Mine was a quiet Mardi Gras. For starters, I live on the West Coast, where you can’t find a decent pączki to save your soul. Just to sprinkle a little insult onto that particular injury, I spent Tuesday night attending a board meeting at my church. You better believe I threw a tantrum about it.
Me: We’re having a MEETING? On MARDI GRAS? What the hell were you thinking?
Priest: It will be a party. We’ll have a potluck.
Me: It will NOT be a party. It’s not a party if I have to take minutes.
But of course I went, and I took minutes, and I even used my special alphabet cookie cutters and baked sugar cookies for the occasion, although I continued to behave like a petulant child.
Fellow board member: I’m having a great time! Let’s have a board meeting on Shrove Tuesday every year. All in favor?
Handful of board members: Aye!
Priest: The ayes have it. I love democracy.
Me: The ayes do NOT have it. You can’t call it democracy if you only count the people who vote yes.
As a reward for all my sulking, the meeting ended early, and I had time to squeeze in just a little bit of celebrating at an establishment where no one was serving mini-wieners from a Crock Pot. I cajoled a friend into joining me for dessert and then schlepped on home sometime after eleven, upon which I set my alarm for 4:50 am before melting into sleep.
In retrospect, the scheduling of Ash Wednesday the day after Mardi Gras leaves a bit to be desired.
Nonetheless, I dragged myself out of bed just before five the following morning, ate some toast (don’t hate; fasting might make me holy, but it also makes me faint), hauled my bike down three flights of stairs, and made my way to Mass — not at my own church, which is fifteen miles away, but at a neighborhood parish I’ve never visited on a Sunday. I was a couple of minutes early and arrived just as the priest did.
Me: Is there anything I can do to help?
Priest: Sure there is!
And so I got to turn on all the lamps, light candles in front of the icons, and read at the service, which was fun even though the New Testament reading for Ash Wednesday is basically a long string of random nouns. I loved the DIY ethic of it all. Turns out thick, curly bangs make the imposition of ashes a little tricky, but we got around it somehow.
Then I sailed off to work and ate an entire tub of salad greens at my desk. Second breakfast is very important after such a busy morning. Even on a fast day.