Archive for the ‘Dogwood Girl’ Category

I am a Writer

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Your own reasonsI had an experience lately that got me thinking about my writing and the reasons I write. Disclaimer: I don’t think of what I write as Art; I mean, come on. I’m just not that pretentious. It’s, more than anything, therapeutic, pleasurable, and a gathering of my thoughts. It is an action rather than a result; a trip inside my brain that might come out with a few souvenirs, but is very much about the journey. I feel better and more focused when I write things down. I remember details of my life and experiences more fully when I take the time to type them out. I sometimes feel a compulsion to sit and write things down, to outline and tell the story of the images in my mind. As I am writing them, I usually remember more detail than I thought I could. The small, poignant pieces somehow come into focus, and things that I thought meant very little take on a larger meaning for me. There is a satisfaction in both the swelling flow of words that come out when I sit down and write, and in the exquisite pleasure of finding the perfect word or phrase. I even enjoy going back and editing what I wrote, and those are the times when I read something and realize, “no, it’s not perfect, but this might make it better.” And aren’t we all just trying to find ways to make ourselves a little bit better? There is satisfaction in improvement.

I write for many reasons: To document pleasurable moments, or pretty vignettes, or to make sure that I never forget a story that made me cry with laughter. I sometimes write down stories that were handed down to me from my family; If I don’t write them down, they may be lost. There are stories I don’t want to lose, and some of them don’t even belong to me. I write because I need to, and I want to, and because it almost always makes me feel lighter after doing so. I write about people and places that made an indelible impression on me that I must not forget. I write about loved ones who are gone, because I am afraid that I will forget some precious detail of who they were. And they were human and amazing and funny and weird and insane.

There are many things that I put into writing that do not see the light of day, that are for my eyes and mind only. Sometimes I write and write, and I am proud of something, or I feel that it is scary, but important. I usually put those here on my blog. I also intersperse those with photos, which sometimes speak louder than words, or tell a story without need of words. I used to write even the small things, a joke my daughter made up, or the made up words my son created, thoughts and anecdotes on my blog and I wrote posts every day for many years. These are the things that I find cool, funny, absurd, ironic, or infuriating. Sometimes they are sweet, sometimes they are sour, sometimes they are salty or bitter. Many times now, I will just post these little things to Facebook. I kind of wish I hadn’t started doing that, because honestly, it is easier to post there, and more people see it that way, but it takes away from my content here. I guess blogs are dead. I don’t know. I still have one. I still put words and pictures on it.

The thing about the pieces I write is this: They are always for me. Yes, they might make someone laugh, or cry, or wonder if they are about you, or someone you know. You might wonder why I would put out to the world something so blunt or crass, or delicate or private or flat out embarrassing for others to read. I do it because it makes me feel good, and it is satisfying. Sometimes it is a release. Sometimes it is because I want people to laugh, or cry, or because I feel good about something, or proud of something, or sad about something, or because I thought it was funny or might ring a universal bell. I have a voice. I want to use it. I am a writer. I want people to read what I write. I am not ashamed of that.

So, when I hear that maybe people see some of the things I write as a cry for help, I like to assume that they care about my well-being, and I take a minute to reassure folks that I will be fine. I am not suicidal, and I am feeling positive about working towards making the changes in my life to be happier. People sure are good deep down – they check in on me when I am struggling, and sometimes they share their struggles and I don’t feel so alone.

Some people though, let’s be honest: Some people will kick you when you’re down, just for the goddamn fun of it.

And when I hear that maybe people think that I am just being dramatic and attention-seeking; Well, I’m a writer. I put words out and people can read them or not read them. Whether they like them or not is truly irrelevant. I am a writer, and I will keep on writing. I write for me, and you read for you. You, the reader, are the one who chooses if you want to continue reading what I write. It seems to work okay; It’s a pretty neat system that’s been around for a few thousand years.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter who reads it. I will continue to write, because it is what I am compelled by my mind, heart, and soul to do: It brings me laughter, joy, release. It makes colors brighter and delicate memories sweeter. It brings loved ones to life again for a moment. It helps me navigate the perilous trails of thought in my mind, and sometimes it tells me which path to take. Writing comforts me, and it sometimes comforts others.  I know this, because sometimes they take the time to write to me, or they pull me aside and talk to me about my writing in real life, and I am not ashamed to say that it makes me happy if someone likes what I read, or finds it thought-provoking, or brave, or crazy, or very sad.

I can think of no better feeling than the feeling of reading something someone else wrote, and knowing just exactly what they mean. There is an awe and balance and satisfying synchronicity to recognizing your own feelings or thoughts or memories in someone else’s words; When someone tells me that they feel exactly the same things that I wrote, that gives me joy and satisfaction.  Writing has made me friends, and at times, it has been my only friend. Writing travels through time and stops the rotation of the earth for a brief moment. It freezes time and distills moments into portraits. Writing is a part of me, and it is a part of me that I sometimes share with the world. It always will be. And if you don’t like my writing, I’m okay with that, too. Because I don’t write for you; I write for me.

I think the author Elizabeth Gilbert puts it a little better. Her book Big Magic is next on my list of books to read. The day after I had this thought-provoking experience, the one that made me think hard and long about what my writing means to me, I came across this quote.  I literally laughed out loud at the joy of the universe presenting me with exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

Just smile

With love to myself and anyone else who puts themselves out there,


In Her Hand

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Seems just yesterday she was like this. . .

Seems just yesterday she was like this. . .

And here she is today. Brownie bridging ceremony at Stone Mountain Park Grist Mill. Almost 8 years old, 2nd grade, October 2013.

And here she is today. Brownie bridging ceremony at Stone Mountain Park Grist Mill. Almost 8 years old, 2nd grade, October 2013.

She’s eight. I’m no longer one of those moms with babies. Or toddlers. I’ll never have a preschooler or a kindergartner again. It’s sad, but so so sweet, too. She can run her own bath, and swim laps, and brush her own hair, and boy does she have ideas about how she wants her hair to look. She has beautiful, soft hair. It still smells good after a bath, but smells more little girl than baby. I know now why grandmas want to smell babies heads – it’s like crack. You get a whiff and you want it the rest of your life.

She’s in 2nd grade now, and reading stuff like Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, and likes clothes and puppies and stuffed animals and jewelry. She likes reading and writing and homework, and god help me, crafts. She is sensitive and sweet and nothing like me. She wants to please us and her friends and her teachers. She wishes she had a sister. She still writes notes to Fairies, and believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. She still loves my hugs, and wants to be with me whenever she can. She sits next to me comfortably, and without pulling away. She is a Brownie. A swimmer. She has the most amazing smile, even with that little snaggle tooth. Her laugh is my favorite song. And she laughs a lot – she likes to make up jokes, and she likes it when we make jokes. She wants to be a vet. And a zookeeper. She likes math. SHE LIKES MATH. She makes up stories. She writes stories. She loves loves loves her Grandmas. She wraps Grandpas around her fingers with just a smile, or a hug. She adores Leah and Syd, Mia and Liliana, Rachel, and Gia, Nathan, Tristan, and Michael. She loves her brother, but god do they fight sometimes.

This week, at the lake, I watched her, and she didn’t know i was watching. She sat under a tree, and wrapped her arms around her knees, and gazed out over the lake. And I knew she was thinking. Just like I used to think under Connie’s dogwood tree. Or on the front rocker of our porch in New York. Like i still think when I lie on the boards of the dock at night and ponder the moon and the planets and the constellations. Sometimes she lies with me. Sometimes she holds my hand. She holds me in her hand.

MUSHY. Let’s talk about the party.

So, yeah, we had an old-school carport cookie-decoratin’ party. October birthdays might be the best.

Tiller loves beanie boos.

Tiller loves beanie boos.

Watching tills open stuff.

Watching tills open stuff.

Miss Chloe.

Miss Chloe.

I think? Tiller collects beanie boos and twins.

Lilian, I think? Tiller collects beanie boos and twins.

Yeah. Twins. Maybe leah. Gah. I have trouble when they are not together.

Yeah. Twins. Maybe Syd.. Gah. I have trouble when they are not together.

Boys focused on cornhole and that jumpie thing.

Boys focused on cornhole and that jumpie thing.

So, yeah, not sure what the deal was with the gems on foreheads. Hopefully not insulting to my Indian friends - They were part of the scavenger hunt treasure, and the kids started putting them on their foreheads. I like to think it is their multicultural upbringing that made them do this.

So, yeah, not sure what the deal was with the gems on foreheads. Hopefully not insulting to my Indian friends and family – They were part of the scavenger hunt treasure, and the kids started putting them on their foreheads. I like to think it is their multicultural upbringing that made them do this.

A rare moment of still sitting with this whirling dervish of a nephew.

A rare moment of still sitting with this whirling dervish of a nephew.

My sweet girl. Best smile in the world.

My sweet girl. Best smile in the world.

He was pretty bored.

He was pretty bored.

The basket and bell, because why would you make a girls' bike that doesn't have these? Where would you put acorns, rocks, bows, and beanie boos?

The basket and bell, because why would you make a girls’ bike that doesn’t have these? Where would you put acorns, rocks, bows, and beanie boos?

Just what all 8 year olds need. She loved this gift, and it actually looks really, really cool.

Just what all 8 year olds need. A messenger bag She loved this gift, and it actually looks really, really cool.


Chloe and Tiller, about to blow candles out.

Chloe and Tiller, about to blow candles out.

My baby is 8. This cannot be. Also, i just ate the rest of that cake with coffee for 2nd breakfast. A pitfall of working from home.

My baby is 8. This cannot be. Also, i just ate the rest of that cake with coffee for 2nd breakfast. A pitfall of working from home.

Chloe always has the best expressions.

Chloe always has the best expressions.

My sweet, tissue-paper pasty skinned, freckled nephew. I want to eat him up.

My sweet, tissue-paper pasty skinned, freckled nephew. I want to eat him up.

Leah, i think.

Leah, i think.

Yeah, that's definitely me.

Yeah, that’s definitely me. With tills and . . . uh syd. I’m going with Syd.

My sister will eat some cookies.

My sister will eat some cookies.

Good sister, bad sister. Guess which one is which?

Good sister, bad sister. Guess which one is which?

Pretty sure that's syd, and leah. Syd on left. It's like a puzzle.

Pretty sure that’s syd, and leah. Syd on left. It’s like a puzzle.

These three are just three peas in a pod.

These kids are just a bunch of peas in a pod.

Jimmies my ass. There were sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles.

Jimmies my ass. There were sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles.

Rollie doesn't go for hugs anymore, not even from his Aunt, not unless his fever is at least 102. He's ten now, you know. Way too old for your hugs.

Rollie doesn’t go for hugs anymore, not even from his Aunt, not unless his fever is at least 102. He’s ten now, you know. Way too old for your hugs.

We decorated cookies. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

We decorated cookies. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Tiller wins.

Tiller wins.



Monday, April 8th, 2013

Dogwood Girl had some database issues that had me really out of my depth, but I managed to have time to sit down and work through them yesterday, and while I was there, I decided to go a little more simple with the site look. So, now that I have that fixed, perhaps I will write more. (Yeahrite.)

In the meantime, here is a photo of my ratty old Toms, posted just to annoy my friend Carrie, who thinks they look like ace bandages wrapped around your feet.

And yes, I do know I have big feet.


Inoperable Ostrichism

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Okay, not really. But i have not really been able to write ever since losing the Q-man and my cousin this past summer. (Apologies to those who are offended for lumping them together, but in my heart, they are both gaping holes. Do not judge my pain.)

I am not usually one to avoid difficult subjects, or as my sister and I call it, “ostrich” (the action of sticking one’s head in the sand), but I keep finding reasons not to write about the things that have been on my mind this year. I will be glad to see this year go – it has been painful in so many ways, and it seems that every time I turn around, i see someone near me affected negatively by some circumstance or accident, or unforeseen crappy event. I think maybe part of that is that the events of this year for my family were so negative that I have on my dark lenses when I look at anything going on around me. I hate that.

I am usually one to try and not get bogged down in negativity. I come from a family of . . shall we say, ‘realists.” We are not a positive people. We save for a rainy day. We look at things with a critical eye. But i am aware of it, and I try, day in and day out, to be thankful for the things that i have and that are going well. But it is and always will be a struggle for me to do that. I have to work at it.

If you think i am irreverent or i make too many jokes when things go awry, you are seeing me fight my basest instinct to get bogged down in the shit.

Maybe that is why i haven’t written about losing my best friend this year. Yes, he’s a dog, and yes, I loved him so very much, and when I think of him, all i can think of is . . I am not ready to write about it yet. I am hopeful that I will get there. Or about what it means to live with the thought that someone you love was brutally murdered, and most likely knew what was happening the whole time.

I will never write about that.

I will continue to push that one down. It seems to get almost more unreal, yet never goes away. I think of it almost every day, in that quiet time when the kids are in bed and i am doing dishes. Every night.

I don’t write about these things because I don’t want to get lost in them. I want to look on the positive side. I want to be positive. Sometimes? There isn’t a positive side. So i ostrich.

And so I don’t write, because i have almost always sat down at Dogwood Girl in the mornings to write about the things that were foremost in my head. It was my therapy. I wrote them down, just as if I had cut my skull down the hairline, pried it apart, and pulled out the malignancy in my brain. But the issues weren’t so heavy before. These thoughts and images are inoperable.

I will get to the dog. I will write about him. The other? It is terminal. Not in the sense that I will die from it, but in the sense that I will die with it. [wipes tear from cheek.]

p.s. Wow. I started to write about what I’ve been up to since Halloween. And this came out. I guess the writing is good therapy after all. If you are still reading my blog, thank you. I know I haven’t been funny, or sentimental, or nostalgic – all the things that people say they like most about reading my blog. I want to be her, Dogwood Girl, again. She is still here. I promise.

A Good Day

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

I thought I was having kind of a crazy day. I started my period yesterday, and I had to do a newsletter for a non-profit, and we still had a bare Christmas tree just sitting around undecorated. We got it on Friday and didn’t even have time to decorate it until late this afternoon, and the kids were just driving me batshit crazy about all the Christmas stuff in piles that wasn’t put up yet.

But then my wonderful husband went to the store for tampons for me when I really didn’t feel like it. He took the kids with him. Then he came home, cooked me dinner, and made brownies for dessert. He is mine, girls. Mine, all mine! Taken!

Then, as I was eating a Brownie bowl of shame, a friend sent me a v. nice message about enjoying my blog (consider this your shout out!) and now I kind of feel pretty happy.

Not a bad day. Lots to be thankful for – I can’t complain. Nothing like good friends, a hot brownie, and a full box of tampons to turn your day around.

Honey and the Busy Bee

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

IMG_0004My excitement holds no bounds today. My friend Honey, my college roommate, is coming in town and staying with me for four days. FOUR DAYS. Sure, there will be kids and husbands and dogs underfoot, but I am so excited to spend some quality time with one of my dearest friends. Ever have a person that you know, deep down, realizes that you are not perfect and loves you anyway? A person that you know has your back? A person that isn’t scared to tell you what they really think? She is that person for me. (Well, leelee falls into that category, too, but this post isn’t about Leelee.)

Just wish this dang weather would clear up.

That picture up top? that’s me and Honey, sitting in front of my little dollhouse off of Milledge Avenue in Athens. It was the last place I lived in Athens, and this picture was taken the day after I graduated. I am pretty sure we felt really good that day.

And yes, you may have noticed I’ve been a little MIA lately. We’ve had houseguests (Todd’s cousin, Jenn, and her friend Brittany) in town. Jenn and Brittany are thinking about moving to Atlanta, so they came down to look around and get a feel for the city. (Nice weather for them, huh?) I’ve been doing a lot of stuff following the Dekalb County budget issues. Following local politics is damn time-consuming. And then there’s the kids. . . turns out they need to be fed and bathed and picked up and dropped off and you have to make sure that they don’t watch too much tv. I have been bad about that, and I am hereby vowing to be better. So, Dogwood Girl takes a backseat for a while. I have missed it, though. It keeps me sane.

Goodbye and Good Riddance!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I don’t think it’s hit me yet, that 2009 is almost over, or that a whole decade has now passed since I met Todd. It has been the best ten years of my life, without a doubt. 2009, though? Not so much. Hoping 2010 will be everything 2009 wasn’t. Hope it will be for you, too, dear Reader.

And speaking of, thanks to those of you who read this ridiculous self-indulgent little blog of mine. It really is nice to be heard.

Happy New Year!

p.s. Scotty P, just got your gift in the mail. Made me unbelievably happy! I will take care of it and get it back to you in one piece. Promise.

Clark Griswold, Robert Gibbs, Bartimaeus, and Jesus

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

No, this is not the beginning of a joke. It is the only title i could come up with for this post that covered it all. It started out that I was posting about Todd’s high school friends’ husband’s light display, and veered off into a discussion of my Mother-in-law’s failed dreams for Todd’s future, Todd’s 20th high school reunion, and a Houston minister’s sermon, inspired by one of my blog posts, wherein the Minister compares me to Bartimaeus and Jesus. Yes, that Jesus. (No laughing.)

You try and give this post a better title . . . .

Yes, I know Clark Griswold. Or, at least, we’ve met. He’s married to the girl Todd was supposed to marry. You know, if my mother-in-law had gotten her way. Her name is . . .well, we’ll call her “G.,” and she and Todd went to school and church together growing up in Auburn. Their parents are friends and Todd’s mom worked at the church, and his mom finally told me one day, not long after Todd and I married, that she always wished that Todd had dated G. G was sweet and Christian and smart and exactly what Peggy thought she wanted in a daughter-in-law. I think maybe she thought some of this goodness would rub off on Todd. She must have told me 30 million times that Todd used to get in trouble in school. (I think she still holds a grudge about the wringer she was put through due to Todd’s behavior, and now that I am a parent, i understand.) G would tell her that Todd always had the smartest answers in class, and my MIL was just baffled by his behavior. G could see the goodness in Todd! She was perfect. I believe my mother-in-law also secretly coveted an arranged marriage for Todd’s younger brother and G’s younger sister. None of this came to pass, of course, because I am a complete and total Maneater, and we don’t often practice arranged marriages here in the South, even in Alabama.

I never met G. in the many years Todd and I have been together. G’s parents came to my wedding and we would see them around town when visiting Auburn. I even met G’s little sister at one point. But no matter how often i heard about her, I never met G until Todd’s 20th reunion. You know the one. Robert Gibbs, Press Secretary for President Barack Obama was there? It was the one where I got bored and pretended to be one of Todd’s absent high school friends after his sex change. Yes, I am now probably on some kind of CIA/FBI list for impersonating Robert Gibbs’ high school classmate.

So, I finally met my competition, G., and her husband, Clark. And it turned out we hit it off, and now we are friends on Facebook, and she reads my blog. She even used something she read on my blog as inspiration for one of her sermons. (Certainly a first.) Yes, she is a preacher. Or minister. Or whatever she calls herself. I am not sure. We grew up calling the person who did the sermon ‘the preacher.” If you are so inclined, please listen to the whole sermon, as G. is really a great writer and speaker. My mention in the sermon comes in about the last fourth of the sermon. I must add that she did me great justice in the sermon, because I am certainly not as compassionate as she makes me out to be. It did make for a great sermon, though!

So, with all of this high drama, I barely had a chance to get to know her husband at the reunion. I wish I had. I really want to know the man that has the vision to create the following light display. No, I am not an Auburn fan. But I married into an Auburn family, and I do have an appreciation for the fanatical desire to stamp a team logo on one’s house in large, bright, multicolored, musically-coordinated lights to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.

And I just love G. all the more for being a Minister in Houston whose house looks like this during the Christmas season.

2009 Lights On Merrimac Ridge Animated Lights from Merrimac Ridge on Vimeo.

Get Stuck in Seattle

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Busy with unpacking all the stuff we boxed up for basement renovations, painting some doors, and drinking coffee while listening to Miles Davis, but thought i’d mention that i just added my friend Nikki’s blog to my blogroll.

She is an acupuncturist and just got a new office, so I thought I would mention it on here so that my Seattle readers (I’m looking at the three of you!) would look Nikki up first in case of a need to become a human pincushion.

No, seriously, Nikki is awesome and I know she’ll do great in her new endeavour! Incidentally, she is also the one who made the awesome tote bag that I always get compliments on. The one with the big purple and pink flowers. You know. That one. Very talented, that Nikki. Actually, I kind of want to hate her, because she is one of those moms that makes Halloween costumes for her kid, and stuff like that? And here I am, just slapping the plastic K-Mart masks on my kids? But, I can’t, because she is nice.

Damn nice people.

Please Dawgs

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Don’t break my heart tonight. I can’t take it. It’s been a long, sad week. That started with y’all losing last Saturday night, it went downhill from there, and I’m counting on you to turn this thing around.

Dawgwood Girl

P.s. Extra points for making Spurrier throw his visor.