Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Herman Ripp

Why would I lie about a name like that? He was my 6th grade teacher, and he used to sing.

I'm not talking about cool, early musical influence, or admitting to any sort of early musical dorkiness here. I'm just saying Mr. Herman Ripp, my 6th grade teacher who wore corduroys and had a mustache, used to sing. No guitar. No piano. No tiny little wooden recorder. Just hardbound song books and tunes like Streets of Laredo--sad cowboy songs where men died alone in the middle of the desert.

Here's a verse:

Then beat the drum slowly, play the fife lowly.
Play the death march as you carry me along.
Take me to the green valley, lay the sod o'er me,
I am a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong.

Good times. Mr. Ripp would stand in the front of our classroom and warble those songs like he was about to cry. Then we'd all put the books away and go back to math.

And I even thought to mention it because I was listen to REK's latest studio album,what i really mean, and one of the songs sounded a lot like those old cowboy songs.

And I remembered Mr. Ripp and was struck by how sometimes our early influences aren't so much inspirational as they are, well, influences.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Old Banana Freedom

Important Old Banana Update: I thought you would be so glad to hear that in an act of bold kindness to me, my husband ate a banana that was turning brown. I mean, there I was, asking myself the question "Will I REALLY be able to throw that away and not freeze it?" Everything in me was, well, clenched. And then there was the peel, emptied of my need to decide.

I'm watching the five that are currently yellowing in my kitchen and telling myself, "You can do it, Ginger. You know you can."

I put my dukes up to whatever god is in charge of banana bread-on-the-fly and threw out all the old bananas in my freezer. There were 24. I had 24 old bananas in my freezer. Because someday I might make banana bread.

It was like risking the wrath of some meaner, more survivalist-oriented version of the pillsbury dough boy.

And now I have no backup plan, no means of pulling off a homemade baked good on the spur of the moment. I am embracing the bakery. I am saying yes to the high skill level of others. I am eschewing homemade.

Who knows what will happen to me at Christmastime (which is in like 11 months). I don't know what will happen. This is a crazy I-don't-have-any-way-to-make-banana-bread sort of a ride. Hold on tight--no! Don't hold on tight. Let go. Put your hands in the air. Feel that feeling like you might fall off.

I have no bananas.

But what if you need to make banana bread, Ginger? What will you DO?

I don't know. I really, honestly, don't know. I'm shaking my head as I write this. I just don't know.

But when I peer into my freezer and see the vacated place that those bananas held, I have a feeling that seems like . . . freedom.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Standing next to the boat

I've been thinking about the way we lose them, our children, I mean --about the way some days I go into my son's room, and there is another boy there, someone more lank, who can--as if the skill snuck into him in the night--read words and share with his brother, someone who refuses to eat carrots. And I have this sad longing for the other boy, a sort of cocktail of regret and relief: so glad he's learned this next thing, so sorry I wasn't kinder to him before he did--longing, I think, for the chance to be with him in his other state like I could be now that I see it really will have an end.

It's something like that thing of slogging across the river in order to get to the boat you needed to get yourself across the river.

But I can't seem to see the end of these stretches of not-getting-there that he passes through--until he's on the other side, and I have, just by waiting for the hard thing to pass, missed something. Missed the chance to be the one who would be sturdy and kind enough to love him real well while he wasn't anywhere he needed to be yet.

And maybe that's why I like to sing--to celebrate those other moments behind me, those other boys behind me.

Like standing there next to the boat, pants wet and all, and singing back across the river to him--singing loud so hear can hear me.