Thursday, December 31, 2015


"These could be our new year's resolutions."

"Yeah. If you think. If you want."

We picked five, one for each glass pane. There's a movie playing. She's better at this than me and I don't know why I would even mention that other than to say I feel like the student when doing art with a kid.

"You know I kinda feel bad because we're only picking five but I think maybe everyone picks and chooses what suits them."

She nods and smiles. She rarely stops smiling.

"Okay. So in my head it's going to go above those doors and it's going to be the sun like you said and we're going to have to ask your uncle about paints on glass and brushes and how to prepare the surface and here's some paper and we have pencils and let's lay it on the floor here."


Insert photograph of scissors and tape and paper and glass and wood and reflection and three and a half circles and the candle we used is now burning.


"It's no rush. We have plenty of time for this."

"I know, but we need to do all of our suns today."

Today I am grateful for five completed suns, a call from one, and a conversation with a friend.

last day, first day

If for any reason I don't make it past the next twenty-four hours which sounds morbid but let's just say there may have been a list of things I had to do in the future and some reasons I wanted to stick around to see

an art project
warm cookies and a glass of cold, whole milk
a walk
three more articles
editing photos from the last two days
three emails
two music videos
the 46th chapter
using my computer (thank you for repairing, my most favorite company ever)
a wedding
a revival
an outdoor blues concert
the beach


Today I am grateful for plans, for the ability to look forward and know there are great things out there and it doesn't matter if I'll get to see them because in this moment I wanted to and we have only what we have in this world.

Toast music is the one song everyone is waiting for.

Monday, December 28, 2015

hundred eyes

not a screenshot

In the top ten of best movie characters ever.

pause in the storm

The wind is demanding attention and there is a schedule to follow and weather forecasts and all you can think is I should be ashamed for my ability to even write this. Tornados everywhere. Cars. Rain. People died. Death and politics and weather is why you don't want to turn on the news.

So. If you are so lucky as to be able to drive or ride with a friend and you can remember that road trips are some of the best things on earth and you were looking for some special music, then yeah. You're at the right place. We got the CD because we are old school.

Nobody should love getting old to the point that they lose their place in technology but we did and she didn't even know if the CD player worked because she had never worked it before.

Elvis walked in with his girlfriend. She was a Las Vegas showgirl, and she sat on that piano while he played it. You can hear her in at least one the forty-seven tracks but definitely no more than you'll hear Carl, Jerry, and Johnny. It was Sun Studios in 1956, and Sam Phillips and Memphis and everything is here.

But then it's not. Not everything. Because what you hear when you listen to the entire CD is you hear a moment in time that feels honest and gorgeous and people together doing what they do and having fun with it.

I tell her, "He's just a Mississippi country boy having a blast."

"Definitely. One thing about Elvis is that he was having fun doing what he was doing."

And you smile because all of a sudden you are hearing why he was so loved.

And you think, Man, how lucky am I?
I have electricity and fuel and shelter and a car and what I said yesterday.

And I am listening to Elvis and am at the beach and we're driving back and I am so grateful for this trip, a look at some rough seas, how he stood at that window and said, "It's a beautiful day. We better enjoy it, huh?"


"Have you been here before?"

"Oh yeah. This is one of my favorite places on earth."

He says, "She doesn't need to be saved."

I agree with him.

Today I am grateful for the guy who trimmed the hedges and left the light on for me.
(thank you)

Sunday, December 27, 2015


Today I am grateful for my new lens and the Sunset Grille and boiled shrimp and what a beautiful morning it is in Perdido Key.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jesus (thank you for the sunrise)

She says she wants it to be a sunrise. Each of the five panes will be the same sun but higher over the horizon.

I like it, but then I was thinking about how different each would be.

On January 1st I plan to collaborate with an artist, a painter, and I don't know if she's been thinking about the five panes but

there's the beatitudes and if I've learned anything, it is to start the year with a hope that I can be kinder, meeker, more courageous, more merciful, hungrier, peaceful, righteous but not in a selfish way.

"But perfect? Mom. There's that word."

"Yes. We never make it. We all fail every day, but we still try to be as much like Jesus as we can."

"Okay. I know. I know."

Today I am grateful to understand I have no perfect gift. If I could I would get right there all up in your head and decide what would be the very best present for you, for happiness, for water and love and enough food and some type of peace where I don't know. I just have to trust that we're getting closer to perfect just by trying it.

Here's some Christmas photos from one of my favorite photographers.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Garry's birthday

"It's an honor," I take his hand in mine and somehow understand that I am there working for him up unto and until he's almost too legendary for me to be this close to him.

He smiles, "That's sweet."

So I just start working like it is the most important thing I have to do. I take a zillion photos that night with a borrowed Canon Rebel.

There was that one night he called. I should have checked my blood pressure then. I called Charlie as soon as we hung up. I called Charlie just like I remember calling Kim about Pony Boy when I was twelve years old (except Pony Boy never called. I would have died), "Dude. Garry Burnside just called me. That's crazy, Charlie. He said, 'Yeah. Yeah. Whatever you need.' What?"

Charlie laughed. "Garry's awesome, Shea."

"I know, Charlie. He was taking a break from a set. He was working and he called and that's insane. I feel like he's you know, the legend. I haven't even delved into his music yet. It's just crazy that he'd be so kind to a half ass whatever I claim to be. That was my fifteen minutes, man. If that's all I ever get that'll be fine with me."

"Garry is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet."

"I know. I know. But I feel like I'm just a fool around him."

Again, he laughs. "You'll be okay."

I didn't bring him a gift, though I was able to tag along to his party. And he was kind enough to shake my hand and let me take photos of the night I fell head over heels, absolutely in love with the blues. And I hope everyone everywhere gets to experience at least one night like that in a place like the Rendezvous. It was the best live concert I've ever seen and I've been to church and music festivals and Eric Clapton and Leonard Cohen and Kelly Joe Phelps twice and Tchulahoma before it burned down. So yeah, I'm saying I've seen some live music.

I am grateful for Garry's birthday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

we began to doubt ourselves

it has to do with an oil thermometer. the kind you stick on the side of a pot. the oil needs to be 350 degrees and stay there for the chicken to be just right, and the chicken needs to be just right because you just spent the last twenty-four hours possibly ruining it with pickle juice and buttermilk and ranch seasoning and sugar where's the honey butter, ohmygosh where is it? did it drop out of the bag?

no. wait.

you forgot the water.

there's the butter. i remember doing that. slice the rolls in half. Kevin Gillespie makes this look easy. he's a liar but I'll eat his sandwich.

if you don't have an oil thermometer and you've already spent too much money on the sandwich as one is likely to do, then stick a wooden spoon down into the middle of that pot. when the edge of that spoon which first meets that oil begins to sizzle then you can throw that first piece of chicken in and it will work. nobody will get salmonella. everyone will survive and your brother the chef will give it his approval.

nutritional information: you'll die sooner because of this but those five minutes are less valuable then the taste of this sandwich.

day four of sixteen: it's all personal

It's him driving his fiancé and little brother to Nan's.
It's how she answers the door.
It's Merry Missmas.
It's a chicken sandwich.
It's feeling like there won't be enough time in twenty-four hours.
Yes it will.
No it won't.
It was.

It's how from the corner of the room I get a blues concert from someone you wish could have stuck around a little longer to see the people who now would pay to see him and we all just think that something is wrong in a world where your value adds after you are gone.

But then I think the value is in his smile, and I think this looks like a good day.

Blues is a celebration.

Today I am grateful for a job, for electricity, for a phone, an email, for a couple of trips, and water.

Dear me,
Water is available to you.

Monday, December 21, 2015

day three of sixteen

Buddy Guy (happiest man that ever woke up that morning)

This morning she left with her guitar, strung and strapped. And I remember the last thing I told her that night. The one thing I think I know about playing.

"You know how it was like a race trying to keep up with those other people. Your wrist got stiff. All the fundamentals went out the door."

She nodded.

"Today when you practice it's just you and that guitar. Relax into it."

Today I am grateful to relax into the day, the cooking, the family. It took three days to realize I'm on vacation.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

day two of sixteen

It's Gunshow. The closed on Sunday chicken sandwich. Kevin Gillespie. Atlanta. Three times a year. Food porn. created as a joke. recipe from a very popular food chain.

Marinade: ranch seasoning, sugar, salt, water, pickle juice, whole fat buttermilk

Slice the chicken thin.

Breading: flour, ranch seasoning and whatever/however

dill pickle
hot sauce

(don't know if the above is everything. I'd have to watch the episode again)

Winging the above and a fresh apple cake for Dad's birthday tomorrow.

I am reserving myself one of the chicken sandwiches and a slice of cake with a cup of coffee.

Dear me,

Walk more. Read this.


Today I am grateful for a Sunday morning service, for how lovely it was to watch and hear my Mom speak a part. For the five minutes I had with him sitting on a bench at Walmart. For sixty ounces of water. For a call, some photos of a tree and a productive hour at the office.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

killer show

no pun intended.

day one of sixteen

is a result of food terrorism but worse. I've been pounding massive amounts of food into my body for two weeks.

At the same time I have been attempting to dehydrate myself.

One part of me is trying to kill me and doing a damn good job. The other writes to fight herself in the most boring, ridiculous, be smarter, stop it, chic; either you're smart enough to kill yourself or you're smart enough to live. Stop playing like this with your life.

Anger. I'm mad at myself for consistently promising myself tomorrow, for being a shitty example to kids, for spending massive amounts of money on things not good for me (this heading of my fictional budget is bold and all caps and how could I help anyone else if I can't help myself)

You're going to do better tomorrow. You are going to exercise and drink water and make decent food decisions because on day two of sixteen is the first day you are going to hold yourself accountable.

In fact.
Not tomorrow.

Get in there.
Make yourself a huge glass of drinking water and consider how fortunate you are to have access to that in this world. Don't take for granted those things offered to you so you can live. Why would you deny such privilege? Plus, if you only drink that then you can give all that money you save to make sure someone else has clean water to drink. Be like this guy.

Or just be better, chic.

Today I am grateful for sixteen days.

Friday, December 18, 2015

the unknown

We stopped writing. It was that one thing I once wrote.

I hope we never stop writing. I hope we always have this. Tell me we'll never stop.

You laughed, "We don't know what will happen."

Now I appreciate your wisdom, your honesty.


"I said something wrong," I tell her. "It was one of those things that came from a good place of wanting to help, wanting to find a solution, wanting to know from an expert on how to do what I do, but it ended up being a completely selfish, not even considering what he was going through plea of tell me what to do."

The shame tonight comes from not knowing what to do.

That thing we do when we feel like we have another shot at 365.242199 days, if I were to go along with that custom which hey, maybe next year I'll be better at giving rather than taking.

Today I am grateful for his calm demeanor, for some insight, for understanding how I don't need to ask those questions of him.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

four handshakes and a dance

He has on a button down shirt, a nice smile. He reminds me of someone.
We shake hands on introductions.

This is the first interview of the day and the hardest I would now say.
He's older, an elder. He's planning on going fishing and doing some chores on Christmas break. Semi-retired. He saved but also he's not in to spending so much.

He has advice.

"Kids are wise," he says.

His eyes are wise, I think.

"They are left on their own."

"But we were, too. Weren't we? I mean, we were out in the woods blazing trails as they would say. Mama had to call us in for supper. Right?"

He nods. Smiles.

"Kids are not out there like that."

"No. They're at home. But the internet. They can go anywhere they want."

This is the second of the four.

He's tall. Polite.
Again, the handshake.
The one photo I thought I had, it wasn't there.

"Dad is intelligent. Mom is independent."

This is the third.

Sits to my right, an athlete.

"Let's say the World Series is that. That thing, that place you see yourself. What if that doesn't happen? Where would you be then?"

It's the sickest interview question in the history of all interview questions to ask, and I just asked it.

"Sports medicine."

I know it's sick, but it really is the question he's asking himself. I was just wondering what he was saying.

This is the last.

She is also the first of four, and what she has been is an example to the rest. A cheerleader, hair in a ponytail until she runs home to take it down for the impromptu photo session.

She is excited to be a nutritionist. She wants to work with cancer patients.

"From my Mom I learned to be a good listener. My Dad taught me strength."

What four people taught me today is that as much as things have changed, things haven't changed all that much.

(there's some comfort in that)

Today I am grateful for the chance to shake hands with four strangers, to ask them personal questions and have them answer me. I am grateful for a group of kids who sang and danced and raised their hands and yes, complete insanity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

past present future

Imagining it to be more than it was but later understanding it was all it ever needed to be.

He calls.
I read him the sentence.
He is unimpressed.
I agree with him.

An hour later the conversation has circled back to those moments we sat outside and he tried to convince me that energy is finite but I said no. There's just more out there you haven't discovered yet.

He doesn't remember that.
I smile because yes. That was all it ever needed to be at the time.

Today I am grateful for a talk we keep having.

Dear Little Bird,

This year you began singing, and it was one of the sweetest things I think I've ever heard.

Today I am grateful for those defiant monkeys falling off that bed. 
Chic, you rock that song.

Monday, December 14, 2015

escape room

It's that time of year when we look back into our history, into other people's history, and we spend too much time together and not enough time together and it makes sense sometimes to escape.

Just walk out there like there is no structure, no plan so you can feel like you're doing it all yourself.

I finally watched Hand of God on Amazon because someone I respect recommended it.
Then Mr. Holmes because we all seem to be trying to figure it out.

He gave me The Search for Truth by Michael A. Singer, and I promised I would try to read it. On page sixteen a heading reads, "Man's Relation to His Mind and Emotions - the psychical self".


Today I am grateful for puzzles and gifts and time to escape even them.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

worth repeating

About Time

Today I am grateful for those weekends which are worth repeating.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The key

when you listen to Jimi is to know there is no rush. For just this weekend we will feel like we have all the time in the world.

Today I am grateful to pretend that what we thought was scarce was

we just stopped thinking.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


It took years to discover that if this was all we had then it had to be enough.

Today I am grateful for enough.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

setting the stage

Today I am grateful for the doubt, for the questions I had to ask myself.

Monday, December 7, 2015


to music.

Today I am grateful the screen went black, a door closed.

I am grateful for story.

I am grateful that Nan asked.

I am grateful they had a reason to come.

I am grateful for how they left and all the places they are going.

I am grateful for the party, the rides we took, the conversations.

I am grateful that all the photos were lost, and we get to start over.

Today I am grateful for a weekend with these two.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


The photographer does a study of his journey with depression. Beautiful, dark, barren landscapes with himself as the lone alien center. Though his work is more abstract than what I tend to look at, the images are

strangely comforting.

Later I sit on the porch and watch as deer look for food in my front yard. And I think if I am still enough, quiet enough, I can

be invisible here.

Today I am grateful for this time of year. For the cold, the dark, the insanity. For how we find being alone was what we wanted, needed in those moments.


Today I am grateful for a stillness, a quiet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I am grateful for stories.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Stay weird, Austin.

It's been decades since I've seen her which makes it especially nice to see how happy she is.

Today I am grateful to see an old friend.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

my internet boyfriend sent me something

Have you ever hoped that you inspired just one red card? No? Okay. Me either. I was just checking.

Perk: Fiercely loyal
Red Flag: Is related to you

Perk: Won the medal of honor
Red Flag: Refuses to look up from the phone

Perk: Can multiply themselves
Red Flag: Is a hobbit

Who said that was a red flag?

Perk: Same favorite music
Red Flag: Literally can't make decisions

Perk: Animal shelter volunteer
Red Flag: Farts every time they kiss you

Perk: Same favorite foods
Red Flag: Greets you with a headbutt

My review of this game? It's quite fitting and sad and hilarious that this game can be played alone. It's good and funny and a great break from an article. Thank you, Darin Ross.

(I'm going with the hobbit)

Today I am grateful for a good laugh and a great game. So grateful I made up my own two cards.

Perk: Loves to cook while listening to music
Red Flag: Has an internet boyfriend

Friday, November 27, 2015

it's everywhere

Yellow Dog at Love Music Festival circa ohgoodgoshwhatyearwasthat?

Ken gave the hardest assignment. Mississippi: America's Birthplace of Music, two photos due tomorrow. Charlie said, "Two photos. That should be easy for you."

To which I grunted and said, "Hm. Huh."

Yellow Dog at Possum Holla

Yellow Dog at The Fillin' Station

Today I am grateful for all the music around here.

'o day of gratitude

Today I am grateful for the people who take care of things, who chase me away, who say, "Not a great idea. Really. Work on it or walk away. Now's your chance."

I am grateful for the food and the people around two tables.
I am grateful for rules of living, for how walking barefoot can still be done in November. I am grateful for the sound of crickets and water dripping. I am grateful for the middle of the night. I am grateful for the birthday girl and the anniversary one. I am grateful for doctors who perform surgeries and ultrasound technicians who still scan and plumbers who stop the water from running into the basements and that you can still have peanut m&ms on Thanksgiving Day. I am grateful the child was found and for the people who run out to do that sort of thing on Thanksgiving Day. I am grateful for the lives saved, the people helped, the naps took, how the lights work on 'o day of gratitude.

I am grateful for a podcast. I am grateful for two calls, two kids. I am grateful for a day of working when I wasn't supposed to, how Thanksgiving can be a day of ideas and a day of rest. I am grateful for the time to talk politics and getting lost in music.

Dear Saturday Night Live writers,

You rock.


I am grateful for the guy who sent it to me.

I think he wanted me to send it to you. So. Here.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

when two became more

We'll call this an episode in chairs.

Karen came by this morning. And, well, we both talked so fast because we had so much to tell each other and what about you and how 'bout this and before long we're returning to Moon Hollow Farms.

But not before we leave the Courtyard.

Dear #hotelbedsofamerica, I miss you when you are gone.

Before anything else happens I have to write the story.

We'll start it here.

Kay emailed. I called the CEO. He asked, "You already made the deal?"

"Of course. It's Kay, the courtyard."

Then I remembered Sowashee so I emailed Charlie. Charlie emailed back. You saw that. Then a whirlwind of a tornado splat everybody but Garry landed there.

Here is where the story begins because the CEO came with his date and two young men showed up with their two gorgeous perfectly fitting soul mates and they brought their guitars and we set up some chairs. Then Hannah and her family walked in and we were set.

Let's break here for some music.

I don't remember what they were listening to around the time I took this technically wrong but incredibly right photograph (as close as I could be to Junior at the time), but there is a story here. A story of two white boys on the back of a flatbed truck playing R.L. Burnside's music. That's when Garry walked up. Maybe that's where the story begins.

Today I am grateful she said, "Yes," when he asked. I am grateful that the CEO continues to teach me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

leaving you

The only way you can leave Como is to know that one day you'll return.

it's insane here

Como Sessions

There's a light in the window.
We take a walk.
And she tells me about a sickness and a peg tube and months of thirty-five radiations.
And she tells me about his visits. How he would ask, 'How is your spiritual life?'

There are lights everywhere.

'You ask me that now?' 

And he pauses. Listens.

'You should have asked me before when I was healthy. That's when my spiritual life could have been questionable. Now it's me and God (no matter what you call something greater than you because you couldn't handle all this.)

And this is the origin of music. The first cry was a cry. That's why I think North Mississippi Hill Country Blues started it. And it doesn't matter who started it.

(though I still know that there were and still are cries around the world)

Today I am grateful again for my powerlessness, for the quiet I can feel here. For how consuming a music can be when listened to like this.

Woodstomp took a request.

Kay loves the music, and if I ever were to dedicate a work it would be to her but then that makes me conceited so I'll just say that Kay of this place was the first person who said, "You have a good eye."

It doesn't matter if it was true. It doesn't matter if it matters anymore.

What it did was give me the freedom to attempt to repay someone who I could never repay.

There are at least angels who walk on this earth. To which I figure Kay would reply, "Oh, Shea. Hush. Let me change your sheets."