STUFFed

May 25th, 2005

Oh my God, I have eaten SO MUCH since coming to New York. It's a good thing I'm going back to the land of grilled fish and salads (not to mention my bikes, Purple Heat and Pinky—did I mention Pinky? She's the backup bike for guests), because I can barely fit into my jeans, I've had so much delicious smoked mozzarella, cold sesame noodles, Peking duck, coal-oven pizza, pad thai, vegetable samosas, sundried tomatoes, and Rueben sandwiches.

Not to mention that mega-pail of popcorn at the Empire 25.

I don't know how New Yorkers stay so thin with so much great food so easily accessible. Personally, I can't handle it. Even now, I'm thinking about the huge crusty bagel I saw this baby eating in his stroller (his mom had slipped his safety belt through the bagel's hole, so the kid could gnaw on it without dropping it). That bagel was as big as that baby's head. It was an everything bagel. It would be so good with a schmear of vegetable cream cheese…or maybe some whitefish….

OK, seriously, I'm going to stop obsessing about food now. It's just…there's so much of it. And it's all so good….

Hey, so aside from the thin thing, how come people in New York have so much more interesting conversations on the street than they do in the rest of the country? I have overheard like ten totally cool conversations since I got here—including one that featured this sentence: “So they're giving her a really big head, which makes me happy because you know she's more than six feet tall.”

What could this person have been TALKING about??? A mascot costume? A cartoon character?

In Key West, the most intriguing conversation I've ever overheard went:

“So where's your captain?”
“Jail.”
“Again?”
“Yeah. So I'm just drinkin' till he gets out.”
“Cool.”

Sigh.

I've had a lovely trip to NY, despite my bulging waistline and the fact that I feel like I've barely had a minute to catch my breath, I've been so busy with the lyme awareness-raising, six AM TV satellite interview tours, author photo-taking, books signings, etc. I had such a fun signing at the Upper East Side Barnes and Noble. Thanks so much to Alexa L for the daisy-dotted Army helmet, and to Allison M for the cute snails, beauty goods, and Altar Boyz CD. Thanks also to Shauna M for the totally cute homemade tiara, the girls who gave me the flowers (can't believe I forgot your names), the Mad Magazine girl for the Mad Magazines, and everyone else whom I might have forgotten due to the fact that I was totally high on Claritin and Zomig at the time in an effort to fight my hideous migraine-producing ALLERGIES, which have been kicking my butt all
week….

…so much so that at one point I was bedridden and left with no alternative but to watch TiVo'd Tom Cruise on Oprah.

Despite what everyone else seems to think, I found that interview highly entertaining. Obviously, there was Tom's gushiness over the whole Katie Holmes thing (feigned? Or genuine? Answer came there none. He IS a professional actor, after all, so we'll probably never know).

But then there was the whole thing about Tom's adopted kids. How much would it ROCK to have Tom Cruise as your dad? (Answer: much more than it would rock to have Tom Cruise as your husband, since, despite his insistence to Oprah about how much he “respects and loves women,” Tom still divorced Nicole Kidman exactly nine years and eleven months before he would have had to pay her half his salary for the rest of this life, or whatever that California ten-year-marriage divorce law says, which Tom so cleverly avoided).

But seriously. The kid thing. When Tom claimed to Oprah that the fact that one of his children is adopted and biracial has “never been an issue,” because to Tom his child is part of the “human race,” and so they've never even had to discuss the fact that Dad is white and the kid is not, I was like, “Really???? Whoa. COOL.”

Because one of my younger brothers is adopted, and is African American (the rest of my family, including myself, are white). And I can tell you, it was often a HUGE issue…not for our family, but for some of the people in the town we grew up in, who felt compelled to call my little brother the n-word, and us n-word lovers for adopting him.

Yes, I know today it sounds like something out of a John Grisham movie like “A Time To Kill,” but it totally happened. I mean, my family was actually TURNED AWAY from a restaurant once because the owners did not want to feed a biracial child.

Of course, it WAS the seventies/eighties, and it WAS southern Indiana (just a few miles from Martinsville, home of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan's grand dragon, where they only just got around to solving the murder of an African American encyclopedia saleswoman thirty years ago), and there was, furthermore, a total of three TV channels available at that time, so the only African Americans people seemed to be familiar with back then were Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, and Linc from “The Mod Squad.”

No, nobody ever burned a cross on our lawn. But let's just say that, back then, the n-word wasn't used in a friendly manner, as it often is today…a fact which occasionally led to my other brother and I being called upon to defend our youngest sibling when he was confronted by bigots, much larger than himself, in the mall, at the library, church parking lot, etc (I should mention that my non-adopted brother–now a cop–and I were not familiar with Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent conflict resolution, and even if we had been, we found that physical intimidation worked far more effectively in shutting racists up than explaining the benefits of cultural diversity awareness to them. Except when they were bigger than we were, in which case we would go get our dad, who was bigger than everyone in town, and once pinned the head of a racist who'd been bothering our brother to the top of a reading carrel in the library…much to the delight of the librarians, who later recounted the story to me with breathless excitement).

I've mentioned before that all of my books are pretty autobiographical. If you've read the 1-800-Where-R-You books, you know the heroine spent a lot of time in detention for trying to defend her brother from bullies. Well, I spent a lot of time in detention for trying to defend my brother from bigots. Once my non-adopted brother and I threatened to give a swirly to a teacher's kid for calling our little brother the n-word. When the teacher found out, she gave us detention. And when we protested, telling her what her kid had said, and suggested, when she insisted no child of hers knew such a word, that he had probably learned it in her home (bigots ALWAYS learn it in the home), she said we were liars, and gave us DOUBLE detention.

Except that when I said that thing about her kid learning the n-word in her home, her face turned bright red. What was she so embarrassed about, if WE were the ones who were lying?

I just love that Tom Cruise's kid lives in a world where a white family can raise an African American child and not have it EVER be an issue–no heads to pin to reading carrels, no swirlies to threaten, no “Hey, we're all part of the human race” speeches to repeat on the playground.

Of course, part of it might be that they live in Beverly Hills, not Indiana. And the kid's dad is…well, Tom Cruise.

Still, I hope the fact that interracial adoption is a NON ISSUE for Tom Cruise's kid isn't because the kid is Tom Cruise's and they live in LA, but because the world has changed, and become more tolerant, and that interracial adoption is a NON ISSUE for everyone.

More later.

Much lo
ve,

Meg