Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There's a Light Inside of You

This morning – a typical morning – found me brushing my teeth and hopping around looking for my boots and contemplating earrings and debating breakfast versus “coffee-with-lots-of-soy-milk-will-do”, all while Beckett scooted around me, barefoot in his faded Batman PJs, banging on the shower door, on the glass vanity, on the computer keyboard.

“I want to do this.” He picked up the large earphones that were plugged into the computer (my attempt to drown out his raucous bath time with Daddy a few nights ago so I could squeeze in 30 minutes of writing).

“You want to hear a song?”


“How about ‘Lucy in the Sky’?”

With diamonds?”

I searched for the song we both love, but realized it doesn’t live in that computer’s iTunes.

I spotted “Dancing Queen”. It seemed like a fun, get-your-groove-on-in-the-morning kind of tune. I hit play, he held the earphones on his head and bounced around for a few seconds.

I unplugged the earphones and turned up the volume because, really, I wanted to bounce around to “Dancing Queen” for a bit myself. I danced. He lost interest.

Somehow a few Wilco songs were next in the line-up, and I let it play on.

Beckett stopped, smiled.

“What this?”

“This is Wilco. Rock and roll. Called ‘Shouldn’t Be Ashamed’.”

Beckett spent the next three minutes strutting around the bedroom, gently strumming an air guitar, bobbing his head, occasionally stopping to drop the guitar and lay down a few chords on the footboard-turned-keyboard of our bed.

The next song played. “Should’ve Been in Love”. More strumming. More head bobbing. More liking of the Wilco.

I am excited. I'm a late passenger on the Wilco train. I somehow missed the first few boarding calls during my college days in Knoxville, where I think the Chicago-band was (is) quite popular.

But better late than never.  I bought my ticket. I’m on board. And apparently Beckett is, too.

How nice to have such a sweet travel companion.

Can’t wait to play him this song:

WILCO - "What Light"


MySpace Music Videos

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Inauguration of President Barack H. Obama.  I have the inaugural poem, penned and delivered by Elizabeth Alexander, taped over my desk.  I refer to it often, and offer it here as a reminder (indeed, an all-inclusive non-partisan one) that anything is possible.  I think perhaps we need to hear it now more than we did even on that day one year ago.

"Praise Song for the Day"

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din,
each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Like most, I’ve thought a good bit about resolutions for 2010. Emphasis on thought. Considering I don’t much feel the need for further disappointment or guilt, though, I haven’t officially declared any. However, twenty days into the new year, here I go.

This blog is partly about holding myself accountable as I strive to realize one of my life-so-far’s most significant goals (yeah, remember that book thing?), although I prefer to think of it as sharing my travels (and looking for some travel companions) as I journey down that writer’s road.

Still, this seems as good a place as any to make public a few simple resolutions and thereby apply some pressure on myself to actually accomplish them. And again, I prefer to think of it as sharing… and making the journey down Resolution Road more hopeful, more joyful.

The first resolutions? More poetry. More music. For myself and my family and friends or anyone who finds himself or herself reading this blog.

Even as a near lifelong student and patron of the written word, I’ve never had enough poetry. It has intimidated me. Its elicit, curvy, slippery, threatening, intimate, seemingly confused but actually raw, Truthful, genuine words on the page. They’ve scared me. But a Christmas gift from Matt -- see photo below -- showed me the promise, comfort and clarity poetry can deliver.  So I’ll try to read more and share more. (Notice, I didn’t say write more. One step at a time. Fiction first. Poetry? Maybe someday.)

And music, sweet music. There’s been a constant abundance of music in my life, but in recent years, I’ve filled my sonic library with songs and artists that I’ve happened to overhear, or bumped into, or stumbled upon thanks to other people – mostly my husband. And while he’s filled my ears with pretty wicked tunage, I also know that I’m relying on his taste, which is similar to, but not the same as, mine. I’ve limited what I know and what I love. So I’ll try to seek more, listen more and, again, share more.

My unofficial resolutions list goes on for a while. I hope to remember birthdays and anniversaries better – and not just to remember them, but also to take that inexplicably difficult step of applying a stamp and actually mailing the cards I buy in order to let those I love know that I did remember!

I hope to start exercising again. I feel weaker and older and less confident than I did even one year ago. But damn, I’m also so tired in the mornings, really the only time I have to get an hour of exercise in. (But today, step one: I bought five Barre Sculpt sessions – thanks to the awesome Groupon deal!)

And, of course, I hope to finish that pesky novel that I’ve mentioned once or twice or a hundred times… and to make a more concentrated effort to finally (f#$%&!@ finally!) to get other writing published. As in, in print. On paper (real or virtual). With a check in my name—no matter how small—to follow.

I send luck to all who have resolved to change or create, better or cease, anything in this new year.  You can count on me for support if you need it!  (...and not to judge if you've already given up)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Family Tradition

The only regrettable thing about having a big family (we're talking grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins galore, all spread across the Midwest and South) is the inability to spend lots of time with all of them more often. 

After Thanksgiving in Indiana, pre-Christmas in Ohio and Christmas at home in Nashville, we headed north to Lexington, KY, for post-Christmas with The McGraths.  Lexington is a good central meeting place for everyone, and my long memory is full of many happy holidays spent there.  We play games (refereed by Uncle "Gamemaster" Bob), we eat well, we watch football and movies, we visit local sites and we avoid talking politics.  This year, we toured a firehouse and bowled, too.

Here are a few snapshots from the trip.  Stay tuned for one last set of Christmas photos, after we celebrate Christmas #6 with Dad, Brigette, Gabriel and Isabelle in Atlanta next weekend.