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Doran & Converse – Baltimore Ekphrasis Project

Jim Doran and Juliana Converse traded art and words. Jim shared this piece, entitled “Sea House,” with Juliana:

Sea-House_JimDoranIn response, Juliana wrote this piece:

Sea House

Count back from ten. When you see us again, your tooth will be un-chipped and the pain in your gut will be dull for four hours. I asked, Can he find me here? When I open my window, will he be outside? But even then the roots were sprouting and pushing up through the surface, and I knew I was free. As the faces receded, I started walking through the rooms of my house, touching the things that were mine and not yours.

* * * * *

Juliana shared this story with Jim:

Boy the Wonder and Olivia Have a Drink

-Livvie Maddox. You know I wanted you the first time I met you, but you were tied up with that zombie writer. And Guy’s great—I mean, he’s one of my closest friends. He knows I love him. But really, the guy’s spinning around on Planet X. Sometimes he just looks at you with that…like he isn’t really looking at you but kind of through you, and it’s worse when you really need him to hear you, when you need him, he’s just not there, is he? Maybe Guy is just our collective hallucination. How could you have ever…never mind, I know, Liv, you’re your own woman. Complex, fascinating. You’ll have many men in your life, and I know I’m just one. It’s fine. You’re free. If you’re smart you’ll stay that way. We men, we’re only ever going to drag you down. Don’t let us.

He has a way of drawing conclusions in a conversation without any input whatsoever.

-I’m all dried up, Livvie. Money has destroyed everything. If it weren’t for money, there’d be no reason to do anything. And I’d still have all my friends. It’s the greatest evil, money is, and I have a lot of it. Buried in it.

He’s sitting behind amber-tinted aviator glasses, which he wears both indoors and outdoors. They’re a strong prescription. Behind them, his eyes are bright blue and hungry, anguished. Comically maudlin. Stroking his full beard, that old exhibit of virility. Cock-strutting through the world, squinting over the glasses, warm inside the bar where it’s a beer and a whiskey and whatever she wants.

The room is his from the first moment. Some agreeably give themselves over, others just stare back at him, confused by his offer to buy their entire table another round, and turn back to their conversation. He turns to Olivia with his whole body. She grasps his arm and finds his hand.

-I don’t get it. Unfriendly. Okay, I guess they don’t want a drink. They come to a bar and don’t want to accept drinks or a conversation from a stranger. But—okay. Okay.

He gestures in resignation, leans heavily on the table and pushes down his glasses to peer over them at her. His eyes roam desperately across her features.

-Am I friendly, Liv? Am I gregarious fellow, would you say? If you didn’t know me, and just met me at a bar…You have very brown eyes, Olivia. Would our babies have brown eyes like yours? Maybe they’d get my recessive genes. We gotta be careful. I’m a virile man, Livvie. But we would have gorgeous, brilliant offspring, would we not?
Sometimes he says:

-You wanna get weird?

The sly smile. Other times:

-Can we go back to your bed and clutch at each other? Can I put my head in your lap while you stroke my hair? Can we please wake up together? It’s fine. It’s fine. You’re tired, you’ve spent all day arguing with your angsty students and your ex boyfriend. I just thought we could pretend like we were the only people left in the world. That’s how I feel most of the time, anyway. It’s scary, but I wish it were true.

He twirls her slowly on the mirrored floor of the lobby in the hotel where he’s been living. Suite 3: Indefinite holding room. He grasps the gold handle of the door and works it the wrong way.

In response, Jim made this image, entitled “The Room of Indefinite Holding”:


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