Driving I-95 S. In a few breaths. In a few steps.

I’m medicated. Two doses of NyQuil overnight, followed by a single dose of DayQuil. Smooth gel tablets roll in my palms. FloatingIs this Nepo’s half-wakeful state? Is this place the other name for Heaven?  

Thursday. 7:30 am. Late jump. Traffic is flowing smoothly.

Head cold, congestion, body aches. Mucus draining in throat. What’s that smell of rot? Breath sweeter than a Honey Badger.

Day 3, no relief on horizon.

I tried to bow out of this speaking engagement earlier, you know, with that excuse of an important client meeting that conflicts on your calendar. Just couldn’t do it.

And to cancel now? At the last minute? Don’t feel well. Have the flu. Sorry. And leave them hanging with an empty 30 minute slot in a full day event planned months earlier.  No, no, no. A burden too heavy to carry.

So, I begged down the engagement and they agreed. I’ll take 30 minutes of Q&A “on any topic.”  [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. Just Magnificent.

Tuesday.
10 a.m., I’m heading for a morning meeting in Manhattan.
I exit Grand Central station onto Madison, and head down 47th.

Light mist turns to a sprinkle.
Then drizzle.
Then, Wow! Rain in sheets.

Sidewalks are filled with Suits, morning shift shop workers, and tourists, loitering. Umbrellas spring open, mushroom caps blossoming in a time lapse video.

Walker in middle of sidewalk, sheltered with a giant golf umbrella. He does not shift left or right. His umbrella clips me in the shoulder as I try to pass, tipping his umbrella into mine, rain soaks my pant leg.
Really?

Walkers, giggling, three a breast, each carrying an umbrella. I tuck into a store front to let them pass.
Seriously people?

Walker, approaches me directly ahead. Mid sized umbrella. I walk on right side (This is America!) He refuses to shift lanes to his right. I slide left to avoid him, and dodge oncoming foot traffic – glaring at him as he passes.
Hey Man from UK, Etiquette! Drive on the right side of the road!

Walker, dead ahead, 10 steps. Smartphone and umbrella in his left hand, cigarette in the other. I slide between him and the building on the right, when he lifts his cigarette, the embers catching my coat. I jam my umbrella into his to brush off the ash, and he’s jostled into another walker.  He shouts “Excuse me!” as I pass.  I glance back. Cigarette hanging from his mouth. Light build, short. A Ferret. But who’s judging?

I smile, shake my head, turn my back to Ferret and keep walking, my right hand scanning my coat searching for the burn hole.

I stand at the stop light and wait, lifting my face to the sky. The rain has let up. The Walk sign turns, I step off the curb onto the crosswalk. I don’t see the puddle pooling in front of the street drain. My foot sinks into the cool, filthy, rain water which fills my right shoe.

Damn it@!*$

I limp into the building.  The wet sole of my shoe squeals with each spongy step on the marble floor. The wet sock and foot slide back and forth inside the shoe.

I step into the elevator. Breathe DK. Breathe. Amazing. You’ve managed to work yourself up into a full lather in a 12-minute walk across town. You’re Elmear McBride’s Magnificent:

Magnificent, somehow. To give in. Wreck yourself so completely. The beauty of it.”


Photo: Metro.US

Walking in place. Saturday Morning.

“I like things I can see as much as things I can’t (see)…that inner light was drawing me in.”

It was an innocuous line by Murakami in Killing Commendatore, but for some reason I couldn’t, I can’t, let it go.

And then it’s Baader-Meinhof. You are shopping for a new car, you fall in love with a particular model, and then suddenly you begin to see it everywhere. But the what is what I can’t see.

Murakami is followed by a passage I read by Immanuel Kant:

“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt.”

And it’s early Saturday morning.  Light rain.

I’m in bed, it’s dark out. The body is spent from the week. The Mind is off on its own, its finger tips touching, exploring, wandering, free, weightless. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With Cigarette.

Dawn. Manhattan. 6:10 a.m.

I exit an early morning train.

The Up escalator from the tunnel in Grand Central Station to Madison Ave., is down, again.

Commuters, a wolf pack building at the bottom of stairs, jostle for position before funneling into a single line formation up 70+ stairs.

My Apple Watch silently counts steps, counts heart beats.

I’m looking down, stepping deliberately, not wanting to take a header on the concrete steps. The alternatives (to a header) were awful: clipping the heal of the man in front, or flopping backward into the Pack, both scenarios setting off Dominos. Rubberneckers would pull out iPhones to catch the scene, photos later sold to the NY Post and run in the afternoon edition. “Dummy Triggers Dominos, Sends 20 to hospital. Grand Central exit to Madison closed for the morning as Paramedics clean up the carnage.”

A soft morning light beams ahead, a few more steps. I exit without incident, not without anxiety. What’s the bloody rush?

Winded. [Read more…]

Flight AA2632 to DFW. And Dreamin’ of Just One Time.

5:15 A.M. Monday Morning.

Terminal B LaGuardia Airport. Not America’s finest example of its greatness or its Might. Dark. Dingy. Beyond Stale. Earning its status as the Worst Airport in the Country. Dead last in surveys. Sad, really.

Lines are backing up at Security, including TSA pre-check.

One hour and 5 minutes to boarding: Flight AA2632 to DFW.

I clear security.

And I walk.

  • AA2126. Boston. 6:00 a.m. Sit in the stands at a Red Sox game.
  • AA4752. Washington. 6:00 a.m. Sit on the steps at Lincoln Memorial.
  • AA4527. Atlanta. 6:05 a.m. Lounge in the Georgia Aquarium.

What if. Just what if. Just one time. You call it in sick. A Sick Day. What’s that? You walk back out of the terminal, stroll up to the American Airlines ticket counter, pull out your credit card, pay full price for a ticket and…take off…to…anywhere else. Like take a day trip. By yourself. To anywhere else. Turn off your cellphone(s). And disappear, for one day. Off Grid. Just one time. [Read more…]

Running. With Half Pass.

feet

Iron couplers connect railcars. One to the next, to the next. Synchronicity? Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon?

Terri Gross interviews Leonard Cohen‘s Son, Adam, on a NPR: Fresh Air podcast titled “Leonard Cohen The Poet, Writer, And Father where he talks about his Father: “He was preoccupied with the brokenness of things, the asymmetry of things, as he says forget your perfect offering…or as in his song Anthem…Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

I turn the page in Haruki Murakami’s new novel Killing Commendatore and the title of Chapter 4 flashes and sticks: “From a Distance, Most Things Look Beautiful.”

I’m running to Stamford Cove Park. Off in the distance, a man grips three leashes, two small, white dogs of the same breed on his left (Rat Terriers?), and a larger Mix (Rescue?) on the right.

I approach.

I’m drawn to Mix. All four legs move sideways and forward, a Half Pass dressage. A defect. I slow to follow the pack from a few yards back, the Terriers pull on the leashes, the mix struggles to keep up.

The Mind calls up a passage by Tom Hennen that I came across earlier in the week: “I am struck by the otherness of things rather than their sameness. That each thing on earth has its own soul, its own life, that each tree, each clod is filled with the mud of its own star.” [Read more…]

Amtrak 2151 Acela Express. With Centi.

7:28 a.m. Boarding time: 7:52 a.m. Amtrak to Philadelphia. Rocky Balboa. Eagles. Flyers. Liberty Bell. Cheesesteak Sandwiches.

I’m waiting at the Stamford train station, sitting on a hardback plastic seat. So hard, you could substitute it for Kevlar. Lower back, displeased with status. I shift, restless.

To my left and across, two men, middle aged, hard hats on floor, work boots, unshaven – sit and discuss his work injury…hurt so bad…Percocet…MorphineFloating. Both chuckle.

Across from me, large man, head bobbing, mouth gaping, asleep.

Passengers pass by through the automatic doors to Tracks 2 & 4. The doors hiss, at each open and close.

My eye spots movement below.  A centipede.  (And I’m not interested in you Entomologists out there telling me that it’s not a centipede. Where’s the 100 feet?  We’re going with Centipede.)

Back to my Friend.

His legs are flailing.  Turtle on its back, issuing an SOS distress signal. I watch it struggle for a few minutes and then turn away. I flip through emails.

Can’t focus. Distracted. Anxious…must be Centi’s anxiety transference. “Help me DK!”

I look around to see if anyone is watching. Then when I’ve established the coast is clear, I reach down and gently try to flip him. He sees a Giant: Danger! He rolls into a tightly, tucked black ball.

I grab my iPhone recognizing that there’s a story here.  I’m 9 snaps in.  Fuzzy shots. Too far away. Too close. Blurry.  I look up and see the Percocet Boys are now watching.  What’s that Idiot Suit doing?

I wait for him to unravel, my head is down, eyes are locked in.  Please, unravel, and do so with 100 feet down.

I wait. [Read more…]

Walking South Flower Street.

I’m riding up the elevator. There are four others in this box, and I’m pressed against the back. The three outer walls are glass, floor to ceiling. My chest tightens. I have a need, I mean a real need to shift closer to the center but there’s no room to move. I squeeze the handle on my roller board, averting my eyes from the concrete floor 29 floors below me. Get me out of here.

It is a Westin. Fond memories of Los Angeles are anchored here. An infinity roof top pool. Chill music. Aquamarine mood lighting. Warm evening air. You were younger then. Work travel was a benefit. Dining out on the corporate card within your daily allowance. Lingering at the hotel bar for a nightcap. Watching the Lakers on the overhead T.V.

The elevator door opens. How many times in your life have you been in this exact spot, dragging your luggage (and your a**) out of an elevator, late evening or night, eyes desperately scanning for the room number on the wall, body craving sleep, body yearning for your own bed, your own pillows, your own comforter…Home.

There’s a large stain on the carpet. And then another. And another. I reach for my key. I step in. There’s a faint smell of tobacco. And then industrial disinfectant. I set my bags down and step into the bathroom. No separate shower from tub, caulking around the tub has separated. The faucet is dripping, splashing around the drain and a soft brown stain. My hands reach for a towel, the same towel used by hundreds of patrons, I pause, searching for blood stains, discoloration of any type. When I can’t find it, I advance – it’s coarse on my forehead and my cheeks, the industrial washers scrubbing out the remaining useful life. I breathe in the fabric of the towel. Smell? Nothing.

The air conditioner is a dated, large wall unit that’s better suited for a 2-cycle lawn mower engine. It’s emitting non-stop, soul crushing bedlam. Intolerable. [Read more…]

Walking Backward. From The Road.

Think back to when you were a child, it’s Christmas Eve, and your eyes scan the packages under the tree. “Not before 7 am!”  The hands on the clock are stuck in some alien, viscous slurry.

Now, place yourself at the gates of Epcot, the opening day of the International Food & Wine Festival. It’s 7:45 a.m., the gates open at 8 a.m. Throngs of tourists mingle anxiously. Selfies. Smartphones. Strollers. And, Scooters, so many scooters, for the less mobile. (And I’m being kind here.)

There was the new ride  Soarin‘.  Warnings: Motion sickness? Fear of Heights? I look left and right and find no one but me griping the armrests. When did you get so fearful? So timid? Then there was The Seas and the Bomouth Guitarfish, a scary looking cross between Shark and Manta Ray. Then Frozen. Then Nemo. Then Living with the Land, a ride through horticulture and aquaculture. This was followed by a one-hour guided tour called Behind the Seeds. Hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. And Aeroponics, the process of growing plants in air or mist without the use of soil.

It is here that the tour seems to hit bone. We are walking through four greenhouses. Plants spinning on mechanical pulleys. And, plants growing in white sand, being fed nutrient drips. And fish, in tanks – sturgeon, bass, catfish, tilapia. Circling round and round, being fed on the clock.

This World, sterile, Man-Manufactured. No insects. No birds. No dark, rich soil. [Read more…]

Walking Mid Town. With Keats…

Early evening. Heat shimmers from the asphalt. I stand waiting for the Don’t Walk sign to turn…I’m three blocks from the entrance to Grand Central and my Metro North train ride home.  Hulking skyscrapers, mid-town Manhattan Gods, offer shade, a welcome cover to a day that needs to end. You are spent. 

And…as I stand waiting, here they come. Non consecutive lines from the Keats’ sonnet Bright Star

The moving waters at their priestlike task…
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell

And why Keats? Why this poem? Why these lines? Why now? What algorithm upstairs decides it’s time for this?  Here on 42nd Street, so far from the glacial waters of Home, so many galaxies from The Rockies, so many months from snow.  Yet, and somehow, and for some reason, it’s pulled up.

I feel the pillowy softness of snow in August, and the cool melt of crystals on my tongue. And I’m swept away, miles from the cacophony of horns, engines, tourists and the sweltering August heat.

The light turns. I walk. I cross the street and the smell of fried chicken fills my lungs…I inhale deeply…tantalizing. Keats’ grip on me vaporizes. [Read more…]

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