in search of an ordinary life

I had an idea of myself as someone free and unencumbered, and virtuous for being so. Of course, one cannot live like this— I can’t, anyway. And in fact, I find that all the best things in my life have come about precisely through the things that hold me in place: family, work, routine, everything that contradicts my old idea of the good life. For years I lived mostly out of a backpack, traveling light and living cheap, often bestowing my mendicant presence on my brother, Geoffrey, and his wife, Priscilla, on my patient friends. But, you know, it seems as time goes on that the deepest good for me as man and writer is to be found in ordinary life. It’s the gravity of daily obligations and habit, the connections you have to your friends and your work, your family, your place— even the compromises that are required of you to get through this life. The compromises don’t diminish us, they humanize us.
— Tobias Wolff, The Art of Fiction No. 183

My life is pretty ordinary.

I have a good job and good friends and a good house in a good city. Sometimes I find myself wishing and hoping for something beyond the good, beyond the ordinary. My friend Mallory shared this quote in her weekly newsletter Garden Variety a few weeks ago and I have been ruminating on it ever since. 

The deepest good for me is to be found in an ordinary life. Trying to remember and cling to this truth today. 

*tap tap* is this thing on?

I sure have missed writing. 

I am not sure, however, that anyone has missed my non-expert opinions on the latest breakfast food crazes or my social commentary on made-for-tv-now-on-Netflix movies *tips tiny invisible hat* but--

If there's one thing I've learned so far this year, it's that you cannot always get what you want (I'm looking at you, basketball state championship/nerdy bookstore employee with the beard/wine fridge in new kitchen.) So here I am. Writing again. 

I suppose now that I'm 30 this bloggity blog thing should be a little more sophisticated, so I've jumped ship from Tumblr to Squarespace and will probably start Kondo-ing my house and buying expensive eye cream. This is mostly because I spend way too much time with Roman Mars and Jad Abumrad and the collective conscious of serious 30-year-olds errrwhere has concluded that to have a Squarespace means you're more into capsule wardrobes and IRAs and less into Youtube stars and GIFs a la the Tumblr blog of my youth. 

Admittedly, I am still into moving photos and Youtube (how did I know how to do anything before Youtube?) and I'll never be able to get rid of all my tennis shoes because I definitely need all of them but it's true: the shiny lights and missing vowels of the Tumblr universe have faded and much like my grieving/withdrawal after the end of Parenthood... I've moved on. 

So. Here's to new beginnings.

Leh go. 

Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.
— John Piper

sometimes

Sometimes you just have to sit in your car and watch the rain fall and listen to Adele because life is good and hard and everything in between and it’s Tuesday night and you still have to go to the grocery store or eat wheat thins for dinner 🎶

MYSTERY SHOW

I’ve been driving a lot lately (holidays, adventures, getting lost in the mountains, etc.) and that means I’ve been doing a lot of one of my favorite things: listening to podcasts. 

Because I’m a super nerd, asking fellow nerds what their favorite podcasts are is a regular part of my daily life. Through my inquiries, I have been recommended everything from 99% Invisible (about the invisible things that shape our world) to Men in Blazers (about soccer *ahem* football and the hosts wear blazers. Allegedly. This is just audio, after all.) 

It cannot be overstated. I love podcasts. But nothing has captured my attention quite so well as Mystery Show. I was reading a Top Podcasts of 2015 list (as all super nerds do) and decided to give it a go. AND BOY. IT’S SO GOOD. 

The premise is this: The host– the lovable and witty Starlee Kine– will solve the unsolvable mysteries from your life. The only catch is that the mystery cannot be solved by a simple Google search. Adventure ensues. 

Unfortunately, there is only one season so far and only 6 episodes, but I think everyone should take a listen. My recommendation– my admonition– is that you listen to them in the following order and as quickly as humanly possible so that we can discuss. 

Case #3 Belt Buckle

Case #5 Source Code

Case #1 Video Store

Case #2: Britney

Case #4 Vanity Plate

Case #6: Kotter [Season 1 finale]

And if anyone knows Starlee Kine in real life, or lives in NYC and wants to solve the mystery of how I can be best friends with her– holler at me. 

RESOLUTE

Do you feel terrible? Like your brain is growing mold and your bones are suddenly filled with lead jello? You’re probably attempting to eat healthily, and your french-fried body cells are revolting against all the kale. Also, tomorrow’s Monday. 

It’s January 3rd, so I’m already 3 days into saying OK but for REAL… our diet starts…tomorrow.

But in truth,  I am trying to see if I can go 2 weeks without eating out and following a “clean eating plan” because I’m a masochist who loves donuts too much but also enjoys cooking. It’s a win-win-win situation. 

Current status is binge-watching Making a Murderer and trying not to move my leaden jello bones. 

Pssssst. This is the Clean Eating Plan I’m following from POPSUGAR. 

What Do Baby Wipes Taste Like? and Life’s Other Great Questions

In my 29th year on this earth, I’ve discovered two things about myself: I’m a curious and obsessive person. 

Over Thanksgiving, my little cousin Abigail had this “game” (I’m not sure I’d call it that) were you spin to see which color jelly bean you have to eat from an assortment of different flavors. This “game” is like jelly bean roulette, where one iteration of that color bean will be delicious: Pear. Peach. Tutti Fruitti. The other, more unfortunate iteration is terrifying: Booger. Barf. Stinky Socks. Not only is it deeply fascinating to me how accurate a Stinky Socks jelly bean can be, it amazes me that all this “fun” can be purchased for $5.99. America, am I right? I cannot warn you enough: if you roll the Tutti Fruitti/Barf option… quit the game. Disown your family. Sever all ties. Take to the hills and rue the day you ever agreed to play Bean Boozled. It is by far the most fowl thing you could possibly ever taste on purpose. 

But despite all that… I could not NOT play this game. I had to know what all the flavors were, and if they were accurate. I ate every kind. Lawn clippings? Tastes just like Saturday mornings. Toothpaste? Minty and fresh but not a substitute for really brushing, sadly. 

This experiment led me down a rabbit hole of thoughts like, how do you make a jelly bean taste like a foot? Who was the food science grad student who signed off on the canned dog food flavor? How many people had to agree that the booger flavor was accurate?

But I’m also obsessive. Right before the 8th Harry Potter movie came out, I was feeling all kind of emotions: remorse about childhood being over, anxiety over whether or not they would let Matt Lewis/Neville be his true attractive self, etc. To combat these feelings, I decided to start re-reading and re-watching all the books and movies from the beginning, back to a time when Neville was a buck-toothed scaredy cat. But this was not some cute, nostalgic leisure-time reading. This was weird, never-coming-out-of-my-room-Howard-Hughes-peeing-in-jars kind of obsessive. I started to think my red-headed mailman was Rupert Grint. People asked me to kindly stop talking with a British accent. Things were bleak. But then, the 8th movie mercifully came out. I stopped wearing robes. I became Morgan, normal human girl, again. No longer Morgan, angry non-magical squib. 

PS. The baby wipes flavor is SCARY accurate. I’ve never eaten/licked one (that I know of) but I do know that’s exactly what they taste like.  I’m pretty sure they make them by wringing out Pampers Wipes and injecting the juice into the beans. It’s the only answer. That, or Magic. I’ll ask Rupert next time he delivers something I ordered from Amazon Prime. (But all of that for another day.) 

tumblr_ny74b83cdG1qz9cmyo2_400.jpg
tumblr_ny74b83cdG1qz9cmyo3_1280.jpg

Screw It; I’m Gonna Enjoy This

When one of your best friends moves to Paris, there’s nothing else to do but pack a bag, catch a flight, and get yourself as quickly as possible to the City of Light. 

A few weeks ago I spent a glorious week traipsing the cobbled streets of France’s most beloved city biking, drinking, and laughing away the hours with my pal G. She’s the kind of friend that you could have fun with in an empty garage, so Paris as a playground was almost too good to be true. 

She had already planned to come home (originally for about 24 hours, in between work trips) to see our friends’ new baby… but in light of the recent terrorist attacks in the city, it was nice to just see her in person, hug her neck, and try to recreate our street-traipsing here in Athens. 

On one of our long walks around town, she told me something that at first struck me as strange, then overcame me with a wave of jealousy, and thirdly: nothing but the purest beauty. Since we’re both 20-something single girls, our walks often drift to Conversations About Men: the ones we are into, the ones we are super not into, the ones from our past, the potentials for our futures. But this day was different. (The following is a rough paraphrase, as G is much more eloquent and wise in her details than I can remember when putting pen to paper.)

I am so happy to be who I am, in the stage of life I am, you know? I let her press on, staring at my tennis shoes as we walked. Oh? I replied, not sure I could agree.

Yeah I mean… it’s amazing to me that I get to live this life. That God has given me this beautiful life. I picked up everything and moved to Paris… for adventure… for the experience… and I am just so thankful. It’s been hard but so good. I’m usually trapped in the pangs of “well what if I don’t get what I want? What if I never meet someone or have children or a farmhouse or any of that. What then?” But right now… I’m so incredibly thankful for the life that I have and who God has made me. THIS IS ME! This is what you get. I’m tired of feeling like a variable in someone else’s equation… just hoping to figure out how to get it right so that my life can move forward. I CAN’T BE BOTHERED WITH THAT EQUATION ANYMORE. Life is too beautiful to worry about fitting into someone else’s story at the expense of your own.

I swallowed hard, trying to sort out whether or not I agreed. Buses zoomed by, filled with undergraduates antsy for Thanksgiving break. I am so jealous, I said with a laugh. I worry too much. I wonder how to make myself fit, how to become a person that someone else will choose, how to be the right variable for their equation. I think “what if I were skinnier? Less obnoxious? Quieter? In a different city? I’m not really sure what my story is right now, to be honest. Feels like I’m standing still while everyone else zooms past me.

There was a pause as several runners passed us on the sidewalk.  How do you get to the point where you can’t be bothered and just live your life? I asked. 

I think you just have to say SCREW IT, I’M GONNA ENJOY THIS and take a deep breath. 

C’est Paris! How Everything I Learned About This Lovely City Can Be Summarized By This Yellow Room At Versailles 

I’d be willing to bet that almost everyone in the world has heard of Paris. Much like New York City or Hollywood or the North Pole… it is just one of those places you grow up hearing about. Where are movies made? Where’s the Statue of Liberty? Where is Santa Claus from? What’s the greatest city in the world? 

PARIS, Y’ALL. 

And because it’s so ubiquitous, I never thought much about it. There’s no way a place could be THAT cool. Errrbody needs to calm down about their incessant J’taime Paris mantra and slapping the Eiffel Tower on everything. Come on. There was always that one girl in school who was OBSESSED with France. She had her Mona Lisa lunch box and knew just enough French phrases to be annoying at all times. We get it, Lauren. You like France. Stop singing Les Mis now please.

I never understood it. Until now. 

When you first arrive, the only thought going through your head is Everything is just so damn FANCY! And it’s FANCY just BECAUSE. As you’re meandering down the dreamlike streets on your bicycle, wrapped in a chic scarf and admiring the debonair, navy blazer-clad Frenchmen everywhere…try to forget for the moment that this city was built on the exploitation of the lower class because IT’S BREATHTAKING AND THERE’S NO TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE PAST. YOU’RE IN PARIS. HAVE SOME CAKE ALREADY AND SOAK IT IN.

Which is why this yellow room at the Petit Trianon was the epitome of Paris to me: originally built for a mistress on the grandiose property of Versailles, this room was ALL YELLOW EVERYTHING because why not? There’s a red room and pink room and green room right nearby and a whole other castle and a garden the size of a small country! Have a yellow room if you want! Eat an entire loaf of bread and a stack of macaroons and laze away the afternoon drinking cafe cremes in a minuscule, trendy cafe! Your eyes will be gilded before you can see one 1000th of this magical place but it’s ok because C’EST PARIS. 

Over-the-top just because it can. Chic. Fancy. All adjectives I can get behind. I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Lauren. 

Friday Mixtape Revival

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK | I used to do a mixtape every Friday, and since I’m going to see Taylor Swift tomorrow, I’ve been inspired to listen to some of my other favorite ladies who rock. 

Enjoy enjoy enjoy.