Everything feels important. Drastically, vitally, critically, incredibly, all the el whys. I walk around assuming that we're all feeling this way.
And I had this schedule in my head and it was beautiful if I could pull it off and sometimes maybe I can't pull it off and that's okay because it was a schedule I put in my head and nobody around me is pushing me any harder than I am.
Though there is this weird ringing that goes off in my head. Some bell I pull to say you're off schedule and yes, it does kinda weirdly feel like panic.
He says, "I'm listening to this doctor talk about the Paleo diet."
"Yeah. I don't even think I can talk about that."
"What do you know about the Paleo diet?"
"I know that I found something that worked for me last year and it's simple and I just choose not to do it because I have this diet self sabotage thing going on. There really is no excuse. Diet has become a bad choice I make every day."
"Why is that?"
"It's like a bucket of priorities I just throw into the air and I search for the writing and I go for it above anything else. I am not only a slow learner and require as simple as it gets, but I also ignore that one does not have to negate the other and stupid balance."
"You sound stressed."
"I need to write. I'm behind."
Today I am grateful for a chance to sit in on a meeting, to consider words like vision and goals and beliefs and listen to what others are saying. Sometimes the hardest thing for me is to shut up and listen.
(imagine that but still understand I'm not going on the Paleo diet)
It is not likely you're here for artistic advice, and if I needed some a google search would not lead me here. But. Today were are going to make-believe that we are Michelangelo and there was mustard seed and we began to paint as if this could be the Sistine Chapel while we watched Heartland and it reminded me of Twin Peaks.
"This doesn't look right," Her within the first minute half of applying paint.
"I think we have to paint it, let it dry and then decide what needs to happen."
(neither of us have a clue on how to do this. one of us is just acting like she does)
Anyway. The next time we paint I get to pick.
She asks, "Is he your Blake Shelton?"
"Oh, please. Better than that."
"He's going to cure 50% of the world."
"With clean drinking water."
"Wait and see."
Today I am grateful for Netflix and paint and time and sleep.
Artistic advice (since that's what you came here for and oh, are you disappointed) is you can waste some paint if you're new to the game. A little goes a long way.
Today's writing prompt given by the Bloggess and Victor. (great internet couple)
Now the recommendations are up to two, count them two, readers independent of each other who read everything and are both saying, "You gotta read it." Both of them grin. They talk about how funny Grant is.
"I read it in two days."
"I would laugh and Matt would look at me like 'What?' Then I would just shake my head and laugh some more."
You go to the movie. I'm staying home and reading this.
Today I am grateful for two friends who know me and are smiling like they have a secret to share with me. I think it's going to be good.
It is a cardboard box from Detroit. Four of her books, a handwritten note, the story, her grandmother's necklace, and a small, fat, plastic bag. Typed on the bag are the words
It is likely that the contents of the small, fat, plastic bag are what is considered to be those tiny round seeds people would just throw into a field or pasture. I don't know, but they have stayed in the windowsill for all these years.
He was born to a simpleton, it seems. I try to understand the spreadsheet.
I decided somewhere somehow and in some way that school was abhorrent to me. Tenth grade, I think. We moved and came back and soon after I made a claim that education was not for me.
(insert photo of my Dad wanting to thump me on my head)
Though I did graduate high school, it didn't look like I did it willingly.
(I don't even like the girl I was when you met me.)
We are cooking, and she is washing her hands between ingredients.
"What is that?"
"Up there. That little bag. It says, 'Mustard seed.'"
"She was a writer from Texas who lived in Detroit. She could write an ending like nobody I had ever seen. Shocking, she was. She sent me those, and I don't know if she wanted me to plant them, but it just seemed better to keep them. So there they sit, the mustard seeds. It's a story in the Bible, kid."
One of Michelle's books was titled Make Yourself Small.
Today I am grateful for a bag of mustard seeds and last night's reminder of it's significance.
There is a high probability that your project will always feel incomplete. Like you could've done more. And yes, there is an infinite number of ways you could've been better, mixed a little more white into the blue so that the sky could be just perfect. But remember. Here we are getting away from that word.
Today I am grateful for our art project now entitled doing the best we can.
(that doesn't even sound right)
You and me, we'll remember it for this. It was the four hundred seventy-one thousand three hundred ninety-second moment that at least one of us declared, maybe. no. It will come amongst one million six hundred forty eight thousand five hundred seventy-two moments of maybe. yes. and it's not that I'm not greedy. My pack is overloaded with what I take with me, the most valuable of which is so unique. You and me, we'll remember those times we didn't need to change anything about ourselves or each other. What we found there is possibility.
Today I am grateful for a day of considering last words and knowing they didn't need to be I'll call you back if this doesn't kill me first. I am grateful that the result of feeling so ill forced me to remember those moments I felt energized and healthy.
Grab your backpack, man. It's time to plan a trip.
He laughs, "Of the two she left for me today I am already one behind."
And that tree fell exactly ninety degrees from where it was supposed to. Even tied to the tractor and with three wedges in it. He can't imagine how it did it, but it was a good day because it landed right on where it didn't destroy anything. Amazing really. He could not have planned it better. That tree landed at the end of the woodpile, closer than if it fell the way he planned.
Today I am grateful to share a laugh with a guy who can tell the sweetest of simple but most complicated stories. I am grateful to hear the smiles when they speak. It's quite beautiful really.
It is the bridge scene and all the quotable quotes and people and history. That somehow there was this one moment we found more in common than we had different.
She pays me without reading and from a writing standpoint there has to be some type of sense of achievement in someone blindly believing it is what she needed. I don't know. What I do know is that I read the words until I never could read them again and at this point I just had to say, "Here."
Fourteen dollars worth of paint and enough uncertainty that I have to convince myself it's okay to apply paint to a surface without certainty.
"What do you wanna do?"
"Ahhhhhh. Hm. Is it really?"
"That's what I thought you wanted me to say."
"But I asked you and I was thinking that it would be so cool if we could just go to an ice cream shop and sit and talk like me and Papaw did but we had fountain cokes and sugar cookies at a drug store. Too bad we don't have something like that around here."
"Yeah. That's what I want to do. I feel like I know him because of your and Grammie's stories."
"You know him too because he is a part of you."
"A part of me?"
"It's not just the stories. It's the DNA. He's in Grammie and me and you. It's genetics."
Today I am grateful that the kid knows science otherwise that could've sounded kinda scary and I am grateful as well for the option to choose whose DNA we're going with. I am grateful for all the tiny lights, the music playing, creme brûlée, plastic tablecloths, hoop cheese and a large glass of cold milk. I am grateful for the ride home and the tree we now secretly claim as our own.
"It's a storyboard. Me, Brian and you. It's organic. We'll just see where it goes. Our protagonist is a young girl. He and I will draw her this week."
He had me when he told me what book to read. And I don't remember exactly how he said it other than her face was my face for a moment and I just lost my head and my mind and do we have room for another project. Um. No doubt. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Organically I think I already know who she is. We'll see.
Today I am grateful to have a life full of insane projects but one now especially with two brilliant artists. Have mercy or don't. This feels like mercy.
It's the test. So much riding on something so much was not actually riding on. Or it was for some.
It's just you must be tested. Otherwise we have no way of telling you where you stand. Though this test is only an indication of the information you have been able to obtain and retain until this very moment, it becomes a story of how you were fed, if you were taken to the doctor when you were sick, your ability to focus and how much of that you want to give this. The test will tell us if your vision was blurred, if someone read to you. It will become a part of your permanent record, a number on which you are judged.
Relax. Breathe. This is just another day in what we hope are many and though you will always remember it, this test can neither create or destroy what you intend.
I would say, Good luck, class, but we've long since given up on that.
Today I am grateful for people's willingness to talk to me about tests.
I am grateful to see how silly my assumptions were.
"We all struggle," I say to the air around me and now I need to say it to a kid.
Then, "I'm so mad at myself."
"Why in the world would you be mad at yourself?"
"Because my guitar. I had it ready by the door and really Daddy was in such a rush and it's not his fault because it's my responsibility and I'm gonna double practice this week. I'll get caught up."
"Oh my gosh, that's not serious at all. Why would you be mad at yourself?"
Insert a photo of the most awesome crazy I've never seen that face before here. May we never replicate it. May we always have that face between us. It was frozen face until the moment you finally uttered, whispered, stammered, I feel bad for making you feel this way.
"I don't understand what you're saying."
"I'm saying that you shouldn't be mad at yourself."
Another frozen face. So unique. So I need to respect who you say you are.
"You have a guitar. It is your's and it is past time for me to let that be. You can play when you want to or not play it ever again and that's okay with me. You cried the last time we practiced together and I should never make you cry again. You should never have to learn a song from a video you don't understand. Do your thing, young lady. Plus, we have to go order our paint and maybe we'll have a picnic on the living room floor. So much has happened since you've been gone. What did you do?"
"I went to the aquarium. Someone stole my Galaxy."
Today I am grateful to get something out of the way so I could listen.
(this has not been my best work to date. this is shame.)
I point at the light. "Can this be the winter of our content?"
You laugh because you are just as ready for it as me.
"I mean, seriously, what if this was our last morning and who cares what happened other than what happened is we looked at each other and said this is it. What would we say to each other? How would we say it?"
You look down at me.
"For you I would be the best I could be."
Today I am grateful to know that at some point we pushed past whatever it was keeping us from being grateful for each other.
Thank you for your email. I do have a project and questions but it feels complicated and here are some photos.
There are five panes to a window carefully cut out of an old house. Each pane contains a sun. Each sun has a design which admittedly will take a steady hand and we're willing for this to take years if needed. We don't want to rush so we're going to pretend like we have all the time in the world to do it.
Do we paint from the inside out?
If we would like the design to be more subtle do we use a opaque paint for the outline and a translucent for the top? Enamel, is that correct?
Do we paint the sky and the grass and the little girl first?
Do we just take a leap into this and hope for the best but know no matter what it will be a treasure between us?
I say, "Yeah. I think I said that about something one day too."
He says, "You've been growing on further away from us now."
I think maybe he's right.
I think I selfishly run away to here, to you.
But it's what she asks, "My 28 year old son wants to be a writer. What advice should I give him as his mama?"
"Yes and let those tears run down your cheeks and hug him and do it, son, and remember your mama is here to answer any questions that come up. My own mama taught me that. Then I'd say, 'I can't remember who it was and you can look it up but at some point way back when a great writer said something like a writer cannot not write.' Tell him he'll never be more alone."
"I can't imagine any other scenario."
He says, "You can never be alone because it's just the bones you're made of."
Today I am grateful for that mama and that question and the feeling that maybe I could help answer it.
oh yeah. Your Dad is in the kitchen, and I am there to see your sister. You just can't stand it. You want me to see you too. You are, what about me? And of course you are.
So I ask, "Where's your guitar?"
And you are totally not into the pink plastic minnie thing. You are wanting something you know you can't have. I say, "uhuh. That's not your's. Come find your's."
You point to the second shelf, "Gheetar?"
"No. Not your's. Go find your's."
You return to the living room with me but instead of finding your's you find a barstool. And we all begin to watch as you pick up something bigger than you and carry it all the way back to that closet. You have all the rooms and sometimes you stop and look back and see that we're all looking and yes, you do have the room and a workout routine because pushing that barstool isn't the easiest thing you'll ever do. You're tough, kid. I give you that.
Your Dad, your sister, and me, we all laugh.
I think that is the most fun part of it for you. Us watching and laughing and yeah, awman this is awesome . Until you finally make it to Everest and you are assessing the climb and I walk into the room and say, "I have to take this away."
You don't even cry. You just calmly follow me back to where your Dad and sister are. I would almost be willing to place a bet that you were never as interested in that guitar as you were the attention. I get it, kid.
Today I am grateful for a girl's night out, for the two old girls and two young girls, for coon and going on a bear hunt and do we want to be outside or inside or no, the spoon is on the floor and no, you can't have another one and if I could change anything about dinner the next girl's night out will be a picnic on the floor of the living room. I should have turned that chair around when you wanted to see behind you.
I rely on him too much. I should be ashamed of myself.
He says nothing.
But today. Today was like a dream. She fought Yoda who she calls Koda and we had to ask Koda three times if he loved her but that third time he said yes. Still. It didn't make any difference. She will take out that guy with a couple of dish holders. For that I am grateful.
Tonight's music is part of another Ben Howard on repeat.
I will be blessed, he sings.
I am, I remind myself.
He said it was drunk write your exes day, and other than the drunk part I agreed.
Today he replied and though admittedly he didn't intend it that way which is never mind. That was always a problem I was trying to solve, fantasy versus reality. Who we are in those spaces, in those messages we may decide to keep secret. Is there such a thing anymore?
All I'm saying is he was my Jerry Rice. That boy could run, and I don't blame him. I obviously had some things to work out and yes, I would still like to ask him an infinite amount of questions but I know I probably shouldn't because the first thing I thought to write was,
Promise me we'll never meet but tell me everything.
Those places you want to keep secret because of how interesting water tastes from a metal cup
and there are still more chapters in that book.
But the story feels too intimate. Too you may not get it.
But then I think you do.
I think you know how grateful I am for opportunity, for when someone shares what they love with you, for the respect you feel for it, for light and conversation and you know how hard that couple has worked in this world.
There's this Michelangelo quote she has pinned in the bathroom. Notes from the writer in her to you. I tried to bring it back to you in a photo but we'll say that's what is private in this world.
She has a story about the power of words and she says though she hates it she knows she has to tell her story or somebody else will.
There's a photo of Elvis on the screen. It's from the latest gossip in the line at the grocery. I guess now Elvis has more children and at least couple of us thought she was going to admit to being one. But she doesn't.
She tells us how and why and who and now here she is, and we are all in a place where we have to get back to work and the best thing about her story, I think, is now we get to be a part of it.
There will never be an engagement photo as good as the one at Rowan Oak. It was the first year they met in a summer college for high school students. It hangs on my refrigerator.
And let me tell you. It's amazing to watch your child fall in love with a young girl who you think, ohgoodgosh she's amazing.
It's hard because you may have once said I never want his heart to break and all of you sudden you realize you are being confronted with a stranger who could break your baby's heart and gasp.
He's not a baby anymore and when she reaches her hand across the table he grabs it. And this time is as good but better than that time at Rowan Oak when they were so new and you thought one day she may crush him.
You took it as a crush because that sounds so easy.
He's not a baby anymore but he is that same guy who accompanied you to the zoo every weekend and he was the tech guy for you and everyone you knew and he still is the best, smartest, most laid back, awesome forever and ever amen guy you know in an otherwise maddening world.
This is engagement. It is the pictures at Rowan Oak, the ones on the front porch of the house across the street, dirt roads, railroad tracks, and everything you could ever dream is these two kids being engaged forever and ever amen.
Today I am grateful for how some dreams you never knew how to dream until you could for a couple of people.
Tomorrow has to be one of the most dangerous and tempting and forgiving and patient and kind and mysterious and ridiculous twenty-four hours as today has been. Or maybe it will be different. We'll see.
Today I am grateful for an Apple employee named Brandon in Ridgeland. I am grateful for the genius bar and the camera man who sat next to me. I am grateful my car is dependable and where I got gas had a Baskin Robbins and a sweet lady at the register.
And I don't say because I typically just grin at those words which as soon as I hear them I know they will linger.
"Why would you escape what you love?"
"Why does it matter?"
"I just don't understand."
"You don't have to."
It's four o'clock in the afternoon and there is something about driving down this particular road. I know what brought her here and I know somehow she saw this just as I am seeing it now. It was a place that needed love and how many years has it been. Now it's official. Open for business.
"I do believe thou protest too much."
"I'm not protesting anything."
"Don't you want me to understand?"
"Will it be okay with you if I don't care?"
Her hello is a laugh and there was this time when we sat in front of this fireplace and Walter was a baby with a cast on his leg. I wanted to be a writer and a photographer and I wanted to understand how I could feed myself with a camera and a computer. She was almost a decade ahead of me and continues to serves as inspiration.
"Try not to hold back."
"I do care about you but I don't necessarily care if you understand how I think about things. One of the things I love about you is the way you think. Does thinking differently ruin everything?"
The coffee pot has a note on it. Push the button, it reads.