Nonsense

Apples make apple pie

Apple pie tastes like cinnamon

Cinnamon smells like fall

Fall in love with a picture

Picture a child dancing

Dancing in the rain

Rain in spring

Spring is here

-MC

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On Tea: Earl #1

The Tea: Earl Grey Tea, Typhoo.
Caffeinated: Yes
Water Temperature: 212° (boiling)
Milk/Sugar: I put in milk, others can put in sugar (alone or in addition) or neither.
Aroma: If you’ve ever had Earl Grey tea before, you know the smell. A sweet, citrusy aroma specific to this type of black tea.
Taste: Tangy, slightly bitter citrus flavor as is typical with Earl Grey (go bergamot!). A fragrant cup.
Would I venture to buy a whole box?: I would, mostly because of the dapper fellow on it. This isn’t the best Earl Grey I’ve had, but it is a decent tea to drink in the morning.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars

-MC

Investigation

The scene is entered at the beginning of a white concrete sidewalk.  Along the right are bushes with bright orange and pink blossoms, and along the left is a long and straight road.  Ahead, past the flowers, a blue house with dark, ominous windows stands. In front of it, a crowd has formed.  The faces within it are concerned; some are sad, but not many.  Conversation is passing between the members of the group–various comments, such as “What a shame.” and “This is the second one this year!” are among the many statements made. People turn away as they are passed, leaning in towards their neighbors and whispering more quietly.  There has been a murder.

Moving through the throng, one man makes eye contact.  His hair is a dark shade of brown and partially covers his eyes, which are an intense blue-hazel.  He shakes his head, as if asked “Who?” and points toward the entrance of the house, his hands gloved in black leather. Then, turning, he puts them in his coat pockets and walks away, disappearing into the crowd.

The entrance to the house is genial, except for an old black dog which moves shiftlessly about the yard. White roses bloom on both sides of a cobblestone path, and emerald green vines crawl up the tresses at the side of the door, which is a dark polished wood with a myriad of colors twining together to form its stained glass window. The doorknob is bronze, round, and squeaks just slightly as it is turned.  The hinges make no noise, and the door swings open easily.

The scene then changes drastically.  A jade colored vase has been thrown to the floor; pieces of sharp glass have been strewn about the entryway.  To the left, the door to a room has been broken in.  Red droplets trail on the floor and pool outside of it.

Inside this room, the scene worsens.  A green velvet chair has been tipped over—the wooden leg on the right front side has been cracked.  One of the blue and green floral curtains has been torn off the rod and now lies in a heap upon the floor.  A mahogany desk stands in the right corner of the room, its contents knocked about its surface.  From it, an ink bottle has fallen, spilling its dark contents onto the wooden floor.

Within the disarray of the room, a shoe can be seen sticking out from behind the chair. The pants are grey, wrinkled; the brown sweater vest is wet with gore, but the monogram on the left breast still shines—the initials SB stand out in silver. Blood has spread out from around the victim’s head and chest and touched the edge of the ink spill, forming smoky red and black swirls. A slight draft ripples the surface of the pool, and it glistens as it clashes with the lighter, almond-colored ground.

The face of the victim contains an odd expression.  The eyes are open—they are bright blue and hold a nebulous expression, unseeing.  A smile is present but faded, as if the victim tried to ingratiate himself with Death before it took him but could not.  The blonde pompadour is no longer perfect; stray locks have become encrusted with blood and frayed. The cause of death is explicable, a knife blow to the chest and neck.

Over the body, a breeze continues to blow into the room.  About three feet above the floor, a large, rectangular window stands open.  The killer escaped elusively through, jumping over the ledge and into the backyard.

The window swings gently back and forth, almost languid in its movements as each glass pane catches the sunlight.  To the left, strands of dark brown hair blow softly, kept safe by a splinter in the windowpane.

-MC

Morning Godsend

There was a tiny puppy on the T this morning while I was commuting to work: tan in color, with white speckled paws and big chocolate colored eyes. The poor thing was terribly nervous, but not enough to inhibit it from being curious.

The puppy sniffed at every person around it, eventually receiving a gentle pat on the head from a man who was reading a Kindle book. Its owner kept making kissy noises at it, as if calling a cat, but the dog wanted simply to explore, though its tucked tail highlighted its wariness.

At one point the leash came off its harness. The owner was quick to replace it, and the puppy had no idea anything went awry.

My neighbor was jumped on – they froze slightly, gave the dog a quick pat, and moved soon afterwards.

Curious as ever, the puppy squeezed itself between the seats and sniffed my bag. I reached down slowly (since I did not wish to scare the baby – after all, when you are so small, everyone else is a scary giant) and let it sniff my hand before petting it and scratching behind its ears. The puppy immediately jumped up and put its feet on the empty seat next to mine – the owner apologized, but I responded that it was OK, I have four, and I looked back at the puppy and continued to stroke it, asking it if it was going to get all the way up on the seat, if it was being good… All the while the puppy looked at me with those big brown eyes.

My stop came too soon.

-MC

On Tea: Autumn Flavors

The Tea: Maple Apple Cider, Stash.
Caffeinated: No
Water Temperature: 212° (boiling)
Steep Time: 3-5 minutes
Milk/Sugar: Neither – others can add sugar if they are so inclined.
Ingredients: Rooibos, hibiscus, cinnamon, maple flavor, nutmeg, apple flavor, caramel flavor
~100% Natural Ingredients~
Aroma: Maple caramel appley goodness!
Taste: Sweet caramel and maple followed closely by a distinct apple flavor. Though the former two tastes are sweet, the apple adds a tartness that balances the cup nicely. The cinnamon brings out the tea’s fall essence, and the rooibos does not overpower the other flavors but instead compliments them, which makes the tea quite enjoyable.
Would I venture to buy a whole box?: I would consider, as I liked the smoothness of it.
Overall score: 4/5 stars
-MC

Talent

Today I got crumbs from a breakfast bar in my eyeball.

“How the heck??” you may ask.

Well, the answer is: I’m truly a smooth human being.

Can’t recommend it though. 0/10 stars: causes irritation and headache.

-MC

On Books: Glittering Achievement

The Book: Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders

I was first introduced to this novel through Stephen Colbert, when he had the author come on his show to promote it. I was thoroughly intrigued, more so than I have been in a long time, and I made the immediate decision to purchase the book as soon as possible. So if anyone thinks going on TV to promote something doesn’t work, well, it does.

Lincoln in the Bardo was inspired by the story that, upon his son’s death, Abraham Lincoln visited the crypt and held his child’s lifeless body. Bardo, in the Tibetan tradition, is the space between death and what comes after it; in the book it is where many of the characters are stuck – dead, but not believing themselves to be. The novel takes place over the course of one night, and delves into the interaction between Lincoln and his newly deceased son, Willie, who is now a shade. It includes a cast of unconventional characters, many of which are also ghosts, as well as excerpts from historical documents pertaining to the situation at hand.

To get this out of the way first: Lincoln in the Bardo was unlike anything I have ever read. This is a common thread among reviews, and that is because it’s actually true.

The style takes form in a series of different voices, all woven together to create a massive, dynamic, and sometimes contradictory portrait of Lincoln himself, of death, life, sadness, happiness, and all that is happening in the novel. There are passages that make you think, passages that make you laugh, others that can bring you to tears – all are profound. It is a whirlwind of emotion, and Saunders takes his reader through it masterfully.

This is a book that requires a little patience. If and when you decide to read it, take your time. Let the story flow at its own pace. As for audiobooks, I would not personally recommend it for this one – the sheer amount of different voices might make it confusing.

Never have I felt so near speechless after reading a novel -it is a book that one simply needs to experience for themselves. Lincoln in the Bardo is pure brilliance, and now stands with pride at the top of my list of favorite books.

Overall score: 5/5 stars

-MC

Connection

Have you ever seen rain fall upon a river? When the sky and the land become almost indistinguishable, and there you are, sitting on what was the shore, and the clouds are low and gray and touch the water, which is churning and bubbling as the downpour meets it? And you can hear nothing but the sound of the torrents falling around you? You tilt your face towards the sky and it’s hard to look up into the pelting rain, but through squinting eyelids you can see that the clouds are thick and bright. And maybe you see a few leaves or a bird being tossed in the wind, but the rain is blinding and so you look down and wipe your eyes so you can see again. The grass by the river is green and there are shapes in the water, you think maybe they’re ducks and you decide they’re brave for being out there in the middle of the chaos. And then you think you’re brave too because you are also out, but not quite so crazy because you’re not in the water. So you decide that the ducks are crazy as well as brave, but you suppose they’re built for such things. Then the wind comes and whips your hair into your face, and at first you deal with it, because looking windswept might be cool, but then it gets in your mouth and you have to frown just slightly and you pull the hair away and tuck it behind your ear as best you can. Something else floats by in the river and you can see this time that it’s driftwood, and you wonder if it’s from somewhere far away or if it’s from closer to home, and you think perhaps if that piece of wood could talk it might have some amazing stories, but then maybe not, maybe all the story would be is “crack fell splash wet current fast and that’s not very interesting at all. And then you feel that there is suddenly less rain now, and you can just start to see the other riverbank, and you can see that it is also green and you wonder if your side looks as nice as that side, and you resolve to find out tomorrow. You realize the sun is just starting to peak out now, and you look down and shiver, realizing all at once that you’re soaking wet, and when you look back at where the sun is you feel just the slightest drop in your chest, just the smallest bit of sadness because the spell is broken. The river is calmer now and you can see that what you thought were ducks are ducks, and you watch them for a little while until they swim upstream and out of your vision, and by this time the rain has stopped and the sun is fully out, and you smooth your hair back so it doesn’t dry into tight curls that stick out in every direction. And before you get up you take a deep breath and smell the freshness that the rain has brought, and you feel better, like you’re also a part of this freshness, and the river was part of it too. And you close your eyes and feel the sun on your face and smile, and once you open them again you can see that the river is blue now, like the sky, and you stand and stretch and keep smiling, and with one last scan of everything you turn to go home, and the river laps the shore gently, and you know everything’s going to be okay.

-MC

Two Seconds to Goodwill

I decided to walk partway home from work, because the weather became summer in February. At nearly 70° F, I couldn’t pass up a chance to stretch my winter legs.

I’m not a big fan of walking in crowds, having to dodge left and right to pass people, and I happened to be in the middle of one when I noticed something small fall from the person in front of me. Upon closer inspection, it became clear that the object was a student ID: worn around the edges, with a smiling visage and the university name printed colorfully on the top right corner…

First second, first thought: selfish, hateful side that retches at human contact – I can just keep walking

A split second later: the rush of compassion – I remember being a student, I remember having an ID, I remember it being my lifelineHow I got food, how I got into my dorm, how I did laundry

Two second mark: I bent down, grabbed the card off the ground, ran up to the girl who had dropped it. Tapped on her shoulder. Held it out.

“You dropped this!”

Startled, relieved: “Oh my God, thank you so much!”

I kept walking ahead, out of the crowd, quickly.

-MC

On Books: Children Have Literature Too

The Book: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Grace Lin

“The secret of keeping young is to read children’s books…” ~John Cheever

Every once in a while I thoroughly enjoy reading a book meant for people much younger than I am. It was time for me to do so again, and Grace Lin’s novel jumped right off a Goodwill shelf and into my hands.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never heard of Lin before, so I’d never had a taste of her writing style. I realize there is a saying that goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the bright red dragon was all I needed to be convinced to give the book a try. I was not left disappointed, however; instead, the book provided a rousing tale complete with adventure, dragons (yay!), and, ultimately, a lesson in thankfulness.

The story follows Minli, a young Chinese girl who lives in a tiny hut in a very poor village with her parents. An imaginative child, Minli loves her father’s stories and believes them to be true. Her mother however, who is dissatisfied with their life, often tells Minli to stop being so ridiculous. Seeing her parents labor endlessly in the rice fields, Minli becomes determined to find the Old Man of the Moon – an omniscient character from her father’s tales – in order to see how to change her family’s fortune.

After leaving a note, Minli heads off on her journey, following the instructions of a talking goldfish. She soon hears a cry for help from a dragon who has been trapped by monkeys in his sleep, and she frees him. Dragon (as he is aptly named), who can’t fly and wishes to know why, thus finds his first friend, and the two band together and continue traveling, encountering many different characters and challenges along the way.

What I enjoyed about this book was the combination of traditional Chinese fairytales and Lin’s own imagination. The author weaved many different short stories surrounding either the characters or mythical entities into the main plot, enhancing it and adding a magic that would not have been there otherwise. I also loved that the point of view switched between Minli and her parents, allowing the reader to see what was happening at home while Minli was away.

The ending of the story was also quite wonderful. It contained a message to all: be thankful for what you have. Despite my cynical nature, I appreciated the sentiment and found great truth in it.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy fairytales and to those who enjoy taking a step back and reading a simple but engrossing story.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

-MC