Tree Painting Needs a Name (other than ‘Tree Painting’)

I need a name for this painting.

It took me almost a year, which I realize sounds ridiculous given that it’s basically just a blue background, naked tree and various colored blobs functioning as leaves / petals. And I didn’t even paint most of the tree part.

It wasn’t an issue of procrastination as much as it was one of wanting (and being able to) do something on my own terms, in my own zone, without deadline or expectations.

I’m not an artist; who cares if it sucks. It’s not for work; who cares if I don’t finish it.

So each phase of it, I did with deliberation and care. The right music, the right people, the right cocktail. Continue reading

When Awesome Stops By

Spotted him on Christmas Day, 2011

Sometimes you look for Awesome, and sometimes Awesome finds you.

Awesome rescues you from a blown-out tire at 3 a.m. Awesome brings you dinner when you haven’t shopped and caffeine when you’re hung over. Awesome finds a Golden Girls marathon at midnight and then a Jersey Shore marathon when there’s a sad, Rose-misses-her-dead-husband episode.

Awesome runs with you – 11 miles on New Years Day, the park after work. Awesome rides with you – through weird places and beautiful ones … awesome places. Awesome cheers you from the marathon course, and Awesome puts you on the back of his motorcycle.

Awesome flirts you up in a random airport. He holds you in the hotel bar. Awesome pushes you against the window of an Italian restaurant, and he cradles you in the rain. Awesome carries you across the parking lot and loves you outside in the cold.

Awesome tells you, “I’m giving my uncle a kidney.” “We’re adopting a baby from Africa.” “I’m going to live with your grandmother while she recovers.”

Awesome hand-sews you a black pencil skirt. Awesome builds you a fire pit. Awesome makes her own marshmallows, and Awesome goes to Paris alone. Awesome saves her bake sale money and buys her best friend an American Girl doll.

Awesome dances on tables. Awesome sings with the band. Awesome plants things. Cooks things. Fixes things.

Awesome climbs Mt. Kilimanjaro with her mother. Awesome moves to be close to her daughter.

Awesome reads. Studies. Prays. Paints.

Awesome starts an absurd conversation before 7 a.m. Awesome says to her mother, “This fish only lives in waterfalls that are only in caves. More high maintenance than you.” Awesome says to his daughter, “You are a great kid, and we will work all this out together.” Awesome drinks tequila at noon on a Monday because the conversation needs to continue after coffee. Awesome comes to your house for Christmas.

Awesome keeps a blanket in the car because you never know when it might be a good time for a picnic, and flowers in the guest room because you never know when More Awesome might stop by.

The Best “Worst” Year Ever

Note: I wrote this for the Dec. 24 edition of The Tennessean. I’m including it here with links embedded to previous blog posts. Thanks again to the wonderful family and friends in my life. This has been an unexpectedly magical year for me, thanks to all of you.

I considered it a parenting success, if not a personal one, the other day when I ran out of gas and my 10-year-old daughter immediately saw it as an opportunity.

“It’s good exercise,” Lily said as we walked to the gas station. “And a good chance for us to bond.”

At the Shell station, a pizza delivery man offered to take us back to our car. When I struggled to pour the gas into my tank, a guy in a big truck stopped and did it for me.

Later, Lily noted that running out of gas gave us a chance to see the best in other people.

Like a pregnant couple looking for space at the inn, we’ve been vulnerable and we’ve been blessed.

What really should have been our most stressful year (her father and I divorced after 10 years of marriage) has been among our most joyous. Strangers, family and friends — including my ex-husband, a dear friend himself — have kept us moving forward.

It is humbling to accept the kindness of others, but those of us who do are made strong to the point of being able to return the gift. Continue reading

Oh Nashville, Encore Please

Concert tickets were my go-to gift last Christmas – mostly because they were an easy thing to buy without leaving my house. I was stressed enough – in the middle of a divorce – and didn’t want the extra hassle of traffic, stores, cold, searching, wrapping, strangers.

Tickets turned out to be a hit, and soon I began to buy them to fill my new free time as a single woman. Later, I bought them with a kind of earnest hope – in twos – anticipating new people in my life. Then I began buying them with specific people in mind, especially my 10-year-old daughter. Ultimately, I bought them for myself.

I fell in love this year. Not with any one particular person or band or venue, but with my city … my Nashville … and my life in it. It has been a year worth remembering in song, starting with Rob Zombie. Continue reading