Musings

Be A Muse. Inspire myself and others. Be Thoughtful. Create. Share. Repeat.

Betty Jean wore bright pink lipstick

Growing up, my grandmother never left the house without putting on bright pink lipstick. Irrelevant was the fact that her t-shirt and jean shorts were splattered with paint from a day in her ceramic shop. Irrelevant was the fact that the cats on her t-shirt didn’t have a lick of pink on them.

She didn’t need a reason, I guess. It was her thing. 

I don’t remember when she stopped wearing it. And I guess, in my mind, she never will. And that’s how I’ll remember her.

Death has a way of causing us to remember so much about life. For that, I am thankful.

I remember afternoons of rummy and ramen with my grandmother.

I remember watching soap operas in the shop while we painted ceramics.

I remember the journals she kept of the weather.

I remember some of my first family traditions — a living room full on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

I remember pumpkin and cherry pies.

I remember her mixture of hot cocoa in the winter and her mixture of hummingbird juice for the feeders in the summer (which my grandfather would faithfully mistake for fruit punch and drink half a glass before she told him otherwise).

I remember summer picnics and badminton and snapping green beans from the garden.

And I’ll always remember that perfect shade of pink.

Rest in peace, Grandma Sonney. 

No. 205

There are things you share with the world instantly because you feel it necessary for the whole world to weigh in just as quickly.

But there are some things, some moments, that you hold onto so tightly for days on end, keeping them the only place they belong — between your heart and his.

And at least for a little while, the world doesn’t get to weigh in. Because you forget the rest of the world even exists. 

But it does.

And it’s filled with a lot of love and good records. And that’s something worth sharing.

fact.
fire needs air.
be careful where you breathe.
be careful what you burn.

I was recently asked to provide my resume for recognition of something I’m not entirely sure how to rationalize. I haven’t touched my resume in nearly seven years — perhaps a nod to my current employer or perhaps an insight into my lack of preparedness. Regardless, it didn’t exist. And as in the case of most requests for something that should be readily available, I had about 20 minutes of available time to produce said document. So I opened Microsoft Word and produced the required piece of paper meant to outline my accomplishments.

I completed the ask. But I failed at what should have been my usual interpretation of an assignment. Rarely do I find comfort in following orders. My comfort — my normal — lies in the abnormal. My normal, lies in reframing the question until I’m comfortable with the ask and the creative product I’ll be able to produce based on my re-engineering of the original assignment. (This is a fantastic way of living life.)

I’ve never agreed with the concept of reviewing an individual based on a representative sheet of paper. If you’re in front of me and want the job, your piece of paper can do little to prove you’re capable of being curious, passionate or laid back enough to create alongside me. Neither should your curiosity, passion or creativity be minimized if your previous employment opportunities don’t meet someone else’s criteria and therefore don’t feel it necessary to pass along that obligatory piece of paper. I could go on and on but I’m already getting annoyed at the topic. 

Perhaps the concept of a resume isn’t wrong, but certainly the template is. You might glean my age from a graduation date listed from the Midwestern university attended I attended, but it doesn’t tell you it was two years delayed from dropping out twice and what those lessons taught me that someone successful of the four-year plan could not comprehend.

I listed my career experience but failed to speak most prominently of my most successful role from 2009–Present as that of being a mother. Responsibilities include but are not limited to: undying love, relentless mentoring, sleepless nights, sleepless mornings, shoulder to cry, snot and puke on, chef, maid, dishwasher, crafter, healer, head disciplinarian and overall chief creative officer. 

Certainly my roles as daughter, sister, aunt, ex-wife and girlfriend all require a skill set that any employer would die for.

Why wouldn’t I have listed my taste in music, film and photography? This pertains to nothing on that electronic piece of submitted paper but continue to add to the distinct fiber of me that can not be removed.

And where should I have placed the fact that I will produce nothing of actual value before 9AM (including my presence) but work best between 10 and midnight after my son has been bathed, read to, sent a bedtime video to his father and I’ve finally poured my second glass of wine?

The current standard of resume review creates nothing more than judgement of one’s value based on a subjective date-to-present employment scale — like the production of a paper doll without the closet full of clothes that truly allows her personality to shine through.

This is dumb. And needs fixed. But, it’s nearly 50-degrees out in mid-January and the other thing that’s not listed on my resume is my love of high-tailing it to the woods the moment the opportunity presents itself. 

What I’ve Learned | 2013 Edition

I don’t make resolutions. Not for the turn of a new year, at least. But I have always been inspired by Esquire’s What I’ve Learned. So in lieu of resolutions I won’t keep, I reserved some quiet time to reflect on my own personal 2013 edition of things I’ve learned. It was a good exercise and one I should do more often. 

But let’s not mistake that for a resolution.

//

  1. They say you accept the kind of love you think you deserve. The key is to remembering that just because someone thinks you deserve to accept their love, doesn’t mean it’s the right love for you.
  2. Stop reading into things and just ask already. 
  3. Life isn’t too short. Just make smarter decisions. You know which ones those are.
  4. I will never get to as many baseball games as I intend to during the season but I’ll imagine being at the ballpark during the entire offseason. Somehow, this all works out.
  5. On that note: ballpark dog beats NYC street corner dog. Paws down. Thanks for that lesson, Ben.
  6. I’ll never grow tired of laughing at my own jokes. See previous pun hilarity.
  7. Never underestimate the power of intellectual and emotional attraction. 
  8. At some point, you pull the trigger. Because you realize that you’re not repeating history by doing so. You’re living your life. And the outcomes of their decisions do not predict the future of yours.
  9. Records, a wood-burning fireplace and a bottle of wine will never go out of style.
  10. Heat makes everything hotter. And that’s a very good thing.
  11. Community theatre is a lot like the minors. Except for the fact that these players rarely will have a shot at the majors. But you still go because you support the arts, you get to watch your son in awe as the curtains open and it’s cheap as hell. (The only downside: no cold beer.)
  12. At some point, I became satisfied with “it’s the thought that counts.” But when you’re talented enough to move past the thought, it’s a waste if you don’t.
  13. Don’t be wasteful.
  14. A day will come when you’ll want to remind your **edited for content and the need to maintain important familial relationships**
  15. Stop skimming and start reading. It doesn’t count if you can’t recall most of it. Guilty as charged.
  16. TV might eliminate the silence but it can’t eliminate the loneliness.
  17. A “Like” doesn’t constitute a “love” nor does a lack of a “Like” constitute a lack of love. So just cool it. 
  18. Choosing to communicate tough or hurtful things over text will continue to be the demise of the modern-day relationship.
  19. If you have the ability to make someone’s day by telling them how you feel, why the fuck wouldn’t you? Say what you feel. And say the good stuff. It’ll feel great to everyone involved.
  20. It’s a choice to react with patience or with anger. It’s a choice to assume the best or the worst in someone. And it’s a choice to choose love over hate. While it seems like a no-brainer, choose wisely.
  21. I don’t ever want to be without a dog. I lost her before I lost her and I can’t stop missing her love and loyalty.
  22. Find out what makes him happy and never stop doing exactly that. But this can only happen when the pendulum swings fully in return. Fifty-one percent.
  23. It often times requires more courage to share than the courage required to create. But you get to choose the trees whose limbs you climb out upon. Choose those you know want nothing more than to hold you in their branches.
  24. Sharing your problems with others doesn’t make them their problems; it just gives them something to talk about when you’re not around. Share sparingly.
  25. It’s really not a choice after all. Choose patience, assume the best, choose love. Always… choose love. 

on finding one’s true self

The true self is challenging in both its power and its tenderness. Unless we are taught to work with its force and vulnerability, we lose our link to it. We rely more and more upon our false self, and become more and more uncomfortable with our true self. As this happens, we lose our ability to create, to play and to love. Kierkegaard said that ‘the deepest form of despair is to choose “to be another than himself.”

Think about it. And then go find her. 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-love/201312/the-power-the-gifts-we-hide?tr=HdrQuote

one more seat matters

Twice in the past month I’ve had the privilege of accompanying my son to a local arts event — a cultural staple supported by everyone in his life. Twice I’ve enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of those we awkwardly stumble over at the entrance of our row. And twice I’ve been able to pile our winter coats onto empty seats to our left or right. 

The lights dim. The stage is lit. We’re warmly welcomed to this afternoon/evening performance and ensured that photographs and video reproduction of any kind is strictly prohibited. Similar to the announcement heard from 22A on my last flight westward, there is a general glaze of the brain during this preamble.

But there are differences in this case.

Sitting next to me in 22B and C happened to be two elderly Asian individuals nodding off before takeoff. Seat 21A held a woman in her early 20s eagerly heading to wine country and seats 21B and 21C held a retired couple with a final destination of Hawaii, which they frequent twice a year. Seats 23A and 23B supported a boy who couldn’t have been much older than seven and his older brother by at least seven years — both being as excited as I was at the first sight of a billowing mass of white clouds through that small United window. Seat 23C supported a woman in her mid-fifties. Barely.

The point I’m trying to make through these nine seats (not quickly) is that they were taken.

And this… this is the difference. The seats we stacked our winter wear upon, were not.

I struggle like any other artist with the age of Instagram and like any other performance attendee (and parent) with the age of glowing iPhone screens. But the salesman in me and most importantly, the arts supporter in me, thinks we can get smarter on this one.

In the prior instances I mentioned, I wasn’t attending the last show — meaning additional performances were to take place. So what happens when something shows up in a feed of mine that the local arts organization couldn’t afford to advertise within, and that certainly their usual attendees don’t subscribe to? What happens is this: that photo I took mid-performance (sans flash, of course) appears to an extended network of individuals looking for something to do on Saturday night who previously had never attended nor thought to attend this type of event.

Let me take a picture. Let anyone take a picture (sans flash, of course). And encourage it in a way that excites those in attendance to share with their friends — Facebook or otherwise — in a way which breeds a whole new wave of fans. 

I understand the policy. I understand the craft and the art and the magnificence of the performance and the artists involved. But it’s time the preamble changes with the times we live in. A time where the socialization of the art doesn’t have to mean the diminishing of it, but perhaps instead, the support and sale of one more valuable seat.

young love

my little sister // her little ensley

thank you for letting me capture these little bits of love.

i love you both.

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My public response on writing to @danhellerich and an attempt to articulate like chuck klosterman(1)

I’ve been giving your email a lot of thought and trying to find my articulation of a response. I think I’ve got it. Or at least have to attempt to shake it out of my head so that I can move on to this awful < insert client’s name > report I’ve been putting off for the last two (more like four) weeks. 

For starters, I should just not talk after X amount of beers. The number is in direct correlation to the amount of which I’ve had to eat — particularly if what I’ve had to eat consisted of just some fried crap from Texas and not nearly enough guacamole on my chips. What I’m getting at is that I was clearly drunk enough that I shouldn’t be trusted to talk philosophically on any topic, let alone that of personal writing (and whatever else I choose to engage in — sorry ‘bout that).

The conversation began around Nirvana (a topic that has been written about roughly seven million times and I almost feel silly beginning to discuss, but here I go). They wrote deep deep shit (debatable by anyone without a closet full of flannel in the 90s). And I (and everyone else with a pulse) thoroughly believe that deep shit flew freely because of the sad state of affairs Kurt Cobain was in (well, that and the drugs). I guess I’m not actually sure if any of their songs were lyrically happy. I mean certainly not Rape Me or Kill Rock Stars. Perhaps Come As You Are signifies a generic sense of contentment, but when twice he “swears that he doesn’t have a gun” I feel as though the intent was less than harmonious.

They were lauded as geniuses (by me) because the were consistent in what they wrote and performed (according to me). When your head is consistently in the same place, it makes sense you produce the same stuff. Good stuff. Stuff I liked then and still like (I realize we disagree on this but would love to remain friends) and sometimes listen to with a certain special someone during dinner.

The reason I so drunkenly pushed the debate on whether or not one can produce the same content when they’re happy as they can when they’re depressed… is because I can’t. 

I’m not writing as frequently as I had over the past year. Because over the past year, I wrote to solve a problem. And I’m sure that’s why Cobain kept writing. To get it out of his head, onto the paper and into a microphone. But what happens when there’s no longer a problem? What happens when you just feel really really great? 

What I’ve determined (but probably didn’t vocalize during the GNO Tribute Band) is that I’m not writing because that was my medium for solving the bad shit. And although it feels foreign not to feel that way, it’s actually okay. Because…I’ve found other mediums. And the confusion and perhaps depression that has been replaced with a legitimate (and maybe for the first time ultimate) happiness is producing the ability to create and see new things. Beautiful things. And so while I’m no longer creating pieces of writing as frequently, I’m creating. A lot. 

So what would have happened to the genius of Nirvana had Cobain gotten his shit together? Or if Courtney wasn’t such an idiot in his life? Or if he swore that he didn’t have a gun and really didn’t? I want to believe he wouldn’t be a successful singer anymore. He wouldn’t have anything to write about, because the pain required to solve the problems he had wouldn’t translate to upbeat pop songs (because there really weren’t any happy grunge tunes). But I bet that in his new chapter without as much pain, he would have become a really great photographer or perhaps dabbled in mixed media.

Thank you for being my friend and for always believing in me. I think you’re the cat’s pajamas. (Not Chloe’s, but some other fictitious cat that wears a crown and drinks champagne and such.) Give Emily a squeeze for me.

xoxo.

 

 

(1) without the footnotes (but with parentheses)

I’ve sat on this for a week. Perhaps tumblr/twitter/facebook isn’t the best place for it. But it’s beautiful written (and could have been written by either side of the relationship). It’s not meant to stir controversy. It’s honest and raw. It’s sad and it’s hopeful. It wasn’t my previous relationship and isn’t my current. But it’s sound advice for any man or woman currently in or entering a relationship. 

I’m not asking you to “Like” it. But I am asking that you find what’s applicable to you and put it to use. And share it if you know someone who could use it. Life’s too short to make the same mistakes. 

Twenty marriage tips.