Category Archives: a more elegant flourish

Dear God

I’ve been wanting to thank someone for the very fortunate chain of events that led to my dad’s successful liver transplant (for which many wait years to never receive. it still gives me goosebumps.) I’ve talked to Jen about this, and she admitted to also thinking that the fortunate chain was extremely sovereign, and was encouraging of my idea of discussing with and ultimately thanking God, although I didn’t really know how.

whale

a lonely little whale, marooned on an island of its own shadow, amidst the vast ocean of possibility

I’ve been trying this thing, lately, where I try not to put off things into the nebulous future, so here goes:

Dear God,

Thank you for my father, my mother, my brothers (even though it annoys me sometimes that one has an old and frumpy soul and the other one can be a know-it-all little prat), my large and wonderful extended family and red envelopes (just kidding), my best friends, my way-better-than-acquaintances-and-would-totally-invite-to-my-wedding friends, my dog (if it’s not too much trouble, could you make sure he lives a long and happy life? I mean, the Tucks gave Winnie magical spring water, and she wasted it on a toad she didn’t even love very much), my boyfriend (no complaints there… maybe see if you can make him read more), my past and my future (thanking you for this in advance), for courage, optimism, imagination, dreams, and my words.

I know there are a lot of little and not so little things I haven’t articulated, but if I wrote it all down my owl would have a lot of trouble getting this letter to the north pole you, so I’ll end it here, and I hope you don’t find it particularly blasphemous that I wrote to you in a blog post. Or that sometimes when I think of you, I picture an eternal Dumbledore.

Love,

Julia

it's not blasphemous that whales need help too

it’s not blasphemous that whales need help too

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I wear my dead sister’s lipstick

I wear my dead sister’s lipstick.

She always told me that she was a princess of a faraway land, and she had journeyed here with our parents to watch over a gross, scale-y little sister that the kingdom couldn’t bear to look at, and had exiled the family as a result.

They had many enemies, and an old and kindly witch they had met on their travels gave my sister (who in the story was always the most beautiful maiden in the land) a small tin box of different lipsticks. One made her invisible, so she could travel without being noticed. Another let her breathe fire (this was the state I usually found her in), and so on and so forth.

After she died, I discovered the tin box with all the lipsticks (all of them used, though some only once or twice, and others worn down to stumps of colored wax).

At long last, her powers were bequeathed to me. I began to wear them around the house when no one was home, testing out the invisibility one in particular, standing before the mirror to disprove my existence. The fire-breathing orange was one of those worn to stubs – and anyway, there was no one to fight with, anymore.

There was a purple, plummy one I liked, though I can’t remember what power it held, but it delighted me immensely when I would leave an almost perfect lip stain on a glass of water.

But the red one was the one I truly loved. Just looking at the tube made me love it for the richness of the color, but when I put it on I remembered things I had no business remembering – the Roaring Twenties and mint juleps, leggy cigarette girls and men in pinstripe suits and fedoras. The Belle Epoche and Paris – Hemingway’s whisky and Picasso’s cigarettes and Parisian lights all along the river.

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but this was how it ended

Tristan doesn’t particularly like to run. But he does anyway, to try and outrun the heat. He’s found a familiar path – one that takes him east of the apartment, up the hill and then around the reservoir, like a giant version of the loop de loop of his thoughts.

His breath is ragged and burning a hole straight through his chest by the time he reaches the shade of his favorite tree. There are prettier ones, with broader leaves and better views, but this one was privy to things, spread out among its grassy roots like seeds of a delightful secret.

It is dark by the time he returns home. He scuffs his shoes clean before slipping out of them just inside the door. He is in the midst of peeling off his T-shirt before he realizes that the house is dark and Will is sitting in one of the straight backed kitchen chairs with a mug on the table beside him.

He looks down at Will’s yellow mug. It’s empty, he says. But it doesn’t matter, because Will’s eyes are hollow.

It’s a Saturday when Gabrielle dies. The men wear black ties and the women pearls and veils. It’s a solid wall of black that Tristan feels he’s up against, but his tears are falling so hard and so fast he can barely see when it’s gone, and then it’s all he can do not to collapse to the floor and wish to be swallowed up.

///

Tristan doesn’t particularly like to run. So he decides to go for a swim; it’s a dip in the neighbor’s pool and then it’s a short jog to the beach, where he can submerge in blue relief until the sun sets.

It’s twilight when he returns home, his breath hot and heavy in his chest. He pads in the front door, barefoot and soggy and thirsty, and stops just long enough to stick his mouth under the kitchen faucet. From the kitchen it’s a short walk up the stairs to the shower, and then it’s easy to fall into bed, where Gabrielle is sitting cross-legged, waiting, eyes lined with something he’d rather not give name to.

It’s Will, she says.

The funeral is on a Sunday. The men wear black ties and the women pearls and veils. It’s a solid wall of black that Tristan feels he’s up against, and to spite them, Tristan does not cry, because he won’t shed tears for a best mate who didn’t even have the fucking decency to say a proper goodbye. He won’t he won’t he won’t won’t won’t won’t won’t.

Everyone leaves, and the tears come anyway.

///

Tristan has run all night to escape the heat, and it’s dawn when he returns home. The sun’s slanting rays pull at his shadow from where it’s sewn to the bottom of his feet, and he is reminded of childhood stories of pixie dust and pirate ships.

His shadow ushers him into the house, and Tristan laughs at the recollection. But his laugh rings hollowly in the empty hallway, and he hastily makes his way into the kitchen instead.

And then he’s not sure why he didn’t hear it, but Gabrielle is there, pulling dishes and plates from the cupboards and hurling them against the floor. There is something wet and fierce and savage in her face, and she walks across the broken ceramic on bare feet to smash the fine china from the wall opposite. Will watches her silently, one white-knuckled grip on the countertop, the other on a large picture frame ornamented with a large, black silk ribbon.

Tristan turns to his shadow in polite bewilderment, only to find his shadow unable to soften the grief of the two people he loved best in this world, and he turns away in shame. That’s when he sees the photo in the frame, ornamented with a black silk ribbon and Gabrielle’s tears and Will’s silence, and he has to fight the urge to be suddenly and violent sick, for it’s the same face he sees in the mirror every morning.

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An end of the year essay to my strategy instructor

We were instructed to write about our “POV”. In other words, write whatever we want to our strategy instructor. A bit of a stream of consciousness, but with a little more intent. The excessive use of new paragraphs for pacing.

—-

This semester felt like a long one.

Not necessarily because of an overwhelming work load, although I’m sure that contributes too. But it’s because, as much as I hate admitting it (I love corn, but I hate corny), I’ve come a long way this semester in terms of self-discovery.

Now before you roll your eyes at me, Cameron, let me try to explain.

When I was ten, I thought myself an artistic person. The rest of my life I’ve been (stubbornly) academically bookish, until I almost failed the terrible combination of Econ 4 and Accounting.

Then I made the natural progression from Economics to International Studies to Advertising.

I’d like to say that my foray back into the right brain started post-college, when I unintentionally took a year off anything productive to dance.  I learned that there’s a subtle difference between executing moves well, and really dancing. There are those people who seem to have music in their veins, and their movements have breath in the beats where there is no choreography. I have learned the feel of a routine that has movement just for the sake of movement, and I have learned how a truly organic piece of choreography feels.

Sometimes I feel freest when my movement is choreographed and my words are scripted.

There is a connection between dance and copywriting, although the exact explanation is as elusive as my puppy when faced with the nail clipper.

As a kid, I was always waiting for my superhero power to finally kick in. And I used to ask my mom repeatedly if she was sure I wasn’t adopted.

I loved my parents, but the heroes in my books never came from a real, perfect families. It wasn’t until college that I learned about the hero cycle and how true that archetype was. Thanks, Campbell.

The books I read repeatedly are fantastical. I have read the Harry Potter series uncountable times (with no shame), and the His Dark Materials trilogy is one of my favorites.

The point I’m trying to make is that

I believe in magic.

For some reason, I think that sometimes, there is so much more truth in something magical than in something we consider “real”.

Like the news. Which is concerned with facts, but not truth.

I could tell you that I’ve learned a lot about the creative process this semester, that marshmallows and raw spaghetti are interesting metaphors for creating, that I now wonder how so-and-so photographer saw this image of this oyster as a result of her own filter.

I could tell you that His Dark Materials is about spirituality but not religion, and that The Things They Carried is about a loss of innocence that is felt but not explained, and that neither of these stories were grounded in fact, but they made me feel something realer than most of what I read in the news.

It is a lofty ideal, perhaps, for advertising, an industry concerned with wit, cheek, and allusions.

But I don’t think it’s too lofty to fit into advertising. Because I’ve seen, this semester, that when I do write for my projects, it turns out well. My illustrations aren’t as funky as Silky’s or as polished as Marianna’s, but they like my writing. I read somewhere that I should spend my time doing what I do well, and not trying to make up for what I can’t, but it didn’t hit – really, viscerally hit – until this semester. Because there is a place for my words in this business, and that’s just overwhelming and relieving.

Somewhere in this industry there is a place for a writer who believes in magic, and I will find it, and I will write and write and write.

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I may have posted this already

but if I have, there’s no need for you to read it again, if you don’t wish it.

A combination of being cold and excessively caffeinated feels a lot like being in love. Occasionally she would worry she was confusing the two feelings, and would embark immediately on a memory exercise calculating how much time had elapsed since her last cup of joe.

Oh, I haven’t had coffee since last week? I’m wearing fifteen layers and the heater is on?

Guess it must be love.

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