New Leaves, Hiding Under Sheets, and Flaming Iguanas

Genius, really, this book by Erika Lopez called Flaming Iguanas. Masquerading as a kitschy story about two women who ride cross-country on motorcycles, the book is actually a collection of funny observations and creatively portrayed quirks of humanity. For example, I am only on page 26, and here are some of the great things she writes:

Ever since the scene in the movie Casino where Joe Pesci’s brother gets beaten with a baseball bat until he’s a rag doll to be buried alive, the thought of accidentally burying anything alive fucking whips shivers up my back like a nasty little janitor. (12)

As the doctor looked at me, his eyes narrowed, his lips got thinner, his brow furrowed, and I could almost hear his sphincter tighten like a Protestant’s. (14)

The little dead cat reminded how, bam!—just like that—you’re yanked out of the game. I’ve spent a lot of fucking money on self-help and spiritual books to remind me to just cut the shit out and enjoy myself, but I always get bored and resentful after the third or fourth paragraph. Like why am I paying them to sit at home, turn the heat on full blast, stare at the ceiling, and tell me basic shit I already know? (15)

Even though she had a velvet matador painting above her bed, she worried about how she looked to other people. (20)

And about her motorcycle trip:

What the fuck was this myth that said you had to leave your job, your life, your tear-stained woman waving good-bye with a kitchen towel behind the screen door so you can ride all over the country with a sore ass, battling crosswinds, rain, arrogant Volvos, and minivans? (26)

Seriously, this is the stuff writing is made of!

Today couldn’t have started out better if I had known what to expect and planned it to go that way. For a long time, my friend Molly has been saying to me, “I want to get together to watch these Nooma videos, so we can talk about them. There’s a really good one called Lump that I want you to see. It’s my favorite.” My favorite one is Dust, and I don’t care if the historical part isn’t entirely accurate, what I care about is that it encourages me to follow Jesus pretty closely, close enough to get dirty. And actually, I have to make an addendum to a previous post: being a jerk IS in my nature. In fact, it is in all of our natures. If we believe St. Augustine, which I happen to believe a lot of what he says (mostly I just ignore the misogynistic things he says, because I am sure he couldn’t help himself, being from the fourth century and all), but if we believe him, we are born selfish. And if we believe Darwin, which I, again, mostly do, we are really only concerned about ourselves in that whole survival of the fittest thing, so it is in my nature to want to preserve my best interests. Survival of the most-selfish. So weighing and measuring my friends is absolutely in my nature, but that doesn’t mean I can’t overcome it. What I should have written is: being selfish and spiteful is in my nature, but through Christ, I no longer have to be a slave to that. I am not of the world, I am merely in the world. I know this is a little more Jesus-y than I usually get, but I want it to be clear that I realize I screwed up. I am called to love, not to weigh and measure.

Anyway, the Nooma video that we watched, Lump, is about shame and grace, my favorite binary in Christendom. In it Rob Bell’s son lies about a white ball and then lies about hitting his brother. Once he is caught in the lies, by his mother, he is flooded with shame. He goes upstairs and hides under the blanket on his parents’ bed. When Rob goes upstairs to find him, he makes this analogy: we can hide under the blanket of shame, or we can let someone (God) pull back the blanket and expose us. Of course, Rob exposes his son for the theft and lying, but then he offers him grace: “Nothing you can do will make me love you less.” He repeats this to his son, over and over again, while his son just cries. This is one of the best examples of God’s grace toward us that I have seen. We have two choices: wallow in self-pity, riddled with shame and guilt, or be exposed and overcome with grace. I choose grace. Every time. Thanks, Molly, for reminding me of this.

That said, I have decided to try something: focus on the positive and let the negative recede. It’ll be like a close-up photo of a flower. The positives will be in focus like the flower, and the negatives will be the blurred background of the plant, all leaves and stems, that I never really pay attention to anyway. I pay too much attention to what other people think of me. I pay too much attention to the negative things people say. For both of these reasons, I find myself weighing and measuring people, trying to figure out which ones build me up. My worth is not in the opinions of other people. Duh?!? My worth is in me. My worth is founded in my spiritual well-being. So, I am going to go all new-agey and concentrate on the warm-fuzzies instead of the cold-pricklies. This morning, one of my friends said: “I was going to say something constructive.” May whatever I say be more constructive and less destructive.

Stuff from my other, old, defunct blog. I wake up. Good morning, Bec. I walk dogs. Lily, Sydney, Celie. Breath nature in. I eat breakfast. Banana, juice, soymilk. I run occasionally. Comtemplate spiritual truths. I write daily. Writing reconciles life. Coffee is consumed. Unless Rachel decafs. School happens intensely. Classes are attended. Classes are taught. I eat lunch. Followed by Oreos. School carries on. Tuesday, Thursday dinner. Then I teach. Night class, different. Students get antsy. Other days home. Then consumption of dinner. Homework violently ensues. L&O:SVU gets watched. Watched like religion. Good night, Bec. Sleep comes softly. Not in terrors. Repeat, repeat, repeat. These are days. Days of life.

Annie Dillard says, “What we do with our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” This is how I spend mine. Jill made us do an exercise dreamed up by Abigail Thomas in which we write ten years of our lives in two pages in three word sentences. The exercise was challenging, but it also helped me to see that as much can be captured with a few well chosen words, as can be captured with long, convoluted, complex sentences. Sometimes, in writing, less is more. I think I am going to work on writing a few short, short nonfiction pieces. We’ll see what happens with that.

The point in all of this, on this blog, is that food makes up a good third of my day, since eating three times a day is what I do. I find myself thinking about food, comsumption, and body image quite frequently. I have been paying closer attention to all of this because of my Fat Studies class. How am I perceived by the world? How does my perception of myself fit with dominant ideologies? How does being a vegan fit, attempting to be a runner, and trying to live a healthy life fit with being fat?

About food: Bec made some fantastic dishes for my lunches this week. They are both from one of the Moosewood Collective’s 11 Cookbooks. One is called Peruvian Quinoa Stew, and the other is Tunisian Stew. Both are fantastic and nutritious and filling. Three things that can’t be said about every stew recipe you find in a commercial cookbook. I think I’ll go eat lunch right now. I need some healthy food since I had a donut, two cups of coffee, and a soda for breakfast! So far today, my life is junk!

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