normalizing

pronounsOn June 26, 2015, that historic day when the Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriage would be legal in all fifty of the United States, I sat on a bus stop bench near Macy’s on 34th Street waiting for Bob to come out of Sketchers. We had just finished meeting with the lawyer who was preparing closing documents for the sale of our apartment and Bob wanted to look at tennis shoes.

The mundane character of how we received the news was poignant. I was now granted the unfathomable freedom to marry the love of my life who was shoe shopping as I sat on a bench among the unaware Midtown tourists only a half a mile (but a world away) from the epicenter of the impromptu celebrations popping up outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village.

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back to school

1963
school picture, 1964

I have spent nearly my whole life either enrolled in a school or working for one.

So, August is always the beginning of a new year for me—the hours of anticipation, the new space full of new supplies, the fresh start, the fear of failing, the return to routine and assignments and work.

I’m resurfacing three of my essays that live in that back-to-school world and the anxieties of beginning again:

nyc recommendations

img_9871I was asked recently on Instagram for my NYC recommendations. They aren’t what you’d expect:

whatsup.tony
Hey jimkempster! Are you based in the NYC?? 🙂 I’m heading there to make Facebook videos and was wondering if you have any recommendations?! Thanks!

jimkempster
@whatsup.tony Recommendations?

Explore every minute you’re here. Eat whatever smells good. Attend anything hosted by artists or groups of artists.

Come up with the most idiosyncratic list of unique, bizarre, exotic, uncharted, beloved things you’re interested in and then Google them with “NYC” attached, and you’ll have 100 days worth of things to do.

It’s all here. Continue reading “nyc recommendations”

symphony

 

city dawn sq

It starts with a soft hiss
in the dark
that percolates into a jangle
like chains
being pulled through pipes
which, in turn,
complain
of growing pains
with loud clanks and bangs
as they learn
again
to radiate heat.

The sheets
and the dog are warm.
The bathroom tiles will take
a little longer to comply.
I lie awake and watch
the dark blue silhouetted peeks
wink open
as windows light
one-by-one
to the rhythm
of my radiator
symphony.

waiting

The five-block walk to the subway.
The twelve-week sale of the house.
The hours to surgery.
The years to degrees.
The decades to wisdom.
From outset to threshold
of the threshold,
of the threshold,
counting minutes,
noting stones
mapping turns,
imagining the face on arrival,
the place of landing
in fragments and smudged sketches
as a trailing dream.

A zen master would counsel
to be in each second,
to learn from each minute
to acknowledge each step.
I try, lord knows,
I listen hard.
But with each boot plod
or sole flap
or hoof suck
I hear only halts:
Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.
Not yet.

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.

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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.

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