May 8th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #474 "Standing with Tennessee"

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The flooding in Tennessee finally broke though all the other news to rather startle many folks in the country who were no doubt barely aware of the problems. Hopefully, the attention is bringing a little more hope to those good people, as I mention in my daily letter to President Obama.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/04/story.tn.flooding.gi.jpg caption="I am so impressed by the efforts of people in Tennessee already, and I’m sure that feeling will only grow. " width=300 height=169]

Dear Mr. President,

I’m sitting at my desk listening to WWOZ streaming out of New Orleans. They play classic jazz, Cajun, blues and a lot more and it always makes me feel transported to a better place when the work loads up too much. I used to listen to the station when I lived there, and now when I tune it I can almost hear the ships passing on the Mississippi, feel the evening heat of the Quarter, and taste a fat Po’ Boy.

Spending too much time reminiscing is no good. It robs you of appreciation of the present, and the promise of the future. But at certain times it is an important and worthwhile pastime. And maybe it can help our friends in Tennessee right now as they try to recover from their awful floods.

When Katrina hit, I must say I was terribly sad. To see a place that I loved so much torn apart; lives lost, homes destroyed, history washed into the gutters. I’ll be honest, it broke my heart. And like the death of a loved one, it took me through many emotions. I had to be angry for a while, and depressed for a bit, and irritable, and apathetic, and all those things that we all are when our sense of the world gets turned upside down.

But throughout it all, I reminded myself of the greatness of the community I loved. I listened to the music and heard genius. I looked at old photos and saw art. I called old friends and felt the feeble beat of hope stirring amid the despair. We talked and talked. And talked some more. Folks I had not heard from in years called, and I called them. We reminded ourselves, in a sea of wreckage, what made our community beautiful, lovely, and so worth rebuilding. For all the hammers and nails, bulldozers and plywood that have gone into bringing New Orleans back, I think the foundation lies there; in good people reassuring each other that it’s going to be o.k.; we can stick together and come back.

I am so impressed by the efforts of people in Tennessee already, and I’m sure that feeling will only grow. But if they flag or grow weary at all, I hope they’ll look south at my old town and take heart; knowing that the good people of New Orleans, and in many ways people all over this country who have overcome disasters, are standing with them in spirit. Mopping up, drying out, hopefully sending whatever aid they can, and tapping their toes for the music to play on once again.

Hope all is well with you this weekend. Oh, and if you haven’t remembered: Tomorrow is Mother’s Day! Call if you need me to help you pick up a card for your wife or something. I know you’d do the same for me.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

May 8th, 2010
08:45 AM ET

If you don't have anything nice to say on Mother's Day...

Nia Vardalos

On May 9th, overpriced flower arrangements will brighten homes, and restaurants will serve multi-calorie brunches. Reminders will be whispered: “hey, be nice to your mom for a minute.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/07/vert.nv.current.headshot.jpg caption="Vardalos: Admittedly, I am a giddy idiot on Mother’s Day. I’m also a hypocrite because for a long time I avoided the day as hard as I could." width=292 height=320]

Sure, Mother’s Day feels a tad manufactured. But if I can get a gift out of this bogus holiday, I’ll take it. Admittedly, I am a giddy idiot on Mother’s Day. I’m also a hypocrite because for a long time I avoided the day as hard as I could. Just the drugstore greeting card rack would make me queasy. I loathed May.

For years, at Spring social gatherings, some women would innocently ask why we didn’t have children. Others would overhear and exclaim what a great father my husband would be, so why on earth didn’t we have kids? When I would give a tight-lipped answer: “we’re trying,” they would not go silent.

They meant well, but they would loudly persist with up-beat advice: stories of this sister or that friend who had tried forever, and then a “miracle” had happened. Others would overhear, and join in. I would instantly feel forehead, upper lip, and low back-sweat from the sudden attention. All I’d wanted was a snack. Now, crudite in hand, I was up against the food table, being advised by pretty, chipper moms bouncing beautiful, pudgy babies on their hips.

A lot of “You Should” advice came my way. From the “latest technique in Europe,” to “just adopt from China” – everyone weighed in. I understood it all came from them wanting to help. It was meant with goodwill. But it was a painful, overwhelming subject for me. I just wanted to throw dip in the air and run. Those were the nice women. Some women were, um, well… they were turds.

The success of my first movie coincided with some awful events in my quest to be a mom. I’ll keep the details private, but quite frankly, it sucked. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

During this time, I would run into The Coven – a group of not-nice-women. These women had, at one time, been actresses. Now they were married to men in the film industry, or their husbands were in our social circle. They made me nervous.

We all know the type of woman I’m talking about here: the ones who say nasty things to women. The Coven seemed stymied by the fact that they were not working actresses and I, far less attractive, appealing and talented than them, was. Often, I can tell when I walk in a room how people feel about themselves. To the optimist, I represent hope of what is possible. But to the pessimist, I represent the stench of their own perceived failure. I will be the first to admit, wow, I stepped into some good fortune with my first movie. I don’t consider myself particularly special. I got lucky. These women would wholeheartedly agree with my assessment of myself. Sadly, they were not secure women. When they saw me, their mascara’d eyes would shoot daggers at my skull.


Filed under: Opinion