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…]

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…]

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