Sometimes I see advertisements that force me to really work at understanding the desires they seek to arouse. More pointedly, I find myself straining to make sense of what I’m supposed to want. The narratives of the ads aren’t always apparent. So while I understand that I’m supposed to want to wear the clothing that Kimora Lee Simmons and her daughters are wearing since Baby Phat makes that their business, I’m not sure why this image makes these goods attractive. While I really enjoy eating, there is no food here. There is nothing that makes my mouth water…but I guess all of my salivating is supposed to occur over all of the expensive stuff on display in the ostensibly sumptuous red room. I guess. But now I don’t understand why one’s children would be a part of the sale of those goods. Am I supposed to want her children? In what way?
While not an advertisement, John Ficara’s photograph of a family meal in his book Black Farmers in America makes sense. Arranged around their kitchen table, Belinda, Jonathan, Roger, and Kendra Lamar bow their heads in prayer over what appears to be a delicious meal of rolls, onion rings, fried fish (or maybe chicken), beans (maybe pinto) and a green salad. While their glasses are empty I imagine they will soon be filled with the “house wine” of Putnam County, Georgia, sweet tea–as it is the choice spirit of the South in general. In the background, I spy the silhouette of what I believe to be a delicious white cake with butter cream icing. Have mercy. The direction of my desires are clear.
Reminiscent of Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting “The Thankful Poor,” humility and reverence makes this an attractive scene.
This family expresses gratitude for their bounty. I can almost hear them giving thanks for the hands that lovingly prepared the food that will nourish their bodies; for their family who have all been brought together in love. The bounty here is intelligible.
I prefer this grace to the ostensible glamour of the other scene. As there are boundaries here, I can imagine an adult conversation. Such an exchange is predicated on instructing the children, and this begins with the prayer of gratitude. Despite Kimora Lee Simmons’s status as a business “mogul,” the photograph showing her daughter spread across the dinner table does not suggest that she is adequately in control of her home. Again, I am still unclear about why I should want to buy what Baby Phat is selling.
Usually, I end the evening with my son reading first, Duck and Goose followed by Duck, Duck, Goose both by Tad Hills. In the first book, Duck and Goose discover a ball that they mistake for an egg. In responding to what they take to be the egg’s needs, they develop an appreciation for one another that blossoms into a friendship. In Duck, Duck, Goose a new duck, Thistle, introduces competition into what had been a mostly cooperative relationship. My favorite part of the book occurs when Goose decides that he has had enough of Thistle’s contests.
I love that Goose has boundaries. Though he acts as a good sport and participates as much as he can in Thistle’s games, he ultimately decides to move on to something else. “I’d rather look for butterflies,” he decides.
I thought about this as I read an excerpt from Christina Haag’s memoir, Come to the Edge, published in Vanity Fair. Unlike VF’s description, I found nothing “magical” about the trip Haag and John F. Kennedy Jr. took to Jamaica. I judged his “fearlessness” to be reckless and their “romance” to be patriarchal. The example that proves the case is the story Haag relates of the time he took her kayaking in Jamaica after she had broken her foot. Before they encounter the reef that could have killed them or the “enormous swell” that might have, she describes her reluctance and offers his response:
” ‘It’s a reef–turn back, King,’ I heard myself saying in a voice much higher-pitched than my own. We paddled back out and convened. ‘You’re first mate and I’m captain, but we’re a team and I need you behind me,’ he said. ‘If we pull in and you say no for any reason–any reason at all–I’ll turn back.’ He kept his eyes on me and waited. There were bits of dried salt on his large brown shoulders. I wanted that desert-island fantasy, sand and all. I also wanted to feel powerful, as afraid as I was. And somewhere in the mix, I wanted to please him. ‘O.K. But you promise?’ ‘Don’t worry, I promise.’ ”
I had to read this several times before I felt certain I understood what happened. I was confused by the conversation following Haag telling Kennedy, who she affectionately called King, to “turn back.” She told him to “turn in” and he didn’t so how could they even be having the conversation they presumably had where Kennedy tells Haag that if she tells him to turn in for any reason, he will? Though I completely sympathize with Haag’s desire to want to please and found it admirable that she admits this, I did not regard this scenario as attractive. Kennedy seemed insensitive and self-absorbed. There is nothing magical or romantic about someone ignoring you and asking that you forsake your concerns for theirs; that’s just manipulative.
I guess that’s what I like about Goose, he knew when he had enough. Knowing when to stop, yeah, that’s attractive.
I am new to meal planning. I have been enjoying several simple and frugal living blogs, which all rave about it. I am finding it an incredibly responsible way to shop, cook, and eat.
My first week’s plan reflects a week when I had no outside commitments. Now that that has changed, my plan shows that I have obligations outside the home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. What I loved about other people’s meal plans was that they mostly cooked for several days and then had a leftover night. The brilliance of this plan was that one could then choose from several previous meals when selecting. This was something I had never considered before and my husband is not as much of a fan of leftovers as I am. In order to accommodate him, my ambition was simply to try to learn to cook smaller portions. Now, while I try to be mindful of cooking smaller portions, my plans usually involve enjoying leftovers for lunch and thinking about coming days while keeping variety through a series of fresh options. In light of my schedule, I cook fresh meals on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The other two are reserved for leftovers.
I shared a heartbreaking story with a friend about someone I knew from graduate school who had been exploited, along with her daughter, through her child’s vulnerability. My friend then passed on a mantra that has now deeply impressed everyone I have shared it with: “The first thing I say to myself when I wake up in the morning is ‘I am enough,'” she said. “After that, I know that I can greet my daughter as she wakes up and let her know that whatever she has to confront, I am prepared to meet that too,” she confided. What a wonderful way to greet the day: With crucial information necessary for meeting the surprises that might be in store for us but also the daily challenges interlaced throughout those moments that challenge our feelings of sufficiency. I was flipping through several popular magazines last night and saw all of the shoes that they wanted me to buy, the parties that I was not invited to attend, the people who I should want to know but do not and I decided that “I am enough,” despite what they think is missing. Knowing that I am enough gives me the power to disagree with the glossiest of authorities.