This post title is inspired by one of my favorite LOL’s from Very Demotiational:

Today is Mardi Gras and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Which means I need to figure out something to give up.

Umm, Mand…you aren’t exactly a practicing Catholic these days…why are you even bothering?

While I take issue with a good chunk of the dogma, as well as the hypocrisy of a lot of American Catholics when it comes to issues of social justice, it’s the cultural stuff that hangs on. It’s why I wear a St. Anne medal, I keep Grandma’s rosary on my nightstand, and have a plaque of The Last Supper hanging in my living room (okay, that’s actually there as a joke, but that’s not the point). And while I will probably not attend any Masses during the season (Ash Wednesday, Sundays, or the Triduum), for the most part, I insist on observing Lent – I don’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday or the Fridays, I ‘fast” on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (I use quotes because being limited to one regular meal, two small meals, and no snacks isn’t fasting, it’s dieting), and I give something up.

(Speaking of jokes and The Last Supper, I’ve always wanted a bathmat that said “Please Wash Your Feet Before Supper”)

Actually, it’s more than that you’re supposed to give something up. If I may borrow from your friend and mine, Wikipedia, “The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour). Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.” But or the moment, let’s stick with the giving-up-a-vice part.

The past two years, I gave up coffee. Not caffeine (I tried that in law school; more on that one in a little bit), just coffee. First year was hell, thought that may have had more to do with outside influences at the time. Last year wasn’t so bad – I was even able to keep my coffee consumption lower after Easter. This year, however, due to reasons I don’t care to discuss publicly, giving up coffee isn’t feasible. Ditto for caffeine. SO what else is there?

  • Sugar? Two years ago, I gave up processed sugar or the week before Lent (long story). The only reason I was able to get through it was because I knew from the get go that it would only be a week. Not to mention that one of my primary hobbies is baking, and I lie a lone and don’t see much of other people – giving up sugar would be a major waste of time and ingredients.
  • Chocolate? How many ways can I say, HELL NO. (I picked up two bags of Cadbury Crack this afternoon, too)
  • Alcohol? Even though when I’m in a bad place I tend to post to   something like I’m going to drink myself into oblivion, about 97% o the time I don’t even have *a* drink, let alone the many drinks that would necessitate an entire oblivion (okay, that made no sense, grammatically. But I got into a Wayne’s World low and had to go with it. You get the point. And what am I going to do with a gun rack?). There really isn’t much point in giving up something I barely consume.
  • Soda? Another beverage classification which I barely consume anymore.
  • Take-out? I was seriously considering this one. I may go with it yet. It means I’ll have to wash my dishes more often. Which I suppose is kinda the point of all of this. But, I am also probably not going to want to cook on Thursday and I feel guilty when I grant myself dispensation.

What I really keep thinking about is, if I don’t give something up, am I screwing up my karma? I wonder because o that Lent during my first year of law school, when I gave up caffeine. I was rushing out the door on a Saturday morning to a moot court event (I was clerking), wearing my brand new khaki suit. I stopped at the campus Starbucks for a cafe mocha and completely forgot to order it decaf. It was really windy as I rushed back out to the car. When I got there, I looked down and discovered that the wind had blown coffee out of the sipping hole and all down the front of my jacket. I was never able to completely get the stains out. Any time I consumed caffeine during that Lent, karma bit me in the ass shortly thereafter.

But on the other hand, the past two years I’ve given up something and never slipped, and my karma has absolutely sucked, anyway.

Dear God: What I’d really like to give up for Lent is being broke and unemployed and all alone. Would you please help me out with that?

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