Try Orion

Discuss: Freebirds

READ ARTICLE

13 comments

Submit Your Comments

Name:

Email:

URL:

Your Comments:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

PLEASE NOTE: Before submitting, copy your comment to your clipboard, be sure every required field is filled out, and only then submit.

HAVING TROUBLE POSTING? Troubles will disappear if you clear your browser's cache.

Please enter the word you see in the image below:


Page 1 of 2  1 2 >

1 Jean Maitland on Nov 16, 2011

Here’s some veg humour for you, Michael Branch!

http://on.fb.me/uqx9S1

2 mike k on Nov 17, 2011

I must confess that at this advanced stage of my residence in the sorry circumstances we humans have created for ourselves and others, it is nigh impossible for a piece of writing to make me smile, much less break into laughter. Thank you so much Michael for your wonderful send up of presidential pomposity. Your magical potion of gallows humor and human kindness mixed with the seasoning of our common fallibility touched my often too serious heart.

3 Lisa Summers on Nov 17, 2011

From Thanksgiving to Latkes

Every year, as the holiday season approaches, I revisit what I call my “botched holiday meal” strategy. If I can maintain my reputation in the kitchen, no one will ask me to be in charge of feeding crowds. As an occasional science writer, I’m more of a cuisine naturalist than enthusiast.
For example, last year, around Thanksgiving I had to make four separate potluck dishes for the kids’ heritage feast at school. I had a mild panic attack and called my sister in Colorado. She said, “What are you asking me for? Don’t you remember I don’t cook either? Make something white. Kids love white food.”
Sheepishly, I called my mother. “You failed to domesticate us,” I told her.
“It’s not funny anymore. You don’t even iron,” she said.
“Who irons?”
Finally at my mother’s suggestion, I made a green bean casserole – a dish I truly believed to have passed into legend circa 1971. My mother made a list of the simple ingredients I would need. She assured me it would be a hit. “It’s all starch and salt. Everyone loves it.” I went to the Safeway and it took me at least fifteen minutes to find French-fried onion rings. I had difficulty classifying them as a species. Would they be with crackers and chips? Baking supplies? On the ethnic foods aisle perhaps, under “Regional American/Confederate States?” Near the green beans, perchance? Finally I found them near the pharmacy, arranged precariously in a tower listing slightly to the right. Next aisle over I found to the cans of cream of mushroom soup - a mysterious coagulated compound of fungus and plumber’s putty. I brought the casseroles to the heritage feast. When I pulled the foil off to present them, the casserole looked like wet grout with green beans. No one touched it.
Determined, I finally mastered the green bean casserole I decided to bring it to Thanksgiving at my mother’s house. Sadly, when we arrived, the meal had already fallen into disharmony. The gravy, stuck in traffic on HWY 5, showed up two hours late. We waited as long as we could, until the turkey shriveled and dried out on the barbecue and the kids had to dunk it in the apple cider just so they could chew it. There was a miscommunication about the stuffing and we ended up with about forty pounds.
After everyone had enough wine, the conversation turned to Turducken, a distinctly Yiddish sounding word yet a profoundly unJewish dish. Luckily my cousin’s new girlfriend took my part; she animates adult cartoon shows and collects rare fighter fish – a real shiksa my mother says. Authoritatively, she said, “I believe a traditionally prepared Turducken is a Turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken. The French do something else. There are more birds involved. I think they start with an ostrich.”
“I bet,” I said. “An ostrich stuffed with a turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a house finch, stuffed with a cigarette.”
“Exactly!” she said. “Speaking of cigarettes…”
My mother rose stiffly and, giving me the evil eye, left the dining room. “You had to start,” she said. “At least you could let everyone eat before you make them sick with all your nature. How did I fail my daughters?”
A few weeks later Hanukah arrived. My strategy was working. “Can we all just admit that latkes are just Yiddish for “hash-browns” and get over it?” I asked my mother.
“They are not hash-browns. It’s important to make them from scratch, the right way, hand-grated. Will I never teach you anything?”
In our family, the “traditional way” means hours of peeling and grating followed by billowing black smoke followed by the immediately onset of anxiety around the Christmas meal.
“Don’t you remember last year?” I asked my mother.
A dark cloud passed over her face. During last year’s Hanukah dinner, I walked into my mother’s house during peak latke-production. My son, running through the kitchen, skidded out on a viscous, potatoey substance on the floor and injured his head on the refrigerator. Clumps of latke batter dripped from my mother’s hair and her face was partially covered in flour. The garbage disposal groaned and yurped up copious amounts of excess potato matter.
“This isn’t making latkes, mom. This is a potato apocalypse.”
“Don’t you have something to do? A trail to run? A ball to kick? Leave me alone,” she said defeated. It was only then that I realized it was I who had failed her.
Finally, after some pressuring, I convinced her to try the frozen latkes from Trader Joe’s. “It’s just us,” I said. “No one will know.” She scoffed, of course. But in the end I won. We spent the rest of the evening drinking and watching the candles burn down.
“These were good,” my mother said. “Not a word to anyone about frozen latkes, especially no one Jewish. My reputation is on the line.”
“Mom,” I said, “Haven’t I taught you anything?”

4 jackie nourigat on Nov 19, 2011

Close to Thanksgiving. A reporter is following a bunch of turkeys that are running away as fast as they can. He is holding is mic and addresses the first one he can catch. “Please, Miss Turkey, would you mind saying something about Thanksgiving to our auditors?”
The turkey, frightened, is running twice as fast.
“all right, then! See you at Christmas…” Then, the turkey stops, turns around, horrified, saying: “Did you say Christmas???”

5 Kelby Ouchley on Nov 21, 2011

These are my Thanksgiving thoughts from the bayous of Louisiana:

SENSES OF THANKSGIVING

Thank you, O Lord, in this bountiful season for the five senses to relish your world.

Thank you for the succulent smells of the fruits of the earth in the kitchens of our mothers and wives.  Thank you for the odor of rich delta dirt on a warm, foggy winter morning. Thank you for the smell of wood smoke, especially that tinted with lightered pine.  Thank you for the stew of odors distinct to our rivers and bayous— cypress needles, primal water, mud and decay, life and life to be.

Thank you for the sound of voices of those who came before us and those who will carry our legacies into the future— our parents, grandparents and our children.  Thanks for the muffled wings of waterfowl above an overflow swamp and the belligerent snort of a doe at dusk.  Thank you for haunting sounds of great horned owls and distant thunder.

Thank you for the taste of spring mayhaws and autumn muscadines in the jellies of a late November Thursday.  Thank you for the abundance of other native flavors, subtle and brash— breast of teal, pecans, filet of bass.  Thank you for the taste of contentment.

Thank you for the feel of a driving north wind as an Arctic front races for the gulf.  Thanks for the textures of sweet gum balls, feathers, gumbo clay, and beech bark.  Thank you for the heat of an open fire and the warmth of an open heart.

Thank you for the sight of falling leaves, fattening squirrels, and rising waters that foretell the change of seasons.  As the sun approaches the solstice, thank you for lengthy shadows and longer sunsets.  Thanks also for fleeting glimpses— of a bobcat at dawn, of a shooting star on a rawboned night, of curiosity on the face of a young grandson.

I pray also, O Lord, for a sixth sense.  Grant us common sense to be good stewards of these treasures.  Amen.

6 Joanne Hedou on Nov 22, 2011

Conversation at a Seattle Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

Me:  “I spend a lot of time translating my life when I talk to people. My lower income background didn’t give me the skills to talk to wealthier people or the middle class. The conversations in my head go between saying what I’m thinking and figuring out how to say it in a way that won’t offend someone or won’t clue them in to the fact that I am not middle class.”

Reply: “You are creating a user interface.” (A UI in techspeak.)

My shoulder and arm hurt and I want to type this before I lose capability to type. I want to be responsible to the people who are caring for me and helping me to get better. I will get better but I have to write this now.

Last night I went to a “Rent Party” after going to that dinner. My friend, who works in the Seattle area to help people and bring people up in so many ways, can’t pay rent this month. The friend invited me at the last minute. The friend knows I’m hurting too so thought it wasn’t right to ask. The person’s friends said, “Ask those who know what it’s like.”, and I almost do know what it’s like.

I’m falling down on my desk. I can hardly get up. I just had a discussion with another friend who is on the edge and wondering what to do—how to pay the rent. My UI is trying to kick in but I’m suppressing it a bit. I had a tiny bit to drink yesterday and I’m a little hung over. That opens the doors and lets me through the UI door a bit.

I am tired of placards with 1-paragraph statements about the 99%. I’m tired of “supporters” who for whatever reason think that their words will help this movement. It will help some. Personally I’m ambivalent. The demonstrations and placards are a good start but these are real people not to be objectified and turned into a symbol for a movement. Invite them to your house and sit down with them. Learn how you can really help—not how you can help them stand in the street longer—how you can help get them off that street be it real or metaphorical; forever.

I’m white. People in Seattle who know me find me challenging. I can tell you what it’s like to be poor from childhood and not always; that’s all. It’s hard enough to be honest about my own experience because I know that when I am in a room full of people, be they activists or friends, it makes me awkward and them uncomfortable if I talk about poverty. People think I’m hostile because I tell the truth. That’s because the UI I’m always creating has bugs. It leaks. I tell the truth where I see inconsistency and delusion. When I talk about difficulty with my injury or my finances, it makes them more uncomfortable.

What I’m trying to do, trying to say is that they once accepted me, called me friend as long as I could screen out what my true life experiences were. Now, I stand beside them and it’s too much. Poverty and financial stress are an analytical problem to them. I become no longer a person but something to solve. I’m invisible. I make them feel powerless even though they aren’t.

That’s not what I’m trying to do! I’ve thought about this a lot this year. I have grey hair. I have a nice car. I sort of own a condo. I look successful but I’m not and I’m not the only person out there who is in this situation. I’m trying to say to them, I am the” they” you want to help. I’m not over the edge yet. I’m not falling down yet. I still want to be your friend but I’m not alone and I understand that if you stay friends with me it opens doors you’re scared to go through. Because I am not alone. The 99% are there right behind me. They’re creating the collective UI of the Occupy movements but it’s all too real.

Two people, three if you include me, right in front of you; who are falling down.

I’m still falling down on my desk. I have to stop. This is how I write when I’m crying.

I don’t want to make you uncomfortable but I want to be able to stand in front of you and tell the truth. If you allow yourself to cry, you will write this way too. You will do more than you think you could.

No turkey to forgive. I thanked it.

7 karen Moulder on Nov 22, 2011

Excellent essay, and how very true !

8 jacky on Dec 03, 2011

Last night I went to a “Rent Party” after going to that dinner. My friend, who works in the Seattle area to help people and bring people up in so many ways, can’t pay rent this month. The friend invited me at the last minute. The friend knows I’m hurting too so thought it wasn’t right to ask. The person’s friends said, “Ask those who know what it’s like.”, and I almost do know what it’s like.

I’m falling down on my desk. I can hardly get up. I just had a discussion with another friend who is on the edge and wondering what to do—how to pay the rent. My UI is trying to kick in but I’m suppressing it a bit. I had a tiny bit to drink yesterday and I’m a little hung over. That opens the doors and lets me through the UI door a bit.
http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/discuss/6471

Page 1 of 2  1 2 >