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)

Driving I-95 S. With Freddie.

Tuesday morning.

Early morning traffic is frictionless, commuters float down I-95 S.

It’s 42° F. It’s January.  Soft, light rain. Electronics somehow (?) sense that the windshield is damp, wipers flap intermittently. Miracle. All of it.

It’s quiet in the cabin.

No radio.

No talk shows.

No podcasts.

No playlists.

The soft hum of the engine. The shifting of the sole of my right shoe on the accelerator.

And, those pernicious bumpin’ Thoughts. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With a greeting party.

Yesterday. 3 a.m. I’m laying in bed, in darkness, exhausted. Eyelids, like anvils, won’t close. Won’t shut.

I’m swimming in Marina Benjamin’s head: “my head is lit up…like an out-of-hours factory…whirring generators flip on…lining up tasks in a shoulder-shoving queue…mostly I just fret, worry-beading problems and irritations…forming a manacle of woe.”

I have a 10 a.m. meeting in the city, an important meeting, with important people. The meeting is 7 hours away, like almost a full working day away, yet, I’m prepping. You need to sleep Friend, you will run out of steam by 10am.

It’s the 5:38 a.m. train to Grand Central. I can’t sleep. Can’t read. Can’t focus. I close my eyes and thoughts spin in a whirlwind, and then stop. Meditation. I’ve quit. It’s been three weeks. The app sits in the phone in my hand. The meditation prompts are a few clicks away. My fingers re-grip the phone. Now, do it now. You could use it now.  [Read more…]

Flying AA 1263 DFW to LGA. Over all Walls, Barriers and Fences.

Not a statistically significant sample for the Data Kings, but good enough for me. Here’s a driver profile summary for my last 5 Uber rides in Dallas:

“Egber”
Descent: Kurdish, 1st generation arrived in U.S. age 1
Car: Hyundai Elantra (spotless inside)
Music Playing: Country
Uber Rating: 4.88
My Rating: 5.0

“Fouad”
Descent: Egypt (1st Gen)
Car: Toyota Camry (Spotless)
Music Playing: Classical
Uber Rating: 4.82
My Rating: 5.0

“Rafat”
Descent: Jordan.
Car: Toyota Camry (Spotless)
Music Playing: Classical (soft)
Uber Rating: 4.88.
My Rating: 5.0

“Bennie”
Descent: U.S. Lake Providence, Louisiana. African American. “Retired Grandpa of 5. Love People.”
Car: Lexus ES. (Spotless)
Music Playing: Jazz
Uber Rating: 4.94
My Rating: 5.0

“Jason”
Descent: Jamaica (1st Gen)
Car: Nissan Maxima (Spotless)
Music Playing: Pop
Uber Rating: 4.91
My Rating: 5.0

This Rider (DK)
Descent: Canada (1st Gen). Green Card Resident.
My Uber Rating: 4.92

Punch line:

God Bless America.

I love this country.


Photo: (via me-poppins)

What’s Your Spirit Bird?

 

I sit at the kitchen table preparing to read the NY Times. I separate the front section from the rest of the paper, and then pause.

I get up, go to the fridge and grab the remains of yesterday’s leftovers.

I turn to the Opinion Pages, my first stop, and scan the titles. My eyes spot an essay by Margaret Renkl.  I’m a fan-boy of Margarets. I see that her piece is titled “Spring is Coming“…well that’s a bit aggressive on January 5th, no Margaret? 

I read on.

“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, the bird that sets the tone for your encounters with the world and with others, the bird that guides your heart and your imagination in the coming year. It’s hardly a serious ornithological exploration, but there are plenty of birders who will wake before dawn anyway, no matter how late they stayed up on New Year’s Eve. They will drive off to some wild place teeming with avian life, all to increase the sunrise odds of seeing a truly amazing first bird. Who wouldn’t love to be matched for a year to the spirit of the snowy owl? What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!”

I pause.

Yea, OK, it’s January 5th, it’s well beyond New Year’s Day but there’s no reason I can’t find my bird now. I need my spirit bird Now.

I stop nibbling on my sandwich. Get up. Step out the back door, watch, and listen.

Silence.

I wait a few moments longer, in my short sleeve t-shirt, in 38° F temperatures.

Nothing. 

Perhaps some encouragement. Come on Red! Where’s that Red Cardinal? There are four bird feeders in the backyard. All hang on their poles silently. No breeze. They don’t swing. They are Still.

Nothing.

I step back into the house, pull the sliding door closed, and finish up Margaret’s essay.

No Bird. Wonder what that means.

I reach for the remaining quarter of my sandwich, and look down…

Chicken Sandwich…

What a gift to be guided for 12 months by the soul of a Bohemian waxwing!


Photo: Ostdrossel

Running. With Turtlenecks.

Christmas morning. I’m running.

35° F, feels like 26°.  Wind cuts, it’s wet, akin to wind coming off Lake Michigan in Chicago, the Windy City. It penetrates the bones. I shiver.

I pull down the zipper on my jacket, and reach for the zipper on my running shirt.  I zip it all the way up. This blocks the wind but triggers another, deeper, pain point.  The moisture wicking fabric on the running shirt wraps snugly around my Adam’s Apple. Oh, God. No. My hand instinctively claws at the shirt to pull it away, offering temporary relief, but no more. The shirt snaps back around my throat.

I scramble to unzip the jacket, to unzip the shirt, freeing my throat. The cold air swooshes in. But at least it’s free. Can’t have anything touching the Adam’s Apple.  We all have our tics. This one is mine. Raye speaks of a Medium calling for a new Puppy in 2019. I believe her, but don’t believe in Mediums, Tarot Cards or any other woo woo, but I shudder to think what the Medium would say about this Adam’s Apple thing – some horror in a prior life.

In his story titled “Little Birds“, Simon Van Booy describes memories as “Each year…putting a new coat over all the old ones. Sometimes I reach into the pockets of my childhood and pull things out.” So this triggers a pulling out of a thing. My little bird. With its broken little wing. [Read more…]

Running. With *$!# Management.

6:58 a.m.

First day of Winter. Temperature: 61° F. Repeat: 61° F, on December 21st. Paradoxical? Global Warming? Heti whispers: “Not everything has to be so heavy all the time.” Whoa Sheila, try walking with me in this Head for a few yards.

I step on the scale anticipating a bad outcome…and expectations are exceeded on the high side. Now Sheila, here’s some real Heavy.

Rain patters on the roof, bangin’ on the gutters. I flip open the Dark Sky app…it’s calling for heavy rain for the next two hours. 

“Severe weather alert: Coastal Flooding.”

Well, maybe that might work – a flash flood to drag me along the highway, scrubbing the cheese, gingerbread cookies and peppermint chocolate gelato off these bones, and cleanse me of this mood while it’s at it.

I pause as I put on my sneakers. Maybe it’s best to wait for the rain to let up, and run later. Who are you kidding? Get your a** out the door.

I’m out the door. I run. With Me (M), and me (m).

M: What’s with the mood?

m: I don’t want to get into it.

M: Blog title? Anger management? Angry about what? 

m: Hard of hearing? Pick a topic. I’ll find an angle.

M: Root cause? [Read more…]

Running Away. From the Salt Benediction.

 

We have a bad situation here. (Very)

One needs to take personal accountability. Yet, if I could, I would, find anyone, anything, to blame. 

The digital Nokia scale (Nokia Body Cardio WiFi Smart Scale in Black) was a Christmas gift from the kids last year. The gift wasn’t a subliminal message, but a blow with a blunt instrument. They see it, I can’t hide it. Man boobs. Pooch maturing to hang belly. And everything else, sliding, down, down, down.

So, for the next ~320 days, the morning ritual is the same. Step on the scale. Step off the scale. The Scale wirelessly sends the data to the iPhone app. The app fires off a notification:

“New weight measurement available.  Stepping on the scale every morning and opening Health Mate regularly will help you stay on track.” 

Right. Right.

Tuesday:

Nokia alert: “Good job. Your weight is up only 0.3 lbs from the day before.” Monday. Box of chocolates from colleague as a holiday gift along with a thank you note. A constant beckoning presence on my desk, a siren call. I put the conference call on mute. Pop a chocolate covered caramel in my mouth. Close my eyes. Let that blessing melt down my throat. [Read more…]

Walking Cross Town. With Woo Woo.

It’s a blank screen.

At the bottom of the iPhone, there’s a Start arrow symbol: >

Below the arrow, is a timer.

09:00.

My finger hovers over the arrow. Oh, for God sakes DK, it’s only 9 minutes. How difficult can this be?

P: “As we get started, settle yourself in a comfortable position.”  Her voice is soothing. Or seductive? Jesus, DK, focus.

The Pacifica app’s headline: “Reduce Stress. Feel Happier.” “Apple’s Best of 2017…psychologist designed tools for mindfulness meditation, relaxation, and mood/health tracking.” Only you DK, only You, can get anxious in front of a Meditation exercise designed to reduce the same. 

P: “Sit on a chair or a cushion on the floor…If you feel comfortable doing so, close your eyes…” (Long Silence)

This pilgrimage isn’t to Mecca, not to the Wall in Jerusalem, and not with Him upstairs. But a prayer to the new God. My palms cradle my Smartphone, and the glowing screen feeds me.  I was off on the last leg of David Rome‘s journey: As we grow from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, eventually our most fundamental relationship becomes the inner relationship with ourselves. [Read more…]

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