Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"they give me the key and leave me there"

This story played on the radio on the drive to work this morning -- a powerful story of redemption, belonging and home-coming.

One of the prostitutes they interview tells of the change in her life by recalling how previously her family had dis-owned her and wouldn't let her in the house. Now, she says, a tremble in her voice, "they give me the key and leave me there."

The transcript is worth a read, but doesn't capture the emotion in the voices of the interviewees. So be sure to listen, too.

(Also: As I explore writing and journalism, I'm struck by how technology is changing the ways we communicate stories and ideas. So many stories that were previously restricted to written or spoken word (ie paper or radio) are now presented in multi-media, with video, photos, etc. This one included. I'm not sure yet where I stand on this... More thoughts to come.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

photo free-write: that cake

hapy bday to me

Photo free-write is regular feature on revisions. Each post includes a photo that inspired me in some way and the story or memory it prompted. It’s more photo-as-prompt than description of what I see.

Families are built on things like tradition. Chocolate cake with white frosting was one of ours. My mother stuck to the things she knew, and this recipe was one of them. Ironically, its reliability is what made it so special to me. It showed up at most family celebrations and when my mother just felt generous. We shared it with friends on special days and proudly carried it, in the form of cupcakes, to classroom birthday parties and bake sales. At Halloween, we added candy corn to the top, and at Easter, pastel m&m’s.The recipe is published under my name in my elementary school cookbook. We could count on this cake.

My Nana — my mother’s mother — made cake, too. Sometimes it was chocolate, other times white, usually in a 9 X 13 pan, and always with a small corner already cut out and sampled. When she had them, or when she felt like she needed something a little extra, the rainbow jimmies showed up on top.

Sometime around college I decided my palate had outgrown the simple foods I’d grown up with. I wanted spice and complexity and something more progressive. But recently I’ve come back to the recipes I grew up with — whether to hold on to my home that sometimes feels so far away or to channel times past, I’m not sure. There have been many phone calls home, or furious scribbles when I’m there, to record and try my favorites — sticky buns, pumpkin bread, and my mom’s lasagna among them.

Somehow I’d forgotten this cake.

(image by the talented and generous cookoorikoo – thank you for the inspiring photo! the jimmies did it for me…)