Category Archives: Journal Writing
[Writing Prompt: ekphrastic and timed; time limit = 15 minutes]
“How’s the baklava?”
He shoots me a surprised look. “You know to ask.”
“I know my baklava.”
The proprietor closes in to block off the other barflies. “Order it next time. This batch…?” He shakes his head.
I order a burger, a good burger, as I rarely keep red meat in my house. The order comes, and I ask for tzatziki sauce on the side.
Tzatziki. Boston lettuce. Tomato slice. Scrape the O rings off. 1/4 pound of beef, large slice of feta, more tzatziki, close with the bun. Flip over for good luck. I invented that, I don’t know when, but it’s just something I do. Bury my knife into the middle to part my feast and…
Solid. Grey. LUMP.
My eyes slit.
“I know I ordered medium rare.” It was supposed to be delivered with concern, but instead, dripped with acid.
The keeper, the trainer, the new cook, everyone’s in disarray then in a hurry. I backpedal my statement, realizing it’s become an issue. Before I could finish explaining myself, the new burger is in front of me, the house cook, doing me the favor of meticulously dressing my burger the way I just had that pile of dog food.
Sorry. It’s just that ‘well done’ makes no fuckin’ sense to me. You gonna eat meat? Get some blood in ya.
I carve in, the juices flow, all is well in the land of The Burg.
Other than the petite woman breathing down my neck as she read the beer menu board, I enjoyed my company. On moments when I teetered back to breathe and let my gullet expand, I joined in on the surrounding conversation, the latest concern from the proprietor being his current roommate situation. I dive back in. The guys around me and in the kitchen comment, “She’s really putting it away!” “She’s not playing around!” “I thought she was kidding!”
“Fellas, fellas,” I lean back as one sliver of 1/2 pound burger awaits its demise, “don’t let the small frame fool ya. I’m here for a slayin’.” I hoark the final piece down to emphasize I mean business.
“Ready for dessert? Other than the baklava?”
“I absolutely would. But I have a technical error.”
“Too full from the burger and fries?”
“Not at all. I’m wearing tight pants. There’s no more give!”
Everyone laughs. He goes back down the bar.
“Is this The Dynamics?” the guy sipping on pinot noir asks. The proprietor checks Pandora. Yes, it is.
“That’s an amazing cover.”
I agree as I finish my Lehnenkugel. “That is an amazing cover.” The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.
They go back to the roommate issue. “If I don’t get someone to move in, I’m gonna have to get another job,” he laments.
Pinot Noir suggests, “There’s always stripping.”
“Yeah,” he laughs “there’s always stripping.”
“Just do me a favor,” I insist as I slide my bar stool back, descend from my seat, and hoist my purse onto my shoulder. “Don’t strip with sneakers on. It is just so unsexy.”
At first I get several pairs of weird looks, and then, once the thought has soaked in, laughter.
“Til next time, fellas.”
What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
So this happened this past weekend:
And what was so weird about it was, I put no pressure or heat on the frames. As casually as any of you lenswearers would slide a pair of glasses onto your face, that’s how much pressure I applied, and, PLACK!! They just…fell apart.
But the event made me remember another inexplicable demise of something very necessary at a most inconvenient time:
[Cue Law & Order SVU's dun dun dun!]
It was Memorial Day Weekend, 2012, and I was in Washington, D.C. to attend my sorority daughter’s wedding. I hadn’t seen my daughter or her chapter sisters since 2008, and hadn’t done anything sorority-related since, so this was going to be a reacquiantance/presentation moment for me. Gotta look good for the sorors!
So in my arsenal of outfits I included a pair of pumps I’d had since 2003, worn on very few occasions but they were crowd pleasers: black stiletto open toed pumps with a delicate ankle band, trimmed in gold with colorful, gilded flowers dotting the sides and back. Sooooooooper cuuuuuuuute.
I arrived at the Crystal City hotel midday, and attempted to contact my daughter but of course, day before the big event, she’s not going to be available to entertain me. I knew my granddaughter was standing in her wedding party, who I had yet to meet, but also not available. The only other sister I knew from our time at Vanderbilt University was also in the wedding party and likely unavailable.
Sucked hard for me, because D.C. ranks high in Cities I Like To Rawk My Balls Off In. So fine, no one around, not gonna bar hop alone in downtown D.C. (I’m crazy, but not THAT crazy), so I opted to curl up in the middle of my bed. I believe Die Hard was just about to start on one of the cable channels.
A text message bleeps my phone: where u at auntie?
Ohh snap. My niece! I figured since she’s part of the wedding party, she’d be too tired to hang out. But I had forgotten: she’s MY niece. Hits me with her room number.
My text back: Be there in 15.
She greets me at her door and we close the four-year gap in our lives with a big hug. I meet the other sisters in town for the wedding, not in the party, and finally, my grandbaby, proving she’s related to me, without question down to hang out for the night. After small talk we decide to bar hop with some other wedding attendees more familiar with the local haunts. I went back to my room, switched into Night Mode with the Crowd Pleasers on my feet, and we went our merry way via taxi to a segment of P Street where the other people were going to meet us at.
The gist of the evening: bar, drink, other bar, drink, club, flirt, drink, other club, dance. And again, we’re along P Street, not venturing any more than two blocks to visit venues. But while we’re at the last club, I feel a bit of a hesitation on the bottom of one high heel. It looks as if the sole was pulling away. I discount it as latent effect from the friction of dancing and keep winding my waist.
Last call at the bar, then city ordinance kicks us out, and we’re on the streets of D.C. loitering with other club bunnies. I am ANCIENT compared to these spry twentysomethings, so while they’re harangued by every other dude exiting the nightclubs, I stride over towards a brownstone intending to rest my weary body on a stoop. That’s when I hear STTTTTRRRRIIIIPPPPP! The entire bottom of my shoe pulls off! One of the ladies pauses her sorority strolling along P Street to assist me, by ripping the rest of it off. Then, because she thinks in the macro sense, she relieves my other sole, so that I can walk evenly on the residuals. That sister is going to run a nation one day, mark my words.
But then it was painfully obvious why shoes have soles in the first place, and any attempt to walk along the wide, cobbled sidewalks that are uniquely D.C. was causing me duress. Finally, a fleet of flying taxis and I spot The Red One, the red taxis will run you to Alexandria and Crystal City expressly. I clop clop clop from the brownstone towards the taxi, and that’s when I hear, “You are looking mighty fine this evening, Miss Lady.”
I stop my enflamed feet, stagger to balance on these Borgia-esque torture devices and plant my hands on my hips. “Yeah? Well I’m not feeling mighty fine.” Then I call over to my niece, “I’m gettin’ in this cab. Ya’ll comin’ or what?” I pay the gentleman caller no heed and continue forward, for as I continue to walk on these threadbare devices, they’re just falling apart. I’m feeling the sides of the shoes flap away, the ankle band now a clumsy means of keeping a semblance of shoe attached. Once in the cab, the shoes disintegrated.
Never in my life had I done the Walk Home From The Club With No Shoes On thing, but I had no choice.
But it gets better folks.
Next day, Wedding Day. I had bought a new pair of shoes to compliment the cobalt blue dress to compliment my daughter’s wedding colors. The entire time at the church, lovely. The entire time at the reception, lovely. It wasn’t until we went to the vodka bar along DuPont Circle that my shoes decide to fall apart. I’m beside myself. The Crowd Pleasers, fine, we’ll chalk it up to expired warranty. But I literally JUST BOUGHT THESE A WEEK PRIOR!
Mystery. Complete mystery.
His hand slowed its feverish massage as his laughter grew.
“What the hell are we listening to?”
I stop my humming and open my eyes, lifting my Galaxy to my face.
He shakes his head and keeps moving the mouse ball, putting the finishing touches on the design I made. A complete overhaul of my book cover. It’s beautiful.
“What’s so funny?” I ask.
“It’s just that when I left here, you were listening to Otep.”
I smile. “It’s my thing. Country music is where I go when I need to bring the rage down.”
He’s right. A few hours prior, I had sat at his workstation. I had Marie’s artwork framing the screen. I had a blank Photoshop layer precut to the background artwork in the center. And I had the roars of Otep, Killswitch Engage, Rammstein carrying about me, helping me bring my rage to resolve.
And from resolve begat beauty.
I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a living fact. My online persona constantly engages in controlled folly, and much of that folly comes from my actual persona managing the ebb and flow of the disorder. I found over the last few years transforming from shadow artist to true artist, having PTSD is a gift. A strange one, in that it can be a crippling situation if not managed, but when it’s harnessed, it can become a powerful source of creativity, sometimes bucking you crazy, but at the end of the ride, you’re left with a masterpiece.
If my actual persona was not the skilled master of the ol’ Put The Stick Down, the design flaw I had to deal with yesterday would’ve sent me into a vortex of fury. I chose to convert my dark thoughts into a working plan. You know what, if you don’t like it, change it, I said to myself. I knew what I wanted to create, but I didn’t have the equipment. Made some contacts; finally, the guy who did my photo shoot not only had the full suite but he didn’t need to use it for the day.
At 2:37AM my time I sent the completed design files, the proofed manuscript, and reference files to the publisher, then I passed out. Today, whatever latent malevolent feeling I have about the ordeal is going to get exorcised out productively. I’m thinking, jog around the park with Bobby, go read my book on the pier, and listen to something that goes like this: