Riding Metro North. Right Place. Right Time.

Tuesday morning. 5:33 a.m. Second morning train to Grand Central.

I pause in front of the empty aisle seat. The occupant, feigning sleep, awakens immediately after my “excuse me.” He looks up the train car wondering why I hadn’t found another seat. He slides over roughly signalling displeasure. Bullsh*t.

I set my bag down onto the floor, reach down to grab my iPad, and in doing so, I clip his arm which extends into my air space. Ladies, no worries. I size up opponents carefully before jostling them. He tucks his elbow in.  I settle in, with territorial boundaries established, and all parties now in their rightful places.

I catch a whiff, it lingers for a minute, it’s foul, and then it disappears. I go back to reading. 

The train makes its first stop at Stamford. Doors hiss, open, passengers pass by, and there it is again. B.O. Heavy, thick B.O. This time it hangs. It can’t be me. Has to be Him. It vaporizes.  It can’t be Him, otherwise it would persist. I go back to reading.

Passenger passes by, and there it is again. I glance around to locate the source and then look up, and there resting (rotting?) on the overhead rack is a large, canvas backpack. Directly over top of Him. Cigarette smoke penetrates my suit jacket, does B.O.?

Train arrives at Grand Central. I get up quickly, woosy, with vertigo, looking up after 30 minutes with head in the morning papers. I exit into the underground tunnels.  Head spinning, ears ringing from the roar of the train engines, the heat, the crowds spilling down the tunnels, all swallow me whole. I step to the side out of traffic, slow my pace, take a few deep breaths and inhale a trace of urine and rancid food from garbage cans marinating overnight. 

I enter Grand Central terminal, look for the Lexington Avenue exit and punch my destination into the UBER app. 

I step on Lexington and cross the street to catch my ride.  We take FDR Drive South, and the morning sunrise pours through the window.  21 minutes to the office.

“Would you mind if I opened the window?”

“No Sir, not at all.”

I roll the window down.  I can smell, and taste the East River. The water shimmers and sparkles.  The Sun warms my face. The morning breeze is refreshing, and clears the head. The world is silent but for the wheels spinning on FDR Drive.  Buechner’s passage from the day before comes to mind: “we hear a whisper from the wings…you’ve turned up in the right place at the right time.

I will remember this.


Notes: Photo via poppins-me.

Riding Uptown. In Soft Rain.

3:25 pm. I step out of 111 Wall Street, downtown Manhattan.
30 min to get to midtown. Tight.
Rain sprinkles.
Uber: “Car unavailable at this time.” Wow.
I walk up the block to the intersection.  Look in all directions. No cabs. Please.
Walk up another block. Nothing.
Walk across the street. Nothing.
Walk across another street, and he rounds the corner, my right arm flies up. Bam.

“525 5th please…”
He doesn’t repeat it. Did he get it?
He has no smartphone. No GPS. No smart re-routing around traffic.
24 minutes.

No radio blaring. No TV screen behind front seat shouting ads.
No water bottle or coffee cup on console.
No crucifix on thin chain hanging from rearview mirror. No patron saint. No Jesus Saves.
No pics of loved one(s) on dash.
No ring on his finger. None on his ear or his nose.
No sunglasses on visor. No eyeglasses.
No NY Post on the seat.
No box of Kleenex or NY Mets baseball cap in door pocket.
12 min and 3 miles out. [Read more…]

Riding Uptown. Man on Venus. Man on Mars.

“How long to Grand Central?”

“20 minutes, maybe 30, it’s Rush Hour.”

Uber driver. Black Toyota Camry. Leather seats worn. Dashboard tanned with thousands of hours of direct sunlight.

“Your English is good. Where are you from?”

He glances at me in the rear view mirror. Reticent.

“Ethiopia, Sir.”

“How long have you been here?”

“9 years.”

“And your family? Are they here or back in Ethiopia?”

“Oh, they’re all back in Ethiopia. I’m here with my wife.”

“Do you miss home?”

Long pause.

“People think it’s easy. Here in America.” He pulls up. Polite, respectful.

I shift the conversation. We’re a few minutes out.

“You have a 4.94 (out of 5) driver rating. Wow. That’s something. How do you do it?”

“I don’t know Sir.” He smiles.

“I’m curious. Out of 10 rides, how many riders tip?” [Read more…]

Driving I-95 N. With Raheim.

AA2263. DFW to LGA. Early Friday afternoon, start of a long weekend, Board flashes: “Delayed“.

It’s been a long week.

Sorry about the delay folks but we were late arriving in Dallas and we had a minor repair that we had to take care of. We’ll see if we can make up time.”

He’s makes up time.

The giant steel bird, a Boeing 737-800, does a slow gentle turn over Manhattan, the Empire State Building is adorned in red and green holiday ribbons, the stage lights of Time Square light up the hulking scrapers, the grid layout frames up the streets and neighborhoods.

The plane tilts its wings softly, leaning in towards the city. Here pal, get a closer look at the Big Apple. Whaddya think, cool right?  I’m a drop of water, a drop in something so vast, so incomprehensible…

The video monitor on the seat signals 10 minutes from destination. Altitude: 8,000 feet

A text messages flashes: “Sir, my name is Raheim. I’ll meet u at Upper Level. Text me.”  I text back: “Haven’t landed yet. Didn’t check luggage. Should be ~30 minutes.” Indicator flashes: “Read.”

Miracle. All of it.

[Read more…]

It was so beautiful

Excerpts from For a Day, Our Political Troubles Were Eclipsed by Peggy Noonan:

“It was beautiful: Up and down Madison Avenue, people stood together and looked upward.

…It was so beautiful.

Up and down the street, all through the eclipse, people spontaneously came together—shop workers and neighborhood mothers, kids and bank employees, shoppers and tourists. They’d gather in groups and look up together. Usually one or two people would have the special glasses, and they’d be passed around. Everyone would put them on and look up and say “Wow!” or “Incredible!” then laugh and hand the glasses on…

There was a tattooed man in a heavy metal band T-shirt, with his teenage son. “You want?” the man said. He was lending his glasses to everyone who came by. “Are you doing this just to be nice?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said. “We got them free.” Something nice had happened to him so he was spreading it around. […]

So that’s what I saw, uptown to midtown—sharing and wonder and friendliness, along with a continual refrain: Here, take my glasses. Do you see?

There was something about it that left me by the end quite moved. Witnessing spontaneous human graciousness and joy is stirring. And we were seeing something majestic, an assertion of nature and nature’s God, together. It was tenderly communal. [Read more…]

Evening Steam

steam-iceland

Katherine-Bradford-swimmers-to-manhattan


Notes:

Riding Uptown. Solo.

New York City, United States - May 12, 2012: Heavy traffic on busy 8th Avenue in Ney York City, USA in morning. Vast number of vehicles hit the streets and avenues of Manhattan every day. Almost half of cars are yellow taxis (well recognized city icon). Taxis are operated by private companies, licensed by the NYC Taxi Commission.

May 28th. Days short of June, yet solar heaters are blowing. 84° F, and steamy.

Sidewalks are teeming with tourists.

Mid afternoon Manhattan traffic is locked bumper to bumper, snaking up Sixth Avenue.

I skipped breakfast, had a meager lunch, and I’m longing for a sugar fix. Chocolate. Now.

Waze estimates 25  min to get uptown to the office.

My Thumbs are on the keyboard.

Should it be ‘Hi’ or ‘Hi!’?  I’m not feeling ‘Hi!’ I’m not a ‘Hi!’ type. I’m more like a “Hello” or a “Hi” guy. Or maybe it’s ‘hi’.  “hi’ makes me approachable, less prickly.  Yet, it’s hard to alter the brand, callus layered on callus. ‘Hi!’ would be inauthentic or soft, and both just won’t do. Dad’s the tough guy. There’s an image to uphold. A Brand to burnish.

DK: hi
RK: Hi!

Would have preferred ‘Hi Daddy!’ But ! is good. She’s happy to hear from me.

DK: I’ll be in your building in 30 min. I’ll buy you coffee.  Me, a warm chocolate chip cookie.
RK: Can’t Dad. I’m in the middle of something.

[Read more…]

Catching Metro-North.

new-york-city-afternoon-manhattan

6:13 pm.
Madison Square Garden to Grand Central.
10 blocks North — 3 blocks East.
22 minutes to the 6:35 pm New Haven Line.
Rush hour. On foot.

Doable? Let’s go.

Tourists.
Suits.
Students.
Lovers.
Jaywalk.
Contractors.
Homeless.
Tourists.
Street Vendors.
Food cart. Pita. Gyros.
Cabs.
Pedicabs.
Bus tour hawkers.
Shysters.
Shopkeepers.
Jaywalk.
Three abreast.
Tourists.
Lollygaggers.
Messengers.
Bikers.
Tourists.
Black Cars.
Red lights.
Bumbin’Jostlin’ (Sorry!)
Jaywalk.
Walk signs.
Don’t walk.
Jaywalk.
Sidewalk.
Soft spring breeze.
Pungent marinating garbage.
Zig. Zag.
Smokers.
Tourists.
City Buses.
Car horns.

[Read more…]

Find Your Beach

zadie-smith

Here’s English author Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books with an essay titled Find Your Beach:

[…] Now the ad says: Find your beach. The bottle of beer—it’s an ad for beer—is very yellow and the background luxury-holiday-blue. It seems to me uniquely well placed, like a piece of commissioned public art in perfect sympathy with its urban site. The tone is pure Manhattan. Echoes can be found in the personal growth section of the bookstore (“Find your happy”), and in exercise classes (“Find your soul”), and in the therapist’s office (“Find your self”). I find it significant that there exists a more expansive, national version of this ad that runs in magazines, and on television.

This woman is genius and can write.  Don’t miss her full essay here: Find Your Beach


Notes: Find her award winning book on Amazon here: White TeethPortrait of Zadie Smith: oprah.com. Bio at Wiki here: Zadie Smith 

Peace

September 11, 2001


Source: Madame Scherzo

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