Who Really Misses Out On Valentine’s Day?

This is the first year, ever, I’ve been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. And I will spend it alone, probably catching up on work. Or I will use my best salesmanship to cajole my two exhausted roommates into dressing up and going out, or not dressing up but still going out, or staying in and doing something totally anti-productive like critiquing a rom-com while eating ice cream from the carton. In this way today will very closely resemble every other Valentine’s Day of my adult life.

My fiancé will be two states away, and at church. When I asked him what the greatest thing he’d ever done for Valentine’s was, expecting to glean something from his relatively more expansive relationship repertoire, he said, rather dully, “I usually just send flowers and chocolate.”

“That’s awfully cliché,” I said (or maybe I was wise and just thought it).

Besides one box of chocolate-covered strawberries from a girlfriend, he said the best valentine he’d ever received was from a classmate in junior high. I felt slightly betrayed by this. Not the strawberries or the valentine sent to my future husband, but the — the boredom. He belonged to a category of people I had always been taught to envy — the kind who are paired-off at this time of year.

As for me, the best valentine of ever received was when I was 17. A guy-friend of mine wrote and performed a rap in my honor. I have it written down in his unique cartoon-strip style handwriting somewhere and I laugh every time I come across it. The next year, all the girls in my dorm got together and wrote meaningful valentines for all the guys in our class. I was the typist, so I had that document for years, too. I remember being amazed, reading it later, at how lengthy and insightful the notes were about each guy. What a privilege to take part in something so simple and heartfelt.

Another year, the girls I lived with dressed up in black (just to be contrarian) and went out for dinner, and once a married couple in our community threw a big party for all their peers. Everyone had a hat, bowl, or jar assigned to them and people dropped notes into it throughout the evening. It was a little like the Valentine’s boxes in middle school, only the sweet things your friends (and a few acquaintances) gave you were words instead of candy.

The first year in India a friend from the U.S. sent me, my roommate, and our two closest friends a Valentine’s care package, with confetti hearts and red paper garlands, and a sugar cookie mix with cookie cutters and frosting to decorate. We each got a pair of pink panties and a Disney-themed princess card. The party we threw with it was one for the books.

I’m realizing now this post could have been titled 21 Unforgettable Things to Do On Valentine’s Day (If You’re Not in a Relationship) because I could go on, and on, and on. For me and my friends, Valentine’s has been about creativity, charisma, and joy. As we got older, and stayed single, there was maybe something about feeling just a tad bit sorry for ourselves that also allowed us to laugh at ourselves. Maybe being outside the clear target audience for an over-commercialized holiday also gave us the freedom to do what we wanted with it. But ours, unfortunately, is a very minority perspective.

For most people who don’t represent one-half of a couple, today is a day of mourning.

The one Valentine’s day that’s blackened in my memory was the year I spent at Gordon College. There, I could get no one to go out with me, though ALL of my friends were single and doing absolutely nothing but feeling sorry for themselves. There was a dark cloud that fell over the days preceding and following. It was the first time I understood that the bitterness felt over not being a relationship could actually be stronger than the joy felt in a relationship.

It is ironic that a day commemorating the martyrdom of a saint known for his charity would become so focused on eros love that it squeezes out all other kinds, most particularly the two St. Valentine exemplified — charity (sacrificial love for fellow man) and martyrdom (sacrificial love for God). How different would Valentine’s Day be if we had chosen, instead, to celebrate compassion, brotherly affection, friendship? Are those even considered love anymore, or is the only kind of love worth celebrating nowadays synonymous with sexual orientation?

We live in a culture where romantic love is not so much celebrated as it is idolized. Other kinds of loves — at best — are made lesser, substitutionary. At worst, they are made repellent, twisted, or suspect. It is rare to see truly genuine male friendship in modern cinema, and when we do reviewers refer to  “homosexual undertones,” or it is called “bromance,” and taken to sick extremes in fanfiction and internet memes. How long will it be till female friendship is viewed the same way?

Within Christianity, the love relationship of Jesus with his Bride, the Church, has also been marginalized. I think I may be one of the last few holdouts who still believe that Song of Songs is an allegory, not a Solomonic Fifty Shades of Grey. I believe we will be reading the books of the Old and New Testament for all eternity — millennia after the sacrament of marriage has been abolished. If that’s true, why would one of them be written only to glorify something that will no longer exist? Made curious by my recent post on Dating Jesus, I Googled that phrase. What turned up was a score of articles from the likes of Christianity Today and Relevant Magazine with scathing critiques of viewing our relationship with God as a romance. If only the Bible didn’t portray it as one . . .

When I’m not busy making plans with friends, Valentine’s Day does make me a little sad. Not because I’ve been lonely, not even because I’m 900 miles from the person I most want to spend today (and, let’s face it, every day) with. Valentine’s Day reminds me that we’re increasingly becoming a culture of only one kind of love. And in that sense, we’re all missing out.


How I Ended Up Dating Jesus

holding_hands.jpgLet’s just start by saying, it’s not what you think.

It began at an airport, standing awkwardly close to a half dozen strangers, as we all pressed forward toward the door of the airplane.

“We’ve landing and are deboarding,” I texted my boyfriend, resisting the urge to follow it will a string of exclamation points. Just a few more minutes, now.

“Call you in 15?” He texted back.

I frowned at the screen. We have a lot of things in common, Daniel and I, but punctuality isn’t one of them.

Read the rest of my story over at the IndiAnya blog.

21 Reasons Not to Start Blogging Again

  1. As consoling as it is on a bad first date, I really want to live my life without always thinking, “This will make a good blog post.” “Will this make a good blog post?” Or the alternative, “I’m never going to tell anyone about this ever.”
  2. Even those last ones sometimes become blog posts, because my response to embarrassment is usually to tell everyone I know about it. Somehow I think it helps.
  3. It does actually.
  4. Wait, that last one wasn’t a reason.
  5. Remember when I had an online vintage clothes retailing business? I eventually shut it down because I spent all my time photographing the clothes and not really selling them. The time I spend designing “the look” of my blog, versus the time I actually spend blogging, is kind of like that. If it were a business model, it would be a bad one. (But she’d have killer style.)
  6. Even aside from the looks factor, managing a blog is inexplicably time-consuming.
  7. I want to write different things than blog posts, and need the time to do that.
  8. I travel a lot. Which means great swaths of time without internet access.
  9. I live in India. Which means great swaths of time without internet access.
  10. I’m not sufficiently tech-interested to use the apps / 3G / doohickies that would make this easy.
  11. My past, techier, self somehow (and I don’t remember how) set this up to feed directly to my Twitter, which feeds directly to my Facebook, which in turn tells everyone I know about the ridiculous things I say sometimes.
  12. I say ridiculous things sometimes.
  13. But really. And people take me seriously. And they should know better.
  14. Despite the vintage-clothes-retailing debacle, I have an anti-proclivity to cameras (unless video) and picture-taking, which seems to be an unfortunate requisite for successful blogging these days.
  15. It seems exhibitionist.
  16. “A writer is one for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” (Thomas Mann)
  17. And blogging makes me a little quote-happy. Just watch.
  18. THE END.
  19. “What?” you say. “But that’s only eighteen!!”
  20. I should spend the time gaining valuable and thus-far overlooked skills. Like counting. And decoupage.
  21. Just kidding, I know how to decoupage and I don’t think it can be considered a skill.

Well, I guess I’m blogging again.


Ailing, Wailing, and Causing Trouble

A bad doctor’s diagnosis on Tuesday, two more medications and ultra strict regime has put me in a foul mood all week. Foul: better described as puckish and unusually snarky. (“Unusually?” you might be thinking. Try me.)

Granted, it’s only Thursday. But the kind of exaggeration that turns two-and-a-half days into a week is just one of the many side-affects.

On Twitter I described my latest medication (quite accurately, I might add) as “I’m now shooting silver up my nose three times daily…” and Bradley replied, “is coke just too cheap for your tastes?”

Which got me thinking. My sister-in-law’s recent (and my grandfather’s long-term) campaign against caffeine made me realize that the general difference between actual drugs and the pejorative term “drug” is the addictive quality of the substance. But it has occurred to me on several occasions (and I’m not suggesting this as a health-care trend) that it would make it a lot easier to not forget to take my medications, if they were even just slightly addictive. 

That reminds me. I’ll be right back . . . 

 . . . I would forget to eat or sleep if everyone else didn’t do it regularly. (Another thing my doctor says I must not do.)

So I guess I don’t qualify as a druggie, despite the heavy-metal inhalant. I am beginning to look like one.

This started yesterday when I was getting ready for work and putting on my makeup. In a moment of mad inspiration I decided instead of applying the eye-shadow to the eye lid, to use it to draw dark shadows underneath. Whoever said experience in stage-makeup doesn’t come in handy?  (It’s precisely for moments like these that I don’t buy shimmery eye-shadow.)

My real point was not to try to prove something to the universe by making myself look as horrible as I generally feel—I kind of just wanted to see if anyone would notice and say something. 

No one did.

Perhaps I should have gone with purple eyeshadow, instead of brown?

There was one odd and unprecedented hugging incident. And the poor person looked very concerned and hugged quite earnestly, and gave me the distinct feeling that I was dying.  (I’m not, calm down.)

So, if you see me around and it looks like my health has taken a turn for the worst—it really has. But I wouldn’t judge too much by appearances. 

And, although I’m not dying . . .  a hug would be nice.

I Didn’t Leave America, America Left Me

Election day dawns and the scandal count is rising on both sides of the party lines even as I write. I would say it’s getting ugly, but this election has never been pretty. The vitriol and sheer vindictiveness, slanted journalism, name calling, downright lies. I might just be glad if the media gets their candidate, in hope that that will quell some of the backbiting and mud slinging. Doubtful. A group tends to take on the spirit of it’s leader. It’s no different for nations.

Slim is Art and Truth is Optional

Nathan and I in 1929


My younger brother, Nathan, is in JAPAN. You can read about it on his blog. Also, Orlando Bloom and the word “vibe”. Please leave lots of comments and encouraging notes (even if you don’t know him — comments from strangers make his day). Oh, and check out his hilarious collection of Engrish photos on Facebook.

Editor’s Picks July (Sorry I’m a little behind on the news)

Little People in a Big World (thank you to Red)
New Harry Potter Trailer
Will Poulter cast as Eustace

The Dark Knight
Chick-Lit Branding
What on earth?!