Driving I-95 North. In March, with Summer Breeze.

Yesterday evening. 6:55 p.m. Still at the office.  I shut down my PC, grab the loose papers from my desk and toss them into my brief case. I throw on my coat and step into the hallway. It’s quiet, still. No phones ringing. No printers running. No overhead hum, the HVAC is shut down. Everyone has gone home. The building rests.

I walk to the garage. It’s been a Long week. Unexpected (and serious) issues flare up, soaking up the free oxygen. Yet, you like that don’t you? Good to be needed. Great to be needed. DK, what did you want to be when you grew up? A Firefighter, of course. Superman-DK running into burning buildings, his Cape flapping behind him, carrying out Babies. Like that, sort of, of the Suit Kind.

I’m in the car. Temperature read-out is 49° F. I’m on the tail end of rush hour. Traffic is flowing. Roads are dry. Spring, come, Now.

I slide the window down. The cool wind washes over my face, a light anesthetic, and the moment spins back passages from Sarah McColl’s “Joy Enough“, my new book in flight.

“I felt it first as a space, like a window thrown open and then a breeze through the bedroom.”

And then Sarah rises again:

“There was a breeze that day, and my hair was gathered into a ponytail, I could feel the air move at the nape of my neck.

And then Sarah one more time:

There were no cars on the road, and the hem of my skirt fluttered at my knees in the humid breeze.

And with this, the weight of the week lifts, the tightness in my shoulders and neck releases, and Bliss rises.

With one eye on the road and the other on my iPhone, I flick down my Favorites playlist, turn the volume up, and then one more extra turn, and hit play.  Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts.

See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind


Notes: Other quotes by Sarah McColl in Joy Enough: A Memoir.”  Photo via Of Figs and Roses

Driving I-95 S. But it don’t sing and dance.

5:55 a.m. T.G.I.F.

I flip open the Dark Sky app. 24° F. “Feels like 20°. Light snow falling. Two inches accumulated.”

I flick the page to my other saved locations.

Antigua. 74° F.

Mind drifts. Soft white sand between toes. Gentle waves lap the shore line. Warm breeze sways the fronds on the palm trees, they slap against the trunk. Antigua. Sweep me away to There, Now.

March 1. I’ve had enough of Winter. And need more of Rehman Rahi:

The melting of snow, a soft breeze, a garden in blossom
Be my witness,
O Spring,
dumbstruck, yet we sing.

I crawl down I-95. Red tail lights as far as the eye can see. Highway is heavily salted, frozen slush, ruts, shoulder unplowed. Slippery when wet. Treacherous at this moment. Focus DK, focus.

Sirius playing. 70’s on 7. Neil Diamond, Forever in Blue Jeans. Money talks. But it don’t sing and dance And it don’t walk And long as I can have you here with me. I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans. Money talks. But it don’t sing and dance…  I’m lip syncing. Head bobbing in rhythm. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. With Freddie.

Tuesday morning.

Early morning traffic is frictionless, commuters float down I-95 S.

It’s 42° F. It’s January.  Soft, light rain. Electronics somehow (?) sense that the windshield is damp, wipers flap intermittently. Miracle. All of it.

It’s quiet in the cabin.

No radio.

No talk shows.

No podcasts.

No playlists.

The soft hum of the engine. The shifting of the sole of my right shoe on the accelerator.

And, those pernicious bumpin’ Thoughts. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With a greeting party.

Yesterday. 3 a.m. I’m laying in bed, in darkness, exhausted. Eyelids, like anvils, won’t close. Won’t shut.

I’m swimming in Marina Benjamin’s head: “my head is lit up…like an out-of-hours factory…whirring generators flip on…lining up tasks in a shoulder-shoving queue…mostly I just fret, worry-beading problems and irritations…forming a manacle of woe.”

I have a 10 a.m. meeting in the city, an important meeting, with important people. The meeting is 7 hours away, like almost a full working day away, yet, I’m prepping. You need to sleep Friend, you will run out of steam by 10am.

It’s the 5:38 a.m. train to Grand Central. I can’t sleep. Can’t read. Can’t focus. I close my eyes and thoughts spin in a whirlwind, and then stop. Meditation. I’ve quit. It’s been three weeks. The app sits in the phone in my hand. The meditation prompts are a few clicks away. My fingers re-grip the phone. Now, do it now. You could use it now.  [Read more…]

Walking Cross Town. With No Next.

It’s Wednesday.  I take a late morning train to attend a late morning meeting. There are no meetings that follow. There is no Next, and Next and Next.

I sit in the train. The train clears. I’m immersed in the final chapter of the last book in Rachel Cusk‘s trilogy. I take the time to finish up, I grab my bag, and exit the train. There’s no rushing to the exits, the platform is empty. I walk alone in Kaminsky’s quiet: “What is silence? Something of the sky in us.”

Security at Grand Central is tight. Each entrance is heavily armed. Yet, I don’t flinch – the gunmetal black, semi-automatic weapon looks like a prop in a scene in Toy Story – I’m among the extras, commuters rushing to their Next, and tourists snapping photos.

Broadway teems with tourists mingling on sidewalks, trying to decide What’s Next. I smile, step around them, not interrupting their chat as they stand three abreast. Tis’ the season.

Full body sized neon letters hum and flash overhead: Mueller probe. Cohen. Trump. Russia. This nasty, viscous, mucus is non-stick, and glances off. You won’t touch me, not today. 

My meeting ends. A luncheon thanking colleagues for exceptional work on a project with a highly successful outcome.  I learn at lunch that today is the 86th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting CeremonyAha! This accounts for the heavy security and unusually large crowds. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. Man on Wire.

“…In my own mind I’m a mirror. I see everything except myself. This way I can’t lose: even when broken, a polished surface reflects whatever looks in. – Rita Dove, from “Self-Portrait


Scene: I-95, between Exits 7 & 8 in Stamford, CT.  Morning commute.

Except for early morning hours, holidays, and snow storms, the scene is the same: traffic at a standstill for three exits.

I sit with hundreds of others in a sea of red tail lights.

There’s a flutter of wings, I shift my attention from Ahead to Up.  Birds on power lines, lines crossing six lanes of I-95. Never once noticed these lines on my commute. Hundreds of passings? Thousands?

Why, sit on this line, on this highway?

Why, all sit on the same line?

Why here, of all places on Earth?

There’s a quick beep-beep behind me, a large gap has opened up in front.

I glance at the driver in my rear view mirror, give him a wave, and in the split second on my return to I-95, I catch Me in the same mirror.

The red tail lights flicker, traffic is moving, and Me along with it.

Yes, why?


Notes: Post Title taken from Philippe Petit’s “Man on Wire

Walking Cross-Town. Just Magnificent.

Tuesday.
10 a.m., I’m heading for a morning meeting in Manhattan.
I exit Grand Central station onto Madison, and head down 47th.

Light mist turns to a sprinkle.
Then drizzle.
Then, Wow! Rain in sheets.

Sidewalks are filled with Suits, morning shift shop workers, and tourists, loitering. Umbrellas spring open, mushroom caps blossoming in a time lapse video.

Walker in middle of sidewalk, sheltered with a giant golf umbrella. He does not shift left or right. His umbrella clips me in the shoulder as I try to pass, tipping his umbrella into mine, rain soaks my pant leg.
Really?

Walkers, giggling, three a breast, each carrying an umbrella. I tuck into a store front to let them pass.
Seriously people?

Walker, approaches me directly ahead. Mid sized umbrella. I walk on right side (This is America!) He refuses to shift lanes to his right. I slide left to avoid him, and dodge oncoming foot traffic – glaring at him as he passes.
Hey Man from UK, Etiquette! Drive on the right side of the road!

Walker, dead ahead, 10 steps. Smartphone and umbrella in his left hand, cigarette in the other. I slide between him and the building on the right, when he lifts his cigarette, the embers catching my coat. I jam my umbrella into his to brush off the ash, and he’s jostled into another walker.  He shouts “Excuse me!” as I pass.  I glance back. Cigarette hanging from his mouth. Light build, short. A Ferret. But who’s judging?

I smile, shake my head, turn my back to Ferret and keep walking, my right hand scanning my coat searching for the burn hole.

I stand at the stop light and wait, lifting my face to the sky. The rain has let up. The Walk sign turns, I step off the curb onto the crosswalk. I don’t see the puddle pooling in front of the street drain. My foot sinks into the cool, filthy, rain water which fills my right shoe.

Damn it@!*$

I limp into the building.  The wet sole of my shoe squeals with each spongy step on the marble floor. The wet sock and foot slide back and forth inside the shoe.

I step into the elevator. Breathe DK. Breathe. Amazing. You’ve managed to work yourself up into a full lather in a 12-minute walk across town. You’re Elmear McBride’s Magnificent:

Magnificent, somehow. To give in. Wreck yourself so completely. The beauty of it.”


Photo: Metro.US

Which Platform to Grand Central?

Which Platform?

30th May 1936: A very young passenger asks a station attendant for directions, on the railway platform at Bristol. (Photo by George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images) (via Newthom)

Walking Cross-Town. With Cigarette.

Dawn. Manhattan. 6:10 a.m.

I exit an early morning train.

The Up escalator from the tunnel in Grand Central Station to Madison Ave., is down, again.

Commuters, a wolf pack building at the bottom of stairs, jostle for position before funneling into a single line formation up 70+ stairs.

My Apple Watch silently counts steps, counts heart beats.

I’m looking down, stepping deliberately, not wanting to take a header on the concrete steps. The alternatives (to a header) were awful: clipping the heal of the man in front, or flopping backward into the Pack, both scenarios setting off Dominos. Rubberneckers would pull out iPhones to catch the scene, photos later sold to the NY Post and run in the afternoon edition. “Dummy Triggers Dominos, Sends 20 to hospital. Grand Central exit to Madison closed for the morning as Paramedics clean up the carnage.”

A soft morning light beams ahead, a few more steps. I exit without incident, not without anxiety. What’s the bloody rush?

Winded. [Read more…]

Amtrak 2151 Acela Express. With Centi.

7:28 a.m. Boarding time: 7:52 a.m. Amtrak to Philadelphia. Rocky Balboa. Eagles. Flyers. Liberty Bell. Cheesesteak Sandwiches.

I’m waiting at the Stamford train station, sitting on a hardback plastic seat. So hard, you could substitute it for Kevlar. Lower back, displeased with status. I shift, restless.

To my left and across, two men, middle aged, hard hats on floor, work boots, unshaven – sit and discuss his work injury…hurt so bad…Percocet…MorphineFloating. Both chuckle.

Across from me, large man, head bobbing, mouth gaping, asleep.

Passengers pass by through the automatic doors to Tracks 2 & 4. The doors hiss, at each open and close.

My eye spots movement below.  A centipede.  (And I’m not interested in you Entomologists out there telling me that it’s not a centipede. Where’s the 100 feet?  We’re going with Centipede.)

Back to my Friend.

His legs are flailing.  Turtle on its back, issuing an SOS distress signal. I watch it struggle for a few minutes and then turn away. I flip through emails.

Can’t focus. Distracted. Anxious…must be Centi’s anxiety transference. “Help me DK!”

I look around to see if anyone is watching. Then when I’ve established the coast is clear, I reach down and gently try to flip him. He sees a Giant: Danger! He rolls into a tightly, tucked black ball.

I grab my iPhone recognizing that there’s a story here.  I’m 9 snaps in.  Fuzzy shots. Too far away. Too close. Blurry.  I look up and see the Percocet Boys are now watching.  What’s that Idiot Suit doing?

I wait for him to unravel, my head is down, eyes are locked in.  Please, unravel, and do so with 100 feet down.

I wait. [Read more…]

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