a family observed

June 26, 2005

The day was ridiculously busy. Sweaty tourists, grumpy with the heat and with the wait, spilled out from the hallway into the foyer. Servers performed the nearly orchestrated dance of hurriedly delivering steaming trays while miraculously avoiding seemingly inevitable collisions. And I spent the entire day darting from one “urgent” task to the next, unaware of the passing of time and mostly unaware of what I was doing at any given moment.
But they caught my eye and, for a moment, I was transfixed. Time stood still in a blessed moment of catch-in-the-throat emotion. An unnoticed bystander, I stood witness to a beautiful evidence of humanity. It was an East-Asian woman and her elderly mother, paying no heed to the bustling activity surrounding them or the other patrons pressing in against them. They stood engaged in what seemed to be just casual passing-time conversation: “I wonder if Dad found a parking space yet” . . . “Did you get the hotel keys back from Michael?” . . . . “Do you think I should wear comfortable shoes for the rehearsal dinner?” . . .
But what was striking was the unthinking way that they touched each other as they spoke. This was obviously a family for which physical affection was commonplace and daily. The mother patted her daughter’s hand, and straightened her rings for her. The daughter pushed a strand of hair out of her mother’s eyes, and let her hand linger for a brief moment on her cheek, just long enough to finish the phrase. Then, thought completed, she lifted her hand and gestured in the air with it as she pointed out an interesting advertisement hanging on the wall.
In that moment, my heart ached for my mother, and for all things familial. I thought, how beautiful, how lovely, how blessed to have daily instances of nothingness with which to care for our own–to be human together.

moments that carry us

June 25, 2005

It was a silly moment, all things considered. The day was a crazy one, as far as days go in the restaurant business, as I recognized even in my trainee state. We all bustled about madly, trying to avoid catastrophic collisions in the process—steering patrons around sailing servers, mindlessly repeating the menu mantra and, for my part, desperately trying to remember all that I was supposed to do, and stressing about doing everything correctly. It is infinitely strange to me how traumatic this business has been, and how I have been on the verge of tears over something so seemingly ridiculous over forgetting the table number order and not knowing which table I was supposed to be directing my current guests towards. How does someone who has spent 2 years supervising employees and managing/organizing a department feel like bursting into childish tears over a dirty look when I ask a “stupid question” from the perspective of seasoned servers?
I don’t know—I do know that I am grateful for this experience, for this time of branching out from what I have done thus far in life. It is a choice I have made, to at least try something totally different, and it will no doubt make me a better, stronger, and more compassionate person.
But, what made this one day worth it all was one small moment in the midst of the flurry of a day. As I seated the party, leaning over to hand them their menus, their server brushed past with the next table’s order and, in passing, touched my back to get my attention. When I looked up, he asked me if I had a moment to go ahead and take their drink orders.
Technically, I was not supposed to be doing that—I hadn’t even been “trained” in how to, and in my current state I stress over the proper way to do even the smallest, most inconsequential-seeming tasks. But, I certainly wasn’t about to try to interrupt the craziness by asking at the moment. So I, in a slightly uncertain and probably fumbling manner, took their orders and got their drinks.When I returned with them, he was taking their lunch orders, and, as I placed their drinks in front of them, he looked at me with the most genuine look of relieved gratitude and mouthed a silent “Thank you!” Whether it was the knowledge that someone, anyone, was thankful for something I had done, the endearing expression on his face as he breathed a sigh of relief, or the simple act of doing something right again, I do not know. But for whatever reason, my heart swelled up at that moment, and my eyes filled with grateful tears. The day continued in its hectic-ness, and we all continued in our frazzled-ness, but I was carried for the remainder of it by a single snippet of a moment.

June 24, 2005

a photo-necessary moment during Jill’s wedding–one of my favorite captured moments, though the entire ceremony was truly lovely Posted by Hello

As happens periodically, my work schedule of late has made it such that my for-fun writing has suffered. So, in lieu of my normally more frequently posted blog entries, I will post here the intro [don’t worry—only the intro!] to one of the book reviews my writing energy has been going into. This one is for a picture book that was published in 1996, and that I stumbled upon in McKays . . .

I. The Captivation
If, when done well, a picture book is “an artistic achievement worthy of respectful examination and honor,” as Karla Kuskin aptly states, then it is no wonder that Minfong Ho and Holly Meade’s Hush! captivated so thoroughly my sensibilities, adult though they may be (Horn Book 159). Kuskin’s description hints at the true reality—one would hope—of books for children: namely, that a book for a child, if worthy of a child’s attention, is just as worthy of the esteem and admiration of an adult. And so, it is fitting that this particular award winning picture book could leave me—a professional [if at times childlike] adult—in literary and artistic bliss as I experienced the book, in solitude [except for a similarly blissful kitten purring on my lap] and in my own home.
Once the initial effect of all-encompassing enjoyment had subsided, further consideration led me to the realization that I had a deeper reason for my love for this book. All things considered, Hush! is the sort of book that is instrumental in the healthy development of a young child. By this I mean that its different aspects—language, art, and music—combine to make it the ideal influence on a child in those earliest stages of life. After an exploration of the effect of the artwork as a whole and in its details, I will go on to examine each of those three aspects mentioned above, along with its role in early childhood development.

June 17, 2005

finished floor & proud owner Posted by Hello

gardenia watch

June 6, 2005

June 6, 2005:
fourteen fresh flowers fuse on the fragrant foliage

blooms abounding

June 4, 2005

Today was the day I have been waiting for, watching for, since the days began to warm: I picked the first 2 fragrant blooms today, savoring the moment as I set each one in a clear wine glass so that it’s delicate while bloom floated on a bed of water.
Soon after we moved into our house, my mother realized how much she missed the native Gardenia plants that surrounded us in Zambia. So she did a bit of hunting and found one to plant in our Tennessee yard. Amazingly, thanks to mother’s magic touch, it flourished.
I never noticed it much as a child, but shortly after moving in to the old homestead last summer, I was thrilled to discover the small bush, covered with blooms. Not only was it blooming in July. It continued to slowly bloom, offering me a weekly gift of 2 or 3 blooms–plenty to provide a steady supply so that I always had at least one fresh bloom gracing my apartment. And, to my amazement, it bloomed steadily well into the Fall.
So it was with pleasure that I realized today that the blooms have begun :-)