelong weight problem that I can’t afford to continue.

Sometimes, you have to do nice things even though you really don’t want to.

This weekend’s Sunday Mass video from Holy Name Cathedral opened with one of the few contemporary Catholic hymns I actually like: “Here I Am, Lord.”

The hymn reminded me of when I drove 3 hours from Raleigh, North Carolina, to see Mother Teresa speak in 1995. The song was featured after her talk at the Charlotte Coliseum, and I remember weeping throughout.

I was thrilled to find Mother Teresa’s talk on YouTube. I look forward to viewing it again; I confess that I was so absorbed in the moment and the experience of seeing a living saint that I only remember a small handful of snippets from it (namely where she spoke up against abortion and pleaded to give her a child poised to die in a clinic). So delighted to be able to see her speech again and actually listen closely.

Relieved to know that my morning inertia thus far has been validated.

One of the many guidelines my bariatric doctor gave me Monday: Don’t drink your fruits. So, now I have to modify my morning smoothie recipe and ditch the Naked juice smoothie component. I also added Amazing Grass Organic Supergreens Powder, which unfortunately makes it taste weirdly fishy. Not sure I’ll get more of it after I’m done with what looks like a month’s worth of the stuff, but I might as well use it while I have it.

Had my first visit with the bariatric doctor today. No surgery, but I’m going forward with a significant change in my eating practices. Minimal carbs – less than 100 grams/day – all the way, baby.

There goes most of my lifelong diet. More later.

Geez, that second sentence.

I’ve become way too enamored of “The Big Bang Theory” in recent weeks. I never saw it during its network run; now I watch clip collections on YouTube and reruns on cable.

It’s light viewing, and it’s become YouTube comfort media in the same way Colbert clips, Conan interviews, and John Mulaney monologues are. Old baseball games do the same for me on the DVR. All of it makes for a fine antidote to the doomscrolling habit I’ve found hard to break.

“Many members of the Capitol’s janitorial staff are people of color, and it did not go unnoticed by people scrolling through photos of the destruction online that Black and Latino custodians — plus one first-generation Korean American congressman — were the ones picking up a mess left behind by a mostly White group that included, among others, a man carrying a gigantic Confederate flag.”

“Removing Trump from Twitter does not fix our politics or bring millions of Americans back to reality. But it does make it significantly harder for disinformation to enter the mainstream. And it makes it harder for Trump to reach his followers.”

Fun with Google.

“In most cases, if you’re saying ‘we’re better than this,’ it’s coming from a well-intentioned and optimistic place. But it’s a reductive statement, and one that underscores, albeit ironically, the circumstances that led to Wednesday’s horrific events.”

“Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said he worried that the lack of preparedness was rooted in police’s perception of the crowd. He said officers might have seen a largely White group as inherently less hostile.”

No. Really?

Nothing like logging in and getting a note from HR that a fraudulent unemployment claim has been filed with your name and apparent Social Security number. (The employer and I are both reporting it to the state.)

Is there some sort of DC law against inciting violence? Presidential pardons don’t cover DC criminal charges, right?

I know I’m not the first to think this, but I sense that if these were BLM protesters, we’d see water cannons blasted through the Capitol in a New York minute.