pretty. simple.

The last three weeks have been as busy as I ever remember being. I arrived at my new apartment twelve hours before classes started, began a new job the next week, slept on a futon for the ten intervening days, and have almost kept up with schoolwork in between. My inability to do all of this perfectly (a missed assignment, late to work) and a few late nights at the new catering gig have made me an anxious wreck for a few days. Tonight, I finally had to pry myself away from homework – I’ve been turning life into a to-do list til I’m almost literally sick. But class in the morning is canceled —- breathe. 

In the week since the life-changing experience of having a bed delivered (delivering me from my rootless futon existence), the best moments of my days have been the hours I’ve stolen to organize my bedroom. I spent the summer in a stifling-hot, stiflingly-industrial dorm room, half-unpacked, and making space for myself again has been a revelation. That I am made of simple stuff. That I am no good to anyone til I’ve cared for myself. That twinkle lights are, indeed, too magical to confine to one month of the year.


I wrote half a post in a notebook by the river about all this, a little more than a month ago. About indulgences and simple things of beauty. It strikes me again as true.


August 11, 2014
I want red lipstick and dresses by the river. I want a happy blog and happy things to bake. I want Ebola to go away and I want to do the simple things that make people’s lives better. Bringing casseroles.

Does that make me awful? One of the complacent, complicit wealthy white 1%? I don’t think so. It’s certainly not right to hide from the world’s problems, or to buy TOMS and brush off your hands. But I can’t quite get behind the Mother Teresa bit, the keep-trying-harder bit either; all the drawn-faced heroism, the conditional love for yourself. At some point, you’ve done enough, and it’s not compassion fatigue either. It’s that you’ve done what you can.

Sometimes my question of the day is this: was Jesus happy? In between his doe-eyed compassions, his Pharisee-trouncings, and his disciple-disappointments, did he ever come across a fig tree he actually liked? Which of Peter’s quirks made him laugh in spite of himself after a long day and a glass of wine? What shapes did he find in the clouds when he was distracting himself from his hunger in the wilderness?

We don’t have that. He didn’t give anyone his diary. But I just can’t see how the point of all this could be that Jesus was oh-so-otherworldly and we should be too. I can’t shake the conviction, sitting here by the river, that God so loved the world because God so liked it. God so made it to be fascinating, eccentric, delightful. God so crafted this breeze for this day.

Doesn’t that make it all the more unutterably tragic that there are AIDS victims in India and refugees from Honduras who don’t have the safety or security to enjoy these things? Of course it does. But it does not help them, once I have done  those things I am called to do, for me to add to the tragedy of exquisite simplicities unenjoyed.


Simplicity, I think. That must be the yardstick for my pagan enjoyments. If I cannot love the breeze without having the red lipstick, then I am certainly the vain and silly girl I fear myself to be. Yet if I forever guilt myself out of the lipstick, just because I am too pure or noble or serious to spend $5 on a trifle, then I have again lost the capacity for gratitude, to thankfully delight in a simple treat. I must do all I can for humanity, yes. But I lose sight of humility, contentment, trust, when I believe that it is all riding on me and my five dollars – when I set out to do more than I can. My own virtue aside, the world needs my guilt-ridden five dollars far less than it needs my admittedly childlike, lipstick-besmeared joy.

Endtable made of two thirty-gallon plastic tubs and an old area rug I've been dragging around. Bougie niche magazine giving away my homesickness for the South.

Endtable made of two thirty-gallon plastic tubs and an old area rug I’ve been dragging around. Bougie niche magazine giving away my homesickness for the South.

It is these small things we cannot neglect to give or to receive. If a lustful look can be so very detrimental as Jesus says, how much more must a genuine smile and well-wish be able to light away that darkness infiltrating the world…

And as far as blogs go, there is no exaggeration in saying that every cleaning tip and home renovation stands to announce that our fate is not decay; every carefully crafted tiny food or exultation in butter proclaims that creativity lives to defy the banality of war and destruction and greed, its mindlessness, its unforgivable disregard for today’s beauty. Even nobility and seriousness compel us to create these moments of “indulgence” – for it is the prodigal waste that is art which makes and keeps us human.



Leave a comment


  1. Beautiful.

  2. I cannot describe my exhaustion this evening and how much you needed to write this so I could read it. I love you, beautiful friend. Thank God for all good things and find ways to share them with those around me. That’s about all I am good for.

  3. Love this. Particularly the musing about whether Jesus was happy…and what made him smile.


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