Monthly Archives: December 2011

Dear Gram,

It’s been eleven years now, and I still miss you.  I think of you often, especially while I’m holding Courtney in my lap, reading stories like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and But No Elephants.  When she follows along with the words to Geraldine’s Blanket, her long, blonde hair in pigtails, holding her blankie, I’m bombarded with images of us.  I hold her the way that you held me, encourage her the way that you encouraged me, and love her the way that you loved me.

Every day, we listen to great songs by The Beatles, Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, and The Eagles, and I introduce her to newer bands, like 10 Years, Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold, Art of Dying, and Five Finger Death Punch.  I remember how you loved Humperdink, but how you put up with some of my bands like Guns N’ Roses, Damn Yankees, and later, Nirvana, just so you could be more involved with what interested me. Years ago, I heard about the time you were Christmas shopping, and you bought me two of the greatest albums ever made. I could picture the shock on your face when you saw the cover of Nevermind, (that’s tame these days) and I know you winced when you heard the Black album for the first time.

Along with great music, I teach her about books.  You’d be so proud of the full-to-bursting bookshelves in my home.  Classics and popular fiction, poetry and biography, plays and naturally, children’s books. When I see the careful way she holds them, reverent, turning pages ever so precisely, I remember the books that you bought me, and how much I loved them.  I remember the way you fed my passion for books. I remember the time you saved the money that Grandpop gave you for things you needed, and how you spent it on a set of dinosaur books for me.  I remember how you kept my most favorite novels, on the shelf next to yours, when I asked you to keep them from mom and her book ban.  I remember how much she hated me reading, and I remember how you told me to never stop.

We read every day.  Sometimes, when she won’t stop pestering me, I read her my assignments for school.  I doubt she understands that she’s been exposed to some really great literature, like Steinbeck, Ibsen, O’Brien, Vonnegut, Frost, Plath, and Eliot, but I know.  I know that I am imitating something good, something that I was taught by an amazing person with a special gift: you.

Yes, Gram, you were gifted.  You were talented and influential.  You loved me.  You loved a little girl who probably drove you nuts with 10,000 questions per day. You encouraged a young child to learn everything she could, about everything she could.  You taught her to expand her thoughts and reach for impossible dreams.  You were my first teacher, and I think you deserve credit for all of the things I’ve accomplished.

Gram, I’m graduating from college in May! I’ve applied to graduate school, and even if I don’t get in, I’ll keep trying anyway. Not too shabby for a girl who grew up in a trailer, had a bum for a father, and a mom who went to ninth grade…  I’ve published several pieces of my writing, too.  The first acceptance letter I ever got made me nostalgic; I had clear visions of the stories I used to “write,” how you’d staple them together, put a title on them, and how you saved them until the day you died.  I only hope that I can live up to the example you were.

I am the most influential person in my daughter’s life, the way that you were the most influential person in mine. She’ll remember that, even if she remembers nothing else.  She’ll remember that someone will always accept her decisions, encourage her dreams, and dream them with her whenever possible.  She’ll know that she has somewhere to go, the way I always went to you.

I miss you terribly.  Those words seem so inadequate for the empty place I have in my life without you.  Someday, I hope that I’ll get the chance to hug you again, throw my arms around your neck the way I did when I was little, and the way that Courtney does to me now.  No matter how busy I am, I have never forgotten you.  I have such a clear picture of you in my mind, and sometimes it’s as if I could extend a hand and touch you. If only I could reach…



I love you,


P.S.  Could you give Donnie a hug for me?  I think he knows how much I miss him, but it never hurts to say.

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Life


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No Fear Cavalier

Is there anything better than laughing about how silly you were as a kid?  I recently bought the greatest hits album released by R.E.M. and while I was listening to “It’s The End of the World as We Know it (and I Feel Fine),” I started thinking about the times we listened to that song as teenagers.  I even wrote a new poem about it, complete with the No Fear Cavalier.  Anyway, it got me curious about how the change in my listening habits affects my writing…

We all know I’m a metal-head, a fan of the hardest rock out there.  Ripping riffs and clashing chords, chilling melodies and harsh male voices dominate my playlists on my computer and IPod.  I guess this makes sense, since I’m generally a serious person.  I haven’t had the easiest life, and I’ve felt alienated from my family, friends, and the world for a really long time.  However, I have also had a lot of really good times, and good friends.

For my senior project, I’ll be completing a book of poetry about loss.  Is there any greater-felt loss than the loss of childhood?  It’s a universal theme, even though it can be good or bad.  I have to admit, I love being older.  If I had a chance to go back, I’d never take it.  I can’t accomplish anything back there.  I can only accept it, and move on in the now.  I’ve learned a lot, and I’m such a different person now, but it’s still fun to remember.  I’m looking forward to the poems about growing up.

I’m also looking forward to hearing a lot of great tunes that I’m embarrassed to admit I know every word to.  I’ve recently bought a lot of albums I used to own before my mom went on a religious spree and burned all of my music and books.  (That’s for a different blog, else I sit here all day accomplishing nothing!)  See the weird quirk about me is I have to have music to write.  I can’t come up with an idea to save my life without it.  When I start to write about something, I have to have the perfect music to accompany it.  I just made a new playlist especially for these poems about childhood/adolescence, and honestly, I can’t believe how eclectic my tastes were then.  I mean, I know a lot of songs, and bands, and genres, and listen to a lot of different stuff, but this playlist is just incredible to me.

Picture it:  I’ve got Tupac Shakur after Meatloaf but before Nirvana…Collective Soul next to Van Halen and Mariah Carey…and Alanis Morissette with Nine Inch Nails before Cypress Hill.  My God, how crazy is this?  Each of these songs/bands/artists have some memory, some significance to me, and I love it!  I love remembering how I felt, and how far I’ve come. I wouldn’t go back for anything, but I don’t think I’ll forget to remember how much fun I had either.  Maybe there were a lot of bad times, but I always had some pretty cool tunes to see me through. I’m really excited to see where this project takes me, and how different my views of life now are from those back then.

How far have your listening habits come?  Have you broadened your horizons or are you stuck in a rut?

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Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Music, Writing


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