January 9th

I think about what I want to do.

Think about what I want to have done.

The sun is shining on a white lattice.

It’s crisp and cold outside and I want to feel it on my cheek and

I want to feel vital, strong, new, different, onto something, on a roll, in the know
In the clear,

past it.

Desirable and desired.

Inside it’s dark hot and close.

There is a train inside me dark and cold.

I need some coal and a coalman to shovel the coal where the coal goes.

I need a lot of things.

Stoke my cold locomotive.

Well first I got to get to a bigger window.

I can barely see the light.

———————-

“It’s the elephant in the room,” we say, as if an elephant would quietly sit
Or lie
On the floor
Quiet as a mouse, muscles tensed hoping not to be noticed, talked about
or pointed out.

Or as if the elephant were a
wallflower at the school dance, shyly sitting on a folding chair sipping punch,
yearning to chat with the prettiest girl or
Slow-dance with
The cocky prom king.

If the elephant in the room is an elephant

He’s ancient, strong, proud, regal.

He doesn’t care for your room nor mine, nor does he regard them.

Mind you, he’s not rude nor does he wish you ill, but he doesn’t belong in our rooms.
HHe will bust out, leaving an elephantine hole in the wall
If he leaves a wall at all.

Elephants are social. The elephant in the room wants to find his friends and family he wants to make a loud noise, i mean he has an actual deafening musical instrument for a nose which is also an extra hand for grasping things, maybe a candy from a dish on your table or an interesting tchotcke from your shelf, which he’ll stick in his pouch. Oh, wait that’s a kangaroo. What do I look like, a zoologist?

He’ll grab it on the way. On his way

out of the room.

Leaving us without a metaphor.

January 8th

I think I might make this blog all about the pain in my feet. Just foot-complainin’. That’d be real good. Or I could branch out into other kinds of complainin’. My feet are tore up for real though. I need to stop walking so much.

The weather’s turning nice. It’s a bad time to have to be off my feet, but I think I’m going to have to find other means of exercise like biking or swimming or rowing.

Ahh that’s some premium foot-complainin’.

A dark night of the sole.

Thanks, I’ll be here all night, don’t forget to tip your waitperson.

Today I made a spinach casserole and tomato soup which was just campbells with diced tomatoes and chicken stock. I’m enjoying cooking though. I made a really good split pea soup awhile back.

I’m so tired. Today’s writing is of the sort where I really think it’d be better to say nothing at all. Hm, but I made myself that challenge to write every day and it’d be bad to miss a day only 7 days in.

I just thought that I should say something I’m thankful for and it’s this: I’m so excited to go to bed early (10 ish) and wake up early and to have a very productive day tomorrow. I think I will do my writing earlier in the day tomorrow. And make a list and a schedule and be a whirlwind of productivity.

January 7th.

I slept late today after spending yesterday at church and then driving Uber until late at night. I was pretty spent. That’s perhaps the problem with Uber. It takes me a day to recover. It felt good to sleep late, drink coffee and then go for a long walk. A long walk on the muddy golf course. It’s been a rainy winter. All my shoes are filthy and caked with mud. I haven’t been running lately, though I love to run, because my feet have been giving me more problems than normal. Tendonitis and just general pain. But I have been walking. I listened to a Rachel Maddow podcast about Spiro Agnew. Something about the 70s history and 70s culture in general that scratches an itch in my unconscious (unconsciousness? I don’t know which is correct.) I love 70s muscle cars, 70s cop shows, 70s movies, books, news reports. So I’m a sucker for Watergate-era documentaries and stories. The BBC did a great Watergate documentary that is (or was) on youtube. I think I like the 70s era because it was the twilight of my consciousness and of course there’s some nostalgia there and the 70s stuff helps me return and remember that era, which was a good era. I was happy then; I lacked nothing. Of course I like it.

Tonight I ate dinner with my parents and watched some football with my dad. He loves football. Whichever gene it is that makes people like football was not passed to me. So I rarely watch football, but tonight I did. I watched the pregame show with some troops marching and a bomber flying overhead and a giant flag unfurled and a guy I hadn’t heard of singing the anthem, with extra cloying melisma. I still love the USA and will probably always be someone who stands for the anthem with my hand over my heart. I remember being 4 years old in 1976 and turning to the flag and pledging allegiance with Gerald Ford looking on approvingly from a portrait on the wall. It was what I was taught should be done and it’s what I still do. I guess there is a quasi-religious element in there which should make me uncomfortable. I mean, an allegiance to a flag? Hm.

At the same time that I am patriotic I am skeptical of the reflexive and over-weening patriotism I see in certain quarters. I’m over it. The stupid kneeling debate. The ubiquitous flag-pin on the lapels of politicians. I swear I’ll vote for the re-animated corpse of Karl Marx himself if he promises not to wear a flag pin. That’s something I’d be afraid to say on FB because some of my conservative friends and/or fans would take it the wrong way, *or* it would start a stupid argument in the comments section. Man I do not miss moderating arguments in the facebook section of Facebook. That sounds like Hell. Oh also the US is the world’s largest arms dealer by a large margin. That ought to make every American a tiny bit uncomfortable. Or, a lot uncomfortable. Every anthem-singing is invariably accompanied by some military display. I’ll still stand for the anthem, but I will never second-guess the choice of anyone not to.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my parents. I wonder if perhaps this is unnatural or something I should resist. I do resist a little. but Meh. I don’t care. I like them, they like me and I am blessed to have them. And I won’t have them forever. I won’t be here forever either for that matter. For now I am here and I want to hang out with my family.

I needed a break. I needed a break from not being around family so now I am quite around family, and that is A OK. Nothing wrong with that.

Across From Me #2.

I don’t have a lot of time to write today. I woke up super early to arrive at church and rehearse before the service at Midtown Community Church in Raleigh where I’m now working. After church I drove Uber for an hour or so then came home to charge my phone. I’m having some trouble with the Uber app. It’s beautiful outside. It’s a day I’d rather be out walking beside the river. Perhaps I shouldn’t be working on Sunday, but I need money and I’m not super tired so I think I will drive for 5-6 hours and see how it goes.

I did a search for more “across from me photos.” Here’s another one, from a Bronx-bound 1 train. As it happens, it also features a dog, who was somewhat being used as a pillow. Apparently I’m less self-conscious about taking someone’s photo if they have a pet with them.

Bronx-bound 1 train

Gallery

Across from me

I knew a woman who for awhile had a blog called “across from me” where every day she’d post a picture she took of people on the subway sitting across from her. I thought that’s a good idea, to have a theme — a hook — for a blog. But that’s all it was. I think she doesn’t update it anymore. I tried for awhile. I’ve taken a few pictures of people on the subway. But mostly I’m too self-conscious. once, in fact a guy told me to stop taking his picture. This wasn’t on the subway but on Coney Island. I was taking a panorama shot, and he was in the way. Big ol cranky guy. He said “not everyone likes having their picture taken.” Heh. Vain fella. He was just in the way of the sunset.

I did take a ton of pictures in New York City. Hundreds a week. Here in NC I’ve only taken a few. Maybe 40 since I’ve been here. Another thing I haven’t done much is get on social media. I’ve enjoyed the break. Sometimes maintaining a social media presence is a job all by itself. But I worry if I am losing people — losing my friends, losing my audience — in some ways losing myself. It’s weird to have our relationships curated by a big corporation. It’s unnatural. And then there’s a fear of non-response. I don’t like feeling this way but there’s the “what if I click ‘like'” and they don’t respond in anyway?” Feeling. I’ve been on both sides of that feeling. Ignoring on Facebook and being ignored. One fan from way back sent me a friend request and I wrote him back and apologized but told him I wouldn’t accept because I was trying to separate my personal page and my music page. I asked him to “like” my music page instead, but he didn’t. I was kind of irritated. I wanted the connection, but couldn’t rightly call him a friend. I guess people want that more personal connection. I’ve been guilty of the same thing. “Friending” people I don’t know that well. Once I wrote a fan email to Ann-Margaret, in the pre-facebook days. Her assistant wrote me back and said “believe me, it is appreciated.” Heh. That’s a different thing though. I have some people on my facebook feed I barely know, or do not know at all. Facebook had a thing where it would show you how many “likes” or reactions you had clicked or produced, and my number was astronomically, depressingly high. I didn’t like it. So I’m enjoying spending less time on facebook. I hope I can keep my audience though. And, of course, my friends.

So here’s a picture I took on the subway — a Manhattan-bound B train. The guy might have been taking his dog to the vet. He had a lot of nervous energy and kept nuzzling, petting, and canoodling with the dog. He seemed worried. The woman is interesting-looking too. I always like seeing people read on the subway. If I saw someone reading on the subway I’d try to go sit as close to them as possible, because their presence was invariably calming, as opposed to the majority of people hammering away at or yammering away on their phones. There’s something grounding and soothing about a person reading a book. A book makes one more present while smartphones seem to take us out of the present.

Manhattan-Bound B Train

Friday January 4th. Durham and Raleigh, NC.

Painting by numbers,
What’s the color of 9.

Counting by colors. White, grey, white, yellow.
blackasphalt, grey granite, white sky, yellow grass,
a golfer in grey on a yellow green tosses a plastic vodka bottle, small and clear, onto the grass.
It lands silently for me to find later when I go on the green after-hours.

But now I’m walking past him on the street which goes by the golf course.
Walking my Mom’s little black dog.

The golfer is setting up for a putt, bent over as if in prayer, or meditating.
I wonder how the vodka fumes feel traveling through the nose to the back of the tongue, or vice versa.
Feels good, I know. I remember.

What do we call that body part where the soft palate meets the nose, where the vapors go.
what color would it be. Dark deepest red, where the acrid non-flavor nests and settles in.

Breathe.

He makes the putt.
Looks at me, I look back, think of saying “nice putt.”

I could have, who cares. I say nothing, he says nothing,
He gets in his golf cart and glides away.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Nothing lost either.

I keep walking.

—————–

I met with the Pastor of the new church where I am worship director. We met at a Thai restaurant on its final day as a Thai restaurant. The waiter tells us they are changing their menu, becoming a crab shack due to demand. They will still retain some Thai items. I ordered the green curry, plenty spicy, and it was plenty spicy. I had to keep ordering water, and also ordered one side of rice. It took me a while to taste the meal. It was so spicy, I was just kind of shoveling it in, then when it was over, I tasted the hint and remnant of what i had eaten. The kind of rough peppery fragrant burning.

My pastor and I were 2 of only 4 people in the place, and it had a 200-person occupancy. That’s not a good sign. The waiter still seemed over-worked. My constant requests for water probably didn’t help. Why not just bring a pitcher? I was a waiter once. If I had a customer who ordered 4 pints of water, no ice in a row I’d bring a pitcher. I’m smart like that. A genius one might say, if one were inclined to be very very accurate.

Actually I wasn’t a great waiter at the restaurant where I used to work in Durham, circa 1992. I was friendly — too friendly — but slow, and I daydreamed. I worked in a restaurant which was also a used bookstore, and I’d get lost in the stacks. I spent all my paycheck on beer and books. I’ve written about this before, I think. It was a really fun period of my life. Drinking, playing cards, listening to music, not caring. I wasn’t bedeviled by self-consciousness. I didn’t play many gigs, and when I finally did play one, people were impressed at the secret talent I’d been hiding. Under a bushel (no! I’m gonna let it shine).

Years later I received a card from one of my former co-workers — a woman named Allison, who now resided in College Station TX. The card said “I always wanted to say that I admired whatever it is — whatever was inside you — that made you go.” Gee that was a nice statement. I never knew Allison noticed me at all, much less admired me. She was a super type A good waitress. If I’d known she admired me I probably would have tried to like her or date her and who knows how that would have gone. Better the way it went. I only dated — very briefly, one of my coworkers, a woman who is a gifted writer who wrote me a poem I still treasure. She told me she would write “fields of poetry as green as your eyes.” My boss — John — wanted to fire me. He didn’t like me, never liked me. I think I was too slow, and unprofessional. And showed up late. But he had a manager — Kim. And Kim the manager liked me. Loved me. And I loved her. She was always smiling and so fun, and kept the place ticking and humming along. Kim went to bat for me and told John he shouldn’t fire me. The customers liked me. So he kept me. What a mensch, really. I mean, to go against his instincts and let his manager manage, and follow her instincts and keep me. He was a good guy. A former New Yorker. We were a family. There was a family feel. I miss those people. I’m friends with 3 or 4 of them on Facebook, and even manage to see 1 or 2 of them in the flesh here and there. I miss those days. All the more being back here.

————————

I went to Ross. The Department store. Found some deals. Oh the deals you can find at Ross. There were some Good Year Shoes for $25. They had a big bright Good Year Logo with the tire and the wings in blue and yellow. They looked like hiking boots and I needed some. I’m bedeviled by foot problems. Self consciousness and foot problems, my twin bedevilments. Sounds like a Tom Waits song. Actually I have several bedevilments; those are only two of them. I really need to write this Tom Waits song — any Tom Waits song.

There was a salesman hunched over a newspaper, a scruffy looking millennial guy. I said, “What do you hear about these shoes?” Meaning, what do customers say after having bought them. “Oh you look great. You sure got my attention,” he said, with enthusisasm that did not sound real in the slightest. He should not quit his job at Ross and become an actor. “That’s exactly why I’d be buying these Good Year shoes — to get the attention of guys like you,” I said. He laughed at that. “What I meant was, are they good shoes? Good for hiking,” I said. “I have no fricking clue man,” he said. I bought them. $25, how could I not. I bought a bunch of other stuff, priced to sell. socks. insoles, nose hair trimmer, back and shoulder massager, portable phone charger made by duracell, in the shape of a duracell battery. The kind of stuff an old guy would buy, I know. you can say it. I mean, Good Year shoes? Uff. But Ross has deals. If anyone tries to tell you Ross doesn’t have deals, you tell them to hush.

Lazy Knave

Laziest knave, the veriest churl
Razed, hazy, two nickels short of a dime, see
lost track of the time, see
Not big, tee-nincey. [tiny]*
Can’t move for all the world

Yoohoo, lubber.
sated satyr.
Porridge-bellied,
round as a tater.

A barefoot friar lost in the abbey
torpid tugger
on the rope of a bell with no clapper

Idle of the king
who made you,
calls you

Finds you
Wandring the halls
waiting to be raised
Til then staying laid.

What do you have to say?

Only this:
A hunk of fatback flavoring stew.
Stays, it doesn’t move.
But it’s used.

NEW CHAPTER, PART 2: DECEMBER 6 2018

At the Hertz I was to rent a minivan to pack full of everything I own and then to drive to North Carolina. Hertz, incidentally, is the origin of the yellow taxicab. That is, the traditional taxicab yellow comes from Hertz. Or something. There’s some trivia I vaguely remember. Old school trivia — that is, not from the internet. I could google it of course but then that would break the spell. Remember knowing something just because you know it and not because you just looked it up online? I barely do. Today’s kids probably don’t. I think I remember the Hertz trivia from playing trivial pursuit. I used to play trivial pursuit with my old music partner Brian Funck on long road trips. We’d just read the cards to each other, we wouldn’t use the board or pieces or anything.

There was one woman in front of me in line, and one woman behind the counter, on the phone. Jenny. Her name was on a placard. I was feeling a bit nervous. I had booked a minivan ahead of time online and called the manager of the Hertz to make sure a minivan would be available on the day of rental. “Well, I can’t make any promises,” said the manager. “Why not?” I said. “I booked a minivan, why can’t you give me a minivan?” “Sorry,” he said. “We don’t know exactly what we’re getting each day so we can’t be 100% positive we’ll have a minivan. But we usually have minivans.” “Ok,” I said, frustrated, but not frustrated enough to book an actual moving van from U-Haul. I would take my chances with the likely minivan, which was relatively cheap. $217 for one day, compared to over $800 for a U Haul. One part of my nervousness was not being sure if Hertz would have a minivan. The other part was, once I had a minivan, would it hold all my stuff, or would I have to leave some behind? When I moved from Queens to Jersey City I had to leave a lot of stuff behind, including a crate PA which both sounded good and had sentimental value. But that’s another story.

Jenny got off the phone and started helping the customer in front of me, who wanted an upgrade. This was interesting. This woman was not content to receive the kind of car she actually booked, she wanted something better, and what’s more, acted like she expected it. “You’re gonna give me an upgrade, right?” She said. Jenny said sorry she couldn’t do it this time. I don’t remember the conversation, but the gist of it was, the customer usually got an upgrade for free, and this time wasn’t getting one at all, and she customer wasn’t happy. I was surprised and a little annoyed at how entitled she seemed, because I was going to be happy and relieved if I received the kind of vehicle I had actually booked. The customer complained loudly and left in a huff.

I stepped up to the counter. “Wow, she was spoiling for a fight,” I said. “Oh her? She’s always like that.” said Jenny. I thought that I liked Jenny. Equable, stoic, unflappable, somewhat sphinx-like. She seemed like a decent Hertz representative, and in fact in my experience all Hertz representatives are decent. “I rented a minivan,” I said. “Yep, they’re bringing it up. Just let me scan your license and credit card.” And she made a copy of my license and credit card, then handed it back and said. “You’re all set since you paid online. You can go outside and wait.”

I went outside. Soon a man drove a grey minivan up to the curb. All my anxiety melted away. The minivan was a gleaming grey ship. I looked inside. It was huge. You could sleep a family of six in there. All my stuff would fit in there perfectly. I thanked the man, got in, and drove away, very carefully. I drove very slowly, obeyed all the laws, letting so many pedestrians pass in front of me against the light. People behind me were impatient, honking. Sorry. Pedestrian always has the right-of-way. I wanted to take my time. My last time driving in Manhattan.

I made my way down the West Side highway, also known as the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is right by the Hudson river, and then got in the lane for the Battery tunnel. It’s officially called the Hugh Carey tunnel but you could put a gun to most people’s heads before they could be bothered to call it the Hugh carey tunnel. I just realized how offensive that might be to the Carey family. Sorry guys. But you know, New York New York. It’s a wonderful town. The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down. There’s no Hugh Carey in the song.

On the way to the tunnel I snapped a picture of the Freedom tower. Incidentally I always hated that name. Never let George W. Bush name your architecture. Ok he probably didn’t name it but it sounds like he did. That was a bad era for us. The immediate post-9/11 era. I have strong feelings about it that I won’t get into here, but you can probably guess what I think by the fact that I hate the name “Freedom Tower.”

My last time staring up at the Freedom Tower, last time on the West Side Highway, my last time seeing the Hudson, my last time in Manhattan. I said goodbye, with no regrets.

Freedom Tower on the West Side Highway.

Quote

Day 1. (The Writing-Every-Day-Challenge resumes, hopefully).

Addiction is longing shed of love.

If I didn’t want ya I wouldnta swiped right on ya

your face and I clicked a red heart.

a bled heart drained.

And it rained.

See how the dirt is mixed up kid, churned up, turned up,

troubled.

You came from a good family,

had love, four squares, four walls, a roof and a floor and why do you always choose the floor,

you beggar?