Friday, June 26, 2015

seventeen thirty eight.

i owe this blog a lot of posts, posts like how this blog is officially five years old, how im currently shopping for a new city, and the fun and slightly nightmarish times of being a college graduate. 

but since summer is sacred, all of that is on pause while i decorate my sweet, little apartment, work full time to save up for a new bike, attempt to read the wall street journal everyday, drink an entire kettle of green tea, and stare at the to-do list i like to call ‘ella get your sh*t together,’ an intimidating little number about all of the hoops i need to jump through to get that big girl job.

so in the meantime, i leave you with this playlist. not just any playlist however, one filled with songs that i have loved dearly since the days of riding the bus home from school. you could consider them comfort songs, like fried chicken and mashed potatoes for the soul.

download the playlist via spotify here: roots.
and find reasons why they were chosen after the jump. 

in the spirit of adventure
the ultimate theme song
because john hughes gave me an unrealistic perception of high school
something to listen to with the windows rolled down
if God had a song for me, this one would be it
my favorite dance routine of all time
the first song on the mixed cd that introduced me to all things indie
that one time i wanted to move to boston
the sweetest love song
memories of family car rides
my favorite psalm
the tarlatans will be singing a cover of this song at my wedding

Thursday, February 26, 2015


it's an odd feeling, to find that life goes on even after the death of my grandfather. 
i'll be in class, driving down abercorn, giving fritz a bath, and i'll think of a conversation i wish i could have. of one last thing i want to say. 

but all of that aside, this is a list of thoughts i wrote down the morning my grandfather died. 

God, please be nice to him. 
maybe i'll take up painting. 
a razorback shirt would be nice. 
my mom is an orphan. 
so it's true, only the good die. 

if there isn't really a heaven, i am going to be pissed. 
will my brothers be ok. 
at least i don't have to see june again. 
i'm going to go through this at least seven more times. 
do i still have his business card. 
can he really see me down here. 

&& i listened to this song on the flight to arkansas. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

work of fiction.

i have been in college for five years now and have yet to write any fiction.  yet, in the closing act of my college career, i found myself desperate in the final hour of a deadline with nothing to show.
a sudden drive to atlanta last tuesday meant packing a surplus of underwear and pants while leaving the planner and syllabus behind. all this to say, i can't quite describe the panic when it finally dawned on me that i had an essay due in about nine hours. so alas, my first official piece of fiction came out of an assignment meant to interview a person of importance. i wrote the "interview" based on a next door neighbor of mine who has since then passed on, so im not certain on the political correctness of this essay. 

The Grandmother Next Door

After eleven years as a next-door neighbor, Ella Greer learns that there is more to grandmothers than cookies, porcelain figurine collections, and the classic five dollar check for birthdays.

            It was a rare occasion when I walked past Joann’s house without a fierce, gimp-legged, six-pound Chihuahua named Belle bravely yapping at me from the mailbox.  Guardian of the front yard, Belle was as synonymous with Joann as peanut butter is to jelly. I was visiting the eighty-one year-old grandmother so I could put up the dishes and run the washing machine, a few tasks that give Joann trouble in her old age. She has kept the front door unlocked, a habit that makes me nervous, but she assures me that Belle is all the security she needed. Her kitchen is messier than usual and I can hardly see the magnolia printed tablecloth from underneath the mail and folders strewn about. I am a bit of a snoop by nature and when I see a business card from First Baptist Church of Woodstock’s prison ministry, I immediately assume that Joann’s grandson has not been able to mow the lawn because he has been in jail. Being a member of the same church, I decide to ask Joann about the ministry in hopes to find out what Chris was in for.

She was a favorite in the prison, Joann Cole. The officers knew her as ‘Ms. Library,’ a moniker contrived from the wide-rimmed glasses she always wore. The prisoners knew her as one of their own, a fellow inmate who proved there was life outside of the barbed-wire fence. This camaraderie was a bit of a stretch however, for Cole never did hard time per say, only about six hours in a holding cell at the county jail until a school friend, Wendy, came to post bail and pick her up. The loneliness and fear she felt in the cellmates stayed with her long after she was released and when she heard about a Bible study that the First Baptist Church of Woodstock hosted at the county jail, she volunteered to help out. For ten years, Joann has dedicated an afternoon a week to visiting the jail with the other volunteers in the ministry and directed a Bible study lesson with the inmates. Joann often found herself connecting with the prisoners as they talked about abuse or wanting to start fresh somewhere new. While she was not a lawyer or able by any means to change their current situation, being there to treat the women as women of worth rather than a jumpsuit was almost as helpful, if not more.
When Joann divulged the meaning behind her nickname, I was shocked. Here was the sweet, tiny, grandmother sitting across from me, wearing a burgundy velour tracksuit and feeding her Chihuahua FrostyPaws -a special ice cream for dogs-there was no way I could imagine her sitting in the back of a police car or being finger printed for her criminal record. Sensing my confusion, Joann smiled and I swear I could see a mischievous glint in her eyes.
“My college sweetheart was a son of a bitch. I knew it, but I did not want to be alone after my mom died, so I stayed with him. Well, that and because he was by far the best-looking boy I have ever dated.” Joann winks at me as she takes a sip of her Diet Coke with lime. “One night I went over to his house, some friends were over to play cards, and he was drunk. He was drunk most of our relationship, but that night was different.”
Joann did not know at the time, but Robert (her college sweetheart) was fired from his job at the restaurant earlier that day and his anger was elevated after a night of drinking and losing round after round of cards to his friends. What seemed like a relationship heading for marriage, what their friends could not see was the abuse Joann received when the two were alone.
            “He would call me names and talk about how none of my friends liked me, silly stuff like that, but the longer we dated the worse it got.”
            Young and in love, Joann tried her best to focus on how cute Robert was and how much they enjoyed each other when he was in a good mood rather than the times he made her cry or flirted with other girls in front of her. Everything changed that night however, and as Robert pushed her into the wall and told her to “get the hell out,” something inside Joann snapped; she had finally had enough.
            “He did not have to tell me twice, all I could think about was getting out of there, and then I saw his golf clubs.”
            It feels like a scene out of a movie, listening to this story and watching Joann remember it as if it happened last week. As Joann left the ill-fated card game through the garage, she was too upset from what happened to have room for second thoughts. She grabbed a golf club, walked to his car parked out in the driveway, and calmly shattered the windshield.
            The story accelerates from there; Robert came out to check out the commotion, the police was called, a report was filed, Joann was handcuffed, and the friends watched as the police car sped out of the neighborhood. A few hours later Wendy, Joann’s fellow teammate from when she played high school basketball, came to take Joann home. The drama only lasted a few hours from the time she went over to Robert’s that night to when she finally made it home, but its story left an impression on the small town.
            “I was embarrassed about everyone seeing my picture [the mugshot] but all anyone could ask me was how the hell I managed to get the damn thing [golf club] over my head.” 
            The surprise was well understood for Joann had spent the greater portion of her childhood attached to an iron lung as she battled a severe case of the whooping cough. She barely escaped the illness with the use of her legs, a stroke of luck she is unable to forget these days as she is learning how to operate with a bad knee, a new knee in recovery, and a new hip, Joann is not making dunks or destroying property these days.
            “They still joke about it now when we go back to visit. They ask me if I have to hide my [golf] clubs,” laughs her husband John. “She’s always been a good sport about it, I poke fun at her every now and then, I’d warn her when I was about to watch Cops [the television show] just in case she got flashbacks.”
            Joann shocked the community once again after defying the odds and not only graduating from business school, the first Holloway to do so, but she also landed an interview as a shorthand writer for Marietta Martin, now known as Lockheed Martin, an advanced technology and aerospace corporation in Kennesaw, Georgia. She rolled the dice and left her childhood home in Augusta, Georgia to chase down the dream of proving to her father that her degree did serve a larger purpose than being able to shirk the housewife chores. Thirty years later she proudly boasted of being able to retire from her first and only job.
            “We were all in this one room with our own desk and we connected calls and typed office memos all day. I got really good at short hand and typed the fastest so they put me in charge of the rest.”
            Three decades saw many changes for the company and unfortunately the changes very rarely proved to be positive or even neutral towards Joann and her career. Being a woman who skipped marital bliss to go to college and then have the audacity to work at a job was hard enough; Joann had to constantly prove her relevancy as technology evolved. Even though society somewhat came to terms with women in the workforce, typewriters and switchboards became obsolete, making the job that many of the women were hired to do unnecessary; a cruel cosmic joke for someone who just gained acceptance for choosing to get a degree first over a new last name.
            She was successful in eventually finding and locking down that new last name however, for one day John Cole came to her desk needing a signature for a delivery and the rest as they say was history. John, working for Lockheed Martin part time these days and managing their property of farmland in Fannin County, Georgia (the Blue Ridge area), finds himself away from 548 Cross Creek more than he would like. During one of these many outings, Brock Greer, Joann’s occasional lawn mower and window shutter painter, taught her how to use the FaceTime feature of her iPhone so she and John could keep in touch. For someone who conquered thirty years of technology advances, however it appears that Apple has officially stumped her.
            “Biggest mistake I’ve ever made. She would FaceTime me randomly sometimes and all the sudden the entire class hears her yelling about needing help finding Belle or something. I haven’t gotten her to understand that she doesn’t have to yell at the phone so I can hear her,” laments Brock. “She’s kind of funny though, like I’ll never forget the time she met Siri. Good times.”
            “I couldn’t believe that inside my phone was such a sensitive robot woman that didn’t like being spoken to in such a harsh manner and wanted to know what she had done to deserve my anger!”

            Joann has stunned neighbors for eighty-one years now. She defeated whooping cough and refused to accept the partial paralysis the disease left her with. She found the strength to escape an abusive relationship, was arrested, and volunteered for a prison ministry. She was the first in her family to achieve a higher education, left home with only the excitement of building a life of her own, fought for her job at Lockheed Martin, and now lives a quiet life with her husband and cannot seem to think of a single thing to complain about.

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