Walking Cross-Town. Not Autopiloted. Not Missed. Not Today.

It’s Hump Day. Darlene shared a wonderful video on a camel farm. In watching it more closely a second time, I catch that the camels are raised for meat. And that, was the end of that. So Caleb is taking a break this week.

Tuesday. 5:48 A.M. Metro North train to Grand Central. Train on time. Plenty of seats. No tourists chatting in Quiet Car. Everyone bathed, B.O. full contained under sprays or sticks. Fully rested with 7.5 hours of sleep. What’s up with that?

End of July in NYC. That means one thing in the train tunnels. Suffocating heat. It starts around shirt collar, sliding to jacket collar, and then sweat drips from neck line down the center of your back. It really is something special to start your day.

Walking down the tunnels under the tracks to the exit. NYC, in the top 5 of the World’s Greatest Cities. Ceiling panels missing. Electric wires protruding down, a mere 6″ above your hairline. Large giant garbage pails capture water dripping from God knows where. Giant floor fans stirring air, cooling nothing, moving around heat. We’re so much better than this.

I approach the escalator. Turtles stand on the right. DK, passing on left. Winded at the top. Too old for this sh*t.

Dark Sky app says 77% F. Heat Advisory. Wind 2 m.p.h. – 2 mph? That seems high. Nothing moving in the atmosphere here. Humidity 1237%.

I cross street. Garbage fermenting somewhere. Demolition crews are hauling out refuse on carts into large dumpster. His mask hides his face. White dust coats his black tee-shirt. Asbestos. What a job. DK, what could you possibly ever bitch about?

[Read more…]

Resist the Rain

Patty Maher, “Resist the Rain

 

Walking Cross-Town. Without lungs.

blue

4:52 am.
January 19th.
35° F, clear, calm.

Rested.
Body parts functioning, check.
Smartphone in breast pocket, check.
ID building pass, check.
Nine minutes to first morning train, check.

I step out the door, insert key, turn, and lock the door. There’s a clop clop clop of footsteps on the street. I turn to see Runner. Male, wearing a Miner’s headlamp, his beam illuminating the road.

2003. That’s you. Up, pre dawn: 5 miles Tuesday. 7 miles Wednesday.  4 miles Friday. Hot shower. Off to work. [Read more…]

Morning

mist-morning

I took a sideboard breakfast of scrambled eggs, thick-cut bacon, sausage, grits, peaches, figs, grapefruit, tomato juice, milk, and pumpkin muffins…

From my table I looked through long windows onto a tomato patch from the year before; a meadowlark let loose a piece of plaintive song in the mist, and a recognition moved in my memory as if I’d been here before.

~ William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey into America.


Notes: Photo – Philip L. Hinton in Kent, UK with Early Morning Mist

She’s Gone (Again)

rachel-apartment-sullivan-street-2

Four days later, and the tops of both thighs still burn, sensitive to the touch. No, nothing to do with running, which is another sad story, left for another day.

I load my canons, yes one “n”, and fire.

  • The Tort: “You entered into a verbal contract. You said you would stay.”
  • The Economic: “Manhattan is nose bleed expensive. You’ll drain whatever savings you have.”
  • The Nostalgic: “I’m turning your room in an extension of my Den, and calling it my West Wing.”
  • The Desperate: “You know in Italy, kids live with their parents until well into their 30’s.”
  • The Fear Mongering: “I’m cutting you off Netflix, Amazon Prime and yes, AT&T Mobile Service.”

Nothing works. And we’re off.

The family caravan departs in the Resettlement. Eric (Son) drives the U-haul with two friends. Mom, Dad and Rachel are up ahead in a separate car.  Waze estimates 44 miles – a whopping 1 hour 42 minutes to lower Manhattan.

The rain falls gently, setting the appropriate back drop.

It’s a five-floor walk-up. I now know what a 5-floor walk-up means. No elevators and narrow stairwells. Walk-up means walk-up. With furniture, furnishings and oversize and overweight boxes, all up five floors – on foot. With adequate resistance provided by non-ventilated, A/C-free hallways. The musty carpet fibers are pulled deep into the lungs with each trip up and down the stairs. [Read more…]

I want moonlight

Blue-melancholy

Everywhere you look these days you see something on how to be happy — how to manifest abundance, desires and success, find your bliss. […]

Whatever happened to experiencing the grace of melancholy, which requires reflection: a sort of mental steeping, like tea? What if all this cheerful advice only makes you feel inadequate? What if you were born morose?

Melancholy, distinguished from grief, is not caused by events, like losing your job, the passing of beloved pets, your miscarriages or health problems. Nor does it vanish when you receive excellent news, like a big film star optioning your novel, or being invited to an all-expenses-paid trip to Venice for the Biennale.

Melancholy is more … ephemeral.

It visits you like a mist, a vapor, a fog. It is generally uninvited. And as some people are born into royalty, wealth and prestige, others inherit a disposition for sadness. […]

Should melancholy descend, you may as well welcome it, wear your finest lounging outfit; give it your finest fainting couch or chaise to lounge in, or that hammock stretched between two elm trees. Let it settle in.

[…]

I want moonlight.

~ Laren Stover, A Case For Melancholy


Credits: Photo via Sweet Senderipity

You’re a Great Man, Charles Schulz

snoopy-charles-schultz

[…] Given the cavalcade of Peanuts appreciation, one might question the need for a new book. This critic questioned it himself, sitting down with a cup of coffee and wondering how best to write something along the lines of “With all due respect to the man’s genius, one might question . . .” and then the coffee was cold and your humble critic was staring at page after page with a silly grin plastered on his face. “Only What’s Necessary” turns out to be exactly what one wants: a reconsideration of Schulz’s work that fits perfectly with its umpteenth delightful conjuring. […]

An appreciation of Schulz’s clear-cut style puts his masterly writing into even more, um, sharp relief. Schulz’s comic sense is a blank one; however hilarious, there’s always something odd or sad around the edges. When Snoopy keeps sniffing around Charlie Brown’s catcher’s mitt, spoiling the game, our hero has to admit that he has been using some extra padding: a slice of bread. It’s a weird punch line, but right: just the sort of childhood logic that’s simultaneously wrong and irrefutable. Juxtaposed with the tidy little shape that Schulz gives us for the padding, the joke has an extra, doughy layer of blankness. […]

But what makes the biggest impression is how invisible his care is, in the bareness of his work. “Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain!!” is the first draft of a speech bubble. Schulz cuts it to “Rain, rain, rain!!” and then, in its final form, makes it “Rain, rain, rain, rain . . .” One has the feeling that every inked line of rain in the drawing was the result of a similar pensive process.

The result of all this care and thought, both from Schulz himself and from Messrs. Kidd and Spear in arranging this book, is a melancholy familiar to anyone who has seen Peanuts in any of its incarnations. Funny things happen to these kids, but the emptiness of the panels, the starkness of the drawings and the sketches, leave a slight but indelible sadness. I closed this terrific book with a regretful sigh, both that I’d reached the end and that there wasn’t even more. There is, of course, so much, much more available, so it was a little silly to feel this way. Silly and sad, both at once. Charlie Brown has a good expression for it: Good grief.​

~ Daniel Handler, ‘You’re a Great Man, Charles Schulz in a Book Review of Chip Kidd’s ‘Only What’s Necessary


Notes:

Driving I-95 S. With all things Sacred.

traffic, cars,highway,drive

4 am.
The windows mist up and clear.
Wipers, never short of stamina, never lose their rhythm, clear the morning rain.
The soft click of the back and forth, lull me into a gentle place.

Waze signals 10.5 hours in front of us.
I’m the first to carry the baton.
I’m pressing to slingshot over the GW Bridge ahead of rush hour.
Rain, highway warning signs, road construction.
Truckers, tourists, insomiacs – all being squeezed, four lanes into one.
We clear.

We fly out of the shoot and enter the NJ turnpike.
The right hand makes slight course corrections.
The right foot steady, to 82 mph.
Makin’ time in Summer time.

Susan sleeps in the back.
Eric snores to my right.
But for the hum of the engine, the cabin is quiet.
A thin stream of light lines the horizon, dawn stretching to lift Night.
Quiet? Not.
More like Levithan’s Unquiet – words and thoughts crash into each other.

It’s Eric’s Senior Year.
Mom and Dad are dropping off their precious cargo and deadheading back.
The Melancholy Bus rides again. [Read more…]

Dipped a spoon into the plain water of an ordinary day, then lifted it, salty with tears, to my lips.

light-melancholy-sad-back

Oh, melancholy, how poor I would be without you drawing my attention to this or that. Yesterday it was the wild plum blossoms along the brief road to today, and today it’s this rain that will rain only once. Each grain of sand on each shingle lights for an instant, like a window across a black lake, and then the tiny shade is drawn, as time strikes the wet panes and glances away. Tomorrow, too, you will be waiting with something to show me. That time, for example, when you dipped a spoon into the plain water of an ordinary day, then lifted it, salty with tears, to my lips.

~ Ted Kooser, May. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


Photograph: Irina Munteanu (Dawning on Me) via eikadan

Be. Where you are.

woman-mist-dreamy

I glance right at the digital read out.
Monday: 4:00 am. Tuesday: 2 am. Now: 1:38 am.
Impressive trajectory. By Friday, you’ll be a 7-Eleven, open 7 x 24.
I run the math. 3.5 hours.
It just can’t be.
I turn away from the clock, a source of irritation, and close my eyes.
Aha! Bad, but not So bad. It’s Mountain Daylight Time without the Daylight. It’s 3:38 am EST. Jet lag has to be the culprit.

It’s silent but for the low hum of the hotel air-conditioning.
The bed, is alien. The pillows are off.
There’s no Zeke at my feet. His Leaning. First at the legs, and as the night progresses, into my torso. After seven years, when I’m away, it has become a leaning akin to a missing limb on an amputee.
Don’t open your eyes. Don’t reach for the laptop. Don’t do it.

[Read more…]

Flying over I-95 S. On Sunday Morning.

take-off-airplane-fly

It’s 10:00 am. This Sunday Morning. I’m in the car heading to LaGuardia to catch AA 1082, departing at noon.

Saturday was my Sunday. Sunday is my Monday.

I’m a flight and a half away from 2,000,000 miles, and that’s just on American Airlines. I’ve been around the earth 80 times. 80 times. Years of chasing Status, frequent flier status and upgrades. As Kalanithi explains, ‘a chasing after wind, indeed.’ How many Sunday nights in a hotel room, sitting on the bed in front of the TV, eating alone? 

The Boeing twin jet 737-800 taxis to its final turn, pauses, inhales to gather a head of steam, and then Roars down the runway.  I close my eyes and feel. Thrust. Power. Acceleration. Wheels rumbling down the tarmac. Faster. Faster. Faster. And then — calm, and lift off — the Iron Bird is up.  Wings tilt sharply left, and I lean. We surge upward, higher, the nose pointed to the heavens. The weight of the climb, a soft hand on the chest, the back, a magnet affixed firmly to the door of the refrigerator.  A sacred message as you head Up. Sit, wait, pause, be still.

I press the recline button and ease the seat gently backward.

The kids, no, now young adults, were both sleeping when I left the house this morning. They were up late last night, increasingly leading separate lives. Dad, clutching on a string. Oh, go ahead, wake them up, or at least give them a kiss on the cheek before you go.  I linger in front of Eric’s door, and then Rachel’s door. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to wake them. I walk down the stairs and out the door.  I settle in the car. Inhale. Melancholia, campfire smoke in my lungs.

I slip my earbuds in. My eye lids are heavy. I’m drifting in and out. The plane has leveled off. [Read more…]

Ambedo


ambedo
n. a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.

…let your mind wander and enjoy the ride.
To find those moments when everything falls quiet
and the words lose their meaning.
that all mixes together
until you can’t tell the difference between the ordinary and the epic.
And you stop waiting around for some other meaning to arrive.
you notice how delicate and fleeting it all seems…


Notes:

If I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns

bird-leaves-autumn

Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love –
that makes life and nature harmonise.
The birds are consulting about their migrations,
the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay,
and begin to strew the ground,
that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air,
while they give us a scent that is
a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

— George Eliot, [Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]


Credits: Wild Bird in Autumn Leave by myu-myu. Poem Source: Stepsonmysunlightfloor

Still as fence posts they wait

fenceposts

In fair weather,
the shy past keeps its distance.
Old loves, old regrets, old humiliations
look on from afar.
They stand back under the trees.
No one would think
to look for them there.

But in the fog they come closer.
You can feel them there
by the road as you slowly walk past.
Still as fence posts they wait,
dark and reproachful,
each stepping forward in turn.

~ Ted Kooser. February 16. An early morning fog.

[Read more…]

Running. As a Witness.

head down,tired, fatigued

R. Dass: “Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.

6:31 am. September 6, 2014.

76° F.  Humid.

He’s wearing black shorts, above the knee.

He has two bands on his left wrist. Both black. A Garmin GPS, tracking time and distance. A Vivo Fit, another Garmin tool, tracking his step count.  His head bobs, no, it tics, checking progress on his devices every 30-40 seconds.

His shirt is canary yellow, sleeveless. The sweat stains are darkening his shirt, spilled black ink creeping down his chest.

His running shoes are off-the-shelf new, with hyper-green florescent laces, tied with symmetrical bows on each foot.

His head is down but for the presence of oncoming traffic, when he’ll steal a look up, and offer a wave to the driver who gives him wide berth.

He’s heavy footed. Solemn. A hulking, Dutch plow horse, blinders blocking out peripheral vision. The furrows behind him, turned and plowed over and under and over again. [Read more…]

Running. A bucket in the rain.

running-path-mountains

6:01 am.

Crickets. Birds. And me.

Humidity 90%, but cut by a cool morning, 57º. Running weather.

I check my exercise log. Last running entry: August 3rd. I scan the page. More white space than entries. Ray is down 36 lbs in 7 weeks. I’m, well, you know, Up. And, staring at white spaces.

I’m out the door.

It’s Thursday. Evening.
(Another) last supper with the kids before they depart. It’s a short week, I’m off from work on Friday. Heaviness lifts. Weariness lingers. Gratitude drifts in. A peaceful, easy feeling sets in over dinner. Family. Our family dines together.

It’s Friday. Morning.
Departure Day.
Eric comes up to the attic. “Why are you a hermit, Dad?”
We exchange fist bumps. As he turns, I jump him from behind and we wrestle. He’s become unmanageable. I pull up before things break, on me.

It’s Friday. Early afternoon.
We’re in the car to JFK.
President Obama visits Weschester County on Friday afternoon – the same Friday kicking off the long Labor Day weekend. His security team has shut down I-95, 287 and all major thorough ways, snarling traffic. The result: A 2.5 hour drive to JFK. Purpose of the President’s trip: Fundraisers. [Read more…]

Repeat after me: “Poudrerie”

poudrerie-snow-wind-winter

abendrot-sunset-german-sky

sareureuk-korean-snow-winter


Source: Wordstruck


Departure Day

fade-away-Scott-Marshall

It’s Departure Day.
Eric is scheduled on the 7:40 am flight.
Rachel is returning later in the day.

There’s the awkward milling around the kitchen.
When everyone knows what’s coming next,
yet no one is a hurry to get on with it.
He’s scurrying around with his last minute packing.
I hover at a distance.

It is Dark.
And Cold. Temperature locked on 32° F.

We’re in the car.
The Kanigan Men are short (very) on small talk.
We ride in silence. [Read more…]

Repeat after me: “Mélomanie”

melonamie-music-melody-word

word-sun-cold-hebrew

melancholy


Source: Wordstruck


Repeat after me: “Hanibaram”

hanibaram-winds

toska-melancholy

[Read more…]

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