Friday, December 28, 2007


"Beauty is powerful. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous because it matters… Beauty is too vital to lose… Beauty is the essence of God. The whole world is full of His glory." –John Eldredge

I am learning to redefine beauty in my own life. I say this as I tongue the outside of my upper lip and taste raw, burning flesh from the waxing incident I had about an hour ago. I'm learning that beauty is more than my now hairless, wonderful upper lip. My brother comes into the bathroom and finds me staring in the mirror at my raw, hairless lip. He begins to shave and sings to me… "Megg you are beautiful… no matter what they say". I think out loud, "No matter what who says? What did they say?" We laugh.

I'm learning about beauty and what it's not. As I work on these distinguishments I start to notice what it is. I find the magic of God and his love in the indulgence's of great books by the Christmas tree and cups of tea by the fire while me and my dad watch football on mute. He hates the slanted commentary. I'm becoming enthralled in the most random "beauty" in people and places and things that are otherwise overlooked and ordinary.

I had a real beautiful experience last night. I would love to get into detailed description of the interaction I had with a man named John. John is the owner of this wonderful little Italian restaurant my parents go to often. The restaurant is just around the corner from our house. I love it. They have the best, cheesiest lasagna. I think we will go there for lunch tomorrow.

John is from Afghanistan. He is a short, 50 something year old, brown skinned man with shiny, crooked teeth and a gray moustache and beard. He speaks eloquently and softly but at the same time directly and passionately as if Manicotti were an art and meat sauce was a just cause. He stands there looking endearingly into the faces of my over indulged parents, grandmother and myself and we talk about Christmas, the farmers market and berries in Afghanistan that you would never find in the states. He uses his hands to describe the color and texture of these said mystery berries and then tells us all about the 72 kinds of grapes his country once knew. The beauty he is describing to us about these alleged berries remind me of another quote by Eldredge: "Nature is not primarily functional but primarily beautiful."

According to John, there is so many good grapes to choose from that Afghanistan has manifested the best wine… globally. Some grapes are so sensitive to… I think… the world, and humans… that you have to stand there and eat them right off the vine or apparently they disintegrate into thin air… or maybe it was that they melt in your hand or smush in your pocket. Nevertheless, the Afghan people can no longer familiarize themselves with these said 72 types of grapes or mystery berries because of war and politics and poverty and apparently laser beams from government forces that have wiped out the beauty of the Afghan agriculture. Who knows how many more generations will pass before they cultivate 72 more strands of grape crops? John celebrates Thanksgiving but not Christmas. He also celebrates Easter and I cannot figure out why.

He says these American holidays are a wonderful excuse for his friends and family to get together and eat a lot of good food. "Have you ever seen a melon THIS big?" He asks us stupid Americans who know nothing of the beauty of Afghan agriculture. Then he starts to talk about Russia and somehow its connection to the demise of their economy. He tells my mom to go to some grand festival of something in Turkey where she can get anything from coal to diamonds. It's completely relevant because Mom is going to Istanbul on business next week. Apparently the Turkish GAP needs international attention?

John was a pleasure to listen to. I felt cultured and blessed because I know I have friends in, let's just say for kicks, Lancaster, PA who will never sit in an Italian restaurant run by an Afghan man and talk melons and laser beams with him over Manicotti and the meat sauce revolution. I love my life and I love these odd interactions that just happen. I wanted to take notes on everything he said because it was so engaging to see him so pleased with the memory of his home and the opportunity to share it with his American customers. I love how Mom and Dad can pick up conversations with almost anyone about almost anything and it's almost always an incredibly interesting experience. I thought of Anne Lamott and her index cards that she carries around in her pocket for times like these. Then I thought of how ridiculous I would look if I stopped him right in the middle of the 72 grapes schpeel to fetch my card and pen and ask him to please go back the part about the disintegrating grape harvest. It was very "beautiful".

Hump of Wonder

" Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong." -Anne Lamott
So now I write.

In Harry Met Sally Harry says, more or less, that girls and guys could never be friends because there's always that "what if?". Falso. There may be a "what if" at first because let's just be honest... almost every friend you've had of the opposite sex deserves the courtesy of the "what if?" Then you get over it and just enjoy the platonic glories of friendship. But then there are those rare occasions when you make a new friend and it's the kind of chemistry that causes beautiful, weird and dangerous things to happen when you mix ammonia and bleach.

This person will completely intrigue you. Not just the sort of intrigue you get at first when you enter into that first awkward and silly conversation where you may be nervous because you could have food in your teeth or sleep in your eye, so nervous that you don't even realize the inappropriate things you are saying. This someone totally wraps you around their finger with their every effortless, surface acquaintance. Sometimes they walk into your life and your friendship is this hilarious array of common ground via music and movies and "You're friends with fill in the blank?!? Me too!" And then of course a random deep conversation to ensure them that you're not just an attractive, funny, schmuck… no, you are also an intelligent, spiritual, socially conscious one.

It's a sort of thoughtless infatuation. Thoughtlessly infatuated yet you think of them often enough. It's always "great to see them" and it's always a coincidence… even though you knew they had an 8:30 class in this particular building with a very socially conscious busty brunette (you should have never dropped) and you inconveniently took the collision route. I've only done this twice... or so. But we do it because we are excited about the mystery of the next conversation. Of course this all sounds like a crush but it doesn't have to be.

It's the wondering whether or not it could become a crush (and in our crazy hopes and dreams a slippery slope from there) that leads us to these inconvenient collisions and a complete enthrallment in the description of their last meal in the cafeteria. Then something will happen. Someone will say something… or do something… or smell something. It will be one of you or both of you and the 'they can do no wrong' will fly out the door. Maybe it will be politics, or race and denomination issues or maybe they'll just be funky beyond words one day. It's at that moment when many will cross over what I'd like to call the Hump of Wonder.

You will realize that he's going to vote for a complete idiot, he would never join you at a Pentecostal church service and that he only bathes on the days he has that 8:30 class. He may realize that you aren't really as socially active as you are conscious, that you have cankles and that you talk about yourself entirely too much and go out of your way to run into him. From there you both are standing at the hump. The hump can do no wrong. I believe what is meant to be will be and sometimes one be will be entirely more painful and humiliating than the other, but it is nonetheless completely necessary.

I've narrowed it down to 3 roads after the hump. Life is not this black and white but at times I categorize things like this to make my own love travesties more interesting and aesthetically pleasing for every one. You could love this person in spite of these things like bathing and politics… love them in spite of themselves. They could get over your cankles and stalker like personality traits and from there you can become one of two things. Your friendship could grow into romance. Maybe it'll work out and you'll eventually birth and/or adopt attractive, funny, schmuck babies and raise them to be magically delightful citizens. Or maybe you'll love this person for the platonic joy they will give you as one of your closest most dear friends for the next 15 years. His kids with the busty chick in his 8:30 will call you "Auntie."

The third and least hopeful of all the roads is the inevitable demise of your adorable and clever interactions. You'll stay friends but it can't be close anymore. The poor cankles can no longer take the collision route; it's just not good for your heart. Here's to the clarity we all receive on our opposite sex friendship journeys over the inevitable hump of wonder.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

For my own amusement

If someone besides myself reads this I apologize in advance and guarantee you that this particular entry will not be half as interesting as what you may discover if you scroll down past all things written after my journey to Africa. However, if you want to hear about my recently acquired suburban syndrome read on. If you wanna hear about my attempt at missionaryism and saving the God-forsaken earth one Donald Miller theory on faith at a time, pass this one up.

As clever as I've grown to become over the last several years in my writing career... no that's the wrong word... my writing pursuit- much better- I've realized that I have a lot of words but little to actually say. I'm still giddy as a school girl that I don't have to look at the keyboard as I type. But sometimes when I notice that I'm blindly nickering (yeah it's a word, google magic that stuff) away at the keys I get a nervous excitement that causes me to look down and throw myself completely off. I digress.

I should probably organize my thoughts before this turns into a 10 page email about a crush from Columbus to a kindergarten buddy.

In the following journal entry which I wouldn't wish upon anyone besides myself to suffer through, I would like to discuss the following things.

1. My wonderful Christmas break and the pursuit of reading and journaling:

2. My battle with going to church and the evolution of Radiohead.

3. My hopes and dreams in school, romance and other frivolities of being a twenty something.

4. And finally, why the film Fight Club is a brilliant and excellent message of social consciousness.

In all honesty I just want to talk about Fight Club (God bless HBO) and crushes on boys (not to be confused with actual men, and that sounds way more creepy when I read it back...) However, I fear you may recognize the digression from decent human being to sex and the city junkie/self addict/private school victim so I will include hopes dreams and thoughts on the house of the Lord.

It's late and I have a blind date with an 11 am service in the morning so I'll probably just get to numbers 1 and 3.

Christmas break has been an excellent time for me to attempt a couple C.S. Lewis books, spend money I don't really have, mindlessly bicker with my mom, catch up on my on-demand HBO experiences, journal daily, memorize Mutemath lyrics,wear my brothers clothes, get groceries on my dad's tab, and take my Granny to the bank. Really, we should all do this more often. I've had more fun briskly walking in the morning frost around the block and running into teachers from the days of my childhood that I've long since tried to repress. The Bay Area sunsets have been eyegasmic.

Honestly, I don't see these kind of colors anywhere but here. Not even on the San Diegan shores... Sure, I'm probably looking through some San Francisco pollution but the fung schway is priceless. I couldn't possibly describe in words (yet I will in light of this literary experience) the way the back drop of God's great hand sets with the bay bridge and all the little white and yellow staggering lights from tall buildings next to the murky-yet sparkly- gray waters. Even the break lights of traffic make this whole picture a brilliant and breath taking masterpiece. I love where I live and I wish I could share it with everyone I know. Not at the same time though, we kinda have a small house. It's more like a cottage. But it's Richmond baby. The bay. I couldn't ask for more. Why is Natalie calling at 1:30 in the morning?

Disclaimer: I realize it's only been a week since I've seen you all. I don't miss you either. I have a great, honest and hilarious relationship with my mother. There's no such thing as an eyegasm. My granny doesn't rob banks or anything, she just hasn't figured on the kiosk atm. I use trendy terms out of context for the sake of the flow and I had an incredible childhood.

I liked that whole xmas vacation bit so much that I posted it as a note on the Facebook and tagged all my witty friends. :)Now for Number 3. My hopes and dreams. Sigh. This will take all night... I have so many hopes and so many crazy dreams abour babies and India and God and the purple sunsets... and kissing boys in my dead grandmas house... running from people in my live grandmas house... my childhood house, monuments in India... so really we don't have the time for this today now do we?

Ok, here's one hope since I'm already nickering away at this keyboard. I hope that my life after this May 2008 is as incredible and fun and full of friends, laughter, books, ministry, music and clever journal entries as this last and second year in actual college has been thus far. My sentences are way too long but like I said before, I have so many words, but what am I really saying?

I don't think that what I have to say is terribly important to anyone other than myself, and the Lord, and maybe my mom or something, but I do think there's a sort of genius in sharing your humanity, your douchebagness in faith and fumbling with others. It's kind of an art. I tell my life story and then we all can feel better about our late night Nickolodeon indulgences.

Wisdom is something I can see, taste and smell, and I even ask for it daily. It comes in small doses for me. It's like a box of chocolates. No joke. No pun. If God was like the Willi Wonka of wisdom, by no means am I Charlie. I may be the chunky blue berry girl with the gum... anyhow, He sends me peices of chocolate. This is special because it's God and all but it's only one little truffle. Can I walk into the factory and swim in His river of chocolate wisdom? Take home boxes of milky bars on preorder? I'm sure I can... but do I? No... I stay up late watching Fight Club and redefining the journal entry via blog. So here's to wisdom.

One snippet of wisdom I've recently received from C.S. Lewis, an old homie, "A tyrannous and glutenous demand for affection can be a horrible thing." That's a little somethin' I read in The Four Loves. He's clever and deep and perpetuates a sort of thoughtfulness about my faith that an old fashioned revival might or a really good Jars of Clay concert. He's not just saying that affection in a physical sense can be overdone. Of course it can, but affection is a lot of things. Many of which I still don't understand. This is definitely a "read it twice" kind of deal. But who has time for formalities? (I should really... reading his books is a sort of swim in the chocolate river in God Wonkas factory)

Affection from what I understand it to be... in the world... not just in Lewis Land... btw... is manifested through all sorts of vessels in word, gifts, time, on top of physical attention. It hit home because I see these needs for affection in myself- which is human and normal, we need each other to survive and be sane and have a healthy psyche etcetera- but I am coming to understand the very appropriateness in our need for the affectionate love is in the motives behind it, and the demand for it... quantity, quality... things of the sort. I'm still chewing on the idea. There's some chocolate for the day friends. And now... to the bed.