Driving I-95 S. Through another sh*tstorm…

Monday. 5:55 a.m. I-95 S in morning drive to work. I was moving too fast to snap a shot so you’re stuck with that photo of I-95, but it’s North-bound, mid-afternoon, in bumper to bumper traffic several weeks earlier.

Back to Monday morning, and this commuter’s meditation. The hum of tire rotation on pavement. A/C chilling the cabin. Instrumental music from Iceland’s greatest export, Ólafur Arnalds.

12 minutes from the office.

Pre-rush hour traffic flowing smoothly.  75 mph, and ~4 car lengths behind the car in front.  I shift in seat, unable to find sweet spot to ease the lower back pain. It could be worse.  Tune ends, playlist skips to next Arnalds’ track. Rob Roberge: “Words can intrude when the body wants to take over. Lyrics make you think—music helps you just feel.

Then…tail lights from car in front flicker once. Then twice. Then solid red.  Slowing in speed lane on I-95? Amygdala on high alert.  I tap the brakes, eyes scan the roadway. And there she comes: Bambi.  No. No. No.  She’s looking to cross 6 lanes of highway, 3 lanes separated by 5-foot concrete divider.

I lift my right hand the from gear stick, ready to shield myself as she comes through the windshield. My left clenches the steering wheel. And then super-slo-mo.

She dodges the car in front.

There’s a soft thump on my passenger side rear fender.

I see her clear the divider with a foot to spare…and can’t bear to watch any longer to see if she cleared oncoming traffic heading North.

Yanko Flores (The Morning Show): “There is nothing you can do to stop the wind from blowing. So what can you do…? You just keep on moving. And you brace yourself for the shitstorm.”

I turn my attention back to I-95. I find both hands clutching the steering wheel, and can’t seem to release.

I keep on moving…

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (& I-95 S)


(Snoopy going to work by Banksy) via Wait – What?)

 

T.G.I.F.: Riding Metro North


Working from home but missing Metro North.

(Source: u/czmanix. Thank you Ray.

Walking Cross-Town. With Time Lapse.

Photographs, Yes… Love ’em.

Time lapse photography, not so much. Haunting. The clouds zipping by, dragging me along, hands desperately clutching the relentless spinning flywheel of Time, all slipping from my grasp.

This same morning walk to train. This same Metro North train. This same commute. This same cross-town walk.

Always black shoes. Always dark socks. Always conservative neck tie. Always black coat. Always black brief case.

That overhead drone, its dark eye, rotating, whirring, peering downward, tracking my steps. My progress.

13 years ago, it was the first train, always the first train, the 5:07 am to Grand Central. DK and the Traders. I take the aisle seat for quick ejection. I graze through the morning papers, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times. Eyes active, skimming, inhaling pages, hungry.  I shift to the pile up of late afternoon and overnight emails. Respond to the Team – they begin to roll out of bed, checking their smartphones. DK’s emails flashing, flashing, flashing...Unread. Years of the same Strategy, pull them along in my wind tunnel. He’s up, he’s moving, and they’ll follow along, or….they won’t.

Train arrives at Grand Central. I’m up, and Ready, standing in the vestibule. The hiss of the doors, and I’m off. Accelerating down the tunnels. Passing other Suits. Pulse up, heart racing, I make the turn in the tunnel and approach the escalators to the exit: Escalators are for pu**ies. I take the stairs. 75 of them, straight up.  Fearless, I gobble them up two at a time, brushing by walkers on the right. Get to the top, breathless, I jog to catch the open door onto the street, catching the Walk sign, 5, 4, 3….

I’ve figured out the pace, the precise cadence to catch the next cross street Walk sign.  Foot steps brisk, moving.  Brief case swings in right hand, there are re-grips but the smooth, cowhide leather never leaves the firm grip of the right hand.

Eyes are locked on next street, the next cross walk, the next Walk sign. The mind, in parallel, rifling through the morning calendar.  The office, ETA of 12 minutes, if I hit that street and that street and that street, just right. 

And more often than not, I would hit it just right.

13 years ago, and now, This Week. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With El ConVirus.

El ConVirus.

Platforms sparse.

Wide berth between waiting commuters.

Subways with empty seats during Peak hours.

Hands tentatively reaching for hand rails, door handles.

Hand shakes replaced with knuckle bumps and elbow touches. Followed by Smirks. The new greeting code.  Disquiet.

Travel curtailed, discontinued. Conferences cancelled.  Large meetings shifted to conference calls.

Corporates scrambling to pull together Business Continuity Plans. First one, then two, then more work from home, with sniffles, with flu, with Something.

Fear spreading like Bay Area fog.

I twist in my earbuds, fire up Audible Books on Tape, and settle in for the commute home.

75% through Colum McCann’s Apeirogon.  “Apeirogon, a polygon having an infinite number of sides...Combing the signals like moisture from the air.”

A cough. A sneeze. Duck for cover.

Combing the signals like moisture from the air.

 


Photo: Pierre Bacus via Aberrant Beauty

Riding Metro North. Searching, for Important.

Jenny Offill : “To live in a city is to be forever flinching.”

Tuesday morning.

A brisk walk to train station.  32 F feels like 26 F.  No snow, no slush, no sleet.  Dry.  January.  I’ll take this all day, all winter long.

5:48 am train to Grand Central.

Plenty of empty seats.

I slide by her into a seat next to the window.

She offers me a smile, and tucks her legs in to let me pass.

I nod, offering my thanks.

She’s reading a soft cover book, verses of some sort. I can’t make it out. 98% of the rest of us are heads down into our gadgets.

She’s wearing a long (long), black puffer coat, that drapes down to the top of her black boots. A black knit cap. A knitted scarf wrapped around her neck.  She’s in her late 60’s to mid 70’s would be my guess. She turns the page. Why am I so distracted by her? Her elbows and knees are tucked in, and she’s sitting comfortably in her lane. Lady @ Peace comes to mind.

But for the industrial heaters blowing warm air through the ceiling vents, the train car is silent.

She gets up in anticipation of her stop.

The vestibule is crowded with passengers waiting to get off.

She waits quietly at the back of the line. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. No Wings.

Tuesday.

Low 30’s F.

Walking to catch the 6:16 a.m. train to Manhattan, irritated that I have a late jump, and finding a seat is now a 50% probability. $15.25 for a ticket, and I have to worry about getting a seat.

I’m 1000 ft away from the stairs to the platform, and the cyclops eye beams through the morning fog illuminating the track.  This is followed by a short horn blast signaling its arrival at the station.

It’s 3 minutes early.

I run.

I catch the train.

NO SEAT.

I stand for 55 minutes.

I’ve started a new book by Niall Williams titled “This is Happiness.” And this ain’t bloody Happiness. [Read more…]

Walking Cross Town. Small gestures with big tailwinds.

Late to bed Tuesday night, following long return flight from Phoenix.

Late jump Wednesday morning.

4th morning train to NYC.

Light misty rain.

And, Terry Tempest Williams continues to lay tracks.

In the end, it’s rarely the large gestures that count, it’s the small ones.

My antenna is up.

On train, a middle aged man gives up his seat for a lady. She’s not young. Not old. Not pregnant. He just does it. And stands for the entire 55 minute ride.

At Grand Central Station, Construction worker, hard hat under his arm, looks behind as he crosses the threshold of the exit, sees me coming, holds door open. I was several yards back. Let’s say 10 yards back. Rare occurrence. It was a conscious act.  Everyone is exhausted with political attacks, the lack of civility. How about some decency today?

And the gestures, small, keep coming.

Flight to Phoenix. Elderly lady sits in aisle seat. Not her seat. “Would you mind taking the window seat.” She gestures asking him to lean closer: “I have a bladder problem.” He slides across and takes the window seat. “No problem.” She exhales.

Susan out for a morning walk in Phoenix. She returns to tell me “the most unbelievable story.” I roll my eyes. Can’t wait to hear this.  She comes across a lady walking “Sunny”, a Golden Doodle.  Lady asks where we’re from. Susan explains. “Here to visit my husband’s younger brother. He’s hospitalized and breathing with the aid of a ventilator.” Lady pauses to assess the receptiveness of her planned gesture.  “I’m sorry to be so forward, but would you mind if I said a Prayer for him and for you.” And then proceeds to reach for Susan’s hands, and Prays.

I walk across Fifth Avenue. It’s 7 a.m. E.S.T. and 4 a.m. in Phoenix.

He’s sleeping now, machine pumps oxygen into his lungs.

I stand waiting for the cross walk sign to turn.

I look up, light drizzle brushes my face, three flags flap over a major hotel entrance.

I inhale deeply, and then exhale, and this Agnostic fires up his own Prayer.

Breathe Bro. Breathe.


Photo: Mine with smartphone. At Times Square yesterday morning, at the end of my cross-town walk. NYC awakening.

 

Driving I-95 South. Baptized without God.

5:33 am. Friday morning.

Google Maps signals 17 minutes to destination. Smooth ride, cruising down I-95 South. Truckers, insomniacs, and DK listening to Audible, his book on tape. More Terry Tempest Williams, her new book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing.  Terry’s way in my head, and beyond, and yes, we’re on a first name basis now. “Our undoing is also our becoming. I have come to believe this is a good thing.”

The Heads-up Display on the windshield flashes alert: Object ahead on highway. It flashes an alert again. I tap the brakes.

A wind gust blows leaves across three lanes. I exhale.  Wonders of technology. Car warns you about objects on highway, or if you veer outside your lane. I’m listening to books on tape, beamed from the cloud. GPS tells me how long to the office. And I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday.

The car wobbles over uneven pavement. 4000 pounds of car, wearing grooves into the asphalt, with my back and forth 4-5 days a week.

Read somewhere from a survey that 85% of us wished to travel more.  And that one in 10 Americans surveyed say they have no interest in going anywhere.  Welcome readers, to Me, I’m on top of this stack of 10. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Seat Selection Psychology.

I’ve noticed.

It’s happened enough times, to notice. Is it only me that notices these things?

Typically off peak trains.

I’m early.

I take the window seat, in a three seater. Always a 3-seater. Always the window seat.

I don’t place my bag on the seat, a Welcome mat for other commuters.

Train car begins to fill.

Ladies. Men. All colors, sizes.

They take a quick glance.

And they pass.

They’ll crowd into a two seater across, in front, behind. Or a three seater in front, behind.

The car reaches capacity,  and he (or she) will approach,

look up and down the car,

and take the seat.

But why?


All of the seats already had an occupant, which meant I was going to have to position myself next to a stranger. In a different mood, I enjoyed this game: one had ten seconds to scan the occupants and select the slimmest, sanest, cleanest-looking person to sit next to. Choose wrongly, and the fifteen-minute journey into town would be a much less pleasant experience—either squashed beside a sprawling fatty, or mouth-breathing to minimize the penetration of the reek emanating from an unwashed body. Such was the excitement of traveling on public transport…I stared at the floor, my mind racing. Did I … did I look like the kind of person who ought to be avoided in a game of bus seat selection? I could only conclude, in the face of the evidence, that I did. But why?

~ Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.


Photo credit

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