My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for February 2008

I went to the Athenaeum show Saturday night. Within seconds of when they began to play, it went right towards the top of my list of favorite things I’ve done.

Their “Radiance” album was my constant writing companion for a long time. I can’t say that I wrote anything amazing during that time, but I was in a place that I have struggled so hard to make my way back to as a writer ( and maybe as a person as well).

Standing there that night, I was in that place again, nothing mattering except the way it felt to feel separated even in a shared experience. I guess that’s the best way to describe the place I was, want to be. Separate. Not isolated, not alone, not independent- separate. Because I don’t want to be isolated or alone (for the most part, on most days) and I know I am not independent, we are all intertwined, it is our design. But to be separate is to have a certain freedom, a certain liberty; breathing room.

I hated taking off my clothes for bed, looked in the mirror one last time just wanting to burn the image of what I looked like- back. Hoping to use it like a rope, a ladder rung, a stepping stone, evidence.

I’ve never grasped materialism. All I can think of is how much more could be done with money than to spend it excessively on possessions; things that can be lost, stolen, outgrown, destroyed. Things you can get of decent quality for a decent price that people spend a ridiculous amount for (examples may be found in multitude on MTV). I think people are brainwashed into thinking that because something costs a ridiculous amount that it is better or necessary for a lifestyle they want to have, or appear to have.

I appreciate nice things, well made, authentic, unique. I appreciate when someone works and saves for something special. I appreciate the indulgence. But I can not do something like pay 48$ for a Victoria Secret bra from this season when there is basically the same bra on clearance from the previous season for $12.99. I mean, I really physically can’t, it would probably put my body into some kind of anxiety attack, shock me into paralysis, at the very least make me sick on my stomach and give me headache.

I look at girls sometimes, girls who keep their hair styled and colored, hands manicured, feet pedicured, their clothes new with each season, each year; shoes, purse, jacket, jewelry, all perfectly accessorized and I feel jealous, not up to par. I know I could do this too…but I can’t. I care to an extent; I like to look nice, sometimes making more of an effort than others. I like clothes and shoes, makeup and accessories. But I just can’t care that much about it all. And I don’t care about it for anyone else either. I am actually a bit turned off by people that care too much about it, probably partially due to jealousy/intimidation and partially because I have a feeling we won’t get far conversationally. Which is unfair. But that is the prejudice I have. (I’m working on it). And should someone have a prejudice towards my lack of caring materially, well, chances are you are the exact kind of person that I am not at all interested in engaging with even for the briefest of moments, and you are not helping me deal with my prejudice!

I thought of all this when I realized today while I was driving to work that I was adorned by gifts from my father. A scarf he bought me when he was in London, and a bracelet he bought on his lunch break when he worked downtown; both authentic, expensive items. My dad always made a point to make a point about things he gave us like this, and I understood I should appreciate it, and I do, always did. But it never mattered, the material worth.

I only realized recently in full why it meant so much to him. I realized by overhearing him in conversation say how hard it was being poor growing up, specifically the way he had to dress going to school. I thought everyone he went to school with was poor too, but apparently not, and that was something that bothered Daddy, I could tell, just from his tone, still bearing the weight of it. I wish he had told me that a long time ago, the way he felt about it, and not just the facts of it. Things would have made a lot more sense to me.

See, my parents did a great job raising me to not be materialistic. We only got clothes and shoes when necessary, rarely ate out, and had no satellite tv (and were too far out for cable) or internet until I was almost out of high school. My mom saved money by budgeting and couponing her way to savings at the grocery store and then saving the cash in a leather pouch under her bed so we could go to the movies and Carowinds in the summer. They drove their cars the way we wore our clothes, till you couldn’t anymore. I borrowed my first prom dress and did my own hair, nails, and makeup every time I went. When I wanted clothes and shoes of a certain brand, they gave me an amount I was allowed to spend and I realized quickly that I could get a lot more if I chose things that were less expensive. I got compliments on Payless shoes I had for years at a time and tops I found on clearance racks. I realized the whole “it’s all what you do with what you’ve got” lesson and found it worthwhile, successful, actually fun and creatively inspiring. It probably also helped that I quickly decided I did not care about looking the same as everyone else and preferred, in fact not to. (Damn that lack of cable and neighborhood kids to seduce me to conformity!) None of the financial limitations on the material aspects of my life ever bothered me (at least not enough to make a lasting impression). I am without a doubt much better off for it all, and never really thought otherwise, which really probably attributed very much to my inability to grasp the material (all that time reading and playing outside instead of tv probably didn’t hurt either).

What my dad usually spent money on instead of those daily material indulgences was experiences. We went on week vacations to the beach and stayed ocean front. We went to Yellowstone and Disney World, a Caribbean cruise, to New York. I went on 3 TIP weekends at Duke that cost 300$ each. Camp, girl scouts, field trips, sports, piano, college. I valued these experiences instantly, recognizing how fortunate I was, soaking in every last drop. But when he did indulge materially, he would make a big deal. And I was never really able to get anything from it in the same way. My feelings about these gifts never went beyond gracious appreciation. These things were never really cherished the same way, the worth never really registering, beyond it being a gift from my father that he was proud of. I would kind of have to remind myself sometimes that this was something really nice, materially, and that that was supposed to mean something.

But now, finally realizing what it meant to him to be able to give gifts like this, I can get it. It gains a new worth, it gains that intangible worth that I can soak in. I am thinking of those gifts with more warmth now than I ever did before. Now I know not only the worth of the experiences and opportunities, but also of the material gifts. I know what it means to him when he can buy expensive gifts; see them worn, used, admired, appreciated. It means he succeeded; he did as every parent hopes to do – somehow improve upon whatever situation in their childhood was the hardest for them. Thank you Dad.

Read on about this book: “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six word memoirs by writers famous and obscure” by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser.

Here’s mine:

Just Combine A Few Country Songs.

Kind of like this:

The Farm, The Family, The Church (A trinity of sorts)

I was raised off of Route Three,
Out where the blacktop ends.

It’s where I drank my first beer.
It’s where I found Jesus.
(Red dirt road, Brooks and Dunn)

Family ties run deep in this land.
And I’m never very far from what I am. I was born country and that’s what I’ll always be.
Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free.
I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood.
I was born country and this country’s what I love.
(Born Country by Alabama)

I’ve seen mornings when a thousand bales of hay
Looked like a mountain to a boy my age
And I’ve seen my daddy in that hot southern sun
Move those mountains one by one
(Trace Adkins, Working mans wage)

The cows get loose and run right thru the fast food parking lots (Daddy won’t sell the farm by Montgomery Gentry)

Well I ain’t first class
But I ain’t white trash
(Some girls do, Sawyer Brown)

I feel no shame
I’m proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks… And I can feel
That muddy water running through my veins
And I can taste
That honeysuckle and it’s still so sweet…
having a little was just enough
(Boondocks, Little Big Town)

Ain’t no closin’ time, ain’t no cover charge
just country boys and girls gettin down on the farm
(country boys and girls Tim Mcgraw)

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Sing along as the choir sways;
Every verse of Amazin’ Grace,
An’ then we shake the Preacher’s hand.
(What I Love about Sunday by Craig Morgan)


When she was 3 years old
on her daddy’s knee
He said you can be
anything you want to be

She has future plans and dreams at night
When they tell her life is hard she says that’s alright
(Wild One by Faith Hill)

She was daddy’s little girl
Momma’s little angel
Teacher’s pet, pageant queen
She said “All my life I’ve been pleasin’ everyone but me,
Waking up in someone else’s dream”
(Someone Else’s Dream, Faith Hill)

I’m gonna be somebody, one of these days I’m gonna break these chains
I’m gonna be somebody, someday, you can bet your hard earned dollar I will
(Travis Tritt, I’m Gonna Be Somebody)

The Boy, College, The Baby, Career

Can’t concentrate on the preacher preaching
My attention span done turned off
I’m honed in on that angel singing
Up there in the choir loft
(Daddy’s Money, Mark Chesnutt)

Now her daddy’s in the kitchen – starin’ out the window
Scratchin’ and a rackin’ his brains
How could 18 years just up and walk away
Our little pony-tailed girl growed up to be a woman
Now she’s gone in the blink of an eye
She left the suds in the bucket
And the clothes hangin’ out on the line
(Sara Evans, Suds in the Bucket)

You were Cum Laude with the strawberry lips
Had the whole world danglin’ at your fingertips
Your senior year
And I was your daddy’s worst fear…
We were overdrawn and barely hangin’ on Then one night you came to me
With tears in your eyes and an EPT
And said “guess what, yeah, baby ready or not”
Well, I just smiled but I was scared to death How am I gonna’ have a kid when I’m still a kid myself ?
(Phil Vassar, In a Real Love)

You went to college
I pulled graveyard
(Eric Church, Guys Like Me)

I’ll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip (Redneck Woman, Gretchen Wilson)

Go to work, make up
try to keep the balance up
Between love and money
(Trisha Yearwood, American Girl)

If the Good Lord’s willin’ when we’re old and gray
The kids are grown up and moved away
We’ll be rockin’ there side by side barbeque chicken and a tv guide

(Next to you next to me, Shenandoah)

Words of Wisdom and such:

The only thing that stays the same is everything changes, everything changes. (Time Marches On, Tracy Lawrence)

You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything
You’ve got to be your own man not a puppet on a string
Never compromise what’s right and uphold your family name
You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything
(Aaron Tippin, You’ve got to stand for something)

Life’s a dance you learn as you go
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow
Don’t worry about what you don’t know
Life’s a dance you learn as you go
(Life’s a Dance, John Michael Montgomery)

Life is not tried, it is merely survived
If you’re standing outside the fire
(Garth Brooks, Standing Outside the Fire)

the farm


Posted on: February 9, 2008

I found a poem I wrote in 8th grade. It (along with every other poem I wrote in middle school) was fairly dramatic, but it hit on something, and it reminded me of something. Here’s the main line:
“Why can’t just being me be good enough for everyone?

I remembered that it was this feeling, this feeling of never being enough, of never being what everyone wanted or needed me to be, of never living up to my own expectations, of never feeling worthy because of what I lack, of being good at a lot and carrying so much potential, but never being enough.

It was this feeling that I laid on God’s doorstep with. It was this feeling that left me desperately needing God’s love and helplessly loving God back. Because I didn’t need to be anything better, anything more. Because God knew every flaw and every failure and loved me all the same, only needed me to lay there, right there and need him. And I was able to do that with a vengeance.

That’s what truly kick started the whole thing for me. The real faith. The one on one part. The part that I can’t deny. The part that makes any argument against it completely futile. I have within me, in the very core of me, this. It is, and that is enough. It is in me, so I am enough- regardless of what I, or anyone else thinks or says. That, is something to cling to.

Faith is a dirty, messy thing.

So much has happened in my faith since then, but I find that I am again feeling like I am not enough. That I am making C’s in every area of my life when I want to be A+. That I am failing, failing, failing, but discreetly. Just enough in every area so that if I just made these small improvements…

It’s been a long time since I’ve laid down with nothing, no need or request. A long time since I’ve laid at God’s feet, just to be. A long time I’ve been standing, kneeling, stomping, pleading, ranting, running, and jumping before God. I kind of forgot that what drew me to God in the first place was the reprieve, the acceptance, the out-of-this-world-peace that swells over, seeps in and settles, gently rooting itself. Fluid, but constant. Still waters, quiet pastures. Embracing. Releasing. The feeling that the whole world can crash and burn, my whole world can crash and burn and I will still be enough, I will still have enough.

That, is enough.

I’ve always liked people watching.

I remember once when I was little, maybe 7, I was watching two older girls talk and fix their hair in the bathroom. One of them made an irritated comment about people who stare and I realized that was me and I realized I would need to people watch more discreetly.

Social networking sites on the internet make this increasingly easy. I like watching how people present themselves, how they talk, what they talk about, and how it varies depending upon who they are presenting themselves/talking to. I like learning about people’s friends and families, the people that they spend time with (by choice or force).

I like people’s stories and I like collecting the facts from different sources.

When I’m in a new situation I like to watch and take cues from others to help me figure out how to maneuver in the atmosphere. I like to learn from other people.

This is not always good for me. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop being an observer.

Sometimes, it’s hard to keep developing my own story.