Wednesday, September 16, 2020

COVIDiary: Masked and On Foot

One thing I've been doing during the pandemic is walking for miles. Here are some of the highlights:

The 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library

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A small park near the American Museum of Natural History

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Week in Seven Words #523

This covers the week of 1/26/20 - 2/1/20.

apart
Who does he talk to when he needs to confide in someone? Who do I talk to?

groaning
I hear what sounds like a ghost moaning, but it's just a bus easing up to the curb late at night.

marcescence
What is the phenomenon of trees holding onto their brown, shriveled leaves in the winter?

plumpness
A narrow metal shelf bulging with cartons of chocolate milk. 

self-protective
Refusing to stay in the bitter overflow of another person's emotions.

stalled
They present us with a packet of forms and with a platter of purple grapes and potato chips that aren't really potato chips but are supposedly something healthier. The meeting is much like the one months ago. Similar concerns raised, the same pairs of hands tied, but at least we're venting a little.

vaguely
They remind me that they still know I exist. Now and then, I flicker into their awareness.

Week in Seven Words #522

This covers the week of: 1/19/20 - 1/25/20.

apathetic
She barely reaches forward with her mind, because so much has stopped mattering to her.

diversions
They've taken a break from studying to play a game of Uno. Every so often one of them says, "How dare you!" in a playful way, chiding the other for a good move.

gender
He gets grief for preferring dance to basketball, and she gets grief for preferring basketball to dance.

hues
We detour through an art gallery, a warren of color.

lingers
"Can I still write to you?" he asks. And yes, I'm fine with hearing from him by email.

response
She gives me honest feedback about my book, and I'm thrilled.

thankful
He mentions a gratitude exercise, a pause to list some things you're thankful for. I start doing this at the end of each day before falling asleep. Just thinking about a few things – moments of interest, progress, contentment, or happiness – I'm glad I've experienced. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Week in Seven Words #521

This covers the week of 1/12/20 - 1/18/20.

cheerless
Gray streets dusted with litter. A chain store here and there, lots of chain link fencing, and some windowless concrete walls.

convolution
I almost flub one part of the coding test by overthinking things, making the questions more complicated than they are. Instead of looking at the simplest explanation for what they mean, I interpret them as a set of trick questions. 

drowsy
A sleepy walk, early when it's still dark. It seems like the only other people outside are the ones walking their dogs before work.

interconnected
Reading a memoir, I notice that the author speaks of going it alone but at the same time keeps mentioning people – family, friends, mentors, colleagues – who helped out along the way. There was no "going it alone." Sure, there was hard work, individual effort. But the support, encouragement, and connections were ever present.

provisions
The basement food pantry has shelves of beans, canned meat, packets of tuna and pink salmon, canned vegetables and fruits, and plastic bags bulging with bread. Some of the bags are collecting moisture. Some of the bread is stale. A delivery of food arrives through a chute propped up under an opening high in the wall. Boxes of food tumble down the chute and skid across a long table.

tidewater
Waves of sadness come over me, pouring over and through me.

upchuck
A pleasant dinner followed by the unpleasantness of a stomach bug.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Four Romance Movies With Very Different Plots

Title: The Enchanted Cottage (1945)
Director: John Cromwell
Language: English
Rating: Not Rated


Oliver Bradford (Robert Young) is a WWII vet who suffered disfiguring injuries. Laura Pennington (Dorothy McGuire) works as a maid (and also has a strong talent for wood-carving art). Pretty much everyone dismisses her as plain. Oliver and Laura become friends and marry for companionship, but some time after their wedding they begin to perceive each other as beautiful, as if a transformation has come over their physical appearance.

There are a few things I like about this movie:

- Generally good acting, especially a touching performance from McGuire, showing Laura's kindness and profound sadness and loneliness, a burning desire to be loved combined with the torment of knowing that it's highly unlikely. Herbert Marshall also puts in a lovely appearance as a blind pianist (who lost his sight in the First World War), and Mildred Natwick is surprising as a housekeeper who could have been a creepy Mrs. Danvers type of figure, but instead is supportive of other people's love even though her own prospects for happiness were bitterly thwarted.

- The movie shows the perniciousness of pity – not just self-pity, but also treating another person as pitiable rather than helping them see what's good, blessed, and possible in their lives, and doing so in a way that isn't condescending.

- I also liked how the movie depicted the uneasiness around "ugly people." This uneasiness exists in the filmmakers themselves and in the audience. The two main characters are what can be called "Hollywood ugly." Oliver hardly looks like the Phantom of the Opera, and while Laura does look remarkably more plain in comparison to her physically transformed self, she still has a facial structure and figure for conventional beauty. In the romantic moments between the couple, we see them as they see each other – the loved one rendered physically beautiful. Would the audience have enjoyed watching them kiss passionately if they were both still shown in their plainer state?

Monday, August 3, 2020

Week in Seven Words #520

This covers the week of 1/5/20 - 1/11/20.

erasure
She stares at the surface of the desk and pulls on the drawstrings of her hoodie until her face is almost swallowed up.

hologram
Someone on the subway looks very much like Robert Picardo, the actor who plays the EMH on Star Trek: Voyager. It might actually be Picardo himself. Obviously wearing his mobile holo-emitter.

ignores
She says she doesn't confront people. If they bother her, she ignores them. If they persist in bothering her, she ignores them harder. This seems to have worked for her so far.

kidding
He's been kicked out of a group for making a silly joke. Not even a hateful one, just a joke that might be considered tasteless and silly at worst, meriting an eye roll. He can't believe it's happened, but he feels more sane when I hear him out and agree with him. ("Yes, this really happened, and yes, it's nuts.")

quicksilver
This Indie RPG game is set in a cyberpunk world with industrial espionage. As with the film noir one I tried, what I like best is the improvisation (which is often creative and goofy) and the collaborative construction of a rapidly changing story.

reheat
They serve an overpriced, salty sandwich, and I figure it's the last time I'll go there for lunch. But while I'm there, I value it as a rest stop from the cold weather. A place to refuel before I keep walking.

unmissable
Another free dance class – the music is fun, the mirrors track my stumbles on quick turns.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Week in Seven Words #519

This covers the week of 12/29/19 - 1/4/20.

aglow
Eight candles glowing. Rivulets of colorful wax.

deeper
She doesn't stop at fixing the grammatical mistakes. She also thinks of ways to make the text more readable by improving the flow from one sentence to the next. I'm proud of her.

employment
He worries about his work – projects canceled, certain positions trimmed. He wonders if a mass layoff is coming.

excuses
Upset but unsurprised to hear people downplaying or attempting to justify yet another violent anti-Semitic attack.

jackfruit
I've never tried jackfruit before, but I order jackfruit tacos, and they're delicious. I think one difficulty people have when trying vegetarian or vegan dishes is that they compare the meat substitute to meat. If you don't do that – if you just accept the dish as it is, tasty in its own way – it's much more satisfying.

rhythms
One of the good things about this free dance class is that many different people have shown up to try it, including people who are self-conscious about moving too much in front of others. By the halfway point, everyone is flowing around, looking relaxed.

rushed
It isn't long into my visit when I feel a silent pressure mounting against me. I'm being pushed out the door, without an unkind word or physical force. Just a look or two, a pause, a pursed mouth, and I know not to overstay my welcome.