Riding Metro North. Romanticizing myself.

Thursday morning.

5:23 a.m.

Short on sleep, by several hours.

Short on time, rushing to catch the second morning train.

I’m on the platform, train cars pass, the train slows. I peer into one passing car, then the next, and the next. Options are limited: standing or middle seat.

Aisle seat occupants have their heads down, sending the commuter signal of not here, you aren’t welcome to the middle seat. Keep moving down the aisle.

I tap him on the shoulder. The Suit is irritated that I’ll be crowding him by taking the middle seat. I set my bag on the floor. Grab my smartphone. Tuck my elbows in, avoiding all possible contact.

Mind flips through the day’s appointments. Unfinished projects. And then the previous day, and things I shouldn’t have said, things I should have done, things I shouldn’t have done. I shift in my seat, nudging the occupant at the window, who shifts nervously.

Morning code: No contact. Absolutely no talking.

I can’t get comfortable. I adjust myself in place, careful to avoid contact. I’m tired. I’m edging to claustrophobia, and assessing whether I want, whether I need to exit and stand in vestibule. Not yet DK. Not yet. Settle. Just settle.

I set my smartphone down. I close my eyes.

It’s Make Believe Boutique in her post Kaleidoscope Shift that lands with a share from Chelsea D.G. Bartlett. “We may not always have that perfect mindset that we all chase…it can be difficult…especially when you’re constantly driving yourself forward…so lately I’ve been tricking myself myself into it.  I call this ‘romanticizing my life.’ I use this technique when I’m struggling to see the beauty in a situation, to add a little romance to the everyday frustrations and low moments that sometimes come up in life. It’s a perspective shift, more than anything else, paired with words that will take something that is often just a concept and true it into something more solid. Something actionable. It’s less effective to simply say, ‘I need to slow down and re-frame what I’m experiencing,’ than it is to force yourself to notice actual details and commit them to written words. Instead of, ‘I’m stuck on the bus, too exhausted after work even to concentrate on my creative goals, and all I want is to be at home,’ romanticize your life.’ “The bus rocks me gently through the city lights. Glimmers of ideas for stories and projects spark and sputter in my mind. I know I’ll be home soon, and it will be warm.[Read more…]

Walking South Beach. Walking on Sunshine.

Baby here we stand again
Where we’ve been so many times before
Even though you looked so sure
As I was watching you walking out my door
But you always walk back in like you did today….

~ Jackson Browne, Hear Come Those Tears Again


Yesterday morning. I’m standing at the western end of Lincoln Road, the Lincoln Road on Miami’s South Beach. It’s early morning, but already 80° F. Humidity is on. Fingers puffy, both feet are fuller in sneakers.

Small towners from the north, looking for adventure in Miami, found it in all the wrong places.  Weekend 1 included a car break-in after a sun drenched afternoon on South Beach.  Month 6 included a home invasion. Most would have said Enough, and bailed. But, no, this felt like home. And for 14 years it was Home.  Years later, like this week, we would return here with our family for a short annual retreat, birds migrating Home to rest.

Lincoln Road was the weekend destination for casual family dinners, soft serve ice cream, slow walks up and down the strip, and, of course, people watching.

But today’s Lincoln Road, was not our Lincoln Road.

I walk.  I’m out with Dog walkers, a handful of pigeons, yuppie Runners, and shopkeepers preparing to open.

Large money center banks flank both ends of Lincoln Road. Money Only Permitted Here. [Read more…]

Flying AA 1011. With Chop.

1 hour out from DFW (Dallas) on flight back to NY. 37,000 feet up.

Heavy chop. Heavy.

Seat belt alert pops up.

Cabin is quiet.

Pilot comes on the intercom: “Flight attendants, please take your seats.” Never a good sign.

I close the lid on my iPad. I note that others around me put down their gadgets.

Captain is back on the intercom: “Apologize folks. Bumpy ride here. I checked with air traffic control. Heavy turbulence in both directions, at all levels. We’re over Nashville. Expect this to clear in 8 minutes. Please take your seats.”

8 minutes. Not: We expect this to end soon. Or: We hope this ends soon. Or: We think it will end soon.

8 minutes. God, I Love technology.

I look up the aisle. Left wing drops and then right side counters to stabilize. Back, forth, up, down. Replay. Over and over. How does this Bird not blow apart in pieces? Why is your head going there? How is that line of thinking helpful at all?

Pilot takes the plane up. And accelerates. Plane groans as it grinds against the headwinds. Oh I agree Captain. Too rough here. Let’s get closer to God for help.

Gratitude surges, for living, and for life. Just get me home. I promise I’ll be better. At every thing. A bloody saint. I’ll be nice to Sawsan, and Dale and Kiki. Maybe even throw out a compliment or two and pretend like I mean it.

I grab the loose end of the seat belt and pull it snug around my belly. I’m short of breath. Could I be hyperventilating here? I need to lose 10 pounds. I clutch my iPad with both hands. Can’t possibly damage this device. Hitting another passenger does come to mind, secondary concern behind damage to the iPad.

We’re 10 minutes in. He said 8 minutes!

We’re 14 minutes in. Chop continues to be heavy. But he said 8 minutes! [Read more…]

Flying Delta 2-Stop. With the Wind.

That’s Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan.

Susan dropped me off at the airport yesterday, I was heading home. She was spending a few more days with her Mom. That’s her shot with an iPhone a few minutes later. This scene. This moment. That you can capture this, with a handheld device and text message it seconds later. Miracle, all of it.

I paused after posting this.  Any words after this, would seem to pollute the magnificence of the shot, and her moment.

But I plod on. Briefly.

I look upward at the tall snow banks. The dirty snow.  26° F.  The cold wind gusts. The Upper Peninsula in Northern Michigan, in March, is winter anywhere else.

The car ride to the airport, was not unlike the car ride in. Quiet. Heavy. No RTP greeting at the airport, or at home. No beefy hug around his thick torso. His absence was a Weight. He’s Gone.

I drive the town.

And I See.

What he gave to this town, this college.  His influence on standing up the Superior Dome, the world’s largest wooden structure of its kind.  Or the Berry Events Center. Or the U.S. Olympic Education Center. His dreams realized. His name, not on the structures, but we know, these towering structures know, how they were born and who gave them birth. They now sit stoically, quietly, in Memoriam.

His solitary drives around Presque Isle Park. His favorite restaurant. His Friday afternoon watering hole where he’d sit having a cocktail at the bar. His seat now sits empty.

Yet, he is present, ever present, like a twist on the old Teton Sioux proverb,

He is now history in this town like wind through buffalo grass. 

 


Inspired by Robert Creeley: Will we speak to each other making the grass bend as if a wind were before us, will our way be as graceful, as substantial as the movement of something moving so gently. We break things into pieces like walls we break ourselves into hearing them fall just to hear it.

Father & Son. Family Time.

It was a line from a movie. I think.

It was in one of the last few movies that I watched. I think.

I searched, and searched, and searched trying to find the source. The Source, damn it. What was the source?

No luck.

But it goes something like this.

Father talking to Mother about 20-something Son. “I see so much of him in me, but he’s a better version.”

I grab my iPhone and send Mom and Son a text.

The same Son whose hand is never far from his iPhone. Texting, and Texting and Texting his Friends.

Yet…he rarely replies to any of my texts.  And, almost never, no let’s say, Never, replies to any of my emails that I flip to him that I’m sure would be of interest. Who does email anymore Dad?

He stays far enough away, but not too far away from the hand that pays for his Data Plan every month. The same AT&T Data Plan that sends his Father the itemized bill with a line by line detail of the hundreds (thousands?) of texts that he sends to Others every month.

And, This, irritates me. [Read more…]

Flying North N.E. AA1263. With Track Suit.

An introvert’s sanctuary. Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport. The world’s 4th busiest airport. Giant footprint. Take trains between terminals. Get lost among the crowds, the lines, the heavy foot traffic. Near zero probability of seeing anyone you know.

I pass through security. No random check. No single coin in back pocket triggering body check and palm swab for explosive residue.

I walk.

I pass a line that spills out into the concourse, and down along the wall. Chick-Fil-a. How good can this really be? Didn’t realize Chick-Fil-a served breakfast. Make a mental note. Must try that. But can’t risk it now. Middle-aged thing sprouted out of nowhere. Stomach, formerly cast iron, now leaky.

I look for an overhead sign pointing me to the Admiral’s Club.  10 gates down. Texas does it big here too. Large (very) facility, high ceilings, a refuge for business travelers. Quiet. Soft lighting. Spotless bathrooms. Cushy leather chairs.

I walk.

I look down at my black sneakers. When your work life has more than ample amounts of stress, you de-risk all other elements.

Like my attire. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. But it don’t sing and dance.

5:55 a.m. T.G.I.F.

I flip open the Dark Sky app. 24° F. “Feels like 20°. Light snow falling. Two inches accumulated.”

I flick the page to my other saved locations.

Antigua. 74° F.

Mind drifts. Soft white sand between toes. Gentle waves lap the shore line. Warm breeze sways the fronds on the palm trees, they slap against the trunk. Antigua. Sweep me away to There, Now.

March 1. I’ve had enough of Winter. And need more of Rehman Rahi:

The melting of snow, a soft breeze, a garden in blossom
Be my witness,
O Spring,
dumbstruck, yet we sing.

I crawl down I-95. Red tail lights as far as the eye can see. Highway is heavily salted, frozen slush, ruts, shoulder unplowed. Slippery when wet. Treacherous at this moment. Focus DK, focus.

Sirius playing. 70’s on 7. Neil Diamond, Forever in Blue Jeans. Money talks. But it don’t sing and dance And it don’t walk And long as I can have you here with me. I’d much rather be Forever in blue jeans. Money talks. But it don’t sing and dance…  I’m lip syncing. Head bobbing in rhythm. [Read more…]

Flying North N.E. AA1263. Add, yet another addiction.

 

 

It’s that time again. An updated inventory of Addictions.

  1. iPhone. Like Jenny Erpenbeck’s “Bone to bone, blood to blood, as if (we’re) bonded together.”
  2. Talenti Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato. Heaven in a cup. Sweet Jesus. 3-4 pints a week, minimum.
  3. iPad Pro. Speedy wifi in-flight. Enable online work in both directions.
  4. Sugar. Stonewall Kitchen Sour Cherry Jam. 2.5 heaping tablespoons stirred in with Chobani Fruit on the Bottom Greek Yogurt with Pineapple on the Bottom.
  5. Seat #24 E, Exit Row, AA Airbus A321.  To/fro LGA to DFW. Same seat (or take different flight)
  6. Socks: Ultra thin, over-the-calf knee high. Can’t have hot feet or exposed skin.
  7. Advil PM. Ingest 1/2 pill one hour before bed time.  Insomniacs sleep aid.
  8. Knee pillow. To sleep. Avoid bone to bone contact.

And so here we are.

Dallas, TX. Hotel. Wednesday evening.

I open the Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Earbuds charging case to find the right earbud missing. Major problem. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With ‘My’ Little Bird.

So, let’s back up the bus a bit and set this up.  It was a New Year post titled What’s Your Spirit Bird where Margaret Renkl explains that “There’s a New Year’s tradition among bird-watchers: The first bird you see on New Year’s Day is your theme bird for the year. Your spirit bird.” 

So, I’ve seen many birds since Jan 1, but not my bird. Not the right bird. And I don’t want to hear from you rule-sticklers that it’s not keeping with the “first” bird rule.

And the mind slips off the rails to a rabbit trail in Gail Honeyman’s” Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: “I don’t need anyone else — there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I am a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself, at any rate.” No Hugely Holes. Not Bigly anyway. Trump’s infiltrating the mind. God, I do have problems. Bigly problems. OMG. Help me.

Monday, was, a long day. 7am flight to Dallas. 4 hour flight. 5 hours on ground. 4 hour flight back.  4 hours of sleep. (I don’t know if this math adds up. Who cares?)

And then, it’s Tuesday. I’m sitting in the warming hut waiting for a off-peak 10:00 am train to Grand Central. Light snow is falling.  Darien Schools have closed for the day. 2-3 inches, and the world stops these days. (When I was young, I used to walk to school in 2 feet of snow – I’m sure, it was in bare feet, I was that tough.  Snow days? WTH is that? The world has gotten soft.)

I shift on the steel bench, the train is scheduled to arrive in 4 minutes. I flip through my messages. And out of the corner of my eye on the ground in front of me is movement.

I lift my head.

And there she is. Has to be she. Just has to be.

Sparrow. Fluffy. Furry. Staring at me. Me staring at her. Spirit Bird? You? [Read more…]

Walking Cross Town. In the Big Apple.

Second train of the morning.

Arrive at Grand Central Station.

Traders, Bankers, Morning Hawks gather at the exit.

Car door slides open and the throng spills out.

I pick up the pace. Heart’s pumping. I’m passing Suits. And accelerating.

I Pass Harvard.

I Pass Yale.

I Pass MIT.

I Pass Lori’s Princeton.

I Pass Stanford.

I Pass Prep School boys from Choate, Exeter. Deerfield Academy.

I’m in front now, shoes tapping on the marble floors, Exit 500 feet ahead.

Boy from a 1 room, 3-grade public classroom in Ootischenia. Graduate of Northern Michigan University.

I step through the double doors to exit Grand Central onto Madison.

20° F wind gust roars down 47th street, eyes flood with water.

New York City! The Big Apple. You made it!

Cold bites, tears flow, and flow. And flow.

Cross walk sign turns.

I’m alone.

In front now.

Not done yet.

Not far enough ahead.

Not yet.


Photo: The city never sleeps, Atelier Olschinsky (via this isn’t happiness)

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