Yeah, yeah. You’ve been waiting to hear about the finalists selection in the More Than Words photo prompt un-contest. God know why you’re competing since I haven’t told you what you’re going to win yet. You could be the proud winner of a pair of these. But hey – you know me. I don’t give away crap. Last time it was a pimp iPod Touch. This time? Not telling.
The five stories selected as finalists are below in their entirety and there’s a link to the TwitPoll at the bottom of the page. Here’s the schiz:
- One vote per IP address. The last person who one my contest gamed the system at the 11th hour. Every time you game the system, God kills a kitten by dissolving it in a vat of acid. Don’t be an asshole.
- Voting ends at 10PM MST on Monday, July 5th.
- Finalists were selected by a hand-picked herd of various rodents, some dude at a coffee shop and The Redhead.
- Winner will be announced on Tuesday, July 6th.
- Your prize will be announced on Friday, July 9 because I’m a evil bitch and want to make you wait.
Now, before you get to reading, The Redhead was featured on Ryan Miller’s blog today in a 3-part video interview. If you’ve ever wondered what I look like in web cam resolution without my glasses, here’s your chance. And I use the word “jerktard,” too.
Happy reading…here’s the image the stories were based upon:
10 years and 3 months ago I did the last line of cocaine in my life.
6 years prior to that was the promise of a fun night and an expectation that I could forget my problems. I was in college, had no real responsibility, a lot of weight from the death of a close friend, and a family that was too spread out. That night was everything I thought it would be and even the first couple of years were good… stay up all night, drink lots, laugh, party and solve the world’s problems.
The later years were a left turn over the tracks and a drive through the shitty part of town. The nights got shorter and the days turned into 72+ hour, sleep when you’re dead, craziness. No pill was too much and no party was too far. “More” quickly turned into “Not Enough”. For those that don’t have the experience with this, it’s a feeling of total helplessness. The cocaine starts to change the way you think, the way you act, the things you value… and you never even know it.
In moments when you sober up, you start slipping in and out of feeling like your life is empty and you need to change, but your brain won’t let you get out. Those last few months of life on drugs were the lowest of the low… surviving on credit cards and my job may as well just paid me in cocaine since that what it was all going to. I spent many mornings watching the sun rise, usually driving somewhere to get more. Trust me… the only people that are up selling drugs at 7am on a Tuesday, are pretty fucking nasty.
When I see this picture, that’s what I think of… sitting in my car at 7am, looking out into the world with a empty stare. I can’t see the Truth of what is really going on because the windshield has a haze of lies covering it. On the corner, my true friends are watching me stare out, but all they can make out is part of what used to be me. The rest of the car is unkept and covered in dust and dirt, like my life. They wonder where I’m going, but doubt they’ll ever see me again.
10 years and 3 months ago I did the last line of cocaine in my life.
“Grandma, what a riveting picture! Is that you in there?”
The elderly woman smiled at her teen-aged granddaughter, grateful for moments like this when they shared and connected without texting and instant messaging. She looked back at the picture and wondered how to respond – I’m not actually in it, she thought, I AM it.
I’m the reflection in the glass, a representation of what can be, life in action, all that’s possible for those willing to venture out.
I’m the clear streaks on the windshield, jolts of clarity in amongst life’s mistings and splatters.
I’m the autumn leaves in the wiper, fully lived, caught in time, accumulated collections of purpose fulfilled and graceful exits.
I’m also the wiper, reluctant to let go of all that I was, still filled with the purpose of wiping life’s spray when it clouds my vision or obscures my path.
And I’m the beautiful young girl, frozen in time, still filled with hope, with longing, even a dream or two. My spirit has never felt the aging process as my body has. In this way, I’m eternally youthful in spite of evidence to the contrary.
The elderly woman, eyes welling with tears, looked up at her grand-daughter ~ her beautiful grand-daughter, looking at her expectantly, with love, and patience. “Yes,” she whispered, ‘yes – that is me in there.”
I met Raquelina a couple of years ago. She liked going by Rack (obvious reasons). We developed a friendship (she was a friend of a friend) but frankly she was boring because she always talked about herself. She’s a writer, a good one and I really liked her work but she would just go on and on and on…zzzzzzzzz. Very much an energy sapper too.
Funny story she had told me (sad but funny)- one of her artist friends had an open marriage arrangement with new husband. They could screw whomever they chose to, etc. Well, he fell in love with someone, and that was that for her friend. So this friend runs off broken hearted and goes to SF to pursue her art full time and become an angry feminist bohemian. But it’s too competitive for good looking straight men in SF, so she’s basically been unhappy and somewhat unhinged there for the past few years; bad skin, eating disorders, etc. It’s a sad story but Rack told me this as she laughed, so of course I think of it as funny. But it’s not.
Rack always wanted me to introduce her to my artist friends (she’s a groupie chick), single or “somewhat” married. She kept bugging the crap out of me because I wouldn’t. Too high maintenance and as I said, an energy sapper. However, she did/does enjoy her boy toys. I think she’s in her mid-forties but likes guys in their late 20s, the cougar thing. That’s fine but she complains about them being idiots and not having the mental capacity to engage her, etc. Whatever. I dreaded the thought of introducing her to any guy because she’d bug and bore the shit out of them then they’d be pissed at me.
There are some people like her who are best avoided, she seems to like conflict too. Best avoided. Like tequila…I’m not a good drinker of that anyore. I used to be but not any more.
I think her alter ego needed breaks from her, which is why she’s quiet these days. I think she’s depressed but she won’t admit it, and I’ve not the energy to ask. Sadly, neither does her only friend, the one who lives in San Francisco.
The back window of the old wagon was so dirty it made it hard to see her. And as we pulled down the road I watched her become smaller and smaller. I watched my best friend became a tiny speck that blurred through tears stinging my eyes until she was gone.
It was in May of 1989 and the last day of my seventh grade year a mere two weeks away. No biggie for most kids, but for me it marked the completion of two full years at the same school. From the age of six we moved to a new town or state at least a couple times a year. When my stepfather didn’t receive a transfer after almost two years I thought I was finally home. No more packing, no more moving vans, no more good-byes. It was too good to be true.
The news of the lay off came as such a shock to our family. For my parents there was only one option; to move back to Indiana. With the help and support of our extended family we could start a new life. For me there was only the reality that I had to leave all my friends behind. I had lost countless friends in the past, but that was different. I was 14 now and my feelings were real. Not like those of a little girl. For the first time in my life I had become part of a community and it didn’t even matter to them. How could they expect me to just go along merrily like it was some great adventure we were about to embark.
The next two days were filled with good bye hugs and tears and exchanging addresses with a promise to keep in touch. Everything was so surreal I couldn’t believe it was really happening. It felt like a dream and I was Dorothy saying farewell to Oz.
My best friend never left my side. I knew she was hurting too although she never showed it, always the strong one, even to the end.
Soon after the move my parents divorced. I went on to make many new friendships and after finishing high school I began a family of my own. Sometimes when I feel like I’ll never find a home for myself I look back on that last move. I see that 14 year old girl staring out the back window of the old wagon. Can she see me? I want to take her up in my arms and tell her, promise her, no matter where that road leads us we’re gonna be alright.
Finallyfinallyfinally. It’s all I can think over and over and over. I bite the inside of my lip to keep my mask from slipping. Inhaling deeply and exhaling through my nose helps keep the mask in place, too.
Finally, I’d said it. Finally, he’d said: Fine. If you’re sure that’s what you want. Finally, I breathed: yes.
This drive I’m not mad about the squirrel pawprints on my windshield. Today, I don’t see them as a reminder that my car is always the one on the driveway. (Apparently, the other Moms won’t notice or care about pine needles and yellow pollen. Clients, on the other hand…). Today, I see past them, through them. To the days of this mask crumbling and falling away. This stony mask I made of my pretty face to reassure that, yes, sugar, everything is fine. I. Am. Fine.
Tomorrow, I get the car washed. Tomorrow, I hire a lawyer. Finallyfinallyfinally.