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Posts Tagged ‘all my friends have Big Personalities’


Hey! Did you know I host a virtual ornament exchange each year? Well, I do.  It’s time for this year’s swap!


If you’re new, then the basics are:
+ you can make your ornament or purchase it
+ it must have a retail value of seven to twenty dollars

If you want to get a feel for things, you can check out past shenanigans here, here, here, and herrrrre.

If I’ve suitably broken you in with a past swappy endeavor, then the song remains the same.

I’m opening up ten more slots this year because I am an intrepid soul, y’all. If you want to be included, post up a comment below (don’t forget your email address!). I’ll leave comments open until Friday the 21st, then I’ll email everyone with further details that evening.

Also: I will be sending a little bonus surprise to one swapper this year. BECAUSE FA-LA-LA-LA-LAAAAA and presents are fun.

|| July 11, 2014 || 12:34 am || Comments (3) ||

I was raised in a sphere wherein things like nosebleeds were dealt with matter-of-factly.

One time a guy told me he fell in love with me because I didn’t really bat an eye when he sprouted a nosebleed one afternoon. He was impressed that I didn’t panic and wasn’t embarrassed or grossed out. I just tended to him calmly and he was smitten, he said.

“I mean, I knew I wanted to bag you the first time I saw you,” he said, “but Nosebleed at the Mall dropped any negative odds in my book. ”

So that was one of the best and most terrible relationships of my life. I bought him a yellow shirt that day; it was the color of lemon chiffon and he’d never worn yellow before. He kept that shirt for 22 years, he told me. This was a revelation of gigantic proportions to me, coming as it was from someone so afraid of vulnerability.

He stole a snapshot of me and my then-boyfriend from my house three weeks later. He carted that around in his wallet the same amount of time, bobbing around on board ships, marching across deserts, comfortably embracing the role of stranger in a strange land.

“That’s weird,” I told him when I found out.
“I know! I cut him out of it and burned him.” He was proud of that.
“Oh, that one went up in flames, alright!” I said in response.
“One thing about you,” he said, “is that you’ve always had that quick mouth.”

It’s true. My mouth has a built-in quickness and my heart has a long memory. One or the other is always giving me trouble, I swear. Both of them have costs. Who gives a fuck about costs. They’re like nosebleeds: Transient and nothing to panic over.

Life is short, and what’s a little blood, anyway?

|| November 27, 2013 || 1:05 pm || Comments (26) ||


Veterans: Let’s do the dang thang.

Newcomers: My friends have Big Personalities and this thing is a hoot. We have a lot of fun doing this; don’t be afraid. Sign up in the comments below (don’t forget to include your email address!) and wait for further instructions via email. To get more of a gist, you can refer to previous posts about the swap here.

I’m capping this year’s participation at fifty swappers. You have until Wednesday, December 4th to sign up; I’ll close the list and start pairing folks then. Yippee kai ay!

|| March 20, 2013 || 9:58 pm || Comments (15) ||

Hey, so….it’s time once again to launch myself into the Woods of Wunder with all my Doo brethren and sistren!

ralph frank glowy head

I thought I might send a postcard from the artist village to whomever might chance to want one this year.

That’s right, I’m gonna send postcards to my pals from the heart of Doo-Nanny. If you want one please put your John Henry below in the comments-place (I’ll collect your address afore we pack up to leave out at the beginning of next week). International friends, you are most welcome to participate!

Here is the catch, because there is always a catch, son: It may not be signed by me. It may be signed by a world-famous folk artist! Or just some freak who likes bonfires. Or the one laydeh who always hangs around the kitchen, waiting for me to put out more salsa. You just never know!


DOO-NANNY! \0/ Collaborate, initiate, investigate, propagate, stay up late, create, inflate, relate! Burn stuff! Whoop, holler, dance, sing, hug a neck and pat a back! Amen and amen.

|| March 11, 2013 || 6:19 pm || Comments (4) ||

We gather in warm brick houses with brocade paper on the walls. Candles burn in jars and the hands of the boys move so quickly that they become blurs as they play.

The people are happy, the people are smiling and clutching one another mirthfully as they dance. Singing, urging the band on, they are fevered and joyful and shine; the people shine so hard that the stars would be jealous if the roof was not protecting their feelings.

There is shalom in every bounce, in every handclap, in every laughing face of every dark-haired girl.

Dance, women.  Shout, men. Play on, beautiful music-makers. Hold back the evils of the world, make us one with each other. Help us to hear God.

(a very special thank you to Demian, to Katy, to Derick, and to the Flying Balalaika Brothers for the amazing time….also to Sean for that crazy-assed drink that I still don’t know the name of but that suited the mood perfectly)


Hello! I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but it’s already the end of the year. What the what??

If you’re new in these parts, the middle of November means that it’s time to round up a bunch of rowdies who want to send holiday cheer to one another through the post. By way of an ornament! (please insert jazz hands here)

It goes like this: You drop a comment on this post telling me you want in. I’ll close signups on Friday or when we reach the Preset Numerical Threshold of Sanity, whichever comes first, and start pairing everyone up. Sunday I’ll e-mail you your swap partner’s specifics.

I wanted to do a charity tie-in with this year’s swap, but I’ve had a bit of a hairy time over the past few months and couldn’t pull that aspect of things together. I have a plan in place, however, and the fifth annual swap will be a full go on the charity front.

If you’re not sure where you stand on all of this business yet, then go here and read up on previous swaps. I will tell you that when I did it on a whim that first time, I didn’t expect it to be a recurring thing. Also, I’m super-delighted that a sense of community has popped up around this whole deal, with people starting and maintaining friendships over one tiny little box sent from one home to another. I think that’s pretty dang neat.

It makes me want to hug the faces off of the whole internet, truth be told.

“Drinkin’. Writin’.
Keepin’ stereotypes alive.”

// my friend TwoBusy, late yesterday evening

Sometimes when I am in the studio my Memaw Susie’s voice kind of melds with mine and before I know it there’s this strange hybrid of the two of us saying things like “Now. How can we go about effectively dandying this up?” all up in my head. This is while I’m turning something special –a porcelain hand, a business journal dated sometime in nineteen-nineteen, a length of rusty-and-twisted wire– over with my fingertips.

There are so many things up there in my escape room (a plain-yet-apt name) that lay there humming. Some chance to sing when I pick them up; this is how I decide what I’ll keep pulled out so that I can stare at it loudly and expect something to happen. My fingertips listen for the want(s) of the thing, trying to decipher if it will be the focal point of something whose elements have yet to be drawn together and arranged or if it will be used to subtly pull the eye toward some other highlight altogether.

Two broken wall hooks, a cigar box, a heavy brass mail door (with! keys! hallelujah!) sidle up to one another and become a sweet treasure box that is pretending to be art. An old eight-by-ten of a stoic group, snippets of text from various magazines and newspapers, a castaway picture frame all jostle and slide until there is poetry: a free-form mishmosh amalgamation of philosophy gleaned from this dying age we’re trying to pass off as all hopeful rather than incredulous.

all at once and without contradiction

Tonight, while straightening then cutting lengths of baling wire, I marveled once again at the greasy black-smoke condition of my palms, the mark of handling raw material and manhandling it with purpose. It put me in mind of photographs from my father’s creakingly heavy album, the one that catalogs his time in country. Cinched up between its covers are faces and faces and faces of young men with smoke and sweat and trouble smeared all across them. That, or freshly-scrubbed and thick with drunkenness, no trace of a uniform in sight, arms crooked about the necks of a variety of little Vietnamese women, so dainty.

I am not particularly a student of history, but I like for the things around me to allude to having a story that is ready to be conveyed. There is richness in this, in having a story, and I sometimes I am struck by how many options we are afforded in order to get that story across.

People e-mail me on the fair regular with snippets of this or that, wanting my take on something. I give it to them (sometimes it takes a minute, but I try to accommodate). We all have something to give and we all have something to take, right? “Give enough so that the amount of your taking isn’t bastardy, and then give ten more percent on top of that.” is one of my life mottoes. There are others; we may or may not get around to talking about them sometime.

Sometimes people e-mail me and ask my advice on telling a story. WHAT??!? You might as well ask me how to blink.

“Just, um, do it.”

That seems glib and haughty, though, right? Right. So I never give complete answers, just disjointed approximations of tips and a virtual neck-hug before I send the soul foolish enough to ask me, of all people, back out into the world. How am I a suitable candidate for teaching anyone a dang thing?

While I was at my father’s, attending to the Mathematics of Cancer (now THAT is an almost-complete other post for another time altogether), the mechanics of telling a story came together and I wrote them down on the back of a receipt from a convenience store gas station deli combo joint: Its name, hysterically enough, is ‘Kum & Go’. It’s printed right there on the receipt that contains my Big Ideas About Storytelling. The Universe will always find a way to keep you humble, there Shotgun.

The list has five points on it. They are, exactly as I first penned them on the back of that now-crinkled receipt, as follows:

I want you to listen to their stories.

I want you to listen to how they tell their stories.

I want you to pay attention to the language.

I want you to find the song in their stories.

Breathe life to that song.

That’s it. That’s what I’ve got. So either you learn to pay attention to several different aspects of an experience, or you learn to take a pass or five at it after it’s up there in your Rememberator so that you can squeeze all the juice out of it.

One thing, though….I was in such a hurry to get those handy-dandy tips down that I left out an obvious preface: Go into the world and find people. Interact with them in some way….actively, passively, whatever; I don’t give a shit about the niggling details. Then you are ready to move on to Point the First.

And then (this here is the fun bit)  you are ready to hear, “Now. How can we go about effectively dandying this up?”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

This looks incredible. Hollywood is trying to get better and tell stories worthy of this world, I think. God bless the writers, every messy last one of us.