Friday, November 30, 2012

A Month of Gratitude

November has never been my best month. A rough season with bare trees and dying light. A gray screen over the world that leaves me feeling heavy and shredded.

But this time round, there has been this little writing project to keep me both grounded and uplifted. A goal to remember something to be grateful for every day. Because, as the wise Interwebs tells us, Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

This month, I am grateful for the proverb of the fighting wolves. One wolf is your anger, envy, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment. In my mind, his eyes are dreadful red. The other is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, kindness, compassion, empathy, and truth. This wolf glows blue within you. The punchline? The winner of their battle is the one that you feed.

Actually, I'm grateful for the whole theme of wolves in general -- picturing the blue wolf curled beside me helps me sleep at night; the bumper sticker "I Was Raised by Wolves" makes me laugh out loud. Weren't we all?

I'm grateful for the darkly funny tweets of Joyce Carol Oats. "The difference between magic & politics: magic is tricking people with the intention of delighting them." "Cessation of pain is the new happiness. Abrupt cessation, the greatest high."

And for Beautiful Ruins, an immensely readable and satisfying novel by Jess Walter about Hollywood old and new, a tiny coastal village near the Cinque Terra of Italy, betrayal, hope, love, pitching bad ideas, Liz and Dick, and busking the Edinburgh Fringe Fest.

For David Guetta. I've never heard his voice, but his music stirs my blood.

For friends who are like family and for family who are also friends.

For sweets! Apple pie with cardamon, clove, fennel seed, ginger and cinnamon; Moonstruck chocolates, eggnog sandwich cookies from Whole Foods next to mushroom and apple shaped sugar cookies from Foodstuffs; candied ginger; molasses and honey pumpkin pie; flourless chocolate cake with raspberries and powdered sugar stencil.

For dear friends who walk 60 miles for breast cancer research! I wish I could walk with them, but I can't. (Won't? Couldn't? Mightn't? Wouldn't? The three miles I walked the day after Thanksgiving gave me blisters and knocked me out for the afternoon.)

Rickie Lee Jones at Space in Evanston. For her continued control and command of that unforgettably expressive voice. The night was both a reunion and a meditation on the passing years; this woman has earned the right to her emotive cover of "Sympathy for the Devil." "Young Blood" was joyous and I called out with her line "in the back row! Hold on tight!" because that's where Virginia and I were standing. "A Tree on Allenford" was a relevation. Not all was as joyous as my last time seeing her live, in Boston, 1992, however, when I scalped tickets with a brand-new friend and Rickie encored with her Grammy-nominated "Autumn Leaves." Accompanied by an unobtrusive cellist and bassist/keyboard guy, many of the songs were played with so delicate a touch as to try the patience of the drunk women sitting in front of us. And tunes like "Living It Up" brought me back to some hard times when I listened in pain. But there were funny stories of Rickie going to Cubs games with her dad and a gorgeous sing-along to "Horses" and the guy who shared his table with V. and me chimed in with me on the chorus and made a pretty harmony.

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