Friday, November 30, 2012

here now

The artisans of the world fish the river banks and sell the fish in town. They work at the local convenience store and farm the earth. One made some new bracelets yesterday, talked to her sister on the phone. Some flyers are going up, announcing a show. That guy you know, he created the shirt on your back. How cool is that?

We are everywhere, the creators of this space. We color every day.

What was this notion?

I have wondered what it would be like to have synesthesia where my taste became music, a smell a color forming into a particular shape. Maybe a wave would be yellow, seeing an old friend a brilliant blue. Red in your passion for food. Some days could be splattered, some nights in purple.

That day we slowed down to look.

I finally call her on her vacation though I assumed she needed a respite, a time to get away from all the need.

She answers.
Kim, I shout like my house is on fire.
What? She returns my volley for volume.
When are you coming back? I tone it down just a bit.
Once again she gives me her itinerary though I remember, I know all that. I was just saying we need you.
She laughs. Mark said something was missing in our lives. The phone wasn't ringing.
Tell him I did good. I waited till Thursday.

I tell her two funny things, the kind of things you tell a close friend. Two laughs she gives me.
She sounds good, relaxed, happy.

The day, it is a swirl of pastels, an aroma of garlic and onion and berries. It is gossip in the grain, a bulldog smelling like a baby. A green Mr. Clean, someone asking for directions. It was a bright white light, rows and columns of Greer's grocery.

Give yourself a Christmas present. My suggestion.
Take a day off work.
Plan a dinner for your family.
Clean the house.
Set a nice table.
Play your favorite music.
Give your dog a bath.
Talk to a friend.
Make plans for a future.

Today I am so very grateful for time to relax.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

inhale. exhale. repeat.

She stops breathing. Or wait. If we're going to get technical here then we may say that the only breath leaving her body takes the form of a rapid, cycling speech.

Whoa, I think. I've seen this before, what could be viewed in some parts of hospitals and some parts of the world as a panic attack, anxiety performed as an extreme sport.

This is when I like to play doctor though I'm not.

When things come that fast they come in words disconnected, disjointed, you can only hear subject and verb.


Me, a witness to a testament, You know what?

She stops fast too.

Silence, a look of who     are   you.

Then, What?

You stopped breathing.

Here it is.
A breath.

Then rapid but less so. Sentences and fragments.

Doctor said.
I passed out three times.
Kicked my old man out.
Kids at home.
I need this.

First things first. Breath.

Her shoulders slump. She leans back. There it is.

another breath.

We got this.

It can get a little crazy this time of year with this much pressure to maybe spend money we don't have in order to please someone that just always loved a hug, a here we are and there are you, a phone call, an old coat we don't wear anymore, a smile, an I haven't seen you in a while,

how's it goin'?

The tree will go up or it won't or it already has or maybe it never will. Whatever it does it's okay. If we learned anything we learned Jesus understands.

Yes. We have to spend money in order to keep the wheel turning but I hope we at least think about doing it in our country first. Not that I don't love the world. I do. I love other experiences, other people, other landscapes, other cultures, other customs, but I think by being an example we can help everyone that much more.

Spread the love as far as you can.

Only if you have extra money would I suggest you start here or here.

Today I am grateful to have learned that in order to take care of someone else we must first take care of ourselves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

the faces we see

Papaw by Josh
Granny by Josh

 It happens at seven thirty a m most every morning.

Granny stands on her front porch and looks out into the street.
Waves at a school bus of children.

They wave too. And scream words such as hey and aaaayyyyy and grandma and yaaaay and it happens so quickly that it is a photographic nightmare. How in the world am I gonna get that photograph? A moving bus, kids' hands waving, Granny's excitement, one facing the other. I am not going to have much time. No tripod, I'm looking for a certain shot.

It's a cold morning and Granny told me two nights ago this was happening. I think the sentence started with, Well. When Jason comes by with the kids. Then, blahblahblahblah. I didn't catch anything after that.

Jason brings Jesse and Wyatt over to see you before school?

No. He drives the bus. He brings my kids by.

Hold up. I need to know more about this. What kids?

Investigative journalism at it's best.

I know something you may not. My brother drives a school bus to supplement his teacher's income so he can raise a family. It's admirable I think. Plus, I consider it skillful since I am sure I would take out a bank, four stop signs and an entire city block if I attempted such a feat.

Granny, Jason drives the school bus by your house every morning?

Yeah, most mornings when school is in. They just scream Grandmaaaa.

I think that may be one of the cutest things I've ever heard, and it's happening in your front yard.

Her wave.
Her face.
I blow all the shots trying to get the one with everything in it.
Jason waving.
The kids waving.
The bus moving.
It's too much. My brain explodes.

That kid is totally throwing Granny a peace sign.

Today I am so very grateful that here and there and many spaces between we have the opportunity to see beauty in faces every morning. Quite nice when you think about it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


How bad I sucked in a relationship was pretty, fairly, entirely I sucked.
Do not take that away from me.
I own it.

The I better get married thing is what happens when you get pregnant out of wedlock which sounds like an ancient term but one that was part of my raising. I got knocked up and knew the abortion thing was not my personal choice. Get married or raise him on my own, I debated those choices heavy.

Use contraception if you choose to have sex and haven't already planned the rest of your life, not to mention someone else's. Or, as Mallory has vowed, don't have sex. It's an option.

The story of Slater is a beautiful one but it would have been better if his Dad and I could have both been there.

I wasn't into people who liked me. There, I said it. The guys I dated didn't really like me but that made sense 'cause I wasn't such a big fan either. I ran around constantly trying to do good so maybe I could convince someone I really was good. Not too long ago I told Slater that I felt like my former relationships had been a series of stalkings. He laughed at the truth of that.

I still catch myself doing stuff like that but now I ask myself what is your intention usually in the form of, what you are trying to do here, freak?

Deeds. nah. not so much. Intention. everything.

Major, major, boy, if I ever had an issue in this thing we call life it was control.

In the form of.
This is how I see things.
This is how you will see things too.
I am right.
What? You don't agree.
That makes you wrong.

Now I try to take it easy because the aggressive bully thing is totally last season.

Admitting you're not so good at a thing is not so bad.

I'm a quitter. I give up. I can actually return someone's stare and say, This is not working. This place where we are is the closest definition I have of hell. No, it's not your fault. It's totally mine. Sorry this didn't work out but it's just I know you see it too, we're not good at this.

This is the hardest thing to admit since I have been witness to couples who get past that point in a marathon where everything gives up. What is it called? When your muscles turn to tar and your bones take the form of knives. When your lungs fill or gasp but neither allow the other. When your organs get together and in their most impressive stance say nope, this is not our party.

Those couples who I've seen make relationships work, they keep running because it was a marathon they signed up for and well, that was important.

Every step forward is progress.

A year or two after I started publishing my own writing Rick said he knew why I did it.

I got in a defensive stance and took what I felt like was bait, Why?

You want to be validated.

I want to connect?

No. You need someone to tell you that you're okay.

There could have been a low growl heard somewhere from my end of the line but that was years ago because I felt like he was saying I wasn't.

It's okay.

Today I am grateful to accept that it is okay to not always be okay. We all have our days.

Christmas gift buying suggestion because I know you come here to shop.

The Road
Cormac McCarthy

Not the movie. The book.

This is not an easy read. Cormac breaks all the rules of proper punctuation in the purest voice of a father who could be a mother or any one person in this world who has taken on the responsibility of another. It is deep, profound. There will be times you'll read a sentence that is a paragraph and you'll read it three more times and you'll take a long breath, close the book and set it down. You've never cheered two people on so hard and have never, ever been so broken hearted but there's a red fern which grows and I couldn't recommend it if it didn't.

Monday, November 26, 2012

being Mallory

Five words, Mallory. I need five words you would use to describe yourself.

Ring of purity.

Creative, she says.

Yes, I think.

Unique, she says.

Definitely, I think.

Photo by Slater Goff (genius who beats his Mom in a photography contest)

Fabulous, she says.

She has me convinced.

Funny, she says.

We laughed for three hours.

Indecisive, she says.

Someone as brilliant as you is going to take the time to think.

Today I am grateful to know a young woman who uses those five words.
Mallory teaches us to love ourselves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Sometimes they will reach out from chair to couch, clutch their fingers, look at each other and say in a whisper, I love you. I love you so much.

Billy Sue loves both of you so much.

We all do.

My Dad has this wave, the broken wrist one. Yesterday I used it and finally understood.

His hand flopping at the end of his arm.
He'd stand there and I'd laugh as I backed out the drive.
It came to be our wave 'cause then I began to emulate it.

Last night as Slater and Shelby got in his car my hand flopped at the end of my arm.

And all of a sudden I knew what my Dad meant.

here's what I think.
it's gotta be.
that children come to break our heart.

this is not a bad thing.
'cause with every crack our heart expands.
and our love is able to spread to others.

Today I am grateful for holidays, weekends, time set aside to witness and testify to what and who we love. This is us.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Before the marathon of Modern Family we actually went to the mall. Yes. on the Friday void of color. It was strategy of avoidance. If we wait till the afternoon then they'll be gone. Not that we don't love you, we just don't want to push and shove no matter what the cost.

we went to the mall or one store in it at least. a store filled with everything, so much everything, topped, stacked, hung, layered, organized, color, light, seizure, I could lose my mind.

Shelby left us after we asked and then found the men's shoes after passing watches and belts and sequins and dresses and ties and big signs and names I've never heard.


His last pair, the only shoes he claimed, lasted him five years this past October. In those shoes he backpacked Sipsey Wilderness, busted beaver dams with Pop, visited at least three weddings, stood for eight and sixteen hours at work, walked so many miles on campus he's lost fifteen pounds since I last saw him. College is good.

Our conversation went something like this.

Lady: Can I help you?
Me: Do you have Merrells?
Lady: Yes. Here. (she points at a three tiered stack of don't you want to wear me)
Me: Alright, Slater. Here they are. (I pick up one as close in similarity as she has)
Slater: Yeah. Okay. (he holds it in his hand)
Lady: What size?
Slater and I in unison: We don't know.

Who remembers anything from five years ago, and those things are so worn they don't have a sole.

Slater: I was hoping you'd have a machine.

We all laugh as she pulls out a shiny  new model of the exact way someone measured my feet when I was a kid. I feel relief as I think yay, they kept that the same.

Lady: Stick your foot in here. Push back. Stand. Looks like a nine and a half.
I think, no. that's a ten.

She comes back with at least four pairs of shoes and shows us one with absolutely no other similar trait to our request than it is a slip on, a brown moccasin. I'm puzzled, confused, concerned we'll have to go to a second store.

Lady: What do you think?
Slater: They're a little tight.
Me: Slater, those are brown, nothing like what you have and what about the ones we picked.
Lady: How 'bout these? (she pulls out a pair of black red and white of what look like baseball cleats)
Me: For him?

Slater tries them on.
I wonder what is happening here. The boy never liked baseball.

There is silence as Slater looks down at the shoe so I finally ask it, the question originally asked. Do you have the ones we asked for?

Lady: I only have it in a ten.
Me: Slater, take off the baseball shoe and try on the ten.

He does what's asked.

Me: Hey. (I motion to the lady to look at Slater's old shoe. It looks as though it's been through a battle)
Lady: Oh. I see where they're coming apart.
Me: That's the shoe he loves.

And whadayano, the shoe fits.

Today I am grateful to provide my son with a pair of shoes that he loves.
I wonder if he'll let me keep his old Merrells.

He just said, No.

Pictures coming soon. I promise.

Friday, November 23, 2012

back off, the

When I hug I hug both. One arm around him, one around her and I pull them in close.  I don't know what to say. I don't know how to act. Every time he is away I forget how tall he is. He looks good, t-shirt and jeans. Those old shoes from five years ago, he wants some new ones though it is debatable if either of us will ever visit a mall again.

He's got that grin, the way he tilts his head down and to the left, looks up with blue eyes and shines. There you are, I think. There he is, the boy.

He had called unsure of the way and I know one of the saddest things about moving is that my boy doesn't know his way home. At this point I think, I've obviously failed as a Mom. No pity please. It's a recurring theme. It's how we got here and we're okay.

They're late.
We've started.
He knew we wouldn't wait.

I rub the top of his head and laugh. Daddy had been torturing Mom all afternoon, had met me at the door each time I walked in with food. Is that an appetizer? He would ask and grin. I think Mom actually threatened his life several times before I would catch them laughing at each other.

The smiles, people are smiling, laughing, eating. Aunt Dottie gives up the seat next to me. Granny takes it. Slater is at the head of the table with Shelby in the chair next to him. The thing I feared came true, another woman took him and it is good and I do love her and there is a huge whoooooooosh of gone.

Let go. Let God.
How many times did I repeat that phrase that year?
I claimed it as my mantra.

But here, now he sits at the head of a table in the middle of fancy while Granny tells us how her war with the world is playing out in stories titled, The Guy at the Driver's License Station is an Idiot and That One Cop Was Always After Me. Don't worry, it's been at least a couple of years since she got those four speeding tickets.

Dad is to my left. He, Josh and Priscilla go for seconds. My plate had been sufficiently urban planned on the first. Skyscrapers of cornbread dressing from Mom. It is moist and tasty. Smoked turkey from Christy's. Aunt Wanda's mixed vegetable casserole prepared by Priscilla. Strawberry congealed salad, a recipe from Aunt Patricia. Daddy says he hasn't eaten cranberry sauce with dressing since that came into existence. A ham with honey and cranberries done in the crock. Rolls, turnips, butter beans, sweet potato casserole. The mac and cheese exhibits anxiety, never good enough, always trying too hard, six cheeses. Geez. Next year I'll try to make a regular one.

Here. now. He laughs at his Pop's jokes. There's mention of busting beaver dams and Slater tells Shelby she can just take off her shoes. Go barefoot.

Wyatt watches TV, laughs in a scream.
Plates are cleared.
There are declarations of pain, questions of






followed by a groan.
Desserts never touched.

No photos taken. The reason? I just wanted to be in it, not outside watching.

Today I am so very grateful for family and for Slater finding his way home even though it may not be the house he's used to. I tell myself it was never about the house anyway and claim it as my truth.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

reading Frankl

Stop and look and see and here we are Thanksgiving 2012. The only thing cool about having notes left on here is the place we've come, the ones we've been. We have left ourselves little blue sticky notes it seems.

You have yet to even glimpse at your full value.
This, here, what we do now, is simply practice.

Today I practice giving thanks for all I have been given.

For everything. For you   for me     for everything.
I am a writer who can't write it.

We are here    now looking at a screen, receiving light. There is where we are       who we've been. These are the cells which make up our being. What we are feeling.

purpose  meaning.

For the meaning of life differs from man to man         from day to day        from hour to hour.
What matters, therefore,
is not the meaning of life in general
but rather
the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment.

Viktor E Frankl ~ Man's Search for Meaning

Ultimately man should not ask what the meaning of life is, but rather
it is
he who is asked.

Viktor E Frankl ~ Man's Search for Meaning

Live as if you are living a second time, and as though you acted wrongly the first time.

Viktor E Frankl ~ Man's Search for Meaning