Split

Caitlin Ghegan



I didn't pick the restaurant, but it's what I'd have wanted, the kind of place that postures bare glass bulbs from exposed beams and the people beneath, and invites wanderers in from the greenway. It's not familiar territory as the pub with old and browning wallpaper. here are wooden chairs well-worn and they’ve saved me a seat. It’s the kind of place with octopus on the menu, breaded and peppered and splashed with a bit of lemon and butter. The drinks are my harbored crushes: flutes with gin, with Prosecco, with lavender bitters. No one judges a glass of water, I mean, it's only a Thursday. We're keen on the nachos and there's sour cream, Nick says, on the tip of my nose. His cuticles are red with salsa leak, his hands are cold from the neck of a beer. There's a patina of grease on my palm. Christine dares me to hit on the Sox fan at the bar. We are comfortably full. We will make plans again, we already have them, it's settled, pencilled in, next Friday. I walk out into the summer night like a heavy dream. The voices spill into the streets and joy masks the house music and the screech of the Boylston St. tracks is a welcome gesture home and the gin buzzes through my knees, sleepy.


Unstir

[This is an interactive text. Roll over the text block to read the work. Click UNSTIR to switch between voices.]


Song: "When You Break" by Bear's Den


About the Text

A stir fry is a layering of texts using javascript, the form having been originally developed by Jim Andrews. Andrews writes, "What's new in the stir frys is the spastic interactivity they give to the reader/viewer, the way that they insist on hanging together as texts, physically, anyway and, if they are successful as texts, rather than simply as langwidgetical text toys, the range of insights they afford into themselves and the random and the cut up and the Web and into oneself, since the stir frys allow you to make your own texts."

The stir fry "chaos" spoke sharply to my experiences with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Well before I understood that something was perhaps "amiss," or that it was something I could control, anxious "counter-narratives" guided my actions (such as whether I wanted to stay or leave a room), and also led to physical manifestations like chronic, phantom nausea. This lasted for several years, in which I could hardly stand to hang out with my friends or colleagues outside of structured environments like classrooms or workplaces. I eventually spoke to a physician about what was happening with my body, and this search for resources helped me better understand my situation, how I handle (or fail to handle) thoughts, and the impact on the way I navigated my environment.

The digital environment of the text allows me to layer different voices in a texturized way. In conjunction with my own conflicting narratives, similarly, there is the soundtrack. In a space where I feel most anxious or lost, I anchor myself to the music in a restaurant, the game playing in a sports bar.

Learn more about Stir Fry poems.