Friday, January 29, 2010

Gratitudes, with gratitude to Alison McGhee for Inspiration

She skipped being grateful for the entire month of November. Instead, she was sick. Should she be grateful now? Now, when the wind howls outside, and it's so cold that the snow squeaks when you step on it? Now, when she's been stuck inside for days, listening only to the sound of the fan on the fireplace insert whir and the goldfish flip-flapping in his tank (how does he do that?)? Now when she thinks bears have it made (for hibernation purposes only, raw fish eating habits excluded)?

No time like the present.

An alphabet of gratitudes:

A. Alligators? No. Alimony? Definitely not. Axes? Yes. Axes that split wood that burns brightly and keeps the fan on the fireplace insert whirring.

B. Bandannas? Sure, why not. Headpiece of choice while camping.

C. Chocolate. Dark chocolate with sea salt, milk chocolate with peanuts, hot fudge, chocolate shakes, chocolate mousse's all good.

D. Date night with the Gingerbread Man. ("Not the gumdrop buttons!")

E. Elephants. The Magician's Elephant in particular. She is grateful for book discussions with a community of brilliant writers.

F. Flip-flops. She hates flip-flops; she hates things between her toes. Don't get her started on those little thingies they put in between your toes during a pedicure. But when wearing the hat of "happy mother taking children to swim lessons and then showering them afterward," it helps to have flip-flops.

G. Ginger.
a.) She's grown accustomed to her name. It suits.
b.) Fresh ginger in home-made egg rolls which is what she had for dinner.
c.) Gingerbread. And Gingerbread Men. :)

H. Hot-tubs, hoses, hair-dryers. HOUSE! Being somewhat of a hermit by nature, she's grateful she doesn't have to live in a hermitage, or on top of a pole, or in a cave somewhere. Hibernating with a raw-fish-eating bear.

I. Ink. She loves ink. She loves Italy. She loves Italian ink.

J. Jazz. She remembers years and years of dance classes: ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, chorus-line tap. But she loved jazz the best--until she discovered modern. And folk.

K. Kindergarten, Kellogg's, Kicks, Kazakhstan. She remembers when her son could find Kazakhstan on a map. When he was two. He could also find a myriad of other obscure countries. One of his special gifts.

L. Lemonade. The last time she had lemonade, real lemonade, was at the village country fair--the kind of fair where you can see sheep, enter in an apple-peeling contest, and throw darts at balloons. Where you can walk in a parade, see a beekeeper's display, and listen to a real fiddler. And on a blistering hot day, you can drink a tall glass of lemonade, and know that life is good.

M. Macs. Yes, she is thankful for her computer. She loves her computer. She would consider marrying her computer, but she's already attached.

N. Hm. She can't think of an 'N' word. No. Nottingham. Nincompoop. Nasty. Nothing. Nothing is something to be grateful for. Sometimes nothing is exactly what she wants. Exactly what she needs.

O. Olives. Black olives on her fingers, green olives in arroz con pollo. Olive bread. Olive oil.

P. Post office. She loves getting mail. She loves special paper and envelopes with decorative papers on their flaps. She loves beautiful stamps. She wishes she sent letters more often. She wishes she received letters more often. Thankfully, her friends far away forgive her for not writing real letters, just as she forgives them for not writing real letters. Maybe she'll write a real letter this weekend. Maybe it will be to you.

Q. Quiet. She loves the quiet. She loves the things you can hear in the quiet.

R. Real whipped cream. The kind served over hot chocolate (see 'C' above) at Romeo's in Buffalo, where she went with the Gingerbread Man on date night ('G' and 'D' respectively). Whipped cream so thick you could almost cut it.

S. Slippers. No Christmas presents could be opened without slippers on feet and fresh-squeezed orange juice in hand when she was a child. While the fresh-squeezed orange juice has gone the way of Tropicana, slippers have become an essential.

T. Trunks. The turtleback trunk she got from her mother and grandfather when she was sixteen was her first real piece of furniture. Inside is the original decorative paper, flaking off onto the blankets stored there, the velvet crazy-quilt, the afghan, the down comforter. The inside of the trunk smells like the cedar tray that her grandfather built to replace the one missing. The refinished outside was a labor of love--the wood stripped, sanded, and stained; the decorative raised tin sanded and painted. Of all the furniture in her house, she loves this trunk probably the best.

U. Uvula, because isn't it a great word?

V. Why are all the V words adjectives? Venerate, vicious, variable. Voluptuous. Hah. Victorious. But then she thinks value. Not just the monetary kind, but the old-fashioned kind. Values, like scruples. Like the Young Women's values. She wishes such values were more valued.

W. Water. She is infinitely grateful for water. The hot kind in winter, the cold kind in summer. The frozen kind for ice-skating, the liquid kind for swimming.

X. Xanthan gum. Really. When the Kazakhstan-finding son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, xanthan gum came to the rescue! She could bake with rice flour and the baked items would actually hold together! A food miracle!

Y. Yarn. Her fingers can fly in two places: the keyboard, and with knitting needles (two 'K' words. Hm. And all she could think of for 'K' was Kazakhstan?). But yarn? Oh, the deliciousness of it all. Angora, alpaca, iguana. Ok, not really, but it sounds good. The shades, the textures, the weights. Rapture.

Z. Zippers. Where would the world be without zippers? XYZ!

And now she is grateful.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday thoughts

Just when I thought I was on the homestretch with this novel, I discovered I need to change the setting. Need, Ginger? Really?

Yes, really.

And this morning, after I had gotten accustomed to this need, I discovered I need to change my point of view. And this revision, my friends, is much more intense that simply changing the setting.

Needs and wants. Needs and wants. Why do I keep going back to needs and wants...

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Flipping through websites, I saw a blip on yahoo that said female singers make history. There was a headshot of three of them. I don't know who they are because I live under a rock, nor do I know what sort of history they made.

In that split second after I read that headline, the thought flew through my mind that I want to do something great. Not for glory or money or massive amounts of chocolate or to get my picture on yahoo with the headline "Female person makes history," but just because. I want to do something great to make the world just a little bit better than it was before.

Is that an odd desire? I don't know. So I sit here wondering if all people have the desire to do something great. And what do they do about it?

And what constitutes greatness anyway?

It's not all peace treaties and stock market victories, speed records, Hollywood contracts, and entertainment achievements.

On some days, it seems like patiently assisting with the homework of a very frustrated child constitutes greatness.

Or cooking a glorious meal. Or holding the hand of a suffering friend. Remembering to find the tap shoes your sister asked you to send to her.

Can there be greatness without love?