Sunday, October 31, 2021

Week in Seven Words #561

This covers the week of 10/18/20 - 10/24/20.

The guitarist in the park has talent, but he seems to be only 13 or 14. The lyrics he sings would sound more convincing from someone who's at least a decade older.

The views at the new park are grand, but much of the space is wasted on concrete. The plants seem like an afterthought.

The pier is glowing, the ducks are dotting the water, and someone is using a bike horn that quacks.

The first time I show up to get my flu shot, no one is at the pharmacy, but the dude behind the counter glares at me and tells me they're booked solid. I don't believe him, but I decide to come back another time, because if he's the one administering the shot, my arm will probably be extra sore. I come back a few days later, no fuss; the shot's given by a quiet, efficient lady. 

We check if certain statues have been removed for their offensiveness. There's currently a mania for statue removal, as bigger problems rage on.

One of the stories from his youth features punched cards used for computer programming. These days, he keeps a smartphone at his belt.

I've come to know them by voice – the one with the mournful whimper, the one with a Caribbean accent, the one that craters his sentences with huge pauses.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Week in Seven Words #560

This covers the week of 10/11/20 - 10/17/20.

I like how these three female figures from history are posed – around a table in a discussion that one can almost overhear.

Petulant people with paper-thin identities and a simplistic way of viewing the world try to dictate what others should read, write, and think about. 

I admire the green-gold pattern of leaves in the autumn light. The light glowing gold on the grass.

Have I tried enough, or have I wilted too quickly at rejection?

Some of my favorite work assignments are the ones that teach me completely new things. Could be a topic in medicine, technology, or the environment. Could be a travel or tourism assignment, though those are scarcer in a pandemic year. Lately, many assignments have been about psychological problems, such as addiction, anxiety, and various effects of isolation.

The class is disjointed and confusing. I catch at passing facts like pebbles tumbling on a stream bed, but I'm missing some of the bigger picture.

It's been a while since we've spoken, and I'm touched by his kind words.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Week in Seven Words #559

This covers the week of 10/4/20 - 10/10/20.

A couple of lively restaurants, and around them blight. Farther south, an eerie funhouse feeling to the streets, as Disney characters shamble around and breakdancers try to work up enthusiasm in disjointed knots of people. A cowboy in underwear poses with his fans.

Borne out of sleep on a wave of anxiety. 

The teacher's voice is strained, because she can't see us. She can't know for sure if we're looking confused or distracted. She does ask questions and hopes that she won't be met by the ominous silence of ignorance.

Two violinists with scruffy gray beards play Vivaldi at one of the entrances to the park. The music is like spun gold. It threads through traffic and past shouts and laughter.

It's a pleasure to sit at a tiny table that looks like its legs are made of toothpicks and just enjoy a drink, a conversation.

I ask him why the building's heat isn't on yet, and he tells me with a wry smile that some people are still using their A/C to keep cool. Are we all of the same species, I wonder.

At lunch, the sukkah is warm. It has basked in the sun, like the heavy garden next to it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Week in Seven Words #558

This covers the week of 9/27/20 - 10/3/20.

This afternoon's entertainment at the park: tap dancing, a Vegas lounge act, and a lone saxophone.

"Watch the debate!" and "What did you think about the debate?" It's pointless. What the candidates say means nothing. As if they're going to give truthful answers or even answer a question directly.

Pigeons blanket the lawn and peck away, as if they've hit a motherlode of crumbs.

If she speaks with a lilt and a toss of her curls, she feels more confident, even when she's hollowed out with fear.

We make the best of praying at home, choosing beautiful melodies and combing through the more communal sections of the prayer service for passages to sing.

How do you keep from making the same mistakes? Wisdom is easier discussed than acted on.

Velvety autumn flowers in colors of wine and sunset.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Week in Seven Words #557

This covers the week of 9/20/20 - 9/26/20.

A river to the right and bikes to the left, skimming close to my elbow.

We find a bench in the parking lot behind the synagogue. On the terrace, they should be blowing the shofar soon. Several minutes pass before we hear it, quiet but distinct, the notes sounding pure in the sunshine.

In a series of gray arches, the squirrel hops across the grass.

It's a "one foot in front of the other" situation. Just get through, day by day.

A street corner is another place to hear the shofar this year. The notes are firm and clear, and some have a bright kick at the end.

Comedy should undermine smugness. Instead, comedians are super smug, enamored of their own correct opinions. They've become less funny, less keen.

Even when they're at odds, they work together better than any other two people they know. She's a decade younger and more stubborn than he is, while he's more sardonic, more crabby and vulnerable. Their tastes are different, and their opinions often clash. But when they apply their minds to a problem, they usually find a way to solve it or at least successfully cope with it.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Week in Seven Words #556

This covers the week of 9/13/20 - 9/19/20.

We get into a deep conversation about writing, and I savor it, because we rarely speak to each other. Not because of animosity, but because we're uncommitted to regular phone calls. Maybe we should call each other more.

If someone had told him a year ago that he'd be trying to learn how to blow a shofar in the midst of a pandemic, he would have been skeptical, to say the least. As for the sounds he can produce – so far we've got crackling air and elephant squeaks. 

The new donut store has opened. Its electronic banner, streaming donuts 24/7, has become the liveliest feature in a withered neighborhood.

The park is brimming with people. With picnics, parties, sports. One quiet spot is tucked near the entrance to a garden. It has a semi-circular seat shaded by lush trees.

Sunlight sticks to the pine trees like honey.

Along every street there's construction noise, and the groaning of trucks and buses. At one corner, a man is raving, trying maybe to hear himself.

I'm aggrieved, and I need to deal with that emotion before I become deliciously aggrieved.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Week in Seven Words #555

This covers the week of 9/6/20 - 9/12/20.

Multiple huge escalators in a shopping plaza that used to serve crowds. Now we glide down in near silence.

Restaurants try to recreate indoor spaces outdoors, with booths that are mostly enclosed. Lively music and colorful decorations are attempted distractions from the stink of the streets and the roar of passing trucks.

A fuzzy gray dog shambles up to people for petting. He interrupts a girls' volleyball practice, as his owners tiredly call him back.

Among the trees, there's a semi-circle of toddlers, moms, and nannies. Dancing in front of them are three entertainers with masks and face shields. They look like aliens who can't quite breathe our Earth air. But these interplanetary visitors have done their research and know the words to such classics as "The Wheels on the Bus."

Mellow sun. We eat a snack by the river, while making conversation and looking out at the Statue of Liberty. By the time we return to the subway, my head is swimming with sun and sugar, and she looks like she's on the verge of a nap.

The fungus looks like custard, or like a brain. Something that isn't quite natural. The hollow of a tree has birthed it.

The park's website instructs us to reserve a time for our visit and show up with tickets. In the park itself, staff have marked the main path with fat circles to show everyone where to stand socially distanced. But very few people are present. The park also lacks its typical displays of art, and the plants look dull, as if they're understimulated from the shortage of visitors.