Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Over the past month, I've worked through my fear of living with another person, my sadness at leaving my home of ten years, a little nausea and a lot of cupcakes (people wonder where I put all the weight I gain from my stress-response-cake-binge-ing. The secret: each time I put on five pounds from devouring an entire cake, I lose it again before I eat another one).

But I've finally worked through to being excited about moving in with the man I love. In fact, now I can't wait until Sunday. That's the day my friends will help us move my furniture and boxes over and scrub THIS place down so I can get my security deposit back (over $500 so I definitely want it back). Good-bye, Spinster Pad!

One possible effect that moving in with this man will have on my blog: maybe with his computer (a PC) blogging will be easy again. Oh, I hope...

P.S. Alberto Gonzales is an incompetent idiot. Why George W. Bush even gets out of bed in the morning anymore is beyond me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The End of True Spinsterhood

(Although I'll still technically be a spinster, which is to say, unmarried.)

Okay, here's the news: after years of independent spinsterhood, desperate man-hunting and depression, I am -- for the first time in my life -- going to live with a man. I'm moving in with my boyfriend and the moving date is at the end of this month.

The 44-year-old bachelor and the 40-year-old spinster are going to try to share an apartment after decades of being in charge of our own living spaces. Certain disaster? We'll see.

At least it's a roomy apartment with two bedrooms and a sun-room (and living, dining, etc.). We're definitely going to need all that space. But it's very scary for me. I'm noticing that my main symptoms are anxiety and nausea. What will it be like to share an apartment with another person? I've forgotten what that's like. What will it be like to share an apartment with a MAN? What will it be like to share an apartment with someone I'm having a relationship with? It's all unknown to me.

I love my apartment, where I am now. I've been here for 10 years because it's a great place with lots of light and a great bathroom and kitchen and an ideal location. All those things aren't true about the new place, although it's also a great apartment (AND has a garage that we get to park in for free for the first year). I am sad to leave my home. It will be rented to someone else and will never be mine again.

I move in a week and a half.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'm moving!

No, not out of Chicago and not even out of the neighborhood. But I am moving from this apartment where I've lived for 10 years, so I don't know how much I'll be posting in the next two weeks. The big moving date is April 29th. Plus I'm still on the job hunt. I hope to be back at my blog before TOO long.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter vs. Christmas

I'm wondering why Easter isn't as big an American holiday as Christmas. Here is my friend Robert's response:

I think it boils down to this: Would you rather go to a friend's (or savior's) baby shower or execution? Christmas is easier to co-opt than Easter because it's about virgin birth, not virgin sacrifice.

Maybe blood does sell at Halloween, but Easter is really Christianity's central and most bloody Holiday. Taking it for the same ride that Christmas has gone on is a lot trickier. Sometimes Easter is "celebrated" by people walking through the streets with crosses on their backs and putting nails through their feet. Write a carol or secularize that...not so easy.

And here's my response to Robert:

Thank you, Robert! NOW we're getting somewhere! Maybe the basic difference is that Christmas is about birth and Easter is about death. But Easter is supposed to be about resurrection. Are we just idiots to be unable to see past the death and focus on the resurrection?

Maybe we're unable to focus on the resurrection because we don't understand it. What was the appropriate response to Jesus' birth? Worship. The three kings, the shepherds, everyone had that one response that was expected and appropriate. We understand that. Worship Jesus? No problem.

But what was the appropriate response to Jesus' resurrection? The apostles weren't at all united in their response to the events of Jesus' death and escape from the tomb. Some believed, some didn't, some were simply in fear for their lives. The teacher to whom they had committed their lives was suddenly gone and they had to fend from themselves. It was a much more complicated situation and the bible offers us no easy models.

What is our modern response to the story of Jesus' torture, death and rebirth? Uh, I dunno. Thanks, Jesus? Sorry about that? I wish I weren't such a sinner so you had to die for me?

The Catholic Church has done a piss-poor job of conveying to us what Jesus' resurrection really was, how to respond to that story and what it means in our daily lives. It's almost as if the spring equinox with all its celebration of rebirth looked like another opportunity to impose doctrine on an established pagan tradition. So the church appropriated this festival of fertility and birth and tried to make Jesus' death and resurrection fit it. But it doesn't quite work.

Why doesn't it work? I'd guess because the story of Jesus' death and resurrection isn't really about rebirth. Jesus doesn't get born again as a baby, the same person he was before. Jesus reveals himself to be god-like and impervious to physical harm. He demonstrates that he was never really just a man at all, but a supernatural being.

It's late and that's all I've got right now. But thanks, Robert, for getting me a little bit farther in my attempt to answer this question.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I want to sing Easter carols

To me Easter is like the sad, overshadowed cousin of Christmas. It's not lit up with colored lights, it doesn't sparkle with (fake) ice and snow and there's no magical figure that flies through the night to bring you WHATEVER YOU WANT. Easter just sort of languishes. How many people even know that Easter is this Sunday?

It's very strange that Easter isn't at least as big as Christmas since supposedly the whole purpose of Jesus' life was so that he could "die for us." THAT was the big event. I remember Catholic masses and catechism classes that tried to impress upon us children the importance of Jesus' death and resurrection, but it didn't work. Without the cooperation of Madison Avenue to turn our entire world into a a big breathless wonderland of promise and anticipation, Easter felt like a big So What?

Why can't Easter be more like Christmas? Maybe part of the reason lies in the history of Christmas. My Christmas post is called "Isn't There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?" In brief, the fourth century Christian church appropriated the pagan tradition of winter solstice feasting. It changed this ancient ritual into a religious celebration by making December 25th the date of Jesus' feast day. It was a sneaky way to suddenly make a lot people seem like Jesus-loving Christians by saying their annual revelry was really about the son of god.

You'll have to read my Christmas post for all the details, but Christmas developed into the commercial glut that it is today through a combination of its pagan origins, its development in the middle ages into a day of revelry and drunkenness, and its current incarnation as childhood materialistic fantasy. Christmas has been one extreme and another: a sacred day of religious observance and a day to kiss anyone you can under the mistletoe. It has been sinful enough to be banned by the New England Puritans and wholesome enough to represent the American family at its best. Christmas has a rich history and no end of American marketing and merchandising that never stop trying to make it even more irresistible each year.

Have you noticed that Halloween gets bigger every year, too? Halloween used to be an extremely minor holiday that no one did anything about unless you were a parent or a teacher. It was really just for children. Grown-ups didn't wear costumes to work that day or decorate entire businesses with orange and black. Television stations didn't air horror movie marathons in the weeks before October 31st and tv shows didn't have special Halloween episodes. In the past decade, sales of Halloween decorations, candy and costumes have ballooned and these days no one is able to forget that October 31st is coming and what are YOU doing to get ready?

So what happened to Easter? Why haven't grown-ups gotten sucked into that one? Why hasn't Madison Avenue taken its shot at selling more and more Easter stuff? Why doesn't that holiday get spread all over the stores, streets and airwaves?

I'd say one reason is the way the Catholic church has treated Easter: as a brief, momentary celebration of Jesus' resurrection that is completely overshadowed by the grim 40 days of Lent that precede it, not to mention the sorrow and guilt of Holy Week. I go into this in more detail in my last post on Easter. But there's got to be more to it than that.

Seriously, I'm asking. Why hasn't Easter taken off the way Christmas and Halloween have? Could it be related to the way Americans have secularized Christmas and sterilized Halloween of its pagan origins? Separation of church and state disappears every December 25th because we've taken a religious day and made it public, all-inclusive and about Santa Claus more than Jesus. And although Halloween was originally about the relationship between the living and the departed, for most of us it's just a fun way to scare ourselves and a harmless way to be like children for a day (or a month).

So maybe Easter languishes because it's too much about Jesus? Maybe we haven't figured out a way to make it secular? But wait -- what about the Easter bunny? He brings stuff to good little girls and boys. Why hasn't he grown in stature like Santa and Rudolph?

I whine once more: what keeps Americans from secularizing and commercializing Easter? Where is its magic? Yuletide spirit is hugely powered by companies wanting to make money and that's a wonderful thing. That keeps the appeal of Christmas growing. But it just hasn't happened for Easter. Why? Is it the violence of Jesus' death? Is it our spiritual alienation from the resurrection story? Is Easter, with its Lenten prologue and death-defying miracle and doubting disciples, just too complicated for us to boil down into a simple narrative like the birth of Jesus? What keeps American profit-greed from fully exploiting this holiday?