Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Calm Thanksgiving, A Busy Thanksgiving, Maybe a Perfect Thanksgiving

Let's see what the two-dog, four-person Aronsky Thanksgiving will have:

- A smoked turkey sent by Greenberg Smoked Turkeys in Tyler, Texas, currently taking up an entire vegetable bin in the refrigerator in its opaque white paper bag. We ordered a turkey from them last year, too, and it's really good. The smoked flavor isn't just on the surface; it's spread throughout the turkey, and the scent reminds me of my former downstairs Cuban neighbors in our condominium in Pembroke Pines, the nights they would smoke their cigars out on their patio, and we'd have to close every window near them, including the sliding door in my parents' bedroom, and turn up the air conditioning. It was annoying and inconvenient, but there are things one remembers just to keep certain places in mind, and aspects of those memories could lead to other ones not thought about for a long time.

- Stove Top stuffing, Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, green beans with French's french fried onions sprinkled on top to remind me that vegetables can be good for me; candied yams (there's an off-limits bag of Kraft jet-puffed marshmallows in one of the lower kitchen cabinets expressly for that), and a 12-inch, round, decorated chocolate chip cookie, because the best pumpkin pie for holiday consumption is at Henry's Farmer's Market in Woodland Hills, and not only would it have been insane to go today to try to get anything from there ahead of Thursday, but Dad worked a full day at school, and it will be the same for him tomorrow, despite most other schools in the district knocking off early. My sister also found a box of Jell-O pumpkin spice pudding at Ralph's, and maybe she'll make that as part of dessert. I can't get my beloved pumpkin pie, so I'd like to have something pumpkin-related at the table. Doubtful I'll find pumpkin egg nog at Ralph's right now either.

- My parents laying down their verbal arms against each other. I'm not completely confident that the bad blood between them has been quelled, because there was that day a few years ago in Pasadena after a bad fight when Mom told Meridith and I that she and Dad were done fighting. Yeah, right. That lasted for about two weeks. But Dad is making an effort this time. Before dinner tonight, Dad actually sat with Mom in the bedroom and they talked. He sat next to her. They talked. She had some things to discuss with him, and he listened. Maybe there were some things she said that he might not have liked to hear---I wasn't in the room, and they were talking pretty low, so I don't know---but he didn't get defensive. He listened. Imagine, 26 years ago, if he had realized that he was out of his childhood household. He didn't have to embody his father's ways. He could drop his family's habits and learn to live better. All those years wouldn't have been wasted. I admit, though, that at least he's learning now. He could have remained steeled against personal change until he dies. We all want to get to Las Vegas. We all want to have a better life. I don't think Mom gave him an ultimatum, but maybe, just maybe, he's understanding how much good we want from these forthcoming new experiences. All the times we've moved have been because of his whims. It's time to enjoy ourselves every day. I'd like to see their marriage improve. It would be a startling, but welcome surprise. Tonight was a strong start.

- There will be Thanksgiving plates for Tigger and Kitty. Turkey, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce. Paper plates, but the sentiment is the same. They do so much for us that they deserve part of our feast. They're just as much a part of this family as we are to each other.

- I won't be working on Freelance Daily newsletters on Wednesday night for Thursday and Thursday night for Friday. Off on Thanksgiving Day, obviously, but also on Friday because how many Craigslist ads could there possibly be for freelance writers and other freelance writing-related positions the day after? This means that I need to haul ass on that book. I need to finish reading that James Dean biography, read that Carole Landis biography, and write constantly to make these two nights off, plus Saturday night, make a military Humvee-sized dent in my workload. However, it requires staying off the websites I don't need as well as the ones I use to stave off occasional boredom from this project. That will be the big challenge. But I should remember that I'll have a bigger chunk of free time during those evenings to get a lot done. I can do this. I really can do this. I can...oh hey, I haven't checked my library card yet to see what's come in for me to pick up on Sunday.

- I need to read. I've got Moby Dick, Don Quixote, the latest book by Deepak Chopra ("Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You"), because I need a new me; some books my sister checked out for me on her card, including My Booky Wook by Russell Brand, Hotter than That: The Trumpet, Jazz and American Culture, and The Mammoth Book of Haunted House Stories. Plus, I've got three recent issues of The New Yorker I haven't read yet, including the latest, "The Food Issue", and dammit, I just want to get away from this droning machine. But not yet, because I need to read the James Dean and Carole Landis biographies at the computer. I took enough notes by hand, and spent so much time transcribing them that I don't want to do that anymore. I deserve that with these final two books.

- Movies. The 1997 TV movie adaptation of 12 Angry Men with Hume Cronyn, James Gandolfini, William Petersen, Jack Lemmon, and other acting luminaries. I've been curious about it for a long time and fortunately, the library still has VHS copies, one of which I checked out on Sunday. Coincidentally, the night before, I watched the original 1957 film on channel 5 (the CW), and didn't mind that it wasn't in widescreen. It's powerful, no matter the screen format. In the DVD player, I have A Prairie Home Companion from Netflix, which I put at the top of my queue after discovering the titular radio program and immediately becoming a fan of Garrison Keillor in writing and in hosting and voice acting. There are DVDs of the actual programs which were filmed quite a while ago, which are next after I see what this grand group of actors does. Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, Lily Tomlin, and Maya Rudolph are in it, and Lindsay Lohan looks like she actually focused on the script. I've also got The Taking of Pelham 123 from Netflix, the new one with Denzel Washington and John Travolta, just because I wanted to see James Gandolfini playing the mayor of New York City. To go from a mob boss to mayor of New York City is very impressive. It's like how Jeff Bridges went from playing The Dude in The Big Lebowski, to President Jackson Evans in The Contender. I love that kind of movie trajectory.

I hope all this will be Thanksgiving. A great Thanksgiving, our final Thanksgiving here in Santa Clarita.

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