tunes for tuesday: songs for which i am thankful

November 24, 2015

so yesterday, i wrote about one favorite song and how music for me can be a form of prayer. today i'd like to talk about how it can inspire creativity.

a couple of years ago, while driving into houston on the eve of an aggies' bowl game at reliant, i heard a song by the airborne toxic event called half of something else. 

i rushed to my destination so that i could record the vision it brought to my mind -- a scene with the lovely, funky, magnificent catriona and her wayward, errant, musical kyle. he'd vanished years before and had come back in town because two of their friends were getting hitched together. she had managed to endure all the festivities leading up to their nuptials without speaking to him. but he cornered her at a bar. i remember, even now, years later, how vividly that scene came to me. i love remembering it. i love that that song brought that scene to life for me. i wanted to post it here, but the videos i find for it aren't nearly as impressive as the recorded version. it's a really pretty song, yall. check it out.

another that spoke to me on cate's behalf is sting's fortress around your heart. my girl, catie... she'll let you in... once. and her boy, kyle? getting back in her life's gonna be a bitch (which is why their story'll be the last one i write).

anyway. i'd been working at target in the wee, wee hours of the morning, plugged into music while i hung the day's clothing shipment on the racks. and this song played, and it just struck a cate/kyle chord.

with the lonely and melancholy isabel, there haven't been too many scenes inspired by music so much as tunes i know would work well with what i've written. she's the angriest and most troubled of my girls, so for her, it's songs like korn's twist, staind's just go, nine inch nail's eraser and tori amos' precious things. once the anger's spent, she goes to songs like fuel's hideaway and a fine frenzy's hope for the hopeless. the scene in which her relationship with reese begins, she's listening to christina perri's arms. it's kind of perfect for them.

erin and jana conspired for this post. share with them the songs that matter most to you.

the thirty-fifth question

November 23, 2015

this post is one of many for a creative nonfiction project i began several years ago. i call it the griffin inquisition. i've asked my friends and family to pose questions, things they want to know about me that would require more than a yes or no for an answer. the most recent addition comes from my friend, erin.

i know you are a big fan of music. pick a song that is a favorite lyrically, and tell me why and how the lyrics speak to you so strongly.

the prince of darkness
the indigo girls

my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
i don't know when i noticed life was life at my expense
the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence
the dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve
i said i have no way of feeding you, so leave
but there was a time i asked my father for a dollar
and he gave it a ten dollar raise
and when i needed my mother and i called her
she stayed with me for days
now someone's on the telephone, desperate in his pain
someone's on the bathroom floor doing her cocaine
someone's got his finger on the button in some room
no one can convince me we aren't gluttons for our doom
but i tried to make this place my place
i asked for providence to smile upon me with his sweet face
but i'll tell you my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(by grace, my sight grows stronger) 
and i do not feel the romance; i will not be
(and i will not be a pawn for the prince of darkness any longer)
maybe there's no haven in this world for tender age
my heart beat like the wings of wild birds in a cage
my greatest hope my greatest cause to grieve
and my heart flew from its cage and it bled upon my sleeve
the cries of passion were like wounds that needed healing
i couldn't hear them for the thunder
i was half the naked distance between hell and heaven's ceiling
and he almost pulled me under
now someones on the telephone, desperate in his pain
someone's on the bathroom floor doing her cocaine
someone's got his finger on the button in some room
no one can convince me we aren't gluttons for our doom
but i tried to make this place my place
i asked for providence to smile upon me with his sweet face
but i'll tell you my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
my place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark
(by grace, my sight grows stronger)
and i do not feel the romance; i do not catch the spark
(grows stronger)
by grace
(my place is of the sun and)
my sight
(and this place is of the dark and)
is growing stronger
(i do not feel the romance)
i will not be a pawn
(i will not be)
for the prince of darkness any longer

the song is the fourth track on the indigo girls' self-titled album. i was sixteen, i think, when that album was released. i'd been battling depression for eight years. i was terrified i would lose the war. every night i cried myself to sleep. every night i prayed i wouldn't wake up. every morning i woke. every day i was certain i was in hell.

there were songs that i favored, like bette midler's the rose, for example, and this one that i would sing to myself. and if i couldn't sing them, i'd be writing the lyrics down. over and over again. 

it didn't occur to me that the songs were prayers. not until i was in college, and my aesthetics professor was telling the class that singing was the highest form of praise, of prayer. and maybe i survived then, maybe i survive now because i sing. maybe it's because of songs like this.

the lyrics with which i most identify are these: 

the words of my heart lined up like prisoners on a fence
the dreams came in like needy children tugging at my sleeve
i said i have no way of feeding you, so leave...
my greatest hope my greatest cause to grieve
and my heart flew from its cage and it bled upon my sleeve
the cries of passion were like wounds that needed healing
i couldn't hear them for the thunder...

it's so easy to get lost. it's so easy to give in. to feel as though there is no good within you, that no good can come from you. that all your dreams are wasted. i struggle, even now, especially now. the thunder is so raucous, so ominous. and hope can be so vicious. 

but there was a time i asked my father for a dollar
and he gave it a ten dollar raise
and when i needed my mother and i called her
she stayed with me for days

and i know that's the other reason i've survived... because of them. because when i woke, my mom had my clothes clean (and sometimes pressed), and my breakfast made and my lunch packed and a smile on her face. and when i came home she was there with a snack and kind word and all that jazz. and even though i didn't see my father much in my youth, i knew he was always there, giving... and that his extraordinary generosity wasn't limited to the cash in his pocket. they give and give and give. i do my best to be as generous as they.

it's hard for me to sing this, now. it doesn't work quite so well as it did in my younger days. but i have loved this song for decades. the lyrics... the melody... they can be soothing. also, i like the reminder that everyone struggles with something, and maybe my struggles are much smaller than they seem. maybe i am much stronger.

what tune(s) do you most love and why?

the picky playlist

November 22, 2015

erin made a soundtrack for her life -- her hot one hundred -- using billboard's year-end lists. i'd originally done the same, but i didn't love the result, so i redid it. instead of using the year-end's selections, though, i'm using hot one hundred lists compiled each year (mostly) the week of my birth, only i don't love anything on the charts that week, so we'll start with the year after. and it's hard whittling it down to one hundred, yall. it hurt to cut some from the list.

la grange. zz top.

dream on. aerosmith.
bohemian rhapsody. queen.

go your own way. fleetwood mac.

you really got me. van halen.
mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. waylon jennings and willie nelson.
we will rock you/we are the champions. queen.

i will survive. gloria gaynor.
roxanne. the police.

lost in love. air supply.
the rose. bette midler.

don't stand so close to me. the police.

open arms. journey.

separate ways (worlds apart). journey.
should i stay or should i go now. the clash.
photograph. def leppard.
i melt with you. modern english.

against all odds (take a look at me now). phil collins.
hold me now. thompson twins.

crazy for you. madonna.
save a prayer. duran duran.
don't you (forget about me). simple minds.
everybody wants to rule the world. tears for fears.
the boys of summer. don henley.

kiss. prince.
why can't this be love. van halen.
your love. the outfield.
the power of love. jennifer rush. 

livin' on a prayer. bon jovi.
with or without you. u2.

hysteria. def leppard.
angel. aerosmith.

one. metallica.
wind beneath my wings. bette midler.

nothing compares to you. sinead o'connor.
hold on. wilson phillips.
personal jesus. depeche mode.
i remember you. skid row.

get here. oleta adams.
where does my heart beat now. celine dion.
silent lucidity. queensryche.
she talks to angels. black crowes.

right now. van halen.

ordinary world. duran duran.
i will always love you. whitney houston.

streets of philadelphia. bruce springsteen.

name. goo goo dolls.
i got id. pearl jam.
caught a lite sneeze. tori amos.
high and dry. radiohead.

foolish games/you were meant for me. jewel.
secret garden. bruce springsteen.
the freshmen. the verve pipe. 
silent all these years. tori amos.

sweet surrender. sarah mclachlan.
given to fly. pearl jam.

angel. sarah mclachlan.
back to good. matchbox twenty.
special. garbage.

two thousand
breathe. faith hill.

yellow. coldplay.
pour me. trick pony.

in the end. linkin park.
how you remind me. nickelback.
wherever you will go. the calling.
a thousand miles. vanessa carlton.
standing still. jewel.

i'm with you. avril lavigne.
unwell. matchbox twenty.

my immortal. evanescence.
numb. linkin park.
someday. nickelback.
you raise me up. josh groban.
when i look to the sky. train.

she will be loved. maroon five.
collide. howie day.
somewhere only we know. keane.

because of you. kelly clarkson.
photograph. nickelback.
over my head (cable car). the fray.
black horse and the cherry tree. kt tunstall.

how to save a life. the fray.

love song. sara bareilles.

the climb. miley cyrus.
so what. pink.

when i look at you. miley cyrus.

don't you wanna stay. jason aldean.
for the first time. the script.
arms. christina perri.

stronger (what doesn't kill you). kelly clarkson.
rumour has it. adele.
shake it out. florence and the machine.
lonely boy. the black keys.

stay. rihanna featuring mikky ekko.
just give me a reason. pink and nate ruess.

all of me. john legend.
say something. a great big world and christina aguilera.
brave. sara bareilles.

shut up and dance with me. walk the moon.
shake it off. taylor swift.
believe. mumford and sons.

what songs comprise your hot one hundred?

ten quotes i like from books read in the past year or so

November 17, 2015

one. "there's no need to tell me i'm not brave enough to be in gryffindor, malfoy's already done that," neville choked out (harry potter and the sorcerer's stone. j.k. rowling. p. 218). 

because neville... god, love that boy.

two. sometimes i think people do things only because they're afraid of not doing them (finding paris. joy preble. p. 32).

just because you can sing trisha yearwood in the car doesn't mean you can do it on karaoke night (at least it was in fletcher, north carolina... where i knew NO ONE in a room of maybe a dozen drunks who couldn't sing, either). telling yourself you're a chicken shit if you don't get up there... it's so much harder to sing when there's a mic in my hand.

three. "they slow your brain down," he said, clutching an orange bottle of pills. "they iron out all the wrinkles... maybe all the bad stuff happens in the wrinkles, but all the good stuff does, too... they break your brain like a horse, so it takes all your orders. i need a brain that can break away, you know? i need to think" (fangirl. rainbow rowell. p. 224).

this. this is exactly how i feel when people ask me if i'm on meds. no. no, i am not. because the good stuff's in the wrinkles, yall. granted, for me, there's more of the bad, but damned if i'll iron out the good.

four. "somebody else got ugg boots for christmas," reagan said, watching the dinner line empty into the dining room. "if we had whiskey, this is when we'd take a shot" (fangirl. rainbow rowell. p. 256).

this, too, but replace the whiskey with tito's vodka. not that i can't down a shot of whiskey... 

five. i have a gifted mind, all right. i know enough to know that i do not want to turn out like mr. becker. and i know enough to know that to ask mr. becker about how to talk to alice would be more complicated than discussing quantum gravity (the truth about alice. jennifer mathieu. p. 53).

because damned if relationships aren't more complicated than rocket science.

six. he had no net, hook, or line, and he could not be a fisherman; his boat had no cushion for a sitter, no paint, no inscription, no appliance beyond a rusty boathook and a coil of rope, and he could not be a waterman; his boat was too crazy and too small to take in cargo for delivery, and he could not be a lighterman or river-carrier; there was no clue to what he looked for, but he looked for something, with a most intent and searching gaze (our mutual friend. charles dickens. p. 13).

that right here? my victorian literature professor got me to read the entirety of this novel -- and yes, it's a bitch to read -- because he'd gotten me to fall in love with that there paragraph.

seven. and it won't be the same if you have kids with some other, better girl, because they won't be alice and noomie, and even if i'm not your perfect match, they are. god, the three of you. the three of you. when i wake up on sunday mornings -- late, you always let me sleep in -- i come looking for you, and you're in the backyard with dirt on your knees and two little girls spinning around you in perfect orbit... and they look like me because they're round and golden, but they glow for you (landline. rainbow rowell. p. 164).

eight. she kissed me all over my face. she kissed my eyes that came down too far. she kissed my cheeks that looked punched in. she kissed my tortoise mouth. she said soft words that i know were meant to help me, but words can't change my face (wonder. r.j. palacio. p. 60).

nine. "are you aware that your real self is this anxiety-ridden, bursting, twisting, unhappy, buzzing, hate-filled, meandering, overtired sleepless boy?" (dr. bird's advice for sad poets. evan roskos. p. 202).

replace boy with girl, and i'm pretty sure that's exactly how much of my world would describe me. i'm pretty sure this is how i feel and how i see myself, more often than not... because this is what i'm told there is to see.

ten. tonight, i feel like my whole body is made out of memories. i'm a mix tape, a cassette that's been rewound so many times you can hear the fingerprints smudged on the tape... i now get scared of forgetting anything about renee, even the tiniest detail, even the bands on this tape i can't stand -- if she touched them, i want to hear her fingerprints (love is a mix tape. rob sheffield. p. 12).

which quotes have you found in stories that have resonated with you? link up here.

things that made me happy this week

November 15, 2015

my friend erin finds all these really cool link-ups. i've been meaning to participate in one by lindsay and krysten called ten things that made me happy this week. a recent post of erin's is here.

one. burnt. i spent a couple of days in myrtle beach with the intention of having a beach read day before coming back to texas, but the rain kept that from happening, so i spent monday afternoon at the movie theater, watching the intern (a film challenge selection... i'm at thirteen. go me) and burnt. yall, this movie was so, so good. i don't think i've ever seen bradley cooper act so well. he was pretty spectacular in american sniper, yes, but i loved how real he made this character. i loved how likable his character was despite how despicable he'd been. daniel bruhl and matthew rhys did wonderful work. and the story is beautiful.

two. chocolate chip bread pudding at the copper penny in wilmington, north carolina. that place, yall... i would fucking live there if i could. and the food is pretty badass.

three. maggie smith and david strathairn in the second best exotic marigold hotel. i was stuck in baltimore's airport for five. freaking. hours. i watched that movie twice that day--once in the airport and again on the plane. her description of how americans fuck up tea is awesome. and his character... i just liked him; he's not got a lot of screen time, but the scenes he's in are neat.

four. seinfeld and serenity now! i'd forgotten how funny that shit is. a coworker was kind enough to remind me. and i don't really care much for that program, so i love that this bit can get me laughing.

five. a time to kill. i generally don't appreciate matthew mcconaughey's films. nor do i have much care for samuel jackson's. but this one... the end of this one is perfect.

six. lunch with karen and her husband.

seven. i shot the moon in hearts four. times. in. a. row. that NEVER happens.

eight. i don't remember what i dreamt when i woke today. yesterday's dream wasn't unpleasant, but i didn't like it. friday, i'd dreamt about a guy i'd dated more than a decade ago--the only guy i've ever really liked. that i couldn't remember my dream today was pretty nice.

nine. the hallmark channel. because i am a romantic sap.

ten. scripture of the week by ayden. posted by nicole walker hanson on thursday, july second, two thousand fifteen. i've watched this thing countless times since i saw it on facebook months ago. it makes my heart happy every time.

twenty-five favored sports flicks

entertainment weekly made up a list of twenty-five sports movies that score. and it's a pretty good list. i'm not opposed to it. but it failed to recognize some stories that are worth some recognition, and i felt inspired to make a list of my own.

the blind side
chariots of fire
chasing mavericks
cinderella man
the cutting edge
draft day
eight seconds
the express
fever pitch
for love of the game
glory road
happy gilmore
the karate kid
major league
the program
saint ralph
the sandlot
we are marshall

what's on your list?

the north and the south

November 13, 2015

shot seconds before the pack scored on the panthers 

myrtle beach... two days before departure

myrtle beach... two hours before departure

north carolina

bodie lighthouse, kill devil hills, mayberry, rodanthe and woodfin valley.

in the cold november rain

November 9, 2015

ten days in north carolina! yee!

ten soggy, rainy, gloomy, nasty, gray, weepy, days in north carolina. well, mostly north carolina. i drove into south carolina's myrtle beach today. and all is not beachy keen.

the view from my room

i have lovely photos to share which i will when home and in a better mood. the rain's made me grumpy. ironic that the day i leave to go back to texas is the day the damned sun comes back out. fucker.

i've spent all this money on this trip, and yes there are have been some very fine moments -- like standing on the shore at kill devil and coquina beaches on the outer banks and just listening to the surf and watching the seagulls (at this point the day was gray and occasionally rainy), walking around duke university's campus and feeling like i was on the set of dead poets society, driving up to stone mountain park and along the blue ridge parkway, getting badass face-value seats to the packers-panthers game from a friend's friend, watching the packers get a two-point conversion and a first down on a fourth and fourteen when the pack'd been struggling against the stupid panthers for most of that stupid game... quiet time. and i have found some very fine things -- like the all the rooms and the grounds at the biltmore estate in ashville and the wraps i snagged at some flea market extravaganza and breakfast at letty's on shamrock, both in charlotte.

it's been a pretty good vacation. one of the better ones. but it's been raining nonstop for the past couple of days. it's rained off and on since i got here on the first. and it's cold. last year, i got to spend some time in georgia and south carolina in october. it was warm and not really all that rainy, but i didn't get to see the fall colors. so i thought i'd try again... only this time i'd go in november. what's a few weeks, right? a fucking lot, apparently. the damned rain is relentless. i wanted a good beach day before i went back home.

fall film challenge: bonus list

October 14, 2015

one film for each of the following actors. have fun.
and be sure of you what you pick... no changes permitted.

one. anne hathaway.
two. ben stiller.
three. miley cyrus.
four. vin diesel.
five. eddie murphy.
six. will ferrell.
seven. gwyneth paltrow.
eight. katie holmes.
nine. ione skye.
ten. jonah hill.
eleven. ashton kutcher.
twelve. justin long.
thirteen. maggie gyllenhaal.
fourteen. nicolas cage.
fifteen. owen wilson.
sixteen. pauly shore.
seventeen. john c. reilly.
eighteen. sylvester stallone.
nineteen. tyler perry.
twenty. channing tatum.
twenty-one. vince vaughn.
twenty-two. patrick wilson.
twenty-three. megan fox.
twenty-four. gary busey.
twenty-five. renee zellwegger.

wanna play? original list and rules are here.

what i don't want

October 13, 2015

i had lunch with a friend yesterday. we were talking about how she'd met her husband through a dating website. that instead of making a list of what she wanted in a man, she made a list of what she hadn't liked about her exes and then looked for the opposite.

that scene in the notebook when noah's badgering ally with what do you want? it's so easy to ask that question. answering it should be simple. but it's not. not for me anyway. i'm a typical aries -- the thing i want most in this moment could be the last thing i want five minutes from now. add to that the raging hormones of a bipolar gal. it's like i'm doubly-jinxed.

i'm off men at the moment... maybe forever. i don't even know why i'm writing this post.

except... i don't want to be off men. i like them... even when i don't want to... even when i shouldn't.

what do i want...

when i was a kid and people asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up, i'd always say teacher and a waitress because teaching didn't pay very well, and i wanted to make lots of money.

that's what i said. but what i really wanted was to be like my mother.

one of my oldest memories... and i don't even know if it's real because i can't picture it... but i feel like it's true... coming home from elementary school, maybe when i was seven or so, to find her standing at the ironing board starching my father's shirts and the table linens while she waited on my older and i. it's a good memory... if it's true. i like thinking that it is.

my house had such warmth in it. the world was so cold outside. when i grew up, i wanted to make a home as welcoming as ours was... i wanted to be so giving, so good. i wanted to love that well and be loved that well.

i'm forty-two now. the likelihood of this want ever being a reality for me is almost nonexistent.

but... yesterday in my facebook feed... i kept seeing pictures like this:

that's not to say i'm not guilty of doing this with guys. the last couple i've played with... i didn't really care to know anything about them... i just wanted the company. mostly because i've all but given up on that dream i had as child. almost...

what i haven't liked:

the guy who showed up two hours before i was supposed to meet him and at my apartment, an address i had not given him. who'd researched every residence, every traffic violation and god knows what else before i'd even known he'd wanted to go on a date.

the guy who assumes that my seriousness is disinterest... i tend to clam up when i'm interested, the best kind of defense mechanism... the more interested i am, the less likely i am to speak... and then, when we'd finally gone on a date, he couldn't be bothered to park his truck and walk me back up to my apartment after having seen the movie... in fact, he was so eager to bail, he didn't even put the engine in park when he'd gotten to my complex... he'd stopped just long enough for me to get out and was out of sight before i'd even gotten to the sidewalk.

the guy who does what he needs to do get himself aroused without considering whether i am.

and...this is worse... the guy who arouses me and then disappears. bastard.

worse still... the guy who wows me and then vanishes. so rare. so beautiful. such jackasses.

the guy who holds you while saying he doesn't want a relationship. what the fuck are we doing laying on your couch then, with your arms around me? what's the point of dating, then? if you don't want a relationship why do you toy with a gal's affections? do you think we give them so freely? seriously... three guys have impressed me. in forty-two years. three.

the guy who can't say when he's not pleased by something trivial, let's the little things build until they've snowballed into something huge and unforgivable and walks without a word. and then, when confronted with the silence, says he thought he'd addressed it.

then there's the guy who says a gal's got reservations and internal conflict... he's aware there's an issue, he mentions it, but he can't be bothered to scratch the surface of the thing. can't be bothered to care. can't be bothered to help.

the guy who would rather make like there was bad connection and hang up -- because his gal was saying something he didn't want to hear -- over and over and over again.

the guy who makes a gal do things she wouldn't normally do because those things please him. and i'm not talking about little things -- i've put fake nails on my hands for a guy before... i've colored the grays because, while i have accepted the things are gonna be on my head, the guy doesn't want to see'm. it's my hair, and i've had enough of coloring it. god gave'm to me. i'm trying to embrace this. i've earned the damned things (partly from putting up with all this bullshit)... but those are little things. i've done bigger things i'm not proud of doing because the guy had asked me to, and i was weak... or something. i don't want to be pushed. i don't want to be made to feel like i'm less because i'm unwilling to do a thing.

the guy whose idea of a valentine's day gift is phone sex.

the guy who can't be bothered to remember my birthday, even with something so small and simple as a phone call... even when i'd told him twice that my birthday was coming up.

the guy who catches up to the gal in the bmw on the freeway to check her out because she'd been checking him out and paces her for a long moment... with me in the passenger seat.

the guy who takes a gal out for dinner while he's still married to someone else.

the guy who brings champagne instead of vodka... first of all, you can do a lot more with vodka than you can with champagne. second, i'm not posh and gloss, by any means... champagne's not my style. but mostly, when you offer to bring something over for the dinner i'm cooking you, and the thing i'm cooking calls for vodka... be a good listener. bring me my vodka. and it's tito's, dammit... not that skyy shit.

the guy who asks what i'm looking for... and in that moment i realize it's him and say so... guess what happens then...

a few weeks in the woods

September 23, 2015

today i am shining a light on a lovely group of ladies, the woodlands show chorus. for the sake of their goodness, i will for the remainder of this post put aside my aversion to capital letters and numbers so i can do this up right (or try to, anyway)...

The Woodlands Show Chorus invites women ages 12 and up to come sing it their way at "The Last Singer Standing," a judged vocal contest scheduled from 1:30-4 p.m. Saturday, September 26 at Dosey Doe Music Cafe, 463 FM 1488 in Conroe. Ages 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult. The top singers are eligible for cash prizes and awards.

Participants and interested parties are also invited to attend the chorus' combined open house and special performance, "A Show Chorus Affair," at 6:30 p.m. Monday, September 28 at Grace Crossing Church, 105 FM 1488, in the auditorium. Reserved seating is available for Saturday's contestants. Refreshments will be served.

Additionally, the chorus will host "Sh-Boom! It's A Capella: A Harmony Festival," for women ages 18-25. Lead by The Woodlands Show Chorus Assistant Director Kerri Mauney, the event will be from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday, October 24 at Grace Crossing Church. Through October 11, the cost is $20 and includes lunch and a T-shirt. After October 11, the cost is increased to $25, and T-shirts are not guaranteed.

To register for the September 26 contest or the October 11 festival, visit

The chorus, by the way, was established three years ago and is a chapter of Sweet Adeline's International. They meet at 7 p.m. Mondays at Grace Crossing Church. The music these ladies make is beautiful. They memorize all of it, and, from what they tell me, it's not easy music to learn. I was fortunate to sit in on one of their practices not too long ago. The first piece they sang was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

I love that song. So much. I've heard it often--in an episode of "House" and the film "Saint Ralph." Jeff Buckley recorded a stunning rendition of it. But the recordings I've heard have seemed to interpret that piece in an almost desperate fashion. The song I heard that Monday night had so much hope and reverence in it that I got chills.

I got to chat with a couple of members a few days ago. Some are members of this chorus as well as the Houston chapter of Sweet Adeline's International. She likes the relaxed, barbershop style of The Woodlands Show Chorus. She loves the women... and the sound. Another with whom I spoke has been a member of Sweet Adeline's International for decades. She takes a great deal out of her involvement--the automatic friendships, the confidence and strength... the distraction. She said it's impossible to think about anything else when she's singing. She'd originally joined Sweet Adeline's International in North Carolina--she was expecting her youngest and needed to get out of the house every now then... to have some time to herself. The friends she's made in the chorus... she sees them at competitions all across the country.

Speaking of competitions, the chorus won regionals in spring and will be at the international contest in Las Vegas in the fall of next year. they take that much time to prepare. i love that.

These women, yall, they can sing. They're fun and friendly and their love for life is contagious. I hope if you're in the area you can come to an event or at least catch a practice. It's so worth the time.

twenty questions

September 9, 2015

one. given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? rainbow rowell.

two. would you like to be famous? in what way? i want to write one book that resonates with at least one person. if it takes being famous for that to happen, so be it.

three. before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? why? it depends on the situation; usually no, but i've that whole can't-talk-to-people thing, so...

four. what would constitute a perfect day for you? right now, i'd be content with a day where i'm not telling myself god, you're ugly first thing in the morning or look at how fat you've gotten; it's disgusting while i'm getting dressed or you're so stupid while i'm at work. if i could have a day where there's no hate in it--from within or without--that'd be a beautiful thing.

five. when did you last sing to yourself? to someone else? today. i can't remember.

six. if you were able to live to the age of ninety and retain either the mind or body of a thirty-year-old for the last sixty years of your life, which would you want? the body. i'm perfectly fine with getting alzheimer's. but not being able to walk would suck. i know, because i've had knee reconstructive surgeries. that pain's a bitch.

seven. do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? nope.

eight. for what in your life do you feel most grateful? i didn't have to watch alcoholism take my brother over a period of several decades. it was quick. and a few months before he'd died, i'd found a way to love him again; i hadn't been able to do that for a long time.

nine. if you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? we wouldn't've moved so much.

ten. if you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? affability.

eleven. a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? that a man could love me; that i could love him.

twelve. is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? why haven’t you done it? writing this stupid book i've been screwing with since college. because it's not an easy thing to do.

thirteen. what is the greatest accomplishment of your life? i'm still here.

fourteen. what do you value most in a friendship? humor.

fifteen. what is your most treasured memory? christmas eve morning, when my older brother came home after a binge that nearly killed him. we'd assumed we weren't going to see him. my mother was convinced of this. i'd happened to be coming down the stairs just as he'd gotten to the front door. i let him in the house. he looked broken. i'd never seen him like that before. i'd never seen him as weak. i knew he was, but i'd never seen it. i stopped hating him that day. ironically, that's the best christmas present he could've given me.

sixteen. what is your most terrible memory? playing with the boys in my adolescence.

seventeen. if you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? why? if you count taking a month off to go on a road trip of the southeastern coast as changing life, then yes, i guess. otherwise, no.

eighteen. what does friendship mean to you? listening, laughing, leaning and letting one lean. just being there... good AND bad.

nineteen. when did you last cry in front of another person? by yourself? yesterday. today.

twenty. your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. after saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. what would it be? why? the bulletin board of pictures of my older brother that mom and i made for his memorial here. because that's pretty much all i have left of him.

what would your answers be?

a week in review

September 8, 2015

two / houston writers guild: woodlands/spring/tomball.

i've been going to this thing for several weeks now and am loving it. yes, it's a trek. takes the better part of an hour to get to it (because of traffic) and to get home (no traffic... but the distance fro is twice that of to). yes, the work i'm presenting is complete and total crap, and i am, more often than not, ashamed to print the pages and cart them over and read the words aloud... having someone else read them is worse. yes, the people who go to this thing can write so much better than i. but i'm learning. or at least, there's the potential for learning, which is a wonderful thing. also... i might've made some friends. and for me, who is so horribly inept at such things... of course, the harder part is keeping them. we shall see.

three / carsie blanton 

i liked her show so much better than i'd thought i would. (she did cut it short, though, which i very much which she hadn't done, but the place was a ghost town, so i can understand.) will write more on this later.

four / oak ridge versus aldine

i already told yall about that.

five / van wilks

i did not go to this. i spent the majority of saturday and sunday working on fall film challenge stuff (that i should've done weeks ago, but... yeah).

(are you playing along? no? you totally should.)

eight / yoga for relaxation

as i'd predicted, i did not go to this. but not because i didn't want to go, which is why i'd assumed i wouldn't.

today was a particularly ugly day. too much hate in my heart. too much hate in my head. there are things inside me that are dead that should be living. there are things inside me that are living that should be dead. the bad is killing all the good, i fear. so i came home from work and changed into my yoga pants and an over-sized t-shirt (which fits me a helluva lot better than it should) and put on my sneaks and drove... and drove... and drove... and damn is that place too far for me to go. even by way of the interstate.

so i took the back way home, partly because en route to the place, while stopped at a light, the good lord showed me the glory of the sunlight glowing through the leaves and atop the blades of an overgrown field and on the petals of the brown-eyed susans (or whatever the hell those flowers were). i rolled the window down and marveled at the beauty of it, knowing full well that field would one day be lost to the city.

i drove down kuykendahl road, praying that god would make room in my heart for those who can't make room in theirs for me. i prayed... again... that he would let me love. that he would teach me how because i've never really learned. i've only ever learned to hate and rage and weep. and i am so weary of those things.

and i was better... until i had that wendy's cheeseburger. now i just feel irritable again. more on that later.

what did you do with your week?
how did reality differ from expectation?
where did you find the good?
what passages of the scripture do you favor?
what things did you do that you wished you hadn't?