Tuesday, April 22, 2014

the shack is 2 and it's earth day

Happy Birthday to The Shack! The first post was written two years ago today. How 'bout that? And here is where The Shack turned 1. And Happy Earth Day! 

What a great day, eh? Two of my favorite things together on the same day; a celebration of writing and earth. Either is calming to me. Either brings harmony. To get into the sky, the earth, the trees, the sun and the wind, and some other inhabitants, is just truly the most peaceful thing to me. 

I pull into the long drive slowly, thick with woods on both sides, and coast easy down the hill towards the lake. The windows are down and sunlight trickles in through the trees. I get down to the worn gravel up from the lake, put the truck in park, step into the open space and breathe. It's my vacation every time. Every single time. 

I come to this place a lot. It reminds me of home. It never gets old or boring. You might think it's just the same old scene every time, but it's not. It has something new to offer every day. I walk around the woods and I sit and look out on the water. Each time when I think I may be ready to head back to the truck and back up the drive out, a shadow of wings cast overhead and I have to stop and see. Or there is a splash in the water, and I'm bound to turn around. Sometimes I think I just won't look back again, but that's pretty impossible. I hope this place never changes, and if it does... I hope it's for the better. 

Everybody pick up a piece of trash today. If you take it out there, you bring it back. Don't leave anything but your own tracks.  Here are a lot of photos from my spot at the lake, taken a couple of days ago.

Kentucky lake barge

blue herrin

blue herrin

blue herrin

Happy Earth Day! And Cheers to The SS71!!


ps - Here's a little song. Just because I love it. I think you all will, too. 
pss- I hope this link works. ??? 

So Many Lives - John Craigie

Saturday, April 19, 2014

principal. integrity. fairness.

Disclosure - The word penis, and the like, are used here in what can only be called childish, but accurate, name calling, as I have revisited my 17 year old self. I stand by it. 

I was a 17 year old senior in high school when the principal, the head honcho, the prick in charge, called me into his office, and told me I should quit school. Let me see... I believe his words went like this... "You've never done anything. You'll never do anything. You should just quit now." To which I responded, "Fuck you.", and I walked out. I quit. 

I was a good kid, and other than that conversation with the penis in a suit, I was not disrespectful to anyone. This monkey scrotum of a man had never talked to me in my four years at high school. So I was intimidated and stunned when he said that. It stung, I'm not gonna lie. I quit freaking high school because of it! The sting died down, but his words would still pop into my head every now and then. And I hate that. I'm embarrassed by it. I mean, I'm a grown woman, but that's what happens when you say horrible things to a kid. Those things stick and sting and can be very hard to let go of. 

To the man with the thimble sized penis:

I may not have been on top of the academics in the classroom, but my intelligence, in general, far surpasses that of yours. For instance, I've always known better than to tell a child they can't do something. Children, even. Plural. I know there were others. Did you get a rise from it? Feel a hair stand up? A pinky sized hard on? Why were you so mean?

Had it just been me that you had talked to this way, I probably would have forgotten it long ago, but it wasn't just me. Imagine the change you could've potentially had, for so many, if you would have been supportive and encouraging. 

A friend of mine told me years ago, that you had told him the same thing. He quit. A couple of years ago he committed suicide. You were in a position to have huge, positive impacts on so many lives, but you chose to be a dick. Perhaps the conversation you had with him, when he was just a kid in high school, had nothing to do with the turns his life took. But what if it did? 

You're probably unaware of the turnout of many of the students unless they are known by wealth. For instance, I had to wait tables for a while, and there you sat. You never once said please or thank you. Not once. 

This letter/blog post is for me. You've littered my thoughts with the stench of a past from a lifetime ago this week, and I will have no more of it. 

I was a kid, and for whatever reason you tried to squash me. Didn't work. I did many noble and recognizable things then, and I continue to do many things now. Great things, in fact. Things that you may find unimportant and insignificant, but they are things that will make the world go around in the best possible way and leave the ones like you spinning dizzy. 

While you may have a big name with a big title, it doesn't make you better or more important than anyone else. I may have a small name with no real title, as far as you would be concerned, but my life is positive. I did do things, and I continue to do things. Healthy, strong, redeeming things that stand on principal and integrity and fairness, and those things will reverberate forever. 

I do wish you well. You will cloud my thoughts no more. I'm only sorry you crept back into my head at all, and I'm sorry for the others, as well. 

The most exciting thing happened last week. I wrote an essay and it was published. That's when this memory of being a kid in high school, just trying to find her way, crept back in, and kind of stopped me in my tracks. It's happened before, from time to time.
But no more. I do not have the time nor the room for any of that in my head. 
I've got to go make new tracks now. 

Anyone can read my published essay here.


shack saturday

Happy Saturday, Shackers!


Friday, April 11, 2014

mamalode - fragile bravery

I submitted a story, they accepted it, and the smile on my face threatens to crack my jaws; freeze my muscles. It's a good feeling. 

The story I wrote was really heavy. A terribly scary moment in time for me. A story about finding a lump in my breast and the thoughts that came immediately with that. 

In the moment of submitting the story I think I just desperately wanted to connect with someone; anyone. I felt like I was grasping, so I reached out and Mamalode pulled me in. I felt a little more anchored. 

I am so humbled that my story will be shared at Mamalode. I am so lucky to have found out that it's going to be alright. It was weird to be happy about my story being published at the same time of going through mammograms, ultra sounds, and scheduled surgeon consults. 
Maybe it should never be weird to be happy. 

Here is the link to my story at Mamalode. Fragile Bravery 

Go read it. Share it. 

With big love,


Thursday, April 10, 2014

either way

Most mornings, when I wake Jolie for school, she yawns and stretches and molds herself back into the covers savoring each last minute that she can. But some mornings she rises up with the sun, and goes for whatever is making her happy at the moment. Sometimes it's a book, a chart, a drawing. This morning it was a colorful brush. It could go either way really, the art or the sleeping, and I really like it either way. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

for the love of a salad

I picked Tyler up from school, and as usual, he was hungry. School lunches ain't what they used to be. I was getting hungry too. It was 3:15. 

Me: I think there's some chicken in the freezer. We can do chicken salads. 
Tyler: Yeah, there is.  
Me: Ok, I'll thaw the chicken. You go get the lettuce.

The night before he had wanted salad, but it was a no-go. So tonight was to be fried chicken on a bed of lettuce. 
Easy enough, right? Yeah, you would think so. 

I thawed and started frying the chicken. I'm hurrying. Boiling eggs and frying the chicken.
When you've got kids hovering like vultures, you hurry.  Flour everywhere. Tyler ran to the store to get lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. He would be back in just a couple of minutes. Until he wasn't.

He called.
Tyler: I hope you can make a salad with cabbage. 
Me: No, I can't. 
Tyler: Well, I have cabbage. 
Me: Just run back in there and grab lettuce, babe.
Tyler: This place is crazy busy. I don't want to wait in line for 1500 people. 
Me: Dude, it can't be that bad. Just get the lettuce. 
Tyler: I'm going to the other store.

The other store is across town
I'm still frying the chicken.

He called.
Tyler: What is going on in town?! It's busy! I would have to park on the highway to get into the store. 
Me: I have no idea.
Tyler: Can't you just use cabbage? It's still a leaf.
Me: No, I can't. I can't eat a salad out of cabbage. No way, man. 
Tyler: What's another store?
Me: You know the stores, just get the lettuce!

He brings home the tomatoes, the cheese, and the damn head of cabbage. 

Tyler: I'm done. 
Me: Please! Please go get some lettuce. There's the little store just up the road. Run in there. I'll have all of this ready. Now, go kid!

Off he went. 
He came right back. 
He came right back with ANOTHER head of cabbage. 


Seriously. I laughed and couldn't even believe it. Poor kid.

He pulls a leaf off and says how good it is. It will work, he says. It's fine, he says. But I just can't.
I throw my shoes on and head to the first store he went to. What do ya know. They don't have any heads of lettuce. So, a bag of the good leafy bunch it is. Better anyway.

I get back. Finally. There is lettuce in da house!! I instantly have swag. 
I'm washing the lettuce, ripping it into a bowl, tomatoes are cut, eggs are boiled, peeled and halved. A lemon is ready to be squeezed. Tyler grabbed a bag of shredded cheddar out of the fridge and put it on his bowl of lettuce. His big bowl that we searched cabinets for to find the right one. A good big bowl. These were big salads we were getting into, you guys. 

Tyler: Uh, will this kill me?
Me: What? 
Tyler: Just smell this. Is this right? This isn't right. 

I smell it, and that cheese is no good.


Yes, I'm yelling. Waving outstretched fists into the air. Yelling and laughing. It's just all gotten totally very ridiculous.
It's on it's way to bleu cheese, I say. Hold on just a second, I say. I'll fix it, I say. 

I wash his bowl of lettuce, again, putting piece by piece back into the huge bowl holding all of the lettuce, because damn. I'll about kill somebody over some lettuce at this point. And then I gathered all of the egg shells and lettuce stalks (stalks? are they stalks?) out of the sink and straight into his salad bowl, without realizing it. 

Me: OK, bub, it's all good now. Start over. 
Tyler: You put all of the trash in my bowl?
Me: Well shit!! 

I laugh like a tired lunatic, and his grin flashed across his face the way it does. 
(Love that grin, by the way) 

It had become a mission. And let me just say... Mission Accomplished. 

At around 5:30, the salad was pretty great.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

exhibit a

I always took a book to ward off the chatty parents. There were some extremely talkative parents there, mostly the moms. Mostly gossip. 

When I would take Jolie to her gymnastics class, there was a little room with a few rows of chairs for us parents to watch our kids through a large mirrored glass. 

I watched Jolie, but had my nose ready to be in the book if needed. I'm sorry, I can't help it. I'm not a big talker of shopping or of other people. 

One day, I had to have my book raised squarely in front of my face. For the warding off, you know. I didn't care to get in on which ever topic was being griped about that day. I was wearing a shirt with letters on it, and this mom kept telling her little kid, while I had my book plastered across my face, to read the letters on my shirt. She sat in a chair in front of me, but turned completely around backwards in her chair to directly face me, and she directed that kid to my shirt. Dude, I'm not exhibit A. So I gotta take the book down, the kid is cute and he's just a little thing and he is standing in my lap at this point. Oh, hello. Were you talking to me? Sorry, I was READING. Mom then asks me if he can point to the letters on my shirt and call them out. Are you fucking kidding me? Blank stare. Blink. Blink. Uh, OK. 

She pointed, along with the kid, at the letters on my shirt. Like, they were TOUCHING the letters on my shirt. I had totally become exhibit a. 

Hello? Personal space, anyone?

There was also the time I was behind a guy in a small line at the gas station. Him, me, and the guy behind me. I kind of shifted my weight while standing there, and the guy behind me was apparently standing way too close, because I nearly stepped on him. We nearly bumped each other. 
Now, WHAT?! Excuse, me? No, excuse YOU. It's called personal space. Look it up. 


Monday, April 7, 2014

milky way

So I don't know what to make of this. Any dream interpreters out there? I usually don't remember dreams. I know I have them often, because I will sometimes get a flash of something that I did dream, but can't recall even one bit to even know what it was. Just a flash. 

Today I was looking through National Geographic, reading about the milky way, and I had that flash. Then the full memory rushed into my brain. And... it's just stupid. 

I dreamed that I was standing outside looking up at the milky way, when it started moving like a starry highway. Stars moving fast leaving lightning streaks, there in the milky way, against the night sky. It was beautiful and vivid and really cool. A few of those stars shined brighter than the others and moved slower than the rest, and then they landed. I was mesmerized and unafraid. Next to me they landed in the form of ... Good God ... Are you ready for this? ... Ninja Turtles. Mother-fucking ninja turtles. Shells and all, you guys. 

So here's this one ninja turtle standing right beside of me, and then all of a sudden he's a man. Like, the perfect man. I can't say what he looked like, it was more the feeling that counted here. I think he was really good looking. I remember thinking he was, but who knows. Anyway, I felt true love. It's been a long time. I had forgotten what that felt like. He was my true love. As corny as it sounds, he was. I felt what it was to have that love, that best friend, that partner. The feeling of being loved and taken care of. The ninja turtle turned man had all of the greatest qualities I would want. And then he had to go. Back to the starry stuff. He was gone. 

The Milky Way delivered a dream man. At least the thought of one. But why a Ninja Turtle? 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

the butterfly effect of kindness

When I was a kid, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I didn't have the right style to be the popular girl. Style came later, and that is still questionable. Wasn't smart enough to hang with the academics. My intelligence went beyond four classroom walls. I was athletic, but too shy and too intimidated to play in front of anyone. Socially awkward. 

In elementary years, I remember walking, alone, outside for recess. Two girls walked behind me, taking turns kicking the back of my legs and laughing as we walked. I don't know why they did it. I don't know why I never told anyone.

I read a lot when I was in middle school years. Preteen, wanting someone to see me and no one to notice me. Wanting to be heard, but not wanting to speak. Wanting to be known, but not giving myself the chance of introduction. Going home after school getting lost in pages and chapters to forget the daily grind of being made fun of for being too tall, too skinny, and too white. Those things earned lots of laughter at my expense. I laughed it all off, maybe a little too loudly. Nervous defense.

I remember, sometime in high school, our class had to play charades. I reached into the bowl to pull the piece of paper that read Billy Idol. Now, of course I knew how to impersonate Billy Idol. Easy. Rebel Yell. Shake of the fist. Curl of the lip. Easy. But, I couldn't. I froze. I chose to play dumb so I could get out doing it. So I could get off of center stage. I acted like, and said, I had no idea how to act out this person. I stood there in front of the whole class with eyeballs all on me. I was hot with embarrassment. Twenty or so classmates - the equivalent of the whole world looking at me with a magnifying glass in that moment, and I wanted the earth to swallow me. But, there I stood. When the class knew who it was that I was suppose to act out, their eyes rolled, and their voices were mocking and harsh and seemingly disgusted. "You can't do Billy Idol?! That is so easy! God! I can't believe you couldn't do that. It's so simple!" I don't remember anything after that. I just remember feeling really small.

Always, I bounced back. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was, and is, always full of love and is reassuring and encouraging. (Hi, mom!)

Only a few years ago, because I had been pretty much reclusive for years as far as being a social butterfly went, did I briefly show up for a reunion, and there did I hear the word introvert. I thought I was anti-social. I knew I didn't hate people or anything, but I also knew that I didn't want to hang out with people in general. And based on a lot of my childhood, preteen, and teen years, who would blame me if I did hate people? Freaks, I thought, who needs 'em? So at this reunion, a good friend of mine told me, "You're not anti-social, you're just more introverted." And he briefly described that to me. Dude was a life saver.
I'm an introvert?
I'm an introvert.
Alright, alright, alright...
It's cool, fool.

In general it can all be tough; the whole - being a kid and not fitting in. I'm thinking it was even worse for having been an unknown introvert and never mentioning the things that happened to me to anyone. I basically always wanted to just forget about it and start anew the next day. I must have gotten good at it, too, because my memory is shit today. 

What isn't cool is the way people are labeled if they're quiet or shy or not aggressive or competitive or whatever. If they don't act the way, dress the way, talk the way, look the way the majority does, then they are outed. Thought to be different and weird. I say, Celebrate the weirdness! I've noticed that this carries on into adulthood too. Often the mean kids grow up to be the mean adults. Always needing to talk down about someone else to feel like they have somehow raised themselves higher and above. Blah Blah Blah. Sit down, you over grown bully bitches.

It always seems easier to hear the bad stuff that is said. It gets harder to accept the good. I did have friends when I was a kid, but just a close couple. I survived it all as I'm sure so many others did. But I'm also sure that it all had to have changed who I could have been a little bit. Maybe it made me more of who I am now. But ultimately who I am today has to be attributed to my mom. 

Not saying that I've got this 100% down. I can get some road rage on like nobody's business. But. If we infused our kids with kindness and built them up, then maybe that would spill out and they would go and do the same. Instead of trying to beat each other down to get ahead, maybe they would encourage the one next to them. 

It's just kindness. Just a little bit. It's really not complicated. It's a smile, a compliment, a genuine, How are you? Less anger - more love. A novel idea, huh? But it could happen. It could totally ripple! The Butterfly Effect and all that. Harsh words spoken can definitely change the outcome of anything, so why wouldn't the positive do the same?

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