About right.

Is this verbal violence, then, simply incompetence? Is it the verbal equivalent of someone who has not learned the piano sitting down and trying to play Rachmaninov’s Third? The rudeness of these public figures gives pleasure and relief, it is clear, to their audiences. Perhaps what they experience is not the possibility of actual violence but a sort of intellectual unbuttoning, a freedom from the constraint of language. Perhaps they have lived lives in which they have been continually outplayed in the field of articulation, but of this new skill – rudeness – they find that they are the masters.

~ Rachel Cusk, from “On Rudeness” in Coventry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux. September 16, 2019)


Notes:

Nirvana (-ish)

pelican

This morning. (And not Fake News, mostly.)

Sleep in till 7:45 am. Wow. Let’s do that again, and again, and again.

Read the morning papers. Read a few chapters of Patricia Hampl’s new book: The Art of the Wasted Day. And commit to workin’ on this Art today.

A heaping breakfast. Two-egg ham and cheese omelette. Bacon. Pork sausage links. Fresh cut fruit. Fresh baked pastries. And that would be plural on the pastries x 2. These same pastries were dipped in home made strawberry jam.

A short walk to the beach. Me and my breakfast hangover land heavily on the beach chair.

81º F.  Partly sunny. (Feels like 92 F.)  Warm winds @ 7 mph from the NE.

Miles of soft sand in both directions.

The Atlantic laps the shoreline.

Wispy clouds provide intermittent relief from the sun.

Out in the distance, hulking ocean freighters and their giant steel containers carry their cargo to ports away.

Pelicans, with their massive wing spans and beaks, cruise three feet off the ocean top, and plummet, splashing in search of breakfast. And they come again, and again and again — feeding. I look closely for a wing flap wondering how the maintain their locomotion. Can’t see it. Miracle. All of it.

Paragliders float up high, held aloft by giant multicolored rainbow parachutes.  Muffled sounds of jet skis in the distance.

Families and beach goers begin to arrive. Hundreds and hundreds fill the shoreline quietly and peacefully milling, settling, reading, playing, sleeping… children pull out their plastic shovels and pails out of Mom’s beach bag and start building castles…

My toes auger into the soft sand, dark and cool a few inches down.

And, oh yea, there’s a little of something else.

[Read more…]

Flying Over I-95 N. In Magic Kingdom.

Is that Magic Kingdom? Disney? Yes. Were you there? No. But Yes, in gusts of memories as I sat in a large ballroom at the J.W. Marriott in Orlando, listening to a speaker discuss “Cybersecurity in the Modern World.” Fastpasses. Teacup. Turkey legs. Splash Mountain. The monorail train ride to the park, Eric’s favorite part of the trip. The body aches, as I carry him on my shoulders along the parade route so he can see over the crowds. It’s a Small World (afterall).

It’s the late afternoon flight departing from Orlando — the 5:41 p.m. on jetBlue #1694.  “We will be boarding in a few minutes. This is a full flight. We are oversold and looking for volunteers to take the next flight.”  A morning flight was canceled “due to inclement weather in New York.” Why ‘inclement?’ Why not ‘bad’? Or ‘stormy.’ Or ‘wintry.’

A large crowd mills around the gate, impatient. “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong. Can you tell which thing is not like the other by the time I finish this song.”

Mom’s, exhausted, shoulders slumped, have large bags slung over their shoulders. They watch their children run around the waiting area, others are consumed on their handhelds. Dad’s sit and watch loops of CNN on the overhead TVs.  Moms, Dads, kids, holiday, Disney and then me — the Suit, work.

We board.

We lift off. [Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. With Fitbit Step Challenge.

3:45 a.m. Alarm. Whoa. Laying flat on my back in darkness. Where am I? Not in my house. Not in my bed. Not on my pillows. Get a grip.

3:50 a.m. Grab iPhone. Check my position in the Fitbit Work-Week Step Challenge. On top at bedtime, slipping to 6,250 steps behind overnight. Irritating. Damn it.

4:45 a.m. Arrive at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Check in. TSA line. Security check. All uneventful. Check boarding pass: Gate C-14. Boarding, 6:15 a.m.

5:05 a.m. I walk. I step. American Airlines Admirals Club 100 feet ahead…soft seats, coffee, a Continental breakfast and 20 minutes of shut-eye. Stupid Challenge. Getting dragged into this stupid step contest by Rachel (daughter) a month ago, and I just can’t seem to Release. Three millennials and me, the Middle Aged Man who’s forgotten that he’s lost most of it. Release, Dummy. Eject. Three of the most difficult words for an Addict: Just let it go. I pass the Admirals Club, stepping heavily down the concourse, dragging my bloody luggage, wheels turning and with every fifth turn an irritating squeal. Gotta get my steps in.

In Week 1 (Oct 23-27), I fell behind the three young ladies, way behind – a whopping 42,228 steps behind on the final day – @ 2,000 steps per mile, do the Math. At 11:50 pm on Friday night, 10 minutes before the expiry of the last day of Week 1, I took my 42,228th step of the day to become the Week 1 Winner of the Fitbit Workweek Challenge – leaving the Millennials in silence, and me on the couch the entire weekend. But the message was sent, don’t be messing with Goomba, the Step-King.

(As to Week 2 and 3, we’re not talking about that. Let’s move on to Week 4.) [Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 S. With Pema & Lav Doors.

3:25 a.m.  Alarm. Whoa.
4:00 a.m.  In the car to LaGuardia.
5:30 a.m.  Boarding AA #0125 to DFW.
8:12 a.m.  Sitting and thinkin’.

I look up from my e-reader, and there’s the lavatory, one seat over and across the aisle.  Its folding door is open, its spring faulty and not permitting the door to auto-close.

Passenger traffic.  In, out, in, out, in, out, in, out…door stays open. Disinfectant mix leaks out, both nostrils instinctively fire a gag reflex to block.

In, out, in, out, in, out, in, out…door open.

You get the idea.

Should we discuss toilet-door etiquette here? Have a training session perhaps?  Or does it fall in the common human decency category?  You go, do your business, you leave, you shut the bloody door. Could it be clearer?

But I’m trying here. Pema (my inspiration in the notes below) tells me that I need to be liberated from my suffering. This flying off the handle and going mental over things I can’t and will never, ever control isn’t healthy.  She tells me to pause. To breathe. To slow down.

So I do that. For a moment. But now I find that I can’t break my engagement.  I monitor the foot traffic in/out. I watch the body language of those that close the door (Human) vs. those that don’t (Savage).

[Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. Apple-Pie-In-A-Jar and Ordinary Moments of Kindness.

It worked.

For four consecutive nights, two baby blue Advil PM pills worked their magic.  7 1/2 to 8 1/2 hours of deep, dreamy sleep. Wake fresh, and refreshed.

And then, it didn’t.

Last night.

6:00 p.m.

Early dinner at Hotel restaurant. Delicious pan seared halibut, its light, ivory flesh falling away from the buttery crusted filet with the touch of my fork. Creamy Mac & Cheese as a side. Two cocktails to chase it down. And, a deconstructed “apple-pie-in-a-jar” for a night cap. Spoon to jar to mouth, a pendulum, without pause, a sugar addict’s fix. God, I love dessert.  Delectable in the moment. Regrettable the moment I set the spoon down, scraping the last of the thick sugary cream from the jar. And I thought of grabbing this jar in a vice grip with two hands, lifting it to my face and licking it clean with my tongue. Oh, yes I did.

I sat, restless, waiting for the check – – and tucked my thumb down the front of my pants to let some air in.

8:45 p.m.

Cued up Michael Barbaro’s Podcast The Daily.

And it was lights out.

12:30 a.m.

Overheated. Turning, and turning, and turning. I jerk the covers off. 

[Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. With Manners. With None.

Friday morning, 7:30 a.m.
DFW to Laguardia
American Flight 1140
Aisle Seat 12D.
All events real (not enacted) and on same flight.

The Good:

  • One row back and across to my left.
    • Three children ages 5-12 quietly eating pancakes with plastic forks and knives. Napkins draped on laps.
  • One row back and across to my right.
    • Single Mother breast feeds infant while occupying another toddler with crayons and coloring book. 3 hour flight, both children occupied and quiet.
  • To my right.
    • 6’3″ seat mate, draws unlucky middle seat, respects shared armrest for entire flight.

The Bad:

  • At gate waiting to board.
    • Man (~30) pulls roller board over my shoe, oblivious to infraction, and then stands directly in front of me waiting for his Zone to be called.
  • Boarding Plane.
    • Man in aisle jams his oversized roller board into the overhead. It won’t fit, no chance, no how. He keeps jamming. Long line builds behind him. “Sir, you’ll need to check that bag, please.
  • One row up, in middle seat.
    • A Pilot (in uniform) is catching this flight home for the weekend. He presses the recline button on his seat, leans back heavily, slamming his seat into the knees of the tall, young lady. She grimaces, rubs her knee, adjusts her skirt and simmers in silence.

[Read more…]

Yep…

33.

Today many people are drunk on speaking,
always agitated,
incapable of silence or respect for others.
They have lost their calm and dignity.

~ Cardinal Robert Sarah, from “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise” (April, 2017).


Image: Observando via Kuanios

 

to do, not having done

“The other designers say, ‘We are burned out….’ Ooh,” Lagerfeld, 83, says in mock sympathy. “You will get burned out—if you take the job only for the check, you’d better do something else. People want the money but they don’t want to work. And they might be a little bit younger than I am, so they need their ‘private life.’ ” Smiling mischievously, he says, “I add collections and it makes them furious.” […]

His work ethic is well-known. “You wake up one day and find at 6 a.m. stacks [of faxes] handwritten by him, and he is announcing an idea for a book project or a Chanel catalog or a Fendi catalog,” says publisher Gerhard Steidl, who adds that most of his artists publish one book a year; with Lagerfeld, it’s typically 20 books and catalogs…“I do everything by instinct. Ninety percent goes into the garbage can, and the rest is maybe OK,” he says. “I am never pleased—I always think I could do better, that I am lazy.”  […]

The only invention Lagerfeld hasn’t really gotten up to speed with is the computer: “I don’t have time for the internet,” he says. Instead, he reads at a frenetic pace—and anything that happens to be in front of him. Once, working on a shoot, he found an industrial-supply catalog that had been left behind in the studio by a previous crew.

Though he’s outspoken, Lagerfeld also displays the old-fashioned manners of a courtier, never indulging in histrionics. “He’ll raise his glasses and just say, ‘You are frustrating me,’ ” says Pfrunder, imitating a comedic growl. Nor is he ever heard to complain, a favorite fashion pastime. “It’s very chic to never complain,” says Roitfeld. “It’s an education to work with Karl. When we are doing a photo shoot, he says hello to each person separately—the assistants, the interns. And when we finish he goes to say goodbye and thank you to each person personally. I’ve worked with many photographers and I can tell you, he’s the only one who does this.” […]

“What I like in life is to do, not having done,” says Lagerfeld.

Lagerfeld’s Chanel contract is for life…

~ Elisa Lipsky-Karasz, Karl Lagerfeld Is Never Satisfied (wsj.com, Feb 13, 2017)

Riding Metro North. With Flicker.

veggie-chips-jpgIt’s the Quiet Car.  Quiet.  There is no prohibition for dining in a Quiet Car. Or in any car for that matter.

You may be Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. You may be Vegetarian. You may believe in Global Warming. You may be a member of the NRA or for Gun Control. You may be for or anti Keystone Pipeline or fracking.  Voucher or Public School.  Whatever. As long as you aren’t in my face with your POV, I’m good.  With one exception: Dining on public transportation. Don’t like it. Don’t do it. Find it deplorable.

6:35 p.m. Metro North departing from Grand Central Station to parts North.

It’s a six-seater, with four persons.  Three people is manageable. Four is crowded. As the fourth piles in, the other three, me included, grumble. The commuter code is broken.

I’m knee to knee with a student, who has cracked open a pre-packaged salad, its perfume, sesame ginger dressing, spills into the cabin.  She spreads out her napkins and proceeds to dive in with her plastic fork.  Mixed mesclun greens. Julienne sliced red bell pepper. Water chestnuts. Baby Corn.  All coated and shimmering in dressing.  She catches me sliding my knees into the aisle. One Human feels discomfort in another Human.  She wraps the dish in the plastic bag offering additional spillage protection and looks up.  I grin.  A sort-of thank you cheetah-like grin. Just one drop on me and there will be an explosion in this train car.  She gingerly spears her greens and uses the plastic bag as a splash guard.  Graying Mustachio Man looks unpredictable, eyes have that crazed look, best not to test him. [Read more…]

Truth

thank-you

Excerpts from wsj.com: Six luminaries to weigh in on a single topic. This month: Manners:

“When you speak to people of my generation, you’ll find that our parents didn’t talk to us about things; they just told us what to do. From morning until night, you were issued instructions. Seventy-five percent of those instructions had to do with manners—don’t reach in front of another person, elbows off the table. As a result, you had a certain way of seeing the world. I went to the Nobel Prize ceremony with Toni Morrison the year she won. I got up at one point during the dinner to talk with the wife of an editor at Knopf. But when I got to her, she practically shoved me to the ground and said, ‘Don’t you know you can’t stand up when the king is sitting down?’ Well, no, I didn’t know that. How would I know that? Of all the things my mother told me, that is one thing she missed. But other than that I pretty much know everything!”

— Fran Lebowitz is a writer and social commentator.

“When I was a child, my parents used to take me out to a restaurant once a week, even though they didn’t necessarily have the means. Restaurants are a wonderful space for a child to learn the value of good behavior because, in dining, the rules of etiquette are built on respect….

— Charles Masson is a restaurateur. His latest project, Majorelle, opens in December at the Lowell Hotel in New York City.

“My husband and I have four sons and two grown grandchildren. Good manners were as important to their education as their schooling. When our grandchildren came to our house, their parents would say, ‘Mind your Mimi’s manners!’ It’s all about treating people with courtesy and kindness. […] If ever I’m asked an ill-mannered question, I just say, ‘I’ll forgive you for asking me that question if you’ll forgive me for not answering it…’

—Lynn Wyatt is a philanthropist and socialite.


Image: kate spade new york

It Depends? On what?

phone-table-manner-technology


Source: NY Times Magazine, Sunday, January 31, 2016

5:15 am. And not inspired.

Wednesday mornings are reserved for my selections of fellow bloggers’ inspiring posts of the week.  Not today. I’ve been traveling.  By air.  And I have some short stories to tell.  Sarah’s blog post title nails the theme of this post: Holy Sh*t! Airplane Manners People.  Here are the top 9 situations that I encountered in the past month:

  1. Female passenger carries on an oversize bag.  She is “caught” at the gate and asked to check bag.  She then holds up the check-in line and commences to yank stuff out of her bag in order for it to fit in the sizing container.  She is red faced and berating the check-in attendant. (Human? Animal? or Android?)
  2. Passenger is boarding.  Coffee in one hand.  Carry-on luggage in other.  Another bag over shoulder.  He dumps the entire cup of coffee on seat (not his seat) – – and keeps walking to the back of the plane to find his seat.  Makes no attempt to clean it up or advise flight attendant. (Yo Mamma share with you the old proverb? Do unto others…)
  3. Man clipping his fingernails at 35000 feet. (There are no words…) [Read more…]

Just a few more seconds…that’s all I need.

He arrived late Thursday night.

He looked taller. He looked like he had filled out. It had been less than 60 days. An illusion.

We couldn’t make it to Family Weekend in September. I could sense disappointment. His roommates’ parents showed. They graciously invited him to dinner.

It was a short 4-day week at school this weekend. A trip home before Thanksgiving wasn’t in the budget. Many of his new mates on the floor had planned to head home as they lived within a few hours drive. He didn’t want to make the call. He didn’t have to say it. And he didn’t. He wanted (needed) to come home, even if it was a brief weekend stay. And he could catch up with his sister who was home on break.

Dad and Son engaged in their customary near-monosyllabic dialogue. [Read more…]

He’s Gone.

The countdown started on Monday.  My first day back from vacation.  Rachel is off to school.  And three days from an empty nest with Eric packing up for his freshman year.  (The short week felt like repeated bouts of getting up quickly from reading on the bed.  Disorientation.  Stabilization.  Disorientation.  Stabilization.  Grab an arm rail pal.  Get a grip.  You can’t slow down the clock.)

The Chariot was packed and ready to depart for the 11-hour journey. (No, the King doesn’t pack. The scope of his competency is narrow and deep…and some would argue not that deep.  Best for him to stay well out of the way of logistics.)

It was impossible to see out of the side windows.  Every square inch of trunk and 1/2 of the back seat was stuffed to the roof top.  Changing lanes was a roll of the dice.  Normal humans would invest in a car-top carrier, rent a van, or borrow something larger…not this Cat.  The $500 expense on top of the college tuition was the tipping point.  So, we jammed it all in and off we went.

The King was sitting in a cubby hole behind the driver’s seat.  (Oh, what delicious irony.  My first memory of Eric was driving him home from the hospital a few days after his birth.  I was driving at far less than the speed limit and slipping glances back to see that he was okay.) 

[Read more…]

The Last Supper.

dinner-vacation-photo

I was running the rough math in my head. They have been subjected to over 100,000 “course corrections” during their lifetimes.

Wash your hands. Tie your laces. Look people in the eye. Use a firm handshake. Wipe your face. Keep your voice down. Sit up. Comb your hair. Brush your teeth. Pick up your things. Put on clean clothes. Don’t yell. Get along with your Brother. Get along with your Sister. Say please. Say thank you. Say you are sorry. ENOUGH TV.  Read. Get to sleep. Go to the bathroom before we leave the house. Enough candy. Do your homework.  Plus 1000 others.  And, certainly not all of them delivered with finesse or a light touch. When you are molding a sculpture, some rough chops are necessary. And per the King’s rules, as long as the game is played within the fences and by the house rules, all is good.

In the early days, dinner out entertainment included “I Spy.” Coloring books and crayons. Stacking cream containers to see who could make the largest tower. And, guessing how many sugar packets there were in my hand. Our kids would not create havoc for other patrons.

Fast forward 18 years and we’re sitting at dinner last night. Not unlike one of hundreds of Saturday dinners out with our family since they were toddlers. And a mere few days before the nest empties for the first time.

As we were leaving the restaurant, Susan told me that the Gentleman serving us said: “You can imagine that we see all kinds here. I just wanted to tell you that your children are respectful. They say please and thank you. They are so kind.”

100,000 course corrections. Day after day after day. Some of them must have hit the mark.

I dropped my head and turned away. Men don’t cry.

 


Photo Source: Eric Kanigan

%d bloggers like this: