May Days

The day that I graduated high school I spent swimming in an old quarry in Southeastern Ohio. It was hot that May and the sun kicked us and we fell through the air like bricks. The water was so cold that as soon as you submerged your body it would seize up and goose pimple and stiffen like a board. We would burst upwards like dolphins shouting out like demons when we gasped for air. People were yelling and screaming into the wind. We were madmen for each other. Isn't it strange that things can feel important when we are so young? That anything can be magical if enough children pump their fists and encourage it to be so.

I was with someone who is now dead and we drank from aluminum tallboy beer cans and ate Doritos and never talked about the future. There were more important tasks at hand like jumping off these open pit mine mountains. We needed to do these things that they warned us about. We were still cocooned by the ignorance that time was always going to be this slow. We were unrushed and focused on the immediate. We did not know pain or love or fear yet. We only thought we did.

On the ride home I changed into my white dress for graduation night in the large backseat of someone's father's large sedan. I raised my hips and pulled off my bathing suit and looked into the rearview mirror where I met a set of eyes that I almost forget the exact color of now. I smoothed myself and tamed my wild hair into a ponytail and put on my Birkenstock sandals. The leather backseat was so big and my legs were so tan and I felt just fine.  When we got out of the car and I went to meet my family for one of the most important events of my life they told me- I laughed at my sunburned face in the tiny Covergirl compact that I held open in the parking lot.

And I kept laughing even as I walked down the aisle and shook hands with the principal and felt like every single eye in the stadium could see the bright red sunburn across my face. I just kept laughing because everything was funny and not quite real and I had not yet developed the vocabulary to describe the way I was feeling. I only knew that shit was exciting and people were putting hands on my shoulders and pushing me towards the next thing. And everyone was crying and so I felt like that was something I could do and then no one would know that I was so confused. And people cried because everything was changing. The funny thing is that as I stood there in the gloaming I realized that I had no idea how to be me.

And in another year that will have been 20 years ago. I know this because my best friend who was standing with me back then in a white dress also- she has told me this.

She says that we have over a year to become faster thinner smoother versions of the truth. She tells me that it is almost time to go back there again.

To the place that I worship and reject simultaneously.

To the place where my father is now becoming an old man.

To the place where the quarries are closed and the streets are quieter and people still think of me as an oddball.

To the place where there are graves with bones that used to be my friends.

To the sunshine goddamn beautiful green hills.

To the place that made me a writer.

 

 

sick bed

In my memory it is always raining. Cool enough for a slicker but not cold really. It is overcast as we drive towards the next town to my pediatrician's office. We did all of our doctoring at the metropolis of Lancaster, Ohio that was about 20 minutes up the pike as my gran always said. I loved my doctor and have very good memories of him. He was a tall man and in my historical reinvented memory landscape he is German and his hair is so thick and his hands always cold. He was kind and his kindness came out of his mouth and out of his eyes and he was so good and he was a true doctor that cared and appointments were long and the waiting room was calm.

And when he retired when I was about 12 or 13 I hated the new doctor we moved to down the street. She was young and bossy and started to focus on my "weight issues" from her skinny perch of the doctor stool. She was a doctor who ran a holistic practice and all that meant is my mom told her shit about my terrible behavior as I got older and she refereed me to a shrink at some point and that was all kinds of not good. I made up elaborate lies and squinted a lot like I imagined Holden Caulfield would have done. She also put me on a diet in Jr. High. I carried little boxes of diet food to school and all my friends cheered when I started to look thinner.

I carry that with me still. Some of it is not good. Some of it is strangely comforting though. Like the memories of my mother and I going to the doctor when I was sick. We would leave the office and drive the two minutes to the local pharmacy where she would let me lie down in the back of the car and rest while she ran inside to fill the script. She would pick up some lunch for me to take home and make me a "sick bed" on the couch. I would drift in and out of sleep while the world went on all around me. I could hear her in the background and then later my father and the smells from the kitchen and all of the soft pillows felt so good.

We have been in and out of sickness here at our house the last few weeks. Even today I went to my family doctor and dealt with an ear infection that has been flirting with me for weeks. God I wanted a sick bed today. I craved that part of my past that is now so far gone. There is no one really to care for you when you are a grown up so I just took the last Percocet I was hoarding from my major surgery last year and put on Thomas the Tank Engine. I will rock this day somehow.

The good thing about this is that we can now care for others.  As adults and parents we have learned from the past or the sweet curve of trial and errror how people want to be treated. It is something I am really pretty good at anymore. I like making people feel good. I try and make my children comfortable when they feel terrible. I try and give comfort and make sick beds that rival the ones my mother made.  I try and find the softest blankets and the coolest sheets. There will always be ice pops in my freezer.

I put my head down on their pillows with them and tell them stories of the past. I tell them some day in the future there will be a little tiny memory of right now. This molecular second. I tell them it will encapsulate sounds and smells and the way I look frozen right now. Smiling with red lipstick and blonde hair that shines like a daydream. There will be sunshine or rain and music in the background bubbling up into their consciousness. They smile and frown and suck on their fingers and look at me.

And it blows my mind.

 

 

was your hair really once black like a bird?


Finn plays with my grandmother's hands whenever he is with her.
He takes her hand and within moments he is pulling her nearly 90 year old skin from her like elastic bands.
He rolls her dark blue veins that lie like wet rope against the speckled white skin.
She shakes him off and raises the back of his thin t-shirt to scratch his back.
He is my child.
He loves to be patted or tickled or touched.
He will sit submissive for a few moments but then he is again at her looking like a small microscope at all of her oddities:

her brown flaky bits and bobs
her constant bruising
her general translucency

It is as if he may see right through her skin if he squints hard enough.

He pulls at her white thin hair and says:

Old granny was your hair really once black like a bird

Yes dear the darkest hair in the hollow

Granny were you once a little girl

Yes dear

And it goes on like this long enough that every single time
I wished I had a microphone to make this history real and frozen.

And her hands.

They are so foreign looking to all of us because they have been around the sun so many times.
I wonder what all they have done.
These hands.
Lately I am most fascinated by her penmanship and pies they produce.
And of course the way they calm down the generations of us.

Granny
He begins again.
And Granny stretches her long fingers
out against the cool of the laminate kitchen table and smiles.

(wrote this last night at my every three week writing group that I love. I love that we are starting to become a group that just might make the world a more magical place)
photo via we heart it

I've never been so grossly insulted in all my...

thinking about our trip to the UK next month and how I love to visit family in Shropshire.
I was thinking about the first time I went there so long ago and how Joe's sister and her husband took us to the most gorgeous place ever...

It was picturesque and there were sheep everywhere and gliders
(you know those fancy pant areoplaney things like in Bond films)
and everyone was dressed like camping chic and I just loved it.

I recall how when we got back to the house I told my new brother in law-
the handsome and keenly witty Simon:

"Thanks so much for the day. Can we go back to the Long Minge again?"

The whole room laughed right out loud at me.
Joe whispered----"The Long Mynd!"
and I just nodded.

It would take over a decade to learn all of the naughty words the British have accumulated.
Anyhoo. I thought of this today. I also thought of how Joe still thinks my uncle Randy is a funny name and women should never ever wear fanny packs.

title post- Jane Eyre 1944

"You can have roots and wings"


tractor girl, originally uploaded by turnsharp.

I am headed down to the land of dial up- deep in the hills of Southeastern Ohio. A place that is so slow paced and thick with time that it sometimes attempts to swallow me whole when I stay for a few days. My boys will run on acres of green country grass untouched by chemicals and we will eat berry pies made from the hands of my 89 year old granny who probably picked the berries off vines older than she is.
Joe is staying home to work on Little Alouette this weekend and I will miss him. I will bring him back bounty from the country.
I learned to drive on a tractor you know.
I am Joe's Appalachian princess.


Title post- Sweet Home Alabama 2002

"Can you dig it? I knew that you could!"

I may from time to time add a song here that lives in my dad's jukebox.
I grew up with one in the living room.
I did not find that cool until much later into my life.
I thought my parents were weird.
We had a vintage coca cola machine in the kitchen too.
My dad collects things. Old cars. Old signs. Weird stuff.
He also drove me to school in an El Camino.
I only have started to realize how cool he is. My dad.

title post- Saturday Night Fever 1977


Like I was keenly sure that I had watched Evel Knievel jump those buses at King's Island in the 70's. It was some sort of Piaget invented memory from seeing photographs of my dad in his tight camel colored leather jacket and thick black hair and chops. It was inside of one those old photo books under the coffee table where I had created a memory. I had crawled inside of history and nestled there for years. I was with him with silken pigtails and a nylon windbreaker that was red. But, I would have been younger than Blaise is now and I wasn't there. I asked my mom. I wasn't there.
So how crazy is it for me to remember it?
I may have a story inside of me about Evel Knievel.

photo source

"A heart can be broken, but it will keep beating just the same."

I hung out with some pals Friday night. It was one of those nights that heavy talk was hanging in the air like fog because our friend is going through a divorce and you know she just needed to talk. She needs it and her heart requires it and we were there and it was good. Women are magic when it comes to communication. Magic and sparkle and light. I know she is going to be OK. I know it. She is beautiful and smart. She has that resilience that some do not have inherently and must grow like a reptile skin over years- she has it now, so she is lucky.
But no matter it is sad. I know next year this time will be different and her light will shine even more and she will glow again, but I am deep for her. And of course the talk got more interesting as the wine came and all I could focus on is the moment two people fall out of love. And does it happen in small steps over time or in one big night full of fighting and broken dishes. Is it the same for everyone at a base level? Is there is a switch in our hearts that hang from a very long cord and we just pull it like a madman one day? We just pull it and change our lives?

It freaks me out, kinda like the obsession I had as a child of listening to my grandfather tell me about heaven. My grandfather, the Baptist minister, instilled most of the scary thoughts in my head surrounding the afterlife. If I don't think of fiery pits of hell and burning flesh with the demons I think of the way he would tell me stories about heaven.
Heaven was described in all of the typical hurrah fashion, but then at some point they must have told me that it went on forever. And at a young age I think forever was burnt into my brain as me walking on these dirt roads and it just went on and on and I was all alone and no one was ever there with me and forever meant I was not alive anymore and I was dead.
Even today if I think about those images and the monotony of walking on and on and it is forever and that whole thing makes me feel ill.
Just like thinking about love and the way it can so easily, with such confusion fall apart.
God it scares me.
I set fire to my cord last night.
The one hanging from my heart.
I set fire to it and blew the ashes across the floor and they spelled out lucky.

title post- Fried Green Tomatoes 1991

"We're all going through this. It's our time at the edge."

There is just stuff floating around.
Pinky swear the mood will lift soon over here at Casa all deep and dark and shit.
I thought about Travis today and how me and Joe and our friends J&D (who were our very good friends about ten years ago for a short time before they broke up and we all lost each other to the world) would listen to Travis and go skinny dipping at Stroud's Run in Athens, Ohio. That was a long time ago, but I can still hear the crickets. And I can still remember slightly the awareness of being safe as we floated.
There was not much out there to hurt us.
Not much really.

title post-St Elmo's Fire 1985

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Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

There is something splendid about the memories we attach to music.
I am especially emotionally attached to the music that marks the journey of my parenthood.
Much like the music that defined Amy & Joe there is now a whole musical canon that means Finn and Blaise to me.
A cue is given and I am thrown down a rabbit hole of raw memories. I can hear a song like this one and almost instantly I feel my body heavy and and my mind keen and sharp like madness. It played on constant loop those first weeks Finn was home and I was terrified and in love. It can stop me in a tavern or mall with prickly skin. I cut my sharp motherhood fangs on the lyrics. I soothed my inadequacies on the melody.
Never something I could hide
When I see we made it through another day

There are other songs too- we all have our own. There are songs that we share with our children, kinda like wedding songs burned into brains.
Often we lead our children to this music, like a pied piper.
How cool is it really that we get to open up the world and share it?
We get to sit down and watch someone listen to Dylan for the first time and watch the room buzz with electric? We assign meaning to these songs we sing together.
Songs like Blackbird that Finn loved immediately and came to in an honest fashion, hearing the Sarah Mclaughlin cover playing in our old living room... (and I immediately schooled him in the Beatles) He sang it sweetly with me two years ago and even now will hum it when sleepy or forlorn. It means comfort to him. And me.


blackbird finn from Amy Turn Sharp on Vimeo.

title post- High Fidelity 2000

With a voice as big as the the sea


I need to not be so busy bc my gal wants me to talk more about Christmas.

I am more in the mood after Finnian's Christmas program this morning.
It's like Christmas music continues to makes me cry. WTF?
Of course the children may have intensified it but the last few years I am even like in a mall and some slow holiday tune will play and I will feel it coming on.
I will be a wreck by the time I am an old woman.

I just buried my head in Blaise's neck and let my tears drip down his fat back and he giggled and giggled and the whole church smelled like childhood and pine cones and I just had to eat at Bob Evans I was so overcome.
I know what will make me freaking happy though is watching A Christmas Story this weekend and eating these. How bout you?

photo via people.com

Not like you do

I woke up with this song in my head. I had a neighbor in the early 90's who played this album over and over at night while wooing women.
Paper thin walls.

We are eating Raisin Bran at the table today out of red ceramic bowls. The wind is blowing something wild here. Ike lives on. The lights are out and we are all kinda bobbing our heads.

Finn says she sounds sad and all I can think about is short skirts, Autumn nights just chilly, and drunken boys and girls in old apartments.

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And love a little longer/And soon you will be there

Dreaming of spooky soundtracks from movies I have long forgotten I loved. The Sweet Hereafter was a movie that haunted me always.
I think it was the soundtrack that got all up inside my soul most of all. That girl Sarah Polley has been in my dreams for two nights. I am sure it is because I heard one of the haunting songs on the radio recently.

It was one of those strike ya still moments when you realize you have not heard this particular song for a decade. Like ten years at least. And yr rather sure about that. And the songs grabs you and shakes you and flings you somewhere. Like I went back, right back to Athens, Ohio and a small apartment on a hill off Columbus Road where my friend and I would hang out with this amazing woman. She was my professor and mentor for a short time in my life. Everything she said made sense and everything she introduced to me threw light on the fact that I was so young and she was so wise, but because she was not my parent I relished in it. She made us listen to the soundtrack to the movie one still winter evening and I agreed that it was beautiful and haunting. I opened the ear in my heart.

The Sweet Hereafter

Led us, he said, to a joyous land
Joining the town and just at hand
Honey bees had lost their stings
Horses were born with eagles' wings.

The sweet hereafter
Waters gushed and fruit-trees grew
The sweet hereafter
Flowers put forth a fairer hue.

All the little boys and girls
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls
Sparkling eyes and and teeth like pearls
Tripping and skipping
Run merrily after the music with laughter.

The sweet hereafter
Waters gushed and fruit-trees grew
The sweet hereafter
Flowers put forth a fairer hue
The sweet hereafter
Everything was strange and new.

As they reached the mountain's side
A wondrous portal opened wide
A cavern was suddenly hollowed
The piper advanced the children followed
When all were in to the very last
The door in the mountainside shut fast.

The sweet hereafter
Waters gushed and fruit-trees grew
The sweet hereafter
Flowers put forth a fairer hue
The sweet hereafter
Everything was strange and new.

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do it with a heart wide open



My friend R had a fantastic Holiday Gift idea.
She is going to buy these small books
and bag them in these
along with bottles of white vinegar for green cleaning
and other small items like energy-efficient light bulbs
and microfiber towels
and give green
I love it! I must steal that idea for some family members!

and then I must share that I cannot no longer hide my true feelings for John Mayer. I didn't ever mean to love him like this. I even resisted him when he talked about my body being a wonderland. I would only allow my body to sway a bit back and forth in public. Just like a tiny shoulder nudge back and forth. Damn it though. I love you John. I love you and yr song is on repeat all damn day.

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with you I've found the key/to open any door


I can't stop creating lately. I am filled with ideas for the holidays already. Like these cool key hangers I am making. I used the old skeleton key from my first home's bedroom for the pattern. I am thinking some of them are going to be maple and finished with oils and some are going to be cool colors. It will have three small silver hooks down the key for hanging keys. It will hang beside the door. I love it!

The key looks like home to me. I remember when we toured that 100 year old house in the university district five years back. There was not much more than good bones to work with, but as I reached the top of the steep staircase I saw the shiny silver skeleton key sticking from the gorgeous vintage hardware. I knew I was home. It was our bedroom. The key never came out of the lock until the day we sold the home and moved out. It now lives on a cool vintage chain around my neck. It is a reminder of a time that will never again be able to be recreated. A time frozen in bliss where we created our first real home and a fat baby named Finnian brought Joseph and I closer together that we ever believed two souls could be. The key to somewhere like Brigadoon in my heart.

I wear it pretty often that key. I think I have decided it to be my signature piece. I remember in San Fran at Blogher that I wore it to the ultra chic Maggie Mason's party. Like Duh. The theme was keys. They had a key tree and everyone had them round their necks. I walked in and started noticing it immediately. I felt like the girl who practiced what she would look like kissing in the mirror or the one person who comes dressed completely head to toe in 80's regalia to a party marked as such but no one really bothered or something like that. Oh well. I still love my key even if it becomes very chic to tie one on. And I am still bummed that I never got a key from that party bc I didn't want peeps thinking I was greedy! :)
Now if this just helps me to keep track of my keys all will be good.

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But here in my heart I give you the best of my love

A Farmer Market Morning with just Blaise...


I have been searching the file folder in my mind for this flash fiction piece I read once and loved. It had been in this book and it had been this little gem:

The Paring Knife by Michael Oppenheimer

I found a knife under the refrigerator while the woman I love and I were cleaning our house. It was a small paring knife that we lost many years before and had forgotten about. I showed the knife to the woman I love and she said, "Oh. Where did you find it?" After I told her, she put the knife on the table and then went into the next room and continued to clean. While I cleaned the kitchen floor, I remembered something that happened four years before that explained how the knife had gotten under the refrigerator.

We had eaten a large dinner and had drunk many glasses of wine. We turned all the lights out, took our clothing off, and went to bed. We thought we would make love, but something happened and we had an argument while making love. We had never experienced such a thing. We both became extremely angry. I said some very hurtful things to the woman I love. She kicked at me in bed and I got out and went into the kitchen. I fumbled for a chair and sat down. I wanted to rest my arms on the table and then rest my head in my arms, but I felt the dirty dishes on the table and they were in the way. I became incensed. I swept everything that was on the table onto the floor. The noise was tremendous, but then the room was very quiet and I suddenly felt sad. I thought I had destroyed everything. I began to cry. The woman I love came into the kitchen and asked if I was all right. I said, "Yes." She turned the light on and we looked at the kitchen floor. Nothing much was broken, but the floor was very messy. We both laughed and then went back to bed and made love. The next morning we cleaned up the mess, but obviously overlooked the knife.

I was about to ask the woman I love if she remembered that incident when she came in from the next room and without saying a word, picked up the knife from the table and slid it back under the refrigerator.

God- I just love that piece!

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According to all sources, the street's the place to go






More from a day of rain and Prideparade and Comfest. I was a bit sad about the storm that messed up my tent and ruined a few things, but after it was all washed away the evening unfolded just perfectly. No one but myself was surly I noticed, so I had to knock it off. There is so much positive energy in this community festival that you simply must assimilate or you might melt into a pool like the wicked witch if you stay sour. I let it go and had an amazing night with friends and family. Joe drank many beers and I have not seen him so relaxed and carefree for a bit. Back to real life tomorrow. xo

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it's that little souvenir of a colourful year

I was feeling that urge to make today. We went to the first outdoor farmers market of the year in our town this morning at 7:30am. We let daddy sleep in and had a blast walking around and thinking about all the yummy food that is back! Asparagus hello!
The annual plant sale was in full bloom and looking amazing.
Later the boys left to go spend the night with grandma and papa and Joe decided to take a nap...so I made this:
(I have been gearing up for my tag sale next Saturday and wanted to salvage some of the small scrappy stuff that I figured might not sell and would be tossed or donated. I thought it was a cool way to preserve some trinkets for the boys in an useful way.) How do we collect so much nonsense?