Friday, April 12, 2013

unchained tour - the deep south/freeze one

In January, I set out with the Unchained Tour again for ten days of story slinging. I've posted my favorites but all of the photos are here. The photo booth shots are by Amurica. The cast and crew shot with the bus is the work of Andrew Von Goeliner. The rest are all me. 

We touched ground in all these towns: Chattanooga, TN; Huntsville, AL; Nashville, TN; Memphis, TN; Booneville, MS; Oxford, MS; Birmingham, AL; Montevallo, AL; and Carrollton, GA. I got a mitten-loan and fire-pit hang with Sara Kaye Larson in Memphis. Spillit Storytelling let us in their homes, fed us dinner, and took a billion pics of us in their photo booth. In Huntsville, Alabama we held a show in a mill with a crank elevator and floors cut with nails from its boot-making history. In Nashville,  I walked through freezing rain with Jose Ray and Christopher Paul Stelling to Third Man records, Jack White's recording studio. In Oxford, Mississippi I ran away to get some reading at Square Books and overheard the employees talking about how cool our show was going to be. After the show, Dottie Knight let us crash her birthday party. We got our wits rattled at Graceland Too. In Birmingham, Alabama we played in a former masonic hall that also is a creative writing center for kids called Desert Island Supply Co. That night, friends from my hometown of Montgomery, Alabama drove a few hours to see the show and say hello. In Carrollton, we got tour tats and George took the stage to personally thank everyone for their work. 

I never think the next tour can be as good as the last, but they are always wonderful. Our boss man/cult leader George Dawes Green always throws a lovely cast of folks aboard, fast friendships are made, and then kept long after. It was a very cold tour and the bus heater couldn't keep up. There were multiple Walmart stops for heat pockets you can slip into your boots, sleeping bags, and wool socks. I might be experiencing a viable ache from the present lack of all that hugging and real vs. artificial warmth those days fed me. 

These people...

Micaela Blei almost loses her towel giving hugs in the morning. She also has three things she does before she goes to sleep and they are, as follows: she says something she's grateful for, something she wants, and something great she did today. If you're her bedmate, you play this with her. I still do, away from her, some nights. Also, she sleeps in headgear. 
Annie Duke never ran out of stories or generosity for that matter from advising me on one of my own stories to throwing down the bones for my first tattoo, a bluebird on my shoulder(blade). 
Tim Manley trusted me with his stories, shared his sleeping bag, and was always up for talking all night. 
Peter Aguero tells a different story every night. When he heard I was going through a difficult time, he told me to tell him about it, and then he said whenever I feel low to come marching up to him because he would make me feel AWESOME. 
Christopher Paul Stelling, now one of my best friends, let me have the same conversation with him about a hundred times, shared his whiskey, has a built-in adventure compass (John Wilkes Booth's grave for a dance, anyone?), is a grown-ass man, asked me questions to distract me from the tattoo needle, and gave me a cigarette after, which it turns out I needed. 
George Dawes Green, through our endless conversations about story, reminded me that if you're seeking comfort just talk about it. Telling stories is the best kind of deep breathing if you have some courage and humility. Samita Tcb Wolfe, my longtime friend and producer lady, gives levitation hugs. Jose Ray, I would be your superhero any day, you just let me know. Anita Sundari Akella, thanks for reminding me it's more important to write my book than to date, and there's nothing wrong for a second with just being alone. VG and Isaac Hammons most definitely must be tired of hearing me talk about stories over their playlists, but still are the first and last faces I see when it's tour time again. Bonnie Blue Edwards shot beautiful footage and shared her okra.

Some things I'll take with me from this tour is to screw the rule or game book and say what I mean and feel when I want to, to never sleep too late, and to regret nothing.  

life lately, grams

mardi gras, the quiet one

recommended reading

Winter's Bone. You probably saw the movie, but I press you to read the book. Below is a passage from Daniel Woodrell's tale set in the back woods of the Ozarks.

"She took to pausing more often to study on things that weren’t usually of interest. She sniffed the air like it might somehow have changed flavors and looked closely at the stone fencerow, touched the stones and hefted a few, held them to her face, saw a rabbit that didn’t try to run until she laughed at it, smelled Victoria on her sleeves and hunkered atop a stump to think. She spread her skirt taut across her knees and tucked the extra under her legs. Those stones had probably been piled by direct ancestors and for a long while she tried to conjure their pioneer lives and think if she saw parts of their lives showing in her own. With her eyes closed she could call them near, see those olden Dolly kin who had so many bones that broke, broke and mended, broke and mended wrong, so they limped through life on the bad mend bones for year upon year until falling dead in a single evening from something that sounded wet in the lungs. The men came to mind as mostly idle between nights of running wild or time in the pen, cooking moon and gathering around the spout, with ears chewed, fingers chopped, arms shot away, and no apologies grunted ever. The women came to mind bigger, closer, with their lonely eyes and homely yellow teeth, mouths clamped against smiles, working in the hot fields from can to can’t, hands tattered rough as dry cobs, lips cracked all winter, a white dress for marrying, a black dress for burying, and Ree nodded yup. Yup."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

recommended reading

The following passages are from the gorgeous book, Housekeeping, by Marilynn Robinson. I'd been waiting somewhat impatiently to adore a book again and this read finally did the trick. 

“We are drifters. And once you have set your foot in that path it is hard to imagine another one. Now and then I take a job as a waitress, or a clerk, and it is pleasant for a while. Sylvia and I see all the movies. But finally the imposture becomes burdensome, and obvious. Customers begin to react to my smile as if it were a grimace, and suddenly something in my manner makes them count their change. If I had the choice, I would work in a truck stop. I like to overhear the stories strangers tell each other, and I like the fastidious pleasure solitary people take in the smallest details of their small comforts.”

"I was hungry enough to begin to learn that hunger has its pleasures, and I was happily at ease in the dark, and in general, I could feel that I was breaking the tethers of need, one by one.”

“To her the deteriorations of things were always a fresh surprise, a disappointment not to be dwelt on.”

“Her children slept on starched sheets under layers of quilts, and in the morning her curtains filled with light the way sails fill with wind.”