Archive for Words

Short Poems and Loose Rules

I like goals, projects, ideas with rules. Writing is something I like to do, in fits and starts, mostly bad but almost always enjoyable. So last year, around November of 2015, I started tweeting haiku*. I had no real plan, no specific goal in mind. It was just an idea that bounced around in my brain until I finally took action. They are irreverent unscripted tweets, bits of my world confined by the 5-7-5 syllabic structure, a most simple and uncomplicated poem style.

*Fun fact: The plural of “haiku” is “haiku”.

In the straightforward restricted form of a haiku, however, I found that the width and breadth, the enormity of an idea or mood that can be expressed, is surprisingly vast. As in a lot of things, it’s the actual boundaries that set you free. Freedom is an interesting term or definition to explore, and sometimes doesn’t mean entirely what we think it does.

Haiku book by Shrie L. Spangler

(I just realized, there is a typo on the cover. This weighs heavily on my ever-proofing brain. I proofed the copy at least five times! The cover slipped by covert-style. Eeh gads – not ideal.)

So I tweeted, several times a week but not everyday. The reminder to tweet a haiku usually set in around 10 or 11am on a work day at the office. Morning coffee almost cashed, impending work hovering around the edges of my day, it felt like a good time to set to Twitter and type out a few, sometimes rhyming and sometimes flabbily formed, little ditties.

They are often nonsensical, and sometimes communicate my overall mood for the moment. But I didn’t do it for you, or anyone else. I just did it for me. So they didn’t have to be perfect or well-done or even interesting, they just had to be. I tried not to wish-wash on the details, or spend too long crafting them. It was the process, not the product, I was in search of.

I created a little booklet of my year of haiku, from November 2015 to December 2016, self-published it using an online service, and gave out just a few hard copies to family members and friends for Christmas gifts. As is usually the case, I want to be able to show people things I make, but feeling the content or item is sub-par, almost always pull back the reigns and keep it to myself.

Since hardly anyone reads my blog, I feel fairly safe in posting the digital version here. A quiet way to be brave. If you care to delve in, you may. Just download it here: Haiku by Shrie L. Spangler.

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Death to Rubber Gloves

Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio is dead and gone. I have FEELINGS about this, as I’ve detailed in typically long-winded fashion.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this post. I didn’t really know what to say about the venue, the shows, the things I learned while just being alive inside the structure and by hearing the often raucous and strange sounds coming from the stage. I still don’t know how to put it all into words. Maybe I’m just lazy… but more likely, it was just a big ole thought process to sort through and a melancholy goodbye to have to make.

Rubber Gloves outside building

I like to think that many people grew up at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, in a way, whether that was through working there, attending shows, or renting out the practice space onsite. Somehow that ramshackle building full of weirdos was a home of sorts to so many Dentonites who came for college, for small town life, or who were born and bred lil D’ers. RGRS. and the shows that took place inside, was indicative of a special ethos and culture in Denton, at least it was for me during those fateful five years, of unrestrained, brazen musical (and personal) exploration.

The building was small, perpetually stuffy and blazing hot inside. You had to cross an old set of train tracks to get there, and the sound of the train was another important ingredient to Rubber Glove’s magic. Just the act of walking, or driving, across those tracks, stepping away from the meat of the city into that dusty corner of Denton, felt like a departure of sorts but also an exciting arrival. As soon as you crossed the tracks, if it was night time, the pulsing and crashing of music inside and the bubbly laughter of outdoor smokers was apparent. From one world into the next.

Rubber Gloves neon sign

A boss at the chain books/music/video store I worked at in high school had already started me out on music I would never have heard otherwise out in east Texas. He played artists like MC Paul Barman, De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Afrika Bambaata, and more, out in my Camaro, doors flung wide, music as loud as possible. He was a key ingredient in my future, unknowingly so, and I feel tons of gratitude for those tiny slices of time spent with him.

I started seeing shows at Rubber Gloves my freshman year of college. Another dude (we’ll call him J) entered the scene, albeit in a very different way, and became a big part of my life as well, crafting and molding my impressionable country mind into one of a burgeoning music explorer.

One night during my freshman year I went to a party with my best friend. We didn’t know anyone there, and they proceeded to feed us Everclear cocktails (unbeknownst to us). We got HAMMERED. Some things happened, and I accidentally (purposefully) wooed a gentleman in an orange Tripping Daisy shirt (I had recently developed a love for the Dallas band’s sound) and cajoled him into spending time with me. My forceful drunken act turned into a years-long ‘thing’, and friendship that has lasted long past. This dude, J, ended up being a humongo influence in my life, musically and beyond. He introduced me to the likes of Boards of Canada, Melt Banana, Sleep, Neutral Milk Hotel, jazz (in general), Olivia Tremor Control, local Dallas/Denton bands like Adventures of Jet, Baboon, Centro-matic and many many many more. He started me on the path of music nerd-dom at the ripe old age of 18.

Rubber Gloves inside stage

J started taking me to Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, where I saw a cavalcade of important, mostly independent, rad-ass bands. Along with my best friend, J, and a slew of other close friends, I frequented RGRS on a weekly basis for years. I partook in Big Ass Beer Nights on the regular, got stomped on by Yasuko Onuki of Melt Banana, saw J pass out face first onto the concrete floor, made out with multiple people, bummed cigarettes off of Brent Best (of Slobberbone) and smoked them outside in the balmy Texas weather underneath that red glowing RGRS sign, and even met my husband there (when I was there with another dude, who has remained a lovely friend).

I went on to work at a small record store, Seasick Records, in Denton, start writing about music for various blogs/websites upon my post-collegiate arrival in Seattle, interned at Sub Pop Records, and continue seeing shows anywhere I could, usually getting in for free. It all started with my old boss, continued and blossomed with J, and was further ingrained because of the grimy genius of a simple music venue with no A/C and terribly gross bathrooms.

Us at RGRS, for the last time

I don’t owe it all to Rubber Gloves, but I owe a lot of who I am to the times I spent there. When I heard it was closing, the pang of disbelief was strong. How could such a revered institution close just like that, leaving all of its devotees hanging? The answer, of course, isn’t any easier than the question and is a somewhat private matter of the club’s owner, who definitely did not want to close the club.

Brett and I went to the last weekend of shows, the Saturday set, with grieving hearts but smiling faces. We saw people we knew and had forgotten, long lost friends, acquaintances who we now felt more of a kinship with, and made a couple of new friends, all within the span of one night. I took the time to look at everything, to visit the nasty bathroom one more time, to look into the face of Josh, the owner, as he wearily trudged up and down the stairs with boxes of what I can only assume are residual dreams and sad goodbyes. I bounced my head to the music and enjoyed seeing some old faves and new stalwarts of the scene, and I cried a little. Walking away from RGRS that night, right at the train track crossing, I turned to see that glowing sign one more time, with feelings of both sadness (where will all the young ‘mes’ go to find their music?) and gratefulness (if not for J and RGRS, what would I be now?)

Glowing RGRS

It was an end of an era, not just for me but also for Denton. New clubs and venues will pop up, thrive, and leave, as usual. The town and its cavalcade of freaks seeking liberal refuge from tiny towns (like I was) will continue to exist and grow up and move on. The spirit of that place will live on I hope, as long as we want it to. It seems silly to lament over a building, a broken-down crusty building at that. But I guess it’s more than just a building. And everyone who went there, who was imprinted with its history, relevance, and spirit, knows that.

Farewell, godspeed, good luck. xxxooo


All images courtesy of my and Brett’s Flickr pages.

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A Tale of Two Matrices

There were two Matrices, singularly dubbed Matrix, who met one day. One, called Suckerpunch, was purple with a tinge of pretty blue bruise, and the other, Quicksilver, a perpetually dust-dirtied silver color. Their owners, initially unwitting of this similarity (and unknowingly there would be many more same-sies to follow), hooked proverbial hands and started to know one another.

The two Matrices lived separate but conjoined lives, one wide street over from one another, darting into similar driveways but experiencing separate, somehow linked together, go-kart-esque histories.

Quicksilver was nimble, jumpily starting and going via a handy black stick in her torso, a forced push to her destination wielded most often by a strong stalk-like arm, not too hairy nor too flabby. Suckerpunch acquiesced easily with a quick flick of her owner’s ginger fingers, keeping rally road noise at bay, whistling along the road, whether highway or country dirt or pot-holed hood alley.

Life was good, gentle. The rough hands of nearby shop-men mangled their insides from time to time, checking bits and bobs, holding a grease-o-scope to their chit-chittering hearts. They both remained steadfast and hardy, mechanical horses blazing frivolous trails (once a sand-covered beach road, once in a hairy-with-grass highway-side ravine).


On a day, sunny and fresh and brimming with future beams of light, Quicksilver threw on some Cream and pointed to the north, the scavenging of crafty materials and the touchy-feely of delectable fibers pre-possessing her spark plug non-brain. She felt free, stray leaves ripping and sliding over her hood, the tingling flow of winter air sucking into the roof and caressing the cavity under her hood.

The ramp and road she knew so well, perpetually crammed with smoke spewing trucks moving goods no one wants, and fancy pants low-slung cars va-rooming over the fly-over, sky bound, slowed to a syrupy sludgey crawl in an instant. Brakes were slammed and pulled in every direction they could, swerves happened, nerves snapped with the jostle of necks, and deathly-feeling crunch. A WHAM, then POW, and Quicksilver was gone.


I wasn’t there, but I know someone who was, the aforementioned sun-hued owner/handler of Suckerpunch. Rain-splattering and wet-willied, that Oltorf road is always a bumper tap blight. A lone disrespectful soul narrowly missed the gravel inlet at ABGB, and hard-pumped the brakes for a tight squealing turn-in. Suckerpunch tried with all her might, squealing and wheeling, but body-slammed into her much bigger and broader cousin. A supposed crunch and the slick, black noise of engulfment. Another errant decision, a dark-as-night blunder, caused the demise of that pretty girl, Suckerpunch.


Just like that, the matrices, Quicksilver and Suckerpunch, disjoint and float away, never to be linked again, making way for new shiny hunks of metal, more spaceship than automobile. More new than old. Something let go and lost, something gained.



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A Writerly Resolution

I think last year I said I wanted to try something new every month, which was my non-resolution. That didn’t last SUPER long but I did get quite a bit of value out of that attitude and approach. I learned how to meditate and I tried out a writing class, among other things. I read thirteen books last year, per Goodreads, but I could have done better.

I keep saying I’m a writer, and I am. Being a writer feels like a slow process, one in which you’re not sure if you are who you say you are. So this year, DN DNN DUNNNNNNNN, I am going to write something on paper every single day. I fill my days with writing/editing how-tos, instructions and technical documents. Armed with more confidence and a lot less caring about what other people think, I’ll be continuing my dive into the illuminating waters of creative writing.

You heard right, my non-resolution this year – okay I guess this is a regular resolution – my RESOLUTION for this year is to write something, anything, down on paper every single day of the year.

For Christmas, among the cavalcade of other fantastic gifts my husband lavishly bestowed on me, I received a writing notebook that looks like a library card on the front. Writerly nerds unite! I will use this notebook to chronicle my everyday ramblings.

I’m on day two, and going strong. And who knows… maybe I’ll put a little of that here on the blog as well.


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On, but never up

She was slowly peeling off the Spongebob stickers. Ann was helping.

It was almost like Ann was sorry she had to fire Rachel. She was acting dour, yet chipper. Punctuating her short sentences with an uninspired ‘heh’ and a half-hearted apologetic grin. An ‘I just fired you but told you I was pressured into it by my boss so that makes it a little more okay, right’ approach.

‘You could put them in your kid’s bathroom’ I blurted out stupidly.

Rachel has just been fired, is sullenly collecting her things, and I’m here trying to give her advice about where she can re-home those garish cartoon wall clings that she insisted on getting for the wall next to her desk. ‘To make it seem more Ffuuunnn!’, she had exclaimed when I asked at the time, horrified by their presence peering over my shoulder.

Rachel seems resigned, maybe a little relieved. It’s tiring, job jockeying. She’ll walk out, with her box of belongings, and start a new life again. She’ll convince someone else to hire her, that her measly skills garnered over two decades of meaningless work in corporate sales is enough to guarantee her anything. She will move on, but never up, I bet.

Her heels, too tall and too red, clacking on the concrete floor like tinny gunshots. She scoots over for a polite but hearty side-hug, leaning in, looking me square in the eye.

I can tell I am definitely at least her second favorite ex co-worker.


ps – i said last time things were going to look a bit different around here. this is the beginning of the renovation. short stories. creative writing. strange blurbs. mind-dumping-on-page. and other kinds of words on paper. as i work to get comfortable maybe i will share more. or maybe this experiment won’t last. either way, at this second, i’m putting personal words down for anyone to see. and it doesn’t matter if anyone sees this or reads this, just that someone COULD.

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Fingers crossed

I let myself down all the time. I’ve been letting myself down since I knew about letting people down.

Case in point, I’m a writer and I have a blog that I don’t write in. A writer that doesn’t write.

Except sporadically, in bursts sufficiently snuffed by my crippling inability to write–and let be. The proverbial red pen comes out! I stop after each paragraph to read, edit and rewrite. I wonder, every single time, what the words I just typed on the page say about me. If I sound too trite, too much of a newb, if what they say is that I really can’t write very well after all.

I’m tired of caring. I really just want to do the things that I’ve learned allow me to scribble outside of the lines, or inside the lines if I please. Things that seal up the rough edges.

It may start to feel a little differently around here soon. My hope, xx fingers crossed xx, is that it will get downright weird.

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Writer’s Workshop Reading Update

Update! The writing workshop reading didn’t go nearly as bad as I had planned to expect. During the drive over to the library, where the writers meet, I just decided not to be nervous. It was as simple as that. I still stumbled over a few words here and there, and I still don’t particularly like the work I read. But after hearing everyone else read, even though my pieces were decidedly not the ‘best’, they were pretty darn good. Good enough no quell my fear of sucking it up big time.

I even came up with the name for our writing group. Perhaps, someday soon, I’ll even share the pieces that were published. You must PROMISE not to scoff, though. Or at least, do your intense scoffing privately.

E. Cesar Chavez Snack Society - Badgerdog Writing Workshop chapbook 2014

E. Cesar Chavez Snack Society – Badgerdog Writing Workshop chapbook 2014


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Writer Not-Writer

I’ve spent a lot of years writing. I’ve written about music, offbeat weddings and weirdo-culture, home decor and upscale appliances, fine art publishing, food and restaurants, crafting and DIY, and even web hosting. One form of writing that I’ve eschewed over the years, since my angsty and love-sick teen journaling days, has been creative writing.

I read novel after novel, check up on McSweeney’s regularly, and even dive into the New Yorker when I can. But when it comes to picking up the pen and throwing down some creative words of my own… nu uh. And now I write instructions for a living, so creativity is typically thrown out the window.


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This morning felt magical

This morning I kept waking up before my alarm went off. Every time my eyes would slit open I noticed the dark light coming through the curtains. The rain pit-patted on the pomegranate trees we planted a few months ago, trickled along the edge of the house. I struggled to turn over, I just got some inner arm tattoo work done, and snuggled my face into Brett’s back, my ankle thrown over his.

rainy day

Rain like this is rare in July. I wanted to stay inside in the bed with my pitbull softly snoring against my side, her soft lip stuck up on the side of my calf. Instead, I spoke out loud and broke the morning silence. If I hadn’t, could we have stayed in bed all day with sweaty backs and rustling sheets? Could we have watched endless movies, had tea in bed, forgotten that it was a Monday?

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I’m a writer.

I’ve been diving back into the blogging/writing world these days. As the end of my technical writing certification program draws near I’m trying to turn what I do towards the internet, blogging, writing, and editing. I’ll ALWAYS be a blogger… I like to ramble and emote and post pretty pictures of things too much to give that title away. But as I plan towards my future, and my family’s future, I crave security and flexibility (of the freelance writing career I will hopefully build for myself). THUS, I will now start calling myself a writer.

“Oh, I’m a writer. Technical, editorial, how-to, blogging, marketing and the web. “- Me, somewhere sometime soon telling someone what I do

I’ve always labeled myself as a creative, whether that be in reference to my writing experience, crafting experience or general personality. I’m pushing 30 now and my hankering to organize every life detail into a handy to-do list may have proven otherwise… I’m organized, structured, and detail-oriented. So perhaps I’m not as much a proclaimed creative as I’d like to be, but I’m definitely a fantastically efficient mish-mash of zany + logical.

bi-weekly Farmhouse CSA delivery

What blogging and writing have I done you say? You certainly haven’t seen any here on my blog, I’ve deserted it off and on for quite a while now. I’ve been doing some food writing for The Homegrown Revival, some blogging for Feliz (it’s going to be spectacular!), some DIY writing and some technical writing. I’m widening my breadth of knowledge and technical capability in the HOPES that I will be a bad-ass one woman writerly show.

Shameless self promotion alert (portfolio buildin’): If you know of any opportunities for technical writing (user guides, manuals, proposals, white papers, how-tos etc.), crafty/artsy writing, blogging, newsletter design etc. please hit me up! I need to whip a portfolio into shape.

new succulent from the Mueller Farmer's Market

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Big words

“Whatever you are curious about, whatever delights you and brings you joy is precisely what will take you on the path towards your deepest dreams. You don’t need to connect the dots or even understand it. In fact, it might be better if you don’t. Just do it for the joy of it.

And know that nothing, absolutely nothing you’ve ever done is wasted.” – via “The Lost Art of the Friendly Letter”

Some words that made a lot of sense to me. Some words I think you should carry around in your pocket today.

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