Riding Metro North. Stones, truths and time.

Sunday afternoon

I’m sitting on couch, wrapped in a soft hand-knit throw, reading Rachel Cusk’s new book “Coventry“: “I wanted only to be allowed to stay where I was; all weekend, the feeling of Sunday evening’s approach was as cruel and meticulous as the ticking of a time bomb.”

Weekend dripping away.  Work enters consciousness. Calendar. Meetings. The unfinished business.

Monday morning.

8 a.m. Dentist appointment. X-rays. Open wide. The pinch of hard plastic on the soft tissue inside of mouth. The squeeze of metal on molars.  The heavy cloak of the x-ray protective vest weighing on chest. All triggers the gag reflex. Then, cleaning. 48 minutes later, I’m released. I get up. Vertigo. Can’t find my footing. Woozy.

Cusk: “It is the body of a nearly forty-nine-year-old, but it doesn’t feel that way. I have never felt myself to be ageing: on the contrary, I have always had the strange sensation as time passes that I am getting not older but younger…This is not, of course, a physical reality.

I pay, exit, find my car and enter I-95 traffic in right lane. And stay in right lane, following traffic. Semi trailer to my left, an arm’s length away.  Decal below his rearview mirror trimmed in silver: “In memoriam of Armando.” Son? I stare at the lettering a-r-m-a-n-d-o, it slides closer to me. I return attention to the road in front. Damn it, it’s me! I turn the wheel right to veer back into my lane.  Cob webs heavy. Tailings of vertigo from Dentist chair. Fading sleep medication. So that’s what it’s come to. Old man in right lane, following traffic. Since when have you followed traffic, in the right lane, followed anything, or anybody? [Read more…]

Driving I-95 S & N. Money For Nothing.

Hasn’t happened. Ever.
50+ years.
Not a single time.

I’m stuck on I-95 S. Frustrated. I was up early, planned to be ahead of the morning rush, way ahead, and now, here I sit. Nasty traffic, snarled. Waze signals delays, and more delays.

Need a mind set shift. I type Dire Straits in search box. Because dire it is. That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it / Money for nothin,’ and chicks for free.

Nothing for Free. Stupidity is expensive.

Traffic is at a dead stop. I grab my briefcase from the backseat and rummage through it again. Nothing. What makes you think it will be there. You went through it twice at home. And your Suit jacket from yesterday and the day before. And your pant pockets, from three days. And the hamper. And the floor in the closet. And your other bag. And the kitchen counter. And the car. The trunk. The glove box. Under all seats, and between seats. And the side pockets. A sweat droplet glides down your back, your forehead glistens.  55° F and you’ve just about had it for the day. 

I inch forward in traffic.

I call the office: “Could you please check under my desk? In my drawers? Call lost and found? Call the restaurant hosting the work dinner Tuesday Night?”

I call home: “Could you check my Suit pockets again please? My desk drawer? My other bag? Under the cushions on the couch? The drawer in the night stand? The floor under the nightstand?”

I’m sure with two different sets of eyes, they will find it. I’m sure.

I sit in the cabin, in traffic, in silence, and wait. Nick Flynn: “We are made of waiting –…”

Traffic inches forward.  WTH. Is everyone in the State of Connecticut parked on I-95?

Both calls come back. Nothing.

I’m sitting in my first morning meeting. Mind is gone, Away. Replaying the last 2 days, hour by hour. Or was it three days ago? Forgetting many things of late. A harbinger of things to come?

Rattled. [Read more…]

Flying AA1330 on A321S. Need Another Day.

First flight out of Dallas. 6:36 a.m. on-time departure.

Foot traffic unusually light at DFW, as are the lines at Security and at the Gate.

Ah yes, September 11. And, the morning of September 11th.

Pilot gets on the intercom, and announces that we’re flying on an Airbus A321S. 168,000 pounds, 450 mph at cruising altitude.

Plane unusually quiet. More seats empty than usual for this flight.

Pilot dims the lights in the cabin.

Cabin is silent as the plane taxis up to the runway.

It’s dark in the cabin, my seat mate snoozes. Me? Restless. Churning.

[Read more…]

Just another Friday night…

  • 8:05 pm. I arrive at home, 15 hour day. ooooooo, how do you spell, e-n-o-u-g-h…
  • 8:10 pm. Sitting at kitchen table. Thai takeout. Cold. Sticky rice, stucky rice.
  • 8:15 pm. Susan fussing with remote and TV. “Bloody cable box must be broken.”
  • 8:16 pm. DK: “No, must be the TV.  It’s time for one of those new 8K T.V.s.”
  • 8:17 pm. SK: “Are you out of your mind?”
  • 8:17 pm. She continues fussing with remote.
  • 8:18 pm. I’m picking at the cold rice which is slathered with Duck sauce.
  • 8:19 pm. I google Cablevision to see if there are outages. Widespread outages since 7:49 pm.
  • 8:20 pm. DK: “Why don’t you google it?”
  • 8:21 pm. SK: “I’m not googling anything. You google it.”
  • 8:22 pm. 36 years of marriage last week. I sit in silence and pick at the cold Garlic Chicken.
  • 8:23 pm. She reboots the cable box by powering it on and off. She waits for system to reset.
  • 8:26 pm. System resets.  She curses. Still no fix. She’s now irritated, advancing to angry.
  • 8:26 pm. She scurries over to the other room to test that TV.
  • 8:27 pm. She’s back. She’s isolated root cause to a cable problem.
  • 8:28 pm. She resets the entire T.V. to default settings. And waits and waits and waits.
  • 8:39 pm. It’s back up. No fix.
  • 8:40 pm. She runs downstairs to reset cable modem to reset the entire system.
  • 8:45 pm. Alarms beep. Entire system reboots.
  • 8:45 pm. I’m watching her with the remote, clutching a crucifix, whispering to herself.
  • 8:50 pm. Entire system reset. No fix.
  • 8:51 pm. DK: “Why don’t you google it?”
  • 8:52 pm: SK: “I’m not googling anything.”
  • 8:52 pm. She texts neighbor. To learn that neighbor has texted entire neighborhood.
  • 8:53 pm. Neighbor: “Cable out in three states CT, NY, NJ.”
  • 8:53 pm. Three states of cable addicts blitzing Cablevision 800 # and website.
  • 8:54 pm. I’ve moved onto dessert, continue watching this show. Who needs Broadway?
  • 8:55 pm. She googles Cablevision with her back to me. She finds number and dials. She’s on hold.
  • 8:58 pm. After being on hold for several minutes, she learns that it’s the wrong number.
  • 8:59 pm. She collapses onto couch, still clutching the remote.
  • 9:00 pm. I walk upstairs, looking over my shoulder. There she is, eyes closed, slumped on the couch. And I’m the one with problems?

Image & Story: Optimum customers report widespread outages (CtPost, September 6, 2019, 9:42 PM)

Driving I-95 S. I Wear My Sunglasses At Night.

5:33 am.

Tuesday.

I dial up 80’s on 8 on Sirius, and accelerate down the exit ramp, spilling into light traffic onto I-95 South. Another day. Rick Moody’s “relentless sameness to it.”

Second song on the playlist: Sunglasses at Night. Corey Hart. (1983). I clip the front end…and then the chorus, and the lyrics spin and spin and spin.

I wear my sunglasses at night / So I can so I can / Watch you weave then breathe your story lines. / I wear my sunglasses at night / I wear my sunglasses at night./ So I can so I can / Keep track of the visions in my eyes / I wear my sunglasses at night / I wear my sunglasses at night / So I can so I can
See the light that’s right before my eyes

18-wheeler, no branding, slides into the center lane, and then again into the left lane. I’m doing 70 mph and he’s widening the gap. He’s passed 4 other semis, UPS, US Postal Service, Sysco and New England Seafood Distribution, before returning to the center lane. Clear skies as far as you can see.

Lanes tighten up ahead, and he slows in the construction zone. I approach and he’s to my right.  He bobbles left into my lane, and I slide left into the towering cement highway divider. If your window was open, you could brush that divider with our hand. Steady DK, Steady.

I tighten my grip on the steering wheel. Five hours sleep, and a miscalculation of the dosage of ZzzQuil, new sleep medication. Steady DK.

He slides back into his lane, I shift lanes and exit onto I-287. He heads to Manhattan.  Exhale.

I wear my sunglasses at night. I wear my sunglasses at night.  [Read more…]

Flying S.S.W. This ain’t Disney.

August 7th. This morning. 6 a.m. LaGuardia Airport. New York City.

Peak summer vacation season.

Young Parents. Families. Children. Babies. Backpacks. Teddy Bears. Duffel bags. Baby bottles.

Mothers, carrying delicate cargo, children nuzzled in necks, arms straining, heavy eyelids – – and it’s only 6:15 am. It’s going to be a long day.

ID’s. Passports. Longer. Everything’s longer. Wait times at check-in. At security. At X-Ray machines. But today, it’s ok. Families, together, excited, it’s summer vacation. There’s a sense of community in the terminal this morning. It’s buzzing. A good buzz.

Air conditioning blows in the waiting area, children huddle, gathering warmth around knees of their parents.

CNN blaring from TVs overhead. White Nationalists. Hate. More dead. [Read more…]

Driving Kenilworth Road. With Intuition +.

Just another morning commute. And then, maybe not so much. Like a take from Hannah Nicole’s A List of Soft ThingsWatching a time happen and thinking, I will remember this.”

5:25 am. Tuesday morning. GPS estimates 15 miles in 21 minutes for the morning commute.

Traffic flows.

Body is rested. (For a change.)

Mind is clear. (For a change.)

Sirius 7 on 70’s fills the cabin with Johnny Nash. I can see clearly now, the rain is gone / I can see all obstacles in my way / Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind / It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) / Sun-Shiny day / Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies / Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies.

I scan through the playlist for the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling. Can’t find it. Try to lip sync a few bars. Painful. I give up, and turn my full attention to the road.

I’m on the last leg of the morning drive. I-287 W, exit to the Hutch. I wait at the stop light. 0.3 miles from the office.

I wait.

Light turns green. And just at this moment, my skin tingles. Odd.  And then there’s a whisper: You might want to slow down here. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 North. Private One-Hour Conversation.

Tuesday.  It’s late. It’s been a long day. I glance at my smart watch, 4,500 steps, well short of 10,000 target. Should have walked across town and taken the train. No you shouldn’t have.  Air is heavy. Feels like mid-August.  My head swims from the second glass of red wine. I walk half way up the block and back, while I wait.  4,935 steps. Well that’s Something.

I’m in back seat of car. Phone rings. Work. The call carries on. Something is off.  Antennae go up. I can feel him. Driver is listening. I’m conscious of my words. I shift to deeper code, quickly end the call, and set the phone in my bag. I sit quietly. Irritated. No privacy anywhere. Rude.

It’s silent in the cabin, air blows cool. Tension seems to rise a few clicks in the silence. You’re just tired. It’s all in your head Pal.

He breaks the silence.

“Sir, what is it that you do?” I’m wary about my response, but I respond, and at 100,000 feet. He’s not getting anything out of me.

“How long have you been doing it?” I respond curtly.

“That’s a long time.”  At this point, I feel I need to take control of the conversation.  “Why do you ask?” [Read more…]

Driving I-95 North. T.G.I.F. (Almost)

 

5:29 a.m.
Cruising down I-95.
Left lane open as far as the eye can see.
David Sanborn is blowing his Sax with The Dream.
Waze estimates 21 minutes to the office.
I put Sanborn on repeat. Wish I could play the Sax. Or have the talent to play any damn thing.
I arrive 2 minutes early.
Building is quiet but for the shuffling of the Security Guards an hour from a shift change.
Floor is silent but for the buzz of the overhead lights.
I get settled.
And get after the backlog of emails.
No phone calls. No meetings. No interruptions.
I glance at my watch, 90 minutes. Wow. And, Mailbox Zero achieved.
I lean back in my chair. Close my eyes.
It’s going to be a good day. No, it’s going to be a Great Day!
I stand up to stretch.
Take a few steps around my office. Something is off.
Take a few more steps. There’s an imbalance here.
I look down, and the buckle on my right shoe has detached and is flopping from side to side.

I check my calendar to see how many meetings I have outside of my office. Too many.

I walk to meetings. I’m lopsided. Clasp is banging from one side to the other. I can feel their eyes on my shoes.

I walk back to my office. Like a horse training for dressage, foot up, pause, trying to avoid the swinging of the buckle. This can’t go on much longer. [Read more…]

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…]

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