Thursday, August 25, 2016

Week in Seven Words #303

I don't think her sense of humor gets appreciated enough. She isn't the designated "fun one," so in the typical all-or-nothing fashion, her loved ones dismiss her as no fun at all.

The ceiling comes apart in flakes like dandruff across the bathtub and sink.

By the end of dinner, I'm not sure what color his eyes are, as they were focused mostly on his phone. I should have sent him a text asking.

The tennis ball dimples the net. As the kids practice, their sneakers scritch against the leaves littering the court.

The bottle of soda bubbles and glugs as he tips it into his mouth. It looks like he's pouring gasoline into himself, to refuel mid-hike.

Confronted by the large rock with the plaque embedded in it, we try to recreate a historic moment in our imagination.

The hike takes us up a steep, leafy incline, on paths baked gold by the late afternoon light. Cloud shadows drift over the cliffs across the river.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Week in Seven Words #302

It's possible to keep finding out fun things about people you've known all your life. Like how fiendishly good someone is at Connect Four.

Her dress makes me think of key lime pie and margaritas.

A "how to be happy" advice piece makes its rounds among people I know. It offers unelaborated suggestions like, "Don't be stressed!" and "Surround yourself with happy people!" Well, if we're all reading about how to be happy, we'll be surrounded for sure. We've definitely got a shot at this.

He scrolls through online comments sections for an emotional charge: outrage, anger, confirmation of superiority.

Another rigged conversation, weighted in favor of the answers she wants.

I think the train is going to blow by the station. But it stops, with the sensation of a rubber band about to snap.

His thoughts travel like a paper airplane that drifts off-course and gets lodged in a ceiling fan.

Spotlight (2015): A Look at Abuse Dynamics

Title: Spotlight
Director: Tom McCarthy
Language: English
Rating: R (language, descriptions of sexual crimes)

Spotlight is low-key and intense. Based on a true story, it shows the methodical, plodding, emotionally draining work put in by a team of investigative reporters from The Boston Globe, as they revealed a widespread coverup of child sexual abuse in their city's Catholic church hierarchy.

The movie stays respectful of its subject matter. There's no mindless grandstanding or sensationalism. It presents disturbing details in a straightforward way.

Though the movie focuses on one major religious organization, it highlights some general characteristics of abuse and institutional coverups:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Week in Seven Words #301

Trying to figure out how to play with her collection of Shopkins, we come up with a game. I'll pretend I can take only one Shopkins figurine with me on a vacation. One by one, she'll pretend to be the figurines pleading their case. She'll have each one present reasons for why it's the best choice and will address my questions and concerns. ("As ice cream, I'll keep you cool and give you something to eat if all the restaurants serve gross food.") She comes up with creative, funny ideas and also makes some of the figurines self-sabotaging.

Late afternoon shadows make the woods even more inviting. I'm tempted to stay until night, when I'd have a much harder time finding my way out.

More lungfuls of clean air to take with me to the city.

The tree seeks itself in the leaf-choked stream.

During the hike, I hear a faint roar. It's sports commentary, seeping from his headphones.

Suddenly, we're at the lake. Silky water ringed with colorful trees. It's a view that breaches the hardened places in my mind.

After the hours she spends finding and implementing a solution for their Internet outage, they largely ignore her.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Week in Seven Words #300

We share a table at the atrium and for an hour write quietly in our notebooks. At one point, a man wanders in and tells everyone he's just bought a house. Then he dances, his arms out-stretched. I look at her, she looks at me, each of us thinking, "Is he going in our story?"

The advice she gives me assumes good faith in everyone. That if you tell someone you're hurt, they'll hear you out sincerely, instead of enjoying your discomfort or attacking you for troubling them.

The pond is gold and olive green in the early evening. The trees that border it are a tarnished silver. We sit on a bench, the backs of our hands touching.

He's tried to hide it from me, but I can see on-screen that he isn't feeling well, and I get uneasy.

Short-rib tacos paired with a frozen non-dairy mango-flavored dessert.

People dip their toe in the past, in a room with limestone walls and rippling columns.

If everyone else left, it would just be me in a dusky room where unicorns prance on the high stone walls.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Week in Seven Words #299

One sculpture awaits us barefoot beneath golden trees. Another looks at us and away from us with dozens of eyes.

We lean against the railing of the bridge as the dusk gathers. The river has turned into a sheet of mica. Blank, burning eyes emerge in the dark - a train approaching.

A conversation on the road, between a pedestrian who lectures a driver on right of way, and a driver who punches his horn in reply.

These parks are kept clean and lovely, and they're left undeveloped. People can lie on the grass just a few feet from a rocky beach. And there's breadth to the space, so they can pretend they aren't on a crowded island. The sunlight is soft today, and bikers take off their shoes and curl their toes in the grass.

He knows he's not allowed to hit people. So he slams pillows on the floor. But even that isn't allowed. So where's the anger supposed to go?

On the river: sailboats, yachts, a battleship, barges, banana-colored kayaks, and inflatable dolphins. The waves thrown into disarray by the watercraft.

Harbor water rises and falls against the statue's anguished face.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Six Short Stories About Children Dealing With Injustice

Title: The Balek Scales
Author: Heinrich Böll
Translator: Leila Vennewitz
Where I Read It: A Walk in My World

"The Balek Scales" reads like a folk tale. It's set in an area of European countryside ruled by the wealthy Balek family. By law, only the Baleks are allowed to own a set of scales. Local villagers bring produce and what they've found foraging, like mushrooms, to the Balek scales and receive payment based on weight.

A boy (the narrator's grandfather) discovers that the scales are rigged. The villagers' response feels like a scale tipping. They've accepted a certain amount of injustice in their lives, but this uncovered lie tips them over into outrage. What changes for the villagers after the lie gets exposed?

The villagers can apparently cope with little money for lots of hard work, as long as they enjoy some pride and some faith in the order of things. The Balek family didn't just injure them materially with the rigged scales. They wounded the villagers' dignity. They also degraded their own image. The discovery of their cheap, mean dishonesty broke their power over the villagers' minds. It also makes sense that a child discovers the rigged scales. A child who still plays and is still only learning how to do things the way things have always been done.