Christmas 2008 – Good Things

Location: on a beige couch
Mood: still sick
Music: a cold winter’s night that was so deep

Tell myself that I write in a mix of hardboiled and the Economist but with a lotta slice-a-life descriptions a la A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Yes, it’s a girl’s book but it’s also a book about NYC and the people in it. Some of the clearest pictures of my city are between those lines. One Xmas scene stays in my mind – in it, a tree butcher has a contest to give away the trees he can’t sell: if you can catch a tree without falling, it’s yours. When he prepares to throw his nicest tree, a small, poor girl and her little brother ask for the chance to catch it.

It’s a God-damned, rotten, lousy world, he thinks when he sees them. I submit that this is true. But I also submit that the good things, when we have them, mean that much more.

Wish I were a better writer to say what I wanna say sometimes. It’s like the difference between seeing the Grand Canyon and seeing a postcard of the Grand Canyon. But lemme try anyway:

The good things pull you through the dark times. Heartgirl and a Friseur Frau sent me Xmas cards and my brother sent me another postcard of the California sun. They’re all on my refrigerator door.

Guess sometimes, a postcard of the Grand Canyon’s enough to get you through. It’s the little things that pull y’through, yeah?

So, regardless of your religion, faith, or background, lemme give you a little wish in my really simple, ineloquent, Queens, NY manner; it’s a post card of what I’d say if I were a better writer and not the Oprah-ish writer a friend thinks I am:

I wish you good things.

PS – for those of you that asked, here’s a pic of me with a beard, courtesy of Nadya R. Happy Christmas.

———-

“Oh, Jesus Christ,” his soul agonized, “why don’t I just give ’em the tree, say Merry Christmas and let ’em go? What’s the tree to me? I can’t sell it no more this year and it won’t keep till next year.” The kids watched him solemnly as he stood there in his moment of thought. “But then,” he rationalized, “if I did that, all the others would expect to get ’em handed to ’em. And next year, nobody a-tall would buy a tree off of me. They’d all wait to get ’em handed to ’em on a silver plate. I ain’t a big enough man to give this tree away for nothin’. No, I ain’t big enough. I ain’t big enough to do a thing like that. I gotta think of myself and my own kids.” He finally came to his conclusion. “Oh, what the hell! Them two kids is gotta live in this world. They got to get used to it. They got to learn to give and to take punishment. And by Jesus, it ain’t give but take, take, take all the time in this God-damned world.” As he threw the tree with all his strength, his heart wailed out, “It’s a God-damned, rotten, lousy world!”

When some of the older boys pulled the tree away, they found Francie and her brother standing upright, hand in hand. Blood was coming from scratches on Neeley’s face. He looked more like a baby than ever with his bewildered blue eyes and the fairness of his skin made more noticeable because of the clear red blood. But they were smiling. Had they not won the biggest tree in the neighborhood? Some of the boys hollered “Hooray!” A few adults clapped. The tree man eulogized them by screaming,

“And now get the hell out of here with your tree, you lousy bastards.”

Francie had heard swearing since she had heard words. Obscenity and profanity had no meaning as such among those people. They were emotional expressions of inarticulate people with small vocabularies; they made a kind of dialect. The phrases could mean many things according to the expression and tone used in saying them. So now, when Francie heard themselves called lousy bastards, she smiled tremulously at the kind man. She knew that he was really saying, “Goodbye–God bless you.”

YASYCTAI: Do something nice today for someone just cause… (10 mins/1 pt)

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