Trendy Cafe Modern Art

As I stare and the story board for the novel I am writing I start to get distracted my the little magnets that are holding my index cards in place. They are from one of those word magnet sets. Music themed. The words start to string themselves together in a jumbled nonsensical way that somehow makes all the sense in the world.

I am taken away from the world that I have created and transported back to this earth, but instead of being in my living room, I am on stage at a trendy little cafe. People are wearing beanies that are much too big for their heads, and most are wearing brightly rimmed glasses, and sporting nicely groomed moustaches (the majority of the women in the audience are excluded from this last one). I look down and see that I am wearing black combat boots, black leggings, a black long sleeve shirt, and a black vest with an off-center zipper and silver studs on the collar. Wow, 90’s movie character much? There is an awkward throat clearing from an overly intellectual looking man in the corner.

I look down and see a sheet of paper in my hand with a typed poem on it, and a hand written note:

Remember to read with drama, and emphasis the magnet words the most.

Alright, breath in as I take my first swing at modern art, and making sense out of randomness.

“R&B LESSON”

There are whispered mutters from the front row. I only said one line, but obviously that was enough to let them make their decision on my writing skills. I would show them how deep I could get with jumbled up magnet words.

“PEDAL the UKE that intimidates 

the TENOR CLARINET. 

Don’t let them in the BAND BAR unless

they play TONIC BASS, 

or have a STUDIO VOICE that 

can hold a STEEL MELODY.” 

I have no idea what I’m saying, but all I know is that the crowd’s disdainful frowns are now turning into agreeing frowns accompanied with bobbing heads.

“POUND that ALLEGRO. 

Listen to the HORN SONG 

on the TRIO VIDEO. 

Catch the VIBE SCHOOL 

TOUR on BRASS, and 

PLAY the ARPEGGIO 

with you PIANO EAR.”

Someone has pulled out a djembe drum, and is pounding a hypnotic beat with my words. It fuels my rhythm, and makes me hope above all things, that the audience will snap instead of clap at the end of my enthusiastic rambling.

“The MAZURKA PRODUCE the 

BELL LYRIC that results in 

EQUIPMENT THUNDER from 

the MARIMBA INSTRUMENT. 

Will the kids ever play music again?”

I threw in the last line out of nowhere, maybe trying to give it meaning; and then I put my hands behind my back and let my head drop to signal to the audience that their unmuted praises could begin. The snapping sounded like elves and fairies dancing on my heart.

“Lauren what’s wrong?” 

My head lifts up to look into the audience that disappeared.

“Is the white board big enough?”

My dad walks into the living room as I try and assess where I am.

“What? Yeah it is.”

“Huh, that’s funny, you’re using words to hold up your notecards.” 

“I hadn’t really noticed. I was so focused on getting the cards in the right order.” 

“So this makes sense to you.” 

“Yeah in a cafe modern art way.”

“I thought it’s a young adult novel?”

“Oh that…yeah it makes perfect sense.” 

Whisperings in the Forest

I remember looking out the car window and seeing, for the first time, a cloud stuck in a forest. How odd. Of course I knew clouds were dense enough that angels could run and play on them, but I never would’ve thought that they would get weighted down and  snag themselves on a whole forest. It would make me sad when I would see a baby cloud sink into the tops of trees while the bigger momma cloud kept floating away. Then I realized something…the clouds weren’t stuck at all.

They had drifted down because the trees had called up to them, asking for stories of all that the happy white clouds had seen. (Who wants to ask a rain cloud how it’s doing, that is an on pour of emotion, and/or palpable electric rage, that no one needs to feel so directly). Well I am much older now, and have seen this phenomenon countless times, and even have been hiking in the woods whilst it occurred, and have found a more logical explanation.

The trees do indeed call out to the clouds, and some even dance to get attention, and their needles and branches rub together to ask what the wanderer has seen that day. The childish thought that has now been reasoned out of my head is that the trees were only asking and listening to stories, instead of telling some of their own. The clouds are destined to wander about the world, bringing storms in some places, and well needed shade in others, but I never stopped to think about if they liked that life.

So the trees and the clouds share their stories, because let’s be honest, trees have been here awhile, they’ve seen things, but then there comes the awkward part of the conversation…to leave, or to stay. The cloud starts to get ruffled by the wind, and in a hurry asks the trees to hold on tight so that it does not get blown away, maybe it could stay for some pine needle tea (it could happen). The trees misunderstand, and the pushing of the wind raises up their branches and voices, and in unison they cry, “Take us with you! Show us the world!”

No matter how much the cloud tries to stay down, or the trees try to get a better grip, a wind will always break up the party, because everyone knows that the wind and the clouds are dating, and the wind is just so jealous! I stand and watch it happen, the sad departing of close friends, and listen as the younger trees moan with sadness because the wind is pushing them farther than their slender bodies should bend.

I guess as I’ve lived I’ve realized that there are going to be somethings that you want to change about your life that you can’t, but those same things are what other people need in their lives; so share stories over a coffee, tea, beer, martini, jameson & ginger, or a good old fashion hike, but enjoy it. Don’t waste time being envious when you could be joyous in the experiences of others.

Ignorant Blindness

I have always prided myself on the life experiences I have been blessed enough to have had. I was only a small child when my family went down the Amazon River, traveling through Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. I remember clearly getting a beetle, that was about four inches long and three inches wide, stuck in my curls. I was not amused. I also remember natives giving me turtles all the time (still don’t know why, or what they meant) that my parents wouldn’t let me bring home. I was pretty pissed about that. I was the best of the grandchildren with the blow dart, but to be fair the other grandchildren had to hold up the blow dart gun for me, because I was six, and it was at least six feet long. Panama (including going down the Panama Canal), Costa Rica (holler monkeys make prehistoric sounds, I felt like the jungles were Jurassic Park), Italy, New Zealand, and many of the states. My knowledge of traveling was secure.

Obviously that very thought was proof that I know nothing of the world. I went to Ogden, Utah for a theater festival. How arrogant I had been to think I knew Utah well. I get judgmental when it seems that people think that Seattle is the only city in Washington, and yet I found myself thinking that all of Utah, excepting Salt Lake City, was going to be as quaint as the Utah I am most familiar with.

I do apologize to all. You must understand that from childhood I have been going to my grandparent’s little cabin in Koosharem, Utah. My experience is sitting in a rocking chair with a pair of binoculars, just in case the calves below start playing, or the bulls start fighting. My grandmother tried to teach my to fly fish in the creek in front of their cabin, and failed. My grandfather, uncle, older brother, and cousins tried to teach me how to shoot guns. That one stuck. I’m known as Annie Oakley in my family. Utah has always been a place to escape from the cities. To ride quads all day up into the mountains. To stand beneath the quaking aspens, hands raised high to feel the breeze the little green leaves passed on to kiss you, and slowing closing your eyes to listen fully to the song that literally swirls your hair and transports you to a place of overwhelmingly loud and quiet all at once. Going to the lodge at Fish Lake for a meal was always a huge deal. Us kids had always only brought play clothes to Utah, because that’s what we would do till we were called in, but we would put on the least grungy clothes we had, and my grandma would help my cousin Taylor and I with our hair. (Neither of us were girly girls on account of both of us only having brothers).

How silly I was to think that Ogden and Provo were just big little towns, much like Vancouver, WA. I learned that Provo is just as weird as Portland, OR, with each hipster trying to be more obscure than the next. Ogden is a beautiful city that has the charm of a “old town” looking main strip, and the attraction of many modern looking buildings. By far the thing that makes me jealous of Ogden, is the proximity of the great range of mountains. I saw the sun rise and hit the snowy monsters, and there is no doubt in my mind that that was one of the most wondrous and beautiful things I have ever seen. They looked warm and soft, and unforgiving of ignorance, all at the same time. I was stopped in my tracks, with my writing journal in my hand, completely inspired. Utah is blessed to have the commotion and convenience of the city right next to the peace and escape of the country. There is no sacrificing one for the other. I won’t make the mistake of thinking that again.

Last College Performance

It’s final. I’m done. KCACTF Region 8 was the last connection that I had with college. The theater festival was amazing. Sure I didn’t sleep much, but I learn so much about other artists, and myself.

I witnessed hundreds of students that are like me, trying to figure out this crazy life through art. I saw wonderful productions put on by schools from all over the south western corner of this great country, and I felt something that I rarely feel outside of writing as I watched all of these incredible people transform themselves on stage. Relief. Connection. I am an admitted emotional cripple. When a situation gets too overwhelming or prying with emotion I shut down, I act as a robot. I’m not proud of it, but as a person that is particularly sensitive to the waves of energy that people send out, it’s sometimes easier not to feel anything. That’s a lie. It’s always easier, but this past week I tried to fight that fear, that weakness of shutting down. Thanks to the talent of the actors I watched, I let go.

I saw that people in the audience weren’t afraid or ashamed to cry. It was after my last performance of The Cover of Life that I realized how much theater people mean to me. I cried, in public…in front of people, and I wasn’t embarrassed, and it wasn’t a funeral! Great Scott! This was my last go of it. The last tie to my college life, and acting career. Most likely the only other stage I will perform on from now on will be in a karaoke bar (Bohemian Rhapsody is a regular). I will now fade into the back, being the one that gives the words to the actors. I will be forever grateful for my experiences with theater kids though. The sting of putting yourself as an outsider is dulled with the reassurance that you are not crazy, that there is an outlet. Writing is my outlet to the world, but theater is my outlet to connect with people. I will never stop watching theater, or supporting my friends that are on their way to becoming super stars of the stage.

Thanks to the craziness of my first and last college theater festival I will now always remember to let people in, to show off my art, as those actors showed off theirs’.

What’s Your Poison?

Charlie’s breathing sounded like gravel scrapping down steel tubes. He was trying to run, but his deadened leg raked the concrete in long strokes. Charlie clenched the mutilated limb to try and decrease the crimson breadcrumbs he was leaving behind him.

The normally busy street was empty at this lost hour. No one. He limped to the intersection of Lincoln and Andreson. The accent of Charlie’s breathing matched the pulsing agony through out his body. A disturbance from the abyss of the alley caused Charlie to cringe. Metal trash cans slammed to the ground as they were turned over with a vengeance.  There was the ever-conscious thought of the need to move. He couldn’t. He was paralyzed by what was coming out of the deep shadow. A tear escaped his blood shot eye as he heaved his weight on his good leg and shifted his body, so that he could see his demise approach.

Growling was the first warning of their proximity. Clanking of chains followed, as did the devilish snickers of a bloodthirsty woman that made acid rise up into Charlie’s mouth. The cat crossed the black wall first. A big cougar, bloodstained fur surrounding it’s muzzle. The chain around it’s neck led back into the world of evil, pulling the succubus across the border. Her eyes were hazel daggers. The blood made her death black dress seem morbid.

“The Ceremony must be completed.” Her slithering tongue made Charlie convulse with disgust.

All he wanted was to buy this beautiful woman a drink in hopes of taking her home. He got what he wanted. Now this demon wanted him on a cold black slab. His flesh a feast for sacrifice.

“Please…I…just…want…to…go…home.” The rasping made talking difficult and ineffective. She took a step in Charlie’s direction, wrapping the chain around her delicate hand, gripping it with her spider fingers to keep the cougar from pouncing.

“Don’t be afraid, my little monster will make the ceremony quick, if you don’t struggle.”

Another tear made its short journey to the side of his nose before Charlie lifted a blood-encrusted hand to wipe it away. He was to be a sacrifice in a demonic ceremony dedicated to the coming of the antichrist. There was no escape.

His head hung, like one in the gallows, as he dragged his mauled leg toward the black portal. The woman tracked him with the same intensity of the feline.

Blood. Tearing. Screaming. Crunching. Purring. Hungry hazel eyes. Crippled hands reaching, searching for life, for goodness. Hecate Ishtar, goddess of the underworld and fertility beckons her servant to snap the seeking hands; the bloodcurdling crescendo to her latest symphony.

What Is This?

Is it that which

Tempts the monsters to rest?

Or a ghost to sing you to sleep?

It couldn’t possibly be

The first smile of a baby,

The kiss of fresh rain on soil,

Or the embrace of a breeze on a scorching day.

It is my unexpected,

and undeserved felicity

that makes me want to dance

from the confusion of

this most needed peace

that brings such chaos

to my heart.

Thank you.