I went through Lent, and all I have is this lousy angst

It’s Holy Week. And once again, I arrive at this moment realizing that I suck as a Catholic.

Except for some reading I actually accomplished, Lent was a dismal failure. I haven’t been to Mass once, and it looks like I won’t be hitting the confessional until after Easter. I think about God a lot, and I pray each night with Frannie, but my rosary beads have largely gone untouched. I’ve been cranky about the Church, and anything that smacks of traditional Catholic practice or belief leaves me guarded in case it’s linked to some kind of scary far-right extremism.

So, I gravitate to my old comfort zone of moderate evangelicals and Catholic voices like Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Fr. Jim Martin, and Franciscan Fr. Casey Cole. My media consumption veers sharply away from EWTN and Relevant Radio now, and more toward America and U.S. Catholic magazines. It feels like the more outspokenly traditionalist and more-orthodox-than-thou the voice is these days, the more likely the voice belongs to angry people who hate the current pope and/or hold frightening views on COVID-19 vaccines, political conspiracy theories, and policies that support the common good.

So much for gravitating back to basics this Lent and getting to know Jesus again. There is that – but then I think, Jesus, have you even met these people?

(Yeah, I know: He has. And yeah, I know: They need His mercy as much as I do.)

Between the pandemic that still scares me from Mass and the divisive politics in the Church today, I feel a lot farther from Rome than ever.

The losing battle, Week 11: Defying stress and snacking

Posting my weight update a little late in the day. I took a PTO day today to start F’s spring break week; I had considered canceling the day off because work has gone haywire with the project load, but ultimately I decided that getting F’s week off started well was more important.

(We had breakfast out at a diner that is handling COVID-19 restrictions well; afterward, we hit a craft store and splurged on a bunch of craft paints to decorate Easter ornaments for the little not-just-Christmas holiday tree we’ve kept up since December. Spent the afternoon painting pieces of wood to hang on the tree, and then picked up cones at a local ice cream place. All in all, it was a day off work well spent with my kid.)

Before F and I had breakfast, I weighed myself and had surprisingly good news: I’m now down another 1.4 pound to 255.8 pounds. (I’m 27.2 pounds lighter since January 11.) I didn’t feel terribly diligent with my eating this past week, even though my food diary entries indicate I went over my carb count only once: on F’s birthday, when I had a small piece of cake to celebrate.

Birthday cake aside, I hit my biggest calorie overage, around 335, twice during the week. I grazed on relatively low-carb snacks more than I should have some afternoons. Work stress worried me. (Stress and the cortisol levels it unleashes, along with poor sleep quality, can hinder weight loss.) And I continued to be lax with exercise. So, I wasn’t optimistic on this past week’s numbers.

I did work on improving my sleep quality with some success. And I generally tried to be diligent with my meds and keeping the carb count low. (I went over the 100-gram carb limit – by one gram – only once.) So, there was that. I guess it was enough.

Took F to a movie theater for the first time since the Before Times. It hasn’t been easy to get any gift or celebration ideas from the birthday girl; however, she really wanted to go to a movie. Specifically, she wanted to see “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Soul.” The latter is streaming only, but we could catch “Raya” in a theater.

It was an entirely manageable experience. I bought tickets and snacks online in advance; we picked up the snacks at the allotted time and found the seats (sanitized for our protection) flanking our reserved seats taped off. Aside from having to wear masks except when eating or drinking – and the very sparsely attended theater – it was fine.

“Raya” was a good movie for our return to an afternoon at the movies. It’s another well-done Disney feature that gets away further from the princess-without-a-male-love-interest trend among Disney movies. (I just learned that there’s speculation that there’s an LGBTQ bond between the protagonist and her frenemy.) I appreciated the Southeast Asian cultural smorgasbord it offers, despite understandable anger about the casting of non-Southeast Asian actors; still, I was delighted to realize that Awkwafina is the voice of the goofy dragon. Meanwhile, F was just there for the dragons.

Anyway, it was a nice afternoon with F. I’ve missed hanging out with her at a movie theater.

My kid turned 13 years old this week. We turned over control of the Gmail account I created for her 13 years ago and, per her request, set up an Instagram account for her. I’m her first follower.

We said we’re fine with her setting up a couple of social media accounts now that she’s at that golden age. She requested IG and Reddit.

Excuse me while I research kid safety and parental controls (if any, and it looks like there aren’t) on Reddit.

Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Beezus and Ramona, and Ralph the motorcycling mouse were such a huge part of my grade school years. I know Beverly Cleary was 104, so her passing should be no surprise, but I’m still so incredibly sad about it.

It’s not so much that a piece of my childhood died. It feels like my childhood is officially dead.

First shot. Done.

I do appreciate how the iPhone is so specific with its caller ID functionality.

The losing battle, Week 10: Making the numbers clear

Another week, another 2.2 pounds gone. I’m not quite sure how that happened, frankly. I haven’t worked out much, and my sleep was generally off. I’ve been a little low on carbs here and there; maybe that was it?

Anyway, this means I’m officially – wait for it – 257.2 pounds. This is down 25.8 pounds from my starting weight in January, which was 283 pounds.

I’ve been cagey about my weight online. It’s been shame, I guess. Or maybe it’s the whole idea of a lady never telling her age – or, I suppose, her weight. Screw that.

I’m 55 years old and 257.2 pounds. Deal with it, people.

This means I have a while to go – even more so now that I’m officially moving the goalposts. At 5’5.5” tall, I need to be about 170 pounds to get out of the “obese” category into “overweight,” according to the CDC charts regarding BMI. This means my original weight loss target of 80 pounds established January 11, which would get me at 203 pounds, won’t cut it.

So, as of today, I need to lose another 87.2 pounds.

I could be discouraged. Or I could keep going.

I’ll keep going.

(But no, I’m not posting a photo, MyFitnessPal.)

Six years ago.

No, it’s not my tweet. But it’s my favorite social media posting of the day. Go Chicago Jesuits!

Last night’s Fitbit sleep score. Thank you, melatonin herbal stuff and thin attempt at a new routine. We may be onto something.

Also, the new orthopedic pillow and sleep mask arrived this afternoon – a day or two earlier than expected. Onward.

Hey, fun fact: Yesterday was World Sleep Day.

Good news: (a) I found an herbal sleep aid that I hope will help me sleep tonight, (b) I ordered an orthopedic pillow and a sleep mask that I also hope will help me sleep once they arrive in a few days, and (c) I think I have a bedtime strategy to minimize my phone app use and hopefully get me fast asleep before Mr. Buzzsaw gets to bed.

Bad news: I am spending a very precious Saturday off (a) obsessing how to improve my sleep quality going forward, (b) enraged over the fact that I have to do this at all, (c) locked in my office so I don’t take my rage out on the rest of the household, and (d) wishing I had spent the early afternoon shoveling out the home office – instead of driving all over the Western Suburbs so I don’t take my rage out on the rest of the household – so I can sleep in it if my sleep strategy effort fails.

Also, my brain is tired and feels stretched thin, and I’m exceedingly cranky. Otherwise, I’m doing great.

My Fitbit tells me how well I sleep, and even provides a “sleep score” to rate my quality of sleep. Each night, my sleep varies from “good” to, usually, “fair.” Last night was so bad (I logged 5 hours and 45 minutes, detected within that time as fully awake once and restless 12 times), I didn’t even rate a score.

There are several factors involved here:

  • Revenge bedtime procrastination.” (This is on me, and I’m trying to replace scrolling with deep breathing, with limited success so far.)
  • My once- or twice-nightly need to pee. (Thanks, bariatric doctor-prescribed diuretic.)
  • The spouse’s buzzsaw-level snoring.
  • The aging dog’s need to go downstairs to pee or drink by (usually) 5:30 a.m. or so.

My bariatric doctor says quality sleep is important to my weight loss effort. So, I’m especially and acutely interested these days in ensuring I sleep well. And it’s clear that my sleep quality, mitigating factors notwithstanding, is purely my responsibility.

I added a melatonin/herbal blend supplement to this weekend’s Target pickup order. Desperate to get some decent sleep through the night.

Just arrived, bought directly from the record label months ago.

You would think this drawing alone would have nudged me to get serious about losing weight.

The New York Times reports:

“Stop AAPI Hate said in its report that some of the people who reported hate incidents said they were spat at or coughed on. One person, a Pacific Islander, reported that while speaking Chamorro at a Dallas mall a woman coughed and said, ‘You and your people are the reason why we have corona.’ She then said, ‘Go sail a boat back to your island,’ according to the group.

“Chinese people composed the largest ethnic group (42.2 percent) that reported experiencing hate events, followed by Koreans, Vietnamese and Filipinos.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. This “cover” (not quite, what with Roger Daltrey on vocals) seemed silly at first, but then the Chieftains ripped into the instrumental ending beautifully.

There’s a few things I probably should write about, except they’re topics on which I have nothing elegant or useful to say. Some of these topics are either too painful for me personally or I don’t know enough about them or what to think about them – but they’re on my mind. I just think the public discourse is probably best without my gut reactions on such things.

Freshened up the “About This Site” and “About Me” pages, just for the hell of it.

It’s half past 11 p.m., and I’m thinking about pizza and Tibetan food in Montmartre, listening to a British ska mix on YouTube, and desperately wanting a better sleep score on my Fitbit for tomorrow.

Despite my best efforts — and a cup of lavender tea before bed — I remain cooped up in a restless sense of nostalgia that I can’t shake. Time to turn on the White Noise app and attempt to call it a night.

After at least a couple of weeks of snow-free weather — even a few downright balmy days when the icy mounds surrounding our house finally melted away — this happened.

Eve Tushnet, on today’s news out of the Vatican: “The Church can guide our loves. But nobody’s gonna trust Her if Catholics focus on protecting doctrines and ignore the need to defend people. Jesus defended the woman taken in adultery before he said anything at all to her … this is the right order of priorities.”