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Where I recount my past weekend

by John on April 17th, 2012

This past weekend was Easter weekend — well, I guess, the past two weekends were Easter weekend. See, my wife is Greek Orthodox, and as such, I’m heavily involved with the Greek Orthodox church in our community1. In fact, I’m the cathedral organist2. Since the orthodox calendar is different than the “western calendar” when it comes to Easter (sometimes, the Easters line up on the same week, sometimes, they’re as many as five weeks apart). This year, they were a week apart . . . meaning that this past weekend was my Easter weekend in a row.

As the organist at an orthodox cathedral, I dread Easter, because it means long hours and having to wear the choir robe.

My original plan for Friday was incredibly selfish. A typical Friday includes my mother-in-law watching the kids as my wife & I work, a “date lunch” with my wife at her library job, and then an evening of pizza & watching movies until the kids fall asleep. However, seeing as it was a Friday the 13th, I decided to revert to my bachelor days3. I scheduled the day off and my plan was simple: sleep in, go for a run, watch Friday the 13th movies, and then head to a matinee of Cabin in the Woods before having a liquid dinner, walking to church, playing Good Friday services for 3-4 hours4, and then coming home.

Except, well, my mother-in-law wanted to head to church during the day . . . and drinking and masturbating and running and watching horror movies isn’t really the best idea when ensuring that two toddlers don’t grievously injure themselves are gathering proper nutrition and enriching their minds. So, I changed my plans — I’d sleep in, make some lunch-type food, take the kids with me for “date lunch,” then put them in the jogging stroller, getting in a good run through the afternoon as they napped. Only, well, they weren’t really cooperative as I tried to make lunch, so we played & went to the park & then went to get some lunch, had lunch at Duffy’s library, and then they fell asleep on the ride home.

CJ stayed asleep, but Leila did not, as I transitioned them from my truck to the house. And I just could not get the kids into the jogging stroller as one was asleep and the other was not5. So, I figured that I’d wait out CJ’s nap, then head for a run.

Any parent knows that, as soon as you try to wait out a nap, it will backfire on you, and the kid will nap forever. I put on my running clothes and, since Leila is going through a very clingy stage — she really enjoys holding hands and talking, she took me into the toy room and described everything6 about. Then we ate goldfish crackers and bananas and apples.

Suddenly, it was near time to get going and CJ woke up — and I tried to put the kids in the stroller to run a 5k, but they weren’t having any of it. So we went back to the park – and swung on the swings and threw mulch and walked on the balance beam and went down the slide and talked about not climbing the picnic tables.

We left the park in tears, but that was because Leila needed a nap and nobody wanted to leave, but my schedule was in the way. I had leftovers (and no liquor) for dinner before getting to the church at 6, where handed the kids off to Duffy and started rehearsal . . . then I played until 10:30. Because Good Friday is a very long service.

Then I slept.

The next morning, I woke up, ran a 1/3 marathon that felt great7 and then lunch with my wife & kids and spent the day playing with my babies at my sister-in-law’s house. Duffy handled bath & bed time so that I could relax a bit and decompress before the real marathon service — and I fear what I would have done, had she not been able to do that . . . the decompressing made it all bearable, so thank you, dear.

I got to church at 9:30, rehearsed until a little past 11, then the service started . . . I think I finally left the church at 3am, when the service was over.

As I said, it was a long service – which is not to be confused with my organ, which is “sufficiently long8.”

I got home at 3:30 or so and crashed. Hard.

Except that I got up a little past 6 to oversee some work that was being done. And that little bit of work took me well past noon, which took me to about 2pm, when my mom showed up. See, it was time for Easter Dinner at my wife’s aunt’s place . . . some call it #Greaster, but I like to call it the Festival of Meat.

I feasted.

First, there were “lollipop lamb chops,” which are truly delectable, though I don’t like to think about the conditions that lambs have to be raised in to create small chops (called lollipop because you can hold the bone and eat the meat) that are super tender and yummy. And then there was my mother’s buffalo chicken dip, and then there was dinner, which had lamb, and lamb kabobs, and ham, and τυρóπιτα (tiropita, or Greek cheese-pie), and σπανακόπιτα (spanakopita, or Greek spinach pie) and manestra (lamb and tomato and orzo pasta), and then there was dessert.

When I say that I was “stuffed,” well, I was. Truly.

Then I went back home and worked a little, because, apparently, I’m a masochist . . . I think, after the 3 hours of sleep, and the festival of food, I passed out at 9pm.

And that, well, that’s really not all that atypical of a weekend in my life, but might explain why I’m so stinking tired right now.

1 Some day, I’ll write my very long & thought-out post about my religious leanings, and how they don’t really line up with any church – but, suffice to say, I don’t actually consider myself Orthodox.
2 Unfortunate happenstance lead me to this “gig.” During my wedding rehearsal, the organist and her husband were driving to a dinner (I had hired an organist from the community, as I wrote my own Wedding Processional, and the church organist had a set list of what she was willing to play for a service) when she had a massive heart attack en route.

The next day, before the wedding guests started to arrive, I sat down at the organ to blow off some steam . . . and several choir members noticed that I played. After my honeymoon, the choir director was pretty insistent that I see what it would be like to sit in, once a month or so . . . this quickly became a weekly commitment.

3 When I was a bachelor, I would work some pretty crazy hours . . . and as such, had a strange comp-time agreement with my workplace. Basically, I was not expected to show up whenever the first day of the month landed during a work day (because that was pay day) and every Friday the 13th.
4 Those of you who know me on the twitter might notice nothing about Inappropriate Church Tweet Theater . . . this is because I’m in front of the congregation all service long, so I actually don’t even have my phone on me.
5 You know how, when a toddler needs to nap, but chooses not to nap, they’re just crazy and irritable? Imagine that type of scenario.
6 I didn’t understand a word of what she said, but she babbled talked for a good hour.
7 Except for when I nearly got run over by a car going through a stop sign. I’m a big runner, literally — six & a half feet tall, nearly 250 pounds. I’m bald with a beard. When I run, I wear bright colors. And, whenever I come to an intersection, I move to the lane that a car would be coming from — in other words, I’m highly visible to drivers. She stopped the car after nearly hitting me and yelled at me for being out there — I yelled back that she just ran a stop sign. She acted affronted that I’d suggest any such thing, and then I walked back to look at her license plate & she sped off
8 At least, during this service, I was back up in the choir loft, so I may have been tweeting throughout much of the service . . . you know, when I wasn’t too busy playing with my organ.
  1. Did you report the crazy driver??

    And for shit’s sake, take a nap.

    • I did not report the crazy driver . . . while I made a show of gathering the license plate, I never actually got it, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have written it down . . . and my memory isn’t all that wonderful these days.

      Damn kids.

  2. dude. I don’t know how you do it. Normally when blogs are just “this is what I did,” I get bored to tears and unsubscribe. You have a way with storytelling that makes me want to know what you are doing right now.


    that is creepy.

    ah, so be it. Sluiter’s a creeper.

    • If you’re a creeper, I’m a stalker, so no worries there.

      As far as keeping the interest . . . thank you . . . I try to write “conversationally.” I try to write as if I were in a crowd of people, telling a story . . . and I like to think that, at the end of the story, I will have the attention of most people who I started telling the story to.

  3. I have often considered making plans every day at 3:30 PM, just to ensure my daughter naps past 4:30 PM.

    I had no idea Greek Orthodox services were so long. Or organs. Ahem.

    I love the egg photos too. 🙂

    • There are lots of components to an Orthodox service that are, strictly-speaking, optional . . . but they’re also the parts of the service that are the “most showy,” and, therefore, people like to see them.

      When you add all of those in, combined with repeating things in Greek & English, it makes for a very long service. The quickest I’ve gone from start-to-end was 45 minutes. The longest was about 4 hours.

  4. Smedette stole my line. So I’ll go with my second thought:

    For shit’s sake masturbate.

    (You’re welcome.)

    • You now know that the next time I masturbate, I’ll be thinking about this comment, right?

  5. “lollipop lamb chops” just sounds so gross to this vegetarian (sorry!) But I hope it was fun.

    • When I was vegetarian, Greek Easter was, always, the time that I had the most difficulty “keeping straight.”

      Even now, thinking about them, without having the taste or smell, the lollipop lamb chops repulse me.

  6. Phew. That is quite a busy day! You never fail to impress me with how much you over do it.

    • Keep in mind that I’m fully insane . . . it makes it easier to comprehend 🙂

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