An Entire World of Story in a Single YouTube Comment

While listening to this version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” on Youtube last night my heart exploded when I saw this comment. So much, I’m still thinking about it today. Your turn.

Here is a better version of Young’s Harvest Moon:



Outside, the sky had an odd rusty color all day. It was dank and looked a bit foggy, but it never built to a rain. It was like an all day seep. I spent most of the day on the road.

The time I was home, it was a bit rusty and awkward in here too. Sweetpea had her… I don’t know what to call him anymore. But he was here. A few days ago she had asked me for advice about her boyfriend of two years. What to do. I like the young man, he is good to her, and he has become a family friend. I listened mostly, then told her, “be kind.”

So tonight, while eating pizza with us, his swollen eyes and silence told me his heart was breaking into a million pieces. I don’t know if he knew what I knew.

It breaks my heart to see my kid break someone else’s kid’s heart. It breaks Sweetpea’s heart too.

First love. Beautiful and ugly at the same time. Celebrated over pizza.



Blane has a cousin from Austin who is a spoken word poet. He’s damn good, and last week he was a featured artist in a Dallas slam. He’s been featured here before, but last week was the first time I actually got to see him perform before a crowd.

Actually, this was my very first live slam, ever. It was in a tiny soda shoppe in an artsy downtown district. We got there so unfashionably early that we got seats in the front row. We were stupid enough to keep these seats. I wish we’d sat in the back. Just to look at people’s reactions to this stuff.

Anyway, the cousin’s specialty is erotic poetry. And man, it is rough. So rough his slam buddies call him “Shameless.”

So that’s his stage name. Shameless.

I knew his stuff was, you know. He’d recited his poetry to me before and I’ve read his chap books (these are self-published poetry books they sell at the door). So did his new girlfriend who was sitting all the way in the back. She’d at least read his stuff. So says. This was her first time watching it though. Maybe her first slam.

The host introduces him to the audience and when Shameless grabs the mic, a lady to my left says, “They call him Shameless, but look, he already blushin’.”

He was. I don’t know what sort of energy his girlfriend was emitting from way back there, but it must have been some negative mojo for that dude’s face to turn so red. Half-way during his performance, she walked out of the place. She wouldn’t even come back in to get the car keys from him. She texted him for that.

This is what happens when you tell someone you’ve read their work and you haven’t.

Talk about a slam.

The Other Spanky (and Coburn)

Part I: The Other Spanky

There’s another Spanky in the family, Blane and Angela’s dog. She’s a mutt Angela got about five years ago. Someone brought her in to the vet’s where she works. The pup was just 1 day old and the owner wanted to put it to sleep because it was born with a cleft palate.

Now Blane used to make jokes about the vet’s. About how they put more animals to sleep there than they saved. And Angela had just been saying how some new girl at the office wouldn’t cut it in this business because she cried every time they had to put down an animal.

I don’t know how it all went down that day, why Angela didn’t put that dog down. Maybe she didn’t want to do it while the new (sensitive) girl was around. She kept the pup in her pocket at work all day and by the time 5 O’clock rolled around, Angela couldn’t manage to put down the doggie.

I mean, could you?

She got some feeding tubes, puppy formula, and made a commitment to save her. A month or two later a vet friend of hers sewed up Spanky’s palate and she became sort of a normal dog.

Spanky the dog had cowlicks all over her body, eyes that went in two different directions, perpetually bloodshot. She also walked as if she was drunk. We called her “troll dog” because she had this wicked growl with that screwed up palate. She was possesive, too, a bit jealous of Blane, especially when he and Angela moved in together. When it was time for Spanky to go in her crate at night, she’d try to hide. She often stuck just her head under the bed, the rest of her body in full view, but to Spanky, she was deep cover.

She had OCD too, had to make a figure eight in the yard before she did her business.

A couple of days ago she came down with something, got really sick and passed on. Nobody knows what it was.

Part II: Coburn

Liv’s dog Coburn was the biggest German Shepherd I’d ever met. The thing about this dog was he seemed to read minds. You could just look at him a certain way and he’d sit. We’ve been knowing him for a good ten years, visiting just a few days at a time through the years. He never forgot us, even though every year my girls had grown and changed a lot, he never did bark at them as if they were strangers.

On one trip we’d told Liv and Coburn bye for the year, we were going to another place 3 hours away and would continue on with our travels. All evening he was restless. He panted and waited by the door for us to return. It worried Liv. Turns out, we couldn’t find a hotel where we went and had to return to her place. We got back at about 3 AM. Somehow that dog knew we were in a bit of trouble.

In the summer of 2006, when we were telling Coburn goodbye, he whimpered. He’d never done that before. I remember going back one more time and giving him another bear hug. About a month later, he was diagnosed with cancer and given about a month to live. Maybe he knew that would be the last time we’d see him?
Liv had her son dig a deep hole in her backyard in advance. She has a bad back and wanted to make sure he had a proper resting place in case Klaus wasn’t around when the Time came.

Next summer rolls around, we go back and see Coburn again. He doesn’t even look sick.

See? So I’m thinking that dog was misdiagnosed. He looked healthy, a little slow, but hell, he was 12 years old.

The next day, however that dog barely moved. I don’t know where he got all that energy to pretend he wasn’t sick that first day we got there, but it was all gone. A couple of months later, Coburn, too was gone.

Part III: Why I Am Writing About This Depressing Stuff

Well, obviously because these two pets passes away recently. It’s really sad that there are no memorial events for pets. People hurt deeply when they go. I haven’t seen any cards in the sympathy section of the greeting card aisle that are specifically for those kinds of best friends. Maybe they do have them somewhere. But I haven’t seen them.

What about dog angel stories? Ghost dog stories? You ever heard one?

Not until now. Call me crazy if you want (I will revel in it anyway), but I got one for ya.

This last trip to Liv’s? Coburn had been gone for a couple of weeks. I went out and paid my respects to his spot in the backyard. I can’t tell you how empty it felt in that house without him. I think it was the second day at Liv’s, while at her computer, I felt something nudge me in the lower back. I thought for a second, Coburn. Looked around. No one there. And then I thought…

So if you have any kind words to help heal the hearts of Blane and Angela and Liv, feel free to say them here. If you have any pet stories to share, go on ahead. I’m listening.

Birth Of A Movie Line

Over the last few days I’ve been transferring some home videos to DVD. Most of them haven’t been watched since I recorded them the first time.

The first one I did was a video of my grandfather’s home movies he used to make on 8mm film. Silent but in color films. The film to video cassette we did years ago. My brother Shane and I went to his house and found all the films with us in them, and played them on the projector with the video camera running. It is not the greatest copy, but it is better than having nothing. What I found amazing was that while video taping these films back then, my brother and I discussed what was going on, what other things we remember from that day. An awesome commentary.

Much of those films were shot while on my grandparent’s commercial trawling boat. They were shrimpers during summertime. In the winter, they were fur trappers. So there is a lot of that stuff in there. Things not many would understand if Shane had not explained these things for my video. I was only about three or four when the films were made so there wasn’t much that I remembered. He was older and he spent a lot more time on the boat shrimping and trapping.

I had forgotten my brother was with me when I converted that film to video. I had forgotten about the “narration.” It is strange because Shane died last year. Now I have a hell of a lot more of his voice than those two old messages from him that I was saving on my telephone answering machine. I won’t ever get rid of those either, because there were some really neat things he said in there. One of them something I lifted and put in a character’s dialogue at the end of my screenplay. A really beautiful line. To me. Maybe it is not anything that would move anyone else. But that is one line I would never change in that screeenplay no matter how much money anyone ever tried to pay me to change it.

Now I know why writers give publishers and directors so much hell during rewrites. Things like that, we can’t let go, won’t let go. The thing is, this one little line was the driving force for the last half of writing this script. I kept hearing his words over and over again, that line I lifted.

There are other videos, one of Candace fresh out of the hospital after being born. It was sad to watch that one because all I could think was I know how it all ends.

I’m sure one day someone will watch those goofy monologues of mine from those acting classes and think the same thing after I’m gone. Had I found those a few years ago, I might have destroyed them. Me, a Cajun doing a British stage accent, or the one where I’m doing a Southern accent. Oh my, makes me blush just thinking about them.

Here is the Pathé Baby movie projector. It belongs to my Parisian friend. Her dad invented it. Cool, huh?

When Babies Got Pretty

I used to think babies were ugly. That was until I had my first on this very day, some number of years ago.

Not only was Blane Jr. born on this very day. A new type of love was born, a love I didn’t know existed. It was like entering a whole new world or dimension.

Happy birthday, Podnah!

Here’s a song (“Welcome to the House of Fun” by The Madness) that made us all think of Blane when we heard it. He likes maniac clowns and this sounds like a maniacal clown song if I ever heard one.. (The song follows a little story at the beginning.)

If I Was a Sculptor…

Sweetpea is the only one of my children to ever ask, “What should I be when I grow up?” She’s asked way more than once and as time goes by she seems more panicked about it. I remember being just like that at her age, when it is most important.

I wasn’t always like that. At the age of six, we had a neighbor who was a nurse. She wore white uniforms and the nurse cap and a beautiful black cape. That’s what I wanted to be, a hero in a black cape.

Then I wanted to be a nun. We had a convent in town and that place was gorgeous. So was the cathedral. I wanted to live there. It had dramatic ceilings was full of stained glass and marble sculptures. A lot of the nuns were either school teachers or nurses, so that didn’t mess up my first dream. I could be both.

Then the artist came to our house. My mom was sewing the bridesmaids dresses for a wedding she was in. She came by for a fitting and stayed the afternoon. I was forced to go play outside, so I don’t remember her, the artist, just her car in the driveway. It had been rear-ended so it was all crumpled up and tied closed with a piece of rope.

My little brother and I had to go inspect. We could see in the trunk and get our tiny hands in there. I don’t remember if it was he or I who did it, who stole all those paints, all I know is that for years we had a stash of high grade oil paints under the house. And so began my love for creating art.

I started with paint by numbers which is really a bad way to learn. That is not how real painting is done. It just teaches you how to stay in the lines. That is something no one should be taught.

I was always creating things. I’d paint, sew, sculpt, whatever, to make the things I wanted. The idea of making something out of nothing thrilled me. What facinated me most though, was machines. I wanted to build one. I also had a deep fascination (still do) with cogs and wheels. Electricity scared the hell out of me so all my stuff was hand crank. Once I made a movie projector out of a flashlight and paper towel rolls so I could show the neighbor kids a movie I’d drawn. On paper towels. No, it didn’t work, but I was gifted at selling things, see. I convinced them it did work. They witnessed for themselves my complete failure on the big screen, but left my theatre believing they’d just seen my movie.

The materials I needed to build my things were not only unavailable to me due to lack of funds, I just didn’t have a basic understanding of tensil strength. I was always making things out of paper.

“Dancers” made out of lobster shells by some French artist.

So. When I met Blane, a guy who always knew he wanted to be an engineer, you can’t imagine how he rocked my world. He understood machines, he had buckets of cogs and wheels and he knew how to build things and wasn’t afraid of fooling with electricity. He invented things and they worked.

For a while I thought I might be a hairdresser. I’d started cutting my own hair when I was about thirteen. After practicing on my brothers, I got really good. Next thing you know, I was cutting my dad’s hair, my grandmother’s, my friends, their mothers… The reason I didn’t become a stylist was because every person I interviewed about that career told me not to do it, that they stay on their feet all day.

Funny that I would become a nurse and stay on my feet all day. It was a career that was intense, yet satisfying. Every day was different.

A perfect fit for what I’m doing now, writing. Hospitals are full of all sorts of people from every background, and as a nurse I was privied to intimate details about these people. Information gathering which I’d store in my mind for later use.

Funny how things turn out.

The thing that stands out the most in my mind about growing up and what interests fit me best is the movie business with the neighbors. I loved it that they believed in my show, my story. But most of all, me.

So my advice to my daughter is to do what she loves doing. I remind her of her talents, her strengths. Never her weaknesses. She probably does enough of that herself.