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.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

listen

normal

I once had a guy tell me, I'm just a normal guy.

Part of me thinks it's a great break up line. No I'll call you or It's me. Simply a nice, little I'm just a normal guy. Thank you. I guess that's supposed to make me not like you. You being a normal guy and all.

You could say this is sad. It's sad because my first thought, not actually said, response was, Oh, you just think you're a normal guy. You're not normal. You are incredible. Beautiful, in fact. I think you hung my moon and rocked the world. How'd you get so good? I think I want to hold onto you like that big, abominable snowman held onto Bugs Bunny and called him George.

You could also say this is a little depressing in that if I had actually verbalized the above thought response he would have run like the wind because, let's face it, who wants to be a superhero when they grow up.

Rick did.

Rick wanted to be Superman, and, well, he sorta is.

He quotes Yoda to me. When I call him up and tell him that I know we're supposed to be as much like water as possible and water is the strongest and most flexible substance on earth. I know, I know. Yet sometimes water becomes a tsunami and right now I'm all tsunami'd.

And he says, Shea, right now you're the sea wall and the tsunami is coming at you. Get out of the way.

And we laugh and I murmur in some type of last word, I gotta win, in sort of a whine actually But I'm like water.

And then we talk about the weather and our days and it is good. Good to talk with him. I guess in one way or another Rick and I are working on control. Finding that balance of control. Whatever compromise that is. Where does he start and I begin. I am holding onto some type of need to be me.

To get up and go to the beach alone if I want to.

To eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat.

To smoke and drink.

To take pictures.

To wake up in the middle of the night and share myself and him with the world.

To be messy.

To be slightly insane. Or slightly twisted maybe.

Not normal.

But then he's not normal either.

Or maybe none of us are. Maybe we're all quite normally special.

Happy Birthday, Rick.

Gratitude.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

sunset

It got dark fast. In fact, Angie and I have decided that maybe the sunsets are some type of scientific anomaly we had not yet heard.

We had said we were going to capture a sunset.

Then John, or Mr. Know it All according to some people, said the perfect sunset was right off our very own pier.

How lucky is that, we thought.

Yeah, until Wednesday evening or late afternoon at about oh I don't know although I should know, let's just say in the six range giving or taking thirty minutes.

Any photographer worth their salt is laughing at us right now. A good photographer will know the timing of his/her subject. We know now so I figure we're photographers with a dash of salt.

Back to the story. We skipped all smiley faced down to the pier. She had the camera, me the tripod. Once we got to our destination she began setting up the tripod, and I started getting the camera ready.

Both of us had our backs to the sun which we agreed was playing the starring role in the best sunset on the face of the earth and it was clearly from our standpoint about seven inches from the horizon.

Quick note to any aspiring photographer: It is very important to never turn your back on a sunset. Sunsets enjoy making a mockery of humans. They're quite evil.

Angie and I turned our back on that sunset in order to get the equipment. I was dilly dallying with the attachment for the camera/tripod relationship and Angie was setting up the tripod. That is until I heard gasping.

Someone was gasping for air.

It was Angie.

I turned around and saw the side of her face. Her jaw was dropped and she was pointing with her finger making some type of exclamation, kinda jumping back and forth, toward what had been the best sunset on the face of the earth. Had been. It was gone. Gone in a matter of what seemed like a quick series of moments. It is rumored that we were abducted by aliens and put back down on earth at least fifteen minutes later. That's the only way I know to explain it.

Anyway, we just stood there.

Until finally catching her breath she looked at me and said, did you just see that?

I started laughing and said, yes.

That's when she started rubbing her head and muttering, I'm so glad you were here because nobody would believe me. They wouldn't understand.

I know, I know, still laughing because then I said, Angie, it was a gorgeous sunset. I can't believe that just happened but even better than the sunset was the story we just shared. This is fucking hilarious.

And we both laughed and we took pictures of what used to be the best sunset on the face of the earth.

Gratitude.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

camera

You know that I know that we know and so does everyone else I despise shopping, right? Well yeah, I do. Yet here I am checking out prices on the internet. I am looking at the Canon 7D.

And I'm trying to find the lowest, best price EVER on the Canon 7D. I don't want to purchase it and find out that only a month down the road prices dropped for the Christmas season. Seriously, $200 less in a month would put me in bed for a day so I agonize a bit about pricing and timimg on price.

Then, of course, all you are getting with the 7D is the body. You have to consider lenses. I could go with a package for $200 more but do I really want that lens? Would $200 go better to buying me the perfect lens. In the consideration of lenses you must consider what you're most apt to photograph. Although I like sporting events, I'm not likely to shoot them so that will take about a million dollars off what I need. Those people spend mega bucks to get the perfect shot. I am not in their league, but I do need a lens, possibly two.

I can't do as much as I would like with the camera and the lens without getting a tripod for the tack sharp focus. If I am going to do pictures I need to do them good. I can't do what I want to do without a good tripod.

I could use my old Nikon bag. And, yes, I do feel like crap about what is in that old Nikon bag. But it's a 35mm and it got wet in the Sipsey wilderness and it has never been the same again. Getting rid of it is like those worn clothes or old friends. I can't do it.

There are the memory cards, the lithium battery pack (I thought Lithium was a bipolar drug). Dude, there is SO MUCH I have to read. Definite library visit. Must learn everything I need to know to get that perfect shot with a digital camera.

So I tell myself Slow down. Hold up, sister. Go to the library, get some books for FREE. Read an hour a day. Couple o' pages during your lunch break, maybe a page during a smoking break. Just do that first and wait. Wait until you're ready, until you can walk into a camera shop, ask to see the Canon 7D, put it in your palm, wrap your fingers around it and look at it with complete familiarity as if it is some dream you've been having for years.

Like Josh with his new MAC and Adobe program. Josh is currently in heaven.

Then time is a consideration. I need to spend at least one hour per day shooting. Everything. Outside. Inside. Sunset. Sunrise. Noon. Dogs. Insects. Flowers. Signs. PEOPLE. Being a photographer can at times make you quite annoying to other people. You get serious about that shit, and all they're trying to do is tell you something about themselves.

Well see I was at the store the other day and this guys walks up.

Click...hey, can you sit over here? Maybe stand against this wall? Okay, yeah.. go ahead with your story. Click.

He had a knife and he was wielding it at me.

Click, click...interesting, just look over there for a second. Click.

So I have to say, only an hour Shea. Do not terrorize your friends.

Now I have to stop writing for a bit and go read. I have my second book on digital photography, and I must read. 'Cause, hey, it's a process, this purchasing thing. Anxiety ridden actually. I have to study first, know my shit, and then I can get the perfect camera for the perfect shot.

Ahhhhhh the perfect shot. I see those everywhere I go. You do too, don't you?


Bird by Angie


Nightfishing by Shea


Morning by Shea


Bob by Angie
Yes, a fish was harmed during the making of this photograph. It was totally Bob.


Wait! Where's the sun? It was just there!!! by Angie & Shea


Monarch by Angie


Frog by Angie


Gator by Shea


Blinded by all of us



Gratitude.

Monday, October 18, 2010

gratitude

There are times when you stand still, when you are completely motionless and you take in all that is around you. Breathe it in. During the inhale you consider your family, your friends, your incredible luck, and the amount of gratitude you feel in every cell of your being. When you release the breath all you know to say is thank you.

Every breath. Thank you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

song

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Friday.

Vacation Eve.

Sweet music.

Gratitude.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

control

Why in the world would a girl be so focused on No?

I think it has to do with control issues. My own control issues.

Is controlophobic a word? Ummmm, well....I think I got that. And this is one of those times when you become the message you're preaching against and you find out so much more about yourself. My problem with control in others is that I would have to give up my control in order to allow theirs.

Or is that the case? Can my freedoms not impose on your freedoms?

It seems maybe that once again we have the balance issue. The tightrope of time and control. My most immediate gender opposite relationship reflects this lesson I am learning. My goal is to make an A on the final exam, to be at the top of the class. But then that's another lesson. Competition.

Control assists me in aspects of daily living. It makes sure that I go to work on time every day. It means that I bathe and drive an acceptable speed and use my inside voice when needed. Controlophobia is right along the lines of an eating disorder or that whole shoplifting thing. It is about balance because you can't just go cold turkey. You can't stop controlling or eating or purchasing.

It seems that in this country, this United States of America, we stand for a certain amount of freedom. A freedom to be who we are, say what we want to say, vote for who we want to vote for, wear purple pants, worship any way we'd like. In fact, I think the whole premise of our founding fathers seemed to be based on the ability to be free. It is a craving we all seem to share.

Yet where do we find the balance of allowing for our own freedoms while allowing someone else theirs? There has to be some type of control, right?

A compromise of sorts perhaps.

I was reading a post by Charles Gramlich yesterday and he posed the issue of religion and politics in writing. Both his views and his reader's views are worth a look.

My own opinion of this issue is that religion and politics are pretty important to me. I guess. Not so important that I've actually joined a group or party or even a couple of people for dinner who think exactly the same as me. It is just at times I want to hear an opposing view, I want to explore someone else's life experiences to find out how they came to their conclusion. I want to be open to hear what they have to say. In order to do that, it seems, I have to give them my views.

And I want to be able to say No, I don't necessarily think that way but hell I don't know everything and maybe you're right so maybe it's good that you and I can compromise at times after listening to or reading each other's views.

I think for me the compromise is do no harm. Do no harm to others. You and I, I hope we can meet on those five words. Be aware, be careful, do no harm.

We can allow each other to be who we are without infringing on each other's rights. Is there a balance that allows for that? Is that a pipe dream?

In my choice of how I walk out into the world on Thursday, October 7, 2010 I will say No, it is not a pipe dream. I see it every day. People of all races, religions, short, tall, poor, rich, in all types of clothing and with all kinds of looks on their faces are walking past me, doing the customary wave from their steering wheel, smiling, saying hey, telling me to have a nice day.

Doing no harm.

And they're all quite beautiful.

I see it every damn day.

Maybe how I see the world is the only control I have left.

Gratitude.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

push



I once joked, or at least twice jested, I could clearly drive a man to meth. Of course, I would have to pick the correct man first. Possibly a guy, who in my mind needed saving in some way. He would seem to have some incredible inner turmoil and who better than to come to the rescue than me, Ms. Salvation Complex herself. Shitty name for a superhero I know. Fitting though, I think, 'cause the complex is rather shitty itself.

Or at least that is my experience.

The problem I found is if you are a human with push, a drive within yourself which makes for an incredible roller coaster of a life ride, an extreme view of the way things could be better, more, then you can step on the snare of a trap you didn't even know you had placed for yourself.

Cold steel trap. A cage of sorts where you find yourself completely alone. Lonely, a cold, bitter lonely. Now I can better appreciate the fact that I was never so lonely as when I was married.

Until one day I had to accept the fact that the guy I could hardly even face anymore was a mirror and the only person that needed saving in the relationship was me. And I was the only one capable of doing so.

That is when I got to work.

And realized how I wanted, not needed, someone with the ability to look at me and say, No. A guy who was not willing to compromise his goals, dreams and beliefs anymore than I was willing to compromise mine. If I wanted to be allowed to be as free and beautiful as I wanted to be then I needed to stand up and look in the eyes of someone else and allow that of them.

It seems I was always learning the hard way, but you won't find many more humans more grateful for the lessons and the people who sacrificed to teach me.



As usual, the wonderful artwork displayed here is provided by my brother, Josh Miller.

Monday, October 4, 2010

sister

In one of those photographs posted yesterday there is a moment between two sisters. They each have one hand clasped to the other's. It is maybe an inhale or an exhale, but I think so much happens in that instant, so much with the brain, that it is good to see it.

I think we need to see pictures like that in our lives.

I am getting ready to go and spend a week with friends on a beach. I think there will be tons of pictures like that. I don't expect them and I won't be disappointed if there aren't any. It's just people like my child, my parents, my brothers and sisters, my friends, my coworkers, they are people that help me stop, slow down and see those moments.

Another Do Whatever You Need To Do To Take Care of Yourselves Week.

There will be people.

They will be at different stages in their lives. Some struggling with something. Some coming to peace with something. Some sleeping as much as they possibly can.
ladies and gentlemen, these would be the ones with kids still at home and in football and school and entertaining and feeding and everything. oh yes, they need it the most.


There are people who are getting away from the stresses of their job, of all the duties their daily life entails. I used to take my job with me on vacations. I advise against that now.

But there are also friends there who are doing what they can do to be at peace with not being the immediate parent anymore. This one is a bit tough, and I can personally vouch for that fact. Balance has always been an issue for me. Walking a certain tightrope of time.

I don't schedule well.

I hope to get better soon.

Otherwise, I will be visiting the ocean with other people who will enjoy not scheduling so well.

Sleeping when they want to.

Eating when they want to.

Watching a movie.

Reading books.

Listening to music.

Hearing silence.

Watching the water.

Laughing with each other.

Writing.

Taking photographs.

Of moments.

Sitting on a balcony for hours watching boats. Watching as the wind hits their sails, wondering about those people's stories, how long did they spend in the ocean today, is their family with them, their friends, who is there, what are their stories.

Maybe I have used it here before but I know I have heard the quote from someone, somewhere, someone really smart, who said something about the universe is not made up of atoms, rather it is made up of stories.

I like that.

But I'd like to add that in those stories are moments, sister moments. Sister moments can happen with anyone, anywhere in the world, of any gender or color of skin, hair or nationality. Your husband, your child, your friend, your brother, your mom, your dad, your niece, your nephew, your coworkers, the guy who picks up the uniforms, your boss, the stranger on the phone. They are just moments, exchanges of breath, energy.

I want them for the world. There I said it. I sent it out into the universe, and I hope it comes back to you.

A wish.

For my child.

My family.

My siblings.

My friends.

You.

Me.

A day.

A week.

A year.

A lifetime of moments.

Gratitude.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

believe

It has been a long time since I put a photograph on the internet. Slater and Billy Sue have had a couple of shots in the infamy of this space you and I share. Those pictures were not up to par for me. You were unable to see what I saw through those images. In fact, I couldn't see what I saw through those pictures.

I want a moment that conveys to you what my eyes witnessed without me having to say a word. It is almost like you and I are at a coffee shop and we're sitting outside on a beautiful Autumn day and you're telling me about your life and I am nodding and telling you about mine and we both smile and laugh. Maybe it's a Sunday morning and time is moving slow, nobody is speeding anywhere and there is a new, crisp coolness to the air.

Then all of a sudden I say hey, I took these shots at Rusty and Rebecca's wedding and I want to show you what that was and I want to explain every one of them but I believe that you will see what I am saying without me even having to say a word.

Right now I am handing you a few I had printed up today, leaning back and taking a sip of coffee saying this is what I saw.



































































The date was October 2nd, 2010.

The location was The Como Courtyard in Como, MS.

The music was provided by Woodstomp.

The camera was borrowed from my sister, Angie.

The people, they were amazing.

The love was incredible.

Incredible enough to make me believe.

Gratitude.