Condoms, Wordle, and a Memoir

Condoms, Wordle, and a Memoir

Condoms, Wordle, and a Memoir. These three things may not seem to have much in common, but they all have brought delight and meaning to my little corner of the world this week. So, I’m choosing to share them with you.

Condoms. One day this week I was late logging in to our morning staff meeting, because I had been delayed while collecting a bag of condoms from a stranger. Yes, really. You see, sometime last year, I joined my local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, and on Monday evening I saw this post:

Gift: I have recently discovered that I have an allergy to latex and am looking to offload 40 Durex extra sensitive latex condoms. They expire 03/2025.

I was surprised, a day later, to see that no one had claimed these perfectly good prophylactics! So, I said I’d take them. They’re now in a basket in one of the restrooms at OBIC, available for anyone who needs one. Shouldn’t every minister be in the business of collecting and distributing tools for safer sex?

Wordle. Yes, I am smitten with this game that has taken the social media world by storm in recent days. I love playing it. I love that there’s only one game available each day. I love what it requires of my brain. Mostly I love it because it’s just a purely joyful little diversion. (Its origin story is quite sweet, too. And the dependably hilarious and poignant McSweeney’s has already offered their take on the phenomenon, as well—“Please, World, in a Time of Infinite Darkness, Just Let Us Have Wordle”!

But the most meaningful of the three is …

A Memoir. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner. A powerful exploration of grief and relationship and growing into oneself, written in prose that is stunningly vivid—especially when the writing is about food, but also when Zauner describes other people and her emotions and the places she lives and travels.

In one sense, this memoir is utterly and universally relatable—parent/child relationships, grief, coming of age. But it also was valuable for me to notice all the ways that my particular experience of the world was not centered in this book. Zauner’s is the story of a mixed-race woman whose Korean identity is definitive. Its history, its cultural norms, its language, and especially its cuisine are central to her understanding of herself and to this story.

And none of that Korean-ness was at all familiar to me—it is not “mine” in any way. I am a white American of Western European descent, thoroughly accustomed to having my worldview validated and centered in books and other media. But “I” was decidedly not centered here, and my awareness of that fact was sometimes uncomfortable but ultimately very meaningful. I welcome this discomfort, and my awareness of it—I know that every time we notice our privilege, sit with the dissonant feelings of it, we are more equipped to dismantle the systems that oppress and harm. So, I will continue to welcome the uncomfortable awareness.

There is so much awful in this world right now. I’m determined to notice joy and beauty and meaning where I can. I wish the same for you.

Love,
Paige

3 Comments

  1. Ray Donaldson

    The 3 things, Condoms, Wordle, and a Memoir, raised curiosity in me. Do these three things represent typical things that are of interest at UUCC? I am a member of CUCC but have been interested in UUCC for about 50 years. UUCC seems focused in what you DO. I agree with that. I am also interested in the Judeo, Christian, secular values that are the values of the western world. I have only limited understanding of the eastern values that include Korean-ness. I am also “a white American of Western European descent” but am not accustomed to a worldview that exists in today’s America and elsewhere in the world. I don’t think it has much to do with the teachings of Socrates, Jesus, or the Buddha. It seems closer to the values of the Empire of Rome than it is to the “Empire of God” that Jesus taught and lived in opposition to Rome.

  2. Gail Thompson

    When some of us spent several years living in other countries on behalf of our government, we experienced this “otherness” which we called culture shock. We were the ones who were thrown into chaos, not able to read signs, speak the language, know where to find food, medical help, housing, friendship and peace. That is what our immigrants experience when they leave all they have ever known to come here. And yet it is our waves of immigration that have given us so much. Welcome them, accept their learning process, help when you can. They have so much to give us if we listen.
    I also enjoy the brain games our wonderful library makes available. Some of them go way over my head. I do love a challenge. Only today did I try Wordle. This will make this snowy weekend interesting.
    Thank you Paige for sharing your reads. Finding those condoms was fantastic. I love their availability.

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