Thursday, September 29, 2011

Not a book review of "32 Candles"

I tend to get violent when something is REALLY good. Like, the way I want to drop kick a toddler over the banana pudding ice cream at Dominion Ice Cream shop. Or how I claw at my chest when I hear an amazing song like Raphael Saadiq's "Just Don't". Or how I would thrash my body across the bed, almost as if I were having a seizure when I read Ernessa T. Carter's "32 Candles". I literally had to stop myself from throwing this book out of my bedroom window a few times, y'all. It is THAT serious.

This is hands down the best novel I've read this year and by far the best love story I've ever read. Period. "32 Candles" is smart, humorous, authentic, and just down right awesome.  I kept asking myself, "Who the hell is Ernessa Carter and where did she come up with this stuff?" Seriously, she's amazing. This book is so well written it's effortless. *sigh* Let me stop gushing. I implore you to read this book. I promise you won't be disappointed. If you don't like this book, I'm reporting you to the FBI as a possible terrorist. Seriously. There's no way you can't fall in love with "32 Candles".

Edit: One more thing.

Dear Hollywood,

PLEASE make 32 Candles into a movie and please don't fuck it up.



Friday, September 16, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 13: Southern Hospitality? What's That?

I’m not crazy. Seriously, I’m not. I know this is going to sound crazy but please hear me out, guys. The time between preparing my mother’s funeral arrangements and when we buried her were equal parts tortuous and fun. Yes, I said fun.The hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life came during those days. I would say that I cried the hardest then, too, but that would be a lie. The hardest I cried was once I got back to campus and was alone with my grief in my dorm room every night.

During that week prior to the burial, I was surrounded by loving and generous people. Most of all, those bamas were funny. Reminiscing on the old days is always a riot and with such a diverse group of family and friends filling our house to capacity, the stories were constant and hilarious. I would go from crying over the loss of my mother to crying laughing at the fact that my brother’s friend was STILL rocking a fanny pack in 2004. (I tell you no lies here, people. He showed up at the house with a LEATHER fanny pack on and I have never laughed so hard in my life!)

Even with what seemed like a million people in our house, there was an overwhelming amount of food. Neighbors and friends made sure we didn’t have to lift a finger. There was a definitive presence from a supportive community. They either loved us or respected my mother enough to make sure that even though our appetite waned from grief, we wouldn’t have to go looking for food when we were inclined to eat.

This was not the case in Newport, Arkansas. I thought surely that as soon as the news of my grandfather’s death hit that little town, people would be coming to The House with aluminum platters of spaghetti and baked chicken. I just knew someone was going to bring over a fruit or pasta salad. This is the South. That’s what they do, right? Apparently not.

Every day leading up to the funeral, we had to go out and find food. We visited one of the two Chinese restaurants in town and ordered take-out from a place famous for their pork chops. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why my grieving family was forced to order Chinese take-out, between picking out a casket and putting together an obituary. Call me presumptuous but I was disappointed in these Southerners. Even after the wake, we had to go out to Long John Silver’s for dinner.

I couldn’t figure it out. My family is well known and respected in that town. What was the deal? I still don’t know but honestly, it pissed me off. My dad and his siblings were incredibly stressed. They were frazzled beyond measure. They were all shells of themselves, walking around like zombies, fumbling through the tasks that come along with burying a loved one. I had to constantly prod them to eat. I couldn’t stop thinking of how there was such an abundant amount of food around after my mother’s passing. Foraging for meals was never a concern added to our already muddled minds.

But my disappointment was about more than food. Back in Minneapolis there was a constant stream of people in the house coming to support the family. In Arkansas, I felt deserted by the community. Where was every one? Then they had the nerve to show up in numbers for the wake and treat it like a party? Oh yeah, I was too through with Newport.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Road Trip, Part 12: Is this a wake or a party?

After getting my godsister successfully married off, my dad and I drove back to Arkansas the next morning. The newlyweds were having a BBQ that day but we had a wake to attend. We stopped in Memphis along the way to pick up my brother, who had flown in from Minneapolis for the services.

The juxtaposition of emotions was nauseating. One day I was witnessing the happiest day of a loved one’s life and the very next day I was attending my grandfather’s wake. It seemed only right that tornadoes were chasing us. The whirlwind of emotions swirling inside both my father and I were manifesting themselves in the atmosphere, it seemed.

Arriving in Newport, AR in the pouring rain, we checked into a hotel. My grandfather’s house was filled with family pouring in from the Midwest for the services, so, staying there wasn’t an option. By the time we got checked in and dried off from the rain, we only had time to change clothes before heading off to meet with the rest of the family at the funeral home.

I’ve been to quite a few wakes in my lifetime but I’ve never seen anything like this one. It was like a mix between a class reunion and a funeral. The chapel was filled to capacity with family from Minneapolis, St. Louis and Arkansas. My father’s friends from Memphis also came. There were a lot of family and friends from Newport and they were very excited to see the visitors.

I sat in the pew next to the casket in awe of the atmosphere. One of our distant cousins was literally taking pictures with folks! There was lots of laughing and smiling going on in the back of the room and you could tell the grieving family in the front were just as thrown off by it as I was.

Even in this atmosphere, a few of my family members were crying themselves into fits. All the shaking and chest heaving going on in the front row, I was sure someone was going to pass smooth out while their cousins laughed and chatted in the background. To add to the chaos, there was a gospel CD playing in the background that kept skipping. I kept side-eyeing the CD player and thinking, “Would I be wrong to go turn this thing off?”

I didn’t. I just sat there holding whatever family member’s hand that came to sit next to me and cry. While it felt good to have so much family in the same place, it hurt to see everyone in so much pain.