Saturday, November 27, 2004

Things I'm Grateful For: Thanksgiving 2004

I'll start this off with a little bit of a confession, dear readers, and that confession is this...the blog-posting you are currently reading, though well-intentioned, is a watered-down version of an idea I had back in 2003. Last year, you see, I had this really ambitious plan to go through my list of e-mail contacts and send a personal letter to everyone on it, telling them why I was thankful to know them. It would have been a month-long project, one or two letters a day, all through the month of November. Great in scope, great in design, it would have been beautiful. But of course the demons of procrastination and a short attention span led me astray and it never materialized. Still, a year later I continue to find myself taken with the idea, and though a blog entry is a far cry from 60-plus personal e-mails, I figure it's the thought that counts. And so I present to you now a list of random things that I'm grateful for - mostly my friends and family. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

A Totally Random List of 64 Things and People I'm Grateful For

1. First and foremost, I am grateful that my mother is alive to share this Thanksgiving with everyone. After her February heart attack and those two or three cruel hours spent in the hospital waiting room I realized that time is not something we're promised. Anything can happen at any time. And so I'm grateful now every time I call home and hear her voice on the other line. You don't know how much little things like that mean until they're almost taken from you. Thank God she wasn't.

2. Sort of a variation on #1, I'm thankful that I haven't lost any friends or family members this year - as opposed to LAST November when Jeff Miller was unexpectedly taken from us (R.I.P. good buddy.)

3. On to less somber things...I'm grateful that my friends Alice Walker and J.D. Evermore still stay in touch with me and keep me updated on their creative projects, despite the semi-clash of politics we had earlier in the year concerning the popular urban legend about Pepsi leaving "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance on a special collector's can. Okay, so I'm a fascist and they're two pinko commies. Can't we all just get along? hehe Check out Alice and J.D.'s latest project at

4. I'm thankful for my roommate Amber, munchkin and little sister extraordinaire. Amber says that Mac and I are (quote) "the best roommates she's ever had", and I think that sentiment goes both ways. Aside from the occasional spat about my refusal to do dishes and take out the trash, my living experience at the 5925 has been remarkably free of drama and ego clash. True, Amber makes a lot of noise and uses a LOT of towels, but hey, that's a small price to pay for a great roommate. Much love, A.C.

5. I'm grateful for the time I've been able to spend with my dear friend Brother Angelo Lupinetti this year, in spite of our mutually busy schedules. Let me tell you, nothing's nicer than having an educated friend who will listen patiently to your crudely-formed, hopelessly naive ideas and philosophies about life, God, and the true nature of Man. That's a blessing you don't find every day. (We've come a long way since middle school, haven't we, Angelo? hehe)

6. I'm thankful to Ariana Martinez for inspiring me to write "My Ramos Pinto Young Woman." Granted, I haven't spoken to her in almost a year now, but the story remains and I still like to read it. Thanks Ariana. I hope you're well.

7. I am so So SO grateful that I've only got another year and a half to go before Ashley Dunn and I can make good on the marriage pact we made in college. "If we're not married by 27," we assured one another, "we marry each other." My mom says Ashley and I would (quote) "make pretty babies." I don't know if I've put THAT much thought into it, but I'm sure we'd have a hell of a good time. And even if one of us breaks the pact, I'll always be thankful for Ashley. Happy Thanksgiving, babygirl.

8. I'm grateful to have met Katie Blue this past summer, not only because she's great company but because it's nice to meet someone who shares my flirtations with extremism. (Four more years, my friend. I know we're both grateful for that.)

9. I continue to be grateful for the friendship of Caroline Rosser. When I was at Ole Miss, all the other Bancorp South employees were old-money, redneck elitist assholes who liked to lecture me about students from the Coast and the way we always want hand-outs from the bank. Caroline, on the other hand, talked with me at length about movies, music, and plans for the future. It's nice to find friends in a hostile environment. :) Thank you, Caroline.

10. I'm grateful for my friend Cecelia, whom I haven't seen in years. CeCe gave me my last decent Valentine's Day before the one I had just this year. Fortunately, it was good enough to last me for six miserable years. (I know I gave you a globe, CeCe, but I don't remember why...oh well. Hope you're well.)

11. I'm thankful for sentences that begin with the words "The problem I have with restraining orders is..." and for Jim Ciscell, the only pervert poetic enough to have coined them. Quote me on that, Ciscell.

12. And yes, I'm thankful for Cryssie - my truest muse, my great and worthy opponent, my shadow, my equal, my Twin. You know I'd need a novel's worth of words to express my gratitude to you. And don't worry, I'm working on it. Thanks for being there at all the right times. Mwuh!

13. I'm grateful for my cousin Kelly, whom once again opened her home to me this year when Katie, Angi, and I travelled to Atlanta to see Madonna. Much appreciated, Kel. Thanks!

14. I'm thankful for the time I'll be able to spend with my old buddy Daniel Leavengood over the Thanksgiving holiday, putting together a project we've been talking about for a long time now. It means a lot to me that Daniel and I have rekindled our friendship after the really stupid mistake I made circa '97. It's something I regret, Dan the Man, and I'm grateful that you seem to have forgiven me. Thank you.

15. I'm grateful that after all this time I can still count on Dane Ball to respond to my every IM with something crass, vulgar, and completely gratuitous...usually concerning my mom. hehe Obscenities are the ties that bind. Hope life's treating you kind, sicko.
16. I'm thankful for Dawn Denton and the fact that we managed to forge a friendship in college after being on COMPLETELY different sides of the fence in high school. Someday, Dawn, it'll be me and you like Ike and Tina. Blee dat.

17. Despite anything I've said to the contrary (I'm thinking of a certain New Standard article published last year), I am more than grateful to Debbie Collins for being the person my friend Matt needed to bring him true happiness. Matt's always been a moper, you know - artistic temperament - but when I saw him with Deb he was the happiest I've ever seen him. Thanks Deb. We share a wonderful friend and I hope everything's going well out there in Tejas.

18. I'm increasingly grateful for my Uncle "Ding" and my Aunt Carmen, not to mention my cousins Joseph and Jessica. Because we've always lived in different places, I've never been exceptionally close to anyone in my extended family. But I feel as if we've all gotten to know one another a little better in recent years, and that's a great feeling. I hope it continues. Happy Thanksgiving.

19. Everyone knows I love crazy girls, and so it should come as no surprise that I'm thankful to know Dottie Smith. I mean, really, how often do you meet someone who introduces herself by saying, "You know, I'm not really supposed to play with sharp objects"? Too cool. My one and only formal was a blast, Dottie. Thanks for being a part of that special memory.

20. "Hey!" "Quit crunching that popcorn, bitch!" "Don't slurp yo soup in here, boy!" Yes, you know it's true. I'm grateful for the ever quote-worthy Mr.Greg Ducker. Funny. Insightful. Friendly....So many adjectives. Nothing but love for the Duckman.

21. My angel, my all, my other self, my plastic idol, my sweet superstar. My Edie Edie, such a sweetie. I'm so very grateful for your inspiration, your encouragement, and your bold and brazen lioness arrogance. You, my dear, are a kitten with claws, and for that I will always hold you dear. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

22. Hey mahn, dare ain't but one bruva in de world who knows how teh'ble I'm doin' up in here. Dass G Money, mahn, and I'm thankful we still stay in touch, mahn....Represent the 86 Forever.

23. Before Amber's photoshoot, before "Do Not Collect $200", before the Ann Coulter t-shirts, before I moved in with Mac just because he owns a copy of "The Night Porter", there was Angela Goundas - my original Nazi bitch. It's a shame we don't stay in touch, Ange, but for what it's worth, I'm grateful for all the great pictures we took back in the day. I hope you're well. :)

24. I'm thankful for Jac McManus on any number of different levels, but most of all (and she'll see this coming a mile away) I'm thankful that she's never dyed her hair. Someday I'll publish everything I've written about those raven locks and two things will happen simultaneously: (1) Jac will file a restraining order as she sees just how creepy I really am about girls with black hair, and (2) everyone will see how it only takes one truly beautiful thing to set off an avalanche of words. Your hair is constant inspiration, Jac. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

25. You know what I'm thankful for? I'm thankful that I have the skills to find friends in even the flightiest of environments. One night on Bourbon Street Keith tipped a shot girl over 30 dollars, and yet somehow I'M the one who walked off with her digits...This would be Jessa, my fun new friend who will soon be gracing the screen in "Pink". I'm glad we've become friends, Jess. The fun starts soon.

26. I'm grateful for all my fellow Geminis, and that includes the lovely Jillian Vanzelfden. Thanks for recommending "Holidays On Ice" and for staying in touch, babe.

27. I'm grateful that the course of my life has taken me to the Crescent City, and I realize (now more than ever) that I never would have made it there without the help of my Uncle Jimmy - the only relative I've ever been told I look like. We may not have been the ideal roommates, but I know I'm indebted to him, and I'm grateful for all the help he offered in helping me rebuild myself during a difficult time. Thanks Jim. I'll pay you back in more ways than one someday.

28. I'm appreciative of the serendipity that seems to follow wherever Joey Miller goes. The newest of my roommates, Joey has brought with him a slew of in-jokes, a ton of cheesy sing-alongs, and repeated uses of the phrase "I'm not having this conversation. I'll see you in the car." Why the hell didn't we hang out before now, Joey?...The world may never know. Happy Holidays, roomie.

29. Of all the relationships I've been trying to strengthen in the last couple of years, none means as much to me as my relationship with my sister Katie. Sure, we fight the way siblings are supposed to, but it's nice to know we're actually trying to get somewhere. Thanks Katie. It's nice to share a bloodline with you.

30. Once upon a time, there was Leah and her lovely roommate Katie J...and, as always, I crushed on the wrong one. Fortunately, though, I had the courage to send Leah packing while Katie J and I remain pen-pals to this day. I'm grateful for that, Katie J, and we both know that nothing holds people together like a common enemy. As Mark Twain once said, "Friends are people who hate the same people you hate." Now granted, I don't HATE Leah, but you know what I mean. Happy Thanksgiving.

31. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for Katy Bowman, my self-professed sister from another mother. Between the two of us, thousands of Louisiana Lottery scratch cards have been scratched and MILLIONS of inside-jokes have been developed. When I think of you, Katy, I hear Kurt Cobain singing, "One baby to another says 'I'm lucky to have met you.'" Stay in touch and happy Thanksgiving.
Oh, and by the way, the Big F wanted me to tell you, "RRRRAAAAORRAAA!!!!" hehe

32. I'm grateful for my friendship with Keith Sisson for one reason and one reason alone: because whenever people say to me, "J, you're the biggest asshole I've ever met," I can always say to them, "Obviously you've never met my friend Keith." :) Happy Thanksgiving, nuts.

33. I'm thankful for the way things can develop and surprise you over time. Like Kelly Barry, for example. Five years ago Kelly was just some hot brunette that I introduced myself to in the middle of a boring Geology lab. Today she's the head of Sweeters Productions, which is producing "Pink", our first feature-length film project. The work Kelly and her co-producer Greg Jones have put into it is really quite remarkable, and I'm grateful for them both. (Mark my words, y'all...I'm going to repay the favor.) Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

34. I'm grateful that 50% of all marriages end in divorce, because it leads me to believe that I still stand a 50-50 shot with my favorite blonde, L.J. Harvey. hehehe I'm just kidding, L.J. I don't REALLY want you to get divorced or anything. However, I AM grateful for the way we share encouragement, ideas, and of course politics. And hey, you know what I want for Christmas? I want you to call me up and leave a message on my cell in that sexy, sultry voice you were so well known for....Just a thought. Inexpensive.

35. I'm thankful for pleasant surprises like Lisa Compton. Who ever would have guessed that Lisa, whom I WASN'T exceptionally close to back in elementary school, would essentially become the ONLY classmate I keep up with? Strange, but nice. I hope things are going well out Florida-ways, Leese. Thank God hurricane season's finally over.

36. I'm grateful for the fact that I live with McLean "Maximus Prime" Anderson. This comes in handy when fighting my lifelong battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticon. Without Mac, I'd be clueless in the way of scanning, computers, lighting, photography, and just about anything else that I can't use my personality to fake my way through. hehe Thanks Burger. I'll get you some kneecaps to smash for Christmas.

37. I'm thankful for the day earlier this year when I ran into Mandy Lusk at Ruby Tuesday. It's always nice to run into old friends...especially when there's a good punchline atttached. When I ran into Mandy, for example, I went home, told my mom that I'd seen Mandy, mentioned how cute she was, and then found out that she was my cousin. hehe That's Mississippi for you. Happy Thanksgiving, Mandy.

38. I'm grateful for all the good things that have happened for my friends this year, and especially Marjorie Howard, who seems to have found a nice, stabilizing guy after years of searching and kissing frogs. Thanks for the call from Times Square, babe. You know I'm rooting for you all the way. Mwuh!

39. I'm grateful for friends of friends who become friends of my own. Make sense? Well, even if it doesn't, it's nice to know Marlo (however her last name is spelled.) I mean, really, what's not to be grateful for in a friend who loves the Smashing Pumpkins enough to have the word "disarm" in their e-mail address? Billy Love forever, Marlo! Don't ever dye your hair.

40. There's no way to say this without sounding crass, so I'm just going to say it: I'm thankful for Marta Dees and the twins. For three years after my 1998 break-up I searched in vain for a set of breasts better than my ex's...Then I met Marta and I realized that life really DOES go on. :) And it's not just that, Marta. You're a Gemini and you have black hair and acting ability. The quintessential J-girl. I can't be thankful enough for such a thing. Mwuh!

41. DAMN!...Some of you will look at this word and see only an obscenity. Those of you who know better, however, will look at this and see the cry of the wild SeaMatt - the most feared beast of the Arctic Circle and Dallas, Texas. :) I'm grateful that Matt has been successful in his first year of marriage and that he seems to be doing more with his God-given artistic abilities these days (or at least he's SUPPOSED to be doing more with his God-given artistic abilities these days.) You've got it, buddy. Use it. And thanks for being one of my most tried-and-true compadres.

42. I continue to be grateful for the 2003 Tennessee Williams Festival for three reasons (one of which I'll get around to in just a minute.) One reason is because it was a great time in every way possible - socially, intellectually, and alchoholically. One of the other reasons is Melissa Morgan Smith - Water Valley Watermelon Princess to the Stars. It's nice to make friends with royalty, especially when they're intelligent and attractive. :) Happy Thanksgiving, Melissa. Say hi to Colby for me.

43. As an ardent music fan, I'm thankful that Black Thunder - the greatest rock band in the known universe - was able to continue their two-city club tour this year, despite the recent overdose of rhythm guitarist "Rockin'" Ricky Ibanez. It's so nice to see a band determined to rock against the odds, especially when that band is fronted by Rip Marshall - the most dynamic frontman in rock today. Here's to you, Rip. *lighter is lit* AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! You know I love you, brother man.

44. I'm thankful that my friend Missy Kenny has finally started modeling and that she sends me pictures from her best shoots. Believe me, Missy, nothing feels better than setting your picture as wallpaper on my work computer and having people walk by my desk and say, "Wow! She's really pretty!" It allows me to act all cool and nonchalant as I say, "Who, her? Yeah, that's just my friend Missy. She models." hehe Happy Thanksgiving, girly-girl.

45. I've said it to everyone who'll listen and I'll say it again: I am SO glad and grateful to have heard from Pam Stennis last week after a good long hiatus. I know we've both been busy, babe, but we've got to get caught up. I'm still grateful for all those Sunday mornings when nothing got done because we were too busy talking. hehe I hope you're well. Talk soon.

46. It's sad that I even have to say this, but I AM grateful for having the most supportive parents a person could ask for. As a person who gets discouraged easily at times, it's nice to have people who are firmly in my corner, believing and understanding that extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people. It sounds cheesy to hear me say that...but only if you're a cynic. And we don't have any time for those. Thanks, Mom and Dad. I love you both.

47. SEVEN YEARS. That's a long-ass time to be with just one person, but Sara Schiro, you've managed to do it with one of the most complicated, difficult, and wonderful people I know. And I'm grateful for that relationship. Yes, Stefan and Sara give me a renewed hope that, even in a world that wants everything in quick soundbites, things can last for a long time if they're right. Despite all the crap I give both of you about needing to give one another "the vacation", I admire what you have...and even kind of envy it in those rare moments of romantic weakness. Congrats and thank you. Happy Thanksgiving.

48. I'm thankful for my friendship with Scott Nielsen, even though I've been terrible about staying in touch with him over the last few months. Scott shared my crush on Brittany Murphy even BEFORE she was really well-known. Tell me, Scott, how many times did we rewind and imitate the nodding "Yeah!" she did in "Drop Dead Gorgeous"? hehe Oh, the things we remember. Let's get caught up, man. I'll talk at you soon.

49. I'm appreciative of my friendship with Amanda Nalley (a.k.a. "Sex"), especially after that night at the Beau Rivage Brewpub when that one girl said "I love this guy!" and Amanda said, "Of course you do. EVERYBODY loves J." Yeah yeah, ego boost - typical of me. But still, it was great. And so is Amanda. Thanks for 6 years of friendship that never grows unfamiliar. Oh, and of course for the infamous phrase. You know the one. Happy Thanksgiving.

50. I'm thankful for all black-haired Catholic girls...Shannon Donovan, this means you. Thanks for being one of the most genuinely nice and likeable people I know. My love to the Fam. (Kinda funny how we e-mail one another after a lifetime spent living only two blocks apart. hehe)

51. I'm grateful for my daily chats with my fellow Coast rat, Sheri Ladner. How would EITHER of us get through the workday without the other, Sheri? hehe Thanks for the Coast love, the french fry story, and of course for being a brunette. Looking forward to seeing you around Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving.

52. Do you remember when I said I was grateful for THREE things about the 2003 Tennessee Williams Festival: Melissa Morgan Smith, the atmosphere itself, and one more that I would get to later? Well, this is later, and the third thing I'm thankful for about that festival is Mrs. Sherrye Williams. Sherrye took Sara and I into her home and fed us breakfast after knowing us for only a few hours. This act singlehandedly saved my faith in Southern hospitality and made the old adage true: "I've always depended on the kindness of strangers." Thank you, Sherrye. Happy Thanksgiving.

53. Last night I was going through old videos and found a copy of "The Cure: Unplugged". Naturally, there was only one person I could think of at that point, and most of you know who that is. Whiggy! Thanks for being one of my favorite people, Steve. Congrats on your back-to-back success with marriage and fatherhood. You've always been a braver man than I. Happy Thanksgiving and remember always - "However far away....However long I stay....Whatever words I say...I will always love you."

54. I thank God every day for beautiful things, which is why I can never bring myself to take Susanne Shropshire off my e-mail list, despite the fact that I haven't heard from her in like 85 years. Thanks for being easy on the eye, Susanne. Oh, and by the way, you never told me how you did on that paper I helped you with (the one about "The Milagro Beanfield War".) If you read this, let me know. Happy Thanksgiving.

55. I grew up on St.Charles. Victoria grew up on St.Francis. Mitchell Gruich was my best friend in kindergarten. Victoria dated him in high school. I write. Victoria does graphic art. I hero-worship Billy Corgan. Victoria met him during the 1996 Infinite Sadness tour..and on and on and on. Thanks for the parallel universe, Vic. I'll be in touch soon about the paintings we talked about.

56. Yeah yeah yeah, I'm grateful to have re-established communication with Wayne Freeland after years of silence and an ocean of distance...I'll be even MORE grateful when that good-for-nothing hooligan sits down and writes me back. It's YOUR turn, asshole! hehe Happy Thanksgiving. Hope to hear from you soon.

57. Of all my 2004 memories, few will be remembered with the fondness of surprising my glorious ex-fiancee Wendy with front-row tickets to David Bowie. (Nothing makes me happier than a good surprise, you know.) You may not understand me when I say this, Wendy, but I'm grateful I had the chance to make someone else happy. Being a fundamentally self-centered individual, it makes me feel good to step outside of that and do something for someone other than myself. The look on your face was priceless, and I'm glad you had a good time. Mwuh! Happy Thanksgiving.

58. Though my job is boring, I'm grateful to have a job in the friendliest law office in New Orleans and for my friendships with everyone in the Chaffe Pack. ***WARNING: CHAFFE PACK SHOUT-OUTS TO FOLLOW*** I'm grateful for Meredith (my closest intra-office friend) and for my invitation to her recent wedding (the coolest wedding I've EVER been to). I'm grateful for Brandalyn "Let's take this to the pawkin' lot" Breaux for providing me with the love/hate tension that all my best relationships thrive on. To Vania "Cashews" Gauthreaux for the constant middle finger and for being the illustrious "Lady Mac". To "Uncle" Jesse Matherne for his vehement defense of democracy and his well-worded rebukes against my CMA tyranny. To Jonathan Williams for keeping those wheels spinning while saying absolutely nothing. (I've never been brave enough to be that quiet, Jonathan.) To Julia Bowman for her oh-so-constructive criticisms of "Pink" and for the time she's been willing to put into script revisions. To Leo Olivier for doing the most hilarious ex-boyfriend routine I've ever witnessed. ("Yup, I'm having my office re-decorated next week...Guess I'm gonna have to spend some time out on the BOAT!") To Lisa Schell for never once hesitating to cuss or be a smart-ass about anything (you gotta love people who just jump right in.) To Cindy Crull for all the job security and friendliness. (I guess I can forgive you for repeatedly pointing out how much I don't stack up to "precious little Leo".) To Melissa Kellum for being very patient with my constant stalking and self-made "Friday the 13th" background music.To Alice Indest for her kind support, for setting up the most important conference call of my life, and for having the most perfect facial expressions known to man. And of course to Georg, Ilsa, Klaus, Wilhelm, Heinrich, and all of our other intra-office German friends for their endless rationalism and undying support of "ze Movement". Day in and day out I'm thankful for you all.

59. Like everyone else, I'm thankful for life's second chances. This year I've had four: (1) the recovery of my mother after her heart attack, (2) the chance to develop a real and open relationship with my dad, (3) the chance to develop a real and open relationship with my sister, and (4) the chance to work through my differences with Miss Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hoffman. I've never been very good at picking things up when I've put them down and closed a door, but maybe this is a sign that I'm getting older and more mature. I'm grateful for that too. My best to all of you.

60. Year after year I'm grateful for the music of Tori Amos, the Smashing Pumpkins, Michael Lujan, and my newest darling-dearests, the White Stripes. Nothing gets me through a creative dry spell like sounds of inspiration. Thanks to all my musical muses.

61. I'm grateful for the progress which is currently being made with "Pink" in terms of publicity, casting, funding, and personal interest. No one is an island, and it's very humbling to have found people who believe in this project as much as I do. I'm looking forward to filming next year, which means that for the first time in a long time I"m looking forward to the future. What a great feeling that is. Thank you to everyone involved.

62. I'm grateful for our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, not only for the work they do for us, but for the work they are trying to do for the people living in those countries: building schools, roads, etc. There's a lot of bad news in the media sometimes, but in my heart of hearts I believe the intentions are good, and I'm grateful for all those willing to make a difference. Here's to the people of all three countries. ("We've come through so much as enemies. We hope to see you leave as friends." - Gandhi)

63. I'm thankful for the gift of literacy, which has allowed me to explore my passions of writing, studying, and exploring literature. I'm also grateful to have reached the end of a two-year writer's block and for the words that have found their way back to me.
(Special thanks to Edie and Gabby on that one.)


64. Saving the best for last, all of my thanks goes out to the Man Upstairs, without whom the other 63 items on this list would not be possible. Thanks Big Guy. You know I'm yours. (See also: Romans 8:28 and Luke 1:37)

Thanks also to all of you for taking the time to read this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww J, Have a happy thanksgiving! I feel so honored to be mentioned in the blog hehe. Did you find a girl willing to pee on you yet? haha jk


11:53 AM  
Blogger Brandalyn said...

Wow! I know I sound like a broken record, J, but again, you never cease to amaze me.

Thanks for the shout-out! I guess me and the "pawkin' lot" will live forever in infamy.

see you on Monday!


4:13 PM  
Blogger Brandalyn said...

OK, I'm commenting again. Well, that's because I read it, again. I definitely think you have managed to accomplish what you so desperately crave: celebrity!

You, my dawlin', could never be anonymous. :)

Enjoy your extended weekend. I will see you on Monday.


btw, how come you didn't tell me you dad does the narration for the the Christmas display for the "Cajun Night Before Christmas". I stumbled onto that little jewel 10 minutes after you left work today.

7:47 PM  

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