Riding Metro-North. With Pink Galoshes.

train-commute-photography-black-and-white

Monday, November 17, 2014: Rain. 35° F.

The Work Day Monday starts on Sunday. The peaceful easy feeling of Saturday drifts into the grace of Sunday morning, and comes off the mountain in slow motion, the avalanche building momentum until it covers the village at the base of the mountain. It’s 3 pm on Sunday afternoon and my attention shifts to the work that I planned, but failed to get done on Saturday.  There’s my briefcase, bulging with those good intentions from Friday afternoon. (A white-collar Suit but a dues paying member of the proletariat. A plebe, never freeing his rough, calloused hands from the shovel. Need to dig. Never finished. Never complete. Never good enough. And the bell tolls. And the bell tolls.)

I’m reviewing Monday’s calendar. A 7:30 am Breakfast with a colleague. A commitment that was made a month ago. Let’s have breakfast! This will require a 5 a.m. wake up call, a 6 am train, a 7 am arrival at Grand Central and a brisk 15-20 min walk to breakfast. (Why are you pushing the clock? Last time you checked, you were the Boss. Who’s running who? Just cancel and reschedule to a later date. You had a conflict that came up. Who would know?)

I ask Rachel what train she is catching. 7:34 a.m. Father-daughter will ride in together. (I cancel my breakfast meeting. A last minute conflict came up. Unavoidable. My apology covered in a mist of guilt.)

We’re standing on the platform. She has her spot. She knows where the train stops, where the doors open, where she can position herself to get a seat.  She’s in front, and holding her ground.  Other crafty commuters, a herd, all huddle around her. The rain is rapping on the tin roof, and spills over onto the tracks. [Read more...]

Who are you in stressful situations?

MBTI-Meyers-Briggs

We’ve all taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality profiling test. (If you haven’t, check it out here or take a Free Personality Test here: 16 Personalities): The letters stand for:

  1. The first letter is “I” or “E”: “Introversion” or “Extraversion”.
  2. The second letter “S” or “N”: “Sensing” or “Intuition”.
  3. The third letter “T” or “F”: “Thinking” or “Feeling”.
  4. The fourth letter “J” or “P”: “Judging or “Perceiving”.

MBTI has nailed my personality profile and does so again below in how I react in stressful situations:

INFP: diligently ignores problem until it’s too big to manage
ESTJ: ‘exactly as i say, or else’
ISFPlists and lists and lists and lists…
ESFJ: vocalizes everything they’re doing
ISFJ: ♫ move b*tch, get out the way ♫
ENTP: too interested by the options to do anything
ISTJ: cool headed, but harsh like ice
ENFP: heart rate over 9000
INTP: never does anything despite completely understanding the problem
ENTJ: step aside or get crushed underfoot
ISTP: nothing like a full-blown crisis to get back into the zone
ENFJ: assumes responsibility and approaches with logic
INFJ: adrenaline rush or complete paralysis
ESTP: acts first, figures out later
INTJ: devises a universal system to resolve the problem for all time
ESFP: needs space to figure things out


Source: Sixteentypes. Image – Meyersbriggs.org

 

We never think about the glories of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs

breathe-mist-breathe-black and white

All That Is Glorious Around Us
is not, for me, these grand vistas, sublime peaks, mist-filled
overlooks, towering clouds, but doing errands on a day
of driving rain, staying dry inside the silver skin of the car,
160,000 miles, still running just fine. Or later,
sitting in a café warmed by the steam
from white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,
watching the red and gold leaves race down the street,
confetti from autumn’s bright parade. And I think
of how my mother struggles to breathe, how few good days
she has now, how we never think about the glories
of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs,
simple as the journey of water over a rock. It is the nature
of stone / to be satisfied / writes Mary Oliver, It is the nature
of water / to want to be somewhere else, rushing down
a rocky tor or high escarpment, the panoramic landscape
boundless behind it. But everything glorious is around
us already: black and blue graffiti shining in the rain’s
bright glaze, the small rainbows of oil on the pavement,
where the last car to park has left its mark on the glistening
street, this radiant world.

- Barbara Crooker, “All That Is Glorious Around Us” from Radiance


Notes:

What’s it gonna be today?

coin-flip-gif

Good Day. Or Bad Day.

(Who Chooses?)

Rush. Hurry. Spin. Pause.

(Who Chooses?)

Self-flagellation. Empathy. Gratitude.

(Who Chooses?)


Image Source: YourEyesBlazeOut

 

I don’t like Neighbor.

black and white, portrait

I was rattled.
My Fingers are on the keyboard.

“N-e-i-h-b-o-r”
Then…
“N-i-e-h-b-o-r”
Autocorrect is humming in the background but finding nothing.
Where the H*ll are you?
Red dots underscore the word and shout: “WRONG“!
I push back from my desk. I stop. I inhale.

You used to be an Automaton. Letters used to spill out, from head to fingers to screen. Letters all beautifully lined up in single file, in correct order.  It’s ok. You’re just tired. You didn’t get much sleep. You’re alright. It will be ok.  

I go at it again.
“N-i-e-b-o-r”
Red dots return.
No sign of Autocorrect.
My pulse quickens.
The cursor flashes at the end of the Word. Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing.
Red dots underscore word. Red dots. Blood platelets. Stop the bleeding.

[Read more...]

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?

camel-hump-day-wednesday


I continue to be awed by my fellow bloggers in the WordPress community. Here’s another fine example.

Uncle Spike from Uncle Spike’s Adventures was searching “Photography” tags on WordPress when he came across the photo I shared in my Veteran’s Day post (Honor).  He “Liked” my post. I noted that his Gravatar had the camel photo above and my antenna went up.  I sent him an email asking for consent to share the photograph and we traded emails. He explained that he took the photograph north of Rumuruti in Kenya in 2007 and that “he rode this Beastie for 8 hours!” 

I read his About page and was hooked.  Here’s a small morsel:

“As you sit there reading this, I’m having a bash at fruit farming in Turkey, blogging and somehow I’ve also become a proof-reader for academic papers, conference articles and post-grad theses. It’s a curious mix I’ll admit…Nowadays, I’m within sniffing distance of 50, but always very busy, constantly reinventing. Being honest, I reckon I’m pretty content with life…”

Check out more here: Uncle Spikes Adventures.

Of course, prior to this interaction, the clock was ticking for the Wednesday Hump Day post deadline.

Coincidence? Serendipity? Synchronicity?

And Bam, here comes Uncle Spike to the rescue…


Note: Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts: Let’s Hit it Again


Received it with a kind of wonder, and kept it on our lips through the afternoon

woman-face-eye-black-and-white

Some of us were arriving, hungry
impatient, while others had eaten
and were leaving, bidding goodbye
to our friends, and among us
stood a pretty woman, blind,
her perfect fingers interwoven
about the top of her cane,
and she was bending forward,
open eyed, to find the knotted lips
of a man whose disfigured face
had been assembled out of scars
and who was leaving, hurrying off,
and though their kiss was brief
and askew and awkwardly pursed,
we all received it with a kind of
wonder, and kept it on our lips
through the afternoon.

~ Ted Kooser, “At Arby’s, At Noon“. Splitting an Order (Cooper Canyon Press, 2014)


Mr. Awesomeness aka Ted Kooser.  In less than 100 words, he puts you at the scene at Arby’s and makes you feel. 


Image Source: TheSensualStarfish

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

dog


Source: Gifak

We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable.

dance-wings-fly-jump

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules?…Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hope only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run as if your life depends on it.

~ Paul Hawken, You Are Brilliant and The Earth is Hiring


This is an excerpt from Hawken’s Commencement Address at the University of Portland in 2009 found in Paul Loeb’s book: The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear. (Basic Books, 2014). Hawken worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, Alabama; founded leading natural-foods wholesaler Erewhon and the Smith & Hawken garden supply company; and currently heads a thin-panel solar company . His books include The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins, 1993) and Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007). Carbon, The Business of Life will be published in 2014. Hawken’s website can be found at paulhawken.com.


Credits: Photograph – Your Eyes Blaze Out

Saturday Susurrus

fall-autumn-leaves
  “susurrus [soo-sur-uhs]”

— (noun) As one of the most beautiful words in the English language, susurrusis defined as a soft, murmuring sound. It resembles the rustling symphony of the fallen leaves moving across the pavement or the whispers created by the branches of the trees on a windy, autumn day. Uttering susurrus also simulates the acoustics of nature’s effect; this is one of those rare words where its aesthetic, sound and feel coincide beautifully.


Credits: Photograph: Béatrice Lechtanski via Art Propelled. Quote: Thank you Rudy @ Et in Arcadia Ego*

alt-J


alt-J is an English indie rock band formed in 2007 in Leeds, England. The band’s debut album An Awesome Wave was released in September 2012 in the United States, and won the 2012 British Mercury Prize. Their second album, This Is All Yours, was released on 22 September 2014 and went straight to UK number 1.

Liked this? Don’t miss another alt-J tune titled: Left Hand Free.


Man and his Best Friend

funny-Inception-dog-Leo-DiCaprio-eyes

DK:
What kind of Dog snarls at the hand that feeds him? My hand. For no apparent reason?

RK:
Dad, you mean you haven’t noticed?

[DK: It's the end of a long day. I lift my eyebrows, but don't respond. Rachel assesses her Father's reception and interprets the non-response as a green-light.]

RK:
Well, let me explain it to you.

RK:
You are both moody.
And wildly unpredictable.
You can go aggressive “at boo.”

RK:
You coming running at the sound of a fridge door opening.
You’ll eat anything.
You don’t share your food.
You wolf down your food without tasting it.
You slurp your soup.
You lick the bowl. And your plate.

[DK: I shift uncomfortably on the couch.]

[Read more...]

Falling like that, just simply falling.

fall-autumn-tree-color

Each of these leaves had just one chance to feather the air with an arabesque of yellow or red, backlit and buoyant, just one chance to be held on the palm of the year, then briskly brushed away like an instant. Maybe two hundred leaves lie piled together under this empty maple, their jumpsuits weighing them down with color, the wind knocked out of them. Quickly it passed, but how well they did it, falling like that, just simply falling.

~ Ted KooserOctober. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


Photograph: Scott Masterton (Gosford Ho, Scotland, United Kingdom)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: Let’s Go People

cartoon-exercise-breathe

Up.
Down.
Breath in.
Breathe Out.


Image Source: thesensualstarfish via hayaomiyazakicartoon.


Tortoro is on the right. (I think.) Totoro is a giant, friendly forest spirit. He spends most of his time sleeping in a hole in a tree. He doesn’t speak, instead communicating by loud bellows that, it seems, only the other Totoros and the Cat Bus can understand. He is very friendly to Mei and Satsuki. He can make trees grow much faster than normal.

My Neighbor Totoro  is a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film which tells the story of the two young daughters (Satsuki and Mei) of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award for Best Film in 1988.

Bloggers. Why Curate?

curate,curation,blog,blogging

The pieces that I chose were based on one thing only
— a gasp of DELIGHT.
Isn’t that the only way to curate a life?
TO live among things that
make you gasp with delight?

~ Maira Kalman, My Favorite Things


My Favorite Things is a new book by Maira Kalman that was released on Amazon yesterday. “The book is a beautiful pictorial and narrative exploration of the significance of objects in our lives, drawn from her personal artifacts, recollections, and selections from the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She is the author of the bestsellers The Principles of Uncertainty and The Elements of Style.”

Find her bio here: Maira Kalman


Quotes Source: brainpickings

Driving Up I-95. With Mr. Friendly.

taxi

I jumped into a cab after de-planing in Fort Lauderdale late Sunday afternoon. An uneventful flight. Largely uneventful that is, with the exception of the couple sitting in the front of the aircraft in premium seating. They were wearing face masks and plastic gloves synched with rubber bands. (Ebola.) If you gotta fly and you’re freaked, put on the protective gear. (It would be a cold day in Hell before you’d see me absorbing the ‘looks’ on a three hour flight.) Face-Mask-Man catches my stare. His eyes lock on mine as if to say: We’ll see who’s the Fool. 

“Do you take American Express?”
The cab driver’s response is undecipherable.
I’m guessing he’s in his 60′s, his accent places him from the Islands, and he’s wearing a day or two beard.

I ask again.
Do you take credit cards?
Yes, Sir.
This ‘Sir” thing is de-stabilizing. When did I become a Sir?

I note that I have plenty of legroom in a Yellow Cab. I’m grateful for one of life’s rare and simple pleasures.

How was your flight?
Good, thank you.
Where you coming from?
New York.
Is it cold?
It’s getting there.

89°F. The air conditioning is either not working or he’s conserving fuel. I open the window to let the tropical air blow in.

Do you want me to turn on the air?

No, it’s fine, thank you.

Is the friendliness a ploy for a larger tip? I scold myself for the unprovoked cynicism. And then reverse course and conclude that a friendly driver would earn a larger tip and that my cynicism was rationally placed. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.

What is the address again?
I repeat the address.

Is that on A1A?

I have no idea. Sorry.

Anticipating a bad outcome, I grab my smartphone and turn on Google Maps. And wait. I don’t want to be pushy and start offering instructions. Not yet anyway.

[Read more...]

I predict laughter in your future

David Kanigan:

Nina Conti one more time…Stick with it to the end, especially closing piece of act. Thank you Sandy!

Originally posted on Another Lovely Day:

Dave posted a video of Nina Conti the other day on his blog, Live & Learn. It was so funny [see Dave's post here] that I had to watch another one. And here’s it is . . .

Happy Saturday!

View original

Ólafur Arnalds


Ólafur Arnalds, 26, is a multi-instrumentalist and producer from Mosfellsbær, Iceland. Ólafur Arnalds mixes strings and piano with loops and edgy beats crossing-over from ambient/electronic to pop. This tune features Arnór Dan who is the lead singer and songwriter of the Icelandic band Agent Fresco and collaborator of Ólafur Arnalds.

  • His official web site can be found here.
  • This song can be found on iTunes on his 2013 Album titled For Now I Am Winter

Related Post: Near Light


What most bloggers don’t want to hear

write,writing,internet,social media,wordpress

Jeff Bullas has over 4 million followers at his blog @ Jeffbullas.com. He was ranked #8 by Forbes on their list of “The World’s Top 40 Social Marketing Talent” in 2014. He was the winner of Social Media Examiner’s “Top Social Media Blogs” in 2013.  He shares 27 blogging success factors in his post titled “What most bloggers don’t want to hear.”  21 of 27 (77%) hit home with me.

I started this digital platform built on passion, purpose and the beckoning of exciting new frontiers. It was invigorating. This portal to the world gave me a voice I didn’t know existed. It was a journey into the unknown. I created and crafted content, built connections on Twitter and published. I signed up for learning. It was time when Facebook was simple and organic. Content didn’t need images, screen shots and 1,500 words. It was the wild social west. When the excitement died down I realized what I had signed up for.

Read his 27 blogging learnings here: What most bloggers don’t want to hear.


Image: Karen Hurley Design

We’re going with it. All of it.

meryl-streep-1001-05

The quote, paired with Meryl Streep photographs, was erroneously attributed to Streep and has been going viral on the internet. The quote was written by Portuguese self-help author/life coach José Micard Teixeira. It’s not clear that this quote has any connection to Meryl Streep, but, we love the quote and we love Meryl, so we’re going with it…all of it.

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”


Credits: Photograph – Vanity Fair. Quote source: Splitterherzen

Standby for this morning’s countdown

sunrise-light-dawn


Source: Jaimejustelaphoto. (Timestamp is directionally correct with our 7:05 am sunrise)

Riding Metro-North. Looking too closely.

train-green-light

It’s dark. 5:40 a.m. I’ve got an early morning jump, and I’m high stepping it to the station. It’s October 14th and the weatherman is calling for mid-70’s. (And it’s damn humid before sunrise.)

I’m feeling Prime this morning. Another night of solid sleep. Something is working, exactly what, is unclear.

I strap on my earphones. I get off the train. I’m lost among the throng, and fidgeting with my ear pieces. (Apple.co can drag music from the clouds and shoot it into my head but can’t seem to get these earbuds to stick.)

I enter the main Grand Central terminal. The wall size Red, White & Blue greets me. O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

As do Police. Police Dogs. Bullet proof vests. And Guns.

I glance up as I exit the station. Nestled within a green leafy planter on a pole eight feet up is a sign: NYPD Security Camera. And surrounding the station are Police Cars. Police Vans. Unmarked Cars. And more German Shepherds.

I turn up the music to drown out the dark, and I continue down 42nd street. Fink is playing: Looking too Closely. Looking too close. No. No. No. 

I pick up my pace. Everyone is standing still, or moving in slow motion; I’m passing them on my right, on my left. (The DK Express is hauling a**.)

With no safe jaywalking opportunity available, I wait for the Walk sign. Dark thoughts roll back several weeks.  (Ocean Voung whisks in: “There’s enough light to drown in but never enough to enter the bones & stay.)

It’s mid-morning, mid-week in August.
[Read more...]

Undone by a smell, a word, a place, the photo of a mountain of shoes

anne-michaels-author
I’ve discovered Anne Michaels, 56, an award winning Canadian poet and novelist from Toronto. Her book, Fugitive Pieces, has been added to my wish list after reading these passages:

How one becomes undone by a smell, a word, a place, a photo of a mountain of shoes:

The shadow past is shaped by everything that never happened. Invisible, it melts the present like rain through karst. A biography of longing. It steers us like magnetism, a spirit torque. This is how one becomes undone by a smell, a word, a place, the photo of a mountain of shoes. By love that closes its mouth before calling a name.

An apple screaming its sweet juice:

There was no more simple meal, no thing was less than extraordinary: a fork, a mattress, a clean shirt, a book. Not to mention such things that can make one weep: an orange, meat and vegetables, hot water. There was no ordinariness to return to, no refuge from the blinding potency of things, an apple screaming its sweet juice.

The catastrophe of grace:

But sometimes the world disrobes, slips its dress off a shoulder, stops time for a beat. If we look up at that moment, it’s not due to any ability of ours to pierce the darkness, it’s the world’s brief bestowal. The catastrophe of grace.

Stones and silence:

Some stones are so heavy only silence helps you carry them!

And I have found her poetry. Here from her Poetry collection titled The Winter Vault: [Read more...]

Driving. The last mile.

portraits-eyes-woman

I’ve been searching for a passage that I read weeks ago. I can see the font size, the paragraph, the white space, the light above and below the words. Strings that dangle in my consciousness. Yet, despite my end of day Google searches, I’ve come up empty. It goes something like this:

People ask you: “How are you doing?” You turn on the auto-reflex-reflux. You pound the drums with your sticks and dust up dregs. You don’t want others to know, but Life is Good. Very good actually. So, why? Why lead with the dark?

She stands at the turn of Exit 10. The front end of the last mile of my morning commute. The entire elapsed time is less than five seconds, tops. I turn the corner, I look for her, and I’m gone. And she’s gone.

She’s standing with other early morning commuters waiting for the Bus.

Correction. [Read more...]

Some days…

photography,blue

Some days one needs to hide from possibility.

~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry


Notes: Photograph via YourEyesBlazeOut

Take the test. How do you measure up?

Maximizer or satificer

91 total points. (If you are higher than 45, you are a Maximizer.)

“Most people fall somewhere in the middle.”

“Maximizers” like to take their time and weigh a wide range of options—sometimes every possible one—before choosing. “Satisficers” would rather be fast than thorough; they prefer to quickly choose the option that fills the minimum criteria (the word “satisfice” blends “satisfy” and “suffice”).

“Maximizers are people who want the very best. Satisficers are people who want good enough,”

“Maximizers landed better jobs. Their starting salaries were, on average, 20% higher than those of the satisficers, but they felt worse about their jobs.”

“Satisficers also have high standards, but they are happier than maximizers, he says. Maximizers tend to be more depressed and to report a lower satisfaction with life”

My Score: 60. (Oh Boy)

Read full article in wsj.com: How You Make Decisions Says a Lot About How Happy You Are

This is heaven. Sit. Stay.

dog-ball-autumn-leaves

The leaves are turning,
one by one carried away in the crisp wind [...]
Away, away,says the blue and gold day,
and no one hears it but the wind,
whose law it echoes.
The dog has a red ball to chase.
You pick a flat, perfect stone
for the wall you hope to live long enough to rebuild.
I prune briars,
pick burrs from the dog’s fur.
I teach Come and Sit. Sit here —
a longer sit beneath the cedars.
The grass is freshly cut,
sun low,
all the energy of a summer’s day rushing into bulb and root.
The dog runs off, returns.
The stones balance steeply.
Good work. Good dog.
This is heaven.
Sit. Stay.

~ Margaret Gibson, “Heaven


Sources: Photo – Wallpaperscraft. Poem: The Sensual Starfish

 

 

Today’s Sutra…

yes


Notes:

 

Lurching. Lurching. Lurching.

sam_harris

This Believer of Convenience warily tiptoed into Sam Harris’ new book titled Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. I’m a 1/3 of the way in. He’s managed to settle under my skin, burrowing into my consciousness.  I’m deeply ambivalent about the message. The polarity of my emotions is stark – it’s as if I’m split in two. I drift in and out of darkness and I find myself empty in my quiet moments of contemplation. I’m certain that this wasn’t Sam’s objective with his Guide.  Yet I find it impossible to disagree with certain messages, such as yesterday’s post titled Carpe Momento. And another this morning which I’m sharing below.  I’m leaning heavily on F. Scott Fitzgerald to function: “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function” – - as I need to function, I need to function. Here’s Sam Harris with another one of his “pow, right in the kisser” messages to me:
[Read more...]

Sensory Immersion: 60 sec


Riding Metro-North. 17 hours and counting.

black and white, photography

Thursday. September 18.

I’m up at 3:00 a.m., and operating on four and a half hours of sleep. Even this Bull-Head understands that this, This, is unsustainable.

Insomnia. A discipline, unlike dieting, I’ve perfected. I now understand, her words, Marina Tsvetaeva, and their meaning.

“After a night of insomnia
the body gets weaker,
Becomes dear but no one’s —
not even your own.”

I look out the window. It’s not dawn but pre-dawn. Moonless. Dark. And Still. Me, the crickets and the hum of the electrical current running the overhead lamp.

I rifle through my schedule for the day.  6:00 a.m. train. Breakfast and lunch with colleagues. A team dinner in the evening. Calls and meetings jamming all white space in between. 18 hours from now, I can take my suit and shoes off and crawl back into bed.  I blink my eyes. Once. Twice. Three times. I cannot clear the blur. I close them and rest for a moment.  Give me 20 minutes and I’ll be good – - fully functioning. Just 20 minutes.

The day landed as expected, full, including two nightcaps for this teetotaler after dinner. I pull the maraschino cherry from my cocktail and drop it in my mouth, when a colleague lets fly: “V.O. Manhattan, huh? My Father used to drink those.” I smile, proud not to have taken the bait. How socially acceptable and behaved you’ve become. There was a time you’d come across the table and level the score and then some. An eye for an eye, a leg, and an arm. [Read more...]

Driving. Just another morning. Rollin’ down I-95.

driving-gif

6:30am.

Traffic is building.

I turn the corner to the I-95 on-ramp. Man in coveralls is standing next to his graffiti stained Seafood Delivery truck. He glances up at me, pauses briefly, and then continues to flick through a bulging wad of bills in his right hand. (You declaring that income, Friend?)

There’s a semi truck in front. A Friendly’s ad adorns its back door: “Eat More Ice Cream.” (What kind of cruel joke is this? You friend, need no more ice cream. Saliva begins to build up, quicker than the traffic flow. I’m worse than Pavlov’s dog. I could use a tall, thick Coldstone Vanilla shake. Right now. I’d skip lunch if I could indulge. I would. I might.)

I come up on a gargantuan, two-trailer Fed Ex semi. Driver sitting up high. The truck gleams in the morning sun.  (Bucket list: Need to drive a Semi cross-country. Is he delivering new iPhone 6+s to Manhattan Apple Stores? Gadget man starts to twitch.)

I pass downtown Stamford and see the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) logo towering over the city.  (Well laddies. Is it time to cut the cord from Mother England?) [Read more...]

Moon Mash-Up. Reader’s Choice.

moon-blue-sky
Here are five (5) separate poems from Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser that all reference the Moon. All beautiful. All made me think. My favorite: No. 4.

No. 1:

A welcome mat of moonlight
on the floor.
Wipe your feet before getting into bed.

No. 2:

The moon put her hand
over my mouth and told me
to shut up and watch.

No. 3:

A house will turn itself
to catch a little moonlight
on a bedpost.

[Read more...]

Darwinism. Maternalism. And Zeke.

baby-bird-030

Susan finds an abandoned baby bird on the lawn in the backyard. She has to protect it. To save it.

She cups it in her hand. She calls out to me to help.

“Put it back.”

I don’t get a response. A few minutes later she has the bird in a clear, plastic container. Where did she find that? (Note to self: Cache of Bird paraphernalia is growing.)

“Look at how cute she is.”

I glance at it. I’m gulping the flashback: What’s with you and birds? It was a different mother then. A Robin. Also, trying, to protect her young. The irony not lost on me.

“What do you think we should do?”

“I think you should put it back.” She’s getting attached. This will end badly.

“But it can’t fly!”

Zeke is circling. He’s sniffing wildly. His eyes are full. His breed and his blood, the Vizsla, was trained for generations to look up. To flush. To retrieve. It’s all about Birds.

“Its Mother can’t find it either. Go put it back. Near the trees.”

She ignores me. (Again.) I see her cupping the bird. Bobbing its beak in water.

“Come on birdy. Take a drink. Then we’re going back.”

That was Thursday.

Birdy had reappeared near the fence yesterday afternoon.
[Read more...]

Sunday Morning: Why I live in mortal dread


You’ll say you don’t have time to watch this.
It’s 13 minutes.
You need to move on to the next post.

And I’m telling you that
this woman is something special.

Don’t quit on this one.
Take it to the finish.

Good Sunday Morning.


Megan Alexandra Washington, 28, was born in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She is an Australian musician and songwriter also known mononymously as Washington. Originally performing jazz music her style evolved to indie pop and alternative rock where she sings and plays piano and guitar.  She developed a stutter early in her life and continues to struggle with her speech.  Find her website here: washingtonmusic.com.au. Find her album on iTunes here: I Believe You Liar

Only in America…

water-hand-swim-ocean-relax-touch-feel

Only in America do we equate workaholism with virtue and view time spent at the shore or in the mountains or in the desert as time wasted — as evidence of laziness. Americans feel guilty about taking time off and equate workaholism with virtue. That’s stupid.

~ William Falk, Why you deserve a vacation via theweekmagazine


Post inspired by the movie: “13 Conversations About One Thing“:

I’ve always thought of contentment
as a form of resignation.
Of accepting the status quo.
It means you’ve given up.
I’m not ready to surrender.

~ John Turturro in 13 Conversations about One Thing 

Loved the movie. Here’s a trailer:



Sources:

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week

TGIF-cat-angry-funny


Source: themetapicture.com

Driving. To Exit 9.

man-face-mask-art

It’s Wednesday evening.
I’m on my commute home from work.
Traffic is flowing on I-95 North.
A school of fish gliding down a rapid current.

He drips into consciousness at Exit 5.
There are three words on a piece of tattered cardboard, written with a thick, black, felt pen.
The words are stacked.

Homeless.
Hungry.
Help.

My thoughts shift to a Netflix movie. I’m replaying scenes from 13 Conversations About One Thing as I’m chewing up highway. John Turturro: Life of predictability. Fullness of routine.

He stands at the same Exit. Exit 9. My Exit.
There’s a stop light at the end of the long exit ramp.
You can’t avoid him, unless you are at the back of the line in rush hour.
And then you pass him at 15 mph as you negotiate the corner.

White male. 35-40 years old. Clean shaven. Average weight and height. A coat a bit heavy and oversized for the season, but not unusually so. His eyes, those eyes, emit distress.

Addict? Alcohol? Prescription Drugs? Coke? Meth? 
Unemployed? Unemployable? Record?
Bad decisions? Bad luck?  
He doesn’t give much away.
[Read more...]

Mistakes made by the selves we had to be

white,photography,arms crossed

Do you have hope for the future? someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.

Yes, and even for the past, he replied, that it will turn out to have been all right for what it was, something we can accept, mistakes made by the selves we had to be, not able to be, perhaps, what we wished, or what looking back half the time it seems we could so easily have been, or ought…

The future, yes, and even for the past, that it will become something we can bear.

And I too, and my children, so I hope, will recall as not too heavy the tug of those albatrosses I sadly placed upon their tender necks.

Hope for the past, yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage, and it brings strange peace that itself passes into past, easier to bear because you said it, rather casually, as snow went on falling in Vermont years ago.

~ David Ray, “Thanks, Robert Frost.”

 


David Ray, 82, was born in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Ray comes from a broken home that was thrown into upheaval when his father left the family by hopping on the back of a watermelon truck headed to California. After his mother’s next failed marriage ended in the suicide of Ray’s stepfather, he and his sister Mary Ellen were placed into foster care—a system that wasn’t kind to young children in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Ray’s classic “Mulberries of Mingo” steeps from memories of he and his sister being thrown out of a foster families home at dinner time – to fend for themselves eating the mulberries from a neighbor’s tree. The years that followed were dark and tragic as he and his sister were separated to face their separate nightmares of abuse. He is a distinguished award winner, and has lectured and read at over 100 Universities in England, Canada and the U.S. Graduating from the University of Chicago, BA, MA. Ray’s poetry varies from short, three to four lines pieces, to longer 30 lines poems. His work is also often autobiographical, providing unique context and insight to scenes of childhood, love, fear, sex, and travel. “Communication is important to him, and he has the courage, working with a genre in which simplicity is suspect, to say plainly what he means.” He and his wife, poet and essayist Judy Ray, live in Tucson, Arizona.

Studs Terkel: David Ray’s poetry has always been radiant even though personal tragedy has suffused it.” [Read more...]

Suzannah Espie


From Suzannahespie.com:

Suzannah Espie is a Melbourne, Australia based singer songwriter who has been casting spells over audiences ever since she first took to the stage with her alt-country pop band, GIT, in 1997. A woman of compelling beauty — statuesque, with piercing blue eyes framed by golden curls — she has a voice to match, an intoxicating mix of country, soul, blues and pop. A gentle, sweet trill that can move grown men to tears one moment, or an Aretha-esque hellcat belt that can raise the roof the next; however she sings it though, it’s still unmistakeably Suzannah Espie. It is as a solo artist Espie has truly come into her own…

It’s hard to believe now that, despite her prodigious talent, Espie was beset by self-doubt and shyness early on in her career, which she moved to Melbourne from Fremantle at aged 18 to pursue in earnest. She tells of forcing herself to get up at Fitzroy’s Rainbow Hotel to sing once a week. “Then I’d go and have a cry in the toilets afterwards because I thought it was so horrible.”

Collard recalls the first time he went over to Suzannah’s house to play some music together. “Absolutely nothing happened,” he says with a laugh. “She was too nervous to sing a note.”

While Espie’s confidence and profile have grown over the years, she remains as earthy and honest as the music she writes and performs.  “I still don’t think I’m a good songwriter. Occasionally I’ll pull a good one out of my arse,” she says in typically straight-talking Suzannah fashion.

Find her album on iTunes: Sea of Lights


 

 

Monday Morning Mantra: Ear flaps Up. Keep legs moving.

funny,happiness,peanuts


Source: NY Times from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts: Artists Edition Published April, 2014

 

 

Miracles

internet
Back in June, I shared a post on how I had come to be reading books written by John Updike, John Steinbeck and other literary Titans. The post was titled: Lit Boy. My college Professor, John Vande Zande, is responsible. Sadly, I learned that he had passed away.

On Monday, two months after I had written the post, an email settles gently in my inbox among a stack of 30 or 40 others. I see the surname on the email address. My eyes lock-on “from Vande Zande.” My mind whirs back to the Lit Boy post. I read the email.

Dear David,

Thank you for the lovely tribute to my father, John Vande Zande, on your blog. I also had him as a teacher, but I’m not sure a son appreciates this the way a stranger does. Thank you for letting me see him through your eyes. It would mean a great deal to him to know that he inspired you so much. He was always skeptical of his role as a professor. He would say, “What business do I, a kid from Big Bay, have in being in front of a college classroom?” I think the best profs do doubt their business in being in front of a room of students. It keeps them humble and it keeps them trying. The worse profs are probably the ones who doubt the business of their students being in the room.

Thanks again,

Jeff Vande Zande
www.jeffvandezande.com

John Vande Zande had a Son. He’s a English Professor. He’s a writer. (A published writer). And a poet and a screenwriter. (How proud would his Dad be of him today.)

And as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story:
[Read more...]

Sunday Morning: Taste it

morning-sunrise-river
When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.

Thich Nhat Hanh 


Sources: Photograph: Peter in Buscot, England, UK. Quote: Thank you Karen @ Tearinyourhand

 

Michael, you Curmudgeon. Even you might smile at this.


Hump Day Howl from Belka the Siberian Husky. 20 days old.


Thank you Lori.

5:00 PM Bell: Heading Home For Long Weekend

cute-gif-baby-skateboard


Source: Hungarian

Go Green

green-limes-margarita


Mexico: 1
Netherlands: 0
56.01 min.

(Update @ 2:06PM: I jinxed it…D*MN IT!)


Source: Hungarian

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?

hump-day-wednesday-camel-funny


Source: Strangezoo.com

A Letter to My Brother, Lorne. L-O-R-N-E.

APH___NOOGIE_by_Inonibird

Some things can’t be left unchecked. No Sir.

My youngest Brother Lorne replied to my post “I came that way. D0K” with this:


That was funny but don’t feel sorry for you. On a weekly basis I go through this. First name Lorne. Loren? No. Lauren? No. Lauryn? No. Mark? Mark…WTF! And the other day…Thor! Really? How our parents allowed you and my other awesome brother to name me I will never understand!!


[Read more...]

I came that way. D0K.

gif-connected

JB: Full name please?
DK: David Kanigan. David K-A-N-I-G-A-N.
JB: Full name please.
DK: David Kanigan. David K-A-N-I-G-A-N.
JB: That’s your full name?
DK: Yes.

(Yes. Oh, yes. I know what’s coming next. This scene, played out, over and over. Hundreds of times. Blood pressure clickety clacking up.)

JB: Middle name please.
DK: None.
JB: None?
DK: None.

(She lifts her head to look at the Alien. And pauses, wondering whether to push forward. Then, courageously plows ahead.)

JB: You mean you weren’t given one at birth? Or you changed your name?

(I look down. Two arms. Two legs. Flip flops reveal 10 toes. How many years do I have to take this sh*t?!)

(I look up. Smile. Which way do I take this? High Road. Or Low Road. I count. One. Two. Three.)

[Read more...]

Triple Smack-Down: Cloud Cult

There is something special here. Can’t put a finger on it. I introduced Cloud Cult earlier this month. (Their bio is worth checking out.)  And when you can’t seem to get enough of something that good (ice cream, pasta, Cloud Cult), you just keep bringing it.  Here’s three new clips from Cloud Cult: Chemicals Collide. You Were Born. Breakfast With My Shadow.


Find their album on iTunes here: Unplug