The Movies We Watch Because I can’t Eat–Precious

I am 7 weeks pregnant. The smell, the thought and the texture of food repulses me to my core.  I haven’t been cooking and poor Ryan has been fending for himself in a desolate kitchen with only fish sticks and maccaroni and cheese to fill his belly. What I have been doing is laying on the couch ever so quietly groaning. My position on the couch is perfect to watch movies and that’s just what we’ve been doing. Since I don’t have any cooking quips to offer and I know the world on the web is clamoring for my thoughts on just about anything, I thought I’d offer Ryan and my thoughts on these movies we have just watched for the first time: Precious, Up in the Air and Rebecca. In installments.

Precious:

This movie was just nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Lead Role by an Actress and Best Supporting Role by an Actress  for the 2010 Academy Awards. Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’nique were nominated for their roles and Mo’nique took home the Oscar for Best Female Supporting Role. Precious was produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. It did not run in theaters near us, so we only heard of  it when the Oscar nominations were released. After all they hype we figured we should watch it.

Precious is based on the novel Push by Sapphire, so it is not the exact story of any actual person. Ryan and I wondered if it is meant to be the struggle of any given African-American girl in 1987 Harlem or maybe if Precious was an example of all the struggles of the girls in her time.  Not to give away too much, Precious (title character) is a large, black girl of 15 who lives with her angry and bitter mother on welfare in Harlem. We find out later that both of her two children were fathered by her own father, her mother’s long-time boyfriend. Precious is behind in school and is eventually expelled when the principal learns of her second pregnancy.

We did not find it was unimportant that the teacher and principal at Precious’s first school were white. Obviously her teacher and principal cared about Precious and the children in the community school. So much so they were willing to put up with their behavior to try to give them an education. But there came a point where the public school system with it’s rules and regulations could no longer help Precious. The white principal subjected herself to Harlem streets at night and a forced verbal beating to give Precious one more chance–an alternative school. We thought the “white people” were portrayed fairly and from what we know, accurately, but there comes a point where a black teacher can relate to a black child in ways a white teacher cannot.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to discuss things you learn toward the end of the movie and discuss the end it’s self. If you have the intention of watching Precious, you may want to avert your eyes until you’ve watched it.

It is at this alternative school that Precious meets Miss Rain. Miss Rain is a lively, African-American teacher who rules her classroom with a firm but caring hand. When Precious leaves her mother’s house, Miss Rain takes her in until they can find her another place to live. It is here that we learn Miss Rain is a lesbian and lives with her (presumably ) long-time girlfriend. We see a very loving and supportive relationship between these two women and Precious even remarks she wishes her mother could see her now, finding love and support in a gay home, the same type of home her mother hates.  The knowledge that Miss Rain is a lesbian comes as a bit of a shock and it makes for an interesting point in the movie.  What struck me most was the irony of it, and maybe this was intentional. Precious’s mother apparently always rails against homosexuals and thinks they are good for nothing. When we learn Precious’s father had AIDS I wondered if maybe the reason Precious’s mother is so anti-gay is because her boyfriend had a homosexual relationship and contracted HIV. The irony then to me is, Precious finds comfort, support and ultimately acceptance in the gay community and at the same time is inevitably going to die from a disease her father contracted from the same community.

Now before anyone bites my head off, that was just my thoughts on the matter. Today, of course, there are many, innocent ways of contracting HIV, but in 1987, there weren’t. I’m not even sure if in 1987 it was called AIDS yet, but that is neither here nor there. Of course Precious’s father may have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion or a used heroin needle, but seeing how sexually deviant he was, the viewer can more easily be convinced it was from a homosexual affair. Precious’s mother also heavily protested having any drugs in her house, so the heroin angle may work too.

Please don’t read the former paragraph as an attack on Miss Rain either. If it were not for her tender heart and fiery passion, it is conceivable that Precious would have not lived another year. Miss Rain is certainly a hero in this story and her sexual preference should not detract from that.

It is a long story and Precious overcomes many obstacles and truly blossoms before the audience’s eye. As with any true-to-life story, there isn’t always a neat conclusion. In the final scene, we see Precious carrying her two children away from the Social Worker’s office. This scene in and of its self is…unresolved. On the one hand, the audience is on a high as Precious walks away from her mother and social welfare and steps out on her own with her children to live her live with her head held high. But even as she walks off with a smile, the audience can’t get that nagging diagnosis out of their heads. She is walking around with AIDS in 1987 Harlem, she is like walking time bomb. So the end leaves you conflicted, you are elated to see Precious come into her own, but also down trodden knowing this is just one story of one girl, that she is in a community full of people with stories like her’s and a disease like hers who may not have gotten the help she did.

The obvious correlation of this film is to The Color Purple, although The Color Purple may leave its audience with more hope than Precious. But maybe the modern low-class american community doesn’t have the same hope as they once did. Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe certainly proved themselves first-rate actresses in this film. Frankly, Mo’nique will scare the shit out of you, and she certainly earned her Oscar nomination. I am not sure I would say this film is worth seeing, but it certainly leaves an impression. Like Revolutionary Road, you’re happy you watched it, but you don’t think you can stand to watch it again.

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Stir Fry: Asia Revisited

My last Asian attempt was …. nauseating. But fried rice is something I am determined to do well, so I persevered. I went off of Jaci’s recipe she posted on the last Asian Cuisine post and it worked out sooooo much better.

To be quite frank, I didn’t take pictures and I can’t remember much of what I did. I found a recipe for stir fry sauce on Cooks.com and it was…interesting but good. I sauteed the veggies first in oil and with garlic. I added the sauce and shrimp and continued cooking long enough to cook the shrimp.

I can say this, and it is true. We ate all of the left overs from this meal and that is really saying something.

Graduation Information

Ok! Kelli finally succeeded and found Ryan’s graduation information!!!!

Ryan will graduate Friday May 21 at 4:00pm at the PMAC (Pete Marivach Assembly Center). FYI this is the same building Lauren graduated. We’re still planning party stuff, we’re thinking we’ll go back to Lauren’s after graduation with Ryan’s family. I’ll have to get with Mrs. Cheryle and Mr. Harry and figure out the specifics. For those in the know, I’ll let you know when there is more to know.

THE END DRAWETH  NIE AND WE’RE EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Crawfish Pie

One of the joys (the only joy according to some) of living in Louisiana is the food. It seems this is the only good thing anyone from outside of our state can say about us, but nonetheless, it’s true. It is the pride of every south-Louisiana woman to be able to cook like a good Cajun. Now a days, anyone with a seasoned cast iron skillet considers herself part Cajun. All Cajun cooking begins with three things, a Holy Trinity, if you will- onion, celery and garlic. Always always always, you start these three things to sauteeing in either butter or oil before you do anything else. That’s just the way it is.  Ryan and I have been working on our individual gumbos, I am always on the look out for good ways to cook okra. One of the staple Cajun fairs is, the Crawfish Pie. It works similar to a pot pie, crust on top, thick filling etc.

This recipe came to us from Ryan’s mom Mrs. Cheryle. I believe she got it from her friend Ann, so both deserve credit. I will first have to admit that I was ever so sick when we made this pie for a pot luck Ryan went to. He came home with an empty pan though, so I’m assuming it was a hit.

Per usual, Ryan made the crust and I made the filling. We were both working in the kitchen, bumping butts each time we needed to get something and singing jambalaya, crawfish pie, file gumbo… I also want to point out that most of those words are not real words according to the computer spell check. The filling is onion, celery, garlic (duh), bell pepper, cream of celery soup, tomato sauce mixed with milk, egg and bread crumb. This works like a pot pie with a crust on top, slitted for ventilation to keep the top crust from poofing up.

The Holy Trinity in a seasoned skillet
Plus Crawfish
Thick Filling
Into the Oven

Saint Martinville: Future Home of the Carruths (Lord-willing)

Ryan and I are fans of day trips. Our default is straight north out of Baton Rouge to St. Francisville.  Even in our dating days we loved getting out of the city and escaping life for just a little while and be among trees and friendly people. Today we headed west over the Atachafalya to St. Martinville and fell in love.

Since high-school I’ve been enamored with Evangeline–the Acadian maid of true love and devotion. She is my un-official patron saint. Saint Martinville is where she sat under her famous oak and waited 40 years for her love, Gabriel, to return to her. Her oak still stands on the bank of Bayou Teche and finally today, I got to see it.

We could not have picked a more beautiful day to visit. Our hearts swelled in the breeze coming off the bayou down Bridge Street. Ryan was excited to visit Saint Martin de Toures Catholic Church. This church was built in 1765 and the structure is as it was originally built. It has been maintained and modernized–electricity, sound system and what appeared to be AC, although they weren’t keen on using it apparently. If you close your eyes and listening to the creaking altar and feel the sun through the simple stained glass windows you can imagine Father Felician preaching forgiveness from the pulpit.

The worst part of days like these is the drive east down 1-10 coming back into Baton Rouge. Drivers are rude, people are selfish, the pavement and pre-fab buildings make the air is stale and still. It all comes together to create an oppressive fog around you making your skin and your heart heavy.

Everything about this day has set our hearts on on living west of the basin. Everything from the senic drive through Parks, the friendly persons on the street and the glorious lack of traffic. Baton Rouge sucks so much compared to anywhere over there. Baton Rouge is a historically important city. A lot happened and some important people came through and left marks. But you wouldn’t know the city existed before Huey P. Long if you visited. There is very little appreciation for history or heritage in Baton Rouge. It’s all about progress and glitz. Breaux Bridge, Parks and Saint Martinville are simple towns comfortable in their history, and there is such an appeal in that.

Now when we sleep and when we dream, visions of oaks and colonial history will dance in our heads hanging like a carrot in front of our face just out of reach motivating us forward. These are some of the dozens of pictures I took.

Plus One

All parents and siblings have been informed and now it’s fair game to put it on the internet—We are having a baby.

We found out last Saturday (and Sunday just to be sure). It took a good 3-4 hours for it to really sink in and for us to get over the shock of seeing two lines on the pregnancy test. Since then, I have been sick and tired and sore. So any doubts I may have had about not being really pregnant are now gone.

According to the internet, I am 5 weeks along and will be due November 9. I’ve talked with all my doctors and scheduled my first appointment for April 6–the Monday after Easter.

Country Living

Ryan and I both are exhausted with the city and yearn for country living-the birds chirping outside our window, rather than a low rider rattling our window as it goes over the speed bump with rap music blaring. We want to walk the soggy pastures of Louisiana, not the paved streets of the old and rich of Baton Rouge. We have decided to move, then, to a barn in Saint Gabriel.

I can’t lie, I have a lot of fun saying that. Our lease at our current complex is up at the end of March. We needed a place to live from April until August when, Lord willing, Ryan will start a teaching job. Since the possibility that Ryan will start teaching outside of Baton Rouge is very strong, we didn’t want to have to sign another lease with another large complex, or continue at the complex we are in and be locked in for 6 or 12 months in Baton Rouge. We were in a bit of a pickle, but that’s where great friends come in. I was lamenting my woes to Selene when she suggested, ” you should live in Shelly’s barn!”

Selene’s older sister and brother-in-law bought land off of Bayou Paul Road in Saint Gabriel a few years back. They renovated the barn to have an apartment and lived there while they built their dream home. They have lived in their new home for a few years now and rent out the apartment in the barn. They decided to build another apartment on a second story of the barn to eventually use as a guest suite. They are willing to rent it to us for the summer, what a blessing!

We went and looked at it yesterday afternoon and it is fine, absolutely gorgeous. They still have a few final touches to finish up–finish installing the real wood floors through-out, put in the counters on the custom, wood cabinets, bring up the brand new appliances including a gas stove. Gas stove! GAS STOVE! and the bathroom fixtures etc. Square foot wise it is bigger than our townhouse. The bedroom is kind of small, but the kitchen, bathroom and living room are very spacious.  We should have room for all of our furniture, they are asking for less rent than what we’re paying now. Out the bedroom window we can see their back yard, then a pond beyond that and a pasture to the left. From the living room window we can see their house, and half an acre away, their neighbors. It is wonderfully quiet and I suspect gloriously dark at night!!

The only downfall is that our beloved Jackie will not be welcome at the barn apartment. Understandably so, they do not want a dog in their band new wood floored apartment. Again, this is were great friends come in. Our friends The Broussards have graciously agreed to foster Jackie for the summer. Hopefully it won’t be long and we’ll have a more long-term address and can house our animals and all of our belongings. One day…one day.

But for now, we are properly prepared to embark on this next, hopefully interim stage of life. Ryan will find out this week if he is accepted into the Teach for America program. I’m not sure how long he’ll have to decide to accept the offer or not. He has been submitting applications and sending resumes to the diocese of Lafayette and of Baton Rouge. Later this month, he’ll also attend the LSU Teacher’s Fair where schools from around the local area will come to recruit graduating seniors. By the time we’re in the new apartment, we should at least know if Ryan is going the Teach for America route or not. A month after that, Ryan will graduate LSU with honors and we can all breathe easier!

Note to family: I’ve been trying to find out what time and date his graduation will actually be, but in typical LSU fashion, information is not easily accessable. I know it will be the weekend of May 21, I am thinking it will be that Friday, but I can’t say for sure. But just for the head’s up that’s the weekend. We want to do a reception of some kind as well, but…planning for that hasn’t happened yet. More info to come.