For thirty years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I'm ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks... "Problem or inconvenience?" I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference.
Out from behind the desk where he'd been sitting, hidden by the piles of books, appeared a bespectacled, green-eyed man in a green plaid suit. His thick white hair was shaggy and mussed, his nose was rather large and lumpy like a vegetable, and although it was clear he had recently shaved, he appeared to have done so without benefit of a mirror, for here and there upon his neck and chin were nicks from a razor, and occasional white whiskers that he'd missed altogether. This was Mr. Benedict.
Trenton Lee Stewart
Another revolution around the sun and I was still no closer to getting home. Laying on my lumpy mattress in my blood-stained shirt and dusty jeans with my arm over my eyes, I tried to imagine I was lying on Violet's couch. Clara paced in her cell and I let myself believe it was Violet, padding around the kitchen. My memory kicked up the image of her in tiny cotton shorts and a baggy Beatles t-shirt making coffee. My chest swelled and more than ever I wished I could see her face again, hear her voice.
One of life's best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire "" then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.
One of life's best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire - then you've got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.
A cup of coffee - real coffee - home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all.
Henry Ward Beecher
In the short stories - if I can make a very lumpy contrast - in the short stories I feel like the lives of the people have a kind of prior desperation and a prior need and my longing is for the story and their lives to somehow come together, even if not finally or forever, to face something; and it felt like a lot of the time with the essays I was wading into situations where there was an assumption of finality of understanding, and I felt like I could wade into any understood moment and tear it apart and make it fall apart.
[She] soon perceived that as she walked in the flock, sometimes with this one, sometimes with that, that the fresh night air was producing staggerings and serpentine courses among the men who had partaken too freely; some of the more careless women were also wandering in their gait... Yet however terrestrial and lumpy their appearance just now to the mean unglamoured eye, to themselves the case was different. They followed the road with a sensation that they were soaring along in a supporting medium, possessed of original and profound thoughts, themselves and surrounding nature forming an organism of which all the parts harmoniously and joyously interpenetrated each other. They were as sublime as the moon and stars above them, and the moon and stars were as ardent as they.
Then Leo realized something was blocking the middle of his view. Something large and fuzzy, and so close, Leo had to cross his eyes to see it properly. It was a large, ugly face. "Holy mother!" he yelped. The face backed away and came into focus. Staring down at him was a beard man in grimy blue coveralls. His face was lumpy and covered with welts, as if he'd been stung by a million bees, or dragged across gravel. Possibly both. "Humph." the man said. "Holy father, boy. I should think ou know the difference by now.
Grown-up people find it difficult to believe really wonderful things, unless they have what they call proof. But children will believe almost anything, and grown-ups know this. That is why they tell you that the earth is round like an orange, when you can see perfectly well that it is flat and lumpy; and why they say that the earth goes round the sun, when you can see for yourself any day that the sun gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night like a good sun as it is, and the earth knows its place, and lies as still as a mouse. Yet I daresay you believe all that about the earth and the sun, and if so you will find it quite easy to believe that before Anthea and Cyril and the others had been a week in the country they had found a fairy.
Men's magazines often feature pictures of naked women. Women's magazines also feature pictures of naked women. This is because the female body is a beautiful work of art, while the male body is lumpy and hairy and should not be seen by the light of day. Men are turned on at the sight of a naked woman's body. Most naked men elicit laughter from women.
Love is an afternoon of fishing when I'd sooner be at the ballet. Love is eating burnt toast and lumpy graving with a big smile. Love is hearing the words, 'You're beautiful, ' as I fail to squeeze into my fat jeans. Love is refusing to bring up the past, even if doing so would be a slam dunk to prove your point. Love is your hand wiping away my tears, trying to erase streaks of mascara. Love is the warm hug that extinguishes an argument. Love is a humbly-uttered apology, even if not at fault. Love is easy to recognize but so hard to define; however, I think it boils down to this... Love is caring so much about the feelings of someone else, you sacrifice whatever it takes to help him or her feel better. In other words, love is my heart being sensitive to yours.
Richelle E. Goodrich
Emperor, right." she retacked the curtain "That's weird to say, after eighteen years of listening to celebrity gossip feeds go on and on about 'Earth's favorite prince'". She claimed one of the lumpy sofa cushions, curling her legs beneath her. "I had a picture of him taped to my wall when I was fifteen. Grand-mere cut it off a cereal box." Wolf scowled. "Of course, half the girls in the world probably had that same picture from that same cereal box." Wolf scrunched his shoulders against his neck, and Scarlet grinned, teasing. "Oh, no. You're not going to have to fight him for pack dominance now are you? Come here." She beckoned him with a wave of her hand and he was at her side in half a second, the glower softening as he pulled her against his chest.
Emily looked over at Courtney. He was still asleep. For a long time she had thought that if you loved anyone you had to tell him everything: go to him and confess as in the dream; there could be no secrets. But now in the dark of early morning with the copper bottle cold against her fee she felt that this desire to tell all was simply an evasion of responsibility, a weakness in wanting to push on to the person you love something that is your own responsibility to solve. It would be easier for her to tell Courtney all about Abe, to come to him as he sat at this desk in the chill little workroom and confess, to hand the responsibility for her ambivalence to him, to let him settle the problem of her puny conscience for her. But I know, she thought, lying there beside him on Madame Pedroti's lumpy bed, that if I love Courtney that is the last thing I must do. If I love Courtney he must never know.
For nine miles along a submerged ridge, the corals rise in lumpy hillocks that spread out 100 yards or more, resembling heaped scoops of rainbow sherbet and Neapolitan ice cream. The mounds, some 100 feet tall, sprout delicate treelike gorgonians that sift currents for a plankton meal. Fish, worms and other creatures dart or crawl in every crevice. This description could apply to thousands of coral reefs in shallow, sun-streaked tropical waters from Australia to the Bahamas. But this is the Sula Ridge, 1,000 feet down in frigid darkness on the continental shelf 100 miles off Norway's coast.
James Dwight Dana
Middle children weep longer than their brothers and sisters. Over her mother's shoulder, stilling her pains and her injured pride, Jackie Lacon watched the party leave. First, two men she had not seen before: one tall, one short and dark. They drove off in a small green van. No one waved to them, she noticed, or even said goodbye. Next, her father left in his own car; lastly a blond, good-looking man and a short fat one in an enormous overcoat like a pony blanket made their way to a sports car parked under the beech trees. For a moment she really thought there must be something wrong with the fat one, he followed so slowly and so painfully. Then, seeing the handsome man hold the car door for him, he seemed to wake, and hurried forward with a lumpy skip. Unaccountably, this gesture upset her afresh. A storm of sorrow seized her and her mother could not console her.
John le Carre
A Letter to Andre Breton, Originally Composed on a Leaf of Lettuce With an Ink-dipped Carrot On my bed, my green comforter draped over my knees like a lumpy turtle, I think about the Berlin Wall of years that separates us. In my own life, the years are beginning to stack up like a Guinness World Record's pile of pancakes, yet I'm still searching for some kind of syrup to believe in. In the shadows of my pink sheet, I see your face, Desnos' face, and two clock faces staring at each other. I see a gaping wound that ebbs rose petals, while a sweaty armpit holds an orchestra. Beethoven, maybe. A lover sings a capella, with the frothiness of a cappuccino. Starbucks, maybe. There's an hourglass, too, and beneath the sands lie untapped oil reserves. I see Dali's mustache, Magritte's pipe, and bowling shoes, which leaves the question- If you could time travel through a trumpet, would you find today and tomorrow too loud?
What young people didn't know, she thought, lying down beside this man, his hand on her shoulder, her arm; oh, what young people did not know. They did not know that lumpy, aged, and wrinkled bodies were as needy as their own young, firm ones, that love was not to be tossed away carelessly, as if it were a tart on a platter with others that got passed around again. No, if love was available, one chose it, or didn't choose it. And if her platter had been full with the goodness of Henry and she had found it burdensome, had flicked it off crumbs at a time, it was because she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered. And so, if this man next to her now was not a man she would have chosen before this time, what did it matter: He most likely wouldn't have chosen her either. But here they were, and Olive pictured two slices of Swiss cheese pressed together, such holes they brought to this union-what pieces life took out of you. Her eyes were closed, and throughout her tired self swept waves of gratitude-and regret. She pictured the sunny room, the sun-washed wall, the bayberry outside. It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet.
Draco, do it, or stand aside so one of us -" screeched the woman, but at that precise moment the door to the ramparts burst open once more and there stood Snape, his wand clutched in his hand as his black eyes swept the scene, from Dumbledore slumped against the wall, to the four Death Eaters, including the enraged werewolf, and Malfoy. "We've got a problem, Snape, " said the lumpy Amycus, whose eyes and wand were fixed alike upon Dumbledore, "the boy doesn't seem able -" But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly. "Severus... " The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading. Snape said nothing, but walked forwards and pushed Malfoy roughly out of the way. The three Death Eaters fell back without a word. Even the werewolf seemed cowed. Snape gazed for a moment at Dumbledore, and there was revulsion and hatred etched in the harsh lines of his face. "Severus... please... " Snape raised his wand and pointed it directly at Dumbledore. "Avada Kedavra!
Supermarkets this large and clean and modern are a revelation to me. I spent my life in small steamy delicatessens with slanted display cabinets full of trays that hold soft wet lumpy matter in pale colours. High enough cabinets so you had to stand on tiptoes to give your order. Shouts, accents. In cities no one notices specific dying. Dying is a quality of the air. It's everywhere and nowhere. Men shout as they die to be noticed, remembered for a second or two. To die in an apartment instead of a house can depress the soul, I would imagine, for several lives to come. In a town there are houses, plants in bay windows. People notice dying better. The dead have faces, automobiles. If you don't know a name you know a street name, a dog's name. 'He drove an orange Mazda.' You know a couple of useless things about a person that become major facts of identification and cosmic placement when he dies suddenly, after a short illness, in his own bed, with a comforter and matching pillows, on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, feverish, a little congested in the sinuses and chest, thinking about his dry cleaning.
Sour Milk You can't make it turn sweet again. Once it was an innocent color like the flowers of wild strawberries, and its texture was simple would pass through a clean cheesecloth, its taste was fresh. And now with nothing more guilty that the passage of time to chide it with, the same substance has turned sour and lumpy. The sour milk makes interesting & delicious doughs, can be carried to a further state of bacterial action to create new foods, can in its own right be considered complicated and more interesting in texture to one who studies it closely, like a map of the world. But to most of us: it is spoiled. Sour. We throw it out, down the drain-not in the backyard- careful not to spill any because the smell is strong. A good cook would be shocked with the waste. But we do not live in a world of good cooks. I am the milk. Time passes. You cannot make it turn sweet again. I sit guiltily on the refrigerator shelf trembling with hope for a cook who dreams of waffles, biscuits, dumplings and other delicious breads fearing the modern housewife who will lift me off the shelf and with one deft twist of a wrist... you know the rest. You are the milk. When it is your turn remember, there is nothing more than the passage of time we can chide you with.
Just above Tommy's face were the Maiden and the Troll, two of his oldest wall people. The troll lived in a cave deep in the woods. He was big (Tommy knew the troll was even bigger than his daddy, and if the troll told his daddy to sit down and shut up, he would in a second), and he looked scary, with his little eyes and crooked teeth like fangs, but he had a secret. The secret was that he wasn't scary at all. He liked to read, and play chess by mail with a gnome from over by the closet wall, and he never killed anything. The troll was a good troll, but everyone judged him by his looks. And that, Tommy knew, was a mean thing to do, though everyone did it. The maiden was very beautiful. Even more beautiful than Tommy's mommy. She had long blonde hair that fell in heavy curls to her waist, and big blue eyes, and she always smiled even though her family was poor. She came into the woods near the troll's cave to get water from a spring, for her family. The spring bubbled out of Tommy's wall right next to where his hand lay when he was asleep. Sometimes she only came and filled her jug and left. But other times she would sit awhile, and sing songs of love lost, and sailing ships, and the kings and queens of Elfland. And the troll, so hideous and so kind, would listen to her soft voice from the shadows just inside the entrance of his cave, which sat just below the shelf where Tommy kept his favorite toys and books. Tommy felt bad for the troll. He loved the maiden who came to his spring, but she would never love him. He knew from listening to his parents and the stuff they watched on television when he was supposed to be asleep that beautiful people didn't love ugly people. Ugly people were either to laugh at or to be frightened of. That was how the whole world worked. Tommy rolled over on his side, just a small seven year old boy in tan cargo shorts and a plain white T-shirt. He let his eyes drift over the bedroom wall, which was lumpy in some places and just gone in others. There was a part of the wall down near the floor where he could see the yellow light of the naked bulb down in the basement, and sometimes he wondered what might live down there. Nothing good, of that he was sure.
Things I Used to Get Hit For: Talking back. Being smart. Acting stupid. Not listening. Not answering the first time. Not doing what I'm told. Not doing it the second time I'm told. Running, jumping, yelling, laughing, falling down, skipping stairs, lying in the snow, rolling in the grass, playing in the dirt, walking in mud, not wiping my feet, not taking my shoes off. Sliding down the banister, acting like a wild Indian in the hallway. Making a mess and leaving it. Pissing my pants, just a little. Peeing the bed, hardly at all. Sleeping with a butter knife under my pillow. Shitting the bed because I was sick and it just ran out of me, but still my fault because I'm old enough to know better. Saying shit instead of crap or poop or number two. Not knowing better. Knowing something and doing it wrong anyway. Lying. Not confessing the truth even when I don't know it. Telling white lies, even little ones, because fibbing isn't fooling and not the least bit funny. Laughing at anything that's not funny, especially cripples and retards. Covering up my white lies with more lies, black lies. Not coming the exact second I'm called. Getting out of bed too early, sometimes before the birds, and turning on the TV, which is one reason the picture tube died. Wearing out the cheap plastic hole on the channel selector by turning it so fast it sounds like a machine gun. Playing flip-and-catch with the TV's volume button then losing it down the hole next to the radiator pipe. Vomiting. Gagging like I'm going to vomit. Saying puke instead of vomit. Throwing up anyplace but in the toilet or in a designated throw-up bucket. Using scissors on my hair. Cutting Kelly's doll's hair really short. Pinching Kelly. Punching Kelly even though she kicked me first. Tickling her too hard. Taking food without asking. Eating sugar from the sugar bowl. Not sharing. Not remembering to say please and thank you. Mumbling like an idiot. Using the emergency flashlight to read a comic book in bed because batteries don't grow on trees. Splashing in puddles, even the puddles I don't see until it's too late. Giving my mother's good rhinestone earrings to the teacher for Valentine's Day. Splashing in the bathtub and getting the floor wet. Using the good towels. Leaving the good towels on the floor, though sometimes they fall all by themselves. Eating crackers in bed. Staining my shirt, tearing the knee in my pants, ruining my good clothes. Not changing into old clothes that don't fit the minute I get home. Wasting food. Not eating everything on my plate. Hiding lumpy mashed potatoes and butternut squash and rubbery string beans or any food I don't like under the vinyl seat cushions Mom bought for the wooden kitchen chairs. Leaving the butter dish out in summer and ruining the tablecloth. Making bubbles in my milk. Using a straw like a pee shooter. Throwing tooth picks at my sister. Wasting toothpicks and glue making junky little things that no one wants. School papers. Notes from the teacher. Report cards. Whispering in church. Sleeping in church. Notes from the assistant principal. Being late for anything. Walking out of Woolworth's eating a candy bar I didn't pay for. Riding my bike in the street. Leaving my bike out in the rain. Getting my bike stolen while visiting Grandpa Rudy at the hospital because I didn't put a lock on it. Not washing my feet. Spitting. Getting a nosebleed in church. Embarrassing my mother in any way, anywhere, anytime, especially in public. Being a jerk. Acting shy. Being impolite. Forgetting what good manners are for. Being alive in all the wrong places with all the wrong people at all the wrong times.