Monday, August 31, 2015

kitchen music

What Jon recommends.


Ten questions, and you get nine right. Those you knew got credit on the grade but get no attention from you. It’s the one you got wrong that makes you cry.

It’s that perfect word until you take away the sting. What if that was the perfect moment and you missed it because you were worried about disappointing someone? Ohgoodgosh. What will we do?

Studies have shown time and time again, disappointment after disappointment, that it is possible and quite likely that we all get on with our imperfect little lives.

What you said this morning was true. You do, like Percy, want to take care of everyone and sometimes forget you. It’s tricky, and I am watching to see how you balance on that tightrope because child, you are not perfect.

You are absolutely incredibly don’t you dare get any better unless you want to you.

Today I am grateful for an entire week. For disappointment, for second place, for how a guitar teaches us more than music, for inclusion to a group who sits in line waiting for people just like you.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

f is for fine, p is for painting

I know the struggle she feels. If everyone is that beautiful, that talented, that smart, that incredible then what do you do but know that you have so much to live up to.

Mixed Media, Oil
Andrea Kostyal

The door opens and there's something about walking into this museum that makes you feel like you have this secret ticket to a world of other people's brains, to your favorite song turned inside out. Some explanation. A relief because today everything you've been telling yourself is true. Here is proof and
there he is.

Pagan Goddess
Watercolor, Colored Pencil, Ink
Joe MacGown

On repeat is Kelly Joe Phelps and Joe MacGown.

This is the Meridian Museum of Art's Bi State Annual Art Competition. This is declaring a day of selfish endeavor and realizing you do that all the time.


This is different. This feels pure.

I walk out of the room where I discovered Andrea and saw Joe. Kate is at the desk. I peek into the office and try to be quiet but it's only me and this is exciting, "I'm so glad Joe is here. I discovered him in this museum. I've read about his workshop. It's how he sees. It's intriguing. And Andrea. ohmygosh. Amazing. This is beautiful, Kate."

We talk about Joe and stand in front of Andrea's work and when I walk into the room to the right of the office I get about three quarters through it and there I forgot. I forgot I was even in the show until I see I Will Be Blessed hanging there. 

And though I know I am not as talented as Andrea and Joe, my work does not look pitiful. It doesn't look out of place or without some merit. I mean,

I feel relief.

So I guess what I'm saying is if you would like to feel relieved than you may want to check out the show at Meridian Museum of Art's Bi-State Annual Art Competition. I recommend you go on a Saturday afternoon. Go alone, play your favorite music or don't. Just close the door behind you and let your mind dance around the place.

I am grateful for art, for Kate, for that museum. For today.

Friday, August 28, 2015


This happened today.

Now excuse me while I go call my kid and have a fabulous discussion.

Bynum's helmets

Here's your challenge.

Discover someone's passion, someone's love.

Here are 1,500 people. They all have something. You must get out there and tell their fifteen hundred stories. Oh, don't look at me that way. Don't act like that's a chore. You love it.

But first you have to listen to the people on repeat.

She did eat the Italian Ice, but she was also concerned that it could have been poisoned.

"You were concerned about what?"

"You know. We're watching about nine eleven in class and those people hate us."

"The people selling you the Italian Ice?"

"Well. I don't know. I mean, obviously it wasn't poisoned."

"No. Tell me something. Do you think that makes you racist?"

She squirms, shakes her head, doesn't look at me.

"Listen. I don't know a lot, but I do know that humans can be insane. Everywhere and everyday is a walk of faith that the people you meet are like most people on this earth. They're good people, doing the best they can to survive and have families and I'm telling you that after forty-five years of facing fears and walking in faith I have found that the people I met were that. And I've been to at least eleven countries and twenty-five states. I've seen beautiful people everywhere. You know I always try to give you the latest, greatest update in my head."

She now makes eye contact. She smiles, "I know."

"Did I tell you that I now have two possums?"


"Fred and Mary."

"How do you know they are a boy and a girl?"

"I don't. It doesn't matter. It's just what I call 'em."

Again with the smile.

"Child, people try to tell you who you are but the only thing that matters is what you believe."


She puts a box of books on my desk, pulls one out and hugs it. Then she holds the book up at chest level, and with that smile she asks, "Isn't this the greatest?"

"Do you know what I love? I love that I know someone who thinks it is. It's like Bynum's helmets."


Today I am grateful for fifteen hundred people, for more than that even. But especially for the people I continue to meet or, of course, those that come to this blog with such kind words I can't imagine even facing anyone who said them out loud to me. I am grateful for anonymous.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


"99% oyster, 1% inspiration."
Elizabeth Gilbert

"You, our community, are amazing."

You are brilliant and intelligent and you live a life of generosity and beauty and how in the world did I ever get so lucky? I fight it all the time, this charity, this kindness. I act like I don't have enough time for all the awesomeness and

that would make me crazy.

Tonight I watched the end of a movie on a blanket in a field surrounded by kids and families and
sometimes you realize just how grateful you are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

up until now or tomorrow but the preacher called today

When she says there is no hope I respond with there won't be if you think that way.

But her body is giving up on her and I'm scared of her mind when I look into her eyes because at fifty-one pounds of she sat up today and quickly lost air

I want her to stay.
to stick around. to be as cool and kind and lived life like she was leaping, jumping, and her mind is still as sharp as it ever was. it is just her body which is weak.

My advice today was from one of the smartest people I have ever met. I had to admit that when I visit I pretend that one day soon may not be the last day we ever see each other again. What Mama said is that she says nobody knows the timing of that.

"I could go before her. I tell her that she and me and you, we'll get to see the sweetest sister and daddy."

Anyway, the preacher called today and I forgot to tell him that she loves it when he stops by and yes, he did show her his tattoos and

"Shea, his eyes."

I nod. "It's the Jesus thing."

I had a fashion flaw and she cooked the second best peach cobbler in the county

Today was a page of her story. Just think about it, you as a kid with eyes that shine, looking up and into someone else's eyes and that person is telling you that you baked the second best peach cobbler in the county.

This morning when you got up at six a.m. and carefully and joyfully and how in the world do you wake up that way? you threw together a teaspoon of that and a quarter teaspoon of that and two cups and eight cups and boiling water and boxed heat and timing.

"When did you learn how to tell time?"

"Second grade."

All those years later she knows how to measure and prepare and play music and cook too.
And ride horses. And have I mentioned timing?

And she is going to help me with my next assignment because she is a creative art director as well.

Today I am grateful for a Roald Dahl inspired project, for what you can do in the morning.
For music in the kitchen.

For some advice.
Don't sweep everything under the rug. Face reality in their face. Look into their eyes and say what you know and believe. They'll find comfort in that and so will you.

Monday, August 24, 2015

stranger in a strange land

Today I am grateful for sleep, for what rested feels like. This is nice.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

you can come here and feel better about yourself

but don't go here.

(witnessing genius makes you giddy at first)

((then you realize you were trying to call yourself a writer))

(((in the old days this is when you would drink whiskey and eat absurd amounts of pizza)))

((((maybe you still do))))

if so, I'm not opposed to reading what you type.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

press play for a house party


(I've subtitled the second piece Today I Tried to Save a Lizard Now I Watch the Cat Play with it's Lifeless Carcass.)

get your head shots here

This is not one of the photos she chose, but I liked it.

She is my political friend, my healthcare friend. She is fellow mother. She is someone with a vested interest in our children. And when I say our children I mean at some point no matter how many you have they run away to their own lives with their own homes or homeless or whatever they take control.

So we, of course, try to take part in the lives of a million more.

Today we had a four to five hour photo shoot, no more than fifteen minutes of taking the head shots she said she needed. I finally kicked her out of my home, and she agreed, "Do you know what time it is?"

"Get out of my house now."

It was dark chocolates with toffee and almonds and get this bowl away from me.

It was conversation and the reason I've had problems pricing work is because work has been talk amongst friends and most of the time you feel like they've had to listen to you ramble so you call it even.

This is the challenge that the two people who run Shea Goff Photography initially face: the person who does the job doesn't see any monetary value in their work.

A couple of weeks ago Slater asked, "How would you feel about another photographer being onboard?"

"I think you're brilliant."

Today I am grateful for conversation, how when I talk to my kid I am reminded of the mid nineties when my cousin and her husband were first married. When they had that little apartment in Memphis and the cutest little coffee table. How their life together felt like an easy conversation with a friend.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


She has to send me something, but I tell her that I am not worthy of anything good because I haven't been there for her.

She shows up, and ohmygosh it's her. There is actually at least three years of my life which is labelled the DeeDee.

Some people are personal legends. You know how it is. You can go a decade. You can lose and gain. Life and place and crazy until one day it's them again and some things just never change.

Today I am grateful for the legends of this world.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

or you write

It's team red and team blue.

Blue says, "Social media makes you antisocial."

Red has the opposing view.

They are brilliant voices, and all I can do is take notes. I want to participate so bad that I actually jump from my seat without permission and go and kneel in front of the red team. I tell them, "We're all everything. Social media makes us nothing."

They grin and nod and then collectively seem to agree that the crazy woman with the camera needs to go back to her seat.

Later after the blue team has narrowly claimed victory I raise my hand and tell the moderator I have a question. What a nice guy. He lets me so I just blurt out to the blue team, "Do humans need touch?"

All of a sudden it seems incredibly inappropriate to ask that particular question to a room of thirteen year olds. So I clarify, "Does a drawn hug equal one you get from a person? (looking back I should have said you get from your Mom because they still looked really uncomfortable.)

Anyway, the last sentence of my notes read, Blue wins, but it feels like nobody did.


She uses the word restless, and I nod.

"Bored is not a good word. I shouldn't have said bored. I should have said restless."

I nod, but she can't see me through the phone. It's just that she's on to something perhaps. That so much is a result of our restlessness. This uneasy I need to be busier. I am not doing enough.

She found a solution.
It's so not glamorous. It involves sweating and possibly some following day joint pain and it works for her. She goes outside and pushes a lawnmower and picks and cans tomatoes and before long she's too tired to be restless anymore.

Today I am grateful for a phone, for a conversation which explains so much. It's all so simple really.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

my imaginary friend

There is a certain charm to living alone and imagining what it would be like to share a life.
If you even could.

Yesterday morning I said, "I want him to have friends with real people."

Then I laughed, "I just said real people."

(as if everyone is not real)

Today I am grateful to be able to give away some music, to make plans for cool evenings and warm baths. For this morning, how the sky goes from black to pale blue and if given the chance it feels like the promise of something.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

publication delayed

Four interview attempts.
Two photo shoots.

On altruism.

It's complicated.

There's this kid who's doing something altruistic but his grades are not bad, not good. He could do better, he admits.

"So tell me why."

"Why what?"

"Why aren't your grades better? You and I both know your potential. You could do better so why don't you?"

"'Cause I'm lazy."

"Nope. Not buying it. You're not lazy."

He smiles.

"We all say that. 'Kids these days, they're lazy,' but you're not."

He knows, but it takes me a while to conclude.

Dude. Everyone gives the gifts they want to.

His, he said he was taught. His Daddy gave to a family during Christmas. Now he attends a class for three hours a night, two nights a week. He has a full time job and a serious hobby. Rather than being concerned with studying he is training for what he plans to do.

He wants to be a firefighter when he grows up so he's pretending to already be grown up.

(is there a credit for altruism you have to wonder but you assume you already know the answer to the question?)

Today I am grateful for a broom and a mop and a working washer. For a walk, a breakfast and to hear that the ordination was just the sweetest. Good for him. Good for us.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

the person in charge of the raising

If I had been a better parent we would have talked about the meteor shower. I wouldn't have just bought a telescope for Christmas without learning with him how to use it. I would have spent more time watching the stars with him. I would have learned to fly planes with him. I would have read all the Harry Potter books while he read them. I would have asked him to cook with me. Plan a meal, search for the ingredients.

I would have spent more time being a parent and less being whatever else I thought I was.

comfortable shoes

"Do you like my shoes?"

"Yeah. I guess. Do you need for me to like your shoes?"


"Are you sure?"


"I'm going to have to challenge you on this one."

"If you said you didn't like them I wouldn't care."

"Okay. But you want to know when I wouldn't like your shoes."

She always looks at me like I am going to surprise her, "Yes."

"I wouldn't like your shoes if you said they were uncomfortable."

She looks up and to the right before she smiles.

Today I am grateful for a haircut. Family night. For Bets and Grace. For my sidekick. To watch my brothers play ball with my niece. For hamburgers. For a wind, a faint thunder and frogs and crickets and a simple sweetness in the air.

Friday, August 14, 2015

partying down at the discotheque

Sue sits on the ledge and wonders, "What the hell?"

This is different, not different good and not different bad. Just the same different. Same music, alternate location.

I call her. "Is it over?" I ask.

"The week?"


"Yes. It's over."



He calls grinning. You can hear it through the phone. Murder mystery dinner theater and no, his table did not solve the crime but they did all agree that their suspect would have been the one in a more well written script. And the food. The food was an adventure, and yes, he would do it again.

Today I am grateful for the Friday night discotheque. For a request of which I had at least a partial answer. For a call from that guy who is enjoying life. For a conversation in kindness.

learn your knots

There’s this place where we could have a music festival. It would be an incredible challenge. A mural on a wall.

Alton. Glen. People I need to call.

What a kid taught me today is about altruism. This irrational unscientific behavior of risking your own life to save a stranger. Running into a burning building to potentially save a person’s life. Hanging from a bridge. Putting yourself in the line of fire.

It’s that concept which doesn’t fit. Yet people, those standing next to you or me or maybe if called on we’d do the same, they do. If someone needs us do we always help.

Sometimes we don’t know how to. Sometimes we only make things worse.

But surely I can learn to tie nine knots and know what they are used for.

(and I can surely not be late tomorrow)

the f word

She now has abandonment issues. Her ride was so late that she went to the office.
That was the shame of the day, that she would feel left.

But she forgave.
Acted like it was no big deal.
Kids, these days.

How many times a day are we forgiven for being absent minded or late or less than our spectacular self? If we took one day, one hour and counted how imperfect we are.

I am grateful for those who sometimes excuse my behavior. Forgiveness is such charity. I am grateful for rope.

(and a lesson as well)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

knot in your stomach

Pity is not love.

We argue.

And I'm scared I see your point. To the point that I have to break in and cut you off and ohmygosh but what if by pitying someone we take away what's left of their "I can do this" power. And what if there is  this really important point, hill to climb, mountain to fly your flag on the peak I did this. I conquered this. What if we take that away because somebody who loves us like crazy did it for us.

And they think, "Well maybe I am crippled like they think. But maybe I am also as powerful as they think because we are all everything. We should never dim our light by being less to suit others."

Don't you want to look into every child's eyes and say that at least once?


Today I am grateful to stand in an office and speak out loud my opinion to a mother I respect so much (and yes, I know I should just shut up)  I am grateful for this one book which means so much more than a book. I am grateful for questions I know the answers to and how I just today found Shine Eyed Mister Zen and pulled it out to play during homework. I am grateful for a burn pile, a new dog bed, and  a nap.

And this.

This conversation you allow between me and myself. I kinda like a small audience, and I wish I was funny. (wishes are fishes)

if wishes are fishes

Sometimes a four letter word is better than a seven letter one.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

point in favor

I asked her, "What was the most interesting thing that happened today?"

"A science film about solar panels and at what angle they collect sunlight."

"So did they find out what angle is the most efficient?"

"Uh huh."

And she gives me the range which is surprisingly small and I don't remember the numbers and I am bad at names but I stop focusing on what seem like inane details when I am overwhelmed by the feeling of ohgoodgosh this kid is a genius.

I really shouldn't take a point for that because I had nothing to do with it.

a different kind of note

She leaves notes. Handwritten scrap pieces of paper hidden. "But not really. It's easy to find, Aunt Shea."

Yesterday it was on the pillow of the bed in the room where I never sleep. I went in there to get my pillow and there it was. A torn piece of used copy paper with the words written in a font that is personal and sweet and the time it took from the time I walked to my car, cranked it up and rolled down the windows to the time two huge notebooks and one little book all which looked bigger than she is and I feel bad because I am not being the woman I want to be but I imagined her today

sitting on the floor, looking up and listening.

Just enjoying the moment.

Instead I am some type of drill sergeant, "Are you hungry?"

"Do you have grapes?"

"Yes. But I have to wash them first. Go get your guitar. Get set up."

"Where is it?"


"Thirty minutes. It's now 4:00."

"Forty-five. You owe me from last week."

She smiles and nods.

Afterwards it's straight to homework and I do consider suggesting we do do some type of dinner theater on Thursday night.

But who wants to make dinner? I mean, anything other than an apple and some nuts and water and I'm beginning to sound like him.

We'll have to plan a healthy menu.

Today I am grateful for a pill which obviously tried to kill me but last night was declared the worst 'cause I swear some days you've just got to get up and declare at least a little victory.

Blood pressure within range.
Water drank.
Must get back to walking.
And listening to that kid's music.

I actually say, "I want it perfect," and then kick myself for even muttering that word.

Do better tomorrow, chic.

Monday, August 10, 2015

screen shot

Today I am grateful for silence.

breaking the silence to say something about silence

"Silence is something like an endangered species. The experience of silence is now so rare that we must guard it and treasure it."

"Within each of us there is a silence - a silence as vast as the universe. We are afraid of it…and we long for it."

Gunilla Norris said it.

preacher and what have I found

I knew there was something wrong when I was younger. That some things did not feel right. So I learned to question adults. And they answered.

But I asked all adults, not just the preacher.

What was the world?

Tonight I wore an old livestrong t-shirt, and the preacher talked about when you die.
(go to the beach)

That as those people, who Stephen knew and loved, would stone him to death he looks up and says, "Forgive them. Don't count this one against them."

(hey, you. don't relate to Stephen. don't think the world is out to hurt you. do not attempt to feel what Stephen did.

Just make note.

And just be thankful that the new preacher has an understanding that feels right. That once upon a time he took off down some Mississippi backroads and asked some backroads' Mississippi store owners

((You know the kind. Your favorite, those who are filled with stories.))

and he told them he was trying to find one Mr. R.L. Burnside, the blues legend who played on the album recommended by a record store owner on Beale. He went whatever way they told him until finally on one of those north Mississippi hill country roads that will never end a huge man stood in the middle of the road.

He and his friend stopped, and preacher said, "Hello, sir."

The large man declared, "Two honkies out here can only mean one thing. You looking for a man named Burnside."

The preacher, before he was ordained, smiled and said, "Yes, sir."

That guy told him how to get there, and the preacher did meet R.L.

Took a photo with him.
It's framed.
Hanging on a wall in a room filled with music.

Preacher has some north Mississippi hill country cred. It's refreshing. So I listen to him.

Tonight we sang and heard the story of Stephen, and I have to admit my heart did break for him.
((though the preacher did say that Stephen died right though he was not at the beach at the time))

Preacher said he crossed Jordan. I have heard it called Beulah Land.)

Today I am grateful to have found a preacher.

Though I did meet another one Saturday, and I am going to have to go and get a barbecue. She has this story about when she was a teenager she had a brain tumor for which she received absolutely no medical treatment other than the initial diagnosis. She has the medical records.

And I must admit that I'm kinda scared of this story because what if all we're supposed to do is say, "I'm yours to do with what you will."

But not seek medical treatment?

What is this world? A steady stream of gifts peppered with I didn't want to learn that lesson. Oh yeah. I'm yours to do with what you will.

Dear reader, thank you for the Pixies recommendation.

Dear Trey, thank you for the blue.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

this, too


The day you opted for Frankl's The Doctor and the Soul rather than learning your knots for fire fighter school. 

He quotes Goethe, and I hand her chocolates in a chipped bowl. I've already planned to say so I do say,  "All I had were these chocolates. I wanted to get a gallon of vodka for you, but I was scared if I went to the store I would want something too. And this bowl is chipped, and I thought this was perfect because life is imperfect. Right?"

And I immediately hate myself because that's so trite. I want to fix something, but I can't.

So she fixes me because she takes those chocolates, hugs and tries to laugh but of course it ends up in a cry and yes, can time just go back a couple of days.

"This can't be real. Right? Not real. I don't want it to be real."

And all I can think is someone please give this woman some vodka or a pill to help her sleep.

So I pray a ridiculous prayer for two days.

I just want him to show her that he's okay.

Then today.

My pulse dropped from 80 to 60 though my blood pressure stayed the same.
Damn numbers. Damn pill.

A storm came. A wind and thunder and rain and I know heaven is supposed to be about some peace, some wild unknowable tranquility. But him, the way he would have let her know that he was now energy was to show her how pissed he was to have had to leave her.

If we came here to love I would say that that guy and his wife did it with a vengeance as if they were out to prove something.

You think that's a delusion and I say I love that you think what you want to.

Today I am grateful for my delusion.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Willie says, "You listen to sad music."

"Don't cry, Willie."

Green, Green Rocky Road by Dave Van Ronk
Inside Llewyn soundtrack

Hashtag: Don't you stumble. Don't you fall.

no free lunches

She cries into exhaustion and the only relief comes when she sleeps.
Then she wakes and realizes he's gone and she's still here and it's the sinking feeling of living in a nightmare she could never dream.

Last night I wondered if he knew the end. If all those years ago he got a glimpse of her pain would he have even looked her way, and I thought, "No. He would never want her to suffer this way."

This morning it occurred to me that a love like that could never be free and both of them would surely do it all over again if given the chance.

Today I am grateful she has her mother and her friends and time and his stories and their bed and his pillow and the mercy of at least some sleep.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


It always comes back to this. The why of it.
Why do I get up in the mornings?
Why do I walk?
Why do I drink water?
Why do I monitor my blood pressure?
Why do I eat a fifty cent apple and some nuts for lunch? (and a banana and maybe another apple because yes, I have to have sustenance) 
Why do I harm myself?
Why do I budget money?
Why do I always feel like I have to run to get somewhere?
Why do I take photos?
Why do I write?
Why do I surround myself with stuff?
Why does that matter?
Why would I care?

Three slides, three sides. 
but there's more. 
and it's silly

that it's all about one word.


Today I am grateful to be reminded of groundhog day. How in the ebb and flow of life that thinking about intention is like the rush of the ocean.

(someone is obviously thinking ocean)

Monday, August 3, 2015

long day

The speech was horrible. My mind raced. I wondered where all the saliva in my mouth went. It felt like my tongue was swelling. Was my speech slurred? It was panic so every word came out in some feeble attempt to recover from the last until finally a very good friend clicked to the last slide of the presentation which I didn't even understand anymore.

It was an honor and a kind and generous audience, but I did notice how a talk about belief became an exercise in the form of a rambling monologue proving how little I believed in myself.

Today I am grateful to be surrounded by such kind people.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"you need to say it at least ten times,"

he says.

"I'm glad you see it like I do."

"Wait. How many people are you speaking to?"

"Maybe fifty to seventy-five."

Outcome blind is what we'll call it.

Today I am grateful to realize those things which could really stress me out. (speaking in front of people about what I do is relatively high on that list) That makes me so typical that there is advice out there which says, "See them in their underwear."

But I don't know.  How 'bout if I respect those people too much? And the topic. The topic feels really important.

So what if I blow it. It's just public speaking.

Failure and success are both options.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

it is

It's a slow morning with a swing and a toddler making up a song. It's Jess playing guitar in the shade with a wind and a temperature which makes me think, "It's going to be a good August."

It's burning myself with a blood pressure cuff, and a lady who has seen all kinds of crazy medical stuff saying, "I've never seen that before."

And me responding, "Oh good. A first."

It's my parents' anniversary. Forty-six years marked by working in the yard and finishing up with a steak dinner. It says something, doesn't it? The tenacity. The persistence. The evolution of love is like that virus from science class. Maybe complexity is overrated.

It's an email from Kate saying, Hey. Did you know you had been chosen? I'm going on vacation. You can either drop the work off across the street or wait till I get back on August 16th.

It's me replying, Holy crap. I can do it now.

Dear August Budget,

I need some money. I'm willing to go light on food this month.

Please and thank you,
Your Nemesis

Today I am grateful to once again place some of my favorite things on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. Though escapism makes for beautiful dreams, I don't want to miss what is right in front of me.

(balance, me)