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Friday, November 27, 2009

A Practice of Gratitude

November 27, 2009: Your numerous comments of congratulations and praise following my last posting were a warm, loving and well-deserved tribute to not just me (for really, I merely consider myself the overworked conduit that brings us all together) but the idea -- the concept -- of this Blah-ugh community that you and thousands like you have helped foster. The warmth and love were palpable, and a fitting memorial to this season of gratitude and abundance, which has falled upon us like so many beanbag chairs.

I know I have a great deal to be grateful for, and I thought it appropriate to devote a minute (and let's be honest, also fill some space) with a short look at some of the things that keep me from pulling the trigger. There are many obvious ones, of course -- my kids, my sexual prowess, my ability to juggle -- but let's look deeper ...

Chinese restaurants are routinely open during high holidays, and I really appreciate this. More than once, during my lonely years, I had nowhere better to go than Golden House in Westport's Compo Shopping Center. There I was met by the jovial warmth of people who only speak English as a second (or even third) language, and while the restaurant was usually empty, I was full, mostly from overeating (although the time I found the giant grasshopper-like insect fried into the inside of the top of the silver dish cover still stands out in my mind as the most vivid Golden House memory).

Churches and synagogues also top my gratitude list this holiday, for they always have clean bathrooms. How many times do we find ourselves traveling the roads -- on foot or petrol -- only to be overwhelmed by a colon-cramping need to evacuate. We're not animals, after all, at least not here in the suburbs, where pastoral bathroom options are few and hard-to-find. But a beacon-like house of religion -- one with an unlocked door -- offers its greatest, most vital service by allowing anonymous passers-by the opportunity -- and yes, this is an opportunity -- to spend a few solid, still moments in contemplation and get both their spiritual and colonic needs met. (Please see my August 30 posting = "Finding God in my Toilet" = for more details on this topic.) I can't say enough for these wonderful organizations (even though they don't pay taxes and many of them perpetuate narrow-minded tomfoolery).

Finally, a shout out to records, which after all are light years better than CDs. Despite the crinkles and scratches, the sound is better, but more importantly, the VIBE is better. Something just happens when a record is played. Something comes forth from the speakers that is simply NOT there with CDs. On a whim, we finally purchased a crummy little turntable from Target last month, and I've been introducing my children to my beaten-up record collection. I'm finding myself doing something I NEVER did with CDs, which is just LISTENING to the record -- not doing something else, but just glancing at the big, beautiful album covers and LISTENING. And the sound is different. Mid-career Beatles songs are full, reverberate, echo and fill, unlike their poor CD counterparts. And why shouldn't this be so, as anyone who knows anything about sound knows that records are literally playing MORE of the recording, while the digital process of CDs breaks the recording down, eliminating miniscule parts of the actual piece in between the "pixels," so to speak. I'm very grateful I can FEEL the difference, even when I can't hear necessarily it ... and you will be too!

There's more, so much more, but I grow weary and bored, and I have to get back to work on my second novel, which well may be my first novel, since no one has interest in the first. But as my friend Manny L. used to say, "F*** 'em if they can't take a joke!" And I've got my records, my Chinese restaurants, and my holy toilets ...


  1. okay this is too weird! i dreamed about my long lost record collection last night -- i sold all of them, some two hundred because we were leaving the country...why didn't i store them with my books? i don't know and i miss them, all the time. I even sold my very first record - Rolling Stones Let It know the one with the cake on the turntable on the thanks Liotta, thanks for remaining true to your roots!

  2. I sold all my albums while in graduate school and received something like twelve dollars - which I accepted humbly because I was desperate and in need.

  3. well we agree about the records... the father says to his 13 year old i-pod playing son "it's so different,(the sound)is being physically delivered to you". We found an old album this Thanksgiving at the town dump "store" by Allan Sherman(never heard of him) called My Son the Celebrity, funky old cover...we are making our own victrola-style player. I miss my old YES albums but find the CD's easer to sing to in the car.