Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Week in Seven Words #230 & #231


Stolid and tall, drifting ahead of us like the mast on a ship.

Red and yellow kayaks, like slices of fruit candy, bobbing on the river.

They work hard to create the impression of a shared reality, even as their hearts splinter.

We have no solutions, only complaints. But it's reassuring to find people who complain about the same things. The shared noise is heartening.

The whine of pigeons flapping by my ears.

Fisherman by the railroad tracks, what will he find? Rubbery fish? Tires that have come alive with fins and scales?

Harried women in a chilly supermarket; they're carefully made-up, their eyes fogged.


In a battle that spans multiple eras and realms, who will win: Plants or zombies?

The pond is still and lets the sky steal across it. It's a safe place for the sky to settle down a short while. No waves or ripples will chase away the clouds.

Goal: To rush to the end of the piece and then dance away from the keyboard.

One trait I want to avoid as much as possible is fretfulness. I don't want to lie prostrate before my fear and call attention to myself with it.

He had the vague hope that if he stopped doing anything, time itself would stop. Instead it's flowing around him and nudging him along, while he struggles to keep his footing.

I like community gardens grown in old broken places. A part of the city once scarred now bears vegetables and redolent plants.

Enough people say they like something, so then others like it too. And some dislike it just because too many others like it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Salem, Massachusetts in October: 25 Photos

(From a half-day visit on Columbus Day.)

The Witch House

(It's the home of Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges involved in the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s.)

The Custom House

(At the Salem Maritime National Historic Park.)

Ropes Mansion Garden

(This garden is in back of a home dating to the early 1700s.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week in Seven Words #228 & 229


Three teenagers are sitting on a bench, arms around each other, looking for the moon in a daytime sky.

The silence on the path isn't true silence. The trees are bristling, and animals are scraping unseen against dirt. My feet are crunching on loose rock. The silence is the absence of human voice.

People who tell me to "be myself" often mean "be a self that I approve of and am comfortable with."

When I read beneath the green branches, bugs fall onto my book like extra punctuation.

In part because it's dwarfed by a flag pole, one gets the sense that the old stone building, crouched on the ground, has a small room in it with a door, and that this door opens to a flight of stairs that takes you miles below the city.

Wedding photos in the park - the bride's train sweeping over fallen green leaves.

The shop, dark as a cavern, smells of soap and herbs.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Angry protective swan

In this case, a father swan swatting and hissing at the rescue worker who's trying to extract a cygnet from a fence.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Week in Seven Words #226 & 227


There's never sunlight on that door, only a cold, still shade.

A ballerina soars across a corrugated roof.

I can see in his expression when he knows he's gone too far, but decides to keep going anyway. He forces himself to enjoy his own rudeness, his own petty cruelty, because the alternative is to be flooded with shame.

Oval windows frame the reflection of trees and purple flowers.

Flopping facedown on the couch: Endurance and patience have been mostly depleted - time to recharge.

Is laughter always a fear response? I think laughter and fear are closely linked. Even when we don't think we're laughing in relief or in nervousness, the jokes we laugh at tap into our anxieties about ourselves. We laugh at things we might become or misfortunes we narrowly avoided. We laugh in acceptance of something odd that might have been dangerous, but is merely strange and possibly wonderful.

Flower-bearing trees rustling against fire escapes.


He runs his hand up and down his face, as if clearing away cobwebs from his eyes.

The smell of sweat and coffee beans. Tinny music seeping out of headphones.

I am, once again, short on compassion for myself.

He defines a happy marriage as one that hasn't ended in divorce, not seeming to realize that people may spend a lifetime together in varying states of indifference and hostility.

The air quivering, a dim light in the tunnel brightening, then the racket as the train enters the subway station.

Last light of day slanting onto an empty purple vase.

He is calm and diplomatic. Even when listening to an unreasonable request, he has the look of someone contemplating rare wisdom.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Passion Fish (1992): Rediscovering yourself after tragedy and poor decisions

Title: Passion Fish
Director: John Sayles
Language: English
Rating: R (for language)

I love the unsentimental approach to the characters in this film and the friendship that develops between them. The movie doesn't so much have a happy ending, as it has a hopeful one. The characters have grown. They're stronger, and they've found strength in their relationship with each other.

Passion Fish.jpg
Passion Fish Poster. Via Wikipedia.

May-Alice (Mary McDonnell) is a soap opera star whose career ends when she gets paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. She moves back to her old, empty family home in Louisiana, where she intends to waste away gloriously, watching TV, drinking and driving away a succession of nurses. The latest nurse to turn up at the house is Chantelle (Alfre Woodard), whose quiet, self-contained demeanor hides the fact that she's struggling with some serious problems of her own. The two women become friends, renewing their lives by making discoveries about who they can be and by helping each other. Each character has her own story arc; they develop together and independently.

Both McDonnell and Woodard are wonderful in their roles. There's also a strong cast of supporting characters, including: an outdoorsman, Rennie (David Strathairn), offering awkward, heartfelt offers of companionship; an easy-going womanizer, Sugar LeDoux (Vondie Curtis-Hall); and one of May-Alice's soap opera cast members, the elegant Rhonda (Angela Bassett), who visits her with a couple of other actresses. That visit leads to a really funny monologue, where one of the actresses describes the way she gave her all to a tiny movie role, early in her career, where she had only one line and played a woman who had been probed by an alien. (She really researched that character's motivations, and found a dozen of different ways to utter her one line about alien probing.)

Both May-Alice and Chantelle give themselves more fully to life as the movie goes by. The alternative is to blot themselves out with alcohol, drugs or hours of TV. They can either try to escape from themselves through self-destruction; or they can live with greater richness and variety of experience, within the constraints of past tragedies and poor choices. The way they open themselves up again to new relationships and experiences is inspiring to watch, particularly because it isn't portrayed in a cloying way.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Week in Seven Words #224 & 225


Lungs embracing the air, holding tight to the freshness of the air beside the running water.

All of the cards I come across are gushy about love and gratitude, and I wonder how many times people's feelings really match up with what they buy.

Throughout the dinner, I need to deflect nasty, passive-aggressive digs. In my mind, I pretend I'm flicking away each comment with a fork like bits of mashed potato.

They're more benevolent, because they can afford to be. Treating him well costs them nothing and gives them the pleasure of feeling above him, bestowing favors on him in angelic fashion while remaining unsullied by his human dirt.

He hears many excuses and even encouragement for obnoxious behavior, so then he gets confused and frustrated when he's punished for it.

His job is to sit hunched at a table and occasionally be pleasant.

Renovations on the hallway look surgical. Pipes like veins and capillaries, wires like exposed nerves.