I hate to admit that I think I do some of my best writing when I am in a less than happy state. I think it might be my way of venting, or releasing a frustration that has built up in me. I am not a good puncher, and I don’t like to scream, so I write. I find myself in one of those states right now, and I all I can think about is Green Beans and French Toast. This is the title I have given to my memoir that I haven’t written. A memoir with the subtitle, “Life lessons told through a mostly true story.” If you have ever read Blue Like Jazz, then you’ll know the kind of book I want to write. I think it’s fair to say that no other writer has a had a bigger impact on my personal style than Donald Miller. Personally, I would love to have a hit book like Blue Like Jazz, but I am also a semi-realist slash cynic, so I know the odds of that are tough. But, I will write it nonetheless!
Green Beans and French Toast you might say is a weird title. But, in point of fact, I think it is a great title. I am biased.
Let me start at the end, with French Toast. I love French Toast, but let’s admit that it isn’t the most nutritional meal. Sure every once in a while it is good, but not every day. It may not kill you to eat it every now and then (unless you’re lactose intolerant and/or allergic to eggs), but you need other things to fill your diet. French toast is the meal you love, but not the meal you need. Which brings me to Green Beans. I hate green beans, or hated. To me, they suck, they suck a lot. I will eat them… now. When I was 16 I wouldn’t go near them with a ten-foot pole. In my semi-true memoir I tell the story of how a friends mom made me eat green beans. She pulled a classic mom move and wouldn’t let me leave the table until I did. It was good for me, though I’m not entirely sure why I put up with it, it’s probably cause she made pretty good French toast.
In case you missed the metaphor, green beans are the things in life that you might hate but are good for you. And French toast are those things in life that you love to do, but probably don’t need to do that often, or need in your life that much. Not that French toast is altogether bad, it’s not an everyday thing. I would say this is my life lesson, learning what is and isn’t green beans and French toast.
I could write a thousand stories about all this, and maybe I will in my book, look for it on shelves in 2015. But first, what makes a good story?
In the movie Blue Like Jazz the main character talks about narrative structure. Setting, Conflict, Climax, Resolution, or SCCR. Life is about story, the moving through settings and conflicts and climaxes and resolutions and then doing it all over again. You have to go through conflict to get to resolution. Those two parts of story are the ones I identify with the most, and the other two parts are very important, but without a conflict and resolution you don’t have much. Conflict is what gives life it’s zest I think, and conflict isn’t always bad, trying to decide between a Maple Cinnamon bagel and a Cinnamon Raisin bagel is a conflict. Resolution is what makes that zest come to life.
The problem is that green beans are the not fun conflicts, and it’s only when your still healthy and regular that you realize that they were actually good for you. French toast doesn’t seem to be a problem, until you’re fat and lazy.
I think I have learned a ridiculous amounts of stuff about myself through relationships of all kinds. Friends have taught me more about myself then anything. Friends come in all shapes and sizes, some are good and some are bad. When I was in my early high school years I had a good friend, nay a best friend. We did a lot together, probably in a strange way. We had sleep overs where we would stay up super late or early depending on your disposition. We were pretty silly, we talked about the girls we liked, and how we saw our lives going, it was actually pretty sweet. It was French toast. Eventually, down the road, this friend decided I wasn’t good enough to be his friend anymore. I was left at the curb, friendless and broken. I have distinct memories of walking to lunch and eating it alone.
It was devastating.
I found a new old friend. We have been BFF’s ever since. He was green beans, I didn’t realize how much I needed that friendship at the time. Years later I still deal with the loss of that initial friendship and just how much it hurt me. In some ways I will probably deal with it for the rest of my life. And that’s life, learning to deal with the pain of loss, and the power of gain.
Green beans and French toast.