Twigs & Bark: Scavenging Food (Part 2)

At my last class of the day, I heard a rumor. Bread would be available at breakfast. I cut morning class to beat the hoards. Unfortunately, the hordes had the same idea. I moved with determination to a table crawling with people like hyenas scavenging the kill. I elbowed a large woman out of the way, energized with equal parts gluttony and desperation. Grabbed the last piece of bread, stuffed my bread scrap into my tube top while running to my table. I had a moment of intense pleasure. No one was taking the bread from me without a fight. I made another foray searching for butter, fat of the Gods. No butter. No margarine. Only that putrid orange liquid sludge. I sat back down and pulled the scavenged bread out of my top. It smelled of me, greasy oily me after 48 hours of un-wash and yoga. I ate it and immediately threw up on the empty seat next to me.My sobbing was interrupted by the woman I had elbowed earlier. Leaning over me, she smiled.“You shouldn’t want so much.”“Mind your own fucking business,” I hissed.“That’s the poisons talking. Let yourself become full of air and detoxify your body with fasting.”“Listen, you crazy bitch,” I said. “You were there with me, fighting over scraps of bread. Be thankful I didn’t barf on you.” I got up and left. Crazy goddam cult. It was time for my massage.Smelling of sweat, vomit and most of the deadly sins, I went upstairs. The massage therapist was clean, shiny and condescendingly compassionate.“I can see and smell your detoxification.”“Okay.” I had no energy to contradict her. It wasn’t detoxification. It was desperation, hate, violence, hunger, loneliness, and exhaustion.“We should work on your heart center. It’s closed.”“No. Leave my heart alone. You should work on my colon center. It’s closed.”She opened her eyes wide. “This may be uncomfortable.”“Listen, lady, be nice. I haven’t pooped in three days. I’m hungry. My heart is broken, and I just threw up. I feel like I am having heat stroke. I’m not interested in anything but escaping this hell hole.” Tears belched out of me. It seemed every orifice was open but one. She wasn’t getting a tip.An hour later, I had been pushed, pulled and rocked into a numb state. Thinking this might have done the trick; I spent an unproductive half hour in the communal bathroom making truly scary sounds. The bowels of hell. I skipped the other massage that day to lie sweating in my bed expecting a red-costumed visitor – the Pizza Delivery Man or Satan.

Source: Twigs & Bark: Scavenging Food (Part 2)


Twigs & Bark: Scavenging Food at the Yoga Institute

A WOMAN GOES TO A YOGA INSTITUTE TO ESCAPE HER TROUBLES. IN THIS SECTION, SHE ENTERS THE CAFETERIA FOR THE FIRST TIME.Smelly and sullen, I followed the class to the cafeteria. Bosch, himself, could not have imagined a scarier version of Hell. The hall was full of writhing, wiggling people in full yoga regalia, sunbursts and yin/yang symbols emblazoned clothes and distorted skin, shiny piercings of eyebrows, lips, noses, and nipples. Grasping toes spread on the ground as they hurried from trough to trough, metal tongs piling heaps of green leafy things, nuts, and bark-like pieces on their plates. They covered the roughage with a dense orange liquid. You eat this?I looked around. No bread. No chocolate. No dessert. No wine, beer, tequila. What kind of camp is this? Where are the smores? Where are the chemicals? I need chemicals, preservatives, sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup.As my panic grew, I grabbed the bulging arm of a kitchen worker.“Where’s the dairy products?”“That’s bad for you. It’ll give you a yeast infection.”“Can I get a cup of coffee?”“Why do you need that stimulant?”“Not even in the morning?”He shook his head disdainfully.“Okay then bread and butter.”“Look we don’t have that stuff. We have healthy raw food that will detox your system. See that round belly you have. It’s probably worms, gas from dairy products, and pouches of undigested meat. Do you know meat can live in your colon for five years?” And with that lecture, he sauntered back into the kitchen, skin and hair gleaming with health. His belly flat and covered in baby fine down.I made my way to a table. Looking at the green leaves and orange liquid on my plate, I sobbed, seasoning my food with snot and tears. A man next to me, mid-fifties, as wrinkled a sharpei, possibly from unhealthily fast weight loss, was smiling vigorously. He said, “You’ll feel better in a few days. Initially, you defecate big black blobs but they’ll pass.” He went on, “The cramps stop after four days. Make sure to do twists in yoga class or things will get stuck. A guy was air lifted out of here two days ago. Abdominal obstruction, I think.”

Source: Twigs & Bark: Scavenging Food at the Yoga Institute

Fire: Maybe It’s Time To Go Strawberry Blonde

I come from an impressive line of Firestarters. We don’t mean to be, but we are. It must be part and parcel with the red hair and feisty tempers. Let me give you an example:The night in question, Mom was lighting the Sabbath candles on the Bimah (synagogue stage) when the event happened. My mother was beautiful and hard to forget with her bright red hair and twinkling blue eyes. That particular night, she wore a powder blue dress, probably highly flammable. It was the seventies. I wore a hair band. The family had been to IHOP for dinner (a Friday night tradition), and we were ready to pray.The night started out good – minimal fighting among the siblings. No one was expecting what happened next. I sat in the last row of seats with my sister and brother. No major faux pas had occurred like the time my sister lets one rip in the middle of a sermon. Or the time my brother fell asleep, tumbling out of the pew into the center aisle with a soul-shaking clunk. Or the time I tripped in Mom’s borrowed heels, inadvertently performing the Heimlich anti-choking maneuver over a seat back, to hurl scrambled eggs and pancakes over the entire row. You get the idea. Mine is a long line of the etiquette-challenged. But that is not the same thing as starting a fire. Back to my memory, Mom was standing on the Bimah about to light the last candle on the Shabbat menorah (think ornate candelabra) when her sleeve caught fire on an already burning candle. Trying to pat it out with a certain je ne sais quoi, she knocked the candle out of her hand. The lit candle sailed end over end to pole vault over the waist-high gate separating the people on the Bimah from the rabble. The flaming missile arced towards the new burgundy carpet. Not quite shag. Flammable. Near the audience (congregation).A little curl of smoke started up towards the ceiling. Mom’s eyes opened very wide. The periwinkle blue polyester of her dress smoldered. My sister nudged me in the ribs. I sat up straight. Paid attention. My little brother snorted.The curl ate the nylon carpet in a zigzag pattern turning into a flame zipping around the Bimah. I thought, Ah, a burnt sacrifice. Mom was yelling, “Oops, please somebody do something,” in her perfect British boarding school voice used only in situations of I am in so much shit, or You are in so much shit.The President of the Temple rushed down from the Bimah into the fire. He stamped and stamped. The head of the religious school came over to spit on the fire. The fire continued despite the stamping and spitting. My mother threw the ceremonial wine on the holy fire. Poof. The President’s tie caught on fire. By my count, two people and one carpet were on fire. One woman was out of spit. I sucked in my gut trying not to laugh too conspicuously. With a unified Oy Vey, people in the front pews hastily moved towards the back of the sanctuary.At the point when it looked like either the fire department or a miracle was called for, the Rabbi pulled a fire extinguisher from under the podium. With a few oaths unseemly for a spiritual leader, he jumped over the gate and sprayed the fire into submission. The Rabbi turned to the congregation.“Please be seated. Let us continue with our service on page … “ he said motioning my mother off the Bimah. She was never asked to perform another thing, read another line, or get anywhere near an open flame on synagogue grounds.Then the sprinklers turned on.The three of us kids sat in awe, sweat-producing awe, of yet another Young family fuck-up. After a furtive glance at each other, we doubled over with laughter. And a little embarrassment as the Jewish community’s wrath rained down upon us.This year, my resolution is to smother my Firestarter tendencies. Maybe dye my hair strawberry blonde. I hope your year is full of laughter and light but no fires.(excerpt was rewritten from

Source: Fire: Maybe It’s Time To Go Strawberry Blonde

Dressing For Sedition – Bowtie Optional

He had a bevy of bowties. Such pretension. But as Head of the English department, bowties were mandatory. When he threatened to cut my creative writing classes, I had the urge to strangle him, with a bowtie, his navy one with the white polka dots. He said I was redundant. My classes were redundant. I asked him to meet me in the quad after his last meeting.“Whatever for?”“I have something to show you.”At 8:30, he turned up in his matching blazer and bowtie. He didn’t see me sitting on a bench in the night’s darkness.A figure stepped from the shadows with a heavy thud of his boots. Mouth red-rimmed and making mewling sounds like an underfed cat. A second shape rattled a tree bringing down leaves, twigs, branches and more detritus. Again, a bloody stain on the lower half of his face and a long moan. Frayed sneakers clomped the ground. Like Frankenstein’s least graceful brother. Then a filthy ragged woman shrieked at him. Finger pointed at his chest. Maroon splatters hit the grass with each step.They began to mewl, moan, and shriek in tandem. Words formed in the late October gloom. “Redundant, unnecessary, redundant, unneeded, redundant.” A dog’s growl grew louder until I could see the bloodied snout pulled back from wetly pointed choppers.The Head shivered and shook. Looking back, he saw himself surrounded by a course-sized group of ghouls. “Who are you people?”“We are the Zombies of Creative Writing Future,” said a large shape splotched in body fluids next to the snarling dog.“What do you want from me?”“We have no place to go. Give us back our courses.” The zombies lurched nearer. Pressed in on the man, they smelled of late adolescent angst and pot.“I’m going to call campus security,” said the Department Head holding up his phone. The undead dog lunged knocking it out of his hand.One zombie audibly licked his lips. Another smacked her mouth. A rumble began in the quad gathering into a low echo of agitation. They backed the Department Head against a tree. The largest male zombie grabbed his arm. A toad-like tongue protruding from between darkened lips. “Redundant,” he said before licking the Head’s hand, wrist to fingertips, with gusto.“Okay, okay. I’ll reinstate the classes tomorrow. Now will you let me go?”With a death’s-head smile, the lead zombie sneered then shuffled off. The Head of the English Department ran for his car. His bowtie flapped in time with his blazer. With a squeal of rubber, he sped away.The woman turned to me. “Professor Wallace, was that okay?”I checked my recording.“Great job you ghouls. Got it all. Time for beer. First rounds on me.” I stomped the Department Head’s phone into the wet sod.The man picked up the dog’s leash. “Sophie, heel. Meet you at the bar. Got to get the dog back to the kiddies. Who’s carrying the face wipes?”Everyone laughed. This is what happens when you give the writing prompt, ‘bowties.’

Source: Dressing For Sedition – Bowtie Optional

The No Good, Very Bad Vacation

By the third afternoon of my proposed five-day stay at the yoga institute, my stomach resembled the belly of a woman well into her second trimester with twins. It was rock hard and emitting sulfurous toots at inopportune times; during a rendition of a one-man play about Mark Twain, in the cafeteria, while vainly searching for wheat products, but my belly loved to go off in the meditation classes. This was tricky. Meditation was usually quiet. You couldn’t move around. The other students knew exactly where the sounds and smells were coming from. The meditation teacher took me aside.“Are you feeling okay?”“Do I look, smell or sound okay to you?” was my grumbling retort.“The Institute store has some herbal teas that might help,” was his kind statement.“I don’t need herbal tea. I need a plumber’s snake to unplug things. What the hell are you feeding us?”“I’m sure you’ll be fine in a little bit. Try a heating pad while you do some visualization.”I started to cry again. “Please air lift me out of here. I hate it. I’m not a good yoga person. I dream of cutting down penises. That’s not nonviolence. You have no bread.” I ramped up. “And what’s with the orange liquid? Do you have any laxatives, real honest to God laxatives, a stool softener, but no … herbal … teas and keep the massage therapists away from me … “I was screaming. I had truly lost it.“You seem a little overwrought. Is there someone we can call?”“No. There’s no one. A friend sent me here. My other friends think I’m strange. My fiancée doesn’t understand me. I hate him. And his girls are evil. I hate them. Why are you being nice to me?” (I wailed.) “Would you marry me?”At this point, I gathered up my yoga mat. Hitched up my thong and belched. My room was hot as I crammed stinky clothes into my luggage. I waddled to the front desk. They said a limo could be here in thirty minutes, but it would cost extra, and they couldn’t guarantee I could change my airline ticket. I said I’d take my chances and gave them my credit card for the limo ride.The service sent a different driver than the one three days earlier. He was chatty.“Downward Dog Institute, eh? I heard it’s fun there. Lots of fresh air and time to relax. They even got some masseuses. How’s the food?”“I’m sick,” I said trying to ward off further conversation attempts.“Sorry Miss. Who’s meeting you at the airport?”“No one. No one’s meeting me at the airport. I don’t even have a flight for two days. I just want to go home,” I whined and burst into tears. My nose was red. My skin was blotchy and covered in heat bumps. My stomach, hard and swollen to the size of an overinflated basketball, heaved and I started to retch. The limo driver looked terrified.“Do we need to pull over Miss?”“No. Get me to the airport as fast as you can. It’s been Hell.” I told him all about it, including the sea of penises, the flatulence, and the uncaring fiancée. He turned the air conditioning to its highest level driving with a little more haste.As I couldn’t see through my eyes swollen to slits or hold my luggage with hands slick with body fluids, the driver took my bags to the US Airways counter. He smiled sadly at the attendant.“She needs to bump up her flight. I don’t think she’s feeling too well,” he said.“Is she contagious?” she asked.“I don’t think so. Just out of sorts.”The attendant got busy with her computer. “We don’t have a flight for five hours. That’s the earliest.” She dared a look at me.I blew my nose on my sweatshirt. “Okay. Just book me on it. Can I get my boarding pass now?”“It’s going to cost an extra two hundred and sixty-three dollars to change your flight,” she said.“I don’t care.” She got the credit card going while I tipped the limo driver, keeping my last twenty for any form of laxative.“Take care little lady. Don’t let that man be bad to you.”“Thank you. I won’t. I want a guy just like you.” The driver shook his head and left me. The attendant checked my bag, printed out my boarding pass and wished me God Speed.I looked around. I was frantic. Deranged. A brave man came over. He asked if I needed something. I held his eyes. He tried to look away but couldn’t. I saw thousands of chemicals pouring into his blood stream, shouting, “Danger, danger.”“Coffee. I need coffee. Cream and sugar. And a bagel. Croissants. Eye drops. A trashy novel. And a toilet.” It came out low and guttural as I hunched over my grotesque belly.Silently he pointed to a Starbucks, a newspaper store, and the woman’s restroom.

Source: The No Good, Very Bad Vacation

The Swoop and Sway: Seducing Youth


She considered the manboy with the tasseled pants –

The red columns of legs and slight sway of his hips,

As he followed the siren curves of the girlwoman’s back.

What made the back beautiful?

A Cartesian swoop of muscle,

Two hummingbird shoulder blades hovering,

The gentle bellows of pumping lungs,

Or the lustrous skin sheath of a seductive heart?

He stood behind the girlwoman. His tassels, red-fabric bells, immobile for the tiniest second

While she stood waiting, first-time aware, sexually potent.

The woman, veiled in a turtleneck and modest heels, lost herself in youth, enticing, festooned, and never again innocent.

(Image with permission by Andre Giovina)

The Swoop and Sway: Seducing Youth

She considered the manboy with the tasseled pants -The red columns of legs and slight sway of his hips,As he followed the siren curves of the girlwoman’s back.What made the back beautiful?A Cartesian swoop of muscle,Two hummingbird shoulder blades hovering,The gentle bellows of pumping lungs,Or the lustrous skin sheath of a seductive heart?He stood behind the girlwoman. His tassels, red-fabric bells, immobile for the tiniest secondWhile she stood waiting, first-time aware, sexually potent. The woman, veiled in a turtleneck and modest heels, lost herself in youth, enticing, festooned, and never again innocent.(Image with permission by Andre Giovina)

Source: The Swoop and Sway: Seducing Youth