Friday, March 11, 2011

crush redux

lo and behold, once again, it's international crush day. today, we're supposed to sing to the heavens of a subject of a crush and appreciate that subject publicly. oh, i am so, so down with that. i mean, it's not like my crush is any great secret around these parts. and it's not like i have any shortage of things to appreciate about him. i could go all cutesy-details on you and share embarrassingly charming things that he does just to make me smile. i won't. some things stay mine (and i think he'd kill me if i did - people we both know read this). but i will share the following:

1) he claims to be bad at romance, but he's, without a doubt, the most conscientious man i've ever known when it comes to making me feel 100% loved. we're no one's romance novel, but we're very happy.

2) he is spectacularly funny without trying very hard at all. for example, remember back last fall when tennessee's football coach tried to drop some german war history on us [start at the 10-minute mark for the good stuff]? the other night, right before we fell asleep, the man rattled off easily 10 more speeches he could've made with other war references, just off the top of his head.

3) he's a world-class lay. there's no better way to say it.

so there's a small appreciation of my crush, the man. i remember this from last year, when my attitude on the subject was nowhere near as cheerful and accepting. it's remarkable how much things have been totally flipped on their heads since that point last year. i wrote that from a place of deep anguish, with everything in my life churned up, having made a stand for him once and lost. i was trapped in an existence that didn't fit.

but in a year's time, it's all different. that old unrequited crush, the one that ran through my veins like a long, black river and rattled my cage like a thunderstorm (thank you, ryan adams, for that image), turned into the great love story of my life. the danger of the crush vanished into thin air the day he told me, i think we have a future. so all that stuff i said about crushes having the potential to ruin your life? yeah. never mind. so go enjoy international crush day. praise someone to the rafters. it's not so bad after all, it seems. just be a little patient, and all will be revealed when the time is right...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

figures of speech

[first, some introductory reading. this post won't make much sense until you read this.]

i am a writer. obviously; you're reading words i've committed to the internet age's version of the pagefor public consumption. as a writer, i pride myself on being able to paint pictures with words, using every color of my linguistic rainbow to tell my stories. i tell them in a variety of venues and formats, both digital and analog. sometimes, my stories aren't so pretty. i use language, metaphors and images that aren't meant for family time. i write of violence, twisted sexuality and other horrors of the soul. i like to explore darkness in my writing, because frankly, most people are a lot darker than they'd like to let on. i find the contrast between light and dark twinned with the contrast between public and private fascinating. (so do a lot of people; otherwise, dexter would never have been on television for five-plus seasons.)

but because i have chosen to write these things, i've often had to conjure images that are as harrowing as any true-crime report. i've imagined scenarios that wouldn't make the cut for law and order: SVU. like the writer in the article above, i've occasionally struggled with the morality of this sort of writing. darkness is an intrinsic part of the human condition, but in writing it, do we elevate it, or simply expose it for the evil that it is? is the dichotomy i imagine even a dichotomy at all? can you even get a satisfactory answer to these questions?

in the end, i think the answer to all of this is to be mindful with our art, our language. as writers, we owe a special duty to the society we reflect to do it as truthfully and authentically as we can. in the end, though we agonize over it, it's not the fault of writers that horrors exist in the world. all we can do is show as much respect to the reality we interpret when we work our craft. but when i go off-duty, so to speak, and revert to my regular, casual life, i can certainly control this a lot more. i can take the edge off my dark depictions by making damn sure that i work to create a world that doesn't have as much darkness in it.

the phrase [bad thing] totally raped me should never leave anyone's mouth, unless of course the bad thing in question is an act of sexual battery. we can stop, for the love of all things sacred and holy, venerating charlie sheen as a comic genius instead of treating him like the unapologetic woman-beating drug addict that he is. we can teach our kids how to sexually respect themselves and each other. for that matter, we can stop being so god-awful afraid of sexuality in our culture. no one would be demonized for dressing too sexy if we could get a handle on sexual expression and normalize it.

but that's a rant for another time. the point in all of this is simple: writers aren't the only people who should be aware of the power, the glory and the dangerous heft of their words. words aren't mere figures of speech. the things we say form the world we inhabit. by god, we need to make damn sure we build a world worthy of ourselves. we need to report the truth, we need to lay horrors bare for what they are. choose your words - your weapons - carefully.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

sensational, irresistible

[so if you don't currently own collapse into now, the brand-new R.E.M. album, go get it. now. i'll wait. got it? good. now we can go on.]

southern alt-rock girls such as myself have a special relationship with R.E.M. mine began the first time i ever heard "fall on me," one of the most beautiful songs ever written. i think i was seven, and it was LOVE. i mean, pure-out, howl-at-the-moon LOVE. i was changed, permanently. (hey, by the way, remember when "losing my religion" won all those MTV VMAs? back when the M stood for music, that is. there was a time when alt-rock kids were the culture. i miss that. but i digress.)

one of the great things about R.E.M. is the way they tell stories in their songs. michael stipe can say more in three minutes that i could ever hope to say in a thousand blog entries. he crawls into my heart and wrings out the emotion i had in there, saying it better than i ever could. "be mine," from new adventures in hi-fi (which is one of the greatest records ever made, in my humble opinion - it's not only amazing, but it's the record that originally drew me into my friendship with the man, some 15 years ago), was on an endless loop as i finally decided to pursue something more than just casual hook-ups with the man. they speak my language, i guess.

so on the new album, which i have owned for 38 hours as of this writing and listened to four times through, there's a track called "blue." it's a throwback to "e-bow the letter," the main single from new adventures, down to the patti smith vocal track. it's largely poetry, michael stipe reading his words, voice filtered through effects over sleepy, beautiful guitars. but the last stanza is what hit me harder than anything i've heard recently:

i'm not giving up easy, i will not fold
i don't have much, but what i have is gold...
i want me, i want it all
i want sensational, irresistible
this is my time, and i am thrilled to be alive
living, blessed, i understand.

damn. it's like a bolt out of the blue. (oof - pardon the pun.) i'm big on finding messages in the world around me. my ex used to make fun of me and our mutual ex-best friend, telling us, y'all, life is not a song cue. i don't know about that; i find that songs and life are inextricably intertwined. music is the river that runs through my life. maybe it's being a musician's daughter, growing up around live bands, the constant sound of daddy's guitar noodling underwriting nearly every memory i have. but i find my life, my inspiration in music. R.E.M. has always been a key part of that, and this song struck me like a giant cosmic 2x4. check your head, girl, it says. you don't have much, but it's valuable as hell. be thrilled. be blessed. understand.

i hear you, michael. i'm listening. thanks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

fat tuesday

i was half-tempted just to repost some of my love letters to south louisiana today. mardi gras always makes me miss my gulf-coast homelands. it's the biggest example of why the gulf south, in all its glory and splendor, is so special and important to the character of this nation. it's also radically and vitally different from the non-gulf south, a difference that should be kept in mind at all times. mobile is NOT selma; new orleans is NOT memphis. anywhere the gulf of mexico touches in this country is just... not quite the same.

gulf coast kids have a different way of looking at the world. chris rose got it just so, so right with his world-class introduction to louisiana, and it applies in varying degrees to the rest of the gulf, too. we appreciate our food, our culture, our surroundings. we love life, we drink it in no matter what. we raise our glasses (probably a touch too often) to good and bad. we know that jimmy buffett is smarter than he even realized when he told us, if we couldn't laugh, then we would go insane. changes in latitudes always bring a change in my attitude. in other words, you can tell when i've been home; i come back a little bit more free than i was when i left.

so on this mardi gras day, i celebrate my gulf coast heritage. i got to the home of mardi gras (founded in mobile, alabama, in 1703, a solid century before new orleans!) by accident, by chance, and it's the greatest bit of serendipity imaginable. my gulf coast home gave me so much: friends, culture, azaleas and magnolias (!), crawfish and pralines... and the great love of my life.

laissez les bons temps rouler, chers. ain't no doubt, bebe.