Thursday, December 30, 2010

sale

We write our history.

Here.

My favorite comment is see what's wrong at 5:08.

What's wrong at 5:08 is that Daddy has got some pit bull puppies, eight to be exact. See, that day when Ruby picked him, she was pregnant. And, well, she fell in love with Daddy and Daddy with her. Nothing would have changed maybe if he had known she was pregnant. Pregnant with eight puppies and let's just say we done got ourselves a situation here.

Nobody wants a pit bull puppy although someone did ask if they had papers and all I could say was, me and daddy will draw you up some nice ones with crayons and magic markers. I just hate that Daddy can't get rid of those puppies to good homes, people that will love them and raise them.

He asked me if I was taking four of 'em and I said, well sure Daddy.

And I guess you'll have to take ol' Ruby, too, on account that she needs to go with those puppies.

Well, sure Daddy. While I'm sitting here I'll just go ahead and load the gun for Billy Sue so she can shoot herself. Billy Sue, she's kinda an only child, Daddy.

I know, Boog, but I just don't know what I'm gonna do. I took 'em to the vets to see if they could get rid of 'em but they say, no they can't do it. They don't want no pit bull pups.

Daddy said he couldn't give someone $10 to take them away.

If you, you reading this, want Ruby and her pups, oh heck just one puppy, me and Daddy will work a deal with ya'.

Just email me at sheagoff at gmail dot com.

I'll even give you a personal email of gratitude. I don't know what it would say yet. But I'll figure it out.

And oh yeah, if you don't mind getting the word out with a blog or a facebook link or a mouth or a building or a sign or a train then we would be much obliged. Surely someone out there needs one single little puppy to teach love.

Gratitude.

warren

Warren and I, we fight like crazy. I see Warren practically as much if not more than most anyone. Warren and I work together in an office with a shop or a shop with an office, however you want to look at it. When Charlie once said, Shea, you and Warren are a hoot. I like to watch as you jab each other.

I responded, Oh Charlie, how can Warren and I not be at war? War is in his name.

In fact, I love mine and Warren's war. I love how we struggle to get our point across 'cause our points are so different but then sometimes the same. We kinda stand for what we believe in everywhere we go. That really is beautiful if you think about it, huh? I respect Warren like that. He's kinda cool that way.

And really what is a struggle if not a beautiful war fought within oneself? Warren and I battle within ourselves, make a stand then meet each other and play as friends.

I have been watching some documentaries of late stumbling upon Jean-Michel Basquiat and a movie of graffiti artists. Why did they paint someone else's property? I think.

Could it be that they didn't have the internet? Maybe there was something so important they had to say that they wanted to tell the world but there was no forum for such a big voice as a wall or a bridge or a sign or a billboard or a train. That had to be one of the greatest ways to get your message out to whoever wanted to see it.

And then I think, well gosh that is arrogant.

And yes, it is.

But then I guess I battle a belief that whatever anyone is doing is important. Whatever anyone is saying is important. I respect what they are saying, listen to how they say it and then say what I have to say. What is so great about them is that without 'em I wouldn't know what I had to say.

And what is what I have to say anyway? Simply a belief I carry but nothing I expect you to tote.

Warren is married to Llana and they are a beautiful couple of retirement age. Are there any laws out there to help me keep Warren? Does he really have to retire?

Gratitude 'cause today he is still with me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

pace

It was difficult to go back today. In five extremely short days, or wait maybe they seemed long, I got into a rhythm, a jazzy upbeat. I slept when I wanted to. I ate when I wanted to. It felt incredibly selfish, safe as if I was enclosed in a nice little shell of me. We sorta did our thing, each allowing for the other's comfort without allowing for the other's level of comfort to discomfort us. And I think, for me, that is what family feels like. It is all cuddly and unconditional. You do what you need to do to be who you are and I do the same and never, not for one moment, do we lack in complete love.

That's a tall order, I think, but doable nonetheless.

Family feels like cooking, preparing a plate with ingredients from my parents. Shout out to the venison sausage with Corky's barbecue sauce. Thank you, Mom and Dad. It feels like laughter, stories, pacing, music, reading, writing and yeah, those little naps in between. Family feels like the hum of the heater, dusty wood floors, candlelight. It dances like music, moves into conversations with who now almost feels more like an old friend. We're at the cool spot, a time in our relationship when a story becomes a treasure as if it was what those pirates were always trying to steal in our childhood stories.

I will say I have become more grateful in this period. The smiles seem more precious, the laughter more melodic. It is a space containing dance and small flickering lights of flame. It is the crunch of leaves, the stillness after all the acorns have fallen. It is dark skies promising a cold rain where you have the excuse to stay in and stay warm. Might as well.

It is lazy and blankets, houseshoes and your favorite robe. The tap of that sole leaf on the window late at night. It is a new movie, a new story with your Dad. An afternoon of stories with your Mom. And you realize that you have friends who don't have one or the other or both so you enjoy them that much more. You whisper and smile and laugh and realize how fortunate you are.

It is warm coffee brewed better than you normally have it.

It is love and grace and giving and receiving although the receiving part is sometimes hard.

The thing is that I got some incredible gifts this year, that t-shirt with the artwork designed by Josh. Green in a nice, soft fabric, easily a favorite shirt. One I've already worn at least five times or five days. I don't know but it is great to have it on. Sarah got me a spot on her blog with my movie of the year. I do so hope she enjoys it. I got the coolest or should I say warmest socks in a bag so beautifully and artfully decorated by my Mom. And pants, nice LL Bean pants, cotton and comfy, and a pullover thick and warm. Both my parents threw some cash and some meat in my direction, one in a card and the other in a white plastic walmart bag that will stay in the family until it disintegrates, shuffled back and forth.

A rare photograph of Slater and me framed and put on a shelf with other precious pictures. Thank you, Nana. And the cash, it feels kinda guilty taking that from you but I tell myself it was a gift so I treat it as such. You're really too much for a Nana, more like an angel. It is the smell of the lotion Angie got me and the story with Granny. I'm so glad I have the story with Granny. It is Aunt Wanda and Uncle Buck and all the cousins, the fantastic cousins. It is laughter and Frank Sinatra.

It is a big bottle of whiskey given to me by Rusty and Rebecca.

It is the signs that Slater gave me to hang in the house, those that speak of love, peace and laughter. And a beautiful brown bowl I have already used to eat spaghetti out of. It is the perfect size. It is a spoon with a notch to fit on my saucepans so we don't have to put them on the stove. It is thoughtful and kind. Thank you, baby.

It is Wyatt and Jesse and Santa Claus.

Aunt Dottie and puppy chow.

Billy Sue's snoring.

Conversations with my brothers. Two invitations.

It is books given to you by a friend with whom you find you struggle which is strange 'cause they were so thoughtful and kind.

It is slow talks with your friends. A nap.

It is chocolate pie with a white cool whip topping.

It is sweet tea, no ice, and lounging.

It is the promise of a new year.

And today, when the pace changed, it was no worse or no better. It was the same but simply faster so I had to adjust my pace.

I call this morning coffee.

Gratitude.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

story

I have never been able to tell a good joke. Rusty can tell a good joke but not me. The only thing funny about me telling a joke is I am trying to tell it all the while warning people of the punchline or telling them about how I can't tell a joke.

Kinda like, There was this guy.

Really this is such a stupid joke but the only one I remember.

And he got off work.

Seriously don't hold this against me.

And he was crossing the street.

Dude, this joke is not even funny.

And on,
and on to what feels like infinity.

At the end neither one of us are impressed by a punchline, we just laugh 'cause the joke has reached it's not so funny conclusion. We celebrate that it is over.

So you gotta figure that if I can't tell a joke then why would I try to tell a story. Hell if I know. Yet I am going to try and tell a story to put in a book with at least ten incredible artists, photographers, musicians, writers and poets. Let us just say it is a bit of a daunting task. It can weigh heavy. These other people in this book? Well, all I will say is that it is an honor to stand next to them. To tell a story with them. They are some of the best.

My story is going to be to my great great great grandchild, or let's just say a person in the future with which I identify but will never meet. Maybe me later down the road, maybe Slater down the road. I don't know but right now I am trying to consider my audience. Who is that kid? That young adult? Maybe they are a full on adult. Are they a boy or a girl? Blue or brown eyes? Curly hair? Do they smile often? Dare I hope laugh?

What story do I tell them? Do I tell them a story about my grandfather? My Dad? My Mom? Slater? Jason? Josh? Kim? Angie? Priscilla? It seems like they should know everyone. So I wonder how to put everyone in my story, all the great characters of my life fitting into a compartment. And I think surely that is what I will do. I will need to write a story involving those characters. A funny story to make them smile.

And it could be that this blog will begin to represent some backstory where I struggle to make this perfect, finally get it to where I can walk away from it and, by the end of February, submit. Place in the world's hands my story to that person. Tell him, her, maybe a set of twins, the one thing I can tell them and walk away.

I'm sure there will be some gratitude.





Carving by Josh Miller


Sunday, December 26, 2010

after

Exactly five people on five different occasions told me that this year was their best Christmas yet. Funny, huh? I mean we're at war, politics are a mess, crime scenes are being played out over and over, the economy is spiraling into I don't know, complete and absolute destruction unless we throw all our money at something. Although once in a while we may have to look at each other and say, Are they really still talking about Brett Favre? Is he still playing? Oh. Good. Gosh. Walk away, man. Just walk away.

I told my Mom this Christmas that the last month of television had stained my writing. Watching the news made me want to talk to people who were crying. There are some incredibly bad stories out there and coupled with me reading The Confession by John Grisham it turned out to be a bit of a struggle. I mean, seriously, that was some pretty horrific shit.

If you don't already know I may need to tell you that I have spent the last year not watching television. I made a deal with a company, called my previous company to tell them we were breaking up with tears in my eyes may I add, and jumped off into a world of about forty channels on a television in one room which I barely ever entered. I would have sworn to you two years ago that I would never be able to do that. I needed television. What if another Seinfeld came on, what if the writers of Sex and the City admitted that they sold out the show and came back for some of the good writing in the earlier days, what if once in a while I wanted to watch a M.A.S.H. or Sanford and Son or All in the Family or The Golden Girls or Three's Company? What if Rob and Big had a reunion? What about House? The Office?

I stopped with the help of Netflix, a great stepdown program if you ask me.

And I started watching what was happening around me. You could say I got involved more locally, and the experience has been quite thrilling. Yes, there are still horror stories even locally, but if you look at those stories, get involved with the people, you can find some of the most incredible love stories and comedies of your life. Maybe you already knew that. But me, I had to turn off the damn TV.

Gratitude.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

western

I took my Dad to a movie. A western, an old John Wayne movie where Joel and Ethan Coen rewrote, visualized, hired people and recreated what they had seen. And yes I admit that their last movie, A Serious Man, gave me reason to criticize which is not something I tend towards. I figure everyone has got their way of looking at something, it is their own choice just as it is mine. I like choice and figure they do too. I think I learned that from Westerns. I think people like John Wayne taught me that. And here's where I will say Jeff Bridges playing John Wayne is worthy of note. Well hell, I'll just say that I recommend that movie on that one point. Watch what Jeff Bridges does, watch how loyal he is and then say what loyalty is. John Wayne died but Jeff Bridges lives. Go see the movie.

Then again these boys, these brothers of Coen, who have so generously brought me Raising Arizona, Fargo, Miller's Crossing, The Man Who Wasn't There, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou and who am I forgetting? The Coen Brothers brought legend in my time. Legend in my time is hard for a moviemaker. I can be quite critical of what I see. Or maybe I can be quite critical about what I am spending my money to see. understatement.

The thing is I got mad at the movie. Mad in front of my Dad who I took there for us to enjoy a great, old, John Wayne western made new.I got a little pissed off let's say because Josh Brolin (hello Josh Brolin) played the bad guy. The STUPID bad guy. Now I know that all bad guys are stupid 'cause why would you be a bad guy when you could be a good guy. But don't put Josh Brolin in that role 'cause I figure if Josh Brolin is going to a bad guy then he needs to be really BAD. And he wasn't. I mean, seriously, he was taken out by a fourteen year old girl with snakes around her.

Okay, so yeah maybe snakes were really a part of westerns and that western in particular but still I don't like snakes slithering or horses getting killed. And I know that horses getting killed was part of westerns but it always kinda pissed me off that the horse was just being loyal and the human was the one that had gotten them in the predicament and why did the horse have to be shot?

Anyway, I guess I'll recommend this movie. And I guess the Coen Brothers will never actually want a signed copy of my book but I would send them Miller's Crossing if I thought they would sign it and send it back 'cause that was some of the best photography and storytelling I ever did witness.

Gratitude.

Friday, December 24, 2010

gift

Here on Christmas Eve I am going to tell you your gift. Early, my reader, I really shouldn't tell you your gift before Christmas morning. But you and me, we're okay with that. We're cool that way.

Listen, shhhhhhhhhh, don't say anything.

Just listen to this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBABjH297eg

Or wait, listen to this Priscilla.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE6kx1mUnak&feature=related

Or all of you, just know I would get you those songs if I could.

Oh wait.

I could.

I just did.

I hope you dance.

Tap your foot.

Smile.

Move your head to the beat.

Those Rat Pack boys, they did it well.

Gratitude.

And Merry Christmas.







Addendum to the person who got Slater The World's Most Difficult Take Apart Puzzle: That's not funny!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

fun

Are we having fun yet? Should we even be having fun?

The one huge problem I have had with so many religions is the constancy in their basis of suffering. Supposedly humans are connected by suffering. We all know it having experienced it in our individual ways. You, me, we have all suffered on a relative scale of suffering. Loss, pain, hunger. Suffering is a human experience and we as humans must accept it as such.

Well, that just sucks.

Why can't it always just be rainbows and butterflies and ice cream and laughter? Why can't it be long walks and dirt roads and creeks? The ripple the water makes when a small stone is thrown in a pond? Warm and cozy gathered around a fire? The last minutes of a football game in an outdoor arena as your team makes the touchdown? A joke with a friend? Great music?

Damn it. Why can't it all be like that?

The only way I can rationalize the answer is to say 'cause we wouldn't know 'em if we saw 'em. The only way I can accept pain is to say I suffer and know when I do not. And the suffering of the world I see is much greater than mine could ever be. I should enjoy every moment, every blink, every thing 'cause I have seen suffering and know I am not.

Gratitude.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

fleeting

Do you feel rushed? I see rushed everywhere. Tired brought on by pressure, a change of routine when those of us who never have dinner together meet up and share a meal. It is as if life gains momentum from the earlier months and swings into some whirling action zooming past your head. You want to hold onto it, but you can't even catch it. And, well, holding on was just a dream anyway.




So here we are.



You reading.



Me writing.



Catching a moment. Waking up early without much worry of tomorrow. Making a cup of coffee just like I like it. Burning my new peppermint candle Slater gave me. Billy Sue snuggled up in a blanket cave enjoying her first of such since the ankle incident. Looking forward to a date with my Dad where we watch an old western made new again. Thinking about the past weekend when all the family huddled together in a beautiful home and shared a meal of epic proportions.



How did we get to this place, swirling around like this? And who in the hell has even a moment to ask? Maybe we do by reading and writing. Maybe this is where we meet to slow down and think about how great it all is. How beautiful those people, those places, those moments are.



Maybe this is where we say our big thank you.



Gratitude.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

power

I hated once. Before the once I thought I had hated but I was wrong 'cause now I realize I had never felt that way before and have surely not gone back after. I now turn from that path, my eyes are lowered and I walk the other way.

The first time someone told me not to hate I was only a child, maybe seven or eight years old. My Aunt Wanda heard me say I hate you to my Papaw as I spun around and took off to my room 'cause he wasn't going to take me with him. He laughed but my Aunt Wanda followed me. Followed me right there to my room, looked down at me and in a very serious tone, not loud just serious, said, Shea, you do not hate. You do not say that word. That is a very bad word.

I was struck by her emphasis.

Yet not enough to keep me from hating that one time, some twenty odd years later.

As an eyewitness to my own account I will tell you it came to me while I wasn't looking, started as a sharp knife in my gut, birthed from a fear so intense it barely allowed me to breathe. It was as if I had been kicked so hard that I lay on the floor unmoved wondering if I even wanted to get back up. Eventually, actually rather suddenly, I knew I had to. I had to stand but with every tightening thread of movement, every thrust of blood through my veins that fear was turning into hate. That hate was turning into me.

I pray you never feel hate not because I fear for what or who you would hate but for you. But for you, I would pray for you, your own well being.

If I were ever to say that I believed in demons or bad spirits or something around us is just not right in this world I would say it is hate. For me now that word has incredible power, a power to destroy from within, a cancer of which there is no cure unless we as individuals recognize it within ourselves.

And how could we not when it is a burning so deep it consumes us, a molten rock of destruction. Nature shows us photographs of our own demise. So we see and we change. Change ourselves, not anyone else.

No, I won't sell you a self help video. I am not writing a book to tell you how to remove hate. This is no instruction manual. I claim to be an expert on nothing. In fact, at the end of the day you can often hear me make the remark, I don't know shit.

All I can say is that I don't hate and I once did. When I once did I prayed. I became distracted by prayer crying, please please please please take this away. Take this away. Don't allow me to hate.

It kept burning and I kept praying.

Years later I can say to you in this now of December 16, 2010. In this home. In this moment I do not hate, and I don't know how I got here but I can tell you with tears in my eyes that I am so very grateful for this place, this space, this warm, loving environment, this moment which flows over me like water. Like one of those beautiful, brilliant waterfalls rushing over rocks way above.

It is love.

And now I think I understand the power of words.

Gratitude.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

back

I think now can be a tough time. It is one of those things that I struggle with on Christmas.

I think it started after that first year I did Christmas on my own. My parents were overseas, Josh had moved into the dorm, Jason was at State and I was about twenty-three years old with Slater at two. I was gonna do it like Mama did. That house was gonna be Christmasy. Decked out. Lit up. Smelling like baked apples and cinnamon.

Have you ever seen a Southern Living magazine? Like that.

First I needed a tree 'cause I had a window for it so I went and bought an expensive live one from Canada maybe that cost me at least $85. No, I shouldn't have bought an $85 tree 'cause I was only making about $28,000 at that time working two jobs. And I had a boy to raise but I guess I felt like that was part of raising him.

Ya' know, throwing a big party for Jesus' birthday where the whole world would be the guests and we would have to buy presents for everyone and decorate our houses lavishly and gorge like hogs on foods we didn't let ourselves eat all year.

But then, I guess, one year 'bout five ago I decided the most important thing about Christmas was giving. Not necessarily presents but time as well. It is huddling up in the cold, rubbing your best friends' backs, smiling at each other, having dinner (sorry I cancelled last weekend, girls), sending an old friend a gift through the postal service.

It is a Merry Christmas and an extra big smile to the clerk at the store.

It is red and white and green.

It is coats and gloves and scarves. Rubbing your hands together to generate heat.

It is spending time in your life around people you love.

It is having your boy home.

Inventory.

Change.

It is Granny.

Not only is it Jesus' birthday but it's also Granny's birthday, and let me tell ya', my love of birthdays came from Granny. She celebrates another year and she looks great doing it too. Quite the beautiful woman with such excitement about life.

She has even more reason to celebrate this year. She had a tough year, some leg problems that turned her into something I'd never seen. That doctor gave her solitary confinement and she withered into quiet and recluse.

Until.

Until she fought back like Sarah Todd flies a plane. Like Woodstomp plays the blues. She fought and sang it and I saw her this past Thanksgiving. And. she. is. back.

She is shining.

Eyes sparkling.

Smile laughing.

Talking 'bout Patsy's kids. Shea, Jason and Josh.

And we're playing tricks on her, answering the phone in another voice like we're in character and then laughing with her 'cause she goes along. She is beautiful, radiant and this Christmas will also be a celebration that she's back.

Gratitude.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

plans

Jeff is or was a planner. He knows or knew exactly how much money it would take to send each of his three children to college. He was and still is in love with a beautiful woman, my cousin Renee.

Renee had a brain tumor. She doesn't anymore.

She had surgery.

I saw her in the recovery room, the very first time I had ever seen anyone change in an instant. Not Renee, she had not changed. Post surgery with a big white gauzed bandage around her head in a room of white and silver, placed center she still glowed. Smiled then chastised us for cutting the girls' trip short, said she might could have come later in the week. She had no idea the death sentence the doctor had just given her.

I told her there could have been no way we could have stayed in Florida without her.

So we chatted, as much chatting as you can do in a sterile environment. And Renee, it appeared, had not changed. A mass had been removed from her brain, there was physical evidence of the aftermath plastered on her head, yet she seemed so the same.

Jeff, on the other hand, had become something else. Not himself.

I can't look now at what that is or what that was and say good or bad. Just that it is. Just that Renee is still alive and laughs and works harder than most anyone I know raising a boy and a set of twin girls and being one of the best teachers in the state of Mississippi, the kind you request for your kid. She continues to be grace and beauty and love walking.

And Jeff does the exact same things as Renee. In fact, I consider them to be an incredible couple. Two people with whom you love to share a dinner or a vacation. Still, they are that. Yet Jeff, the is or was a planner, learned in an instant, a blink of the eye, a momentary cellular shift, that no amount of planning is going to ensure your end results. Sometimes life just throws some shit your way and all you're left with is hope.

But then again hope is better than no hope, huh?

Gratitude.

Friday, December 10, 2010

relax

Hi, you.

I think you need to relax.

I think it's been a hard week.

I think it seemed like everything was going against you.

I think it may have felt like you were being tested on every level.

I want you to be able to do what you like to do.

Sleep all day.

Play video games.

Take as many baths as you would like.

Text your friends.

Play with your dog.

Get food right out of the refrigerator.

'Cause you know, you've worked hard. You deserve it.

Come home, my sweet son.

And anybody else that reads this, I hope for you one day this weekend that you do all those things you work to do.


Connor Alexander of Woodstomp
Southaven Arena

Southaven, MS

Tonight. 7:00pm till midnight.

Bring $3.00 plus an unwrapped toy.

And watch Woodstomp.

Kids get toys and you get fun.





Ahhhhhh, the weekend. Early one for me.

Gratitude.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Modena

I am a bit of a mess scrambling around in a bundle of exposed nerves. I think I am responsible for the enjoyment of about thirty men gathered in a lodge after a paid hunt. Men with large bank accounts. This is not in any way, shape or form comfortable for me. I don't want to be held responsible for their enjoyment. Truth be known they are enjoying themselves and if it wasn't for some type of self torture I would be at home. Yet I am here providing entertainment to one woman.

She is managing generous activity in a room the size of my entire living space. A purple Crown Royal bag is a make-shift doo rag and the loose clothing is draped around her large body. Shoes are an issue since she stands on her feet all day. She always needs shoes. The way she rambles around this kitchen, maintaining at least seven or eight pots, two large ovens and a deep fryer is a remarkable feat. One of those things I'd like to sit with my friends and watch except that would make me some lazy white girl. Opting to not gaze at Cirque Du Soleil I ask if I can help.

She turns and smiles. And giggles.

You can pour those peas in that bowl, she points. Like my Mom she prepares with thought placing the serving pieces out on the island so I do what she says.

She is so calm, so steady.

I finish preparing the peas for show and she tells me I can sit them out on a large table in the dining room.

I do as instructed and am stopped by a couple of men standing in the area. They need something or are just wanting to talk about the place, the hunt. I smile, say as much as I know and quickly return to her through a swinging door that seems to separate heaven and hell for me.

Once again we do our routine with me voicing concerns, when will the quail be done? do we have corn on the cob? One guy asked for it. Are you gonna make some fried pies? I think we'll have a revolt if you don't. A stammering mess.

She turns and smiles. And giggles.

It'll be just fine, Shea. Everything'll be alright, her voice is soft and tender. Never raised, nothing about it denoting authority but everything about it providing a knowing I could never question. One of those people you wanna be. Like my Mom.



I didn't know Modena had died when I asked Willie about her that night we went to Foxfire. I had thought about stopping by her house on my way out to Holly Springs. I am glad now I didn't but I wish I had when she was still alive. My only excuse was I thought she may need shoes and what if I didn't have enough money to buy her some good ones. Truth be known I coulda cut back on the cigarettes and bought her a nice orthopedic pair. I tell myself she would forgive me but sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself so out of duty and complete humility you say a prayer for forgiveness and remember that giggle and that smile and how she said everything would be alright.

Willie recently told me a beautiful story about her and I marvel in the gift of a friendship which entails the knowledge of her. And I think this must be a gift.

Gratitude.

Friday, December 3, 2010

grace

During a recent scientific experiment of which I attempted to find the duration of time it would take for me to fall from the top step of the back entrance to my house down to the concrete floor of my carport, I concluded that the speed of light has nothing on that fall. The fall not only won the race but also sprained the ankle.

I thought it broke the ankle, but that was night before last.

The same night I ended up crawling up those steps after convincing Billy Sue that no, this is not a game where I put myself in a vulnerable position and you get to attack my face. You can't blame her since I had just gotten home from work, taken her out for the calling of nature and was coming back in the house to participate in the Mama's home/playtime thing we do. She thought this was a new version of the same game.

But no, it wasn't.

All I knew for sure is that I couldn't put any weight, pressure or allow a slight wind to blow over my right foot/ankle area so I immediately transformed into a hopping human. One good foot and alone with a dog waiting for me to take another fall. Fun like that should really be saved for the weekend.

Rusty brought crutches (I think everyone needs a friend with crutches handy) and both of us decided that the swelling could go down during the night and it wouldn't maybe hurt to wait before subjecting my ankle, vital information and health insurance to the American medical establishment. Best case scenario would be to wake up and realize it was a bad dream.

But sometimes, I guess, we don't get best case scenarios. We get it could be worse scenarios.

We get a fashionable black boot to hold our foot in place during all those holiday parties.

We get a dreamy ankle doctor. How lucky am I?

We discover our bones were tougher than we thought.

We get to spend the day with a friend who devotes her whole day to getting us to the doctor and making sure we're comfortable.

We are gifted with a visit from our Mom, who makes the four hour drive with food and plans to make life easier for a few days.

Yeah, it could be worse. No doubt 'bout it.

Gratitude.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

now again

I try to count the sounds. A heater is running. There is a hum to the refrigerator. And, of course, it's been mentioned here before, Billy Sue is right behind me snoring. Maybe I hear some type of cricket buzzing and wonder if I have tinnitus. No music right now, maybe later. Right now it is about what I hear.

I then look around. There is much light. The monitor, of course. A small candle to the left of the keyboard, providing some pretty nice lighting, I tell ya'. A tiny green pin of a light is facing me to the left of the monitor. Circles of red lights down the hall to the east, what looks like a flame from a fantastic little electric heater (energy efficient, I tell ya'). Past that is my electronics system, a scary little place for me, wires everywhere, VOIP ~ don't get me started, routers ~ it seems at least two. It's crazy. If any wire comes loose, my whole entire system could come down. We're hanging here, folks, on my technological knowledge. My computer guy is off at college. But, I tell myself, so far so good.

Get back to seeing. Or wait, feeling. It's chilly. I have on Slater's slip ons he left in the laundry room on his last visit so it's cold enough for socks and shoes. But nice. Nice in that a warm cup of coffee is delicious. One sugar (the white stuff) and two creams. The wood desk is quite large and feels welcoming. And, of course, I feel the tips of my fingers tapping away on the keyboard. Tap, tap, tap. It is a decent skill that helps me in my day job. It is quite beautiful.

My mind wanders. Wanders off the page, and I sit in thought. A compulsive type of thinking, thinking of the night job thinking of the day job. Thinking of people in my life. Nice, cool, awesome people. Lucky. I feel very, very lucky.

And if I could sing it, I'd sing this life like she does.



Effie Burt by Shea (I've got to get in touch with Effie). She rocks.

Gratitude.

And, oh yes, I am having a give away. I am giving away ten of my books from shutterfly.com. No, you don't have to leave a comment. They are numbered, and I've already decided who I am giving them to 'cause one day when I'm all big and famous they can sell them for a zillion dollars, or no, they won't 'cause they'll hold them dear to their heart. There were ten. And I wish I had enough money for 100.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

groove

Our groove is 1am. It is when the music is played, when candles are lit. When writing, reading, playing video games, watching movies is done.

Work and school are done during the day.

1am is all out party.

I have said for the longest time we come from a genetic model of nappers, although it obviously skipped some previous generations since they were all very hard workers. Mom and Dad, was I adopted?

So I've wondered about this in regards to me being a parent. Was it right to just follow the regimen, teach the regimen to my child and fall into the line of the American workforce? No. I was taught different 'cause I had night jobs at hospitals. And met others like me.

I tell myself people simply sleep differently, and it's okay 'cause it takes all of us and all hours of the day to turn the wheel. And there is no right or wrong in this case, only what is. And it's nice not to judge something for good or bad or right or wrong. To say simply, It is.

Tonight it is groovin' to Ugly Casanova's Wave Goodbye from the 180 South soundtrack. More great picks from 2010.



Bob by Angie




Remember Bob?
Bob says, Remember summer?












Gratitude.










Monday, November 29, 2010

today



Back to work we go.

Gratitude.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

now

Now is a candle on my desk. A small flame down a cave of wax. The lights are off. Slater is here. There's sounds coming from a television in a new bedroom, new for me anyway. He is on the couch with his laptop playing games with people from all over the world. I like to think that at least a certain amount of online gaming has decreased the world's size.

Yes, I know bad messages, killing, sneaking, stealing, language, smack talk and on and on.

Maybe he needs to learn what is bad and good from me, and maybe he needs to see a little bad to know what is good. Like bad language. He will never hear anything on that game he doesn't hear from me. Potty mouth you could say. Like a Sailor (I always picture a guy in the Navy and aren't those good guys?). I think it is just a bit of the rebellious nature in me that owns those words. I like to view their power, laugh at it and then go on with my day.

Slater and I have had the swear word discussion. When he came to me about the same time I went to my Mom, around ten years old, I pretty much explained just as my Mom had.

Shelia Brady had said fuck in the fifth grade playground. I was putting on a performance of Xanadu (yes, I was the director, the female lead and I handed out everyone else's parts). Shelia Brady wanted to be the star and I had to explain to her, no, I am. What a dick I was. So justifiably Sheila Brady walked away from the production, which was only being produced during playtime anyway.

She walked across the softball field, turned back and looked at me and mouthed the words,

Fuck you.

I had never heard that word before in my life. What was that?

Looking back now it was something I deserved.

That evening the way my Mom explained it to me was, Shea, there are words you should not say.

To this I replied, Did God say not to say them? Is it in the Bible?

Well, no. It's just that people will think less of you if you say them.

I think my general thought established in that moment was, Fuck 'em.

And that's how I explained it to Slater. I said for me there were just times when it was okay and those times were when I was around people who knew me and knew those words did not contain the man made power some people gave them. I just told him there were people he couldn't say that word around.

Being a better parent was something I always struggled with, something that kept me trying to be a better parent. Here's where both Rick and Slater say, "Try not. Be."

But here's my argument to them. The debate I have with each of them.

What if try made me be?

Billy Sue is on her bed behind me. She is snoring.

Gratitude.


For those of you who have complained these have been too short lately I will try harder to make them longer. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

jam


WOODSTOMP

Friday, November 26th

8:30pm

Windy City Grille

Hernando, MS

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

collide

So I think he gets mad at himself 'cause in a flash of an instant he realizes you've been somewhere else. And yes, maybe he should already know that. You were. You were somewhere else. But he's been needing to tell someone stories, and he hasn't had anyone but the three dogs. And yes, they listen like crazy but they are no substitute for you. So right when you walk in the door he's trying to tell you a crazy story and you've just been dealing with a lotta craziness somewhere else and the two collide at the door.

That's when you do what you've always done, you go to your corners, work it out in your heads and meet later, over forty years later.

That's at least one of the reasons I'm glad I know you two 'cause you showed me how to come back and meet.

Gratitude.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

personal

I figure we can get personal.

My favorite moment is with my dog when we can sit outside and watch the wind blow the trees but not so bad as to make the acorns fall. When the light from a lamppost out back shines against the leaves. A black sky with what seems like millions of fireflies millions of miles away.

And the music is distant back in the kitchen behind the rustle of leaves and the faint song of the rare cricket, the one that just won't stop, is heard.

It is good.

This is it. This is gratitude.

fancy

I think this may be called flights of fancy. Or let's say you and me, we call it that.

Was it yesterday I made a commitment to now? I think we're at the time of year where we can't help but look back. Maybe we were trained by all those commercials saying the best music of whatever year or decade. And wait, we're actually leaving a decade, aren't we. And yes, I know that by even writing this I am going against the resolution of now but like any other time I desire to do something I've told myself I shouldn't do, I always start by saying fuckit.

So fuckit.

And thank you, 2010.

You rocked with music provided by Woodstomp, The Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Rabbit, Flogging Molly and surely there were more, yes there were, but you come first to my mind. Thank you.

You were all about some good movies that although they may not have been made in your year, they provided a particularly nice theme. Flicks such as King of Kong and Shawshank Redemption go down as your two top movies and The Office will remain the bright shining star of comedy television watched on the business of the year, Netflix. Yeah. Go Netflix.

The friends you brought into my life, returned to my life, maintained in my life were and still are completely amazing. Um, well, how do I say thank you for them? Yeah, well, thank you.

So I think you and me, we are on the same page 'cause of that guy, ya' know the one that graduated high school during your year. The 2010 Senior? The one that got into the University of Mississippi for prepharmacy 'cause he's brilliant. Him. Well, as you know, that guy and I, we won't be forgetting you soon. We have been happy to share you. Thank you.

And, well, how 'bout the blogging? Yeah, you brought that back into my life. Nice. I like it. Love it. Thank you.

Speaking of blogs. My 2010 list says Sarah, Michelle, Dooce and Pacing the Panic Room provided the storyboard for lives outside of myself. Beautiful lives. Without these four people I would be Tom Hanks in Castaway with a volleyball named Wilson. Thank you.

Yeah so you know my volleyball is an English Bulldog named Billy Sue. And she is all that. All here. She reminds me of now. Thank you for her.

Places of the year? Home and The Como Courtyard and Perdido Key, FL and anywhere Woodstomp is playing. Cool places. Thank you.

And my job, you know how I work with family and how important that is to me. Thank you.

Yes, certainly last but not least, is family. You know who they are. I've listed them here time and time again. Those names peppering the last few months as I started writing my way through life. If I were to name a theme for you, 2010, I would say it is family. And my heart swells with absolute gratitude. The kind that makes you catch your breath, feel a heaviness in your chest, your upper arms, your shoulders, your neck and you think, Thank you.

I know it's early, but I couldn't wait to say it.

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving, my most favorite of all holidays ever thought up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

con

He finds this spot of which I had only read about in articles. Back when I read articles in magazines. A long time ago, another girl ago. Anyway, he finds it and it is miraculous, a surge of the most intense feeling of peace and love and happiness that I think this is it. This is world peace. If everyone in the world could feel this then it is world peace.

And he says he found that by study.

And I say no, it was a miracle.





And, I don't know, but I'm saying why not? why can't it just be a miracle? Give me that, damnit.

Gratitude.

Friday, November 19, 2010

boy

Two people have commented on photos they've seen in the past two weeks, Oh my gosh, Shea. Slater is a man.

And another two people have stated on two separate occasions, Shea, he's only going to be nineteen. He seems so much older. To which I reply, He was always the older one of us two.

I don't know how to describe to you what that feels like, especially when you look at the pictures and realize it's true. He is a man.

Yet I struggle with the pull of my heart which says he'll always be my boy.

Like you know you would go to the outermost lengths of the universe, fight dragons, battle beings from another planet, shoot down enemy airplanes, cross great rivers, stand in the name of something for this guy. This kid. He's always going to be my kid.

And I don't know how to thank him enough. There are no words to describe my gratitude for what he teaches me, still teaches me, about life and love and happiness and beauty and determination and perseverance and forgiveness and respect and kindness and it's insane. How much I love him.

Here's to now, November 19, 1991.

Here's to nineteen year old Slater Goff, young man, my boy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

pictures

So I've entered a contest. An all out photographic competition. Stiff, fierce competitors.

It is given by a woman I read everyday, or at least check on every day. If you want to enter it, just go here. But please notice I've waited till now to tell you 'cause YOU could beat me, and I had to get a headstart.

If you like photography the reason I recommend this to you is that it makes you start looking at your pictures more closely. Why do I like that picture? What is it about this picture that draws me?  are questions you'll be asking yourself. And you'll have to answer back. I think it is the lines right here. I like the light in this one. And you realize that you haven't gotten that picture of your Mom yet. You know the one, the one that shows her.

So you think, Hey Mom, how 'bout during Thanksgiving we have a photo shoot. I think I know how I want to shoot you. Low light. Outside, on the back porch. You wear whatever you want. And we have a conversation which turns into a story and is documented by that photo. What da' ya' say, Mom?

Dear Reader,

Tomorrow is this one's birthday. Oh.Good. Gosh.


Gratitude.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

pros

I love the way he says Shea.

And how he used to call me Sugar, like in that slow Southern let's make us some more syllables way.

The deep in space talks we have.

His need to always be right. And our struggle with that issue since I need that too.

I love how he treats me like an equal and respects my thoughts and wishes.

I love that he would take a yoga class with me.

That he would insist I eat better and it would be. I almost would since I would be eating with him.

I love that he would discourage bad habits because he loves me not because he wants to control me or change me.

He says it will be a lot of work. And I still hold onto something that says, No, it will be like floating on a cloud.

Then I tell myself, Samsara is Nirvana.

The beauty is there in all of that diligent work.

Gratitude.

Monday, November 15, 2010

foxfire

I pick up Willie at the Big Star in Holly Springs. He is donning a hat which will forever be a signature for him in my mind. That and of course the camera gear. His is compact and organized as his physique. He's thin and wearing slacks and a nice sweater. I don't look at his shoes but assume they are of the dress type. Willie presents himself well and sports a smile speaking kindness.

He had mentioned Foxfire Ranch when I met him at the Rendezvous. A couple, he said, had opened up their cattle and horse ranch to different musicians and their fans on Sunday nights. He explained it was in between Holly Springs and Oxford, a community by the name of Waterford, and they were talking of completing their season toward the end of November. That I should check it out. And, of course, I wanted to. Music draws me places but I must admit that even more than that I was pulled by the question Who does that? Who are the people opening their space to strangers?

Willie and I make the drive from Holly Springs to Foxfire in what seems like only moments since neither one of us can get a word in edgewise from the other one talking. I think it's a symptom of photography that you're always trying to say something, always trying to tell somebody something, a story perhaps. Willie and I are just trying to tell each other stories the whole way out there. Until we pull up to the driveway.

It is dark but the house is lit up. The dirt driveway curves into the land on the right, down and up to a, ummmm, a what do you call that? Willie, OH. MY. GOSH. Who has this place?

He gives me names, a couple in their retirement, him from the Army and she from the University, have built this enormous, gargantuan outdoor covered arena on their land. They share it. They bring in musicians and provide entertainment every Sunday evening.

I stop talking, listen to where Willie tells me to park and get out of the car. I grab the camera gear, Willie grabs his and we walk up to the place.

She knows Willie and welcomes him like homefolk. And although she doesn't know me I get the same type of greeting. She is behind a large concession area multitasking, telling the story of Foxfire to a young man who I can only assume is interviewing her for an article. I hear what she is saying. She is talking of her love of music and how it only made sense that she combine their place with what she loves. The Blues.

I look at Willie and whisper a wow.

He smiles.

I shake her hand, tell her I am amazed by her place, sign her guestbook and walk into a room on the left built for nights with less of a crowd and more of a need for warmth. A large room with tables and seating. It feels like home and everyone in the room seems like family. The band is at the far right and there is a woman belting out respect like all the rest of us do in our cars when Aretha is singing it. Except there is one difference, if I could sing it with the voice she does I'd never say or write a word. I'd just sing everything.

Willie and I find a table in the middle of the room, set our gear down and start moving in different directions. He is setting up video on a tripod in one corner, and I am going from one space to another trying to capture what this is.

The band. The dancing. The smiles. The people.

The where have I been?

It feels like worship. Like a true Sunday service. Like joy. Like gratitude.

I can't do it. I cannot provide you with a photograph that shows you the dream these two people, this couple had. This dream that with hard work and diligence became a place. A place which makes strangers feel at home so it seems for at least one moment there is no such word as strangers.

All I can tell you is that this weekend, Sunday November 21st, is their last show of the season. Robert Belfour will be there at 70 years old to give us a taste of a life steeped in Hill Country Blues.

It only cost $10.

And she'll cook you up a good, hearty meal for cheap.

He'll be walking around making sure you feel welcome.

I'll be shooting, trying to improve over last time.

Slater'll be there.

Willie too.

Maybe Charlie.

Hopefully Rusty and Rebecca.

Maybe Connor and Cannon.

How 'bout it, D?

Come on, Kim. You'll love it!

I hope you'll be there. All of you. So you can see for yourself what type of generosity this is 'cause I can't even explain it.

Need directions? Just email me at sheagoff@gmail.com .

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Willie



It was preshow at the Rendezvous. I had scoured the place and photographed every inanimate object I could find, attempting to animate them. Cannon and I were out front, enjoying the cool air, wagering on absurdity when Willie walked by. I noticed the camera around his neck and said, Hey.

I think I startled him.

He seemed to be in a hurry but stopped and looked as if to say, Okay.

I see you have a camera. What is it? And, hey, look at mine. Well it's not mine, it's really my sister's but I'm getting to know it before I get one.

That is how I met Willie, and it is funny now to think about it. Consider how happenstance it seemed and how instantaneous it was 'cause from that moment forward Willie became my teacher, my mentor.

Willie Wilkinson is a sociologist. He is an anthropologist. He is an archaeologist, a philosopher. He is a reporter with well over 10,000 hours of study. He is a master photographer. He is a quite powerful videographer. His archived work is envied by the Smithsonian.

And I'm one damn lucky girl.

Because one of the most awesome things about Willie, which contributes to him being all those things above, is his generosity of spirit. He is a host of the South, a historian of Hill Country Blues and a grand purveyor of people.

And me? I didn't know what the hell I was doing. The lighting was dark and spots of light swam around the room, movement was fast, there was such music and celebration, distractions EVERYWHERE, all I could do was pray, meditate and shoot. Shoot as much as I possibly could since there was so much to shoot.

But Willie slowed me down. He told me what to focus on. He introduced me to Angie's camera. He told me where to put my hands on the camera. He said, Get on up there. Shoot the crowd. Get Duwayne. Get Little Joe. Get this. Get that. The whole time he was taking care of me he was also manning at least three cameras himself with tripods set in different areas of the room. The Italians were there. The Dutch. All with cameras but Willie took time teaching me.

And he became my friend.

And I'm living in gratitude.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

gig


WOODSTOMP

Huey's in Southaven, MS

11/14/10

7:30pm



What is it that Charlie says?

Come shake it like ya' back ain't got no bone.

human


I guess the question always comes down to what we want. In the most simplest of forms it is where we want to be. By increasing our choices it could be we dwindled our freedoms while becoming trapped in our own minds. The only thing we really know is that nothing truly matters yet everything is incredibly important.

Emily once said, When I was young I used to have to get all made up just to go to the store. The hair had to be perfect. Make-up just right. And I'd look at other people and think, why'd they just let themselves go?

I smiled. I think it's just what they let go, what is left is themselves which must mean they're clinging to something. 'Cause if you let go of everything, every fear, every expectation, every judgement toward yourself and others.....well, hell that'd be just damn scary.

I mean, we're human. We have to cling to something, right?

Gratitude.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

miracles

I call my Dad the other night. Mom has gone to Jackson, bright lights big city. It is dark and I know the sun going down will bring him inside. I also know that the phone conversation will be exquisite, rare, bursting with universal secrets, simple and profound all at the same time. Or maybe I don't know nothing.

Anyway, he doesn't answer the phone so I leave my voice on the answering machine, Daddy, I know you're screening your calls. I know you saw it was me, and you better pick up the phone. Then a quick hang up.

About ten minutes later there he is. Calling me back.

I answer the phone with, Uh huh, you wanted it to be Josh, didn't you?

No, Boog. I was outside, don't tell your mama but I was smoking me a cigar.

Sorry, Daddy. Mama now knows.

You having a baby, Daddy?

No, Boog. Why would ja' ask me that?

Cause you're smoking a cigar. I thought people did that when they had babies.

He laughs, a laugh which tickles your eardrums. He really does giggle like that four year old boy.

No, Boog. I was just sitting outside doing what you and I do. Looking up at the stars. Ya' know, just enjoying what I got.

Oh Daddy, I do know. That's good.

Yeah, Boog. Ya' know what I was thinking?

What were you thinking?

I was thinking that I don't know nothing.

I think that all the time, Daddy. Ya' know how as soon as you think you know something then life goes and tells you something else. Always at the end of that I think, Well hell, I don't know nothing.

Yeah, like that, Boog.

Then I tell him you better get in the shower 'cause Mom called me and she's about thirty minutes away. You better straighten your act up, Daddy. She could smell that cigar. Just don't make it a habit. Or do, I don't care.

And he laughs again. THE laugh.

It tickles me so I laugh too.

Then we do the I Love Yous and say Bye and Goodnight.

And all I can think is gratitude.

In less than a week Sarah will be making a similar but different call to Donnie. I think about her and say her name out loud at least once a day 'cause I think energy moves and somehow she's getting it.

And today is Rusty's birthday. I've decided that to truly call yourself a writer, which I guess I now kinda do, is to give your friends stories for their birthday. A story custom made for them. And, well, Rusty loves Bobby stories so Happy Birthday, Rusty. No, you're not getting a cake.

To the rest of you, beautiful you, friends, family, anyone who reads what I write.

Slater
Mom
Dad
Rick
Ellen
Kim
Pam
Angie
D (thanks for the help, D)
Willie (ditto)
Susie
Josh
Priscilla
Jason
Madalyn
Charlie
Shenna
Rebecca
Michelle
And you, you who I don't maybe know your name. Thank you. I'm smoking a cigar.

Not literally, Mama.

Thank you. For you, I have a story coming up called, I know a Cat named Way Out Willie.*
*Ken Russell. Johnny Otis.

Monday, November 8, 2010

writing

Sometimes the writing doesn't come, and sometimes it comes all at once. During the all at once at times I am comforted by Bill Murray playing Hunter S. Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam.

""



Monday.


Gratitude.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

love


The place was ol' Willie Faulkner's homestead, Rowan Oak. It was an impromptu visit. A phone call, things thrown about, teeth brushed, camera battery charged, a questioning look from Billy Sue and then her excitement at the signs of a road trip.

I didn't have much time. Slater said yes, it was 3:30 in the afternoon, there was at least an hour drive ahead of me and well, you know, the sun. Timing. I didn't fret. Rather I stopped by the gas station, bought a coffee, ibuprofen and two packs of cigarettes, looked at the cashier and said I think this may be the perfect convenience store purchase. I wish I had brought in my camera. He chuckled but I ASSUMED he had his hand on some type of red button to push and call the paddy wagon 'cause hey, this bitch wants to take a picture of her purchase. So no picture, no paddy wagon. And yes, I assumed something. Damn it.

No, I didn't realize that the University of Mississippi was having their homecoming football game and the only way I knew to get to Slater's dorm was blocked. How dare they? So I stuck my head out the window and asked the two guys making some type of hand motions telling me to turn 'cause I didn't have a fancy sticker on my car, Hey, if I can't go this way how am I gonna get to my son's dorm?

You're gonna have to go that way. One of the nice men said while pointing in a general direction as if to say, Go East. Do people not know I am spatially challenged? Yet I didn't fret. Rather I looked at Billy Sue and said, We can do it. We'll go that way.

We did. We got there with a few minutes to spare.

People walked by the car as we waited and Billy Sue posed for their photographs until, that is, she saw Slater and Shelby. She had no idea that's where we were going. And everything about her smiled just as big as Slater smiled when he was walking up to her. Oh, sweet moments. Not captured by photography but definitely stored in the heart. Beautiful.

Anyway, we finally made it out to Rowan Oak after taking a few Mama may be lost detours.

With a short span of natural light what I felt was captured was young love. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? When you can't keep your hands off each other, those soulful looks, the nods, the playfulness.

How do I introduce these people?

He's my love.

He's her love.

She's his love.

So she's my love.

Slater and Shelby.

Gratitude.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

day

This is Saturday.

I can't even begin to describe to you all the assumptions I made on Friday because I don't want to simply type all day.

And it seriously would take me the entire day.

So I am saying this is a new day,

a whole brand spanking new,

shiny 24 hours.

A day without assumption.

Do you think I can do it?

Go one whole day without making one single assumption?

It sounds hard to me,

but I am going to try,

or wait,

just BE,

'cause it's Saturday.

Beautiful, beautiful Saturday.




Gratitude.

Friday, November 5, 2010

rockin'

I had a friend once tell me he liked Keanu Reeves even though he knew it wasn't cool to like Keanu Reeves. And that he wasn't going to be ashamed to admit it. For him Bill and Ted had been a fond memory and The Matrix overshadowed any seemingly less acting attempts.

I think I get it. I mean, seriously, I am a child of the eighties. I utilized the staying power of Aquanet to get my hair just the right height. Now I even wonder who that girl was and how many years she took off my life with those fumes. But I guess what I am trying to tell you is there are certain tunes from that decade which will forever, throughout all infinity, conjure up particular emotions in me.

Ya' know, music which makes you want to stuff a backpack with essentials, fill up the car with gas and say the hell with it. Bad attitude, I know, but I am not going to be ashamed to admit it.

Dude, the HAIR.

'>http://
I was going to embed the official video but couldn't stop laughing.

Sweet laughter.
Friday RULZZZZ.

Gratitude.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

mastery

Little Joe Ayers and Duwayne Burnside

In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell proposes it takes 10,000 hours of practice in order to master a skill. I wonder how many hours these men have.

I'm saying at least 10,000.

Gratitude.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

grapes

I mentioned back in these proverbial pages there were four books in my forty year history which had made my Four Greatest Books list. I could never rank them other than to say they stand alone, each being the greatest if I am talking about them or just remembering them.

It has been at least four years since I read Lonesome Dove, or maybe two or three. I don't know, but it kinda feels like it was forever ago. I miss them. I miss Gus and Call and Deet and Newt and Pea Eye and Lorena and Clara and yeah, I'll say Jake but he pissed me off several times. The thing is that McMurtry blew me away. He made me fall in love over and over again. Yet he spoiled me as well. I couldn't enjoy a book for a while after that one. It was as if any other writer was going to piss me off because I knew I wouldn't find Gus in their work. And I wanted to find Gus. I didn't want him to leave.

Yes, there are other books in the series. I could have delved into their past, went on another adventure with them but McMurtry had clearly pissed me off by taking Gus away. And when I attempted to watch the mini series I had to turn it off after two minutes 'cause those weren't the people I had loved in my head.

It almost sounds as if I am not recommending it. Hey, you! Read this book. It'll piss you off.

But I am. I am saying that there is a certain spirit in people, something so true and beautiful, that you must risk the tragedy of losing them in order to gain the knowledge of their existence if only in the pages of a book. And what if they rub off on you a bit? How bad would it be to pattern your integrity by that of Call or feel love and loyalty like that of Gus? To know the determination of Lorena and Clara? Possess a sense of duty equal to that found in Deet and Pea Eye?

I guess I could have done worse that summer for my vacation read, because it must be like Gus carved in the sign for the Hat Creek Cattle Company.

A grape is changed by living with other grapes.
Loosely translated Latin, I know.

Those characters were some pretty good grapes in my book.

Gratitude.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

change

It is happening naturally. A change. The nights are getting cold, not outrageously cold, just enough for me to question my sanity in regards to being stubborn about turning on the heat.I usually wait till I can see my breath before I turn on the heat.



Two more weeks. Friday, November 12th is my goal date, but Billy Sue has at times thought she would call the gas company, tell them to light the pilot cause she was turning that thing on. I tell her to be tough 'cause if she can make it through this short period of change, where she adjusts, then it's not so bad.





Once you turn that thing on you get downright spoiled.






Which leads me to my story.


I went home Saturday. Home is four hours south toward the ocean. It is a stop with red clay banks, enough pine to make you a living and some of the best people in the world. Beautiful, in fact.


But I didn't get there till about 6pm 'cause I didn't leave till about 2pm 'cause hell, it was Saturday and sometimes I enjoy having the opportunity to go back to bed. So that's what I did and that meant that my Daddy was standing up at the top of the driveway, or hill may we say, with his new Pit Bull, Ruby, sitting on the ground at his feet.


Backstory to say Ruby picked Daddy. About three weeks ago. On a dirt road where she was walking all beat up and battered Daddy had stopped 'cause hell, she had a collar on, she was somebody's dog and it wouldn't be right if somebody was missing their dog and here Daddy could look at the collar, give the guy a call and take him his dog.


But when Daddy got out of that truck he soon realized that the pit bull was a bit timid and didn't want him getting anywhere near her. What she did was run around Daddy and hop in the cab of the truck of which he had left the driver's door open. Daddy has a double cab so Ruby got in the backseat and stared at him. Whenever he told her that she needed to get outta the truck she responded in a low growl. So Daddy did what any sensible human would do in that situation, he got in the driver's seat and drove on home with Ruby seeming satisfied in her new ride.


I guess the big problem is Daddy already had two girlfriends at home, Susie and Josie. Black strays who have made their peace with each other and seemed to understand they had a good darn life with Patsy and Bobby. That is until Ruby drove up with Dad.


She has now made her claim to him after explaining to the other two girls she is the Alpha. Oh wait, excuse me, ALPHA. She is one bad ass dog. We all have dogs.





This is Annie, Josh and Priscilla's baby.








This is Susie, my baby. Bobby and Patsy's grandchild who got sent to the country 'cause she kept getting arrested in town. We have no idea how old she is, just that she's been around a long time.


Josie is not pictured 'cause she's a bit pissed and not as visible as she used to be. She was Daddy's main girlfriend and now Ruby is. Josie is finding that a bit hard to swallow.



Anyway, when I drive up at 6pm Daddy and his new girlfriend, Ruby, are waiting at the top of the driveway. His arms are crossed, toothpick in his mouth, solid stance with Ruby at his feet. They're both staring at my car. He's got this smirk on his face I recognize, and I already start talking to Billy Sue who has been so excited to be on a trip she hadn't sat down the entire ride.



I park, look Billy Sue in the eyes and say, Billy Sue, straight to the back porch gate. You understand me? Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not even look anywhere but at the gate. Beeline. Do you understand me?



You're seriously not going to believe this. Billy Sue looked at me and pretty much said, yes. Evidenced by the fact that when we got outta that car we both took off, not so much running say, but maybe rapidly walking the twenty or so feet to safety.



That's when Daddy started laughing, giggling like a four year old boy on Christmas morning playing with a toy he's wished for all year long.



And me and Billy Sue almost make it. We get so close, almost within five feet of the gate before Daddy gets his breath long enough to say one word. One word and not even loudly. Just a normal toned, Catch.



I hear him say it. My mind screams that no which starts like a ringing in your ears and gradually explodes into an outward, expansive, NO. STOP. DADDY! GET HER! GET HER!



I'm trying not to look but can't help myself 'cause I need to know if my dog needs me but I don't want to stick my arm down in a dog fight and I know I'm gonna have to if Billy Sue is bleeding, damn it. Damn Daddy.



So I finally look down and focus, the whole time screaming 'cause I think that maybe ole' Ruby hadn't ever heard a woman scream like that before and I could at least shock her into not killing Billy Sue. Daddy is running up to where we are, still laughing. I swear. We both at the same time look down to find Ruby directly on top of Billy Sue. Just standing there like, Look. I caught her.



Billy Sue ain't hearing of it. She's pissed so she's turning around wanting to kick some ass, but Ruby couldn't care less. He just told her to catch so she has caught. I am totally grateful and respectful of the fact she didn't kill my dog. She could have.



Daddy, out of breath from laughter then says, Come on, Ruby. And she turns and goes to him. I quickly open the backyard gate for Billy Sue, the only dog who ever gets to stay on Mama's back porch. Ruby immediately goes and jumps in the passenger seat of my car, and Daddy tells me I better not stick my hand in there.



That's when I walk up to my car, look at Ruby, she looks at me and I tell her, I guess you're going home with me now. Don't bite my hand off. Then I reach in there and get my cigarettes saying to Daddy, That was just mean. I hug him, give him a kiss on the cheek and walk in to see Mom. Of course, my intention is to tell on Daddy.



She's preparing my favorite meal, fried salmon patties, dried butterbeans and cornbread. I smell it when I walk in the door so I immediately hug her when I get to the kitchen while making my case, Do you know what Daddy just did? Did you hear all that? He put Ruby on me and Billy Sue. Told her to 'Catch'.



To which she smiles and replies, Welcome home, Shea.



And we both kinda giggle.






Gratitude.

Friday, October 29, 2010

men

Michelle wrote a post this week which made me keep coming back, had me print it off a couple of times and suggest it as reading to a few friends. I can say nothing her readers don't already know about her writing. She is obviously skilled and has an extraordinary talent for a closing sentence. Yet it is the content of her work which most draws me to her site.

A piece this week delved into the perspective of her friend Hank's poem entitled You're Not a Man, You're My Friend. And it got me to wondering or better yet obsessing.

Why?

Because I love men. There are so many things I love about men but even as I write that and think about all the men I love in my life I realize that the things I love about them don't necessarily make them a man. Those attributes seem to simply make them a human with whom I find an incredible connection.

My first love would have to be my sweet Daddy, and I LOVE the way he tells a story, works like an ox and feels a sense of obligation and loyalty to his family and friends. But none of those things make him a man.

I love my brother Josh mostly for his incredible humor. The boy will make you laugh until you are begging him, pleading for your life because you can't catch your fucking breath. You just have to put your hand up in some type of please stop signal and then he finally shuts up and smiles as if to say I coulda killed you if I had wanted to. But that doesn't make him a man.

I love my brother Jason's sense of right and wrong. His clear, rational head. I love his knowledge of the land and affection for his family. I love that he's a poser which makes all the high school students where he teaches call him Sexy Miller instead of Mr. Miller. Still I don't think any of those things make him a man.

I love Rusty for his physical comedy, his honesty and persistent optimism. Again, not attributes only ascribed to men.

I love Chuck's intelligence and quirkiness. Yeah, I know women like that as well.

I love how Cannon is so wonderfully open with the world, simply giving and receiving love of a sweet and pure nature whenever he is able. Girls can do that too.

I love Ben and Charlie's aloofness, sense of family and ability to intelligently explore ideas. Yes, yes, I know, you've got it. We all know women like that.

I love D's honesty and creativity. His love of music and ability to take an ordinary object and turn it into art. I love how he loves his kids, his dedication to cycling and his competitive nature. Women? Yep.

So after Michelle's piece I started interviewing men and women. The ones nearby. I had them read the writing (yes, I am blessed with friends who will stop what they're doing, take time out of their own lives and allow me to give them directives) and then talk about it with me.

It was amazing.

I was shocked.

Michelle and Hank were right.

The men, for the most part, agreed. Other than those women in their lives with whom they shared some type of genetic bond they found it difficult to be friends with a woman unless they were sexually attracted to them. There were exceptions in my small study, but, for the most part, the men said they didn't need any women friends.

So I asked Rick, Do you think in the evolution of humans men will eventually lose their penis and our species will need to be artificially inseminated in order to propagate? I mean seriously, Rick, does it get in the way that much? Just the fact he still professes to love me after what could be considered a castration discussion means he's planning on sticking around another twenty-four hours.

The women? You guessed it. The majority eagerly revealed they had men in their lives with whom they had never thought of in a sexual way but had found to be a beautiful friend who seemed to play a crucial role in them becoming who they were. Lifelong friends.

So it makes me laugh to think the last Halloween costume I ever wore was when I was twenty years old. I sold plasma that day in order to have beer money (not advised). The homemade costume turned me into a green crayon. The poster board I used made sure there were no curves revealed. Definitely non gender specific.

Because I am a woman who loves men for all different reasons.

Gone home this weekend to spend some time with those familial men who I am proud to consider some of my closest friends as well.

Gratitude.

story


Characters

Her
A strong, independent, intelligent woman with an entrepreneurial spirit from which this great country was built. Confident, fearless, beautiful example of what true grit and determination can do. The only female in the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues area with the amount and quality of equipment to provide the amplification of a sound characteristic to a people. Business leader who if needed will fight to maintain her level of sophistication.



Me: Chic with borrowed camera.










Why yes, I'll be glad to pose for a photograph.



What did you just say?




Oh NO. I know you didn't just say that!



You've got to be kidding me.



Girl, you better be glad you're with the band.


Grateful to have met this woman if only for an instant.
Grateful for my life.
Grateful for Friday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

holiday

I wish I could get into Halloween. I wish I could love it like some people do. Priscilla loves it. Michelle loves it. The only reason I ever got dressed up was either because as a kid it would get me loads of candy or as a college student it seemed to be required at the party.



But then again the only holidays I take any pleasure in are Thanksgiving and my birthday. Bet you didn't know my birthday was a holiday, did you? It's my holiday, and in my book your birthday is your holiday.



Today was Shenna's birthday.



As far as personal holidays go she would have definitely chosen a regular old day. I hate that. I want Shenna to have a birthday the size of Texas with fireworks that make the inauguration look like child's play. She deserves it, not any more than you or me mind you, but she deserves it just as much.



She walked in looking good. Smiling, laughing, joking. A certain gleam in her eye, a pep to her step, and within a couple of hours life had given her a short series of gut jabs to which she became those great before and after beauty ads but only in reverse.



And it is so quick when it happens, like how fast the sun sets in Florida, light to dark. And you feel her darkness because you loved her light. Plus, damn it, it was her own holiday and you shot a bottle rocket.


So the only way I know to get from where that was today to right here, right now is to say we made it through it, nobody died, no bleeding, and tomorrow is a new chance. Not a holiday. And maybe some holidays just don't live up to the expectations we give them.

Plus Slater is here, in brown scrubs, eating barbecue and laughing at me right now.

Sweet, sweet gratitude.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

well, well, well

I'm nervous, an anxiety I am fighting because I just sat in the driver's seat of an unfamiliar car beside a stranger. For all practical purposes he is a stranger. Other than earlier in the night when he sat down on a wood chair, front center of a concrete floor and filled a room full of more life than I've seen in one small space since walking into Junior Kimbrough's place many years ago. The old place on Highway 4 that burned down.

I only went there twice but tonight I have been reminded of what going to a real juke joint is. Tonight I am at the Rendezvous in Holly Springs, MS. It is 1am on a Saturday morning, and I'm in a dimly lit parking lot seated beside a legend in his car.

My Daddy would not approve. I don't necessarily like to do things my Daddy would not approve of, but let me tell you, if he had met Little Joe Ayers tonight like I did then he would want to be in that car with him, beer in hand, listening.

Although Little Joe and I have never said as much as a word to each other before five minutes ago I have assessed this man as an upstanding member of our humanity. Don't get me wrong, I still at times doubt my own judgements. We hear stories all the time of women who put themselves in places where they trust someone only to find out that maybe they shouldn't have trusted afterwards. But I'm living right now and living involves trust.

So here I am next to Little Joe. Angie's camera bag and camera around my neck. I have already shot over 800 pictures, and I can't help but feel a little sad that there is no way I have enough photographic talent to get a shot in this car. You know, a shot showing what this is.

Little Joe has a fine car. Don't ask me make or model. All I can tell you is that it is clean like my Papaw's Silver Streak and he's most likely my Papaw's age if that fine man was alive today. In this sweet, sweet familiarity I place my fingers in the shiny wood grooves of the steering wheel, breathe and listen.

I want to listen like Connor listens, cause I know what Joe has to say is important.

So I tell him the first time I ever experienced the Blues was when I walked into Junior's place and he smiles. One of the most beautiful smiles you'll ever or never see. I hope I caught it on film, but I don't know if you can catch that on film. And I don't have it on audio, but I wish you could hear his raspy voice as he chuckles and tells me These younguns don't play it like we used to. I can play you some. I got one of my guitars right here.

This is when he reaches behind me and pulls back a polished green guitar. It is an impressive instrument.

I can't even tell you how graceful he was doing it, like he had practiced that move a million times. I would have knocked both him and me upside the head trying to get that guitar from the back to the front. He didn't even so much as graze me.

In order to get us where we need to be he begins a story about his son, about a night when his boy who plays in a white blues band was riding back from a gig in the Delta and how the car got out of control and how it flipped at least four times and killed the driver. How his son had heard his friend's, fellow band member's, last gasp. One last gasp, that's all he heard.

Then Little Joe plays. He starts strumming his guitar with his fingers and it is both the sweetest and saddest music I have ever heard. I look at Joe, then out the windshield into the parking lot. He starts singing with that guitar. I watch the scene, the people, the faces, the laughter. I feel safe, warm, connected. Honored.

Joe and I sit in that car for at least an hour. He tells me how he began driving a bulldozer at 12 years old. And he was a good bulldozer driver. People were amazed at what he could do, and he could make three dollars a day, fifteen a week. That was good money back then, and, like my Daddy, ain't no amount of work ever scared him.

He bought his first guitar from his uncle with money he made driving that bulldozer. His uncle never went to church, and Little Joe would skip Sunday school to watch that man sip moonshine and play guitar on the porch. In fact, when Joe made the deal for the guitar his uncle questioned how fast he was able to get the $4, and Joe's Mama and Daddy were there to explain that Joe worked for his money.

He retired years back from bulldozing and working for the school district, a good state retirement. His wife passed on a couple of years ago, and he lives alone not having the fun he used to before when he was drinking and smoking.

I tell him he's a sweetheart, and he tells me he's too old to be a sweetheart but he sure does remember those days when he and Junior used to ride around the square in Holly Springs picking up women. How he had a guy, who did signs, paint on the sides of his car If you smoke cigarettes put your butts in these seats.

Again he laughs. Laughs at me, at the memories, at the work, at himself. And he plays me another blues song. Serenades me. And I don't know what I could have done in my life to deserve this, I couldn't have done enough, yet here I am in this moment filled with complete gratitude.


There ya' go, my sweet Slater.