Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks a lot

I really love Thanksgiving, not only because it involves copious use of decorative earth tones, but also because of what it compels us to do: to take inventory, to reflect, to be grateful. It's a beautiful holiday, and I've always loved it, way back when we would gather at my grandmother's house for dry turkey and two kinds of pie, me with my crystal goblet of milk and a ready exit before dessert (I've always hated pie); those wild years when we took part in throwing together our church's annual dinner, the most memorable of which being the year our refrigerator konked out on Wednesday night and we had to thaw 15 turkeys in our bathtub; the years I'd come home from college and my mother cooked, these elaborate, gourmet feasts, with wild mushroom stuffing and pumpkin pie with graham crucker crusts, which I ate, despite my life-long loathing of pie; the Thanksgiving we spent in Sarasota, in my tiny apartment with the incongrously beautiful French doors, when my mother and father tolerated each other's company for the first time in years, for long enough to enjoy the very first turkey my younger sister ever cooked, and we all played Trivial Pursuit; the first Thanksgiving I spent in New Orleans, when my entire family, including one very tiny nephew, made the 12-hour drive from Orlando to feast and to tour the house on Trianon that Cade and I had purchased the afternoon before; and of course the Thanksgiving two years ago when, having just returned to New Orleans after the storm with our two-month-old daughter and whole lot to complain about, we stood in the pre-feast prayer circle in Ama and I watched Cade's mother cry, like she always does when she tries to say grace, and I suddenly got it, I knew, I understood why she could never manage to get through the silly thing.

I started writing this post yesterday, before I heard the terrible news that the husband of a beloved Abeona teacher was killed in an accident yesterday morning. My plan was to put down a list of the shit I'm grateful for, and I intend to do so momentarily, but my mind keeps returning to this utterly kind woman, always with a smile and kind word for or about your child, who is no doubt experiencing unutterable grief, even as I write this. She will probably never read this post, but I have to say it anyhow: I'm so sorry, Kynisha.

So on to the grateful shit. Where to begin?

* I'm grateful for my husband, who is not above braiding the hair of his daughter's My Little Pony, who never asks me to be anyone or anything other than the person I am, but who ardently believes that I can become anyone and anything I choose to become.

* I'm grateful for my beautiful buttercream baby, my precious girl, who just the other night heard me complain to her father over dinner at Popeye's that I wished I had ordered a side with my chicken, who broke her much-desired biscuit in half and held it across the table, saying "For you, Mommy." No, no, my baby, you've got it mixed up: it's for you, munchkin--everything we do is for you.

I'm grateful for Abeona House, where last Friday I stood in the backyard and kept Sydney from raiding the potluck table and watched her teachers dance their hearts out to Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots, who played on the back porch of the school for 2 full hours. Does it get any better than that?

* I'm grateful for my family and for Cade's family, and for the fact that both parties seem to, in turn, be grateful for the other. How often does that happen?

* I'm grateful for my job, for the opportunity to do clinical work, and for the fact that I stuck it out, despite my initial reservations.

* And I'm so goddamn happy to be home, to be here, to dance in the backyard of a nursery school on Oak Street on Friday, then turn around and feast on ridiculously delicious poboys at a street festival on Oak two days later. I'm grateful to live in a town where celebrating life and community and good food are an everyday occurrence.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hey, Syd

Sydney loves my candy-apple red i-Pod, the one I use for jogging, the one she's not allowed to play with. Last night she discovered that the device plays music when you hold the ear buds up against the side of your head and stand very, very still. She gazed at me, wide-eyed, listening to Ben Folds' 'Zak and Sara.' After a minute or so she handed the headphones to me and made a sour face.

"I no like this song, Mommy."

"You don't like Ben Folds?" Ack.

"No." The tiny blond head went side to side, emphatically. "I. No. Like. This. Song."

"Wanna listen to another one?"


And so I scrolled through my playlists, sort of discouraged by the fact of my flesh-and-blood's questionable taste in music, until I hit on something I thought she could not possibly resist. Perhaps it was a test, I don't know, and god knows to what depths I would have sunk if she had declared this, too, unacceptable, but thankfully she took to it almost immediately. The volume was turned up high enough for me to hear what she was hearing, and as the opening bars of 'Hey Jude' filled her ears I witnessed a moment of pure astonishment, of joy, and when I asked her if she liked this song--say yes, please say yes--she grinned at me and nodded her tiny head and said, emphatically, "YES." And so we listened to the entire song, all seven minutes and seven seconds of it, all through the naa-na-na-na-na-na-naas, to the bitter end, the two of us sprawled on the living room rug, with the iPod.

So there you have it. My child is a Beatles fan. Now I can die happy.