Friday, November 24, 2017

Week in Seven Words #372

Cleaning out shelves, coming across movies I used to like and books I've forgotten about.

Chasing an almost-chocolate flavor in a supposedly healthier variant of ice cream.

The dog looks mouse-like with her new haircut, especially when she wiggles between our feet in search of crumbs.

The woman sitting next to me is pregnant and uses her belly as a shelf for the book so we can both read from it.

In the dark, it's the neon shorts, t-shirts, and crop tops that are the most visible parts of the joggers, who advance in a 3x3 squad. They look like a collection of colorful squares and rectangles that rise and fall piston-like against a gray screen.

He sings about "sticking it to the man" (or something to that effect), and it sounds tired and lame. The sentiments of rebellion have been commercialized.

By the streetlights, the trees have an icy green-blue tint, as if they've been flavored with mint.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Week in Seven Words #371

Several adults are squashed together at a picnic table. They shout, sing, and jump up to make backstroke swimming motions. One of them pretends to ride a horse. They're playing Time's Up, round after round.

The stationery store reminds me of a candy box. I buy a couple of gifts for someone and linger over the glossy, gold, silver, pink papery confections.

Walking a couple of miles at night. The streets look like they were sloppily glued together. The sidewalks have ruptured. The buildings leak. On one street, the strongest light is from a supermarket window papered over with ads for detergent and ham.

In one room, the kids make silly videos with their phones. In the other, the adults seethe at the cable company over service disruptions.

I can remember details from conversations that took place months or years ago, but I'll step into a home I visit regularly and not notice new furniture arrangements or a large new shoe rack by the door where I'm just now placing my shoes.

The high school students walking alone are stone-faced and wear earbuds. Some hold their phones a couple of inches from their eyes.

I stare at the screen for minutes without knowing how to finish the paragraph, but as soon as I get up to run errands, everything - the paragraph, the whole article - comes to me.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Movie about veterans: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Title: The Best Years of Our Lives
Director: William Wyler
Language: English
Rating: Unrated

In The Best Years of Our Lives, three men return home from WWII and struggle to adjust to civilian life. Al (Frederic March), Fred (Dana Andrews), and Homer (Harold Russell) live in the same city, and though they've only just met on the plane home, their lives intersect in important ways throughout the movie.

Although they each enjoy happy or hopeful endings, the movie shows the ways in which their lives could have derailed (or still could derail after the closing credits). Al is welcomed back by his loving family, and the well-paid position he held at a bank remains open to him. However, he has taken to drinking heavily and isn't at ease either at home or at work. Fred can't find a good job, and his marriage is strained. He's also suffering from post-traumatic stress. Homer lost both his hands during the war and fears that his fiancee is sticking with him only out of pity. He also begins to isolate himself after receiving pitying and uncomfortable looks from family and friends. (Harold Russell actually did lose his hands during WWII, and this was his first movie role.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Week in Seven Words #370

She's a cute little peanut, slouched in her stroller. Disgruntled, squirmy, delighted, and peaceful in turns.

Our conversation is a lazy river that turns into Class IV rapids.

Rot has crept into every petal. Rotting roses smell like potatoes.

Near Times Square, an animated display of M&Ms attracts the kids. They run to the cloudburst of candies, the shower of colorful sugar.

She doesn't want to use the steps at first. They're slippery and lead to a path smeared with mud. But the view is worth it for her: A stone bridge, a pond that doesn't bare all its secrets but asks you to follow it as it curves out of sight.

As I head north, they catch up to me at each crosswalk. When I veer west, they give up their pursuit.

This time we meet at a Dunkin' Donuts the size of a pocket. She raises the coffee to her nose, lowers it without taking a sip, and describes the wreckage of her life.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Week in Seven Words #369

As I pick through a Bach prelude, my hands feel like spiders crawling over cracked pavement.

I pry the lid off the banana walnut scented candle and breathe.

One night is a rough night, anxiety a rising flood in my skull.

We are docile and subdued on the line through the metal detectors. A guard is curt to an old woman who isn't sure if she's at the correct location.

His thoughts are oil in a frying pan and a crackle of buzzwords.

The room where potential jurors wait is full of sunlight, warmth, and murals displayed well above eye level, to no one's loss. The clerk splits our heads open with a whining microphone. From time to time, we listen to lists of names, and people shuffle out. Shoes squeak, and newspapers rustle. One man falls asleep. His snores sound like a bumblebee trapped in a bottle.

In an unlit hallway, they've set up tables with cookies, chips, and sandwiches of uncertain freshness.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Exploring Abuse and a Degraded Culture

... how many of my thoughts and feelings are gloomily cloistered within my own mind; how much of my higher and better self is indeed unmarried - doomed either to harden and sour in the sunless shade of solitude, or to quite degenerate and fall away for lack of nutriment in this unwholesome soil!

Anne Bronte's novel explores emotional abuse - in this case, within a marriage. She also looks at the bigger picture of how abuse may be condoned, ignored, or encouraged by the surrounding culture.

The narrator, Gilbert Markham, meets a woman who has moved with her young son to Wildfell Hall, a home in his neighborhood. He comes to know her as Helen Graham, a widow who paints for a living. After a serious misunderstanding, she gives Gilbert her journal, which explains her marriage and her flight from an abusive husband. Until that point, Gilbert was the sole narrator. The journal focuses the novel on Helen's voice and story. A woman finding a way to express her usually buried thoughts or live independently through writing and art is an important theme (one that I remember emerging in Charlotte Bronte's Villette and Jane Eyre too). Helen's husband destroys her paintings at one point. In another scene, she fights off an attempted rape (from one of her husband's guests) by using a palette-knife, a tool of her art.