When I see the WordPress one-word prompt each morning, I think about if I’m going to respond and, if so, how?
Will I write a bit of flash fiction using the word as inspiration? Will the word remind me of something that happened in my life or in the life of someone I know and motivate me to write a post about such an incidence?
Will the word trigger something related to current events, political goings on, or some other timely topic for me to write about?
Today’s one-word prompt is the word “elegance.” It’s a noun used to describe something that is elegant, something tastefully fine or luxurious in dress, style, or design. Something refined or dignified.
There is nothing about me or anyone I know that can be described as “elegant.” My family, friends, and acquaintances are all firmly ensconced in America’s middle class. My home is not in any way elegant. Nor is my clothing, my car, or my lifestyle.
And today, neither is my imagination, as I haven’t been able to conjure up a fanciful tale built around the word “elegance” to share with my readers.
So I’m sorry to disappoint, but I got nothing. There will be no post from me today in response to the WordPress one-word prompt. Check back with me tomorrow.
Can you believe that Christmas is right around the corner? Yet again.
Ah yes, Christmas, the holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus, is a jolly and joyous holiday to Christians.
Well, I, for one, am not so jolly. Okay, yes, I know. I’m a grinch. I admit it. But at the same time, I’m enough of a pragmatist to recognize that our nation, while not a “Christian Nation,” as some conservatives suggest, is a nation that is overwhelmingly Christian.
And yet, year-after-year, there are those — from virtually everyone on Fox News to President Trump — insisting that American Christians are being persecuted and that there is a “War on Christmas.” Trump has even suggested that, now that he’s president, Americans are once again permitted to say “Merry Christmas.” Wait! Did Americans ever stop saying that?
Seriously, do most Christians really believe that the small sliver of the American population comprised of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and other non-Christians have somehow stolen Christmas?
I look around and wonder how anyone can come to that conclusion. I hear continuous, unavoidable Christmas music; it’s virtually nonstop. I see Christmas shows and specials on TV, Christmas movies in theaters, Christmas musicals and plays on live stage.
Flyers and advertisements for Christmas sales add significant heft to the newspapers I stuff into my recycling bin each week. The bulk of TV commercials at this time of year are all about the Christmas gifts you absolutely must buy. My mailbox is stuffed with Christmas catalogs.
I see formerly vacant lots filled with Christmas trees and wreaths that are selling briskly. I see homes, condos, and apartments throughout the city decked out with colorful, blinking lights and fully adorned Christmas trees in the windows. I see nativity scenes on public squares and common areas around city and on town hall lawns throughout the area.
I see grown men wearing red suits, fake beards, and pillows stuffed under their belts, little kids sitting on their laps in stores and malls. At any other time of the year, these men would be arrested.
But at Christmastime, there are long lines of parents, with their kids in tow, eager to put their little darlings onto the lap of some otherwise unemployable, probably drunk old man wearing a phony beard and dressed in a strange costume promising to bring them all kinds of gifts that their parents can’t really afford.
Can someone please explain to me how Christmas is being stolen?
Well, maybe the “Christmas spirit” has, in fact, been usurped by crass commercialism. Christmas has become less a religious holiday than a two-month long shopping spree.
Instead of the jolly holiday bringing out the best in people, it seems that this season of good will and joy instead brings out the worst in many. Me included.
“Dollars and degrees. That’s all you care about, you self-centered bastard,” she said before turning away from him and taking a large sip from her martini glass.
He took a swig of his beer. They were sitting next to one another at the bar of the Tomfoolery, a popular pub in the Foggy Bottom section of D.C. “It’s Wednesday night, Deb. You know I have that urban planning paper due for tomorrow night’s class. I really need to head back to my place to finish it up.”
“You’ll use any excuse to get up and leave me here by myself,” Debbie slurred. “I swear, you don’t give two shits about me. All you care about are dollars and degrees.”
He liked Debbie. She was attractive, reasonably bright, and quite accomplished in the sack. But he was working on his master’s degree at night while holding down a full-time job during the day. He was barely half way through his 50 credit-hour curriculum; completing his master’s program by the end of the following year was his highest priority.
“I think you’re a little drunk, Deb,” he responded, finishing up his beer.
“And I think you’re a selfish prick” she snapped back.
He turned toward her and, affecting his most sincere, genuine manner, said, “I really do care about you, Debbie. I enjoy our time together. A lot, actually. But I have to finish this paper tonight. I’ll probably be up quite late and I have to be at work again by 8:30 in the morning. So even though I’d much rather stay here with you a little while longer and then head over to your place and spend the night, I’ve got to go.”
It was only a little white lie, he told himself.
She moved her bar stool closer to his, snuggled up next to him, and while running her hand up and down his inner thigh, whispered in a low, throaty voice, “I’d rather we head over to my place, too. We can both call in sick for work tomorrow.”
“I can’t,” he said, removing her hand from high up on his thigh. “I’m sorry, Deb, but I just can’t. Not tonight. I need to get this paper done.”
He stood up and retrieved his jacket and backpack from the hook beneath the bar. He leaned over toward Debbie and kissed her on her cheek. “I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said, and headed for the door.
As he was leaving the pub he heard her yell after him. “Dollars and degrees, you fucker! That’s all that’s important to you. Dollars and degrees.”
Today’s one-word prompt is “degree.” It’s a lazy Saturday, so I decided to reach into my archives and repost something I originally posted about three months ago. I hope you don’t mind.
The picture above is of the Genesee River Gorge as seen from the Finger Lakes hiking trail. The image below is Taughannock Falls, also seen from that same trail.
Summertime in Ithaca, which is located in upstate New York, is beautiful. The Ithaca area has more than 150 gorges and waterfalls and miles of hiking trails. It’s also home to Cornell University and Ithaca College.
The breathtaking landscape of the Finger Lakes region was sculpted by continually advancing and retreating glaciers over the past several million years, which may be a shock to those who believe that the planet is only about 6,000 or so years old. But it’s true.
The autumn in and around Ithaca is spectacular, a result of nature’s annual show of colors as the leaves turn from green to the reds, oranges, and golds of the fall season, as can be seen from the image of Ithaca Falls below.
One word of advice, though. Winters in Ithaca are only for the hardiest among you.