Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On this our Eve, we shop

I slid into the last spot on the furthest row hidden between two large SUVs, all to the unnecessary dismay of the bleach blond, frantic middle-aged woman behind me. She did not like the fact like I left my house 30 seconds before her, and that I was actually justified in taking that spot considering I let another car swipe my previous target with no swear words leaving my mouth. Not one.

I had prepared myself for the worst. Christmas Eve at the grocery store. Really? Is that a good idea? In most cases I would give an enthusiasitc "poor decision, Molly!" to myself as I cradled between the unripened avacadoes and tomatillos in a somewhat neglected corner of the produce section- an area I feel the most at peace with in a grocery store. However, today I decided that the Christmas spirit must prevail despite the chaos that was sure to ensue beyond those sliding glass doors. I was destined to make it in and out of the store with all the necessary items for my family gathering. And on top of that, I was going to be cheerful and calm and not overwhelmed by the mass amounts of people. I do not like mass amounts of people. Ever.

As my mom waited at home, wrapping presents that she promised she wouldn't buy for me, I attempted to survive the overly air-conditioned, flourescent lighted section of society. I walked into the store, reusable bags in hand with an air of confidence that only comes when one knows that pie and awkward family conversations await at the end of the tunnel. I picked a cart that had no sense of direction and when left alone ultimately ran into two unsuspecting customers, both of whom merely laughed and made comments about my "kamakaze cart." Little did they know that if I chose to, I could actually give them an hour long lecture on the origins and ethics of kamakaze warfare which would have dampened the mood somewhat.

My shopping list consisted of twenty or so typical food items and clear nail polish for my mom's nail emergency. As I meandered through the aisles, I weaved past husbands incessantly begging their wives for reassurance via their cell phones. One husband in particular had an uncanny ability to be one step ahead of me. Talk about awkward encounters- and unfortunately, RE-encounters. This yellow shirted, glasses wearing husband wanted condensed milk. Hmm... so did I. I turned the corner to pick up some herbs and there he was. Limeade? Yellow shirt was there too. WHY? Who buys frozen juice in the wintertime? Seriously? I thought it was only my family, but no, it is not. Thus, I attempted to glance at the items on the other side of the frozen food section to avoid the possibility that he might think I found him attractive and wanted to follow him throughout the store like a lost puppy. He took so long picking out that damned frozen juice that I even opened the door for the Strawberry Toaster Streudels- which I remember eating once or twice in middle school and loving them. I did this to throw him off his game. I wanted him to think that I didn't want the section he was leisurely gazing into. I wanted fake frozen pastries. Sucker. After about two minutes of him staring and me walking around in circles and "hmm"ing about what flavor of Toaster Streudel I did not want, this happened:

It's time you just went in. Get that frozen juice and be done with it.

Molly: Hi, excuse me. I need to get some limeade. I am making a key lime pie this evening.
Bah! Too much information! Why did you tell him that?
Yellow Shirt: Oh, okay. Go for it.
Molly: Thanks. Hmm... I can't find it. Sorry, just let... me... find it.... hmm.... it doesn't look like they have it? No limeade? That's strange. Well... sorry I'm taking so long.... I see lemonade, but not limeade. Why are you giving him a play-by-play you socially awkward shopper!?
Yellow Shirt: It's right there. Pointing at the shelf directly in front of my and eye level
Molly: Oh there it is! Of course. It's funny how that always happens!
Yellow Shirt: Mhmm.
Molly: Ok, thank you. Merry Christmas!
Yellow Shirt: What? Oh, yes, sure... Merry Christmas.

It was at this point in the shopping extravaganza that I decided do something out of the ordinary. I whipped out my iPod, put in BOTH earphones and turned on the Sufjan Stevens Christmas album. I never listen to my iPod in public. I usually feel like I'm missing out on something, or what happens if I don't hear someone warn me that something bad is about to happen? Also, I am always afraid that someone might think I am wearing one of those bluetooth ear pieces which make me cringe. But I was about at my breaking point, and desperate times call for desperate measure. Plus, the Christmas spirit must prevail! "Lo How a Rose E'er Bloom" serenaded me as I calmly walked down the aisles toward the cinnamon sticks. I hummed. I smiled. I stopped caring that the yellow shirted Scrooge was less than enthusiastic about my key lime pie. I did not mind the near collisions of carts that were occuring as I simultaneously glided through the store. I did not allow myself to cry out of frustration when the man at the herb section informed me of a great catastrophe- the cinnamon sticks for my first attempt at making mulled apple cider with rum had been bought out yesterday. They had not been restocked.

Sufjan sang and I ungracefully forced my cart toward the glorious end. As I was at the check out counter, the lady asked if I found everything and I said that had. All but my cinnamon sticks. Not ten seconds later, the herb man I spoke with earlier unexpectedly tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Last bag of cinnamon sticks. And they are only $1.50! Merry Christmas, ma'am!" The Christmas spirit prevailed!

Merry Christmas, Ya'll.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ring my bell

I cried in church today. It was one of the best church services I have ever attended. Everything about it seemed to blend naturally. It was pure and unforced. I will admit that I have an innate distrust toward "loving church." Church as in the building, the institution, the service- not the community of people. I have seen the flaws and the inconsistencies and the hypocrisy that inevitably come with humanness and our attempt to create something sacred. Today was different. Jacob's Well tends to get things right. It is the only church I have ever attended that challenges me intellectually and spiritually. I am astounded week in and week out at the depth of honest passion and activisim that arises from our community at JW.

As we walked into the sanctuary, we were handed bells to ring during the service. The sermon was about rejoicing. We were told to ring the bells when we felt moved to do it. Instead of using the "Evangelical gutteral sounds" we rang bells. We were outwardly expressing out agreement and gladness to our community. And it may sound strange, but it was absolutely beautiful. The sound of those bells throughout the service was radiant.

I have experienced holiness on numerous occasions. Each time unique, haunting and unexpected. Always pure and beautiful. Today I witnessed one of those moments. As seven or eight children walked toward to front of the church with the intent of lighting candles for the Advent season, something in the room changed. The adults were hushed. No sound came from our mouths; we all waited in a sense of anticipation for something great, although we had no way of knowing what was to come. As the candles were lit, the children, babies and toddlers began to speak and sing and shout. Babies cried and giggled and screamed. Toddlers pointed and got on their parents laps to see the candles. The toddler next to me kept yelling "fire! lights!" They were all ringing their bells. No one told them to stop or to be quiet. No one cared about etiquette. We all sat and witnessed something beyond ourselves. They were praising God and communicating in a way that we do not understand. They rang the bells in unison, they cried and smiled and sang. It was one of those make-you-shiver-and-tear-up moments. It was sacred in the deepest definition of the word. It was holy and it was incredible.

And now I have to leave this community, in search of another one. In search of people who want to lend their talents and passions to fulfill their purposes. And it is going to be hard to find them. They are few and far between, but refreshing when discovered. So I will mourn the temporary loss of this community because it is alright to cry. I will accept my fears and doubts and dread, and I will replace them with a knowledge that adventures require much of me. They are times of struggle and sacrfice. They ask me to become less introverted and more bold. They push me and stretch me and plead for me to learn and grow. I will go to Central America with the satisfaction that I am not losing relationships or communities, but adding them.

But really, I am mostly sad.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No Countdowns, Please...

I hate countdowns. I think they are a waste of mathematics. I caught my self glancing at the calendar about to count down the days left here at Jewell. Good thing it's still on November, because I might have succumbed to the temptation of addition.

Minor tangent: I love my calendar. It is from my place of employment and it is vintage maps. Geography kicks ass, as far as I am concered, and I think I could stare at maps for hours and not get bored. The map for November is super cool, that in conjunction with my laziness is why I have not changed it yet. Tangent over.

However, it is less than two weeks until my departure, I really do not need a calendar to figure that one out. But it haunts me and pulls at me. As excited as I am about going, I do not want to leave. I hate leaving. You may ask, you do not want to leave Liberty? Jewell? Really? But it is so true. And I am grateful for that knowledge, no matter how painful the leaving will be. It is in that understanding that I can appreciate the beauty of this community of people that surround me.
I want to write about this, but I am suddenly overwhelmed with my love and appreciation for these people. First, I must give credit to the wonderful people of Liberty who have become protective pseudo families and who find it important to tease me about my piercing and to encourage me on my adventures. Many would also like to marry me off. Working at By the Book is... well, it might just be the locale for my first novel. It is like a sitcom, but the characters are better and more loving and somehow stranger than one might find on a tele. Yes, there are days when I want to spray whipped cream on the next person that asks me for a skinny cap... but mostly, I love them.
My friends. Oh my friends. I am getting teary... what can I say about these incredible people? They are the family that I have chosen to surround me during this time of my life, and I am continually astounded by them. I feel like I could write paragraphs about each of them, but collectively, they are the most genuine, caring, intelligent, and kind people I know.
I love doing homework, drinking coffee and talking about inappropriate things with Sarah P. on Sundays. I love baking really dense pastries with Carina and Lea every week. I love trying on the most hideous dresses in the world with Anna. I love giggling and confessing dumb things with Sarah H. I love running into Kelsey and talking outside in the cold for half an hour. I love laughing with Krysten about Caitlin's awkward photo ops. I love that I get to make Lucy Oreo Blasts on a semi-regular basis. I love pretending to run with Liz but going on philosophical walks instead. I love trying not to laugh at Kate's dirty jokes. I love it that I have to wear white trash clothes each Monday night while Jordan wears a handmade, glow in the dark shirt. I love that Brett is always so much more prepared than DJ Model C and me but still encourages us and tells us that we are funny. I love that my friends are so vibrantly diverse from each other. I have such different relationships with each other them, and it keeps me sane and grounded.

I feel unworthy to have such a community. And I already feel tired thinking about trying to develop another circle of friends while I am away. It will be fine, I have done it before... but, do I really need any more friends? I feel like I've hit my quota. I am an introvert, I really don't need anyone else. Maybe I will enter a stage of life where I am a major loner. I've always sort of been attracted to that lifestyle, maybe the next six months will be my loner phase. I will keep up with all my beautiful friends here, and just ignore the people I am with. Probably not... but one thing I know for sure, I am honored to have the opportunity to live, eat and be crazy with the coolest cats around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Irregulars: Blame it on the weather

My Tuesdays start early and end late. They usually consist of tasty, clandestine scones strategically placed under the espresso machine so that RG (my co-worker and resident grump) does not give me a harder time than usual. I work a split shift- open to close- with my Astronomy class in the middle. After closing the coffee shop, I rush up to dinner, barely make it to Astronomy lab, run to the radio station and perform one of the best radio shows on campus- no questions asked. Rushed yet routine, Tuesdays keep me on my toes and remind me that I am young.

This Tuesday, oh this Tuesday, was rather... unpredictable? Snapshots and snippets of the day are all that I can offer because even long, detailed stories would not adequately describe the strangeness and hilarity that was today...

Bill walked into the store today holding something behind his back as he gave me a big hug. After our initial greeting, he whipped out a well worn crossword puzzle. Not just any crossword puzzle- the exact puzzle that we did last week together. He said, "I've been carrying this puzzle around all week in case I saw you. I finally got the last two clues! I am so proud and thought you might want to see it. You can throw it away if you'd like." I kept the puzzle.

I ate a clandestine scone - (that's my new favorite pair of words).

Bill: Remember when I asked you why you got the new piercing and you said "because I'm in college?"

Molly: Yes. Did you like that?

Bill: Oh it was perfect! Best response. Speaking to his sister: Did you know that Molly was Jewell's Homecoming Director?

Molly: Good thing I didn't have this when I was director. The alums wouldn't have liked that.

Bill: Pshaw... good thing. Gaw!

Molly: Hey! What is that supposed to mean?

Bill: I don't like it. We can be frank with each other, right?

I was offered a date with a young, Missouri Nascar racer who won a race last weekend and who "has a smile that could light up a room." He is 29 and posed on magazines without a shirt. I'll pass.

4:45 pm. I stopped, mid-drink making, to assess my environment. One high school girl was on the bookshelf ladder shaking and reaching toward a pair of horse bookends. One mentally imbalanced man wearing camoflouge from head to toe- with the exception of his "I Voted for Pedro" glitter sticker- was incessantly asking me to repeat "hoorah!" with him. One MySpace friend of a co-worker was reading the headlines in today's newspaper outloud. Two little boys wanted to buy juice. A regular was waiting in line to buy her granddaughers old Nancy Drew books that had lost their back covers. Six junior high boys were asking me questions from the balcony above. And the soy milk that I was steaming started to overflow. It was at this moment that time stopped. I felt completely alone, as if I was the absolute last sane person left on the planet. Then I smiled and said, "Okay... hoorah!"

I received a phone call that had a yelling person on the other end. Wrong number.

A young man who resembled trenchcoat-wearing Jonathan Safran Foer of yester-year (is that a word? Did I make that up?) browsed the store in silence, smiled at me and then proceeded to non-chalantly walk out of the store while grabbing a napkin and putting it in his pocket. All without skipping a beat.

The night ended with an acapella duet of Fergilicious with my new same camo wearing, Pedro loving friend.

Tuesdays, oh Tuesdays.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dental Hygiene and Sibling Love

One of my personal goals for this semester was to become more proactive about my dental hygiene. Don't get me wrong, I brush twice- sometimes three times- a day and have never been subjected to a cavity. In fact, I think my tooth enamel is like iron- nothing is going to penetrate that baby. But really, how long can I slide by on genetically superior tooth enamel? I fear no more than 22 years. Thus, I bought dental floss this afternoon. No I didn't splurge for the fancy brand name floss that probably whitens, fights gingivitis and cures rabies. I opted for the 79 cent, mint flavored kind- probably because I lack confidence in the longevity of my flossing career.

A fellow Jewell student and pre-dentistry major told me that he can tell if someone flosses or not almost immediately. Though I doubt he actually has that superpower, it made me feel uncomfortable. Because I do not floss. Alas, it is time to break past the wall of bare minimum. My gums may bleed and I may have 79 cent floss residue stuck permanently between my too close together teeth, but the next time I get into a conversation about floss I will hold my head high and say, "why of course I floss! Everyday."

An Ode to the Cooler One:

Now for something much better than dental floss: My sister, Bethanie. For those of you who do not have the honor of knowing my older sister, I feel sorry for you. She's pretty much the coolest ever. Bethanie lives in Costa Rica with her husband Bhadri and their dog Booster. They all share the initials BV. They are working on a farm, building bamboo fences and zip lining through the rainforest. Bethanie used to design children's watches. And she wanted to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz when she grew up (this is written in past tense which is an assumption). Bethanie was given the more unique name, but I am not bitter. She is adventurous and just might be the inspiration that convinced me that I can travel the world and still survive.

Since the year 2001, we have been best friends. At least, since 2001 it has been mutual. I always wanted her to be my bf4l, but I used to wear my pants a little too high and I turned off her bedroom light when she was reading just to really stick it to her. It worked.

We get along quite beautifully now. And I really hope someday we live in the same country- preferably the same city/township, because I think that would be pretty spectacular. For now, we travel around the world visiting each other in our different environments.

Bethanie and I laugh a lot. Somehow we gain confidence when we are around each other, and we get a whole lot goofier. And bolder. And probably prettier.

We aren't really mad at each other.Look to the left. What to do on a Thursday in Oklahoma? Dress up like the 80s, put on thick eyebrow liner and some bows- and you've got yourself Sister Glamour Shots 2008!
To the right: Acting like some of Beth's international students in California

Above: Oklahoma fun with mom, Booster, Barbies and Bhadri...

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Seasons. They are times of change. And just like the weather and the trees and the leaves and the barometric pressure, we are in a constant state of transformation; maturing, growing, becoming. At times it can be scary. Change is not always easy. But it can also be invigorating.

Right now, I am in a strange state of transformation. Words do not easily come to mind to describe this process that I am in. Emotionally, I am drained but hopeful. Physically, I am apathetic and tired. Spiritually, I am becoming refreshed with each day. I am content and satisfied with this time. Although my heart feels pain at times and I am easily prone to feel a sense of brokenness, I think it is good. Brokenness can be healing. It can be freeing. And if tears and pain lead to freedom, then sign me up!

So in an attempt to continue changing, to live life to the fullest, to never regret missing an opportunity, to be bold and adventurous, to screw stereotypes, to be young and prone to mistakes... I pierced my lip. Note the picture below:Yes, I did it. It was a little spontaneous (of course, I did go into the place and ask all the necessary questions, chicken out and then show back up 5 hours later). I did not want to do this out of vanity or rebelism (is that a word?)... but I still wanted to do it. Why? I am not sure. Maybe just because I wanted to. Maybe because it is fun. Is that a good enough reason? Why do I always have to make something with deeper meaning? It was fun. And I like it. That's all.

How did it happen?

Sarah: How's your dinner?
Molly: It would taste better if I had a piece of metal in my mouth.

Sarah: Let's do it.

Molly: What? No! Really? Now?
Sarah: Yes! Let's go. Now.

Cue scarfing of granola and yogurt, broccoli falling to the floor, jumping and squealing, and running out of the cafeteria with numerous confused students left in wonderment.

Thanks to Sarah, my lovely and beautiful friend, I now have a piece of foreign metal sticking out of my face. It is fun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Genius of Foer

The leaves are falling. The wind chill is below freezing. My appendages are in a constant state of numbness. Pumpkin seeds are baking in the oven. It is autumn. And I am overjoyed.

I love reading books, especially during the chilly seasons. Tonight I should be doing school work of some sort, but as has become a regular occurence, I cracked open a book just for fun. This evening I was glancing through one of my all time favorites Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by my all-time favorite author Jonathan Safran Foer. He is brilliant. I can read his works over and over, and yet somehow I find new meanings each time. That is rare. If you have not read Everything is Illuminated or the aforementioned book, then I would highly advise it.

...together and separately, out loud and silently, we were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored, to build a new world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged, it was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn't think about my life at all.

He makes me want to be an author.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I daydream. Usually it has to do with some far off adventure that appears unattainable and distant. Yet somehow, if I dream enough, I usually get there.

I am not reading about the pre-WWII Japanese attempt at imperialism in the Pacific as required of me by my favorite professor, but I am researching organic farming internships in Oregon. I do this. I so easily get lost in a world of possibilities and potential. I develop these thoughts that take me out of my dorm room and put in places where I get to be outside, I get to cook and I get to live life with other people. Not that I don't live life with people here... I do. But I'm not outside nearly enough as I would like. And the oven in our kitchen set the fire alarm off consistently.

It is not that I am dissatisfied with my life here at Jewell. In fact, I just had an incredible fall break filled with corn mazes, backcountry driving, sushi, oversized margaritas and Mexican men who wink too much, best friends from DC, glitter glue and camping. It was perfect. And I even got to read a whole book. Really, I could not have asked for a better break. So why do I daydream so much?

Maybe it's the age- I am nearly 22 (on Friday!)... I feel like I matured more this summer, and now I am ready to move on with my life. I love college. Too much sometimes. But now I feel like it is time for the next stage. I want a life now. Oh to have a house (or a treehouse on someone's farm)! To be able to read a book that I won't be tested on. To be able to actually start working on issues that I believe in. To study more, but also to do.

I will live in Amsterdam. I will garden and live on a farm in Oregon. I will bake bread in Boston. I will work with prostitutes in San Francisco. I will do microlending in Africa. I will write a book in Montana. And I will drink tea and sit on a big, wrap-around porch on 39th Street.

But until then, I will study sustainable development in Central America. And I will continue daydreaming because it is the dreaming that inspires the action. So dream on, my virtual friends, dream on.

This is my friend Julie. Not only does she work at an art gallery in our nation's capital, but she also gave me bangs. And made me paint my fingernails.

She came to visit me. We took walks and painted. We camped outside in the cold- but I made sure we took vitamins before we braved the weather. We talked about life and love and God. Now I am refreshed.

She dreams too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog-worthy Bill

Bill leisurely walked into the bookstore at his normal time; 8:20 am. He was wearing his matching William Jewell College trucker hat and windbreaker along with his black sneakers and oversized reading glasses. I gave him the typical, "Good morning, Bill! How are you doing?" And he very intentionally walked over to give me a pat on the back while flashing his contagious grin. He asked, "Now, Molly... what were you? Director of Homecoming?" That's right- let me mention that I never told Bill this, it is simply that By the Book gossip spreads like wildfire. "Did you know that I was Homecoming Director at Jewell in.... what was the year? I think it was 1947." Verdad? How cool. Who could have guessed that Bill would walk into a coffee shop every morning to greet a barista that held the same stressful role as HC director of his own college 61 years later!

Maybe that's why I'm a history major. I love stories and connections. I love to see how things begin and how they reconnect. I love that Bill who buys his $1.50 cup of coffee every morning and I have something in common. I love his stories and I love giving him reason to share them.

Bill also always fills out the NY Times Crossword Puzzle (one of my everyday activities, as well). Today I was waiting to do it until the afternoon so Bill took that opportunity to use me. He wanted answers and he wanted them now. So he would read them off and I would try to answer them. My favorite came about three clues in. He said, "Molly, you're young. Which 'rapper' co-owns the NJ Nets? 4 letters, second letter A." I know that I am out of touch with the rap world- surprising, no?- but one rapper always stands out above the rest. My fav.
"Well, who the hell is Jay-Z? How do you spell that? Are you sure?"
"Bill, don't question my knowledge of hip hop."
"Okay, us Homecoming directors have to stick together."

Bill is blog-worthy. Just when I thought he was predictable, he gives me another story.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Homecoming Teaser

Merely 4 hours ago, I finished my duties as William Jewell College's 2008 Homecoming Director (with my now dear friend Kate). It was the most stressful and busy week of my life, hands down. Beforehand, I thought that I knew what those two words actually meant (stressful and busy); however, this week those definitions held a completely new meaning. I cannot write about it yet, though it is worthy of some major blogging. First I need to be alone for a while. I need to not hear "Molly! Molly! I have a question!" I need to have a conversation with one person at a time. I need to not have 1,200 people scrutinizing my every decision. I need to not have those 1,200 people constantly looking at me for direction. I need to debrief and to catch up on my much neglected school work.

So tonight, I put on a dress, drank a margarita and tried to enjoy my newfound freedom. Homecoming is over... now what am I going to do?

This week I...
... yelled at someone and used the word "damn" in my first bonafide argument (btw, I won)
... talked on a loudspeaker at a football game that I did not watch
... shook Joe Biden's hand (a very ironic story follows this someday soon)
... cursed a lot
... laughed a lot

Really, it's just Homecoming. Not all that interesting, I understand, but it's probably the biggest leadership position to date. In the words of Beyonce, "I'm a surivor, I'm gonna make it, I'm a survivor who keeps on survivin'." Inspirational. True.

It's 8:28 pm. I am going to sleep.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jamaica Me Come Home...

Last semester, I was suckered into being the Homecoming Director for Jewell. In fact, I was told "you have no choice." Totally untrue and not a good way to convince me to do something, but I nonetheless took the job. Ironic, considering how I have little to no school spirit, I am not in a sorority and I find myself saying often to people overinvolved in the event "it's only Homecoming!" Anyway, from what I hear it's the most stressful thing you can do at Jewell, but I am doing fine. I am usually a pretty relaxed person, and I have found myself staying calm under the intense pressure of angry Greeks, bitter Independents and frazzled faculty members. However, when I look at the planner that depressingly holds the activities of my life in 7 small boxes a week, I feel slightly overwhelmed. On top of directing Homecoming, I am working at my coffee shop AND doing hours as an RA. Yet, I just have to take it day by day and the craziness of life seems to subside.

Bethanie and Bhadri (my sibs) are leaving for Costa Rica on Saturday. We had a coffee date via Skype this morning, and it made me ever more jealous that they get to go farm while I will be here in Liberty. I want to farm! When I get tired of life here in Missouri, I dream. I even do research to follow-up my dreams. I found a farm in Oregon that is run by a vegan couple who have treehouses for their interns' living quarters. I could move there, harvest food, cook dinners, read books in the evenings, climb mountains, surf in the summers, hike through canyons and the list goes on. Yet, I know that even if I did that, I wouldn't be completely satisfied. I would have another dream to chase. Always chasing, never catching- that's the fun of it! So for now, I will be alright with studying WWII, contributing to others' caffeine addictions, watching Flight of the Conchords, and embroidering pictures of animals for friends. Oh, and directing Homecoming.

When I ever get a little sad or annoyed with life, I just take a glance at this beauty...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Sisters of Carmel

I would like to admit something that I have never discussed prior to this entry. My blog is in an indiscernable Slavic language. I always click on "Utworz bloga" when I should click on "Zaloguj sie" for a new post. Why is it in a foreign language? I do not know. I have a love/hate relationship with it. In a way, it's annoying- but it's also a challenge. And you know I love challenges.

"I sometimes imagine that I long for the seclusion of a nunnery. But I know that I must seek You among people, out in the world." Etty Hillesum, my new hero

When I went to California this summer, I stayed at a Carmelite Monastery on the side of a cliff overlooking the city. It was set in a normal San Diego neighborhood, but once in the monastery, a whole new world appeared to me. The moment I walked into the quiet, dark and somewhat mysterious home of 14 Catholic sisters, I immediately became overwhelmed by the purity of it all. The women were genuine, their love clear and their hospitality inspirational. I got to spend some time with a darling nun named Sister Yvonne. We discussed my life, her life, the mission of the Carmelites, their struggles, my struggles, their need to find a place in the world, my need to find a place in the world, and our unified love for God.

It was special, yes, and I knew that at the time... but I look back on those few days with some of the most incredible and dedicated women I have ever met and my heart is tender. You know that feeling? It's relatively the same feeling I get when I think about my brothers and sisters in Africa (to a smaller extent)- but it's the feeling that there is something very sacred about that place, those people and that time. Sacred. Set apart. Holy. My heart aches to return.
And I'm not saying that I will become a nun- although let's be honest, it is possible- but I will say that I long to be a part of something like that. Something that is so community oriented, but not just community for community's sake- real, genuine desire to be a family with the common goal of Christ. The unified acceptance that our purpose is not our own. We are not made for the world or for our desires, but for something greater. Something more meaningful. Harder. Beyond ourselves.
Although I did have to dance around the fact that I was traveling with a boy, the nuns accepted me as the Protestant wanderer that I am. And Sister Yvonne... oh Sister Yvonne, she was genuinely interested in my life and the places God has taken me. We prayed together, and actually cried together- albeit most of the crying was from yours truly but they were tears of joy and relief- and something very beautiful developed in that monastery and in our conversations.

I do not know why I felt like writing a blog about the Carmelites of San Diego, but I do know that they now hold a special place in my heart. And I want to write a book about them or about my experience with them. Because they are wonderful. And beautiful. And inspirational. And sacred.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coffeehouse Altercations


To me, that has always seemed like an out of date, Southern, ignorant perspective only seen in the movies or read in books. It has never really presented itself to me up close and personal... until last night. I know that racism exists, but to actually be in the midst of people who think that hate can be justified is bewildering. Absolutely inconceivable to me.

Where to begin? One of my co-workers who has been especially hard for me to get along with just so happens to be in 11th grade. I love high school boys; they are so charming. He has made comments that make me cringe on mulitiple occasions, and last night was my breaking point. He jokingly made a racist comment, not uncommon in the least for him. I could no longer roll my eyes and simply tell him that he was acting like an asshole. No, this was our time to hash it out. What proceeded was an hour and half conversation about why he feels like it is acceptable to say and ultimately, think a certain way. It was somewhat productive. He learned that he feels superior to minorities, and that society has trained him to believe that money makes a person more valuable. But when I would ask him what he believes and not what society believes, he had no clue.

This kid is an extremely intelligent, albeit extremely annoying, young boy. I told him that I expected him to be able to back up his comments. He couldn't. He repeated, "I can say it because it's the truth!" To me, that is not an argument. And he couldn't wrap his mind around the idea that simply saying something is true or right doesn't actually make it true or right, and that generalizations amount to nothing. And at one point I asked him what he valued, how he decided one person was superior than another. Was it money? Race? Affluence? Intelligence? And he admitted that he did not know what he valued. He wanted to know, but he had never thought about it.

It was frustrating. It was mind-blowing. But it was needed. He asked me all kinds of questions about why I believe the way I do. Why I don't care about money like he does, why I value certain things about others, etc. It was good. And I had the opportunity to give him my raw perspective on life. On my struggles with judging people who are rich, who are ungrateful, who wear mini-skirts and who pop their collars. We learned from each other.

Oswald Chambers said in today's devotional, "When we come into contact with things that create confusion... we find to our amazement that we have the power to stay wonderfully poised even in the center of it all." He was not speaking about racism, but I will take it as a sign that my words were not my own. I was a well full of questions, answers, comments that were surprisingly genuine and non-aggressive. I was astouned at the conversation because although it was intense, we were respectful of each other. God was bringing to mind things I have learned and experiences I've had that had relevance to the topic. It was strange how beautifully it all come out and how it all fit together to shed light on the heart of the topic.

And then all hell broke loose. Another co-worker came in. The high schooler and I were mid-conversation, learning from each other, beginning to get somewhere... and then she walked in. I expected an ally. I expected decent human kindness. And all I got was a whole new battle.

This girl asked what we were talking about and I said, "(insert boys name here) made another racist comment and we are talking about why he thinks its okay and I think its wrong." And she looked at me and said, "Hail Hitler." I laughed an uncomfortable laugh. She had to be joking, right? And then she said, "I think racism is okay." I wanted to cry- out of frustration, out of disappointment, out of loneliness, out of brokeness.

The one who I thought would be my ally became my toughest opponent. I let her explain to me and I tried to listen with respect. But it was lost on me. First of all, the reasons and arguments that these two co-workers proceeded to berade me with sounded very unintelligent to me. Maybe it's the fact that they haven't been to college and have never had to give a real argument. I told them that a professor would tear them apart if they ever wrote a paper with those kind of generalizations, opinions, statements and absolutely nothing to back them up. No evidence. Nothing. But secondly, here were two young people who are justifying their hatred and superiority toward other humans. It was utterly heart-breaking. I kept thinking not only about the people that they are expressing superiority over but about them. What is it like to live with a hatred toward your fellow humans? Real, honest hate.

I left work with a feeling of utter disgust. I called my dear friend Caitlin, a non-racist like m'self, and she let me rant and cuss and scream about the night. We talked a long time about racism. About how we were raised and how racism creeps into everyday life in America. And she eloquently stated that "hatred can never be healthy." Where there is hatred, there is no health. And that is the root of it all. Hatred can never and should never be justified.

I cannot get that conversation out of my mind- maybe because I need to think about it more. But I have literally had tears well up in my eyes as I replay certain aspects of that conversation. The hatred disgusts me. The lack of love and complete disregard for humanity makes me heart hurt. Racism is real. It is not so uncommon as I once thought. And it slapped me in the face.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Travel Etiquette... or lack thereof, lady

I can be socially awkward, yes, I know that about myself. I do not always follow social norms, and admittedly, I sometimes blatantly disregard them. But travel etiquette I have down. It is like second nature to me... or so I thought.

I have been to 13 airports since December: Kansas City, Chicago, Miami, Tulsa, DFW, Minneapolis, Amsterdam, Accra, Dallas-Love, Lubbock, San Francisco, Phoenix, Milwakee. That sounds pretentious. I hate flying... I mean, I sort of love it. But I would rather drive then fly. And driving I have done as well. I have covered well over half the country this year by highways and byways, canyons and flatlands, oceans and mountains, hippie towns and cow pastures. Traveling is something that I enjoy, and honestly, it is one of the few things that I can consider myself well-informed about.

One can only imagine my shock when I was snubbed on an airplane last night by a 40something, make-up wearing, spray on tan loving, tight pants flaunting, woman drinking her large soda. I flew Southwest, one of the gems of the airline industry, and I was one of that last passengers on the plane. I knew I would inevitably get a middle seat, but I do not really mind that because I'm young and old people need more leg room more than I do.

I scouted my middle seat options. Usually I like to sit between two people with amiable appearances or a couple of old people will suffice. I found two ladies and I politely said, "Excuse me? Is that seat taken?" To my utmost confusion, the soda drinking, soccer mom says, "Umm... bsha... hmmph... no. I guess not." I was appalled. Did she just pull the "sorry, seat's saved" move? So I thought, screw you! I'm sitting next to you to simply to spite you. She could have left it at that. She clearly proved her point, right? No, she had a trump move yet to play. I opened my Steinbeck novel, crossed my legs and tried not to disturb my sensitive neighbor. Not more than 30 seconds later she actually gets up and moves to the back of the plane. I looked around in an even more confused state, and said to the short haired older lady next to me who was quite indifferent to my troubles, "Whoa, I think the lady next to me left. But her drink is still here." Quick hand, huffy woman snabs her drink, gives me a dirty look and huffs off to her new seat. The backpacking hipster behind me who had observed the whole event said, "Whoa. That's weird. Hmm... what's her problem?" Finally, an ally!

Did I look dirty? Was I too hippie? I mean, I don't wear velour jogging suits like her, so obviously I'm not as stylish... but really, why does she care so much? Have we come to the point where sitting next to someone on a plane is an inconvenience? Is personal space so important that we need an extra 2 inches for our 50 minute flight to Kansas City?

Try sitting on the floor of a vehicle with (or ontop of...) 30 other people, several bags of rice and a couple live animals... then talk to me about personal space.

I think that more people need to ignore social norms and personal space. Then maybe we would get along more, care less about inconvenience and more about our relationships with other people. The world might just live in harmony if every once in a while we really talked to a stranger, raced a random biker down the sidewalk on our longboards (ahem, Bhadri) or let someone sit next to you on a plane. I could be wrong though.

Monday, September 1, 2008

For my family

Although today may seem like any other Labor Day, for me it is monumental. Not only did I begin my junior year of college, attend a BBQ, and buy some mums, but as I write, my mom and her new husband are embarking on their latest adventure. They are moving to Venezuela. Yes, South America. Life is always changing, but right now, it seems like everything that has had an kind of significance for me is shifting. Though it's difficult and strange, it's not a bad thing. My life is unusual, I understand that, and I also appreciate that. But it does seem to constantly test my patience and my trust in God. However, I am beginning to understand a little bit more of why my life is in a constant state of transformation. I need it. I am learning how to rid myself of all attachments. Things that seemed so important to me (my childhood house, my car, my stability) are being taken. Or I am being urged to give them up. Honestly, everything that I have relied on and most things that I associate with comfort and with home are no longer the same. It's terrifying, but at the same time, I know that my home and my real focus will be on something greater and oh so much more stable. All this has allowed me to see my life from a new perspective.
My mom will always be my mom. She does not need to live and teach in Tulsa to be my mom. My sister and I have lived in foreign countries. We've been transformed because of those experiences; why shouldn't my mom have that opportunity as well? And I love that she is so brave and adventurous. She doesn't understand where Bethanie and I got the nerve to travel and visit different cultures, but clearly she has something to do with that.

So to my mom and Joe, congratulations on your next adventure. I'm so proud of you!
And to my dear brother, Bhadri, you are not forgotten. Happy Birthday! Bethanie and Dad, thanks for being so wonderful and for taking care of me and my gallbladder. I will see you all soon enough. Let's go camping.
"Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." -Paul

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Attic Attack & Sentimental Sisters

My sister and I have been cleaning out the attic this week. For those of you who did not know, my mom got remarried this summer and is moving to Venezuela (yes, South America-Hugo-Chavez-Venezuela). Therefore, everything that has been accumulated by my sister and I for the past 26 years is being sorted, stacked, and placed in piles of "Give Away" or "I could never part with this (insert item such as: tennis shoe scooter, Barbie in neon pink dress, etc)." We have laughed hysterically, remembered long forgotten stories and even shed a few sentimental tears. It is much more emotional that I thought. I am at a stage in my life where I am really focusing on simplifying everything. If it isn't practical, artistic or rationally sentimental why do I need it? Do I really need three boxes of rocks? Yes, I do.

Sidenote: I was an avid rock collector. You think you were too? Did you have your own private rock tumbler? Can you pin point a geod? Amethyst? What is Oklahoma's state rock? Do you have that state rock mounted on a ring? Did you consider each and every rock- including the gravel at the end of your driveway- precious gems? Well I did. I loved rocks. I even had books about rocks.

No, I do not need three boxes full of rocks. So I condensed them into one. I threw out the large, oddly shaped stones that I obviously took from someone's yard during a bikeride. I did not need those large rocks that sort of resembled guns and sunny side up eggs. But I know that I once loved them. Just like I loved my glow bug and my Amy Grant Sings Christmas cassette tape.

Despite the large collection of items from my childhood that have jolted memories and made me rather sad to part with, it is quite freeing to condense everything. I love giving things away. I love limiting myself to one box. You can only keep one box, make it work. Right now I am sifting through my clothes and limiting my number of t-shirts. I am currently trying to get rid of all but 25 t-shirts. And even worse, it's hard. I find myself thinking "well, maybe someday I will want to wear this" and then I have to catch myself and remember that I am insane. I do not need that many t-shirts. No one needs that many t-shirts! Simplify. I have found that life becomes much clearer when "things" are not surrouding me. They can be suffocating. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Something I think I will be continuously striving to do.

This is for Liz:
Currently Listening to: Chris Thile
Currently Reading: Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters
Current Summer Realizations: My life is not normal, my sister is incredible, I like domestic activities, and I don't drink enough water
Currently Eating: Vegan Chocolate Cake

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Life is a highway...

I must admit, I am currently struggling with the new concept of domestic blogging. International travel and quips about African children are do-able for me. But talking about myself in America, much harder. Thankfully I have brilliant friends like Sarah and Liz who show me how wonderful it can be to read the thoughts of those you love. They have inspired me to push through and write.

Life in America has been extremely hard for me these past two years. I had been judgmental, bitter, jaded and angry more times that I can count. Consumerism and apathy have surrounded me because I have allowed them to. I have focused on the negative and idealized the rest of the world. It has been especially difficult to readjust once again into the American life without losing the beauty of African life. So what's the cure for my ill, you ask? Roadtrip. Ingredients: Sister, beach, good talks, nuns, public transportation and camping. No hydrogenated oils.

After teaching gardening in Tulsa for 3 weeks, I embarked on yet another adventure. My friend John and I headed out to California via Route 66, Sedona and long endless highways. Fueled by too many cups of coffee, we made it to San Diego where my sister and brother-in-law are currently teaching. It was perfect. I love my sister. I realized that this was our first "trip" together without the 'rents. We got to chill at the beach, eat lots of Mexican food, drink good beers, and search for used socio-politcal books like nerds. What more could a girl want?
In addition, I stayed at a Carmelite Monastery with fourteen beautiful nuns. I had my own apartment with a kitchen, bathroom and windows that opened out onto the insanely gorgeous gardens. It was one of the most clearly holy places I have been. The presence of the Lord was found in the stillness of the halls, the vibrant colors of the SoCal flowers and the smile of Sister Yvonne, the Prioress who welcomed my Protestant self into her humble abode. I cried when I left. There was good half hour where I seriously considered joining the Carmelites and becoming a nun. It's not been completely ruled out.

After having some good quality sister time, we headed up highway 1 toward the final destination of San Francisco. We had the best Thai food of my life in LA, slept illegally in a State Park, cooked pancakes on the beach north of Santa Cruz and made it to San Francisco to drink coffee by mid-morning. I love San Francisco. An intoxicated Frenchmen told John and me that no one was actually from San Francisco, it's just that all the crazies and outcasts from everywhere else in America move there. Sounds perfect to me.

Most details I will keep to myself because I feel like the more things are spoken, the less sacred they remain. And roadtrips are sacred, as far as I am concerned.
So instead, I will leave you with the image of Bhadri and John during an intense game of checkers at a local San Diego coffee shop. Bethanie and I watched on with about as much anticipation as these two expressed during the match.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meet Rosalinda

Meet Rosalinda. Lauren and I taught her when she was two and three, and she is pretty much one of the most darling children in the world. And I think I can claim that, as I've met a lot of children around the world.
Rosalinda was picking flowers near my house the first Sunday I was in Amedzofe. I saw her and my heart leapt. It was the first time I had seen one of my old students... one of my chillens! But I knew not to expect much because she probably wouldn't remember me. She was so young.
Darling Rosalinda looked up at me, with flowers in the pockets of her dress and in a tight bouquet wrapped with her little hands. Her eyes grew wide and big as she boisterously yelled "Teacha!" and ran at me full speed. She jumped up into my arms and kissed me and hugged me and gave me flowers.
Up until this moment I had been going through a very dark, loneliness... but the second that girl jumped into my arms and giggled with delight that her old, white teacher was holding her and tickling her yet again... that loneliness vanished. She came to visit me every day after school and I caught glimpses of how mature and wise a five year old can truly be.
This may be cheesy and overly sensitive to you, virtual friends, but that's okay with me. It is really for Lauren and Lesley, and it's for those who like sweet stories. So deal, mmk?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zen and the Art of Sleep Deprivation

Subtitle: The Epic Tale of a Traveler's Homecoming

Welcome back to the United States of America, Molly Bryant.

I arrived at DFW Airport after 17 hours in the air. I was feeling pretty good, I had just traveled to Africa and back by myself with no problems. All was going well, and it looked as if I would have no traveling woes at all. Too soon? Yes.

I bought a round trip ticket from Dallas because I am a cheap, savvy traveler who likes a good deal. And this was the best I could find. So when I left for Ghana I did not have a way to get from Dallas to Tulsa but I was not concerned. I had my mom purchase the cheapest ticket she could find which so happened to be on another airline. No problem. I would just get my luggage and then re-check my luggage with Southwest. Right? Wrong.

Molly: Excuse me, can you tell me how to get back into the DFW terminal? I have to check-in with Southwest and I don't know where to go.
Immigration Officer: Oh sure. Well, isn't Southwest at Dallas-LUV?
Molly thinking explitives but saying: Hmm, yes I believe it is. Well, maybe not.
Immigration Officer: Maybe there is one here.
Molly knowing that there is not one there: Yes, maybe there is. Thank you.

I then proceeded to calmly go through immigration and walked up to an old man at the information booth to make sure that I was indeed at the wrong airport. Sure enough, yes, I needed to be across town in roughly one hour to board my plane. I needed to get a taxi or shared transportation to take me. So I went outside to find my way. No one knew how to get there and no one really cared to help.

Most would have had a breakdown at this point. I had just traveled from Africa to America by myself. I had been awake for 32 hours straight. At one point, I attempted to cry but my eyes were so dry from being awake for so long that nothing came out. That was only my only breakdown, it was about 5 seconds and I just made a weird face and then gave up.

I found my shared taxi cab, hopped in with three businessmen who looked absolutely disgusted at me. Here I was, the hippie with hair legs and an African dress and messy hair, sitting next to a man that did not hide his utter disdain for my appearance. I really could not have cared any less. I had reached the point in sleep deprivation where one becomes delusional. I sang along with the radio, I sneezed and then somehow felt that I needed to justify my sneeze by saying "I've been awake for more than 30 hours straight, sorry," I did not care. And more than that, I was having a relatively nice time because I had refused to freak out. I also think that I like myself a lot more when I haven't slept. I am more daring and I can make myself laugh a lot more.

After we dropped the businessmen off at their swanky hotel, the driver and I proceeded to Dallas-LUV. We chatted about my sleep deprivation, the humor in being at the wrong airport after traveling so long, his children, my family and then he gave me a tour of a fancy neighborhood where the Dallas Cowboys owner lives. Stellar. He told me that it would have been very expensive to get a taxi by myself, good thing this is a flat rate for everyone.

Molly: By the way, how much is that flat rate?
Driver: $21.00
Molly: Okay, cool.

I did not have $21. I did, however, need to be at Dallas-LUV ASAP. What's a girl to do?

I got out of the car at LUV, handed the man all of my money which did not quite reach the flat rate, rummaged through my bags to see if maybe I had anything else.

Molly: Well, I have a Euro and some Ghana Cedis?
Driver: No worries, love. Consider it on me.

And the tale ends at hour 45 (of being awake) with the woman next to me saying "Wow, it will feel really great to get off this airplane." We flew from Dallas to Tulsa and the total flight was 38 minutes. If there was ever a time that I was to punch a 65 year old lady in the face, it would have been then. But I did not. I went home, ate chicken and went to get some much needed sleep.

P.S. As this whole thing was playing out, I was thinking "What a great blog!" And I had all these quips and silly comments but they are lost on me now that I have slept. Too bad. I am a lot cooler without sleep.

Apologies and A Couple Photos

First of all, I realize now that I should have written a blog this morning to inform you all that I arrived home safe and sound after 2 days of travel. I realized this at about 4pm today when I had received numerous text messages, phone messages and emails asking if I had returned. Only one was a little frantic.
So... I'm back in America! I slept in my own bed last night and drank coffee on my back porch this morning.

My reason for not writing yet is that I have a really great travel story to share (it's epic!) and it deserves some effort... right now, I am completely zapped of energy and my sister and brother in law just got in from Europe today, so it's coming soon.

Until then, here are a few photos to keep you interested in my life. More will be revealed after Lauren and Lesley get the full viewing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I love Nuns

On my flight from Accra to Amsterdam, I was seated next to a Ghanaian nun. We sang a song together in a local dialect and then we watched the sun rise over the Holland countryside. I am not even exaggerating.

And I showed her how to buckle and unbuckle her seatbelt, open the bag that contains the blanket, how to open the bathroom door and many more airplane phenomenoms. She pretty much kept me sane. Nuns are wonderful.

In Amsterdam I Got Quite Crazy

4:30 in the morning, my time, and I am being so very Euro-African as I sit in the airport sipping my latte and eating a scone... whilst dawning the Ghanaian dress that I received as a gift. All is well. I left Ghana last night and the whole ordeal seemed like an awful blur of chaos, farewells and food. But we all made it through, although I must admit that yes, I did cry. But I think that it is perfectly fine to express emotions, so I went for it. However, it was not nearly as dramatic as two years ago.

I now have 4 hours to walk around Amsterdam... Schipol Airport. It has taken so much self control not to walk out into the city. Only a select few understand the gravitational pull toward Dam Square, the Cleft or Dwazezaken. Ah, I cannot even think about it! So I was leisurely meandering through the gates and saw the exit and customs... I started to move toward it and thought, should I? But then I realized that if I left, I would never come back. Thus, I am eating my scone. I just have to remember that someday in the future, I will get to spend plenty plenty time in Amsterdam... when I move here.

I have not yet grasped the magnitude of my trip to Ghana, now will I ever, I imagine. And I definitely have not begun to deal with leaving my loved ones again... that will take time, and probably quite a bit of it. But right now, I am content and sleep deprived and really not looking forward to DFW. Bleh. I think I might go make a European friend... wish me luck!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Top 5 Things I Am Looking Forward to in the States:
-Coffee, not the crappy Nescafe taste the spirit of Africa packet, but real coffee. Strong and black (wink, Katherine)
-Non-tomato based products... food is a big deal to me. I like it and I always have. So bring on the sushi, the hamburgers, the mashed potatoes and the enchiladas because mama's coming home
-Euro Cup? Have I missed it? Tell me I haven't missed ALL of it. If I have, then I will change this one to "Frisbees"
-New music, such as the new Coldplay CD which I have yet to hear with my own ears but I dream about the genius of it often
-MY SISTER! She comes back from Europe the day after I come back from Africa, aren't we cool? And we will finally make it in the States at the same time... thanks to my gallbladder, but I'm not bitter because it get to make puns and cook and gang up on my parents with m'seastar

Top 5 Things I Will Miss about Ghana (not including people because that's just too hard):
-Kelewele... the best fried freakin' plantain dish in the world, only served at night in the cities
-Ghana Time... meaning, you never have to be anywhere on time because no one else will... it's actually more than perfect for me because for those who don't know this, I usually don't make it anywhere on time and I have a fear of being early
-Church... filled with dancing and singing, the best part is you don't even have to be a good singer to lead worship and that makes me happy and accepted
-The Prayer Garden... every night in the village I spend an hour or more in a garden run by my dear Mr. Sheri who owns a tortoise that has an uncanny resemblance to him... the garden overlooks to the village of Biakpa and you can see as far as Lake Volta, it's about as close to heaven as anywhere
-The vibrant colors of the fabric, the homes, the environment, the food... everything is so colorful

Summer In the City

Apparently whenever I try to upload pictures to the blog, the computer freezes completely. It's unfortunate because I would love show you all the lovely faces of my friends and family here, but it looks like I will have to save that for when I get back to the States... which is all too soon. I will be arriving in Tulsa on Tuesday night after a super long flight from Accra to Amsterdam to Dallas and then finally the homestead. In Amsterdam though, I plan to meet with a man who is a bigwig when it comes to the anti-trafficking of women in the Red Light District... it's perfect! If he doesn't show up, then I am going to make some unsuspecting boy buy me a cup of coffee and possibly a waffle. Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in the capital, Accra where life is hectic and crowded and hot. It's drastically different from the village which was nice and calm and very few people cared I was white. Here though, I get lots of stares and exponentially more proposals (even the ring that I wear on my left hand to deter suitors is living up to its potential). However, I'm making the best of it and getting to see some very dear friends.

Yesterday, my BFF Ghanaian-style, Dinah and I took the town. We visited with our old housemates, the Badjies (can I get a woop woop, LK and Les?) They are absolutely wonderful. And my baby, really... if I can ever claim another child as my own, it would be this beautiful bundle of energy, Maa Justine. Lauren and I used to take her to school, on our backs, as a baby and now two years later, she's a walking, talking noise making machine. When I walked into the room, she looked up at me and said "You're my auntie! You're my auntie!" And then led me by the hand to her photo album, sat on my lap and showed me pictures of her three white aunties. It was absolutely priceless. Aah, it was only too short of a visit. After eating some rice and stew and a pleasantly long conversation with Brigitte Badjie, Dinah and I headed off to the beach. Before we left though, Maa sang and danced and made up a song about me being her auntie. She even taught me the Black Stars theme song for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Sidenote: I had planned to go to see a soccer match today with the Black Stars and was absolutely giddy about the whole affair... but plans changed, as they always do. And you know what I ended up doing? Sitting at a Chinese/Ghanaian Restaurant with two African men. Soccer or awkward lunch? It's a toss-up for sure.

I will continue to blog, even when I get back to the States, because there is so much else that I wanted to share but I didn't have the internet... and I want to put up pictures. If you all want to see them. Really, I feel like a mother who wants to show off all her children's boring awards and pictures and tell really awful and stupid stories that are only interesting to her because she is their mother and she drives a van with an Elementary Student of the Month sticker stuck crooked on the bumper. So if this is the case, I apologize. I never intended to turn into that girl.

More to come, tech lovers.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


Virtual Friends (and hopefully, real ones too),

I have had a change of plans. I have been here for a month now and just made it back to Accra. I have very little time at this internet cafe, but the news... I will be gracing the States with my presence on Tuesday the 24th. Yah. Apparently I have a malfunctioning gallbladder. No big deal. But really, what do you even need your gallbladder for? So... I promise to blog again soon. And it will be sillier and clever-er than this one.

P.S. I think I'm actually African... just a little paler than the rest.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Everything Is Illuminated

Everything is illuminated here in Amedzofe. Life, purpose, significance- all become clearer and more vibrant. My soul finds rest here. I am forced to slow down and quiet myself each day. The multi-tasking, super efficient minded characteristic of my college life becomes unimportant. It does not matter.

Instead, I find my satisfaction in the unknown and the uncomfortable. I do not know why God has chosen to take me back to Ghana, and I do not know if I will ever know the fruits of my labor. Maybe it is not about what I have done for these beautiful people but more so what they have done for me. I know that they have had an incredibly large impact on my life, but have I really done anything for them? It is unknown and I am perfectly satisfied without the lack of understanding. Because, honestly, it is not about me anyway.

Most noticeably, I have learned to despise the comfortable in life. I do not know if this makes sense, but to me, it is my goal that I am constantly striving to reach. I want to force myself outside of the cultural, traditional, mental, physical and mostly spiritual comfort of what I have always known. I have found over the years that when my greatest moments are found in the uncomfortable because that is where God works. I must relinquish my control and completely surrender. It is in the uncomfortable that I ironically find peace.

As a result, I am once again embracing the fact that I do not understand everything. And I don’t care to understand it all. But one thing I am sure, in Ghana, it is clearer… life just makes more sense. It is a beautiful culture and I cannot even begin to adequately explain my love for the people and the country.

Health Report

Dearest Friends,

Over the past week and half, I have been rather sick and unable to eat much food. As a result, it looks like I may need to come back to the States early. Home is calling me back and despite my stubborness and inability to convince my body to get better, it seems I will be coming back in a couple weeks. However, if I feel fine over the next few days, I will stay. Please be praying that I feel better and can stay as long as I intended.

Your Friend,

Ninja Love

This is an actual conversation that took place over two or three days in Amedzofe. Surprisingly, it is not altogether uncommon.

Disclaimer: I lie about my status, for reasons only white American girls who have lived in Ghana would understand:

Francis: Oh you are welcome. What is your name?
Molly: Molly. How are you?
Francis: Oh I am Francis. You are Mary? Like you are the mother of the Savior?
Molly: No, Molly. M-A-L-I.
Francis: Oooh, Mary. Okay.
Molly: Yes, Mary.
Francis: Mary Magdalene, where are you from?
Molly: America. My people send their greetings.
Francis: Oh, America? Oh what a nice place! How are your peoples? Will you marry me?
Molly: No, I won’t marry you.
Francis: You have a man?
Molly: No… well, yes I do.
Francis: Has he promised to marry you? Is he a white man?
Molly: No he is a black man.
Francis: No I want to be the black man. I want to marry you. Marry me?
Molly: No no no. I am sorry. I can’t.
Francis: Okay, well have a good day.
Molly: Thank you, you as well.
Francis: I am a ninja.
Molly: No you are not.
Francis: Oh fine, have a nice day.

Two days later:
Francis: Hello.
Molly: Uhh… hello.
Francis. Ninja!
Molly: Oh yes, hello.
Francis: Okay, goodbye. I love you.

True Life: I live in Africa

Over the past week and half, the Ghanaian in me has revealed itself once again, accompanied with my inevitable accent. Africa is like second nature to me. The smells, the food, the bugs, the way of life. As of yet, I have encountered numerous large, no enormous, insects and rodents in my house. Since it is only my friend Dinah and I in the house this time, we are forced to deal with them all by ourselves. I have successfully refrained from screaming while a mouse brushed past my foot and ran out of the kitchen, moved a millipede the size of my foot from my room with a stick and some prayers, completely obliterated a snake-ish creature that is said to be poisonous from the hallway, and multiple spiders have lost their lives and countless ants have been crushed by my fingers, feet and utensils of some sort. Maybe my destiny is not to live in poverty but to be an exterminator.

Home Sweet Home

Oh Amedzofe. We arrived in the village before dusk Saturday evening. I already see the changes that two years can make. The road up to the mountain has been paved several miles further than when I last took the road, and driving up to the village seems much faster. Of course, driving is relative. We walked a good portion of the way up the mountain because the tires on the car that we borrowed from a friend in Accra began spinning on the rocks and pebbles of the road, so we had to get out of the car, with thunder booming across the valley, and sprint while the car drove upward without us. It was silly, and it was priceless to see Uncle Yawo run up a mountain (that is an image specifically for Lauren and Lesley).

I was so excited but getting a little nervous about arriving back to my Ghanaian home. Would people remember me? Do people even know I am coming? What am I going to do? What have I gotten myself into? All of these worries washed away the second I walked into the home of my dear, dear friend Esenam. I will not even attempt to describe this beautiful, strong and precious woman. She is Esenam and she is my sister- that is all that can be said without losing her character in translation. She saw me, screamed “Aaah Sister Molly!” and literally picked me up off the ground. It was better than any reunion I could have imagined. Seriously. We laughed and hugged some more, exchanged a few greetings and just could not believe that we were staring at each other face to face. Nothing has been lost in those two years. Maybe we did not know the details of each others lives, but we did not need to. I was back and all was well.

I am back!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm Ghana Love It

Dear Virtual Friends,

I made it! I am sitting in an internet cafe listening to Mariah Carey and trying to type as fast as possible. I only have a couple minutes so this won't be witty or silly or clever, but it will be informative, grammatically incorrect and fast.

Ghana is wonderful. I have forgotten much but I am quickly being reintroduced to the culture. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I could smell Ghana. I forgot how completely devoid of smells America is, until I came back. Ghana is a vibrant country will rich colors, strong scents and beautiful people.

One of the most shocking pieces of news that I have heard from my family here is in regard to food prices. Commodities have been raised exponentially. I am sure you have all heard on the news or from Oxfam about the price of rice and others staple foods, but let me tell you, it is crazy. I went to the market yesterday and was absolutely stunned. I could barely afford to buy food. And then I spoke with my Uncle Yawo who told me that it is bad. The Government has not raised the income and people simply cannot afford to eat. Unless something changes soon, there will be major problems in Ghana and most of sub-Saharan Africa.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Here's some great news: I am going to my village, Amedzofe, today! I am thrilled. I seriously cannot wait. That is why I am typing so fast. The sooner I leave this internet cafe, the sooner I will be in the village. Last I heard there was no electricity and hasn't been any for 3 weeks. Hopefully it will be back on or this will put a damper on all nighttime activities, music and movies from my laptop. But all is well, it will be interesting nonetheless.

The computer is beeping extremely loud at me. I think this means my time has come. I will try to write again soon but it may be a couple weeks. But please, do not hesitate to email me or mail me: Molly Bryant, Box 2632, Accra, Ghana. I LOVE mail. Seriously.

Talk to you in two weeks or so!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ghana 101

Dear Bloggers,

Sound the trumpets, release the doves, I am now one of you. Although I have long considered blogging a form of vanity, I accept that I too am vain and enjoy telling stories about myself. Screw humility, I am interesting. And I’m going to spend the summer in Ghana playing with children, eating spicy food, wearing high wasted skirts, dancing at church and possibly even catching malaria again. What more could one girl want?

In six days I embark on this next adventure. For those who did not know me two years ago when I lived in this beautiful country, here are few tidbits from my journal to get you started on what life is like in this crazy country:

On my day at the market in Accra: “I hate it. Men like to tell you that they love you and want to marry you. Vendors try to sell you children’s shoes and fat men’s pants. It’s okay for a little while, but it gets old pretty quick”

“Tonight we have a Togolese man staying with us. He is told us he was here to study butterflies. I asked him if he took pictures of the butterflies and his response was ‘No, I kill them and package them.’”

“A rooster ran into the school today while the children were taking a nap. He flipped out when he realized where he was and tried to escape as fast as he could.”

“On our way out of town, we decided to visit Mama Patience but we did not know where her house was. We asked Mr. Otsina and these were his directions: On the first road in Vane there is a big tree on the right and a small tree on the left and a big house that’s not finished next to the big tree. We should go into the unfinished house and ask where Patience Ebedi lives.”

“The sheep were a big hit and the children thought they were fascinating. Unfortunately, ‘sheepy play time’ had to be cut short because the children started throwing rocks at them.”

“We watched and laughed as they ran home, because running kids are funny enough- but with the wind factor it was bordering on hysterical.”

“I have malaria along with my two white companions, Lauren and Lesley.”

“There I was in the field with a baby on my back and an inside-out umbrella trying to make it back home before the wind carried us to Togo.”

Also, the pictures are from my village Amedzofe (sort of pronounced: Aw-meh-joe-pay) and some of the beautiful children mentioned in the above quotes.

Peace and Chow.

Your Unsure Blogger,

Addendum to my friends:

Yesterday as I was driving home from an atypical post office visit, I suddenly became aware that my friends are pretty spectacular. What caused this realization? Why haven’t I noticed before? I definitely knew I was surrounding myself with intelligent, witty and kind people… but I did not know how much they really cared about me. After a long chain of events within 24 hours that consisted of several phone calls (Tangent: Phone calls are uncharacteristically significant to me considering I am awful at calling people back or taking the initiative to start the dreaded but necessary phone conversation between friends who do not live in close proximity, so I more than appreciate the effort that it takes- maybe I have phone phobia “telephobia”). I also received a long letter and package that consisted of hours of indie music and a card about lunch meat, a combination that is rarely trumped. As my fellow Okies would say, “I sure know how to pick’em.”
My friends, you have been extremely supportive, and more importantly, enthusiastic about my return to Africa. It is one thing to have someone tell me that they think it’s cool or whatever that I am going, but it is a completely separate emotion when my friends are genuinely interested and eager to be a part of my adventure. Your words are followed by actions. For that, I will never be able to thank you enough. This is so super cheese louise, but I felt it needed to be said.

I apologize for the extra long blog. I will work on being more efficient with my virtual dear kitty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

really clever posts and super awesome photos coming soon...