I Had a Long Cold Morning, and Now I am Trying to be Productive

I always feel guilty when I don’t write a real post in a day, and today I haven’t written anything. So I am putting up a quick placeholder, and then I will write real posts while you read this.

This morning was our annual “Burning Bowl” service at church. It’s a tradition I started 3 years ago, and I led the last two services (I didn’t write them, I used standard scripts for the ceremony, but I was the one reading the script). This year, I didn’t have to lead it, I just had to help with the actual fire bits. And I committed to providing the Joss paper.

“Joss” not “Josh”, but I still have this song going through my head all the time

The way the burning bowl works (in case you want to do a ceremony for yourself, which I highly recommend!), is that you fill a bowl with baking soda. And then you pour on rubbing alcohol, enough so that the baking soda is covered. Then you light it by hovering a match over the alcohol to catch the fumes and light it. And then you take a little slip of paper, write down either what you want to let go of for the past year, or what you hope for in the coming year, and put it in the flame.

It’s a very cool flame, like the kind that shows up when Dips and Shahrukh touch each other.

Now, when you are doing this in a room filled with people all with their little slips of paper, there are various fire hazards we have run across. The first year, we didn’t have full control of the flame. So after that we started bringing out pot lids to put over the bowls, it only takes a few seconds and the fire goes out complete. The second year, that problem was solved, but we tried using just regular paper instead of Joss paper, and it burned much too slowly. Slowly enough that there was time for it to catch in the air and start flying around.

Less “Manwa Laage” controlled burn, and more Om Shanti Om raging fire

So this year, I volunteered to buy more Joss paper. It’s special Chinese paper specifically for fire rituals like this. Usually it is tissue thin and with images printed on it, but if you go allllllllllll the way to Chinatown and hunt around, you can find stuff that is like regular note paper and is blank. Last Sunday I went allllllllllll the way to Chinatown (it’s on the south side, I’m on the far north side, so it’s a trip of about twenty miles), hunted through several stores, and finally found the paper. I bought loads of it, cut it up into the proper size, and was all ready for the service today.

Tragically, I did not see a young Shahid Kapoor while I was there. Also, look! More fire!

And then this morning I dragged myself out of bed after staying up too late last night (got caught up in my fanfic that I still haven’t finished), put on my nice “leading a service” dress, put my hair up (fire hazard if it is down), put on make-up, then put on layers and layers of warm clothes and went out in the -4 degree weather (-20 in Celcius) and walked two blocks to the closest place I could find to park, dug my car out of the snow, drove to the church, parked, got out, walked to church, walked up the sidewalk to the entrance, and at that point remembered that I forgot the Joss paper.

Oh, memories!

It was just barely too late. There wasn’t time to drive home and get it. So I started the morning feeling all guilty and horrible about making this mistake that I couldn’t fix. And then I worked like a demon to try to make up for it. Set up the tables, carried the sand and the bowls and moved furniture, and cut up the back-up not-as-good paper as fast as possible. And then we did the service, it went fine, very impressive flames like usual. And then I ran around putting away everything I had helped set up. And then went to the store and bought toothpaste and dishwasher soap, and then FINALLY got to drive home.

Not Pepsodent, but now I wish it was

So, that was about 5 hours in total, digging out the car, driving, setting up, putting down, shopping, driving again, and so on. And I came home chilled and tired and went straight back to bed.

But now I am up! Oh, and I also finally remembered to eat something. And now I am going to try to catch up on Koffee and maybe finish the fanfic and just generally think clearly and try to forget that I FORGOT THE JOSS PAPER!!! AFTER ALL OF THAT!!!!

5 thoughts on “I Had a Long Cold Morning, and Now I am Trying to be Productive

  1. How nice that next year you won’t have to go out to buy some – if you can remember where you stored it.
    Or better still, drag ShahRukh off to your church and do the Manwa Laage trick. That will make everyone’s troubles go away and wishes come true ……. or is sexy not allowed in church?


    • We’re a very liberal church, so I am sure sexy could be allowed! Although I am still recovering from the service where we sang the (real) version of Om Shanti Om and I had to keep stopping myself from adding “all cool boys come and make some noise and sing Om Shanti Om”.

      On Mon, Jan 28, 2019 at 7:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Oh oh, I know this feeling when one puts so much time and work to prepare something and then one forgets it at home. But like Zindagi wrote, now you have a stock of Joss paper already cut for next year 🙂
    Did it ever helped you to burn something (as wish or for getting rid of it) ?


    • Well, it helped me feel better! And sometimes that is what matters most. If you make a resolution, or try to leave something behind, doing a physical action can confirm your mental resolve. Which is what matters, feeling resolved within yourself can make change happen in your life.

      One of my personal “rituals” every year is to switch my winter clothes for summer every Easter. It doesn’t actually make spring come, but it makes my mind feel like spring is coming, and that’s what matters the most.

      On Mon, Jan 28, 2019 at 9:35 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Yeah, my mom used to do it, too 🙂 … and also what we called “Frühjahrsputz” (spring cleaning). And I very much like the “Frühlingsfeuer” (spring-bonfires)

        The burning I know from films and books…when one wants to get rid of bad memories (person/events), people sometimes even make a kind of bonfire.


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