Archive | Country Matters

The Other America of ‘Stray Dog’

“Stray Dog” is a quietly extraordinary documentary about American life today. Like director Debra Granik’s last feature, the 2010 Oscar-nominated indie “Winter’s Bone,” it is set in a financially challenged rural Missouri community, and its titular character is the appropriately nicknamed Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, a biker and Vietnam veteran who is as grizzled as he is unfailingly open-hearted. When we first meet the pot-bellied sixtysomething, he’s decked out in leather, tattoos, and stars-and-stripes patches, and is smoking and sharing moonshine with his war buddies. That’s about the extent to which he and his clan conform to coastal stereotypes about the Heartland poor, a demographic this film investigates with a plainspoken generosity that mirrors its protagonist. Continue Reading →

The Church of Frittatas and Freedom

I got up at 5 am–the monk hour, the high priestess hour–and meditated, Gracie creeping quietly into my lotus position as we breathed in the morning’s sweet, post-rain cool drifting through the open window. Opened to light and sent it down my spine, everywhere I sensed darkness. Then, armed with strong French press coffee and heated cream, I began a new notebook as I have countless times since I was a little girl. So much happened in this last week: so much tsuris, so much joy, so many breakthroughs. I wrote into all of it and began to chart a course about where to go from here. Finally I stood and did what I’ve been doing ever since I became a grownup: I tied on an apron, pulled greenmarket booty out of my refrigerator, and began to cook my way out of the confusion. I diced spring onions, kale, red potatoes, mushrooms; sauteed them with fresh corn and thyme and olive oil in my old cast iron pan. Grated asiago cheese. Beat eggs with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Poured them over the vegetables and slid the mixture into the heated oven. Cleaned my kitchen; sang a little bit and then a lot. (Sorry, neighbors.) When the holy frittata cooled, I sliced a piece onto my favorite vintage plate, climbed on the fire escape, and toasted this Sunday morning with a fork, my quiet cat once again by my side.

This is my life today. It could be worse. It could be better. It will be both at different points in the future just as it has been in the past. But it is fully mine, and I worked hard to ensure this could be so, and I do not forget that. I celebrate that our government now legally upholds same-sex partnership just as I celebrate my right, so new in the history of humankind, to live independently as a woman.  In this moment–as in all moments of true spiritual communion–I am grateful to be grateful.

Grace and Proud

Every time Obama invoked grace during his landmark eulogy at Reverend Pinckney’s memorial, my permakitty bounded into the room and stationed herself in front of the television, as puffed up as could be. “I AM Grace and I serve at the pleasure of the President!” What a day. Between the Supreme Court’s marriage-rights decision and Obama’s pure and powerful testimony, our hearts were bursting with pride to be Americans, even as we mourned the lost souls of Charleston. So much is still a mess but our President said it best: “Today we have made our union a little more perfect.” I am very grateful, and so, apparently, is Grace.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy