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.