Pages

strategy matters

November 29, 2015

excerpts of a guest editorial by the caledonian record of st. johnsbury, vermont:

"Black Lives Matter" student protests are happening on college campuses throughout the country. The following represents a small sampling of some of their demands:

Smith College: Media must pledge support for protests or they can't cover them.

Amherst College: President must make a written apology for "institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latino racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism; White students who put up "All Lives Matter" and "Free Speech" posters must be disciplined.

Emory: Raises and promotions for all black faculty.

Towson, Brown: White students stop protesting in favor of black students.

Kansas: A separate, black-only student government.

A number of protesters called for buildings to get name changes. Still others, ironically, have demanded separate buildings and/or campuses exclusively for minorities. In all cases, people who disagree with the protesters or who won't bow to their (often ludicrous) demands are being labeled bigots.

this post is not an attack of the editorial. the piece concludes with the counsel that a different strategy might be best.

i work for a newspaper. my job is to cover the news. i don't have to agree with or even like the people about whom i write. i don't have to attend the events i cover, unless i feel a personal interest in doing so; many of the articles i write are either about individuals who seek to raise awareness of a cause or have an impressive story to tell or about upcoming events of interest to a majority of the community's residents. my editor says write this; i write it.

the requests made by these individuals ARE ludicrous. a man should make more money because he's black? my standing with my black friends who feel slighted is offensive? a separate, black-only student government?

are you SERIOUS???

thousands of african-americans have fought for equality in this country. it's been sixty years since rosa parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus. it's been fifty-two years since the march in birmingham.

martin luther king, jr. and his friends marched in suits. they presented reasonable, eloquent arguments to sway the majority to be better to each other. they had patience and class.

what the hell is this with wanting separate student governments? why are we regressing? why are these people so incensed by past tragedies they themselves have not experienced? how can they justify such egregious demands?

some citizens of this country have done AWFUL things to each other. SOME. the answer is not perpetuating this by exacting awful revenge on ALL people of a particular race by making such ridiculous requests. this disrespects everything for which king and other civil rights activists fought. there's a right way to fight. it's not this way.

. . .

this, yall... THIS. the president of oklahoma weslayan university nails it.

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.

seventy-four
la grange. zz top.

seventy-six
dream on. aerosmith.
bohemian rhapsody. queen.

seventy-seven
go your own way. fleetwood mac.

seventy-eight
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.

seventy-nine
i will survive. gloria gaynor.
roxanne. the police.

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

eighty-one
don't stand so close to me. the police.

eighty-two
open arms. journey.

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

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

eighty-five.
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.

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

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

eighty-eight
hysteria. def leppard.
angel. aerosmith.

eighty-nine
one. metallica.
wind beneath my wings. bette midler.

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

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

ninety-two
right now. van halen.

ninety-three
ordinary world. duran duran.
i will always love you. whitney houston.

ninety-four
streets of philadelphia. bruce springsteen.

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

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

ninety-eight
sweet surrender. sarah mclachlan.
given to fly. pearl jam.

ninety-nine
angel. sarah mclachlan.
back to good. matchbox twenty.
special. garbage.

two thousand
breathe. faith hill.

one.
yellow. coldplay.
pour me. trick pony.

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

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

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

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

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

seven
how to save a life. the fray.

eight
love song. sara bareilles.

nine
the climb. miley cyrus.
so what. pink.

ten
when i look at you. miley cyrus.

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

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

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

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

fifteen
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.

twenty-five favored sports flicks

November 15, 2015

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
invincible
the karate kid
major league
miracle
moneyball
the program
rocky
rudy
saint ralph
the sandlot
seabiscuit
sixty-one
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.