The Storm Before the Calm

If you’re familiar with the Christian tradition of Lent, then you’re probably also familiar with the tradition of Mardi Gras. It wasn’t something I actually celebrated when I was growing up–I always assumed it was a regional, New Orleans thing–but over the years, I’ve seen it become more widespread. Granted, most of that “more widespread” is basically local bars holding Mardi Gras parties so they can charge more than usual and drunk assholes think they have license to act like drunk assholes, but that’s a whole other rant.

So I guess one of the basic concepts behind Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday or whatever you want to call it) is that it’s a last party or celebration of gluttony before the austerity that comes during the Lenten season. And I realize that’s a very simplified look at both ideas, but you’re talking to someone who last set foot in a church for either a wedding or a funeral, nevermind Christmas and Easter. Shitty theology aside, I bring up this idea because the last week has felt a little like Mardi Gras.

My Christmas extended beyond just the holiday and the week after because my parents were down to see us during the first weekend in January and we had another gift-opening session. That meant more food, more gifts, and more gift cards. Compound that with the fact that I only had to work two days that week and I was still in that mentality of completely overdoing things–overspending, overeating, and over-slacking. With the exceptions of scheduled posts to this blog, I had not started on my New Year’s resolution at all and was procrastinating. But even if I didn’t have that reason to procrastinate, I probably would have.

January sucks. There’s no way around it. It’s one long Monday morning after what has been an extended weekend of holidaying that began sometime in November and really didn’t even stop. We do it to ourselves, of course, and I’m going to take a moment to sound like Mr. Old White Man in the Comments Section and say that nobody is forcing anyone to overdo it in the latter part of the year, so we should stop complaining about these things and take personal responsibility.

With that out of the way, I will say that while we all definitely have responsibility in what we choose to consume, you cannot ignore how our culture is constantly perpetuating the idea that we have to keep accumulating. Of course, I committed to this project to ultimately change my attitude in that regard, but I would be lying if I said that I had it all figured out going in or that I knew exactly when I was going to be finished. I see using/reading/watching all of this stuff as a first step and getting rid of a lot of it as a second. That might take more than a year, especially since the habits I’m trying to break were set way back in my 1980s childhood.

Case in point: I usually don’t buy a ton for myself during Christmas. Aside from my weekly pull list at my LCS, I tend to put a moratorium on purchases to avoid people buying me something I already own (which is totally presumptuous, I know). But I do treat myself from time to time, putting a book or movie that I know someone isn’t buying for me into my Amazon cart because I got so many things for others and it’s only another $10. Even when starting this project, I justified a few comics purchased on eBay to fill a couple of holes in miniseries or other comic runs so that I could read uninterrupted. Plus, I got $100 worth of gift cards to various stores and that meant that my list of unread books was going to actually increase in January. Is that like gaining 5 pounds before you lose 10? Or is it kind of a Mardi Gras?

What I do know is that the packages came and are coming this week and the pile has gotten bigger. But maybe the fact that I knew exactly what I wanted to get and didn’t hesitate is a good sign because then I’ll actually get around to finishing all of them?

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