Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan the Man

I was on my way back from Austin, Texas, when I heard the news that Dan Fogelberg died yesterday, December 16th. I loved Dan. In high school, his lyrics moved me. Each night, as I fell asleep, I listened to a few select albums..."James Taylor's Greatest Hits" by none other than, James Taylor, Pink Floyd's "The Wall", the soundtrack to "Popeye" and Dan Fogelberg's "The Innocent Age".

Uber dork.

Let's face it, in the late seventies and early eighties, the music sometimes lacked in poetic lyrics. "Sha, la, la, la, la, la, my the sun with your dress undone..." That's "Thunder Island" for you youngsters. However, a few artists led the way to the sweet, contemporary, lyrical music of today of Ingrid Michaelson, Sondre Lerche, Damien Rice, Catherine Feeney, just to name a few. A very few. There's A LOT of good music out there these days. Dan Fogelberg was one of the pioneers who led the way. So much of his music told a story...remember "Leader of the Band"?

And, every year, at Christmas and New Years, the local, crappy radio stations play one of my favorite songs of all time..."Same Old Lang Syne". It always gives me goosebumps and almost always makes me cry. I don't know why. Something about reflecting on love lost and getting older and disillusioned. No wonder I cry...that's depressing. But I LOVE that song and look forward to hearing it on the radio during Christmas.

I heard it today several times but each time they played it, the dj prefaced it as a tribute to Dan. It's pretty much a guaranteed tear-fest from here on out, everytime I hear it.

I will miss you, Dan.

"And as I turned to make my way back home, the snow turned into rain..."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Stuff

My husband and and my girls just got back from a whirlwind Thanksgiving trip. We squeezed in months worth of visiting with his family, my inlaws and old friends in less than 72 hours. We had mechanical problems with our car, I came back with a cold, and a car full of luggage and newly acquired stuff to unpack and sort. It's good to be home.

In the midst of the trip, I was in survival mode and didn't really have time to enjoy the moments but as we got closer and closer to home, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness for my life. I am so thankful for my loving, sweet husband. He is the most amazing person I have ever met. I finally got it right. I know what a healthy, loving relationship is like. I'm grateful for my three kids, Jesse, tall, blonde, gangly, only son. Stevey, also tall, brunette, clumsy, sweet, slightly neurotic, beautiful oldest daughter. Sara, not so tall, brunette, smart, outgoing, beautiful, sweet, slightly selfish and cynical baby of the family. My grandchildren, sweet, baby Brian and hilarious, active Makaila.

I need never complain, although I know I will. Read my last blog. Or don't.

And thanks, D, for the gift to the right! I love guitar girl and I know just where I'll put her...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The water's fine...really

This is my first little piece of writing for nanowrimo. I've managed to squeeze out 447 words, way below where I should be on day four, but still I'm pleased. Pleased because I started with one sentence that popped into my head that I liked and God knows, that's a miracle with all the crap that's circulating in their lately. I have always been one who warms up to new ideas very slowly, almost begrudgingly, so this is me...sticking my big toe in the water, testing the temperature....

I have never wanted to live in this house.

It was Stuart’s idea. He saw it, fell in love with it and purchased it without ever talking to me. I was content in the Autumn Street house and had been for five years. I knew every crack in the wall, which stairs creaked and how long it took for the water to get hot in the downstairs bathroom. I knew how to jiggle the key to get the front door unlocked and about the leak under the kitchen sink which Stuart never fixed, no matter how many times he tried. We called it the mystery leak. We sat a bucket under the sink and changed it periodically. Sometimes we forgot for months until one of us noticed the damp, moldy smell coming from beneath the sink.

This was the home we first made love in, the home we embarked on our first few years of marriage in and had our first argument in. The home in which we became a family. I never wanted to leave it but it’s possible that Stuart felt the house was more mine than his. I bought the home on my own before we met and have always been very proud of this accomplishment. It had character, unique space and quirky traits that felt like me.

Stuart’s purchase of the Summer Street home was out of character for him. He never made a move without talking to me first. I cannot say the same. My personality has been molded and shaped from years of neglectful relationships. I forge ahead often as if there isn’t anyone else to consider. It’s mostly out of habit but it is also a conscious effort to remain independent. Inconsiderate, yes, to Stuart but necessary for my survival. I’ve been in love before and I’ve been left before and I never want to feel that loss again.

If you’re thinking that there is a gentle, sweet foreshadowing of moving from a home on Autumn Street to Summer Street, you’d be wrong. Things aren’t always what they seem they should be and in my life, my summer’s have always been harsher than my autumns. That was my foreshadowing but Stuart wouldn’t listen. He has always said that I think too much. At times he is right, but at other times, I am right but he doesn’t hear me for all of the noise that I am constantly making. He loved me then and found my over-analytical brain amusing and endearing. Why is that the things you love the most about a person in the beginning become the things you despise most about that person later?

Friday, October 12, 2007

What we don't see...

People are so strange. I worked a booth for my job tonight at a trade show. I love people watching. Across the aisle from me was a guy selling aluminum cookware. He had the whole package. Wireless microphone, rows of seating, two stages with all of his gadgets set up and signs, signs, signs. This guy had charisma like I've never seen. I mean he went on and on about American made products, sealing the vitamins in vegetables, lifetime warranty, diabetes, and a one time only promotional. He asked everyone's names at the beginning and addressed all of them personally through his "show." I wasn't surprised to see older women in the audience, nodding their heads, tasting his chicken-n-herbs. I was very surprised, however, to see three guys, probably very early twenties, dirty baseball caps, sleeves cut out of their shirts and rolling toothpicks from one corner of their mouth to the other, completely mesmerized for the entire forty-five minute presentation. In the end, they were holding clipboards and trying to decide which package to buy. None of them looked like they even knew how to use a stove.

This guy is a bonafied salesman.

His wife helped by handling out samples, smiling at people and anything else he assistant. But towards the end of the night, I noticed movement behind the curtain. They had built a little room behind the stage and as the curtain blew open slightly in the breeze, I saw his wife. She was sitting in a chair with her arms wrapped tightly around her. Her eyes were closed and she was rocking back and forth. At her feet was a child's quilt with smiling Elmos.

I wonder what her story is?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Scavenger Hunt Tuesday

Yesterday, I was in a nostalgic, generous mood, thinking about my friends and what they mean to me and why I love them so much. And, as sometimes happens in my world, one thought leads to another which leads to another which reminds me of a particular item and before you know it, I've spent hours of the day not working but on a mad scavenger hunt to find that item. On the way, I find various other items that need to be remembered and 'ooed' and 'awwed' over, which is why I lose a whole day.

So...while I was writing my blog yesterday, I became obsessed with finding a volume of poetry that Dino had given me years ago with an inscription in the front about how one day I would publish my own volume of poetry. I was going to take a picture of it and use it in the blog, and thus the search began. I looked everywhere. The downstairs bookshelf in the living room, in the hutch that i use as another bookshelf, only displaying my most valued and beloved books, on the bay windowsill in the dining room, on the floor next to the bookshelf in the living room, lovingly lining the wall beneath a window, on my dresser where another collection is held together by an old wine bottle from my honeymoon and a cool, iron lamp...and various other places where I can sneak in a few books. I'm like a child who spreads his food around on his plate so his parents won't notice he hasn't eaten anything...maybe my husband won't notice how many books that I haven't eaten.

I became increasingly irritated when I couldn't find it because I had just seen the book about a month ago, so I began to do what everyone does when they can't find something...I kept looking in all the same places muttering under my breath damn it, i know it's here somewhere, thinking that maybe by the fourth or fifth time I looked on that same bookshelf that it would be suddenly be there. Finally, I gave up and decided to finish the blog without the picture and returned to my desk, where I began to stare out the window at my favorite squirrel who loves to play on the roof of my neighbors house...hours of fun. I noticed a small stack of books in the windowsill, with a candle sitting on top, one of which was the volume of poetry I had been searching for all morning. These are how I spend most of my days. Futile.

Finding the book lead me to thinking about how I haven't written a new poem in quite a few years, which lead me to the attic to search for a box of my work, which lead me down another memory lane when I found two notebooks that belonged to my first husband with various songs and poems he had written (I'll have to save this for another blog) which lead me to folders and folders of old work from my creative writing classes.

I began to realize that I haven't written anything remotely close to those angst ridden poems and short stories in such a long time. What happened? Kids, school, work, financial burdens, divorce...just life in general. Which made me think that I have tons, and I mean tons, of stuff to write about besides my day to day bullshit.

I found one particularly interesting and flattering critique of one of my poems entitled "What it's about" which reads as follows:

Melinda, You absolutely MUST apply for the 400 course w/rabbit. I'm not a great poet, but I do recognize it when I read it. You've got that talent most of us must learn. The ability to import emotion into an unrelative reader. I actually felt this!! You're gonna publish someday, and I'll love to write the forward. There was no distance here - I liked that. I also liked how you didn't feel you had to elaborate on everything. You stayed w/why you write. Leave the details for other poems. ~ MG

Who is MG? I don't remember. I don't remember a lot of things from that particular time in my life. But whoever you are, thank you for that. Because what you didn't know was that 12 years later, I would pick this up and remember, and become inspired to write my poetry again.

Hopefully, I will publish and make enough money to support my family after I get fired from my job for spending my days searching for inspiration.

The saga continues...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stupid People, Little Italy and Setting Free the Bears....

Disclaimer: This entry is going to be all over the place.

Topic 1: Why don't people say what they mean?

I received an email from a disgruntled employee earlier today. My boss is very controlling and he coaches me on what to say. I don't need his coaching...I know how to reply. This is KILLING ME. I love words. Words are to me like a hammer is to a carpenter. I like to use them. I search endlessly for the exact word to fit what I'm trying to express as if my life depended on it. But I think what's getting to me the most is how she ended the email..."with warmest regards," today opposite day? What she meant (did I mention she is disgruntled?) is "dietonightstupidbitch."

Topic #2: Olive St. Bistro...I met the Crystal and a couple of other friends there tonight and it was absolutely lovely. On the end of Olive St., in the middle of the 'hood, is a little taste of Italy. The Bistro is not much to look at from the outside. In fact, you could drive right past the place and never notice it. An old, small, beige house with a small, humble covered deck out front, sheltered from the street with thick, roaming ivy. The sign proclaiming "Olive St. Bistro" is barely visible beneath the climbing greenery. It leans slightly to the left, as if it doesn't care. It says to the world" Come in...or not...whatever."

But to those who come in, what a secret world awaits them! An elderly, round gentlemen in a brown, polyester suit is playing piano, an old upright..."La Vie en Rose", "Blue Moon", you name it, he plays it. Fernando, a suave man, slightly graying and tall, wearing a tweed jacket over a crisp white button-down shirt, with an incredible presence and sensual accent, is the manager. He walks from guest to guest, warmly greeting and making conversation. The food is incredible, old world, rich and colorful and the staff, warm and knowledgeable about the menu. I love this place. I feel like I'm in Italy. Or at least as close as I can get, seven blocks from my house, in the 'hood.

Topic #3: My dear friend, Dino, sent me the journal in the picture above for a newly grandmother present. I'll have to admit that at first, it sat in a corner in my office, and occasionally, I poked at it with a stick and grunted. It's completely foreign to me. It wants me to shred pages, burn pages, spill food onto pages, make paper airplanes out of pages and tie a string around it and take it for a walk. Diahn has convinced me to embrace the journal! To look at it as an adult activity book! To set myself free by totally disregarding, annihilating, writing, coloring and spitting on this book. I think I'm liking this idea. Maybe she's onto something. Yesterday, I sorta spilled cold coffee onto page one million and three...and then I did a little dance. Don't laugh, it was all staged, but I'm learning...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sunflower Girl

About twenty miles away from town is a huge field of sunflowers. There's a sign between the highway and the field that says "In Loving Memory of Clyde." I can't think of a better memorium than to have an entire field of flowers planted in my memory. Especially sunflowers. Bigger than life, warm and rich in color with big, beautiful round faces.

This is my daughter Stevey's sunflower...she painted it last year in her eighth-grade art class. I love this watercolor. It hangs on the wall in my office at home and makes me so happy that I've decided to build the entire color scheme for my office around this picture. She thinks she isn't artistic and can't paint worth a darn...silly girl...if she only knew. It's the coolest thing in the world to watch her grow into herself, to watch her realize who she is becoming.

She's blooming...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sepetember 11, 2007...a new day dawning

Yesterday, my life changed.

Sure, you say, it's always changing and of course, you're right. But somehow, it shifted in a huge way without my permission. No one asked me if I was ready, and in fact, I'm not. No one told me to take notes on this particular life changing event.

No one told me I would feel this way.

But most importantly, my mind has deceived me. My mind tells me that I'm still young, impulsive, cool, maybe even sexy on a really good day, in the proper lighting. My mind says I'm too young to be a grandmother.

Forty-two. A grandmother. My mother was forty-two when she became a grandmother but I never realized how young that was.

I have a grandson. He is beautiful and his name is Brian Paul. Life goes on, ever so sweetly and completely.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Stacking Apples

I'm not sure why I'm writing today. I don't have a clear direction but someone who I read recently said write, even if it's shitty. Nothing new, but maybe seeing it written in such a stripped down way made me trust this piece of advice more than I normally would. The only writing I do these days is this blog, which consists of eleven paltry entries after nearly a year. Although I did recently begin writing a novel (ha) and gave myself a year to finish. My deadline is June 2008. I haven't touched it since the day I started.

See...even right now, I'm thinking stop. This sucks. You're not saying anything of worth, just useless babble. But I'm going to continue because I've been advised to write, even if it's shitty. Only I wonder if shitty is the same thing as useless? I guess shitty could encompass a myriad (thanks, D) of adjectives which I will now attempt to list: shallow, pointless, drivel, rambling, uninspiring, boring, childish...I don't think this is helping nor does it qualify as a myriad. This isn't very clever or inspiring which does however, remind me of a poem I wrote in college when I was raging against writing a villanelle. I will now post this poem for my one lonely reader's viewing pleasure.

On an assignment to write a villanelle

Try to force the words, like square pegs into a round hole,
into the right place, the right spot.
Make sure they lay just right, apples in a bowl.

That's not the right metaphor, apples in a bowl.
Apples are dying. You can almost smell the rot.
The trick is to use words, pieces of the whole, stacked in a bowl.

Or maybe it's like trying to bake a cake, only being told
you can only use one cup of everything, organic or not.
And don't forget the secret ingredient, apples in a bowl.

I'm really getting tired of this, it's not original or bold.
This villanelle is killing me and I'm not
reeling in images, like apples in a bowl.

And what can I fill this tercet with? Something new or old,
something borrowed or original, or flecked with polka-dots?
No matter. Just make sure they lay just right, apples in a bowl.

So technically I've done it, though in the process I've grown old.
And these flimsy words begin to rot
because even though they may be stacked just so,
they lack the feel of something real, these apples in a bowl.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

darkness has a hunger that's insatiable...

and lightness has a call that's hard to hear. that line is from "closer i am to fine" by the indigo girls. dino is learning that sacred song from our days of wine and roses and it's been in my head for a few days. when i get to that line, i'm mesmerized by it's simplicity and truth. the next line says "i wrap my fear around me like a blanket"...also true. when i come to a place in my life that i don't know what to do next, i sometimes become immobile. i wrap my fear blanket around me and drop anchor and sit for awhile. sulking. meditating. eating. i pull away from my family because they want they what i can't give. i crave silence. i rebel and only do the necessary things to get through each day. i wallow. i feel like a failure.

and then, i begin to hear the call of lightness. God knows me so he always sends the light in the form of a book. anne lamont is my light lately. she writes about life and god and motherhood with more raw honesty than any writer i've ever known. what courage that takes. to say your deepest, darkest thoughts without any fear. and yet, i know she has fear because she writes about that, too, yet she does it anyway. and because she is brave and shares her angst with me, i feel less alone and crazy.

there are mothers out there who would die for their children and also want to kill them at the same time. women who struggle with outbursts of rage when their cup runneth over. women who doubt themselves and every decision they've ever made. women who desperately try to find the beautiful in life in an effort to pull themselves out of the darkness.

"there's more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line. and the less i seek my source for some definitive, closer i am to fine." amen, indigo women.

i am always learning to be content.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Shreveport Lives....

I grew up in Shreveport and for the most part, have had a love/hate relationship with this town. Loved it because this is where I have spent most of my life and I know it like the back of my hand, hate it because there's nothing to do here. Okay, so maybe it's not New York with broadway plays and lights and chinatown and museums. But tonight, I was reminded that every town has just have to look. Because the really cool events, the art events, the free concerts by the river, aren't splashed across the front page of the newspaper, or even the middle pages. But they're there...on the back pages, tucked away...

Tonight, I came home from a busy day of carwash fundraising for my daughters, sunburned, tired and older. A friend called me and said she and her mother, grandmother, daughter and nephew were heading downtown for an end of the year Shreveport Symphony free concert on the river. I was tired but I went anyway. I'm so glad I did.

I was reminded of what I love about this city. The weather is always changing. Even in May, when it should be flamin' hot, we had a beautiful evening with temperatures in the 60's. My dear friend, Crystal, was there early with a blanket, fruit, cheese and wine. Perfect. The conducter was brillaint, somewhat Hugh Grantish in appearance and characteristics (BONUS!), and the evening was beautiful. While the symphony played a medley of American classics, little girls with big, pink bows and little boys with striped shirts and khaki shorts, were running up and down the small hill in front of the stage. No reason. Just being kids. Running...for the heck of it. I remember when I used to run everywhere. And even more magnificent, just at dusk, bats began to swarm (fly? rustle? shriek?). I didn't even know we had bats here.

Crytal's mom, Sharon, said, "Those are bats," as she looked up at the purple, pink, evening sky. "No they're not, those are birds," I replied. "No," she said, "those are bats. See the way they're flying in a cluster of chaos, but yet, together. Those are bats. You don't believe me?"

"Yes," I said, "I guess you're right."

In the distance, just beyond the chaos of bats, was a new moon, the old moon just a shadow in the background, and next to that, venus...shining like a torch. And the band played on...the theme from "Superman".

I love my hometown.