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Thanksgiving Falls on Every Day of My Calendar

I got up early, watched the sunrise with coffee and permakitten, drove over to Queens in Minerva, my trusty blue hatchback, and took a long hike through Forest Park, listening to the birds and squirrels and wind and leaves, meditating by the pond as the whippoorwills and a potbellied homo sapien practiced their scales. On the way home I stopped off at Trader Joe’s to fetch things I’ll want to eat on the Thursday formerly known to me as Thanksgiving, and joked with cashiers whom I’ve come to know and adore. It was a simple morning, but so meaningful and joyful because it was entirely on my terms.

Only very very recently could a woman could live by herself, drive a car she bought herself with money kept in a bank account with only her name on it. Even more miraculous: I finance my existence with work I feel called to do that once upon a time would’ve got me burned at the stake.

Given our country’s history of genocide and colonization–and given my complicated personal relationship to the Thanksgiving holiday–I’ve come to treat the last Thursday of November as a quiet and solitary day of reflection. I go for a long city walk, I say hi to the river, I slow-roast local vegetables, I pay my respects to this land that has seen so much harm since Europeans’ arrival. And then I watch really raggedy, emotionally complicated films like Lumet’s The Morning After, in which Jane Fonda plays a drunken former actress framed for murder on Thanksgiving Weekend.

It’s been a year since I injured my back so badly I was immobilized; two years since I was so broke I was afraid I would lose my home. Now, through the support of friends, healers, and my own adjustments, I can stand on my two feet again. I’m profoundly grateful I can freely move through this world’s extraordinary-ordinariness on my own terms. There is always so much beauty and love to be honored

Every day of the week, I’m so grateful to be grateful.

Share Your Love With Me (Aretha, Forever)

Did you know that Aretha’s version of “Share Your Love With Me”–first recorded by Bobby Band, but no one covered a track like the Queen–has made me cry ever since I was a kid? The loneliness and longing of the lyrics are perfectly matched by Aretha’s musicalit; she always produced her albums when the studios boys didn’t credit her. Just listen to the first chords of her piano; that Atlantic Records horn section; her glorious, churchified sisters thrilling and trilling; and then Lady A swooping us all up–generously, joyfully–in her big beautiful voice, making all of the human condition OK. Yes, even our pain. Especially our pain.

This song. I can’t tell you how many times my heart has been so broken that I’ve barely been able to feed myself, let alone feel myself, but could still listen to this song. Over and over, numbly at first, then with big tears streaming, until I was shored enough to face the world with spine and lipstick straight. This song is my church, and Aretha is forever my minister.

I’d say I miss her and of course that’s true. But it’s also true that she lives on in every one of my scratchy vinyls. The ones I’ve been listening to since I was that kid in dirty braids who saved up to buy them at Skippy White’s in Cambridge’s Central Square. I’m so grateful Aretha Franklin helped raise me even if she didn’t know she was doing it. Raising people up is what she did and she always will. She shares her love with all of us.

The Church of Mother Mary’s Orphans

For the last four days I’ve been terribly sad for reasons I don’t yet wish to put into general print. (Save it for the book, save it for the book.) Yesterday I didn’t go outside once but instead watched movies and also the wall. Gracie helped, she always helps, and eventually I managed to clean my house, also myself. But the sadness never abated, nor did my desire to avoid everyone.

Not great when you make your living translating people back to themselves.

Daylight savings made me happy, though—put me back in step with the human race. Waking at 5am today meant I really woke at 6am—only had to wait a few hours for the rest of the world to catch up. It was a welcome transition, this springing forward. During autumn and winter, by the time everyone else begins to stir, I’ve moved into the mental malaise of mid-morning–fed, caffeinated, overwhelmed–

Today I was first in line at the bakery, ready for croissant and bread to freeze for the rest of the week. The sun was bright and promising. Cool enough to merit the armor of winterwear, warm enough to merit sneakers unhindered by socks.

The goldilocks of March weather, what ho.

Into my earbuds I put an audiobook of Anne of Green Gables, that patron saint of hopeful orphans, and set off on a new route with new Mary statues studding new people’s stoops. Each time I encountered the Blessed Mother I heard her sing: You are a beloved child of the universe, loved in every shade.

She sings it to each of us, and means it all the time.

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