A Random Image

Posts Tagged ‘I know exactly what I’m doing here bucko’

|| September 5, 2015 || 11:42 pm || Comments (0) ||

He watched her go down the halls, untethered and unawares. He watched her stand easy in her own skin, laughing with people, ducking her head and covering her mouth, mirth leaking past her fingers.

Everything about her called to him, and nothing about her knew it.

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

She always appeared to be present in the moment, alive in a way that none of her peers had yet learned. There was a constant part of her, though, that was out there, called across the ocean, fixed on a heart that she’d fallen into unintentionally.

Because she was focused on the hum of it, on keeping that signal, she missed other more subtle intonations.

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

He didn’t know what it would be like to be with her; he had not the first clue, but he wanted to know.

He wanted to know.

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

She lit up when she saw him, warm with affection. She liked his unassuming way, and she saw the spark of quiet fight that danced deep in his eyes.

Others may have missed it, but she caught it.

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

He woke up one day. He rolled over, face to the wall, and decided.

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

She woke up one day. She was still asleep, adrift over the waves, holding signal.

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

He had decided, so he watched. Today was the day. Everything in him was taut with knowing that, so he watched for the when of it.

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

She gathered her things: a stack of three thick texts, a sweater she draped across her arms. She clenched her keys, oblivious.

The parking lot was big and quiet. The fall day was perfect, mild, beautiful.

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

He saw her go out the side door. For the first time that nervous day, he hesitated.

The instincts he woke up with took over again; they propelled him forward.

“Hi,” he said to her as he caught up. She turned to him and squinted against the sun.

“Heyyy,” she said back.

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

“Can I?”


She felt a strange skip in her middle when he stretched his arms out, “Can I take those from you?”

When they got to her car she unlocked it and turned to retrieve the stack from him.

“Wait,” he said.

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

He sailed into it. He’d not rehearsed, because he was somehow wise enough to know that, in the moment, no amount of practice would matter.

He told her how he loved her, how he’d always loved her, how his guts fell apart at the sight of her.

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

She listened, feet fixed to the pavement, car keys dangling in the door lock.

The look on his face: Far before he finished, the look on his face made her decide to sidestep her promise.

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

Before he even knew they were coming out of him, he pushed the words toward her, bunched-up but sure: “I would give anything in this world just to touch you one time.”

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

The hum was overtaken by the racket of a thousand angels shouting. They urged her to dive.

|| February 23, 2015 || 10:43 pm || Comments (0) ||

“When are you going to die?” Sherry asked me.
“I don’t feel comfortable talking about that part.”

I’d told her about how I’d always known I wasn’t going grow old; I’d touched on the dreams.

“Why not?”
“I dunno, Sherry, it feels like blasphemy.”

I’ve never wanted to be here anyway. Dying young wouldn’t be a big deal. That doesn’t make me suicidal, though.

“Will it be soon?”
“Sherry, come on.”

My whole life I’ve experienced intense bouts of Missing. Homesick, but this confounding sort of homesickness for a place I’ve not seen with my eyes; I’ve seen it with my heart.

“No, you. YOU come on!”
“Why isn’t it enough that I told you?”

You can’t just go around telling people about stuff like this, because they think you’re mentally ill. One thing I’ve always been is crazy. One thing I’m not is mentally ill.

“You know that thing where someone tells you that they have a surprise for you and it makes you nuts? You say that you want to know everything or nothing at all. Well, I don’t know nothing at all, and that only leaves everything.”

I can’t stand when people use my own logic and belief systems to get the better of me. The fact that they can means my logic and belief systems are flawed. So are yours. So are that guy’s over there.

“This isn’t going to go away.”
“Forty-four. I think it will happen when I am forty-four. Nobody else on this planet knows that, so keep a lid on it.”

|| January 24, 2013 || 11:43 pm || Comments (13) ||

In the last several months, while hysterical things were happening to our finances, I found myself fantasizing about money over and over.

It’s not like you think. What I found myself fantasizing about was giving away money to people who need it. Just, you know, wandering up to someone on the street or in the Wal-Mart parking lot and saying, “Here. This is one-hundred dollars. You’re supposed to have it.” and shoving the money onto their person before they had time to react; I would walk away before they got their wits about them and began doing something foolish like asking questions or trying to give it back.

I want to give something to someone, I don’t want them to owe me anything, I want to facilitate a blessing when the Spirit moves me. That’s right, I capitalized Spirit. My doing so probably made you squirm in your seat, right?

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

Six weeks ago we are lolling on the couch together, hanging out, when I tell my husband that this is my fantasy of late.

“Can you imagine,” I say, “Can you just imagine how that would feel, to help enable some financial freedom in someone’s life?

“Just walk around, listening for God, waiting to hear That one, yes, her over there and moving into the gap at the necessary moment.” I say it with excitement and surety.

“I’m going to do this one day.”

Maxim doesn’t flinch when I tell him this, doesn’t bat an eye. This is his endorsement. This is his statement of faith in my mission or me or that the universe is wobbling in just the exact right way. Maybe all three. He is sometimes enigmatic like that, enigmatic in a comfortable way.

Comfortably enigmatic sound like some sort of fictional state, doesn’t it?

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

I keep watch on the walls, Maxim keeps watch at the gate. This is good in a friendship. This is completely stellar in a marriage. Keeping watch on the walls and at the gate isn’t always a defensive thing. The Watcher on the Wall sees the first dangers, but that vantage point offers the first advantages, as well. The Watcher at the Gate might take a beating holding back the unwelcome, but also gets to fling wide those gates to receive visitors or facilitate an adventure.

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

This past two years has consisted of a bunch of crazy, seemingly-mismatched surges forward. Rocking along and living life and then PUSH and trying to get bearings and oh look this way is up and I have my legs under me and there goes three feet behind me, ten feet, eighteen and PUSH oh God let’s find up again, again, again and again.

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

A couple-three weeks ago opportunity came knocking. Like, right on my forehead. I embraced it and probably even dry-humped it a little. I wanted take things to third base with opportunity, but it didn’t have a condom and momma dint raise no fool, child.

With opportunity comes excited planning. Opportunity gets your blood up and working.

About a week later Maxim’s boss showed up at our house and delivered the news right there in our dining room.* There would not be a company soon, because the company would fold in on itself and well, here we are. Let’s pedal as fast as we can over the next few weeks and see what happens.

Opportunity just turned into Just Enough.

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

Most years Maxim goes to NAMM around this time. The trip was already booked, and so was our room in Birmingham so last week found us down in the city burning through the couple of remaining restaurant cards from our Christmas haul. We went for Italian that evening. A man kept catching my eye, even as we were waiting for a table.

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

There seems to be a prevailing practice lately wherein individuals select a word at the beginning of the year to define or guide or gently suggest to the year that it might want to let this word represent it, pretty please, maybe? I have seen genuine anguish slathered across various channels of social media because HOLY FUCK GUYS WHAT IF I BOMB THIS WHOLE DEFINING-YEAR WORD AND MY YEAR IS TOTALLY SO TOTALLY BONED BECAUSE OF IT.

I don’t mean this as snotty, but it’s going to come across that way and so be it: I don’t really have any understanding of this practice, because the words have always tended to pick me. They snuck up and attached themselves to me and by the time I figured out what the the hell was going on it was just a relief to recognize what was up on and go all, “Oh! This year’s theme is ___________.” Most of them have been really good ones, too, the words. Hell, the last decade alone has yielded up kamikaze and warrior and song and spirited. There have been rougher ones like obedience and desire, but even those had benefit, once the callouses softened back up and some of the lumps went down.

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

Before we left the house, I spied the grocery money Maxim had handed me earlier. I’d only half paid attention to it at the time, setting it on the taller of our two dressers as he and I talked.

For the third time that evening, I was moved to put it in my wallet. Half-exasperated, I pulled it down and headed out the door to the car where my husband was waiting for me.

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

The man was small, his shirt was immaculate, and everything he did was crisp, efficient, quick. He did not stop moving and he didn’t piddle-ass around. Back and back and back my eyes went to him. I’ve known this sensation before. It’s the one that says I have something to do and I have to do it or it’s gonna bug me so bad that I’d regret not doing it. Which, when written down that way, looks sort of insane and compulsive, doesn’t it?

You’re just gonna have to take my word on this one, the word that I know the difference between mental illness and letting yourself help along something that you don’t have a great deal of understanding about. The line dividing the two, I’m sure, is pretty thin and open to a degree of interpretation on a case by case basis. Or maybe most people just waver oh-so-slightly back and forth over it, in microscopic drunken swoops.

This time was different, too. It was just slightly different.

“Maxim,” I finally said, “Do you have anything on you to write on? I don’t want to write on a napkin.”

He didn’t. He is no longer perplexed by these requests, if he ever was. I went in search of paper. I came back to the table and pulled my fancy pen from my wallet. I wrote down the words that were yelling to be let out and then I pulled out one-third of the grocery money –a twenty-dollar bill– and folded it up in that piece of paper covered in excited, inky loops.

I hunted up the manager.

“Now this won’t make much sense,” I said. I felt awkward. I didn’t care. I tried to hammer the words around the concept so he could at least get a feel for the shape of it. I said three sentences containing slippery words like ‘God’ and ‘anonymous’ and ‘led.’ He let me off the hook, “I go to Highlands church. I get what you’re doing. I understand.” And just like that I was thrilled to realize that it had started, this business of blessing strangers with cash, and that I had to give some twenties away so I could work my way up to hundreds.

Just like so many things in my life, it started before I knew it was time, before I knew I was ready.

I feel crazy-awkward telling you this story, because it could read as if self-aggrandizement is at play here. It’s earnestly not, though. It’s the biggest wash of humility when stuff like this occurs, because I don’t want to interlope on someone’s blessing by basking in it. There are certain profundities that I’ve gotten to witness that I had no claims to but I’ll be damned if they didn’t wash into me, too, just because I had the fortune of standing nearby.

It makes me feel like a Cosmic circus geek. Here, let me contort for you, it’ll be neat!

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

My word for this year is soul, only like this: Soul.

Yeah, this year’s about Soul for me, about putting a little more English on everything I do. It’s about letting the roots go deep because the soil is finally rich enough to sustain them.

The roots go deeper, the fruit goes sweeter, the bugs are still bugs but they have better table manners.

Soul is about caring so deeply for the right things that the wrong ones can’t even catch your eye.

Soul is about a hip shake and a lip turned up in pleasure and a good ole impolite wail cooking itself up right there underneath those collarbones.

Soul is knowing where and when to assign the wail.

Soul tells you important things like,
You have to begin. You have to Begin. YOU HAVE TO BEGIN.

*(my dining room needs some good news –is a little overdue for some, in fact– so if you should see some, sneak it over in a casserole dish)

|| September 24, 2012 || 2:50 pm || Comments (7) ||

SO, I just applied for some work (I think that was what I was doing?) with this experimental magazine, and they asked the awful ‘tell us something about yourself’ question. Here is my answer:

“When my Mother was weaning me from the bottle, she slowly disposed of all of them until I was down to a single one that I apparently wagged around everywhere. To break me of the bottle once and for all, one day she opened up the screen door and threw my last one out into the back yard. Just as it landed, a stray dog came along and picked it up, then trotted off with it. She said I never gave her any shit about wanting it back.”

I forgot to add the part about how it was my way to pitch fits when I felt strongly about something, but that –even at the tender age of sometime-less-than-two–  I know a sign of importance when I see one.

“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.

Let’s try a little something. It may come up boon and it may come up bust-ass, but I’m always willing to try something new. So are most of you, you fetching little adventurers. As far as I know, I’ve never asked this question, and may never ask it again:

What do YOU want me to write about? What sorts of things would you like me to voodoo out of my pen?

I’m not stuck for topics or stories, but I’m curious to know what you, as my audience, would like to knock over in my brain so that it seeps everywhere. Excluded are those of you that would just simply like to knock me IN my brain. To you special folk I would say: Take a number, champ, and I hope you brought a stool, because the line is hella long.

Hey, here’s some music. Get up and boogie around the room. Shake your troubles loose, mighty Muffinass. Roots rock is our salvation, I’m convinced.

Well, roots rock and Jesus. Haaaallyloo!

First of all, TACKY PACK™! It’s been a while, so I’m giving away a TACKY PACK™!! Let’s talk about something else for a minute, first.

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

I was twelve, the same age my own son is now. That would have made my mother thirty-four.

I was across the hall in my bedroom when I heard a cry. The tiny half-bath off my mother’s bedroom backed up against the wall of my room and that was where the sound of  distress had come from. I quickly abandoned what I was doing and shot across the hall into Mom’s room, calling to her.

“Mom? Momma? Are you okay?” She rounded the doorway, palm outstretched, crying hard, so hard, her face a contorted thing I’d never seen before. I had rarely seen her cry before then; I had never seen her upset in this fashion. Disappointment and rage and despair collided in her face and I asked,  ”What’s wrong?” in alarm.

She pulled her lips back in an illustrative grimace. I hadn’t noticed that in her outstretched palm lie large chunks of teeth….two, to be exact. “What happened?” Most of a front tooth and one incisor were broken off sharply. I had never seen anyone’s teeth in such a state before.

“I was brushing my teeth,” she began falling apart in earnest then,”I was just brushing them and they broke.” Anger and anguish and now her fist was clenched around them and I remember thinking that she looked so pretty in that blouse, the one with the wide white bow at the neck. And then I took note of her arms. I hadn’t noticed until then how thin they’d grown.

We had no money and she was working nineteen-hour days and giving all of what precious little food there was in the house to us girls.

Beautiful Gwendolyn, thirty-four years of age, woke up one morning after four or five hours of sleep to get ready for work and her teeth broke off because she was malnourished.

We lived in a middle-class neighborhood in a town where most everyone was comfortable financially, smack dab in the middle of America. My sister and I were hungry every day. My mother was literally starving. Had it not been for the one square, hot meal that we got each day at school through a rural subsidy program, my sister and I would have been as well.

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

The other day I was on Twitter, and I happened to catch a few tweets that Megan was throwing out there. She’d run across some information on Feeding America in Real Simple magazine (yay! one of my personal favorites) and was blown away by some of the numbers. She was tweeting in earnest on behalf of Feeding America, and there was real spirit in what she was saying, so I sent her a message privately.

See, I’ve worked with hunger-related causes for a while; in fact, I supported Feeding America back when they were still known as Second Harvest. I remember the bite of hunger. I don’t want a kid –my kid, your kid, ANY kid– to feel the way I felt, to have to ration a half-loaf of bread over the span of a week, to worry if there will be more bread once that bit of it is gone.

Now that I’m a mother, I am horrified by the choices my mother had to make and the toll that they took on her emotional and physical health. I know that I would likely make those same choices: “My kids get what we have. If there is provision for me after, fine.” NO parent should have to make those choices, most especially not in this country, where there is such wealth and privilege and abundance, where we have the luxury of so much food that it goes to waste in a myriad of ways.

And so, back to Megan, who was just so lit completely up at  the fact that one American dollar can buy eight American meals for a family. Or one meal for eight families. You get the picture. Then Megan got excited, thinking about possibilities:

could you imagine?

…and then we put our noggins together and decided that we would like to partner up and donate five dollars each. So each of us did. Then we decided we’d challenge you,  our readers and followers, to step up and match us from Thanksgiving Day, when we are all so festive and full, through this Sunday:  Take an eensy five of your dollars and make provision for FORTY meals across the U.S. alongside the two of us.

THEN! Then, because we are excitable, bribey things, we decided that if you were to do something so great as to make provision for forty meals across the U.S. with your five dollars, then we would each host a giveaway on our sites where you could tell us you gave up your five or fifty or five-hundred of dollars and we would give you a chance at prizes. Hell, we’ve even asked a few of our nears and dears to do the same. In short: IT IS THANKSGIVING WEEKEND AND THERE ARE PRIZES. Just pretend the Universe is rewarding you for not smarting up that one know-it-all Uncle for once in your impatient life.

Cue the trumpets, because here is where I tell you that each five dollar donation you make to Feeding America today through Sunday makes you eligible for a drawing. “The prize, Our Most Esteemed and Beloved Jett, what might it be?” you ask. Well. Please roll some drums and blat some airhorns, because I know what a fondness all of you oldskoo Muffinasses have for that holy grail of Cyberia, the TACKY PACK™. If you are somewhat newskoo and don’t know what the heydiddlydoodah a TACKY PACK™ is, then I will quote myownself from an eensy giveaway of one or two I did last year:

The TACKY PACK™ is essentially a melange of great goodness and übercool radness. I don’t have to suck any corporate dick to bring it to you, and there is no ulterior motive save for the fact that I’m getting my jollies by giving a (many-partsed, multi-faceted) gift to somebody. There used to be a page devoted to telling you how great the TACKY PACK™ is in all its random iterations, but it’s long gone. You’re just gonna have to take my word for it and know that present-giving is one of my strengths. I think it’s the one meant to balance my propensity toward addictive behaviors, but I can’t say that with complete surety.

The retail value isn’t really any of your business, but I’ll tell it to you anyway, just so you know that I’m not a cheapskatey so-and-so: Low end it usually runs fifty bucks. High end it usually runs about a hundred. There might be any number of limited edition somethings, alcohol somethings, odd food somethings, stupidly cool somethings stuffed into a supafly apparatus  of Holding Awesome Shit In A Cohesive Bundle (this one will have a robot on it, because robots are very Thanksgiving-y). I quit sending pharmaceuticals in 2002, so don’t even ask, you big silly.

File this under Things I Shouldn’t Have To Say But Am Going To Anyway: Now, don’t be all cheaty and go using one donation on more than one site. Each five dollars earns a name in the hat, okay? We’re going to take you at your word: Make your donation to Feeding America, drop me a comment telling me how many entries I owe you, and I’ll announce a winner next Wednesday, 30 November. My own personal caveat is that I cannot ship outside of the U.S. I’m sorry, guys, it’s just too cost-prohibitive for me just now.

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

In closing, here are the ways you can help, if you’re so inclined:
+ If you want to also blog about Feeding America and how people can donate, awesome.
+ If you want to do a giveaway on your blog to encourage people to donate, rad. Megan has a widget on her own giveaway post so that you can join our links list and help people find your post.
+ If you want to follow along on Teh Twitters, #giveameal is @FeedingAmerica’s hashtag, and the one we plan to use. If you’re inclined to tweet about what we’re doing (or retweet our Twitter content through Sunday), we would appreciate it.
* If you want to donate and enter our giveaways, by all means do so. More! Merrier!
* If you know of others who might want to also participate on their own blogs, please pass this on.

I’m gonna be around on Twitter today (my whole-fambly festivities are tomorrow!) dropping some links to other posts, some facts on hunger, and trying to raise some awareness on behalf of Feeding America. Megan will be doing the same. When you get sick of your extended family, drop in and give a shout. We both have ridiculously low inhibitions and lots of wine. Holla!

!UPDATE!: I just found out that all donations made today, Thanksgiving Day, will be matched dollar for dang dollar. GO TEAM!