Thirteen years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I had an assignment to write an “I’m Thankful For” piece–a list of fun things for which we were thankful, organized by rhyme and alliteration–modeled after a piece in the local newspaper. I loved writing it. It was the first time I really went through the process of thinking about words and how to organize them, and I remember thinking that maybe I could do this thing that Sondheim and other lyricists do. I didn’t entertain that idea again for another five years, but now that I am a lyricist I enjoy looking back on this piece at Thanksgiving not only to see a snapshot of who I was at age 17 but to remember the first joyous impulses of playing around with the sounds of words.
I’m Thankful For
To the creators, innovators, accelerators, investigators, and educators:
I am thankful for Latin, satin, General Patton, The Cat in the Hat, and a welcoming mat. For Gone With the Wind, winter, windows, white, woods, and Woody Allen. For digression, progression, a procession, and possession, for lessons, for success, when someone cleans up my mess, and my personal best.
“Angels We Have Heard on High,” I am thankful for creation, elation, and emancipation, the Emperor Vespasian, and congratulations. For cereal, the ethereal, the lyrical, and satirical. For my singing voice and personal choice. For working hard and birthday cards, for blankets, my brother, balloons, and the Bard.
For reading, speeding, and succeeding, for need, greed, and getting a lead. For chocolate, chicken, and cheese, and especially for my sister, Leez. For Steven Spielberg, silence, the city (especially New York City), singing in the rain, silk, and 2% milk.
“There’s no place like home,” my hair, happiness, Handel, harpsichords, and Alfred Hitchcock. For life, love, loans, letters, lanterns, light, lipstick, laughter, and I Love Lucy. For the F.B.I., the F.D.A., E.T., and AOL Instant Messenger (my only form of communication).
For color, comedy, and curtain calls, Fridays, phosphate and physics laws. For art, Dorothy Parker, Arthur Miller, the first star, “The Argument”, The Marx Brothers, my scarf, and the car (when I’m allowed to drive it).
For the overture, Lucia di Lammermoor, Mary Tyler Moore, and used book stores. For Puccini, Rossini, Bellini, and Henry Mancini. For hyperboles and symphonies. For opera and popcorn, for oboes and French horns, for the stage and the sage and the Jazz Age.
For trampolines and mad scenes. For Halloween, being a teen, a well written scene, and when I’m treated like a queen. For New Years Eve, Christmas Eve, All About Eve, and evenings.
For precision, decisions, elision, and good television, for fission and fusion, conclusions, and literary allusions. For Joni Mitchell, Joan Sutherland, Superman, soup, and Meet Me in St. Louis. For Chapstick, childhood, chess, checkers, and Chekhov. For Nick at Nite, New York at night, nightingales, and nightlights.
For time, rhyme, and Stephen Sondheim. For the sciences, appliances, treaties, and alliances. For the atomic ion and shoulders to cry on. For spaghetti, Donizetti, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Bette Davis.
For pea coats, anecdotes, asymptotes, music notes, and my collection of quotes. For Venus, Serena, Zeus, and Athena. For salads, for ballads. For Ayn Rand, a marching band, and holding someone’s hand.
For madrigals, quadrilaterals, quotients, and questions, salmon cream cheese, Sundays, celebrations, and suggestions. For movies, musicals, memories, and murder mysteries, pickles, pictures, my pillow, and people’s histories. For biography, for photography. For harmony and cacophony, for consonance and dissonance, for monotony and variety, for experience and innocence.
For my family, All in the Family, and every family. For grandparents, Greta Garbo, Glinda, and grammar, growth, grapes, and gracious glitz and glamour. For Greece and Rome, and the metronome, for being alone at home, for just being alone, for being with friends, especially those that understand me, for being myself.