|WHERE DID I PARK AGAIN?...|
I won't bore you with my money neuroses (though if you're a regular, it may be too late for that), but suffice it to say I've been giving marching orders by someone in the know: "You have to set aside a certain amount of money," he told me, "and go buy some stuff, specifically clothing, that's new."
"New!" I exploded. "I don't even need anything! I have a bunch of perfectly good stuff I found in the alley. I buy my stuff at Goodwill. People are always telling me how great I look. People are always complimenting me on my sense of style!"
But Robert, my new spiritual guide, stood firm. "They call it currency for a reason. Same root word as 'current,' as in flow. what you're doing now you'll be doing ten years from now. You want to be open to a new experience."
This might sound New-Agey and weird but Robert is having a new experience himself and I have been following along with interest. Here's how I know it's authentic. He's saying stuff like, "I've started to ask myself, 'Who wants me here?' Like when I'm hurtling around the streets, stressed, hungry and pissed cause I'm doing a job for less than I should have asked for and driving five miles out of my way to save 29 cents, who wants that for me? God doesn't want that for me. My friends don't want that for me. The other drivers don't want that for me. I don't want that for me." He's saying, "I'm actually starting to feel like I belong for the first time in my life." The other day he said, "You know, I've never wanted to be anything other than a marginalized, starving, loner artist. And you know what I'm seeing? I'm seeing that what I really want is to get married and have kids. Not that I don't want the art, too. But deep down, I've never allowed myself to see it, I want to get married and raise a family."
Thus I found myself last week cruising the Oakley, Adidas, Puma, Le Creuset, Levis, Fossil, Converse and I don't know what all else stores. I always thought people who shopped were robot-like and shallow, with the same grim, desperate look you see on the faces of people playing the slots in Vegas, but to my astonishment these folks--Japanese couples, families, throngs of teenage girls--seemed to be having a blast. I bought myself a very cool pair of True Religion (liked the name) jeans and FOUR OTHER pairs of pants at Vince (who knew?), which, amortized over the last 15 years when I have visited no "mall," and bought no new pants, still tops out at one new pair only every three years so can I still not call myself a "consumer?" I also spotted a great pair of black walking shoes with a cute little zipper at Merrell which (progress not perfection) I later found and bought on e-bay for a third of the price.
Of course deprivation is not what Lent is really about, and that's why for me to go to a mall and spend some money is in a way a far greater "dying to myself" than, say, fasting from sugar. Major ceding of control! Why am I so desperately attached to the idea that I'm not a consumer (especially as I am at least as vain, if not more, as the next person), that I don't "waste," that I come from salt-of-the-earth blue collar folk as if in and of itself that makes you decent or kind or good. Well, maybe it does, but I am not blue collar myself so I'm going to have to find some other way to be decent and kind and good. And call me shallow and robot-like but my sense is that new pants are definitely going to help.
Next up: the report on the Religious Ed. Congress in Anaheim which I have obviously survived, if barely. No, really, it was fun. I hobnobbed madly.
Check out my essay on The Annunciation in today's Magnificat!
|SWIMMING POOLS, MOVIE STARS|
I'VE BEEN DANGLING ME FEET IN HERE EVERY DAY!