Annie: A Dream Deferred

A 12'' vinyl record suits a 42'' female child.
A 12” vinyl record suits a 42” female child.

My paternal grandmother Venita wore denim skirts, drank Heineken, and had a black cat name Pru.

But this is where we see the ecstasy and the agony of words because while everything I just wrote about my paternal grandmother is true, it paints a wildly inaccurate picture of the woman. Venita wore long denim skirts; Ralph Lauren, usually, paired with turtlenecks and loafers. She drank Heineken once a year at the most and it was this big deal when she did. And her cat was indeed black and Venita did call her “Pru,” but that was short for “Prudence,” and “prudence” means “cautiousness” which is exactly what Venita was going for. “Cautious” is the perfect word to describe my late grandmother; she used to tie a damned bonnet on my head whenever we went outside so I wouldn’t get an earache. I got earaches anyway and I couldn’t hear anything.

Ach. Now I’m sad about the bonnet. She meant well.

I owe Venita big, too, because when I was six I visited her and Grampa Lloyd in Houston and Gramma bought me a present: the 1977 original Broadway recording of Annie. As in “Little Orphan.”

The movie version came out in ’82 and I had seen it somehow; we didn’t have a VCR, so it must’ve played on network TV. However I knew the story, I knew it all right, and like any little girl who sees Annie, I was obsessed. The story was about me. These little girls were my homies. It wasn’t about being an orphan or having red hair; it was about being a small female with feisty friends full of song; it was about longing for happiness and attractive, capable parents and an indoor swimming pool.

When Gramma V. gave me the record, I probably didn’t know what I was looking at, exactly, since the Broadway art and the movie art look so different. But when Gramma put the needle on the record and that first overture played, a living room star was born. I learnt every groove in that wax, baby, backwards and forwards, from Miss Hannigan to Punjab and back and I sang — oooh! how I sang! — every single song at the top of my lungs. Annie’s a great musical, but if you’re six and female, it’s a religion.


:: pause to gasp for air ::


Oh, my poor grandfather. Oh, that man must’ve wanted to kill himself. Because I could not stop at five repeats of my Annie record, nor did I stop for six. I could not stop for death, so Grampa kindly stopped the record for me after several hours each day. If I have any singing ability (and I have a teensy-tiny-weensy ability to belt, decent pitch, and nothing more) it’s because of Annie. If I am theatrical at times, it’s because of Annie. And I realized in searching for the image of the record up there, that my favorite color, a red in the carmine-vermillion-cherry family, is clearly Annie red.

All this came up because the other morning, lounging in bed, I suddenly burst into the key change section of “Sandy” from the musical. Yuri was as confused as I was, then I started weeping from nostalgia, and then I had to look up the lyrics, which I had gotten 90% right after all these years.

We are the songs we sang as kids, I think.

Book Signing! Launch Party! NYC! City Quilter! May 20th!

posted in: Art, New York City, Work 6
Look in there. Just look in there! Heavenly.
Look in there. Just look in there! Heavenly. The City Quilter is at 133 W. 25th St., New York City. You can call them at 212-807-0390 and visit them at They are very nice.  

One month from today, there is going to be a neat party. I am personally inviting YOU to come to it.

But of course I am! Because I see you.

I see you there, scrolling down the screen in your adorable pajama pants. I see you too, you at your desk at work with your candy drawer. (May I have a piece of candy? Thanks! You’ve always been so incredibly nice to me. :: unwraps, chews :: ) I see you with your tablet on the couch, sir, and I see you, gal on your phone on the bus, reading the RSS feed of PaperGirl like a champ. You’re all fabulous! And you’re all invited to this here party.

On May 20th, 2014 — one month from right now — in the early evening*, come to The City Quilter in scenic Manhattan. We’re having a party for my book! Wow! Isn’t it a wonderful thing to celebrate the existence of a book?? Humans are so cool.

I’ll be there, selling and signing Make + Love Quilts. Really cool quilters and designers will be there, too. I can’t name-drop, but if I did, you’d like, WOAH because these are name-drop-worthy people.

And hey, if you don’t give a whiff about quilts but just really like PaperGirl, guess what? You will love the party, too, and be most welcome there. There’s a lot writing in my book. It’s a quilt book for sure, but it’s a PaperGirl quilt book. A non-quilter can actually curl up with tea and this book and not wonder why he/she is reading a quilt book. It’s a book-book. It’s for everyone.

So, come to the party! You guys! You ladies! Let’s do it! Let’s have fun! I want to meet you! Have you ever been in Manhattan in May?? It’s ridonk-a-donk! So beautiful! It’s like being in a Gershwin song!

Book a flight, take a train, hail a cab. Come to the party on May 20th. Live a little!