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Airport Security: Is it Effective?

It was both thrilling and awful to leave my little ones yesterday as they commenced their annual Big Boys Week with my parents. While it is always such a complete and fun success for everyone and though I am enormously excited and in real need of this incredible week off, Jack was so teary and looked so truly sad that my heart hurt more than a bit.

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a very old work

As it turned out, I was stopped by security who felt it imperative to X-ray, sniff and scan six ways to Sunday this little clay tchotchke I made decades ago in a summertime arts camp, unearthed in my closet while in Lake Charles and decided to bring home with me. I was absolutely flummoxed as to why this crude item was so suspicious and needed such intense examination, but while it was being scrutinized, Jack and I blew kisses and made crazy hand gestures to each other through the glass windows separating the waiting and security areas.

He dried his eyes, realized anew that his beloved Pokémon badges were in his “fancy” case (an old jewelry box of mine) in his hand and moved on, distracted in the darling way kids can be until they’re old enough to learn otherwise.

On my flights home, I read and napped and thought about what a wonderful, though exceedingly brief, time I had at home. Three generations of us plus some cousins who came to visit, a magnificent Louisiana thunderstorm, Nelson’s donuts (the best in the world), archery, sweat, Spanish moss hanging languidly from ancient Oaks, lots of swimming and a great meal out at a new restaurant called Calla.

Food

Mom and Dad took me out my last night there, and I liked the look and feel of Calla as soon as I walked in. Chic and current but infinitely comfortable and relaxed. I had on a dress and heels, a physician had on his scrubs and there was pretty much everything in between, fashion-wise. I love that kind of place.

The most immediate best thing was the wine list which was completely and refreshingly devoid of the usual suspects. Amen, Calla, amen. I loved the Albariño I chose, so much that I ordered a second glass. Mom enjoyed her French Sauvignon blanc and Dad his Cabernet.

Calla adheres to the ever-popular small-plate style, and with nary a pause, I started us off with some blue crab beignets with almonds and mint; a beet, pistachio, tarragon and goat cheese salad; and a compressed watermelon and avocado salad feta and jalapeño. The heat in the latter dish overwhelmed all else, but the beignets and beets were terrific. Please pardon the low-quality iPhone pics; I was trying to be sly.

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blue crab beignets with mint and almonds

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roasted beets with tarragon, goat cheese, pistachios

Later, I went for a cheese plate with lavash as well as a bowl of fantastically-seasoned red snapper ceviche. Ooh, for another round of that. And I simply had to have dessert and wisely chose the chocolate tart with candied orange peel and a ginger snap. Fan.tas.tic.

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chocolate tart with candied orange peel and a ginger snap

Fashion

Before moving into the fashiony fluff, I want to say thank you to the many (!) of you who read my piece about Ferguson and white privilege and all who commented, here, via email and on Facebook. Thank you.

Most of time, I am in elastic-waist pajamas or clothes that very closely resemble them. I think this is swell. However, perhaps idiosyncratically, I love fashion. Clothes and shoes make me feel very happy and excited, even when eyeing them through windows or in magazines. Can I just share a few fab things with you?

Oh my goodness on this sleek, lush skirt. Not many could wear this, and I hate the shirt, but yowzers on this skirt.

gucci

SKIRT!

Secondly, isn’t this cape magnificent? For some bizarre reason I showed it to Tom. He immediately said, “I can’t believe you want to buy that! Where and how would you wear that?”

bally

cape!

This was one of those conversations that made me wonder if T and I had ever met. I am not a cape person. I have never owned a cape, do not feel I could pull one off, have no place to take a cape AND said nothing about buying this (probably outrageously-priced) one. He walked himself down.

Lastly, who doesn’t love Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows?! I do.

topshop

cara’s eyebrows!

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Last week, outside the gym locker rooms, I saw a friend. He’s a great guy, and I also love his wife. We met nearly four years ago when our children started kindergarten together. They are both incredibly successful professionals and their kids are the sort you meet and think, “What terrific kids!” Which of course also means, “What terrific parents.”

We started catching up, and I asked if he was still travelling fairly constantly for work. He’s been on the road regularly for the past year and told me that pace hadn’t yet relented. Hopefully this fall. He must be a million-miler on all airlines by now.

Chit-chat transitioned into a powerful conversation about race in America, and for the next twenty minutes, I mostly listened, entranced and sad.

He and his wife are black. Did you have that in your mind’s eye? Or did that make you pause slightly, like the jury in A Time To Kill when Matthew McConaughey instructs them, “Now imagine that girl is black.”

We talked about what’s happening in Ferguson, the Eric Garner homicide, my friend’s own experiences as the victim of bigotry and racism since he was young. He told me about having been called the “n word” too many times to count, about having the police follow and pull him over for no reason and then question his ownership of his own car. He told me about the treatment his wife has received too; ugly, discriminatory profiling.

The albatrosses they now possess, constituted by years of these encounters, have made them think long and hard about how they need to prepare their children to be black in America. As he told me how -emphasizing perfect diction; learning how to handle being called the “n word” should that happen; teaching irreproachable behavior when in the presence of any authority, especially the police - I stood there, dumbstruck and heartbroken. We are definitely not in a post-racial U.S.

Our boys have been friends for years, and the way they walk down school halls or the baseball dugout now might be just the way they saunter through malls or towards a movie theater in another ten. My friend said that even though they (the boys) wouldn’t bat an eye, others might. Strangers may “look at them differently. If the police pass …” and something appears even the tiniest bit off, “nothing would happen to your son, but something could very easily happen to mine.” He said everything much more eloquently than that, but hopefully you get the drift. Remarkably, he didn’t sound bitter. He sounded resigned, and that crushed me.

For my heart hurt with those truths, throbbing with the painful knowledge that because I am white, I won’t have to prepare my kids in the same way. I have read and heard so much, especially lately, about black parents who are scared for their children (particularly for their sons) to simply walk down the street. Who fear for the hateful assumptions others will make for nothing more than the color of their skin. They have had to work, as will their children, harder than white peers for the same, or lesser, outcomes.

Trayvon, Michael, Eric. Black men walking on American streets one moment, dead the next. Killed. I’d be terrified too.

But those are never the worries I have for my sons. I fret about many things, but I take for granted -subconsciously; because I can- that they won’t be profiled and judged. That ability to not worry? That is white privilege and it’s despicable. That this privilege is another’s burden, too many others’ burden, enrages me and makes me cringe. It is morally indefensible.

Realizing the time, my friend and I quickly hugged and said goodbye. I thanked him profusely for the gift he gave me in this conversation, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I don’t think I will and I do hope we’ll pick up where we left off sometime soon. Discrimination is ugly and divisive, the sort of horribleness that necessarily exalts some while denigrating others. It reminds me of the caste system in India, an antiquated, racist scheme that I I suspect many Americans would condemn, despite the tragic double standard inherent in doing so.

In such an unequal system, the “exalted” must and should play an enormous role in fighting the injustice. It is additional discrimination to put the onus on the denigrated to themselves do better and overcome. Like hetero allies do in the fight for LGBTQ rights, so too must non-blacks rise up in protest of the Eric Garner and Michael Brown homicides. Garner was killed by a police officer. Killed. On a street in a chokehold, begging for breath while some ignorant idiot continued to apply pressure. And for what? Selling cigarettes when he shouldn’t have been?

So far, the officers responsible have been slapped on the wrists. They’re still employed by the NYPD. The NYPD union protested the claim -despite video evidence and the autopsy- that Garner died from the chokehold, citing instead his being overweight and in somewhat ill health. Mayor de Blasio called for dialogue. What would be different if Garner were white? I suspect much. And by the way, that officer, the one who killed Garner and still has his job? He was accused twice in 2013 of falsely arresting and abusing people. Who’s the threat here? The problem?

We all should have a problem with cops like that. We all should expect and demand more. Dialogue should prevent these sorts of deaths. It’s a largely empty suggestion afterwards.

Remember Cliven Bundy? That racist, nearly-seventy-year-old in Nevada who has refused to pay grazing fees on federal land for twenty years? Remember him sitting atop his horse, flanked by an equally crazed militia, all of them armed out the wazoo, pointing their guns directly at the Bureau of Land Management agents and screaming about their second amendment rights? Can you imagine if a group of black men sat in their place? I don’t at all think it’s exaggeration to say that at least one would have been shot dead and the rest jailed for life.

Ours is far from a fair and just society, and after all the years and decades spent fighting for equality on many fronts, it’s deeply upsetting to witness events that strongly suggest we have moved forward not an inch. American inequality plays out socioeconomically, racially, geographically, religiously, along gender lines and on and on. At times the future seems so terribly bleak: what can any of us do? What can one of us do? What can I do?

Right now, I can look microcosmically at myself as a white mother of two. I believe it is my responsibility to confront racism head-on by exposing my children to its ugly presence; as they see its injustice and are moved by it, I can try to guide them towards behavior that combats such intolerance.

It is my duty to expose them to the abject poverty in which many Americans live and foster in them desire to work towards its end. It is incumbent upon me to repeatedly remind them just how fortunate they are and to instill in them sincere generosity and eagerness to give back, not out of a sense of obligation but rather the deeply held conviction of what is just.

I want to continue to ask and listen and learn and talk. To stand up alongside and for my brothers and sisters in whose shoes I don’t walk so that I see more clearly their paths as they both converge with and diverge from my own. It is my hope that as my children see their mother walking the walk, they are inspired to do the same. And that at some point, the weights of injustice and suppression that debase the fabric of our society are weakened to the point of insignificance and true regret.

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I am not going to lie, friends. Yesterday’s trip to Louisiana was sooooo long. When we got to Houston and found that our next flight had been delayed, and then delayed again, I thought I’d perish. The boys were rolling around on the filthy floors, eating messily and popping back into their mouths what fell onto said floors. I have a very high threshold for germ toleration but this took even me down.

Meanwhile, Jack refused to remove his Pokémon glove which resulted in his looking like a terrifying cross between Michael Jackson and an 80s poser dude. Please observe. And the ever-boogery Oliver realized that if he squeezed his nose shut with his fingers and then inhaled deeply, his nose would stay shut and skeeve Jack out. I called him Voldemort, and every time Jack looked at Voldey, his eyes watered dramatically.

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On our way

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Voldenose

It was with enormous relief that we rounded the bend towards the baggage claim in LC and saw my parents. Once home, I poured a glass of wine and sat myself down. Hope y’all are well. No cooking for me today but tomorrow? Yes.

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I woke up this morning to a large cat on my stomach and two mostly-naked boys vying for sides of me. It was nice really- everything and everyone all a’purr. And then something tweaked the loving balance, plunging it into mayhem and we had to jump ship and head for the kitchen. Alas.

The boys are now wearing “jet-packs” -J’s is his giant, rolling carry-on bag, and Ol’s is a hilarious one Tom made from part of a wine shipment box and some Duck tape- and racing around the house like loons. I hope they get all this out before we get to the airport. Send me vibes, peeps. I can tell Tom is literally quivering with the desire to be quiet and alone. I get that completely. He’ll have four days in his own home by himself, and I’m happy for him.

The pie I made on Saturday was fully devoured by last night. Save for a piece I gave to M, a friend who never says no to my offers of food, bless her, T and I ate the whole thing. I had it for breakfast and twice more yesterday. Excellent!

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peach pie

I also awoke to the news that Michael Brown was shot six times. SIX. In case you have been under a rock, he is -was- the unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO, who was killed by policemen last week. I am seriously angry about this and Eric Garner’s death; he too was killed by a policeman, by a chokehold on a New York street. I have more to say about this but I’m not ready.

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I had an enormous hankering for remoulade anything yesterday and so at the market picked up a celery root and bunch of celery, just in case. Today was fun but too busy to do anything but keep going, but late in the afternoon, as Tom drove the boys to his parents’ house for a sleepover (yay!), I asked him to pick up a pound of shrimp on his way home. Remoulade was happening.

I peeled and julienned the hairy, alien-like orb that is a celery root. I sliced some celery on the diagonal, and a handful of their leaves too. For good measure and to prevent browning, I doused all that with a hefty bath of lemon juice. I peeled and quick-boiled the shrimp in amply-salted water, slivered some green onions and whipped up a mustardy, horseradishy remoulade sauce. And then I mixed it all together happily, ogling its golden hue and inhaling its tangy fragrance deeply. It was so good. So fresh and bright and salty and lemony and seafoody and satisfying.

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shrimp and celery remoulade

And all the while, a peach pie cooked in the oven, becoming golden and fragrant itself. And in our quiet home, we smelled good smells and watched Catching Fire and the newest episode of The Knick, and I thought about a powerful conversation I had earlier today and I felt good.

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I made this last summer but neglected to write down the amounts used of each ingredient. Yesterday, after the Brandied Peaches but still awash in peaches, I worked this up again: Ginger Peach Rhubarb. Dee-lish!

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ginger peach rhubarb jam

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