Walking Across Town. Blinded By the Light.

Isabel Miramontes, Come On

Mid July in Manhattan.

I step out of the Metro North car onto the platform, and walk down the tunnel in Grand Central. There’s zero transition from the air cooled train car @ 69° F to This. The body is swallowed by dampness, cool to not cool, Bam. The softness of the pressed shirt turns to less soft, to not soft, to moist, to sticking to the chest. Feet, are choking from their leather wraps, swollen from weight gain (6.3 lbs in less than 30 days) – chafing is coming, oh, it’s coming, by days end, or sooner. There will be blood.

I exhale little puppy breaths to pass the heat, trying to keep cool. Fail.

It’s 6:28 a.m. Tourists mingle in midtown, coalesce around the network TV studios and their Morning Shows – holding their cups of coffee, hoping to spot a celebrity, or better yet, get a cameo for the folks back home. Hi, Jane from Iowa! [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. And Brooding.

6:16 am train to Grand Central. No seats, need to stand. I wait until the first stop at Stamford and then shoe horn myself across from a lady in a bright, pumpkin colored dress.  In order to fit, I need to sit on a diagonal with my knees in the aisle. Pumpkin shifts her knees to the right to avoid contact. The top of her left knee has a deep burn mark, her right knee is clean. Listen, in these close quarters, it’s impossible not to notice. I shift uncomfortably. Personal space inadequate, we’re bordering on claustrophobia here. It’s the trade you made friend, stand for an hour or this…so this is it.

The Suit to my left is asleep. Meaning, like dead to the world. Rip’s hands hug a hard cover book against his chest; a monogrammed cover, title unknown.

I turn to my morning reading. A blog post by Beth @ Alive on All Channels: “These People Are Not Drowning Today.” Pacino in Taxi Driver pops to mind: You talkin’ to me?She’s certainly is not talkin’ to me. My eyes flick down the page and catch a passage from Zen teacher Barry Magid: “Leave Yourself Alone“:

The paradox…is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another. Just sitting leaves everything just as it is.[Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Like when an off-duty ballet dancer steps on the subway and everyone’s head turns,

influencing us to readjust our posture and perhaps reconsider our whole lives.

Just like that.

~ Durga Chew-Bose, from “Part of a Greater Pattern” in Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays


Notes:

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

calvin-and-hobbes


Calvin and Hobbes Source: Peteski via this isn’t happiness

Are you listening?

Sad, sobering but beautiful.  “The photographer and filmmaker Katy Grannan travels around America to capture the nation’s mood in 2016.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

john-o-donohue

We do have a deadening desire to reduce the mystery, the uncertainty of our lives…. We bind our lives in solid chains of forced connections that block and fixate us. …. Our sense of uncertainty and our need for security nail our world down. …. Each time we go out, the world is open and free; it offers itself so graciously to our hearts, to create something new and wholesome from it each day. It is a travesty of possibility and freedom to think we have no choice, that things are the way they are and that the one street, the one right way is all that is allotted to us. Certainty is a subtle destroyer…” “We confine our mystery within the prison of routine and repetition. One of the most deadening forces of all is repetition. Your response to the invitation and edge of your life becomes reduced to a series of automatic reflexes. For example, you are so used to getting up in the morning and observing the morning rituals of washing and dressing. You are still somewhat sleepy, your mind is thinking of things you have to do in the day that lies ahead. You go through these first gestures of the morning often without even noticing that you are doing them. This is a disturbing little image, because it suggests that you live so much of your one life with the same automatic blindness of adaptation…” “Habit is a strong invisible prison. Habits are styles of feeling, perception, or action that have now become second nature to us. A habit is a sure cell of predictability; it can close you off from the unknown, the new, and the unexpected. You were sent to the earth to become a receiver of the unknown. From ancient times, these gifts were prepared for you; now they come towards you across eternal distances. Their destination is the altar of your heart.”

~ John O’Donohue, from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong

 


Notes: O’Donohue Quote – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. O’Donohue Photo – Barry Kibrick

Riding Metro North. The Morning After…

train-tracks-paris-metro

Just another ordinary autumn morning in November. But, and it’s a big But, this one follows the U.S. Presidential election.

It’s the first train to Grand Central: the 5:01 am. The 1% fills this train. The traders, the bankers, the Suits, the professional class.

I am Them.

Overnight, the Earth has shifted, and cracked.

All heads in this train car are down.  The gleaming late model Apple devices beam the story lines. “Election results driven by the poor white…the rural vote…the non-college educated…”  These written words coming from the same college educated who got it all so wrong, are now anxiously explaining what went wrong and why, and they are soon to pivot to telling us what happens next. Stunned.

The Words coming from these pens and keyboards (and now digested by their Readers) are less confident today, less certain about outcomes, and fear a change of the status quo.  Mary Oliver describes the anxiety in ‘Sister Turtle’: “You can fool a lot of yourself but you can’t fool the soul. That worrier.” [Read more…]

Running. With Crystal Light.

sugar

Whether you snort white powder, or you shovel crystals down your gullet, the consequences are…

June-ish, 2016.  It was the last leg of the morning commute, on I-287. The heart starts to race, this followed by a pinch, with its roots pushing outward like the tail of a lightning strike.

Doctor’s diagnosis: High Cholesterol. Root cause? Diet, with any 3 or 4 of following occurring on any given day:

  • Yogurt. Fruit on the Bottom. Jacked up with two heaping tablespoons of Smucker’s Strawberry Jam.
  • Fruit.  Sliced bananas. Floating in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Sliced strawberries, same. Blueberries, melon, raspberries, same.
  • Hotcakes. With Canadian Maple Syrup, and a dollop of Raspberry jam.
  • Drinks. Orange Gatorade. Florida Orange Juice from the carton. Artificially sweetened Lipton’s Green Tea, 2 bottles at a time.  Diet Coke(s). Cranberry Juice, swigged from a 1 gallon jug.  And oh let’s not forget, Welch’s Grape Juice, one could bathe in it.
  • Ice Cream. Pint of creamy Chocolate Haggen Daz in a single sitting.  Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with chopped nuts, chocolate sauce and several shots of Reddi Wip Cream.
  • Coffee. Spiked with 2.0 (yes, two) packets of Nutrasweet or its brethren.
  • Hot Tea. Golden Bee Honey from a squeeze bottle swirls to and coats the bottom.
  • Snacks. Semi-sweet chocolate chips (in pantry for cooking) by the handful. Entenmann’s glazed donuts. Mini Snicker Bars by the handfuls.
  • Sandwich. PBJ, mostly with J, oozing on all sides of enriched and wholesome white bread.
  • Cereal. Including Raisin Bran, supplemented with a handful of California golden raisins and hopped up with a heaping teaspoon of white sugar crystals sweetening the 2%.

And the pre-bed-time sedative…which warrants its own paragraph, not a mere bullet. Grape Jelly trembles as it waits for the tablespoon to dig deep and scar its surface. Jelly coats the teeth and slides smoothly down the throat. A trace lingers on the lips. The body settles in, calm now, with its fix. Bed time. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 N. With 45s Spinning.

woman-hide-mask

Picture the old 45 spinning on the RCA, with its slight wobble.

It hits a notch and repeats, and repeats and repeats.

Karen, a blogger friend, from “Healing Grief” had all of the Nacre she could stand.  She gently lifted the arm and suggested a new groove:

Love what Milner suggests practising bead memories. I have a challenge for you Mr K. In your next bead experience, tell us what You feel and see just “being.” No driving, no running, no working, just here, now.”

Healing Grief. Advice from a Woman who has felt Grief. Incomprehensible loss.

Would I be standing as she is, if I was hit? [Read more…]

You Go Judge! Debate: Cut the Cr*p. Save our Children. All of them. 

hc-moukawsher-lawsuit-profile-20160930

“Connecticut State Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher threw out the state’s school financing system as unconstitutional, his unsparing 90-page ruling read and resonated like a cry from the heart on the failings of American public education.”

Some excerpts from NYTimes: An F-Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge:

  •  “Uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” that found “virtually every teacher in the state” proficient or exemplary, while a third of students in many of the poorest communities cannot read even at basic levels.
  • He attacked a task force charged with setting meaningful high school graduation requirements for how its “biggest thought on how to fix the problem turned out to be another task force,” and called it “a kind of a spoof.”
  • Too many American high school graduates are “let down by patronizing and illusory degrees”
  • Too many decisions and too much debate about schools seem, as he wrote, “completely disconnected to the teaching of children.”
  • Nearly all high school students in affluent communities like Darien and Westport scored on state tests as “advanced” in math and approached the same level in reading. But one out of three students in nearby Bridgeport and other poor cities did not reach the most basic level in math, and did only slightly better in reading.
  • It was a strikingly blunt way of saying what many people feel: The system is broken.
  • He added, “Just doing more of the same is unlikely to lead to a different result.”
  • The judge called for a radical reimagining that starts with the question of what schools should do: What are the goals for elementary students, or high school graduates? Then, he said, the state should decide how much money schools require so that all students, rich and poor, reach those goals.
  • 46 percent of white fourth graders across the country read at or above “proficient,” compared with just 18 percent of their black peers.
  • He criticized “uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” as part of a rating system “that is little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.” He described the state’s efforts to define high school proficiency as “like a sugar cube boat,” adding, “It dissolves before it’s half-launched.”

Read entire article: NYTimes: An F-Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge


Photo: Hartford Courant

%d bloggers like this: