Walking. With Ennui.

5:25 a.m. Here we go again. 849 consecutive (almost) days on my Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row.

I gather my camera gear, sleep walking through the ritual now. Insomnia rages, 6 days running. No, I haven’t taken your suggested witches’ potions — that is, banana before bed, tonic water, melatonin, magnesium, and all that other voodoo shit that I can’t seem to even try. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same shit over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, here we are. On the 5:30 am Insanity Bus to Cove Island Park.

I get out of the car. I reposition the pack on my back, then the camera, all of it, heavy, unsettled, unsettling.

I walk.

I’m woozy, stewing in a brew of vertigo and fatigue. Brew…Brew…feelings brewing. I’m at the opening of Maddie Mortimer’s Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies: “Feeling brews itself in different locations, depending on the body. A man’s most honest impulses may begin in his hands or his heart, his toes, throat, fingers or thighs. Lia felt most things first in her stomach.” There’s nothing spectacular going on in this body right now. Spent immediately comes to mind. I slow my pace to get a grip.

I walk.

Mortimer goes on to use the word “ennui“, a Lori-word. I had to look it up…a feeling of utter weariness and discontent…world-weary sensation…soul-destroying fiend.”

I walk.

Adding to the ennui is an “off day” for photo taking. We’ve got the 3 impeding elements: (1) No cloud cover of any type. (2) High tide and (3) Humans. With sun rising later, the tourists are out. In force.

I walk.

I turn off the shoreline, finding nothing enlightening, and move to the walk path.

Man, tourist, adult, not a regular at Cheers here on the Daybreak walks, approaches. He’s shouting into the speaker of his smartphone. He’s FaceTiming. The participant on the other side of the call shouts back. And the back and forth continues, shattering the silence of daybreak.

I move left on the path directly in his lane, thinking this may jog him in lifting the receiver to his ear, or better yet, ending the call. No such thing happens. He shifts to the other side of the path to avoid me. I glare at him, he smiles back and continues his conversation. Idiot, oblivious to the world around him.

My irritation bleeds off, and I walk.

[Read more…]

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…]

Red Lines, Banalities and Grumpy Middle Aged Men

Salons require appointments.
You call in advance.
You make an appointment.
You are slotted in a open 15 minute slot.
You show up on time. (Always on time.)
You wait.
5 minutes.
10 minutes.
15 minutes.
And finally, the red line is crossed.

20 minutes. [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…]

Riding Metro North. With The Case.

case

I’m sitting out of your view, bottom right corner of the photo. It’s the fourth train of the day, the 6:16 am to Grand Central. Standing room only. Sort of.

That’s him, with The Case. Large. Brown. Leather. It’s gotta be 20″ x 14″, an old school Beast. The four brass nubs protecting the base have lost their sheen. And Case, takes up an entire seat. The commuter across from Case, has to sit diagonally to avoid contact. Overhead storage is empty, the vestibule has four riders standing for the 50 minute duration.

A Suit walks down the aisle looking for a seat, slowing as he approaches Case’s Owner. He pauses to see if there is recognition, there is none, he elects to avoid contact, and pushes on to the next train car.

Case’s Owner wears gold wire rimmed glasses, a gold wedding band and black slip-ons, adorned with unmistakeable gold buckles, Ferragamo’s. His heavy wool navy sport coat is oversize and he’s tie-less with an open shirt collar. Hair, on top, on front, on sides has long since abandoned him, but keeps his occiput warm. [Read more…]

It Depends? On what?

phone-table-manner-technology


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

Oh, did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

bird-funny-gif


Image Credit

Character 101

Jon Stewart


This Jon Stewart quote reminded me of another by Chekhov:

“There should be more sincerity and heart in human relations, more silence and simplicity in our interactions. Be rude when you’re angry, laugh when something is funny, and answer when you’re asked.”

– Anton Pavlovich Chekhov


Source: themetapicture.com

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…]

Patience Grasshopper. Patience.

foot tapping, funny, laugh, business, multitasking, work, professional,

Michael’s in my head again. Jabbing. Jabbing. Jabbing. Gracefully dancing and landing punches like Sugar Ray. With similar effectiveness. Each one leaving a mark. Punch line popping: You are RUDE.

If you want to pay someone a quiet compliment, give them some serious attention when they are speaking.

I’m in the groove. Making up lost time on a long neglected project with a looming deadline. And, then a colleague with unscheduled “drop-in” meeting walks through my door. My flow is interrupted. “It will just take a few minutes,” was the request. Rather than setting expectations as to my time upfront or scheduling a meeting to accommodate the discussion, I reluctantly shoe-horn it in.
We’re five minutes in. And we are wading. In a swamp. My mind begins to wander. (My foot starts tapping. I start playing with my pen. I sneak glances at my watch. TRIGGERS. Susan’s post intrudes: You see the triggers pal. The alarms are coming at you in waves. Pull up. Pull up. Do not go to the “automated response.”

Volume has risen. The imbecilic din encroaching everywhere…

birds, courtesy, respect, shut up, be quiet, decency

This article by Tim Kreider, Quiet Ones, struck a cord with me.  A few excerpts:

…it seems significant that we don’t want things to be quiet, ever, anymore. Stores and restaurants have their ubiquitous Muzak or satellite radio; bars have anywhere between 1 and 17 TVs blaring…ads and 30-second news cycles play on screens in cabs, elevators and restrooms. Even some libraries, whose professional shushers were once celebrated in cartoon and sitcom, now have music and special segregated areas designated for “quiet study,” which is what a library used to be.

…People are louder, too. They complain at length and in detail about their divorces or gallbladders a foot away from you in restaurants. A dreaded Amtrak type is the passenger who commences prattling on her cellphone the instant she sits down and doesn’t hang up until she gets to her stop, unable to bear an undistracted instant in her own company. People practice rap lyrics on the bus or the subway, barking doggerel along with their iPods as though they were alone in the shower. Respecting shared public space is becoming as quaintly archaic as tipping your hat to a lady, now that the concept of public space is as nearly extinct as hats, and ladies. [Read more…]

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