A Random Image

Posts Tagged ‘all my friends have Big Personalities’

|| November 21, 2011 || 12:07 pm || Comments (7) ||


Just in case you don’t remember how it goes:

1) You leave a comment to the effect of “Oooh, me! Me, me, me, pick me!”
2) I add you to the swap list.
3) I e-mail everybody on the swap list.
4) I pair up everybody on the swap list and e-mail you your partner’s info.
5) You send your ornament ON TIME (you know who you are!), by the date I specify.
6) Commence Christmas Cheer!!1!

I’ll be looking for ideas on how to do a charity tie-in for next year’s swap, too. If anything dings you on your pretty noggin, please do let me know. The list closes Friday the 25th and I’ll pair you up the Sunday or Monday following.


pee ess….I’ve been really hot for bullet lists lately. I have no idea.

|| August 20, 2011 || 2:56 pm || Comments (18) ||

Somewhere in the neighborhood of two weeks ago I pinned a photo to one of my Pinterest boards (the one entitled ‘loud as words’, where I post up images that are striking or powerful to me). It was this one, an AP file photo shot by Al Steinkopf on 20 December 1940.

eva and the others

The faces it depicts are those of Jewish children living, at that time, in a Polish ghetto (one in Szydlowiec, to be exact) under Nazi occupation.

A few days later I got an e-mail from one of my beloveds, a pocket person from way, waaaay back:

The girl, the defiant girl in the center, slightly unfocused…

She is the maternal grand aunt of my biological father.  She is related to me and to him because she was defiant.  She stayed in Nazi occupied Poland and helped Jews escape until she was captured in 1943 and sent to Auschwitz. She worked with Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter, until her death.

She was the only member of his family that gave a damn about us after he died.  I think I get my devotion from her.

I have dim memories of her.

And her chicken soup recipe.

Her name was Eva. The photograph had struck me, but now –in a very real way– I am connected to one of its subjects.

But yep that’s her.  It makes me wonder how many quiet legends are also a nurturing figure in some boy’s room, adjusting his blanket as he stirred in sleep.  Just a sense of some indomitable Spirit passing through his life.

That that Spirit may have touched your life is frankly mind blowing.  As in physics and metaphysics I can’t comprehend were messing around with us.

And I know it is because I know you, but I would bet real money that she was the one that you identified with.  Visually she’s in position to be seen first, but I think she would be seen even if she was obscured by another child.

I’m about to set sail some experiments in my life. One of them involves telling a big story and a central character to that story is your basic snapshot; it has the feel of a good idea’s infrastructure….but we’ll see.  Another of them involves the realtime recounting of history in a vibrant and personal way. Something akin to a voyeurnal, but more exacting and more moving. In time I’ll be inviting all of you to come with me, some in more hands-on ways than others.

The longer I live, the more purposeful ‘accidental’ connections seem to become, and they leap out at me more often. I’m there, part of you, and you’re here, part of me. It’s messy and painful and sexy and expansively, terrifyingly wonderful. Take my hand. Let’s go look for the dots so that we can link them up. Then let’s tell everybody who’s not paying attention aaaalllll about them. Let’s feed them Eva’s chicken soup; it’s seasoned with defiance and care.

Let’s be seen even in obscurity.

|| April 14, 2011 || 11:25 pm || Comments (17) ||

I can’t figure Schmutzie out. My daughter’s best friend is named Pooks (iunno. don’t even ask.) and I generally like his take on things, so I asked him what I should say about someone that I admire like crazy but can’t seem to get a solid bead on, who is very witty and well-written and has stellar taste in shoes. Pooks said to me, sage thing that he is, “You’re making this way too hard. Just tell her you think she’s boss as fuck.”  I wanted to say, “Pooks, you are a wise motherfucker,” but –as hard as it is to believe– even I have a (shakily-drawn, shallow) line, so I said, “Thank you for your insight, Pooks. Are you staying for dinner?”

Pee ess….Schmutzie is boss as fuck, you got that?

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

Look, sometimes you ask for things, not knowing what you’ll really get. But you’re bold and you ask and no matter what turns up, at least you’re guaranteed a surprise, at least you you showed the temerity to open your mouth and speak.

That’s kind of what I did with this birthday carnival for myself. I asked people to compose something. It was awkward, so awkward, because e-mail after e-mail had all these lovely things about me when I was expecting a story or poem or song about who-knows-what. Some of them were so kind that I cringed when I posted them, sure that someone out there was rolling their eyes, going all, “WHAT A VAIN, VAIIIIIN JACKASS.” But I did it anyway, because they were so generous as to honor my request, and because one of my personal philosophies says to honor what is written. And then it struck me that I’m willing to hear bad things about myself, so I should be willing to hear good, as well. I’ve been robbing myself of that for a long time.

If you’re new around here, I’d like to say this to you:

Hello. I’m Jett. My life is a lot of things; it is overwhelming, fulfilling, stuffed to the seams, comfortable, colorful, taxing….but above and beyond any of those things, it’s fun. It’s a grand parade shot through with mournful alleys. I’ll try to sing so that the best of all of it manages to bounce off the clouds and rain delight onto your head.

If you’re old around here, I’d like to say this to you:

Hi there. You are so dear to me. I hope I’ve soaked your head in delight more times than you are able to count.

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

The carnival’s over, kids. Grab hands and walk home together. I hope you won a prize. Give a word of greeting before you go.

|| April 14, 2011 || 5:13 am || Comments (4) ||

Do you know TwoBusy? He is my Very Good Friend and he can write like the bottom is falling out and he might not ever get to write another word….then he does it again and another again after that.  He also once told me that he couldn’t hear me talking nonsense to him because the strippers on his solid gold yacht (“What? It does too float!”) were DANCING TOO LOUDLY. We have come up with a present war that we call ‘GIFTPOCALYPSE!!!1!!eleventy!!1!’

Well, of course he’s my friend. Are you thick or something?

The term “punk rock” has been co-opted and perverted so many times, it’s hard to pin down exactly what it means. For a lot of folks, it’s a kind of music they can’t really describe other than in vague terms of sloppiness and anger and tempo and “y’know… like Green Day or something. Like that Time of Your Life song — I loved that! It was my prom song!” And then they start singing the chorus to you and you find yourself torn between wanting to yell at them to stop or simply walking away.

For others, it’s an image replete with giant (often multi-hued) Mohawks and cheeks and ears pierced with safety pins and old and torn leather jackets and sweaty mosh pits with bodies crushing and colliding in tiny, filthy clubs and the implication of unfocused rage searching for a target and the perceived threat that rage generates (despite the fact that a significant percentage of people fitting that description are, in fact, among the more gentle and thoughtful creatures you’ll ever encounter). See that photo there to the left, of Tank Girl in all her ferocious glory? That’s the general
idea, and to those for whom the status quo of minivans and Pleasant Valley Sundays are the defining qualities of safe and familiar reality, it can be a threatening thing.

And then there’s Jett. She’s a wife, and mother to several. She’s a respected professional and colleague. She’s a proud Alabaman (is that the right term?
Alabamite? Alabaster? Alabamination?) with a deep and passionate faith in God and in the goodness of her fellow man. And she is the most punk rock person I’ve ever known.

Her hair is neither green nor carved into strange and evocative patterns that might raise the eyebrow of those who pass by her on a daily basis. Her eyes are neither wild nor smeared with Siouxsie makeup, but rather stunningly clear and piercing, betraying little but the fierce intellect and curiosity that lies behind them.

It’s not about what you see.

There’s an uncaged passion and joy in Jett that is a wonder to behold — a refusal to compromise her beliefs in what is good and right and possible, in the world or in those who fill it, that defies the easy cynicism of our age (not that I’d, uh, know anything about that) by fearlessly assuming the most contradictory perspective imaginable: that it is our purpose and our responsibility to act kindly to one another. That it is our prerogative and our God-given task to exercise free will by questioning authority wielded for the sake of authority. That it is our most fundamental nature as free-roaming creatures of instinct and emotion to explore our world, to find beauty in the strangest and most unexpected places, and to plunge into darkness and feel our way, inch by painful inch, back toward the light — or even the promise of light.

Tell me that’s not radical. Tell me that you don’t see how her hyperarticulate nature – as a talker, as a writer, as a thinker and friend – isn’t an expression of this radicalism. Tell me you don’t take all of this in and find yourself bewildered and struck with wonder, stunned to silence and left a little bit inspired. I don’t know; maybe you can. I can’t.

Happy Birthday, Jett.

|| April 12, 2011 || 10:22 am || Comments (3) ||

Do you guys know Troutie? She is utterly charming and writes like a dream and I have no idea what she is talking about: We ARE friends. There are so many things about her that I love, but what I love most is that she has a big heart for loving and big eyes for seeing and a big smile for welcoming.

Like a lot of other people who are all “hi! How are ya?? You look great!” online, I am afraid of real-life humans. Put me in a room with a good internet connection all by myself and I am the friendliest, most outgoing person you’ll ever (not) meet. But in person? I’m the one hiding in the bathroom. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s that I’m scared of you.

In the course of sitting on my couch completely alone watching the world go by, I sometimes meet someone – an invisible someone – who makes everything different. I watch for a while in the least-creepy-way possible. I listen. And then I cannot resist it anymore and I hear myself say “will you be my friend?” in the smallest voice I can manage. I then look at my shoes and pretend that squeak was the wind.

Jett, will you be my friend?

I only know you through twitter and our blogs and Polite Fictions, bless its heart, but I feel like I have found a real-life friend in you. You make me want to answer my phone or go to a conference or party in the woods of Alabama, just to hear your voice.

Which is not to say we are kindred spirits, twins separated at birth, long lost sides of the same coin. Oh mercy, no. You are brave and brazen and strong. You are outspoken, declaring what must be declared. I… am not. We don’t even look the teensiest, weensiest bit alike.

But thanks to this village that is the internet, we can hear each other without one of us hiding in the bathroom. We can see ourselves in each others words. I can’t tell you how often I read what you’ve written and said “yes, exactly” to myself.

You are part of a tribe I’ve always admired from afar: People Who Speak Up For Themselves. But that’s not all. You speak up for others.

I would love to be part of your tribe, but since that does not seem to be my lot this time around, I will be the squeak in the wind, reminding you you’re doing it right. Because you are.

Happy Birthday, Jett. The world is a better place with you in it.

|| April 10, 2011 || 11:54 pm || Comments (3) ||

Every now and then I will hit publish on a post and think, ‘If a new reader comes in on this one they will pronounce me insane and never come back.’  Which, you know, is okay because I’m not real concerned with courting a narrow-minded audience. Jason showed up on one of those days, a day where I posited that my son may just one day write about the nuttiness of his cracked Southern momma. Jason and I have our share of disparate beliefs. We have remarkably similar personalities, temperaments, senses of humor. I always come back to this: Jason, on one of my most brokenly confessional posts, didn’t squint or flinch or judge when he spoke up to tell me he was here. I have mad respect for that fool and his big ole heart.

A few months ago, we moved into a big house in a gated community. The house is spacious and new and nothing like us. We’re filling the place up, a chair here, a small table there, but even so there are echo chambers, beige subcaverns where conversations flutter like bats. It’s a giant house, and although we are usually not assholes, it seems a place that would attract those predisposed to assholiness. It’s pretty and perfect. We’re usually not. The house yawns for order, for the Unused, for the Pottery Barn Catalog.

We received a bunch of housewarming gifts. One particular gift came in a box that was raggedly delightful, a box that looked like it had been used before, battle-tested, well-traveled. It was taped up in a no-bullshit manner: you shall not pass, O Postal Worker trying to get a piece of whatever the parcel contained. You know the person that sent the box as Jett Superior, who is very much a real life person (we know her real name, and no, we ain’t tellin’), although if William Faulkner wrote Japanese manga she’d be a perfect heroine. Inside the box: a bunch of white candlesticks. Candlesticks, it is known, make a good gift. This was not a set. Sets are fascist. Sets are easy. This was a motley band of candlesticks, of various shapes and sizes, no two alike, a Chaucerian group making that long pilgrimage from Alabama to the west coast. They were anathaema to the teachings of The Catalogs. They made perfect sense. The candlesticks were our favorite gift.

|| April 8, 2011 || 6:46 am || Comments (5) ||

(we here at Superior Industries had some ‘technical glitches’ night before last, so the Carnivale is a day tardy. apologies!)

Okay, so. I don’t know how or through whom Deb Rox found me. I would consider the details unimportant if I weren’t so blown the fuck away by her on the fair regular. You know those women whose abilities and sensibilities and gifts and depth are too much for words, so you just resort to, ‘Maaaan, she’s somethin‘.’? Yeah buddy, that’s Deb. She is wise and generous and totally, totally cool….but the kind of cool that says, “C’mere kid, you can try on my leather jacket.’

Jett Superior was on my mind this weekend.  I caught the news of her birthday love letter fest just as I was leaving on a short trip to the Bay Area. Then her “I’m off to Doo-Nanny” tweets deja vued through my stream, and I had to tell myself I haven’t actually ever doo-nannied myself, I only know of it through her, through the Superior Stream. And that kickass marathon post from last year. Which reminded me of her old site design, you know the red one with those righteous buttons on the right?

I’ve rediscovered Alphabet Junkie two or three times during Jett’s Internet reign, this last time after discovering her on Twitter…when? Maybe a year and a half ago? It’s all this blur of knowing and not knowing, this digital helix of experiences not quite shared.

I have a vision in my head of Jett in a motorized cupcake. I have this idea of her soldering broken things. I have this concept of her with mad eyes lasering out a text message.  I have no awareness of the way she displaces the molecules of a room she moves through, but I know some of her words and some of her spirit and I’ve seen a bit of her character at work in complicated situations. Sometimes she confuses me, sometimes she’s clear as fire. I really don’t know how I know her or how much of her I know.  I like her.

So I thought about her on and off again in San Francisco because of her birthday email. Because she was at Doo-Nanny. I made a pilgrimage to City Lights Books, because that’s what I one of the things I like to do, make pilgrimages to run my fingernail in the crack between the walls to Shakespeare & Co., to steal Devil’s Ivy clippings from Hemingway’s house in Key West. Jett Superior lassoes writerly people, makes reverent space for their words and encourages them to talk as the ink dries in the corners of their lips, irreverently poking holes in the blue spit bubbles that form. I really like that about her.

I sat in the poetry room upstairs in City Lights and then plucked a few lonely staples out of the wall on the stairwell down. I walked through Chinatown and ended up sitting with my book in St. Mary’s Square. I read this:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…” — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

That made a hell of a lot of sense to me, about Jett and about a few other things. “Commonplace things” are the most tempting of memes. The forms of social media cry for replication of the commonest of games. But we know this about Jett: for all we don’t know, we do know that girlfriend don’t play.

So of course I like her. She’s absolutely one of the mad ones. She certainly doesn’t yawn. And those roman candles this chick’s got–no one has to share a room with her to see them in all of their explosive glory.  I can hear the wicks spit and cackle – see the blooming lights doubling over on themselves – from way over here.

That’s how it works on this salon called Internet, I think. Writers and readers figure eight around each other. Manuscripts pile up, are shredded to make hamster nests. We bite into each others tails. We move from the garden into the alley, transplanting the clippings we stole from each other. Who knows why we are drawn to one or another, or what will come of it all. You wish strangers well, hello and farewell, every time they tweet.

What’s cool is that I’ve been to Doo-Nanny, last year and last weekend, with this fierce friend of mine who came with me to San Francisco last weekend–you should meet her, she’s this exceptionally fine writer, with a rad blog–and each trip was fucking amazing.

Happy Birthday, little Jett.