A Penny For Your Identity


It’s time to show our work for the month of June. It was a weird month here in Mercyburg. June seemed to be all about things I stopped doing in favor of my wellness, as opposed to new things begun or attempted.


I stopped wearing this outfit. Sounds unremarkable, I know. It snowballed into another full-on purge of living conditions.

I’ve loved this little ensemble for so long but it was time to face the truth that it is/was worn out and needed to be retired. I wore it one last time to say goodbye. I twirled around in dancey circles to get some blurry motion as an homage to the flowy, glowy these garments always made me feel. And then I said farewell at the end of the day and sent them to donation nation.

I got on a roll with this goodbye business and began purging even more inventory, working my way ever closer to Project 333. The best and most-needed purge was to the good old underwear drawer. I got rid of every bra I own with underwire in it, which means I had to break my Spending Fast to replace them.

Of course, it is arguable whether or not cruelty-free underwear qualifies as essential spending or not. If not, I broke my fast. If so, the fast continues. I’m content with the decision either way, and so is my rib cage. Another big box of clothing left on the midnight train to Georgia (in the afternoon post) so my sister could have first refusal, and the remainder will eventually head for donation nation. The Chef has seen so many articles of clothing heading out the door that he makes jokes about how I could possibly have any clothes left. I tell you truthfully, fewer feels better.


And then I just kept going. If I was going to reduce clothing that was “too good to throw away,” why not reduce even more? Large chunks of space were restored to the Mercy estate. I moved more furniture out of my house, including an entire bed and a dining room buffet. I emptied another closet of things (how could there be more? does this stuff breed in the dark? ) which hadn’t seen daylight for more than a year and also sent them to donation nation. When you walk through my house now it looks like I’m moving. Lighter is a good feeling.

img_5963You already know I stopped shaving my legs in June. You already know why. I haven’t started shaving again but I did manage to stop writing about it.

I stopped writing my Exonerate The Year posts as well, and I already told you why.

I stopped the monotonous logging of workouts in June. This was a holdover from the competitive running days. Logging runs to keep up with mileage, pace, speed, shoe life, and injury symptoms is part of the running religion. After retiring from racing I just kept doing it. After the terminal knee injury I just kept doing it. After I was only walking, hiking, doing yoga and working out with my trainer, I just kept doing it. There was absolutely no benefit anymore yet I was still devoting time to it every day. Without an end game this became nothing more than a mindless chore. There was no point to it. Why did I keep doing it? Habit, I guess. I broke the habit in June. I move my body as part of my wellness practice every day but I no longer log every exhale or drop of sweat. It feels better.

img_5987I stopped walking by this tiny museum every single week of my life without going in. Seriously; almost every day. It’s on my old running route. It’s on the dog-walking route. I finally stopped stomping past on my way to get other things done and made a proper visit. While inside we found a photo of The Chef’s father from 1939 we never knew existed. He was 15 years old in 1939, playing football on a haunted field. The field was built on the site of a former cemetery in 1934. Thirteen deadlings had to be removed from the site and relocated to another cemetery to make way for the football stadium. Apparently the thirteen deadlings didn’t like their new digs (pun intended) and kept returning to the stadium where they’d previously been laid to rest. These freeloader homesick ghosts have seen over 80 years worth of football games for free. The stadium is still in use today, though mostly for soccer. It’s located right across the street from the museum, so I pass it on the same route nearly every day. Many times I have joked about the friendly downtown ghosts over the years I’ve been running and walking among them. Now I know I wasn’t the only one who saw them. I wonder how they’ve adjusted to the soccer? Tomorrow I’ll have to stop and ask.

img_5929I stopped turning to the Internet to help me with meal planning and pulled out the old-school standbys we keep inheriting as more of The Chef’s relatives die off. Foodie Uncles and pre-microwave Grandmas left a legacy of cuisine for us. I stopped ignoring it in June.

I wrote in May’s Work Release that I started cooking again after a 10 year break. In June I made this significantly harder on myself. I’m cooking the old-fashioned stuff the old-fashioned way with the old recipes the dearly departed wrote themselves.

And the big squeaky rusty metal box of recipes we inherited? It looks like this. One of the neatnik uncles typed hundreds of recipes onto old index cards with — you guessed it — an old-fashioned ribbon typewriter. Moms and aunts and church ladies wrote them out in pencil script longhand on note paper or cut them out of the newspaper. I’m resurrecting them. The Internet is undeniably great but these old paper bits in their big old clunky metal file box have a certain panache the Internet simply doesn’t offer.

Some of these old goodies are hilarious. For instance, back in Granny’s day there were no viable Hispanic communities in rural Mercyburg. The cooks of her day truly believed anything with beans and barbecue sauce in it qualified as “Mexican.” Just for fun I tried one of these “Mexican” recipes. What a hoot; tasted like a sloppy joe casserole and there was nothing remotely Mexican about it. Anything with a noodle in it was considered Italian. Anything with cabbage or mustard was considered German. I could go on. So far the best thing to come out of the rusty box of antiquity remains good ol’ macaroni and cheese from scratch but it will take years to exhaust all the cards and clippings waiting for a second chance to be born.

The rest of June’s work was the usual; the same work you read about every month. For those of you who are still interested in following the collection of things I find on the run, hike, or walk; the harvest continued, though the pickings were slim this month. In June I found only a capital letter “I” from a refrigerator magnet collection and a cent from 2014. When I bent over to pick up the first one I said to my walking buddy, “Oh look. Someone lost an eye.”  (It was funny at the time.)

I found these two items lying near each other, so I assume one of the downtown ghosts must have been trying to communicate with me through their placement. I think a she-ghost was trying to tell me her name is Penny. You know, as in, “I, Penny…” or “I am Penny.” Although I supposed it could also be “I am Lincoln.” Because I Cent makes no sense. I guess I’ve two questions to ask them now.

— Mercy

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