subway solstice

subwaysolstice_6647Underground,
stations hold
spring’s coolness
a little longer
than the summer streets above,
until that moment
when the whole system
pulls in a hot drag
off the sizzling City,
and traps fire
in its tubes
until winter.

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face lifting

AgeMachine1500

Sometime in the 1970s, when cosmetic surgery was first being discussed on the nightly news as an elective procedure for those who could afford its extravagant price tag, my sisters who were gathered around the black-and-white TV in the kitchen dismissed the idea completely.

“I’d never do that,” they scoffed, extolling the ’70s all-natural look, “when I grow old, I want to do it gracefully—like Lauren Bacall.” They always referenced someone like Lauren Bacall (who only would have been in her fifties at the time), never Aunt Bea or Granny from the Beverley Hillbillies or any of the other women that most of the population ages into resembling.

At that point in the conversation, my mother turned from the kitchen sink with a wistful smile. “I don’t know,” she interrupted, “look at this.” Continue reading “face lifting”

history lesson

Cleaning out
is history research,
an archeological dig,
each layer revealing
moments from the past
weeks,
then months,
then years,
—what mattered at the time.

While cleaning out the garage
I found a wad of bread
some creature had stashed
between summer cushions
with dust, leaves, twigs
—an abandoned nest
built upon the boxes
we brought with us
intending to repair
an even more
ancient
past.

 

discombobulated

I woke completely confused, an hour before the alarm this morning. Although I’m already a week into my new job, I startled from my sleep unsure of what day my new employers were expecting me to start working.

This came after two busy days in Rhode Island helping Bob get the house closer to ready for sale, bookended by two three-and-a-half-hour train rides (which explain why we didn’t visit New York as often as we had intended when we moved to Providence), plus the added hour subways between Penn Station and Bed-Sty.

I was discombobulated much of the weekend in Providence. As I was falling asleep on Saturday night, back in my own bed with Bob and our dog Marcello by my side, I had been scrolling through Manhattan apartment listings on my phone. For a few seconds I wondered if I could make an open house or two before I met my train the next day. I had to remind myself that I was in Providence currently, and wouldn’t be back in New York until after my train.

Continue reading “discombobulated”

missed connections: losing my iphone as i leave new york

“How is that phone even working?” The fourteen-year-old son of our friend in Paris asked, staring across the bistro table at my iPhone with the kind of casual disdain that French teenagers have perfected.

He was right, of course (as all those French teenagers usually are). My iPhone’s battery had overheated and expanded, pushing up against the screen, which had detached around the edges along the top. It being a work phone, I could have turned it in for a replacement, but knowing I would be leaving the university in six weeks, I didn’t want to go through the hassle, despite risking the loss of all service and connection while on vacation in Europe.

Continue reading “missed connections: losing my iphone as i leave new york”

quiet sadness on the pope’s visit

As a person who cares deeply about ending poverty and its systemic causes, as well as reversing the disastrous consequences of climate change, I know I should remain silent.

I should tuck my personal feelings into my vest pocket, keep a low-profile, and roundly support the lovefest that has been unfolding here in the United States for Pope Francis during his visit.

But I’m conflicted.

And I’m tired.

Continue reading “quiet sadness on the pope’s visit”

this is what you get: life after plasma tv

Our 12-year-old 52″ Fujitsu plasma TV would still be displaying beautifully and brightly had our movers not killed it.

After a decade of walking into Best Buy’s home theater departments and backing right out again, horrified by how bad the LED HD displays looked compared to our plasma, Bob and I are now forced against our will to consider the new generation of TVs—and to deal with a generation of salespeople who don’t know that film wasn’t “analog” and that movies on movie theater screens before 1990 didn’t look like old VHS tapes or a low def cable broadcast.

One young salesman actually tried to tell me my eyes just “didn’t know any better back then” enough to recognize that movie images were all jagged digits and blurry bits like the lower resolution broadcast of Peter Weir “Witness” that we were watching on the 75-inch 4K TV display in front of us.

Continue reading “this is what you get: life after plasma tv”

où est la guerre?

We arrived in France for the first time on Bastille Day.

After three weeks in Italy, where I had been in charge of the map and the language, Bob emerged from the overnight train to Nice suddenly totally responsible for our well being.

As he spoke first to the cab driver and then to the hotel clerk, he held is head as if it was painful to produce the sounds he was making. And the locals stared at him as though he were a giant misérable wearing a bloody head bandage.

Continue reading “où est la guerre?”

time capsule to my teenaged self

Dear Jim, Hello from 2015.

I’ll bet that sounds downright Jetsonian to you as a 17-year-old in 1975.

So I’ll settle one big question at the outset: we do not have flying cars.

There is, come to think of it, something called a personal computer that I know you’ll appreciate for at least a couple of its features in particular: it will check your spelling for you. Hold your tears. I know you’ll love that.

And then there’s the Internet, which is also hard to describe, but it will eliminate the need for the family’s old Encyclopedia Britannica. And there’s a whole lot of, well, anything you might ever want (publicly or secretly) on the Internet, such as movies and music and travel guides. And, umm, well, let me just say, kids your age today aren’t even thinking about agonizing over how to convince the sales clerk at the 7-Eleven to sell them a copy of Playgirl.

Yeah, I know about your secret Playgirl stash.

See, I’m you, grown old. I’m you 40 years from now.

Continue reading “time capsule to my teenaged self”