dictionary with letter A

Arrears: (n) money that is owed and should have been paid earlier.

I was twenty years old, married and had two children–and also had no business living in an apartment of my own.

The option was to be homeless.

Since this was frowned upon (and a bit chilly) my family helped me to acquire a lodging space which only cost fifty dollars a month, but might as well have been five thousand. At that point I had no funds whatsoever.

So the landlord was very nice to us as we moved in a few sticks of donated furniture. He answered all of our questions about the abode, and even continued to be understanding when the first month passed and we had no finance to contribute to our situation.

Yes. It only took thirty-one days for us to be in arrears.

He even avoided bothering us in the next twenty-nine days, out of some inclination to be magnanimous and hopeful.

When he arrived at our door on day sixty to collect his rent, which had now accumulated to the king’s ransom of one hundred dollars, my wife and I decided to hide behind the couch and pretend we were not home, so as to avoid our “fears of the arrears.”

Periodically after that, he would visit. In order to not appear repetitious, we occasionally even hid in the closet.

After four months of arrears, he saw me one day in the local grocery store, and still trying to maintain a bit of dignity but also embarrass me, he confronted me in front of a few ladies perched near produce.

“Are you ever going to pay your rent?” he asked.

In a moment of surprising veracity, I said, “No, sir. Matter of fact, I don’t even know if I can afford this pack of bologna I have in my hand.”

Surprisingly, he laughed and so did the ladies who had paused to stare at what were certainly unwanted radishes.

After that moment of glee, he explained that I needed to move out.

I was not disappointed, nor offended, and I certainly was not surprised.

After all, being in arrears does mean that you should be prepared … to move to the rear.

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dictionary with letter A

Array: (n) an impressive display or range of a particular type of thing.

He was my first child, which obviously made me a new dad.

I wanted to do everything right, but I wanted to go just a little beyond that so I could be considered by my son to be tremendous, but also noticed by the surrounding audience of humanity–that I was “Dad of the Year.”

So when he was about three years old I took him to the grocery store with me, toting him around, answering all of his little broken-English questions and finally arriving at the checkout counter, where much to my tickled soul, there was a huge array of candy bars.

Wanting to be the great benefactor and a father to be heralded for all time, I turned to my offspring son and said, “Take your time, but you can pick one of these to eat on the way home.”

It was so pleasing to my soul that I still tear up today as I remember his wide-eyed expression, gasp and reaching up with his little arms to hug my neck. Upon releasing his embrace, he turned to the candy–and a sick feeling sunk into the pit of my stomach as I realized, almost intuitively, that I had made a horrible decision.

First of all, the array of treats was much too large for his tiny mind to comprehend. Added to the dilemma was the fact that I had restricted him to one. So while the lady behind me in the checkout line tried to patiently wait, my three-year-old picked one candy bar after another and then changed his mind. Finally he came down to the five that he preferred.

Having the logic of a newly born human, he assumed I would revise my offer to include the entire array of his choices. In other words, Daddy, we’re gonna get all five, right??

I explained that he must narrow it down to one, but he did not understand the concept of “narrowing it down” nor the idea of “one.”

In a fit of despair, I grabbed one of his five choices and gave it to the checkout lady as he began to cry and whine for the four which had been abandoned.

Instead of being a blessing to my little kid, we spent the entire ride home with him screaming in tears, eating his chocolate bar as it melted on his face, which was hot with anger.

I don’t believe he ever remembered eating the sweet … and he certainly wasn’t very sweet in eating it.



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dictionary with letter A

Arrangement: (n) the action, process or result of arranging or being arranged.

For a brief season in my life, I composed and also arranged music for a symphonic pops orchestra. It was a rather small operation, but every year there was one large gig, playing in front of about ten thousand people for the July 4th celebration.

I had already written my music for the occasion, and knew there would be a yearning for patriotic tunes to stir the spirit and also add melody and harmony to viewing the fireworks display.

So I sat down and took a look at all the great tunes of America, and rather than focusing on a single one, I tried to find the relationships these songs had with each other which would create a cohesion of thought and emotion, and make way for a delightful medley.

That’s what an arrangement is: it’s having the foresight and willingness to find out what actually does blend together instead of insisting that everything stand alone. (For instance, we are a better country when we look at ourselves as an arrangement rather than three hundred million individual wills clanging into each other.)

But anyway, back to my arrangement of patriotic tunes.

After using some of the more traditional ones, like the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Star Spangled Banner, I started looking for songs that were a part of our country’s fabric but were maybe not completely in synchronicity with one another.

My mind floated to the Vietnam era. There were two very differing songs that came out of that conflict which represented opposing views. So I included them in my arrangement, and also made them intertwine in a way that was unique. The two songs were Blowin’ in the Wind and The Ballad of the Green Berets. It was astounding how this pair of battling ideologies merged so beautifully in the performance.

It was a glorious arrangement.

It was a reminder to me that the unique aspects of all creation are placed here so that we can find the similarities which determine our value to one another… and develop a supernal arrangement.


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dictionary with letter A

Arrange: (v) organize or make plans for (a future event).

The first thing that pops to my mind when I see the word “arrange” (other than thinking it is how a seven-year-old boy from Alabama might pronounce “orange” upon first seeing it) is the idea of how many cultures arrange marriages.

Of course, as a good American, I join the huddled masses yearning to be free by rolling my eyes and insisting how unromantic and ridiculous this sounds. After all, just look at the success rate of the American culture in organizing marriages based on courting, long engagements and numerous therapy sessions.

Yet in countries where they arrange marriages, divorce is an anomaly.

Would we be smarter to arrange more things in our lives instead of leaving them to the whim of a destiny that actually only exists in the minds of our authors?

What is the power of an arranged marriage?

Well, first and foremost, you actually have a reason for being together other than lust. Somebody has arranged the details, deciding that the union has possibilities beyond merely extending a one-night stand into a six-month, uncomfortable relationship.

Secondly, during the time that you would be getting to know the other person after you were married, the excitement of touch, sound and smell would be within the bonds of matrimony instead of being taken for granted after dating too long.

And finally, I believe that marriage would be put in perspective. Rather than being this “holy union ordained by God,” to accentuate and define the meaning of the universe through the procreation of other human beings, it would become a beautifully negotiated deal between two individuals who know each other enough to challenge each other and love each other enough to survive the challenge.

Yet I certainly will persist in my Anglo-Saxon, American ideal of falling in love. But I will not rule out the power and beauty of having things arranged.

It certainly works for flowers. Otherwise, they clump together in one color … and never receive the benefit of becoming a bouquet.



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dictionary with letter A

Arraign: (v) to call or bring someone before a court to answer a criminal charge.

I’ve never been arrested, although I have been accused of having an arresting personality. (Pardon me, that was pathetic.)

I have thought about what it would be like to have my rights read to me by some austere cop, hand-cuffed and taken away in the squad car. Strange notions come to my mind during these reflections.

First of all, I wonder if they would be upset when their normal handcuffs wouldn’t work on my fat wrists.

Also, since I’ve tried during exercise to get my arms to reach behind my back, I wonder if they would be equally as aggravated as I am by the process.

Then there would be the procedure of getting into the back of the squad car handcuffed, which, with my girth, could require several attempts and some very painful head-hitting.

This has made me believe that there is a necessity for me to maintain the straight and narrow, to avoid the calamaties which might occur during my arrest.

I’ve also thought about what I would do when I appeared before the judge and charges were read, and it came my time to speak concerning my guilt or innocence. You know what I mean.

“And what do you plead?”

I’ve even rehearsed.

“Not guilty, Your Honor.”

How about this?

“What, bro? Yous gotta be kiddin’.”

“Absolutely not guilty!”

“Double dutch not guilty!”

Or should I add some comedy to the event?

“Guilty of overeating, but not guilty on these charges!”

What kind of attorney would they give me? Since I’m not very wealthy, he or she would be court appointed–a nervous novice who would be unable to pronounce my name. So in the midst of the reading of the indictment and my lawyer trying to explain the situation, I would find myself interrupting to correct the mispronunciations.

Would that anal-attentive attitude be a positive in front of the judge?

All in all, I think it’s just best to watch arraignments on television, and to personally avoid them–because I’m just afraid the handcuffs would chafe my wrists.

I have very sensitive skin.


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dictionary with letter A

Arpeggio: (n) the notes of a chord played in succession, either ascending or descending.

I didn’t want to be a girl.

I was nine years old–all boy–and was nervous that somehow or another, certain activities, if pursued feverishly, might cause me to switch genders.

I had taken piano lessons for three years without giving it a second thought. But at age nine, other young men of my acquaintance noticed that I was tinkling the keys and explained to me in horrid, vivid detail, how I was in danger of transforming into a chick.

I don’t know how they were privy to this valuable information, but they were quite confident it was true. Such good friends they were that they decided to try to shake me out of my piano-playing hysteria by mocking me, making fun of me after my lesson and even drawing pictures of girls on my Thompson music book.

So somewhere caught between Chopin and Liszt, I stopped playing.

It was less than five years later when I realized that playing the piano could be a tremendous aid in attracting women instead of becoming one. Unfortunately, because I stopped playing piano at the juncture when certain exercises were being perfected, I never learned how to play an efficient descending arpeggio.

I know this may mean very little to you and is certainly not a great way to try to gain your empathy, but I discovered I had the ability to play an arpeggio going up, with its many beautiful notes, but to reverse the process, telling my fingers to go the other direction as quickly as possible–well, it left me digitally challenged.

I subsisted for many years hiding my weakness from the general public by avoiding the need for such a maneuver. Then one day, a song I had written had a passage which suddenly demanded a descending arpeggio. (I realize this tale must be leaving you breathless, so I won’t tarry over the details.)

I sat on my stool, a fully grown man, practicing what I surely would have learned much more easily at the age of nine. At the end of the session, I played my first successful descending arpeggio.

I did not cry. That would have been too girly. (The misconception continues.)

But every time I get the chance to play this particular exercise, a big smile bursts forth inside my being because I realize I conquered a fear which was not of my own conceiving … but still swallowed by my ego.

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dictionary with letter A

Arouse: (v) to evoke or awaken a feeling, emotion or response

Yeah, right.

Every writer must realize that certain words have been corralled–set aside to go with only corresponding ideas.

  • I am allowed to say, “This problem aroused my suspicions.”
  • I can also say, “The beautiful woman aroused my libido.”
  • But it’s rather doubtful that I can say, “The article in the newspaper aroused my yearning to study more.”

Unfortunately, arousal is only permitted in the human expression when we’re freaked out or turned on.

It is the expression of an extreme emotion, and when inserted in any other way, produces either confusion from the common reader or a giggle from the grammarian.

Is it unfortunate?

I don’t know.

There are enough things to be upset about in life, that today … I just don’t choose to arouse my passions for this particular cause.


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