Perpetual Motion

My mind is in perpetual motion. A hamster on a wheel. A tornado. The only way to stop it, or at least funnel off some of the crazy, is to write. Getting the thoughts out of my head at least ends the endless repetition of one train of thought and makes room for another. Writing lets my brain move forward instead of turning into a black hole that feeds on itself, swirling and sucking everything in with its gravity.

I’m not always serious. On the outside I can be fun, and on the inside too. But I feel like my thoughts are grave or deep or big too often. It’s more fun being fun. Fortunately for myself, I think I’m hilarious. I think lots of things are hilarious, too. I spoke to our son on the phone when I was in New Orleans, and he said something that made me laugh.

“You’re funny, buddy,” I said. I sat on the stone wall and giggled at my 11 year-old.

With his father’s dryness, he said, “It’s just easy to make you laugh.”

Which is apparently why my husband married me. I’m an easy laugh.

Perpetual motion is my energy state. I wrote recently about not being able to loaf. It’s because I like to be busy. Thinking is included in that busyness. Like most, I am not able to sit still and be thought-free. But it is rare that I sit and think — I’m writing, or making coffee, or walking, or planning my week. Those are probably the slowest motion things I do besides sleep. I’m trying to recall if there was a single moment today where I was not doing something, and aside from sleeping, I cannot think of one. Oh, except when I woke this morning.

That is my still time. Waking on a Saturday or Sunday without an alarm clock. Lying in bed with my husband, my head on his chest, half-asleep, not moving. Content.

For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Trying to get back into the writing habit. Thank you to Geoffrey for the “perpetual motion” prompt.

Waffle

Chicken and waffles. Golden, salty, and sweet. It sounds delicious, but I have to admit: I’ve never eaten it. I’m not sure if it has always been a popular Southern dish or if it has just recently become trendy, but I hear about chicken and waffles more these days than I ever did growing up in Georgia. Mmmm, now I want chicken and waffles. Crispy fried chicken, juicy and salty, and a thin-crusted cakey waffle with salty butter and sweet syrup. Now I’m hungry.

I wasn’t a fan of a lot of traditional Southern foods. I don’t care about barbeque, I didn’t like Brunswick stew. I never liked sweet tea until I was an adult, and even now I never drink it. I don’t cook my greens in lard or bacon fat, I don’t go crazy for all the insanely fatty dishes that bury the flavor of the foundational vegetable.

The Southern foods I do love, though, are biscuits – flaky and bronzed. The biscuit I had at the donut shop in New Orleans was one of the best foods I have ever put in my mouth. I had caramelized bacon and a fried egg on it, and between the savory sweet crispness of the bacon, and the soft heartiness of the egg, and the buttery crisp-on-the-outside, melt-on-the-inside biscuit, it was groan-inducing. The biscuit was even better than the donut I got, which was praline pecan and would have been remarkable if not for the biscuit.

So I love biscuits. And I love grits. Though I only love grits when they are well-made: thick and rich and creamy, salty, and with a smooth cheese, and then, best of all, dotted with shrimp and maybe a couple of fresh tomato slices. And salt. Did I mention the salt? My God. Yum.

And finally, pecan pie. That’s a Southern dish I will always claim, rich and sweet and bourbon brown, with succulent toasted pecans on top, and the flaky crust that cuts the sweetness, and just a touch of salt, because salt with sweet is the only way to go.

Photo credit: Keith McDuffee Homemade waffles

For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Thank you to LRose for the prompt “Cotton swabs.”

Cotton swabs

“Just a touch,” he said, his eyebrows up, his hands clenched, worried his student would muddy the thing.

“A dab is all it takes,” he said, and watched Julian dip the swab too deep in the stain, like his daughter did when she painted her nails, an activity that also made him wince. She’d dip the the tiny brush in nail lacquer and pull it out without scraping it along the lip of the bottle, and he’d want to cup his hand under the brush to catch the looming drip. The first touch of brush to nail would leave a big glob of paint that his daughter then rushed to spread among all of her toes before it dripped off or got too gummy to disperse. You’d think she’d learn. He sighed.

Julian knew his teacher was tense. Julian seemed to have that effect on the craftsman. He tried to do everything right, but the harder he tried, the worse he made things. Julian thought about that time at the pool, when a fit, muscled father tried to teach his daughter to swim. They were strangers to Julian, and he watched from behind his book as he lounged in a pool chair. The daughter was maybe six, and the dad’s age was hard to determine. He was tanned and his skin showed signs of aging – a hint of wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, thin elbow skin – but it was impossible to tell whether this was from a lifetime of outdoor activity or from age.

The dad’s tricep was tattooed with the Olympic rings, and it was obvious he was passionate about swimming. His daughter bore the brunt of that passion.

“If you’d just RELAX, you would float,” the dad said, his hands under her back as she squirmed on the surface. He nearly shook with frustration. His daughter’s face scrunched with her effort to be still, and each time her chest would drop below the surface, and her dad yelled at her to JUST RELAX, she flinched. She never did float on her own that day.

That’s how it was with Julian, with his damned teacher hovering all the time. Julian touched the swab to the wood, and his shoulders sagged as it left a blob of stain where a gentle stroke should have gone.

Photo credit: Cotton buds by Nic McPhee

For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Thank you to Jay E. for the prompt “Cotton swabs.”