Running. With America.

childe-hassam-art-american-flag-july-4th

Words cut.
And she held the knife.
I HATE AMERICA.”
Yes, in CAPS.

5:30 am. July 4th, 2015.
The Wolf Pack was settled in the car and heading down I-95 S.
Six lanes, devoid of traffic.
Eerie. A post-apocalyptic moment on I-95. Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” Gray skies, light rain spitting on windshield. No Ash.

I HATE AMERICA.
“She” is Anonymous on the inter-tunnel. She repeats IT over and over, in Caps, a vitriolic cadence wrapped around each of America’s stated ills.

We’re two miles in at Mianus River Park.The terrain is hilly.  I’m a roller coaster, with slow climbs up, and gravity pushing faster and faster downward.  No. You are a Burro.  A Burro carrying an oversized load with its belly dragging. You strain with each step. Your breathlessness, is a suffering inhale-exhale far less refined than the hee-haw of the Burro.  Sad eyes drooping, staring down at hooves tiptoeing around rocks, roots and ruts.

I HATE AMERICA.
I read the post on Friday. The words still fresh, blood spilled.  Words coming from an American, mid-20s.  A Woman. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. Waxing and Waning.

Simon Birch

It’s Tuesday. 6 am.
The Metro-North train arrives at Grand Central.
I’m walking across town.
It’s there.
I’m, Unstoppable.

Today. It’s back.
The energy geyser bursting from the Center.
The Possibilities? Endless.
Hope?  Springs eternal.
Mystery source?  Soul. Powered. Soulerpowered.*

Other days.
The cauldron bubbles.
The witches’ brew stews.
Lethargy. Worry. Anxiety. Fatigue. Doubt.
Fully Present, in a Civil War of One.
It? It’s just not there.

William James had a bead on it.  The Human energizing. The sum-total of activities. Some outer. Some inner. Some muscular. Some emotional. Some moral. Some spiritual.  The waxing and waning in himself he is at times so well aware.  How to keep it an appreciable maximum? How not to let the level lapse? That is the great problem.

I feel this lapsing.
Mr. Miyagi’s Wax On, Wax off. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. Crossing the Street.

plant-green-water-drops

The morning ritual is…

GET to the office.
GET to the desk.
Fire up the PC.
GET a jump on the day.
Same. Same. Same.

I exit Grand Central,
and head West.
Same route.
As the crow flies,
it’s a straight shot, on foot, cross-town, to the office on 48th street.
Speed traps are meted out by flashing Don’t Walk! signs and traffic,
as jaywalking is a cultural norm in Gotham.

I couldn’t tell you what triggered it.
It could have been a car horn.
A driver shouting at another.
Or perhaps more subtle,
a bird call amidst the gray, inert skyscrapers,
or a unusually, warm early morning wind gust from my left.

[Read more…]

Squirrels. Cardinals. Bumble Bees. And Me.

CADDYSHACK, Bill Murray, 1980. (c) Warner Bros./ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

It’s difficult to understand how an innocuous  glance out the window could start a cascade of nonsense.  But, it did. And it does.

It’s Tuesday. I’m home on a late evening conference call. I see him through the window in the backyard.  He’s chubby-cheeked, hanging upside down, and clutching the iron cover of the bird feeder.

My call continued. And so did Chubby-Cheeks. The bird feeder is swinging from the pole. He’s shaking the cr*p out of it. And gorging on prime seed intended for goldfinches.  Had I been outside and not two floors up, I would have run the S.O.B. down.

My call continued.  I watched him. And wondered how this creature could manage to raise my ire.  This man, a college educated adult, 210 pounds (and counting)  vs. a foot-long squirrel weighing a pound or two.  There he was. Blissfully feeding. And I’m clenching a pencil between my teeth, tasting graphite on my tongue.

The call ended.  I ran down the stairs and out the door to find that he had vanished. Squirrel 483. DK: O.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.  I’m heading out the door to walk to the train station.

There he was to my right.  Staring at me from the base of the evergreen tree in the front yard. Beady eyes.  His under carriage dragging on the grass, belly bursting from the bird seed. [Read more…]

Riding Metro-North. Day 1 for (My) Workin’ Man.

eric-tie-striped-son-work

Thursday morning.
We’re on the 8:01 a.m. train to Grand Central.
Eric is seated across from me.
His head is leaning against the window.
His eyes are closed.
His body is swaying with the slow turns of the track.

I look. I take a long look. And I’m rolling back 17 years.

He’s clutching his Mother’s right hand, scooching to keep up, his oversized blue backpack bounces up and down.  Mom let’s go of his hand.  He looks back.  His lower lip is quivering. His arm reaches back for his Mother while his Kindergarten teacher welcomes him into the building.

Blink.

And so, here we are. Father and Son are commuting to Manhattan. Day 1 of Son’s first paying job.

I take inventory. From bottom up.

He’s wearing his Dad’s hand-me-down black, plain-toe oxford shoes.  45 minutes earlier he asks: “Do I need to polish my shoes?”  College student with a 3.95 GPA is looking down at the dust and scuff marks.  He doesn’t bother looking at Dad. 21 years of co-habitation and 21 years of absorbing sharp nips and tucks of Patriarchal coaching, instinct tells him that it’s a bad decision. Dad grabs the shoes and cleans them up. “Can I borrow your socks Dad.” “Take what you need.” [Read more…]

Because what are we without five minutes ago?

street-art-paint-roller

My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this. “Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you’ve been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don’t even remember his name.” It’s terrifying. Because we are we without five minutes ago? What are we without our stories? Where is the continuum of consciousness? Is it all one big lily pad of a moment?

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Image: Street Art via mennyfox55

Mondays, Miracles & Musings

Boy-That-Escalated-Quickly-Anchorman

You wake up and body parts are functioning.
Turn the key in the ignition and all systems are go.
Until they don’t.
Two eyes on Sunday.
1.5 on Monday.
Painfully nagging recurring eye disorder. Detailed here.
Blurred vision. Tear ducts flowing.
Nasal passages oozing goop.
Nausea rolling tummy.
Hip bone connected to the thigh bone.
Thigh bone connected to every bloody thing.

And as for Helen Fielding in Bridget Jones’s Diary and for me:

Once get on tack of thinking about aging there is no escape. Life suddenly seems like a holiday where, halfway through, everything starts accelerating to the end.

“Boy, that accelerated quickly.”

Which led me to thinking about Einstein and miracles.
I’m driving from the office to the Ophthalmologist.
And those of you scolding me about driving with impaired vision, one of my working eyes is better than most of the maniacs with two working eyes on the road today. So relax… [Read more…]

No more tears. Here’s to good outcomes.

tear-drop

It’s a ritual before bedtime.
Nightly.
Now running for 14 months.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
Take a deep breath.
Raise my left hand to pull down the lower left lid,
Raise my right hand to apply a thin stream of the prophylactic.
And if I had a third hand (and was a Believer),
I would make the sign of the cross, look to the heavens, and whisper:
Work your magic. Please.

Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment.
Generic Brand.
40% cheaper than the Name brand.
Found and bought on Amazon.
Produced in Lake Forest, Illinois by some unknown bucket shop.
You are one strange dude. You don’t think twice about the risk of a no-name eyeball lube bought on the web but refuse to buy generic Raisin Bran cereal at your local Stop ‘n Shop.

Apply every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by Doctor.
Ophthalmologist’s instructions were nightly. And nightly it is.
For temporary relief of corneal edema.
edema: the collection of excess of watery fluid.

But that’s not the real pain point.
Which is… [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. In Delirium.

photography-city-night-lights

Missed the 8:36 pm train.
Within Seconds.
9:06 it is.
Doesn’t matter. Just doesn’t matter.
Lit up with a smooth VO Manhattan.
Misted with a fruity Merlo.
Work and worry numbed. Novocaine.
Feeling Easy Like Sunday Morning. On Tuesday.
Hour 17 and on a Midnight Run.

Delirium? Likely.
Darkness? Doubt?  Can’t touch me.

Robin Williams stops by for a chat.
Friend there’s time.
Enjoy Happy Land.
Wallow in the feathery bliss.
A mere 6 hours from re-start
and it’s
Good Morning,Vietnam!


Notes:

Walking Cross Town. In Slow Motion.

blue-morpho-butterfly

Thursday morning.
First train arrives at Grand Central at 5:55 am.
I twist ear buds in.
Turn volume up.
And set the playlist.
Noise cancelling headphones block the outside.
David Gray fills the inside.
Magic.

Commuters stage left, and right, and front, and back.
A teeming shoal of barracuda jockeying for position for the exits.

While I was watching you did a slow dance.

We edge forward through the tunnel.
Down the stairs.
And a hard left up the corridor for the Madison exit.

Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real.

Up escalator.
I lean into left lane. Speed lane.
She’s up and in front.
A Barracuda presses from behind, and three behind him. [Read more…]