D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: sara miles

when every day feels like it is your birthday


i took a walk the other day, because it was 60 degrees, which is a damn miracle in this place in this month. it has been awhile since i have been able to walk--so much ice on the ground, all that cold wind blowing in my grill. i am still struggling with my body, still not OK with being pregnant and what it all does, i try not to look in the mirror and try not to care as the numbers creep up and up and up. but the other day i was walking around my neighborhood, and i fit in as never before. people gave me the chin-up nods of acknowledgement, the moms pushing strollers side-eyed me with compassion, i hoofed it around the convenience stores and halal markets and taco shops large and in charge and i was just another piece of the scenery of making it here.

we all feel like we never fit in, i am sure of that. but to be a re-locater puts another layer on that whole lie, the one that says both our good qualities and our sins are so very different from the person living in the next neighborhood over. i wear my whiteness every day, and i also wear my pietism and my moralism, the desperation to do some good, the eagerness to befriend and cozy up and transform. but the best thing happens when you get tired, so very tired, and you find yourself just living life and trying to make it. no strategy, no compulsion, just the routines of where you walk and shop and read and play piling onto one another, it all adding up to something more.

i went to get myself a birthday drink this morning (hashtag thirtyoneandhavingfun). i had an hour or two by myself at the coffee shop--a greater gift can no one give to an introvert, i am sure. the coffee shop is starbucks. i hesitate to tell you this, because i know the scorn of the mass-produced myself. but i can't bear to drive farther away to the hipster places, the ones where the coffee is delicious but out-of-my-budget, where i can read and write in peace and quiet and not be bothered by excessive friendliness, content in my isolation. this starbucks i go to is a hub of activity, chock full to the brim at all times with the faces and languages of the neighborhood--mostly East African, and mostly men. they talk loudly and argue and so obviously enjoy hanging out with each other; the lines out the door are long and i fight for a seat at the bar. the word on the street is that this starbucks is called the sugar shack, due to how it goes through 4x more sugar more than any other starbucks in the city. i think about the chai i make for my students during our break time, the horrific amount of sugar i am required to put into each cup in order to make it pleasing to them. and i sit in my noisy, crowded, bastion-of-Empire coffee shop, and revel in the fact that it is simply too chaotic in there to read.

but i try. in fits and starts i read the first few chapters of City of God by Sara Miles and my heart aches with love for my own city. here's a quote from the introduction:

"I began to see that city-ness, not necessary prettiness, might be the characteristic sign of heaven. Sexier and more beautiful than Eden, the city of God is a crowded, busy place jammed with languages and peoples, including the ones who argue so incessantly with one another. A place so mixed, so layered, and apparently impure that it proclaims a love vaster than humans can come up with on our own. A place as surprising and generous as the sheet full of formerly unclean food in the Book of Acts that turned Peter from heaven's gatekeeper into it's dazzled servant."



as i was leaving the coffee shop i ran into an old student of mine, a woman who never learned to read despite our countless hours trying. she is beautiful and wide-hipped, and her eyes appear to be naturally lined with kohl. she was talking loudly into her cellphone, her bright dress blowing in the breeze, and i timidly waved at her. Still on her phone, she hugged me and kissed me and then exclaimed over my belly. Alhamdulillah! all praise be to God! and she did what my students have been doing for the past few weeks, she kissed her hand and put it on my belly, over and over again. and then she walked on up the street to where ever it was that she was going, and i continued on my own way, receiving the blessings that she had so freely bestowed. 



in truth it has never stopped feeling like every day is my birthday, my privilege to be here. I am just dazzled, dazzled by it all. 




D.L. Recommends vol. 4


Stuff that I, D.L., humbly recommend.








MidWest Leaves

Now that we live in a house with a yard and trees we get to play in the leaves that fall off. I was so confused that it was so awesome and crunchy and wonderful and then i remembered what leaves are like in Portland--wet, sodden, clumpy hidey-holes for slugs. Not so awesome. So yeah, MidWest, you win the fall game. You still super lose at the winter game, however.



The Longest Shortest Time

Have I talked about this yet? This is like the best podcast ever for parents. Short, poignant, interesting--I love everything they do. It makes you feel both understood as a crazy person (aka parent) and really validates what a horrible, wonderful time it is.




I really recommend quitting something if you just aren't feeling it. This month I tried to watch Gilmore Girls but I just wanted to murder everyone so badly so I stopped. I also quit halfway through the first Outlander book (oh my word it was not my cup of tea) and I basically have quit watching television. There is no shame in giving up and moving on to greener pastures.



Awesome Essay Collections that just happen to be written by Women

Two books I have read over the past few months (The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jameson and On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss) were both so stunning and so thoughtful that I can't stop thinking about them. I am also excited to read books by Roxane Gay and Amy Poehler (the jury is still out on what I think about Lena Dunham). I would love to see Christian publishing catch up on this trend of amazing essay collections.



Coconut Chai Granola

It is not hyperbolic AT ALL to say that this stuff is saving my life right now. This is the third batch I have made and I eat it nearly every morning with plain yogurt. So. Good. I adapted it from this recipe here.



Watching this Sara Miles video



"Jesus didn't come to cure. He came to heal. And the way he does that is by healing into community" The most fabulous reminder of what it really is that we are after--the hard, difficult, long-term resurrections.



Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor

Kyle Minor has been a revelation to discover. His writing is so pointed and sharp and terrible. He comes from a fundamentalist Christian background and is not shy about working through the complications therein. His short-fiction reads as real as anything (you MUST read the stories in Praying Drunk in order, just as the author orders you to) but it ain't for the faint of heart. Even though it is written from a place of doubt, it spurred on many conversations between me and God.




Another podcast recommendation. Serial is a spin-off of This American Life and it follows one story for an entire season. It is addicting, and fascinating, and I never knew I could be so interested in true-crime radio drama. Trust me on this. You will be itching for the next episode soon.



While You Were Sleeping

I just re-watched this and it was confirmed: best movie ever made. I also can't watch it without texting my younger sister random quotes (our favorites: "Mary mashed them" "these mashed potatoes are so creamy" and "Ice capades--I know a guy").



Being An Aunt

I know I have recommended this before, but I have to say it again: being an aunt is so awesome.



Mr. Rogers

Both my daughter and I are besotted with how gentle, calm, and loving Mr. Rogers is. What a gift of a show (plus, that emphasis on neighborliness/affirming the value of children is right up my alley). St. Fred indeed.



Ethiopian Food

The first time I had Ethiopian food I hated it (true story). That weird, gray, sour bread (injera), the different lumps of unidentifiable stew--I wasn't feeling it. Ever since being here in the exotic MidWest, however, I can't stop craving it. I wish you could all come and eat in my neighborhood because you would walk away obsessed with this food as well. So flavorful, delicious, and addictive (plus, relatively healthy). The restaurants are great, but the best food (naturally) is always found in the homes and apartments of your friends.



Nate Allen

My friends Nate and Tessa are undefinable, but when pressed I would describe them as charismatic anarchist Christian punks. The last time they stopped by our place they prayed over me and it was like the best thing ever. They make amazing, theatrical music together as Destroy Nate Allen, but currently Nate is striking out to record a solo album that is a bit quieter and is deeply introspective and vulnerable. I love anything these people do and I am a backer of their current kickstarter. Go check it out (those mason jars!) and think about supporting it yourself. Plus, my husband is on the mixtape compilation that Nate is putting out!



Listening to Christmas Music as Early As You Would Like

Haters gonna hate. I am a Christmas Unicorn, after all.







So that's all I got for this volume of D.L. Recommends. What have y'all been into lately????









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