2 · Sep · 2006

My Postcard Confession

Yesterday I watched the full four acts of that documentary about Hurricane Katrina. For the first time, I finally felt what so many other Americans do: anger, frustration, and disillusionment with our government. It made me think that if I were going to send in a secret to Post Secret, it would be


(artwork by Faction18)

You may remember that in the 7th grade, I wanted to be President of the country. And all my life I have stood by the belief that one person can make a huge difference in the world, that the government is basically good and that truth will prevail. But lately, I feel swindled and defeated. Believe it or not, I can find excuses for the war. If you've ever worked for an extraordinarily large corporation, you know how important things can get lost in the shuffle. That was most of my excuse for Bush after the first 6 months into the war.

Then I gave him some slack because he's a Christian and sometimes Christians believe it's their job to "save" everyone. He's not an evil person, I told myself, He thinks he's helping. It's not been as hard as you think it would be to stand by Bush. I can also blame his staff and the press and the ignorance of the general population regarding matters of peacekeeping.

But yesterday I really thought about New Orleans. I couldn't deny the lack of help that was given to those people. I watched newsreel after newsreel of Bush saying help was on the way. But help did not come. He was the President of the United States and he did not do his job. When the President of your country does not do his job, you are really screwed.

I'm a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of girl. I'm not big on handouts and I sure as hell am not big on helping people who don't help themselves. But there were plenty of people trapped in New Orleans who couldn't walk, could not speak, and did not have access to the resources to get themselves out. Grandfathers, grandmothers, disabled, babies, children, new mothers, weak minded. They simply could not help themselves. Yet they lay in the hot sun or wadded in the bacteria ridden waters. They waited in the disgusting pit of the superdome with no working bathrooms, no diapers, and no medicine.

It reminded me of what Ceauşescu did to the gypsy orphans. He left them to die, providing only a veil of care and resources.

We cannot really imagine what it was like in New Orleans during the immediate days after the levees broke or what it's still like now. We cannot combine the sights, the smells, the heat, or the physical and emotional pain that engulfed such a large number of people so that we might come close to understanding why those communities have come to hate and distrust our government. The film lies. It reveals only a fragment of this crime of humanity.

It's hard for me to accept that in 2000 my friend Dave Hoerman and I eagerly awaited the win of George W. Bush. We had chosen to support Bush as a result of Dave's makeshift scorecard that consisted of major issues of the time and every available candidates opinion. We took the quiz and saw that the results lined us up closer to Bush than the others. I even went so far as to sport a campaign bumper sticker and worked the polls election day.

Still, I believe that the full responsibility for New Orleans or the wars cannot fall to him alone. If there is one thing I learned from those corporations, it is that the chain of command is LONG. But what is supposed to make America different is the direction of that chain. Who is pulling George W's strings? I've heard so many Bush haters say what a pawn he is, that he is dumber than dumb, incapable of speaking intelligently, let alone making decisions. So we blame Cheney? Or the oil companies? Or single minded politicians? Or the old Louisiana rich who wanted to rebuild New Orleans without the poor black community? We have a saying, "The buck stops here.” As I continue down the line of blame, I reach none other than myself.

"We the people..." It is not enough anymore to be a taxpayer. It is not enough just to vote. It's not enough to wait it out until the current regime is gone. If I blame anyone for the embarrassment that is George W. Bush, it's people like you and me who complain yet do nothing to create change. Back in 2000 I did a fraction of my part and last year Mike and I sent supplies and a cash donation to New Orleans. But since then I have been sitting back, watching the stories unfold; a shocked expression on my face and a tight fist around my wallet. I haven't been to an anti-war rally. I haven't written a letter to the President or a soldier. I haven't had the balls to speak politics among my friends or family. I haven't begun to research who I should vote for in 2008. This is our country. Shouldn't you and I be leading it? Isn't it about time one of us ran for local office? Shouldn't we get together and plan ways to enforce our ideas?
Stand yourself up next to the present leaders--- Are you really so unqualified next to this bunch?

I am weary of hearing myself and my friends say that someday we will get more involved. It sounds the same to me now as if I were looking as those helpless people in New Orleans at the height of their despair and saying, Someday I will help you. Or I'm sure help is on the way.

Posted by Penny Rene at 10:22 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

30 · Jun · 2006

Happy Is The New Rock

lot over ocean.jpg

I had a great cup of coffee this morning, Mike will be home tonight for a four day weekend and August is napping peacefully. And as my grandmother rolls over in her grave, I feel like I should tell you...

I’m quite content. I’m happy.

Here I am wondering why I haven’t written a milk memo, wondering if you think I’m boring, wondering if I have become what I feared most, wondering if I have anything left to say. All because what I feel is so new and so un-hip.

Happiness is not glitzy. It’s not sarcastic or funny or even similar in any way to the thrill you feel when you connect with a lover or stand on a stage. Though all of those things are pretty cool. Happiness sneaks up on you in the sand in your hands at the beach, the clean dishes that someone else washed so you didn’t have to, the smile during the 12th diaper change of the day, the knowledge that someone thinks you’re sexy even if you don’t. Happiness arrives when pretending is something you do when you pick up a toy to play with your kid and not something you do to avoid real life. Living a real life – now that’s original.

Is happiness so simple that all the days before it eluded me because I looked for it to be dressed in a big belt buckle, plane tickets and backstage passes? Is real happiness marketable? Writeable? Readable? Will it sell? Will it sell? What does it sell?

It occurs to me just now as I am typing that this is how my whole life turned around in one year. During Passover last year Mike went home to see his family in NJ. When he returned, I picked him up from the airport that night and later as we lay in bed I felt the need to tell him something that seemed important enough to share, but also felt a little corny. “I just wanted you to know that I’m happy,” I stumbled. I didn’t mean happy in that moment. I meant overall happy with my situation, with him. The future was still completely unknown and I wasn’t going to place any bets on where we’d go from that night on. But I knew enough to know that genuine happiness was visiting me and I hoped it would move into my life permanently. “I was thinking the same thing. I’m happy too,” he said.

I don’t think either one of us knew what that meant. It was such a simple thing. Big deal; lots of people are happy. But “lots of people” do not normally include me in this situation. For so long I had either been un-happy or confused or, as Mike was, downright bored. So, to find my dark cloud had moved on, at least for now, was like discovering an extra $10 bill in the pocket of every pair of jeans, every time I put them on. What luck! And How long has this been there? Deep down I felt I deserved a little happiness, but I dared not tell everyone for fear of jinxing it or worse, boring you to death with my gushing.

My friend Kim asked me if happiness is a general thing to obtain or is it subjective to each person. I think that understanding happiness is a bit like trying to understand God. To some people God is right there. And to others, he’s just not. But the truth is the only way to love God is to accept that he is not what everyone told you he was. And then you stop focusing on all those unreasonable expectations. Not unreasonable because they are too high, but unreasonable because they are false.

Happiness is something that we try to define in such limited terms. A car, a house, a husband, a wife, a job. All that is great for sure. But me, I needed to find peace in all the in between moments. I needed to find it in me to laugh about the creaks in the house floors, the squeaky sounds the car brakes make and the fact that I don’t get a regular paycheck.

A little while before I met Mike, the punk from NJ, I “met” Mike D. the singer songwriter and avid blogger in NYC. He wrote a few times about being high on life and like me, he seemed worried this news might be a bit boring in the world of rock. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll? Well, no, at least not all that. Mike D is clean and sober as his voice fills music venues and radio airwaves now. We talked about his love for cheese and his best blogs recall his travels to places like Ethiopia and his friendships with the guys in his band. I suppose that Mike D could insert in all his interviews a few tales about how he faces his addiction head on every day or how rough it is to be adored by strangers. But I think we’ve all read enough of that crap, eh?

The famous, the rich and the honored will all tell you - none of that is what made them happy. Listen to that advice –it might be the only thing real about their media.

Being like the old me isn’t bad. The old me had old stories. Stories you have no doubt read somewhere else. I actually feel more rock n roll now than I ever have. My hair is wilder, I never sleep, and thanks to breastfeeding, my tits are bigger.

Yes, I have entered a new phase in my life. But if this is what it is like to grow up, I can’t believe I wasted so much time downing it. Eventually, I’m sure I will start buying copies of Spin again. And please, please lock me in the bathroom if I ever wear a fanny pack. But this feeling I get when I look over at Mike at as he washes those dishes, it is far better than drunken dancing at Groovy’s after snubbing the band’s drummer and not paying a cover charge.

Posted by Penny Rene at 10:26 AM | Comments (6)

11 · Mar · 2006

August Moon


Our daughter was born March 9th at 3:37 AM.

She weighed 7.3 lbs and was 20 inches long.

30 hours of labor, 3 hours pushing, no drugs, a little help from the doctor and a LOT of help from her dad and our doula and friend, Konuwena.

There is no high like this. I have done nothing else that compares. Everything before this was prep and training for this part of our lives. THIS is what it's all about. We are so happy.

AMJ family.jpg

August-Moon close up.jpg

August-Moon MJ.jpg

August-Moon mom.jpg

Posted by Penny Rene at 06:17 PM | Comments (3)

4 · Mar · 2006

Last Words

In August 2000 a Russian submarine, the Kirsk, only 100 kilometers from its nations border, sank to the bottom of the sea. Engines went off and never came on again. All 18 seamen on board perished.
Later, when three bodies were finally recovered, a letter that had been written in the last moments of life was found on one man, Captain Lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov. He was a newlywed and the letter was to his wife, Olga. It read:

My dearest Olga,
“It's dark here to write, but I'll try by touch. It seems like there are no chances, 10%-20%. Let's hope that at least someone will read this / Regards to everybody. No need to despair. I love you. Kolesnikov."

Once, I was on a plane that had trouble with its landing gear. As we approached the runway, a terrible thumping noise began from under my seat and everyone started to look at each other with alarm. On impulse, I reached for my journal under the seat in front of me, but by the time I found my pen, I realized we were safe. Later, I wondered to whom I would’ve written a note and what I might’ve said. I had no plan – what is there to say in the end?

Mike has noticed that before we leave each other every day I am sure to say, “I love you.” This is not something that I do from habit. Saying I love you when I part with him for the day or a few hours is a conscious decision I made that stems from a few instances when I did not have the opportunity to say goodbye properly to a friend or relative. In all instances I wished that the last thing they heard from me were those three words – at least. Morbid to always be somewhat prepared for goodbye? Maybe. But how can it hurt to tell, especially when I mean it every time?

There are times when simply the words we chose are extremely important. Dying words, first impression words, words we say in crisis. My friend Candy tells me that when I go into labor and go through the birth process to bring my daughter into the world certain things might be said could be seared into my memory forever. As sleep deprived and sensitive as I have been lately, I opt to believe her. Any hint of non-support for my idea of what I need to pull off this most difficult task I will ever do sends me spiraling into a void of doubt and fear. For my own sake and the sake of my daughter I would chose to have the birth in a tent in on a secluded beach with only Mike and no one else within a 50 mile radius for several days if that is the only way I can avoid dealing with any more advice or suggestions from family and friends.

I can’t help but think that most people often know the better words to say in each situation, but simply don’t because our culture has fallen into the habit of thinking of ourselves first. For example, at a funeral it is much easier for us to say the standard “If you need anything, call me.” to the loved ones left behind, rather than actually using our intelligence to call that person in a week or so to suggest that we mow their lawn, take their dog for a walk or do some monotonous favor that the grieving person might not want to do for a while. When my loved ones have died, I have often wished that the attendees at the funeral that I didn’t know would come up to me and tell me how they knew my relative, why they were there and what they would miss about the deceased. That type of thing would remind me of the fullness of my loved one’s life, thus help me believe that their life may have in fact been complete, having touched so many others.

When I was growing up, there seemed to be a lot of fathers who did not verbalize their love, pride, or appreciation for their children. We became familiar with this line a couple of times a year, “Though I don’t say it often, you know I love you.” As a kid, I accepted this excuse because I had no choice. As an adult I’m almost outraged that so many of us were expected to live off less verbal love than what we needed –all because one or both of our parents were uncomfortable giving it to us. I hope that if my children ever have a complaint about my verbal expression it’s that I never tire of expressing my adoration and affection for them.

Part of my frustration with the lack of verbal love is when I’m told I should ask for it. This suggests that the failure of communication begins with me. But loving words are not something I demand, they are something I require. Can you imagine explaining to a toddler that the reason you do not feed him often is because he does not ask you to prepare his meal? How can any one tell another person that they didn’t know they needed to express their affection verbally? This is not a matter of not knowing the right words or when to say them. This is a matter of caring enough to say them regardless of our own emotional inconvenience.

On hijacked United Flight 93 a few passengers called their loved ones to say goodbye before they crashed. But many did not call anyone. I’ve often thought, not of the families that received those frightening calls, but of those who did not, though their family member was on the plane and had the opportunity to say some last words.

And then I think of every day that people walk out their front doors, no way of knowing if they will return, without having taken the time to say not just “I love you” to someone but all the other encouraging words that we are each so desperate to hear.

I am proud of who you are.
You are so beautiful.
I am happy.
I’m sorry that I hurt you.
I was wrong.
You are more important to me than anything else.
You make my life better.

Had Kolesnikov fallen into his final sleep without writing his Olga, she surely would have known that he still loved her. But he didn’t. One last time he reminded her. What’s beautiful about his note to her is not what he said; it is that he said it.

If you knew that today was your last day, what would you say? Would you write a letter? Would you call someone you have not spoke to in a while? What are the words that need to be said? What excuse are you using to not say them? Most important of all – aren’t the people who need to hear them worth the effort?

Posted by Penny Rene at 07:22 PM | Comments (2)

1 · Jan · 2006

Where It's At

About four years ago I went to a party for New Years at a friend of a friends house in Brentwood, TN. Her name is Jaci Valesquez and back then she was/is a popular singer signed to the Christian label, Word Entertainment. I'm guessing she was only around 18 or 19 years old at that time but her fame within the Christian realm had afforded her this new house and she invited everyone over to show it off.

Contrary to what most people believe about Christian artists, they live their lives like anyone else. They date people they work with, they buy things because they want to look cool, they have bad habits like smoking or farting in public, some have bad fashion sense, some spend too much money on clothes, some don't manage their money well, and they make their decisions based mostly on their personality - NOT what the Bible says. The only difference between a Christian artist and a non-Christian artists is that Christian artists are expected to maintain an impossible perfection - without the aid of any typical coping vice like alcohol, drugs or sex.

As anyone can guess, this is simply unrealistic. You cannot give a person a rock star agenda and expect them to accomplish it without becoming vain and in need of a stiff drink.

So it goes that ALL of my friends in Christian music drink alcohol at the same rate as anyone else. Many of them smoke as well. And the premarital sex issue is something I never noticed a difference in between my friends who weren't Christian and who were. But I was aware of the demand for the illusion of purity by record labels and the general Christian music buying public. After eight years of being forced to help maintain this lie for so many people, I was pretty jaded. On my visits back home to the Christian Incorporated houses of friends in OKC, I did not mention who I knew from their CD collections and I told my stories of Nashville in first name only - leading people to believe I hung around unemployed dreamers, not working musicians whose images where on posters that crowd teenagers walls as perfect examples of "Cool Christianity".

So it goes that on this particular night, the alcohol flowed like it did at any other New Years Eve party. Aside from our host, there were other Christian musicians there -some of whom I had heard of but did not know their music because I had stopped listening to Christian music even before I stopped working in the business.

I remember this party as one of the better NYE parties I have attended. All my local friends were there and most everyone was having a great time. There was a thin layer or snow on the street when we arrived and my friend Tony and I were aware that we would end up being responsible for getting ourselves and two other friends home safely after the festivities so we weren't drinking much. I was eyeing two brothers from Oklahoma who I had never seen before. They told me they were in Nashville because they were about to sign with EMI and they had met Jaci through work only a week or so earlier. Someone had decorated a cheap wall clock with fake gems and made it into a Flava Flav style necklace. Jaci's then boyfriend was the one wearing it and he loudly showed it off in a slurred presentation to each person who glanced twice at it. My friend Steven was finally coaxed into sitting down at a baby grand in the dining room and played us a couple of songs that were hard to hear over the blaring stereo. The smokers gathered on the back patio along with anyone else numb enough to endure the cold. A few of us had cameras, myself included. One of my favorite photos consists of all the guys sitting crowded on the staircase with the clock guy in the middle. They are all making crazy faces, some of them screaming at the camera.

As midnight approached, champagne was poured and all us single folks passed out our kisses generously. I am such a happy camper in one photo of me getting kissed on each cheek by Van and Steven. Fun times.

After thanking our host, Van, Larry, Tony and I made it back to my place safely and crashed out. But that is not where the story ends.

I don't remember who told me first, but I was informed within days that there was a problem with some photos from the party. Apparently a photo of Jaci drinking alcohol had been sent to her record label or manager and there was concern that this photo would be sent to the press. Two people from that party even called me to ask if I had sent the photos. My film was still in my camera, as I had not finished the roll, so it was easy enough for me to explain that I had no idea what they were talking about. Eventually I had the roll developed and I had not even taken any pictures of Jaci. I wasn't sure what I found crazier about the situation. (if it is not already obvious)
1) That someone actually thought I might care about Jaci's career one way or the other as to go through the trouble of devising such a scheme.
2) That a photo of any Christian artist drinking alcohol would make a difference to any normal human being alive.

The question that always comes to mind when I recall this incident is this: How many people have warped their religion into a set of such shallow based rules that anyone who does not agree with them is considered to have "fallen from grace" and underhandedly punished? Poor Jaci.

I never heard what became of the situation. Never saw the photo. And as far as I know, her career did not suffer. These days Jaci is still touring, pleasing lots of fans with songs about forgiveness and the goodness of Jesus. She has managed to save face among an extremely judgmental group of critic even after a short marriage and recent divorce. There is rumor that some humanity is tolerated among Christian artists as long as you ask your fans and God for forgiveness.

As for me, I am no longer a Christian. Too much of the culture and the base of beliefs do not jive with my experience and my logic. My core understanding of God has not changed, however, and I find more happiness now that I don't feel obligated to pretend to feel guilt that I don't have.

I was thinking about this last night when MJ and I toasted in the New Year with sparking cider while lying in bed watching the taped celebration of Times Square on MTV. My body was aching from our baby lying low and to the left in my abdomen. My eyes were tired and I was full of take out from Chili’s. I thought about all these crazy NYE past and how they are snapshots of who I was or wanted to be at the time.
I looked at MJ as he pulled back from a kiss and an ironic peace washed over me as I knew there is no place else I'd rather be.

Posted by Penny Rene at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)

19 · Nov · 2005

Were They Acting or Reacting?

The other day I was talking with one of the investigators where I work and she was telling me the crazy cruel things people do with their kids when they are trying to steal from department stores. There was a trend back when she worked at Sears that consisted of a parent teaching their kid to steal shopping bags from behind the register, walking the store, filling the bag up and then handing the bag to the kid as they walked out the door. When security or the police chased them, the parent would most often drive away, leaving the kid who couldn’t run fast enough.

If the stolen merch was really valuable or the parents had a history of major theft, (meaning there would be significant jail time involved) the parent never came back. The kids usually ended up at a temporary state facility and then on to foster care.

I was thinking what you are probably thinking now. Who are these people that they care so little for their own flesh and blood? Who treats their child this way? And what happens to these kids?

I had this friend in middle school…. Actually, I had several friends in middle school who had parents like this. My class from Rogers Middle School would have a sparsely attended reunion unless we included tours of the state prison and local graveyards. If you think I’m kidding, I just looked up ten of my favorite troublemaker friends from that era online and six of them show up in the Oklahoma State prison database.

Anyway, there was this one guy we called “Little James” who lived in the apartments near my neighborhood. Little James was younger, shorter and less remorseful than the other kids in our group. The older James, his friend and one of my ex-boyfriends, was forever trying to keep the younger James out of trouble, but it seemed that Little James went looking for it, as if he had no common sense, or possibly no adult who ever tried to steer him clear of fighting, stealing and general meanness.

My mother never paid much attention to how scraggly or mischivious a kid looked when he or she showed up at our front door back then. Most often I would sit on the front porch talking to whoever of my friends happened to walk by on their way between those apartments and the elementary school playground at the other edge of my neighborhood. But sometimes, my mother would insist of inviting them in and giving them a glass of iced tea while sat in our living room. I remember on more than one occasion being wary of leaving Little James alone in that room for fear that he might steal something from us.

There were a few times when I ventured into the apartment complex where many of these rougher friends lived, but it was always a brief visit and I was going against my parents rule to stay away from there. Once I went with my friend Stacey, who lived there but had run away from home days before, sleeping over at my house until I told my mom and she made Stacey go back to apologize. She didn’t actually go to her mom’s apartment, but instead we went to ask a neighbor in the complex if Stacey could stay with her. I was only in the small building under a minute when the combined stench of unwashed clothes and the roaches crawling the sunlit walls made me realize one good reason why most of the kids who lived there rarely wanted to hang out at home. Aside from the gloominess and safety issues of the area, I also never met the parents of any of these kids like James and Stacey who my teachers often said only knew how to “act like a fool to get attention”. The concept of getting in trouble just to get an adult to pay attention to me didn’t wash since I was busy acting happy and interested in poetry and politics which I felt gained me a sufficient amount of attention as well.

I ended up attending a different school district for high school and lost touch with pretty much all the troubled kids I knew. I ran into some of them over the years and no one was surprised when one by one they dropped out of school or ended up in juvenile detention centers. My sophomore year of high school, though I hadn’t talked to Little James in a couple of years, I wrote a poem about him for an English class assignment. After my teacher had me read it in front of the class, she asked me if this was a real person or someone I made up.

My brother and sister and I sometimes run through our lists of whatever happened to so and so on those rare occasions when we’re all home for the holidays. We got into the habit of saying aloud with a defeated shrug that most of them were probably in jail. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I stumbled upon a website that allowed, at least my brother and I to confirm that our suspicions were mostly accurate. My concern about Little James stealing a trinket from our bookshelves is nothing now that I see that he is one of the many people on Oklahoma's Death Row.

I have no doubt there are plenty of career criminals out there who will swear they had great parents, but from what I’ve experienced, an absent or apathetic parent can turn a kids mind into a cesspool of self loathing and destructive plans as easily as a parent who hands their kid a shopping bag full of stolen merchandise and instructs them to outrun a security guard or be left behind forever.
Right after high school when I worked at a daycare I met more than a few four year old who were already mimicking some pretty insane behavior they surely learned at home. I hated their parents who were so careless and cruel, but I also hated the school of thought that says a person has a right to purposefully teach their child to hate and abuse others but fines or imprisons the owner of a pit bull who fails to control their dog that is taught to maim on command. It’s a strange society who turns away from a parent smacking around their teenager because it’s “none of our business” while we would call the police without remorse on a neighbor who doesn’t leave their pet enough water outside on a hot summer day.

If you stop and think about it, the answer to the question “Who are these people who do such horrible things that turn their children into thieves, abusers, addicts and killers, I guess a lot of times the answer could be that these are our neighbors, co-workers and friends. I want to believe that I don’t have any friends like that but that would be pretty naive and downright stupid. My parents probably thought they didn’t have any friends who neglected their kids cries for help too, but we now know that’s not true.
I don’t know exactly what the thing to do is when I see an innocent kid being led into a life of angry crime. But I know that pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t help anyone at all. Imagine if we treated parents who verbally abuse their kids the same way we treated parents who beat their kids. I’m not even talking about jail time for crappy parents; I’m talking about shunning that parent and boldly saying, ‘I don’t want to be friends with someone who abuses a child. It’s cruel.” Or what about having the guts to remark to a workaholic friend that he is cheating his/her kids by starving them of their precious time? If one person says it, the abuser can blow it off. If everyone notices and shuns the abuser, society might get the picture that being a mean or neglectful parent is NOT okay.

Maybe I’m just a meddler who should mind her own business. I wonder if that’s what all my friends were thinking when we were kids. “ I wish everyone would leave me alone. I like not having a safe place to sleep and it’s no big deal that my mom doesn’t want me around.”
Yeah, I mean, I’m sure if you asked any of the people I knew in middle school whom I now can find in the OK State Dept. of Corrections database they wouldn’t have a clue why they “acted like fools”.

Posted by Penny Rene at 10:06 PM

16 · Oct · 2005

Mountain High

I have been making a wall collage of old albums from my past, on my bedroom wall to fill the lonely space where my art should be.


Currently I have James Taylor, ABBA, Peter Frampton, Billy Joel, the Eagles and John Denver. I posted this in my web blog and was surprised to find a lot of sincere John Denver fans have grown up and become goth, punk, new rock fans. But Denver’s integrity stays within us and like the smell of crayons, brings us back to our childhood in safe, easy tones.

Aside from my parents 45 record collection of 1950’s songs, John Denver’s Greatest Hits was the first album I memorized. I sat in the back seat of my father’s blue Toyota with my sister and brother, singing at the top of our lungs.

Take me home
Country roads
To the place
I belong
West Virginia
Mountain mamma
Country roads

At the time that this album was released my family was indeed living in West Virginia. I was four years old when we made that long drive from the east coast to Oklahoma. On the way I asked my mom if there would be mountains there. No. I wouldn’t see the mountains for another five years until our family vacation near Carlsbad Caverns.

The house that we would be living in was in the middle of suburban America. My parents had bought it brand new right after I was born, but before the rest of the neighborhood had even been completed. The renters who had been there during our time in West Virginia were finally gone and as we pulled in the driveway I mostly remember the black lava rock wall that framed the front porch window. Years later
there would come a day when I would run up to that front door, slip and hit my head on a jutted piece of the lava wall, knocking myself out -cold.

As the 80’s economics forced us into a two income household, and my siblings regarded their baby sister as a real mood killer, I took to music. Many summer days you could find me sprawled out in front of my parents floor model Panasonic stereo, ear pressed against the speakers, and later with large, heavy headphones wrapped around my skull making me look like a sickly mouse. The living room had a sculpted carpet of various shades of green and when my parents were gone at work my brother, sister and I would turn the place into our own dance club, blaring the stereo with everything from Kiss, Don’t Try Suicide to Barry Manilow, Jump Shout Boogie.

Disco came and went. But the love of the singer songwriter stayed with me. A few years ago I dated a man who was the first person to put my words to music. As a surprise, he sat me down in his studio and
strummed his guitar while he sang my lyrics. I looked at his blonde hair, gold rimmed glasses and woodsy features and softly whispered to myself, “Wow. I’m dating John Denver.”

The other day as I was placing these albums on my wall, I wondered if Rocky Mountain High would be too – something, I don’t know. Too dated maybe. So I pulled out the album cover and started reading the lyrics.

I marveled over Goodbye Again “And if your hours are empty now, who I am I to blame? Do you think if I were always here our love would be the same? As it is the time we have is worth the time alone. And lying by your side is the greatest peace I’ve ever known” And Rocky Mountain
High “He was born in the summer of his 27th year. Comin’ home to a place he’d never been before. He left yesterday behind him; you might say he was born again. You might say he found a key for every door.”
Beautiful. Just brilliant.

And then I looked up in the upper left hand corner of the lyrics page. Just below the thanks was printed this sentence:

-Be sure to vote-

That settles it. I’m still in love with JD, may he rest in peace.

Penny Rene'

Never underestimate the power of words.

Posted by Penny Rene at 10:36 PM

3 · Mar · 2005

Walking Is Just Safe Falling


When I was 12 I went to church because my sister wanted to save my soul from hell so her boyfriend would see we were a good family. He was The Pastor’s Son. I sat on a pew in the back of the room on that first morning and wished that god would’ve made getting into heaven easier than facing a room full of pimply faced, guilt ridden kids during hours meant for sleeping. Then Steve T. walks up like a tiger approaching his prey and smiles.

He had the kind of gaze that created a breeze right up your Sunday dress. He was cocky, slightly insecure, funny and unnerving. Steve was my first real love.

Because I was only an innocent 12 year old when we met, there was a certain righteousness in pursuing someone like this. I must have been pretty sure he would never call my bluff. This allowed for plenty of practice in being aloof, uncaring and wise. With a guy like Steve, all you have to do is keep one single promise – “Everything’s fine”. I clearly remember telling myself somewhere around the five year anniversary of my crush on Steve that I didn’t matter if he slept with all of suburbia – I would get him eventually.

This is not as pathetic and desperate as it sounds. While we were growing up, and right up until the day I told him I was going to marry one of his high school soccer teammates, I suspected he loved me. What I didn’t know was that I truly had fallen in love with him. All my relationships up to that point had been with men less complicated, meaning men who loved me that I had easily walked away from.

We were having lunch in Chilli’s on NW Highway and he asked me why I was dating a “nerd” like Jason. Jason was everything Steve wasn’t: academic, calm, polite, traditionally handsome. I could see why he was ticked. “Well who should I date then? Who!?” My voice was rising. After nine years of pretending I didn’t really want him I realized everything was not “fine”.

“I don’t know!, he barked. Anyone else! There are plenty of guys you could date!”

“Name one, Steve! C’mon, who? I would love to hear who you think I should be with!”
People were staring by then. The friendly lunch had sped out of control.

"Well, I don’t know!... Brent Hughes! You could date Brent Hughes.”

“WHAT?” Brent was a bad-ass flunkie who Steve occasionally got drunk with back in high school. “Oh, please! You don’t want me to date him. Is that it? That’s your suggestion?”

“OK me! You could date me!”

I was so shocked and angry. I was thinking that it was just like him to get under my skin right about the moment I thought I didn’t want him anymore. So I did what one does when cornered.
“You’d cheat one me.”

It was out there. Like spilled grape-juice, my insecurity and doubt in my ability to get over this guy was all over our table and I couldn’t clean it up fast enough. Of course, he said he wouldn’t and I realized he was right. But we moved on to other things.

In the next few years we both moved in and out of serious relationships. Turns out that days before our lunch he had broken up with a woman who later announced she was pregnant. They married and had a son but it didn’t last. We connected again and began hanging out. I listened to his marriage sorrows. He listened to my never-ending optimism. I played with his son who adored me. We went to dinners and watched movies. That year on Christmas Eve he called me in the middle of the night to go with him to pickup last minute gifts and I happily obliged. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I had just broken up with my drummer boyfriend and I had made plans to leave Oklahoma that January for a new life in Nashville.

Then one evening we were sitting on his couch watching TV when he picked me up like an injured child and carried me to his bed.
Validation at last.

But time is a hero some days and an enemy the next.
In the 12 years I had wanted him, I had changed. Looking forward to my new life, I couldn’t help but wonder where did my old dream fit in? I was a radio DJ by then, hoping to move into A&R at a record label and then on to artist management. Steve was a coffee rep at a regional company with a 4 year old son and an alimony payment. His life actually wasn’t bad at all – he had a great family, a perfect son and was involved in the community. In many ways, I envied him and was terrified of my own master plan. We talked about him going with me. Eventually he made promises to visit that I knew he wouldn’t keep.

One might think that the real problem here is falling in love with a man like Steve in the first place. I am not one of those people. Who wants to work that hard or wait that long for him to come around? Apparently I do. I’m not saying that I enjoy the pain. I’m saying that maybe the reason I get someone like Steve is because I AM someone like Steve. In my opinion, if it’s not worth waiting for or even fighting for, it’s not love. Besides, who says it was Steve who made me wait 12 years?

I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if I had put aside my fear and pride that day at the restaurant. It’s true, I may have just ended up being the woman that he divorced. Had he caught me on a different day, would I have been more open?

I’ve come to believe that love has no sense of timing. All that talk about when the time is right is bullshit. Love is on time, every time, without fail. It’s we who keep a different schedule and wag a finger in love’s face for not being convenient. The most powerful thing in the universe and yet we think we are at liberty ignore it or demand it come packaged differently!

These days when I am with a man that I’m willing to argue with, a man who gets under my skin and says what I am thinking but am too prideful to admit, I feel a little nervous. Because I know now that this is what I need, what I want. And it’s only shame on me if I let logic or pride stand in the way again.

Posted by Penny Rene at 07:15 PM

7 · Jan · 2005

You Must Be The Change

On the eve of 2000 a milk memo reader and my bestest bud, Stephanie sent me the following poem. Every January and sometimes in between these lines come to mind. Today feels like a time to pause and read it again.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi said "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
2005 can become a great year. We can we wiser, stronger, generous and alive. Each decision you make will move you closer or further away from this goal. It's my wish that whatever we may have learned in 2004, we not forget those lessons in 2005.

May the road be free for the journey,
May it lead where it promised it would,
May the stars that have ancient bearings
Be seen, still be understood

May every aircraft fly safely,
May every traveler be found,
May sailors in crossing the ocean
Not hear the cries of the drowned

May gardens be wild, like jungles,
May nature never be tamed,
May dangers create of us heroes,
May fears always have names,

May the mountains stand to remind us,
Of what it means to be young
May we be outlived by our daughters,
May we be outlived by our sons

May the bombs rust away in the bunkers,
And the doomsday clock not be rewound
May the solitary scientists, working
Remember the holes in the ground

May the knife remain in the holder,
May the bullet stay in the gun,
May those who live in the shadows
Be seen by those in the sun

John Marsden - Prayer for the 21st century

Penny Rene'

Posted by Penny Rene at 06:35 PM

4 · Oct · 2004

Flesh Is To Bone

This memo was written while scanning the LA skyline and listening to Faithless.

These thoughts are in appreciation for Jennifer Hamady, and every other musician who knows that artists are more than entertainment.

Register. Learn. Vote. Be heard.

Flesh is to Bone

The monologue goes on.
Around the globe my friends singing songs.

Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone
Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone

It’s a hip pity party
When we’re sittin in a club
Sayin’ we hate the hand that feeds us
And "Where is the love?"
With the power to lead
And a willing crowd
We lay low like criminals
Afraid to speak out

But to surrender who you are
And live without belief
Is trying to run a race
Without any feet
Your silence speaks volumes
Of poison apathy
Your avoidance breeds children
Without reason to believe

All the creative spirits
All you brilliant minds
Lay down your ignorance
Raise a voice to fight

Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone
Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone

If I learned anything so far this trip
It’s that you better be careful
What passes your lips
Cause somebody’s listenin'
Looking for their hope
And another is watching
While looking for a rope
Happiness might be a state of mind
But when I give you yours
I think I’m getting mine

If you wanna change a nation
Leave your mark on the map
Be good to the kid
Who sits on your lap

Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone
Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone

Forget all my lessons if you don’t get this
The power of the lover
Is louder than the fist
You might be a shaper
Of your own generation
You could be the key
For an imprisoned nation
You get what you pay for
So please participate
If you don’t try to give,
Then how can you take?

Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone
Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone

The problem of war and humanity
Lies not with the captive, but those who are free
Our actions, reactions is proof enough of
Who we’ve really become, what we really love
A man who walks away from another in need
Because of his color, location or creed
He’s destined to lose his honor to greed
Like a hopeless addict destroying his seed

Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone
Music is to peace as flesh is to bone
Your vote is as good as a live microphone
The monologue goes on.

Penny Rene'

Posted by Penny Rene at 06:30 PM

9 · Jun · 2004

“Perfect” Men on San Diego Scene

A couple of months ago San Diego was named the third top “dating city” in the country. Having been freed from a remarkable, albeit confusing affair in the recent past, I was relieved to hear such a report. I’ve also been noticing lately I have noticed lately that in the places I go in this city single men outnumber women.

With so many “fish in the sea” I can only guess that the fact that I had not met a wonderful single man yet has got to be my own fault for not getting out there and chatting up this vast pool of potential suitors. So, on a Saturday night when I had already been laying in bed for two hours and every inch of my body was begging for sleep, I forced myself out the door, bed head and all, to meet my friends Lane and Nicole for a night out on the town in Pacific Beach.

We arrived at party number one a little too late into the festivities. I managed one glass of wine and three dull conversations with men who were too high, too young or standing too close to their girlfriend until we moved on to a cocktail bar down the street. There, I had the pleasure of trying not to be depressed by a giggling display of Lane and Nicole’s blatant adoration of each other. But just as I was making a mental list of all the reasons to become a cradle robbing drug addict, a glass shattered in the center of the bar and brought my attention to four handsome bachelors about five feet away.

Each one returned my gaze and I felt my luck begin to change. Within minutes I was pulled into this friendly group of men. As they heckled the movie JAWS that played on the bar TV and someone bought me another beer, I took inventory of my evenings catch.

The glass dropper, Chris who was the only San Diego native, barely spoke at all and was the first to slip away citing a bad case of sobriety. Joe, the tall, sensual VP of Sales from Texas was the most talkative. I felt like I had run into an old friend. He had just enough rib poking jokes, mid-south charm and insight into my psyche to make me nearly hate him for already being engaged to some other unsuspecting woman. If my previous relationships are any indication of my physical preference in a man Rick was the obvious attraction. His sleek shaved head, tone body and tattooed arms caught my attention while his sideways wit and come-hither honesty both intrigued and frightened me. And then there was Mark; another engaged gent with easygoing humor, and a warm conversational nature that played out like melted chocolate on my bruised heart. He looked rather inviting with his vintage t-shirt and sleepy smile.

As our evening progressed, I shamefully admit, I spoiled myself in the attention of my company. I felt like a ten year old unleashed in Disneyland. At every turn there was a compliment to give or receive, a funny story to hear or sarcastic lines to be thrown. All while reeling with the intoxicating allure of being the center of attention. We moved from one bar to the next and ended the evening at Mark’s apartment playing a very successful game of classic Truth or Dare. Everyone was good-natured; nobody cried; a candle was lit.

It was only the next morning at 8 am that I felt the full affect of my indulgence. I woke with the feeling of having eaten too much cake and stayed up way past my bedtime. For the better part of my day when I should have been recovering I was analyzing my embarrassment for being swept away by three strangers. Every rule, nearly every brick of my protective wall had crumbled in one evening. Was I so shallow? Was the beer that good?

As I sorted through my feelings for the three bachelors it occurred to me that something extraordinary had happened that night. I had spent an evening with the Perfect Man. And my modern Perfect Man had many names.

Rick had just the right tough guy image. I always say I want a man who looks like he can kick someone’s ass but is really a softie. Mark appealed to my desire for a man to lie in bed with on Sundays reading the New York Times. Joe was the kind of guy who would keep me on my toes, knowing me nearly as well as I know myself. And even Chris brought an odd sort of integrity to the mix by not being a drinker and leaving early. Each man was handsome and all were extremely funny, definite basic ingredients to catch and hold my attention.

Relieved that a portion of my weakness could be excused as circumstantial, on Sunday night I was able to relax at the beach house of a new girlfriend in Oceanside. Five of us ladies painstakingly grilled ranch-sized steaks, drank orange dreamsicles and watched the DVD Under The Tuscan Sun while cozied tight in blankets on the living room carpet. When the credits rolled and I surveyed the room of bleary-eyed, diverse, single women, I couldn’t help but wonder how my four bachelors from the previous night would describe each one of us. More specifically, I wondered how incomplete these descriptions would be. In a society that is determined to place everything in it’s neat category, so much so that even “alternative” music has become a genre on store shelves, perhaps stereotyping has finally gone a bit too far among singles without us realizing it.

Several years back I came across a small comic strip that portrayed an attractive woman sitting on a bed in her slip. She fantasized about dressing up as a sexy and tough superwoman who would arouse and terrify men with her distribution of justice while wearing thigh high boots and a black cape. On the other hand, she thought, she was a pure, innocent sort of girl with a fondness for the simplicity of a nun habit. She was so wrought with compassion; perhaps she should spend her time arousing men to write large checks to private charities. The last frame of the comic showed her standing before her closet stating the real question that needed to be answered” What the hell should I wear?”

Women are complex creatures, yes. So are men. But only those who spend time getting to know men can testify to this. Just thinking back to our little game of Truth or Dare, I remember that each of my bachelors was full of surprises. (After all, it was Rick who called me up the next evening to tell me what a great time he had and that he’d like to take me out on a date sometime.) To quickly box each one up in the above mentioned stereotypes after one night might be a mistake. Any one of them could be “Perfect” for me if I’d given him the chance to shine alone, at the right time, sober. It seems to me that it’s just a matter of paying attention to them long enough to appreciate those complex details. How’s that for optimism?

Therefore, I have to say that if my four bachelors are any indication of what kind of fish are mingling in my part of the sea, San Diego is living up to it’s reputation of being a great city for dating. It’s should be celebrated as well, that at least two of my Saturday night bachelors intend to be “one-woman-men”. (Though one’s decision to settle now seems a bit hasty. But what do I know…I’m just the girl who listens to drunken confessions) I just hope that in future expeditions, I reveal a little more class by not presenting only the attention starved side of my personality. And I plan to spend more time getting to know each potential love instead of getting giddy over my habit of wrapping each one up in my restrictive categories. After all, my Perfect man is out there … somewhere… and he’s waiting for me to reveal Perfect Little Me.

For Mark, Joe, Rick and Chris: Cheers! (looking each right in the eyes)

Posted by Penny Rene at 03:09 PM

11 · May · 2004

The Heart Grows Fonder

The first time I left home I was 19. I went a whole 30 miles north of my parents house to attend university. This wasn’t far enough for me to experience homesickness, but I was too young to understand that. I thought I was made of steel, that I was above wanting the security of family. After that I moved around quite a bit: Tulsa, Nashville, Romania, England, Birmingham. Oklahoma City was always the pit stop in between, giving me just enough time to reacquaint myself with family before moving on to my next adventure.

It was always the plan to grow old in California, I saw myself at 50, living close to the beach, coffee, fresh fruit and granola always on hand, and a career that allowed me more travel and culture at my fingertips. I never saw myself at the age of 32 in California, missing my family, as I never have before.

When I was a teenager, in trying not to be average, I took a very average and common stance on what a life should be about. I would not marry, I declared. And if I ever, I mean EVER had a child; it would be as a single parent who adopted. This was my way of rebelling against my family. Being the youngest of three children, it is not really surprising that I took on this way of thinking – that I had been wronged far more than the average girl, and God as my witness, I would never do to someone else what had been done to me.

My generation as a whole grew up with no positive illusions about marriage, but we do have some negative ones. We became very good analyzing why couples get divorced and what the effect a broken home has on our own ability to commit. This is a step in the right direction to rebuilding the family institution, however it is only a first step. At this point in our psychoanalysis, we stand dumbfounded as to where to go from here, so many of us do what I did – we refuse to participate. It’s sort of like saying “ I don’t know how to win the game. But I do recognize the stakes are extremely high. So maybe I shouldn’t play at all.”

Sometimes I think that what my generation needs most regarding Family aspirations are two things: someone to tell us to not give up so easily before we have even begun and someone to tell us why. We are a generation of habitual avoiders and I have led this club into the pits of apathy. But what works against this attitude day after day, (thank God) is our own desire to love and be loved, the knowledge that the security of home has little appeal without the feeling of being needed there, and that tiny voice within us that says, as songwriter John Mayer sings “Something’s missing”. How awful it is to believe all our lives that the odds will always be stacked against us! Defeated, we assume, before we even begin to fight. This inward struggle between our desire for love and our commitment to avoid trouble that many of us have is a purgatory of confusion where so many waste our precious youth.

So what then, would make us even think of continuing what most consider a vicious cycle? What reason can I give you and myself to take the necessary steps to create a healthy relationship worthy of marriage and family? Having ended one marriage myself, I admittedly, have a point of reference regarding the “woes” of marriage and my ability, or lack thereof to successfully participate in the institution. But I want you to know, whether you are married or not, I personally believe- even after everything I have seen and experienced, that marriage and family are worthy of every ounce of effort needed to be a part of such beautiful chaos. I believe this mainly because of the same four people who I once thought had sent me running from traditional union in the first place – my own parents and my brother and sister.

You see, while my family may wonder if I have gone too far away this time, I cannot help but marvel I have finally gone far enough to look back and see the roads I have previously traveled – in all their heartache and glory. Trying to make a life for myself now in California isn’t as easy as I’d like it to be. And being all the way out here on the unfamiliar west coast in a neighborhood where I am surrounded by laughing, singing, (it’s true) soccer playing, lively Mexican families from dawn to dusk, I catch myself feeling rather pathetic at times. I listen to these families through the thin walls of my apartment on A Street and I cannot help but remember nostalgic, yet true fragments of my own family in our heyday on Willowbrook Drive.

Like too many people I know, I used so much energy counting the cost of the family life – what I assumed it would take from me and my dreams of travel and freedom that I did not stop to fully consider what that life could bring – cookie coated kisses, an arm around me when I am scared, a team of unique personalities to cheer me when I need encouragement and humble me when I am vile. I have finally realized after all these years that what I want most is not merely to “correct” all my own family’s mistakes, but to build upon their strengths something of an even grander scale – a family in which I am the mother and wife with all the trouble and joy that suggests.

For all of you reading this who stand somewhere between wanting to turn the tables on the mockery of marriage and family and a panicky habit of running from a hint of danger, I say this: You can do this. You have so much to gain. And for those of you who are in the thick of the beautiful chaos of marriage/family: It is time you stopped reciting the cost to anyone who will listen and start spreading the word regarding the parts of your marriage and family you would sacrifice your life to protect. The ball and chain attitude is no longer cool and it was never helpful.

It’s hard to pursue dreams like mine and simultaneously reassure my family that our ties can never be broken, that they have been and always will be the most important people in my life. I try to find the words to express my gratitude for all the things they did exactly right, but I cannot. I once read a line that celebrated poet Merritt Malloy used to describe her affection to her children “You are more important than any door bell that will ring, any phone call I will receive.” This is true of my feelings toward my immediate family as well as my six nieces and nephews. This song, written in the country style we know so well, is for my family, who just by being themselves, have made me want to continue what we started way back when.

Where My Life Begins

My bike is on the front lawn
The family’s in the den
I’m just a kid in Oklahoma
And this is where my life begins

Mamma is the strongest one of all of us I know
She held her tongue at work each day and again when she was home
Her greatest gift was sacrifice for we ungrateful three
But what I recall most of all is that mamma did love me

Ali was my enemy as sisters all too often are
While she was soft and beautiful I worked to become hard
When she left home I felt somehow that she’d abandoned me
But when I look back, I’m sure of it, Ali did love me

My bike is on the front lawn
The family’s in the den
I’m just a kid in Oklahoma
And this is where my life begins

Jim was my first hero ‘cause he rebelled against the rules
While I doubted his choice in girls, I knew that he was cool
When he took on a wife and child, he left behind his poetry
With or without, I’d never doubt my brother did love me

Daddy wore a uniform, pants so creased and shoes that shined
Our childhoods were lost to him, but we forgot in good times
There were planes to catch, fears to chase and Star Trek on TV
But what I recall most of all is how daddy did love me

When I think back, I am not sad
I savor every part
Of this family tree, I’m glad to be
Loved right from the start

My bike is on the front lawn
The family’s in the den
I’m just a kid in Oklahoma
And this is where my life begins

Penny Rene’

Posted by Penny Rene at 03:07 PM | TrackBack

5 · May · 2004

Ross & Irene

“But things just get so crazy. Livin’ life gets hard to do.
And I would gladly hit the road, get up and go if I knew
That someday it would lead me back to you.
That someday it would lead me back to you.”

- Maroon 5, Sunday Morning
from Songs About Jane

When my maternal grandmother died in 1986, I noticed the last name engraved on her burial marker was unfamiliar. Irene, or “Grandma Rene”, whom I’m named after, had apparently married twice. It was only a few years ago that I was told the story about this 2nd husband.

Ross B. fell in love with Irene who was at the time, a divorced, working mother of two. They courted for less than a year and got hitched. 1945 was an even more difficult time to be a single mom than it is today, so this was no small gesture that Ross made. Though my mother remembers Ross as a kind man who, when he was around, treated everyone with sincerity and respect, the relationship was short lived. Ross was a WWII Veteran who struggled with flashbacks of his buddies’ gruesome deaths in battle and when the memories became too vivid to bear, he subdued them with alcohol. Ironically, my mom says Ross often left the house to deal with his problems but always returned with exactly the same amount of money in his pockets. Though he was never abusive, he soon left Irene, my mother and her brother for good because he feared his inner demons would escape and cause irreparable harm to those he loved most. Irene never married again.

When Grandma Rene turned 62, which was not long before her death, my mother escorted her to the social security office to arrange collection of her benefits. At the registration office, the woman behind the counter informed grandma that she had a right to receive her husband’s social security as well since he was deceased. After some confusion on my mother’s part, it was confessed that Irene and Ross were never legally divorced and she was, in fact, Irene B., widow.

I don’t know that Grandma ever offered any clear explanation for this “over-sight” But I can’t help but wonder if a part of her always belonged with this man. Perhaps, in making no move to separate herself from him, she was subconsciously choosing to remain his wife. As I remember her, Grandma Rene was never one to do things without reason. I guess there is no way for me to know for sure.

I’ve become familiar with the feeling of being deeply linked to someone, yet all the while reviewing the case against them. But sometimes, while we conduct our public lives around logic, it can be the private chaos and illogical relationships that are most pure and intimate. I suppose the result of such attempts to repress the chaos varies widely, depending on how serious one is about being true to herself.

I Want More

Rhythmically tangled again
Forget the time, myself, my plans
As you move me into small devotion
I draw ultimatums in the sand

There’s fire in your name and in your touch
Yet the pastor always said that I should run
When the devil pokes his head into my corner
I only smile back and say “I’m done”.

You can dismiss me for not being who you dreamed
And I can cry you’re not who I thought you were before
But every time I say I’m never going back to you
It only makes me want you more. I want more.

The moon pulls close the ocean to his breast
And she never asks why or tries to fight
The way the earth dances with the sun
Well, no one ever wonders if it’s right

While we clock the stars and kiss the rain around us
We claim our bodies’ ignorance of truth
But if we cannot trust what stands right before us
I wonder what are we supposed to do?

If we think our days really are unending
When we live like this, what’s the message we’re sending?

You can dismiss me for not being who you dreamed
And I can cry you’re not who I thought you were before
But every time I say I’m never going back to you
It only makes me want you more. I want more.

Sometimes I hate you for being what I need
Though I doubt I am the girl I was before
Every time I say I’m never going back to you
What I really think is more. I want more.

Penny Rene’

Posted by Penny Rene at 01:37 PM | TrackBack

20 · Apr · 2004

Me On TV

I never thought I would say this, but there is something really wrong with not having access to television. It has been exactly one month since I have seen anything on MTV. It has been two months since I have watched local news. I am even missing the last season of Friends. The convenience of electronics that connected me to the rest of the world is too expensive for me these days because around here if you don't pay for cable, you can't pick up even local TV channels. I also don't have a radio except in my car. This was really fine when I was in Romania, when I had all these other things to do to fill my time. But being in a new city, living alone in an empty apartment without a TV can push a person over the edge.

I'm sorry for letting you down. Those of you who thought I would spend every free minute of my unemployed life at the public library. I have seen the San Diego library. It's no barrel of laughs. Plus, they won't give me a library card without a permanent address. I've also watched all my DVDs at least three times -a record for me regarding any movie. If it weren't for Chad and Melanie lending me videos from their collection, I surely would have taped into a side of my psyche that is usually reserved for nursing home years. And unless you all would like to start sending me books or money I am virtually a prisoner of my own mind. Well, and I'm also a slave to the local coffee shops outdated magazines.

The ironic thing about my not having access to television programs is that I have just completed my very first and probably my last interview with television producers. Ross the Intern from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno has been given his own talk show and he wants to make people‚s dreams come true. So, acting on a whim a couple of weeks ago I wrote in, explaining that I want to be a syndicated magazine or newspaper columnist. I want to do something that's a cross between Sex and The City and Sermon on the Mount.
I told him about milk memo, my readers, and the crappy last twelve months of my life. Apparently this sort of desperation appealed to those in charge and so they called me in. And there I was wondering if I had on too much lipstick during what was ironically my first official interview since moving to California.

They clearly have the upper hand. Do you mind if I point this camera at you while I ask you a few personal questions?

For an excruciating twenty minutes I felt like teenage Claire Danes in My So Called Life. Hearing my own voice annoyed me. I wanted the interviewer to ask better questions. But I endured anyway because, let's face it; I could use a shove in the right direction.

When it was over, I took the elevator down to the street, amazed at how boring I am. It doesn‚t matter what I have done. It doesn't matter where I have been. If I don't seem interesting on camera, I'm doomed. I rest my head on the steering wheel of my car to console myself. Driving down Wilshire, smog fumes rolling through my car windows, it was clear to me that some people are born stars and some aren't.

But that was Thursday. Today is Monday and this morning I watched Chad's video copy of Tombstone again. So here‚s what I've decided:

I am the law.
Sometimes you gotta fight for the underdog. And right now, I'm the underdog.

If you would like to see me get a shoot at my dream on the Ross Show, please write to the producers by filling out this form on their website.

This is for all of you who said you wish you could help me get published. I have never asked for anything from my readers. I have never tried to promote milk memo, but this might be one reason why I'm not getting anywhere with my writing.

Just tell them that you are writing to explain why you want to nominate Ms. Penny Rene who interviewed with them on April 15, to get her shot at being a real writer. They‚ll ask for my birth date, which is 07/13/1971. Be sure to mention where you live, your name and what you like about my writing. It might help if you send your favorite quote from a milk memo as well, so they can see if they think I have what it takes.

After you send the creators of The Ross Show an e-mail, let me know. I promise that I will keep each of you on this list updated about my progress. The show is not on the air yet and they will be shooting the pilot soon. While, in retrospect, my interview wasn‚t that bad, there are plenty of people who are vying for the same attention. It may take a while before I have an answer. Thank you in advance for your support.

Penny Rene

"Are you gonna do something or are you just gonna stand there and bleed?"
-Wyatt Earp, from the movie Tombstone

Posted by Penny Rene at 02:29 PM