Monday, September 09, 2013

Reading Report: Oxford, MS & Memphis, TN

I got home last night after four days on the road and three readings with the human poetry-machine, Adam Clay. The first was in Oxford, MS where I had never been before. It was hot and humid and just about the most quintessential Southern town I'd ever been to. A cheer squad was preparing for the Ole Miss pep rally, the air smelled thick and sweet, and everyone around was in school colors. We ate at Ajax Diner (squash casserole & red beans and rice) and read at a house reading with an excellent and warm crowd that I felt very close to immediately. There was the most magical white dog recovering from a car accident named Atticus. I fell madly in love with him and wished I could have brought him home. Adam was brave enough to steal him for me, but we thought he was loved where he was. So hard to leave tender souls in the great unknown. 

In the morning, Adam and I worked at a cafe, then visited Square Books and Rowan Oak where Faulkner lived, and Faulkner's grave where he does not live. The night before, driving home from the reading we saw a huge buck come out from the cemetery. It was massive and athletic and both of us were a little in awe. Animals in the moonbeams & headlights. If I had to choose a team to root for, it would be a team of deer in the wee hours offering secrets in the dark. I would wear those colors.

Then, we were off to Memphis, TN where I had also never been before. We played Aretha Franklin as we drove in, and bought an Elvis CD at Shangri-La Records. As per Adam's insistence we ate a the BBQ Shop, and I had maybe the best BBQ sandwich of my life. Then, off to the inaugural reading of Impossible Language hosted by Ashley Roach-Freiman. The reading was at a great gallery space called, Crossroads (and I traded books for an amazing painting by John Garland. It's now hanging in my office and I love it). A large crowd, free wine and beer, and good people. 

Those good people followed us to the Lamplighter Lounge where there was yet another reading and we all got to know one another and talk about art and life and music. 

On the way out of town I pushed Elvis's intercom button at Graceland, but he didn't answer. I saw Sun Records and Stax Records and... oh Memphis I shall return. 

And now I am home for one brief moment (a few short hours), before Sonoma, California calls and I settle in for a week in the West. 

I am lucky & I am working hard. As they say in Memphis, Work Hard & Be Nice.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Taking My Time

It was a marathon weekend and, I can only speak for this household, but we're going to ease back in slowly.

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Body & Brain & the Balance

Approximately six weeks ago I threw my back out. It was just about as bad as it's ever been. It was agonizing, and I hate not moving. You see, I'm a mover. I like to get things done. Every day I make a list on bright yellow paper that hangs next to my desk and every day I check almost everything off. It's a small not-so-super power, but it's mine. And I'll take all I can get.  

When my back was out, I had to rely on Lucas for everything. I had never been so happy that my "art form" was based on words, a computer, and reading. I spent time putting the new poetry book together, reading, and working on a new fiction project, but still, it felt so weird not to be able to move. Even though it was productive, and managed to keep a fairly good attitude (thanks to Lucas, real friends, and Facebook friends who kept offering advice and good healing thoughts), I still wanted this forced flat-on-my-back and face-to-face-with-words time to end.

Slowly and steadily, I got back on my feet. I was able to take the dog out and get back into my daily exercise routine. I made a pie from the neighbor's apples in honor of my stepmom who's no longer with us. I visited friends, I went out, I cleaned, I organized my desk, I moved, and moved, and moved, and watched old movies at night to calm down and reconnect with the slow down. In short, I've been back to my normal bouncy, busy self. 

Now, I have to admit, however, that after such an active few weeks, even though I'm not missing the pain or immobility, I am missing the forced downtime, the forced heady time that demands the written word.

Though the internet is full these days of funny articles on whether or not you're an introvert or an extrovert, I think the personality type that best suits me (and perhaps you), is that...I'm a writer. I need the right balance between moving and quiet, the rush and the hush. 

As Fall begins and everyone returns to school, and the mind's air smells like sharpened pencils and wool uniforms, I'm hoping I will remember what those weeks of quiet offered, and try to return often to the much-needed brain-time after the thrill of body-time.

In the meantime, this lovely article come out in the Lexington Herald-Leader and I feel very happy that Lily Bean made the cover.