Saturday, December 31, 2011

two oh one one

I pull the covers under my chin, close my eyes and breathe in our last morning together. Again I fall asleep but fail to remember the dreams. Maybe that is just as well. Maybe our last day came with a start of complete

total

serene

peaceful

solid

lovely

oh how I love thee,








sleep.  





Thank you, two oh one one, for the rest.
I am grateful.

Friday, December 30, 2011

self

Self by Josh Miller


A specialization in marketing, you can type any word such as lonely, desperate, sad or woman and get the same results. Oh yeah, American too. Yet I still wonder if any of those fit? It would seem a lie actually, but who would want to lie when marketing themselves? We are defining ourselves, aren't we? Yes, we all are.

So lonely. I don't know. I mean yeah, I guess. I am as lonely or alone as anyone else out there. But this is the funny part, alone doesn't feel like what I thought lonely felt like. It feels necessary, like if humans didn't get alone time, whether in their car driving to work, walking in a field, hunting, fishing, cleaning house, writing, training for a marathon or any of the other things you and me do when we are alone then we may spontaneously burst into flying waves of energy. What? Yes, no alone time means apocalypse without the zombies. Or wait, maybe I'm a zombie. Cool.

Desperate? Um. Hmm. To make a living? Yes. I want to figure out how to do this and  make money which means I need to get good so I am practicing like a fiend, which sorta seems like desperate. What does fiend mean? It means I need a drug which is called success. Anything we do in marketing or the sell of any item is justify what it means to us. On a scale of American success as far as I can tell, I am pretty humble in my wantings. Right now I am trying to figure out exactly how humble I am. Desperate humble, maybe? Okay.

Sad. Yes. Definitely. I have to talk myself out of being sad sometimes. I hear from some person about another person who is going through a really awful, awful time. I hear of what I can only believe to be a deeper desperation and I recognize it and it breaks my heart. Then I pray. Then I go to humor and glue that baby back together 'cause it's like Rick says, If we could feel all the desperation and sadness of the world we couldn't take it. I think he's right. Sadness exists in a huge way. My heart beats it along with happiness. My blood is red.

Woman. Yeah. I am a true woman, but it's funny what even that means now. For the first time in a really long time I don't crave a man. I am forty one years to this Earth (almost forty-two huh, Kim) and in a physical stage of my existence which can be best described as menopausal. And it rocks in a bluesy way. I am finding other things to do besides crave a man. Maybe it's photography or maybe it's writing. It's at least that I totally get my rocks off doing something other than sex. So yeah, woman with a menopausal twist. Take that, dating sites. There is that one guy who looks awesome and is an artist and smiles a whole lot and he has a camera and the music is playing and she is awesome too and yeah, that looks like fun but I like him and I am not her so I come here and it's good. It is good being a woman. Here, now.

American? We are born to our lands. I claim it with love and respect. I know that people have died and are currently fighting for that name and the freedoms it represents of which I thoroughly enjoy. Cue Lee Greenwood's version of Proud to be an American. I am connected to my son and my family by that name. I see so much good in it in the faces around me. The pictures are American pictures. All of them.


I thought I was supposed to be offended the night he said that but now I realize how brilliant he was. He knows him and he knows me and so do I.


Grateful on the Eve of New Year's Eve.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

consideration







Don't take yourself too seriously.






But if I don't how can I expect anyone else to do so?






Maybe you can't.






Then what?








Then you just do what everyone else does. You live the best you can.







With gratitude of course.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

reason

Reading about the business of photography can chip away at your brain as you begin to detect the faintest of sound, a musical note followed by another until chapter five when the theme song from Gilligan's Island is all that is left. This, I think, is a good time to put the book down, just splay it out next to you 'cause you have to return but not before your head is ready.

Your head may need to be reminded of why you love photography.


His photography of music makes me want to hear the music.



Gratitude.

Monday, December 26, 2011

academia







Gratitude.

active prayer

He calls me with a complaint and I tell him about her. It could be said or at least insinuated that by conveying such tragedy I am disregarding his need for sympathies. This, I swear, is not the case or at least not how I see it. You're one upping me, He says. You're competing with the greatest tragedy. That's it. You won.

No. No, that is not the case. I do understand that ants coming out of a ceiling, pouring even, is a bad, bad thing and it makes me not want to look at my ceiling 'cause I'm kinda scared I'll see an ant and one ant is likely to send me into a panic attack. It's just that when Mom told me about Jill it struck me silent. A long pause while my mind raced on what the hell can I do, what in the world, has she got someone, what about her other two kids, who has them, what does it feel like to feel that, Oh. Dear. God. I am so blessed. Please bless her. Amen.

Spontaneous prayer, a wish floating out into the universe with a big push from me. They say this works and I've seen it happen. Some may say it is silly, and I get that. To those people I say, It's okay. Don't wish or pray.


***********


The tip of the day came late. Two children, a brother and sister, felt a tragedy larger than their joy. This sent them on a journey across a street with a handmade card of we know he existed, we saw him, he was a nice guy, we just wanted you to know we knew. Right now even I wonder about their walk to that mother's door. Facing the face of the hand of the woman who opened a home of such grief, those two caring children let her know that they knew she still existed even if she was doubting that herself.

Later when Madison told Angie about how grateful the lady was, how she went on and on about how sweet they were, what a thoughtful thing that was for them to do, Angie looked at Madison and said, Now you know what Christmas is about, Madison.

It's about love, eleven year old Madison replied.






Gratitude steeped in humility.






Saturday, December 24, 2011

anticipation

This is what today looks like.



This is what today feels like.




Dude!




SANTA



COMES



TONIGHT
(exclamation points to the infinite square root of everything)








I'm gonna go ahead and wish this day away just for Jesse.




Grateful.

Friday, December 23, 2011

vogue

Billy Sue by Josh Miller

Because so many of you come here for the latest fashion/design advice and because so many of you wrote in asking, Shea, what do I do if my Jesus birthday fig tree limb falls? Do I scrap the idea? Do I once again pick it up and attempt to secure it in a flimsy, piece of crap tree stand?

My advice is to remain calm. Then get all excited because you, my friend, have your very own new living room art installation. Next go to the nearest reflective surface, possibly a mirror, point at yourself, smile and say, You Rock! (a little extra for those of you that come here for self esteem issues)


I am so very grateful for my Christmas present from my avid readers, Josh and Priscilla Miller.



For you music lovers, they also got me this band's CD. I love it.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

back by popular demand

Mrs. Haas, Slater's fifth grade teacher, told me to never allow anyone to discourage Slater from writing. But, I said, it's hardly legible. What about the run on sentences, the misplaced punctuation?


She laughed, That doesn't matter. It's his imagination. Don't let anyone stifle it. Come get me if they try.


Okay, I replied and walked away with a new found pride. My baby and his imagination, what a wonderful gift he gives us when he shares it.

Your next installment is my fourth email. As his mother it is fun watching him begin to care about this.



The Stetson and the Bowler
This story is complete fiction and as such has no base on real people

A man walked into a bar. This man was quite ordinary in his appearance, a standard full head of black hair accompanied by a large black stetson. He walked into the bar merely to kill a little time before heading home. There was little to do and leaving from a soul emptying job and entering an empty house just seemed too much today. Upon entering the bar the gentleman saw an old friend following the same procedure. The gentleman, Mr. Walker sidled up next to his friend, a short blond haired chap named James who wore a black bowler. They immediately started to talk about their long days at work, each trying to best the other in who had it worst when in walked a beautiful young blonde in a black straw bonnet and her sister who had no hair at all. The sister, a blank shell of a human, was clothed in grey scrubs; no one really seemed to notice either enter. The blonde seemed much more noticeable though as she sobbed her way to the nearest table, barely able to clutch her handbag as she sat down. The sister slowly moved with her and sat across from the blonde in a booth right beside where James and the stetson had chosen to roost for their banter. The sister, Sara, tried to calm the blonde and stem the tide of her tears but to no avail. In fact, it only seemed to worsen the blonde’s mood. She started to retort with “You aren’t supposed to be the strong one here; I am not the one who is ….” “The least you can do is not mention things that obviously don’t need mentioning Emily.” Sara interjected. After Sara calmed her sister the bartender came over, an elderly man in an old black flat cap walked up and asked the blonde, “Can I get you anything, Emily?” “Two shots of Jack Daniel’s for me and my sister Gerald,” she replied in a somber voice without hesitation. He nodded and then moved on to the next table without even looking at Sara. Before Gerald even reached the table James asked him, “What happened to Emily?” He slowly wagged his head and replied “Don’t have a clue mate, need anything for you and your friend?” James replied “A pitcher of the house favorite, please Gerald. Me and John here have some catching up to do.” Gerald nodded and moved towards the bar to fetch the drinks when all of a sudden….

Shall the story continue?
Leave comments on how you want it to go




Jesus, about that birthday party...

Christmas came a couple of months after my divorce. I was twenty-three maybe. maybe. Then it seemed most important that I throw a very big birthday party for Jesus, a traditional throw down. I had been trained by the best Jesus birthday party thrower around. My Mom always got a huge live tree and decorated it to the exact specifications of awesomeness. White lights, candy cane ribbons, each ornament being the same distance from the other as the next. Early in the morning of the day that Jesus got older Santa would come and place under the tree all the toys we had picked from that year's Sears Wish Book. Santa never wrapped the gifts. Instead he put everything together and placed the loot under the tree in a manner rivaling any fancy department store window. Lights bounced, everything glistened and my jaw dropped. It was like Jesus invited the best magician to his birthday party. Nobody could have a better birthday party than Jesus.


Maybe I was twenty-three, but maybe I was twenty-two. Maybe Slater was one. Whether he was one or two he was still at an age where a pot and a spoon with free banging time would have provided a sufficient Jesus birthday party. A big red balloon would have been jaw dropping. He didn't care but I did. Obviously I had failed in maintaining a traditional Mama and Daddy home for him so it seemed all that more important I throw Jesus a huge bash. Yes, this is completely rational for someone who made around $6,000 that year working part time and found that her ex had cleaned out the bank account. Logic said I could skip meals in order to buy Jesus a huge live tree. So I did.



Slater was at his Nana's on the weekend I decided to make the purchase and have a couple of guys cram as much of it as possible into the back of my Nissan Sentra. I was alone that Saturday when I pulled it out and attempted to put it on a stand so Jesus would be proud and the great magician could come and perform his magic for Slater.


Within an hour the tree had wrestled me to the ground and I sat in the yard with tears streaming down my face.


It was not going to work. I had failed Jesus and Slater.


That, my friends, is the reason there is a fig limb laying across a corner of my living room floor now. Slater cut it, I put lights on a third of it and two days ago it tumbled over. Billy Sue chewed on one of the limbs, decided it wasn't so tasty and I figured we'd get it ready before the big party or not. It just seems that Jesus and Slater don't care so maybe that's why I stopped.



Still I am grateful for the living room, the limb and the lessons. And Jesus, of course.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

family business

It's midnight when Slater walks into the room and sees me staring at a blank screen.

Do you want me to do it? He asks.

You want to write a post?

Yeah, I'll do it.

Well, you can't sit in the editor's chair. You'll have to email it to the editor.

He laughs, fixes himself a bowl of chili and walks back to his room. Within minutes I have an email from him.


The Stetson and the Bowler
This story is complete fiction and as such has no base on real people.
                
A man walked into a bar. This man was quite ordinary in his appearance, a standard full head of black hair accompanied by a large black stetson. He walked into the bar merely to kill a little time before heading home. There was little to do and leaving from a soul emptying job and entering an empty house just seemed too much. Upon entering the bar the gentleman saw an old friend following the same procedure. The gentleman, Mr. Walker sidled up next to his friend, a short blond haired chap named James who wore a black bowler. They immediately started to talk about their long days at work each trying to best the other in who had it worst when in walked….
Shall the story continue?
Leave comments on how you want it to go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

notion






When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~ Lao Tzu








I am grateful for people who left notes.




daze



souvenir




Surely it has to be the only way to come back from somewhere is to turn around and take a step.




Grateful for a vacation with my Mom.

Monday, December 19, 2011

yeah



Gratitude.

discovery

The thing about writing is it can be so much fun. The words just come out and dance and party and you have the best time. Then you go back and read what you wrote (ya' know, once you sober up) and think, Dude! I am a controlling bitch.

This is the best of me being a controlling bitch.



Grateful for these little discoveries.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

music

This one is tough. I love all the music on this site. Of course I do. I put it here.

Please don't tell Dan, but the best of has to be Tom.



Still very grateful for Dan though.

early tribute

This is still one of my favorites because it is them. My parents. My gosh. I lucked out in that category for sure.





I am so very grateful.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

woodstomp




 




It would be remiss to do a best of without my favorite band.


Gratitude.

night

This was a great night, Slater liked the writing and that's about all it takes to get on the best of list here.






As always, I am grateful.

Friday, December 16, 2011

thematic










I guess it's safe to assume I'm not really a cat person. Don't get me wrong. Cats are fine. It's just that dogs are so seriously awesome.



Gratitude.



gift

Looking for a potential gift for the ravenous reader in your life? Here it is.



That review got more hits than anything I've ever written. I hope everyone who read the review bought the book.



Grateful for my copy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

affirmative




I say yes. There is no doubt.




This is a first so I linger.




Relax.



Breathe.




Close my eyes and smile.




It is an indulgent celebration, this yes.











For you, my friends, the next few days will be filled with a best of here in our shared space. Don't worry. I'll be back with more stories and photos just for you 'cause that's what I do.

Haven't said it in a while, have I?

Here goes.

Ready?

I'm serious.

Don't you ever doubt it.



I am so grateful for you.




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

tax

Yeah, I was researching consumption tax, trying to find something wrong with it. Then I decided to consume this and now I am writing to you to say that was five dollars well spent.

Tax me on Louis CK. I'll gladly pay for what he produces and earn what it takes to see him do it.

Don't tax me on what I produce because then I'll watch how you spend it and I will be discouraged from producing.



Grateful for those people in this world who sometimes make us laugh until we cry.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

slow

Don't buy into hype any more than you pay for insults. In fact, it'd be great if you stopped consuming altogether, he says.

I watch her look at him, look down, bat her really long (are they fake) eyelashes. She reaches her arms up high, stretches and looks back at him. Smiles a huge grin she's been practicing her whole life, giggles and says, I don't know what you're talking about.

I'll talk slower 'cause ya' know there are slow people in this world. I've seen 'em and had to talk to 'em so I'll slow down for you.

Shortly thereafter she exits the room and for whatever reason I have yet to pinpoint she jingles when she walks. I wished I cared more to figure out, you know, so as to ask her. Instead I sit where she's been sitting and say, I get it, Daddy. Talk slow for me.

Well you see, Boog, don't believe nothing anybody tells you about yo' self. They don't know shit whether it be good or bad. Don't tell your Mama I said shit.

You know I'm gonna tell her as soon as she wakes up.

He pulls the toothpick out of his mouth, looks me in the eyes and says, You are aren't cha?

Yeah, I just told you I was. Do I need to say it slower?

And I think this is when we both bust out laughing.



Merry Christmas and gratitude.






Monday, December 12, 2011

marketing

I noticed on Slater's Facebook today that Vin Diesel got over 45,000 likes, 6,200 comments and 2,200 shares in the first hour of posting a head shot of himself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My brother has been posing for these shots his whole life.








No, he's not married and he's the best guy ever and yeah, I just became a sister pimp.



Absurd gratitude.

family








This weekend has been a blur with only one thought standing out among them all. That is I am so lucky to be surrounded by people who taught me how to love.







Gratitude.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

insufferable



A series of perceived injustices led to a vein of anger channeled into a tightly controlled stream of consciousness about eggs. That's right. Eggs. Past the mosh pit into a party where one sip too many released the obsessive nature of his work. He was a commodity analyst and his latest job had been poultry before the fact. His numbers, a foreign language to someone who thought she had a handle on math, were his safety zone in a room full of strangers. I grabbed his hand, looked into his eyes, said his name and he came back from his short psychotic break to smile. That smile was one of the most beautiful, innocent smiles you will never see. Of all the moments we had together that year at least a decade ago this one stands out because when life became too much he thought of eggs but I thought of him. At my best, most sober, thoughtful self I am grateful for that moment. When I need him I remember him and what he taught me. At my worst I think we should not suffer in those places we go to escape suffering.


To learn to get along without, to realize that what the world is going to demand of us may be a good deal more important than what we are entitled to demand of it, this is a hard lesson.
Bruce Canton



Gratitude imperfect.

Friday, December 9, 2011

stupid yellow ball

Throw it. See if I care.


Fetch? Puh-leeeze. She's more of a curl up on the couch, sudoku kinda gal.









Gratitude.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

slacker

When I started this gig of being self described as a means of becoming self sufficient I knew there would be changes. Of course there would. I wasn't going to get up at 6:30am in a mad dash to be on a commute by 7:00am. I wasn't going to return home ten hours later in an angered exhaustion. Freeing myself from The Man meant I was going to be in charge of my schedule or lack thereof, and I must admit the latter frightened me a bit. What was I going to do if nobody was telling me what to do? In my continuing search for the answer to that question I have found a few surprises of which I will list since I'm sure you're all, Dude, I wonder what's been going on with her? The anticipation has been killing you, I'm certain.

Here we go.

1. Bathing. I am only a month into this venture so I don't really know where I am truly headed on the hygiene scale of clean to people keeping a wide circle but amazingly I have maintained a daily bathing schedule. Actually this surprises me. I would have bet you that daily bathing would have been one of the first things to go in some type of water conservation stand as an excuse and laziness as it's origin. But no. I love a good long bath now more than ever and strangely enough it has become a welcome break from worrying if I am doing enough 'cause I think now is bath time, stop worrying about all that other stuff and take a damn bath. Anybody know if they still make Mr. Bubbles?

2. Time. Dear Me, You just went from a nine hour workday to a twenty-four workday but you're getting paid a whole lot less. Congratulations! I knew this one was coming, and I am still trying to deal with it mostly by constantly telling myself to chill which typically translates into people thinking I'm not worried enough since I overcompensate by looking and talking like I'm winning the Pulitzer tomorrow. In reality if I am not writing or taking pictures or scheduling or networking or doing whatever I don't even know to be doing then I am worrying that I might spontaneously combust into absolute poverty. Even typing that makes me cringe. Work or die, work or die, work or die and on and on until I tell myself to chill and unload the dishwasher. This conversation accompanied by some mundane task happens about every three hours.

3. Cooking. Slicing, dicing, peeling, grating, mincing, give me the food. I'll do it. I love the sizzle when a hot olive oil collides with a slab of murder. Aromas from the preparation of a meal are so much better than any scented candle I could buy. Cooking is creative math and making a meal makes me feel wealthy especially since it has already saved me funds. There is no more eating out.

4. People. I miss you, fellow humans. I think the woman at the post office almost had me removed yesterday because I wanted to hug her for simply talking to me. Sure, I have one hell of an unmedicated social anxiety disorder but it is countered by a love of other people's stories. Just to hear and watch as someone's mouth moves and the sound comes out and they're looking at me and oh shit they're talking to me and please do it more. Let's face it, Billy Sue has to nap every once in a while and Slater is studying for finals. It would only make sense that I called a friend the other day to let him know I had met a volleyball named Wilson.


Yes, I still wonder if my smile is the definition of insanity because even past the worrying and missing people there is something inside me that is certain I am on the right path and I can't put my finger on it, I can't tell you what it is but if you called up and asked me right now, Shea, how do you feel? I would smile and say, I feel better than I have in a long time.


So yes, I am still grateful.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

what winter brings



Do you see at least one alien in this photograph or am I just crazy? Nevermind. Don't answer that.





finding a treasure

Como Green Grocer

Obviously market conditions led to less of a need for land surveyors so he retired and opened a market in a town without a grocery store. They have been open a month and are reported to have some tasty Clementines, but I sure wish my Daddy could taste these blackberries.



We talk of a trip they took to Italy and the fresh markets they found, how they are trying to encourage patrons to do their daily shopping here. It is a beautiful place stocked with muscadine juice, locally canned vegetables and stone ground grits and corn meal. I find out that Mississippi has the only remaining Amish community in the deep south, and there is a gentleman there who weaves baskets which you can buy in this store.




It wouldn't be a wasted trip to stop by and see what all they have to offer. You can find them at 213 North Main in downtown Como, MS. I'll sure be back.



With gratitude, of course.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Madison












There are no words to express how much I love and respect this kid. In fact, I am well aware I didn't do her justice with these photographs, but it's okay. She'll be just fine with a do over.



Gratitude.

Monday, December 5, 2011

what if


















A familiar anxiety crept in the night before the shoot. What if I can't take a decent photograph? What if the memory card corrupts? What if the lights throw me? What if I don't know what the hell I am doing and the photographs are the best evidence yet? What if I disappoint someone who has so kindly encouraged me? What if we all die?

Right before the heart attack I got a call letting me know where the key was.

Kay: You can pick up the key at The Green Grocer. Everything is ready for you.

Me: Okay. I hope to get you some great shots. I started getting nervous about it last night.

Kay: Well let me go ahead and alleviate any fears you may have. Just go down there and enjoy yourself. You don't even have to take pictures.

Me: Thank you, Kay. You are too sweet. I'll do my best.

On my way to the place I thought, She doesn't want me to take pictures. Maybe she really hates my photography. Maybe this is some type of charitable help the mentally ill work she is doing. Maybe every time I sign the guest book she gets to document the hours for some special medal in heaven. 


Oh 


good 


gosh.



Then I got there and then I remembered.



What if I just relax?



What if everything is going to be okay?



Wouldn't that be crazy?



Inhale.


Exhale.


Gratitude.