Prompt: Outlier

garfield outlier

Love or hate the cartoon character Garfield, you have to love the outlier locust in the above strip.

How many people do you know who “outlie” in this way? The word “outlier” technically means separate from the pack, but the word “lie” has multiple meanings.

I love language. As a word nerd, I find stuff like this interesting.

Though I did disappoint myself with this prompt post, because “outlier” elicits ideas so sci-fi, so fantastical, so outside the box. But it is the end of a tough week, I ate too much Friday pizza, and feel drowsy. I might have to go outlie down.


100 Miles

Prompt: Arid


The sky is the same color as the sand, a luminous Photoshop-layered, grainy, noisy, soft-focused, glowing, diffused, warm, creamy, grey-and-yellow. There is no safe horizon to guide me on my journey, no compass, only the feel of unreliable sand beneath my feet and the sure knowledge that I must move, or die. I am halfway there. I smell my own stale, dry, hot, recycled breath through the scarf wrapped like bandages around my nose and mouth. Move, or die. Finally, finally, I am there. I have travelled the 100 miles. I have travelled the 100 words.

  • From a 100 words challenge

I Float

Prompt: Float


“Describe yourself in ten words or less.”

That was a silly assignment, but the seven words I came up with still resonate:

I float, I vote, I don’t smoke.


I’m not sure why such random-sounding words remain such an accurate summary in so many ways. I do vote (very opinionated, I am), I did quit smoking (that was crazy, believe me), and I do float through life (much to my own dismay).


What are your words?

A Lonely Word

Prompt: Bespoke


Bespoke is a word that sounds archaic and stands out like a daisy in a coal mine, in modern English. It is one of those words whose definition I don’t entirely trust. “A bespoke tailor” is often an example of the word usage in a phrase. Who the heck has a tailor? It must be a lonely word: I have no place for it in my vocabulary, and you probably don’t, either.

In tribute to a word old before its time, which is how I feel some mornings, here is a list of historical examples of bespoke, used where it fits in beautifully, which is in a long ago past (per Dictionary.com):

The man’s facetiousness interested me; it bespoke his nerve.

  • On a Donkey’s Hurricane Deck,  R. Pitcher Woodward

“Here it ends then,” said he, one day at the council-table, rising as bespoke.

  • The Hour and the Man, Harriet Martineau

At noon to the ‘Change a little, and there bespoke some maps to hang in my new roome (my boy’s roome) which will be very-pretty.

  • Diary of Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys

They flexed their compelling muscles before her and bespoke her for the dance.

  • The Four Million, O. Henry

The Struggle is Real

Prompt: Struggle

Struggle is real

A few years ago this phrase was co-opted to make fun of “first world problems”; per the Urban Dictionary:

Tom: I had to walk to class today because my bike got a flat tire.
Adam: Must’ve been real hard, man.
Tom: Yeah. The struggle is real.

The phrase originated in the biblical Genesis. Jacob was fleeing from his father-in-law because of wrongs he had committed. In the dark, exhausted and alone, Jacob has the fight of his life with an angelic stranger. They wrestle until daybreak, at which point the stranger inflicts upon Jacob a blow that disables him for the rest of his life. For Jacob, The Struggle Is Real. Christians believe Jacob’s wrestling with God that dark night reminds us of this Christian truth:  As believers in Christ, we may well struggle with Him through the loneliness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come.

But when I saw this little poster, with those words, I didn’t know about the first world meme, or Jacob and his struggles. I thought about how much we minimize or even dismiss the very real struggles of people who are not like us. Perhaps we don’t do this deliberately, but we do it nonetheless, because it is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and disconcerting to recognize the struggle of, say, women who work to have a voice and to be safe among men, or people who work hard yet still battle poverty and ill-health, or families in distant places who are caught up in bloody conflict not of their making, or the often dangerous discrimination that gay people deal with daily, not just in fundamentalist communities but in homes, schools, and workplaces.

These struggles are not conceptual or imaginary. They are not just editorial articles of passing interest, or injustices to be filed away in a tidy corner of our mind, or something we push away because we feel it is out of our control. Maybe, like the biblical Jacob, we can wrestle through the night, our selfish impulses vs a life of actual good works, and let the good win.

We are capable of understanding and taking action, because the struggle is real.