Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Lemon Moon {Part I}

Listen to this.

Remember this.

Read this:

 

LEMON MOON

 

By Melinda Williams

 

 

 

August, 2012

JOHNNY

 

You may have grown up seeing at least one “missing person” poster taped up to a wooden pole in your hometown. Maybe you even saw multiple signs a day if you lived somewhere big like New York City or Chicago. The faces may not have meant much. They were just random faces of people you were likely to never meet, find, or care about. You might have felt a pang of regret for the ones who lost them, the ones who were still around. But if you’re from a tiny town, say, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, chances are you’ve seen maybe one. And although it felt like everyone in town knew one another, you didn’t recognize the face.

I now live in a town where half the people are missing, therefore, you get your fair share of “missing person” posters. I’ve grown accustomed to them. I pass by a picture of my second grade teacher every day on my way to the store, and inside Andy, the old guy who owns the store, has up a picture of his wife. Being a small town most everyone was married or at least had someone they loved. And half of each pair disappeared.

Did you hear me?

I said

Half of each pair disappeared. Poof. Vanished. Before eyes. All alone. Unexpectedly. Gone. Forever.

 

And now only I know why.

 

 June, 2010

 

“I’m never going to get out of here,” Anne told me. She and I were walking up the dirt road and away from school. Summer break was upon us. Next year we’d be seniors and for most kids in our town break would just keep on being reality once high school ended. What I mean is, not very many were bound for college. There was no way Anne’s parents could afford to send her anywhere. My future looked a little brighter, except for the fact that I wouldn’t go anywhere without her.

“Sure you will,” I told her, straightening out my baseball cap and running a few steps to kick a rock at the bend in the road.

“That gets dirt everywhere,” she said softly.

“You always wear sandals,” I said right back. She did. We lived in the middle of the desert and she wore open toed sandals every day. Her feet were always dirty because of it. The dust from the road really did get everywhere.

“At least my toes can be free.” Anne crossed her arms in front of her chest and said, “I’m stuck here forever.”

“Who says? Who says you can’t move anywhere you want when we graduate? You could go be a model or something.” It was true, too. Get Anne into a big city and she’d be spotted right away for her good looks, her tall and thin body.

“Oh yeah? It’s that easy? Who’s gonna pay for the car to get me down the highway? Who’s gonna pay my bus fare?”

“Save up for the next year, I guess.” I was only seventeen, just like her. I didn’t know how a kid went about moving away from home. Anne at least had some advantages. She hadn’t always lived in Truth or Consequences. She was beautiful. Her home life was awful, so she had more drive in her to get away. (I’m the guy who can turn a terrible family situation into something positive. It drives Anne crazy, but I know she secretly loves that about me.) Anne didn’t say anything in response, but bent down to pick a small dandelion growing by the side of the road. She held it and stared at it with her feet a foot apart and her head tilted to the side. Her braided hair had loose strands.

“They say these are weeds. If something so pretty can be a weed, then I guess not everything is as it seems.”

Anne often said things like this. I often didn’t respond. Not knowing what to say about dandelions, I stuffed my hands in my pockets and cleared my dry throat. “I’m cookin’ dinner tonight. Want to come over? Kick off summer with style? I bet my dad would even let us each have a beer.”

Anne looked down at the gravel getting coarser under our feet as we walked. We always walked to her house first and then I’d walk home alone. We did this almost every day of the school year since she moved to town in third grade. Her mouth formed a straight line and a strand of her long hair fell forward past her shoulders. “I don’t think I’m free,” she said.

“Oh. Well, okay.” We walked past the big cottonwood tree we’d climb back before she wore short skirts and I was too afraid to embarrass myself. “What are you doing?”

Anne looked at me. Her words were challenging. “Probably hanging out with Gavin.”

Oh, I thought, right. Gavin. Her new boyfriend or whatever he was to her. For her he was a cool older boy who paid attention to her (as if everybody didn’t already), somebody to kiss and hold hands with. For him, she was… someone that I hoped he lied about, because if the stories from the locker room after gym class were true I wouldn’t be able to look at Anne. I convinced myself it was only rumors and cocky Gavin lying through his teeth. If she was capable of doing what he spoke of so often, I sure as hell wanted it to be with me. Anne and I were meant to be. Best friends since third grade. High school sweethearts who had never really been sweet… just there for one another. I was patient in allowing Anne the time for her love to be realized and blossom the way mine already had. Gavin was the only thing in my way.

“Alright.” I kicked another rock.

“If that’s okay with you,” she added, not hiding her annoyance. I hadn’t done a single thing.

“Of course it is,” I said in that calm way I learned from my dad. Never raised my voice. Never showed a temper, if I even had one. If something bothered me no one would ever know but me.

“Maybe another night,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

“Right. I cook dinner all the time,” I reminded her.

“Right.” Sometimes, although having known each other for nine years, we sounded like acquaintances. We sounded like we had just met.

“See ya, Johnny,” Anne said as she waved to me and her long tan legs walked her up the dirt driveway.

“Bye,” I said. I watched her unlock her front door. I always made sure she got inside before walking away.

Then I headed home by myself. I took the long way. My parents weren’t actually expecting me to cook that night. I would have done it only if Anne had come over. I walked through an old abandoned field, past an ancient adobe house long ago left vacant, and back to the tree by the road that we used to climb. I looked around to make sure I was alone and I put my hands on the lowest branch. I used to give Anne a boost with my hands and then jump up to grab hold. We’d both grown a lot. Anne, more than the average girl, and me, about average. But at least I was tall enough to reach without hardly raising my arms. And up I went, stepping on the sturdiest branches, passing through the thickest part that I was still skinny enough to squeeze through, and eventually perching myself on a high branch. I left my backpack at the bottom of the tree. I didn’t have a book or anything to write with. All I had was my own thoughts and they were enough.

I wished that day that she had chosen me over him. I’d have still helped her climb the tree. Even if she went ahead of me with her short skirt on, I’d never look too closely or try anything. I just wanted to spend time, maybe hold her hand. Maybe even kiss her. And before anyone goes thinking I’m not a regular teenage guy who wants sex all the time, don’t get me wrong. I had my own magazines stashed under my bed and my favorite page had Anne’s long lost twin on it.

The only problem was I would never have the guts to try anything with her. So in order to feel better about the sex I’d probably never have with Anne, I was content with hoping for something as simple as time spent. All those other things would come later once she realized the whole us being meant to be thing.

 

 

Part II coming soon…..


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Can You Find What’s Missing?

Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

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Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

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“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

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Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

Justin Townes Earle, couch, hey lou writes, writing, reading

Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou


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I Ran, I Read, I Cried

I had quite the weekend. I would consider myself having had TWO workouts.

The first, was the 5K Color Me Rad run I completed with my older sister, Emily.

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at the finish line!

If you haven’t heard of this, or if no color run of any sort has graced your own city or town, it’s kind of weird. People run around for 3.1 miles and there are these stations where you get hosed down, sprinkled, or thrown buckets of paint on your person. People show up wearing white. They leave looking colorful (or like they just have on a green shirt! Emily got the bucket!)

I’m really happy because I didn’t have to stop and walk, which was my big goal. Yayyyy

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I thought this really shows just HOW colorful everything was!

It was super fun!! I highly recommend you find one of these races and participate. Families with little kids were walking the course and the kids loved getting paint on their clothes!

Alright. My other workout was one of the best whole body workouts, definitely including the abs quite a bit. It left me a little sore.

Doesn’t that happen to you, too, after you’ve sobbed your eyes out reading a book?

It totally happened to me.

I read Barbara Kingsolver’s greatest novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Again  AGAIN!  I judged a book by its cover. Why do I keep doing this? This is another book, lent to me by the same person as the last book I so wrongfully judged. It sat on my bookshelf for many days. This cover stared at me.

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it’s kind of a cool cover, actually

I feel in love with this book and wound up finishing it in two days. I could NOT put it down. I brought it in the car, just in case I turned up early anyplace and I could read for another precious few minutes. I hardly slept. Maybe part of running the 5K and not walking at all was simply my determination to get home and read… ha  just kidding!

If you read this, get ready. You will need a whole box of tissues, or you will simply have to throw whatever sweater you were wearing into the wash.

But you should also get ready to laugh out loud, cringe, pick up some new sayings, and have some preconceived notions thrown out the window. I know I did all of these things.

The family in this book is similar to my own in a few ways:

There are four daughters, two of which are twins

The father is a pastor (mine’s Lutheran, in the book, they’re Baptist)

My grandpa (mom’s dad) grew up in Madagascar with this missionary parents (and wrote a book about it!) 

reading, writing, missionary

I know, so cool, right??!

The family in this book is also very different from my family in a few ways, too.

Our minister dad isn’t totally and awfully abusive, like in the book (writing Bible verses as punishment just doesn’t seem to match up with what they’re actually there for… )

The youngest two in my family are twins, not the middle two

None of us have been to Africa

That’s just to name a few ;)

Yet again I read a book that made me reevaluate my entire life. It gave me a new perspective on my own country, my home and the way I judge people. It seems that is all books have been doing for me lately, which I am thankful for.

When I put the book down, I LITERALLY stood up and was overwhelmed by the size of my living room. It felt humungous… It took many steps for me to get to my kitchen, which just absolutely shocked me. Weird, I know. But you have to understand – for two days I’d been living inside the book, meaning I was living inside a tiny mud hut in a small village in the Congo and I had almost zero resources. Walking across a wood floor in an adobe house with everything in the kitchen I could ever want was suddenly amazing. I made my dinner in a daze. I took out my frozen peas, heated them up on the stove with soy sauce and a little tofu, put it on a bed of arugula and added olive oil. I hadn’t quite considered the technology it took for all of that to end up on my dinner plate.

I felt ashamed of the life I live, thankful for the life I live, wary of the choices people in high places have made all throughout history, yet hopeful. This book did it all.

I was riddled with the smart and witty quotes.

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”

“Sugar, it’s no parade but you’ll get down the street one way or another, so you’d just as well throw your shoulders back and pick up the pace.”

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

The Poisonwood Bible also made me stray away from my usual and slightly ignorant belief that I should feel sorry for people with less. This book showed the beauty of living with practically nothing. The people in the Congo (at least in the village written about in this book) lived on one primary source of food, a gooey and tasteless substance, but it was simple and kept them alive for hundreds of years. They had homes made of mud, one pair of clothes (if even) and schooling wasn’t a top priority. They were smart in other ways. I am reminded of that famous quote:

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein 

I am now a Kingsolver fan. Next on my list is her book about living a year on only local food (something I wanted to do!) called Animal Vegetable Miracle. Can’t wait!!

Don’t forget how lucky and blessed you are on this fine morning. If you’ve complained about the size of your home or the fact that your car isn’t nice enough, you definitely need to read Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver :)

You’ll wind up a much more content person if you do!

<3


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Lou, the Conspiracy Theorist

I have this, ahem, problem with “smart phones.” They make me nervous. Therefore, I still have a regular old flip phone. Or what someone referred to the other day as a “dumb phone.” I love it. I can text and make phone calls. I wish it didn’t have voicemail, because I hate listening to voicemails and it gives me anxiety. (I think this might stem back to high school, when the only person who ever left me a voicemail was my dad, and it was usually when I was in trouble, not answering my phone… but that’s a whole different issue.)

This has caused me problems, I won’t lie. I’ve been lost without a way to look up directions. But hasn’t everyone, up until this recent phenomenon that is the smart phone, been a little lost? I know I’m not dealing with something new. Finding everything at the click of a button is new.

Back before Greg ran over his iPhone with the minivan, I would occasionally look at his phone and wonder why every ad that showed up on websites was showing me drums. Or recording equipment. Or harmonicas. I quickly realized that somehow, this little phone was tracking all of the searches Greg was making and then showing him what he wanted in the ad space.

The realization literally sent shivers down my spine.

My computer does this same thing, of that I am aware. I’ve had some smart tech-y type people tell me that there are ways to avoid this from happening, but it really doesn’t make me feel any better. The fact that someone, somewhere out there, knows what Greg or I look up on our phone or laptop just makes me nervous. It’s a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a little too creepy. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing (except for what I post on Hey Lou!)

The whole reason why I’m even writing this is because I seem to have lost my camera. We can’t find it anywhere. And now that we are left with my flip phone and Greg’s even worse replacement a co-worker gave him for free, we have almost no way to take decent pictures. I love adding pictures to my blog. If I had instagram or one of those fancy “newest version” smartphones I’d have some of the clearest, cutest pictures out there. I’ve seen them. It really is amazing.

I won’t deny that the technology of today is practically a miracle. People walk around with access to EVERYTHING. Every person they could ever want to communicate with… every store they could want to buy from… every song they could want to listen to. It’s a modern luxury that has become so common, that to be without a smartphone makes me kind of a rare breed.

But let me tell you something:

Once, about a year ago, I lost my phone. Or broke it. I hardly remember what happened to said phone. But what I do know is that I waited THREE MONTHS to replace it. Yes. Three months. Can you imagine? Three months without a phone? Here are some examples of what the outcome was:

– I felt FREE. No one could get a hold of me, except through Greg’s phone. 

– I was the safest driver in all of New Mexico .

– I didn’t make it to at least three events, because I am horrible at directions and had no way to call and figure it all out.

– I became organized. I had to plan ahead. Decide where and when to meet people. Greg and I had to communicate more than ever, about our work schedules and what we had planned. I had to write down all of my reminders on an actual calendar, not on my phone. 

– I read twice as much as I usually do (which is quite a lot).

– I wrote twice as much as I usually do (which is a quite a lot, too). 

– I began to love it and dreaded getting a new phone. 

– I started seeing the negative effects that phones have on others. I remember sitting at lunch with a friend, and she looked at her phone non stop. I realized that I, too, had been guilty of this and I hated it. I hated the fact that something held in her hand and shown on a screen could be more important than the conversation we were having. 

– I had way less anxiety. No “unknown” number could call me and leave an ominous voicemail. IT WAS AMAZING. 

WORTH missing a few things I had planned… and besides, I got better at looking up directions before I drove away from my house. 

Now that I have my little old flip phone, things have changed again. I use it to text Greg funny messages throughout the day and to check in when either of us gets home. I have used the hilarious excuse of a camera on this phone to take pictures that I have used for this blog. I’ve made it successfully to everything I had planned, given that my phone wasn’t dead.

But you know what? Sometimes I “forget” my phone. I … drumroll… venture out of the house without it. On purpose!!! 

You can’t imagine how liberating it feels. Sometimes I come home and zero has happened. Does that make me an unpopular person? Maybe. All I know is that each time I separate myself from the little black thing that I realize is sometimes glued to my hand, I never seem to miss anything Earth shattering.

I love to use the word “cahoots.”

As in, “I truly believe that the standardized testing people are in CAHOOTS with the scan tron companies, because they both make so much money off of each other and it isn’t really about the students at all.”

OR

“I think the flip phone people are in CAHOOTS with the smartphone people, because mine seems to malfunction every day. Are they doing that on purpose so that I switch over to the dark side?”

Call me a conspiracy theorist… I’ll agree with you. Call me crazy… and I’ll argue against that. All I am asking is that you at least TRY to free yourself of the bondage that is a cell phone. Maybe take baby steps. Ten minutes a day. Then twenty. Eventually, you’ll leave the house without it and you won’t turn around to go get it. You’ll be fine!

I know lots of successful people who are attached to their phones. I know that people get work information and doctors are on call. I’m not talking about the extreme cases. I’m talking about the average person who seems to have morphed lately, in the past decade, to someone who can’t function without a phone in their hand. Maybe step one for you is setting your phone down, rather than holding onto it. 

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I’m trying to get him to pose… but he’s too distracted by his phone! :P

You might find yourself reading more, writing more, laughing more, sleeping more, or communicating with others in a way you forgot was possible.

Just try it? For me? And then let me know how it’s going :)

(one great thing I discovered, trying to stay off the computer as much as possible, as well as my phone, is that setting specific time aside to check emails and do all of the technology related stuff at once has really helped.)

Love, Lou

<3


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How Legends Are Made

Lemon Moon by Wildewood

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Alex, Meredith and Greg

GO and LISTEN to this song. Study it. Think on it. Imagine if this folk tale were to be true. (And realize, that it could be…)

The Lemon Moon has become a popular topic in our group of singer/songwriter friends. There are at least five Lemon Moon songs. They all tell different tales of the legend, the stories of who was left behind and the reason the Lemon Moon exists at all. I will be posting the short story (you guessed it, inspired by this legend that Meredith Wilder from Wildewood came up with), chapter by chapter, in the coming weeks!

So really, go listen to this song. Your life will only be better for it!

:)

 

 

Lemon Moon Lyrics

All the people come out and are wandering around

thinking, “Oh, where is my love?”

Everyone who remains is alone

The Lemon Moon has come back to take every better half

where they go, nobody knows

But the sky sees each on his own

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

His eyes were the deepest blue and he used to sing for you, how easily you let him in

Always thinking that he would escape

Now his garden’s turned to disrepair, no more flowers anywhere

but the birds continue their rounds

In the uninspired parade

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

Had I known, would I have looked lower, lower to find somebody not so fine

Fine like the breeze, easily the best being I ever laid my eyes upon


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Anything You Want to Be

Recently, I was reminded of the best Halloween I remember growing up. As a rule, I pretty much hate Halloween. I don’t like anything scary. I don’t like to be tricked, I’m not a big candy eater, and the costumes of today are too ridiculous for my taste. However, there was a great year, back when I was about seven. (notice, I have on a sweatshirt… we are both wearing gloves… it was freezing cold in Minnesota. I was a little mad about the sweatshirt, but I still felt lovely!)

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cowgirl and Belle :) <3

Meredith was a cowgirl and I was … Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I remember it well. I had the idea in my head, and so Belle I was. I didn’t have a special yellow dress imitating the dress she wears in the movie. Simply feeling beautiful and believing I looked like her was enough. Don’t get me wrong, I think the costumes that are an exact match are cute, too. But I think there’s something special about a kid who smiles, knowing who they are for Halloween, whether or not anyone can guess it.

And believe it or not, I’m going to relate this back to reading a good book.

When I read a great novel, I automatically put myself in a character’s shoes. It’s perhaps WHY I get so wrapped up in books.

Here’s my list of books I could not finish:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Room by Emma Donoghue

Why? Because I had nightmares. Yep. All three of these books (just to name a few) gave me nightmares… horrible, wake up shaking type nightmares, therefore I couldn’t finish them. I sought out people who had braved it ’til the end and made them tell me the ending. I couldn’t stand the thought of being on the road, afraid for the life of my child… afraid that I would be captured and eaten by cannibals. Going blind is probably my greatest fear, and while reading that book I had a nightmare that Meredith went blind, awful things happened, and I could do nothing to save her. Don’t even get me started on Room. I thought about it night and day. And for these reasons, I think these books are great. They are too good. They were so real, I believed I was there. It got into my head. I became the character in so many ways, and that created a world that I didn’t want to be in.

The same goes for books that I can finish all the way. That list is way longer, thank goodness!!

When I read Grapes of Wrath, I felt as if I were Tom Joad, or at least felt comforted knowing he was by my side through the journey to California. I felt I had lived in Greece and had a very strange upbringing when I read Middlesex. My stomach churned and I seriously doubted the people around me as I sat and read The Bell Jar. I cried at the end of Of Mice and Men, because I felt that I had been taking care of Lenny right alongside George.

As a writer, I hope to always place the reader in the story. A good friend of mine once read the first draft of my first manuscript… she gave it back with critique. She had written on the third page in, “Remember how it felt to read Harry Potter? We know Hogwarts. We’ve been there. Make the planet resonate with me in the same way… I want to be there, not just read about it.” That critique changed my writing. I realized that instead of telling, I had to show. We’ve all probably had a teacher give us that advice, but what does it really mean? It means that instead of saying:

I like the desert because I grew up here. My house is great. I don’t think I ever want to move away.

I could say:

The cactus growing in my backyard is enchanting. I have no doubt in my mind that New Mexico is rightfully named “The Land of Enchantment.” In the spring flowers bloom, which always surprises me. Flowers on a prickly cactus? When I still lived in Minnesota I never would have believed it. There are windows in every room where I live. The view changes daily, because the birds are always different and the sunset is never the same as the night before. So many people I know say they can’t wait to get away. Not me. I could live here forever.

By the way, that last paragraph is entirely true!!

What book did you dive into, almost literally? What character did you relate to so strongly, you felt as if you’d been walking in their shoes? Which authors do this best? I’d love to know!

<3

 


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Three Days of Muses

I had the best three days EVER!!!! Thursday, Friday and Saturday were amazing in every way. I wish I could experience them over and over, but I’ll settle for writing about it and holding the memories in my heart forever! <3

Basically, I had a chance to see live music. Not just any live music, either. But three musical groups/individuals who inspire my writing. I mean… literally, I have written characters and entire short stories based on their songs. These three above all others. It didn’t even really dawn on me all the way until the very last night. I was brought to tears. It seemed very meant to be and I felt lucky… so lucky!!

Here’s how it went down:

THURDSDAY: WILDEWOOD

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Kate Burn Photography…Wildewood

Here is where you can check out some of their music. My short story, Proud Mothers, has a strong relationship with their original song Goodbye Morgan. Lemon Moon is another song for which I’ve written a short story…but that one is a work in progress :) In one of my (currently :) ) unpublished manuscripts, a character named Mason Andrews has characteristics and plot surrounding him- all based on another original by Wildewood, a song called Keep My Distance. When I listen to their music at each and every show I make it to (which is most!) I never fail to get inspired to write something, whether directly related or not. They’re just that good!!!

FRIDAY: DEER TICK

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Deer Tick

This picture was taken on my really old school flip phone, but hey! It’s a picture of them! You should check them out here. The lead singer of Deer Tick is also in a band called Middle Brother (favorite songs? Wilderness & Blood and Guts!!), and many of their songs inspire my writing, too. It’s also the Deer Tick song, These Old Shoes, that just so happened to be the first (and maybe last?) song I really learned to play and sing on the guitar. It was fun! To me, that’s the greatest love song of our time.

Bonus: For one song, they called a guest singer onto the stage. Guess who it was? Vanessa Carlton!!! Yeah!! I know!! It was weird. I can only picture her sitting at a huge piano, can’t you? But there she was, at a small-ish bar in Albuquerque, singing along with Deer Tick. She sounded awesome!

I would walk 1,000 miiles....

I would walk 1,000 miles….

and… drum roll please….

SATURDAY: MARK ERELLI

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OMG! I was shaking!

The name may not ring a bell, but I promise you, if you listen to his music you will not be disappointed. Especially the album he recorded with Jeffrey Foucault (another person you should listen to every day!), Seven Curses. THAT album is the REASON I began to write short stories.

That’s a pretty big deal!!! At least to me it is! So you can imagine what it was like to hear Mark Erelli sing in person. The show was at a house … about fifteen people were there. A new project called “The Standing O” had him come into town and they first interviewed him, then he sang! It was just amazing. It’s the songs The First Mrs. Jones, Wyoming Wind, and Ellis Unit One that made me write my first two short stories ever, I Looked Over Jordan and Wilde Wood Saloon!! I had him sign my short stories!! How cool is that?

short stories, music, mark erelli

“Keep on writing.” Oh Mark, I will!!

The paper stapled to the top is an e-mail I printed out from over a year ago. I wrote to him and he wrote back! I never thought I would get to meet him.

And there you have it. In three days I had beer sloshed onto my feet, sweaty people mosh pitting beside me, fancy chocolate served on a table in a living room, hard cider, sparkling lemonde, and lots of awesome music (I’ll let you figure out which things go with which shows….) ;) .

Thanks Wildewood, Deer Tick and Mark Erelli!!!!!!!

And as ALWAYS, thank YOU for stopping by Hey Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Confidence, Truly

There have been times in my life when I felt anything but confident. I have felt, just like any gal, that I was less than pretty, less then talented, or just plain unwanted. Thankfully, those moments have been few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t exactly walk around thinking I have it all or anything, but I have had some great moments of confidence. It started at a very young age.

Case in point:

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confidence, truly

Please notice: I wrote,

Today and yesterday I figured out that I am good at drawing. (age 7!!)

The teacher must have chuckled as she wrote, “You certainly are!” But then secretly worried about me…

I don’t think anything phased me. I sat there and drew this face and I was proud of it. I wish I could find that little girl and be there again without fail. I wonder what happened? What day came and went where all of a sudden I doubted whether or not I was good at drawing?

I’d like to think that every kid starts out this way. They can do anything. It isn’t until someone tells them they can’t or someone laughs at something they do that they begin to doubt. I wish, so badly, that everyone could be as confident as I was at the age of 7.

And then stay that way.

Another great moment I had as a 7 year old was writing a story titled “The Floppy Bunny.” I really did a horrible, half-assed job at the drawings for that book. But I was so, so proud of the story.

It’s the story of a bunny who has no hair. He’s a bald, naked bunny. He goes around to all these animals, asking them if they have any hair to spare… could he have some? Of course, everyone says no. It isn’t until the Floppy Bunny meets a sheep, who has wool to spare, that he can finally have some hair. They make an entire suit made of wool and the Floppy Bunny wears it, finally feeling comfortable and covered up.

Yes. It was a gripping tale.

I’d like to think that my writing abilities have gotten better ;)

Obviously, if you are here on this blog, you can see that I never did give up on the whole writing thing. I have my short stories, my poetry, and three books I’m working on daily, trying to get published. I am trying to hard to keep that 7 year old version of myself close at heart. I want to be her… unafraid and entirely confident in my abilities.

I hope you can find your own version of her, too!!!

<3

Fun fact: I think I did get a little better at drawing. Wildewood even let me do their cover art…. !!!!

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confidence, later ;)


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Surviving… and Writing

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first, you gotta survive!

When I say I’m writing all day long, it usually means that I wander over to do the dishes…fold some laundry…text Greg to see how work is going…and then sit down again to type. That’s not to say that I’m not thinking of what it is I am going to write the entire time. I can’t really stop my mind from thinking the next thought or coming up with the next character.

I like to call this rehearsing. I rehearse all day long, even if I’m busy at work. I never get writer’s block, if I count all the thinking I do as part of the writing process.

Today, as I sat in our hallway (because it heats up faster than the entire house), I listened to music the entire time. One song that really stuck out to me was Cory Branan’s song Survivor Blues. If you haven’t heard of him, look him up. And listen to Survivor Blues. Cory has written some of the most poignant lyrics I have ever heard and some of the most profound are in this one song.

We’ve all heard that old phrase:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

It’s a popular tattoo. A very clichéd bit of advice to give someone who has had a horrible day.

But what about the flip side to that? What about that terrible, gut wrenching pain that some people feel? Survivor Blues states it plainly:

‘They say it makes you stronger

But first you gotta survive”

What a concept. First, you have to survive whatever it is that is potentially going to make you stronger. It might really suck. The next lyrics says,

“What didn’t kill you will make you wish you died”

Again… what a concept. I’m usually a pretty optimistic person, but yes, there have been days where I felt this way. OR days where I knew someone else was going through something so terrible that this was how they felt.

Yet, at the end of the day, people are resilient. Even people who think to themselves that they’d rather have died than survived whatever they just lived through… even they come out on top. They DO eventually get stronger.

It’s the surviving that counts, though.

Right now I’m constantly inside the world of a character I’ve written, Ezra, who has survived something I would consider awful. If I were him, I’d even wish that I could have died at times. This is what characters do… at least the ones who stay with us as readers. They survive anything. They hit rock bottom and somehow, some way, rise up again. It can be a struggle, a messy, ugly one at that, but a successful struggle in the end. (except for those extremely depressing stories where everything goes to hell and never comes back. but those aren’t the standard… or my favorite)

I hope that as you live your own story and continue to be the main character in your own lives, that you are all surviving whatever it is you are going through!

<3


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Too Many Thoughts

Living A Novel

By Melinda Williams

I’d rather life resemble

a Steinbeck novel

I’d rather starve

or lose a house

or drive Route 66

or have an evil mother

or kill for the greater good

Than risk living the life

of a chick-lit novel

Where I’d never feel anything real

Just what others did to me

Above is my latest poem. I’ve been writing them lately. I jot down poems here and there, or little thoughts of inspiration.  A friend of mine got me this little book and it has been life changing. See? Here it is, and look how messy my handwriting is!

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My Little Notebook! I take it EVERYWHERE

I highly recommend doing something like this. It’s for life’s little thoughts. Or big thoughts… either one, really. Why not have a place where you can jot down a note or two, perhaps an inspiring quote, and maybe even journal in when it’s needed? These little books are so cheap and fit in a pocket, even!

Anyway. This blog is not an ad for tiny notebooks. It’s a blog I’m writing, pondering WHY I’ve become someone who would stay awake and write a blog past midnight. (while sitting in the hallway in front of the heater… because I am frozen. Where’s that whiskey…?)

WHY have I become a person who would stay up that late anyway? I used to be a “get 8 hours of sleep” kind of a gal. Now… lately… I’ve been functioning on far less. Mostly, this is because of fun nights spent with friends when we drink way too much wine and then all have to work the next day. But partly, and more and more frequently, it’s because I cannot sleep and my thoughts are carrying me away with them. Yes. Carrying me away. My thoughts are like little ants in a cartoon of a picnic, and I’m the sandwich, slowly getting further away from the person who prepared it…

That’s a horrible analogy! But I think it kind of works!

I’ve been trying to make quotes like these my mantras:

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amazing, huh?

OR

writer, new writer, short stories, poetry, author

I laugh out loud to myself MANY times a day. It’s awesome

Life IS too short not to try to live by these. What does the first quote mean? Well, if you haven’t yet made a few mistakes in life, this isn’t for you. AKA, everyone can probably relate to this. I love the idea that there is this constant gray area, LIFE, that lies between right and wrong. Who’s to say what is right and what is wrong, anyway? There’s always two sides to every story. There are always hearts involved… always personal feelings and actions. It’s just like Justin Townes Earle (one of my favorite singers) says in one of his songs…”Who am I to say?” Therefore, I hope we can all agree to meet up with each other in life. I hope that you and someone, or many people (maybe someone you love, maybe someone you cannot stand) can agree to meet out in that “field” and live life, regardless of blame or “right and wrong.”

The second quote is pretty obvious. And I really, truly hope that you all find a moment to laugh by yourself at least once a day. Think of a funny moment you’ve experienced lately. Read the comics! Make a funny face and then shake with laughter knowing that you are the only one who knows you just did that… (or if you have, say, a twin, make funny faces to each other when no one else is aware… that is pure joy!)

On bad days, or moments when I’m not feeling so great, it’s quotes like these that plague me:

writer, new writer, author, short stories, poetry

Ugh

OR

Exactly. Memory can be a monster!!!

Exactly. Memory can be a monster!!!

I’ve really been trying to live in the moment. Not in such a “you only live once” kind of a way… but in a “I need to quiet my freaking brain for at least a second, please” kind of a way.

Do you go over the exact same thought again and again?

Are you riddled with the if’s of your last choice?

Do you over worry about someone else’s reaction to something you’ve done, knowing full well that you are being silly?

I think we all do. I sure hope I’m not alone in this! This is WHY I’ve been trying not to let my memory monsters get the better of me. Memories can be beautiful and peaceful and filled with the best moments of life… I’m not saying that remembering is a bad thing. But hanging on to those moments can be less than helpful in your every day life, particularly when clinging to a bad memory. After all, that is NOT what is happening RIGHT NOW… whenever right now is for you. The same goes with worries about the future.

I’ve heard stress is only a reaction to something we think might happen. It’s rarely a physical reaction to something that is literally happening that moment. Which is exactly why I’m trying so hard to live in the moment. I don’t want to live in the past, whether I’m enjoying a good memory or crying over an awful one. I don’t want to stress about what tomorrow or next week might bring. I want to be present. I want to be thankful for each moment as it comes. It sounds cheesy, but I have to constantly remind myself that tomorrow is not promised. It’s not for sure that I’ll even have to face {input awful outcome of such and such decision here}. I’m trying my hardest not to worry about these things.

So for now, I’ll keep sitting in front of the heater (it’s now much later… or earlier in the morning, rather…), probably writing in my little notebook. I’ll also be trying to quiet my mind.

Oh, and I’m listening to Paper Forest by Emmy the Great. This song has some amazing lines. I listen to it over and over… I’m obsessed. Give it a listen. See if you can get the connection between what I’m trying to say here and what she says in the song.

“It’s like these days I have to write down almost every thought I’ve held

So scared I am becoming of forgetting how it felt

And these fears they will unravel me one day

But still I am afraid…”

Emmy the Great, Paper Forest

<3