Running. Against Time. To Relief.

4:59 a.m.

Dark Sky reports 71° F. Cloudy for three hours. 22 minutes til sunrise. And…95% humidity.

I’m out the door.  The edge of night has turned. I’m late. Disappointment drips. Morning brings others. I’m part way through Catherine Lacey’s “The Answers” where she explains: “Some people need to be unseen, to be alone, to be unreachable. And there was nothing wrong with this…”  This felt so right, so me. Yet, I would have finished it differently…“And there is everything right with this.”

It’s not been a good week – not a single, self-inflicted act, but a culmination of events. A cumulative pile-up of sleep deficit.

  • 4 hours. (Monday)
  • 5 hours. (Tuesday)
  • 5 hours. (Wednesday)
  • 6 hours (Thursday)
  • 4 hours (Friday)
  • 6 hours (Saturday)

A cumulative deficit of 18 hours. The insomniac gets through his days, 1/2 present, 1/2 hallucinating. This Man, blessed to be migraine-free, now has intermittent lightening bolts sizzle – Warning shots – Wake-up calls.

It’s a new habit. Deep sleep for two to four hours and then UP, followed by half-a**ed attempts to get back to sleep.

The e-equipment on the night stand beckons.  Work emails. 5-6 books at various stages of completion. Early morning editions of the newspapers. Blog posts. A dozen unplayed podcasts. Music playlists.

No. Don’t reach for it. Don’t touch it. [Read more…]

I am always wondering if there’s something holy between people, a formless thing, something that can’t be bruised

Monique Passion, Secret

I keep wondering what, in me, might be constant. I catch myself looking for that remainder, retracing my steps as if in search of lost keys. I am always wondering if there’s something holy between people, a formless thing, something that can’t be bruised… But maybe I really did sense something vague and holy in others’ eyes, something sacred in crowds, in a bus of people staring out their windows, watching life. There should be a middle ground between believing in a certain god and believing that some mysterious third substance was between people. Like churches, I thought, there should be a place for people who just weren’t sure. There should be a place for people who see something but won’t dare say what it is. Maybe there’s something, something between people that is more than air and empty space, something holy in that nothing between one face and another.

~ Catherine Lacey, from “The Answers: A Novel” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 6, 2017)


Art: Monique Passicot, “Whispers“, 1991, colored pencil / graphite, 10x7in (via Hidden Sanctuary)

Walking Cross-Town. Or, on the Highway to Hell?

It’s late evening, the sun is setting, the end of a long day. I’m sitting in a Metro North train car on my commute home reflecting on the day. Cool air streams down from the overhead vents.

Summer has arrived in Manhattan, and despite this 23 square mile piece of land being surrounded on all sides by water, the Island can be 10-20° F hotter than it is at home in the suburbs – billions of tons of concrete, steel and asphalt broiling under the late day Sun.

I had read his essay the prior week, and it was still rooting its way into my core, into the marrow of my bones.  I flip open my e-reader to re-read the passages that I have highlighted in George Yancy’s “Is Your God Dead?” where he speaks to leaving our God in our places of worship or in our good intentions.  [Read more…]

When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?

David Hockney was way ahead of today’s ubiquitous selfies. In the 1980s—already famous for his painted landscapes of California pools and suburban houses—he threw himself into drawn, painted and photographed self-portraits…

At first the Hockney self-portraits showed vulnerability and self-consciousness, according to Dr. Brooks. But over the years, he adds, they showed intense self-examination. Mr. Hockney has depicted himself with his mouth wide open in surprise, with a scowl or with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth at an angle.

The results, as well as Mr. Hockney’s wider interest in photographic collage, are the main focus of “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney,” a celebration of his turning 80 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, opening in two stages, June 27 and July 18. Most of the versions of Mr. Hockney on view, though, don’t make for a cheery celebration. “I usually only draw myself in down periods,” Mr. Hockney told London’s Telegraph newspaper in 2001. “I suppose that’s why I often draw myself looking grim. I just think, ‘Let’s have a look in the mirror.’ When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?”

~ Alexandra Wolfe, from Self-Portraits and Photos for David Hockney Birthday (wsj.com, June 23, 2017)


Notes:

  • Photograph top: David Hockney with ‘Blue Terrace Los Angeles March 8th 1982’.
  • Drawing: David Hockney ‘Self Portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219), iPad drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond.

 

Flying Over I-40 South. With Bird Calls.


It’s been 9 months, and we receive a piercing reminder of the only certainties in life: Death and Taxes. Tucked way at the back of the mailbox, sits a single, slight envelope – a bill for the license fee for Zeke’s tags. He’s gone damn it. He’s gone.

Dog tags. Metal to metal, nothing rubbing, nothing jingling. Just nothing.  Inert, they lay in an extra coin jar in the mud room, on top of dirty pennies, dimes, nickels and a few silver quarters. His weathered, leather leash, without him on the end of it, has been stored, way away.  Loose Change. Bone to Bone. Dust to dust. Nothing.

Melancholia saddles up and storms in.

I pull up the covers, and shiver.

It’s Spring. Low humidity. Soft intermittent rains. And nights sleeping with open windows.

With no bird dog leaning in…with no bird dog head nestling, warming my feet, there’s no longer a need to keep windows closed. No need for closed windows to block bird calls, those bird calls which triggered his wiring, which set off that nose, those whiskers, that twitching against the thigh as he adjusts his head to get a better look and better sniff; those same bird calls which would launch this Man’s Best Friend on high alert, jacking up his pulse rate and his innate need to run, to find and to flush. You ain’t running here no more. This Man’s leaning in on himself and falling over.

The window is wide open. A bird call interrupts the dark and the silence. 3:43 am.

Does she sleep? Or like a dolphin, does half her brain shut down, so the other half can monitor predators? How does she wake each morning with a Solo and always between 3:40 am to 3:55 am? Is she singing? Talking? To whom? To Me? About what? Does she sleep in trees? In her nest? Warming her eggs? Singing to her babies as any Mother would? Rock-a-bye baby, On the tree top, When the wind blows, The cradle will rock. When the bough breaks

By 4:10 am, she has wound up the entire neighborhood, and we’ve moved from solo to choir.  Bird song lifts the gates, the silvery light of dawn shimmering – the tide sweeps away the heaviness: Lightly Child, Lightly.  And here it comes: playing in the head on a loop…“Ain’t no passing craze.  It means no worries. For the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!”

The bird song reaches a crescendo, percussion, drums, guitars, horns, nature’s perfect harmony dragging my soul – Up, Up, Up.

Circle of Life Brother.

Circle of Life.



Inspired by:

The grief of the failed nest echoes in an entirely different register, but it is still a grief. In Tennessee it’s common for cardinals to nest twice in a season, hatching between two and five eggs each time, but few of their young will survive. The world is not large enough to contain so many cardinals, and predators must eat, too, and feed their young. It should not trouble me to know the sharp-eyed crow will feed its babies with hatchlings it steals from the cardinals, but I have watched day after day as the careful redbird constructed a sturdy nest in the laurel, and I have calculated how many days and nights she has sat upon those eggs, how many trips she has made to the nest to feed the babies, how many times she has sheltered them through a downpour. Day after day after day.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “Springtime’s Not-So-Peaceable Kingdom”, The New York Times · June 3, 2017

Riding Metro North. Don’t Sit Here.

You, yes You, are standing on the platform waiting for the next train. The train approaches.  You flip open an app that displays which seats are open and…the app flashes a profile of your seat mate. Profiles are pulled together using a composite of the individuals’ blog posts, google searches and social media activity. So, what you have here is a form of seat match-making, with no names or addresses disclosed.

You, yes You, see that there are only two seats open. You scan the first profile, and you move to the second, mine, needing to quickly decide where to sit as the train pulls into the station. [Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. With the World By the A**.

AA Flight 1150: DFW to LGA.  It’s 5:29 a.m., and I’m standing at the gate waiting to board the first flight out of Dallas. I’m watching the waitlist monitor, KAN.D is on page 2. Wow.  An upgrade to First, for a 6 a.m. boarding, will not happen.

Then confirmed.

“Sorry Sir, the upgrade list is closed.” 14th on the wait list. 14th! A Lifetime Platinum Member…means…Nothing.  I drag my carry-on on board, passing all the smug passengers in first class and take my seat.

The video monitor on the seat in front rotates through flight details:

  • 2 hr 59 min to destination
  • Estimated Arrival Time LGA: 10:35 a.m.
  • Altitude: 28,982.9 (and turbulent)

The GQ interview with Brad Pitt is still fresh…he recalls a conversation with Ryan McGinley…”When you get to be my age, never pass up a bathroom. Never trust a fart…”  And let’s leave the rest to your imagination.

Now that, triggered movement

I cautiously step down the aisle. The ship heaves left and right, a paper airplane battered like a piñata. If He really wanted to lean in here, we’d be dust. There’s something about flying that brings the immediacy of mortality to the forefront, not to the front to First Class of course, but to the front like in Coach.

If you possess a single cell of claustrophobia, you don’t want to be in the lavatory of an Airbus A321S in heavy turbulence.  One hand grips the cool stainless steel hand rail for stability.  The other hand rests on the lap, careful not to touch anything. The floor is wet, the soles of the shoes groan. The midsection is contorted to ensure no body part or article of clothing touches anything, and if I could have levitated above the seat without inflicting a groin pull, I would have done so.  How many before me, sitting here? (Butt) Skin to skin to skin to skin to skin.  I wash my hands, and take one look around this coffin. God, when it’s time, let it be in a grassy field, on a warm sunny day, laying among four-leaf clovers and poppies, and looking up at the bluest of blue skies. The closet closes in. Get me out of here. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. With an empty boat.

I glance at the odometer: 80,000 miles. 8 years, 80,000 miles. 80,000.

I read somewhere, some time ago, that the average person has 50,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day.  Reading this sentence was like swallowing a handful of methamphetamines – my mind was galloping.  How did my mind jump from 80,000 miles on the odometer to 80,000 thoughts per day and some article I read x years ago?  Who’s job was it to count these thoughts?  How did they actually count the thoughts? How many humans’ thoughts did they count to get to this average, and over what period to time to make this statistically significant? And then, a hard turn to Me.  Am I average, below or above average, and if so, why? Do those of us who are carry more doubt have 25% more thoughts than those that are more stable?  This last one set off a burst of fireworks.

I’m exhausted chasing this thread.  Repeat: Mantra. Mantra. Mantra. Let it Go. Let it Go. Let it Go.  Or as Val in Finding Your Middle Ground suggests,  “I inhale peace. I exhale release… I inhale peace. I exhale release… I inhale peace. I exhale release.” I grow impatient with this mantra, my breathing accelerates, I cut it down.

Release. Release. Release.

I pause a second or two between each “Release” and reach for the volume button on the radio. No doubt I average over 100,000 thoughts a day. No doubt. And a small percentage of them can even be nurturing.

And It comes back.

A single thought. A thought that recurs, and recurs, crawling over the millions and millions of old thoughts, to stand on top of all thoughts. One experience, one feeling, during a single hour of Life, one thought that flashes back like tinsel. [Read more…]

Does just asking the question make you feel ill?

Try to pinpoint the last time you took a purposeless walk through the late spring breeze, when there was no itch in your hand to reach for a mobile device, and you felt like the wind and sky around you had nothing to disclose to you other than the vast and mysteriously sympathy of existence itself. Was it 2007? Or as far back as 1997? Does just asking the question make you feel ill?

~ Michael Brendan Dougherty, from I write on the internet. I’m sorry. (The Week, May 1, 2007)

 


Art: Eiko Ojala with “I found my silence“. The Estonian artist famous for his paperwork released a new personal project with no clue on what media is used in it. This could be a beautiful mix of paper, photography and illustrations but we are gracefully confused, but incline to paper. The only thing we know – it is beautiful (via DesignCollector)

Driving Merritt Parkway North. With Whale.

Friday evening, late rush hour. Traffic is crawling up the Merritt Parkway, my alternate route for I-95 North. Waze is navigating.

Sirius 70’s on 7 cues up Steve Winwood with Back in High Life Again. Damn tune is more than 30 years old! “From fifty to eighty”, Grace Paley said. “Seconds, not minutes.”

The intermittent stop and go, inches us forward. The pace, is ok. It’s been a long week, a long day, and we’re in full surrender mode. Weekend come, come, come, pick up the pieces. Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty Dumpty had a…

It, the day, started at 5:30 am.  Office dark, floor quiet, and I’ve lost myself in a deliverable with a short fuse. A losing of yourself in yourself. The clock is ceaseless, unrelenting, in its march forward: 6:00. 6:30. 7:00. 7:30. 7:45, and all without notice to the occupant in the office.

I save my work. Hit print. Close my eyes for a second. The internal gearing of the laser printer warms, the file contents zip across the cables and Bam! – each of the four pages are spit onto the floor.  I peek at my watch, 8:00 am. Two and a half hours. Wow.

I lift my head from the silvery screen, making a quick break from my opioid, and stand. Too fast. 

The lights dim, the eyes blur, nausea fills the belly. I reach for the arm rest on the chair. Steady Dave, steady. [Read more…]

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