I May Never Get Married

I may never get married. That might seem like an odd thing to say, but it’s more than possible that I’ll never get married. I’m something of an odd duck. Dudes aren’t lining up to date me. And while I believe that I’m called to marriage, that call isn’t a guarantee that I’ll ever get married. That idea doesn’t make me jump up and down with happiness, but it is something that I’m trying to accept in my life. And I’m trying to live my life in my current circumstances and to make the most of my life as it is. I want my life to be valuable and useful. I don’t want to sit around waiting for a husband to come to me, but instead I want to grow and become someone interesting and worth knowing.

With that in mind, I decided to write “The Idiot’s Guide to Surviving Singledom.” I have devised five fairly simple steps for this.

Step One: Buy and read really good books. Don’t waste your time with bad books or mediocre books. Read the really good ones. Read the books that make you think and help you to become a better person. For example, I have become a devotee of my beloved Evelyn Waugh because he both entertains and inspires me.

Step Two: Get a Netflix account. Watch movies/TV shows you like. Watch ones that challenge you or intrigue you. I’ve seen so many movies that I never would have seen if I didn’t have a Netflix account, and I think I’m better off for it. (Remind me to write a post about my ten favorite things I’ve only found because of Netflix.)

Step Three: Find some uber-awesome girlfriends and read books/watch movies/drink fancy and delicious beverages with them while discussing these books and movies. Have a single ladies’ book club. I’m not saying that you should exclude your married friends, but make sure that you’re supporting and encouraging your fellow single ladies. Talk about your hopes and dreams. Talk about work.

Talk about what you’re reading. (I have a good friend who asks me what I’m reading every time we hang out one-on-one. Someone remind me to recommend Evelyn Waugh to her.)

Talk about the movies that you’ve seen. I recently watched this great movie about this writer (who was played by the girl who played Amy on Doctor Who) who can only write when she’s unhappy so her publisher (who is French and a pretty hairy dude and kind of looks like Henry Cavill and he’s handsome and he’s really hairy) tries to make her unhappy so she can write more. And I loved it. So I’m telling everyone I can about it. Here’s the IMDB page for it. And it’s on Netflix. You’re welcome.

Talk about your fears. My greatest fear in life is that I’m going to be alone in a nursing home someday with no one to take care of me. And there is NOTHING I can do about this. But I’m afraid of it. I’ve talked to people about it. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it, but at least I’m acknowledging my fears.

Just talk. Laugh. Cry. Share recipes. Scream. Build friendships. Build relationships. You’ll need your girl friends if you get married. You’ll need them if you don’t. Build and maintain relationships.

Step Four: Listen to GOOD music. Don’t waste your time listening to crappy music. Listen to music that inspires you and helps you to become more you. I don’t know what that means for you, but I know what it means for me. And sometimes, I think my music taste is developing more in this single season of my life than it would if I were in a relationship. I define good music as music that inspires you, motivates you, supports you, and speaks to you.

Step Five: Learn to cook really well. This isn’t to make you a better wife. This is just because it’s a useful skill. You’ve got to eat right? Life is too short to waste on bad food. Experiment. Try new foods and new recipes. In the past year or so, I’ve learned that I love making (and eating) lentil soup. I have so much fun playing with quinoa and split peas. Orecchiette tastes better when you cook it in chicken broth than when you cook it in water. I think that a little garlic and some olive oil make everything better. Eat adventurously.
Above all, just live your life. Don’t sit around and wait for life to come to you. Pursue and engage life. Find what matters to you. Do things that scare you. Take adventures. Become someone interesting.

Five Things that Make Me Happy

It is currently zero degrees Fahrenheit outside. And I’m vaguely crabby about this. So lest people think that I’m a perpetual grump, I’ve compiled a list of five things that are making me happy on this first Friday of Lent.

1. This video. There has never been a time when this hasn’t made me happy.

2. Last night, the Tigers’ coaching staff serenaded Justin Verlander at dinner, and he posted a recording on his Instagram account.

3. This recipe. I adore it. I mean, okay, I tamper with it, but I love it.

4. I might be doing this today.

(From Dumpaday.com)

5. I have a mug of tea sitting next to me.

FO: Wex

For the third straight year, I’m participating in Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club. The first pattern of the 2015 club was Wex, which Tanis (rather brilliantly) paired with a rainbow-colored skein of cosmic blue label.

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Here’s what I’ll tell you about this pattern. It’s pretty easy to memorize (eventually), which makes it great traveling knitting-once you’ve memorized the pattern. It also grows pretty quickly, so you can see your progress as you’re knitting. This is also really comforting. But the absolute best thing about this was the color of the yarn.

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Look at that color. It’s so bright and cheery and happy and sparkly. That was a major motivator for me to knit this shawl so quickly. I just wanted to look at something that wasn’t white or gray or snow. IMG_2166 I’m already thinking about starting another one. Raveled here
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Why I “Go Vegan” for Lent

For the second year in a row, I’m choosing to become vegan for the Lenten season, which began today in my church tradition. After making this decision for myself last year, I posted something about it on Facebook because I know that I have several friends who are vegan and I was looking for some ideas for recipes and cookbooks. I received some really helpful advice both about recipes/cookbooks but also about nutrition and what are really good non-meat sources of protein. Overall, it was a really useful exchange for me.

Aunt Voula is here to help. Photo courtesy of Quickmeme.com.

But I was also asked at least once why I choose to do that. And one of those commenters (probably unintentionally) mocked my choice. The choice that I’m making is to follow as much as I can the rules of strict fast for Eastern Christians. (They’re not followed as widely in 21st century America as perhaps they ought to be, which is why Auntie Voula doesn’t know how to cook without meat.) This means that I’m avoiding meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy-ha, I do that anyway, and wine. I’m supposed to avoid oil too, but um, that’s crucial to my cooking. This is a sacrifice that I’m choosing to make, and it’s not for everyone.

The reason why I make this choice is simple. Lent is about sacrifice. It is about drawing closer to the Lord. The basic idea of Lent comes from the forty days Christ spent praying in the desert after his Baptism and before beginning his public ministry. If you remember this story (Mt. 4:1-11 and Lk. 4:1-13), this season in the desert ends with direct temptation by Satan. Similarly, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches (as well as some Protestant Churches) celebrate Lent as a season of prayer, fasting, and penance to help prepare ourselves to better celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.

Christ the Bridegroom

For me, one way to do this is to find ways to simplify my life. What can I remove from my life to help me to focus more on God? Meat might seem like an odd answer, but it does help me to make my life more simple and to think of myself less. For the record, this Lent, my plan is eat pretty much just lentil soup, vegan split pea soup, and a kale-quinoa dish that I love on a two or three week rotation. This offers me the opportunity make sacrifices, to simplify my life, and to (theoretically) focus more on Christ and less on myself.

In exchange, I’m hoping to pray more and focus my attentions more on other than on myself.

FO: Chartreuse

At some point last fall-maybe in September, I started seeing pictures of an absurdly fabulous cabled cardigan pop up on Thea Colman’s instagram feed. I was smitten, and I knew that I had to buy this pattern and knit it up-as soon as Thea released the pattern. By mid-November, I knew that the pattern would be released about a week before Thanksgiving.

Shortly before Thea released the pattern, I received my November shipment for the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour. When I saw the “cloudless” color, I knew that this was the color that I had to knit this sweater out of. So, once Thea released the pattern, which we all now know as Chartreuse, I contacted Tanis and asked her if I could place a special order for a sweater quantity of cloudless on orange label-her worsted weight wool/cashmere/silk blend. She got it to me by early December, and then it was just a matter of finishing up my other WIPs so I could make this sweater.

IMG_2157To sweeten the deal for me, Thea is hosting a Knit-Along in her Ravelry group that began in early January, and that provided me with extra motivation to knit the sweater. I finished it yesterday-a mere 34 days after I started it, and I’m completely in love with this sweater. The pattern is straightforward and easy to follow; it’s also MUCH easier than I thought it might be. And it’s beautiful. As soon as I knew the sweater was done blocking, I put it on. And I’m refusing to ever take it off ever. I’m planning on living in this sweater.  IMG_2158

I used approximately seven skeins of orange label to make the sweater, and I’m completely thrilled with the end result. I love the way that orange label makes cables squooshier. It’s a warm, snuggly sweater, and it’s exactly what I need for this cold winter we’re having. IMG_2159

 

And for the record, I’m planning on making another one at some point in the not too distant future. IMG_2160

Raveled here.

Book Review: Save Me the Waltz

People who know me well know that I love F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m one of those people who say that The Great Gatsby is one of their favorite books because it really is. At some point over the past year or so, Amazon had a deal where customers could buy the Kindle edition of Save Me the Waltz: A Novel, the only book that Zelda Sayres Fitzgerald ever wrote, for $1.99. I bought it because I’m curious about Zelda. What was she like?

Today, I finally took a few hours of my day and read the book. To be honest, it was what I expected. It isn’t brilliant, and it doesn’t always make sense. But it is interesting. It’s definitely at least partially autobiographical, and it’s very interesting to see her perspective on her marriage. But overall, it’s not as good as anything her husband wrote, and I wouldn’t go reading it again.

It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but man alive, that book was not good. At times, I felt that Fitzgerald was just trying to prove that she could write at the same level as her husband and his (their?) friends. She uses language that is too highbrow or too intellectual for the story that she’s telling. And she doesn’t fully develop her characters. I didn’t feel terribly connected to her heroine, Alabama Beggs-Knight, or any of the other characters. I cared enough to want to know what would happen to Alabama, but I didn’t care enough to wish Alabama well. I didn’t care whether or not she was happy, and I probably would have wanted to hit her if I’d known her in real life. Overall, I just didn’t think it was a great book. I found it to be largely mediocre. I think it’s one of those books that I only read so that I could say that I’ve read it.

I will admit that it did help me understand Zelda a little more. It did show me how she viewed her husband, and that was interesting. But overall, it just wasn’t worthwhile to me.

Lent for Singles?

Lent is drawing nigh. For Eastern Christians following the Gregorian calendar it begins in 13 days. For Western Christians, it begins in 15 days. For Eastern Christians following the Julian calendar, it begins in 20 days. Simply put, it is coming.

Picture from the Catholic Community at the University of Nottingham

As I’ve discussed in several previous posts over the years, I struggle with Lent. I often struggle with what sacrifices I ought to make for this season. What should be my focus/theme for this season? How can I grow?

I have a Lenten-themed Pinterest board where I collect various ideas that I might find useful for Lent. It’s a small board, and most of the pins are vegan recipes because I “went vegan” for Lent last year, and I plan to do it again. Yesterday, I decided to search Pinterest to see if I could find any ideas for devotionals or prayers or anything of that ilk that I could add to my board. Most of what I found however was “Lenten Activities FOR YOUR FAMILY.” I found posts for teens and posts for families with young children. Sadly, I didn’t find much in the way of “Lenten Activities for Anyone and Everyone.”

At first, I was a little frustrated by this. Now, I know that most of these ideas/posts come from “Mom Blogs.” They were written by good women (or men) who are trying to raise their families in a good and holy fashion, and they’re trying to share what their ideas for the celebration/honoring of Lent with other similarly minded families. And that’s great. I’m glad that these people have one another.

But this leads me to any area with which I struggle. I’m currently single; I’m as single as the day is long, which is fine. That’s where God wants me, and I believe that there is a value to this season of my life. (Plus, neither Tom Hiddleston nor Rick Porcello has shown any interest whatsoever in marrying me, so that makes it easier.) However, being single does not mean that I live a life without structure or traditions. It doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to build a life of faith. I do want to create and establish traditions. I want to be connected to the life of the larger Church. (I discussed this a little bit on my post about Advent-here.)

My struggle is this. How do I, as a single woman, build traditions? What should I be doing? I can draw ideas from blog posts or articles aimed at families or at teens, but what suggestions out there are specifically geared to me? I don’t want to be an island or a lone reed; I want to be connected to my Church, to her traditions. So how do I as an unmarried twenty something do that?

I can fast from meat and dairy products. I can go to Confession more. I can give up swearing, which I desperately need to do. I can avoid secular music and listen to only classical or liturgical music, which I’ll definitely do. I can go to the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts at my church as often as possible. (The service is celebrated every Friday during Lent, but I’m booked with an equally important obligation for a few of those Fridays.) These are all good things to do. They are important things to do.

Here is my quandary. How do I celebrate Lent and increase my connection to the rest of the Church? Most of the activities I listed as potential Lenten sacrifices are individual acts. What can I do that will increase my connection to the rest of the Church? This is a question that I would love to have my readers respond to, but it’s also a question to which I have something of an answer.

The best answer that I’ve come up with is that I can pray. I hate being told that as a single woman I have more time for prayer than my married friends, but this might be true. Yes, I have a job. Yes, I’m in grad school. But maybe in my hsubandless, childless life, I do have more time for prayer. And if so, I can use that time for prayer. And maybe at this stage in my life, that is what I’m supposed to do. Maybe I’m supposed to use these quiet (seemingly endless) years to pray for my church, for our world, for my family and friends, and for myself.

This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t like more recommendations as to how to engage Lent more fully as a single person. This doesn’t mean that I don’t wish that there were more people offering advice to young single women like myself who are trying to maintain Church traditions and actively engage the Church in their singleness. But maybe I need to write the blog posts that I want to read. Maybe the reason that I can’t find the blog posts or pins that I want is because they don’t exist. And maybe, just maybe, there are other single women who would like to read those posts just as much as I would.

But one thing that I can tell you for certain is this: This year, during Lent, in addition to giving up swearing and keeping strict fast and going to Confession more, I will also be taking some focused time each day to pray for others. And if you have any specific intentions that for which you’d like me to pray, feel free to drop them in the comment box. I’d love to pray for you during this upcoming Lent, and I’d love it if you’d consider praying for me.

(Also, I’m going to be re-reading The Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections during Lent.)