I’ve been thinking about that road to hell being paved by all those good intentions. I heard that phrase for the first time when I was 13 and in my freshmen year of high school. We, the first class of spanking-new-unbuilt St. Francis de Sales High School, were forced to take that first year sitting in the same chairs that we had just vacated as 8th graders at St. James the Less. There was something humiliating about that. After all, we were now Big High School Kids not itty-bitty-little grade school kids.
But so it was and there I was sitting in those little seats in Fr. Something-or-the-Other’s religion class. All of the girls in the class were ga-ga for this guy. He was really dreamy — young, thick-wavy black hair, tall — or at least taller than any of us. He would sit on the desk, legs crossed in a nonchalant, I’m-just-one-of-you-guys, kind of way. Sigh. His take on religion was to lecture us on the many occasions of sin that were around us and all the ways we could end up in hell. It was very interesting. We were, after all, on the threshhold — or already crossed it — of puberty, where all kinds of hell-bound things could happen to us. Kerplunk — one mis-step and we’d spend all eternity burning away. But his favorite theme was all those well-meant Good Intentions to do better, study harder, pray louder — but, beware, he would preach, if you ignored them you, too, would be on that slipperly, sliding path STRAIGHT TO HELL. I thought God was more generous and would surely give me a break, maybe a stay in Purgatory, if I at least had some good intentions, like not talking back to my mother for a whole month (impossible). But not according to Father-whoever-he-was, no siree. Good Intentions themselves were not enough — you had to follow through on them. I vowed from then on not to make any good or bad intentions unless I planned to carry them through. Alas, I have often failed. Like now.
Well, I haven’t failed totally. I just took on a lot of good intentions all at the same time.
First of all, I decided I had to follow the surgeon’s advice and Strengthen My Legs so I could avoid knee replacement for awhile longer. I started that intensive, unrelenting training with the demanding Christina. There would be no chance of slacking off on this Good Intention not if I knew what was good for me. She’s really really tough. One hour every morning, here I am march, march, knees up, squat, stomach muscles in, chest out! Get to that pool every day, doesn’t matter if you hate it, go anyway. Can-can-can kick your way across that pool. I don’t have to worry one little bit about hell sliding on that intention.
El segunda buena intencion — I decided I had to improve my Spanish if I was going to Gorgeous-Mexican-Hida’s daughter’s wedding in June. I absolutely refuse to sit at a table at the reception only being able to say, “Hola. Soy Ana. Mucho gusto. Hasta la vista.” I needed to add a few tenses, thousands of words of vocabulary, flirty little phrases to use just in case El Senor Perfecto was sitting at my table. So I did what I always do — I took classes. Only this time, I amazingly stuck with them. Even when my head hurt from learning yet another of the 7500 past tenses (I exaggerate, but only) — I kept on and am keeping on at least till the wedding. I’m not sure I’ll be able to converse better (unless I start the conversation) but maybe I’ll be able to listen better. Sí? I won’t be slipping into hell with this intention either.
Then, since I lost my only paid work, I decided I had to do something to bring in some moola. Right? That is indeed a Good Intention if I ever heard of one. So I started my little cat sitting business — the resident cats are skeptical. But this meant I had to use valuable time and resources to advertise, get the word out there, put up posters, make business cards, create a new email address, and talk to everyone. I’ve had three calls so far — one asking if I also sat for groudhogs (!). So I do think I’m at least avoiding hell on this good intention.
And that brings me to the one Big Intention that I have not fulfilled — hell and damantion await. I promised, promised, promised myself and even told lots of people (which usually guarantees I’ll do something) that I would have Mediterranean Journey: A Young Woman’s Travels Through 1970s Europe (my new title for Annie’s Odyssey) self-published in May. We’d have a launch, kudos would abound, I would fulfill that promise to myself to see my words between covers. Shame on me. Here it is the 17th of the month, May more than half way through and I have sat on my haunches, saboutaging all efforts at progress by too many games on Lumosity and spending all my Good Intention Time on the other efforts. It is time to stop ignoring that elephant in the room and get it done.
I’m taking action. I reconnected with the graphic artist who’s doing some sketches for each chapter. I, the author, made decisions on designs, gave him the go ahead to create — and didn’t even ask how much it’s going to cost?! I even called one of these self-publishing outfits to get a quote. A very friendly, perky-sounding young woman called back with lots of questions. I was stymied but only temporarily — I asked her to email them to me so I could take my time to answer. Then, to leap frog me deeper into this self-publishing process and to answer those questions, I called HELP in the direction of my social-media-guru no-nonsense girl, Sarah. She’s coming today. I already warned her that I have done nothing — none of the initial homework she had given me months ago when we first talked about this. She said, in that efficient, friendly manner of hers, “Not to worry. This will be fun!” We’ll see in a few hours. And then, and then, I took the boldest, no-turning-back-now step — I emailed the Intrepid Editor! Would she have time to read/edit my introduction and acknowledgments — both unwritten? Yes, she said, but I had to have them to her before June 1! A deadline looms. And Hell is further away.
Oh, and that priest, Father Whatever-His-Name-Was, well, halfway through the school year he disappeared. It seems he had run off to Michigan with the mother of one of his students. We were shocked to our toes I think as much by the fact he would go to Michigan of all places — we were living in Ohio which considers Michigan a most undesirable place! Shame, shame, shame on him.