Flying Over I-40 N. Moments, Sparkling. Moments, Not.

2006. July. (I think.) Barcelona. I’m sitting in a conference room in the basement level of an aging hotel. You know the hotel – the one where all of the investment was poured into the lobby, and you don’t need to search to find disappointment, it finds you, at every turnThis Barcelona could have been anywhere – a Days Inn within a cab ride of O’Hare in Chicago, or a budget hotel in Newark, or a refurbished hotel in downtown Philadelphia serving small, short tenor business meetings. Yet, it wasn’t. The room was windowless, the walls were free of art. There was dim overhead lighting, the florescent tubes emitting a low sizzle. There was a whiff of fresh blue paint, cheap plastic surgery fooling no one. Beneath its blue skin, the bones of the room emit traces of hand rolled tobacco from 50 years ago.  It’s an hour after the working lunch, Hour Six of a day long meeting, and stupor is settling in. There was no audio visual equipment. There were no extra notepads or pens. There was no coffee. No bottled water. In the center of the table, stood a one quart jug, fingerprints visible on its belly, and a slice of lemon, not dressed in its distinctive canary yellow, but a dull yellow mustard clinging to the wall of the jug as if it were licked and pressed like a postage stamp, desperately seeking escape. The jug sweats, the air is thick, the overhead aluminum ducts rattle with the firing and re-firing of the AC system that was built for a building half the size. Hard back chairs surround the table and line the walls, with the butt cheeks of thousands of prior occupants having grooved and flattened the frayed cushions. Butt to cushion to metal, do-over and over and over.  I can see the blue palette. I can smell the decaying Gyprock. I can feel the heaviness of the air. Yet, I can’t extract a single shred of why I was there and what was accomplished, not on this day, not on Day 2 which ran ten hours.  The Blue Room returns and returns and returns and returns. The question is: Why?

~ DK


Notes:

  • Inspired by: Saabye Christensen: “You store everything inside yourself and then one day, wherever you are, whatever the time, it appears just like that, just like I could smell wet lilac now, lilac after the rain, even though we were well into autumn.”
  • Image Credit: Marius Tamosauskas with Blue Room 1
  • Related Posts: Commuting Series.

Riding Metro North. With Sunbeam.

You think you might give me a run for it, but you can’t touch me. You can’t come close, not remotely close to my Superiority. Top 1% of the 1% in…

Mood Swings. 

Close your eyes and think bungee jumper, in an infinite loop, who’s boinging up and down in a zone which pulls up short of Bliss and a whisker from Abyss. Not too hot, but hot enough to pinch, and not too cold, but cold enough to feel frost bite, and once in a while tasting Despair, but never lallygagging in Euphoria.

It’s the 5:40 am train. I have the entire seat to myself on Metro North to NYC.

We’re operating on 4.5 hours of sleep, and hauling the wet slushy snow of accumulated sleep deprivation from the prior three days.  Eyes heavy. Shoulders heavy. Words from the morning papers slur together.  I set down the smartphone.

Tired. Sick and tired of being tired, and bored writing about tired. Tired³. [Read more…]

We all eat in pursuit of memories.

Amy-thielen

We all eat in pursuit of memories. The finely diced chives on my tongue are also the moments I snipped them from the grass in late spring as a child and put them in morning omelettes with my dad. A dry unsweet cookie is the sound of my great-aunt’s gravelly voice cautioning against the perilous use of sugar. Eating a bowl of ice cream is the slow methodical churn of my grandmother’s ice-cream maker that set the tempo for a Sunday afternoon.

Such sensory evocations, and the emotional tug they exert in one’s everyday life, are never far from the mind of Amy Thielen in “Give a Girl a Knife.” The memoir charts the beautiful winding path that led the author from rural Minnesota to high-stakes Michelin-starred restaurants in New York—in search of what she thought was culinary sophistication—and then back to Minnesota, and a cabin in the woods built by her artist husband. Along the way the author learned to cook Austrian, Chinese, French and even her native Minnesotan dishes.

~ Georgia Pellegrini, from Her Place at the Heartland Table in a book review of Amy Thielen‘s new book: “Give a Girl a Knife: A Memoir


Photo: Amy Thielen.com

Saturday Morning

I see no pressing reason to get out of bed.
The lights are off
and it is raining
and the covers are the cave I dreamed of when I was a child.

Barry Hannah, from Ray: A Novel


Notes: Photo: Dormír via Mennyfox55. Quote: Memory’s Landscape

feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity

From Greek, Zeno is derived from Zeno’s Paradox, which asks how a person can walk from one point to another if they must first carry out a series of ever-shrinking steps, + Mnemosyne, the personification of memory in Ancient Greek mythology. How can we live our lives while each passing year feels shorter than the year before?

[…]

But soon you feel the circle begin to tighten, and you realize it’s a spiral, and you’re already halfway through. As more of your day repeats itself, you begin to cast off deadweight, and feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity, the ballast of memories you hold onto, until it all seems to move under its own inertia. So even when you sit still, it feels like you’re running somewhere. And even if tomorrow you will run a little faster, and stretch your arms a little farther, you’ll still feel the seconds slipping away as you drift around the bend.

Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.

Answering Machine ’93 (23 sec)

Cameron Hicks: “This was my family’s outgoing message on our answering machine from 1993 up until we got rid of our land line a few years ago. My dad wanted to save the recording of my sister, Jodie, and I as kids so he digitized it and gave it to us. I decided to animate to the recording and give it to Jodie as a birthday present. It wound up taking longer to finish than I expected so it became a Christmas present. I missed that deadline too. Nevertheless, it’s dedicated to her.”

Cam – We’re not home right now, but we’ll be back real soon.
Dad – Right, so leave your name and number and we’ll get back to ya. Thanks for calling!
Jodie – I wanna talk!
Dad – Okay.
Jodie – Goodnight.

Jimmy

open-gate-bo-bartlett

Tuesday.

I’m leaning back in the chair.  The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.

It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.

~ 1967

I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.

The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade.  Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things.  We were in the First Grade.

He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.

Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

eric-rose-portrait-freckles

Fragile as ash
a memory stirs
and the past comes back. […]

a single breath
can make it
crackle and burn.

~ Gary Catalano, “Breath,” Slow Tennis: Poems 1980-83

 


Notes: Poem – Memory’s Landscape. Catalano was an Australian poet and art critic. Photo: Eric Rose.

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…]

A temple – or a green field – a place to enter, and in which to feel.

forest-woods-morning

Whitman kept me from the swamps of a worse uncertainty, and I lived many hours within the lit circle of his certainty, and his bravado. Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! And there was the passion which he invested in the poems. The metaphysical curiosity! The oracular tenderness with which he viewed the world— its roughness, its differences, the stars, the spider— nothing was outside the range of his interest. I reveled in the specificity of his words. And his faith— that kept my spirit buoyant surely, though his faith was without a name that I ever heard of. Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well I have . . . for the April rain has, and the mica on the side of a rock has.

But first and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple— or a green field— a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing— an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness— wonderful as that part of it is. I learned that the poem was made not just to exist, but to speak— to be company. It was everything that was needed, when everything was needed. I remember the delicate, rumpled way into the woods, and the weight of the books in my pack. I remember the rambling, and the loafing— the wonderful days when, with Whitman, I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time.

~ Mary Oliver, from “My Friend Walt Whitman” in Upstream, Selected Essays


Notes:

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