Saturday, December 26, 2015

I've Got A Little Bit Longer. I've Got A Ways To Go.

I am feeling sentimental today.

It is the end of the year.  Past Christmas, not quite to New Year's yet. . . and it has proven to be a time for rumination.

So, in no particular order or form, here are some thoughts.


I've been bouncing around in my kitchen this morning, guzzling coffee and dancing to Michael Franti, and loving the way my bathrobe fans out behind me when I dance.  


Yesterday was a busy Christmas Day, full of storms (literal, not figurative), and by the end of the day I was drenched with rain, my pink Chuck's were muddy (and not really pink any more), and I was just super-duper-happy to climb into bed with my husband and talk and giggle.

. . . and somehow we got around to talking about Michael Franti, and Mister was telling me about a performance he had seen that they had filmed in Folsom Prison.  He said the show was amazing, and the crowd really enjoyed it, and Franti (true to form) was preaching peace.  And that the warden had said a few words to thank Franti, and said that he was certain that those cells were going to feel a lot bigger that night.

. . .

And so I've been turning that over in my mind, and thinking about the healing and restorative powers of music. . .

It really is an amazing thing, that we make music.  Particularly when you think about how we do it to express joy, pain, sorrow. . . the whole range of human emotions, really.

We pick up tools that make different noises, and create sympathetic sounds, so that other members of our species may experience our lives for a moment.

We really are remarkable creatures.


(And I know what you're going to say:

"Oh!  Danielle!!  What about BIRDS???  BIRDS sing songs.  They sing songs, too.  You forgot about BIRDS."

But you have clearly overlooked the fact that birds also get to fly.

They both sing. . . and get to friggin' FLY.

Birds are ASSHOLES.)



I was discussing with Mister how Franti, in my humble opinion, has it figured out.

As in. . . seriously.

To those that are familiar with him, and if you follow him on any social media, you are probably aware of what I'm talking about.

He is one of those very rare people that seems to be completely and utterly genuine.  Void of all pretense.  Full of love.  Not only talks the talk. . . but walks the walk, as well.

And given the state of our world today (or ever), I think that is something that is really deserving of mention.

If you ever watch interviews of Franti, you quickly discover that he talks a lot about peace and love.

. . . And honestly, I'm getting a little bit weary of people who roll their eyes every time the phrase "peace and love" comes up.

The only people that are ever going to achieve peace are the people that believe they CAN.

The people that are committed to it.

The people that LIVE it, all day long.  Every day.

Not peace on a global scale, naturally.  Not yet.

But people like Franti try to remind all the rest of us that it IS within our reach.  It can be.

And it starts in every home.  By a lot of people committed to it, one moment at a time.

So I get behind his message.

However. . . one note about the video clip above:

I think it is in poor taste.


I mean. . . the video itself is pretty fantastic, and after viewing it I've decided that once Took starts school, and my weekdays are pretty free, I am SO going to start roller skating around our neighborhood in a cape.

But speaking as someone who has never actually learned how to whistle. . . I felt the people in the video are just being overly braggy.


There's no need to shove my lack of whistling ability in my face like that.

Poor taste, Franti.  Poor taste.  =<

Other than that, the video's golden.  Good for many happy feels.

7 out of 8 bananas.

So yeah. . . I've been listening to musics all morning.

My husband sent me a link to the one above, and I sent him this one:

I'm not afraid to be alone.
But being alone is
better with you.
Life is better with you."

Oh, silly Michael Franti, with your horse heads and sweet heart.

You make me smile.  =)

And remember how grateful I am.

Because I've read enough to be acquainted with a few different schools of thought, and have a just-decent-enough memory to recall pieces and snips and bits of some of the greats.

"Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul."

--Emily Dickinson

"Tis long since we've had any hope."

--Tolkien, LOTR

"Fear shrinks the brain."

--The Walking Dead

"Be excellent to each other."

--Ted "Theodore" Logan

"What I am looking for is not out there.  It is in me."

--Helen Keller

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.
And I
I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference."

--Robert Frost

"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about."

--Oscar Wilde

"These days, all I ask of Fate is that the people she hurls into my life, whether they be evil or good or morally bipolar, be amusing to one degree or another."

--Dean Koontz

"I'll keep it short and sweet: Family.  Religion.  Friendship.  These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business."

--C. Montgomery Burns


So those are just a handful of the ones that circle around my head every day.  Voices and snippets from here and there.

And I think I'm managing to piece them into a lovely little quilt.

Managing quite nicely.


We all have troubles.

We own our troubles.

They do not own us.

They do not define us.

If you're like me. . . you fall down.

I'm pretty well-acquainted with the ground by now, and have the knots and bruises to prove it.


I'll say it simply:

It has made me better.


So final thoughts for the year:

I'm grateful.

I love my family.

And my friends, too, who form a collective extended family of misfits and weirdos.

I love you all so much.


A goldfish will only grow as big as it's bowl.


And WE are the bowl, for everyone around us.

Because of my family and friends, my husband, my kids. . . everyone who forms the fabric of my life. . . I feel comfortable.

Comfortable enough to be my real Me.

Comfortable enough to share my weirdest thoughts.

Comfortable enough to sing and dance, to slip and fall, and to laugh  at my own stupidity, and get back up and try again.

Because of all the lovely and wonderful people I know, I'm comfortable enough to be my real, genuine self.

(Even if that self is kind of embarrassing at times.)

And most of all, it makes me comfortable enough to look at those around me.  And wonder what I can do for THEM.  To wonder how I could help them.  To try and dream up ways to make their passing through this life a little easier.

We are the light for each other.

That is a powerful thing.  And a great, and noble, responsibility.

Thank you, friends.

I'm a world-class screw-up sometimes.

I'm super-impatient at others.

. . . And, at times, my tongue is sharper than I intended.

Flawed and imperfect.

But I feel like I'm on the right path.

I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be.


Eager to learn more.

Figuring out how to love.  The right way.

Finding and forging new paths to peace, just in my personal old ordinary life.


If you're reading this. . . my wish to you is as follows:

I hope you forge your own paths.

I hope you do it differently.

I hope you hold your head high.

I hope you talk -- LOUDLY -- about what is right.  And then you transform your talk into action.

I hope you discuss peace and love.  Earnestly.

I hope you find someone that you can be your most You with.

I hope you feel comfortable enough to sing.

I hope you feel comfortable enough to dance.

I hope you get out your capes, and your roller skates, and I hope you zoom around like you don't know you have bones.


I hope you give love, and I hope you live peacefully.

There are millions of people out there to love.

Go find one of them.

Get bouncy, bitch.


"Oh I've got
A little bit longer.
I've got a ways to go-o."


And also. . . 


"Everybody wants me to be who they want me to be except you.
And all I wanna do
Is be with you."


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Music and Dreams. . .

For as long as I can remember, I have had a long, strange, and at times baffling relationship with music and dreams.

And I am quite serious.  And also:  I know.

They're two completely, different (!), separate things.
For most people. . .

Except for me. . . they. . .  Well, they just AREN'T.

I've always had exceptionally vivid dreams (and, if I am being fair, a rather vivid imagination, as well), starting from when I was a wee one and was just starting to dream, all the way up to the current day.

There are still several different events that occurred in my childhood that, to this DAY, I am still not 100%-completely-number-1-absolutely SURE that they were something that actually happened. . . or something I just dreamed.

Example?  When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I was hanging with my Mawmaw*

**(FABULOUS LADY -- pictured on the right)

. . . I can actually HEAR her right now, saying:  "LORD, DANIELLE!!  WHY did you put up such an AWFUL picture of ME?!" *  (*As she grinned her secret grin, seeing that it was, in fact, a perfectly lovely picture, and we both knew it.)  Ahh.  Miss them both.  =)

Anyhoo, I was hanging out with my Mawmaw (as I was wont to do), running errands with her, "going to town," and just generally having a delightful time.  =)
And it was during one of these errands that we stopped by the place where she did her ceramics.  (She made and painted simply beautiful ceramics.  I have some she made, and they are most dear and prized possessions.)
She only had to run in for a second, drop something off or pick up something that was ready, and so she left me in the car, with the car running.
I remember this like it was yesterday.  I remember sitting in her car, and munching on some strawberry candies that she had given me (God bless her), and thinking to myself that she was taking a REALLY long time.
And so I decided I'd take the car for a spin.  
Just around the block.  No big deal.  My Mawmaw trusted me, otherwise she wouldn't have left the keys in the car.

Easy peasy.  

So I took her car for a spin around the block, driver's side window down, waving at all the people on the sidewalks or in their yards that were smiling and waving and just generally expressing thumbs up and great pride at my young mastery of driving.
Then I drove the car back to the house where Mawmaw was getting her ceramics, parked it, got another strawberry candy (just for good measure), and lazed in the seat in the sunshine until she finally came back.
. . . .

Only thing is, and it's just a trifle of a thing, really. . . is that that never happened.  There's no WAY that ever happened.
And yet I remember it.  Quite clearly.

Thankfully (for me), the episodes of not knowing whether events were real or dreamed departed with my childhood.  Whew!  =)
(I was a fairly logical child, and I was ever so pleased to discover that, by the age of 5 1/2 or 6, these perplexing events had ceased entirely.)

I think . . . I think perhaps I might've been a strange child. . .


Speaking of. . . and just because it happened to merge well with the subject at hand. . . here are a few of my artistic works in progress, on dealing with the matter of dreams, and embracing your personal strangeness.  (Something I strongly suggest.)

(This one I did as a kind of homage to the strange other-ness found in the landscape of dreams.  And because Aerosmith.)

(This one is hard to read, because I'm waiting for it to dry before I finish the lettering.  It WILL read:  "Go be your own strange".)

(And this one just because it's true and I love it.  =) )

But back to the dreams and music.

My husband is doubtful (to say the VERY least), about my dreams, because. . . because he doesn't really dream.  Only every once in a while, and, from what I've heard about them. . . they tend to be pretty standard fare.



I was in my 20's.  And I was in one of the worst places emotionally that I have ever been in my life.  I was struggling with some major-major life problems, and I didn't feel like I could tell anybody, and I didn't want to burden them anyway, and so I was trying to handle it all on my own.

And I was doing a pretty shitty job of it.

And then one night, I had this dream:

I was standing in a desert, with a tiny, almost dried-up stream flowing by my feet.  When I looked up, I found I was not alone.

Gandalf was standing there with me.

(Not the Gandalf from the movies.  Those hadn't been made yet.  This was the Gandalf in my residual memory, formed from reading the books.)

So we stood there in companionable silence for a while. Just Gandalf and I.  =)

And then he looked at me, straight in the eyes.  And from under his large grey hat, I saw the kindest, most compassionate and caring look that I ever seen from any eyes ever.  . . . And almost sad.

Then he suddenly grabbed me by the throat, and lifted me up off the ground.

Still that kind look in his eye, as I was panicking and struggling and trying desperately to breathe.

I thought:  "I'm gonna die.  There's no one around to help me, and I'm going to die by Gandalf's hand.  I can't get FREE!!"

And though, in the dream, I just THOUGHT those words, he spoke and answered me.

"You never asked for help."

(Really, Gandalf?  Dial down the sass.)

As soon as he said that, I instantly woke up.

To the sound of my own voice saying: 


. . . .

Now, OBVIOUSLY, I would be a great fool to ignore a message such as that.

And, as I am NOT a great fool. . . I took Dream Gandalf's advice.

I asked for help.

I made changes.

Things got a lot worse.

. . . And then they got a LOT better.  =)

. . . . In another dream, at another difficult time in my life. . . I was visited by The Beatles.  (Again, I am not making this up.)

They were very polite, some seeming only mildly interested in being there, and John did most of the talking.

(Which I find that I rather prefer, anyway.)

We talked at length, though I can't tell you anything of the conversation, because it has been lost to the sands of memory.  But what I DO know is the last thing John Lennon said to me before I woke up was:

"So where's your music been lately?"

And he walked away, whistling 'We Can Work It Out.'

. . . I sang that song for at least a month.  It saw me through some tough times.

It centered me, focused me, and reminded me that I am, in fact, nothing short of a freaking warrior.

So I trust my dreams.

Not all of them, naturally. . . my teeth falling out just means anxiety, my husband cheating means that he's been an asshole, my children being chased by zombies just means that I am as prepared as it is humanly possible to be for the Zombie Apocalypse.


But some of them. . . yes, I do take seriously.

I listen to them.

Most of the time. . . I really do learn from them.


---So I woke up at 4:30 this morning with a line from Blue's Traveler's 'Hook' planted firmly in the forefront of my consciousness, and I have no idea why.


So muffins for boys have been baked, and consumed.  

Coffee and Cartoon Time is nearing its end.

I've got a lot of painting, and boy-herding, and lots of fun projects planned for today.

(Gonna really kick ass on being productive.  Back permitting, and if coffee supplies hold.)

Or. . . .

I might not get anything done.

Because seriously. . . 


". . . What made The Pan refuse to groo-ooow
        Was that the heart brings you baaack."

#ISthatWhatMadeThePanRefuseToGrow ??

Also woke up with THIS song in my head,

. . . and haven't figured out if there's any meaning in it at all.

Aside from being an arrangement of really killer sounds that make me feel happy.

happy Sunday peeps.

And 'ah thank ya kindly fah ya time.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mike and Dani's Infinite Playlist =)

It was 7 years ago today, that I met my husband for the first time.

August 23rd, 2008.

After meeting online, discovering several mutual friends, messaging back and forth for over a month, and me chickening out on an open dinner invitation from him for several weeks. . . I finally screwed my courage to the sticking place, and agreed to meet him in Birmingham for drinks and dinner.

August 23rd, 2008, I stood on the corner of 23rd street, holding my umbrella against a misting rain, and gazing in the windows of What's On Second?, while I waited for my date to arrive.

He only lived one block away, and the area was one that, unbeknownst to me at the time, would become emotionally significant to me for the rest of my life.

This is one of the first photos I ever saw of him:

Handsome, I know, right?  =)

. . . but also recently divorced, and with a 12 year old son, and a toddler.

(I'm sure you can imagine that, not knowing him, and only being concerned for my well-being, many people warned me to be cautious.  It turned out to be a baseless fear.)

But there was something about THIS photo.  Others, too. . . after all, for the first month or so we only communicated online.  No phone calls (I was chicken, as I stated earlier, and have always hated talking on the phone anyway), we just sent letters.  Electronic letters, but letters nonetheless.  Long, rambling letters that went on and on and on, about everything from what we had eaten for lunch that day, to what song was currently at the top of our respective current playlists, to our political and social views, and, of course, our taste in comedy.  

One day, he started a letter off with:

". . . I was born a poor black child. . . "


And I freaked OUT.

Because that is the first line from The Jerk, which happens to be one of my favorite comedies of all time.  =D

And of course we saw all the photos that the other had posted. . .

This photo of him holding Young Padawan is the one that really got to me, though.  Of course he was handsome, and, from what I could glean from our interactions, was also funny, smart, hard-working, and devoted to his family.

But it was the look on his face, in this photo, that hit me.

His face is that of a man in pain.

Not an "ouch"; not a depression.  It is the face of a man that has been gut-punched by life, but is pushing on.  It is a face that comes from days upon days upon days of fighting, and setting your resolve to stubbornly keep putting one foot in front of the other one, even though you're still reeling from the sucker-punch Life snuck in on you, and you're just hoping that at some point you get your breath back.

It was a face, or a mask, or a mindset, or whatever you want to call it. . . that I knew very well.  

I saw it every time I looked in the mirror.

We had talked, of course, through these many rambling letters, about the "curve balls" in life that we were each, respectively, recovering from.

We had talked about how we were both not just ready, but hungry, for someone that we could actually RESPECT.

And in this picture. . . I saw a man that knew pain.  This was the man I had been corresponding with.  The guy that loved music, the guy that was so funny, and wonderfully odd, and always seemed to be looking for his next belly-laugh.

But what *I* saw. . . was a fighter.

I saw strength, and determination, a healthy sense of "Screw you, world, I'm gonna keep going", and yes, courage.

And so I decided I would meet him.  =)

. . . . . . . . .

It was the best first date I ever had.  My cheeks literally HURT from laughing so much.  And the next day, I could NOT stop smiling.

So we went out again for lunch and a movie the next day, and just. . . kind of never stopped dating.  =)

From the moment we met. . . there was never anyone else.  

My eye has never wandered, I've never looked at another with longing. . . because, since then, there have BEEN no others.  Other men enter my line of vision, and my life, as potential friends, and nothing else.  It is not something I have to work on, or try very hard to enact.  It is just something that happened when I found him, and discovered that HE was The One for me.

Yes, yes, I know.

Norman Reedus exists.


But he exists in a very intangible way, not quite real to ME, and though he is fabulous and wonderful, and I have actually sworn to Thor's Mighty Hammer that I would one day MEET him (constituting a moral obligation to one day do so) . . . he is not the one for me, and I am wise enough to know it.  =)

I was his.  And I've never been one to put much effort (or any at all) into playing games, so I'm sure he knew it fairly quickly.

This song pretty much sums it up:

In the early days of our relationship, we went to a lot of bars.  Not because we were drunks (though I am partial to a White Russian when the mood strikes me, I more often find myself in the role of the girl at the bar who orders a Coke, thus annoying bartenders everywhere), but because he lived Downtown, there were lots of bars, and those bars were usually playing live music.

And we both loved music.

. . . One of the songs that was on constant repeat in my head at the time was this one, and it always made me think of him:

From his profile online, one of the first things I noticed about him was that he loved The Flaming Lips.  Who just HAPPENED to be one of my favorite bands at the time (and, honestly, still is). 

We spent a lot of time listening to Yoshimi.  =)

We spent several days at a time together.  (My mom joked, a little worriedly at the time, about our "3-day dates.")

We lived like we were in perpetual recess.  =)

We hung out in all of the parks Downtown, and I learned that just about every person that worked at a hot dog joint in Downtown Birmingham knew him by face, and usually by name.

We spent a lot of time walking around Downtown, talking, and taking pictures.

We stayed up late, we saw all SORTS of live music.

He revealed that one of the things that first attracted him to me was that, under my "Who I'd Like To Meet" on myspace, before Ghandi, John Lennon, Cookie Monster, and Yoda, I'd put:  "Nigel Tufnel."

(LOVE me some Nigel!!!)

And, as he was a Spinal Tap fan too, I felt I could trust him.  =) 

. . . AND his taste in movies.

We did cheap things, like hang out at his place and giggle and cook, and curl up and watch movies.  (And giggle some more.  . . . Seriously.  We giggled a lot.)

(How could I NOT fall for THAT??)  =D

He sent me this song, and told me it made him think of me:

. . . .Which, I think you will have to admit, is pretty effing romantic.  =)

Or maybe it was just romantic for us, and different things are romantic to different people.

For my part, at the time, I was wearing out a Dashboard Confessional Live album every time I was in the car.  (Do not judge me.  I love them.)  =)  

And it seemed like every time I was in the car, I was on my way to see Michael. . .  so this song was playing in my head for pretty much the first 2 or 3 months that we were together:

I met his sons, one at a time, and quickly grew to love each of their own unique and fabulous personalities.

We saw more music:

We did a lot of talking.  And a lot of giggling.

I introduced him to Arrested Development.

He introduced me to Indian food.  =)

We spent time with the kids.

His lease with his roommate was up.

So we moved in together.  In a little loft Downtown.

We went to work, I picked Padawan up from school every other Friday, Spawn came when he could, we celebrated birthdays, and Halloween, and Christmas together.

And a year, to the day, after we met on that street corner. . . we walked down from our loft hand-in-hand, with my Uncle Crant (the pastor) in tow, to that same spot to say our vows.

And what came next. . . is what generally comes next.  =)

We were married, we were working, we were getting the boys whenever we could, and then. . . A BABY was coming!!!


We left our loft, and moved into a house.

We had two cats, a back yard, and, soon, three sons.  =)

And it is at this point. . . that I start to tear up.

I think one of the first things that attracted my husband and I to each other was that we had both known great pain.  And had both (somehow), found the fortitude to keep going, keep smiling, keep trying to "find the funny" in any situation.  I personally believe it is THIS, this knowledge that all those things that people usually take for granted. . . a home, a spouse, kids, a job. . . all those things don't HAVE to happen.

It doesn't always work out that way.

Before we found each other, we were each. . . broken, in our own ways.

All those seemingly mundane things, that "normal old life" that so many people have, and often take for granted, are things to be TREASURED.

A family, a home, a spouse, and a life that you love. . . . has GOT to be one of the rarest gifts that can be bestowed upon man.

And suddenly. . . we had it.

And we did NOT take it for granted.


Slowly, for the most part, the nightmares that have plagued my sleep for years. . . went away.

I. . . I had everything I had ever wanted.

"For once, there was nothing up my sleeve.
Just some scars from a life that used to trouble me.
I used to run at first sight of the sun. . .
Now I lay here waiting for you to wake up."

Now I look at these faces.

And I don't see the repressed fear.

I don't see the tension.  Or the weariness.

I think of all the adventures that we've taken on, together.

All the countries and places we have left to travel to, and all the music we have waiting for us.

I see his face, and I see the even grander adventure we've signed up for, and I know that we're going to struggle, and laugh, roll our eyes and roll up our sleeves, and get through it together.

I see this face. . .

And I see YEARS spent in the kitchen, talking and laughing, listening to Justin Townes Earle, John Prine and Johnny Cash, and making dinner.

I see Christmases, and birthdays, and family get-togethers.

I see my back yard.

Aside from when I lived with my parents, I never had a back yard before I met him.

And now it is my favorite place to be.

This modest little garden/oasis that he has created for us, with his own two hands.  Where flowers and babies grow, music is almost always playing, and a plastic sword is never far from hand.

I see this face. . .

And I see my best friend.

The one I love.

The one I trust, and cherish, and protect, above all others.

I look at this man. . . and sometimes, yeah.  It is with frustration.  =)

But mostly, mainly. . . I look at this man and I see my home.

I see my safe place, and my funny place, and my place-I-MOST-like-to-be.

I see my back yard, where my babies have grown from Cozy Coupes to Big Boy bikes, and he has been there beside me the entire time. 

I see my FAMILY.

He gave me both of those things.

I look in his eyes, and I see my sons.  All three of them.

He gave me them, too.  =)

I, for once, have no words left to describe what I feel for him.

Nothing that comes close to describing. . . .

The only word that pops to mind is:  Gratitude.

Not to him, but to the Universe in general, or God, or whatever you choose to call it.

I needed him.

I needed him SO badly, and I didn't even know it.

And he needed me, too.

And we found each other.  And there is nothing that will ever convince me that it was accidental.

I see this:

. . . and I'm actually kind of surprised to find that it has been 7 years.

Seven years that I've been loving him, and I'm still every bit as crazy about him as I was when we first met.

We are each other's teachers, and each other's students.  We are confidants, and partners in crime, and sharers of secrets and inside jokes.

I see him. . . and I just see. . . my LIFE.

He has made my life.  =')

I would take a bullet for him, and I've got his back in any battle.

I honestly believe we would survive a zombie apocalypse, as long as we were together.

I love this man.  

With every bit of gratitude, and warmth, and joy and magic and grace that has been given me.

Every bit of my heart, every day.

". . .We've got 50 good years left
to spend out in the garden.
I don't care to beg your pardon,
We should live. . .
Until we die."

". . . You're the love of my life, you know that I

I will never leave your side."