Monday, February 27, 2012

Woot Man

 Standing at 6'4, weighing in at 325, with light-skin complexion ad light brown eyes, all the way from Fort Valley, Georgia, give it up for Reggie "Woot" Wootson. Reggie Wootson is a loving father, husband, and friend. He is quite the comedian at times as well. He always says, "If you act a fool, I'll act a fool with you", anytime he feels you are acting out of line or have lost your mind.
   As he sits on the couch, watching his stories on TV,h leans to his right side and shift every 10 minutes or so. He has his hands wrapped in his white beater to keep them warm. When we talk sometimes it fels like you're talking to a friend versus a parent figure. He makes you feel like no matter what, you can come and talk to him. When he wants to, he gives really good advice, with a soft tone in his voice as he says, " don't ever let your light stop shining because of others." He loves his family and would do anything for them. He works hard to keep his home together. He gets up morning after morning, with red-blood shot eyes, blurred vision and unstable balances,as he gets ready to take his wife to work, keep the house together, and handle all financial endeavors.

A Manager with Personality

A young woman who’s a customer walks into the Columbus Public Library Bookstore and looks around to see what books are there. Next to the purchase counter, a short African-American woman strides out from the back room, walks right up to the customer and greets her. Her name tag reads Evelyn Durrah: Bookstore Manager. She smiles to the customer and says very cheerfully, “Hello ma’am, welcome to the bookstore.” Evelyn strikes up a conversation with the woman very casually about a certain book that she hopes to find. Evelyn helps the woman search around the store for the book that the customer wants. Evelyn even looks around in the back room for the book, but neither of them can find it. Returning to the customer, Evelyn’s voice is regretful as she says, “I’m sorry that we don’t have the book and it sounded real interesting too.” Before the customer walks out the door, she says “Oh well, it’s not your fault, but thank you so much, you were very helpful.”

What You Don't See

With a humorous sense of humor, a joyous attitude, a kind spirit is a man of worthy and dignity. Jason, whose 5’10 with brown, straight hair and brown-eyes, stands with a very confident stature. Jason works as a News Anchor at WTVM for the 5:00, 6:00, and 6:30 newscast. Every day he sits at a desk and reads a teleprompter and shares the news, live, to viewers of Columbus.  Jason says, “This is my dream job, I never would have thought I would be doing what I love. I really enjoy getting to conduct interviews and find breaking news to stories, it’s great.”  His job is different each and every day; it is a surprise, with no day repeating itself.  When Jason is not on TV, he likes to spend time with his wife and two children. He loves going to church and to help spread the word of God to people.  Although most people see him sharing the news, there is another side to him you don’t see, he says “I’m not just a News Anchor, I am a man of God and I feel it is important to share Gods word with those around me.” 

Looking Forward

“Ann, would you mind topping off my water baby?” Jim asks from the corduroy Lazy-Boy that he always tries to pivot, painstakingly, toward his daughter in the kitchen.

“Yeah daddy. Just give me a second to put this food up,” she replies from across the bar that divides the kitchen and the den.

It’s a dreary Friday evening, just after a light supper. An old war film is on the television. Jim peers over at the screen, squinting with his powder-blue eyes to try and read the closed caption.

“Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of WWII,” Jim claims. “Did I ever tell you that?” 
James Talley Sr. is a 91-year-old World War II veteran and former Coca-Cola man of 45 years. The former First Sergeant and Assistant Sales Manager at Coke now spends his days in his recliner watching old movies and working word-finds. A survivor of the Great Depression, a war, a heart attack, and the death of his wife of 55 years, Jim always acknowledges how lucky he is to have made it through so much.

“There aren’t too many of us left.”

He alternates between watching his movie and dozing off, only to be awoken by the barking of his golden retrievers or by his live-in daughter giving him his nightly pills. He wears a Coca-Cola diner hat and a black windbreaker, with a throw blanket covering his lower half. On the end table next to him lay several odds-and-ends: a flashlight, a roll of paper towels, an atomic clock, and an electric razor (for when company comes over).

“When do you go into work today?” Jim asks his grandson who is sitting on the white leather couch across the den. “You see what you have to look forward to when you retire?”

- Nick Johnston 

Welcome to the Stage

Five foot two radio personality and entrepreneur, Natasha Hall, stands off to the side of the big room as the growing crowd murmurs amongst themselves. Natasha restlessly watches everyone’s move, cautious of any miscalculation. She warmly addresses passerby’s as they seat themselves all around her. Wearing a black, form-fitting, off the shoulder dress with leopard printed wedge heels, Natasha begins to nervously sound check her mic. Her face lights up at the sight of a familiar face and says “I wish you could have been a part of the show!” in a sad, yet excited tone. With her long black hair streaked with a strawberry colored tint, curled into long tendrils, a make-up artists begins to touch up her face. She mutters the time to Natasha and Natasha gestures to two other females. They momentarily walk behind a blue curtain, and in seconds, reappear on the stage before the now silent crowd of her peers. Natasha beams and announces into the mic “Welcome Ladies and Gents to the first annual Respect My Craft exhibit…” 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Reservoir

After Kim finished telling me about how she and her sister, Tami, found out their

boyfriends were cheating on them with each other she drove us to the Reservoir. It was her spot

she told me, to just get away from everything, when her head swelled too much. To get there we

had to travel a dirt road until we got to a fork, make a left and keep driving, dust and dirt rocks

hitting the windows and testing the tires until we  got to a dead end. The dead end looked like the

dirt had stretched itself on the ground like a thin layer of paper sheets. There were rusted gates

and she parked underneath the tall security camera, making sure her license plate didn’t show.

It was dark but the light under the camera shone brightly enough that it lit up the rocks that

speckled the ground. I followed her into the woods, hoping some sort of primal source of

survival would kick in and give me night time vision. She pulled her long, lank legs over the

shaky gate, bypassing the barbed wire and no trespassing signs. She landed perfectly and I

staggered behind as our sneakers began to sink into the snug sand.

            Reaching a wooden gate about half a mile from the first gate, she climbed on that one to

and pointed to a submerged dock. About 20% of the dock was underwater. She said we could sit

on it and we’d be fine. We sat down and looked at the water’s changing hues via the moon and I

wondered if I looked across the lake, could I be like Gatsby and find my Daisy again by green

lights. I spent the ends of my teenage nights on the broken dock. The Reservoir was not

made for the light. In our last semester as seniors, Adriana and I taught Gracie how to smoke.

Later on, when we invested in two freshmen girls we taught them how smoke too. I’m only one

whom it didn’t stick with. I liked to jump on the wood while Gracie liked to lie to the side,

often annoyed of my jumping. Half the dock was submerged into the dark blue water and my

jumping caused little waves of the liquid to lick the wooden planks and hit Gracie. Adriana

would puff her smoke as I told them about how my Dad said that we needed to stop coming out

here late at night. The owner had set up several security cameras over the benched dock. We

climbed the poorly constructed gates anyway. It felt right to keep it our night vigil. It was our

“rebellious” escape. It was where we would go to play “cards” which is what the freshmen girls

told their parents they were doing every time we picked them up in my old Jeep Cherokee.

 Years later when I brought Emly to see the Reservoir, I pushed her over the loose gate,

which scared her but she made it over. This was the only time I would ever break the law other

than underage drinking. We made it to the wooden gates to find the dock was about 85%

submerged into the water. I told her how the owner caught people coming over at night and

pissing on the couch in the old creaky clubhouse. The camera had turned and gotten stuck

in its position, only getting to watch one guy one night pissing into the couch to another guy the

next night doing the same thing. . The sky looked heavy against her as she leaned on the wooden

gate. She got nervous and wanted to leave. I told her that I used to flick Menthol Smooths into

the water. And as we walked on the sand, the wetness clung to our shoes and she asked what

we’d do if we got caught. I grabbed her hand and said, I had it all figured out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Covering me are brown sheets, blue fuzzy throw, green blanket. And great mother's quilt, handmade from her days of captivity. Silky red, rest under my head, smelling of hair oil. Crumbs rake against my coffee skin and fingers graze over cotton, scratching them to the floor. Gum collects on bed post, stickers stick as well. Names are carved into the wood, to stay forever, loving Jonathon, Brandon, and Nick. Years pass by, and I stay here. Eating, talking, and being right here. Living right here on a mattress so worn. Held by wooden frame.

At nine, it stood against the wall, two others in the room. Toys and clothes are stuffed underneath, and the room is said to be clean. Barney is our comforter, unicorns are our wallpaper.

Three beds cramped into one room, and walking space is limited. We imagine beds as ships at sea, and make it all make sense.
Then years pass by, and I stay here. Eating, talking, and being right here. Living right here on a mattress so worn. Held by wooden frame.

A year ago little sis moves out, and marriage will be nice. The room shared by three becomes a room for one. I send my sister to another room, and finally gain some privacy. But then bed #3 is moved back in for grandmother to sleep in.

But grandmother leaves some months later, her home is no longer here. Instead she stays in heaven, with my God and Savior there.

So privacy is once restored, though her bed remains.

It just doesn't feel right yet to move it out again.
Some months pass by, and I stay here. Eating, talking, and being right here. Living right here on a mattress so worn. Held by wooden frame.

After class is relaxing time.

I lay down in bed.

From behind, through lime curtains, the sunny sun shines.

I'm tucked under fabric masses, wiggling to the right, to the computer on the table.

My hand stretches out, fingers tap tap tap. Scroll down, keep reading, cause the story's getting good.

Line after line I take in, and hours and hours fly by. Eyes fall heavy, words lose their meaning, and I turn back over to the left.

Hand under stomach, body contorted, eyelids flutter shut. Peace.

Good dream this time, but bad dream soon, someone in the room.

Rest cures my exhaustion.

-- Alicia Thompson

Monday, February 13, 2012

Videogames and Anorexia

Black-lights illuminate the stains on my white t-shirt as the videogame screens flash violence into the surroundings.  A group of men with buzzed hair and rigid stances are swarmed around another man who stands with his legs spread and a fake gun to his right cheek.  He is shooting the heads from zombies.  His friends cheer him and slap his back.  Adults and kids alike stop and watch as two teenagers dance on the platform of a videogame called Pump it Up.  My brother, David, is one of them.  Arrows float from the bottom of the screen to the top, dictating the rhythmic slamming of their feet – top left to bottom left, top right to bottom right, a jump back to top, then bottom right, middle, middle, middle.  I am watching David as well.  He’s dancing to one of the harder songs in the game.  On my left, a videogame screams overexcited Japanese phrases in my ear.  To my right, a twanging, southern voice yells “Yeehaw” as an engrossed kid steers a fake ATV attached to one of the machines.

David and the other kid finish their song.  I step onto the platform with my friend Tommy.  We insert our coins into their respective slots.  I choose the medium setting while Tommy chooses hard.  I envy Tommy and my brother because they are both rail-thin, and I am almost two-hundred pounds, standing at five-foot three-inches.  A few of my fatter friends can play on hard-mode, but it’s usually just the skinny ones who can move fast enough for it.  I’d started playing Pump It Up for fun, but it quickly became frustrating.  Over the year or so we’d been playing, David and my sister, Sarah, had lost about ten pounds while I gained twenty.  I’d hoped that the exercise would help me lose weight but it didn’t.  I wanted to be the girl that walked into the room and made every man’s jaw dropped.  I wanted to be doted on and loved, and being fat was not getting me there.

At fifteen years old I am surrounded by stick-thin friends that only dated other stick people. In response, I develop an eating disorder.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve stopped eating, and I’ve successfully lost five pounds.  My stomach growls angrily as I slam my feet on the platform’s corresponding arrows. I think about how much I hate my gelatinous belly, and how I’d be able to play hard-mode without its sway.  The song finishes.  Tommy and I step down from the platform.  My vision tunnels and I feel like passing out, so I sit down beside the Pump It Up machine in an attempt to make the world stop moving.  David comes over to me and asks if I’m OK. 

I tell him I’m fine, but it’ll be years before I admit to my anorexia.

--Kristin Kolb

Blue Springs

Cason and Virginia Callaway “discovered” Blue Springs in 1921, and it was the extraordinary beauty that brought them from LaGrange to live in the Hamilton area. However the spring has an unwritten history extending back centuries and beyond. In the late eighteenth century, a hospital on-site utilized the pure water. Prior to that, Native American people knew of the spring and clearly visited it with some regularity. The spring’s location is peripherally marked with trees, centuries old, that were bent in their youth to point toward the water source. The water ranks among the cleanest in the world, as it has since Franklin Roosevelt first commissioned a study to determine drinking sources around Harris County.

At the front entrance, the wood and stone gates blend seamlessly into the grove of giant magnolias. More impressive still is the rear entrance, loping through pine forests and over a mountain ridge from the log cabin home of my great-grandparents. However you get there, the swimming pool will immediately pull you in.

When my great-grandfather Cason purchased the Blue Springs watershed in 1930, he had already envisioned the swimming pool that he would build seven years later. Drilled out of the native hollis quartz, the pool at Blue Springs stretches just over two acres. The water shares an exquisite blue color with its source, though not the same intensity. At the south end of the pool, the water reaches a depth of twenty feet, at the north it is as shallow as one foot. The majority sits at roughly eight feet deep, with quartz bottom shining through the pristine water. A swim pavilion constructed from hand-hewn oak, salvaged from a barn on the property, has hosted many thousands of guests over the past seventy years. A matching pavilion atop the overlooking ridge seats eighty guests at an arc of long oak picnic tables, surrounding a twenty foot barbecue pit and combination butler’s pantry / kitchen, built from the quartz taken from the pool. The architecture of the structures compliments the extraordinary landscape, cultivated over decades by dedicated horticulture enthusiast Cason and his equally green-thumbed wife, Virginia. Cason and Virginia were well-known for their hospitality, and frequently entertained their friends, including Mr. Roosevelt, at Blue Springs.

The pool and the pavilions make an ideal party spot, but their beauty dulls in comparison with the spring itself. Approximately one-hundred yards north of the pool winds a trail, at first paved with stone then worn dirt tangled with rhododendron roots. Mountain laurel lines the sides of the trail in thick walls, and their bloom in late spring delights the eyes and the nose. Continue down the trail for thirty yards, and quite suddenly, the spring will appear. The deep blue color of the water is shocking, almost as shocking as the temperature of the water. A moment in the spring and skin immediately looks blue through the water. Five minutes in the spring and lips will turn blue from the cold. Moss banks line the wall of the ridge that embraces the spring and provide vantage points for jumping in. The visible bottom begins at a depth of fifty feet and slopes downward into infinity. Divers sent to examine the caves below have reached three hundred feet, at which point the undertow and the narrowness of the caves make continuing all but impossible.

Here, in these waters, on these grounds, my family marks every major milestone. When we marry, the showers, rehearsal dinners, and receptions thrown here bring us back. When we are baptized, it is with the cold, blue spring water. When we die, it is to this sacred spot that we repair, with our family, resting in the beauty and strength of those who came before. It couldn’t be more fitting that the family mausoleum sits atop the mountain ridge overlooking the watershed, emblazoned with the family crest and motto: “St. Callaway, Ora Pro Me.” Made from the same native quartz, it currently houses five beloved greats of the Callaway family, four inside the mausoleum and one, my grandfather, outside in the north center plot of the graveyard, where he will watch over his grandchildren as we, one by one, come home.

- Marshall Callaway