Sunday, December 31, 2017

Week in Seven Words #377

Revisiting the same text, I find in it something new. Better yet, I have someone to discuss it with.

There's a snow globe approach to history that preserves a golden moment. It's untainted and unchanging, this little world of pretty homes and valleys and people smiling without end. It never existed outside of the glass, but that doesn't matter to the people who admire it.

The meal is in some ways about endurance. It's about not losing my temper when faced with crassness, disrespect, and a smarminess that's tempting to smack off someone's face.

As he opens his mouth, he realizes that no one he wants to talk to is paying attention. He looks around the room once more, hoping for eye contact, before settling back in his chair and staring at his plate.

The tree leans over the path to inspect the fire hydrant hidden in the shrub.

The mistake was preventable, I was careless, and I hurt someone else too.

The soup makes for a complete meal. Each spoonful of this amazing soup is a blessing.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Week in Seven Words #376

The park is a narrow strip of grass by the river. Mostly, people pass through it on bikes or jogging with their dogs, but few linger. One guy though has laid out bowls of food for pigeons and stray cats. The pigeons have appeared, but not the cats. They'll come, he says.

Jets of water from the firefighters' hoses form successive arcs in the sunlight. (There's no sign of a current or recent fire. Maybe it's a test of hose functioning or a training session.)

They're the kind of teens that would be portrayed in the media as troubled or wild. They're polite and give us precise directions that help us find our way through a neighborhood hit by unexpected street closings.

Her spine curves along the underside of the boulder as she searches for insects in the grass.

The river looks like Turkish coffee, and the bridges are the open mouths drinking it.

Barbed wire loops along the stone walls that enclose the drug rehab facility. The building is an old stone structure with narrow windows, the shades drawn on most. There's silence from the yard behind the wall.

By the rail yard, there's a broken water fountain. Grass springs out of its nozzle.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Dyker Heights and Its Extravagant Lights

Yesterday evening I joined a local branch of the Appalachian Mountain Club on a walk that had nothing to do with mountains, forests, or hiking trails - it took us through Dyker Heights, a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its elaborate display of Christmas lights and general winter holiday decorations (like smiling snowmen waving from front lawns).



Friday, December 22, 2017

Week in Seven Words #375

Entering numbers into a form, carefully, on a laggard computer that decides at odd moments to step out for the computer equivalent of a coffee break.

Thick sheets of rain sweep past the movie theater's marquee. The lobby is stuffy and has a dusty, buttery smell.

They like improv but are also afraid of it, because it's too unpredictable. They hold back, undermining the scene, for fear of saying something unacceptably weird.

There's a lot of reassurance to be found in a shared pizza and companionable silence.

It's a roaring 20s theme party, where the gals show off their gams in shimmery knee-length dresses that shiver as they dance.

The interviewer acts like he's trying to corral a horse. He wants the rage of denial, the flare of indignation. Followed by inevitable submission.

Sometimes, making them laugh is as simple as holding a staring contest with the head of a unicorn.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Week in Seven Words #374

She wishes her experiences would have more weight and texture. She thinks she's skimming over everything, recognizing but not appreciating beauty.

The suggestiveness of a bookcase, paintings, plants, and piles of papers glimpsed through a window.

Wind chimes chattering by an empty street.

The mural reminds her of home - a two-story house in a wooded lot, with a driveway shaped like the head of a cobra.

I try to feel around the edges of her carefully curated personality for what I think is there - her, her self, whatever that means.

Waiting to learn the outcome of her hospital visit. Stomach clenching every time the phone rings.

The sidewalk has disintegrated to a narrow shoulder of road, and I'm reminded of the suburb I grew up in. A nail salon, an Italian restaurant, a bagel store, and a laundromat in a clot beside an artery of traffic.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Five Short Stories for the Winter Holidays

With one exception, none of these is specific to the holiday season, but they explore themes associated with this time of year.

Title: A Christmas Memory
Author: Truman Capote
Where I Read It: It appeared at the end of an edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's

This story aches with love and separation. A young boy and an elderly female relative who's a bit childlike and eccentric are pals in a house where they're both overlooked. Their friendship won't last for long before they go separate ways in life, but Capote infuses the story with rich details that makes their relationship timeless in memory. Mostly, it's the two of them preparing for Christmas. Here's a walk through the woods:
A mile more: of chastising thorns, burs and briers that catch at our clothes; of rusty pine needles brilliant with gaudy fungus and molten feathers... Always, the path unwinds through lemony sun pools and pitch vine tunnels.
And making fruitcakes:
Eggbeaters whirl, spoons spin round in bowls of butter and sugar, vanilla sweetens the air, ginger spices it; melting, nose-tingling odors saturate the kitchen, suffuse the house, drift out to the world on puffs of chimney smoke.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Week in Seven Words #373

She deals with the fussy kid by pouring chocolate candies into his hands. His parents won't find out until later.

At the lake's edge, she pleads with her friend on the other end of the line. Her friend has slipped into an inexorable state of mind, and no pleas will move her.

Sharing a window seat and sipping apple cider with rum on a chilly day.

Elephants are so weirdly awesome. The configuration of their anatomy, their perceptiveness and intelligence, their size, their apparent emotion. They're fascinating.

We're not close; there's no strong love between us. Our hug feels like a tentative touch to a wound.

I swing between having hope in humanity and thinking we're just complete wallowing morons.

He thinks his words are gold coins; he's pouring them out for us beggars, and we should be grateful. But all he's doing is tossing us some pocket change and bits of lint to go with it.