Monday, February 23, 2015

the frozen-est


That's a picture of the coolest gutter ever. Literally the coolest. The frozen-est. A couple of days ago I went outside to knock icicles off the house before they crashed down into someone's skull. I shoveled ice and snow, and cleared the other gutters that were starting to pull away from the house. I beat and scraped as much snow and ice as I could reach from the roof so the melting snow would run into this gutter, instead of somehow making its way back under the wood that runs over the garage, and then down the wall onto things like... a box of the kid's artwork from when they were little, or onto a chair that my brother built, or along the floor to various saws and woodworking stuff. It took a couple of hours total, and it rained the whole time. I wasn't really prepared for it and probably wouldn't have worried about it, except for that leak made me pay attention and do work. 

I did it all with a three foot tall snow shovel, a hoe, and in Converse. It's all been beautiful, the snow, but I mean, fuck. It's Western Kentucky. We usually have March flowers in January. I'm supposed to be digging at the earth, not my roof. I'm sure as shit not supposed to be walking around, white-knuckling a hoe, with wild, wet hair, vacant eyes, and out of breath. looking like Jack Nicholson from The Shining. No. No, I'm not...

-Angie

Sunday, February 22, 2015

wild things grow



Clouds cover the sun and snow covers where the garden has been and will be. The ground will eventually thaw, and hibernation will stretch and yawn and come back to life. Wild things will grow whether anyone believes they will or not. They just do. Wild things have to and they will. 

I've never been organized, or a goal setter. I rarely make plans, and this is why my brother once told me, "...And that's why your ass is always doing things by yourself." And he's right. If I'm going to do something, it's usually just as the thought of doing it occurs, and then that's about all the heads up I give anyone to join me. 

Want to go to the lake? Want to go out to eat? Want to go to the movies? 
The reply is usually - Sure. When?
My answer is usually - Now. 
The reply is usually - Well I can't now.

I guess I get in my own way of having company a lot of the time. Which is fine with me a lot of the time, but I'm sure it drives people, who don't have tasmanian devil pilots flying the seats of their pants, crazy. Although, the flip-side of this is this, if you were to ask me to do any of these things at any given moment, my reply is usually, Let's do it! Because... clear for takeoff. 

If I have too much time to plan something, or think about something, then I will usually start to dread it. Or I will draw up such a perfected plan in my imagination of the way I think something should go, that I will eventually decide that there's no way I could pull it off, whatever it may be, and so I let it go. Over before it even started. 

It's kind of the same mindset with my writing. Not the dread so much as a doubt. A self-doubt. The words are always there; ready to go down. They skip, hop-scotch, and dance along the paper until the last period comes. IF I don't think too much about it. I think it's just that way for me. Idea. Boom. Write it. I love when that happens. Wildness. If I think too much about what I'm going to write, then it all starts to sound theatrical and way dramatic in my head, and then it's an instant shut down. Self-doubt has crept in and killed the wildness. 

Sometimes the self-doubt part of my spirit is crippling. I have actually thought that people, some my friends, and some not, have given praise of my writing because they must feel sorry for me in some way. I mean, that is crazy. I think that's crazy, and yet, I have thought it. The self-doubt deal only shows up rarely, and it creeps up, too. It's a lurking shadow just barely there, but also cracks a thundering roar of YOU SUCK ALLLL OF THE SUCKS. This is all laughable to me when I'm not in the throes of it. I know that what I write is pretty good at times, and really fucking good at other times. And sometimes... meh. And that's OK. 

But what is not OK is when I'm seriously thinking that I'm the coddled kid... 

So like, you know how when a three year old shows you a picture they've colored and you're all...
Oh, that is so good. ???

But you don't know what the hell you're looking at. You don't even know if you're holding it right side up. 

So you say... 
Oh, I love the colors you used. 

But then, you may go ahead and give it a guess with a...
Is that a... tree

And the kid gets aggravated and turns the picture right side up in your hand, and is like...
No, dumb ass, it's a ship, and those are the pirates with their cannons, and that's a shark in the background, and there's the plank, and that guy has a patch on his eye, and a peg-leg. and and and

But you couldn't tell. You couldn't see it. But you go along with it, because the kid seems sure of their self. And you don't want to crush the kid.
I see it now! That's really awesome. So much detail. So good. And I really love the colors. 

And maybe the kid shoots you a side-eye, because they know they did a pretty good job, but that maybe you didn't really see it, and then maybe they start to question themselves. 

Listen, I know I'm not that kid, but sometimes I do wonder. Probably some therapy would help figure it out, but nah, I would just rather tell you guys about it and move on. I know I'm not the only one that feels like that kid. Self-doubt is a crazy thing. From parenting, to prints on a wall, to the frame that holds the print. From what we say, to how we look, and what we do. Self-doubt is everywhere for a lot of people. It can be paralyzing. Hopefully it doesn't stick around for long, and we go on being the bad-ass painters of ships and pirates that we know ourselves to be. 

It seems so easy to let myself down and get in my own way of accepting my good stuff. My good qualities. Maybe if I sabotage my own stuff, no one else will have the chance. I really don't know what it's all about. I just know it's there sometimes. Then it goes away and I keep growing. I'm the wild thing. You're the wild thing. We are all wild things. 

We are good parents, people, teachers, decorators, artists, and writers, no matter what the self-doubt may lead us to believe from time to time. Let that go into permanent hibernation and let the wild thing grow and flourish. When you know you've done a good thing, believe it. When someone tells you you've done a good thing, believe it. Don't listen to the negative things. Don't believe that. If you have to go for a walk, or take a shower, or listen to some music, or go for a drive, or just read a book - do that. Clear your head and and let the wild thing grow. 

Wild things grow. They just do. They have to and they will. Imagine what could become if that wild thing was completely believed in. 

-Angie



Thursday, February 19, 2015

couple hours of days



So we've been in the house for about, what, four solid days. And then there was the weekend's worth of a couple of days. For the past couple hours I'm feeling a little punchy. A little side-kicky. A little cabin fever. A little stir crazy. A little nuts. 

I did back my truck up the hill and got it turned facing the road. But I have a flat. But I also have some pretty rad neighbors with an air tank. So now I know I'm not trapped. I hear the roads in town are clear. My road is not, and my driveway is still five inches deep. I have no real desire to go to town, but I suppose, now that I can, I should probably go to work. 

Tomorrow is Friday! Weekend's here. As I make a jack-off sign motion with my hand. I'm looking forward to work. It's been the weekend all week, already. 

I've been outside a lot. A whole lot. Layers and layers of clothes. Hello, long johns, you're my favorite. I stand outside and think to myself, cold air is good for the lungs, right? It's too pretty, and the camera and I are drawn to the snow. 

Conversations before the flat tire...

Me - I hate putting on makeup. Dude, look at that blue sky. 
Then Jolie repeated this back to me and said I sound like a hippy. 
I DO have hippy tendencies. 

Jolie - What are we going to town for? 
Me - For mochas and smokes. Because if we don't do it before the next round of weather comes, one of us won't make it out of here alive. Just kidding. Not really. 

Me - Don't stand under the icicles. 
Jolie - Blankest of blank stares. 
I occasionally still tell my kids things like they are little. I can't help it. 

It's all very Angie in a box. The days plowed into a couple of hours. It'll pass. 

-Angie

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

kissed by winter

The weather guy called for us to get a lot of snow and it happened. It really happened this time. The night the flakes were to start falling is the day that Jolie and I, along with the rest of my town, chose to go shopping for what might be needed should we all be snowed in - which we were - we are. 

But really I had gotten nearly everything I needed the day before, which is probably why I lucked out in this store. Or maybe it was good karma rolling my way... which I don't even really believe in. 

But whatever... not even that big'a deal.

The store was completely packed with excited or dreadful shoppers. Everyone was being calm even though the lines at the checkouts were insanely long and tangled together. It was a mosh pit, except it was quiet and still. Kinda exactly like the calm before the storm. 

It's a good thing they were being calm, too, because we accidentally stepped in front of a couple who was standing in an unmapped line. But they were nice about it and gently got my attention with a, ma'am... ma'am... This is the line, she gestured behind her with her hand at more than twenty people. I'm glad they were calm and didn't try to beat me to death with all of their gallons of milk. 

You do not mess with people getting their milk (and bread) during a winter storm warning. I already had my milk from the day before. Don't make fun of the need for milk either, because - Snow Cream. 

We carried the few items we needed in our hands, and just then, as we were making our way across town to the back of the line, a manager came over and directed me to the counter at the front of the store to check out. HaHa Suckas! THIS is the line now. IN YOUR FACE! I really didn't think that in my head, I don't think. Maybe a small part of me did. 

I can't help it, man. Shopping messes me up. 

We made our way back home to the woods where the only lines are those of the pines, and we eagerly awaited the snow. We woke the next morning to big flakes and big accumulation. I think we got about an inch of ice and about ten inches of snow. 















Sister made blue snow cream.










Usually we get an inch of snow. A dusting, it's called. If we get that. We get seriously excited, squealing when we see the first flake. We try to build a snowman without rounding up brown earth with the white snow. We try to find a table top to gather snow for snow cream. 

This time we had ten times the reason to be excited. Ten times more reasons to play outside. Ten times the reasons to do all of the things imaginable when it snows. I can't pass it up. Right now, snowmen are practically building themselves and snow cream overflows. We kept looking out the window, where everything was blanketed in grey, and we couldn't tell ground from sky. We kept looking out the window and saying, Are you seeing this? Can you believe it? It's beautiful!

I know some people really hate the snow and really hate being at home, but oh sweet snowballs, I freaking love it so hard. Are you kidding me? Stuck at home with nowhere to be, except for bundled up outside? It's a dream. 

For those of you that hate snow, don't hate me. It will be over soon enough. Don't throw your empty milk jugs at me. Winter gave us a late Valentine's kiss. I'm in love. 

The weather guy is calling for an inch or so more of snow tonight. We laughed and we were like, Remember when we would get so stoked for an inch of snow? Ten inches, people. 

-Angie

PS It's now the next morning. We got another two or three inches. Stay warm.
PPS I really don't know the total snowfall amount. Ten inches? 12? A foot and three inches? Shitload? Winter Wonderland's worth? 


Saturday, February 14, 2015

shack saturday

Happy Saturday, Shackers!
Happy Valentine's Day to all you Loves!



I'm recycling a pic from like, three years ago because I'm totally lazy and didn't do anything for Valentine's day, but I do mean what it says. I appreciate you guys that come hang out with me here. I hope you all feel some love today.

-Angie



Thursday, February 12, 2015

king kong ape shit



When I was a kid I was told that smoking was bad for me. That was it. Just that it was bad for me. I was told sitting too close to the television was bad for me. Too much candy was bad for me. Don't get a sunburn. I think we probably didn't wear seat belts much and I walked alone at night. You know, a lot of things were different. 

When I was sixteen or something I smoked a cigarette. I'm still smoking them. They're bad for you. They're bad for you. They're bad for you. Well, so was every fucking thing else. So... I didn't think much about it. I ignored it. Turns out, the smoking thing really is bad for you. We all know the deal, and I'm not even going into that. 

The thing is - I hate smoking and I love smoking. I do. I love a good smoke. When a peaceful person who smokes doesn't smoke for a questionable amount of time, say six hours or whatever, that person will go King Kong ape shit. That person will want to rip the limbs off an oak with their gritted teeth. Because that person is pissssssed. Wicked withdrawals. And this is how we lose our minds. The wind is blowing - Motherfuckin wind. The sun is out - Why the sun gotta be so damn bright? People smile - They might get their teeth knocked out. Pissed. But when we get our cigarette... we could be told that the world was ending in five minutes, and we're likely to take a drag and casually be like, man, that sucks... 
It's crazy town. 

The situation is real. I hate it. For anyone that has quit smoking, that person has made a huge accomplishment. Huge. Some of those people that haven't smoked in over ten years say they still wish they could smoke one now, but that would be the start of all of it again. Addiction. It's so fucked up. 

We smokers know what the deal is. We know all the facts and statistics. We care, we really do. It's really scary stuff, but we also don't give a rat's ass. We want that smoke. 

Here's another way it's messed up - I pay pretty good attention to what I eat; where it comes from and what's in it and all of that. I like to do some exercise. I like to hike. I like it when I push my body a little further and my muscles are sore. I care about my health. And yet, I will smoke that cigarette. 

I smoke outside because it's totally a nasty habit. I don't want my kids to breathe it. And it just stinks. I've talked to the kids in great detail, by the way. There were more words used than just, it's bad for you. They are pretty much thoroughly disgusted by it all. As they should be.

Take it easy on us smokers. I mean, I don't go to bars, but smokers can't even smoke in bars anymore. We can sit there and throw back a few shots and then leave with blood shot, blurry eyes, stumbling feet and slurred English in our loaded weapons, I mean, cars, but we can't smoke. Smoking is too horrible. 

I'm not defending smoking, I'm just rambling about it. I'm just saying if you're hating on a smoker - just back off. We're good people. 

Here's what my mom does, and though it makes me a little nuts, it's OK because she's my mom. 
I'm tired - Quit smoking.
I've got a sore throat (and it's during flu season) - It's because you smoke.
I need glasses - Stop smoking.
My wrist that I broke when I was a kid is aching - Quit smoking.
I'm thirsty - Don't smoke.
I'm hungry - Quit smoking.
It's nice outside today - Stop smoking. 

I wish we could all quit smoking. One time I quit for about six months. I did it! I had it! I gained 50 pounds. 
Fifty fucking pounds. 
I ate every damn thing in sight, obviously. My knees hurt. My back hurt. I was out of breath. That's a lot of weight to gain that fast. Before I could realize it and maybe find a way to deal with that and keep going on the nonsmoking track, something happened and I started smoking again. 

"Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times." -Mark Twain

-Angie


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

you tell your kids every single day

Today, when you send your kids to school, tell them not to tell secrets about other kids. 

Tell them not to mock the kid that wears the same shoes to school every day. 

Tell them not to tease the girl because she wears a headband every day, and then when she chooses not to wear it one day, don't tease her then either. 

Tell your kids that they are going to have acne so they shouldn't make fun of the one that has it now. 

When your kid sees another kid sitting at the lunch table by herself, maybe they could sit with that kid. Ask them how it's going. 

When your kid starts a new sport, maybe they could encourage other kids, instead of putting them down. 

Tell your kid that they shouldn't assume anything about other kids. They could be missing out on a real friendship.

Tell your kids that they don't have to be mean to make themselves look better. It only makes them look worse. 

Tell your kids to be kind. 

Tell your kids that you get it. It can be hard to step away from the crowd and do something different. Tell them that's brave. Bravery feels good. It gets easier to do what is right and good, instead of settling in to what they're used to. Be brave. 

Tell your kids every single day. 

Today, when you send your kid to school, and they don't want to go because they know they are going to face harsh words, looks, whispers and laughter behind their back, you tell them that they are better than the others. 

You tell them they are already smarter and kinder and more human than the others; they are not mean spirited and that is why it bothers them so. 

You tell them to hold their head up and to focus on the good things of the day, even if it's just one thing. 

You tell them they are funny and smart and beautiful and strong and healthy. 

You tell them that they are loved and appreciated and that they matter. 

You tell them that the ones that are hurtful are probably dealing with some sort of hurt themselves, however, it doesn't make any of it OK, and it is not their deal to fix. 

You tell them to always be themselves. Stay true and honest about who they are. If they have to be alone for a little while, being their own self, it will be much better than following a group that will never be true to them and even if it seems they are friends, that group will most likely target another kid down the line. 

You tell them to always be kind and not be brought down to the level of others. 

You encourage them. You tell them to look in the mirror and pick one thing that day that they like about themselves. The color of their eyes. The shape of their mouth. Maybe it's how tall they are. Maybe they can shoot hoop or write or build or paint. The texture of their hair. One thing. ONE THING. Do it every day. 

You tell them that they are awesome and one day the rest of the punks will see that and maybe catch up to them. If the punks are lucky.

You tell them every single day. 

Our kids listen to us. When they go to school and have to listen to nearly a whole classroom of mean kids our words may get lost for a while. But we have to keep at it. We have to listen. We have to lose the sharpness of our own tongues, even when we want to dismantle the ones that throw daggers all day to our kids. 

We have to tell them specifically what to say when they are harassed about a HEADBAND. !?! It's OK to tell that kid to mind their own business. To check their own self instead of worrying about what color headband another has on. Instead of getting beat down and being harder on themselves than they were already being in the first place about their looks, it's OK to tell another kid simply, I wear this because I like it. Now go mind your own business. 

It's completely exhausting to be the parent of a kid that comes home from school with a hurt, vacant look in their eyes, shoulders slumped from the weight of the day, and monotone in their otherwise musically pitched voice. As exhausting as it is, always listen. Tell them you know it's hard. Tell them you understand. Tell them you want to understand. Look them in the eye and listen. As exhausting as it is to see your kid hurt so many days in a row, always listen. You're lucky they feel secure enough to tell you their sorrow, and they are very lucky to have you. Sometimes... it's OK to tell your kid to tell the mean kid to just eat shit. 

If your kid comes home with a broken spirit and they don't tell you about it, let them know that you are there for them. If they want to talk about it - you'll listen. You may not be able to fix it, but together you could try. These conversations need to be in place since birth, already, but if they aren't they could start today. 

Instead of schools rallying for a No Bully Zone, I would love to see a class held on how to be a kind human. There are enough classes on how to get ahead in the world. There aren't enough parents doing the job of teaching kindness. Obviously. Do they still teach Home Economics? Instead of learning how to bake a cake, or sew, I would absolutely love to see a substantial amount of input on being a kind human being. 

To simply say No Bullying is bullshit, really. Kids need the specific tools for this. We didn't just throw a jar of baby food and a spoon down and expect the baby to pick it up and use it - we taught them. We didn't just let the kid shit all over the house until they figured the toilet out - we taught them. This is basic stuff, but it had to be taught. It had to be learned. Kindness? Basic stuff, right? It has to be taught. 

When a kid is being bullied it takes away their self worth, self confidence, and their fearlessness. My God, the fearlessness of a child is so great. They absolutely know they can conquer the world and they will tell everyone, (they will tie a cape around their neck and jump off steps to fly and shout - I AM A SUPERHERO!! I CAN DO EVERYTHING!!!) but when they are hammered daily about how they do not fit in anywhere, they won't say much at all to anyone of authority at the school. Maybe they don't want to be a snitch. They are for sure afraid. Embarrassed. Humiliated that this stuff is being said to them and happening to them. When this does happen daily to some kids, and it does, where are the teachers, anyway? Where is the authority? They must see what is happening in front of them. Maybe you've talked with the teachers. Maybe things got better. Maybe they didn't. I have a global-sized amount of respect for the good teachers. I wish, though, if they, the school systems, paid more attention to all of this, and not focus so much on who is talking in class, or who is wearing what, then it would all be better. 

To be first place is not always success. To be the loudest/most heard is not always success. To have the expensive stuff is not always success. 

To be a kind, caring, compassionate, empathetic human being is always a success. 

-Angie

Edited to say: As many of us are women and moms, and as many of us are on one side or the other of this, I feel this is worthy of #womenslives. For other stories you can go to PRI and check them out there. 

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