I am going to start a new church.
We’ll be called a community of doers.
No more community of believers for us.
In this church, nothing must you believe;
you needn’t even believe in
We won’t approve of what you are doing.
We won’t disapprove of what you are doing
or not doing.
All we ask is that you want
BTW—you can’t join
You just are.
Tomorrow is St. Joseph’s Day. We will be joining in the festivities at Love Lost Lounge in the Mariny. The bar’s owner is continuing a tradition from his childhood of offering a St. Joseph Altar for the neighborhood. A couple of years ago, I stumbled upon the altar walking home from the Healing Center. Last year, Tom and I went with Cammie and Aubrey. This year, we’ll go with Cammie, Aubrey, and Searcy. I believe we have created a family tradition.
In thanks to the bar, I made it a gift:
which is a bready version of the lounge’s logo: a heart with a dagger in it.
I also made a Prewitt family icon:
a fish, in honor of Peche Restaurant, which today was announced to be a Finalist in the James Beard Award for New Restaurants, along with Ryan being a Finalist in the Best Chef-South category.
For Aubrey, I made the traditional St. Joseph octopus:
and the actually traditional cross:
There was also a P, but it’s not worth posting a photo of.
Working in bread is not easy.
Tomorrow we will see amazing crawfish and alligators and Sacred Hearts, all of them readily recognizable. For my creations, it’s the thought that counts. But I do like the little fish (here it is again:)
For Lent, I gave up critiquing people. Well, actually I adopted a practice of launching into a critique only to pop my hand over my mouth and say, “Oh, sh!t. I gave up critiquing people for Lent.” So, in fact, for Lent, I took on cursing.
I hate to announce my intent because, as my husband correctly points out, my creations often end up looking different than intended, but I’m gonna make a bread heart today for a bar. The heart-shaped bread is for the Love Lost Lounge in the Marigny. The bar hosts a St. Joseph Day altar tomorrow. I want to give the bar a gift because I love that a bar offers a St. Joseph altar and feast for the neighborhood. I’ve given bars gifts before. I picked the heart because the bar’s logo is a heart . . . with a stake in it. If the gift ends up looking like an olive on a toothpick, I’m giving the bar an olive on a toothpick.
Wednesday and Fridays, until Easter sets us free, we’re eating vegan. Vegan means no animal products. No cheese, no eggs, no butter, no mayonnaise. No Greek yogurt. I have come to hate Wednesdays and Fridays. In a panic, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I eat like a glutton. This Lent, I have given a new name to Fat Tuesday. On the other hand, I will never take animals for granted again.
“No alleluias in Lent.” That’s a staple of the Episcopal Church. To make sure we get the point, we ceremoniously bury the Hallelujah banner. (Yes, I’m spelling alleluia differently just to mess with you). We Episcopalians don’t have parties during Lent—when my first book came out and the Episcopal Bookshop wanted to give me a book launch, the Dean said “No book party during Lent.” Lent is soup and bread and DOUR. So yesterday when I jooked to the bands at the St. Paddy’s Day Parade, I did not shout Hallelujah! I take my Lent seriously.
Why do they call it a dead heat? Because the originator of the phrase was from the South, and she knew what heat can do to you? Or do the dead actually emit heat when decomposing? At this point you’re probably asking yourself, why would her mind go there, and why on earth is she sharing it with us? (BTW: don’t research this question—you will become privy to FAR more information than you want to know.)
Anyway, the vote on which novel to revise next was not quite a dead heat but very close, the results being: Bone Trench 10 Model for Deception 12 In the Name of Mississippi 13
Also ran was Jazzy at 7 and last (and quite least) poor ol’ 1011 St. Lawrence Street which limped across the finish line at 2.5, the .5 being a mention I counted because I felt sorry for its last place status (I am a sucker for the unloved).
I found the vote very interesting primarily because it taught me that you can’t predict folks’ reading preferences based on what you think you know about them. This shouldn’t surprise me. Would anyone guess my favorite novels are by foreign authors? Other than left-over French, I don’t speak a foreign language. I have no connection to any culture other than my own, whatever it might be. But I’m telling you, look at my bookshelf: the books I’ve chosen to keep—the clearest indication that they are my favorites—are dominated by writers from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, etc; and I’m not counting novels written by Americans whose first language is English but who write of life in Cuba, Haiti, etc.
So what next? “Next” already is. While y’all were voting, I was working and this morning I finished revising The Bone Trench—yippee! Now I must move on to Model for Deception or In the Name of Mississippi, the two who are in the semi-dead (comatose?) heat. I’ll pick one of them—coin toss, anyone?—and I’ll get started, the goal being to work through them all, even maybe poor ol’ 1011 St. Lawrence Street. It’s a little daunting, no doubt about it. But I shan’t look at it as work. I’ll view it as a surfeit of choice.
If I tell you my one-sentence pitch, will you tell me which novel you’d rather read?
Model for Deception
When her model partner disappears, a Memphis fashion model uses her “clothes whisperer” skills to investigate the case, only to discover clues to the murder of her long-lost favorite cousin.
In the Name of Mississippi
A young documentarian returns to the South to film a historic civil rights lawsuit, but when the case begins to fall apart, the mixed-race young man must confront his own uncertain place in the world.
1011 St. Lawrence Street
In the racially charged 1970s, the death of the family patriarch deprives a Raleigh, North Carolina family of its moral center, affecting two young cousins—Casey, the beautiful outcast and Emily, the reluctant favorite—quite differently.
The Bone Trench
A controversial private prison project brings Mother Mary and her son Jesus back to modern-day Memphis where Mother Mary is determined—this time—to protect her son from harm.
I’ve finished revision on Train Trip: Lucinda Mae’s Quest for Love, Honor, and the Chickens, and I think I’d like to revise another novel before I return to Jazzy, my Katrina novel. But you can vote on that too: As Hurricane Katrina approaches, an eleven year old girl must evacuate her beloved New Orleans to stay with her deceased father’s family in Mississippi as she awaits the birth of her new sibling.
Does anyone else obsess over contest rules? I read and re-read and read yet again. I create a bullet point document with submission requirements. I check the FAQ in case there’s a question I haven’t thought of but others have and it’s really important. I mull over questions maybe the contest hasn’t thought of—everyone asks you to remove identifying information; this contest doesn’t; did they perhaps overlook that requirement? Finally, cringing, I hit the Submit button, certain I’ve missed something.
My phobia might be related to actual deficiencies. I don’t do logistics well. I find directions near-bought impossible to follow—assumptions seem to lurk between the actual numbered directions, assumptions everyone else understands but not me. Even recipes give me the heebie-jeebies: does “slice the apple” mean slice the apple lengthwise or across the middle? Who knows!
Maybe due to these proclivities or maybe just because, my life has been full of failure to follow the rules. Not, I assure you, because I’m a rebel. I’m full-on trying to pay attention and get it right when I’m gob-smacked by doing it wrong. Standing on stage in the fifth grade, my red plastic flute poised, finally having mastered playing “Good King Wenceslas” to the point of joining the try-outs, I almost wept when the teacher asked what I was doing on stage—the try-outs had closed the day before. How did I miss that?
It doesn’t help that contest managers use words that conjure frowning eyebrows: DO NOT. NOT ALLOWED. READ RULES CAREFULLY. SUBMISSIONS THAT FAIL TO FOLLOW THE RULES WILL BE REJECTED. FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.
Okay, I made that last one up. But sometimes that’s how it feels: we are making these rules as detailed and arbitrary and confusing as possible because . . . why? I don’t know. Ultimately, I must conclude the problem is mine: I’m not any good at this. So to compensate I read and re-read and read yet again. And, if I fail, I hope for kind administrators who—like the 5th grade teacher who grudgingly allowed me to play my plastic flute, fingers flying, during the Christmas play—forgive my errors.