Giving Thanks for Many Things
I often write late at night, glass of wine nearby, listening to NPR through a headset while the other residents of the loft sleep nearby. Usually, it's Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz I listen to, sometimes other podcasts make the playlist. The other night one of these blurbs caught my eye: Umami was once again in the news. I'd recently tried the quick marinara sauce offered by Chef Silvia Bianco which incorporates one umami-rich anchovy for simmered-all-day flavor. So, I guess I had umami on the brain.
Then, on Robert Krulwich's Science segment, I learned about Jonah Lehrer's book: Proust was a Neuroscientist on NPR on just one of these nights. Lehrer is an anomaly in today's world of specialization. Not "just" a scientist, he read Proust in the lab awaiting his experiments' transition from one stage to another. In his (unnaturally bifurcated) world of science and literature he had an epiphany: the world of literature and science is one world. It is not an "either-or" proposition. This got him thinking and we are the lucky recipients of this book, the results of a thinker (both a scientist and a lover of literature) who refused to submit to conventional thinking.
Lehrer uses Proust, Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Paul Cezanne, Igor Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Wolf and August Escoffier to illustrate thinkers from various artistic disciplines who learned a truth that the science of their time denied.
Over my annual Orphans' Thanksgiving I was sharing with friends I've known for un f* -believable numbers of years some of my new writing projects including one in sports and one in film. Joe looked at me and said "You know, that's an incredibly unusual combination of things you write about." To which I replied, "Yes, I'm just an incredibly unusual kinda girl." We all laughed, as you can with friends who know you that well, that long.
And I am. Incredibly unusual, that is. It's just taken me all these years to figure out it's not me that's off. Too many times I've been the "square peg" gamely playing at "round hole." It's never been fun trying to convince others I was okay. If they lacked the capacity to comprehend a feminist might also wears eyeliner, or that a girl who cooks also likes football, why was it my fault? I was a lawyer comparing myself to Proust or Whitman in terms of any talent, just in terms of the certainty that I do not fit conventional molds. Another friend who joined us is my "little sister" whom I began mentoring when she was 10. Now she's an amazing, level-headed, fun and caring young woman of 27 years.
Back to Jazz
I heard a piece on Billie Holiday, one on Johnny Hartman, another with Diana Krall and Marian McPartland. All of these but McPartland are musicians I've loved for years, I'm glad I've 'discovered' Marian now. I was struck by the fact that Holiday, Hartman and Krall all said they were unable to sing songs that they didn't feel were reflective of them and how they feel. Constitutionally unable and unwilling. This was a another brilliant reminder of the importance of being your authentic self. In just a few segments I've heard, it's an aspect McPartland appreciates in those she interviews and plays with, too.
Now, at this wonderful holiday, my favorite, I realize how lucky I am to have friends who are really great, smart, funny and steadfast friends. They don't care if I don't fit some conventional standard. They don't care if I don't fit my clothes from last year. They celebrate all of who I am - right here and now. I am a very lucky (if slightly rounder, slightly older) girl. Authentically me, and at last unapologetic about it.
Thanksgiving Menus and Traditions
Speaking of celebrating, how about the menu this year? What worked well for you this year? Did you start or continue any traditions? Try any new recipes?
One thing new I did this year was to make dinner rolls with pumpkin. They were not like sweet muffins, just beautiful pumpkin-colored dinner rolls. And they made a delicious bread pudding today. I also used this new thing I found called a roasting wand. It heats the stuffing inside the turkey so you eliminate the problem of overcooked bird for well-cooked stuffing.
I made some stock from turkey wings the day before. Simple to do and well worth the extra flavor dimension. The new touches will make a reappearance at next year's Procrastinators', Refugees, and Orphans' Thanksgiving.
Note to self: get some more good jazz too.
I'm grateful for the riches of the table, good friends, good health, a terrific husband. An unconventional life that is wholly mine, and full of thanksgiving.