Someone recently asked me if I was a coffee person,
I replied simply, "Is the sky blue?"

Yes, I'm a coffee person if you mean, do I drink it regularly. But drinking coffee on a regular basis is not the only thing that makes me a coffee lover. Not only do I drink coffee regularly, but I drink it ritually. I mull over the philosophy of coffee--and yes, I hold a philosophy of coffee--as I brew it in the mornings for the awakening of the day; as I drink it in the evening for the quickening of the mind; as I sit with a friend, mug cradled between cupped palms, in the quiet communion of kindred souls.

I don't remember exactly when I started drinking coffee, though it was probably somewhere between senior year of highschool and freshman year of college. In my house, coffee has predominately been a "grown-up" drink--it'll stunt your growth and what-not. More like, "it'll make you hyper and we don't need a bunch of coffee-hyper kids." My dad has been a coffee drinker as long as I can remember, but my mom didn't start drinking it till she was in her thirties, starting with gas-station machine cappuccinos with fancy fall flavors.  Now she has her morning coffee and quiet time in the library every morning, and my favorite picture of my mother is that of her with green mug in hand, Bible and journal in her lap, and reading glasses perched on her nose. I'm gonna look like that when I grow up.

Coffee has become more important to me since going away to school. For the first two years of dorm life, the only coffee I had quick access to (free coffee at least) was cafeteria coffee, which is alright in a pinch, but by the time fall break rolled around, I would be longing for a big mug--not the little 6 oz dining room standard coffee cups--of my family's coffee, brewed right and strong. Going home meant drinking Peden Coffee and sure enough, often as soon as my car was unloaded, Mom would put on the coffee and we'd sit in the living room catching each other up on our lives on either end of the state. It was like a warm welcome home hug.

Then came this past summer and my adventure away from home. I lived and worked on campus and with the cafeteria shut down, I had to fend for myself. There was no way I was gonna go all summer with out coffee, so I went out to Goodwill and found a working pot for $2. I brought it home and cleaned it up and finally began to own my coffee heritage. I formed my own coffee rituals, drinking my morning coffee with breakfast and my books, and afternoon coffee with my best friend as we watched BBC adaptations of Dickens novels.  I turned her into a coffee drinker over the summer, so that the other day when she told me she had been craving my coffee, I was filled with a strange sense of pride. My coffee was now officially Peden Coffee.

So what is my philosophy of coffee?
Coffee is communal. Its for talking and loving and being family.
But coffee is also individual. Its for reading and writing and Being.
It's so much more than hot water and grounds and cream and sugar; coffee is my love language.


I want to be clever. I want to be able to make witty conversation, to be a someone of whom people say, "yeah! I know her, she's cool!", to be memorable. But when I try to be clever or witty, I cringe at myself for instead sounding catty and sharp.

I then do penance for the rest of the day, praying "Lord, help me not to try to be clever".
I rant at myself, chastising and criticizing till my psyche is black and blue with self-inflicted wounds. "You should know better. You who hold Amy Dorrit as favored literary role model! You sounded like Emma Woodhouse on her bad days just then. Badly Done, Emma!"

Noticing and checking my faults causes me to slide into a rut of deep self-criticism. One event opens the door to a closet full of my failings and sadly human tendencies, and I'm quickly buried in the avalanche that pours out.  I just wanted, for once, to be the girl with the personality, instead of the one who rarely looks up from her notebook and desk. It's here that I see my deeper problem. I wanted to be not me.

I am reminded of a reading assigned in Expos last week from Henri Nouwen's Genesee Diary, his journal tracking his time in a Trappist monastery. I liked it then--I owned it today.
Nouwen wrote about his own struggles with self--trying to be and do something special, comparing himself to others--and I find myself commiserating with him. But as much as I feel his struggle, I also take courage from his reflection. He points to our quality as humans as Image-bearers, created by God.
"We live because we share God's breath, God's life, God's glory. The question is not so much, 'How to live for the glory of God?' but, 'How to live who we are, how to make true our deepest self'" --Henri Nouwen
 Because in my potential of unbroken fullness I am the reflected glory of God, I shouldn't be trying to be someone other than me. In trying to become another, I un-Name myself.
Its a struggle to be content with who I am.

Impossible things

There is something about early fall days, where the veil between real and imaginary life grows so thin that, like the White Queen in Alice's Looking-Glass, I can sometimes believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Take this morning for example. When I stepped out of my town house, to make the trek to main campus to study I was greeted with a cool air so sweet, that I was absolutely convinced of the existence of magic. I was almost certain that I might come across a door to Narnia just standing there in the middle of the sidewalk. Had I found such a thing, the choice would have been clear, and I definitely wouldn't be sitting on a patio taking a break from homework to blog right now. When presented with the chance to go to Narnia, always go. That's an unbreakable rule in my life.

Other impossible things I've believed this morning? well, as I climbed the Hill,  I knew--believed quite deeply in fact--that out there in the woods somewhere was a little mouse in a green monk's habit, tripping over his too-big hand-me-down sandals as he searches for the sword of a hero.
And while reading about the role of a Christian artist to bring a sense of order to the chaos of this fallen world,  I thought I heard  Tolkien's Song of the Ainur ordering chaos in a newly created world.

What is it about the fall that brings these imaginary dimensions so close to my reality? Does it have to do with the time of my life in which I first discovered them? Did I first read of these worlds in fall weather? Maybe my subconscious remembers this and recreates them at the mere triggers of cool breezes and crisp leaves. I'll probably never know for sure what it is... but what is life with out something to wonder about?

Film Heroines: Merida

 Finally, the second in my promised literary and film heroines series! The Bosom Buddy and I watched Brave tonight while her husband was having a dinner meeting and I was reminded that I wanted to add Merida to my series.

When I first saw the previews for Brave, back in the summer of 2011, I was beyond excited. The wee bit of Scottish blood I have was stirred by the accents, the scenery and the music. But more than that, I was thrilled for Pixar to have the chance to do a princess story.

Merida made my Heroine Hall of Fame last semester for several reasons.
Number one being her hair. For the first time in Disney princess history, here is a real girl, with real hair. None of this perfectly smooth, golden locks nonsense. Merida has a free, wild personality with gloriously wild curls to match. Imagine my joy as a fellow red-hued curly girl to finally be represented among the ranks of the likes of Belle, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

True to form, Brave embodies the good character and family values that Pixar has been known for in the past. While similar to The Little Mermaid in the rebellious teenager thread, Merida is different from Ariel in that by the end of the film, she's realized her selfishness and become reconciled to her mother.

So, in interest of keeping this post short, and getting back to my Expository Writing homework, here is my list of ways I wish I were more like Merida,

  • Archery skills. I've always wanted to be good with a bow, since the days of playing Narnia in the back yard with my homemade Susan bow.
  • Sheer Guts. The movie is titled Brave for a reason. I wish I could bring myself to be comfortable just standing near horses, letting alone riding off onto the moors for adventures. I guess I'll just have to be brave in my imagination. :)
  • Hair. Every time I think about chopping my hair off because I can't handle it anymore, I watch this movie, and I think of what it could be, and I give it a chance. :)