Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Week in Seven Words #366

association
A fun evening of Code Names, drinks, and food.

offbeat
They're helping her learn the distinction between cool weird and uncool weird. Cool weird is when you make silly faces with your friends for Instagram, maybe use a filter or app that gives you puppy ears and big glasses. Uncool weird isn't a sanctioned strangeness. Even if it's creative and doesn't harm anyone, it's suspect.

origami
She folds Trident gum wrappers into birds.

pickle
The alarm over the door begins to shriek. A worker approaches it with a grimace, then walks away. A minute later, another worker comes along, grimaces and walks away. Another minute goes by, with another grimace.

problematic
The word 'problematic' has started to bug me. People often use it in a way that's lazy and full of insinuation. "That book is problematic." Meaning? A vague unease, a condemnation without a coherent argument.

thump
Hearing about war gives him a thrill. It's the swagger of war he likes, the way deep-voiced media figures growl a threat of reprisal.

unproductive
An empty plaza framed by ads, shrubs, and an office building that looks like a fort.

Week in Seven Words #365

courtly
He tips his hat and wishes me a good afternoon. It's sunny out, and he's serene. It really is a good afternoon.

dab
Fingerprints of sunlight on faded brick and joyful murals.

felinity
In the gap between brownstones, there's a fenced off dirt plot, studded with rocks. Two cats inhabit it. One sprawls on a bed of sunlight. The other watches me with menacing alertness.

horseplay
Kids seize each other in headlocks outside the department store in front of the mannequins and pink placards, as they wait for their mom to finish shopping.

neighborly
In their community, neighbors, friends, and coworkers will show up with trays of food in the days after childbirth.

neonate
She sleeps in a warm crescent against my stomach.

slumberous
With classes cancelled for the day, the campus is silent. A building with a crenellated tower casts a shadow over the grounds.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Seven Short Stories I Should Have Read with Coffee

It was International Coffee Day recently, and though I don't drink much coffee, maybe it could have helped with the short stories here. These are short stories I liked but wasn't sufficiently alert while reading them. (And I took few notes... not that I always take many notes anyway.) They're also tricky in different ways - they might depend on a slippery narrator or express something frustrating and undefined just out of reach.

Title: The 5:22
Author: George Harrar
Where I Read It: Boston Noir 2

"The simple question 'What if?' could lead to so many disturbing places."
Walter Mason, a researcher at MIT, is solitary and sticks closely to routines. His daily commute doesn't stray from its schedule. Then, on one of his train rides, he notices a woman who's wearing a scarf. When the wind blows it aside, he sees she's missing an ear. In the course of the story, the woman disappears from his commute, and one day the conductor who's always there doesn't show up either. The train also misses his usual stop.

The shake up to his routine is unsettling and creates unease. But it could wind up not affecting his life much. Or maybe it will nudge him towards something better. Moments that appear inconsequential can call for courage and have a profound effect, like taking a chance to talk to someone instead of stare at them.

Week in Seven Words #364

chip
A sunlit, sterile store displays several rows of small devices.

flourishes
During the subway ride, she asks about each stop and what you could see in the local neighborhood. A proprietary feeling for the city comes over me. It doesn't matter if a subway station is grimy and rundown; I look on it with fondness, because it has become my grimy and rundown station.

miniature
The furniture from centuries ago looks doll-like, as if the people then were not only smaller but more delicate and fragile.

motorboat
A high-speed boat skips like a stone across the river.

neonatal
The baby wears a striped hat. She squirms from time to time in her sleep. Her sleep seems intent, energetic.

posing
They dab, dance, and toss their hair on the videos they make with a lip-syncing app.

postpartum
It's a quiet ward, which is surprising. The hospital room has a dim evening glow. For the moment, the baby is being weighed and measured in the nursery. A nurse, who strikes me as sincerely caring, quietly speaks to the mother, both about what to expect in the coming hours and about a maternal health issue that needs to be monitored.