April 26, 2013

He Stopped Loving Her Today

A Friday music post, but not about an L.A.-based artist. Instead, I woke up this morning to the news that George Jones has died.

Well, goddamn. I wasn't too surprised -- thanks to his fan page on Facebook, I knew he was in the hospital.  What was shocking to me is how old he was -- 81.  That's a long time to hang on with the lifestyle Jones lived --- he was kind of the Ozzy Osbourne of country when it came to substance abuse and hard drinking and wild living. (I don't think there's any story about snorting ants, but he did shoot out the floor of his tour bus.)

My daddy lived a similar kind of lifestyle (sans the cocaine abuse), and like George, slowed down and cleaned up a bit in his later years -- but my dad's later years only lasted until he was 64.  It was six years ago this month that he passed away. I sometimes joked with my dad that he had the devil on his side, but that seems to be much more true with George.  I mean, scientists should really have access to study the man's iron liver.
I mention my dad so much because George Jones will always remind me of him -- my dad loved his music, and played it loudly, sometimes so loud that the neighbors could enjoy it too. In the early 1980s, George's career had a big resurgence at the same time that my dad went through a series of meltdowns and binges and bad decisions, and Jones and a handful of other country artists provided the soundtrack.

Jones' voice was a honky-tonk yowl of pain and heartbreak and late nights after last call with nowhere to go. His songs remind me of that time in my family's history, and oh, the stories I could tell.

My dad's own favorite George Jones song was his classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," about a man who vowed, "I'll love her 'til I die."  When that song came out, it took me forever to figure out that the man had actually died: "I went to see him just today/oh but I didn't see no tears/all dressed up to go away/first time I'd seen him smile in years."  But I didn't need anyone to explain the sadness of that warble, or why my dad would dab at this eyes when the song was through.

But I'm not going to link to that song, and I'm not going to play you the song that most reminds me personally of my daddy, "Bartender's Blues," because that song hits too close and too precisely on all my hurting places. It's barely noon here, people. I can't start drinking this early, even if it is Friday.

So here's a happy medium, or rather, here's a maudlin one:
If Drinking Don't Kill Me, Her Memory Will.

This song triggers a lot of memories for me, too. But not quite enough to make me chuck the afternoon away and instead go down to the 7-11 for a pack of Marlboros and a pint of Beam.

Happy Friday, folks. Have a good weekend, and go call your daddy while you still can. If not, listen to some George, and wallow with me.

April 22, 2013

Hello, Monday {Mirrors}

I pinky-swear I'm not going to start every single post for the rest of the year talking about writing, but indulge me again today. It's what I've been up to, so there's that.

Also, we've been laying pretty low as a family, not doing too much or going anywhere. We have soccer practices 4 nights a week (2 kids, doing Tues/Thurs  and Wed/Fri), plus 2 games every Saturday. So that alone has eaten up a huge chunk of free family time. (Also, I'm already sick of our quickie dinners that we prepare and choke down by 5:30 on practice days.)

So, the writing and the soccer are looming large as part of my routine.  With all the time spent alone with pen and paper, and the time spent alone on the sidelines, or in my car during practice, I'm feeling even extra introverted and thoughtful.

As I've mentioned to a few people and here on the blog, I'm writing a memoir. Because navel-gazing and oversharing here on the internet is just not enoughI need more!  (That's a joke.)
But it does mean that I'm looking at myself, my life, my story, very closely.  Not to give too much away, but one could say that I had an awfully interesting childhood.  And it wasn't because I was (or am) so very interesting myself.

Conversely, I give you this Flannery O'Connor quote:  "Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days."  We've all got a story to tell, whatever the amount or lack of perceived drama.

What is proving difficult is writing about people who have the gall to still be alive and leading their own interesting lives.  I mean, the nerve, right? And I'm trying to temper what I know now, with what I knew then, and who I was and who they used to be. Confused? Yeah, me too.
As I look into the rear-view mirror of the past, I want to be kind. I want to be large-hearted and take the longer view, rather than the short-term one, which easily could lead down a path of anger and bitterness.  Lord knows, there's been enough of that in my family to go around.

On the other hand, I think of the great line of advice I got up at the memoir retreat last month: Write as though you've been dead for 6 months.  Dead, where nobody's wrath or disappointment or disagreement with what you have to say can touch you anymore. You are floating above the fray.

So hello this Monday, to remembering that honesty is one of my best traits. And hello, to knowing that avoiding conflict is one of my worst habits.  Hello to wrestling with both, up in my brain and down on the page.

Hello and hurray, to finishing the first draft of an essay that I hope to submit to an anthology. Even if writing the last sentence made me cry.

Hello, and hurray, to deadlines. How else would this procrastinator get anything done?

Hello to sunny days and breezy evenings, watching my children run and run after a ball. Such a simple thing, and I'm grateful for these simple days, of sun and soccer and trying everyday to do and be your best self. Emphasis on the trying.

Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello, Mondays

April 19, 2013

Craft Cabinet #2

I've been writing every day for the last two weeks -- which makes me happy, although it's doing weird things to my motivation.  (And really, it's not like I spend all that much of my day writing.)  During the week, I haven't left the house much, haven't cleaned much, haven't accomplished much of anything concrete. My brain is in some new mode, for sure, with a lot whirring around in my subconscious.

But I did leave the house last Friday to attend the second Craft Cabinet event, this time in downtown Fullerton.  My husband's company is literally 5 minutes away, so I'm familiar with the area and was happy to do a little vintage shopping beforehand.  I was also happy to meet up  with Lisa from Trapped in North Jersey  (obviously she's not all that trapped anymore) for some dinner and chatting. (Lisa and I met at the first Craft Cabinet in Long Beach, and have been meaning to "do lunch" ever since.)
 The event was really lovely, held in a sweet little boutique called Oh, Hello Friend, which is a good addition to the Fullerton scene (some of the older shops still have that OC-rocker/Social Distortion/rockabilly vibe going on, which makes me feel old, or like I need to be attending The Hootenanny.
 This time, I was less stressed about the actual crafting part of the evening -- instead of bringing my own craft, we were tutored by Famous Blogger Brenda Ponnay  about watercolor paint techniques and then encouraged to try our hands, using the varied floral table arrangements for inspiration.

Here was my inspiration: a jar of ranunculus, and this gorgeous palette of intense colors:
And here is what I created, after being encouraged to loosen up, lose focus, and use my right-brain. But since I'm a lefty, don't I always do that? Maybe I should have tried drawing with my right hand? Anyway:
Ta-dah. Clearly I'm no visual artist, but the children were duly impressed.  "You should totally frame that, Mom!" 

I still stressed about the "meeting and talking to people" element, but I did okay, and my feelings overall are still very close to what I wrote in my re-cap to the first event, back in August. (To whit: I'm a weirdo wallflower.) Oh, but wait: maybe I've progressed, because I actually told Jules that I was going to ask her out to lunch. And then we traded texts.Well, I did have 2 beers at dinner. Time will tell if I can get over myself enough to make good on that threat promise.

Finally, something that also impressed my kids, and me too: thanks to my new obsessive hobby of checking my Instragram feed, I saw via Andrea that a crafting magazine called Mingle has a big photo spread about the first Craft Cabinet.  Even in her little Instagram photo, I recognized my big hair from afar.  So this week I bought the issue (it's sold at Michael's), and indeed,  there was my hair, from the side and the back in a couple of far-away shots.  Then later, looking closer at the article, right in the crease, I found this actual shot of my face:
There I am, taking my Washi-taping very seriously.

 So that was pretty cool. And it's good to get out of the house and meet new people. (I'll just keep telling myself that.) See you next week.

April 9, 2013

New Mornings

Hola, peeps.  This isn't even a real post, just a fly-by.  The kids went back to school yesterday, finally, after their 2-week spring break. I commemorated this event by switching up my morning schedule -- instead of plopping my bum here at my desk chair and communing with my interwebs, I'm now plopping my bum at the kitchen table and trying to write.

I've been revving up my writing brain, post kid-morning-chaos, by first reading a couple essays in the new anthology Why We Write, by Meredith Maran.  It's good.
Actually, I'm not trying to write. That's too self-effacing. I am writing.  Writing is being done. It's all first-draft stuff, long-hand, and will undergo much revision and cringing when I type it into my laptop. I ran out of my preferred yellow legal pads, but I didn't get bound up with silly writer-superstitious stuff and let that stop me.  (But I do need to go buy more legal pads --- as a lefty, it's a drag trying to write with a spiral notebook.)

I have a lot of topics I want to share on the blog -- spring break fun, like our hike and our trip to Disneyland/California Adventure.  And other things: what I've been reading, and that stack of old, favorite memoirs & non-fiction that I pulled out of my garage, and even some parenting struggles as Tucker has entered another new and challenging phase of crazy kid hoarding (except now it seems he's trying to hoard time itself).

But since I'm not 8 years old and realize that one cannot, in fact, save time in a bottle, there simply aren't enough hours in the day to tackle it all right now.  In my new post-writing retreat mode, I realize that the writing has to come first. Not that the blog isn't "writing," but it's not the kind I need, or want to focus on.
I'm certainly not going anywhere -- I just need a little space to work out my new routines and fit it all in -- the writing, the blogging, the laundry, the spring-cleaning of crammed closets, and the trips to Target -- for cereal and dinner ideas and new yellow legal pads.

In the meantime, I joined the 21st century and finally created an account on Instagram. You can follow me @ ReadingNest1  (Because plain old ReadingNest was taken, what?)  And I guess if I'm going to be sharing my pics, I should probably try to clean my camera lens, too. That is not the new fancy "Vaseline" filter on the photos here. 

Back soon.
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