Thursday, September 29, 2011


The other night the dishwasher was full and it made sense to do the remaining dishes by hand. I filled the sink with sudsy water and put my arms in, almost up to the elbows. I couldn't believe how good it felt to stick my hands in that water. I'd forgotten. I'll scrub a pot, rinse a wine glass, but rarely these days do I fill a sink. And there it was - the warm water, dishes thudding against metal, the scent of the dish soap.

These are ambitious times and today we're all the CEO's of our own little start-up. We take on each day with drive and intention. We know that things have shifted, that our minds will be the new industry, that the ability to connect and express ourselves have become a commodity. We don't understand it and still we're all scrambling to take part. We do it because we have to. We email, we blog, we post on facebook, we participate in groupspeak, groupthink, and we try to stand out in all of it. We do it for a living. We do it for leisure.

All this participating is exhausting, so we let the machines do the work. We load the dishwasher lickety split and let the warm water run over the dishes without us. We know we're missing something, we have the vague sense of the loss, but we can't get our arms around what it is. And we can't get our arms around what it is, because often enough, we're not even touching it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to get rid of the kitchen appliances. I'm happy to turn a dial and let the oven bake my chicken without having to stoke a fire around it. And I'll blog and tweet and sell things online. But there is something about how I had forgotten that sink of warm water and the way it felt really good, not good because it accomplished anything, but because it actually felt good. It makes me wonder - what else am I missing?

Run a sink full to the brim. Add dish soap. Stick your hands in.

You'll see what I mean.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shiny, happy. People.

Last week one of my favorite all time groups announced a break-up.

REM's music is the soundtrack to the movie montage of the teenage me, the early twenties me. I was part of a group of students that lobbied to have "The End of the World as We Know It" as our senior song. It didn't fly, but we did learn all of the lyrics.

Years back Michael Stipe said his only regret musically was the song "Shiny Happy People". It was a huge hit and he felt like it didn't reflect the real sound of the group. I have to agree, not so much shiny happy in their music. At the time, I wasn't crazy about the song either.

It is hard to imagine that the members of REM aren't a group anymore. Couldn't they have just gone on without the announcement? No pressure to produce, guys, just keep existing. Because the announcement changes things for me, as if somehow when the possibility of REM still existed, the possibility of a younger me did too.

And now.

Though I will say this for middle age (gah), I do find it easier to relate to the shiny happy. It used to be hard to be an optimist, and now I find that the more I've been through, the less I think any of it is really a big deal. There is always something to look forward to. I've been asking around and it turns out that I am not alone in this being happier as you get older thing.

I wonder how Stipe feels about the song now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What? You noticed?

So, um, I haven't been here for awhile. Since starting the internship, a good bit of the creative energy has been sucked right up and I'm feeling a bit dry. My writing is, of course, in the ditch. The blog, the fiction, all of it. Trying not to stress too much about it.

My dear friend Esme Foong and I are writing a new Virgin piece for Grubdaily, about how to kick start the writing when life gets in the way. I am going to write it and then I'm going to take my own advice.

Meanwhile, there is fun to be had today. Hubs and I are heading in the drizzle to see the Avett Brothers at the Life is Good Festival. My hand it shakes my head it spins...

should be a good time.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What I need...

is four extra hours in the day. Trying to juggle the new job/writing/back-to-school family thing, plus squeeze in a little time for myself.

I would totally be able to do it all, too - if I could put my little people in bed around 8ish and then have a nice 4 hour slot ahead for all of the extras, while still getting a decent nights sleep.

Or maybe I could have some kind of time-suspending superpower where I could stop new things from happening while I deal with the existing to-do's.

Or maybe I could clone myself and give the knock off girl all of the grunt work (because she'd never be quite as good as the original me anyway).

I could also lower my expectations.

But where's the fun in that?

Monday, September 5, 2011

You ain't from around here, are you?

Almost fifteen years ago, Hubs and I took a trip to New Orleans. We did it up Louisiana style with drinks at starting 10 AM and the like. We ate too much food, stayed up much too late, and after a few days the muchness was too much. We decided to drive two hours north to St. Francisville to take in the sights, and yes, to dry out a bit.

St. Francisville is a gorgeous little town filled with plantations and old south graciousness. We stayed at a B & B, got plenty of rest, and recharged.

One night, we stopped at a little local non-touristy meat and three for dinner. We were finally feeling like a beer with dinner. It might have been a dry county or something of the like, but when Hubs asked about drinks, the waitress actually said "You ain't from around here, are you?"

I thought about that question when I was back in Georgia visiting family last week.

I grew up in the country on a dirt road named Pine Needle, near a place called Pumpkin Center. My high school had something like a fifty percent graduation rate. After I left home, my parents moved to the suburbs. Usually when I go back to visit, I'm not really going back to the way things were then. I almost forget. But this time we stayed out near a lake where Hubs' family has a little place, just a few miles from my childhood house. The lake place is off of a dirt road, just like where I grew up. As you drive down the road, red dust billows up behind the car. There are potholes and deer to watch out for. And snakes. In that part of Georgia there are always snakes.

But my parents were never country. My dad didn't hunt or fish or farm. My mother never in her life made a scratch biscuit or fried a chicken. If you asked, my parents would say they just liked the peace and quiet of living away from town. We never fit in. Though I can't quite put my finger on why, it always felt like we were hiding.

So when I did get back there last week, it felt intimately familiar yet I couldn't really find myself anywhere, like one of those memories you might only be able to bring forward because you still have the pictures. I thought about that waitress in rural Louisiana.

Definitely ain't from backwoods Louisiana or rural Georgia or even suburban Boston. And though I can tell you where I grew up, I seem to be still trying to find the place where I'm from.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Just got back from ten days in Georgia. My father in law has a little place at the lake near where I grew up and we passed this country store on our way over there.

People never believe me when I tell them the best country dinners down south are always from the gas stations.