On my annual Southern Sojourn (states visited: Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi), my siblings and I are telling childhood tales to my 15 nieces and nephews still young enough to find the notion of us as children fascinating.  “The Happy Willow” featured in more than one story, which sent me scurrying through the WordBowl archives for this piece, PATIENCE:

Our Word-of-the-Day is one of the very first suggestions submitted to WordBowl, delighted I drew it at last.  From the indomitable (and patient!) Amy Willstatter, media-maven, Moxie-Mom, early-edge entrepreneur.

patience

My mother gave birth to two boys as we idled in Houston waiting for my father — retired from MLB at twenty-seven, in need of a new vocation — to plow through pharmacy school; she gave birth twice again as we settled in Mississippi, waiting for my father to inherit a family business.

Great Uncle Ted and Great Aunt Myrtle instigated this scheme for their retirement, for my father to assume his “rightful” role.  They oversaw the construction of our new home, a symbol of our no-longer-peripatetic, now rooted life.

Weighing options at The Wayland (went with Sazerac)

Weighing options at The Wayland

My parent were no BabyBoomHippieCommuners, but the virgin backyard evoked some dormant bucolic dream, they drew up plans, tilled vegetable beds, planted snap bean bushes instead of hedges along the chain link fence. They selected saplings to supplement the towering, spindly pines, these new trees would grow, they claimed, to shade the bay window in the kitchen, Japanese Maples and Magnolias would in time cast dappled shadows on the terraced walkway, a willow would one day weep majestic in the back yard.

Between gardening sessions, my father taught me to throw a baseball, insisting I throw from the shoulder, like a boy, none of this girly from-the-wrist business. Hours we spent throwing, pitching balls to imaginary batters, or, one season, to knock slugs off the tomatoes, the year of an infestation no pesticide proved powerful enough to kill. We planted watermelons that year, too, which grew round as bowling balls and tasted just as sweet.

Healthy snap bean plants (in no way indicative of ours)

Healthy snap bean plants (in no way indicative of ours)

One year begat a bumper crop of snap beans, our family jammed around the kitchen table, snapping beans until our fingers reddened, an endless parade of beans at dinner, beans swimming in stewed tomatoes, beans glistening with butter and Morton’s salt, beans slathered with cream of mushroom soup, beans with diced frozen carrots, their uniform color and symmetry in sharp contrast to the beans snapped by fingers of varying sizes and strengths, beans boiled, frozen in plastic bags, thawed, cooked limp.

Trees grow more slowly than children, my city-bred parents discovered, and in order to weep, willows must be planted near water. We had maples only slightly taller than the snap beans or my young brothers, magnolias that bore a single blossom, and what we forever dubbed The Happy Willow, branches reaching uproarious to the sky.

The passion for gardening faded, beans supplanted by proper hedges, tomato beds replaced with flowers, sapling-sprouted trees watered and pruned with more prayerful hope than confidence.

PatienceEditGreat Uncle Ted staved off retirement for another year, and then another, my father his second-in-command. My brothers grew, eager for their presumptive baseball birthright, my father taught them to throw, to hit, to catch, the proper way to slide into third, games in which they took turns as pitcher, batter, catcher, shortstop, The Happy Willow serving as second base.

I graduated from college before my father assumed ownership of the family business, inherited the family home with its stoic, stately trees shading the bay windows, just as my parents once envisioned growing for themselves.

“patience” was handwritten with a Deep South-evoking Sazerac at The Wayland (east village, nyc) and was edited at the NYU branch of Think Coffee (nyc)

Do YOU have a word you think could be a story? Feel free to drop it into WordBowl!

On the eve of my annual Southern Sojourn, a #ThrowbackThursday reprisal from last summer’s missive scribbled between Sazeracs and Hushpuppies. 
Interested in playing WordBowl? Send me a word! Click HERE.
Greek

After an unanticipated summer semi-hiatus, we return to our regularly scheduled WordBowl story programming with a high-concept Greek term — and our first WordBowl to be written in a city other than NYC — which literally translates as:

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 8.47.51 AM

But a more accurate interpretation —courtesy of Dancer*Dreamer*Daredevil Dimitra D. — refers to the “something beyond” our universe (and, perhaps, our understanding)

sazerac

Birthplace of a beauty: The Sazerac Bar

Berkeley Hills, mid-1990s, Bay Area barreling towards the end of a century, me hurtling towards thirty. “Start up” not yet a noun, “IPO” not yet a business plan, e.mail addresses more perceived company perk than assumption. First hints of our mobile future, Internet connections still tethered to a physical location, we roadwarrior vanguard hauling laptops, modems the size of suitcases, weighty with import.

A couple-three years into my technology magazine publishing career, straddling what would soon become Old Media and New Media, I sat on the deck of the home I rented from a film producer friend awaiting the ideal real estate conditions to sell, sipped Bonny Doon Cigare Volant from a proper wine glass, looked out at a view framed by redwoods, Bay Bridge traffic twinkling, San Francisco a shiny toy for the taking. A family of deer frolicking amongst the unkempt foliage, me amidst the detritus of an impromptu dinner party arranged between giddy colleagues via our new walkie-talkie Nextel company phones. I raised my glass, a solo toast.

Chicory coffee, French Quarter

Chicory coffee, French Quarter

As a young girl, I went along with the usual group imaginary play: stuffed animal hospital, school, war. I tended to eschew playing “house” as my real life family —omnipresent babies squawking and parents battling against, settling into, an armistice of compromised dreams — disabused me of any aspirational notions. Alone, my “let’s pretend” scenario an amalgamation cobbled from memories of our once-upon-a-time nomadic baseball years, Disney musicals, whatever book I most recently devoured, my parents beloved 1930’s screwball comedies and 1940’s noirs. My dreams in black and white, witty women, dapper men, pristine apartments, balconies with sweeping vistas, cocktail parties with friends who performed on Broadway or wrote for newspapers, jobs I equated with the Big City, before “career” entered my consciousness. An elegant world far, far away from our insular Southern town where kids grew up marry their kindergarten classmates, leave their parental home for another in the same or neighboring neighborhood, content with the known.

In my scenario, I would tesseract at will.

It had not occurred to me to factor love into the equation — another story, folks, another time — I instead romanticized career, compatriots. “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

I discovered the working world — despite rush-to-publication highs, goal achievement bragging rights — was populated by the mundane, spreadsheet entry errors, advertising copy typos, trade show delivery snafus, personnel political dramas, wonky code. A tide of mundane swelling, ebbing, a trail of inconsequential debris in its wake.

De la Louisianne in NYC

De la Louisianne in NYC

On my hilltop perch, swirling a wine so leggy it leapt from the glass, I toasted to achieving my childhood fantasy: fabulous city, fabulous career, fabulous friends, hosting parties in a fabulous (albeit rental) home with a fabulous view. I was twenty seven years old, the age my father retired from Major League Baseball.

I groped for bigger dreams.

Startling, to wonder if I had reached the limits of my imagination at the precise moment an avalanche of tech innovation was clear-cutting historical assumptions, proving perceived limits merely a human mental construct.

Instinct insisted there was more, beyond, but I lacked language for the longing.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 8.52.17 AMHow appropriate to contemplate such a layered word in such a historically layered city, and that the piece required additional work somewhere beyond.  The initial notes for this story scribbled in the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel — reputably the birthplace of this notoriously storied cocktail — in the French Quarter, New Orleans. I began writing this piece fueled by chicory coffee at PJ’s, also in the French Quarter, steps away from St. Patrick’s cathedral. The sacred and the profane occupying the same space in this town, New Orleans it’s own special universe. Editing took place with a De la Louisane at bespoke cocktail haven Attaboy on the Lower East Side, Manhattan. 

Do you have a word for WordBowl? I would love to see it! Click HERE.

It all started with a word. Specifically, “deracinate”, a word submitted by documentarian Cyndee Readdean which resulted in a post picked by WordPress editors for promotion, which resulted in all sorts of amazing, provocative, heady words from you!

Reposting “deracinate” as tonight Cyndee Readdean will be honored for producing FREEDOM SUMMER (click for trailer), which was broadcast on PBS’s American Masters and garnered a prestigious Peabody. The Peabody Awards are airing this this evening (6/21) — watch the video trailer HERE  in the U.S. on Pivot broadcast network (check their digital platforms for streaming in other territories).

WordBowl Word of the Day “deracinate” — which I did not know essentially means “to uproot” until I Googled it — is courtesy of Cyndee Readdean. Filmmaker. Culture Creature. Twin. 

deracinateA few weeks after the birth of my baby brother — disappointing, as I specifically requested an OLDER brother, not this red-faced mewling thing taking up residence in my mother’s lap —I greeted the arrival of my road-weary father with suitcase in hand, assuming this Houston apartment was as temporary as the others, Phoenix for Spring Training, Tacoma in the off-season, San Francisco or San Mateo for games played in Candlestick Park, Evansville for dips down to Triple-A ball.

A travel savvy almost-five-year-old, I packed my own case, a miniature replica of my mother’s (hard-sided, top-stitched), with a few of my favorite outfits and matching socks (we dressed to the nines, my mother and I), a swimsuit (swimming pool hopes, often the case), paper and crayons (if we flew, stewardesses cooed and gave out coloring books, but I liked to be prepared for any travel situation), an assortment of books (of course) and my Giants jersey (adult-sized, doubling as security blanket). All set, ready to Hit the Road.

imgres-1We — Mom, Dad, me — may not have had a home, but our lives had a rhythm, bound to the tides of baseball fortunes, the ebbing minor leagues, the crests and swells of the majors. Shifts in destination and timing, the little dramas woven into the cycle of arrival, unpacking, practice, game, celebration or consolation, re-packing, waiting, departure, freeway or airport, motel or apartment, arrival.Vagabond days marked by gas station treats and airport gifts and occasional exotic meals cooked by one of the other ballplayer’s homesick wives.

Vesper Martini at Raoul's: a classic at a classic

Vesper Martini at Raoul’s: a classic at a classic

Ballparks, with their enormity of noise, swells of sound, announcements crackling, great waves of people, anticipatory, asserting statistical knowledge. Cries for beer, hotdogs, yes, even peanuts, better seats. The players loping onto the field, scattered shouts from the fans, weak clapping gaining strength as the crowds turn from their dissertations on the team’s chances for the season and acknowledge the actual talent hitting the field. Lazy balls arcing through the air, belying the precision with which they are thrown, even during warm up, the nonchalant preening of players on display but not yet at work, playing. Me, near the dugout, in uniform, an indulged team mascot.

Are not all fathers applauded by thousands upon arrival at their office?

wayside coffee bar, east village

wayside coffee bar, east village

Now, Houston, this apartment without a swimming pool, was to be our home for the next few years as my father — retiring at 27 from the only job he had ever known — attended pharmacy school.

I did not share my parents’ enthusiasm for kindergarten, the opportunity to play with kids my own age. I enjoyed my solo status, my books and my crayons, the company of grown-up players — Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Mansori Murakami, Willie Mays — and their wives. In Houston, all the adults looked alike, the kids had known each other since birth, and everyone spoke with a singular syrup-drenched accent.

Adrift in this sea of sameness, I began plotting my escape.

Today’s WordBowl Word of the Day was handwritten at the SoHo institution Raoul’s and edited at the latest jewel in the East Village artisanal coffee crown, Wayside. 

“Baleful” courtesy of Debbie Kovacs:

Editor. Adventurer. Pioneer of the possibilities (and risks) of software-meets-storytelling.

IMG_3013

STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, GO SEE WHAT GOOGLE THINKS IT KNOWS ABOUT YOU screamed across the social stratosphere, a link to access your Google profile, the basis of their vaunted ad-serving model. I was curious. Or procrastinating. I clicked: Male, 27-34 years old, two kids, New York City.

Only one of these characterizations is true.

PRINTING PRESS cocktail at The Up & Up

PRINTING PRESS cocktail at The Up & Up

LOOK BACK Facebook commanded, celebrated “our” Decade of Sharing — their platform on which we shared our lives and they in turn shared our data with others, minting money in the process — with a slideshow retrospective of selected status updates. The one foisted upon me opened and closed with my former Significant Other, framed in curiously wan achromatic balloon GIFs and set to tinny orchestral flourishes. My abruptly Dead Ex who eschewed social media entirely, those snapshots I uploaded in our first heady years — Argentine wine country vacation, Newcastle castle wedding — the only digitized photos posted of him anywhere, ever, buried so deep in my feed I had nearly, gratefully, forgotten. Until this self-congratulatory commemoration sprung from some brand marketing brainstorm, executed in code jockey sprints overseen by a ship-date sweating product manager, dredged up these superlative-seeming moments along with more benign memories, a randomized montage, a haphazard mash-up that aspired to curated mix-tape cult status.

What fairy tales an algorithm can spin.

Editing at Spreadhouse

Editing at Spreadhouse

Makes you reconsider all these multi-billion dollar market capitalizations, ostensibly tech valuations, but essentially based on you, us. We fickle, fragile, willful, capricious creatures who click and surf and post and swipe and comment and stream and purchase. And, occasionally, exist offscreen.

Code once referenced human principles, beliefs, morality, ethics. Is there a Code of Code? Code blazes new trails, hack roadblocks, lays waste to legacies, indiscriminate. Almighty Code with the omniscient view of everything — words, music, images static and moving — as a string of symbols, discrete functions, modules to be stacked, optimized, scaled. Enter the Money Men, the Marketeers, the stock market subsidized drive to classify consumer intent, divine meaning, derive a measurable, monetizable outcome from every pixelated interaction. Our fingertip actions dissected, decrypted, patterned post-facto, fed into the formula that is the price of free.

The view while procrastinating at Spreadhouse

Spreadhouse: The View

Social conversations systematically analyzed, categorized. Searches whittled to Google AdWords, Key Words, words ripped out of context,solitary soldiers in the War for Attention, pitted against each other in popularity contest, hashtag death matches. Language stripped of nuance, parsed past the point of poetry.

What wonders technology has wrought, this Golden Age of human connectivity, accessibility, participation. This personalized, on-demand world of virtually limitless information, content abundance. But as the once-upon-a-time stories forewarned, all magic comes with a price.

LONG AND DANGEROUS SLEEP - a cautionary cocktail?

LONG AND DANGEROUS SLEEP – a cautionary cocktail?

We chortle over predictive text misfires, tell cautionary tales of posting ill-advised photos, consider less the ramifications the ubiquitous login, the accesses to access, or an idle click, a gratuitous like-heart-pin, an inadvertent swipe. Our real-world usage — not to be confused with “user stories”, the scenarios run by UX specialists — recorded, reported, data to populate the databases. Presumed preferences purchased via programmatic advertising auctions, or stored in a pixilated equivalent of cryogenic freezer, banked for birthing the next generation of advertising, sponsorship, branding.

Our lives every increasingly mitigated by behind-the-screen processes fueled by great gushes of data twinned with market capitalization zeal in pursuit of the Holy Grail, a dizzying ever-upward market trajectory, a perpetual motion machine, the Algorithm of Everything.

The writing's on the wall at The Up & Up

The writing’s on the wall at The Up & Up

Ruminating on a word with such powerful connotations, I opted to write at in spots helmed by folks I know from their previous establishments where I spent many an hour writing WordBowl pieces. For cocktails, I headed down to  The Up & Up, the West Village subterranean spot from the former owner/operator of dearly beloved, lavishly awarded, much missed The Beagle. For caffeine, I visited Spreadhouse Coffee, a chill spot on the Lower East Side run by one of my go-to coffee gurus, offering vegan goodies baked by the uproariously creative @CakeTheivesBakery. 

Do you have a favorite word? A word begging to tell a story? Send it along:

This week, spring bloomed here on the East Coast (at last!) and I had a flurry of conference calls with Hollywood folks (new project!). With Southern California and movies on my mind, I scrolled through the WordBowl archives to revisit a flash fiction piece inspired by a word suggestion from Los Angeleno(a?) Jan Ostergard, which I share with you below. 

Do you have a favorite word? I would love to see it! Drop it to WordBowl HERE

“conundrum” is from the brain of Jan Ostegard who profiles musicians/actors/authors/filmmakers, writes about all manner of creators/creation, and is a “Phantom Creations” co-conspirator. 

conundrum

These executives were presented as important, but none wear ties. Confusing, business-makers dressing same as artists. Do they want to be artists? No one handed him a business card, which prevents him from addressing anyone by name. None of them have been to Japan, one says he has not left California except for tripping a road to Mexicali.

Rhythmic, mexxxxicaaallleeee, a word for Satoshi to stretch-beat-pulse into a fight sequence soundtrack. He wishes Satoshi was here. His producer only agreed to send him, alone, after many requests from the film festival — hinting, awards — and calls from studios.

Conundrum 2013-12-02 at 7.27.04 PMHe wants to ask these movie executives why interest in his film. Hollywood is big movies, big explosions, big stars for global audience. Japanese film is for Japanese. They discuss remake, “Americanize”, colonial word, to make something not from America into an American thing. The conversation whirls, smiles stretch across faces, English whips through his head before he can fully translate, they interrupt, overlap, agree, agree, agree.

He struggles with the order of the words, multiple negatives, questions within a question. Any answer may offend his hosts.

Perhaps he misunderstands, his many years of English inadequate preparation. He has not slept on this side of the globe, the elastic hours snap him awake.

They keep turning to his film festival escort— Reena, difficult for him to pronounce — who speaks a bit of Japanese. His English is much more, but she is native-speaker so they are reassured.

Mizubasho Sake at Wasan (east village)

Mizubasho Sake at Wasan (east village)

Important he does not make a mistake. Making a U.S. film changes everything. He looks around at expectant faces, laughs a moment after everyone else. The room nods. Smiles, handshakes, laughing bows. Exit. Reena hugs him, says they never meet with anyone that long, ever. Time for drinks with naked women at hotel pool. Did she say this? She says, this is just the beginning, of the night or his U.S. career, uncertain.

Their arrival greeted by an aquarium-lounging, bare-breasted mermaid blowing kisses through scarlet lips; they join a parade of ropey women in flimsy dresses, led by the trajectory of their impossible breasts. Hollywood, hard masquerading as soft, or the inverse. Poolside, everyone smiling at their barely-sipped drinks, scanning potentially prettier parties, whispering names of spotted celebrities.  Thumping music impairs his hearing, he surfs waves of laughter more easily with every florescent cocktail.

imagesSushi appears, the rice is wrong. A man as indiscernible as any American waves over a Taiwanese Toy Tycoon who orders shochu, which this bar does not stock, settles for a bottle of premium tequila. They converse in English, their common language.

No one is attending the festival, but all are impressed Scorsese is introducing his film. Their party swells, lights shimmer, bright-haired, big-teethed girls spill across laps, mermaids all.

Reena is with him again, skin glowing, her American breasts inviting his admiration, as big and welcoming and possibly insurmountable as America itself. He asks, again, if Scorsese-san watched his film before agreeing to introduce to American audience. Reena laughs, what did you say?

“conundrum” (which started out as a much longer story and required considerable whittling before it was suitable for you to read here) was written with a gorgeous sake and perfectly pickled vegetables at Wasan (east village, nyc)

Do you have a word just begging for a story? Send it in! 

Your words power WordBowl! Click here to share a word: WordBowlWord

Salubrious: Favorable to or promoting health (for the record, WordBowl is all about the health)

salubrious

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 “Salubrious” comes courtesy of Warren Bobrow, aka the cocktail whisperer and, fittingly, the author of (among other lauded tomes)   Apothecary Cocktails Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and TodayHe can be found @WarrenBobrow1

Photo: Buzzfeed

Photo: Buzzfeed

Morning ritual, double espresso with a sidecar shot of Fernet Branca, a combination my Italian bosses assured was a most balanced breakfast: Fernet to settle the stomach, espresso to jumpstart the brain. It was my post-collegiate job, the stopgap job to cover rent while stuck in the interview loop for the dream job newly minted graduates presume awaits, I assumed all sophisticated big-city grown-ups — unlike my parents, or those of the kids I babysat in high school — kicked off their professional days in some analogous spirit, an unspoken rite of passage into the secreted world of professional adulthood.

IMG_2813

This is what greets you at      The Happiest Hour

Rude awakening, my first magazine job, expected to fetch and pay for my own Americano, and no restorative amaro in sight. Not that a little alcohol was foreign to this work environment, either. Our tight-knit crew — in the time honored tradition of journalism melding with the emerging ethos of tech startups — decamped from office to bar, debating the fates of technologies and companies spotlighted in our pages, or arguing over sales tactics or angling for attention from higher-ups at the competing publications we consorted with after hours in a succession of favored watering holes who courted us with complimentary shots but unfailing failed to fill our water glasses. Mornings, we were left to our own devices, groping through the ritualistic San Francisco fog, attempting to placate our churning stomachs with socially acceptable foodstuffs, deadening bagels slathered with spread, chocolate muffins, egg-and-cheese sandwiches. Breakfast breads thudding in our guts like daily dread.

Although I admittedly had an affinity for all things Italianate after spending my fifteenth birthday getting drunk with a monk en route to Rome, my first immersion into cultures not my own, I suspected the Italians were on to something with their appreciation for the inherent powers of food, beverages to heal, nourish with none of the associated guilts.

HappyHappyJoyJoy

HappyHappyJoyJoy

My own dietary habits distinctly American, shaped by 1970s childhood convenience foods, uniformly-sized Bird’s Eye vegetables, Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks, Pillsbury biscuits popped out of a refrigerated tube. Upon turning teen, I graduated to my mother’s diet of skinless chicken breasts and Fresca, SlimFast shakes and grapefruit, sugar free gum to stave off food cravings. Years of mother-daughter trips to sneeze-guarded fast food salad bars for insipid vegetables we drowned in Ranch dressing and sprinkled with cheddar cheese confetti as we congratulated ourselves for passing on French fries, weeks of cabbage soup and liquid fasts interspersed with Pizza Hut and Girl Scout cookie binges, a cycle as predictable as the seasons.

A Bloody Mary makes any hour happy...

A Bloody Mary makes any hour happy…

“Healthy” equated with substances consumed, a state to attain, a moral badge of courage. Something to be soldiered through. Clever corporations divorced “health” and “diet” from their original meanings, leaving a national trail of bitterness and regret in their wake, marketed foodstuffs to ameliorate the pain. Dazzling scientific breakthroughs — we can have our cake and eat it too! — SweetnLow-Aspertame-Stevia, Tab-DietCoke-CokeZero, Snackwells, Lite Beer. When it comes to diet, even the most fervent religious practioners ascribe to science as salvation. Science, who would deliver us from moderation.

Coffee + Amaro = Amor y Amargo

Coffee + Amaro = Amor y Amargo

I grew up, the years sped by, our Information Age boomed, insatiable. Nutritional science — once the domain of prim HomeEc teachers — conscripted by Big Food, Pharma and co-opted by telegenic physicians, lifestyle gurus. Every day, hour, breathless news cycle, another pundit, talking head touting the latest controversial findings — controversy, the Holy Grail of Clicks — the magic bullet of health (re: thin, beautiful) or it’s second cousin, longevity. Breakfast, the most important meal of the day, or not, the contradictory research persuasive enough to support an individual’s preference. Coffee, red wine, salt — Himalayan Pink, specifically — re-labled, fat-free falls from fashion. Bullet Coffee! Cold Press Juice Fasts! Goji Berries! ChiaSeedsTigerNutsCoconutOil. The incredible, edible egg.

Data whiplash.

A sneaking, subversive suspicion snaking through overwrought brains: our grandparents might have had it right all along. Know where the food comes from (better yet, know who grows it). Eat your vegetables (preferably, in season). Indulge in moderation. Take a brisk walk, allow a moment of meditation or giving grace. And raise a toast, with loved ones, in celebration of this one life we have to savor.

Whipsawed by the fickle East Coast weather this “spring”, I ducked into The Happiest Hour (west village, nyc) to scribble notes for this “salubrious” story. And what a happy hour it was! Familiar cocktails with unexpected (yet accessible) twists, AND complimentary French fries to rival the McDonald’s of my youth. Scrumpdillyicious. 

Crafting this piece took several tries (some days, the muse plays coy), so I popped into Amor y Amargo (east village, nyc) for a taste of inspiration during their weekends-only Double Buzz (coffee cocktails, genius) for an iced-coffee and Amaro pairing. Breakfast of Champions, my friends.  

WordBowl does not happen without your words! Click here to share a word: WordBowlWord

The unexpected female empowerment spirit at the 2015 Oscars (#AskHerMore, Patricia Arquette’s speech) sent me scrabbling through the WordBowl archives for one of my more conversation-sparking pieces — intriguingly, most via private comment (rather than public) or e.mail — and I am forever grateful to Lynn Messina for providing such fertile word fodder. In honor of #ThrowBackThursday,  EUNUCH

Do you have a WordBowl word suggestion? Click HERE.  

Talk about a stumper of a word…

eunuch

1. A man or boy deprived of testes or external genitals (cue arias..)

2. A castrated man placed in charge of a harem or employed as a chamberlain in a palace (cue Game of Thrones)

3. One who lacks vitality or power (Oh. A relatable emotion at last…)

“eunuch” comes to us from the mad mind of Ms. Lynn Messina who, when she is not writing books both paper & digital, can be found ruminating on Motherlode, the parenting blog of The New York Times or baking treats to serve at Authors Unbound.

boxkiteYou do not acknowledge “victim” in relation to yourself, a weak word, feminine in all its steerage class citizenship. A term wielded by stoic stars of police procedurals, emphatic talk show hosts, news anchors parroting teleprompter feeds. A media word to manipulate emotion, a word smacking of petulance, self-pity as the complicit cry for attention. If you were any word, it would be “survivor”, but it, too, loaded with connotations, pop culture references. You will not be branded by a moment you remember in flashes, as though watching it onscreen, as fleeting as a YouTube clip. You stuff it down, the thing you refuse to dignify with a name, lock it in some dark mental attic where it remains — your own personal Picture of Dorian Gray — fresh, blooming, vulnerable as youth, even as your exterior armor hardens, your soul steels itself. You pull it out on occasion, at a certain point in a relationship, like an offering, but it is an unrequited gift, there is no comfort in the telling. You learn to catch the words tipped on tongue, as if in the not telling, you can muffle the power of the story. Smother it with silence.

BETTER & BETTER cocktail at Attaboy (and yes, it was)

BETTER & BETTER cocktail at Attaboy (and yes, it was)

To all outward appearances, you look the same, lulling family, friends into thinking you are intact, as though something essential has not been hacked away, hijacked. As though you had not been rendered helpless, just once, just one moment. Your stomach roils while your face remains placid, and you — the you that you remember — remains caught betwixt the truculent truce between interior and exterior. Your fantasies, if you allow yourself to fantasize, spiral, veer into unchartered territory, titillating and repellent in equal measure. Fearsome, what you may be capable of, what you may crave. Or what you withhold, or acquiesce to, in the playgrounds of power, negotiating the intricacies of intimacy with this foreign body of yours.

ATTAGIRL cocktail at Attaboy

ATTAGIRL cocktail at Attaboy

You rise through the corporate ranks, notable for your canny emotional control, perceived ruthlessness, casual disregard for Human Resources guidelines, like the male executives. You chose not to secret yourself away, shrink to the size of unnoticeable. You will not invisible yourself. You count this as a victory. Another brick shoring up your defenses, tangible evidence you have, once again, staved off defeat in these internal battles you wage with yourself. Because you were once breeched, and the war rages on. You are powerless against the roar of emotions you refuse to feel.  Powerless, in the face of what you faced. You do not know what it was about you, why you were singled out. What you had — have — done to deserve this. You will not say, even in your own head, “perpetrator”, “victim”. Or “prey”. There are many ways to survive — you need only find one — but there is only one word for what surviving transforms you into, as if all horrors were equal. If you were in charge, if you possessed the power, you would demand there be at least as many words for “survivor” as the Eskimos have for snow. If you possessed the power.

“eunuch” was scribbled by hand with a couple of bespoke cocktail at Attaboy the more populist incarnation (no reservations required) of beloved LES speakeasy Milk & Honey that takes their booze (and ice) quite seriously which results in delectable imbibing tailored to taste. The painful editing process was ameliorated with a fetching Americano presentation at Box Kite (east village).

Do you have a WordBowl word suggestion? Click HERE.  I look forward to writing a story for you!

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