A man, his song, his guitar

December 10, 2018

I’d been looking forward to seeing Colter Wall in concert at the Tower Theater in OKC for months. I adore his “Imaginary Appalachia”, and most of the songs on his 2017 eponymous EP.  I anticipated loving 2018’s “Songs of the Plains” just as much.

Eh…no. He didn’t perform a single title from “Songs of the Plains” that I would pay $1.50 to download, and I don’t understand why a songwriter of his talent would perform “Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie” and “Oklahoma Hills”, unless he thought an Oklahoma audience expected those two old classics to be dragged out and dusted off. (No, please and thank you.)

Keeping in mind that I freely admit to being musically challenged, Colter did me a heckin disappoint on Saturday night. I’m a fan of indie music; I am not a fan of country music. Colter has obviously gone more country in his latest EP and judging from the number of drunk cowboys who raucously enjoyed the show, he will have no trouble keeping a following. Losing one old dame like me isn’t going to hurt him, but I definitely wasn’t a fan of the Red Dirt sound he cultivated at the concert Saturday night. The only high points for me were when he performed “Sleeping on the Blacktop” and “Kate McCannon”.

But can we talk about opening act Joshua Ray Walker for a minute? He exemplifies the kind of music I’ve always loved: One man, one guitar, and his own songs. The poignant lyrics of “Canyon” touch the heart and solidified me as a fan of this amazing young busker.

The second opening act, Joshua Morningstar, was cringe-worthy. He somehow managed to be both manic and lackluster, and his open calls for weed from the mic were juvenile. He apparently doesn’t know that Pauly Shore played that tired old shit out in the 90s.

But let’s get back to Joshua Ray Walker. He was the shining star in my concert sky that night. Quiet, polite, vastly talented and somewhat bashful, he’s lucky Auntie didn’t hug him around the neck after his set.



Protected: Cri de coeur

November 8, 2018

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Anyone who thinks this song reminds me of some lover obviously doesn’t know me.

Terminal loneliness

May 19, 2017

It’s been five weeks and one day, and I promise I’m not going out of my way to keep track. It’s just an unshakeable knowing from someplace raw and bleeding, a place that feels like it is never going to heal.

It feels unsurvivable. It feels like an event incompatible with continued existence, which I realize is all incredibly stupid, but…there you have it. If I can’t be honest with myself in my own blog, why bother blogging at all?

This loneliness feels terminal. I know it’s not, but it feels that way.

I hate this fucking dystopian post-Slevin world.

So I asked God…

April 19, 2017

I felt as if I might be turning into a parody of pain, some caricature of suffering with my grief over losing Slevin. Six days of a heartache so acute that it physically hurts and extravagant tears that just keep coming. I’ve wanted to put together a Slevin playlist, but I’ve resisted because surely – surely – that’s not normal or healthy. I’m already painfully, albeit peripherally, aware that I’m doing a very bad job of comforting my two other dogs (who are at a loss about how to behave with their alpha gone) and my husband (who is grieving just as deeply, and with a lot more fortitude and selflessness than I). I’m trying to find “normal” in a world stripped of its most familiar landmark, but I’m failing.

Other than announcing Slevin’s passing to his informal FB fan club, I’ve pretty much stayed away from social media. Then today I logged onto FB and saw that God had a new post. Ask him any question, he said. So I did: “Is my dog Slevin with you? If so, can you send him home?”

If you don’t know who God on FB is, it’s a humor page. So yes, I’ve lost my mind and resorted to asking a snarky cartoon God to send my dog back.

Then I scanned through some of the other 300+ comments and was surprised by how many people asked about their dogs. Dozens of them. There were questions about Dumpling who passed last week and about Buddy who died a decade ago, and the message was always the same. Could God please send them home because their mommy/daddy/families are heartbroken without them.

It occurred to me that maybe it’s supposed to hurt this bad, and maybe I’m just supposed to let it.

Here’s what I’ve got so far for that playlist I’m never going to ever until later this evening or by Friday at the latest put together as a memento mori:

Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
Let Her Go – Passengers
Caroline – Colter Wall
Nothing Compares To You – Sinead O’Connor
A Long December – Counting Crows
How Do I Live – LeAnn Rimes
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Here Without You – 3 Doors Down
Sideways – Citizen Cope

Baby, I miss you so much.

My Lucky Number Slevin

April 15, 2017

Day Two in a post-Slevin world: Bleak. Two forty-five in the morning, and I’ve woken myself up crying.

As long as I’m up and battered by grief, and consumed with thoughts of the best dog in the world, can I talk about his name?

To me, the world is divided into people who recognize the name and those who don’t. If you recognize the name, I can just stop here, right? Nothing else needs to be said. There’s the grin, the nod, the unspoken acknowledgement that I gave my yellow Lab the. Coolest. Yellow. Lab. Name. Ever.

But if you don’t recognize his name, it’s really a quick story and I’d like to tell it.

It starts with a chubby, green-eyed yellow Lab, picked from his litter on Friday, October 13, 2006. I’ve always considered Friday the 13th a lucky day, so I wanted to name my puppy something to do with luck, without going down the “Lucky” road which, to me, is a cat name anyway.

Luckily for me (see what I did there?), I’d recently seen the movie, “Lucky Number Slevin”. It’s not normally my type of movie, what with being extremely bloody and violent, but the writing is excellent and the performances are just over the top enough to be charming. The movie details the fall-out from a racetrack bet made twenty years earlier, a bet on a horse named Lucky Number Slevin, and a young man who uses the alias Slevin Kelevra. So Slevin became Slevin Kelevra Blood (yes, that’s my real last name) before I even made it home from picking him up.

Okay, so he never looked like much of a killer, I admit. But still…his was a very cool name and when I called him at the dog park, he was the only dog to turn around.



Without Slevin: Day One

April 14, 2017

This is such a First World problem, we’ve all been through it, he was just a dog

There’s no such thing as “just a dog”, and especially not in Slevin’s case. He was the answer to the age-old question, “who’s a good boy?”

Slevin. Always Slevin. Forever Slevin.

The first day in 3836 days (ten years and six months and one day) of a world without him in it, and I feel like I’ve woken up in some foreign place where everything looks unfamiliar and I don’t speak the language and I don’t know my way home.






November 6, 2016

So you raise a child and you make so many mistakes that you sometimes wonder how this boy stayed out of jail and off drugs. You have friends who made far better parenting choices whose grown children fight ineffectual battles against social dragons that are beyond your imagining, and you feel sympathetic horror for those parents as their child fails again and again. You can’t take any pleasure in that, not one moment of schadenfreude. Instead, you feel a sickening thrill that’s akin to running up to the edge of a cliff and almost going over. The best you can feel is relief that you somehow – not through one single effort of your own – avoided the same fall. Your heart knows, that could have been me down there on the rocks. It should have been me.

You see your son grow up and you stand back in awe over the person he’s become: The depth of his compassion, his wisdom, his common sense – all of those things in spades. And you acknowledge that he is this marvelous person not because of your questionable parenting skills, but in spite of them.

And you see him with his own child, and you know that everything good is going to be passed down to another generation, in spite of all the baggage you dragged along as a parent and sometimes – admit it, don’t shy away from the truth – you made him drag along for you.

You realize he doesn’t see your failings; or perhaps he does, he just has heart enough to pretend he doesn’t.

And you’re thankful for heroes.

Three little words…

September 30, 2016

This morning I suddenly missed the face of a woman who has been my online friend since the MySpace days of 2005. She’s a gorgeous woman, one who so surpasses what’s considered pretty that, until I got to know her better, I was confused by her habit of posting at least one selfie a day. Did she think the rest of us weren’t jealous enough already? What was it that drove her to post so many selfies? Indoor selfies, outdoor selfies, casual selfies, formal selfies…

Once we became phone/email friends, I understood her much better. As beautiful as she is, she never heard those words from the one person in her life who should have been telling her daily, hourly, every single available minute how attractive she is. Instead, he was busy tearing her down about her weight (totally within the average) or her lack of income (and whose idea was it that she be a stay-at-home mom?). He not only tore her down by what he said, he also tore her down by what he didn’t say. Those three little words: You are beautiful.

Let me jump to the good news regarding this friend. I realized today – it was a total epiphany of the happiest sort – that she stopped posting so many selfies because she no longer needs to. A man who adores the very air she breathes came into her life, and the asshat who found reasons to compare her to her teenage self and draw ungracious comparisons is a thing of the past. She’s happy now. She’s validated now. She not only feels loved, she feels beautiful. There’s no longer a need for the validation of the online masses. The person who matters most never lets her forget how beautiful she is.

It’s not a matter of being needy. I’m the single most independent woman I personally know. I’ve never been unhappy while single. I can live and have lived alone with great complacency. I have, I believe, at least average self-esteem. I don’t cringe when I look in the mirror. In fact, I have a form of body dysmorphic disorder that leans the other direction. I look good when I look in the mirror. I think I’m tall, fit, and beautiful. Only my clothing size clues me into the fact that the times, they are a’changing. I wore an 11 junior in jeans when my son was five. Now I play the brand-versus-size game. Cheap jeans? A 20. Three digit jeans? A 20. The sweet spot is jeans that cost $70 to $90 dollars – an 18 or even a 16, depending on the brand. Hey, a 16 for a woman who is almost 60 years ago is hot, right?

But that confidence fails me in the most unexpected and unhappy ways at times.

Sometimes I catch sight of myself in a surprise mirror, or in the wretched lighting of an airport bathroom, or in an unforgiving glass storefront. And I’m appalled. I admit it. I sometimes look at my reflection and wonder, who is that fat old woman? And who could possibly desire her?

It’s a wonderful thing to hear that someone loves you. But those three words when totally unaccompanied by the other three eventually grow a mental ellipsis after them. “I love you…even though you’re fat.” “I love you…in spite of how old and wrinkled and disgusting you are.” “I love you…but no one else could possibly want you.”

Men and women BOTH are prone to deflect these compliments. “No, I’m ugly!” Time after time, heartfelt compliments can be deflected.

Here’s where you need to really listen to me, even if you haven’t listened to a single word of this blog before now: Don’t give up. If he or she says, “but I’m fat”, you counter. “No, you’re perfect!” Give him or her examples of their beauty. Tell them they have beautiful eyes, or they have the most adorable feet you’ve ever seen, or their hair calls to mind poems about the stormy ocean crashing against a rocky coast. Don’t give up. Your loved one is deflecting because they need to hear why you think they are beautiful.

When a compliment finally hits home in spite of all the deflection and demurring, think of the way the color mounts into the cheeks of your loved one, the way the light sparkles in his or her amazing eyes. Isn’t it worth the trouble? No matter how many times you have to tell them they’re beautiful, isn’t it worth a little effort to see how your words cause beauty to burst forth in their face, in their eyes, in their smile? Damned straight it’s worth it. And if you give up because of an initially deflective response, then move the fuck on and let this person you claim to love find someone who isn’t so easily dissauded.

“I love you.” Cheap words.

“You’re beautiful.” That’s what you should be saying.







Sunset fairies

January 17, 2015

My last (or maybe second-to-the-last) first cousin on my mom’s side passed away today. My mind is all over the map trying to take that in.

For the first 25 years of my life there was always a cousin Linda. She was the first person besides hospital staff and me to hold my son. She probably held me when I was a newborn.

My sister and I thought Linda was as beautiful as a fairy princess back in the 60s with her tiny waist and full skirts, her sunset hair and paler-than-possible skin. She babysat us and her boyfriend (later husband) used to help me color the hard parts in my coloring book. She shared her bottle of Pepsi with me and my sister, which was a huge treat since soft drinks weren’t on the menu around our house growing up.

Linda and I briefly became running buddies once I turned 21. I don’t mean “running” like in yoga pants and sneakers, I mean we ran the bars together, drinking cheap white zin and dancing to Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” (which is impossible to dance to sober, have you noticed?) with random California cowboys. Harmless fun, good times.

I haven’t laid eyes on my cousin for 33 years. How is that possible? And now she’s moved on. The princess of a girl who loved her ragamuffin cousin. The fiery redhead who hated another older girl cousin of ours for the later’s shoddy treatment of me – Linda hated Dorothy on my behalf and you just can’t buy that kind of friendship, I don’t care what color your credit card is.

I cried for a long time today. I still cry on and off as I write this. It’s obviously not because I “miss” Linda; she and I haven’t been besties for 33 years. It’s because I feel the biggest drawbridge imaginable just slammed shut between the first quarter-century of my life and where I stand today. Even more than losing our grandparents, aunts, uncles, this loss cuts close. I assume that’s because Linda and I are relatively close in age, and there’s that whole “if she went then I must be next” thing. Or something like that. Or maybe it’s because this is the first time in my entire life that I’m standing in a world where my cousin isn’t also standing.

But since I’m among friends I’ll say this in a whisper: I think Linda’s passing has shaken me up so much because I just found out that fairy princesses are mortal. That can’t be right. That just can’t be right.