diaphanous.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “diaphanous” provided by the indomitable Ms. Nancy.

Diaphanous

Like all good little Southern girls, I took ballet lessons, visions of Sugar Plums (the byproduct of numerous ballet picture books) dancing in my head. The instructor, Miss Silvia — who was even to our inexperienced eyes a bit too adult and a bit too once-married to be a “Miss” — ignored me in favor of the more wispy girls whose limbs were as long and straight as their hair.

My hair long but unruly, legs strong but short. A package altogether too bulky for ballerina dreams.

DE LA LOUISIANE (rye, cognac, Benedictine, dash of Paychaud bitters, Absinthe rinse) WordBowl thematic cocktail from Dan at The Beagle

Thematic DE LA LOUISIANE (rye, cognac, Benedictine, dash of Paychaud bitters, Absinthe rinse) cocktail at The Beagle

In my mind, I embodied the grace of the porcelain ballerina figurines on my Grandmother Marie’s dresser in her New Orleans home. Her home, although PawPaw lived there, too, when he was still alive, between ocean voyages to the Continent, the Orient, exotic ports from which he returned with embroidered finery, flouncy hats, delicate kimonos perfectly sized for his toddler granddaughter.

Accompanying the figurines was a silver-framed, black-and-white photo of Grandmother Marie — never shortened to a more informal term of endearment, no “grandma” was she — bejeweled, in a gown of spun sugar at a Mardis Gras ball, one of her thirteen sisters beside her.

Lissome, those figurines, commanding center stage upon the Pledge-polished surface. One balanced in an arabesque, the finely wrought layers of her tutu ruffling against the pale of her outstretched leg. Another frozen in a graceful curtsy, an arm extended, awaiting or beckoning an invisible partner, her dancing prince, to alight, bear her aloft. The last bowed low, head averted, clean sharp part in her dark painted hair, a sheaf of pale roses, baby’s breath as ethereal as the real thing, cradled in her angled arms.

In my young mind I categorized them as “dolls”, albeit ones I only touched surreptitiously after family dinners of soft-shell crab po’ boys or jambalaya, while the adults lazed and told stories of relatives both living and deceased.

Channeling the spirit of Hemingway with THE SEA AND THE AIR (Vpioca Cachaca Prata, grapefruit, wisp of lavendar, dash of Marischino Luxardo) at Goat Town

Invoking the spirit of Hemingway with THE SEA AND THE AIR (Vpioca Cachaca Prata, grapefruit, wisp of lavendar, dash of Marischino Luxardo) at Goat Town

Grandmother Marie treated me with the distant jocularity of the childless despite the obvious evidence of her motherhood. When she passed away after a lengthy hospital stay tenuously tethered to life support, shrouded by scrims, surrounded by family, my parents, solemn, said she wanted me to take the ballerinas home.

But an aunt swept through, stripped Grandmother Marie’s home of all items of potential value, my family’s haul limited to an ancient television console, a pair of pristine white vinyl love seats, a cutting from her prosperous fig tree we planted outside my bedroom window, from which I plucked plump figs for breakfast most mornings.

I never saw my dancers again — the aunt kept them in a box in her attic, not on display ­­— it was as though they dresser-danced only in my imagination.

My ballet lessons continued at the behest of my coach, a necessary component of competition gymnastics training, of expressing muscular power with grace. Grace I may not have achieved, but I did learn the best dancers have the most malformed feet and gossamer-looking tutus are in actuality manufactured out of unforgiving fabric.

Today’s WordBowl Word-of-the-Day is an east/west affair: Cocktail inspiration from The Beagle (yes, again, but Dan makes a southern cocktail redolent of New Orleans, so this was a thematic choice) and Goat Town (both, east village). 

Caffeine injection at Whynot Coffee (west village) brewing Blue Bottle Coffee (a little SF in NYC)

whynot coffee

whynot coffee

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drown.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from my longtime coast-to-coast co-conspirator, the social activist and culinary entrepreneur (and mom!), Erika K

Day forty-seven, barreling toward his two-month medal, the most he has done is four, four months working straight-through. No need for a repeat performance  — hospital stint, strapped to heart monitor — but, shit, they’ve just reopened after a remodel, owner and money men tight with cash, he’s got a staff of newbies, undocumenteds, relying on him to steer the ship.

GUATEMALANSQUARE at the east village bitters emporium, Amor y Amargo

GUATEMALANSQUARE at the east village bitters emporium, Amor y Amargo

Just a neighborhood place, good drinks, honest food — unlike the complicated shit he cooked in the hushed temples of gastronomy — all would be fine if the hostess hadn’t quit today. He’s been pressed to put his sole suit into service, double duty, front of house not his domain, he prefers the sweat and swear of the kitchen.

His idea — or maybe his owner’s — to add “General Manager” to “Executive Chef”. An after-hours brainstorm, his owner swilling rye, shouting for penne a la carbonnara, which he dutifully whipped up before pouring himself into bed upstairs, the studio apartment “loaned” to him by his owner.

Only to be called the just after the crack of dawn for the day’s deliveries. Good morning, GM.

Killing it tonight, triple table rotation, bar four and five deep, regulars buying rounds for each other, him, proximal strangers.

He accepts a shot of Jack. Owner joins —sketchy money men not in sight —possibilities swell and crest. The gang rush in anticipation of last call, stacked drinks, traded digits.

Dwindles, the night, the crowd. His cooks shuffle off to wives, outer boroughs. Another round for he and his owner. Bartender counts out. Swing by a friend’s bar, decamp for a throbbing dance club managed by a former colleague, nightcap back at their place.

bespoke cocktail deliciousness at DBGB

bespoke cocktail deliciousness at DBGB

Owner’s vitriol over his soon-to-be-ex-wife’s latest salvo weakening to momentary melancholy. Another slug of top shelf bourbon — the serious stuff — owner on the phone, sniffing, arranging to meet his girl du nuit. Another shot, another decline of powder  — he needs to unwind, not rewind — his owner off again, a trail of useless menu ideas in his wake.

Home. At last. He sits on his sole chair — a restaurant renovation castoff — sips a desultory Jack in the first hesitant morning light, before the day’s confidence dawns.

Finds an innocuous flick, settles in with a leftover spleef, mentally runs through tomorrow’s specials, food cost-to-customer price ratios, back invoicing, private party scheduling. Waits for sleep. Roots around for the half-bottle of wine abandoned by a couple of amorous diners earlier in the week. Starts another movie. Smokes his next-to-last cigarette. Counts the hours until he anticipates the first delivery call, more subtraction than sum.

Longs for the riptide of sheer exhaustion. Calculates the week’s grosses. Smokes the last cigarette down to filter. Scrabbles for another bottle, emergency smoke stash. Looks at his missed messages, a couple of friends, his mother. Missives from an alternate universe.

He’ll take Monday off. Shit. Inventory. The next Monday, then.

The day arrives in full force. He stumbles to the futon mattress, stubs his toe, plunges into the scratchy sheets bought cheap. Just short snooze. A nap.

Pause. Repeat.

 “drown” handwritten at

Amor y Amargo (Yes, second week in a row. Forgive me. They have Cocktail Kingdom Wormwood Bitters, which makes for  one heck of a flavorific Negroni) east village, nyc  & DBGB on the bowery, nyc

airbook, wee notebook from the australian outback (gifted by Madam Editrix), americano at elsewhere cafe

airbook, wee notebook from the australian outback (gifted by Madam Editrix), americano at elsewhere cafe

post fueled by and uploaded at Elsewhere Cafe, east village, nyc

Do you have a WordBowl word? Use the form below. I look forward to your wordspiration! 

paradox.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from Laura Owens, who writes words for empowered living at http://Laura-owens.com

The first word submitted by someone with whom I am not personally acquainted.

 

“All Men are created equal”

—   Declaration of Independence, United States of America, 1776

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”

—   George Orwell, Animal Farm, England, 1945

“Equal Opportunity Employer”

—   Civil Rights Act, United States of America, 1964

Language, vernacular, defining roles, shaping expectations: Women “succeed”. Men “win”.

paradox

Kickin’ it Old School with a “Santiago’s Perfect Margarita” at El Quijote

Professional clichés: Old Boy Network. Men’s Club. Prick.

“Bitch” muttered with murderous breath, or flung with defiant pride  — unlike “cunt”, which requires a dramatic lowering of the voice, the “t” a whisper — heard over and over, “My boss is a bitch.” “The bitch threw me under the bus.”  “Could she possibly be more of a bitch?”

As professional women, body is not the only language to which we are highly attuned.

For us, our tribe, the in-between generation, coming of age after the first flowerings of female choices but before working women morphed into economic necessity, we assumed opportunity, our Equal Opportunity. Unlike our mothers who toiled in traditional jobs — teacher, secretary, bookkeeper, nurse — we embarked on careers.

We worked hard, or smart, or both. We assumed — because our girlfriends were all within the same payscale — we had salary parity with our corporate peers, promotion potential parity, partner track parity. Faulty baseline assumptions produce imperfect theorems.

We rose through the ranks, accepted incremental raises, pushed for bonuses, asked for assistants. We agreed to share — office, staff, credit — we worked longer hours than those who worked for us. We reveled in our very vital-ness to the success of our organizations, as our bosses tapped us to represent the company at a client-hosted weekend boondoggle, the emergency out-of-town meeting, or lead the overnight presentation crunch. These mandates from on high, surely nothing to do with our not having families, no clamoring children to attend to, we who were not yet mothers, with little to nurture other than our professional aspirations.

We leapt to other companies, opportunities for career advancement. Downplayed our reproductive abilities — we dare not think of them as biological advantages —in interviews, as we crossed the threshold from late twenties to early thirties, and early thirties to late, we danced around the unasked biological clock questions, our ticking time bombs, we walking, working, Moltov cocktails.

GRANDYMAN at Amor y Amargo (savory, 3-booze cocktail soused with Creole Bitters)

GRANDYMAN at Amor y Amargo (savory, 3-booze cocktail soused with Creole Bitters)

Our male peers had babies, back at work the following day, shell-shocked or beaming, passing cigars.

We soldiered on through the corporate kerfuffles, mergers, reorgs, acquisitions by overseas conglomerates. We made lateral moves in the wake of the 2001 dotcom bust, the 2008 economic collapse. When we grasped our first rung of the corporate ladder, we assumed an upward climb, steady ascent. None of our childhood books depicted ladders laid horizontal.

We tell our young female staff that everything is possible, and they believe us, because they have spent their young lives medaled and certificated for participation.

We assure them of their assumptions, even as we bemoan their requests, twelve weeks into their first job, to discuss their opportunities for advancement. We are flattered by their view of us as the success to which they aspire.

We assure them, even as we begin to examine our own assumptions, experience breeding observations too uncomfortable to quash.

We, who are the embodiment of The American Dream.

Posts assisted by the good folks at:

El Quijote, chelsea, nyc

Amaro y Amargo, east village, nyc

reparation.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day from Jeffrey Q Sholemson, Chicagoan by way of Long Island, Expert Listener, and once, long ago, my college Freshman Orientation Leader.

This story is in no way in references him. 

Conundrum: what to wear to an Amends Meeting.

reparationphotoYou recognize the courage it took for him to call, reach out after decades of radio silence — you heard through the collegiate grapevine he fell hard fast, cleaned up good — you have seen enough Oprah/Dr. Phi/Dr. Drew/BarbraWaWa to appreciate an addict’s narrative arc. Still, a surprise, the call, the formality of the request for a “meeting”. Not a “get-together” or “a coffee” and obviously not for “drinks”.

A meeting to make amends. To you.

You wonder what the proper preparation is for an amends, this momentous occasion not of your planning.  What your role is in his story: Recipient? Protagonist? Heroine? Victim?

You notice “heroine” is only one letter but a whole world away from “heroin”.

12-Stepping, there are handbooks, guidelines, amends processes. Are there any such materials for the amendee?

Balance, you think, somewhere between sartorial sophistication and sartorial seriousness. You jettison “sexy”, despite your history of drunken fumbling in your relative youth, the two of you studying and partying with equal abandon, the late  — or early, depending on the night/morning continuum — heartfelt, booze-fueled discussions which inevitably dovetailed into an unarticulated need to for a physical closeness as bared as the conversation. As if to manifest the talk.

Post-call, memories flash, flood.

You flip through your times together, legendary stories, hazy moments, half-recollections. Fragments. You try to figure out what he could possibly want to say, so you can formulate a response.

Because if the moment was so significant, a betrayal, what does it say about you, that you don’t remember?

That you do not remember them as THAT, whatever it is they see as the fulcrum of your relationship.

You wonder what your culpability is in all of this.

Dredges of Classic Margarita, Rosa Mexicano, union square, nyc

Dredges of Classic Margarita, Rosa Mexicano, union square, nyc

The night before, you go a drink too far attempting to drown out the questions arising unbidden as a result of the call. You wonder how an addict is defined, wonder where weed falls these days on the addictive substances spectrum, now that it is legal in some states. Prescription pills, legal, too. Alcohol, also legal. You live in NYC, so cigarettes are virtually illegal, sugar nearly so as well. You debate personal responsibility with your bartender as he refills your wine, gratis. You go out often, you are accustomed to the appreciation of bar staff.

On the big day, A-Day, you wear black, as you have lived in Manhattan long enough to be considered a New Yorker. You convince yourself your quavering hands are a result of too much caffeine, a day of coffee shop meetings before the main event, at a hotel the choice of which you cannot help overanalyzing.

Your high-heels click-clack on the reflective marble as you cross the lobby, he is up out of his lounge seat, waving, as you approach. He smiles a familiar smile. You reach out to shake his hand, he clasps the whole of you in an embrace, trapping your arm between both bodies.

There is no turning back now. You are in this. You are to be Amended.

This responsibly consumed cocktail-fueled post was written at Bakehouse (meat packing district, nyc) and uploaded at Rosa Mexicana (union square, nyc)

Do you want a WordBowl story of your own? Use this form (or drop me a word: wordbowl@gmail.com)

stump.

WordBowl Word-of-the-Day: “stump” courtesy of New Yorker-by-way-of-Baltimore,

fearless actor/daredevil surfer Edelen McWilliams 

She lives breathing recycled air: plane, hotel, convention center. Walking on, sleeping in, sitting on unnatural fibers, lurid patterned fabrics designed to mask high-volume human traffic, bodily stains, personal detritus. She swipes hand sanitizer over most of her exposed skin, still, her nostrils are raw, eyes red-rimmed, ears metaphorically cotton-stuffed, her head, too, she notices, in rare moments of response, as a flight taxis the runway, devices off at the demand of disgruntled flight attendants.

“Not Forever” the mantra at these moments, repeated to her husband, to their basset hound whose mournful expression predated her decision to bootstrap a startup.

Stump-photoShe is frequently introduced on daises as a “futurist”, a misnomer, as the future is here, now, as immediate and tangible as the devices in hand, the devices upon which all is explored, consumed, shared. Paradigm Shift. Fundamental disruption of the consumer product construct, the creator/manufacturer/producer to consumer/audience/buyer relationship. Hell, there are no buyers anymore. Subscription access, Freemium app models, the New Economy.

“Data (you fuckers)”, she wants to shout, but refrains. She wraps her simple message in a calculated mix of flattery and forewarning. “Actionable knowledge” she says, in venture capital boardrooms sipping designer coffee with two hands, not trusting a solo hand, a quivery hand betraying the disparity of her food-to-coffee-ratio. They get it, conceptually, these VCs, the questions lobbed back focus on market size, penetration, scale.

The market, the market. This Little Piggy went to market.

She needs a fucking major market player on board, just one, the first one, to establish consumer traction, define the market. The rest will follow. The significant players in this legacy space, they scrabble, scratch for second-mover status. The go gung-ho for silver, settle for bronze.

The seed money will last, cutting it close, it will last. Or she can dip into the last 401K from her single days, an account from a short-lived stint nearly forgotten.  Found money.

Living on the cusp, every hour a new idea, iteration. Not monetizing, but. Exhilarating. The business model is somewhere, close, she will pivot until she nails it. She may lose some of her people in the process.

A ponytailed Millennial offers a bottled water, eyes shining, mouth gushing, the future, the now future, running roughshod over all that came before.

Drunken Horse (despite name, a refined wine bar) chelsea, nyc

Drunken Horse (despite name, a refined wine bar) chelsea, nyc

She strides up to the stage, nimble, like her hanging-by-a-thread company, greeted with thunder, applause, for the briefest of moments she is Jobs-meets-Wozniack, Garage Google.

She will convince them all, this roomful of men in casual wear and determined women, and their bosses and the ultimate decision makers and the real money guys, because DATA will shape their future, shore up their investments, provide a path to profitability.

She has thousands of digital followers who believe. Conceptually.

She positions the microphone, tests a breath. The audience shifts, prepares to embrace, tweet, disseminate. She dials up the smile. She speaks.

Evangelizes.

Pontificates.

She will figure out the money. In the future.

Post written with a “Picnic” cocktail at Brasalina hell’s kitchen, nyc

Post re-written with a crisp white at Drunken Horse (ha!) chelsea, nyc 

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thunderstruck.

We spent a few painful years on the Art Hates Us tour, the Saucy-A and I, consoling ourselves after each crushing disappointment with butter-glistened lobsters and French 75s, or steak tartare and a sinister Bordeaux. At least Food loved us. Beverages, too.

It began, as such things do, with a Grand Plan: Saucy-A pausing in NYC en route to join her fiancée’s family vacation in Italy, a 48-hour Manhattan blitz — pilgrimage to Century 21, champers lunch with the girls, wedding dress window shopping — culminating with the Matthew Barney “Cremaster Cycle” exhibition occupying the whole of the Guggenheim. The timing could not have been better, as the exhibition was in its waning days, the initial throngs thinned.

The first 30 hours clicked by like clockwork: meals, shopping, friends. We debated transportation options in the Thursday morning drizzle, opted for a taxi — ladies of leisure and means, we convinced ourselves if not our bank accounts — arrived at a Guggenheim absent a line snaking out the door. Glory Be! The Universe Smiles!

The museum doors refused to open. Had we inadvertently arrived on one of the newer civic holidays freelancers like us had a tendency to overlook? The Saucy-A’s eyes as damp as our wilting clothes, she pointed a shaky finger towards a discreet sign “Closed Thursdays”.

Saucy-A purchased the commemorative coffee-table tome — the museum gift shop open and ready to sell — wisecracked over a snack of marrow bones and Chianti how hauling it around the Italian countryside would be her penance for failing to confirm the Guggenhiem’s hours.

It would be years before a Sex in the City plot pivoted on an almost identical Guggenheim/Carrie scenario, yet as the (transplanted) New Yorker of us I vowed a make up if not a make good. Thus a few weeks later I picked up a far more Italian fluent Saucy-A, shuttling her to Vermont for a family visit before returning to her West Coast home. The Art Plan Part Deux: a side trip to Dia:Beacon, home of massive site-specific art installations, including seminal sculptures by Richard Serra, he who featured so prominently in Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle”.

We set off early, ahead of the Manhattan summer Friday exodus, commending ourselves for so handily besting Mapquest’s estimated drive time. We sailed up to the gates in a spray of gravel.

Dia: Beacon is shuttered on Fridays in the summer. And on unspecified occasional Saturdays.

Flashforward a couple of years, Saucy-A and I on separate Paris trips — she, romantic weekend with husband; me, business — found the Picasso Museum behind scaffolding, closed for renovation.

Determined to break the curse — we had a long history of coast-to-coast exhibition indulgences — we made a return trip to Dia: Beacon (operating days and hours checked, triple-checked), although we were forced to scrap plans to dine at the Culinary Institute of America (closed, summer break).

Dia: Beacon, a modest modernist entrance, portal into a vast, beguiling world for us Alices to adventure through. Size-stammered, we approached one of the towering Sera oxidized walls, followed the curve inward, inward, the path between two concave walls narrowing as we spiraled ever more densely, delighted laughs dissolving into nervous titters, our breath shallowed, our nerves tightened, sounds of others in the adjacent sculptures echoed — or did this have a sound installation accompaniment? — our gasping exclamations melded into a single intelligible sound with specific translation: ImightNeedtoGetOuttaHere, discomfort and adventurousness battling in our chests. We cleaved to a tight turn, burst into a spherical clearing, gazed upward.

We deploy words in everyday conversation — awesome, amazing, fantastic, FUCK — diluting impact through repetition. “Love” went long ago, “Oh my God” morphed into OMG by texting teens and became an adult punchline, emoticons begat Emoji, attempting to convey meaning via a medium of emotionless DNA, bits and bytes and binary code.

We killed Latin, gave birth to temporary taxonomies, fugacious languages as fungible as technology.

No wonder descriptions of Art —the arts — is a bewildering read, hieroglyphics interpreted by practitioners, critics, academics. How does one address the Divine having heard “darling, that dress is divine” in multiple media and personal contexts? We twist and turn and torture words, contort sentences into unnatural phrasings in an attempt to illuminate a deep emotion, a revelatory spark, a moment of transcendence.

The Saucy-A and I stood inside the cylinder of soaring steel, we stood in panting silence, we stood humbled, inspired, together transformed.

We had no need for fancy food, afterwards. We were brimming, satiated beyond sense. Art Full.

“thunderstruck” courtesy of @margagogo who blogs about margaritas (and life) at margagogo.com

Entwine’s Spicy Margarita – don’t be fooled by the mild-mannered appearance

This post was handwritten while sipping a thematic Spicy Margarita at Entwine west village, nyc 

notebookphoto

Caffeinated inspiration from Roasting Plant west village, nyc 

 Have a word recommendation?  E.mail to wordbowl@gmail.com