Riding Metro North. One Car Short.

Thursday morning.
33°F. Feels like 23°F.
Out the door at 4:50 am to catch the 5:01.

Dark.

Directly across the street: new Neighbors. Young and DINK.  First things first. No curtains up, yet bright, white lights were carefully hand strung and evenly distributed across their bushes. The evergreens throw shadows on the front door. I pause. What was that? That softening, that load lightening ever so slightly. ‘Tis the season.

I board train. No open seats. At 5:01 a.m.?  Conductor announces that the train is one car short and apologizes. $15.25 for a one-way Peak ticket to Grand Central (Yes, Peak at 5:01 am.)  $15.25 and you get the privilege of standing. And standing for 55 minutes. Sigh.

I stand in the aisle, as the vestibule overflows with commuters. I set my bag down between my legs, grab the seat support, being careful not to brush against the passenger sitting in the seat.  I hover over him. He feels it. Nobody likes this.

We’re five minutes into the commute. I’m restless. I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m not going to make it. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Est-ce-réel?

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It came Monday afternoon, an Amazon order. Tall, soft and plastic, the kind that you would see end up with other marine debris choking the life out of Nemo in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Calm is stenciled in 80 point font on the cylindrical container. “Natural Vitality Natural Calm Calmful Sleep Magnesium Anti Stress Extra Sleep Support, Organic, Wildberry, 16 oz.”

Bullsh*t. No chance this works but desperate people need to take desperate…

“Natural Vitality Natural Calm Calmful.”

Seriously? Really? Who writes their copy? What idiot would buy something with this lead?

I yank off the seal, tilt, then look down inside. The soft, white pillowy substance slides to one side and then the other. Contents may settle. Product sold by weight not volume“. It has settled below the half way mark. $28.49. Bullsh$t. Shysters. At least get it above halfway. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With Sunbeam.

You think you might give me a run for it, but you can’t touch me. You can’t come close, not remotely close to my Superiority. Top 1% of the 1% in…

Mood Swings. 

Close your eyes and think bungee jumper, in an infinite loop, who’s boinging up and down in a zone which pulls up short of Bliss and a whisker from Abyss. Not too hot, but hot enough to pinch, and not too cold, but cold enough to feel frost bite, and once in a while tasting Despair, but never lallygagging in Euphoria.

It’s the 5:40 am train. I have the entire seat to myself on Metro North to NYC.

We’re operating on 4.5 hours of sleep, and hauling the wet slushy snow of accumulated sleep deprivation from the prior three days.  Eyes heavy. Shoulders heavy. Words from the morning papers slur together.  I set down the smartphone.

Tired. Sick and tired of being tired, and bored writing about tired. Tired³. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Don’t Sit Here.

You, yes You, are standing on the platform waiting for the next train. The train approaches.  You flip open an app that displays which seats are open and…the app flashes a profile of your seat mate. Profiles are pulled together using a composite of the individuals’ blog posts, google searches and social media activity. So, what you have here is a form of seat match-making, with no names or addresses disclosed.

You, yes You, see that there are only two seats open. You scan the first profile, and you move to the second, mine, needing to quickly decide where to sit as the train pulls into the station. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With Nana.

5:55 am train to Grand Central. It’s the 2nd stop.  My head is down, I’m flipping through the morning papers.

The voice is soft, kind: “Excuse me.” She struggles to avoid contact as she slides to the middle seat; she’s directly across and to my left.

Someone’s Mother, Someone’s Grandmother, a Nana.

She settles in, straightening her neat, navy skirt. Her hands clutch a thin, pocket umbrella and rest on her lap, on top of a small black purse attached to a black shoulder strap.

Of Central American origin, Guatemalan, if I was guessing, of Mayan origin, guessing again.

I catch her in a quick glance at me, she was guessing: “Suit. Privileged. WASP. Ivy league educated. Money.” Wrong on most, but not all counts. OK, let’s call it wrong on some counts. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With William Edward Hickson.

6:16 am to Grand Central.

Train car is packed but Silent.

I’m riding backward, feeling lighter, refreshed, alive. Looking East, now in Daylight Savings Time, it’s a ride in morning light, following months of lurking in darkness. A orange glow lights up the horizon and triggers Cummings: “the / mercy of perfect sunlight after days // of dark, will climb; will blossom: will sing (like / april’s own april and awake’s awake).”  

I can feel all that.

Back to the morning reading.

New thing: Riding + reading = Nausea.  Eyes, knees, shoulders, and now stomach. Middle age creep. Oh, how to be blessed for 50+ years with a cast iron stomach that can be filled with any grade of fuel, and bam, like a light switch, Gone. I’ve become a delicate flower, a petal to be handled with care. Stress? IBS? I softly lick my lower lip and find the sweet remnants of one of 2 glazed, cheese danishes from last night. Who the hell knows. It’s all exceedingly fragile, I’m teetering like a Jenga Tower.

I set the e-reader down, lift my head. Need to stabilize. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With Both Thumbs.

5:40 am to Grand Central. Standing room only, 4 men stand in the vestibule. How is this possible on the second train of the day?

One of the four left standing, leans against the railing.  Italian shoes. Beats Wireless Ear buds. A snappy form fitted Canada Goose vest. Shirt cuffs unbuttoned. Stylin’. A Starbucks cup in one hand, a smartphone in the other, he flicks screens, grins, and sips his coffee.

Lady in the seat directly across reads the New York Times. Yes, like a real newspaper, a legitimate oddity on a commuter train. A glance up and down the rail car reveals no single other newspaper, just the hum of the air-conditioning and the silent flicking of hundreds of index fingers.

Lady next to her, a face white as snow, contrasting with her black coat, tall black knee high boots, and the white skin of the knee bunching out of a black knee brace. She grips a large, black, Samsonite wheeled carry on, with her black back pack resting on top.  Her makeup groans to cover darkening bags under the eyes. The dike is leaking, age is ready to break, for her, for me. Cat Steven’s tune drifts in: Morning has broken….black bird has spoken… [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. With Black Crow.

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End to end, it was seconds.
But this won’t be wiped with a flick of the wrist on an Etch-a-Sketch.
5:37 am. 45 F.
Rain, a light mist.
Minutes from the 5:40 to Grand Central.
She’s approaching.
Ten Yards.
Tall. Wafer thin.
Her eyes on me.
I avert, and then return to Her.
Black hair. Neatly primped above shoulders. Dark as night.
Black pumps.
Black coat.
Black shoulder bag.
Five yards away.
Thin nose.
Black eyes. No light.
I slide back six inches from the guardrail.
She maintains her course, straight ahead.
The Earth and the platform trembles.
It’s the Iron Horse, three spot lamps from the head illuminate the rails.
She stops, in my space, the rail cars rush by…followed by a blast of wind.
We stand face to face. Eye to eye.
She glances at my black rain slicker, and then down at my black shoes.
And snaps her head back up.
Empty.
She abruptly turns and continues down the ramp.
Her tail, or tail feathers swishing behind her.

WTH was that?

I step cautiously over the Black Cat’s path and wait for the doors to open.
Black?
Nah, let’s go with Black Magic.


Notes:

Riding Metro North. Man With a Plan.

hair-breeze-wind
High School graduation.
Scholarship.
Land of the Opportunity.
He leaves.

Undergraduate Degree.
Marriage.
Green Card.
Graduate Degree.
He learns. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. And Sleeptalking.

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4:50 am.
11 minutes to the 5:01, the first train to Grand Central.
I step onto the front porch into darkness.
And into Salter’s Burning The Days…at both ends.

Peter Cottontail scurries down the driveway, his white tail bobbing.  A four-legged leaf clover.

Did I stop and allow myself to be surprised? Or did I trudge on in a daze?David Steindl-Rast prods in Awake, Aware and Alert.  Yes, David, Yes.

My head is down, I’m watching for icy patches. The footfall is covered with a moon shadow – the mind bleached with a word slurry. First Harrison: If you are strained, lacerated, enervated…take a night walk as far as you can get from a trace of civilization – a dance, and the ghost that follows you, your moon-cast shadow, is your true, androgynous parent.  And then Kalanithimy specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus.  Lacerated. Enervated. Specklike. Immensity. My two feet. Flooded with Gratitude.  I keep walking.

4 minutes to departure. I pick up the pace. [Read more…]

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