Ash Wednesday landed on March 1st this year. I went to an Ash Wednesday service for the first time since childhood. As kids, Ash Wednesday was more for grown-ups and was not really meant for us. I suppose we wore black if we went, something black, not necessarily all black. It was for repenting sin in preparation for Easter and Palm Sunday. I went once or twice. I was sorry I had ... would not do that again ... would do better next time. Could hardly think of something adult enough to feel sorry for, maybe something I was, like tardy or rushed or fussy or driven or not athletic enough or sometimes jealous, though not very jealous anymore since my mother had told me what jealousy leads to: finding out that other people had problems, too, not a pleasing discovery. Live without that, then, jealousy of lucky girls. I wasn't ever jealous of boys.
This year at Ash Wednesday I gave up procrastination for Lent. I postpone solving problems. I assume some problems have no solution. I assume tough problems are for no one to solve, to live with them. This year I asked God to put a problem-solver in my way, to introduce me to someone who thinks like a problem-solver. God next showed me to my own door. I solve problems. I am a problem-solver. True, I am not a lover who solves problems nor do I love solving problems. But I do solve problems. I am a problem-solver. A problem is the next thing. A problem contains its own solution.
I have a friend who might have told someone that I am "criminally insane"; my problem is in finding her out and correcting her bad mouth. The word for her bad behavior would be slander. When someone tries to bad-mouth someone with me, I try to find out if there is a good reason for it -- is the badmouthing deserved? Is so-and-so really "a snake," and what does "snake" mean and why is he "a snake"? There might be a reason for badmouthing, but there might not be a good one. If my friend believes that her thoughts precede her actions, then what actions does she believe my thoughts might precede? I have had two violent fantasies against her. In one of the fantasies, she is in hell, and the gatekeeper of hell has got her famous hair on a spear. She is forced to wear crooked black hair, which looks stupid and horrible against her pale skin. Her whole goal is to get her hair back. She doesn't care that she is in hell; she cares that the ogre guarding hell has her hair. My pleasure in that fantasy comes from imagining the crooked black hair and its bangs and in her having to wait to be popular. She doesn't actually get hurt in the fantasy. I think she gets her hair back then starts to flirt with the men in hell.
If I were an animal, I would be a giraffe, not a molecule.
People at the Ash Wednesday service said in their childhoods, Lent was the longest and hardest time of all, a long period until Easter without TV or candy.