Sunday Morning. Grounded.

sleep,bed,morning,sunday,weekend

5:40 am.
I let Zeke out.
I step onto the porch. Shiver. 23° F. Dark and Cold.
There’s less than a inch, but it’s there, Snow smothering Spring.

Zeke comes trotting back in, he’s wiggling, with a full body twist and turn. How come I’m not that happy after solving my internal blockages? 

My running watch, fully charged, rests on the counter, waiting to connect to the satellites circling overhead. My running shoes and running gear, set out last night, are poised and ready for the firing of the starter’s pistol. My water bottle, filled and ice cold, waits silently in the refrigerator. The team is ready.

Last night’s intention — was to run early and long this morning.

I look at the gear again. Go. Now. Go. Take that first step. Do it.

Mind shifts to breakfast.  Hash browns, bacon and scrambled eggs. Potatoes from Idaho, brown and crispy on top, with a stream of Heinz. The intoxicating smell of Bacon. Eggs from free range chickens, yellow and cheesy on top. Toast (home made thick crusted white bread), glistening from butter produced on a farm in Wisconsin — one piece laced with golden honey from a bee hive in Maine, and the second with dark, sweet grape jelly from some vineyard in California. All washed down with sweet Orange Juice from Brazil. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With Leaner.

Claustrophobia_I_by_RGreene

The mercury tipped 27° F.
It’s the fifth day of Spring. Spring. Right.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. (Dickens)

The only thing Dickens got right in this passage was the book title: Great Expectations, and mine for the weather.

It was one of those March days when the sun doesn’t shine at all and the wind blows cold: when it is winter in the light, it is winter in the dark and it is winter in the shade. (DK)

It’s 5:45 am. I’m standing on the platform with a handful of others.  The remaining commuters wait for the 5:57 train in the warming station.

But not me. No Sir. I refuse to cede my place at the front of the not-yet-formed line.  Close to memory are my last two rides — unable to find a seat, I stood the entire 55 minute ride. Technical correction: there was an unwillingness, a steadfast refusal to sit in the middle seat.  Just not an option. I need my space.

I board the train. I’m the first on, my wait paying off.  I find an empty two-seater and sit next to the window. I settle in and start into the morning papers.  The warm air from a vent caresses my feet and legs. It’s going to be a good day. [Read more…]

Running. Out of hibernation.

SONY DSC

Monday AM: It’s Zeke’s annual check-up. He remembers the six-inch needle from his last appointment. He’s not welcoming John, the GVW (“the Greatest Vet in the World”).  Zeke weighs in.  He’s up another 5 pounds, peaking at his all-time high. GVW’s scorecard on Zeke sets off vicious attacks: Family v. Dad. It’s you! He only sits next to you at Dinner! You are feeding him table scraps! Do you realize you are shortening his life!”  Dad Growls in response.

Wednesday AM: GVW sends an email. He’s never sent an email to me before, but he needs to send this one. Zeke’s stool sample shows no evidence of worms. Vet Code Translation: He’s fat, but at least he’s clean. All is not lost.

Thursday PM:  It’s bedtime. Zeke’s laying next to me. He looks up and stares.  What’s up Zeke?  He tells me he’s depressed. GVWs lack of bedside manner cut deep. GVW and the Family fail to grasp nature’s natural cycle like Mary Oliver and I do: summer falling to fall, to be following by what will follow: winter again: count on it. Same with weight. Down in summer. Up in the Winter. Down in summer. Count on it. It’s a bloody cycle. No need to overreact.

[Read more…]

Flying over I-95 N. Sometimes, you gotta go.

Airplane-Lavatory-Door

We are lifting off on flight #2395 heading back north.

I sneak a last peak at my smartphone, a text message from home:

It’s windy (very) here.  Expect a bumpy descent into NY. 

Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers comes to mind. Help! Thanks! Wow!  Thank YOU for the soothing send-off. My fingers are on the keys to fire back a rocket. I decide against it. What incredible restraint you have shown. And yet, so unlike you. I sit and ponder whether I’ve finally matured in Middle Age. Shake my head. An aberration from the mean. I’ll get the final word when I get home.

And, it’s choppy.

The beverage cart is rolled cautiously down the aisle. It is now a “beverage” cart. There are no longer any complimentary snacks on two and half hour flights. It is noted that the seats still recline, and they are complimentary as part of the ticket purchase.

I ask for a Diet Coke. It will dissolve a nail and here you are fueling your tank. She offers me the entire can. Just drink half.  Do it.  I slug it back, all of it, like a thirsty sailor. There are no napkins, those cost extra, so I wipe the spillage with my shirt sleeve. Class.

And, it’s choppy.

As the plane lurches up and down and left and right, the soda sloshes around. The Oxidation process is well under way, my intestines groan.  In my youth, my bowels could swell up like a dirigible and I would feel no discomfort – a light balloon drifting in a summer breeze. No longer. A whiff of dew and he’s a boogie-eyed meerkat on look out for the toilet.

And, it’s choppy.

Expect a bumpy descent into NY. We’re still one and half hours away.

There are core foundational principles with air travel. On the top of this list: “Avoid the Lavatory.” Unless you are ready to explode, don’t do it. Why do they call it a lavatory? Lavatory. It sounds like Def: A location where medical research is being conducted. But it is def: A room with a toilet and sink. AND LAYERS OF JUMPIN’ BACTERIA. The best outcome here is avoidance. Period. There is no close second.

And, it’s choppy. [Read more…]

Flying over I-95 S. On Sunday Morning.

take-off-airplane-fly

It’s 10:00 am. This Sunday Morning. I’m in the car heading to LaGuardia to catch AA 1082, departing at noon.

Saturday was my Sunday. Sunday is my Monday.

I’m a flight and a half away from 2,000,000 miles, and that’s just on American Airlines. I’ve been around the earth 80 times. 80 times. Years of chasing Status, frequent flier status and upgrades. As Kalanithi explains, ‘a chasing after wind, indeed.’ How many Sunday nights in a hotel room, sitting on the bed in front of the TV, eating alone? 

The Boeing twin jet 737-800 taxis to its final turn, pauses, inhales to gather a head of steam, and then Roars down the runway.  I close my eyes and feel. Thrust. Power. Acceleration. Wheels rumbling down the tarmac. Faster. Faster. Faster. And then — calm, and lift off — the Iron Bird is up.  Wings tilt sharply left, and I lean. We surge upward, higher, the nose pointed to the heavens. The weight of the climb, a soft hand on the chest, the back, a magnet affixed firmly to the door of the refrigerator.  A sacred message as you head Up. Sit, wait, pause, be still.

I press the recline button and ease the seat gently backward.

The kids, no, now young adults, were both sleeping when I left the house this morning. They were up late last night, increasingly leading separate lives. Dad, clutching on a string. Oh, go ahead, wake them up, or at least give them a kiss on the cheek before you go.  I linger in front of Eric’s door, and then Rachel’s door. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to wake them. I walk down the stairs and out the door.  I settle in the car. Inhale. Melancholia, campfire smoke in my lungs.

I slip my earbuds in. My eye lids are heavy. I’m drifting in and out. The plane has leveled off. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With the Crusaders.

art-sky-blue-clouds

It’s 27° F. I’m fast stepping to catch the 6:16 am train to Grand Central. My soles are snapping the rock salt crystals. The eyes are scanning the sidewalk on the look out for black ice. It’s March. It’s damn cold. I shiver. It’s over. It’s over soon.

I review my notes for my 8:30 am presentation. And then shift to the morning papers.  I scan my calendar.  I complete the Morning rituals. I’m done early.

The gear box is misfiring. Where’s the pre-game anxiety? Where’s the morning email missives? Where’s the pullin’ Locomotive?

The noise-canceling earphones and the music player are dialed up. I’ve encased Myself inside Myself. Myself and Bob Seger, Against the Wind.

My phone vibrates signaling a text from Rachel — she’s two trains behind me. Hi Daddy! I send her a link in reply: FDA Panel Backs Kythera Double-Chin TreatmentThanks Dad. Another genetic beauty mark that you’ve passed down to me. I chuckle. She’s mine. Not yet 7 am and she’s counterpunching. That’s My Girl.

The train enters a long, slow curve into Manhattan.  Rachel is leaning into the curve, behind but with me — her electronic Hi Daddy, Oliver’s soft wind, like a belt of silk, wraps the house.

We’re in the tunnels. The normal pulse escalation zone. I’m watching the Commuters scrambling to gather their bags to prepare for ejection.  I’m watching. Sitting. At Peace, Calm and Centered – with Seger crooning in the background. Damn de-stabilizing. Mad-Man turned Zen.

I let the masses pour out of the train and clear. I follow behind the herd.

I exit out onto 42nd Street and Vanderbilt, and she catches me catch her eye.

I’m OFF. Again. FAIL! Commuters Creed: Avoid eye contact. [Read more…]

Cat’s Left the Cradle 2

hair-long-man

WEDNESDAY. 9:30 PM.
Medium: FaceTime.
600 miles away, Son sits in his dorm room.
(Technology. A Miracle)

Eric: Hi Dad.
Dad: Hi Eric.
Dad: When’s your interview?
Eric: Friday at 8 am.

Dad adjusts his grip on the iPad to get a better look at Son.

Eric: What are you doing?
Dad: Take your cap off.
Eric: Why?
Dad: Take it off.
Eric: Why? (Here he comes. Here he comes.)
Dad: I’m only going to ask you one more time. [Read more…]

Riding Metro-North. Off-Peak.

blur-portrait

My early morning routine, My zone, My sweet spot, is detonated.
I’m on the mid-afternoon train to Manhattan.
Everything is out of order. Way out of order.

It’s a sparsely occupied train.
A few Suits. Students. Tourists chattering. Children buzzing.
All rules of order violated. Quiet Car? What’s that?

The landscape is foreign as it flashes by the window.
The whites of winter turn to the darks of buildings, and back. Strobe lights. Disco. Discombobulating.
Pulse quickens. Wrong train? No. Daylight. Mr. Hyde makes his appearance in Light, flings his robe back, and works to shake off his lethargy.

Eyes are heavy from scanning emails. Words are merging together.  Regurgitation, without nourishment. Chewing, remembering nothing, looping back to re-read. Sigh.

I give up. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. On Edges.

NYC-walk-new-york

The mercury tipped 15º F. A veritable heat wave.
It’s 6:20 AM and the train pulls into Grand Central.
I twist in my ear buds and cue up my “Favorites” playlist.
Angus Stone: Bird on a Buffalo.
The herd stampedes out of the station.
Are you the bird? Or the buffalo?

I’m passing commuters on my left. And on my right.
Middle age, my a**. Can’t touch me. I’m sure those are whispers I hear behind me: “Who is that Pro Athlete?”
Another solid night of sleep. Superman. Cape.
I’m out on 48th and heading cross-town.
Cold air shocks Clark Kent. He wobbles, exhales mist, watches it rise and marches on.

My pace has me hitting each “Walk” sign in succession. Dominos falling.
No slowing, no stopping. Batta Bing, Batta Bang.
It’s going to be a good day.

Light wind gusts at my back.
Wind triggers the Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

May the cabs stay on the highway and not plow into me on the curb.
May these brutal Arctic winds stay down.
May the sun warm my cold freezing a**,
And please God, no freezing rain. Please no more. [Read more…]

1° F. Feels like -21° F. Or, Plan B.

hawaii,oahu

Good Morning!
Sunrise.
Inhale. Deeply.
Salty ocean air.

Slow walk down the beach.*
Surf lapping feet.

Morning papers.
Scones, butter, and strawberry jam.
Coffee.

Sunscreen. Sunglasses. Pool chair.
Kindle.
Sashaying palm fronds.
Late morning nap.

Catch of the day: Red Snapper.
Grilled vegetables.
Tall Iced Tea.

82° F.
Long swim.
Wide winged pelicans skimming over turquoise waters.
Soft afternoon rain.
Mid afternoon nap in hammock.

Light Dinner.
Gentle breeze. Sunset.
Evening cocktail.
Crickets.

One last chapter.
Drift.
Drift slowly away.

Do over.

~ DK, Today’s Alternate Reality


Notes: