The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life on the Fringes

On Necessities:

Living as one of seven people in a house with one, count it, one bathroom is…different.  And here I thought it was inconvenient at my parents’ house where there was one bathroom for the four of us! I have learned, the hard way, to take a careful inventory of said bathroom’s supplies before I conduct any business, as it were.  Toilet paper seems to disappear like breath on a mirror.  I’m willing to do without many things; this is not one of them.


On Pants:

I live my life in constant conflict with two things: milk and pants.  I can never tell when milk has spoiled as it smells bad to me right from the off.  So I feel enormous pressure to finish it before it plunges to its chunky doom at some unexpected moment.  The pants thing is another problem and harder to avoid than milk.  Either I have forgotten to pack them, they disintegrate in public places (twice), or mostly, they just don't fit.  I feel as though I spent an inordinate amount of time pants shopping, which is not something I enjoy.  At least this time I had to buy new pants because mine are too big.  All of pants are HUMONGOUS.  Seriously, I wear a belt most days because the jeans I almost didn't buy two months ago 'cause I thought they were too tight (but were $2.00) can be pulled off without needing to be undone.  Holy run on sentence batman!

Don't worry, I am rejoicing over my new-found thin-y-ness.  But one might wish I didn't look like MC Hammer all the time.


On Weight:

Speaking of weight...I nearly broke my nose running in a serious culture difference.  I've never heard anyone called stupid, but people will make fun of someone's weight absolutely all day long.  Moms call their children the Fat One, the Skinny One, the Short One, Curly Hair, etc.  Obviously, we would never do this in the States or dare to call anyone fat - to their face, anyway.  Needless to say, my host family was extremely confused when I finally burst into tears, ran away, and generally refused to talk to anyone for the rest of the night.  If someone called you fat for two solid weeks, despite the evidence of your shrinking self, you'd be pretty upset too, I bet!

The next day, Patricia took the time to slowly and carefully explain that being skinny is no great thing here.  Here, if someone is flacca, or thin, it usually means they are either very poor or very sick (not always, some of it is genetic).  Plus, she added slyly, Nicaraguan men aren't like Americans and they like their women with some flesh on them. The term hermosa, a beautiful body, requires curves.


On Prayer:

I think I may be finally learning how to pray.  For a long time, I've hated all the phony prayers filled with the buzzwords, as if prayer were nothing more than a magic spell to bend God to my own will.  But without them, what do I say? What is there to say when something really terrible happens and I can do nothing about it? Cheryl Walton used to pray the most beautiful prayers, so loving and intimate that it almost made me feel like I should be ashamed of myself for eavesdropping.  I wish I could do that.

But I can't.  I stutter and stumble and swear a lot.  But I think it's ok; I have been promised that the Spirit will intercede (and filter) on my behalf.  And besides, if there is one thing I am having constantly drilled into to me here it's that I absolutely must open my mouth and say things, no matter how stupid I may look.  It gets easier with practice, and I practice often.  Things happen here daily that are too big for me and I need God.  Marissa always says that going to a foreign country doesn't make you more spiritual, it just makes you more tan.  In a lot of ways, that's very true.  But in some respects, it does make you more spiritual because when you live on the fringes, there's nothing else to hold on to.  And I find that God lives on the fringes too. 

3 comments:

Maeve's Momma February 23, 2011 at 1:26:00 PM MST  

It's true, Flaca is not a compliment. Girls in Jamaica actually take chicken pills (with some kind of growth hormone for chickens in them) to get bigger butts. It's a strange world all the way around, it seems.

And maybe you just need more skirts.

I always thought my prayers sounded stupid, too, in fact you and Becky are the ONLY ppl I ever pray around out loud because other people are generally ridiculously offended by my prayers, content and stylewise. But since I'm not talking to them anyway, what does it matter? I assume the Almighty would either ignore or laugh at my offensiveness.

Marissa February 24, 2011 at 10:25:00 AM MST  

That's too bad for the rest of the world, Clara. I always liked your prayers.

And, I stand corrected. Our seminary president says that the miracles are in the margins. Maybe he's right after all. Also, possibly my experience of going to a foreign country for two weeks didn't provide enough information to build a theology. :-)

beckala February 25, 2011 at 6:40:00 PM MST  

I remember going pants shopping with you because your pants were too big at least once. You have been shrinking for quite a while now.

If only there was a hot Nicaraguan man out there for you. ;)

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A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.

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