Folks and Rents

When I was growing up, my Bapa and Grandma were a constant in my life. There was something magical that came whenever they visited. My parents were more kind and lenient. My brothers, like me, put on the best show we had in our pockets. Just hearing a rumor of them coming over got us pretty excited.

On Friday nights they had a standing “date” with my family. They’d show up early evening to drink coffee at the dining table with my Rents. They’d talk about adult stuff that didn’t much interest us kids. We were allowed to be outside playing while this ritual took place. In retrospect, I wish I’d taken more of an interest in those conversations because I feel I would have gotten to know them, the world, and my parents an incredible amount more than I did.

At the tail end of the coffee ritual came the fade in to our favorite part of the night. POPCORN! My mom would pop a massive bowl of the fluffy crunch while counting out the apples (one each), and chocolate squares. We’d all get into our spots in the living room to get ready to watch The Dukes of Hazzard. I was madly in love with Beau/Bo Duke. I thought Daisy was absolutely gorgeous, but took little interest in Luke. 

As a family we would watch the show and laugh together. On commercials (my brother as the remote to turn the television down), we’d squish in conversations about what was important at the time. It could be about the show, grades, behavior, how much we were loved by my mom’s Folks, or even what words were entering our vocabulary. At the sight of the General Lee, we were right back into the wild world of those “Duke boys.”

At then end of the show when Cooter pumps up the power of the ol’ #01 and Uncle Jesse had outwitted Boss Hog, we’d disperse to the bathrooms with us kids having to run upstairs so the adults wouldn’t have to. At my age now, I completely understand the wisdom of that, but as a kid, I resented having to do it.

And then, settled in with a refreshed bowl of popcorn, in our pajamas, we heard the verdict of whether or not we’d be able to watch…Dallas. Oh! How I hated J.R. Ewing and loved Bobby. I didn’t quite understand what Sue Ellen’s issues were at that time, but I knew to feel sorry for her. I thought Miss Ellie was elegant. The costumes, the dialogue, the adultness of the show made it more than worth a few good behavior days to follow the story line that I was just starting to get, but did not all the way.

I’d snuggle up to Bapa and watch with him. It was a feeling of complete and total safety. There was nothing in the world that could touch our family then. My Grandma was okay with the show, but commonly would lax her head back, mouth open, and snore lightly. It was practically tradition. 

When I think of my mom’s Folks, it gives me a feeling of family so deep into my bones a part of me lay with them in their graves. It is a feeling of promise that the world would be as strong as we were. Our duty to the world and to each other was and is to create love wherever we are because that is how the world SHOULD work. We know that it doesn’t, but with each little act of compassion or kindness, we are all living our Folks dreams for a better world.

As for my Rents, it took much longer for me to see them as givers of light. I was estranged for so many years but it wasn’t until I returned that the pangs of what I’d set down to walk away from really set barbs into my spirit. I realized that what I’d given up wasn’t just parents with incredibly high expectations, but that I’d relieved myself of that burden to do it my own way. I wasn’t born to follow their path. I was created to accept the guidance of the Folks and my Rents to become even better than they were, or at least comparable.

Since I have no biological offspring of my own, I often worry of how my legacy will pan out. I think of the many traditions I was taught at their knees and mourn the loss of it stopping with me. 

But, I have discovered in love and unity that my cousins, nieces and nephews, all carry me with them. For example, I got to take my great nephew across the Mighty Mack for his first time and buy the fudge of his choice in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. He learned to sing 500 Miles by the Proclaimers at the top of his lungs, got spoiled with ice cream, and basically…well The Folks and the Rents carry on in me no matter where I go.

Mem’ries

monopolytennessee

The crescent moon tilts slightly

against the indigo sky

through the shadows, I move spritely

with unbidden tears I cry

I trudge the road less traveled

My warmest sweater unraveled

So I shiver in the gath’ring storm,

grief overwhelming, I MUST mourn

As daylight breaks the night

I allow my feet quick purchase in the light

A haven ahead affords me rest

I am given respite at my behest

Home is where I’m going to be

If only my mem’ries weren’t in Tennessee.

10 Behaviors of Genuine People

In a world of phony fads, media hype, virtual personas, and personal brands, being genuine is becoming an endangered quality.

Author and Contributing Writer for entrepreneur.com offers up wisdom.

I am in the habit of behaving this way. How many of these do you meet on a daily basis?

Source: 10 Behaviors of Genuine People

Thirty Something

Okay, so I’ve been working diligently to amass my work for the first display of my art on June 20th. When I was asked to do this, I’d painted this and that, but focused on writing. Having compiled a book of essays, poems, and commentary, I felt satiated enough to move into another genre. I picked up a paintbrush, charcoal, pens, pencils and sheets of fantastica.

From the Unitarian Universalist song, "You got to do when the Spirit says do!"

From the Unitarian Universalist song, “You got to do when the Spirit says do!”

Thirty-One Two pieces later I’m thinking, oh crap! Is this enough? Is this how I’m wishing to be marketed? Is it good enough? Will they like it? Love it? Hate it? Feel ambivalent towards it? Will my art, the creation of my brain from the inspirations that walk over it (like a Jamie Lopez styled painting that just drew itself while I wrote this) satisfy anyone?

You know what? I refuse to care. I wash my hands of the anxieties that are cropping up as the witching hour approaches. This means I’m doing something my mind and body consider to be questionable, dangerous, and that is why I need to do it. Even if I fail (and these thoughts are occurring to me) I’m going to do so with a collective work that glistens with the sweat of my effort. That reflect my love and light into the world in such a way that I feel nearly a sexual satisfaction of bringing these colors to life.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing this for me. Yeah, it’s great if other people take a shine to what I do and even more spectacular when they want to give me money to do what I love. I mean, really. Who wouldn’t want to follow a dream, a hope, an idea all the way down the rabbit hole to see how far it goes? I suppose that’s what makes others comment my oddities to me as if I don’t exist because they’re right. I don’t.

I exist when I allow myself to be consumed by the world where art and breathing are synonymous. I am when I am so engulfed in what I’m doing I forget that I’m human. I become another entity. I love that feeling more as I embrace the whirlwind affair that is dragging me into deeper fields of challenge. But then, I come up for air in this physical world to find people doing what people do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I know. I mean, I REALLY love them. They fill my heart with Rod Stewart songs (“Have I told you lately”) and promises of Moulin Rouge (“Come what may”). My head dances with inspiration from their very existence and I touch the promises of their truth with such delicate breaths that it makes me blush with the intimacy they allow me. It’s not even sexual. It’s like hanging out at someone’s house and everything they do, say, or ask is exactly the most perfect thing they could do, say, or ask of you. And with that, it’s a reciprocation of undulating commentary that ebbs, flows, waxes, wanes, drifts, waves, and hurricanes around in mystical walkways. Each word, phrase, or nothing is vibrant with understanding, love, compassion, and sometimes anger, disappointment, intolerance. Human stuff.

What I describe is not always how it is, it’s just what it’s felt like since I heard the words utter from my lips, “I am an artist.” And so I am.

Tuatha Dea inspired, "Blessed Be, Y'all"

Tuatha Dea inspired, “Blessed Be, Y’all”

These Are My People: Sarah Carrie Johnson

My friend Sarah Johnson

My friend Sarah Johnson

She was born with a baby on her hip
A jaunt in her step that moved her like a cradle
A smooth line smile that granted mother’s milk
While soothing ruffled feathers of frustrated ilk
She slithers with grace leaving trails of wildflowers
Carefully disguised as children, her daughters
She was born with a baby on her hip
As if the earth were not solid but a slow rolling ship
A reckless follower of her hearts intensity
Gives birth to her gift from her sacred humanity.

The Nomad

Come along and be a nomad with me.

Come along and be a nomad with me.

A Nomad once traveled from port to port,

for every face the Nomad met,

she searched for her own

trapped by her own design

fearful of herself

her own darkness hiding, only barely,

from her own sight.

The Nomad traveled from one end

of the world to the other

pausing only to learn and see

her soulful vision mirrored,

like an oasis,

back at her from the loving hearts

of other damaged spirits that wandered,

not quite as far as she,

from their own generational homes.

The Nomad rejected all roots

even those that moved her spirit

towards home. But, one day,

The Nomad sat at the edge of a great lake

witnessing the birds dance a complexity

backed by the setting sun that shadowed
the daytime heat with the promise of cool night.

The Nomad searched the sunlit blue

then the moonlit sparkles

She realized it was time to revive and reveal.

The Nomad danced abandon as she’d observed

the flight of her con-spirit-ors do

She slithered with colorful scarves

pouring rainbow colors from her fingers,

releasing all that no longer served

or caused her fear and anguish.

The nomad danced in large spirals

on the sands of the shore

revealing a fleshy spirit

ripe with juicy sweetness

filled to overflowing with kindness

that leaked onto her spirit

with compassionate ribbons of hope.

The Nomad wandered back across her path

carefully touching, delicately expressing

but growing bolder, more adept with her

new nudity, transparently clothed about her

Genuine in joy and with a resolved spirit

The Nomad settled into a new life

one more bountiful, wonderful, and thrilling

than any she had found in her journeys.

The Nomad’s own backyard filled with wonderful

The Nomad’s kitchen burst with spices

She had finally found the home for her spirit

that she’d thought was long forgotten but

was with her even in the darkness of her past.